Friday 20 January 2012

ROH in Norfolk preview

Tonight ROH return to Philadelphia for a show called Homecoming. They didn’t put on a show in what is generally considered their hometown at all in 2011 so it’s nice to see them returning early in 2012.

But I’m not previewing that show. I’m going to preview their Saturday night show in Norfolk, Virginia instead. With Eddie Edwards, Roderick Strong, the Briscoes, Jay Lethal, Kevin Steen and ROH world champion ‘Prestigious’ Davey Richards on the card the Norfolk show looks like it stands a very good chance of making a far bigger impact than the average ROH “B show”.

‘Mr Wrestling’ Kevin Steen, arguably the most popular man in the company despite technically being a heel, will be in action against Adam Cole. If he doesn’t win it will be amazing: Steen is gearing up for a feud with Davey Richards sometime in the near future and he’s not likely to be losing much beforehand. It should be a typical Steen encounter, meaning that he will talk to the audience, brawl and do something that disgusts people.

Steen’s soon-to-be-opponent Davey Richards will be teaming with Cole’s former partner Kyle O’Reilly in the main event. The teacher-protégé relationship of the two is well documented and will be nicely mirrored by the House of Truth tandem of veteran Roderick Strong and his partner ‘Unbreakable’ Michael Elgin. They don’t have quite the same bond as Team Richards do but they have shown they work well together before.

All four men are familiar with one another. Strong and Richards are former teammates from the No Remorse Corps and have battled one another many times over the last two years, several times for the ROH world championship. O’Reilly and Elgin were the final two men in 2011’s Survival of the Fittest tournament and are both expected to be top singles stars for Ring of Honor in the no too distant future.

The winners will be rewarded with a title match against the ROH world tag team champions on February 17th in Cincinnati. It should be a stiff match. Classic ROH stuff.

Sticking with the former partner theme Richards’ former American Wolves cohort ‘Die Hard’ Eddie Edwards will be taking on ‘The Prodigy’ Mike Bennett on Sunday. Edwards is one of ROH’s best and makes anyone he faces look better. Bennett is a rising star still figuring out how to use all the tools he has (and he has many) to maximum efficiency. A Bennett win isn’t the most unlikely thing in the world but it’s probably going to be Eddie’s night. He’s the bigger star, so it’s only right he go over.

Kenny King will wrestle Andy ‘Right Leg’ Ridge in a singles match that many probably think will just be filler. It’s not going to be the most important match on the card but it certainly won’t be filler. ‘Right Leg’ has earned a semi-regular spot on the main roster by entering spirited performances every time he’s given an opportunity. Sooner or later, if he keeps being given the chance to win over fans, he will develop into a big star.

Will it come at the expense of über-talented Kenny King though? Unlikely.

One man whose star is almost guaranteed to carry on rising is Tommaso Ciampa. He will face ROH TV champ Jay Lethal in a Proving Ground match. That means (in case you’re unaware) that if Ciampa gets the victory he’ll earn himself a world TV title match with Lethal in the near future. Considering Lethal’s recent run of time limit draws it’s easy to imagine a title match between the two going the distance. I predict that’s exactly what will happen: Ciampa will beat Lethal in the Proving Ground match and then wrestle him to a time limit draw in the championship match. That will then be followed by a second title match in which Ciampa brings home the gold.

For the record I still think the idea of referring to non-title matches as anything other than “non-title” is nonsense. It’s being different for the sake of being different.

Finally, the Briscoes will defend the ROH world tag team titles against Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander. It’s the first time the C&C Wrestle Factory have had the opportunity the challenge for the tag team titles and it’s not going to be an easy match for them being in the ring against ‘Dem Boys’. Mark and Jay aren’t going to give up their belts without a fight and it will be very surprising if new champs are crowned in Norfolk on Sunday.

Quite a tidy little show on paper, especially when you remember that Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin are due to wrestle as well (their match or matches have not been announced at time of writing). Looking at the names involved and some of the matches on offer, particularly the two announced tag bouts, this could be one of ROH’s standout shows of the year.

Predictions summary:
Team Richards to defeat the House of Truth
The Briscoe Brothers to defeat C&C Wrestle Factory
Eddie Edwards to defeat Mike Bennett
Tommaso Ciampa to defeat Jay Lethal
Kevin Steen to defeat Adam Cole
Kenny King to defeat Andy Ridge

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