Aries vs Richards

Rock Financial Showplace – Novi, MI – Friday, November 13, 2009

MATCH #1: Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. The House of Truth

This is a rematch from Clash of the Contenders in Collinsville. Truth Martini is very yellow tonight. Josh Raymond and Mark start the match and take it to the mat right away. Mark hits a spinning wheel kick and the Briscoes double team poor Raymond. The smallest man in the match, Raymond takes a little more abuse before making the tag to Able. The HOT work Jay over in their half of the ring now. Jay comes back and takes them both out, and then makes the tag to Mark. This time it’s Able feeling the wrath of the Briscoe’s double-teaming. Mark hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two, and then a regular vertical suplex for another two. The Briscoes hit the double-team biel out of the corner. Able makes the tag to Raymond, and with the illegal help of Truth Martini, the HOT takes control. Martini remains unafraid to get his hands dirty, so to speak, to help his men maintain the advantage. The HOT hits a Demolition Decapitation Quebrada for two. Jay finally makes the comeback with a spinebuster out of nowhere and both he and Raymond are down. Raymond makes the tag t Able, who stops Jay from making the tag, but only for a moment. Mark is a house afire against both Raymond and Able. He hits Raymond with a second-rope Ace Crusher, and Raymond wisely rolls to the floor. Mark tries the Cutthroat Driver on Able, and Martini gets up on the ring apron to distract Mark. Unfortunately for Martini, Jay goes down to the floor to grab him and toss him into the ring. The Briscoes go for the Doomsday Device on Martini, but Able breaks it up. Jay whips Able into Martini, sending the manager crashing to the floor. Moments later the Briscoes hit the Doomsday Device on Able for real to get the win at 10:35. That was a solid opener and another good showing for the House of Truth.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #2: Pick 6 Series Match – (2) Tyler Black vs. (6) Claudio Castagnoli

Castagnoli is accompanied by Prince Nana and Mr. Ernesto Osiris. Black doesn’t take too kindly to being slapped with a glove, and the tempers start flaring early. They go back and forth for a bit, and then Castagnoli kicks Black to the floor. Castagnoli tries to whip Black into the guardrail but Black reverses it. Back in the ring Castagnoli throws his shoulder into Black’s midsection and goes for a vertical suplex, but Black reverses that as well. Black kicks away in the corner but Castagnoli catches one and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Castagnoli follows up with a hair mare, and he continues to take advantage of Black’s long hair. Black fires back with chops and a dropkick, sending Castagnoli to the floor. He follows Castagnoli out with a Tope Con Hilo. They trade chops and Black ducks one, causing Castagnoli to chop the ring post. Black hits a body slam on the floor, but then misses a moonsault off the guardrail. Back in the ring Castagnoli misses a cross body block off the top rope. Black takes Castagnoli down and stomps his face for a two-count. Castagnoli avoids a charge and hits an elbow off the second rope for two. Black fires back with punches and once again the battle spills to the floor. Castagnoli grabs Black from the floor and Giant Swings him into the guardrail. Back in the ring Castagnoli hits a European Uppercut for a near-fall. Black comes back and tries to attack from the apron, but Nana interferes and Castagnoli maintains the advantage. Back in the ring Castagnoli wears Black down, and hits the dead lift gut wrench suplex for a two-count. Castagnoli tries the pop-up European Uppercut but Black incredibly lands on his shoulders and back flips out of it, and then hits a Pele Kick. Black goes back to the apron and kicks Nana down, and then hits Castagnoli with the springboard lariat. Osiris is distracting the referee, so Black kicks him down too. That distraction allows Castagnoli to recover and level Black with the bicycle kick. Castagnoli tries the UFO but Black counters with a victory roll to get the pin at 11:51. That was decent, but all the back and forth stuff didn’t lend itself to the match ever finding a rhythm, and the crowd didn’t seem to be all that into it.
Rating: **½

MATCH #3: Erick Stevens & Joey Ryan vs. The Super Smash Bros.

