September 11, 2010

If there’s one thing that ROH can do, its load up a big card. Dream matches, chain matches, a mystery partner for the Griz. In addition, the future Seth Rollins defends the title against his fellow perennial ROH Title choker, who has now discovered the truth.

Eddie Edwards . . . shows that it takes a lot more than a busted up arm to keep him down.

Chris Hero . . . shows why he’s one of the best heels in the business, riling up the fans at every turn.

Roderick Strong . . . turns the match that should have been the defining moment of his career, into one of the worst ROH Title changes ever.


This is like a one-on-one version of a Dragon Gate trios match. They both pull off some good stuff, but it doesn’t seem like the spots truly matter. It’s telling when Briscoe nearly spikes King on his head, and the next sequence involves King landing on his feet when Briscoe attempts a back body drop. They each only get one good near fall, King’s sunset flip counter (complete with rope grabbing) and Jay’s running boot. Considering what they’d done to each other (mostly what Jay had done to King) there should have been at least a few more. It makes one wonder why King finishes off Jay so easily with his finisher. Nothing else that King had done really had much effect, and all he does to set up the move is a single jumping kick. It’s certainly not because Rhett Titus showed up for the distraction, all that did was give Jay an excuse to dive to the floor. Both of them can be fun to watch, but, unless you like go-go-go spotfests and minimal selling, then this match won’t be much fun.


Titus’ counters are a fun addition, but, other than those, this isn’t much different from the match their respective partners just had. The work itself doesn’t really seem to matter in the long run. Titus and his counters are the only real storytelling involved, with Titus being smart enough to try to *avoid* Mark’s big shots. But, even when Mark does hit something big, it’s not a match breaker at all. Probably the biggest spot of the whole match was Mark’s Phoenix senton on the floor. Mark rolls Titus in and then starts climbing the top, but Titus pops to his feet and climbs up with him, which leads to Mark hitting a flying Ace Crusher. It’d have been more sensible for Mark to use the bump from the senton to delay his climb, or slow him down, which would give Titus time to rest before meeting him at the top. Of course, it’s not like the Ace Crusher had much effect anyway, they were both on their feet exchanging strikes a minute later. The finish is at least a bit sensible, with King’s attempted interference backfiring and allowing Mark to hit the Cut Throat driver. So yeah, it’s better than the previous match, but not by any great margin.


There’s very little there that’s really much of a surprise, the match starts out as a big brawl, settles down into a formula tag match with Grizzly in peril, and breaks down after the hot tag with the Embassy cheating to win. But, just because it’s predictable doesn’t make it bad. Stevens and Necro aren’t going to be mistaken for any number of great tag teams, but they work well in their role of bullying Grizzly around, and even Ernesto and Nana take a couple of cheap shots on the floor.

The big surprise to this match is how over Mahoney’s shtick still is, nearly ten years after ECW went out of business. Had he come into ROH in 2003 and gotten this reaction, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all (look at how over Justin Credible got). Seeing Stevens get the pin on Ballz, cheating or not, was a surprise too, given that it’s Grizzly who has the issue with the Embassy. It’s a predictable match, but it’s still a fun one.


This match is essentially broken up into two distinct portions, before and after Cabana gets chained to the corners. Before Colt gets tied up, the match is about what you’d expect from this sort of affair, a hateful brawl with plenty of blood to go around. What’s also expected out of these sort of matches is the workers letting the chain do the work for them, and falling back on casual punching with the chain around the fist, and choking with the chain around the neck. However, this match doesn’t meet the second expectation. They find creative ways to work the chain into the match, without seeming lazy about it. The two best ones are from Steen and Generico, Generico wrapping the chain around the turnbuckle and ramming Steen’s head into it, and Steen’s chain-assisted sharpshooter. Add in a couple of big spots like Generico’s big dive to the floor and Generico’s big table bump, and it’s easy to see that this isn’t a lazy effort.

Unfortunately, the match takes a nosedive after the heels tie Cabana up between the corners. Corino and Steen crowd play for a few minutes, and Generico makes the save by hitting a pair of his running kicks to the face. Then, Generico makes like he may not be able to save Cabana in time. If you have it in you to unload two big kicks to the face, then it should be safe to assume that you can simply walk five feet and save your partner. But, he can’t, and they more or less hit reset on the angle. Cabana is chained up, and Steen and Corino are ready to part his hair, but Generico saves again. They repeat this sequence twice more with the only difference being in how Generico saves, and Cabana trying to help himself by kicking at Corino and Steen. The ending is somewhat smart, with Cabana getting some time to rest when he was tied up, and thus, he easily dispatches Corino with the Billy Goat’s Curse, which leaves Steen and Generico’s issue yet unresolved. As a whole, it’s quite the fun hateful brawl, especially for a chain match, but the repetitive feeling of the storyline with Cabana getting tied up takes it down a notch. ***

EDDIE EDWARDS © vs. SHAWN DAIVARI (ROH World Television Title)

I started thinking that this seemed to be awfully low key, especially for a title match in ROH, but then Eddie went into the post and it started getting good. The really great thing here is the way Eddie never lets his hurt arm leave focus, even when he catches Daivari sleeping on the top and plants him with a big superplex to turn the tide, Eddie still keeps in mind that he’s got a bad arm. Daivari is serviceable, all he really needs to do is bust up Eddie’s bad arm which isn’t exactly a daunting task. Seeing Daivari break out a submission or two would have been nice, but watching him do things like plant Eddie’s arm against the barricade and kick it are enough to get the point across.

