ROH TV 7/7/12

We have another Road Rage show from West Virginia this week, thankfully featuring all new matches, as Jay Lethal takes on “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin and “Die Hard” Eddie Edwards challenges “Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare” Kevin Steen for the ROH heavyweight championship. Let’s get to it:

.

–We kick off with a perfunctory promo from Lethal and a spot with House of Truth that plays up the tension between Elgin and Roderick Strong. I really can’t tell whether Strong is building to a face turn or both Elgin and Tommaso Ciampa are going to turn face on him. Strong is acting like a cocky know it all douche, but they’re also playing up that he’s picking up the slack when Elgin makes rookie mistakes, and that Ciampa doesn’t know the full details of the deal worked out between Truth Martini and The Embassy, but that Roddy does. Even if he’s being a smug dick, it’s the Eddie Guerrero effect: people want to side with the guy who seems smarter and more with-it than his opponent, even if he’s being a heel about it. I’m interested to see where this goes, especially once the TV title is no longer in the picture (it’s not a spoiler if the company spoiled it ahead of time themselves).

–As for the Lethal vs. Elgin match, it took a little while to get going, but it had a good power vs. speed format. Pretty much anything before the first promo break is a little skippable, and everything after is good. Just the way it goes sometimes, a match sometimes needs a little while to find its rhythm. Rumors abound that Jay Lethal might be a potential challenger for the heavyweight title against Steen, and I say that’s a good way to go. He’s got the kind of clean cut babyface appeal that can play off of Steen’s anti-hero well, he’s over with the crowd and has some name value, and Lethal works best in explosive fast paced spot-heavy matches as opposed to more deliberate technical battles, in my opinion. As an aside, this week has Jim Cornette joining Kevin Kelly on commentary, and he’s in rare form, hyping up Lethal and Elgin’s bona fidSteees. One funny and apparently true note in particular: he mentions that Elgin’s mother was a women’s arm wrestling champion. I wondered why Elgin was always mentioning going to the gym with his mom on his Facebook page. That’d be an ace gimmick: a mama’s boy whose mama is a cigar chomping badass old hag. I’m picturing, like, Mac’s mom from Always Sunny. As for the match, Elgin did more brawling than his usual blend of power moves, and sold a lot for Lethal. Lethal landed a very swank superkick on Elgin at one point, a move I’ve never seen him do very much. Elgin did at one point give Lethal a solid Ocean Cyclone, or deadlift German suplex for those unfamiliar. At the end, Lethal caught a running knee and reversed into an enziguri, landed the Lethal Combination, and went up top for Hail to the King (his Macho Man elbow). Martini distracted the ref while Roderick made a run-in, despite Elgin’s insistence that he not do that. Lethal actually fought him off, and blasted him with a springing dropkick, but when Elgin tried to capitalize on the distraction, Roddy came in to protest and a meeting of the minds resulted, leading to a Lethal Injection and the pin for Jay. Afterward Martini tries to keep his charges from brawling, and Elgin promises that Strong’s next screwup will be his last.

–After some boring promotional stuff regarding the Briscoes and a local radio station, plus a new team called Totally Awesome featuring “The Psychadelic Superstar” Chris Silvio and someone called Paradise, we get the appearance of Kevin Steen, along with Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs. Some fans chant “Mr. Wrestling” at Steen and Steen relates a story of Jim Cornette telling the ring announcer not to introduce Steen as “Mr. Wrestling” but rather “Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare”, and Steen says the people and the title disagree with Jim. For what it’s worth, I always thought “Mr. Wrestling” was a boring and unoriginal nickname for Steen, whereas “Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare” fits the character and hasn’t been heard before, so I’d stick with that. Steen & Cornette go back and forth about Steen worthiness as champion, with Cornette bringing up a story of Steen having dinner with an affiliate and threatening to eat his face. What it spills out to is Cornette has made the decision that every time Steen steps into the ring, no matter who it’s against, the ROH title will be on the line in hopes that someone will beat him for the title, including tonight’s match against Edwards.

–Edwards comes out with his new shirt, which says “Chop Your Face” across the back. That phrase and the actual chopping of faces is a good hook for Edwards; most people that aren’t familiar with Kobashi will be impressed by that, and he’s one of the best choppers in the world right now. Corino joins Kelly & Cornette on commentary, and his back & forth with Jim makes the match. My favorite line: after Cornette makes fun of Steen’s weight “You know, a lot of wrestling fans are fat, Jim.” Also they spend quite a while debating the various merits of Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis as compared to Steen. Jacobs is on the outside causing grief for Edwards, resulting in Jacobs getting taken out a few times. I want to see that match next.  A lot of this one happens on the outside, where Steen does some of his best brawling. He powerbombs Edwards on the apron, leers at Hooters girls at ringside, bites Eddie’s face, and even kisses a guy in the crowd just to piss him off. As per usual with Steen, he dominated most of this one, and when Eddie did get some momentum, Jacobs usually intervened. Later in the match, Eddie showed some decent strength, belly to belly suplexing Steen into the buckles and hitting a belly-to-back flipped over into a faceplant, which I’m sure has a name. He also did a pretty unique move, a diving Codebreaker he calls the Boston Knee Party. That could get over as a finisher, I’d bet. Toward the end the tide turned, with Eddie charging Steen on the outside and Steen reversing into a Farooq spinebuster through the timekeeper’s table. Steen even went aerial, going for a swanton bomb. I don’t think these
days he can quite make it all the way around for a 450 anymore, but
maybe I’m wrong. A great sequence involving the two trading superkicks until Eddie reversed into a German and attempted a Chin Checker (backpack stunner) led to Steen reversing into a Sleeper suplex and the F-Sanc for the clean win to close out the show.

–Two good matches and a decent promo, and some good commentary work? Not much more needed than that for a good show. Besides some of the promotional stuff during Inside ROH, which is there to pay the bills but would be nicer if it featured a little bit of actual wrestling, everything on this one was worth checking out again. Despite the fact that Kevin Steen has made hardcore brawls his bread and butter over the last few years, he hasn’t forgotten how to get in the ring and bang out a decent catch as catch can match, as anyone who calls themselves ROH champ should. Jay Lethal looked sharp and ready to move on to the main event picture, in my opinion. Word is that Davey Richards is taking a little while off to keep himself rested & fresh, which is a good thing both for him and the company at this time, so it’s the perfect chance to elevate Lethal. Next week is another Road Rage, which should balance out their taping schedule for the next month or two until the next iPPV, this time featuring matches from Best In The World. Since those matches are likely to just be clip jobs and have been covered elsewhere, I think I’m gonna bust out something special for everyone next weekend. Keep your eyes peeled and until then, don’t take my word for it, go to ROHwrestling.com and check it out for yourself.