The ROHbot Report: "Border Wars" iPPV Analysis, Latest Set Of TV Taping Results, Finlay Has A Chance To Break "Unbreakable", And More
By James Bullock May 19, 2012 - 10:20 AM
TweetHello one and all to another edition of The ROHbot Report. Last weekend featured one of the most important events in the Sinclair Broadcasting Group era of Ring of Honor when they presented their “Border Wars” iPPV that featured the highly anticipated battle over the ROH World title between Davey Richards and Kevin Steen. A lot happened at the event, and I’m here to tell what was right and wrong. Not only that, but I have the latest set of TV taping results and a preview of “The Battle For Richmond”. So lets get this thing started.
1. Eddie Edwards defeated Rhino
2. The All Night Express & TJ Perkins defeated The Young Bucks & Mike Mondo
3. Jay Lethal defeated Tommaso Ciampa
4. Lance Storm defeated Mike Bennett
5. Michael Elgin defeated Adam Cole
6. Roderick Strong defeated Fit Finlay to retain the TV title
7. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team defeated The Briscoes to win the ROH World Tag Team title in a “Fight Without Honor”
8. Kevin Steen defeated Davey Richards to become the new ROH World champion
Goring Hard, Dying Harder: The event kicked off with Eddie Edwards - who was on a three iPPV losing streak in singles competition - taking on The House of Truth’s hired gun Rhino. Rather than worry about Rhino’s size, power, and possibly intensity advantages, Edwards did his best in the early going to ground “The Man-Beast” in hopes of preventing Rhino from gaining any momentum or setting up the Gore. According to announcer Nigel McGuinness, his belief was Edwards’ experience against a similar built Bison Smith (“God rest his soul”) allowed Edwards to properly execute his game plan. Sadly for Edwards, it was Rhino’s ingenuity that turned the tides in the big man’s favor as he avoided a wild knife edge chop, shoulder ramming Edwards’ midsection.
Rhino’s focus was Edwards’ torso; and that was very painfully obvious for Eddie thanks to attacks such as a gorilla press slam from the ring to the floor that saw Eddie splat on the padded concrete. Through it all, Edwards refused to submit and showed Rhino what his nickname of “Die Hard” meant as he avoided a clothesline to German suplex his opponent. The flurry of strikes from Eddie rocked and even downed Rhino at several points during the homestretch, but none could keep Rhino down for the three count. Edwards almost had the match won when Rhino belly to belly suplexed him in position for the Gore. Like his former partner Davey Richards from this past week of ROH TV, going high proved valuable for Edwards as he avoided the Gore, almost sent Rhino into the apron-standing Martini, and cradled Rhino for the pin fall.
An easy to digest match that was smartly worked and set the tone perfectly for the night. Once again, Rhino pulls a Samoa Joe and loses only due to his inability to kick out of a flash pin. Eddie finally breaks his losing streak and gets himself back in possible title contention. Good stuff all around and a great way to kick off this highly important event.
It’s About How You Gel: The most recent match announced for this show featured two three-person groups teaming for the first time. It didn’t take long to realize that The All Night Express and TJ Perkins had been working hard on their triple teams as they unleashed some fluid combinations together that kept Mondo and Matt Jackson one step behind. Just when everything was going well for Team ANX Ft. TJP, Titus’ anger and quest for revenge on The Bucks got the better of him as he chased Nick Jackson around ringside. The chase set up The Bucks’ handstand-dropkick double team on Rhett before Mondo leveled Titus’ boys on the apron.
Unlike their opponents, the fluidity of The Bucks and Mondo’s unit wasn’t as smooth as their opponents, but their ability to cut the ring off and isolate Titus from tagging out while working over his abdomen was excellent. But Nigel noted something that would come back to haunt The Bucks and Mondo - why didn’t Nick, Matt, and Mike attack the knees of Titus after that put Rhett on the shelf after “Final Battle 2011”. To affirm Nigel’s belief that the three weren’t attacking Titus properly, Rhett kicked away Mondo, tagging in a white hot King. The action hit another gear as all six men were duking it out, exchanging high impact maneuvers, scintillating double teams, sick splashes and near falls off blind tags. It became a race for that big double or triple team combination to end this one. After a series of dives to the floor, Matt Jackson found himself all alone in the clutches of Rhett Titus. Titus hoisted Matt up, hitting the One Night Stand thanks to Kenny King. To top off The ANX’s finish, TJP hit that 450 splash before Titus gained his retribution by pinning and defeating a Young Buck.
