Friday 13 April 2012

American Wolf, Canadian Nightmare

Last weekend Ring of Honor made the match fans have been waiting months for. On saturday 12th May in Toronto, live on internet pay-per-view, Davey Richards will defend his ROH world championship against 'Wrestling's Worst Nightmare' Kevin Steen.
Since being reinstated in December Steen has been taunting Richards and other top wrestlers with boasts that it's just a matter of time until he wins ROH gold. Richards, the fighting champion, has wanted the match made for some time but Executive Producer Jim Cornette has been against the move, reasoning that he cannot reward Steen's outrageous behaviour or (more importantly) run the risk of him actually winning the Ring of Honor title.
Cornette's ruling has been taken by Steen as protection of Richards. Even before he returned to the company he was describing 'The American Wolf' as the promotion's golden boy and Cornette's ruling has only lent credence to that argument. Since he came back that's only gotten worse. My favourite aspect of 'Mr Wrestling's' feud with Cornette and Richards is the way he's taken to carrying a tennis racket with a picture of Davey Richards on it around with him.

Kevin Steen has pulled a trick from the Jim Cornette playbook and adopted that rather fetching tennis racket as his signature foreign object

The constant jabs are part of the reason the title bout has finally been sanctioned. Richards, wanting to shut Steen up and prove he deserves to wear the belt, gave Cornette an ultimatum: make the match or he would vacate the championship (thereby tarnishing its legacy and prestige) and go and wrestle in Japan full time. Cornette's hands were tied and the competitors and fans have the contest they want.
Since returning to ROH iPPV 'The American Wolf' has had nothing but great matches. I'm expecting this to be another electric title defence for him. It will need to be something special to top his stellar performance against the House of Truth's Michael Elgin at Showdown in the Sun Night Two but I think if any opponent can help Davey achieve that task it's Kevin Steen. With the match being in Canada Richards is going to find himself as the heel, with Steen likely to be welcomed as a national hero. It should make for an interesting and slightly unpredictable match dynamic. I'll be interested to see how far Richards goes in the heel role.
Also worthy of note is that ROH have confirmed they will have a new iPPV provider for the broadcast. That's a good move: the shoddy service provided by Go Fight Live had become intolerable and was going to cost Ring of Honor business. Whoever they go with is almost certainly going to be an improvement. It would be hard to be worse than GFL!
It's a little early for predictions but I'm going to go wild and make one anyway. I think 'The American Wolf' will retain the title either via a time limit draw or some out-of-character shady heel tactics (which may or may not lead to an official turn at some point in the not too distant future). I'm fairly confident Steen will be the man to end Richards' title reign but I don't think it will happen quite yet.
When the Steen title reign comes I think it will be a great success. 'Mr Wrestling' is one of the most charismatic and popular men in wrestling and ROH's most reliable all-rounder. His promos and matches are brilliant. When his time comes, and it will, he will make an excellent ROH champion.

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