Tag Archives: US Indie Singles

(06/22) Adam Cole (c) vs. Michael Elgin

Ring of Honor
Tennessee State Fairgrounds Arena (Nashville, Tennessee)
ROH World Championship 

According to Dave Meltzer, at one point this match was under consideration to headline ROH’s Final Battle event in December (at least that was the impression he got).  With the PPV debut in June, it was bumped up to this event which created a predicament of sorts.  Elgin needed to win the title in his next shot.  He had failed too many times before and was on the verge of contracting Lex Luger syndrome.  At the same time, the promotion clearly would have liked to keep the title on Cole longer.  They obviously intended to at one point and Cole was just coming into his own as champion.  Something would have to give.

It should be noted that the build for this main event match included a well-executed old school angle at the previous week’s house show.  After a Michael Bennett versus Michael Elin match ended in a no-contest, Cole and Bennett tied up Elgin in the ropes and proceeded to cut off his ridiculous ratty mullet that he had been clinging onto for far too long.  Not satisfied with just that, Cole put a figure four on Elgin’s actual wife – indie wrestler Mischif – when she attempted to intervene.  It was the kind of simple, dastardly action that pro wrestling has long had great success utilizing to build up a match.  It definitely added a needed layer to the match.

Michael Elgin has gotten over with a certain segment of pro wrestling fans on the strength of a being a power wrestler in a promotion with few power wrestlers.  That is one take on Elgin.  Another is that he is not a very good power wrestler or a very good wrestler in general given his spotty selling ability, reliance on big move after big move, and lack of any real personality.  Relatively speaking, Elgin kept his less desirable tendencies under control here but I am not sure it was a great performance from him by any means.

The match was smartly booked with outside interference from Hardy, Bennett, and Maria near the end to add to the drama.  Elgin needed to be booked to overcome the odds and they effectively conveyed that.  War Machine ran those guys off allowing the match to continue.  There was one near fall from Elgin off of a combo turn buckle bomb/power bomb that the fans bought to the point that they threw streamers into the ring in celebration.  When they realized the match wasn’t over, they briefly chanted “We F***ked Up!”.  Chants are the lowest form of communication and generally can be done without, but I thought that was a cute play on a popular wrestling chant.

The actual finish came not long after and Elgin became the 20th champion in Ring of Honor’s 12 year history.  ROH played the title switch up big, dropping a legitimately impressive amount of confetti from the ceiling as Elgin did the emotional “I can’t believe I won!” routine mid ring.  Regardless of personal opinions on Elgin, he is over enough and the story had been built to this point so he sort of needed to win.  It also gave ROH a big moment on their first PPV event which didn’t hurt.

US Indie Singles | Common | Title Change

(06/22) Kevin Steen vs. Silas Young

Ring of Honor
Tennessee State Fairgrounds Arena (Nashville, Tennessee) 

Kevin Steen is yet another in a constantly growing list of pro wrestlers that are currently in transition from one place/promotion to the next.  Steen reportedly is in the process of getting a WWE developmental deal.  However, these things are never final until they are final and are especially uncertain these days given WWE’s desire to trim expenses.  Steen has publicly acknowledged that his ROH contract is ending and he is likely to leave, but when and in what fashion is unknown.

This match was setup when Young interrupted what was played up as a goodbye speech from Steen at May’s War of the Worlds event in New York City.  The fans acknowledged the fact that this could be Steen’s last ROH match throughout the bout.  If that were indeed going to be the case, it seemed likely that Steen would put over the relative newcomer Silas Young on his way out.

The match opened with Steen knocking down Young and attempting his running cannonball splash in the corner, but Silas evaded.  I liked the quick start given this was a grudge match – it added a sense of urgency to the proceedings.