Daivari’s best chance to win runs through Eddie’s bad arm, and once Eddie shows that it’s not enough to keep him down, that’s the end of Daivari. There are little touches throughout the second half to show how far ahead Eddie is. A good example is Daivari preparing for a lariat, but he hesitates for a second and Eddie takes the opening and hits a superkick to keep himself in control. Nana’s attempt to interfere isn’t anything more than delaying the inevitable, and once he’s taken out of the way, Eddie quickly catches Daivari in the Achilles lock for the submission. This doesn’t rate very highly amongst Eddie’s best matches, but it scores some points if one enjoys simple storytelling in sub ten-minute matches. ***


For the first few minutes, their goal (according to Aries’ promo anyway) of stealing the show doesn’t seem too far off. But, as a whole, this doesn’t come together as well as you’d expect a match, their Sacrifice 2005 match leaves this in the dust. What’s mostly lacking here is anything outstanding from Daniels, he’s not bad at all, but the only things he really contributes are his familiar spots (Koji clutch, STO, BME, etc.), there’s nothing from him as far as selling or personality. Aries is better in that department, his cockiness when working over Daniels early on was a nice addition, and his stooging when he was in trouble was every bit as good as it was in his 2009 HDNet matches. His reaction when Daniels kicks out of the brainbuster and then the 450 was perfect.

But, the big thing that makes this work are the creative spots that they come up with, not so much the wrestlers themselves, although Aries avoiding the Arabian press by rolling into the ring and letting Daniels wipe out on the floor was a real jerk move. The really great thing is that their stuff doesn’t come off as contrived at all, Aries countering the second Koji clutch in the crucifix bomb was a great moment, and the perfect way to put Aries back into the control. Their finish is the same way, with Daniels’ catching Aries on the top rope and getting him in a super Angels Wings for the win, it’d be easy to write it off as typical indy goofiness with a contrived finish, but it’s anything but. Had Daniels found his own way to stand out, then this might have been their best match opposite each other, but as it is, it’s only the second best that I’ve seen.


For the most part, this match goes just how you’d expect a match between these two teams to go, and that isn’t a bad thing at all. The KOW are the dirty heels that rain on the fans’ parade, while Haas and Benjamin show the fans that they’re still hungry for competition and they’ve still got it in them to go. Haas and Benjamin have always been ‘workers’ rather than ‘characters’ neither has ever really shown much as far as personality goes, which is why attempts at doing that (Shelton’s Mama and Haas doing impressions) always wound up so horrible. They’re wrestlers by trade, so that what they go out there and do. If you’re familiar with their work, then there’s nothing especially mind blowing, aside from Haas doing an amateur style rolling headlock to Hero, but that’s part of the charm of the match, the crowd is perfectly satisfied seeing familiar spots so they go with that.

Hero and Claudio pull their weight as well. They’re great at riling up the fans and making them want to see Haas and Benjamin tear them apart. The cravate with knees would have been Hero’s best moment, had he not killed Shelton’s momentum after the hot tag by pulling down the rope and keeping the KOW in control. Claudio is fine, but his best stuff usually involved him following Hero’s lead, such as the KOW tying up Shelton’s arms and throwing him into the corner. The only real gripe that I have with the match as a whole is the treatment of Hero’s elbow, and the finish even remedies that a bit. The elbow is supposed to be Hero’s big strike, but one of them flush to Shelton’s jaw and a second soon after to his back fail to keep him down. The finish sees him use the (allegedly) loaded elbow pad to finally keep Haas down, so it’s not like the two previous elbows failing to do the job were wasted efforts that devalued it or anything. Plus it keeps alive the idea that, belts or not, the KOW are just a couple of goons and aren’t in the class of Haas and Benjamin. ***1/2

TYLER BLACK © vs. RODERICK STRONG (ROH World Heavyweight Title)

As far as ROH Title changes go, this is easily one of the worst ever. It’s not just the overbooking, although the ref bump and interference don’t help at all, but the match itself just isn’t very smartly worked. Why Strong thought he should act like Hulk Hogan and pop up after big moves, I have no idea, especially when Strong is supposed to be a heel. Strong takes a superplex from Black and “rolls through” to do one of his backbreakers for a near fall. That’s not even his stupidest idea. That comes when he blows off a Buckle Bomb and charges into a second one that gets sold, which sets up Black to try the Phoenix splash. Strong may as well have just sold the first one if that’s where they were going.

Black and Strong do have a few good ideas, but nothing that’s able to salvage this, their good stuff comes in small doses, such as Black doing his back flip spot early, and Strong seeing coming and getting a nice near fall with a sunset flip, which leads to a small chain-wrestling sequence. If nothing else, Black knows how to get the ROH fans hot at him, when he did his ode to Cena and gave Strong the STF, the fans (who’d been somewhat split) were firmly behind Strong. When it comes down to it, that’s what the big problem with the match is, it’s more about Black being WWE-bound than it is about Strong winning the title he’s chased since 2005, or the issue between Strong and Black themselves. Strong hitting the big running kick and getting the pin on Black doesn’t have that big moment feel like so many previous title changes had. Aries/Black from February had problems in that department as well, but at least that was a good, smartly worked, match and this isn’t anything close. This should have been the defining moment in Strong’s career, but it’s far from it. Strong deserves better.

Conclusion: The main event is a big downer, but the show as a whole is rather fun with good stuff from some of the usual suspects.