(05/17) Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kevin Steen

Ring of Honor
Hammerstein Ballroom (New York, New York) 

Midway through the match between Nakamura and Steen, a fan sitting behind us began commenting that Nakamura is overrated.  The support for his assertion was mainly – from what we could hear – that Nakamura “only” throws a lot of knee lifts and that doesn’t make him anything special.  A weak argument to be sure, but I found the comment interesting in light of who Nakamura happened to being wrestling on that night.

I do not know for sure, but I will assume this fan was a ROH fan and a Kevin Steen fan.  I think Steen has some positive qualities.  He is way over with the ROH fan base, has a certain charisma about him, and comes off as surprisingly charming whenever I have heard him speak in or out of the ring.  Steen is also a poster boy for the ROH/PWG high-octane style that places a heavy emphasize on high-impact moves, often at the expense of everything else.

In other words, if Nakamura is a guy who “only throws knee lifts” then Steen is a guy “who only does high impact moves”.  As a result, this match provided a certain juxtaposition.  Nakamura and Steen are both highly charismatic.  Nakamura gets by these days by leaning heavily on that charisma.  Nakamura’s memorable spots in the match were his seizure-like boot choke in the corner, his goofy struts across the ring, the “head to the chest” clean break, and an assortment of running knees.  In other words, his big moments were borderline comedy spots and as my fellow match-watcher pointed out, “normal knee lifts”.

Steen’s memorable spots included a big time spill to the floor on a missed running cannonball and a power bomb on Nakamura delivered from the floor to the ring apron.  Nakamura chose to get by on comedy spots that a New Japan viewer would be familiar with and his signature knee-based moves.  Steen incorporated some comedy (particularly early on) but dipped into his bag of high impact offense liberally throughout the match.  It was an interesting contrast that highlighted one of the major in-ring differences between many of the New Japan workers and ROH workers.

That is not to say that the NJPW guys don’t go all out some times but it is clearly a different mindset.  The crowd was hyped for this match and loved Steen from the minute he stepped in front of the fans.  He likely did not need to spill to the floor or pull out apron power bombs to get a reaction, but he did.  Nakamura played it a tad safer (although granted, he did take the previously mentioned apron power bomb) and was fine for it as well.

This was not necessarily a great match but it was certainly the one match on the card that felt like a true big time inter-promotional match.  In that regard, it was one of the more memorable and successful matches on a card that overall, had to be considered a success.

US Indie | Common | Quality & Hype

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