ROH Reverse The Curse 12/5/2009

ROH 245 – Reverse The Curse – 5th December 2009

Chicago has always been a major market for ROH – and tonight they look to sign off for the year in the Chi-town area with a major one-off show. The headliner is Colt Cabana, looking to fulfil the prophecy he laid down when he left Ring Of Honor in 2007 by winning the World Title in a Steel Cage Match against Austin Aries. Elsewhere, in another rematch from the most recent episode of ROH on HDNet, the Briscoes and the Dark City Fight Club collide in what promises to be a physical encounter. There’s also lots of Pick 6 action, Necro Butcher looking for revenge on Erick Stevens and Young Bucks/HOT in what could be a fun little undercard bout. Lets join Dave Prazak, Eric Santamaria and Chris Hero in Chicago Ridge, IL.

Colt Cabana opens the DVD, sitting in the Steel Cage which will later house his big title shot. He requested this be a cage match to ensure that Aries’ cronies Titus and King can’t get involved, and the World Champion can’t escape. Good, serious promo from Colt there

Jim Cornette comes in front of the live crowd. VQ from the hardcam for this show is absolutely terrible. He runs through some Chicago memories (including tearing his knee during the ROH/CZW feud) and shills the HDNet show – saying that it’s really going to be something special in 2010. Just as we heard in his recent HDNet interview, he also informs Austin Aries he has to bust his ass if he wants to keep his World Championship from now on. The crowd seems VERY small for a Chicago show…

Shane Hollister vs Sami Callihan vs Joey Ryan vs Rasche Brown
Strange mixture of guys here. It’s Hollister’s main show debut, and the first time we’ve seen Sami in some time – particularly outside of the HDNet tapings. Ryan has to be an expensive guy to bring in as part of The Embassy but has been bouncing around the undercards not doing a whole lot either. And then you have the Skullkrusher – a big guy who has looked really impressive on the Midwest shows this year, earning himself some HDNet bookings as a result. Everyone of these guys badly needs a win.

This match has the most disturbing Code Of Honor exchange ever. Callihan and Hollister start by stiffing the sh*t out of each other. Seriously…it’s cheap but absolutely brutal – did one of them sleep with the other’s sister? Finally Sami punts Hollister out of the ring, and in marches Rasche Brown. He stomps the foot…BUT IT’S NO SOLD! Skullkrusher is a machine, and Ryan wants no part of him. Shane has a go but gets caught in a spinning press slam. Sami has another crack at Brown but gets floored again. At least he causes enough of a distraction to allow Joey to low-bridge Skullkrusher out of the ring. Ryan is much happier getting into the ring with Hollister, beating him down before Callihan tags in to renew his stiff-fest with him. Hollister drops Sami with a reverse rana and makes a tag to Skullkrusher. Brown has no hesitation storming into battle with both Sami and Joey Ryan, and no experiences no difficulty in destroying both of them. That is until he goes for a dive to the floor…AND GETS SHOVED OFF THE ROPES BY RYAN! Hollister and Ryan trade strikes now, with Shane nearly scoring an upset win over the Californian native before diving through the ropes into a tope suicida. TOP ROPE SUICIDE DIVE by Sami, leaving everyone on the floor and in position for the RUNNING SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY RASCHE BROWN! In the melee Ryan hits the Moustache Ride on Hollister to win at 10:05

Rating – ** – Not exactly intelligent wrestling, but they hit all their spots clean and did all the scramble/spotfest style stuff perfectly well. Anytime Sami and Hollister got in there it was shockingly violent which I’m not sure really fit into the curtain jerk environment, but I had a hell of a time watching it.

Kevin Steen, with an AWFUL beard, mournfully reflects on how bad his knee injury has become since Ladder War 2. He knows he’s not in good shape, but he’s #1 in the Pick 6 Rankings, and that gives him a reason to keep coming back to ROH. He’d love to be World Champion before his career ends…

Kevin Steen (1) vs Claudio Castagnoli – Pick 6 Series Match
As we just heard, Steen’s knee is really bad right now. We saw evidence of that in his matches during the Clash Of The Contenders/SOTF 2009 weekend, and every match he’s had since then has been blighted by knee problems. But he defied them at The Omega Effect to beat Chris Hero and secure the top spot in the Pick 6 rankings with an extremely popular win. Should he be wrestling right now? Perhaps not, but whilst he still has a chance to be ROH Champion, he still wants to keep lacing his boots and giving it his best shot. Tonight he defends his top spot against Double C – a man who only slipped out of the Pick 6 recently and would love to take top spot in it here tonight.

