Welcome cats and kittens to yet another installment of the earth shatteringly brilliant Cewsh Reviews. We have a special treat for you tonight, as we batter down the hatches, damn the torpedoes, and set out onto the choppy waters of the Independent Sea again to catalog one of the biggest shows of the year for the little promotion that could, Ring of Honor's Death Before Dishonor VIII. If you've heard of the show, you no doubt have heard about why we're reviewing it, as the main event of this show is none other than a ROH World Heavyweight Championship match between Tyler Black and Davey Richards.
Oh yeah, you heard me. Cewsh Reviews is tackling Tyler Black vs. Davey Richards.
If you don't understand the significance there, we'll explain it better when the time comes, but let's just say that it is the most heralded and critically acclaimed independent match in years, and we'll have our say. But that isn't all we have on tap here. Christopher Daniels is back in ROH, making his way towards the title, we're having a number one contender's gauntlet match, and the blood feud between El Generico and Kevin Steen is finally about ready to blow. And all of that is great and all, but c'mon, lets face. You're here for the A-Double, baby. With cheese.
So without any further ado, let's do a motherfucking review!
Cewsh: We'll get things started the good ol' fashioned way, by having a skinny Canadian dude in a luchadore mask interrupting two stoners so he can pantomime his desire to fight a fat guy who gets his hair cut by his mother. Don't ever change wrestling, don't ever change.
Vice: I actually REALLY liked how this match kicked off the show. Sure it was a bit too epic of a match to jerk the curtain, but shit . One of the things I absolutely despise is peace and harmony backstage when people hate each other. It's one of the things I loved about Impact a few years ago, when there were always 20 things going on backstage. You got the feeling that these people couldn't wait to show up to work so they could more or less legally beat the crap out of the person they hate. So to me, this just worked so well in that regard. The second it's go time, it really IS go time. Sure I wouldn't exactly complain if this went on later on in the card, even though Steen and Generico would probably be playing NBA Jam together backstage until their match started. But the fact that the scheduled match was interrupted during the entrances so that Generico could fight Steen was just.. awesome.
The match was a really fun opener, though somewhat epic. But hey, the story of it all works so I cannot complain. They did well here. Kinda dragged from time to time and I might say they tried a little too hard, but it's a pretty big feud, so again I cannot complain.
Cewsh: Look, this match lasted way, way, way, way, way too long.
You open a PPV with a near 30 minute brawl with all the stops pulled out and 80 finishers being kicked out of, and you know what happens? You kill the crowd, and boy do they do just that. They put on this ridiculously over the top Wrestlemania main event match to lukewarm reactions, and when they finally wrap things up, it is clear the the match has settled nothing and there will be more to come. Which is fine, really, but this was a huge miscalculations here on the card, and it should go unspoken that it negatively impacts the next 4 or so matches on this show.
So yeah, a fine match, maybe could have been a good match, but as far as show openers go, this just didn't connect.
63 out of 100.
Cewsh: Let me lead off by saying that Up in Smoke are generic, boring, and altogether awful. They contributed absolutely nothing to this match.
Now that that's over with, let's talk about the fucking team of “Addicted To Love” Rhett Titus and “The Pretty Boy Pitbull” Kenny King. They are good. Wildly good. Too good for ROH, too good for the indies, and damn near too good for the mainstream companies too. They can wrestle, they can talk, they're great in singles or as a tag team, and they play off of each other so well and to such hillariously heelish results that I bust out laughing just hearing their music.
Storytime kiddies. Once upon a time Vice and I went to a Ring of Honor show for his birthday. We were watching a very good, very solid match between Kenny King and Bryan Danielson (that's Daniel Bryan, kiddies!) when all of a sudden Rhett Titus' music hits and he comes dancing to the ring to it, grabs a microphone and proceeds to completely ignore the match while he dances around the ring singing his own theme song and gyrating wildly while Danielson and King look on incredulously. Finally he climbs in the ring, informs the two that he has shoulders like boulders and struts out of the arena while spanking himself and winking suggestively at every woman in the audience.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is greatness.
