ROH on HDNET 5/17/2010

ROH on HDNet – Episode 058 – 17th May 2010

The last episode of HDNet absolutely breezed by. Not because it was particularly deep, or even overly good. It flew by simply because it was a well-written, focused instalment of episodic wrestling television. Every segment served a purpose, from the Cabana comic relief skit, the physical opening Briscoes/DCFC match to the mainstream-fan-orientated Battle Royal main event. It was a 45 minute show, but it felt like 10. I’d like more of the same tonight as we start the countdown to Death Before Dishonor 8 – ROH’s next iPPV event. Strong/Steen in a Pick 6 Match headlines tonight. Hog and DP are in Philadelphia, PA.

Josh Raymond/Christin Able vs Kenny King/Rhett Titus
Two strong undercard teams collide here, both will have an eye on progression through the ROH tag team ranks and moving into title contention.

House Of Truth start hotter, knocking both ANX guys back with athletic strikes before trapping Rhett Titus for a period of early isolation. They hang him in the ropes for a double dropkick combo that knocks him goofy. Kenny argues with the ref, causing the official to miss Raymond and Able hitting a powerbomb senton. Titus has had enough and leaves the ring…luring Raymond into attempting an ill-advised dive spot and sprinting straight into a knee strike from King. Titus rejoins his partner to hit a flipping neckbreaker over Kenny’s knees to get a 2-count. All four trade big strikes centre ring, before Josh floors King with a SHOOTING STAR CROSSBODY BLOCK FOR 2! Quebrada/spinebuster combo on King for another nearfall before Rhett hauls Able out of the ring. Swinging backbreaker into a knee drop combo gets ANX a close 2. SKY TWISTER PRESS TO THE FLOOR BY RAYMOND! That was completely insane, but as he tries to go the top again he gets crotched by King. DOOMSDAY BLOCKBUSTER ON ABLE! King and Titus win at 06:34

Rating – *** – Enjoyable little spotfest to start the show. The non-stop action, whilst sometimes a little incoherent, was always entertaining – and Josh Raymond trying to make a name for himself by flipping all over the shop really helped. It was good to see ANX pull out a win, and show some real improvement by working a fast-paced match like this with very few noticeable botches.

Claudio Castagnoli vs Andy Ridge
After last week when we saw the Briscoes defeat Dark City Fight Club to become #1 contenders for the ROH Tag Titles, the Kings Of Wrestling will now be in serious preparation mode for Death Before Dishonor 8 next month. Claudio will look to make short work of Right Leg here…

Ridge tries to put bus right leg to good use, only for Claudio to no sell his kicks and decapitate him with a clothesline. Effortless press slam next, then the Les Artess Lift…but Ridge keeps getting up. His kicks have a little more effect this time but Castagnoli still sends him flying back across the ring with a European uppercut. UFO wins it for Double C in 02:18

Rating – * – Claudio looked impressive, Ridge really didn’t. I’ve seen a few people tout him as a real top prospect coming out of the ROH school. I know he was featured heavily on the Pro Wrestling Respect shows too. In the few times I’ve seen him in an ROH ring, I’m yet to be wowed.

This is video-package intensive show. Having already aired highlights of last week’s Pick 6 Battle Royal, and re-run the Aries/Delirious footage for the 5th or 6th time in the last 2 weeks, Jim Cornette now introduces extended highlights of the Edwards/Richards TV Title Match. Like…10 whole minutes of them. That seemed excessive. As are the multiple re-runs of a Black/Strong Supercard Of Honor 5 highlight package.

Kyle Durden is with Colt Cabana – who next week gets the first (HDNet) shot at the ROH TV Title when he challenges Eddie Edwards. He questions whether Eddie is really fit to be a champion of TV like he is.

Roderick Strong yells at Jim Cornette, still furious about being ‘screwed’ at Supercard Of Honor in Manhattan. Austin Aries comes in to try and recruit him for his new managerial gig…but does so in such a condescending fashion that Roddy slaps him in the mouth. Strong’s very public, paranoid meltdown continues…

THE ART OF WRESTLING – Colt welcomes the Briscoes to the show, looking to learn how to ‘Man Up’. He tries to cheat them out of money in a ‘beer chugging’ contest and winds up getting beaten up with his own shoes. These skits are really making me laugh and a welcome change of pace for the very serious ROH TV show.

The Black/Strong highlights are then replayed for a THIRD TIME. Including commercials, 2 other video packages and TEN MINUTES of Richards/Edwards highlights, this show is only just over 37 minutes old. Showing this video package three times in less than 40 minutes is borderline criminal. To my mind a casual viewer would be turning this off right about now – it comes off like a low budget infomercial.

Roderick Strong vs Kevin Steen – Pick 6 Series Match
Both of these men will come into this extremely motivated. After another failed title shot at Supercard Of Honor, Strong is desperate to hold onto his Pick 6 spot and string some wins together so he can get yet another rematch. On the flip side, Steen emphatically ditched El Generico and joined forces with Steve Corino for the sole purpose of achieving his own personal ambitions – namely to become ROH World Champion. Winning high profile Pick 6 matches will ensure his title petition is considered and granted ahead of rival contenders like Roderick.

Austin Aries runs out and attacks Strong during his ring entrance, looking for some revenge after that slap from a few minutes ago. He hits a Russian legsweep into the ringpost then leaves as Steen watches on from inside the ring. He then gets on the mic to suck up to Strong…before offering him the chance to forfeit. No deal apparently, so Steen runs across the ring to beat on his wounded opponent, continuing to attack the neck that Aries injured with that ringpost spot. He begs Roddy to quit but the offer is refused again…so Kevin drags him out of the ring and starts battering him into the guardrails. Camel clutch applied in an open chair whilst they’re out there but still Roderick refuses to quit and keeps trying to fight back. Cannonball senton misses but Mr Wrestling snuffs out the comeback attempt with an elevated DDT through the ropes. Steen-ton nailed…for 2. Kevin again pleads with Roddy to quit…to which Strong responds with ‘Ole Ole’ chants. You’d better believe Steen is pissed now…AND IT BACKFIRES! STRONG WITH A ROLL-UP FOR THE WIN! It’s over at 07:09

Rating – *** – Roderick was obviously working these tapings with a leg injury. He’s had it taped heavily in every episode recently, and has wrestled with a noticeable limp. That pre-match scuffle with Aries was a great way to allow him to work a match whilst carrying an injury, and it also allowed Steen to showcase his deranged, maniacal post-Generico character for HDNet. It wasn’t a classic in the traditional sense of the word but this was still story-telling at it’s finest. Best HDNet main event in some time.

Steen drags Strong back into the ring and locks in the Crippler Crossface. Eventually Tyler Black comes from the back to help, leaving Steen to retreat up the aisle where Steve Corino is waiting to console him. In the ring Roderick doesn’t look particularly pleased to see Tyler helping him…

Tape Rating – *** – Way too many video packages really hurt this episode – but strong opening and main event matches saved it. What I particularly liked about both of them was that you didn’t have to be a hardcore ROH fan to enjoy them. Both were under 8 minutes, one a terrific spotfest and one an outstanding story-telling encounter. Those are things that mainstream wrestling fans can enjoy alongside the loyal existing Ring Of Honor fanbase, and as such are perfect for TV. The Strong/Steen match was really good, and a perfect example of where ROH on HDNet has enhanced the total Ring Of Honor offering to wrestling fans – it just wasn’t the kind of match you could run on a DVD show, but was perfect for weekly television.