April 6, 2012
Never Hand Over
ROH 10th Anniversary Show iPPV 3/4/12
1. Glory By Honor X Tag Team Rematch: Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) vs The All Night Xpress (Rhett Titus & Kenny King) - 3
2. Special Attraction: "Notorious 187" Homicide vs "The Prodigy" Mike Bennett w/ Brutal Bob & Maria Kanellis - 3
3. Special Attraction Tag Team Match: The Amazing Red & "Technical Lightning" TJ Perkins vs The House of Truth ("Unbreakable" Michael Elgin & Roderick Strong) w/ Truth Martini - 5
Rhett came back from his knee injury way earlier than the projected date and it showed as he was doughy and tubby and didn't look like he should have been out there yet. Of course WGTT targeted the leg. Best thing of the match was Haas' right hands. Surprised ANX went over. Homicide and Bennett didn't gel real smoothly and the undercurrent of CM Punk fetishizing (Homicide doing the Go to Sleep, "CM Punk" and "Sloppy seconds" chants at Maria/Bennett) made them seem minor league. Still there was something entertaining to me in the dystopia. Elgin is a great base for small guys and with TJ and Red you've got two of the best so this was largely good. Red did a series of four consecutive spinkicks to Strong's stomach which while sounding simple was such a sweet fluid spot.
4. ROH World Television Championship: Jay Lethal (c) vs. "The Dominant Male" Tommaso Ciampa w/ The Embassy LTD - 5
5. ROH World Tag Team Championship: Jay & Mark Briscoe (c) vs. The Young Bucks - 6
6. NO DQ – Grudge Match: Jimmy Jacobs vs. "Wrestling's Worst Nightmare" Kevin Steen - 5
You could tell Ciampa and Lethal was going to the 15 min. time limit and it did. You've got Kelly on commentary saying Tomasso just has one speed "straight ahead" which came off so bad when Ciampa was stalling so bad stretching out the time. Still, this had some neat moments, including a really nasty Emerald Frosien on the apron by TC. Briscoes versus Bucks wasn't all-out fireworks as some expected but I liked the way it played out (similarly thematically to the episode "Three Men and a Dragon" of Captain N: The Game Master) albeit knowing how unlikely a Young Bucks win was. The build was good on TV and the internet with Briscoes cutting some money promos (big surpsrise they've been on fire lately i.e. "Terry Funk don't wear no mouthpiece!"). Loved the double hip-toss throw where they launched one of the Bucks' airborne about 20-ft. over the top rope. No DQ match had some issues, I dug Jacobs' revealing under his fur coat the old Age of the Fall gear including bloodstained white jacket, but what I didn't like was Jacobs completely ignoring Steen's offense the first couple minutes. Some nice bumps, for certain, Steen getting slammed off of the railing onto the metal ramp, Steen juicing huge for a spike into the skull, and the finish which was so gnarly, Jacobs taking an F-5 onto two chairs pressed together back-to-back so he landed ribs/sternum first onto the hardest part of the chair -- no easy way to take that one.
7. Main Event "Young Wolves Rising": ROH World Champion Davey Richards & Kyle O'Reilly vs. "Die Hard" Eddie Edwards & Adam Cole - 7
Main event, dubbed "Young Wolves Rising" ranged from good to great, the duration (nearly 40 min.) and the exasperated crowd who they lost during a few stretches, plus the lack of a heel/face dynamic, kept this from transforming into something special. Its moniker is appropriate, though, as gone are Daniels, Styles, Joe, Punk, Cabana, Danielson, Ki, London, Shelley, Nigel, Aries, etc. so essentially Richards is the elder veteran statesmen now which still feels a little odd.
One thing that occurred to me, and this could be explored further in an essay or some other format, is that there's a big backlash nowadays (at least from some internet diehards) against this sort of "2.9" wrestling, all the big kick-outs, etc. which is popularized both in Japan and here in the states by ROH. Whereas, if you showed me this in '99 I would have flipped out and wore the cassettes out in efforts of pimping it to all of my friends. Its an interesting contrast. I'm not trying to oversimplify it but there's always a desire to rebel against whatever is current or trendy, so I think one segment of the audience, perhaps a more jaded, cynical, and contentious portion, are automatically going to tear that style apart, while others are going to not dissect it and enjoy it for its nail-biting qualities. I suppose in the case of this match I fell in the later camp, looking past some of its faults (lack of selling being the chief one) and just enjoying the physicality and drama. Cole getting the big upset victory (with a crossbody none the less!) was a genuine surprise over champ and company ace Richards. Overall, for $9.99 this was a pretty solid package and I'm pretty excited to see what the rest of the year holds for ROH.