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THE pROHfile RETURNS TO LOOK AT TOMORROW NIGHT'S RING OF HONOR EVENT IN CINCINNATI, PLUS A REVIEW OF THE RING OF HARDCORE DVD COMPILATION

By Stuart Carapola on 2013-02-15 10:15:09
Welcome to the long-awaited return of the pROHfile! As you probably guessed, this is a column where I discuss all things ROH, and with ROH returning to action tomorrow night in Cincinnati (a city whose name I always spell wrong and have to look up where the double consonant is), I figured we could start off by running down the card and taking a look at the matches they've got lined up.

The main event will be a unique, six man elimination match where Davey Richards, Adam Cole, and Michael Elgin will team up to take on ROH World Champion Kevin Steen, Jimmy Jacobs, and Steve Corino of SCUM. An interesting subplot to this match that I don't think has been discussed is that all three members of the babyface team have fought each other multiple times over the last year, and while Richards and Elgin both failed to beat Steen for the ROH World Title, all three would probably love to be the one to pin Steen and possibly earn a title shot down the line. I think it's a perfect "for the good of the team vs for the good of me" decision that isn't even particularly heelish to debate over, and I hope we see an element of that instead of just a situation with a bunch of good guys being best friends because they're all fighting the bad guys. Steen also has yet to be pinned since returning to ROH, so maybe a surprise pin would be a good thing for Cole to get to help elevate him a little further up the ladder.

Without challengers for the evening, the Briscoes will be split into separate singles matches. Mark takes on "Spyder" Nate Webb, who I understand has a pretty big following, but I don't really know much more about other than his run in ROH during the CZW war. Jay will take on QT Marshall, somebody who came in with a lot of hype who has yet to do anything I find the remotely impressive. I've been wrong before, but he just comes off as so generic and I don't know that he's the guy I'd book to replace Tommaso Ciampa in the Embassy.

Another couple of newcomers to ROH will also be in action, as ACH faces former ROH World Champion Roderick Strong, and Tadarius Thomas faced Jay Lethal. I'm pretty sure I've seen both these matches already on ROH TV, but ACH hasn't shown me much to live up to the hype I've heard about him so far. Thomas, on the other hand, has been one of my favorite wrestlers to watch in ROH for the last six months or so. I really like the way he blends wrestling and martial arts without making it seem forced, and he's a guy who's got that intangible uniqueness to him that I think the fans are really going to grasp on to. Lethal's obviously been on fire the last few months, and aside from the main event, this is the match I'm most looking forward to seeing when the show gets a DVD release.

BJ Whitmer will take on Kyle O'Reilly in a special "we've got both guys booked and need to do SOMETHING with them" match that probably means nothing cosmically, but has the potential to be a really good match between two guys who can really go on the mat and trading strikes. Charlie Haas will also be on hand, and he'll be facing Pepper Parks, who is regarded by many as a hell of a worker who just hasn't ever gotten the shot he deserves for some reason.

Parks will get his opportunity tomorrow at the Cincinnati Masonic Center, and you can find ticket information at www.rohwrestling.com.

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Something else you can find at the ROH website is Ring of Hardcore, a compilation of assorted no DQ, steel cage, and other hardcore-style matches that have occured over the years in ROH. This set includes a lot of great stuff spread throughout the history of ROH, both early matches that defined what role hardcore matches would play in ROH, as well as blowoff matches to some really heated feuds.

The first disc focuses heavily on the Carnage Crew, a tag team from the early days of ROH that was comprised of Tony Devito (formerly of Da Baldies in ECW) and HC Loc (formerly known as the Hardcore Official in ECW). Their gimmick was pretty straightforward: they're a couple of hard working blue collar guys who only wrestled because they like fighting and it gives them an excuse to get away from their fat wives and snotty kids. I'm not making that up, either, that really was the character and it was mentioned repeatedly on commentary back in those days. They got over because, frankly, they were guys that a lot of fans could relate to. Two matches with Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer, a match against Da Hit Squad, and the steel cage blowoff to their long-running feud with Special K are all included on here.

Also included are several matches featuring the Briscoes, who are well known for having some very bloody brawls and have probably been the most consistently excellent hardcore wrestlers ROH has ever had. First up is Jay's steel cage match where he challenged Samoa Joe for the ROH World Title in 2004 that saw Jay bleeding so heavily that clotted blood began dangling off his face. The Briscoes return on Disc 2 with both of their Ladder War matches, against Kevin Steen & El Generico and the All Night Express respectively, as well as a streetfight against Necro Butcher & Joey Matthews that took place during their feud against Age of the Fall.

For the first time ever on one of these compilations, the final two battles in the ROH vs CZW war are included. The first of these was the famous Cage of Death match between ROH and CZW that took place at Death Before Dishonor IV, where ROH won the feud by beating CZW in their own signature match. This is one I've been dying to see on a DVD set for a while, both because it was a hell of a brawl, as well as for its historical significance. After that is BJ Whitmer taking on Necro Butcher in a Barbed Wire match, one of only two to ever take place in ROH history. Even though the ROH/CZW feud was technically over, this was a sort of "tying up loose ends" bout that was specifically arranged to give BJ some personal closure on the feud.

Homicide is another ROH legend who is well known for his hardcore matches, one of which is the other Barbed Wire match between himself and Steve Corino. Their long-running feud ended here for the time being, though they would rekindle it years later. The Homicide-Colt Cabana Chicago Streetfight from Wrestlemania Weekend 2006 is also included, and was the climax of a very unsettling feud where Homicide terrorized the suburban Cabana by trying to cut his tongue out, trying to pour Drano down his throat, and choking him with a coat hanger. We then flash forward about eight months to Homicide facing Adam Pearce in a steel cage match at the second night of the Chicago Spectacular. This match wasn't even supposed to happen, but Gabe Sapolsky said he thought the original lineup of the show sucked, so he changed it and made this one up pretty much that day.

No ROH hardcore DVD would be complete without a match between BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs, and the one included on this set is the Last Man Standing match from Battle of the Icons. This was the infamous "Bill" match, where the crowd started chanting Bill at Jimmy Jacobs because his tights, which had a pair of lips and the word "kill" on the back (for Kiss 2 Kill), were written in a script that made "kill" look like "Bill". I swear I had nothing to do with starting that chant, but it's a great match and even features a run in by Brent Albright.

A smattering of other, less memorable matches are included in this great set, and I think a lot of these matches were part of angles or featured wrestlers who wouldn't necessarily get their own DVD, but deserved inclusion in something. The only weakness of this set is that it's so all over the place in terms of who is in the matches and when they took place that, unless you were watching at the time and knew why these guys were killing each other, it can all start to blend together after a while. But since I was watching at the time and was at a lot of these, I enjoyed the hell out of it. Recommended DVD unless you really just don't like hardcore wrestling.

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That's it for me, enjoy ROH if you'll be in Cincinnati tomorrow night, and feel free to send along a live report if you're there. Thanks, and I'll be back next week with a review of possibly my new favorite ROH DVD set, Jimmy Jacobs: From Love To Hate.