This match was definitely surprising. Not because of the level of talent wasn’t high, but it was pretty obvious this match was just thrown together to add something to the card. The worry that they wouldn’t get the proper time to have a great match was unfounded as it wasn’t some rushed, high spot fest from bell to bell. Not only that, but The ANX gained another iPPV victory and seem to be en route to another ROH World Tag Team title shot. This performance did nothing but add to that belief in favor of The ANX and make everyone understand that TJP is a true underrated talent in ROH.
The Battle For Dominance: Since January, Tommaso Ciampa has had a problem with Jay Lethal. Simply, the undefeated Ciampa hasn’t been able to defeat Lethal - and it sickened him. Ciampa couldn’t defeat Jay for the TV title, so he cost Lethal the championship last month to Roderick Strong. Now, it’s not about the TV title. This battle is personal. That was very obvious as the fight started on the outside and stayed there for several minutes. As noted in last week’s ROHbot Report (http://www.worldwrestlinginsanity.com/am2/publish/ringofhonorlive/The_ROHbot_Report_51212.shtml), this Grudge Match was something unlike Ciampa - who was sporting a Paul Ellering-like beard - has been in since his ROH debut. Ciampa was in a fight and at a disadvantage. Every time Ciampa thought he had Lethal in trouble, Jay countered and dropped Ciampa. From a slingshot into the “Section C” sign to the Lethal Combination II on the floor, the action was all Lethal. That was until Jay made the mistake of going for a dive from in the ring to out. Distracted by Prince Nana and RD Evans, Lethal gave Ciampa enough time to recover and knee Lethal in the head as it popped through the ropes.
The match officially started after the knee from Ciampa, and “The Dominant Male” was finally in control. The methodical pace of Ciampa allowed him to recover from the beating Jay dished out during the early going while keeping the former TV champion grounded. But that same heart that allowed Jay to become and hold onto the TV title for such a long time gave him the wherewithal to stop a charging Ciampa following an eye gouge with his leg lariat. The action settled into a back and forth fight. Ciampa took this battle up a notch by using Jay’s own Lethal Combination. Hulking up, Lethal had the fans behind him and Ciampa reeling following a series of strikes. When Jay bounced off the ropes, he connected with Lethal Injection. Jay’s sure pin was stopped by he interference of Evans, but the end was near for Ciampa. Definitely, Ciampa confronted Lethal after kicking out of Jay’s follow up pin after Hail to the King. Jay looked into Ciampa’s eyes and saw a beaten man. To make what Ciampa’s eyes expressed into something the world could see, Jay hooked Ciampa before he could do anything outside of flip Jay off, using ten backbreakers to set up a final Lethal Combination to end Ciampa’s undefeated streak.
Following the match, Ciampa’s mental instability seen during his recent promo on rohwrestling.com hit a new level as he stormed off while talking about voices. In all honesty, I don’t know what to think about where ROH is going with Ciampa from here. It could be the beginning of something bigger for Tommaso and The Embassy, or could be the crippling end of one of the most interesting characters in the company right now. But that’s in the future. What we saw here was quite possibly Lethal and Ciampa’s best match to date. The story was as good as their last match and did wonders to emphasize the toughness of both men. It was obvious the fans loved what was going on, and I for one would love to see more between them. For now, this was a fitting end to the rivalry as the good guy wins. But that’s not saying it’s truly over.
A Canadian Hero’s Welcome: It was at “Showdown in the Sun: Day One” that Lance Storm faced Mike Bennett in a losing effort. But it wasn’t losing to Bennett that made Storm demand a rematch, but the disrespect Bennett showed by attacking Storm after the match. Unlike their first encounter, Storm came in with anger and a need to beat Bennett down rather than grapple on the mat. Bennett proved he was just as savvy in the brawling arena, countering a suplex to the floor by whipping Storm back first into the steel ring post. The crowd was on Bennett’s case as he tried to keep Storm ground when the action returned inside. Strong fired back, using a kangaroo kick to free himself from Bennett’s clutches, but not for long. With Toronto behind him, Storm punched his way off the mat, using his agility to leap from the mat to the top rope before back elbowing Bennett for a near fall.
