ROH TV 8/11/12

–This week’s Ring of Honor features the first televised six man match featuring “Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare” Kevin Steen, “Zombie Princess” Jimmy Jacobs, and Steve Corino as they take on Jay Lethal and Rhett Titus and the long-departed Kenny King of the All Night Express in what is sure to be a classic. Also in action we have Kyle O’Reilly taking on Matt Taven, and an appearance by “The Man Beast” Rhino as well as Truth Martini’s other charges, Roderick Strong and “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin squaring off with Lancelot & Harlem, the Bravado Brothers.

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 — We kick right off with a package recapping Kyle O’Reilly’s heel turn on Davey Richards at Best In the World, and segue right into KO vs. Matt Taven. Taven filmed this plus his recent appearance at the iPPV as part of finishing out his bookings before he reports to WWE developmental, as best I know. KO hams it up in his heel role in the pre-match promo, with some goofy facials. He kind of came off as Tommaso Ciampa’s understudy there. It would serve him well to pair up with Ciampa, actually. RD Evans can do the talking for them and the two of them can be a heel team for The Briscoes to feud with in between half baked Charlie Haas feuds. Taven, as I’ve said before, shows promise but lacks a little polish, so out of all the recent developmental pickups, he could use the most developing. This one was a zippy little opener, with lots of high flying action. Taven hit a suicide dive that saw him dropping sternum-first onto the guard rail; he looked like he could’ve stood to go ECW style and hit it into the second row. KO also hit a really crisp dropkick off the apron at one point, plus his usual array of kicks. Back inside, KO brought it to the mat for a little bit, and the finish saw KO put the knees up to block a frog splash attempt and end things with a Fujiwara armbar with extra mustard. At the submission point he cranked it in really hard, giving that same “arm-breaking” effect that Lesnar has used with his Kimura. I get the feeling that’s going to become a more standard thing that wrestling will borrow from MMA and will become the norm. It makes submissions look all the more deadly and it is an alternative to the “hold on for a really long time and tap out” non-climax. I love high flying openers, they set a great tone for the show, and this one was a lot of fun.

–Rhino burns through a non-descript jobber named Todd Sople next. The whole match: shoulderblocks, belly to belly, GORE! Thanks for coming Todd. Kevin Kelly on commentary decided to let the Gore speak for itself, rather than doing the by-now cliched “GORE! GORE! GORE!” call. Afterwards Truth Martini makes it clear that all is well in the House of Truth. I say it all the time but it bears repeating: Rhino is in INSANE shape right now, better than he ever has been. Good that ROH is capitalizing on it by putting him in the next PPV main event (which they announced in a bumper promo last week, although they haven’t yet done the angle to set it up).

–The shaky and on the precipice of feuding team of Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin made their way out next to face the Bravado Brothers, returning from a lengthy tour of NOAH in Japan as well as CHIKARA, where they are regulars. I’ve mentioned the Bravados before: Harlem Bravado is tallish and looks like Jack McBrayer with a Justin Bieber haircut, Lancelot Bravado is slightly shorter and looks like a midpoint between Paul London and Jackson Browne. They have a gimmick of being spoiled grandma’s boy rich kids, similar in spirit to the Beverly Brothers but with a dash of Wes Anderson quirk. There’s a lot a creative company could do with these guys. This match was mainly about getting the dissension in the House of Truth angle yet ever more screen time. This is emblematic of the problems they have advancing storylines. They’ve been teasing and teasing dissension for months now and Strong and Elgin have come to pull-aparts on a few occasions. Pull the damn trigger, already. I’m not sure where this plays out because the House of Truth are booked for the next two iPPVs as Steen’s opponents. If they’re holding this one out until Final Battle they’re holding it out too long. Anyway, after some dickery involving who would tag into the match, Roddy did most of the heel work against the Bravados, who scored some crisp double teams and looked very sharp in the ring. When Elgin tagged in he mainly dominated, including hitting his combo Samoan drop and fallaway slam that he angrily claims on Facebook that Ryback ripped off. The Bravados probably suffer from Young Bucks Syndrome, where they have a million double team moves that could be a feasible finisher but would probably have a hard time establishing one as their ultimate finisher. I nominate their Hart Attack-ish move featuring a neckbreaker, but anything will do. The end saw Roderick attempting to tag out to Elgin, who feigned a leg cramp to allow The Bravados to pick up the victory, to general animosity between the HoT members. This match was a fun showcase for a team re-establishing themselves while furthering another angle, which is very well executed. What can I say, I’m on the Bravado Bandwagon!

–Finally, our main event. Jay Lethal leads us out and is joined by the most recent ROH tag team champions The All Night Express. As I said, as far as I know this is Kenny King’s last taped ROH appearance before he debuted with TNA, two PPVs ago. ROH should really think about splitting up their TV tapings a little more. Steve Corino, Jimmy Jacobs, and Kevin Steen (who are collectively called EviL by Kelly, rather than the S.C.U.M. name they debuted in a video. Which is it?) are the challengers. This would be the first time we’ve actually seen Steen and Lethal square off, as they’re planting the seeds for an eventual feud between the two, I’d imagine for Final Battle. I can’t recall Corino having wrestled on ROH TV any time recently, and very scarcely for Jacobs. Steen starts off by mocking King with the Code of Honor, trying to lead him into a complex series of daps. Baiting homophobes by kissing fans and baiting liberals by being vaguely racist: Steen really is a tweener right now! I won’t condense all the action in this one with a recap because there is a lot of it and it is worth seeking out on your own, but Corino does the lion’s share of the working with the ANX guys and everyone hits their big moves. They could have stood to give this one more time and put it on an iPPV, as it is they’d probably have to sub out The Briscoes or someone for ANX. I’m certainly okay with that idea. They do a good build to Lethal finally getting Steen in the ring and pay it off with a long delayed Hail To The King elbowsmash. A rapid fire series of moves from EviL (including Jacob’s Contra Code, erroneously called Sliced Bread #2 by Nigel McGuinness) leads to a near fall, which gets broken up, and in the melee Jacobs goes for his old trusty stand-by weapon, the railroad spike. Lethal sees it coming and counters with the Lethal Injection for the win. Afterward EviL continue to brawl with their opponents, finishing Kenny King off once and for all with ROH with Corino giving him a Northern Lights bomb through an upright chair. A good spot to eliminate someone on, for sure. EviL pose with all the title belts to close us out, possibly foreshadowing a Corino & Jacobs title run? We’ll have to wait and see.

–Well hot damn. This was possibly the best installment of this show since I’ve begun reviewing it. Everything clicked, everything went fast paced without feeling rushed (well, besides Rhino’s match, but that was the point), although the main event could have kept going the whole show and I’d have been happy. A fitting eulogy for Kenny King’s ROH career, for sure. Nothing to complain about on this one, I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t bit the bullet yet gets their ass onto the website and checks this one out quickly. Next week I believe we hit a big reset button with some of the storylines, especially regarding the tag title situation. Until then, don’t take my word for it, go to ROHwrestling.com and check it out for yourself. Seriously,  you won’t regret it.