Ring of Honor Review (8/18/12): Tag Tourney & Rhino/Steen at DBD X
A week after a disappointing Boiling Point, Ring of Honor had nowhere to go but up. With their next pay-per-view approaching, Ring of Honor Wrestling needed to put itself back on the map.
Some technical issues hurt the overall feel of the show, but ROH was successful in starting the build towards Death Before Dishonor X.
Thumbs Up: It’s Gonna Be Awesome, Baby!
Maybe it’s my passion for sports, but I love tournaments. Tournaments emanate unpredictability, even in the predestined world of pro wrestling. There are so many things you can do with them.
You can use them to start rivalries. You can use them to continue rivalries. You can elevate unknowns. You can establish dominance. The possibilities are endless.
The bracket has Coleman and Alexander or the Young Bucks advancing to face the winner of The Bravado Brothers against Charlie Haas and a partner of his choosing. On the other side of the bracket, the winner of the Guardians of Truth and Rhett Titus and a partner of his choosing will meet the winner of the first round match-up between the Briscoes and regional tag team BLK-OUT.
The semifinals and final will be held at Death Before Dishonor X.
Thumbs Up: Give Them the Ball
I would love to see Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander win it all.
They are extremely athletic, reasonably charismatic and an absolute blast to watch in the ring.
Most importantly, they’d bring a breath of fresh air to a tag division wracked with disbanding teams and made stale by the awesome, but never-ending, presence of the Briscoes and Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team.
Thumbs Down: Boooooo! Boo This Man!
The Ring of Honor propagandists were out in full force this week. They had a month to prepare a video explaining why they needed a tournament to crown new Tag Team Champions.
Boy, did they come through.
I can imagine the production team pitching the idea to Jim Cornette.
Production Team Leader: “Okay, Jim. So here’s what we’re thinking. We’re going to show Kenny King happy and smiling with Rhett and the tag belts. But then we’ll add flashing lights and dramatic music to indicate that something’s changed. You can talk smack about him here. We’ll close by showing him celebrating with the people, furthering the sense that he personally betrayed ROH fans.”
Jim Cornette: “Let’s do it.”
Thumbs Up: Wrestling Feminism
All predictable “sleeping on the couch” jokes aside, how awesome was it that announcer Bobby Cruise announced the weights of Mia Yim and Sara Del Rey?
It’s not much, but if everyone is announced in the same fashion, it sends a very clear—albeit subtle—message of equality.
After a year of WWE using 45 second matches to tell us that Divas matches are bathroom breaks, this was great to see.
Thumbs Down: Mia Yim vs. Sara Del Rey
I was excited for this match, but in all honesty, it wasn’t very good. The action seemed a little sluggish and poor sound production made it difficult to hear bumps or the crowd.
These things really cut down on the drama and excitement of the match.
Sara Del Rey picked up the win with an axe kick in fairly short order.
Thumbs Up: Women’s Wrestling!
Despite the relatively poor quality of the match, I was happy to see women’s wrestling in Ring of Honor.
I’ve been watching, and loving, the Chikara DVDs I recently purchased. One of them was Joshimania, three nights featuring past, present, and future stars of Japanese women’s wrestling.
I watched Mayumi Ozaki wrestle as a villain better than every heel on the WWE roster. I watched Aja Kong play a better monster than Big Show. I watched Tsubasa Kuragaki display feats of strength that would make Ryback blush.
And I saw Sara Del Rey and Ayako Hamada wrestle the best match in the last twelve months that did not feature Daniel Bryan.
If you watch WWE and complain about the Divas or the non-existent tag team division, you should check out Chikara.
Thumbs Down: Be Careful What You Wish for
As much as I enjoy women’s wrestling, I do not enjoy Diva’s wrestling. It’s a subtle distinction, but a huge difference.
Sara Del Rey, wrestler extraordinaire, is an athlete. Layla, former dancer, is an athlete. Trish Stratus, former fitness model, is an athlete.
Maria Kanellis, former glamour model, is not an athlete. You can’t fake athleticism, and looks can only go so far in covering it up.
Maria attacked Sara Del Rey with her boot after the match. After finishing her assault, Maria asked “Who’s the First Lady of ROH now?”
It’s still an easy answer.
Thumbs Down: This Could Have Been Planned Better
I went into detail last week about how awkwardness can’t be avoided when your tag champ jumps ship. Ring of Honor gets a pass for those problems.
However, they knew Rhino was going to be Steen’s next challenger a long time ago. Why would you have Truth Martini announce at Boiling Point that Rhino was the No. 1 Contender if you hadn’t yet aired the match in which he earned it?
This week, Truth Martini called out Jim Cornette to propose that Rhino take on Kevin Steen at Death Before Dishonor. Eddie Edwards eventually entered the fray, leading to an immediate Anything Goes No. 1 Contender’s Match.
