This week's Ring of Honor kicks off with a run down of the American Wolves drama and highlights from last weeks Eddie Edwards/Kyle O'Reilly match. Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuiness announce Davey Richards & Kyle O'Reilly vs. Eddie Edwards & Adam Cole for the 10th Anniversary show on March 4th, which will be titled "Young Wolves Rising". I know Scott and others have questioned the logic of not even having a World title match on your 10th Anniversary show, but I think this is right up ROH's alley. This is a company that has made its name for the last decade on giving the best young independent wrestling talent in America a spotlight, and rather than take the reflexive route and give themselves a pat on the back for everything they've done in the past, ROH is using their milestone to try and put the spolight on their new young talent. I think that ROH is right on in using the 10th Anniversary show to move themselves forward.
The main event tonight is supposed to be Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team against The Young Bucks, but Kelly & Nigel point out that Shelton Benjamin is still suspended for refusing to pay his $5000 fine for using a chair against Mark Briscoe. I think it's kinda funny that even though the Code of Honor has been diminished and amended so it's not such a strict rule like it was initially, ROH is still the kind of wrestling where there are rules, and there are consequences for breaking them. After nearly 15 years of people physically assaulting the owner of WWE and still main eventing the next week, it's a warm throwback to see ROH take a chairshot so seriously, even if the downside is less Shelton Benjamin on TV. It occurs to me that it's a little hypocritical though, kayfabe wise, since Jay didn't really suffer any consequences for hitting Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin with a baseball bat last week. Charlie Haas comes out on his own and challenges either of The Briscoes, and our main event will be Mark vs. Haas, with Jay handcuffed outside the ring. Jim Cornette made repeated mention that Shelton is not even in the state, so wrestling logic says we'll see him interfere.
Our first match is the in-ring Sinclair debut of "Wrestling's Worst Nightmare" Kevin Steen, as he takes on Andy "Right Leg" Ridge. Ridge is a young kid who resembles Low-Ki in look (give or take some hair) and in wrestling style. I love his nickname, it sounds like something out of the '50s. Why do they call him "Right Leg"? Because he'll kick you with his right fucking leg. Steen's wrestling style has really blossomed in the last year or two, combining the power-move style he had used from his early days with a semi-hardcore brawling Bruiser Brody style. Ridge didn't mount too much offense in this one. Steen built to a couple of unique spots on the outside: a blockbuster-suplex to the guard rail, and a powerbomb onto the ring apron. Steve Corino joined Nigel & Kevin on commentary, and he really sold how Steen is dangerous to ROH because he's a monster with a purpose. Nigel played devil's advocate, insinuating that Steen might be justified in his opinions, and he and Corino discussed the changes that Steen has made to his attack from when Nigel had wrestled him as opposed to now. This is all within a TV squash match that ran less than 10 minutes. You will not hear this kind of commentating from Booker T. Steen finishes up with the F5 (or, as he is calling it in his native Francois, the F-Sanc). He then teases hitting Ridge with the banned Package Piledriver, until Corino comes down to break it up. Jimmy Jacobs then comes in to get in his own pull-apart with Steen, and challenges him to a fight between "the two most evil men in Ring of Honor history".
Next we have Mike Mondo and Matt Taven, opponents last week, coming to the ring as a team. Mondo exposes the hole in the tapings schedule a little bit by having a beard all of a sudden. They face the new team of Eddie Edwards and Adam Cole. While their feud against Richards & O'Reilly (or "Team Ambition", which sounds like Leslie Knope should be their manager) has Edwards/Cole as the heels, they were the clear cut babyfaces in this match. Eddie basically did the gratuitous thing in this one and sold offense from Taven and Mondo, only really taking over to throw a few chops and a swank front-enziguri to Mondo from the corner. Cole did some crisp mat wrestling and some high speed offense segments, and finished up with a straitjacket suplex to Taven. Afterwards, Eddie and Adam shook hands with Taven, while Mondo refused. Mondo then laid out Taven with a double-arm DDT. I seriously question the logic of dedicating any TV time to a Mike Mondo feud. Not to hate on the guy too bad, but he's doing an old-hat gimmick and working exaggerated WWE style, and it just sticks out like a sore thumb in ROH. I'm fine with him as a JTTS, but I just don't see him ever amounting to anything in that setting. As for Edwards/Cole, it makes sense to have them be such babyfaces here, but I'm hoping that by Young Wolves Rising, they finally pull the trigger on the Eddie heel turn, because they've been stringing that out for a really long time and that feud needs some kind of dramatic conclusion before Davey is able to move on to Steen.
The main event is Mark Briscoe vs. Charlie Haas, with Jay Briscoe handcuffed to the turnbuckle on the outside. Normally, these two are very capable wrestlers, and comprise one-half each of the best tag teams in ROH and probably the world. This match though? It played like a "red light fever" house show match. Nothing really of note happened apart from a few suplexes from Charlie and a Froggy 'Bow from Mark. The end had Mark reversing off an Olympic Slam from Charlie (a reference to his old days in Team Angle. Wonder if Kurt's blowing a gasket about that the way he did about Orton doing it? I'd bet not) for a rollup. Afterwards Charlie steals the the handcuff key from referee Todd Sinclair, Olympic Slams Mark twice, and blasts him with a chair. He then walks up to the announce booth and lays out $5000 to cover Shelton's fine and $5000 to cover his inevitable fine for using a chair. This was all buildup for the Briscoes/WGTT match at Showdown in the Sun, the two-night iPPV that comes after Young Wolves Rising next month. That's fine, but it wasn't really a great "main event" and the Kevin Steen match should have been the main, with this one taking the opening slot right after their promo, because it wasn't a great way to end the show.
Next week, though, we're sure to have a stellar main event, as World champion Davey Richards takes on TV champion Jay Lethal. Till then, remember: Don't take my word for it, go to ROHwrestling.com and check it out for yourself.
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