Greetings, everyone! Hope you all had a great entrance into the new year, and are ready for a 2011 full of thoughts on ROH! But before we get into it, I am morally obligated, for your own good, to refer you to Kyle Sparks, who’s always ready to hook you up with superb play-by-play reviews of ROH’s weekly offerings.
1. At least from TV, the ring definitely looks bigger than the standard ROH ring. Maybe I’m imagining things, or maybe it just looks that way because of the arena, but that’s how it looks from here (here being my television set).
2. Eddie Edwards definitely has the feel of someone ROH intends to have challenge for the World Title at least once in 2011, as evidenced by Hog and Prazak putting over his accomplishments and performance very strongly. His push has certainly worked, as I look forward to his matches – apparently, so do the live fans.
3. Outstanding opener tonight between Edwards and Mark Briscoe. In the beginning, it looked like they were building to a very nice, but basic, wrestling match, but they really kicked it into a higher gear in the latter half. The goal was obviously to get the crowd fired up and to showcase ROH to the “new” fans (although they’d been there before), and they definitely accomplished that.
4. A couple of moves from the opening match warrant mention: Edwards putting the knee to Briscoe’s back on the Achilles Lock (he should always do that), and Briacoe’s Frog Splash Elbow Drop. There was a kick-ass cruiserweight here in Dallas called Jiggle-O James Johnson that used that move fairly regularly. I always thought he was good enough to find his way to ROH eventually. Wonder what he’s up to.
5. I still think Davey Richards is going to be the guy to de-throne Roderick Strong (honestly, there’s no other way this storyline can end), but the Final Battle video package made me think – beating a guy to the point of ref stoppage is about as decisive as it can get. How are they going to get Richards his next title shot?
6. Kudos to Grizzly Redwood for a really nice performance against Mike Mondo, whose “Giant Killer” gimmick leaves something (OK, a lot) to be desired. Grizzly, as always, did a great job of taking a pounding and making Mondo look good, while timing his comebacks perfectly, and the result was a nice little filler match.
7. Nice introduction to ROH TV for Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, if a bit short. It’s been a few years since they were a tag team in the WWE, so the introduction was probably necessary. Haas and Benjamin did a good job of selling the fact that they are more focused and intense now than they were in the “entertainment business”, and the Bravados did a good job of bumping around for them. I only wish we’d seen the return of the Star-Spangled Blaster (Haas German Suplex/Benjamin Superkick combo).
8. I really enjoyed the Louisville crowd tonight. The Philly folks are always great and obviously love the product, but watching the same crowd every week can get rather repetitive at times. The Louisville folks were obviously hot for the wrestling, and really made the show feel fresh.
9. The point of the main event was obviously to get Homicide a win against a quality opponent to continue to build up his resume for an eventual title shot, but Castagnoli was the real star of the match. Everything he hits always looks to crisp, and he really carries himself like a star. They told a nice story, highlighting Homicide’s resiliency and ultimately having Claudio’s attempt at cheating backfire.
10. ROH’s first offering of 2011 was a great one. The opener and the main were high-quality wrestling matches, Haas & Benjamin were introduced as ROH regulars, and a new, hot crowd really gave the show a different feel. This set high expectations for this Louisville set of tapings.