Last Week: Ring of Honor finished up its “Road Rage” series by showing an abridged version of the longest match in modern wrestling.
ROH TV Episode 18
We got some highlights from the “Final Battle 2011” main event that saw Davey Richards defeat his fellow American Wolf once again to retain the ROH World title. After the match, Kevin Steen informed Davey that not only would he beat him for the ROH title, but he’d also hold the company hostage afterwards.
In front of a raucous crowd, Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness announced that at “Final Battle” The Briscoes won the ROH World Tag Team title and how The Young Bucks putting Rhett Titus on the shelf with a knee injury set up tonight’s main event of Titus’ All Night Express partner Kenny King vs. Matt Jackson of the Bucks. But first, we have words from the opening match’s contestants, Eddie Edwards and Mike Mondo.
Mondo saw this match as a huge opportunity, not just because he’s taking on Edwards, but due to Edwards coming off the biggest loss of his career. And Mondo, being the guy that he is, loves kicking a man while he’s down.
Eddie promised not to cry over spilled milk, and is ready to regroup himself rather than focus on his recent title loss. Tonight, according to Eddie, is his first step toward another ROH World title shot.
Eddie Edwards vs. Mike Mondo
The pro-Edwards crowd cheered for their man as Mondo went hold for hold, move for move with the former ROH champion. Mondo started moving a little too fast for his trouble, getting hung in the tree of woe. Edwards used a hesitation dropkick to set up that sliding dropkick across the apron to rattle Mike. When Eddie came after him, Mondo grabbed the referee to save himself. This worked well for Mondo as he lured Eddie into an arm breaker on Eddie’s surgically repaired right arm - the same arm Eddie wrestled that Ladder War with when it was broken.
Eddie fought his way through Mondo’s arm locks with chops. Running knife-edge chop by Eddie dropped Mike. A flying knee strike from Eddie didn’t get him the victory as he couldn’t make a solid cover thanks to his arm. Blistering chops from Eddie had Mondo asking for a time out. Mondo recovered after an Irish whip, catching Eddie with another arm breaker. After the failed pinned attempt, Mondo went for a superplex. Eddie fought his way out of the precarious situation, using that double stomp across Mondo’s open back. Die Hard by “Die Hard”. Eddie hastily made the cover, getting the victory.
At “Final Battle 2011”, The Briscoes and Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team had one of the most violent RH Tag Team title matches in history. Several chair shots to the heads of Dem Boys drew blood, raised the ire of Jay and Mark Briscoe, and had the fans turning on WGTT. In the end, all the punishment paid off as The Briscoes defeated WGTT to become seven time ROH World Tag Team champions.
From the studio, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin spoke on the “Final Battle” match. Haas realized that The Briscoes took them out of their game by forcing them to brawl rather than do what they do best - wrestle. Shelton reflected on the hostile crowd of NYC, saying they weren’t too smart to fall for what The Briscoes are all about. Haas and Benjamin don’t understand why Jim Cornette and the fans were furious over the beating they gave The Briscoes, but for everyone who doesn’t like WGTT, according to Charlie, “They can go straight to Hell.”
Executive Producer Jim Cornette spoke on the matter, saying he wasn’t going to allow wrestlers to hit people on the heads with chairs unless they want to face a $5000 fine.
Back in the ring, Jim Cornette introduced the new ROH World Tag Team champions, The Briscoes. A huge ovation for the champs. Jay didn’t take long in acknowledging the fine money, and how they deserve the money because they’re the ones that got hit. The crowd loved Jay asking for everyone to come out to hit them with chairs to build up a nice retirement fund for Dem Boys. Jay talked about the fans like Dem Boys because they keep it real. Mark took the microphone for a short time to say they are going to drop each challenger they face. Jay led his adoring crowd to chant, “Man up!” as we headed to another commercial break.
Roderick Strong w/Truth Martini & Michael Elgin vs. Ricky Reyes
Reyes is a former ROH World Tag Team champion alongside Rocky Romero as The Havana Pitbulls. An honorable handshake between two men who, at point, had the same partner before an arm drag exchange occurred, and Truth Martini made his way to the announce table. Roderick actually found himself on the ropes after an exploder suplex. It wasn’t until Reyes went for a running dropkick against the cornered Strong did Ricky lose his momentum when Roderick caught him with a backbreaker. Before Strong suplexed Reyes, Martini noted that The House of Truth is all about the Code of Honor going into 2012.
Turning a knee to the stomach into a cradle, Reyes had Roderick looking for the fast moving Ricky. Several elbows rocked Roderick, as did an enzuguri. A near fall for Ricky following a DDT. Reyes was on fire until he went for a roll up. Roderick turned the tables, rolling up Ricky with a handful of tights. With his butt exposed, and all of Roderick’s weight on his shoulders, Ricky couldn’t kick out in time to save himself.
This week on Inside ROH, we hear from Kevin Steen following his defeating of Steve Corino at “Final Battle” and the annihilation of Corino, Jimmy Jacobs, and El Generico with the Package Piledriver. Steen admitted that Cornette was right in predicting people would get hurt if Steen came back. Wearing his old Steenerico in support of El Generico, Kevin Steen promised to be on ROH TV in two weeks to continue the streak of violence he started last year.