Castagnoli doesn’t even wait for Steen to finish his ring entrance before he chops the knee out from under him and goes to work on that injured limb. Figure 4 Leglock applied, and when Steen gets to the ropes Claudio springs up and relentlessly kicks the leg instead. Next he ties the leg in the ring apron, exposing the knee for another volley of kicks…THEN repeated shots against the ringpost. What the f? SOMERSAULT PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR BY STEEN! THEN A TORNADO DDT OFF THE GUARDRAIL! Mr Wrestling is taking some huge chances here! STEEN-TON BOMB! But his leg hurts so bad after that offensive flurry that he can’t cover right away and Castagnoli is able to kick out. REBOUND Bicycle Kick, followed by the one arm bomb gets Claudio a 2. Riccola Bomb countered. Steen hurts his leg there…THEN HITS A CODEBREAKER! He can barely walk, so muscles Claudio into the pumphandle cradlebreaker too for good measure! He’s too injured to hit the Package Piledriver though, then barely kicks out of the Alpamare Water Slide seconds later. Half Crab…switched to a ONE LEGGED GIANT SWING! SHARPSHOOTER ON STEEN! HE TAPS AT 06:32

Rating – **** – Best sub-7 minute match ever? This was just flat-out action from bell to bell, but with an awesome level of psychology thrown in too. Steen’s leg was obviously the focal point, with Claudio working it over from the word go, and Kevin in so much pain that he had no choice but to go for broke and hit one crazy, self-harming spot after another in a desperate attempt to maintain his top spot in the Pick 6. This reminded me of the Danielson/Morishima rematch in 2007 (I think at Man Up). They only went something like 10 minutes, but packed so much drama, action, excitement and psychology into that time that I gave it the MOTYC ****1/2 rating. This wasn’t THAT good, but it was of a similar standard. What a rush…

Steen grabs the microphone and says that the Chicago fans helped make the first Ladder War one of his favourite memories in wrestling. He’s missing his son’s second birthday tonight because he wanted to come and say thank you to Chicago…sort of sounds like he’s on the way out doesn’t it.

Josh Raymond/Christin Able vs Young Bucks
This is a rematch from Survival Of The Fittest when the House Of Truth pushed the Jacksons hard, but ultimately suffered yet another Ring Of Honor defeat. The Bucks are looking to rebound after dropping a recent Tag Title match to the American Wolves on HDNet.

Jump start from Raymond and Able, immediately hitting a spear/heel kick combo in the corner on Matt Jackson. They turn their attention to Nick, and don’t see Matt get a blind tag and soar in to hit a missile dropkick on Able for 2. Leapfrog dropkick floors him again before Matt hits a tope suicida to the outside. Neckbreaker/slingshot somersault senton gets 2 for the Bucks. But just when they look to be in control Truth Martini distracts Matt, handing the advantage to his men instead. Martini is involved again moments later, choking Matt over the ropes and leaving him in position for a hanging dropkick combo from the HOT. SPINNING fisherman buster from Able gets 2. Slingshot DDT/slingshot corkscrew body press combo gets another nearfall as Martini’s team continue to impress. Moonsault into a spinebuster nailed, with Nick having to dive in to save his brother from defeat. Finally Nick gets the hot tag and hits the ROLLING MOONSAULT to the floor to wipe out Raymond. Martini gets involved to stop them hitting More Bang For Your Buck, then gets superkicked off the apron by Nick. ROLL-UP WITH THE TIGHTS! HOT WIN! Is that their first victory in ROH? 08:48 is the time

Rating – ** – I thought the heat segment on Matt went a little long and was a little heatLESS, but the general direction they were pulling in worked. I’m glad to see Raymond and Able pick up the win as they’ve been a really solid addition to the ROH roster on DVD tapings over the second half of 2009. They won’t be threatening the tag belts any time soon but they’re sound talents, they know their role and always deliver competent undercard matches. On the few occasions they have been able to cut loose, Raymond in particular looks to be a really exciting athlete. With rumours of the Young Bucks going to TNA already getting some run, putting House Of Truth over them here is a smart move.