The opponents began trading two counts on each other thanks to some high impact moves such as Storm’s codebreaker and Bennett’s original finisher - the spine buster. Once again, Storm showed tremendously resiliency under dire straits as he not only kicked out of Bennett’s follow up pin after the Box Office Smash, he countered Bennett’s version of Storm’s Maple Leaf submission. Everything seemed to be going right for Storm when Bennett’s manager Bob Evans jumped onto the apron to distract the ref and Storm. As Lance turned to the approaching Bennett, he found “The Prodigy” swinging a chair. Storm kicked the chair out of Bennett’s hands. It was then that Storm realized there was no honor in Bennett and decided to make him pay - pay for Bennett embarrassing him when he didn’t need to. Storm picked up Bennett’s weapon, rattling “The Prodigy’s” spine before super kicking him out cold. Quickly covering his fallen adversary, Storm gained redemption in his home away from home.
After the match, Storm cut a short promo stating he didn’t know how many more matches he had him, but was thankful to compete in ROH amidst the chants of “You still go it!” Storm still having was proven once again here as he helped Mike Bennett have another very good match. While the argument can be made that this encounter wasn’t as good as the first, no one can deny the story was tight, the action was tighter, and the ending was almost sentimental as Storm put it all out there once again while helping showcase another young talent looking to prove himself. Not only that, but the loss didn’t hurt Bennett too much. At “SitS: Day One”, Bennett beat Storm mostly off talent alone. Here, Bennett reverted back to his old ways and it cost him. This loss proved Storm was right the entire time as Bennett can beat anyone if he keeps his head on straight and wrestles with honor instead of taking shortcuts. We’ll see if there’s a change in Bennett following this huge loss after another impressive showing.
The Battle Of The Breakout Stars: 2012 has seen Michael Elgin and Adam Cole pick up important wins and produce impressive matches. With a very pro-Elgin crowd against him, Cole refused to let his momentum die out after winning at his last two of two iPPV appearances. Cole did a good job of using a hit & run approach until he leapt into the clutches of Elgin when Elgin turned Cole’s tope to the floor into a slam on the steel entrance ramp. This became the story of the match as Cole’s attempt to fight back thanks to his speed advantage was thwarted by Elgin’s size and power.
Though the crowd was against him and everything seemed to be going wrong, Cole bounced off the ropes following a failed fistfight, tornado DDT’ing Elgin. Elgin rolled onto the apron to avoid a pin fall, only to take an apron DDT. Cole wanted to show that he isn’t a wimp in the strength department after his series of running strikes didn’t put Elgin away, using that over the knee brain buster to gain a two count - and that happened after a super falcon arrow from the apron into the ring by Elgin almost attainted him the victory. Sadly for Cole, it was his hope of pulling a “10th Anniversary Show” on Elgin like he did to Davey Richards by going for that cross body block off the top rope that cost him the match as Elgin’s power stopped the move. With Cole in his grasp, Elgin turnbuckle bombed-Spiral Bombed Cole into oblivion.
Truth Martini entered the ring to celebrate with his boy before telling Elgin to take a powder so Roderick Strong could take on Fit Finlay. During Martini’s promo, Elgin had a look on his face like, “Why you gotta take my shine?” Martini ran his mouth too long, allowing Cole to recover and super kick him into unconsciousness. Elgin approached his fallen manager, hoisting him up before shaking his head as if to say, “What else can I do?” What Elgin can continue to do is win (winning!). What you had here was another good showing by two guys trying to take their careers to another level while doing the same for ROH. They had a hard time getting the crowd into this one, but once they had the audience, they didn’t let them go. While it was a no-win situation for the loser, the action spoke for itself and how bright the future is for ROH if they stay consistent with their booking of both men.
The Strongest Love To Fight: With no time limits agreed upon, ROH TV champion Roderick Strong took the fight to the debuting Fit Finlay in Strong’s first iPPV TV title defense when Strong found himself at a disadvantage in the grappling department. But the fighting Irishman proved early that throwing fists with Finlay could prove detrimental after Strong got chopped in the face. It was the resourcefulness of the champion that helped him as he waited for Finlay to counter a hold or attack so he could reverse Fit’s planned move with something even more powerful that what the champ originally had in mind.
Strong’s target was Finlay’s midsection for the Stronghold. Just as Strong rolled his challenger over, Nigel noted that Finlay’s trainer’s finisher was the Boston crab. Proving McGuinness right that Finlay would know how to free himself from Strong’s favorite submission, Finlay swept the champ before clubbing him upside the head. Finlay’s ingenuity and tenacity couldn’t stop the pain coursing through his body thanks to Roderick’s smart torso work. Finlay pausing between attacks to catch his breath gave Strong the chance to retaliate with the Sick Kick prior to ending Finlay’s ROH debut on a low note.