The body of the match was fine.  A trimmed down Steen is wrestling with more energy than he has recently and his offense looked crisp.  I think Young is fine – particularly from a personality standpoint – but his offense doesn’t match his personality.  Here is a guy with stringy shoulder length hair and a porn star mustache who calls himself “wrestling’s last real man”.  He also happens to be the legitimate nephew of Stan Hansen.  A guy with those qualities should be a knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out wrestler.  Instead Young’s signature move is a somewhat goofy springboard moonsault.  It just doesn’t fit, just as a lot of his offense doesn’t.  His brawling was a bit better here with a brawler like Steen opposite him but there is definitely a disconnect between Silas’ persona and the style of wrestling.

The match was fine, but really a set up for the post-match angle.

Steen won the match with the package pile driver (a sign he would be around for at least one more show) but then cut another leaving promo in which he put over Young and shook his hand (a sign that the feud was ending and Steen was leaving).  Young accepted the hand shake and left the ring, allowing Steen to continue the supposed farewell speech.  Just as he seemed to be wrapping it up, Young appeared suddenly and attack Steen.  The attack came off great on TV – the camera didn’t catch it until it was happening and nothing else gave it away – and it was an effective angle all around.

Young and Steen appear to have at least one other match in them before Kevin heads to greener pastures.  Young defeated Mark Briscoe in a strap match some months ago and began to proclaim himself as the “King of the Strap Match”.  That has been downplayed recently but it would not be a surprise if these two are heading to a strap match blow off sometime in the upcoming months.

US Indie | Common | Angle & Quality

(05/25) Chuck Taylor vs. Ashley Remington

Palmer Center (Easton, Pennsylvania)

Chikara has a knack for getting a lot out of what appear on surface to be one-note gimmicks.

While Adam Rose is sputtering out of the gate over in WWE, Chikara has gotten years of service out of similarly one dimensional gimmicks such as wrestling ants; an old timey baseball player; a cotton-bellied, top hat wearing, English accented masked wrestler known as “the world’s sweetest wrestler”; and of course, a pair of wrestling ice cream cones.  The promotion certainly knows how to get a lot of return out of seemingly very little.

Enter “Smooth Sailing” Ashley Remington.

Making his Chikara debut in this match, Remington strolls to the ring wearing a sailing captain’s hat to the accompaniment of a low key, easy listening number.  He is joined by two decidedly classy-looking ladies who walk arm and arm with him to ringside.  The announcers gush over Remington’s grace and charm.  He spent four hours introducing himself to everyone in the back and held the door for all who entered the building, they say.  Early in the match Remington backs Taylor into the corner.  Acting on instincts, the referee aggressively starts the mandatory five-count to break the hold, no doubt assuming that Remington will take the full five seconds as most wrestlers do.  Instead, Remington lets go of Taylor immediately and calms down the unnecessarily worked-up official.

“I break at one, my friend!” Remington proclaims to mollify the referee.

Played by wrestling disc jockey Dalton Castle, Ashley Remington is part Jervis Cottenbelly and part “The World’s Most Interesting Man”.  The latter feels like the obvious inspiration for the character with the announcers in particular putting Remington over with praise that at times feels like it was taken straight from a Dos Equis commercial.  Remington played the role with far more subtlety than the announcers, however, which is mainly why it worked so well.

His ring work supported the gimmick as well.  The last thing you need is for your ultra-smooth, always-on wrestler to be sloppy or rigid in the ring.  Remington kept things simple, complimenting his basic moves with a few smooth spots that he could hit with ease.  Dalton Castle has been hit or miss, but Ashley Remington came off cool and confident, just as he should have.  Taylor – who is equally hit or miss – was good here, downplaying his own large personality in favor of letting Remington shine.

Remington wins in his debut with a smooth looking (of course . . .) submission hold that was some sort of variation on Jamie Noble’s trailer hitch.  Taylor is expectedly salty after losing to a newcomer.  He sulks around the ring while Remington is handed something by one of his lady friends who have returned to ringside after the match.  It is a wrapped fruit basket, which Remington hands to Taylor.  The Kentucky Gentlemen is justifiably confused by the odd gesture at first.  However, he looks at the gift, processes what the gesture meant, and suddenly an “oh shucks!” smile spreads across the often-villainous Taylor’s face.