Roderick Strong (3) vs Kenny Omega (5) – Pick 6 Series Match
The challenge for Omega here is to defeat Roderick Strong and push himself further up the Pick 6 rankings, further into contention for a rematch with Austin Aries (this is the first DVD show since his epic match with the champ at The Omega Effect) and minimise the risk of being pushed out of the standings dependent on other Pick 6 results. In recent newswires Roddy has pointed out how much he’s looking forward to this match. Given the superb tail end to ’09 their both having it should be good.

Tentative opening, with Strong clearly trying to ground the athletic, unpredictable Kenny Omega. But Kenny is no slouch in that department and they find a number of ways to counter grounded headlocks as the match continues. Pace quickens…and Strong SHUTS OMEGA DOWN with a brutal chop. Backflip into a hurricanrana from Kenny, then the Norman Smiley Slam for 2. And just as Omega proved he could hang with Roddy on the mat, Strong proves he can trade quick stuff with Omega, rolling through Kenny’s offence before delivering a jumping heel kick for 2. Slingshot Suplex blocked and Omega delivers a sliding dropkick for his own nearfall. Hero points out Omega’s more aggressive attitude here tonight – repeatedly going to strikes to pummel Roderick, then grounding him for a camel clutch submission rather than attempt something more unorthodox. Finally he speeds things up and takes to the skies, only for Strong to counter the Frog Crossbody with a dropkick to the stomach. Cradle backbreaker (the first backbreaker of the match at 12+ minutes) gets 2 for the #3 ranked athlete, only for Omega to retaliate immediately with the Leapfrog Bulldog. Dragon Suplex countered…Death By Roderick countered. Then a super ugly exchange where both guys end up falling awkwardly onto the apron. Apron backbreaker blocked and Omega knocks Strong to the floor with a jumping enzi. BERMUDA TRIANGLE MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! He re-enters with a springboard dropkick then hits the DRAGON SUPLEX for 2. Blue Destiny scores, but once again it’s just a 2-count. Croyt’s Wrath countered…urinage backbreaker. STRONGHOLD! No victory there, and Omega nearly snatches victory moments later by countering it with a small package. Death By Backbreaker scores but still we don’t get a decisive winner. Death By Roderick COUNTERED WITH A REVERSE RANA! Both men wearily get back to their feet to start swinging wildly. SICK KICK from nowhere gets 2. How come this match doesn’t have a 20 minute time limit by the way? DEATH BY RODERICK! GIBSON DRIVER! Roddy wins at 20:26

Rating – *** – Solid enough, but man alive was it ever slow going. The crowd wasn’t into it, they didn’t exactly click together in the ring and it just dragged on for SO long. Something about this just seemed off – Roddy didn’t work the back with any great purpose or aggression…whilst Omega, in charge for long periods, opted not to utilise a lot of the offence that makes him popular and worked a pretty boring kick/stomp/punch/headlock routine which just killed the live crowd. I think both of these guys are better as babyface guys with a strong heel to work off. Whilst this wasn’t bad by any means, it never really got going and, after 20 minutes, I was dying to see it end. And booking it to go longer than 20 minutes makes a mockery of the Strong/Black time limit draw. How come that Pick 6 Match had a shorter time limit than this one?

Erick Stevens vs Necro Butcher
I’ve not seen the heel turn yet as it happened on a thus far un-aired episode of ROH on HDNet, however, it appears that Erick joined The Embassy at the expense of Necro Butcher, laying waste to him with a steel chair. Necro is coming for revenge for that here.

