Re: The 2012 MOTYC thread
Well apologies guys, but I'm gonna have to be the party pooper on Richards/Elgin.
Davey Richards v Michael Elgin, ROH World Championship, Showdown In The Sun Night II, 03/31/12- NO
A really really strange match all around tbh, there was a lot of things I dug in this match: Elgin coming out looking like a legit tough SOB, the running theme of his power being too much for Davey, Richards actually grabbing his back before doing some spots that could be seen as ignoring the limbwork so as to at least show the viewer he was hurt and both men down the stretch doing a great job of exhaustion selling and showing the continuing effects of the match.
Still the pacing and structure really felt off here, Richards' initial flurry was fine even though I thought it sacrificed a feeling out process and went straight into the action and it only lasting a couple of minutes before Elgin took over set the stage for the opening portion of the match dragging. I mean I enjoy the milking of the babyface shine period but this felt like a bad opening, if this was a WWE match with someone like Mysterio you'd expect some speed/power spots to show off the contrast and much of the first 10 minutes seemed like one guy having some brief form of control before a flurry of strikes and the other guy having control. Have to mention as well some of Davey's strikes were bad here, his kicks are generally fine but he can't really pull off convincing forearm strikes that look to have a lot of effect and that's a major problem when you're facing a bigger opponent, its part of why Punk doesn't always make a great face in peril because some of his offence looks really bad against bigger man and can really bring you out of the match. The fisherman suplex on the floor and powerbomb into guardrail combo was an excellent transition spot in theory...but Davey hadn't shined in the opening portion at all really and as a result it never felt like a game changer in the match, especially as the next few minutes seemed to plod a bit with Elgin's control never reaching the heights I expected. He did some nice stuff but here is where you'd expect a total shitkicking of Richards to take place and for them to build and build to the comeback but it never really came. They had some mini strike exchange flurries and then Richards attempted the somersault powerbomb in the corner which led to the Top Rope Dragon Suplex spot.
Now this next bit further irked me, a brilliant spot for Elgin to win over the crowd but executed with a few problems:
a) there was zero build to that sort of spot, it was the sort of spot you'd expect to be one of the last in the match but once Elgin kicked out we had a good 10 minutes of less believable near falls occurring (the eventual finish looking particularly weak). I liked the initial struggle over the spot but again Richards despite looking hurt had still hardly taking the extended workover to build to such an emphatic comeback....and him going straight into an Ankle Lock rather than sell the kickout further annoyed me, especially as Elgin wasn't in the hold long enough to create a believable near fall.
b) furthermore Elgin hadn't been sufficiently weakened for the spot to feel organic in the match. Had Davey built a flurry of offence and gradually worn Elgin down AND then hit this desperation spot it would have felt so much better. Whilst I find such a move stupid to be kicked out of, had they worked the multiple kicks finish straight afterwards I would have at least enjoyed Elgin looking like a beast and the move essentially being the ending even if it didn't immediately lead to the count. As it was despite turning the crowd up a notch it felt like a wasted spot down the finishing stretch when counters were being traded, though Elgin throughout the match did a great job of looking worn down by the tempo they were working.
Some of the strike exchanges bothered me as they tend to do, again bar the execution looking bad they felt poorly timed in the match although I did like Elgin seemingly winning every one which played into the power story which was constantly recurring in the match. The combo leading into the sitout powerbomb nearfall was terrific and brilliantly timed by Elgin, it helped he'd gradually worn Richards down the entire match and the way they worked him countering Richards' offence into that sick lariat before finally hitting his move was terrific...but the minute Richards kicked out I sort of lost interest because he never really got in a sustained comeback to sufficiently weaken Elgin.
The powerbomb kickout was super because it felt like a genuine match ender and the culmination of Elgin's offence but Davey had been limited to kicks and a couple of top rope spots as his offence and as a result Elgin never looked to be on the ropes in my opinion. Actual finish also felt quite flat after everything that had been kicked out of beforehand, had they maybe moved certain moves around I'd have dug the finishing run more but as a result it didn't work as well for me.
So aye, there was a lot of things I enjoyed in this match which surprised me but the plodding structure and lack of a clear beginning-middle-end really hurts this match IMO. It felt very your turn my turn in who got onto offence and as a result there was a lack of clear build into the finish, though some of the spots won the crowd over regardless of the pacing and build. Richards' selling was nice though I'd have loved him to have worked his injury into a spot like Elgin did after the repeated ankle locks but what we got was ok, there were a few moments where he'd blow it off to work an exchange but there wasn't a point in the match where I thought he'd truly no sold the earlier work so props to him. I just wasn't really engaged with the opening 2/3rds of the match and with the final finishing run feeling overdone and lacking in placement I was never fully 'hooked'. I can see why the match has its admirers although if I'm being honest it never screamed 'epic' to me at all, like I've never enjoyed the Richards/Edwards matches or Richards/Black but some of the sequences I could at least buy as being awe inspiring that people would look past any structural issues and just be wowed by the wrestling. The pacing and plodding nature here though never even felt to me like the wrestling I was watching was awe-inspring, its certainly better than a lot of other Richards matches I've seen and Elgin looked impressive given my limited viewing of him but as a MOTYC.....I just can't see what made the match so incredible.
A rating would be hard right about now, the actual work wasn't bad but the structure was really off to me and definitely something that with the right tweaking could have lifted the match into something a lot more. I dunno **3/4-***1/4 for Elgin getting a good showcase, the fans being won over into the finishing stretch, some nice selling of the wear and tear by both men and Nigel's commentary...but with a better beginning and middle this would be pushing a much higher rating.
I like Dave Meltzers review better. Meltzers review was more organic and built up properly than your review.