ROH TV 6/2/12

This week we see the first ROH TV appearance of new World champion Kevin Steen, as Jim Cornette has words for him regarding Best In The World: Hostage Crisis on June 24th. Does Steen begin to fulfill his promise to hold the ROH title hostage? Who will Cornette put in Steen’s path next? Also on tonight’s show, Tommaso Ciampa is in action, Adam Cole faces Mike Mondo, and the next Tag Team title challengers the All Night Express face Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander.

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–To start we get dueling promos from Adam Cole & Mike Mondo. Mondo is still a sore subject with me, not for the least of which reason that his booking is getting schizophrenic. Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuiness put him over on commentary as being a legitimate threat and a technical wizard, and Cole’s prematch promo talks about how much he respects Mondo. Mondo cuts a blowhard heel promo that you could see just about anywhere, and he still does this corny cribbed-from-Scott-Steiner schtick in the ring. It can’t be both ways, a guy can’t be a serious threat and a corny imbecile at the same time, anywhere, least of all in today’s ROH where he just seems to be on a different planet than the rest of the roster (and trying to nab elements of Tommaso Ciampa and Mike Bennett’s characters while he’s at it). He did do one cool spot I’d never seen before: he wedged Cole’s arm straight through the turnbuckle pad so as to trap him in the corner, and used the ring skirt to pin Cole’s leg down while he threw kicks. That’s the kind of bully-heel gimmick that Ciampa should be doing, really. Cole mostly fought this one from the bottom, as he plays best to his strengths as an underdog. Kyle O’Reilly was on commentary during this one, trying to jumpstart this storyline that I thought had already been blown off and shedding no light on why he’s a heel when it comes to Cole but a sympathetic babyface when he’s in Davey Richards’ corner. He also never talks loud enough while he does these commentary spots and I can never hear what he’s supposed to be saying. The finish saw Mondo trying for his double-arm DDT and Cole reversing into a backslide for the pin. Nothing I’d go out of the way to see, but Mondo tends to have that effect on me.

–Tommaso Ciampa is ready to destroy Nick Westgate next. Ciampa is pissed coming off his first loss in ROH, to Jay Lethal. He’s also grown in a terrible blond beard. Just a squash here, with Ciampa mainly throwing kicks and choking, and finishing Westgate off with a knee to the head, followed by a knockout flurry of elbows and knees. Yknow, it’s weird that most American wrestling had never seen the “repeated strikes to get a knockout” gimmick outside of the occasional Danielson match that ended in MMA elbows, and yet in 2012 we have both Tommaso Ciampa and Kassius Ohno ending their matches that way. Ciampa is bank but this one wasn’t much of anything beyond putting Ciampa over as a killer.

–Inside ROH has promos from WGTT, Jay Lethal, and Fit Finlay, and also highlights Eddie Edwards’ new Die Hard Challenge series, where he takes on former World champions to prove to Cornette that he should be next to challenge Kevin Steen. Already he has a win over Rhino, and he is soon to take on Homicide, but next week for the first time on broadcast TV, Eddie challenges his former friend Davey Richards. Because we’ve never seen that one before.

–All Night Express vs. Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander is our ostensible main event. Been a while since I can remember seeing a pure face vs. face tag match. These guys were pretty evenly matched, with C&C seeming to have answers for everything ANX pulled out. Match was fast paced, with some good double teams and high flying. The spots that stick out are Kenny King & Cedric Alexander trading kicks in unison, Coleman reversing a double team into a simultaneous tornado DDT and dropkick, and also the finish. At the end, ANX attempted the One Night Stand on Coleman, who countered, turned it into the no hands top rope rana on Rhett Titus, but overextended, which caused Titus to roll through and Alexander to miss his big splash off the top rope, and then pull up to an all fours position where King fired across with a Poetry in Motion onto Coleman, and then finished off with the One Night Stand. Both teams showed mutual respect afterward. A fun tag match all around, something ROH is pretty much guaranteed to deliver for all us tag purists.