There’s not much else you’d expect from a Fit Finlay match than what happened here. From the beautiful mat wrestling that started the match to the hard-hitting action that perfectly played off of what happened during the match’s progression to a proper end, everything was gripping from bell to bell. Hopefully this isn’t the last time Finlay wrestles in ROH against the company’s top talent.
Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare Becomes A Reality: There’s so much that happened leading up to the “Border Wars” main event that a short summary couldn’t do it justice. The best way to look at it is in the way Nigel McGuinness said during the match, “Pro-wrestling is about a conflict between two men trying to prove they are the best.” At the core, this is what Davey Richards vs. Kevin Steen for the ROH World title was all about. Steve Corino joined Kevin Kelly and Nigel at the announce table, but refused to speak after his opening statement (which couldn’t be heard). Not surprisingly, Davey was completely hated from the time his music hit. But not one to dislike some antagonizing, Richards egged on the crowd any time he gained an advantage; though he had a rough start thanks to Steen going for the sanctioned-for-this-match-only Package Piledriver. Steen fought through Richards’ initial onslaught of strikes, turning the tides in his favor on the floor. Like the Mad Hatter, Steen’s second Jimmy Jacobs enthusiastically cheered Steen alongside the fans whenever the challenger did anything from punching Davey to surviving a submission.
The match wasn’t even ten minutes deep when Steen used his apron power bomb not once, but twice. Rolling Davey back in revealed the first kink in Steen’s armor - his previously injured left knee. Though Steen could barely stand, missed the Swanton, and couldn’t hit his key finishers, he fired himself up and kept firing back with Davey in their exchange of strikes. At one point, Steen knocked Davey’s mouthpiece out to set up the power bomb-sharpshooter combo. Sadly for the challenger, his left leg gave out on him. It seemed every time Steen was gaining some momentum either his leg wouldn’t work or Davey would drop him with a leg-based attack. Nigel couldn’t believe the abuse Steen was absorbing and still fighting. Around the twenty minute mark, Steen wasn’t just fighting, he was thriving.
During the match’s closing moments, the champion and challenger alike were using everything in their repertoire to unsuccessfully keep the other down. Well everything but the Package Piledriver as Steen’s legs just wouldn’t cooperate with him. The crowd was starting to roar with anticipation after suffering a moment of hushed fear when Richards used the two buzzsaw kicks to set up another Ankle Lock. Steen questioned should he tap out as he tried to crawl away from the champ’s grip. Suddenly, Steen grabbed the middle turnbuckle for leverage to free himself. Unbeknownst to Davey as he dragged Steen back to the ring’s middle Steen pulled the middle turnbuckle pad along with him. Using his last remaining bit of leverage, Steen rolled forward to freedom, sending Davey face first into the exposed turnbuckle in the process. On spaghetti legs was Davey as he unknowingly turned in Steen’s direction. The fans in attendance watched in awe as Steen powered Davey off the mat, executing the first Package Piledriver in ROH since “Final Battle 2011”. Time almost stood still until the referee’s hand hit the mat for the third time, declaring Kevin Steen as the new ROH World champion.
The sights following the final bell of the evening were telling. The biased Steen crowd cheered like never before. Kevin Steen held high the championship belt he spent the past four years trying to capture after Cary Silkin refused to follow tradition and award the new champion his prize. Davey Richards lay unconscious in the spot Steen left him under a blanket of streamers. A jubilant Jimmy Jacobs circled the ring before turning everyone’s attention to the stoic individual who’d just entered. That individual was none other than Steve Corino. Steen left his perch on the middle rope to confront Corino with the same offer to hit the new champ that he proposed at ROH’s “Homecoming 2012”. But Corino didn’t want to fight. Corino didn’t walk away like he did in Philadelphia this past January. Instead, Steve Corino embraced his old friends, making Nigel question if the situation that unfolded over the last year and a half was an elaborate scheme to get to this night. I guess we’ll have to wait and see (giddy!).
So, did the main event live up to the hype? In most ways yes. In the same vein as Rock-Hogan, Punk-Cena, and to a more relevant extent, Richards-Elgin, this was the perfect storm of great action, a fantastic crowd, and seesaw belief during the match’s progression where you don’t know what’s going to happen. Though the match was probably not as good as previous encounters from a work rate perspective, story wise, it was wonderful. Simply put, Steen and Richards sucked you in and refused to let go until the screen went black. It was everything you would hope, want, and needed to believe that ROH isn’t going to drop the ball with Kevin Steen by going against the grain to do what they wanted to do. They didn’t make the mistake of waiting too long like they’ve done in the past, and struck when the hot iron. And on the Indy scene, no one is hotter than Kevin Steen, the new Ring of Honor World champion.
