After the spectacular show that was Best in the World 2011 Ring of Honor will this weekend present two smaller shows from Richmond, VA and Charlotte, NC, both of which will have a strong emphasis on tag team wrestling. It’s a nice approach: by using their smaller events to feature the more established stars in tag bouts Ring of Honor manages to get more young talent into the ring in front of fans.
The Richmond show will start the weekend with the American Wolves teaming up to take on the House of Truth, Chris Hero facing Rhett Titus and the tag team titles being defended by Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team. Let’s have a look at the show in a bit more detail:
Kenny King v ‘The Prodigy’ Mike Bennett
At first glance this is an odd choice of match: King is coming off an impressive showing alongside Rhett Titus in the four team elimination match at Best in the World, while Bennett was beaten convincingly by Jay Lethal on the same show. It’s an opportunity for both men to show what they can do though though. King can use it as a chance to show that he’s just as good in singles competition as he is in tags (I expect him to be ROH world champion if he’s with the company long enough) and Bennett can show what he can do against a more established worker.
Chris Hero w/Shane Hagadorn v Rhett Titus
It’s no secret that I’m a massive fan of Chris Hero. What I’ve been less vocal about is how much I enjoy the work of Titus. It’s usually King who gets credit as the better worker of ANX (which I can understand: King is the more experienced and athletic of the two men) but Titus is solid and has improved a lot in the last year, for which he deserves credit.
The character work of both men is what I really enjoy though. Hero is easily one of the most well developed personas anywhere in wrestling, and understands how to get himself over without making his opponent look weak. His “real sports” approach is simple but incredibly effective because so few others do it. Rhett’s character has developed just as much as his wrestling skills in the last twelve months: this time last year he was wearing vests, bow ties and shades to the ring. That’s been dropped in favour of a serious attitude that I fully expect will take he and King to the top of the tag division by mid-2012.
This match should be one of the highlights of the Richmond show and could be a career high for Titus. I’m expecting a Hero win, but a Titus win wouldn’t be terribly shocking, especially with the current rumours of the Kings heading to WWE.
Tag Team Contenders Lottery match #1
Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly v Caprice Coleman and Cedrick Alexander
For all they deserve the hype that’s been directed towards them it has to be said that Cole and O’Reilly don’t really win very often. They’ve put in astonishingly good showings against far more experienced teams in Haas and Benjamin, Hero and Castagnoli, and the Briscoes, but they haven’t actually won any of those matches. In fact the only teams they have shown they can beat are non-regulars and the Bravado Brothers. This one-night, four-team tournament is a chance for Cole and O’Reilly to really establish themselves with a decisive victory over Coleman and Alexander and an upset over the Briscoes (who I expect to win the other first round bout).
Tag Team Contenders Lottery match #2
Jay and Mark Briscoe v The Bravado Brothers
The Bravado Brothers have asked in recent months to be given the chance to get in the ring with ROH’s more experienced teams to show that they can get wins where Cole and O’Reilly can’t. Unfortunately for them that wish has been granted in the form of a match with the Briscoes. It’s not going to be pretty or long. The only way I can see the Bravados winning is if the referee disqualifies the Briscoes for excessive force or something of that nature. There’s no way the Bravados will get a clean win here.
Tag Team Contenders Lottery final
This match will pit the winners of the two teams against one another with a shot at the Ring of Honor world tag team titles and a purported $5000 bonus on the line (that’s purest storyline by the way). I expect this to be the Briscoes v Cole and O’Reilly, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the younger fluking an upset victory. I can’t imagine the Bravados winning, and I find it hard to imagine a Coleman and Alexander win too.
Michael Elgin and Roderick Strong w/Truth Martini v The American Wolves
This may be a tag match but it has the potential to shape the ROH world title scene for the next several months due to the world champion and two former champions being involved. The big question is “can Richards and Edwards work as a unit?” They may have showed their mutual respect for one another after Richards’ victory over Edwards at Best in the World, but can former champion Edwards put that loss out of his mind to achieve victory in Richmond? I find it hard to believe he will. Both Edwards and Richards will wish to show that they are the dominant member of the team and the better of the two wrestlers.
It’s an intriguing storyline, made more interesting because one of their opponents is Roderick Strong, the man Edwards beat for the belt on March 19th. Strong’s being billed as fresh form a tour of Japan (though having seen how stiff a lot of Japanese wrestling is I find it hard to believe he’ll be anywhere close to “fresh”), which could see him introducing a new move or submission hold to try and pull out a victory.
It should be a stiff, fast paced bout and another contender for match of the night honours. I’ll pick the House of Truth to win as I imagine Strong is going to be challenging for the title fairly soon.
ROH World Tag Team championship –
Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (c) v Colt Cabana and El Generico
Since the end of the Generico v Steen feud Cabana and ‘The Generic Luchadore’ haven’t been placed together that much and so tend to be overlooked during discussions about Ring of Honor’s tag scene. While they’re not a regular combo they are both over enough to make a tag team opportunity seem reasonable and should provide a good match. Haas and Benjamin are usually very serious in the ring, so I’m interested to see how they react to the inevitable comedy routine from Cabana. You know it’s coming as well as I do.
As alluded to above, this event will function very nicely as an advert for the great tag team wrestling available to ROH fans. Not only will we see the Tag Team Contenders Lottery but also a rare American Wolves match and a defence of the tag team titles. Tag team wrestling is all over the card! Plus we’re sure to see a development in the Richards and Edwards story, and a certain Mr Steen could possibly make an appearance too. Richmond could host a far more relevant show than most fans seem to be expecting.