Stevens jumps Necro during his entrance and the brawl gets under way in the aisle. Butcher starts choking him with a plastic bag, but gets distracted by Nana which allows Stevens to hoist him up for a POWERSLAM ON THE RAMP! Big headshots against the guardrail next…and remember all this is happening before the bell has even rung. Stevens starts targeting Necro’s bag, driving forearms into it then scooping him up for rolling backbreakers. Naturally, as soon as the ref’s back is turned Prince Nana is on hand to lay in some cheap shots too. Stevens works a bear hug but Necro fights free with headbutts so fierce that Stevens falls to the apron. They jostle for position there for what feels like ages, teasing lots of devastating spots then killing the crowd by ending it with Stevens hitting a basic suplex back into the ring. Butcher can barely walk at this point, but gets time to recover as Stevens winds up for the Screw You (Choo Choo) and punches him in the face. Tiger Driver set up…only for Nana and Ernesto to interfere. Chair shot from Stevens…forces the DQ at 06:37. BUT NECRO NO SELLS IT! He punches out the referee and the fight continues

Rating – * – For everyone that criticised Jimmy Rave and accused him of having an easy job as the Crown Jewel of The Embassy, watch this match and watch how hard Erick Stevens finds it getting fans to buy into his heel act. The vacuous silence that these two were brawling in front of for long periods speaks volumes. There were actually good points to this (I liked the idea of Stevens trying to use his power and wrestling ability rather than trying to flat-out brawl with Necro) but it was just so tame and slow. At times it felt like they were moving in slow motion out there. I accused Strong/Omega of feeling really long…truthfully this match felt like it went as long as one despite being a fraction of the length. Hopefully your DVD remote has skip function!

Tyler Black (4) vs Kenny King – Pick 6 Series Match
These two had a competitive match in the qualifying rounds at Survival Of The Fittest with Black emerging victorious. They then had a rematch at Boiling Point which was aborted within 90 seconds thanks to the intervention of Austin Aries and Rhett Titus. As a result of that, Black wants another match with Kenny, and this time everyone else is banned from ringside. Tyler is still desperate to dish out a beating to King for his part in putting Black’s mentor Jerry Lynn out of ROH.

King wastes no time in throwing out Jerry Lynn’s hand signal and taunting Black over his mentor’s absence. He goes to the hair to hold Tyler down and rain down right hands to the face. Back comes Black, hitting a flurry of offence culminating with a quebrada for 2. Tyler shows a mean streak, methodically stalking King, choking him in the ropes then repeatedly snapping his legs with a bridging deathlock. Finally Kenny opts to hide behind the referee, catching Tyler when he comes off the ropes to hit a big spinebuster. The crowd is absolutely dead for this by the way. Black drags King to the outside, but that ends up being to his detriment as Kenny hits the apron and rebounds back into a SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW SENTON! King assaults Tyler against the rails when perhaps he should have brought the match back into the ring, and suffers as a result when Black hits a suplex on the hard floor. More guardrails shots follow…but as Kenny goes for a corkscrew enzi Black ducks and watches as King rattles his shin against the ringpost. TORNADO DDT ON THE FLOOR! Both guys barely beat the referee’s count back inside. Tyler thinks about something from the top rope onto eat another big kick from King for 2. Black scores with the Springboard Lariat then a neckbreaker for a nearfall. F-5 OVER THE TOP ROPE! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! God’s Last Gift countered, so is Peroxism. Pele Kick instead…King with a Northern Lights into the turnbuckles! Black goes for a moonsault, but Kenny manages to CATCH HIM and whip him into the Royal Flush. Shotgun Knees are COUNTERED TO THE BUCKLE BOMB! SUPERKICK! King gets a shoulder up! Tyler clearly thinks this is important enough to chance the Phoenix Splash, but he ends up missing then eating the SHOTGUN KNEES! CORNONATION COUNTERED…GOD’S LAST GIFT! Tyler wins a 20:17

Rating – *** – Pretty similar to Strong/Omega in that I felt it went a little long, lacked a little chemistry and in turn lacked a little crowd interest – however, you can’t deny both guys were busting their asses out there. This was a big match for Kenny King – his longest singles match in ROH thus far. He certainly proved he could hang with a main event talent like Tyler Black so it’s a success from that point of view. He did a good job focusing his offence on the back/neck too, which is obviously a sore point on Tyler, and indeed the focal point of his finishing move the Coronation too. I still think these guys have more to offer as opponents if ROH wants to book a rematch.

In the back the Dark City Fight Club praise the accomplishments of the Briscoes in ROH. Jon Davis says the Briscoes got a taste of what the DCFC can do on HDNet last week…whilst Kory Chavis says they’re going to beat them tonight and take their #1 Contendership to the Tag Titles.