Taylor is just another victim of “Smooth Sailing” Ashley Remington’s endless supply of charm.

One sub-10 minute match and I already want to see more of Ashley Remington.  A debut – particularly one with as auspicious beginnings as this one – cannot be asked to accomplish more than that.

US Indie Singles | Worthwhile | Quality & Individual Performance (Remington)

(02/22) Adam Cole (c) vs. Chris Hero

Ring of Honor
Pennsylvania National Guard Amory (Philadelphia, PA)
Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Championship

I like a good opening segment as much as I enjoy a good stretch run. Of the Chris Hero matches I have watched since he left WWE developmental, most have good, solid opening segments and transitions. That stands in stark contrast to a lot of indie matches – and that’s not just limited to the so-called ‘workrate’ ones – where the opening segments are often flat and the transitions nonexistent. I am not looking for anything world class – just a solid, well-formed foundation for the rest of the match.

The first six or seven minutes of this match from ROH’s 12th anniversary show might be my favorite stretch of any ROH match in quite some time. Hero controls with headlocks and cravats early. Cole twice goes for what at first appears to be a lazy kick-to-the-gut transition, only for Hero to block it. I hate the knee lift or kick to the stomach transition so I really enjoyed that tease and reversal.

After being thwarted several times to get any offense going, Cole bails to the outside. He stalls by leaving the ring several more times and it is very effective. Cole has developed a very nice cocky heel champion persona, which the stalling nicely compliments. At one point Cole will not get back into the ring, so Hero bails out as well. They have a standoff on opposite sides of the ring. Hero fakes going one way and Cole makes the mistake of running in the opposite direction. In a nice touch, he is jawing with the fans as he runs away so he is completely unaware when Hero changes directions and comes charging at him with a big boot from the other side.

Hero stays in control for the first six minutes or so of the match before he makes the mistake of attempting a dive after Cole yet again bails to ringside. Previously, he played Cole’s stalling correctly by ignoring it or out-smarting him, but this time he plays right into his hand and the dive is countered with a kick to the end, putting Cole on offense. I thought the whole build up to and including that transition moment was very well done.

Cole’s control segment was pretty decent as well. Relative to other members of the ROH roster, he keeps his offense relatively contained and more importantly, utilizes elements like stalling, jawing with the crowd, and facial expressions to fill time rather than simply going to the next move. At one point the Philly crowd starts making a noise that sounded to me like a cross between a sarcastic and maniacal laugh presumably directed towards Cole. He lets this completely distract him, which the crowd eats up, so they keep doing it throughout the match whenever Hero kicks out of a move. The Philly fans weren’t into the near falls all that much, but their laughing at Cole’s inability to finish Hero made up for that heat-wise.

Hero has gone big boot crazy in some matches of his recently (the Raymond Rowe match from Texas being a prime example) and uses it a lot here, but not to the point of overkill. The kicks also all looked very good, including a through the ropes feet-first dive where he catches Cole square on the jaw.

Like I said before, the near falls did not get much of a reaction which was one issue with the match. The finishing stretch itself fell a tad flat for me as well and veered towards overkill a bit, even if it wasn’t anywhere close to what you get in other modern day ROH matches.

The ref bump was fine for setting up a re-match. I liked the attention to detail where Nigel McGuiness checked on referee Todd Sinclair after his spill to the outside, so that when Cole fouled Hero both the official and Nigel (still an authority figure of some sorts in ROH) both missed it. Also thought the kick out of the Florida Key after Sinclair comes to was the a good near fall (the only really good one of the match) because the ending would have felt a bit flat and telegraphed coming right then.

Definitely the best ROH match I have seen this year and probably the best in a while. The match is not a world-beater, but it is solidly worked, tells a straight-forward story, contains some neat spots, and doesn’t spiral into offensive overkill. That’s all I really am looking for, particularly for a match shown on free TV.

US Indie Singles | Worthwhile | Quality