The only problem is that we found out last week who would win.
If ROH owns a calendar and is capable of counting episodes, they knew this was out of order.
ROH gets a pass for Kenny King, but this is absolutely unacceptable.
Thumbs Down: Haha, Get It? He’s a Girl and That’s Bad.
During their exchange, Eddie Edwards called Truth Martini a girl. The crowd burst into laughter and started chanting it.
This is why I can’t tell my intelligent friends I watch wrestling.
Thumbs Up: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures
The story of Kevin Steen and the ROH Championship is quickly becoming a story about Jim Cornette. I don’t mean to say that he is budging in on the story, but rather to point out that he is becoming its most interesting part.
We know Kevin Steen. He is a destructive force bent on driving away Ring of Honor’s sponsors and destroying the company. At this point, he’s less human and more force of nature.
The story has become about how far Jim Cornette will go to stop Steen.
First, he turns to Davey Richards and Mike Mondo, wrestlers within his company. Then, he manipulates the rules, forcing Steen to defend the title every time he wrestles.
When that fails, he turns to wrestlers outside of Ring of Honor. Finally, he seems to be making a deal with the devil himself, Truth Martini, to get the ROH Championship out of Kevin Steen’s hands.
Cornette is spiraling into the abyss. How far will he go to save his company? And what will happen when the abyss gazes back?
Thumbs Up: Eddie Edwards vs. Rhino
Eddie Edwards is rapidly becoming my favorite Ring of Honor wrestler. He still can’t talk his way out of a proverbial paper bag, but I think he’s the most versatile wrestler in the company.
He has the ability to have a great match with anyone by subtly changing his speed and wrestling style.
He can match Davey Richards in strong-style, out-lucha most of the roster and provide a perfect foil for a powerhouse like Michael Elgin or, in this case, Rhino.
Edwards/Rhino was a pay-per-view caliber match. Both men took the other to the limit. The Anything Goes stipulation added a certain freshness to the match since we don’t normally see these two in that sort of match in Ring of Honor.
I almost leapt from my seat when Edwards countered a superplex with a sunset flip powerbomb onto two chairs. It didn’t put Rhino away, so Edwards went for a table.
I knew the match was over the moment Edwards leaned the table against the turnbuckle. Edwards could pretend he was going to German suplex Rhino, but we all knew he was going to get Gored through that table.
One Truth Martini distraction later, that was exactly what happened.
Thumbs Up: Tables
Tables are the greatest.
That is all.
If I ever design a bumper sticker, it will read “Will Mark Out For Tables.”
Thumbs Up: Well, That Was Fast
Edwards and ROH really sold Rhino’s Gore.
The referee immediately called for the bell, awarding Rhino the match. Medical personnel rushed to Edward’s aid as Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness switched to their Owen Hart voices.
By the end of the segment, I felt as though Rhino could feasibly challenge Kevin Steen for the ROH Championship. I have never before seen one match build someone so successfully, so quickly.
Thumbs Up: Always Let Rhett Titus Speak
I little part of me will die every week Rhett Titus does not have a promo of some sort.
He’s still terrible, but I would be saddened if I couldn’t hear gems like “I will once again be the two-time ROH World Tag Team Champion.”
If you know something terrible is coming, you just have to find joy in the little things.
Thumbs Down: Corino on Commentary
Thumbs Up: Homicide vs. Kevin Steen for the ROH Championship
As a wrestling match, Homicide and Kevin Steen was solid. As a storytelling device, it was amazing.
Kevin Steen focused on Homicide’s ear, exacting vengeance for the damage Homicide caused Steve Corino’s ear many years ago. While it didn’t improve the match, it showed the unity of Team SCUM.
Steen showed us that he doesn’t need junk matches to entertain. The man can wrestle. Toward the end of the match, he hit a super fisherman buster, a move I have never seen before. I actually shouted at the television.
It also highlighted why Rhino is an excellent choice to face Steen.
Steen beat Davey Richards at Best in the World with a massive amount of interference. He beat Eddie Edwards with interference. He beat Eddie Kingston with interference.
This time, a Jimmy Jacobs distraction allowed Steen to low blow Homicide, leading to an F-Cinq and a victory.
Maybe we need a fox to guard the henhouse. Who knows about interfering in matches better than the House of Truth?
They even outnumber Team SCUM. It makes perfect sense for Cornette to give the House of Truth this opportunity.
Bad production and sloppy planning hurt this episode, but two great matches redeemed the show, at least until Steve Corino undid the main event with more distracting, bombastic commentary.
Most importantly, this episode successfully started the ball rolling towards Death Before Dishonor X.
Next week promises to be extremely exciting. The Tag Team Tournament begins and a Six-Man Mayhem Match will determine the No. 1 Contender for the Television Championship.
Joshimania Photo Courtesy of ign.com
All Other Photos Courtesy of rohwrestling.com