Shore's ROH Live Event Report: Colt Cabana, Rhett Titus, A Four Corners Survival Match, Chris Hero vs. Davey Richards, Claudio Castagnoli vs. Chris Angel for the ROH TV Title, and Roderick Strong vs. Jay Briscoe for the ROH World Title
By Chris Shore
I attended the ROH event in Charlotte, NC on January 15. These are my thoughts on the matches and the event as a whole.
We arrived at the show about 15 minutes after the doors opened and found seats opposite the hard camera side and beside the rail to the right of the entrance ramp. We ended up about five rows back, and sat next to a fan (Dave, if I remember correctly) who filled us in on some of the lesser known and local wrestlers. There were about 500-600 people in attendance and it looked to be a sellout. Dave (and if that's wrong, please forgive me) told us that back in August it had been standing room only.
A quick word about the crowd before we get into the event. There were plenty of people there who fit the stereotypical redneck rasslin fan. And yet those fans did their best to make sure every single one of the wrestlers knew that they cared in some way. They booed the heels mercilessly, and went crazy for the faces. Even some of the heels got cheered just because of who they were. They banged on the rail covers and stomped and clapped for big spots, which there were plenty of.
It was hard fighting the mob mentality all night because their energy was infectious. And truth be told, I had a few moments where I forgot I was a wrestling journalist and became a fan again. Onto the show, then. They started with a very quick dark match…
1. Caleb Konley defeated Orion Bishop (Dark Match). Fun match to set the stage. It was more of a spotfest than anything else, but both guys worked hard and the crowd really liked Konley. After this match, the lights went out and we were given the no recording device rules. There was some confusion over whether I could take stills or not, so I don't have any real photos until the main event. I will not make that mistake on July.
2. The Bravado Brothers defeated Kyle O’Reilly & Adam Cole by roll-up. This match absolutely rocked my buddy Joe. I thought the Bravados were enhancement talent, turns out I was sadly mistaken. They did lose to Cole and O'Reilly in Richmond the night before, but they got the win back here. All four of these guys worked their asses off. The tag team division in ROH is stronger than any tag division I can remember. I also spoke with the Bravado Brothers after the show. They were incredibly nice and gracious, and I may yet end up on the Bravado Bandwagon.
3. Rhett Titus defeated local standout Caprice Coleman after the Golden Rule. Pre-match, Titus cut a promo about Caprice and how he was wholesome and how he was going to give him a wholesome ass kicking. Caprice, who Dave informed us is a legit youth minister, cut a great promo about being the "showstopper, but kicker, etc" and "still have time for the Lord." He said he was trying out for a job, and quite frankly, Cary Silkin should have signed him before the match was over.
Titus is a stud and proved it in this match. Caprice was very, very good. He hit three back-to-back Northern Lights suplexes by rolling through, and then set Titus on the top rope. He hit a standing Frankensteiner from the ground in the move of the night. I want to be clear. He stood flat footed on the mat, jumped up without the use of the ropes, and hit a Frankensteiner/hurricanranna on Titus who was sitting on the top rope. Unreal move. Titus recovered and hit the Golden Rule for the win. Fantastic match that I hope means we will be seeing more of Caprice.
4. Colt Cabana defeated Grizzly Redwood via Billy Goat’s Curse. This was our comedy match of the night, and I think it proved the point I always try to make. Namely, comedy has a place in professional wrestling, if it is done well and if it is done in moderation. Cabana certainly towered over Grizzly, and that's what led to the comedy. Colt let Grizzly try a few armbars and headlocks, always reversing his way out until Grizzly popped the suspenders down and went to work. This was an incredibly fun match, and when Colt locked in the Billy Goat's Curse, I was sad to see it end.
5. “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett defeated Cedric Alexander. This was a very quick match and Bennett looked slightly better than he did on TV. He has a great look, very Chris Masters/Lex Luger. He didn't click too well with the live crowd, and I heard quite a few "Who is this guy?" comments. I'm interested in seeing how this turns out for him. After the match, he took a chair and sat at ringside for the next match.
6. Christopher Daniels defeated Claudio Castagnoli (w/Shane Hagadorn and Sara Del Ray) to retain the ROH TV title. This is kind of a pet peeve of mine, the TV title should be defended on TV. Nevertheless, I was jacked for this match. Castagnoli is a physical specimen. You really need to see him live to appreciate him. Daniels plays his part perfectly, and the crowd was pretty split on who to cheer. Hagadorn played the crowd perfectly, and Sara Del Ray is prettier in person than on TV.
The match itself went about 20 minutes, and featured Claudio's power and Daniels's technique. We had some great near falls and then Daniels went for the Best Moonsault Ever. Except is ended up being one of the worst moonsaults ever. OK, I'm teasing a little. He did botch the move, and it looked like he landed nuts first on Claudio's head. He certainly seemed to be favoring the boys for a moment.
I thought he might be seriously hurt for a moment because Claudio immediately popped up and hit a big move (I forget what it was as I was still trying to figure out what, if anything, was wrong with Daniels) for what I thought was going to be a title change. Daniels kicked out and ended up hitting the Angels Wings and then nailed the BME for the win.
As good as this match was, and it was very good, I also felt like it could have been better. The flow of the match started and stopped a lot, and the two guys never seemed to "click" in that way two great performers can. Don't get me wrong, the match didn't suffer per se, but it could have been even better than it was, which probably would have killed a few people.
