Powell's 2/4 ROH Wrestling TV review: Gauntlet tag match for a shot at the ROH Tag Titles at the 11th Anniversary iPPV, Top Prospect Tournament continues, Michael Elgin vs. Mike Bennett, Grizzly Redwood vs. Roderick Strong
By Jason Powell
ROH Wrestling on SBG television affiliates
Taped in Baltimore, Md. at Du Burns Arena
[Q1] The opening video aired... Kevin Kelly and Caleb Seltzer introduced the show...
1. "The Promise" Antonio Thomas vs. Tadarius Thomas in a first-round Top Prospect Tournament match. Truth Martini sat in on commentary. Both men shook hands before the match, but Antonio attacked Tadarius from behind to start the match. After back and forth action, Tadarius avoided a back slide and dropped Antonio with a kick for the win...
Tadarius Thomas beat Antonio Thomas to advance in the Top Prospect Tournament in 4:30.
Powell's POV: Truth had some fun with the fact that both men share the same last name. He predicted that Thomas would win. Sure, it was corny, but how could he not go there? Decent action. I still wish we were getting video profiles on the wrestlers in the tournament. It would give viewers more incentive to care about the guys involved in the tournament match.
Backstage, Veda Scott hyped the 11th Anniversary show. She interviewed Jay Lethal, who said he had to convince the fans and Kevin Steen that he deserved the ROH Title shot at the anniversary show, but he said he never had to convince himself. Lethal closed his promo by saying: "I am and will forever be the next Ring of Honor World Champion. Forever"... [C]
Powell's POV: Huh? It's just a brief promo spot. Lethal showed good fire, but he clearly twisted his words up at the end. Why not do a second take?
Kelly and Seltzer were joined on commentary by Mike Mondo, who said he will return to the ring sooner rather than later. He said he has a doctor's visit scheduled and will get a better indication at that point. He vented about how much he hates Roderick Strong and said his heart goes out to Grizzly Redwood...
A Grizzly Redwood video piece was shown. It was narrated by Kelly and told the story of how Redwood was born prematurely and how doctors didn't think he would have a long life. Kelly said Redwood will battle any man on the ROH roster regardless of the size difference. Footage aired of Q.T. Marshall being upset by Redwood, only to have manager R.D. Evans say the match was not sanctioned and should not count...
Powell's POV: A good video feature. This is the type of thing I would like to see for the tournament wrestlers and it's obviously helpful for everyone on the roster. It gives casual viewers a refresher course and provides new viewers with a quick explanation of the characters. The only thing I would change is including some comments from the wrestlers themselves.
Ring introductions for the next match took place...
[Q2] 2. Grizzly Redwood vs. Roderick Strong. The bell rang and Strong called for the mic. Strong said it's a big deal for Grizzly to face him, but a small deal for him to face Grizzly. He said Grizzly will always come up short in life. Grizzly attacked Strong with a flurry. Strong came back, but Grizzly fought him off and then dropped his suspenders. Strong caught him coming off the ropes with a powerslam.
Grizzly came back again and got a few two counts with a rollup, a small package, and a DDT. Strong came back by slamming Grizzly into the corner and then caught him with a high knee. Strong hit a gutbuster for a two count. Redwood came back with another hope spot with a backslide.
Strong came right back with a backbreaker and a Strong Hold for the submission win. Strong held the hold until Michael Elgin came out. Strong fled the ring. Elgin helped Grizzly to his feet and applauded him... [C]
Roderick Strong defeated Grizzly Redwood in 5:10.
Powell's POV: A good television match with Strong selling a lot for the undersized underdog before putting him away at the end. The video piece that told Grizzly's story really set the tone for the match and had to make a lot of viewers rally behind him. I've always felt that competitive matches like these help an established heel like Strong get heat more than a throwaway squash match would. I remember seeing these matches as a young fan and disliking the heels more because it seemed like they were lucky to get away with the win, yet were still acting cocking about it.
3. Michael Elgin vs. Mike Bennett (w/Maria, Bob Evans). Bennett got a lot of offense in early. He went for a Cradle Piledriver, but Elgin avoided it and performed a Death Valley Driver Buckle Bomb for a two count at 4:00. Elgin set up for a superplex, but Maria grabbed his leg.