Dark City Fight Club vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
The issue between these teams started when the DCFC interrupted a Briscoes/Young Bucks match on HDNet, leading to a heated confrontation. Their first match on HDNet took place last week, with the match going to a double count-out when all four men couldn’t stop brawling on the floor and finally had to be forcibly separated. Here’s the rematch…

Big brawl as soon as the bell rings, with the four guys picking up where they left off on HDNet. Jay drops Davis with the turnbuckle flatliner before being joined by Mark for the Briscoe Tackle. He tries to lift Jon up for a suplex but can’t get the big man up and gets mown down by a running leg drop. Chavis tags in, but doesn’t see a blind tag from the Briscoes and walks into a top rope reverse elbow from Mark. Davis invades the ring to assist his partner, and together they drop the younger Briscoe with Total Elimination. That’s the cue for a period of DCFC dominance over Mark. That is until he runs through Davis with a crossbody and tags in Jay. Davis drops Jay with an exploder suplex and lifts him for a backbreaker/leg drop combo for 2. DVD/corkscrew senton from the Briscoes gets them a 2-count in response. DARK CITY STREET CUTTER ON MARK! JAY SAVES! He puts Chavis on his shoulders but Davis saves before they can hit the Doomsday Device. POOOUUUUNCE on Jay! That leaves Mark and Rainman alone in there…with Mark exposing that DCFC weakness to sunset flips by rolling Chavis up in one for the victory at 12:10

Rating – ** – Probably as good as the HDNet match, but no better. I thought the two teams played up the whole ‘clash of the brawling, dominant teams’ deal a lot better in Philadelphia. Here it felt like the DCFC trying to work a traditional ‘Briscoes-style’ tag match and not doing a particularly good job of it. I did love the finish though, and the idea that the DCFC are this brutal, intimidating, violent team who are susceptible to flash pins and roll-ups – much as ROH established with Samoa Joe years ago.

The Fight Club aren’t happy with that, with Chavis mauling Mark whilst Jon Davis flings Jay into the guardrail. They lay waste to the referee as well, before Jay finally returns to save his brother wielding a steel chair.

Austin Aries vs Colt Cabana – ROH World Title Steel Cage Match
Cabana earned this match by making the World Champion submit in a 6-man tag at Boiling Point, and he immediately laid down the challenge to Aries to put the belt up in his hometown of Chicago. Colt vowed to return to ROH for the World Title someday and, despite returning at the Anniversary Show earlier this year, thus far hasn’t been able to make good on his promise. Here is his chance, but the stakes are high. It becomes a direct rematch from the Third Anniversary Celebration Part 1 as Jim Cornette has made it a Cage Match to ensure we don’t get a repeat of the outside interference that blighted Cabana’s match with Aries on HDNet this week. However, if Colt loses, he gets no more title shots in Chicago, meaning he has a lot to lose too. That 2005 Cage clash between these two saw one of the most innovative finishes to a Steel Cage Match I’ve ever seen – and will the experience of coming so close to beating Aries in a cage four years ago give Colt the edge this time?