As I said, though, Up in Smoke don't bring much to the table, and this match isn't about them at all. The All-Night Express dominate the whole deal, dish out some great looking offense, put over that Kenny King is essentially Shelton Benjamin with charisma, and get on out of there. No muss, no fuss, and the best this could have possibly been.
70 out of 100.
Vice: Special K has been doing the same shit since 2002 and have not evolved one bit in any way in any category, and it's just embarrassing. And it's not like these guys are ex-WWE guys like, say, Eugene, where they're kind of forced into using a ridiculous gimmick because nobody would know who the hell "Nick Dinsmore" is. No, these guys just suck.
They fucking suck.
They suck. They suck. They're nobodies.
Vice: I am still upset about the rise of Delirious in ROH. See, he used to be a comedy character. He was fucking hilarious. He was so unique and utterly batshit insane that I couldn't help but cheer for him and give him my heart. By chance, he got matched up against Danielson for the title and he put on a fantastic, mostly serious performance. He got his face fucked open, his hand was nearly sliced in twain and there was blood everywhere, and you just couldn't not root for the little engine that could. And then it was just downhill from there. He kept getting more matches with Danielson, and very much started drifting away from being his ridiculous comedic self. Then he started getting bigger pushes, took over the ROH school as head trainer. And apparently he's now booking. So he's gone from one of my favorite eccentric characters to a boring shithead that I cannot stand at all.
Oh, and Austin Aries? He went from bland shithead (who I did love as well) to the greatest character I've seen in a long time in A-Double. My new life's goal (outside of marrying DAFFERS who is the love of my life) is to become a millionaire so I can hire him to live with me in a mansion, and stay in character 24/7.
The match is solid, but Delirious just can't put on the matches they aim to put on without someone like Danielson in the ring. A-Double is fantastic, but he's not the type that can drag anyone to an excellent match.
Cewsh: A DOUBLE FUCKERS.
Austin Aries (who is married to Lacey and therefore superior to us all) was, once upon a time, one of my least favorite performers in wrestling. He had tons of intensity, and executed moves crisply and effectively in some good matches, but he wouldn't have known a personality if one had latched onto his face and impregnated him with alien personality babies. A lot like Davey Richards now, actually, come to think about it. That continued for a long while, until every single top heel in the entire company fled for greener shores and they called upon Austin Aries to transform himself into the heel that ROH needed.
And boy did he.
What emerged was A-Double, a pipe smoking, sparkly ring jacket wearing, newspaper reading during his rival's matches, swinging, hilarious character that is not only the best thing going on in ROH, but may very well be the best male heel working in America today. Where did it come from? Who knows? But wherever it came from, Delirious needs to place an order there immediately. As Vice said, once upon a time he was a wonderful comedy character in the midcard, but serious Delirious is beyond awful and just has no place in a company like this. Add that to the fact that he teaches the school and has, in the months after this show, become the head booker, and you have a huge, huge problem. The blind are leading the blind, and as this match will attest, the only direction Delirious is capable of leading them is down.
66 out of 100.
Cewsh: They're for him. Or against him. They're not really sure. BUT THEY'RE REALLY FUCKING PUMPED WOOO!OOOO!
Cewsh: Boy does Jim Cornette love a gauntlet match.
The idea here is that there is a top ten list for everyone in ROH. If you win often and against high profile opponents, then you climb the rankings to the top, and if you get to the top then you get a title shot, simple as that. However the champion has the luxury of choosing anyone to face for a title match at any time, so long as they're in the top ten. Still with me? Okay, now throw all that bullshit out the window because this match is for the automatic number one contendership to the ROH World Heavyweight Championship, no rankings necessary. “But Cewsh!” you ask in disgusted startlement, doesn't that invalidate all of the hard work of the others who had to build momentum to get to the main event when one of these guys can just win one match and sneak in?" Why of course not, little Sally, it's simply what you may call “creative booking”. See Tyler Black is leaving, and they need a top heel not named A-Double to take the title off of him pronto. Davey Richards isn't ready, and the Kings are busy so let's see here, who do we have who has been around awhile...
