Cult of ROH: Weekend Preview

The big news of the weekend is that Bryan Danielson is out with a staph infection. ROH is blaming it on the conditions at Team Couture’s MMA camp, which may be petty, or a real concern. Danielson wrestles around the indies for good money, so he could have contracted it anywhere. Apparently the infection grew worse over last weekend, such that he held out Friday, but had to go to the hospital on Saturday.

It’s a big blow to the weekend as he was going to team with KENTA against Richards & Edwards for the tag belts. That was a guaranteed must-see match, featuring a dream team against ROH’s best heel unit that fit into Danielson’s tag title quest storyline. Any time Danielson is missing hurts ROH, as they really don’t have anyone else who is both as talented and beloved.

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Friday in Detroit

Steel Cage Match: Tyler Black Vs. Jimmy Jacobs

World Tag Team Title Match: The American Wolves ( c ) Vs. KENTA & Roderick Strong

Nigel McGuinness Vs. Claudio Castagnoli

Austin Aries Vs. Joey Ryan Vs. Delirious Vs. Petey Williams Vs. Sami Callihan Vs. Rasche Brown

Colt Cabana Vs. D-Lo Brown

Rhett Titus & Kenny King Vs. Erick Stevens & Brent Albright

Kevin Steen & El Generico Vs. Josh Raymond & Christin Able

The show is worth the drive for the double main events alone. The last time Jacobs was in a cage in Detroit he had an ROH classic against B.J. Whitmer. Aside from blowing off their feud, Jacobs is fighting for his job. The new regime has only hurt him: they made the baffling move of making him co-exist with Aries a month after their bloodfeud, had him lose not only Black but Delirious, then gave him a story against Daizee Haze that nobody enjoyed (and ROH seemed to recognize that by putting it really low on cards). Even when he killed himself in hardcore matches with Necro Butcher and Delirious, he has been treated as obsolete, even playing an afterthought in New York City where he was supposed to have a big First Blood Match. That match was treated as an angle, he was trashed and Black went to the main event. He isn’t booked on upcoming shows. If he doesn’t steal the crowd’s hearts on Friday, one of ROH’s best brawlers and promo guys could disappear entirely. Jimmy Jacobs motivated is like few guys on the indies, and he and Black have a lot of untold story to get out in what ought to be the main event.

The tag title match isn’t quite the dream it was with Danielson, but Strong is one of the best bets in ROH tags. He and KENTA have very similar senses of timing and big moves (probably why they were so fun on TV last week) that work splendidly in pacing big tags. Richards & Edwards are growing together and have already made several shows against teams that knew what they were doing. Richards is already proven gold against either KENTA or Strong, and Edwards has had several underpraised bouts elsewhere getting his jaw kicked off by KENTA. Especially if they got for a sprint to counterpoint the more drawn out and bloody main event, the tag title match will have fans rocking.

Eyes will be on McGuinness Vs. Castagnoli. The former champ was said to be very rusty at the TV tapings, having a dud against Tyler Black, a guy who he was guaranteed to do great against last year. Here, also, he’s not playing the decisive bad guy. This should set the tone for Saturday, where McGuinness faces the current alpha heel: Austin Aries. McGuinness has to show what he can do post-injury this weekend.

Much of the rest of the card is less inspiring, with the Six Man Mayhem Match being downright baffling. Petey Williams is debuting in a throw-together, Callihan and Brown mean nothing right now, Ryan pales in comparison to Aries in the ring and the shine has been off Delirious for a long time now. God willing, somebody will have a breakout performance and win it to setup something with Aries. Callihan is certainly talented, but ROH better have a plan in store for this.

Saturday in Chicago

ROH World Title Match: Austin Aries ( c ) Vs. Nigel McGuinness

Tyler Black Vs. KENTA

Stipulation Match: Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards w/ Shane Hagadorn Vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico
*If Steen & Generico win they get a gimmick tag title shot of their choice. If they lose, they can never again challenge these champs again.

Chicago Street Fight: Colt Cabana & Brent Albright Vs. Claudio Castagnoli & Joey Ryan

Roderick Strong Vs. D-Lo Brown

Kenny King Vs. Petey Williams

Rhett Titus Vs. Delirious Vs. Egotistico Fantastico Vs. Sami Callihan Vs. Alex Payne Vs. Silas Young

Erick Stevens Vs. Rasche Brown

This is the big test for Nigel McGuinness. A decent match will get him a pass on Friday. On Saturday he’ll be fighting for the world title and following KENTA Vs. Tyler Black. A good match will not do. Shortly after disappointing performances at the TV tapings, he may have to steal the show from an undercard bout.

To be fair, he’s got the best possible opponent. This is Aries’s first DVD title defense, Aries is red hot in this new character, and the two have three stellar singles matches behind them (Unscripted 3, Rising Above 2007, and Supercard of Honor 3). That last match, over a year ago, was so technical that if McGuinness isn’t up to striking he can go to the mat and know Aries can help him out.

More eyes are on Black Vs. KENTA. This is the last of the dream matches KENTA has in ROH, having faced Richards, Aries, Strong, McGuinness, Danielson and Low Ki, and Samoa Joe having left the company. ROH has built so few new stars that Black is the last rising one KENTA has to conquer. Black is a great kicking victim and has enough strength to throw KENTA around in turn, and both are superior sprinters. This should deliver madness.

On the undercard, the American Wolves are bound to lose. Anyone even partially following ROH knows Steen & Generico want a Ladder War, and this is the way they can get. ROH could put the challengers down and place them on a long road to a forbidden rematch, but the new regime isn’t known for longterm planning and this is such a no-brainer. With the Briscoes back we could see something nutty, like them turning heel on a run-in and costing the good guys, though such a move would turn more fans against the companies than the boys from Delaware. More important is the track record of the two teams. Richards and Steen are golden against each other and every time the teams face they put on one of the best matches of the night. This should be no different.

The other two undercard matches of note are Strong Vs. D-Lo Brown and King Vs. Williams. Here we have two outside stars against two regulars, both with something to prove. For Brown it’s his chance to have a great singles match, if he’s capable, something he didn’t quite deliver against McGuinness, Briscoe or Cabana. Strong might be a superior opponent for him, small enough to push around by superb with combos for the inevitable comebacks.

In Williams’s case, all TNA wrestlers have a mark again them. He’s fighting a guy who has even more athleticism and is rapidly being accepted by ROH’s fan base. If he can gather King’s athleticism into a solid sprint match, he’ll have an instant win on his hands even if he gets pinned. If he doesn’t impress, though, ROH already has Sonjay Dutt’s number.

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