12/4 Shore's ROH Northern Aggression Report: ROH's first trip to Greensboro features an eight-man tag elimination match that left the fans wanting more
This is my full report on the ROH “Northern Aggression” event held Sunday, December 4, 2011 in Greensboro, NC. The results are already on the main page if that is what you are looking for.
As I walked up to the Greensboro Coliseum Sunday night for ROH's first Greensboro show, a flood of memories and emotions crashed over me. I had made that same walk just over 28 years ago to what would be my first wrestling event. There was nostalgia, happiness, and a tad of irony at the fact that the father who would spend so little time with me as a child is so responsible for who I am today in so many ways.
Not everything was like that night in November 1983. Starrcade was in the actual coliseum bowl. ROH was in a small room where everybody sat on the floor. Starrcade had stars who were known across the land like Ric Flair and Harley Race. ROH has stars that may one day be well known. And the 350 fans in attendance Sunday nowhere approached the thousands who were there to see Ric Flair begin his meteoric rise.
But even with all those differences, not to mention the differences between the eight year old me and the 36 year old me, there was one common theme that bridged those two events seamlessly: great wrestling. ROH came to impress Greensboro. Listening to comments as people left, I think they succeeded.
The show opened with Jim Cornette and Cary Silkin in the ring. I assume Silkin still travels to the shows to give an air of continuity, but I have no idea why Cornette introduced him as the “Founder of ROH.” He certainly saved it from doom, but there's nothing to be gained from telling that lie. If you don't know the history of ROH, you don't need to for the show to be entertaining. It is a little thing, but as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
The opening match was “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett defeating TJ Perkins in a very good match. Perkins got a big pop from the crowd, proving that most in attendance were ROH fans as Perkins is still fairly new in his return to the company. Bennett managed to not get “You can't wrestle” chants at this event, not that I have ever understood them in the first place. Bennett is a very good wrestler. He's not the mot exciting guy when it comes to a move set, but he made Perkins look very good here. Perkins played his part well, but his timing seemed to be off at times. Still, it was an enjoyable match, and the right opener.
The Baravdo Brothers, North Carolina natives that they are, came out next and drew decent heat. The All Night Express made their entrance next, but the Young Bucks attacked them from behind. After slamming them into the metal barricades (a gimmick that gets overused tremendously in ROH), one of the brothers hit Rhett Titus in the leg with a chair. The Bucks ran off, and after much jawing, it was decided Kenny King would continue in a handicap match.
King and the Bravados put on a decent match. It fit perfect in the second spot because it didn't kill the crowd, but it wasn't exactly a heat producer either. Titus did manage to limp to the ring late in the match to a great reaction, and the ANX won. Titus was still limping after the show at Hooters, so I wonder if he might be a little dinged up and the act was to protect him for Final Battle.
Jay Lethal defeated Adam Cole in a proving ground match next. I like the idea of the proving ground match in that it makes matches with champions mean something even if the title isn't on the line. The execution has been less than impressive, but the idea is still new. Lethal and Cole put on the match you would expect, with many big spots and high flying, high impact moves.
Usually that means a lot of risk, and there was at least one move where Lethal hit his head on the edge of the apron. I couldn't see Cole from my vantage point. I thought it was a German suplex, but my friend said it was more like a powerbomb. Whatever it was, it was scary looking for Lethal, but not enough to keep him from winning with the Lethal Injection.
The next match was the one I was most looking forward to for personal reasons. Pro Wrestling Evo (the local indy group I have been covering) alum Cedric Alexander and his partner Caprice Coleman faced the Young Bucks. I have never had an opportunity to see the Jackson brothers live, so the opportunity to do so, coupled with seeing them wrestle someone I know, had my full attention.
The teams did not disappoint. I am not a fan of the Bucks' current gimmick surrounding their refusal to shake hands—for reasons far too many to mention here—but it does play well with the ROH rules, and the Bucks are very comfortable in their roles as heels. In what was arguably the match of the night, the Bucks hit a combo piledriver on Coleman for the win before intermission.
After intermission we were given an unannounced match of Andy “Right Leg” Ridge defeat some guy that I assume is a local worker. I have never seen this guy before, but he was a big man, easily outweighing Ridge by close to 100 pounds. This was also the only match that the live crowd shat on. Even the guy who wiped the ropes down got a better reaction than Ridge did. Ridge ended up with a busted nose, and the color got a few fans into it, but this was primarily a bust.
That left the main event, an eight man tag team elimination match that was billed as having a two hour time limit. Anytime a promotion goes out of their way to announce a gimmick time limit, you can bet the match is going to go close to the length advertised. We were promised an after party at Hooters beginning at 8:00, and the bell rang at 6:08, so I knew would wouldn't get the full two hours, but I did expect the match to go an hour and 40 minutes.
I also expected it to be a stinker of a match. It's not that the participants—The Briscoes, Roderick Strong and Mike Elgin vs. Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team, El Generico, and Eddie Edwards—are known for terrible matches. In fact the opposite is true; many of these men have been in matches I loved, and Elgin is a guy who I picked in a Q&A audio to go to WWE one day (sign up for the Member's page to hear the audio). It was the fact that I expected the match to go close to two hours. In today's YouTube world, fans tend to want shorter, more explosive matches.
It turns out I was wrong about the Greensboro crowd and the time limit. The match went 1:20:33 according to Eddie Edwards, who was the sole survivor and winner of the match, and they managed to keep the crowd hot for the vast majority of the match. They managed to do it by starting slow, and then using several moments to keep or regain the crowd.
There were two moments where everything devolved into giant brawls on the floor. These were chaotic messes that worked really well. All eight men would roll around the ring, slamming each other into the ROH rails and hitting other moves. I got to see Generico hit his akuza kick right in front of me. I also ended up with a face full of beer after Jay Briscoe hit one of his opponents with an open can that was very, very full.
The WGTT and Briscoes were all eliminated within four minutes of each other at about 47 minutes in, leaving a two on two match. The fans started to lag at this point, but I don't think there was anything that could have been done. After 47 minutes of crazed wrestling, you expect a finish. So while the first elimination caused a big response, the next three did not.
Not to be outdone, Strong and Elgin vs. Generico and Edwards went another 30 minutes and brought the crowd back. After Generico and Elgin were eliminated, Strong put Edwards through a table at ringside from the second rope to heat the crowd up for the finish, which saw Eddie make Strong tap out.
In the end, this was a success for ROH. It was a better show than we got in July in Charlotte, and managed to pull the same number of people, no small feat when you consider the difference in city sizes. Still, there is a lot to improve on. Cornette gets too much face time, especially at house shows, and there seemed to be no effort to push the Final Battle iPPV. There were a few mentions of the TV show, but there should have been banners hanging from the walls to point people in the right direction. I hope ROH comes back to Greensboro soon. We need good wrestling in this area, and ROH provided that. Thus could be a great city for them as they continue to grow.
Questions? Comments? Anyone, anyone? Let me hear from you. Email me at email@example.com or tweet me @TheShoreSlant with whatever is on your mind.
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