Yeah, he's been here for years. Has all the charisma of a pet rock facing the wall, but hey, at least he won't leave us anytime soon! Yeah, let's build him up real quick and forgo that whole silly contendership deal. THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS.
And the rest is history.
One other noteworthy thing about this match (aside from the fact that Prince Nana manges Daivari in it and Nana is beyond awesome) is that Eddie Edwards is ROH's very first Television champion, and anyone who beats him for any reason gets a tv title shot guaranteed. That's a great idea, and a very cool gimmick, and is taken advantage of here by a Mr. Tyson Dux, which will no doubt lead to a match of Hogan/Andre proportions.
71 out of 100.
Vice: NANA NANA
HEY HEY HEY
Vice: Kenny Omega is a scrub. Christopher Daniels is a god.
Thank fuck the right man won is all I have to say.
Cewsh: Christopher Daniels is god and Kenny Omega is a scrub.
All I have to say is thank fuck the right man won.
71 out of 100.
Vice: This is something I was happy to see. The Briscoes are The Briscoes and they've always been awesome even if they haven't changed in 8 years. I will always prefer Claudio when he is with Hero, and Hero proves that he is one of the most underlooked wrestlers in the world. He is able to have a good look. He can be very good on the mic, and is incredible at riling fans up. He's a great mat wrestler and a great brawler. He can work numerous styles. He's pretty damn tall with a perfect amount of mass, and he can also do a nice amount of acrobatics. Plus, despite not having a super ripped body, he is quite possibly the most in shape person since the Spartans. And he's only 30. So tell me, why the hell does he not have a better job? I can see him happily telling TNA to fuck off and never think of approaching him again, while grinning like the Cheshire Cat.. but why in the hell is he not in WWE? I hope it's because he's having too much fun in the indies or something and not because WWE doesn't want to give him a chance, because that'd be silly. HIRE HIM. Far too good for ROH.
This was a nice, bloody brawl and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Cewsh: I will absolutely echo Vice here, because Chris Hero has well and truly become one of the best performers in the wrestling world. He's worked everywhere, worked every style, and it is beyond time for him, or the Kings as a unit, to be called up to the big time. Beyond time. They prove that here, as always, by adapting to the style of match the Briscoe Brothers excel at (bloody brawls) and pull it off fantastically.
Frankly, this match is a total breath of fresh air on this card as it is unabashedly crazy, fun and exciting. Hero and Castagnoli make great heels and lay a dirty old school style beating on both Briscoes after the Briscoes just barely avoid forfeiting because apparently the Canadian customs officials wouldn't let them over the border (?). Things get bloody, but if there's one thing the Briscoes do well, it's take a beating and keep coming back, just as their “Man Up” catchphrase might lead you to believe.
If there are two things the Briscoes do well, the other one is make blueberry hotcakes. Unfortunately most matches end before they get to step two.
But yeah, this is a fun match, between two great teams, with a hot crowd and a fantastic finish. It's everything you could ask of them, and it may have singlehandedly saved the show.
81 out of 100.
Cewsh's Download Seal of Approval
Cewsh: This wasn't supposed to happen.
Tyler Black and Davey Richards, there are no two greater representations of everything that Vice and I despise about independent wrestling. They do flips for flips sake, they have no personality, they take themselves way too seriously, and they were both pushed by Gabe Sapolsky so hard to it could be said to have brought about the downfall of Ring of Honor. They are overrated, don't seem to have any understanding of what it means to be a character, and neither has ever had any match that I could respect, much less like. They are icons of the excess of booking via bias, and neither is worthy of a tenth of their hype.
And yet...and yet, this was an amazing match.
Alright, first thing's first. This match came about via a lot of different circumstances coming together. The first was Tyler Black unseating Austin Aries to become the new World Champion at the start of the year and becoming Ring of Honor's top babyface. The second is the fans 100% turning on Black overnight and proclaiming him to be overrated. The third is the main event emptying out with McGuiness and Lynn leaving, leaving a hole wide enough for Captain Stubby, Davey Richards to stalk his way into. He rose to the top of the Top Ten list and earned himself a shot at the title here at the big show. Meanwhile, Tyler has begun subtly turning heel to spite the fans who no longer appreciate him, and Richards is a heel in the process of turning face to go along with the fan's wishes as well, so this match has them meeting at the turning crossroads, with both men as tweeners, to find out who the best man in ROH truly is. It's an internet dream match and it's finally coming true.
