ROH TV 4/7/12 (with Special Japanese Import-Only Bonus 2CW Recap)
Sorry this one is a little behind, folks. It’s been a busy weekend for yr. humble scrivener. Friday I was in Watertown, NY for Night One of Squared Circle Wrestling’s Living On The Edge. 2CW is the hottest indie in the Upstate NY area and, for that matter, a lot of the northeast. They regularly feature top-level indie talent from ROH, CHIKARA, and others, as well as having regular visits from WWE legends and other free agents. Couple that with an impressive local roster, and a 2CW show is always a good time. So, join me for a recap of both that show, featuring some big ROH names, and of course, (last weekend’s) ROH TV, where we see the final 4-way in the March Mayhem tournament between Jay Lethal, Tommaso Ciampa, Mike Bennett, and Adam Cole.
I’m gonna go a little quick and dirty on ROH this week, because there really isn’t too much to say. This one was from the very tail end of the taping schedule and it’s from before the last iPPV, so a lot of it is no longer relevant.
–We opened with The Young Bucks vs. TJ Perkins and Shiloh Jonze. Not much to go on with this one. TJ is ready to break out in ROH but as of now they don’t really have a direction for him. Jonze has been used as a jobber before in ROH and hasn’t really showed much of anything as far as being a worker. Usually Bucks matches tend to fall into tornado tag formula, with everyone in the ring at the same time, which works well for their double teams. This one was a more standard tag formula match, and it worked well that way. The Bucks got to use their stick & move high flying to beat down Jonze, and TJ got to come clean house off the hot tags and show his own high flying offense. The end had both babyfaces incapacitated with superkicks and Jonze falling victim to More Bang for Your Buck for the loss. Not bad at all, but TJ deserves better than meaningless jobs in tag teams. Possibly, once things work out with Amazing Red and ROH, those two can keep going on as a team.
–Following up from a while ago, Mike Mondo vs. Matt Taven was next. Why is a question I have no answer for. Mondo doesn’t really interact much with the rest of the ROH roster, and his style is drastically different than most. What little I’ve seen of Taven on YouTube hasn’t impressed me greatly (his big claim to fame is having a really good arm drag). I just don’t get the continued need to have these guys fill TV time, especially when nothing they do effects anything else on the roster. Mondo is positioned as the star here, but his WWE-trained style is going to clash with the rest of the roster if he ever starts to mingle with them. So I just don’t see the point in keeping him around, especially since his character is so derivative of Crash Holly. Not much of note happened here, with Mondo playing some kind of mind games with Taven regarding his boot, and Mondo capitalized and finished off with his double-arm DDT.
–Inside ROH was comprised this week of a press conference for the Toronto event in May, Border Wars. (Incidentally, reports are that ROH is no longer going to be working with GoFight Live, so I’m not sure what their iPPV status is at this point. After the massive technical problems that turned so many people off of Showdown in the Sun, this is the best course of action for ROH if they don’t want to risk losing fans because of something that was someone else’s problem). Davey Richards and Jim Cornette addressed the event with some general platitudes, and then of course Kevin Steen interrupted. Steen made a challenge to Davey, which Davey was hot to accept, but of course Cornette objected. Finally, Richards had to play hardball: either give him a match with Steen or he takes the ROH title and leaves for Japan. Kind of an interesting choice for Davey’s character to put Cornette in a position where he could risk screwing ROH either way. I see this as another clear sign that Davey is working toward a big heel turn. So Cornette relents, and we have what I imagine will just be the first of many matches this year between Davey Richards and Kevin Steen.
