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The only constant in ROH in 2010 was the lack of stability, with the company still reeling from the simultaneous loss of Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness and the disaster that was “Final Battle 2009.” Austin Aries started the year as ROH World Champion, but after a non-title victory over Jushin Liger at “SoCal Showdown,” ROH’s debut in Los Angeles, he finally dropped the title to Tyler Black in New York at the “8th Anniversary Show.” Many thought Black should have been Champion long before this, so the new Champ had an uphill battle to climb from the start.
Black’s first feud was with both Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, and he was able to defeat them in triple threat matches at both “Phoenix Rising” and “The Big Bang,” ROH’s debut in Charlotte and their return to iPPV. Black then reeled off defenses against Kenny King, Chris Hero, Roderick Strong, Davey Richards, and Kevin Steen throughout the summer. Unfortunately for ROH, the WWE came calling once again, this time for their Champion. Once the fans got wind of it, they turned on Black instantly. To his credit, Black #EmbracedTheHate and fully turned heel for his final months in the company before dropping the gold. He lost to Roderick Strong, who was now managed by Truth Martini, at “Glory By Honor IX” on iPPV. Terry Funk was the ringside enforcer for the No-DQ match. Immediately after the match, former ROH World Champion Homicide made his return and immediately set his sights on Strong and the title.
It was a long road to the title for Strong, who debuted with the company on March 13, 2004, and he needed 16 tries to finally win the belt, having challenged Austin Aries, CM Punk, James Gibson, Bryan Danielson (four times), Takeshi Morishima, Nigel McGuinness (twice), Jerry Lynn, Austin Aries again, and Tyler Black three times before finally defeating him. Strong only made two defenses before the end of the year, but they were high-profile victories over ROH legend Christopher Daniels and rising star Davey Richards, so it was a great year for Strong.
The tag team division once again thrived, as the Briscoes began the year on top, having just won the titles for the sixth time. They got by the Young Bucks, the Dark City Fight Club, and the American Wolves, but were then defeated for the belts by Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli, the Kings of Wrestling, at “The Big Bang” in April. This kicked off a months-long and oftentimes violent feud between the two teams that produced a number of great matches. The Kings made three successful defenses against the Briscoes, and also thwarted the challenge of TNA’s Motor City Machine Guns, Colt Cabana & El Generico, Davey Richards & Christopher Daniels, Kevin Steen & Steve Corino, and the American Wolves to end the year as Champions, even though they lost a six-man tag team match with Shane Hagadorn as their partner to the Briscoes and their father, Papa Mike Briscoe, at “Final Battle 2010.”
For the first time since the Pure Title dissolved in 2006, ROH introduced a secondary singles title, the ROH TV Championship, to coincide with the show on HDNet. Eddie Edwards beat Colt Cabana, Kevin Steen, and his fellow American Wolf Davey Richards to become the first Champion, and he defended the belt with pride. Edwards successfully defended the new title against Colt Cabana (twice), Petey Williams, Kenny King, Rhett Titus, Erick Stevens, Shawn Daivari, and Necro Butcher before losing the gold to Christopher Daniels, who had returned back in April, at the last TV taping of the year (the match wouldn’t air until early 2011).
The hottest feud in the company was between former Tag Team Championship partners Kevin Steen and El Generico. Steen violently turned on Generico at “Final Battle 2009″ and joined forces with the evil Steve Corino to torment his masked rival. Colt Cabana stepped in to help Generico out, and the four waged a bloody, violent war for most of the year. The teams fought three times on DVD tapings, including a Chicago Street Fight and a Double Chain match, as well as on HDNet. They wrestled in every combination of singles matches too. The first match between Steen and Generico was at “Death Before Dishonor VIII” in June, won by Steen. Generico then beat Steen by DQ at “Hate: Chapter II,” and then ended Steen’s ROH career with a victory in a Fight Without Honor at “Final Battle 2010.”
Over the summer ROH changed bookers once again. Adam Pearce was out and Hunter Johnston, better known to ROH fans as Delirious, was in as of August 21. Jim Cornette also wielded an enormous influence on the booking of the product, resulting in a talent agreement with OVW out of Louisville. Around this time several ROH veterans were cut from the roster, including Austin Aries, Necro Butcher, the Dark City Fight Club, and Erick Stevens.
In other notable news, Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin, made one appearance in a non-title loss to the Kings of Wrestling in September; Amazing Kong made four appearances throughout the year to feud with Sara Del Rey; other guest stars included the aforementioned Terry Funk, Chris Sabin, and Alex Shelley, as well as Larry Zbyszko, Scotty 2 Hotty, Brian Kendrick, Blue Demon Jr., Magno, Super Parka, Misterioso and Ballz Mahoney; Roderick Strong won the second annual Toronto Gauntlet over Tyson Dux, Eddie Edwards, Shawn Daivari, Colt Cabana, and Steve Corino; Tag Wars returned, as the Briscoes, the All Night Express, and the Dark City Fight Club survived the opening rounds to get to an Ultimate Endurance match with the champs the Kings of Wrestling, who retained at “Tag Wars 2010″ in August; ROH Academy student Andy “Right Leg” Ridge participated a Trial Series and lost all five of the matches, to Colt Cabana, Ricky Reyes, Homicide, Mark Briscoe, and Christopher Daniels; and Eddie Edwards won Survival of the Fittest, outlasting Kenny King, Claudio Castagnoli, Rhett Titus, Adam Cole, and Kevin Steen in the finals.
Match of the Year – Tyler Black vs. Davey Richards, “Death Before Dishonor VIII”
Wrestler of the Year – Tyler Black
Tag Team of the Year – The Kings of Wrestling
Feud of the Year – Kevin Steen vs. El Generico
Show of the Year – “Death Before Dishonor VIII”
Coming up – ROH’s future on TV is put into jeopardy and the Hunt is On…
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Tags: Davey Richards, Decade of Honor, El Generico, Kevin Steen, Kings of Wrestling, ROH 10th Anniversary, Tyler Black