The deal with this match is that Tyler Black has about a foot on Richards and is the bigger star, so he spends the whole match completely underestimating Davey, and beating him the [WORF!] up. Davey Richards, however, wrestles on pure instinct like a [WHAPPING!] wolf (American Wolf perhaps) so even though Black drops bomb after bomb on him, he won't stay down. They make it very clear that Davey is knocked the [ZAP!] out about halfway through the match and has no idea where he is, but is either too tough or too stupid to just stay down and lose. This is where things get weird, because Davey Richards is astonishingly good in this role. He is 100% believable from start to finish, and his selling and mannerisms are so spot on and believable, that Vice and I were completely convinced that he was hurt for real and was refusing to wrap up the match. I seriously cannot say enough about Richards here, and he carries the entire match on his back by being the unstoppable underdog that gets the crowd so firmly behind him that he and Black do a double turn simply on the strength of his performance.
Black, to his credit, holds up his part of the bargain by playing the figurehead of the company that has had everything handed to him, and is befuddled at being presented by a real challenge. With every near fall you can see his shock and unease mounting as he realizes he's going to have to dig down deep and find something special to beat Richards, something he's not sure he has.
Also to his credit is that once the fans turn on him fully, he never looks back. He goes full on heel and cheats and fucks Richards at every turn, mocking him, and taunting him, and even kicking a chair in his face, after Prince Nana tries to interfere on Davey's behalf. And when the time comes to finally finish Davey off, he does in the most dramatic way he can, and it is as final and decisive as it gets.
And here's the true story. Not that the Observer gave it high marks or that ROH is calling it the best match they've ever had. Not even that this match was great or that it almost singlehandedly made this event a success. The real story is two young wrestlers coming of age and living up to every inch of their hype and more. And now with Tyler Black on his way to WWE, and Richards poised to become the new figurehead of ROH, I think I can honestly say that i'm proud of them, and for the first time, they well and truly deserve it.
So get out your video cameras and wake up grandma, because this is a once in a lifetime event. Are you ready? Here we go.
I was wrong.
God, that was even more painful than I thought.
91 out of 100.
Cewsh's Download Seal of Approval
Vice: If you want to see visual representations of how I felt during this match, go watch the re-enactment Battle of Carthage fight scene from Gladiator, and pay attention to Commodus whenever he pops up on the screen. At first he appears fairly indifferent before the battle begins, mainly just showing up because he has to. Not long into the battle, as the gladiators start doing their thing, he becomes somewhat disgruntled at what is happening because the gladiators are doing what they shouldn't be doing. Then he becomes slightly apathetic, and so close to rolling those eyes of his. One guy takes a nasty hit, and he jumps out of his seat to see it all. Maximus mounts a horse as Commodus very briefly raises an eyebrow, now slightly intrigued. Maximus starts tearing it up and Commodus gives him the ol' whoooop-di-dooooooo, genuinely not impressed but also not being offended. Maximus slices two peoples' throats in epic fashion, and Commodus is now beyond frustrated, sticking his tongue out in disgust and grr-ing. By battle's end, Commodus is actually finding himself somewhat entertained by this unusual twist of events that he should be furious over. Commodus, shocked at what is before him with Maximus, wants to know who he really is. Maximus turns around, reveals who he truly is and always has been, and Commodus just stands there in disbelief at the utter bull[HOCKADOO!]that has just taken place in the past 30 seconds. But despite all this, Commodus can't help but give the gladiators the thumbs up for their efforts.