Aries starts out with a big slap, then tries to hide in the ropes and behind the referee to avoid retribution. He makes repeated attempts to escape, trying to climb the cage only for Cabana to shape the ropes and make it impossible for him to do so. Colt fakes doing his usual quebrada spot, but instead sticks to the cage like Spiderman then come off with a flying elbow smash. Shades of Bryan Danielson vs Homicide (two of Colt’s great ROH rivals) in the steel cage at The Final Showdown as Cabana breaks out an Airplane Spin on the champion. Aries returns the favour with an Airplane Spin of his own then attacks Cabana’s knee, a great tactic to prevent the Chicago-native from climbing the cage. Figure 4 applied with rope assistance and Colt spends nearly two minutes in that hold before finally managing to reverse the pressure and force A-Double to break. Austin springs straight up to continue the attack, applying a spinning toehold variant in the ropes. Next he puts Cabana in a tree of woe, then stands ON the knee whilst looking to climb out of the cage. Cabana grabs the tights to pull him back, but as he drags himself out of the tree of woe Aries sweeps his legs and he takes a NASTY fall from the top rope, catching his knee on the ropes again on the way down. He goes for another Figure 4, but this time Colt manages to kick him face-first into the cage. He tries to climb…gets caught, so shoves Aries away and hits the quebrada press for 2. IED blocked and Colt gets another nearfall with a SECOND ROPE FLYING ASSHOLE! They fight on the top rope until Austin kicks the leg out from under Cabana once again, then springs off the ropes into a missile dropkick. Aries tries to do the crazy suicide dive through the door to win just like he did in 2005, but this time Cabana is there to catch him and block it. SHINBREAK BACK SUPLEX INTO THE CAGE! IED AGAINST THE METAL FOLLOWS! Once again Colt stops Aries leaving the cage though, so he returns to start scraping his face against the cage. IED FLURRY! BRAINBUSTER! Cabana refuses to let his dream die! LAST CHANCERY! But Colt won’t submit in his last chance at the belt in Chicago. He tries to climb, but Colt pulls him back with the Twirly Bird! Together they climb the cage once again, with Aries dropping Colt with a top rope sunset flip bomb for 2. Kick Of Death COUNTERED TO THE BILLY GOAT’S CURSE! Aries escapes…and nearly kicks Cabana out of the cage in the process. Aries slams the door into Colt’s face. Cabana starts hulking up so Aries turns tail and runs up the cage. Colt catches up…TOP ROPE TURNBUCKLE GUTBUSTER! He starts battering the champ’s head against the cage, but just can’t buy himself enough time to leave the cage. Austin is pouring blood…FLYING ASSHOLE THROUGH THE CAGE! ARIES IS ON THE FLOOR! He retains at 26:15

Rating – **** – It won’t be doing any damage to the MOTYC lists, but I really liked this match. I loved how a-typical it was for a Steel Cage Match. This wasn’t a ‘grudge’ match in a traditional sense of the word, and these two didn’t come into this on the back of a heated feud. The cage was only there to keep King and Titus out, so the fact that they didn’t really come out blood-thirsty and with all guns blazing made total sense. It took a LONG time to get going, and the silent crowd once again didn’t help things, but there was definitely a sense of epic about this towards the end. Cabana survived everything Aries had to throw at him and just wouldn’t quit…and as he started to f*ck Aries up there seemed to be a genuine feeling that Cabana could actually win. AND, for a second time, these guys break out one of the coolest finishes to a cage match in recent years. Like I said, it’s not an MOTYC, it probably only just gets into 4* territory. But both guys worked SO hard, and this was a real spectacle and really fun main event to close out ROH in Chicago for 2009.

Colt Cabana and the Chicago fans are absolutely devastated. Even Jim Cornette comes out to voice his despair. In a pool of his own blood on the floor, Aries points and laughs at the Executive Producer then leaves. Colt is upset but accepts defeat…and petitions Jim Cornette for an opportunity to get into the Pick 6 as soon as possible and earn another title shot somewhere else then bring the belt BACK to Chicago for his first defence. Jim agrees so the fans are sent home happy…

Meanwhile in the back Austin Aries is still covered in blood. Having beaten Cabana tonight he turns his attention to Final Battle 2009 and asks Tyler Black if he’s willing to sacrifice what Aries has to hold the ROH World Championship.

Tape Rating – ** – On the face of it this may seem a harsh rating because, truthfully this was a long show, packed with quality wrestling. But the reality is there are SO many Ring Of Honor shows available to buy. ROH is nearly at 250 live events – so is there anything that sets this one part and makes it a must own? Truthfully there isn’t. Sure Claudio/Steen is a blast. Sure Aries and Cabana busted their asses to put on an entertaining main event. But is that enough to recommend it over a multitude of other shows…probably not. Strong/Omega and Black/King were given a lot of time without actually being particularly good. Necro/Stevens was poor, there was lots of pretty average filler. If you do buy it, this is not a bad show by any means. It’s worth your money if you’re picking it up at cut price in one of ROH’s sales. But at a release price of $20, and competing against the 244 other ROH shows out there, it’s tough to recommend this as something you need to see.

Top 3 Matches
3) Tyler Black vs Kenny King (***)
2) Claudio Castagnoli vs Kevin Steen (****)
1) Austin Aries vs Colt Cabana (****)