Intermission occurred at this point, and I cannot explain how difficult it was not to drop my entire wallet at the souvenir table. I ended up buying nothing, but only because I knew I would be trying to score some interviews and didn't want to be seen as playing favorites for anyone. I have since ordered from the web, but my lips are sealed. They also announced that ROH would be returning on July 9 to Charlotte, so you can expect another report then too.
7. Steve Corino and Andy Ridge defeated the Alabama Attitude of Mike Posey and Corey Hollis. This was booked as a singles match between Corino and Ridge. Corino cut a promo before the match about missing Kevin Steen and being responsible for driving him crazy. He said he wants to never do that again and wanted to help the younger generation out instead. He asked Ridge to join him in a tag match against the Alabama Attitude.
This was pretty good match. The young guys were very green, especially Ridge, but they all did well. Corino played it straight and hit the Emerald Dream on Hollis. He tagged in Ridge and told him to finish it, which Ridge did with a modified Superkick. Corino left the ring after their hands were raised to allow Ridge the chance to bask in the glory. Classy move by Corino, and a good stage setter for the final three matches.
8. Davey Richards defeated Chris Hero (w/Shane Hagadorn & Sara Del Rey). This was the match I was probably most looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. Though much like the Castagnoli/Daniels match, I felt like both men were capable of better. The match didn't seem to flow from spot to spot as well as I would have liked, but the spots themselves were great. I've seen many people say this was a tie with the main event for match of the night. I understand why they say that, but again, it just felt like it had disconnected a few times.
That said, both of these guys were amazing to watch. Richards gives his soul every time he is in the ring, and it was very apparent here. Hero is a stud, though I have to say his facial expressions left a little bit to be desired. Hero showed flashes of his old high flyer days while still working solid strikes. Davey continued to play up the concussion angle from Final Battle, which annoyed me a little. I just don't like those angles personally. The crowd was super-hot for this match, and Davey won with a cross-arm breaker. After the match, the crowd chanted, "Best in the world." Davey took the mic and said for us to hold the chants until he wore the belt.
9. Four Corner Survival Match: El Generico defeated Kenny King, Homicide and Mark Briscoe. I have been excited about seeing Generico since Final Battle (and the build to it), so I was thrilled when this match was announced. For those who don't know, the match is similar to a tag four way in that you can tag anybody in at any time, but the first pinfall wins, so it sets up an "anything can happen" feel. And this match had a little bit of everything in it.
There was immediate heat between Homicide and Mark. King wanted to beat up everybody. And Generico was, well, Generico. Hearing the crowd chant/sing "Ole" was awesome in and of itself. These guys threw themselves all over the place. Homicide hit a diving plancha on Generico and they landed right in front of me on the aisle. It was hard to stay objectionable on this match as it was so much fun as a fan to watch.
By the end, I had decided that if Generico hit the brianbustah on the turnbuckle I was not going to make it. Fortunately for me, he hit it in the ring on Mark for the victory. Post-match, Homicide wanted to shake Generico's hand. Generico, like the fool babyface should, took his hand. Homicide hit the Cop Killa on Generico to a big pop, and then made the belt symbol while standing over Generico. Generico sold it like he had been shot. In fact, for a moment I wasn't sure if he was selling it. But when they got the little purple haired girl at ringside to help him to the back, I knew he was OK.
10. Roderick Strong defeated Mark Briscoe to retain the ROH World Championship. The main event was just that. This was match of the night for me, hands down. I had no doubt for a moment that Strong was leaving Charlotte, until Jay started wrestling. By the time it was over, the fan in me was screaming that we were going to have a new champion, and he was shouting down the old cynical reporter in me.
This match got out of control quickly. Jay was busted open fairly early in this 30 minute match, and he bled like Flair after an aspirin. The sickest visual of the night, which I failed to get with my camera, was right after Jay was busted open and Strong performed a stall suplex. The stream of blood from Jay's head to the mat was unbelievable. You can see it dripping off of him here.
Strong was covered in blood, and even enjoyed rubbing it on his skin at one point. But the blood was nothing compared to some of the stiff looking shots these guys were delivering. Jay hit a J-Driller on a table, and I thought it might have been there. But Strong battled back and hit a backbreaker followed by a Gibson driver for the win. Post-match, Strong cut a quick promo on the match and said we should all applaud to Jay for "manning up." Jay said he deserved a rematch as Strong held up the title belt to close the show. Jay told the crowd that no matter what problems they may have heard (the HDNet contract ending), as long as they wanted to see them, ROH would be there to perform.
I can say with unequivocal certainty that this was the best time I have had in five years, and the best live show I have been to since Jim Crockett sold his company to Ted Turner. These guys put on a show from the first to last bell. Everything about the show was professional in every way. I have to say, I'm hooked. And that brings me to the most important thing I can say to you.
You have to go to an indy show. I know we have a lot of readers in areas that ROH doesn't come near. If that's you, then find another local group and go see them. Is it as spectacular and glitzy as WWE? No, of course not. Are all the great workers in the indys? Hardly, there are plenty of great workers in TNA and WWE, and even more terrible hacks if you look at all the indys combined. But that's not the point.
Television changes the product so much. Not in a worse way mind you, but it's not better either. You need to go, and sit close to the ring, and scream like a mark at least once. Because it's fun, and it's pure, and it's truly awesome. It really is. And I will be back for more of it on July 9.
Questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from others who were there for your take on the event and my thoughts.
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