10 Thoughts on ROH Phoenix Afternoon Matinee – 03.27.2010

Greetings, everyone! I returned from Wrestlemania weekend in Phoenix last night, and figured while I work on digesting all the In-n-Out (yes, we had lunch there three days in a row) and beer from my system, I could crank out a column.

I don’t have much to add to Wrestlemania that my fellow Pulse writers haven’t already said (seriously, the site coverage was outstanding, in my opinion – kudos to those who made it happen), but I thought it was a great show, and better than last year’s, top to bottom. While last year’s show had a couple of atrocities, everything this year was good-to-great. The only exception was the Hart vs. McMahon match, which I would evaluate in a different scale because it wasn’t really a match, but what people expected to see – Bret kicking Vince’s ass and making him tap to the Sharpshooter. That match’s lone sin was that it went on for way too long. They could have accomplished exactly what they wanted to accomplish in 5 minutes and allocate the rest of the time to the tag title opener and/or the Punk-Mysterio match.

I also thought, at least as of Sunday night, that this Wrestlemania lacked a defining “signature moment”, where last year’s had at least two (Austin’s induction into the Hall of Fame, Taker-HBK I). The reason I felt this way is that, at the time, I thought the retirement stipulation was simply a storyline way to give HBK a break from now till Summerslam. However, between HBK’s farewell speech last night, certain news pieces I’ve read today, and our staff’s Mango podcast (damn you, Grut), I now believe that Michaels INTENDS for this to have been his last match. Now, could he get the bug after a lengthy layoff and return as an occasional “special attraction”? Possibly. It wouldn’t be unprecedented. But I don’t think that’s in his plans. And if that’s the case, Thank you, HBK.

Oh, and if any of you were at Mania and/or the evening Axxess on Saturday and saw a guy wearing a black-and-silver Captain Charisma jacket, that was me, courtesy of my very talented friend, Karen. Yes, I dressed up. Don’t judge.

On Saturday, while some of my friends went to a spring training game (really? Pre-season baseball?), I convinced my friend Ryan to take in the 1 PM ROH show with me at Phoenix College, and, since ROH was has been pre-empted on HDNet last week and this week, I could get a “10 Thoughts” column out of it. For those of you who haven’t heard anything about the show, see the results here. Now, without further ado:

1. I was very happy to see Robert Evans wrestling a dark match before the show, and get quite a crowd response. Evans was a favorite of mine in the Dallas independent scene, cutting his teeth in XCW and PCW (both now defunct, as far as I know). Evans is a fine worker with a ton of charisma, and I hope this leads to future appearances in ROH for him.

2. Rocky Romero looked fantastic in the opener against Kenny Omega. From what I heard, he looked great the previous night against Alex Koslov as well. It’s no wonder ROH tries to do business with him every chance they get. It would certainly behoove the company to get him in the mix as often as they can.

3. I just don’t see with Daivari. The limited amount of in-ring work he did in the WWE didn’t impress me. His work as Sheik Abdul Bashir in TNA didn’t impress me. And I don’t know much about The Human Tornado, so maybe this match wasn’t all Daivari’s fault, but this certainly didn’t impress me either. He’s fine on the mic, but leaves a lot to be desired once the bell rings.

4. A few weeks back, I wrote about how Kevin Steen was still trying on his heel persona for size. I dare say, I think he is pretty much there. His performance against Scott Lost – his antics as much as his in-ring work – was the highlight of the show for me. My friend, who knew virtually nothing about ROH, loved his shtick, so he aced the “casual fan” test with flying colors. Enough said.

5. The 8-man match (Briscoes, Necro, and Rasche Brown vs. Nana, Castagnoli, Joey Ryan, and Bison Smith) wasn’t a technical masterpiece by any means, but damn, it was fun to watch. All eight men were feeling it and looked like they were having a blast, and it showed.

6. After a hot first half, the second part of the show got off to a slow start. Scorpio Sky wasn’t impressive, and Kenny King, who’s been on quite a run of good matches on HDNet, couldn’t carry the load here.

7. Because we had floor seats on the side opposite the cameras, we had a hard time seeing most of the action in the Jerry Lynn-Steve Corino hardcore match. From what I was able to see, however, it looked like a fun shout-out to their ECW days. It wasn’t a great match or anything, but perfectly enjoyable. And Corino’s promo beforehand was pretty funny.

8. The Cabana/Generico vs. American Wolves match was quite good, but I was left wishing Davey Richards had gotten more of an opportunity to showcase his skills. I didn’t feel like he got a chance to do much of note, through no fault of his own.

9. I know Roderick Strong’s injury early in the “personal challenge” put ROH in a tough spot, but man, was the way they got to a Triple Threat match convoluted. The match itself was entertaining, especially given that they couldn’t give too much away before their title match in Charlotte. I continue to enjoy Tyler Black showing more of an edge, going after Strong’s shoulder and finishing with an armbar. Also, kudos to Aries for stalling with some sterling mic work while officials checked on Strong.

10. Props to ROH for putting on a very entertaining show. 5 of the 8 matches were good (I’d like to say 6 of 8, but I couldn’t see enough of the Lynn-Corino match to adequately rate it), and it passed the “casual fan” test with my friend, which I always consider to be a good test. Particularly high marks go to Steen, Cabana, Aries, Black, and the guys in the 8-man tag.

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