Cult of ROH: 7th Anniversary Weekend Preview

This is a weekend to go to Ring of Honor. KENTA, Mike Quackenbush and D-Lo Brown are all returning and both nights have dream matches. KENTA Vs. McGuinness, Danielson Vs. Quackenbush, Lynn Vs. Quackenbush, Aries Vs. Strong, title matches and gimmick matches promise that things will deliver in Philadelphia and New York.

The brightest prospect is Mike Quackenbush’s return. Some may like KENTA better, but if he hits it off this weekend he could become a regular. He’s set up for great matches against Bryan Danielson on Friday and Jerry Lynn on Saturday. These cards don’t feature any other prominent scientific wrestling bouts, so one can expect both to get time and strive for what people used to love in the company. The Danielson match is particularly appealing as, even though almost every major indy has done it at least once, they have such a report that it’s still a dream match to people. If we’re lucky we’ll get a lot more Quack out of this, hopefully even on commentary.

There’s quiet speculation that KENTA will unseat Nigel McGuinness for the World Title on Saturday. It would be unexpected, and the new ROH needs some exciting surprises. But there was also the long rumor over the summer that NOAH would loan KENTA to ROH for a tour ala Morishima and Go. Making an international indy favorite their champion would be a way to use KENTA if they had him, and remember that Morishima won the belt with very few dates announced – almost the same number as the current ROH has for KENTA now.

While I think the title switch is a pipe dream, this should be an exciting contest where they try to take each other’s heads off. KENTA generally excels when someone structures his role for him (like the ever-popular matches against Kobashi and the first against Danielson), while McGuinness’s worst matches have all arisen when he had to carry someone. They aren’t the most natural setup, beyond that they hit very hard and are very big stars in the ROH cosmos. However it’s that appearance of star material that will whip the crowd into such a frenzy that they will probably make it an amazing match. When McGuinness has a hot crowd, he can work wonders as a jerk heel, while KENTA knows how to flow with the pops of an audience.

I’m actually more excited for Friday’s supposed main event: Nigel McGuinness & Davey Richards Vs. KENTA & El Generico. This looks at once amazing and like someone pulled names out of a fish bowl. If so, use that magic fish bowl more often. It sets up McGuinness Vs. KENTA for Saturday while still putting them in a match where a guy can lose cleanly and their partners enable a great match. It pushes Richards further as a heel main-eventer, something he deserves and the company needs. And most importantly, it puts Generico in a main-event tag, which has never been a bad idea in ROH. It even gives a tiny suture of closure to the Richards/KENTA issue from years ago, and while the story is non-existent at this point, they will kick a resolution out of each other. Generico can get abused, KENTA can come to the rescue, and McGuinness & Richards can be bullies like no other for the Philly crowd that worked so well at the TV tapings.

They aren’t skimping on Friday. Tonight you don’t just get a nutty Age of the Fall brawl and Quackenbush Vs. Danielson, but Aries Vs. Strong for the first time in over a year. This time Strong will be the pure-athlete babyface that he’s so much better at playing, while Aries will be the antagonist jerk. They were good against each other before, but this dynamic will enable them to do new things and let Strong prove his value to the company – something he has to do with all the miscellaneous tags and meaningless undercard matches he’s received since Pearce took over.

Also, how great would it be if Jacobs’s remaining crew scheduled a War Games against the dissenters of Black, Butcher and Delirious in “Age of the Fall Brawl?”

Both nights will get a helping of Age of the Fall madness. Friday sees Tyler Black & the Necro Butcher Vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Brodie Lee in Falls Count Anywhere, so that won’t be in the ring too long. It’s the setup for Saturday’s Revolution Rules match, an Ultimate Endurance trios tag where the stipulation changes every time a man is eliminated, with Jimmy Jacobs and anyone he can find facing all the men who left his stable: Black, Butcher and Delirious. So maybe War Games isn’t that far away.

Meanwhile D-Lo Brown is just in for Saturday’s NY show, and is wrestling Jay Briscoe. Briscoe most recently impressed last weekend in losing singles efforts against Roderick Strong and Chris Hero. Here he’ll be fighting someone even bigger, star-wise and size-wise. Expect it to be smashmouth and Brown to win to begin his roll to a title rematch that recent Videowires teased. The active elements here are that they’ll have a hot crowd, they’re good at hustling in the ring, and Brown needs to prove himself to management. With Jay Briscoe showing more promise as a singles wrestler every season, Brown is in a good position here.

It’s a worthy 7th Anniversary weekend that rightfully encourages faith in the company. They have a precedent of only putting out amazing shows on PPV and at the big annual events, and these are one of the latter category. They also have a precedent, as of Final Battle weekend, of letting supershows with a lot of fly-in talent simply go as nuts as the wrestlers want them to. At Final Battle weekend it meant Lynn Vs. Danielson, Aries Vs. Marufuji, Aries Vs. Black, McGuinness Vs. Marufuji, Danielson Vs. Morishima and both Sasaki/Nakajima tags were allowed to be as raucous as a supershow would require. As a general booking philosophy I disapprove of this approach as spreading all these tempting matches across many lesser shows would make more of them worth watching, but if you’re free and anywhere near Philadelphia or New York, why not take advantage of them?

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