Sunday 1 April 2012


What a catastrophic weekend for Ring of Honor.

I was unable to watch Night One of Showdown in the Sun myself but I’m informed by friends who did purchase the event, as well as various reliable websites, that technical difficulties made the show practically unwatchable. It’s a terrible pity that this happened on the biggest wrestling weekend of the year, when some people were bound to be checking out the ROH product for the first time. They will have been left with a negative view of the promotion and aren’t likely to shell out their money for any events in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if some long-time fans hadn’t been driven away too.

Night Two should have opened with an apologetic statement from either Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness in the ring or a pre-recorded message from Jim Cornette. That would have gone some way to assuring fans that ROH were aware of the disappointing events of the previous evening and regretted short-changing fans. No such announcement was made… and then later on in the show the stream went dead.

Two nights ruined by technical difficulties. They are either the fault of ROH or GFL. At this point ROH ought to be looking for compensation from GFL and a new home for their internet pay-per-views. GFL have ruined far too many ROH events and clearly cannot be relied upon for smooth and uninterrupted broadcasts. If Ring of Honor is to expand as a company fans need to be able to trust that when they buy an event they will get to watch it in its entirety at the advertised time of broadcast.

Thankfully what was shown of Night Two (for the reasonable-if-the-technical-difficulties-hadn’t-occurred price of fifteen dollars) was very enjoyable. Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness provided insightful commentary that enhanced the matches and the wrestlers, which is exactly what a commentary team should do. There are certain other companies that don’t seem to be aware of this.

An unadvertised match between El Generico and the newly-heel Jimmy Jacobs started the show. Jacobs (who’s ludicrous outfit reminded me of Peter Pan) had switched to the dark side the previous evening when he’d interfered in the Generico v Steen match, causing ‘The Generic Luchadore’ to lose. He revealed in a brief pre-match promo on Night Two that when he had stuck a railroad spike into Kevin Steen at the Tenth Anniversary that he had had his first “orgasm” in a year. I hope he was speaking figuratively.

It’s typical that the heel turn happened once I’d stopped predicting it.

Generico v Jacobs was a decent bout that was a little slow in places but was ultimately enjoyable. The most entertaining thing about it for me was the crowd chanting “Little Jimmy” and “Huss” at Jimmy Jacobs. Generico lost after the two men tussled over a railroad spike and Jacobs snuck in a rollup for the cheeky win.

Match two was Cedric Alexander v Tommaso Ciampa. Alexander had his tag partner Caprice Coleman at ringside while Ciampa had Prince Nana, Ernesto Osiris and RD Evans. I originally thought the match would be a quick victory for Ciampa but Alexander was allowed to look competitive and have an enjoyable match before his inevitable loss. ‘The Dominant Male’s’ winning streak continued after he hit the C&C member with two running knees into the turnbuckle.

After the match Nana performed his ridiculous dance and was accosted by Coleman. Ciampa made the save with an iffy-looking Project Ciampa. The heels went backstage as C&C sold. It was a nice heat-building addition to the show for Ciampa to leave both men battered.

The first several minutes of ROH’s TJ Perkins versus Chikara’s Fire Ant were great stuff. The two men engaged in some very fast counter wrestling that reminded me of Jody Fleisch and Johnny Storm. If they can ROH should look into bringing in Fire Ant as a regular. Sadly this match was where the stream cut out, meaning that Kyle O’Reilly defeating Adam Cole and the Young Bucks dropping the All Night Express in a street fight were missed. The stream was restored in time to catch the closing moments of Mike Bennett gloating about besting Lance Storm the previous evening. He then made out with real life girlfriend Maria Kanellis, which the crowd started out indifferent to then booed. They then entertained themselves with Daniel Bryan-esque chants of “Yes!”

The next match we were treated to was the Briscoes v Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team for the former team’s ROH tag team championship. It was an enjoyable enough match but another one that suffered slightly from pacing problems. It never seemed to reach the speed it should have done. ‘Dem Boys’ retained the gold when Jay countered the Leap of Faith (he was being held in position by Haas) and got a rollup for the win.

