Eye Of The Storm 2 - 12/18/09
Like I said, the lineup for this show was pretty weak, as is evidenced by the opener, which saw The Set (who, if you don't know, are basically a preshow/TV job team) taking on Adam Pearce and Matt Classic. Don't get me wrong, I was very happy to see Matt Classic make his ROH debut here because I find the character very entertaining, but this just screams filler on a show that barely broke two and a half hours. I know some people will bitch about Pearce putting himself on the show, but it was just to fill time and, as he has always done since becoming booker, took the fall to give the win to his opponents. Hey, say what you will about his booking style (which I personally like, incidentally), but in a business that is notorious for bookers who can't resist putting themselves over at every opportunity, it is really refreshing to see how professionally Pearce behaves in this regard.
Speaking of filler, the next match saw Sonjay Dutt take on Grizzly Redwood. See what I mean about this show not having the most marketable card? I have to be completely honest, for as talented an athlete as Sonjay is and as smooth a worker he can be, there's just something about him that doesn't connect, and I think he fell into the same trap as Petey Williams in that he's a former TNA guy that was brought in with the fan expectation that he will finally get to showcase his true talents, and instead he just treaded water for a year and is barely used now. Unlike Petey, I do think Sonjay has quite a lot of talent and is certainly more than the One Move Wonder that Petey is, but for some reason he never got a shot to do anything other than work a boring, drawn out feud with Delirious. Finish saw Sonjay hit a pair of Lionsaults on Grizzly, but when he went to pick him up Grizzly rolled him up and got a surprise win. Sonjay beat him up a bit after the match, but that never really went anywhere.
Next up was a Pick Six match, as (6)Kenny Omega took on Rhett Titus, and the thing that really jumped out to me about this match is how great a worker Rhett Titus has become. He may not do anything particularly flashy, but the fact that he can consistently have entertaining matches without constantly risking injury is a good thing in my eyes, and he's managed to become a very compelling wrestler to watch work an old school style. In fact, he's gotten so good that he may unintentionally make a wrestler like Kenny Omega (who is solid, but tends to be sloppy sometimes) look bad. In any event, Omega got the win to retain his spot by hitting his Electric Chair/German Suplex combo.
After that we went to tag team action, as Kevin Steen & El Generico took on the Embassy team of Erick Stevens and Bison Smith. I still don't get the Bison Smith thing, I really felt like at the beginning of 2009, he was going to come in and become a major player, especially since he was booked to annihilate Bryan Danielson so badly, but then he wasn't around much past March or so. I guess his Japanese commitments prevent him from appearing as often as they would like, but it was pretty jarring to have him come in, mess up a top star, and then more or less disappear. I like watching him wrestle, he's a beast, and he works as somebody to come in and lay down the law when Prince Nana needs an enforcer when things get out of hand, and I guess that's what they're going to do with him, but it's too bad he apparently isn't able to become more of a regular. They were really putting the full press on the Steen knee injury angle here, and I hate to say angle because it's a legitimate injury, but they were really going over the top with it at this point, as he was badly hobbling on the way to the ring and it appeared to severely affect his performance during the match, and the announcers were really pressing the point that Steen should take time off and get surgery. While I do think the injury is legitimate and has led to the noticeable weight gain over the last eight or nine months, in hindsight it looks like the injury wasn't as severe as they were making it out to be, if for no other reason than the fact that he's still wrestling five months later and the injury doesn't seem to be hindering him as visibly as it was then. Steen & Generico fought valiantly, but in the end the knee injury and the power of Stevens and Smith were too much to overcome, and Stevens put Generico away with the Doctor Bomb. Steen came into the ring with a chair and chased off the Embassy and was visibly frustrated over yet another setback, and it was pretty much the last straw leading into the events of the following evening, which we'll get to in a few paragraphs.
