Epic Encounter III - 3/20/10
The Strong/Briscoe situation was addressed right at the top of the show as Bobby Cruise informed the crowd of what happened, which was followed by Tyler Black coming out and saying it's just as well because now he can focus on beating up Austin Aries without having to worry about watching his back with Roderick as his partner. This led to a brawl with Tyler and Jay Briscoe fighting the odds against Aries, Kenny King, and Rhett Titus, with Tyson Dux and Rasche Brown running in to make the save for the babyfaces, setting up an eight man later in the evening with Black, Briscoe, Dux, and Rasche against Aries, Titus, King, and a mystery partner. I like that they addressed the immigration situation right rom the start, and where TNA or WWE might have come up with some wacky reason that Roderick and Mark weren't there, ROH was just up front about the reason they were going to miss the show and did something to make up for it right out of the gate before doing anything else. ROH has always, always always always had respect for their fans (even though sometimes the fans don't show them the same respect) and it's admirable that they're straightforward when something out of their control happens to alter plans, and they set a good example in that regard that I think a lot of other companies should use as an example.
After that segment, we move on to our first actual match as the Flatliners took on the House Of Truth. The Flatliners are a couple of local guys who are built like Rhino and have a decent power wrestling style. This was a bit weird to watch because both teams seemed a little confused as to who was supposed to be the heels, with each team getting a heat segment on the other. HoT went over, and I guess they've elevated themselves to the point now where they're considered an established ROH team sort of at the level of a Titus/King where they'll lose to the top teams, but still go over the enhancement and guys and local teams getting tryouts, as we saw here.
We move on to our second match as Kevin Steen defeated Player Dos of the Super Smash Bros. As Steen touched on the previous evening, these guys have a long history in ROH and elsewhere, and I guess they must be good buddies in real life because Steen gave Dos one hell of a showing here, because normally we're used to the SSB getting in some token offense before being squashed, but there were a couple of spots here where Dos almost pulled off the upset. Dos even kicked out of the Package Piledriver and Steen had to hit a second one to finally put Dos away, and I don't know if it's going to lead to anything more than just establishing the SSB as guys who you really have to work over before they'll go down, but I really enjoyed what I thought was going to be a moderately quick squash.
Next we got my least favorite match of the evening as Eddie Edwards defended the World TV Title against Petey Williams. I've said before that Petey has been little more than a glorified jobber during his time in ROH, but this match was put together so that he had Eddie beat a few times, only to be saved by cheap means like Shane Hagadorn pulling the referee out of the ring and stuff like that. Eddie finally got the Achilles Lock for the tapout win, but then Petey came back in and hit the Canadian Destroyer after the match. I'm really confused by the way they've been booking Edwards, because he had a really strong win over Davey in the tournament finals, but since then he's been booked to look really weak. He had to cheat his ass off to beat a guy who I don't think has ever won a match in ROH and got laid out afterwards anyway, and then a couple of weeks later he did a clean job to Christopher Daniels to set up a Daniels-Davey Richards match. Neither guy came out of this match looking good.
Thankfully, things took a step in a better direction with the next match, as Tyler Black, Jay Briscoe, Rasche Brown and Tyson Dux defeated Austin Aries, Kenny King, Rhett Titus, and their mystery partner...Adam Pearce. I got a good laugh when some guy in the front row got really pissed off at Titus when he handed the guy's girlfriend a room key, and I'm really stunned sometimes by the fact that some people can take a business that everyone knows is a work so seriously to the point where they're ready to jump the rail like this guy was, and you'd really think they'd just take it in stride and not get so worked up, but apparently that's not the case. I would have loved if he actually did jump the rail, because with Austin Aries' history of dealing with fans who get too out of control, it would have been a lot of fun to watch. Sadly that didn't happen, but we did still get a good tag match out of the bargain, and both Rasche Brown and Tyson Dux got great reactions from the fans, Rasche for being such a badass and Tyson for being a hometown guy. I was actually pretty stunned to hear that Tyson had been in the business for 13 years because he doesn't look that old, but that would explain how he's such a solid worker and the fact that he's got a good look, because he would have gotten in before all the Insane Dragons and Jack Evans of the world who don't give a crap about workrate or looking like a wrestler. Tyler gave Titus God's Last Gift for the win and everyone goes home happy.
