Thanks to John Nickas for sending this in:
To preface this review I must first say that the show itself ran close to 5 hours. Too many technical difficulties interfered with the show and drew it out way longer than everyone thought. At 10:30 they took their first intermission after starting the show a little after 7:30. Very long show to the point where I left when they were going to start taping the final episode. Each match had a time limit.
The show opened with Cornette addressing the audience on this being the first ROH taping. Chicago is the most enthusiastic crowd, yada yada yada. The show itself on television will most likely run for a half hour. Typically two matches per episode. The dark match to open the show featured Grizzly Redwood. Neither wrestler was announced and they wrestled in a decent match that lasted 7 minutes. Redwood pulled out the victory.
Prior to the start of the taping I caught up with Maria Kanellis and what a gorgeous woman.
Now to start the show they introduce Kevin Kelly as the announcer. Note, this first segment lasted a good 15 minutes due to technical difficulties with the microphone. Once the issue was solved he introduced the program and proceeded to introduce Nigel McGuinness as the color commentator.
First match of the taping was a tag team match featuring the Bravado Brothers against the team of Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly. For the first official match of ROH on TV, this was excellent. Lots of good action and plenty of high flying spots throughout. Very fast paced. Cole and O’Reilly were extremely impressive in the match. They pulled out the victory. The other team drew lots of heat and looked like the most feminine tag team since Billy and Chuck. 10 minute match. Davey Richards was standing near the locker room just watching the match. Very approachable guy. I went up and said hi and he seemed genuinely pleased to see someone appreciate his work.
McGuinness asked a fan who would win the main event of the episode (a spot which will appear regularly on each show).
Main Event of episode 1-The World’s Greatest Tag Team (c) vs. The Kings of Wrestling (ROH Tag Team Championship Match)
Great match. The Kings of Wrestling clearly outshined Haas and Benjamin. Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero performed some of the most innovative moves of any tag team I can recall. One in particular was excellent. Castagnoli swung Benjamin around and Chris Hero hits him in the head with a dropkick. Lots of solid back and forth action. World’s Greatest Tag Team pulls out the victory with a flying clothesline from Shelton.
Next episode, we open with Cornette speaking with Haas and Benjamin. They say they’re welcome to defending their titles against anyone. Cornette says something to do with the briscoes getting fined $5k for cheap shots on them in New York. They pump themselves up and try to get over with the crowd.
First match-Mike Bennett vs. Jimmy Jacobs with Steve Corino. Lots of Corino chants. This was another solid match. Mike dominated a good portion of the match due to the size difference. He had a good 4-5 inches on Jimmy and at least 30 pounds on him. Mike draws a lot of heat interacting with the fans. He has a very good look. He’s a much smaller version of the Masterpiece with more skills in the ring. Mike wins cleanly and messes with Jimmy after the match. He tries to mess with Corino and he looks to start a fight. Mike leaves the ring before anything can happen.
McGuiness does this fan thing again where he asks who will win in the main event.
Main Event of episode 2- El Generico (c) vs Jay Lethal (ROH Television Championship Match)
This was tied for match of the night. Crowd was really hot for this one. Lots of ole chants and many people yelling at Lethal to do his TNA gimmicks. This was an extremely fast paced match that lasted for close to 20 minutes. The pace never changed either. The two wrestlers put on a great show and performed many high flying moves throughout the duration of the match. At least 10 near falls in the match. Even contest throughout and then the bell rang signaling that time had run out. The wrestlers look confused and the crowd is upset. Cornette runs out and addresses the crowd that we will have a winner with 3 minutes left in the episode. Crowd erupts as the men punch the hell out of each other. Lethal wins with his finisher and parades around the ring with the title.
Opponents shake hands.
Intermission. I took a picture with Maria.
Second half of show starts. Dark match with two unknowns.
10:40 pm 3rd Taping-Cornette is in the ring and the briscoes come out and cut a promo. I must say that they cut the best promo of the night and promised that they would defeat the All Night Express to get a shot at The World’s Greatest Tag Team.
First Match-Tomaso Ciampa vs. Andy Ridge.
They don’t announce it, but Corino announces with Kelly during the match. Ciampa and Ridge exchange slaps and kicks and Ridge looks like he got slapped so hard on his chest that it draws blood. The two men have what looks as an extremely painful match. Lots of stiff punches and kicks throughout. It looked like they legitimately were hurting each other. Ciampa wins after dominating the second half of the match.
McGuinness does his who’s going to win thing again. (This stuff really slowed the show down immensely)
Main Event-Davey Richards (c) vs. Roderick Strong with Truth Martini (ROH World Championship Match)
This was the other match of the night. The pacing was excellent. They did some insanely intricate move sets with each other throughout the match. Some ring dives and high flying action from Strong and Richards. Both wrestlers were extremely impressive in this match and have the look and talent to make it in the WWE. Martini tries to interfere and distracts the ref while Richards puts the ankle lock on Strong. Strong taps and the ref doesn’t see it. Richards throws Martini out of the ring and Strong locks the boston crab in on Richards. Richards somehow reverses the move and sinks in the ankle lock forcing Strong to tap out. Richards wins and retains his title. The match lasted a good 25-30 minutes and I’m sure will get cut down for TV.
After this they were preparing for the final taping of the night. I left as it was already 11:45 and had seen the wrestlers I wanted to see.
All in all the quality of wrestling was exceptional. If they seek to make this work, they are going to rely heavily on the actual in-ring wrestling. The tag team matches were very entertaining and the matches should play well on television. The crowd died down as it got later and later in the evening. The main issue with the taping tonight was that it took forever. I mean we sat through more technical difficulties than actual wrestling. This was the only real flaw of the night. If it hadn’t taken forever to correct lighting and sound issues, the show would have finished much sooner. However, it was nice to see straight up wrestling and the show should play well to fans of wrestling. In terms of storylines, don’t expect much. It will get interesting in the future as the WWE decides which guys they look to take from ROH based on the television performances.