Basically that is exactly how I felt throughout this match. In a sense the match really was a rollercoaster, but not in the traditional, complimentary way. It was the "what the [BLAT!] are you doing?" way. That said, this match was far, far, far better than it had any right to be, even though it's not anywhere close to the five stars that people have been giving it. My favorite thing about this match, by far, was how it actually felt like a fight. It felt real. It felt like these two guys really wanted to beat the shit out of each other, with Black doing everything to retain the title he covets, and Richards being way too stupid to die for what he desires most. Richards was excellent here. Up until the Shane Hagadorn bit, he shows a ton of heart and refuses to ever give less than 150%. After he gets the chair knocked into his face, the dude just gets knocked completely, absolutely, legendarily stupid. In a kayfabe sense, that is. Richards is already stupid. But seriously, he became some sort of horror movie villain/wounded animal after that chair shot. No longer was he determined Davey, the man who fights with passion and heart. He was motorized instinct. The only way to stop him was to kill him. Seeing the two completely different sides of Richards in this match was, dare I say, excellent?
ROH's lighting is better than any other company's lighting for matches like this. I've been to 3-4 ROH shows, and each time the arena has started off at a decent temperature, but once everyone is packed in and jumping up and down and they kick in the big lights, it heats up very fast. By main event time, it's pretty damn warm and thus the wrestlers tend to sweat a LOT. The lighting accentuates the sweat so fucking well. They have a nice shine to them, and CLOUDS OF SWEAT fly off with every chop, every forearm, every lariat, every strike. While I could totally understand someone being grossed out by this (or the fact that I love it..), I think it just adds so much to the match and to the story. I want them to look like they've been to hell and back. I really don't like it when there's a super hard hitting battle that lasts 20-30 minutes, or, heck, 60 minutes, and both competitors look exactly the same as they did when they first entered the ring. I mean, I'm not complaining that those people are in too good of shape or that they need to hit each other harder or whatever, but it takes me out of a match when people look completely fresh for the entire duration.
This was by far the best match I've seen out of either of these two (though in theory that is not exactly saying a lot-- TAKE THAT, ROH FANBOYS! AND GABE IS OVERRATED!), and even though I had plenty of little gripes here and there, it was a legitimately...
[MOOSHBANANA!], I don't want to say this about a Richards match. I don't want to say this about a Black match. And I certainly don't want to say this about a singles match between the two...
It was a legitimately great match. Now I've said a lot of controversial stuff in my time here at Cewsh Reviews. I've defended things that shouldn't have been defended. I've shat on things that are universally loved. But through all of it, I don't think I've ever sat and back and thought "wow, I really hate myself for saying such a thing", but here we are and I hate myself for saying such a thing. Ugh.
Oh, and then Tyler opens his mouth and I remembered exactly why I hate him.
Yay for him going to WWE.
Cewsh: I've said about other shows that the final score doesn't tell the whole story, and such is it here. The final two matches, and the lack of truly horrible in ring performances in the others gives this a somewhat inflated score, that the promotion as a whole can't quite hold up to. Ring of Honor is a company in steep decline, fighting as hard as they can to avoid the steep, slippery slide into obscurity, and it seems like every performer, and every announcers (save Jim Cornette) knows it. You may have fond memories of ROH from a few years ago when they were setting the world on fire, but please, put those to bed. This is not the same company you once loved. What remains is empty, starless, and limp by comparison, and even on the night of their best success in years, I came away not feeling excited for the future of ROH, but for the wrestlers when they leave.
ROH is dying. Enjoy this show and the underrated television program. Enjoy them while they last.
Vice: Overall this was, well, an ROH show. A good bit of nonsense, stuff getting too much time, a fair bit of plodding, Special K, hard hits, high spots, excellent blending of a number of styles, fair bit of blood, and a very entertaining tag match that lead to a.. I have to say it again, don't I? A great main event.
I don't even know what to think anymore. I'm going on a vision quest for a while to sort myself out. See you in a few weeks, folks.
Well that'll do it for us this week boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed watching us get proven wrong, and be completely and wildly confused in the face of the impossible. Speaking of Tyler Black and his new endeavors, however, next week wee will be reviewing a show by his new employers as we finally tackle (after i've promoted it falsely like 3 weeks in a row) WWE Night of Champions 2010! Every title is on the line and two are even being unified, and we are seriously DOWN WITH THAT. So look forward to that, support your local neighborhood indy, keep reading, and be good to one another, kiddies. It's the Cewsh Reviews thing to do.