Boiling Point - 11/7/09
I was at this show, and I remember coming out of there with a very negative opinion of the show I just saw. I felt that what had once been one of ROH's most rabid markets and the site of some of their most memorable moments and matches had been treated as an afterthought. I felt it had a lackluster, thrown together main event and nothing on the undercard that made it seem like a show worth going out of your way to see. I felt like they didn't take this show seriously at all, and the fact that the announced return to the venue (which ended up getting cancelled) wasn't for another six months made me feel like they didn't consider New Jersey to be a market worth going out of their way for now that they're settled in New York and other places, and I thought that it was a disrespectful way to treat a portion of their fanbase that had long been very loyal to the company. But now let's see if six months of hindsight changes my view of this show or if it turns out to be as pedestrian, meaningless, and half-assed as I remember it.
The show opened with Kenny Omega taking on Sonjay Dutt, and one of the things that drove me nuts about the way ROH handled Sonjay is that, like Petey Williams, they took a guy who had just gotten dropped by TNA and came to ROH with a moderately high level of interest, and ROH just failed to do anything worthwhile with him. Sure, Sonjay had a feud with Delirious, but it was a very low level feud and he hasn't been seen in ROH in some months now. Probably moreso than Williams, I think Sonjay has a lot of talent and charisma and is a guy who could be valuable at a fairly high level in ROH, but for whatever reason they just treated him like any old journeyman jobber, and at least in Sonjay's case I think that was a mistake. Case in point, here he's jerking the curtain and putting over Kenny Omega in the opening match of an almost entirely meaningless show. ROH did have some issues in 2009 with pushing some guys who didn't deserve it and not pushing guys who did deserve it, and Sonjay is one of those cases. In any event, Omega went over with his electric chair/German Suplex finish.
The second match pitted Embassy members Joey Ryan & Erick Stevens against Necro Butcher & Mark Briscoe. First of all, I didn't understand why the Briscoes were randomely split up and put in separate matches tonight, and why Mark was seemingly arbitrarily thrown into the Necro-Embassy feud for one night, especially when you consider the violent history between the Briscoes and Necro Butcher. Furthermore, Necro Butcher was completely wasted in meaningless midcard matches for much of 2009, and spent the rest of 2009 and all of 2010 so far spinning his wheels in an endless, pointless feud with the Embassy that never goes anywhere. Necro started 2009 with a lot of attention and interest coming off of his appearance in The Wrestler, and ROH completely failed to capitalize on it. Remember what I said in the last match about not pushing people who deserved it? Necro is a guy the ROH fanbase was HUGE into, but for whatever reason he's been completely mishandled for over a year now. As far as Erick Stevens goes, he's another guy who has a ton of potential, but due to poor handling has never quite been able to hit his stride. Unfortunately, he got dumped into the Embassy because Adam Pearce didn't know what else to do with him, and now both he and Joey Ryan, who probably has more potential to be a main eventer than anyone in this match, are lost in the shuffle as well. It's interesting how the Embassy went from being a respectable stable in 2005-2006 to becoming instant death for the heat of anyone involved with it, either as a member or as an opponent. Anyway, a boring tag match ended in a DQ finish when Claudio Castagnoli ran in and attacked Necro, leading to Jay Briscoe running in to make the save, and then leading to a 3-on-3 brawl and then leading directly into our next match....
...as Jay Briscoe took on Claudio Castagnoli in a Pick Six match. Again, I don't get the logic in Jay Briscoe earning his spot in the Pick Six by beating his brother. Sure, they always have great matches and yes, I agree that Jay is the better of the two, but it's not a matter of who wins, it's just that they shouldn't have been wrestling each other at all. Unless you're going to do a feud between Jay and Mark, there's no reason to have that match, especially since they're primarily tag team wrestlers and have never been serious threats to the ROH World Title except for when they were feuding with Samoa Joe six years earlier. I think it made Mark look unnecessarily weak and it did nothing to elevate Jay, and only served to complicate matters by splitting the Briscoes up into singles matches when they were supposed to be chasing the American Wolves for the tag title. In any event, this was a solid but short match with Claudio picking up a clean win after the UFO to move into the Pick Six rankings and also further foreshadow the reunion of the Kings Of Wrestling and their feud with the Briscoes.
The next scheduled match was Kenny King taking on Tyler Black, and Kenny cut an awesome prematch promo talking about how he helped Jerry Lynn into his new career as the head stocker at Walmart, and how he's going to help Tyler get there too, and how even though Tyler won Survival Of The Fittest and looked like a scary dude for once, Tyler probably just isn't cut out to win the big one. He also addressed himself and Rhett Titus being viewed as Austin Aries' lackeys, because they're not his lackeys: Hogan had Hall and Nash, Flair had Arn, Tully and Barry, so he and Titus are just the big dogs backing up the big dog. I really enjoyed that promo, and think Kenny King is probably the most underrated promo guy in ROH right now. So we go to the ring for the match, but before we get started, now Aries cuts a promo on Tyler telling him that even though everyone thinks it's Tyler's destiny to be the next ROH World Champion, but he recently had neck surgery and Aries doesn't think he's going to get through Kenny tonight, much less beat him for the title. So the bell rings and the match lasted all of about a minute before Aries and Titus attack Tyler and turn it into a 3-on-1 beatdown until Colt Cabana and Grizzly Redwood run out to make the save and then Jim Cornette came out to the ring to turn it into a six man. I understand why they did it since they probably were trying to take it easy on Tyler's neck, but if that's what you were going to do, why not just book a six man instead of advertising a singles match that really didn't happen? This was also typical of Aries' second reign as champion where, instead of defending the title in the main events of most shows like previous champions, Aries spent way too much time either working midcard tag matches, or defending the title against tomato cans in the midcard. I have a hard time thinking of five shows that were main evented with an Austin Aries title defense, and I think that's why some people forget what a great wrestler he is, because he simply didn't have the spotlight often enough to have the kinds of matches he had before his transformation, and concentrated a lot more on being a character than being a wrestler. I think that's a shame, because, when put into the right situation, he has shown that he still has the goods, but he's gotten so far away from it that I think it takes him down a couple of notches in the eyes of the fans.
