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ROH TV 3/31/12

On this week's installment of ROH TV, we see the last two qualifiers for the March Mayhem tournament as Kyle O'Reilly takes on Tommaso Ciampa and Eddie Edwards battles Mike Bennett. Not only that, but ROH World Champion Davey Richards is in action in a proving ground match, and we hear from "Wrestling's Worst Nightmare" Kevin Steen. All this comes on the heels of Showdown in the Sun, (literally, as this show aired originally not long after the second night of that show ended) and many things are in flux for the ROH roster.

First off, we have Tommaso Ciampa vs. Kyle O'Reilly. This was after KO's heel turn at Young Wolves Rising but for the purposes of this match, KO is still the babyface. This one was almost all Ciampa. Considering the bigger angles that KO has been involved with lately, you'd think that the match would be booked more evenly between the two, but KO barely landed any offense. Remember that a few weeks ago, Kevin Steen wrestled KO's former partner Adam Cole and similarly dominated, with Cole getting nearly no This makes me wonder if the former Future Shock have some heat with the ROH locker room. I'd imagine the fact that they were basically the main event focus of the 10th Anniversary show might have rubbed some people the wrong way, and it's hard to say whether they have any attitude problems, since the ROH locker room doesn't leak. Regardless, Ciampa took KO apart with a variety of mat wrestling moves and knee strikes until scoring a knee strike to the head for the MMA-style ref stoppage. That ending is becoming a trademark for Ciampa, and it's effective in making him look like a killer. It seems like he's dirt roading his awesome Project Ciampa finisher in ROH, which is too bad but I imagine its a bigger bump and a bigger risk than most opponents would want to take. Nonetheless, Ciampa advances while KO gets KO'd.

ROH World Champion Davey Richards vs. Ryan McBride in a Proving Ground match is next. For those unfamiliar with a Proving Ground match, it's where a new, untested talent comes to ROH and challenges one of the champions. If the challenger can either beat the champ or go to a 15 minute draw, they get a title shot. In this case, McBride is a local Maryland standout who apparently is well known to the fans in that area, as he was greeted with a big "Let's Go Ryan!" chant. It says something interesting that ROH's top babyface is losing face heat to an ostensible jobber, but I'll get to that. The match, in totality, was Davey hitting McBride with two knees in the corner at the bell, a running knee strike on the ground, a cocky pin attempt, and a quick reversal into an ankle lock (can I just interject that I hate that Davey is using the ankle lock? He has a million other interesting submissions in his arsenal and the ankle lock is pretty much "Shooter Gimmick 101") for the tapout with a great sell by McBride, who was flopping like a landed fish. The whole match was about 26 seconds by my watch.

I don't think I've ever really touched on how I feel about Davey Richards. At times I've been kind of down on him, and there are a lot of complaints about him amongst ROH fans: he works too stiff, he takes too many head shots, he's too serious, he lacks charisma, he's too much of an MMA guy, and he treats wrestling too much like it's "real". While I don't agree on some of those fronts (namely, the charisma thing. I think while his promos are a little too squeaky clean and "go get 'em!" styled, he's actually got some personality and he never sounds lost or nervous on the mic, and at times can be somewhat funny or at least easy going, if the situation calls for it.) I do feel as though Davey has lost connection with his audience. ROH has always tended to push their main event babyfaces as stoic, battle tested do-gooders. Davey seems to be the epitome of that booking, but it's all been seen before. I'm a fan of Davey's wrestling, which a lot of people are put off by because of the high risk style of it, but in general I think he's a fantastic worker and, at the very least, I look forward to seeing him wrestle. The fan base is turning on Davey, slowly but surely. A lot of that has to do with the never ending feud with Roderick Strong and/or Eddie Edwards, which I'm hoping will finally be blown off after the last iPPV. That feud produced some great matches but it never really had a strong personal connection with the fans, namely because they didn't pull the trigger on an Eddie heel turn. So now Davey's in the position of being the do gooder, superhero babyface that is losing his connection with his fans and starting to act more and more heelish (like the way he squashed McBride so quickly). Contrast that with the next person to have a feud with Davey...