–The main event is the Final 4-Way in the March Mayhem tournament, Jay Lethal vs. Mike Bennett vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Adam Cole. The winner of this one wins $24,000 as was put up by each of the 8 tournament competitors. The main issue here is between Lethal and Ciampa, as this was taped before Lethal lost the TV title to Roderick Strong. Lethal starts off by tearing into Ciampa, and before long Ciampa tags out to Mike Bennett and attempts to stay on the apron for as much of the match as possible. Lethal looked great here, as a fired up Jay Lethal is an exciting Jay Lethal. A lot people can’t work as well at a faster pace but Lethal seems more comfortable there. Adam Cole gets incapacitated during a commercial break by a spinebuster to the ring apron by Bennett, making him the underdog for the rest of the match. After Ciampa took over on Lethal, Bennett tagged himself in, leading to heel miscommunication between the two. Lethal scored the pin on Bennett with Lethal Injection to eliminate, but then immediately got eliminated himself by Ciampa’s knockout knee strike. Adam Cole works really well from the beaten up, underdog position. He’s good at pulling out “desperation” moves, and he does well to inspire crowd sympathy. One cool spot saw Ciampa hitting the repeated knee strikes to the corner, only to have Cole cut it off with a strong superkick. Cole got a near-win with a rear naked choke, in one of the only times I can remember a heel doing the “arm drops twice and stops before three” gimmick. In the finish, Lethal attempted to run back in and take out Ciampa, and Ciampa used the distraction to crotch Cole on the ropes (which didn’t really make sense, since Ciampa is the one who should’ve been distracted, but it does work in terms of Ciampa’s crazy-intense character). Ciampa then finished with a particularly sick looking Project Ciampa, leaving Cole folded in half for the pin and the 24 Gs. Everyone was on their top game here and the fast paced action was really fun. Cole showed a really adept talent for playing Ricky Morton, while Lethal showed that breakneck speeds suit him well. Ciampa showed, as always, that’s he’s fucking bank.
–In all, it wasn’t an utterly skippable ROH TV, because the opening tag was decent and the main even was really enjoyable, plus the press conference set the main storyline for the company further into motion. But, it was still kind of a lame-duck show, since not a lot of the storylines really carry over to what’s going on now. Either way, don’t take my word for it: go to ROHwrestling.com and check it out for yourself.
As for the 2CW show, it was one of the biggest shows they run all year. While they were at the Fairgrounds in Watertown, rather than their usual location in the smaller, auxiliary YMCA arena, they were in the larger main arena, with several bleacher seat sections. All told they filled all their reserved front row seating and the large bleacher sections. At one point they said they had over 800 people in attendance, a really solid crowd for them. A few highlights:
–The main draw was Sgt. Slaughter, who came out to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance before being cut off by The Insurgency. I believe that kind of thing is what go Finlay fired from WWE, right? I haven’t seen The Insurgency before, and I think they might be guys that travel around with Sarge just for indie shows. Their manager is a chubby guy named Bin Hamid (? ..maybe?), and the other two guys names were unclear. One of them looked a lot like one of the Maximos from former ROH/TNA tag team The SATs. Sarge was joined in the ring by a Marine that jumped the rail, as though he was a fan making a run-in. I never caught his name but the 2CW Facebook page says he’s Jason Wayne. They set up the main event for later, with Sarge & Wayne against the two Insurgency guys. Not much went on there, although Sarge did get in there and brawl a little bit. In the end he locked on the Cobra Clutch and the manager came in for the interference with the Iranian flag for the DQ. Sarge took him out with the Cobra Clutch and led a big USA chant to close the show. The idea with Sarge was to appeal to all the Army guys in Watertown that are stationed at Fort Drum, who got in with free admission. I didn’t see anyone that I noticed in uniform though, although many may have been there in street clothes. I’m pretty sure Drum had a big field drill this weekend, so maybe they would have had an even bigger turnout if not.
–After a match won by local talent Matt Milan, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash hit, and Brodie Lee made a surprise appearance through the crowd to take him out. This drew out Kevin Steen, who was advertised for the 2CW title match in a 3-way with champ Jay Freddie and SWB. Steen made some jokes about Brodie having recently signed to WWE developmental, and made note that he’s never wrestled Brodie and may never get to, leading to Brodie getting added to the title match. The match was a fun brawl, with mostly outside brawling. At one point the much smaller Freddie locked Brodie in a Sharpshooter and Steen responded by locking SWB (better known as Slyck Wagner Brown, but I guess he’s simplifying these days) in his own Sharpshooter, face to face with Freddie, and then spitting on him. After Freddie and Steen were both eliminated in short order, Brodie scored the win over SWB to claim the 2CW title. I’m not sure what the outcome of that will be, regarding when Brodie goes to FCW. Steen cut a promo on Brodie afterward, thanking him for appearing, and then kicking him in the nuts and heeling out on the 2CW fans for not having him back after his first appearance years ago. Steen then left out the back arena doors with the 2CW belt.