Production Woes: Where do I begin? Well, I went into depth about what happened in the latest edition of Honor Nation (http://www.worldwrestlinginsanity.com/am2/publish/FeaturedArticles/hn46.shtml), but for you non-subscribers, I can’t leave you in the dark. In actuality, that’s the best way I could put it as so many ordering fans were left in the dark as they tried to watch the show, only to find an error page. I myself even tested it out some two hours after bell time to witness the same error page hundreds of enthusiastic fans saw. And this all happened after, as ROH noted, “full testing” of their new and improved server that could hold three times the amount of people their original site design could with double the processing power. Yet, when the time came for ROH to put their money where their mouth is, everything went down, and one of the most important shows in recent ROH history flopped live - and that’s ignoring the usual production problems that have plagued past ROH iPPVs like wrong name displays, inability to properly provide replays, and audio level inconsistencies.
The crazy thing is I was one of the few who asked ROHbots to give ROH the benefit of the doubt going into this show as it was pretty much a guarantee there would be problems. I just never expected those problems to be as fierce as what happened last Saturday night.
A Jack Daniels Sponsored Fight Without Honor: For eleven months, The Briscoes and Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team have waged war. The situation escalated to a new level at “Showdown in the Sun: Day Two” when WGTT slammed Jay groin first into the steel ring post three times. There was a sense of finality as WGTT entered the ring. The whole atmosphere changed when only Jay Briscoe came to the ring. The assumption that Mark Briscoe couldn’t make it across the border was seemingly a valid one until the crowd erupted. From the audience, a hockey jersey sporting Mark Briscoe entered the ring with a hockey stick. The violence didn’t let up from The Briscoes as they tossed chairs at Benjamin and Haas’ heads before doing the same with their own bodies. Haas was the first man to taste his own blood when a slingshot into the steel ring post split Charlie’s forehead. As Haas tried to get himself back into this fight, Benjamin saved the day by pitching a perched Mark Briscoe from the top rope, through the timekeeper’s table!
Jay Briscoe was all alone thanks to his brother’s fall, taking a two on one beating that was highlighted by top rope slams and suplexes by Benjamin and knee drops aimed at Jay’s injured testicles courtesy of Haas. WGTT were looking to repeat history by spread-eagling Jay into the steel ring post again. Thankfully for the eldest Briscoe, Jay was saved by his brother’s hillbilly kung fu theater. Mark was on fire, but couldn’t put either opponent away thanks to his downed brother. When Jay did get up, he set up a table on the floor that himself and Shelton fought over until Shelton electric dropped himself and Jay through the wood. In the ring, Haas sprayed a rag with something before putting it on the face of Mark Briscoe to smother him into unconsciousness. Haas quickly covered the lifeless Mark, becoming two-time ROH World Tag Team champions alongside Shelton Benjamin.
Like Finlay’s match, you got everything you’d expect from a battle like this. From weapons to blood to sick spots to a controversial ending, it was all here. Wait, what? No, you’re not supposed to have a controversial ending in a “Fight Without Honor”. The “Fight Without Honor” is the definitive end to a ROH feud, nothing more, and nothing less. The match was fine until the stupid ending that screamed, “This feud must continue!” even though Haas was saying afterwards that it’s over. I actually enjoyed a lot about this match until the ending because it really wasn’t an ending at all. I don’t know what ROH has in mind after this, but tarnishing one of your homegrown, favored stipulation matches to continue a rivalry that could’ve used any other stipulation in its place is just unnecessary and killed my interest for whatever “feud-ending” match that follows.
Overall:Thankfully for this show its biggest wrong is something you can avoid on the replay. Right now, if you order the replay, you’ll actually see the show! Isn’t that wonderful? In all seriousness, from an in-ring perspective “Border Wars” is almost everything you’d want it to be. While some matches didn’t necessarily live up to the hype (for those who had ridiculously high hopes for Finlay vs. Strong), and one had an ending that completely ruined everything four men worked hard to create, the overall product is an enjoyable, consistent one.
Probably the biggest kudos is the fact ROH didn’t pull a fast one and screw with a perfect formula that was the main event. They let two of the best in ROH fight until there was one left standing, and that’s the way it should be. No funky interference or contrived ending, just two men battling for the richest prize in the company.
