I'm trying something new with my Ring of Honor coverage starting this week. The idea is to review each week's episode in the new bullet-pointed format I adopted by necessity in the Bumper Reviews, and then also pick out the key stories in the ROH news and video wires, announcements on their website and whatever else makes the rounds as it pertains to Ring of Honor.
Unfortunately I managed to get a very news-heavy week for the debut edition of his column, but they're coming off two iPPVs and it's a TV taping week so they shouldn't be this long in the future. If it becomes a problem I'll separate the news from the episode reviews again.
ROH TV: 3/31/12 – Richards Slaps Steen
– Tommaso Ciampa cut a nice promo on Jay Lethal ahead of his victory over Kyle O'Reilly via KO in the March Mayhem tournament. Ciampa caught O'Reilly with a huge knee to the face as he charged him and then began delivering mounted punches but the ref stopped the match. Ciampa looks good in squashes, but he looks even better against credible competition and these two youngsters had a nice little match with a fantastic finish.
– Davey Richards rode the fence when asked about Kyle O'Reilly's attitude change. He defended his right to his own opinions and actions as a grown man, but then admonished him for not following the Code of Honor.
– Davey then beat Ryan McBride in a Proving Ground match in about 40 seconds with the Ankle Lock. Not sure what the point was as it took longer for both men to make entrances and shake hands after the match than to actually compete, but hey, the champ is dominant I guess.
– Kevin Steen came to the ring and mocked Davey to the point that Richards actually came to the ring to face him, though referees and Jim Cornette held him back. Davey was desperate for a chance to fight Steen and even told him to “bring his Piledriver” but Cornette wouldn't allow it. Richards slapped Steen before being restrained. Steen left laughing. This swayed from intense to silly, as Davey and Steen were at times completely unrestrained and face to face, why wouldn't they fight? Richards wanting the piledriver ban lifted is good news though.
– On Inside ROH we saw some highlights of Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander's recent outings in the ring and Jay Lethal cut a (much better than usual) promo on Tommaso Ciampa.
– Mike Bennett managed a huge win over Eddie Edwards in the final March Mayhem match, rolling Eddie up after the referee was distracted by Maria who faked the most (intentionally) hilarious injury moments after Edwards accidentally bumped into her on the apron. The crowd were hot for this one, and rightfully so, it was not only a lot of fun, it was very well wrestled by both men, fitting given what Bennett achieved one night previously (in the chronological canon of ROH) against Lance Storm. Bennett's presence is superb. Brutal Bob got more physically involved than normal, slicing Edwards' back to pieces on the guard rail at one point.
Show Review: A tremendous piece of wrestling television. The future of the company met in a good little outing to start the show, the year's biggest money match got some extra hype by having Steen and Richards finally have a face-to-face confrontation, and Mike Bennett did it again against Eddie Edwards in a fantastic main event. I can't say enough good things about this episode.
News Wire: April 3rd
– Adam Cole will step into the Proving Ground against Davey Richards in Dayton on April 29th due to his pin-fall victory over the World Champion in the tag team main event of the 10th Anniversary Show last month. Cole's been on one heck of a role of late, also scoring wins over Michael Elgin and NWA Champion Adam Pearce, but does he have what it takes to gut it out with Richards? I'd love to see him get the time limit draw and earn his World Title match, because he's incredibly over right now, he arguably already deserves a shot for pinning the champion (as Richards admits himself), and we've yet to see anyone survive the Proving Ground with the World Champion.
– The Embassy LTD. have officially sold Rhino to the House of Truth for the princely (get it?) sum of $75,000. The War Machine will be stepping into the Proving Ground with Davey Richards this Saturday at the TV tapings and has also been signed to appear at Border Wars in Toronto on May 12th. This development will surely irk Michael Elgin who is of a similar build and background as Rhino, furthering the budding potential face-turn of Elgin after his stellar performance at Showdown in the Sun. Roderick Strong has been talking down to Elgin for months and assuming 'Unbreakable' will donate his world title shot to Roddy. In the meantime, the idea of a short-term Rhino/Elgin team has me positively giddy.
– ROH have teased further appearances by Lance Storm, only hinting at a potential rematch with Mike Bennett stemming from the Prodigy's post-match attack at Showdown in the Sun Night 1. As good as their match was, I think Bennett benefited from it as much as he possibly can and would rather see Storm step into the ring with some other wrestlers.
– Much like the Carolina double shot, Showdown in the Sun's content will air on two episodes of ROH TV. This seems an odd move to me given how hard they've been pushing for people to still buy the event on demand, but I doubt they'll be giving away anything but clipped versions of the upper card matches plus some of the undercard stuff.
– ROH debuts in West Virginia on June 15th and returns to Pittsburgh for the first time in three years on June 30th with Bruno Sammartino in attendance for a special meet and greet.