Back to the Pick Six after that, as (3)Chris Hero defended his spot against Colt Cabana, working his second match of the night, albeit his first as himself. I believe that for all the time both men have spent in ROH, this was their first ever singles meeting. I liked this match because Cabana did the comedy stuff early, then got down to business and had a solid wrestling match, and I've said before that I have a hard time appreciating his matches when they're all comedy because then it seems like he's not taking his job seriously, and if he's not, why should I? I would have expected Cabana to go over here and earn the Pick Six spot based on the postmatch events of his title match with Aries in Chicago, but instead Hero used the golden elbow pad to knock Cabana out and retain his spot. Incidentally, I like that they found a storyline reason for him to retire the green elbow pad, since that was was supposedly given him by Misawa, it would have been Guerrero-esque for him to continue using it for long afte Misawa passed.
Next we got a very entertaining tag match as ROH World Champion Austin Aries teamed with his protege Kenny King to take on the Young Bucks. There was a hilarious prematch segment where Aries and King made fun of the Young Bucks for their 80s outfits, complete with tassels, then tore off their pants to reveal atrocious, leopard-printed 80s tights of their own so they would fit into the match. Aries, always underrated as a tag wrestler, and King were very entertaining here as they continued to mock the Bucks by doing Bucks moves, albeit in slightly slower and less precise fashion. The Bucks got the last laugh, beating King with More Bang For Your Buck. This was okay and a pretty standard goofy midcard tag match like Aries became known for in 2009, but given that he came off three strong title defenses in a row and would have another big one the following evening, I can let his position on the card go.
In our semi-main event, Roderick Strong finally got his win over Tyler Black in another great match between the two. These guys have had some wars, and it took Roderick two Gibson Drivers in a row to put Tyler away, but put him away he did and he did it totally clean. That becomes important as time went on and the storyline became Tyler not being able to beat Roderick without there being a controversial finish, because the one time Roderick was able to defeat Tyler he did it totally clean, making it look like Tyler can't beat Roderick straight up. Great, great booking. My theory after this finish was that Roderick would then become the top challenger when Tyler beat Aries for the title at Final Battle, becuase otherwise it wouldn't make sense for Tyler to lose going into his title victory. Turns out I was half right: Roderick did become the top challenger once Tyler got the title, but Tyler didn't end up winning it until the 8th Anniversary Show in February. I would bet people at the time were bitching about Tyler looking weak going into Final Battle after this loss, but these people are probably the type that can't wait to see where things are going, and can only see what's in front of their face at that time. This becomes valuable to ROH because they can use stuff like that to work the marks (and regardless of what these types of fans think, they are marks), but it also hurts your ability to just be a fan and enjoy the show because you think you have all the answers, and odds are that you don't and you end up looking very silly later on when your theories are proven completely wrong.
This brings us to our main event, as ROH World Tag Team Champions the American Wolves teamed with Alex Koslov to take on Rocky Romero and the Briscoes. This match was originally scheduled to include Teddy Hart and Jack Evans, but as I said earlier, they were pulled from the show by AAA, and Teddy needed to make sure to make the AAA bookings since that's the only place he can find work anymore. That left us with some weird pairings, as the Briscoes had a very heated feud with the Rottweilers (which included Romero) years earlier, and the AMERICAN Wolves were teaming with a guy who, for all intents and purposes, is trying to recreate himself as the Red Menace. 1985 would definitely not approve. Also, and I didn't even remember this until Eric Santamaria pointed it out on commentary, Romero and Richards are former ROH World Tag Team Champions together, a reign that was ended by the Briscoes. So a lot of history between these guys.
As for the match itself, it was a solid match, but in the end a pretty standard B-show tag main event, the finish saw the Briscoes and the Wolves brawl to the back, leaving Romero and Koslov alone in the ring, and after another couple of minutes, Romero hit the knockout kick to the head of Koslov and got the win. The Briscoes came back out to celebrate, and everybody goes home happy.
Overall, I think this was a much more solid show that I would have thought just looking at the lineup, and like I said earlier, I don't think the lineup for this show was going to set the world on fire. It turned out pretty good though because there were a lot of matches that were a lot of fun, and Tyler and Roderick had their usual awesome match and Hero vs Cabana was pretty good too. I think if they still employed the guy who used to find a way to make people want every single DVD they did, it would be a different story, but in the end it's just that much more value to the Final Battle set.