Prince Nana and Osiris accompany Stevens and Ryan to the ring. Stevens is the newest addition to the group, and it’s a good move. The Embassy attacks right away and takes an early advantage. Stevens really should get different gear now that he’s in the Embassy. Anyway, the Smash Bros. are able to recover and they go to work on Ryan. Stevens tries to help his partner and he pays for it with some choreographed looking offense. Nana is not happy with the Smash Bros. dominance to this point. The Smash Bros. make the mistake of chasing Nana on the floor, and that allows the Embassy to take advantage. Player Dos is getting dominated by the much larger Stevens. This goes on for several minutes, even when Dos appears to make a tag to Uno but somehow he missed? Finally Dos is able to avoid a couple of attacks and makes the tag to Uno. The larger Smash Bro. is a house afire, and the referee quickly loses control of the match. The Smash Bros. hit Au Revoir on Ryan (who rolls to the floor) and then they dump Stevens to the floor as well. They signal for dives, but the Embassy breaks that up. Stevens gets back in the ring and takes Dos’s head off with a clothesline to get the win at 9:14. That was solid tag team formula stuff. Stevens looks comfortable in his new role.
Rating: **¼

MATCH #4: Pick 6 Series Match – Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. (3) Kenny Omega

Nakajima scores the first big hit with a big boot, and then avoids a leapfrog and kicks Omega’s back. Omega comes back with a slap to the face, and they trade slaps until Nakajima breaks it up with a dragon screw leg whip. Nakajima then hits a kick to the chest and a German Suplex with a Bridge for two. Omega rolls to the floor. Nakajima follows Omega out to the floor and continues the abuse. He whips Omega into the guardrail a couple of times. Omega’s knee is the primary target here. The fight goes up to the ramp, and they battle over a suplex. Nakajima ends up hitting a DDT! Omega makes his way back to ringside and gets dropkicked back down to the floor. He finally gets back in the ring and Nakajima viciously attacks the knee. After several minutes Omega comes back with a Frankensteiner and a couple of Polish Hammers. Omega stops selling the knee to hit some of his signature moves. He goes for the Frog Cross Body but Nakajima kicks him out of the air. Nakajima hits a huge shotgun missile dropkick for a two-count. Omega avoids the Saito Suplex, but is not able to avoid another dragon screw leg whip. Nakajima puts on the Figure-Four Leglock. Omega rolls it over and then gets to the ropes. He blocks another dragon screw attempt and hits a uranage suplex. Even with his bad leg Omega is able to run into the corner and springboard off the ropes with a moonsault to the floor. I dare Kenny Omega to sell something in this match for longer than a second. Back in the ring Omega hits a springboard dropkick to the back. Omega hits the 2K1 Bomb, or Blue Destiny, which gets a two-count. Nakajima regains control with his best offensive weapon – kicks. He hits a solid brainbuster but Omega kicks out a two. Omega avoids a spin kick and hits a reverse rana for two. He goes for Croyt’s Wrath but Nakajima avoids it. Nakajima also avoids the Stop Sign Enziguiri with a slap to the face. Omega comes back with the Hadouken and hits two Dragon Suplexes for a one-count. He goes for Croyt’s Wrath again and it is countered. Nakajima hits four straight superkicks, which isn’t enough to keep Omega selling. Omega goes for Croyt’s Wrath again but Nakajima counters with a Frankensteiner for two. A kick to the head gets a two-count for Nakajima. Omega counts a spin kick with another dragon suplex. He goes for Croyt’s Wrath yet again and this time he hits it to get the win at 18:29. That was fun enough for two people kicking each other and dropping each other on their head, but I’m not big into this “strong style,” and Omega’s selling was basically non-existent throughout the entire match. After the bell Nakajima picks Omega up and forearms him down. Then Nakajima says he wants a rematch, and then they shake hands. That was supremely awkward.
Rating: ***

MATCH #5: Kenny King & Rhett Titus vs. Colt Cabana & Delirious

Cabana and Delirious start off the match with shenanigans, including my first time seeing a Merry-Go-Round Clothesline. The shenanigans continue both in and out of the ring, as King and Titus can’t quite figure out how to counter their opponents’ unorthodox attacks. Delirious licks his hands and then rubs them in King’s face, which is just funny. King comes back with a kick and then makes the tag to Titus. Some creative double-teaming leads to Titus hitting a big dropkick for two. King and Titus continue to work Delirious over in their half of the ring for several minutes. They cut off the potential hot tag several times, keeping the crowd behind Delirious. Hero tags out to go get ready for his match with Roderick Strong, which is next. Meanwhile Delirious finally makes the comeback and the hot tag, and Cabana is a house afire. He messes up a quebrada but covers it very well. K=He goes for the Flying Apple on Titus but King cuts him off. King tags in now and hits a spinning backbreaker, and holds Cabana there for Titus to connect with a knee drop. They set up for a Spiked Piledriver but Delirious breaks it up. The match is completely out of control now. Cabana hits King with a gutbuster, Delirious lands Shadows over hell, and then Cabana locks on the Billy Goat’s Curse for the submission win at 11:10. I would have liked to see King and Titus get the win here, but with Cabana having an upcoming title shot, I see why they needed him to look strong. As far as this match goes I enjoyed it more than just about every other Colt Cabana match since his return. They worked the formula well and everyone looked good.
Rating: ***

