Clash Of The Contenders - 10/9/09
Jim Cornette opened the show with an in-ring promo where he talked about the big companies with big checkbooks putting out their product and telling the fans what they want to see, but now that he's in Ring Of Honor, he's going to bring whatever experience and credibility he brings to the table and give the fans what they want, not tell them what they want. He says to let ROH know who and what they want to see, and ROH will give it to them. I always like segments like these, because far too many times we feel like WWE and TNA purposely give us a product contrary to what we want just to prove that what they want to give us is better, and ROH has, with very few exceptions, always catered to what the fans want, and it's segments like these that make the ROH fans feel appreciated and keep coming back.
The opening match saw Kevin Steen take on Roderick Strong, and before we got to the match, we got some promo work from Steen where he talked about his head not being in the game at the Ladder War with the American Wolves at Glory By Honor VIII, and talking about how he feels like he's been relying too much on Generico recently, and he's not sure what to expect going forward. This would obviously play into the heel turn a couple of months after this, but for the purposes of the match with Strong, it played into the story with Steen playing up the knee injury which had legitimately begun affecting him quite a lot. Good back and forth match with Strong getting the win to help build momentum going into his strong showing at Survival Of The Fittest the following night, and furthering the storyline that Steen was lost and in need of the new direction that Steve Corino would eventually give him.
From there we went to a SHIMMER match between SHIMMER Champion MsChif and one half of the SHIMMER Tag Team Champions, Nicole Matthews. I'd never seen Matthews before, but I was impressed with what I saw, especially given that she's still so young in her career. I really liked her presence and expression, and from what I saw is also a solid enough worker who pulled some nice stuff out of her bag. MsChif was entertaining as always, though she seemed to rely more on the screaming and character in this match than necessarily going all out from a workrate perspective. Still though, good match with MsChif picking up the win with the Desecrator, and I liked how she walked up to Matthews as she was heading to the back after the match and made her jump out of her skin with one more scream for good measure.
We got a break in the action after the SHIMMER match, as Austin Aries came out for the latest edition of the A Double L Double. Tonight's lucky winner was a St Louis native who had never before gotten a shot at the ROH World Title: Daizee Haze! So Daizee comes out with Delirious and goes off on Aries for giving her a title shot as a joke when Delirious has been working his butt off to get a shot at the ROH World Title. Jim Cornette came back into the ring at this point and said that since he has the power to make matches, Delirious will indeed be the challenger for the ROH World Title tonight. Fun little segment that set up the evening's main event and got us a laugh out of it at that.
After that we went to a Four Corner Survival with Claudio Castagnoli, Colt Cabana, Petey Williams, and Ace Steel. They played up the history between Cabana and Steel, though they didn't work together much beyond the first couple of minutes. Petey looked like he was getting neutered here, as he hit the Canadian Destroyer on Cabana but it didn't lead to the win, and that was pretty characteristic of his entire ROH run, and I found that odd since he was in the middle of a short stint as a title contender at this point, so why not give him the win to give him momentum going into a rematch with Austin Aries? But instead Claudio Castagnoli, who was not a title contender, got the win over Ace Steel who means nothing in the company, and this match really didn't help anyone.
Match #4 saw the Briscoes take on the House Of Truth, and I liked this match a lot. Tag team wrestling really took the forefront in ROH in 2009, and even though it mainly focused on the Briscoes, American Wolves, and Steen & Generico, and to a lesser extent the Young Bucks and Dark City Fight Club, even the underneath teams and non-regulars were having some fabulous tag matches, and this was one of them. With the Bucks gone and the Wolves and Steen & Generico broken up, and the Briscoes possibly on their way out the door within the next few months, I would really like to see the House Of Truth get a chance at moving up because they have great showings pretty much every time out. Josh Raymond in particular shows me a lot, both in terms of his wrestling and his personality, every time ROH swings through the Midwest, and he and Christian Able work great together as a team. Briscoes pick up the win with a spike Jay Driller, but gave the House Of Truth a good showing.
Next up was without a doubt the match of the night as Davey Richards took on Kenny Omega in the match the show was named after, as both men were heading toward title shots about a month after this. Just a phenomenal match here with both guys looking good and Davey in particular looking like a million bucks. Omega does a bit too much with the goofy theatrics with the STOP and the Hadoken and it sometimes hurts him, especially in big matches like this one where it should be 100% serious, but for the most part this was a terrific, dramatic match where you really didn't know who was going to win until the very end, and even though I expected Davey to get the win, Omega ended up surprising him with a small package to get the duke. Really good match that I would like to see them go back to at some point down the line because they worked great together as the ass kicking monster against the young guy who is a goof, but never gives up and will surprise you with what he can do.
After that, we got our comedown match as Rhett Titus & Kenny King took on the Young Bucks, who I almost forgot existed since they have gotten almost no airtime since TNA moved to Monday nights. This was a pretty standard, formulaic tag match with the heels working over Matt Jackson until he was able to make the hot tag to Nick, who came in and cleaned house. Finish was a bit surprising as the Bucks hit More Bang For Your Buck on Kenny King, but out of nowhere Titus snuck in and rolled up Matt Jackson with a handful of tights for the win. I was surprised that Titus & King went over, but since the Bucks beat them at Manhattan Mayhem III, I'm fine with them getting their win back.
Our semi-main event was Chris Hero taking on Tyler Black, who was having his first match back after neck surgery. I loved the psychology in this one, with Hero going after Black's neck literally from the moment the bell rang until the very end of the match. It made perfect sense, especially for a guy like Hero whose offense centers around shots to the head and neck. Tyler did a great job of selling the beating and coming out there like he was gutting it out and somehow was able to turn the tables on Hero and get the win. Good strong way for Tyler to make his comeback and begin his march to the title.
Speaking of the title, we wrap this show up with Austin Aries defending the ROH World Title against Delirious. I wasn't such a huge fan of this one, and I get what they were going for by having a guy who got his start in the St Louis area getting a title shot there, but if that's what they were going to do then they should have advertised it ahead of time, otherwise they could have thrown Grizzly Redwood in there for all the difference it would have made. That's especially true when you consider that other than the Richards-Omega match, there really wasn't any strong drawing matches on this entire show, which is a bad thing to do in a market you're looking to cultivate into a regular spot on your touring schedule. The match was nothing to write home about, but I did love the spot where Aries hit the Heat Seeking Missile to the floor on Daizee Haze out of nowhere, it was a great way to distract Delirious enough that Aries could regain the advantage, but it should have led to the finish and didn't. Aries ended up hitting the brainbuster and getting the win, to the shock of just about nobody.
Fun show overall, but the only thing on here to really go out of your way to see was Richards vs Omega, the rest is skippable.