However, I'll again give credit where credit is due and say that ROH has used Jim Cornette absolutely correctly since he returned, because while over on TNA, you have Hulk Hogan coming out on a weekly basis and giving people his Official Stamp Of Approval and making bold proclamations about how he's going to save the company or turn the company around or whatever, Jim Cornette can come out and use his credibility and mind for the business to improve things without always beating us over the head with statements about how he's here to save ROH, he's not aligning himself with anyone to give them a rub, and he's not cramming his past successes in other companies down our throats. The entire company gets a rub just from him being there, and is probably benefiting more from that than they would if he were constantly putting himself over the way Hogan does. This is why it drives me nuts to see people rolling their eyes and acting like Cornette is some kind of moron when he goes on his rants about Russo or whoever, because it distracts them from all the good things Cornette brings to the table.
But I digress. So they have a six man now with Tyler, Cabana, and Grizzly Redwood against Aries, King and Titus. As I suspected, Tyler barely did anything in this match until the end, but it was actually Cabana who ended up scoring the win for his team by making Aries tap out to the Billy Goat's Curse. This led to Cabana getting a title shot in December when ROH returned to Chicago Ridge, but two things about that: first, even though I have no problem with giving Cabana a title shot by having him go over the champion in a non-title match, the big storyline was Tyler working his way into a title shot against Aries, so I wouldn't have had Tyler in this match because if he is, he should be the one beating Aries, not Cabana. As far as Cabana goes though, we'll get to the Aries-Cabana match in a few DVDs, but I think that if Cabana was going to be a title contender, it should have at least been two or three matches, but it was one and done in Chicago, and just based on their 2005 series, I think you could have definitely gotten more out of them than they did.
From there we move on to Bobby Dempsey taking on Tony Kozina. Okay, I know they had a hard time putting together a show of a reasonable length, but was this really all they could come up with to fill time? Can you see why this show didn't exactly set my world on fire? They didn't show it on the DVD, but when Kozina came out live, they played some wussy dance music for his entrance and I saw Adam Pearce over at the sound engineer's table dancing and laughing, so I guess by this point they had pretty much given up on this show and decided to just try and amuse themselves. Whatever. Standard Bobby Dempsey match where his jobbing opponent gets in some token offense before Dempsey hits the Death Valley Driver for the win. Next.
Finally we get a really good match, and easily the best match on this show as Roderick Strong faced Delirious. First the good things: this match was really good, intense, well-paced, and hard fought. The match went back and forth and had a great finish as Delirious hit Roderick with big move after big move, but Roderick caught Delirious with a small package out of nowhere for the win, and I like it when somebody wins a match without hitting their finisher because it adds realism and the sense that the match really could end at any time. Now the two relatively minor, but still notable complaints: first is the way Delirious went on this big tour of Japan which saw him beat KENTA, then he had all the intense training in judo, drinking with the Briscoes, and on and on, yet it did absolutely nothing to improve his position on the card because he was still doing midcard jobs. It reminded me of when Tito Santana transformed into El Matador, and went from being a jobber to a fancy jobber. Delirious has been really stale for a long time and has needed something to freshen up his character, and since Pearce bailed on his heel turn first chance he got, I thought this could have been it but I guess I was mistaken. The other thing is that no mention whatsoever was made of Delirious and Roderick's really heate feud in 2007, and I know that new bookers don't always keep up on everything that previous bookers had done, but Pearce has usually been really good about understanding and respecting the storyline histories in ROH, so to me it's a pretty glaring error when these two act like they've never been in the ring before. But those two complaints aside, this was a great match in and of itself.
This brings us to our main event of Chris Hero & Davey Richards taking on Kevin Steen & El Generico, which screams of being thrown together because they just didn't have anything better for us. Don't get me wrong, these are four top ROH guys and all of them deserve to be main eventing, but there was no storyline behind this match other than the Steen/Generico vs American Wolves match which really ended two months earlier in New York, and Chris Hero had no storyline reason to be in this match other than the fact that he's buddies with Richards. I mean, can you blame the New Jersey fans if they feel slighted when New York gets Danielson vs Nigel, Chicago gets Aries vs Cabana, Michigan gets Aries vs Richards, and Jersey gets this? I'm sorry, I just think that they really could have and should have done better for this market, which has seemingly been forgotten while they concentrate on trying to build every other market they run in to take its place. Anyway, great match with a great finish where Hero hit Generico with the Golden Elbow, but Generico wasn't the legal man, so Steen dragged Hero off of Generico and slapped him in the Sharpshooter for the submission win. All four guys worked really hard which is all you can ask for, but I think this would have been better off as a midcard match than a main event.
So after seeing it a second time, I am still not impressed. Overall, the show only lasted a little over two hours, and even though I'm not necessarily pining for the days of the Gabe Sapolsky 5 hour extravaganzas, I do think two hours is pretty short. To ROH's credit, they compensated a bit by including three matches from the April Canadian tour (which were all left off of Double Feature II) as bonus matches, but we didn't get the bonus matches live in the building, we just got a crappy show. I don't know if ROH knew they weren't coming back to Edison and consciously half-assed the show because of that or what, but after coming out of the show, and again after watching the DVD, I felt very frustrated with ROH because of this event.