MATCH #6: Pick 6 Series Match – (1) Roderick Strong vs. Chris Hero

Eric Santamaria joins Prazak on commentary. Hero is accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. They take it to the mat and exchange holds early on. Strong lands a chop and Hero immediately powders to regroup. Back in the ring Strong hits more chops and maintains control. Strong throws Hero to the floor and follows him out for more abuse. He lights Hero up with chops and throws him back in the ring. Hagadorn distracts Strong, allowing Hero to kick him in the face and take control. Back in the ring once again Hero takes control and starts wearing Strong down. Strong fights back with a dropkick and his first backbreaker of the match for two. Hero responds with his first rolling elbow. He focuses on Strong’s right leg, which is a wise strategy. Strong shrugs off these attacks and goes on a flurry of offense. He hits another backbreaker and this time sells the knee and Hero gets a two-count. Hero hits a vicious elbow strike for a two-count. Strong comes back with an enziguiri and a backbreaker, once again injuring his own knee and Hero gets another two-count. Strong hits a gutbuster for two. He goes for the Gibson Driver but Hero blocks it. Hero hits a couple of elbow strikes for another near-fall. A Liger Bomb gets yet another two-count. Hero hits the Rip Cord Elbow for two. He goes for the Death Blow but Strong counters with a backslide for two. Strong hits a kick to the back, a torture rack backbreaker and a running Yakuza kick, but Hero kicks out. Hagadorn distracts Strong and Hero puts on the golden elbow pad and hits two vicious elbows to the head for the victory at 15:30. The selling with Strong’s knee came and went several times, but the overall structure of the match was good, and it’s clear that ROH fans buy both guys as main event talents now.
Rating: ***

MATCH #7: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The Young Bucks

This is a rematch from Contention back in June. Nick and Steen start the match. Steen goes right to a headlock to try and wear Nick down. Nick escapes and hits a dropkick. Steen uses his smarts to take advantage of Nick, and then tags Generico. Nick comes back on Generico and makes the tag to his brother Matt. Now it’s Matt using the headlock to try and wear Generico down. The Bucks maintain control and work Generico over in their half of the ring, focusing on his arm. Generico pushes Nick back into his corner and makes the tag to Steen. With Steen and Generico in control, Hero returns to the booth. During his return Nick pushes Generico back into his own corner, and then makes the tag to Matt. The Bucks once again focus on Generico’s arm. Generico comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and makes the tag to Steen. No team has gotten an extended period of control yet. Steen is all over both Bucks, hitting Nick with the Orton DDT and Matt with a spinning Schwein for two. Matt gets worked over by the former ROH World Tag Team Champions. After several minutes of abuse, Matt hits Steen with an Asai DDT and both men make tags. Nick takes advantage with a flurry of offense on both Generico and Steen. He hits a springboard cross body for a near-fall. Generico comes back with a Michinoku Driver for two, and Steen tags in. Steen goes for the Sharpshooter but Matt avoids it, so Steen hits a Stunner and then a pumphandle n0eckbreaker instead for two. The match breaks down, and Steen throws Matt in the air with a powerbomb, and then locks on the Sharpshooter. Nick breaks that up with a sick kick to the head. Generico and Matt and up as the legal men, but that doesn’t last long before the referee loses control again. Steen powerbombs Nick against the ring apron on the floor. Meanwhile back in the ring Generico hits Matt with an exploder and Steen follows with a senton bomb for two! Matt avoids a Package Piledriver, and also avoids a kick in the face, as Generico hits Steen instead! The Bucks double-team Generico but can’t quite put him away. Steen breaks up a cover and it’s a big brawl again. The Bucks set up More Bang for Your Buck on Steen but Generico breaks it up! Steen traps Matt in the Sharpshooter while Generico hits Nick with the Super Brainbuster to get the hard fought win at 19:26. That was an excellent tag team contest, with non-stop action down the stretch and tons of great double-team maneuvers on both sides.
Rating: ****