In our next segment, Kevin Steen comes out for more interview time. Steen's really making the most out of the tennis racket prop, hitting the rolls of streamers and using it to high five fans around the ringside area. Babyface behavior, no question about it. Steen wants Kevin Kelly to tell him why he never gets to have matches on ROH TV, and instead only gets interviews with Kelly. Kelly posits that it's because Steen is a danger to his opponents, and often attempts to attack them after the bell. Steen makes the valid point that if he shook hands with his opponents after destroying them like Davey Richards does, he'd get matches. Steen wonders why Davey never answers any of his challenges. It's not because he has no pride, so maybe he can't hear him. Because of his cauliflower ears from all his jiujitsu training? Nope. It's because Davey's head is shoved too far up Jim Cornette's ass. This brings Davey out, ready to fight but being held back by ROH officials and Jim Cornette. Davey goes to the one line he's used at all to respond to Steen's challenges: "he's not a wrestler, he's a novelty act". This does more to make Davey seem heelish IMO, because Steen is so over with the fans and Davey is basically implying that anyone who uses chairs or power moves and doesn't grapple and do MMA strikes isn't a "real" wrestler. Plus the constant fat jokes about Steen just play into Steen's accusations that Cornette only wants to push pretty boys.  Cornette tells Davey that he's just trying to piss Davey off to get him in the ring & screw the company over. Steen says that screwing the company over is banning the piledriver when Davey is allowed to go around and break people's ankles. Steen goads Davey some more and catches a slap to end the segment.

So what we've got here is Steen exposing everything that the fans have been saying about Davey Richards, and using it as fodder in his feud with Jim Cornette. Meanwhile, Steen is getting the biggest face pops in the company while Davey is getting less and less. Davey Richards, the character, seems to think that a guy like Steen isn't a "real" wrestler and he doesn't see why anyone would cheer for a "novelty act" like that. From the way he carries himself and the way his gimmick has progressed, I would honestly not be surprised if Wesley David Richards himself felt like that in real life. Either way, the anti-authority anti-hero brawler who gains fan support by threatening the establishment and the boss, being at odds with the serious technical wrestler who is supposed to be a hero to everyone but sees fans turning their backs on him in favor of someone he considers to be inferior to him? That's pretty much the Bret Hart/Steve Austin feud in a nutshell. I've been calling that as the dynamic for Steen/Richards since before the two even had any contact with one another. I get the feeling that it will play out in much the same way, with Steen leaving the firm, unquestionable babyface and Richards now a heel. If ROH tries to keep Steen the bad guy and Richards clinging onto his diminishing babyface returns, they will be in some serious trouble, because the fanbase is not behind Davey Richards right now.

"Die Hard" Eddie Edwards vs. "The Prodigy" Mike Bennett is our main event in the last March Mayhem qualifier. I've made no bones about how I'm not a fan of Bennett in the ring, and in the past I've felt like he was "generically charismatic": he is playing his character well but he's not really saying or doing anything beyond typical pretty boy heel schtick. Since Maria has come in as his valet/girlfriend, he's really hit on something that makes him stand out. It's not just that you hate Bennett for being a cocky ass, you hate him for having a bitchy girlfriend and being completely obnoxious about making out with her. The dynamic is, if you'll pardon the un-manly reference, Spencer & Heidi from MTV. It was as easy to hate those two in the media as it is to hate Bennett and Maria in ROH. I'm waiting for Brutal Bob to get the axe however, he's just baggage, apart from back-suplexing Eddie onto the guard rail in this match, which is pretty egregious for a manager interference. Eddie carried this match from the bottom. While he did most of the heavy lifting, he definitely made Bennett look good here, as Eddie really gave the impression that he was scoring his offense where he could and that Bennett was dominating. Even though Eddie probably landed more offense, his body language definitely said "desperate" while hitting his chops and dropkicks. Eddie still doesn't have great mic skills but the guy is almost unmatched when it comes to body language telling a story.  The end saw Maria get on the apron and Eddie collide with her, which she held off on selling for a second and then overacted, causing the ref to check on her and miss Eddie's O'Connor roll, which Bennett reversed with a handful of tights for the win. Says Nigel McGuinness about Maria: "I've seen better acting on Red Tube."

