From the home of John Waters, crab cakes, and The Wire comes this week’s ROH TV. The hole in the TV taping schedule has been somewhat mended, as we’ve finally caught up to the fallout from Young Wolves Rising. At YWR we saw Adam Cole score the pinfall over ROH Champ Davey Richards in a tag match pairing Richards with Cole’s ex partner Kyle O’Reilly against Cole & Richard’s ex partner Eddie Edwards. Afterward, O’Reilly got on the mic and declared that he doesn’t respect Edwards or Cole, turning part-way heel. Kevin Steen then appeared in the balcony, declaring that he didn’t respect anyone in the ring, and again calling out Davey Richards.
We start out with Adam Cole taking on local talent Chris “The Psychedelic Superstar” Silvio. What you’re picturing a “Psychedelic Superstar” would look like, Silvio pretty much is. Considering Cole just scored a clean win over the champ and Silvio, though he’s appeared with ROH before, isn’t a full time member of the roster, this should have been an outright squash. For my taste though, Cole let Silvio get a little too much offense in; most of it was the kind of over the top entry-level indie wrestling that usually doesn’t fly in ROH. I’ll give Silvio credit for a cool looking arm-wring-into-crossface spot, but not much else. Cole looked good here but didn’t do a hell of a lot. The end was a pretty nice sequence with Cole hitting Silvio with an enziguri, sending him off the ropes and backward into the Florida Key (straitjacket suplex). Afterward, Kyle O’Reilly (who was on commentary and not making much more of a point than he did at the PPV) challenged his former partner to a match for March 31st, the second night of Showdown in the Sun. As far as I can tell, the second night is going to be the money show, whereas the first night might be kind of skippable. Kind of like this match.
Next we see a package featuring some of the bloody action between Jimmy Jacobs (rocking an awesome fur coat adorned with red paint, “Fur is Murder” style) and Kevin Steen from YWR. Despite being attacked with a railroad spike, slammed from the guardrail to the concrete, and speared through a table, Steen was able to give Jacobs the F-Cinq (not F-Sanc as I now realize thanks to reader the next big thing) onto two upright chairs and score the win. That leads us to a Kevin Steen interview in the ring. Steen’s music now starts with the American Wolves’ trademark howl, cut short by a gunshot. It’s been too long since someone’s subverted someone else’s entrance music in wrestling. Steen has also adopted the gimmick of carrying a tennis racket, ala Jim Cornette, but with a picture of Davey Richards. Steen points out that Blind Destiny means Cornette must be blind, for putting him that much closer to taking the ROH title and holding the company hostage, which is his destiny. Steen has more harsh words for Eddie Edwards, his opponent for the 31st, but out comes Cornette. Cornette makes it clear that he isn’t worried about Steen taking the title on the Saturday show, because his opponent for Friday will take him out beforehand. This opponent hadn’t contacted Cornette in a long time, but he sent him an email with only two words: “La Revancha”. That is, Revenge. Steen will thus face his former partner turned vicious foe El Generico on March 30th. Generico hasn’t appeared since Final Battle, and the rumors I’ve heard have said that he won’t be appearing with ROH past the end of this month, so look for this battle between two friends to be Generico’s swan song with the company. Steen ends things up by telling Cornette that he’s going to take out every person that Cornette puts in front of him until he gets ahold of Richards and the ROH title.
I love the way these two play off of each other. Steen hits every note in being a combination of crazy, disgusting, and anarchic. Cornette plays his part by giving Steen every cue to bounce off of: Steen complains about Cornette favoring pretty boys, Cornette makes the fat jokes. Steen tries to slip “Kiss my balls!” past the censors (and they’re only on a 2,629,743 second delay!) and Cornette chastises him for being vulgar. Steen threatens to wreak havoc on ROH and Cornette seems as scared as he is mad. Compare this to something like Smackdown, where Teddy Long will be scared of Mark Henry one week and then shout down orders at him the next. Cornette is just the consummate pro, knowing exactly what beats to hit to make everything Steen says resonate, and Steen is one of the few guys in wrestling today with the mic skills to keep up.
Inside Ring of Honor brings us some more hype for Showdown, including a hype video from Lance Storm (with a shaved head) where he calls out Mike Bennett for not having respect, and shows off how great his physique is for a guy his age. His rope pressdowns looked a little sloppy though, considering he’s supposed to be Mr. Strict Form in the gym. We also get a rundown of March Mayhem, ROH’s answer to March Madness. This week we’ll have Jay Lethal vs. Roderick Strong, next week will be Adam Cole vs. Michael Elgin. In 2 weeks we have Tommaso Ciampa vs. Kyle O’Reilly and also Eddie Edwards vs. Mike Bennett. On April 7th the 4 winners will have a Final Four four-way match, and the winner of that will claim a $24,000 prize, half put up by each wrestler and half matched by ROH. I love how ROH uses these purely fictional financial incentives to spice up the storylines. It’s a good way to make matches seem more important without diluting the titles (although involving the TV champion in so many of these matches, as well as the World title picture, dilutes that title a lot). Money and love are the two biggest motivational factors in most of our lives that can cause conflict; wrestling in general needs to work those kind of storylines in more often.
Lethal vs. Strong was…well it just was. I think they were going for that epic standing slugfest kind of feel, where each man just unloaded with chops and punches. I just didn’t feel the stakes. It’s a thrown together gimmick match bertween two guys who will be wrestling again for higher stakes in a few weeks. This was another one of those trademark ROH “fetch quest” type matches: it went on for an extraordinarily long time, and most of that length just felt like padding for the sake of adding minutes to the match. Pretty much the whole match was both guys standing in the middle of the ring, hitting each other. Joe/Kobashi this weren’t, however. Lethal still came out just a smiling and high fiving away, despite not having possession of his ROH TV title due to Ciampa stealing it. Strong and Truth Martini are both incapable of expressing any emotion beyond heel smugness. So at no point did I really feel like either guy was really bringing it. A few signature spots got hit (Lethal Combination, Death By Roderick) and Martini got up on the apron to distract the ref and tease a collision a few times (and at least once too many) before Michael Elgin came out, attempted to interfere, and ended up colliding with Roddy to allow Jay to get the O’Connor roll for the win. I get what they were going for but this match was not an example of what either guy is capable of, by a long shot.
Kind of a lackluster ROH this week. Only two matches, one of which could have taken a whole match’s worth of time out of it and been more fun to watch. ROH doesn’t have a huge roster but nevertheless, a number of guys that they do have at their disposal seem to rarely get any time on TV. Shows like this one, where a promo segment featuring one wrestler and one non-wrestler is the most exciting thing on it, is not generally what ROH is known for. I’d like to see them have more one-off matches featuring indie talent outside of the exclusive ROH contracted roster, mixing it up with their current stars. I’d like to see a wider variety of guys get featured each week, even if they’re just winning squash matches. And I’d really like to see less matches that are just 20 minutes of chopping and rollups. ROH still brings it when it comes to their iPPVs and DVDs. They’ll be jacking off in a mirror for their small handful of fans if they don’t do more to spruce up their TV show, and I’d really hate to see that from such a great company. With that, it is now 9:53pm on March 22nd, and as always: Don’t take my word for it. Go to ROHwrestling.com and check it out for yourself.