Review: ROH World Championship Tournament – First Round Matches

Mike Killam

(6) Roderick Strong vs. Matt Taven

What a great match! I wasn't expecting to be blown away, because in the interest of honesty, I've never been a Matt Taven guy, because I've never been a Truth Martini guy. I also missed all of Roderick Strong's time on top of Ring of Honor, so he just never appealed to me, for one reason or another. That being said, like Maria with Mike Bennett, whether I enjoy the House of Truth or not, managers (and Hoopla Hotties) add more chapters to the story. The whole match was back and forth, with very little to find fault with. I do enjoy Strong's Sick Kick, and Taven's version of the Angel's Wings. Plus, getting to see Truth knocked the hell out is always a treat; Nigel once again playing a role in evening the odds. One of the two girls was sitting at the commentary table because of a lack of proper paperwork (I don't know…), which was kind of annoying because you could only hear what she was saying once every few moments. 

Winner: Roderick Strong

Rating: ****

(7) Paul London vs. Michael Elgin

This match took FOREVER to get started, but once it did London and Elgin put on a clinic. I haven't seen a Paul London match in ages, and it's real good to see one half of my favorite tag team still has it in him to steal a show every once in awhile. I'm not going to dote on Michael Elgin too much, because I think people are getting tired of hearing me ramble on about our "next world champ". Let's put it this way – Dave Meltzer's only given out a small handful of perfect scores to Ring of Honor; Elgin has one of them. This wasn't the most polished match I've ever seen out of either guy, and it was in fact a lot more physical and grungy than I would have imagined. A lot of right hands, elbows and forearms thrown. It gave off this atittude as if to say, "we're not here to put on a pretty, exciting match for the fans, we're here to become the next ROH World Heavyweight Champion by any means necessary." Of course, both are true, but perception is reality as they say. 

Rating: ****

(8) Kevin Steen vs. Brian Kendrick

I'm not sure if it was an issue with time alloted at the live show, or making the match fit on television, but after Strong and Elgin's very solid victories, this felt like it got cut short. They went to the well for their finishers very early, and they never really built up enough steam to get off the ground. I think, when you've only got a bit over ten minutes to work, you shouldn't spend two of those minutes cowering on the outside just to play up a heel role that didn't quite do the trick. Especially when you've only got a guy like Brian Kendrick for a limited time, fans aren't going to care who plays what role; just give us a solid tournament match. I guess that's up to them, and whoever else may have put the match together, but as a consumer and wrestling fan, I didn't really enjooy what they put out there. I do thinkt he final minutes were well done, but I wasn't invested enough by that point to really care. 

Rating: **1/2

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