So overall ROH had a great week. Coming off a weekend where all anyone would normally be talking about is WWE, ROH managed to get attention with a Davey Richards/Michael Elgin 5-star match. Their TV show featured some solid wrestling and, since a lot of angles were blown off at the iPPV, they've set the table for some interesting shakeups going forward in the next few months until Best In The World 2012. Until next week, don't take my word for it: Go to and check it out for yourself.


  1. I can't really explain why I like Davey Richards... I just do. I think he's a very good wrestler, and while he's stiff in the ring he's not sloppy & hasn't injured anyone seriously (that I know of). He's got a certain type of charisma; I'm never in awe of his promos like I am for, say, Punk or Jericho. He's confident on the mic, he gets his point across, and his interviews never seem 'fake' or scripted. Would Johnny Gargano be a good comparison? I think Johnny Gargano would be a good comparison.

    I think you're spot on with ROH needing to use the Hart-Austin feud as a template for Richards-Steen. Have Richards become disenfranchised with the fans while getting more & more aggressive in destroying jobbers. Then he snaps and kicks Eddie Edwards' and/or Adam Cole's head into oblivion. I'm a mark for stables- you can even have him join up with Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team & Jim Cornette against Steen, Jacobs, and the Briscoes.

    Also, I love Kevin Steen; however, the guy's (currently) a heel and needs to act like one in his promos. I thought Daniel Bryan's Smackdown promo provided a good contrast this week. Bryan could have embraced the "Yes!" chants this week; instead, he called the fans out as sheep and obstacles to winning back his title. Steen is high-fiving fans on his way to the ring, volleying streamers back into the crowd, etc. If ROH is intent on making him out to be "Wrestling's Worst Nightmare," they need to get him to turn on the fans, and that involves doing something more than destroying past ROH greats in the ring.

    On the other hand, if they're eventually turning Steen face then this is the way to go.

  2. Seriously just turn Steen face.  Ricards works so much better as a heel anyway.

  3. Davey's rationale, and Jim Cornette's endorsement of him, could be seen as a callback to the ROH/CZW wars of a few years back, when JC's distaste for the hardcore style was at the forefront. And if you'll recall the Wolves/Steenerico feud, Davey was all about throwing fat jokes at Steen there, as well. So this latest iteration of the rivalry is at least in character for most of the players. I do agree about DR's use of the ankle lock, though; it's probably best for him to get away from it at this point. Wasn't he using the Kimura earlier in his career?

    Also, have you considered tackling some of the more recent PWG shows?

  4. I dig PWG but this takes enough of my free time. Now that the weather's getting nicer even doing this is going to be taxing, because I'm going to want to be out doing stuff with my daughter.

  5.  Can't say as I blame you on that one, man. Cheers.

  6. Well, it looks like Richards-Steen is set in stone for the iPPV in Toronto, and you can bet the Canadian crowd is going to turn Steen face there. It will be something to see Davey treated like a heel since the guy has always been massively over at Toronto shows these past few years.

    Already got my ticket to be there, and cannot wait!

  7. I went to see ROH live last July with a buddy of mine who is a big wrestling fan but hadn't been exposed to ROH and he popped huge for Davey. I don't know what it is, but Davey has the "it" factor, at least in ROH. 

  8. Since Tyler Black won the title I've felt like ROH fans want what they don't have. They get bored either by the guy they want to win the title winning it or the way he's booked once he wins the title. 

    I personally like Davey, I don't know how stiff he is or if it's how stiff his stuff looks, I like his promos, but I do worry about the amount of shots to the head that he takes. I know there are people who write him off as the generic strong-style ROH baby face, and that's fine, but I like that style. 


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