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By Stuart Carapola on 8/19/2010 11:32 AM
Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies 2: 4/24/10 - Chicago Ridge, Illinois

The show started with two of my favorite guys to watch, Sami Callahan and Skullkrusher Rasche Brown, facing off in the opening bout. There was some good psychology in this one because Callahan spent the whole match going after Rasche's injured and taped up ribs, which is the smart thing to do for a guy who doesn't match up well physically with someone like Rasche. Callahan actually controlled much of the match, but Rasche, ever the monster, fought through the pain to overpower Callahan tossing him around like a baby, chokeslamming him and hitting the Burning Hammer for the win.

Match #2 saw the Dark City Fight Club, fresh off their awesome match with the American Wolves the previous evening, take on the Bravado Bros. This was a total squash, as the DCFC just abused the Bravados, with Davis putting one of them away by getting on top of him and just headbutting him until the referee stopped the match. Just to make a point, the DCFC hit Project Mayhem on the other Bravado after the match.

The third match saw new ROH TV Champion Eddie Edwards take on the Metal Master, aka Chad Collyer under a mask. You know, I understand that the TV Title is supposed to be a belt that's only defended on TV and that's the whole point, but I think he ought to defend the belt on house shows more often since with ROH's taping schedule, the title can only potentially be defended twice in a six week period, and usually less than that since Eddie often teams with Davey Richards on TV and doesn't defend the belt on both nights of tapings. Hey, ROH is going all old school the last couple of years, right? What about the old 30 day rule? Anyway, This got a bit stiff at some points but for the most part was pretty standard stuff, and Eddie got the tapout win with the Achilles Lock.

Next up was a pretty interesting tag match as the House Of Truth took on another heel team for the second night in a row, this time taking on Embassy members Erick Stevens and Shawn Daivari. Stevens has gotten himself looking so lean, he's always had a ton of muscle but he dropped a lot of the extra weight he was carrying and looks great and really cut now. I've already talked a lot about the condition Daivari's gotten himself into, and these two may have better muscle definition than nearly anyone else in ROH except maybe Claudio. Unlike the previous evening where there were two heel teams both trying to out-cheat one another, the HoT were playing the babyfaces in this one with Christin Able getting worked over for most of the match before making the hot tag to Josh Raymond. The match ended with the Embassy getting a DQ win when Truth Martini came in and gave Daivari a flying headscissors, which to me was kind of a cheap way out because Martini basically walked right in and attacked one of the opponents right in front of the ref. Was he not supposed to realize this would get his guys disqualified? Lame ending, okay match.

On the other hand, now we are having fun as (4)Davey Richards battles (1)Roderick Strong in a Pick Six Contender's Series match. Just last night, I watched these guys fight on HDNet for a shot at the ROH World Title at Glory By Honor IX, and I remarked then that I enjoyed the match quite a lot and thought of Roddy and Davey as being possibly the two best workers in the company right now. As good as that match was, this one may have been even better. This was stiff as hell, and when you have two guys who are not shy about taking punishment, it makes for a real entertaining match. Like I said, at least as good as the match on HDNet, and since I would say there's now a very good chance that these two are going to end up feuding over the ROH World Title in the next couple of months, this may end up being in the running for Feud Of The Year from an in-ring perspective. The match ended in a time limit draw, but it left you wanting more because it was such a good match, and further played into Roderick's ongoing transformation into a heel.

Moving on, our next match saw Rhett Titus take on Petey Williams, and the match was okay but ROH has trained me to not care about Petey, so I don't. Sure enough, Titus pinned Williams, albeit with his feet on the ropes. Whatever. Next.

Now we do get people I care about, as Austin Aries & Kenny King take on the Briscoes. The Briscoes really are at a crossroads, and amidst rumors that they may be leaving ROH for contracts elsewhere and teases that they might stay in ROH but break up, they're also now surrounded with other quality teams. Not that they were the only good team in the company before, but a lot of the other good teams prior to 2009 either didn't stick around ROH for the long haul or broke up, so even though they had competitive matches with the Backseat Boyz, Aries & Strong, Punk & Cabana, Age Of The Fall, and so on, the only other team that was around long enough to be considered close to the Briscoes' equals were Steen & Generico. But now the Briscoes are sharing a tag division with the Kings Of Wrestling, the American Wolves, the Dark City Fight Club, the House Of Truth, and the All Night Express, they don't really stand alone as the clear top dogs the way they used to. And I hate to say it, but some of those teams are regularly having better matches than the Briscoes are. I think they had accomplished all they were going to in ROH probably 2-3 years ago, and anything they've done since and are going to do in the future will just be retreading the same ground, and that's fine when you're at the top of the mountain with no real competition for the tag team spotlight, but that's just not the case anymore and they're starting to stagnate, to be perfectly honest. It was time for them to leave sometime around 2008, but now they're getting to the point where it's almost a necessity that they either move up to WWE or TNA or find somewhere else to work and disappear from ROH for a while until there's something fresh for them to do there.

