Ring of Honor
Ted Reeve Arena (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
One of ROH’s main booking failures these days is a lack of flow from show to show. ROH books a lot of “this guy vs. that guy” matches. You walk away from watching a typical ROH card with the impression that several matches were unimportant and that a handful (or more) were simply warm bodies rather than wrestlers that are actually going anywhere. On paper, this appeared to be one of those matches. ACH is seemingly stuck on the ROH random-match hamster wheel. Bennett appeared to be booked against ACH as a way for him to kill time before his match with Tanahashi in New York.
All of that is probably still true, but I thought both guys (and the booking) did a nice job giving this seemingly random match a little more depth.
ACH goes after the knee early on and stays on it the entire match. This is noteworthy because ACH is generally not a big limb work guy. He’s also the face here and having the face work over the knee of the heel is not normal. Kevin Kelly is bad but I thought he was good here painting ACH’s focus on Bennett’s knee as ACH realizing he needs to become more multi-dimensional with his offense. That is, he cannot get by on just his high-flying even if it his is calling card. The revelation that Bennett has a significant knee injury last year but elected not to have surgery added a layer of depth to the ring work.
Bennett came off like a guy with a bum knee that got re-aggravated. There was a nice subtlety to his selling. Bennett still picks up the win, as he needed to because of his impending meeting with Tanahashi.
Bennett has some choice words for Tanahashi post-match and I couldn’t help but make the logic jump that this match was all a setup for Tanahashi to work the knee in their upcoming contest. This match and the call of it seemed to go out of its way to establish a knee issue for Bennett. Tanahashi just had success working a knee-work match versus Nakamura on April 6th. According to Meltzer, Tanahashi is looking to put on a memorable match with Bennett in New York. All of that taken together leads me to believe that Bennett is going to have his knee targeted heavily in New York by Tanahashi. It wouldn’t be a bad direction to go in.
This was a fine little opener on its own, but if it is indeed a setup for the Tanahashi match than this is the kind of setup booking that ROH (and really any promotion) could afford to do a lot more often to give undercard matches more depth and importance.
US Indies | Worthwhile | Quality & Booking