Elgin grabbed Maria and wanted to superplex her, but Bob grabbed her leg and Bennett attacked Elgin. Bennett hit the Box Office Smash and went for a cover, but Elgin kicked out. Bennett went for the Cradle Piledriver again, but Elgin avoided it for the third time. Elgin hit a Buckle Bomb and a sit-out powerbomb for the win...
Michael Elgin defeated Mike Bennett in 5:30.
Powell's POV: A good television match that could have been the main event if it had a little more time. I'm still not sure what Brutal Bob adds to the Bennett act. I'm not saying he couldn't work with someone, but I've never felt like he fit with Bennett and that's especially true now that he has Maria with him.
[Q3] [C] Kevin Kelly hosted the Inside Ring of Honor segment and focussed on Kevin Steen vs. Jay Lethal. The focus shift to B.J. Whitmer and his feud with Charlie Haas. Whitner said being driven through a table head first at Final Battle will eventually lead to a neck surgery, but he will continue to fight until he can't walk or can't feel his hands. He put an icepack on his neck to wrap up the interview. Kelly teased a look at the Top Prospect Tournament for next week...
Veda Scott's backstage interview with Jay Lethal was replayed... [C]
3. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards vs. Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs vs. Harlem and Lancelot Bravado vs. Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly in a gauntlet match for an ROH Tag Title shot. The announcers noted that there was a random drawing earlier in the day to determine the order of entry. The Wolves and Bravado's opened the match. Charlie Haas joined the announcers on commentary with a beer in hand and complained that he and Shelton Benjamin were not involved.
[Q4] After back and forth action, Richards avoided a double suplex with a double knee to the heads of his opponents. Then he no-sold punches to the head from one of the Bravdo's while he had the other locked in an ankle lock. Richards eventually forced Harlem Bravado to tap out to eliminate them from the match.
Powell's POV: The Bravado's were less gimmicky than they have been in the past. I'm not sure that's a good thing. Now they just feel like a generic brother tag team that looks like they need to spend more time in the gym.
Corino and Jacobs were out next. They didn't last long. Corino caught Edwards with a low blow kick, but he was then rolled up by Edwards and pinned. Corino hit Richards with the timekeeper's bell, then Jacobs dropped Edwards with a Diamond Cutter. Jacobs and Corino gloated. Fish and O'Reilly made their entrances. [C]
After the break, the heels worked over the American Wolves. Edwards made a comeback while Richards waited for a hot tag in the corner while still selling the bell to the head. Richards tagged in and caught O'Reilly with a series of kicks in the corner while Fish was trapped behind his partner. Richards stopped selling the head injury and hit a series of moves on O'Reilly.
Later, Edwards performed a double stomp on O'Reilly, then Richards did the same, but O'Reilly managed to kick out. Fish stood on the floor and kicked RIchards' legs out from under him in a cool spot. Fish and O'Reilly followed up with a high/low move for a two count. O'Reilly hoisted up Edwards, Fish kicked Edwards, then O'Reilly dropped him with a brainbuster for the win...
Kelly hyped an eight-man tag main event as a graphic showed The Briscoes, Caprice Coleman, and Cedric Alexander vs. Kevin Steen, Jimmy Jacobs, Steve Corino, and Rhino...
Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly defeated The American Wolves to win a gauntlet match to earn an ROH Tag Title shot at Final Battle.
Powell's POV: The main event presentation was poor. ROH usually does a good job of making their television main events seem important. This was an unfortunate exception, as it was mentioned at the start of the show and then didn't get much attention from that point on. ROH typically delivers strong main events as was the case here, but they have to make their main events feel special. I'm surprised this match didn't get more of a buildup considering the ramifications.
I didn't care for Haas on commentary. I get a kick out of his Stone Cold-like character, but he was in-character calling everything crap and it felt like a match to determine which team should get the tag title shot at the iPPV was the wrong place for his act regardless of his involvement in the tag division and complaints that he and Shelton were not involved.
Overall, though, I enjoyed the show. The booking continues to be logical and moves at a nice pace. They aren't going overboard with the 11th Anniversary show hype yet. I'm okay with that since this show debuted in most markets a month before the iPPV will take place, but I hope that kicks in soon. They did a great job of making Final Battle seem like an important show and the anniversary event should get the same type of attention. Fortunately, the booking all seems to be leading up to that show, as everything other than the Top Prospect Tournament seems to be telling a story that sets up an iPPV match.
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