This time last year, ROH held two sell-out shows in the lovely Center Stage Theatre in Atlanta, and featured the kind of wrestling you'd expect from such a diverse and entertaining company. Both shows had that big night feeling that you would come to expect from ROH iPPVs, and on both nights they delivered with flying colours. So, with that said, how about we get the same thing this year, ROH?
You'd have to be pretty stubborn not to admit that ROH's iPPV's since Best in the World last year have transpired into mediocrity. Although the 10th Anniversary show was fairly entertaining for the most part, it still didn't hit a home run with me. The same goes for Death Before Dishonor late last year where the show World Title match-less and seemed to drag on for eternity. In December of last year, Final Battle had a flying start, only to crash and burn in the second half of the show. If those shows have thought us anything, it's that even ROH can get it wrong when it comes to producing big shows.
Looking at the card for both 'SITS' shows however, you'd wonder how they could possibly fall short. Without a doubt, this is the best line-up from ROH I've seen in a long time. Only time will tell whether these two shows will be the highlight of WrestleMania weekend, or once again leave the fans wandering what kind of wayward direction this company is going in.
Tag Team Rematch
Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team vs. Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander
Last week on ROH TV, we saw Coleman and Alexander pick up a shock victory over Haas and Benjamin. It's this match however, where they will really need to show what they're capable of. I don't mind Coleman and Alexander. They are fairly enjoyable to watch, with their hippity hoppity style of wrestling and their 'we're trying to come off charismatic here' approach, so I expect them to have a good outing. As for the result though, I think it's clear that WGTT will get the victory here.
The Briscoes vs. TMDK
To be honest, I don't know TMDK. The only clip I've seen from them was on the ROH YouTube Channel, so I don't really know what to expect from them. At first glance, they don't look like two young guys looking to make a name for themselves, they look fairly grounded and moderately experienced. I'm too lazy to watch a match of them on YouTube, so I'll just let it wait until SITS. Through all that though, I see Briscoes picking up the victory, and maybe gaining their respect in the process. Who knows.
Dual Duel #1
The Young Bucks vs. The All Night Express
I like tag team wrestling and everything, but this is one thing about ROH that actually bugs me, they REALLY pride themselves on showcasing tag team wrestling. Don't get me wrong, I'm really looking forward to this match-up, but you got to feel (or at least me anyway) that they're over doing it in terms of how many tag matches they book on shows.
This probably isn't the best part of the preview to discuss this, because Young Bucks/ANX is actually the tag match I'm most looking forward to. I just hope that all these tag matches don't come across as an overkill.
Back to the topic at hand though, I expect this to be a good match. The Street Fight and Tornado Tag stipulations are very similar (as the Street Fight will feature all 4 men in the ring at some point), but I think this is a good way to blow off their feud. It's tough to predict who will win this, as they are facing each other twice, so it really could go either way. Young Bucks might get the first victory and then lose the other one, or ANX might just do a clean sweep. Whatever the outcome, it should be thoroughly entertaining.
Last Man Standing Match
Kevin Steen vs. El Generico
Have I ever told you guys how much I like Kevin Steen? I have? Well, I tell you again! This man is the best thing going in ROH at the moment, and has been for a very long time. He's one of the best talkers in ROH, actually scratch that, THE BEST talker in ROH, and one of the best wrestlers in the company as well, whether people like Jim Cornette like to admit it or not.
Steen and Generico both work tremendously well, and tonight I expect them to steal the show. With Steen on a mission to capture the ROH World Title off Davey Richards, I expect him to get the victory over Generico. I don't know who it'll happen, it could be something as simple as him winning fairly. But whatever the case, I see Steen staying undefeated over the weekend.
ROH TV Championship Match
Jay Lethal vs. Kyle O'Reilly
I don't think many people have been fans of Lethal's title reign, but I for one have found it quite enjoyable. His hasn't been the most consistent in terms of match quality, but I think that's more got to do with who he was facing on that certain night. Luckily for him, he's facing the very talented Kyle O'Reilly.
I expect Lethal and O'Reilly will work well together. They're both young, agile and exciting competitors, so really, it shouldn't be anything less than a solid bout. With the way Kyle's persona has been going as of late, I expect Lethal to retain his TV Title. And thus, angering Kyle O'Reilly even further.