–The Briscoes were also in attendance, as they wrestled The Olsen Twins, Jimmy and Colin (aka Colin Delaney, formerly of WWE). It was very cool seeing the Briscoes up close and personal, and they had a lot of fun with some comedy spots with the Olsens, involving the Briscoes’ beer supply and the Olsens’ Four Lokos. After taking over with some Hillbilly Kung Fu from Mark, Jay hit Jimmy with a chokeslam, of all things, and Mark hit a frog splash for the win. Briscoes let the fans know afterward that they will be back to Watertown (and, as I type this, word is breaking that the Briscoes have defeated First Class for the 2CW Tag Titles in Rome tonight, so I’m sure they’ve got more appearances in store). Afterward Jimmy Olsen turned on his partner Colin, leaving him laying in the ring and spitting on the crowd to massive boos.
–As for the regular 2CW talent, the big news was the bloody hardcore match between “Juggernaut” Jason Axe and Isys Ephex. After a quick wrestling sequence, they set to taking each other apart with chairs, a barbed wire baseball bat, and a broken beer bottle. Axe had a small trickle of blood at first but, after gouging Ephex with the bottle, Ephex did about a 1.4 Muta. He has bleach blonde hair, and it was stained completely red, and even from the back bleachers, you could see the blood pumping out of the cut. After the match in the bathroom, a number of people were complaining about having been bled on in the front row. Thumbtacks also got involved, and Ephex gave Axe a really sick and dangerous looking curb-stomp into them. The end saw Ephex get driven through a ladder propped up between the apron and the guard rail for Axe to take the win. Check out 2CW’s Facebook page for a picture of Ephex’s bladejob, it was truly sick. From where I was sitting in the bleachers I could see the open backstage area, and Steen and the Briscoes were all milling about. After Ephex started bleeding, they all watched the match intently, and you could tell they were impressed with the juice.
–Other matches saw Loca Vida pin Muscle Marcos in a fun opener, The DOS defeat First Class in a tables match that led to a retirement match being booked between Zaquary Springate and I.B. Green, and Matt Milan beating the large trio of Pete D. Order, The Beast, and Superbad. All exciting matches featuring talent that is ready to break out on the indie scene.
All in all it was a very fun show, and I highly recommend anyone that is in the Upstate NY area to check out a 2CW show. It’s a great crowd and the wrestlers are all extremely dedicated to their craft. As another plus, I got to meet Steen briefly, and wished him well in his upcoming match with Davey. I met the Briscoes during the beginning of the Milan/Order, Beast, and Superbad match, and Mark was dancing up a storm to “Bad Boys” while the heels entered the ring. Very cool to meet some of my favorites from the ROH roster. Unrelated to 2CW, this morning I went to an autograph session in my town with Jay Lethal. It wasn’t, unfortunately, too heavily attended, so I got to hang out for about an hour and just shoot the shit with Jay and some local wrestling fans. He had some cool stories about Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Jim Neidhart, and about the tiny plane he flew up here in. Jay’s a very cool guy and it was a lot of fun to just sit and hear some of his stories. So all in all, it was a great wrestling weekend for me. But don’t take my word for it, go to a 2CW show and check it out for yourself.
Bonus Plug: Steven Gepp reviews Dungeon of Death
http://wrestling.insidepulse.com/2011/08/15/the-view-from-down-here-%E2%80%93-book-review-%E2%80%98dungeon-of-death-chris-benoit-and-the-hart-family-curse%E2%80%99-by-scott-keith/ I’ve given up hope of ever making royalties off Dungeon of Death, but IP writer Steven Gepp offered up a very nice review of my last book.