MATCH #8: ROH World Title Match – Austin Aries vs. Davey Richards

Aries has been the champion since 6.13.09, and this is his tenth defense. The crowd is not interested in hearing the champ berate them, but he does it anyway. The crowd is solidly behind Davey Richards, and they seem to sense a title change in the air. They start off slowly enough that it already feels like they’re going to go for a while. Both men go for armbars and wristlocks, and are able to counter one of their opponents’ signature attacks. Aries avoids the handspring enziguiri and rolls to the floor to celebrate it. Back in the ring Aries successfully lands a handspring elbow, and he celebrates that too. Sometimes I really like Austin Aries. Richards comes back and the two men exchange kicks to the back. Aries fakes Richards out on one and kicks him in the face instead. Richards makes him pay with an extra hard kick to the back. He hits a leg lariat, once again sending Aries to the floor. This time Richards follows the champ out and dishes out some more punishment. Aries fights back with an overhand chop. Richards reverses a whip that sends Aries into the guardrail, and then follows Aries with a huge running kick that sends him into the crowd. He soaks in the crowd’s cheers like a babyface, and Aries levels him with a forearm. Now Aries celebrates and Richards brings him back in the ring. Richards goes to the top rope but Aries knocks him down and Richards lands on his knee on the floor. Aries gets the first real sustained advantage of the match now, and actually uses a stump puller! Richards makes several comeback attempts but Aries is consistently able to cut him off. Aries goes for the Power Drive Elbow but Richards moves out of the way and they trade strikes in the middle of the ring. Richards wins that battle with a hard kick to the chest for a two-count. He hits a snap suplex and goes to the top rope. Aries meets him up there, only to get knocked back down to the canvas and hit with the diving headbutt for two. Richards turns that into a cross-armbreaker, and Aries quickly escapes. Aries refocuses his attack on Richards’s leg now. Of course Richards is able to come back with his handspring enziguiri. Aries hits the shinbreaker/belly-to-back suplex and goes for the IED but Richards gets his boot up. Richards goes up top and Aries catches him, but Richards reverses with a sunset bomb attempt. Aries avoids that and goes up top himself and he ends up hitting Richards with a top-rope DDT for two! He then locks on the Last Chancery, and Richards gets the ropes. Richards comes back with a Tombstone for a two-count, and then begs the crowd to cheer for him as he goes up to the top rope. Aries meets him up there and gets knocked down. Richards takes a lot of time setting up for the Shooting Star Press, and Aries is able to move out of the way. Aries capitalizes with a running dropkick to the knee and a half crab. Richards reaches the ropes to break the hold. Aries hits a series of shinbreakers and then dumps Richards to the floor. He follows him out with the Heat Seeking Missile. He then traps Richards’s leg in the guardrail and hits a running dropkick. The champ then gets back in the ring, hoping for a countout, but no such luck. Aries locks on another half crab, and Richards once again reaches the ropes. Richards tries to come back with the Alarm Clock, but Aries counters it and hits the Power Drive Elbow right on the leg. Aries then locks on the Figure-Four Leglock, but Richards turns it over and Aries has to reach the ropes. He tries to use the ring post as a weapon, but Richards counters and pulls Aries face-first into the post. They fight on the apron and Aries wins by snapping Richards’s neck off the top rope. Aries charges and gets sent to the floor, and Richards follows him out with one of those ridiculous dives that barely even made contact with Aries. Back in the ring Richards hits a missile dropkick of all things as the crowd is amped for the American Wolf. Richards hits a running kick in the corner for a near-fall. He goes for the DR Driver but Aries blocks it. Aries sends Richards to the floor and then climbs the top rope. Richards joins Aries on the top and gets knocked down. Aries then stands there and waits for Richards to hit an Avalanche German Suplex. Richards hits a running kick and a German Suplex with a bridge for two, and Richards is showing no signs of all the leg work Aries has done. He locks on the Texas Cloverleaf, and then turns that into a half-assed DR Driver. He hits the Alarm Clock and a running clothesline for two, and then a real DR Driver for a two-count! They take the fight to the ring apron, and Aries hits a sick brainbuster. Both men tumble to the floor. Aries dumps Richards over the barricade, hoping for a countout win. Richards makes it back in at the last possible second. Aries starts hitting knees to the head, but Richards escapes and hits Kawada kicks. They trade this sequence back and forth a few times. Richards gets another Texas Cloverleaf, and Aries counters it with a small package for two. Hero mentions that we are past the 30-minute mark in this match, but we’re actually north of the 40-minute mark. Both men rise to their feet and trade shots. Aries hits a clothesline for two. He hits a crucifix bomb, a kick to the head, and the IED for two. He hits the brainbuster for another two-count! He hooks on the Last Chancery, and then turns it into a brainbuster. He rolls it back over to the Last Chancery and Richards is out at 44:33.

I think I might get accused of underrating the match, but really I’m quite torn on it. There was a lot of great work involved, and some of the stuff Aries did as a heel was really great. However, Richards’s selling left a lot to be desired; it was intermittent at best. And I don’t understand the deal with Richards’s persona – he’s booked as a heel, he clearly wrestles like a babyface, and says he doesn’t care about being either. There was a ton of action down the stretch and the crowd was heavily invested in Richards and that made it quite entertaining, but Richards himself held it back from being truly great.
Rating: ***½

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