The Icon vs. The Prodigy
Lance Storm vs. Mike Bennett
I think Mike Bennett is someone that needs other wrestlers to get a decent match out of him. Lay Lethal has done it before, and Eddie Edwards did it a while ago on ROH TV. With Lance Storm, I just don't know if he'll get a good match out of Bennett.
I expect it to be a fairly safe match, with slow pacing and a lot of ground work. I expect Lance Storm to be in good condition (especially after reading it in a column in Fighting Spirit Magazine), so that will always help, but it's just more so the fact that Bennett needs someone more... energetic to deliver a good match. The crowd should be up for the match, lets hope Bennett and Storm are too.
ROH World Title Match
Davey Richards vs. Roderick Strong vs. Eddie Edwards
I actually don't think I've ever seen a Triple Threat match for the ROH World Title before. I missed the ones between Aries, Black and Strong and only have so many old DVDs so... yeah, it's something for me. I agree that all 3 men have faced each other too many times, but under Triple Threat rules, I see being a different type of match. Of course we'll see the usual hard-hitting action, but with an extra man involved we could well see many close break-ups and face paced action towards the end. In my opinion, 25-30 minutes would be ideal, as matches between these 3 have often become a bit of an overkill. I doubt that will be the case tonight, but for me, it would fresh to see a World Title match with less slugfests and near-falls. Oh, and as for the winner, Davey to retain.
Roderick Strong vs. Lay Lethal
With Jay Lethal so eager to get a title shot, it only makes sense that he would defeat Roderick Strong tomorrow afternoon. Although in saying that, it would also make sense for him to lose the TV title so he can really challenge the title, so many I'm contradicting myself here...
Nonetheless, I see Lethal getting the victory here, thus giving Cornette another reason to give him a future title shot.
Eddie Edwards vs Kevin Steen
Given enough time, this could be the dark horse to be the match of the night (or... day, since you know, it starts at 1pm). As I said above for the Last Man Standing Match, it makes sense for Steen to win both of his matches over the weekend. So, with that, I'll go with Steen to get the victory.
ROH World Tag Team Championship Match
The Briscoes vs. Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team
I haven't been a fan of this feud. The interferences, constant shouting and chair shots that we've seen on both ROH TV and iPPVs just hasn't done anything for me. So, it will come as no surprise that I am not exactly ecstatic to see this match. Also add to the fact that they've faced each other A LOT. The only way this will be in any fresh depends on the crowds response to the match. With it being Mania Weekend, there will be a lot of new fans in attendance, and so, might find a match like this new and exciting. Let's hope that's the case.
Duel Dual Night #2
The Young Bucks vs. The All Night Express
I think I said everything I needed to say in the preview for the first match. Really all that's left to say is, will the Tornado Tag be better than the Street Fight? With two such fast tag teams, I think it very well be. As for the result, I see ANX getting the second victory no matter what happens in their first match.
Former Partners Collide
Adam Cole vs. Kyle O'Reilly
There's no denying how good these two young men are (especially O'Reilly). They were a very good tag team in Future Shock and have shown that they are solid in the singles division as well. Now, all that's left to find out is whether or not they can work well against each other.
I don't see why not, they're both similar size, speed and striking ability. Really, the only difference is that Kyle is more technically sound and Cole is a better high flyer. Remember when I said Steen/Edwards could be the best match on the show? Yeah well, so could this one.
Special Attraction Match
TJ Perkins vs. Fire Ant
Another person who I haven't seen a lot of is Chikara's Fire Ant. I know enough about TJ Perkins however, to know that he can wok well against anybody. So with that said, I have no doubt that this will be a fun bout.
As for the victor, Fire Ant is the obvious choice considering he's the first Chikara wrestler to compete in this storyline. It's not good that it'll be at the expense of TJ, as I don't think he's won a match since signing with ROH (could be wrong), but nevertheless, it should be a solid match.
ROH World Title Match
Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgin
The reason I said that Steen/Edwards and Cole/O'Reilly are dark horses to be the best match of show is because this match between World Champion Davey Richards and Michael Elgin is my pick to be the highlight of the show.
With Elgin's freakish strength and Davey's stiff combat style, I see this being a thrilling match that could well be the best match of the weekend, let alone that best match on Night 2. I don't know if we'll see an appearance from Kevin Steen, but at the end of it all, I see Davey Richards retaining the gold and getting one step closer to reaching a whole year as World Champion.
Going through that whole list of matches, there's no denying that these two shows could be two of the best shows of the year.