Seemingly, The Embassy has new financial backing. Prince Nana thanked himself in making The Embassy more than just a wrestling faction, but a global entity as The Embassy, LTD. Actually, according to R.D. Evans, it was him that helped secure the deal between The Embassy and this unknown company. And the major reason because of this collaboration is The Embassy’s focus on making “The Dominant Male” ROH’s biggest star.
New interviewer and ROH School graduate Veda Scott was in the back with ROH World champion Davey Richards and Future Shock member Kyle O’Reilly. Veda asked how Davey felt teaming with his protégé and fellow Team Richards member O’Reilly next week. Davey loved that fact he could wrestle alongside someone again after the falling out between himself and Eddie Edwards. Davey warned their opponents for next week, Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman, that the Richards’ dubbed, “Team Ambition” will take them down. Kyle alluded to that after next week we might see a new American Wolves. Davey emphasized that next week is about ambition, not the hunt.
Kenny King w/Rhett Titus vs. Matt Jackson w/Nick Jackson
Rhett Titus was on crutches following his surgery, giving The Bucks something to make fun of during the introductions. It didn’t take long for the pace to pick up, and Matt getting a little ahead of himself allowing King to use some ground & pound. Matt slid to the floor to avoid whatever a running King had in mind, getting some consolation from his brother. When Matt reentered the ring, King started arm dragging and pounding Matt with his right hand. King wanted to use that slingshot leg drop, but almost got tripped by Nick. Leaping over the top rope, King downed Nick with a corkscrew plancha to a great ovation. Sadly for Kenny, turning to the ring allowed Nick to dropkick the ANX member in the face before we headed to our last commercial break.
Coming back from the break, King was trying to fight his way off the mat. During the commercial, a fighting King’s momentum was stopped by another dropkick from Matt Jackson. Matt stopped the capoeira kick with a super kick to the back, but King wasn’t down for the count. Avoiding another super kick, King was able to hit that head and leg cradle suplex. Matt was the first to get up, but end up running into a couple of clothesline and the STO. An elbow drop and a moonsault almost defeated Matt. The capoeira kick hit on the second try to set up the spine buster … for a near fall for King!
Matt elbowed his way out of the Royal Flush, using the super kick right after to his that flipping ace crusher off the middle rope. King smartly rolled onto the apron. Actually, it wasn’t too smart as Matt leapt from inside to outside, grabbing King’s prone head before drilling him on the apron with a DDT. Rolling King back into the ring, Matt almost gained the three count.
The fans were into this one as King blocked Matt’s 450 splash by getting his knees up. Coronation by King connected, but Matt kicked out at the last second. The referee turned to the commotion going on at ringside between Nick and Titus as King used the Macho Man hotshot. Rather than do his job properly, the ref kept his focus on Titus after Nick Jackson stole one of Titus’ crutches before Nick went to the side of the ring where King prepared to sling over the top rope from the apron. When King leapt from the apron, Nick whacked him in the back with Titus’ crutch. Matt quickly took advantage of his brother’s actions, rolling King up. The referee counted King down even though Kenny’s legs were touching the ropes, giving Matt Jackson a cheap victory.
After the match, everything broke loose as King fought The Bucks to protect his injured partner.
Overall: Before I write about the action, I must note that ROH TV finally looks and sounds great. The audio levels were where I could hear the entrance music; no fluxuation of sound on the microphone during in-ring promos, and the commentators’ microphones weren’t higher than the in-ring sounds and the crowd. The lighting was better than most iPPVs here with a perfect mix of brightness in the ring and on the crowd to show how enthusiastic they were without creating that whiteout/washout effect as seen on previous episodes and DVDs. And there was only one screwy camera cut that I can remember seeing (during King’s Coronation and follow up pin attempt was missed thanks to focus being on the impending confrontation at ringside). Outside of a couple of my pet peeves for this show returning from a production perspective (the black and white close ups during promos to emphasize important statements and the bell ringing to censor wrestlers), ROH TV finally looks like the show I envisioned it coming across as before its first episode.
But none of that upped production means a thing if the action isn’t quality. Mike Mondo had his greatest ROH match to date here, and a very good match overall. It’s no coincidence that Mondo’s talent shined against someone with the ability to bring it out of him. If Mondo can continue a streak of matches like this one against a variety of opponents, a lot of ROHbots will change their tune about him. The same can be said about Ricky Reyes if ROH decides to bring him back for more than just one taping. Reyes and Strong left me wanting more, yet this is probably all we’ll ever get. And while the main event was going well, the end hurt it horribly from a short-term perspective. For one, King’s boots were touching the ropes, and the pin shouldn’t have happened. Right now, this looks horrible, but could be used for the future with King stating he never lost, and it was the ref’s incompetence that cost him; setting up a rematch. The other problem with the ending is what ROH is promoting. ROH TV is supposed to be different than all of the other wrestling shows out there, but the match’s end was very WWE/TNA-esque. Storyline advancement sometimes calls for things outside of the box (this was outside of the box for ROH), but ROH needs to be careful not to turn into something it’s not supposed to be.
Ranting aside, this was a solid show with three good matches, some great promos from Kevin Steen and WGTT (Haas is really shining in promos lately. How did WWE not know Haas had this kind of personality?), and upped production values that were desperately needed. Now, can you just get rid of that stupid bell ringing when Kevin Steen cusses?