In the end, “Border Wars” did a great job in the ring, but ROH did a horrible job showing what those men were trying to put together. Fortunately, the latter problem is something you won’t have to think about.
ROH “Border Wars” Is Worth Your Money. Order the replay at rohwrestling.com.
May 18th TV Taping
First Show Taping
Lance Storm vs. Mike Bennett III at Du Burns June 29 (At the next TV Tapings I guess)
1. Adam Cole over Mike Mondo via backslide
2. Tommaso Ciampa over Nick Westgate (Local Wrestler) via ref stoppage after knees and elbows. Assault continues after match.
3. ANX over Coleman & Alexander
- Steen with Jacobs & Corino come out and threatens to show up at the ROH affiliates dinner and embarrass Cornette. Cornette goes to reveal Steen’s challenger. Richards interrupts, tells off Cornette, puts over Steen and says they are the two best. No one in the ring likes Cornette. Richards gets his rematch at “Best In the World” but it's his only title shot. Episode 1 ends with Richards in the ring looking out at Steen.
1. Michael Elgin over Matt Taven via buckle bomb and spinning power bomb.
- ANX challenge WGTT at Best In The World in a match for the Tag Team Titles.
2. American wolves face off for main event of episode 2: Eddie Edwards over Davey Richards. The story of Edwards vs. Richards 4 is Davey's extra aggression. He spat at a ringside Steen fan. Eddie won with a roll up after avoiding missile drop kick after Davey fought off Jimmy Jacobs.
- Internet Match: 4 way with winner challenging for a title shot next month in Pittsburgh, the participants are Jay Lethal vs. Adam Cole vs. Mike Bennett vs. TV Champion Roderick Strong. Strong wins the 4 way and has the title shot.
1. Mike Bennett over local jobber. Edwards clears the ring after Bennett and Bob beat up the local guy. Bennett challenges Eddie to face Bob next week.
- Kevin Steen wants him vs. Davey to be a NO DQ Match at NYC.
2. The Briscoes over local jobbers. After the match Truth Martini challenge The Briscoes at "BitW". Briscoes vs. House Of Truth
3. TV Title Match: Roderick over Ciampa by DQ when Prince Nana attacks the champ after Ciampa hit Project Ciampa and made the cover.
1. Edwards pins Brutal Bob with a backslide despite interference from Bennett. Homicide makes the save after the bout. Eddie Edwards eats a cop killer after homicide clears the ring.
2. Jay Lethal over Chris Silvio. Pull apart brawl after with Lethal Strong and Ciampa.
3. Team Ambition vs. Kevin Steen & Jimmy Jacobs went to a no contest.
In a lot of ways, this is the complete opposite of where I thought ROH would go with the Steen vs. ROH rivalry. Simply, I thought “Best in the World” would be the beginning of a situation similar to WCW vs. NWO in that guys like Davey Richards and The Briscoes would band together in hopes of stopping this new revolution of violence that is Steen, Corino and Jacobs. Hey, “New Revolution of Violence”, that’s pretty catchy. Could make a nice t-shirt. Moving on - my worry is ROH is going to burn out one of the few money matches they have left. But I must say adding the same stipulation to Davey’s title match that made the conclusion last year’s “BitW” main event a forgone conclusion has added a lot of intrigue to the “Border Wars” rematch because one of four things could most likely happen: Steen retains the title cleanly; Steen keeps the title thanks to some timely interference; Davey wins the title back cleanly; Davey gets the title due to some hijinxs via Jim Cornette.
Options three and four are not good right now unless they want to Richards and Steen to switch places. If ROH plans on making Steen the Homicide to Richards’ Bryan Danielson, then having Steen be screwed out of the title and chase Richards for another shot is absolutely perfect. But if ROH continues to think they turn the crowd in Davey’s favor against Steen, then they are fighting an uphill battle.
Speaking of Homicide, “The Notorious 187” made his ROH return by attacking Eddie Edwards. I don’t know if this is a one-shot deal for “BitW”, but it’s always a pleasure to see the former ROH World champion tearing it up like only he can. Oh, and I can’t wait to see Richards vs. Edwards IV for the simple fact that TV time constraints will not allow them to overdo things and keep the match tight and concise (like their original ROH clash over the TV title).
Even though The Briscoes and WGTT still have problems (more on that later), it seems things are finally clearing out and allowing The All Night Express to get some well-deserved attention. But with The ANX becoming the champs’ latest targets, The Briscoes seem to be floundering without much to do outside of helping push The HOT internal problems. It’s upsetting ROH has spent so much time focusing on a couple of teams and not building credible challengers for guys like The Briscoes when they fall out of title contention.
