Cult of ROH: Friday the 13th Weekend Preview

Nobody will blame you if you look past this weekend to next weekend when KENTA, Mike Quackenbush and D-Lo Brown all return to ROH. Danielson Vs. Quackenbush, KENTA Vs. McGuinness, Aries Vs. Strong, the American Wolves challenge for the tag titles in a No DQ match… yeah. It’s easy to forget that there are shows this weekend, too.

But the Friday show is actually stacked. Bison Smith takes on Bryan Danielson for the first time in their feud, Nigel McGuinness actually defends the ROH World Title against Brent Albright, Jay Briscoe and Roderick Strong are promising a pure wrestling match, and MsChif is defending her belt following winning it in the best women’s match ROH ever had at Rising Above 2008. Also: Ric Flair.

Flair has promised that he is coming from Larry Sweeney and that he’ll have an eye on McGuinness. The latter might effect the title match (which is nice, since that program needs spice), while the former has the potential for amazing glory. Notice that Sweeney’s goons are in a major trios tag that night and the makings are there for Flair to hit the ring afterwards and work some magic.

For the matches, Danielson Vs. Smith has the most eyes. Realistically, it won’t end decisively. This is the beginning of their feud in the ring. Prince Nana has already claimed to be Smith’s manager, so motives should come up and Danielson will probably be left lying in the ring. It’s the Pearce Era’s style to let Danielson win but be destroyed afterwards, for better or for worse.

Jay Briscoe Vs. Roderick Strong has promise. Briscoe has been improving in the ring for the last year with all of his brother’s down time. He hustles more such that even when he doesn’t know what he’s doing he can make the moment feel important, and is more focused in his striking game. Roderick Strong tends to know what he’s doing and generally requires a charismatic opponent to make it seem worthwhile. They’re kind of suited for each other, especially in an athletic contest rather than a feud. And we can’t disregard the vaunted 2006 Briscoes Vs. Aries & Strong feud, back when Strong was less than half of what he’s worth today.

Other matches on the card are more likely to get stiffed for time or simply not deliver thanks to direction from management. MsChif is talented, but Daizee Haze is responsible for more bad women’s matches than perhaps any other competitor in ROH history. Black & Lynn tagging is random, made all the more apparent by ROH not even deciding which members of Age of the Fall they’d face until a couple of days away from the show.

Then there’s Night 2. For once in the Pearce Era, Saturday actually looks weaker than Friday, a questionable choice when they’re debuting in a new market (Indianapolis, Indiana).

Only five matches were announced as of this writing. Jay Briscoe Vs. Chris Hero and the American Wolves wrestling Strong & Albright merely makes the PPV Cage Match look even sillier, as clearly nothing was too resolved if they’re all still fighting. Sweeney’s goons are also destined to win, as Hero hit the reset button on his Knock Out Kid character and the American Wolves have a tag title shot the next week.

The tag titles will be defended, however, as Steen & Generico put them up against Kenny King & Rhett Titus. Yes, King & Titus, perennial jobbers in ROH, have somehow gotten a title match. King is a gifted athlete, and Titus has personality. With build, this could rock. Without build, and likely not even semi-main-eventing under another tag match, it’s not so exciting. It will be up to these guys to steal the show that should have been theirs.

The “dream” main event features Nigel McGuinness & Austin Aries against Tyler Black & Jerry Lynn. For those who haven’t read the newswires, how many of you see Aries as a dream partner for McGuinness? Lynn for Black? Vice versa? All the talent is there to have a good match, but it’s merely recycled material that Pearce has already overbooked. It doesn’t help that Pearce turned Black from someone who half the fans were begging to take the title to someone they want out of the title scene as quickly as possible. Something has to give, and this is where they will have to give it.

With only five matches announced, a lot of talent lumped into a few matches, something big would need to be in store to make Saturday deliver. Unfortunately ROH won’t even announce any other wrestlers who will be in attendance. Flair isn’t scheduled to be there, and a week before KENTA, Quackenbush and D-Lo show up, this is pretty uninspired stuff. They will need big performances in their tags to impress, because an unannounced Bison Smith brawl will not get it done.

The match most likely to see a breakout performance is Danielson Vs. Omega Vs. Castagnoli. The last time Danielson and Omega faced in a three-way, people heralded Omega as the next star. Castagnoli is a powerhouse and, if he gets the “Hey!” hate-chants going, is a heat magnet that could give the Indianapolis market a reason to turn out next time.

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