But getting back to this match, as I said, there has been dissension building between the Briscoes and Aries cut a prematch promo talking about how the Briscoes got into a fight with each other in the parking lot last night, using that to also downplay the dissension that had been showing between Aries and the All Night Express. The Briscoes did tease tension by getting hot and shoving each other around during the match, but it turned out to be mindgames to give Aries and King a false sense of security. Instead, miscommunication led to King accidentally laying out Aries and setting him up to be pinned by the Briscoes, and this led to Aries and King getting in each other's faces after the match. They started shoving each other and Rhett Titus came in to try and calm them down and they both shoved him down, and seemed on the verge of an all out brawl when they ended up shaking hands, hugging, and making up.

This brings us to the first of two main events of the evening, as Chris Hero challenges Tyler Black for the ROH World Title. These two had a whole series of matches in 2009, but I believe this is their first time in the ring with each other in 2010. Hero, of course, is now one half of the ROH World Tag Team Champions, and with Hero's manager Shane Hagadorn also managing TV Champion Eddie Edwards, a Hero victory here would put all the titles in ROH under the control of one manager, a feat that has never been accomplished in ROH. As I'm sure you're probably aware, it doesn't end up happening here, either, but it is a fun possibility to think about. Anyway, this was an average match at best, there was no suspense since there was no way Hero was beating Tyler, and they tried to liven it up towards the end by doing the "I hit a big move, you kick out, you hit a big move, I kick out" and so on to make it more dramatic, but it came off more like they were trying to use something that works in cool matches to make a boring match cool, kind of like how lame kids say things they heard cool kids say to try and come off as cool, and it just didn't work because Tyler is a lame kid trying to be cool. Anyway, Tyler hit about a bazillion superkicks (a move which, by the way, is approaching Nigel McLariat levels of overuse) and beat Hero to retain.

All this brings us to our main event, as El Generico & Colt Cabana took on Kevin Steen & Steve Corino in a Chicago Street Fight. I thought this match was good, and they sure did take their share of scary bumps, including Steen giving Generico a Michinoku Driver on top of the camera scaffolding, spots involving a ladder, tons of chairs, and Steen taking a bump off the top through a table on the floor. There was also a ton of blood, as everyone except Generico got color. Now, this may not sound as complimentary as I mean it to sound but bear with me: this match didn't come across as the be all end all match that people who saw it live thought it was, but I take that as them holding something back for the blowoff. The way I see it, they still have a cage match at the Philly tapings and a double chain match coming up in New York, so while this was good, I think it's going to get better, and I hope that doesn't sound like a knock because it's not and everybody worked their asses off here and took a ton of punishment, but I see this as an 80% where they're going to eventually build to 100% in New York on 9/11. The match did have an awesome, brutal finish where Cabana had Corino in the Billy Goat's Curse and Generico took a barbed wire baseball bat that had found its way into the ring and started grinding Corino's face on it, then he laid Corino's head on top of it and slammed a chair over the back of Corino's head, ramming it into the bat. Corino lost consciousness, leading to the ref stopping the match and giving the win to Cabana and Generico, and then THAT led to an awesome, heated postmatch promo from Kevin Steen where Steen, with officials attending to Corino's crumpled form behind him, lost his mind and challenged Cabana to a match at Supercard Of Honor V in New York and said he was going to kill Cabana. Great stuff.

Overall though, this show was a bit of a mixed bag in my book. On the one hand, you definitely want to see Davey vs Roddy and the main event, but on the other hand the rest of the show was completely missable and forgettable. No big deal, every so often you're bound to have a show like this, but it definitely was far from a bad show and I'd still put it ahead of any episode of Monday Night Raw. Or most WWE PPVs, for that matter. But in the grand scheme of the ROH universe, it's not the end of the world if you miss this one.

Next time: Civil Warfare, the final lead in to the huge Supercard Of Honor V event in New York City!