On the other end of the spectrum, TV title situation is getting muddy, but in a good way. Tommaso Ciampa has all the tools to become ROH TV champion, but variable after variable keeps hindering him. If it isn’t the time limit, it’s his own manager. For those who don’t remember, it was The Embassy who sold Rhino to The House of Truth, so having one man from a group beat the other wouldn’t make for a good business relationship. It’ll be interesting to see if Ciampa completely snaps and goes on his own, or takes out all of his frustrations out on Jay Lethal as their feud more than likely moves on to something bigger at “BitW”.
Not waiting for the new iPPV is the rubber match between Storm and Bennett. Storm has done wonders for Bennett’s credibility in the ring, but it’s up to ROH to capitalize on Bennett’s momentum (if he wins) and make it work for them.
But ROH isn’t done. For the first time in almost a year, Ring of Honor returns to your favorite ROHbot’s hometown to deliver a live event like only ROH can. Here’s a preview of tonight’s event.
“The Battle of Richmond” - Richmond, VA - May 19, 2012
Unsanctioned Fight: ROH World Tag Team champion Charlie Haas vs. Jay Briscoe
ROH World Champion Kevin Steen & Jimmy Jacobs vs. Davey Richards & Kyle O'Reilly
Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. The House of Truth
ROH World Tag Team title: Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team (C) vs. The All Night Express
Eddie Edwards vs. Mike Bennett
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Adam Cole
Jay Lethal vs. Mike Mondo
Chris Silvio & Paredyse vs. Team A1
Signed to Appear: The Bravado Brothers
While ROHbots have expressed their lack of interest in recent ROH live event outings, this card looks pretty good - and that’s not just coming from someone who’ll see it live. Originally, the tag match featuring new ROH World champion Kevin Steen and the man he defeated to win the title was the main event. Then news broke after “Border Wars” that Jay Briscoe wanted a piece of WGTT. ROH allowed Jay to take on Charlie Haas in an unsanctioned match that will occur after the “real” main event. Pretty much it’s a Lights Out match that will most likely end in a big brawl/no contest thanks to interference from Mark Briscoe and Shelton Benjamin. No matter the outcome, it’ll be interesting to see how far Jay and Charlie take this fight, and if they can make up for that horrible conclusion to their iPPV match.
As you can see, that’s not the only time The Briscoes and WGTT will be in action. The Briscoes will most likely have a successful night against The HOT thanks to the lack of cohesion seen between Elgin and Strong in recent months. It would suck for Elgin to take the fall here, but he might be the scapegoat in the end. Or maybe “Unbreakable” can turn the tables and cost Strong a victory like the TV champion has done to him in recent weeks.
When WGTT vs. The ANX was announced, neither team was a champion. Now The ANX have a chance to defeat the new ROH World Tag Team champions with the gold on the line. Sadly for King and Titus, with The Briscoes out for revenge, there’s a good chance we won’t get a winner, and The ANX will have more right to proclaim how much they’ve been screwed over in the past eight months.
The rest of the card looks solid. Edwards and Bennett have very good chemistry. Jay Lethal and Mike Mondo should be able to deliver as Mondo has impressed recently and Lethal has grown into quite the grappler. Ciampa vs. Cole has all the makings of being a sleeper hit if given enough time to work the proper story. If everything goes well, this card has all the makings of being the best one to grace Richmond yet. Come on, ROH, don’t let this ROHbot down.
Fit Finlay vs. Michael Elgin, June 24th at “Best in the World 2012” from NYC!
That reeks all kinds of awesomeness. Honestly, this is probably a more exciting match-up that Strong vs. Finlay was from “Border Wars” for the simple fact Elgin is a beast. Finlay is a beast. Put two beasts in the ring and let the fireworks go off.
Ring of Honor’s COO Joe Koff called a press conference Tuesday regarding the issues with the Border Wars iPPV and future plans for ROH. Here are some of the highlights:
Koff started off by accepting responsibility for the technical issues and apologized to the ROH fans. Koff said that the fault was server related. He said that ROH had over 2,000 pre-sales for the Border Wars iPPV. Koff said ROH currently does not have plans to offer live shows through traditional PPV distribution, as the cost of airing the show through a cable/satellite provider is "not economically feasible" for the company. Koff said they believe they can get their iPPV distribution up to speed as a more economical way to deliver the product.
