Ring of Honor’s March 10th episode kicks off by introducing the “Blind Destiny Challenge”, building toward a challenger for the main even of the second night of this months iPPV double-header Showdown in the Sun. Not only does it leave the question open of who is going to challenge for the ROH title, but of who they’re going to challenge against, or whether that match will be for the title at all…
We kick off with Jim Cornette explaining that he wants to have a title match for both nights of Showdown, and thus he explains the Blind Destiny Challenge. Or at least I think that’s the idea. In theory this sounds like some intriguing booking that has probably never been seen before; in explanation it sounds like something Vince Russo and Jesse Baker would cook up while rolling on Ecstasy with the writers from Lost. On March 30th, we will have the triple threat match booked last week between Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, and Roderick Strong. All three of those guys will have singles matches on the 31st. The winner between Kevin Steen and Adam Cole will face Eddie Edwards. The winner of Michael Elgin vs. Kyle O’Reilly will face Davey Richards. Either Jay Lethal or Kenny King will face Roderick Strong. These matches will all happen. However, if I’ve got this right (and after watching the segment three times, I kind of think I do), whoever leaves with the title on the 30th will be defending against his chosen opponent for the 31st; the other two matches will mean nothing. So, basically, with this show we’ll be seeing people qualify for a 1-in-3 chance of getting a shot at a title. Imagine all of that being explained in Jim Cornette’s hyperactive babble and you’ll see why it’s so headache inducing. The upshot is that it’s leaving a wider variety of people in the World title picture than just Richards, Edwards, and Strong. The downside is that in most of those cases, the match will either be one-sided or underwhelming for a World title match. You can also basically discount King winning his qualifier (since the All Night Express have matches against The Young Bucks booked both nights) and Steen competing for the title (because that’s for another time with more buildup). So with that…
Funny moment in one of the bumper segments promoting Showdown: ANX are interviewing with Kevin Kelly about their “Dual Duel” (that’s the kind of name that needs trademarking) against the Young Bucks. Their match on the 30th is a street fight, which Kenny King brushes off because “the Bucks are from Rancho Cucamonga, they play hopscotch in the streets out there”. Meanwhile, King is from the Dr. Phillips-Windermere area of Orlando, where I happened to personally know some preppie white kids who knew him growing up and said that he used to get picked on by all the dweeby rich kids in the neighborhood. So, yknow, glass houses and all that. That segues into a Kenny King solo promo and we kick off with his qualifier against Jay Lethal. There wasn’t much to this match, despite both guys being talented and similar in styles. A lot of stand up strikes, and a few high flying spots, nothing leading to much. Roderick Strong and Truth Martini came out to the entrance to scout toward the middle. He didn’t interfere, as I expected he wouldn’t, because he really has no dog in that fight. The cloest he comes to having a beef with Lethal is that Elgin inadvertantly cost Lethal his match against Davey. Strong would be more likely to want to see King take it since ANX are already booked for matches both nights. In any event, he was a non factor, as Lethal took the win by reversing a bridged O’Connor roll into a waistlock pin. There was enough here to keep the match moving, and Lethal/Roddy should be more interesting.
Adam Cole vs. Kevin Steen was next, which could have easily been the main event. The winner of this one faces Eddie Edwards, which raises some interesting drama. Cole of course is now Eddie’s partner, whereas Steen and Eddie have a common enemy (or frenemy or whatever in Eddies case) in Davey Richards. If there’s any ding against Steen in this match, it’s that he dominated a little too heavily against Cole. Steen’s brawling/devastating power move style works well against jobbers or else in long form matches where his opponent has more of a chance to take over. It was still great to watch against Cole here but it didn’t do Cole any favors. Cole threw enough reversals and cut-off comebacks that it wasn’t really a squash, but the match was mostly Steen in control. It’s fun to see where Steen is at in terms of his style: he’s really not that big in a general sense but he outweighs most of the ROH roster, so it’s easy for him to do big powerlifts and things like the front-press into a powerbomb he did here. But also, he’s still agile enough to do things like a springboard moonsault and a running upside down senton into Cole, seated in the corner. Steen ended with the F-Sanc, and then continued the beatdown until Eddie came out to make the save. Definitely worth checking out, if only because Steen’s Bruiser Brody style is really fun to watch.
Eddie vs. Steen is an intriguing proposition. Both have issues with Davey, who is more than likely going to feud with Steen, culminating at Final Battle this year. Eddie would be a good choice to keep Steen busy throughout the summer. There is something to the idea that, while Eddie has been on the verge of turning on Davey for a year now, he still is basically a face and still doesn’t have an outright hatred of Davey. How will he react when he’s in a position where he has to get in the way of Steen, who is hot to outright destroy Davey and hold ROH hostage? Will Steen try and bring Eddie all the way over on to his side? Or will Eddie’s battles with Steen help build the bridge between he and Davey? I hope that this issue between Edwards and Steen goes beyond this month, because it’s a ripe opportunity for storylines.
The last qualifier is between Kyle O’Reilly and Michael Elgin. The winner will face Davey Richards (KO’s trainer and Elgin’s enemy from the House of Truth). Davey joins us on commentary here, and I’d like to note, was awesome at it. He called moves, explained pxychology, referred to history with both himself and Nigel, and gave commentary to KO’s performance. He didn’t just blandly cheer him on though: he was critiquing the mistakes he made and explaining what the next move he should make would be. If Davey ever gets injured, sitting in the commentary booth would be a great way for him to keep busy. As for the match, it was great, and way better than I expected. KO and Elgin are both newish to the business, and they both have different styles. Elgin always comes off as a powerful beast in ROH. I find that kind of funny, since he’s 5’10 and 245 lbs., which makes him about on par, size wise, with Taz. Yet, much like Steen, he can throw around most of the smaller ROH roster. He’s also developing a great repertoire of unique power moves. At different points he was doing big suplexes, side slams, and even rolled through a small package into a version of Matt Morgan’s Hellevator. He’s still pretty charisma-deficient, but he is definitely finding his groove in the ring. It played well against KO, who did more of the plucky underdog thing that his former partner did against Steen in the last match. He continually used his kicks to try and go toe-to-toe against Elgin, and caught the kinds of submissions that can neutralize Elgin’s power. Repeatedly he tried for a guillotine choke, including coming out of a tornado DDT position. Strong and Martini attempted to interfere on a few occasions, which finally brought Davey out of the booth to brawl it out with Roddy. During the last portion of this, Elgin caught KO with the spinning sitout powerbomb. I don’t much expect Davey to lose on the 30th, so unless my instincts are off, we can expect Richards/Elgin for the title on the 31st.
All in all the wrestling on this show was great for fans of power moves, and not so much for those who aren’t. I am a fan of power moves, and I enjoyed it because of that. While some of the booking was convoluted or fell flat, it all will lead to more interesting scenarios on the 31st. That’s the thing about ROH: at their worst they’re still better than most. Don’t take my word for it: go to ROHwrestling.com and check it out for yourself.