From there we move on to a grudge match between Steve Corino and Colt Cabana, and this was a so-so match, nothing to write home about, and it ended in a DQ when Kevin Steen ran in and attacked Cabana. Generico came in with a chair to save Cabana from the beatdown, and this led directly into Generico against Chris Hero in a Pick Six match. THIS match was awesome, they've only worked together a couple of times in singles matches in ROH and it was years ago, but both of these guys were really on tonight. Hero in particular has come so far and, with all due respect, a lot of the stuff he did before the changeover to the Young Knockout Kid gimmick was entertaining, but looked really fake. Now everything he does looks to real and like he's really killing his opponent out there. It's not just a good style for Hero to make him look like a real badass, but it also makes his opponents look good when they're somehow able to kick out of some really nasty shots and keep on fighting like Generico did in this match. Hero finally got the win with the nastiest looking Stretch Plum I think I've ever seen, one that stretched Generico out so bad it made every other Stretch Plum in the history of the business look like a side headlock by comparison. Screw the cravate, let Hero use that move if he needs a submission finisher!
Steen comes back out after the match and it leads to a confrontation where Steen calls out Cabana because he's got something to say to Generico and he wants Cabana to hear it. He's decided that it's finally time to give Generico his explanation: he only started out hanging around Generico because he wanted to use him to get himself ahead in the business, but eventually he realized he actually liked Generico, and it took them losing the tag titles and losing Ladder War 2 to realize that he had become too much like Generico, and when Steen was giving his speech at Final Battle and Generico came and gave him a hug, Steen felt like Generico had stolen his moment and when he laid Generico out with the chair, he felt like he was reborn. He called Generico a parasite and told him to get out of his face. Generico wouldn't leave, so Steen starts daring Generico to go ahead and try to hit him, and when Generico wouldn't, he demanded Generico hit him. Cabana went out and grabbed a chair from ringside and put it in Generico's hand and started yelling at Generico to hit him, and Steen got down on his knees and literally started begging Generico to hit him, but before Generico could make his final decision, Corino came back out and the whole thing broke down into a brawl. I LOVED this segment, Steen gave such a heartfelt speech that really felt real, and it was so tense with Cabana standing there screaming at Generico to hit him, and it was almost like at the end of Return Of The Jedi when the Emperor was telling Luke to give in to his hatred. Awesome segment and a big step forward in my favorite feud of the year so far.
All this leads to our main event of Davey Richards vs Kenny Omega in a rematch of their bout at Clash Of The Contenders. I don't care who did or didn't make it across the border, there was no other match you could have possibly closed this show with. These guys are both so on and I'm sitting here watching it and shaking my head because I wish Omega was available to work ROH more often. Davey is so on at this point in his career that it's scary, and he's gotten so good that I'd even put him over Low Ki in 2002 or Samoa Joe in 2003-2005, and he may even be past Danielson in 2006-2007. I liked this match a lot and didn't read any spoilers to know who was going to win, but with wrestling being booked as symmetrically as it is, I was pretty certain Davey was going to go over so that did take some of the steam out of it for me. But still an awesome match that included some nasty bumps that I assume to be unintentional, like Omega giving Davey the electric chair/German Suplex combo into the turnbuckle, and another spot where Omega went for a top rope Frankensteiner and came down at a pretty sick angle on his head. I do sometimes get a Mark Briscoe vibe from Omega in that he's so motivated and so full of vigor and energy that sometimes he's not as careful as he should be, and he does need to watch that sometimes because he's sometimes sloppy enough that I see potential for injury to himself or others in what he does. But the nasty bumps weren't enough to take this away from being another awesome match, and with each guy having one win, I'm assuming (and hoping for) a third match to decide the winner of the series. Davey was getting "next world champ" chants from the crowd after the match, as he does pretty much everywhere he goes these days. Davey is easily one of the most over guys in the history of the company, and not in a flash in the pan way like Tyler Black, this guy is the real deal. I loved the finishing sequence where each guy came a hair's breadth away from beating the other until Davey reversed the German Suplex into a Kimura for the tapout win. Great stuff in what's turning into a nonstop streak of blowaway matches from Davey.
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To sum things up, I obviously loved the main event, but I have to be honest: other than that one match and the Steen/Generico confrontation, this was a completely missable weekend of shows. They totally had the vibe of just putting on shows for the sake of putting on shows and served as little more than placeholders between the 8th Anniversary Show and the Wrestlemania weekend events. I understand you can't knock them all out of the park, but when your business revolves around selling DVDs, you need to give people a reason to buy them and other than Davey/Omega and a promo, they didn't do that with these shows.