Interestingly, Koff noted that ROH was beating TNA in the markets where ROH is shown. He claimed that ROH were drawing close to 2.0 ratings in time slots that were not always ideal. Asked about running live shows on TV through Sinclair affiliates a la Clash of the Champions, Koff said they are considering it for down the road. He said the challenge is pre-emptions and the structuring of affiliate contracts, which would require significant coordination across all affiliates. Speaking on a possible switch to HD, Koff noted that it was being considered and believed it will happen in 2013.
First off, one must note that Koff’s comment about ROH outdoing TNA in certain markets has garnered a huge amount of backlash from TNA fans and non-fans alike for the simple fact it doesn’t sound truthful. There’s actually two ways to look at Koff’s statement. If he’s looking at the actual rating number, then there’s a good to great chance ROH is beating TNA. But one must remember that a 2.0 on a local station at eleven p.m. on a Saturday night is much different from a 2.0 on Spike TV during primetime. To me, that’s the statement Koff was making. But if Koff’s saying that ROH TV is garnering more household viewings than Impact, then that is a huge lie. There’s no way with the little advertising and various times in cities that aren’t even major markets for ROH that they could surpass TNA’s number of viewers weekly. It’s safe to assume the IWC has only looked at one side Koff’s statement (the wrong side) and jumped down the guy’s neck.
While it’s great “Border Wars” attainted a wonderful preorder number, it’s even more heartbreaking that ROH wasn’t ready for possibly double that number of people ordering at the last minute. The fact they knew viewership could surpass some of their biggest iPPVs to date and still weren’t ready is ridiculous. Before adding any more iPPVs to the schedule, ROH needs to be sure they can handle whatever number of people order their shows.
As for the TV show statements, it would be really hard to pull of a Clash of the Champions style show on syndication. Remember that the Clash had a specific channel at a specific time. Even on tape delay, the project would be too costly (as would live pay-per-view in its regular format) and has all the makings at being a disaster at this time. That’s not to say ROH can’t work on something with Fox television thanks to Sinclair’s connections, but with UFC struggling to attain a consistent, impressive rating, it’s hard to believe Fox would give a primetime slot to an untested “mainstream” wrestling promotion when they could be showing reruns of “Family Guy” and probably pop a bigger rating. Right now, ROH needs to focus on making their TV show look as perfect as possible (completely getting rid of whiteout/washout lighting problems and awkward camera cuts) and make sure their iPPVs go off without a hitch.
PWInsider reports that Sapolsky received the cease and desist letter from ROH in regard to his Facebook comments on May 15th. There has been bad blood between the two sides since Sapolsky was dismissed from the company, which led to DG: USA's creation. As previously reported, Sapolsky signed an agreement saying that he wouldn't talk poorly about ROH, but Sapolsky believes that ROH is a different company now that Sinclair bought them and reorganized them under an LLC.
This is actually pretty silly on both sides - though they do have valid points. In a situation of life imitating art, Gabe Sapolsky has become the frustrated father to ROH’s baby girl. In Gabe’s mind, ROH’s new relationship/booking committee aren’t doing the company right, which thusly rips off the fans - and that’s after raising his baby so well to avoid things like that. ROH is reminding Gabe that no matter what happens post-Gabe has nothing to do with him; especially since he signed a piece of paper that wouldn’t allow him to badmouth the company and recognize that they are no longer associated.
While what Gabe said was unnecessary (but true) and disparaging, ROH could’ve simply ignored the situation because no one looks at Sapolsky in a good light when he does things like this. Gabe facebook’ing his anger about what’s going on in ROH just makes him look like he still has an axe to grind after the company ousted him. While some will agree with Gabe’s sentiments, his words won’t hurt the company’s image or take money out of ROH’s pocket. So calm down, ROH, and don’t come across as petty as Gabe Sapolsky sounded.
Ring of Honor Wrestling superstar Tommaso Ciampa posted the following on his Twitter account: “Apparently even beasts can be slowed down. Had the flu and a stomach virus last week. Found out today I have diverticulitis. Down 12 pounds. Still plan on murdering some b*tches this weekend. I have a loss to redeem and more to prove than ever before.”
That’s some real unfortunate news for Ciampa. For those who don’t remember or know, diverticulitis is the reason Brock Lesnar’s UFC/MMA career was cut short. From the sounds of Ciampa’s tweet, they caught this problem a lot sooner than Lesnar did, and hopefully can nip it in the bud quickly to avoid Ciampa suffering for a long period. Get well soon, Mr. Ciampa.