ROH News Wire: April 5th
– Fit Finlay will be making his ROH debut at Border Wars in Toronto on May 12th. No word yet on his opponent but Kevin Steen would be a logical choice after they worked together in PWG's Battle of Los Angeles last year.
– Word of Finlay's debut 'leaked' from a private press conference in Baltimore and ROH deliberately stated his impending arrival was only one of the things to come from the meeting. Stay tuned for more 'secret' announcements this weekend.
– The two missing matches from Showdown in the Sun Night Two â€“ Adam Cole vs Kyle O'Reilly and the Street Fight between the Young Bucks and the All-Night Express â€“ are now available for free online. No word on if the end of the TJ Perkins/Fire Ant match will be salvaged.
– Team Ambition will face Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin in what will likely be the main event of ROH's Synergy event, Unity, on April 28th. The big story here is a potential split between Davey Richards and Kyle O'Reilly who has recently turned heel but remained fiercely loyal to the ROH World Champion, who is of course a babyface. I was wondering how they would handle their relationship moving forward and it appears we'll find out by the end of the month.
– Jay Briscoe suffered a 'severe injury' after Haas & Benjamin's post-match attack at Showdown in the Sun Night 2. Dem Boys want another rematch with WGTT but ROH are waiting to sign it. Goodie.
– Kevin Steen vs Eddie Kingston for the CHIKARA Grand Championship was made official for 'Hot Off the Griddle', CHIKARA's half of 'Synergy'. Check out Steen's wonderful challenge to Kingston here.
– Some kind of new Nigel McGuinness product was teased for next week's Tuesday Rollout.
4/7/12 TV Taping Schedule
Proving Ground â€“ Davey Richards vs Rhino: This match was teased weeks ago with ROH announcing the 'Man-Beast' would step into the Proving Ground, and the match was made all the more interesting when the Embassy LTD. sold Rhino to the House of Truth who have had their problems with Davey Richards for nearly two years now. Richards proved he can beat bigger men when he defeated Michael Elgin at Showdown in the Sun, but Rhino brings with him over a decade of wrestling experience. Can the HoT's newest monster survive or even defeat Richards in the Proving Ground?
ROH TV Title Match â€“ Roderick Strong vs Adam Cole: The former members of Future Shock both earned TV Title matches before Showdown in the Sun, with Kyle O'Reilly getting his shot on iPPV and Cole's being delayed to this week's TV tapings. At the time of announcement the champion was Jay Lethal, but Roddy managed to defeat Lethal with the help of Tommaso Ciampa, and so we have a rematch of the awesome No DQ match between Cole and Strong from Homecoming.
Kevin Steen vs Kyle O'Reilly: Steen wants to get to Davey Richards, O'Reilly doesn't appreciate Steen sticking his nose in Davey's business and thus the gauntlet was laid down by young Kyle for Baltimore. Steen welcomed the challenge and mocked Davey's protege, while O'Reilly heeled it up a little, telling Steen to step up and fight.
Eddie Edwards vs Mike Bennet: In a Battle of Beantown's finest, Edwards defeated Bennett in a Survival of the Fittest qualifier late last year, serving Bennett one of his few losses in ROH. Bennett avenged that loss in the March Mayhem tournament and thus we have ourselves a rubber match. Bennett's got all the momentum while Edwards has been doing a lot of losing in the last few weeks, so I'd expect to see this go the Prodigy's way as he continues to climb the card, while Edwards' losing ways can be made into a storyline.
The Young Bucks vs. The All-Night Express: These two teams split victories in the 'Dual Duel' at Showdown in the Sun with the ANX winning a Tornado Tag match and Bucks picking up the 'W' in a Street Fight. No word yet on the stipulation, suggesting this will be a standard match. King and Titus need some more wins if they're going to hold the tag team titles anytime soon, and the Bucks seem to be their path to the top.
Proving Ground â€“ The Briscoes vs Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander: C&C earned this opportunity after impressing ROH officials in defeat against Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin at Showdown in the Sun. Umm… ok. Apparently getting destroyed for 90% of a match counts as impressive these days.
Also Announced: The Colony and Los Ice Creams of CHIKARA, Ricky Reyes and Matt Taven. We know the Colony will be in trios action, something they'll have the definite edge in as ROH wrestlers aren't used to that kind of match. No word on their opponents yet. CHIKARA's Ophidian also tweeted that he'd be in action.
Not Yet Announced: Jay Lethal, Tommaso Ciampa, Jimmy Jacobs and TJ Perkins are all conspicuous by their absence given the first three are all coming off big stories at Showdown in the Sun. Mike Mondo hasn't been announced either but revealed on Twitter he will be in action. Yay.
– Finally, some things to plug again! Firstly go listen to both the preview and review episodes of the Podcast of Honor. The preview show is in my opinion the best PoH we've done to date, and the review show is pretty good too.
– Stop the presses, I wrote an actual article for the site. It's all about the recent return of Brock Lesnar and how it links to The Rock's return last year. I spent a little while on it so I'd appreciate some views!