The former WWE employees were not happy about that and attacked the champions after the bell. Mark was disposed of and then Jay was crotched against the turnbuckle three times. That got Benjamin and Haas some healthy heat. They then posed with the belts as fans chanted “You got fired!” at them, before arrogantly strolling to the back as the champs sold at ringside.

Eddie Edwards and Kevin Steen were both met by cheers when they came out for their singles match. Steen did a hilarious job of tearing into a picture of Jim Cornette as he paced around the ring before the match, savagely whacking it against a turnbuckle and then standing on it to tear it apart. It was yet another laugh out loud moment from ‘Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare’.

Showdown in the Sun saw more memorable performances from Kevin Steen

The crowd started out split down the middle, with duelling chants of “Mr Wrestling” and “Eddie Edwards” filling the arena. The crowd’s allegiance gradually shifted throughout the course of the match with more people getting behind Edwards than Steen. ‘Mr Wrestling won them back around gradually with some impressive offence: notably a powerbomb on the ring apron and a cannonball to a seated Edwards on the stage. His crowd working abilities came in handy there too, a personal highlight being his “I have till five!” line, which prompted another “Yes!” chant.

Getting back into the ring they went back and forth for a few minutes before Steen attempted to lock in a Sharpshooter. Exhausted, he couldn’t turn Edwards into the hold, which allowed ‘Die Hard’ to reverse into his signature Achilles Lock. Steen sold that before countering with a small package for the surprise victory. He taunted Edwards as he headed backstage.

The penultimate match was TV champion Jay Lethal v Roderick Strong. This was originally scheduled to be a non-title match, but Tommaso Ciampa appeared at ringside before the contest began and said he would only return the television championship belt (which he’d been in possession of for a few weeks) if Lethal agreed to put the title on the line against Strong. Lethal agreed and the match began.

This was another match that seemed slow in places. In hindsight I think that may have been a deliberate decision designed to allow the crowd to rest up before the excitement of the main event. It was a competent match that came alive in the final two minutes: Ciampa walloped Lethal on the outside and then tossed him back into the ring where Strong his a backbreaker variant for the pinfall victory and the TV gold.

Ciampa tossed the belt into the ring before he left, causing McGuinness and Kelly to wonder what his motives were. Something tells me we’ll find out in the coming weeks.

That title change means that Roderick Strong is now the second ever ROH triple crown champion (the first being Eddie Edwards). Personally I’m never a fan of former world champions winning mid-card titles but Jim Cornette disagrees. It’s a nice accolade for the House of Truth member to have.

Fittingly it was the main event that earned Match of the Night honours. ROH champion Davey Richards defended the gold against ‘Unbreakable’ Michael Elgin in what I am convinced is the greatest match of 2012 so far. The two men put on a fantastic back-and-forth display stuffed with near falls and stiff exchanges that did a fantastic job of elevating Elgin. Richards sold perfectly, enough to make Elgin look like the dominant monster he should always appear to be whilst being careful not to harm his own image. It was a textbook display.

Elgin kicked out of some insane moves (including a super quick Shining Wizard and a top rope German suplex) and refused to tap when trapped in the Ankle Lock submission hold. He eventually went down to a kick to the head after the champ had weathered a flurry of kicks, punches, powerbombs and a series of knees to the jaw that managed to win over the fans and stir some “Elgin” chants.

After the match Richards cut a promo putting over ROH and Elgin himself, giving the younger man a high compliment by saying that he would one day be the world champion. In Ring of Honor that’s a statement that means something. He ended his speech by telling Elgin that it’s the support of the fans that gets you to the top in ROH, not the management of men like Truth Martini. Presumably that will lead to an Elgin face turn sometime in the future. I doubt it’ll be immediate though.

The matches that were on offer made Showdown in the Sun Night Two well worth watching. It’s just a shame that ROH and GFL let down their fans by not ensuring that everything that was advertised made it to air. Those failings marred two of the company’s biggest events of the year and cannot afford to happen again.

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