–In a funny crowd moment during this match, Jushin Liger Guy (anyone who’s been watching knows who I’m talking about) was seen standing up with a sign saying “Imma Wrestling Fan!” Like, really, man? I’d have never guessed the guy in the full-body spandex outfit and lucha-style mask with a replica title belt was a wrestling fan, glad you could clarify.

–Kevin Kelly is in the ring for our Main Event Interview with the new champ, “Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare” Kevin Steen (I love that nickname, especially when compared to his older weak-sauce “Mr. Wrestling” gimmick). Steen’s accompanied by his hetero life mate Jimmy Jacobs as well as the latest person to cross over from feuding with Steen to joining his side, Steve Corino. As much as this whole “we hate each other, now we’re friends!” thing is very Russoist, it does put a nice button on the last few year’s worth of storylines between Steen & Corino and Corino’s “sobriety” angle with Jacobs. Plus it’s a nice subversion that Steen has grown in legend so much that Corino (formerly Steen’s manipulator and former leader of a few stables in his own right), and Jacobs (the former heir to the Kevin Sullivan/Raven tradition of evil-leader-of-band-of-misfits), are now lackeys for someone else. The group just needs some kind of name to really put a point on it. And maybe a fourth follower, although in keeping with the theme it’d probably have to be El Generico and I can’t see him doing a heel turn or doing regular shows. Anyhow, Corino dismisses Kelly and disses Nigel McGuiness. In ROH’s “soft face/heel turns” environment, it’s a little jarring to hear Corino all of a sudden being so vicious, especially considering Steen is more of a face than Davey at this point.

Steen runs down his plans as the new face of Ring of Honor: representing the company at a Health & Fitness expo, and wearing his tuxedo t-shirt to the affiliates dinner, where he’ll meet with all the station owners and tell them exactly what they need to know about ROH. This brings Cornette out in a tizzy. He dresses Corino down for reuniting with Steen and then fires him from his DVD commentary job. Corino claims his contract says otherwise (Contract disputes! Wouldn’t be wrestling in 2012 without ’em!). Cornette prepares to announce who he thinks Steen’s opponent for BitW should be, but is cut off by Davey Richards and the Jerome to his Morris Day, Kyle O’Reilly. Davey claims he’s tired of being lumped into Camp Cornette and tells Jim to kiss his ass. He’s not going to make any excuses about the crowd turning on him or the turnbuckle being exposed at Border Wars, he’s just gonna admit that Steen was the better man that night. But now Davey is wrestling for himself and not for what Cornette thinks, and he wants another opportunity at Steen. Cornette balks, and Steen claims Cornette is the world’s only tennis player with no balls. Corny buckles and makes the rematch for BitW with the stipulation that it’s Davey’s only shot at a rematch (Cornette sure loves that stip, huh? It seems like every title match in ROH lately is one-shot-only, and let’s not forget Lex Luger’s one shot at Yoko).

Interesting that rather than go the Hart/Austin route with this angle, and letting Davey get more heel reactions by being ever more the white bread squeaky clean babyface, they’re attempting to give him an attitude injection so he can have a little more edge and appeal to the fans again. I’m not sure how that’s going to work while he’s playing off of Steen (a Byronic hero needs a virtuous hypocrite nemesis to play off of, after all) but it will at least keep Davey respectable in the eyes of ROH fans. With Steen possibly keeping his schedule light due to a possible concussion, some people are speculating that his title reign isn’t going to last past BitW. I doubt that Cary Silkin & Cornette (and Delirious, although  no one seems to agree whether he’s still booking. I haven’t heard otherwise, though I can believe that Cornette is the main brains) would let the angle they’ve been building for two years now fall flat so quickly. Steen taking time off or just being inactive would definitely fall right in line with the “taking the title hostage” idea, and Davey can keep himself busy with Corino & Jacobs. All in all though, I’m excited about the Steen/Jacobs/Corino faction and what future these guys might have. Also all in all,  this week’s show was more good than bad, though the first two matches are skippable if you’re pressed for time. Until next week, don’t take my word for it: go to ROHwrestling.com and check it out for yourself.