Richmond, VA : July 8th Preview

After the spectacular show that was Best in the World 2011 Ring of Honor will this weekend present two smaller shows from Richmond, VA and Charlotte, NC, both of which will have a strong emphasis on tag team wrestling. It’s a nice approach: by using their smaller events to feature the more established stars in tag bouts Ring of Honor manages to get more young talent into the ring in front of fans.

The Richmond show will start the weekend with a bang, with the American Wolves teaming up to take on the House of Truth, Chris Hero facing Rhett Titus and the tag team titles being defended by Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team. Let’s have a look at the show in a bit more detail:

Kenny King v ‘The Prodigy’ Mike Bennett

At first glance this is an odd choice of match: King is coming off an impressive showing alongside Rhett Titus in the four team elimination match at Best in the World, while Bennett was beaten convincingly by Jay Lethal on the same show. It’s an opportunity for both men though. King can use it as a showcase for his incredible athletic ability and Bennett can attempt to gain a victory over one of Ring of Honor’s biggest rising stars. Depending on how long the match goes we could have a dark horse contender for match of the night honours in this bout.

Chris Hero w/Shane Hagadorn v Rhett Titus

This reason for this match dates back to the brief feud that took place earlier this year between the Kings of Wrestling and the All Night Express. Titus and King challenged the Kings for the tag team titles at the 9th Anniversary Show and the two teams produced a phenomenal match. Since then the Kings have lost the championships and have begun branching out into singles competition, which makes this an important match for Hero: he’s not only fighting for the honour of his team but also to maintain his position in the company’s singles ranks in order to be considered for future world title matches. It’s another chance for Titus to display his 2011 “serious” attitude and prove he’s not a pushover. It should be a stiff encounter that could have some impact on future TV or world title matches.

Tag Team Contenders Lottery match #1
Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly v Caprice Coleman and Cedrick Alexander

For all they deserve the hype that’s been directed towards them it has to be said that Cole and O’Reilly don’t really win very often. They’ve put in astonishingly good showings against far more experienced teams in Haas and Benjamin, Hero and Castagnoli, and the Briscoes, but they haven’t actually won. In fact the only teams they have shown they can beat are non-regulars and the Bravado Brothers. This one-night, four-team tournament is a chance for Cole and O’Reilly to rectify this situation and earn a title match. This first match should see them pick up a win without too many worries, but the finals will be a very different story.

Tag Team Contenders Lottery match #2
Jay and Mark Briscoe v The Bravado Brothers

The Bravado Brothers have asked in recent months to be given the chance to get in the ring with ROH’s more experienced teams to show that they can get wins where Cole and O’Reilly can’t. Unfortunately for them that wish has been granted in the form of a match with the Briscoes. This will be a particularly tough match for the younger team, and one they’ll be lucky to survive, let alone win: the Briscoes are likely to see this as a warm up for their inevitable match with the finalists. It’s possible the Bravados will get themselves a victory (perhaps by disqualification) but not what you’d call likely.

Tag Team Contenders Lottery final

This match will pit the winners of the two teams against one another with a shot at the Ring of Honor world tag team titles and a $5000 bonus on the line. It’s impossible to say with absolute certainty who will be in this match, but the Briscoes facing Cole and O’Reilly would seem the likeliest choice. Either team would have a great match against Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team or Cabana and Generico (the duos contesting the tag titles in the evening’s main event), while the Bravados or Coleman and Alexander would inject some fresh blood into an already excellent tag division should they happen to win.

Michael Elgin and Roderick Strong w/Truth Martini v The American Wolves

While this is a tag match it has the potential to shape the ROH world title scene for the next several months due to the world champion and two former champions being involved. The big question is “can Richards and Edwards work as a unit?” They may have showed their mutual respect for one another after Richards’ victory over Edwards at Best in the World, but can former champion Edwards put that loss out of his mind to achieve victory in Richmond? I find it hard to believe he will. Both Edwards and Richards will wish to show that they are the dominant member of the team and the better of the two wrestlers.

As if that wasn’t enough one of the men they’ll be facing is the man Edwards beat for the title on March 19th. Fresh from a tour of Japan, Roderick Strong will be looking to capitalise on any mistakes the Wolves may make in order to establish himself as one of the top contenders to the ROH championship. A win over either man would certainly help him there, and with Elgin as his partner he may just manage it.

ROH World Tag Team championship
Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (c) v Colt Cabana and El Generico

Since the end of the Generico v Steen feud Cabana and ‘The Generic Luchadore’ haven’t been teaming together as much, and so tend to be overlooked during discussions about Ring of Honor’s tag scene. The fact that they’ve been granted this title shot shows that ROH management haven’t forgotten about their effectiveness as a unit. Haas and Benjamin are used to facing serious opponents around a similar size to themselves, which means that Cabana and Generico will have the advantage over them twice over: Generico is significantly quicker than most of their regular foes and Cabana isn’t known for being the most predictable wrestler in the promotion. This should be a match that ultimately comes down to sportsmanship and showcasing the quality of tag team wrestling in ROH. It’s a bout I expect to provide a fitting climax to the evening.

As alluded to above, this event will function very nicely as an advert for the great tag team wrestling available to ROH fans. Not only will we see the Tag Team Contenders Lottery but also a rare American Wolves match and a defence of the tag team titles. Plus we’re sure to see a development in the Richards and Edwards story, and a certain Mr Steen could possibly make an appearance too…

Jon Shumake

Jon has been with ROHWorld since March 2011. The American Bearded Nightmare is one half of 'Team America' on ROHCast, which is available every week on ROHWorld, iTunes and Stitcher.