Richards vs. Daniels DVD
Ring of Honor
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
What more needs to be said about the match “six months in the making”?
Well, there’s the rest of the DVD, which cements in my mind that ROH has re-established itself in terms of reputation, building to the future, and featuring feuds instead of just treading water. Of course, with the recent announcement of the loss of the HDNet TV program, the timing may be more than just a little necessary.
ROH remains the most viable of the indy promotions, continuously churning out top quality matches and honing Champions that have made their impact, and have displayed their raw talent, on other stages.
As I’ve seen it, ROH had sort of lost their way over the past two years, treading water before and after the departure of booking mastermind Gabe Sapolsky. Landing a show on Mark Cuban’s cable station seemed far more promising than it turned out, and while losing it is a letdown, there should be hope that ROH can continue to solidify around its legacy and its overwhelming talent.
One thing that ROH still seems to need is a structure that combines its prodigious output of top notch matches event with an appeal to a wider range of fans. Yes, that’s been said ad nauseum, but perhaps without the TV program, there can be a re-evaluation of the timelines and expected reception of the events. Should the DVD’s be numbered? I’m not sure.
ROH seems to lack a certain something, and while emulating the mainstream promotions is definitely NOT a suggestion I would make, the promotion needs to create a new dynamic, at least in terms of how fans approach the events and how they anticipate the big events.
In many ways, “Richards vs Daniels” does establish a new approach.
ROH has a number of ‘name’ events, including Tag Wars to Death Before Dishonor, Survival of the Fittest and Final Battle. But as with many things involving ROH, what does that mean to mainstream fans? Will the tenth installment of Death Before Dishonor be meaningful, even if Christopher Daniels actually wrestles on it, and doesn’t do a video from Japan, like he did in 2003?
That ROH survives is important to the industry. There’s no other, specific promotion that has the legacy and the structure and proven capability to be a player in the business. There are other promotions that may influence wrestling over the next decade, but this is the one that already has done that. We can argue about Punk and Danielson and Samoa Joe, and another tier or two of ROH alumni, but those names have and will main event matches and they are clearly the talent that emulate’s wrestling’s artform, and not the damnable mainstream style that gets weakened every year.
What was good about Richards vs. Danielson?
Obviously the main event, which was well built by not putting it on the second week both Davey Richards and Christopher Daniels were on the roster. From bell to bell, and both before and after the match, it remains a thing of admiration.
What’s more, six months from now, there may be another match, and that was set up by this one, and that match may very well eclipse this one, but regardless, this is a match and talents and a promotion that clearly understands that matchmaking must be done differently than the way it is done today.
Richards talking down Tyler Black in order to talk up Christopher Daniels was priceless, and that’s the way promos should be done – not scripted, but worked from the wrestler, using his own personality, and directed to a purpose. When Davey Richards says that he dominated Tyler Black, but Daniels … “not so much”, it was an admission that meant something, and meant that there is more to come.
As great as the match was, is and will be if you watch it, anticipating the next one is the result of watching it.
One match, however, has that feel of finality.
Steve Corino vs Colt Cabana may not have been “The Last Battle of Atlanta” but already we know Corino is a changed man. Colt Cabana is a stalwart of ROH, and while he’s readily cast as comedy, he’s been through the grinder and he shows capability in the ring and out of it that continues to impress. That he never caught on in that other place is only a testament to his talent, not a condemnation of it.
This was a match that threatened to be over-the-top, and stepped over that line more than a few times, but was a contrast to the main event. No one should have anticipated a cleanly fought match, pitting solely the inner talents of the men. Instead, we knew that a straight-jacket wouldn’t hold Kevin Steen, and that the rules would be shattered and that somewhere along the path there would be potential for run-ins galore.
But this match, as with others in ROH, it’s all about how it plays out, and it’s never merely a forgettable finish.
Tag Teams are not forgettable in ROH, and while one more mixture of The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli) against Jay and Mark Briscoe cannot ever be bad, this is one more clash between the best of the best in the business. Yeah, there’s danger in that statement since tag team wrestling is passť, but these guys do it the right way, even though the Briscoes always heed their own style of psychology and logic.
Filling out the DVD, we have matches featuring the future of ROH, notably in Kyle O’Reilly & Adam Cole taking on The All Night Express. I like the transition of the Express from mid-card to main eventers, and O’Reilly and Adam Cole truly are the future, gaining experience in many significant promotions.
I don’t know what the deal is with The Metal Master, but it’s entertaining and old school.
And how can anyone overlook Homicide vs Kevin Steen? These are two guys who never hold back, and who display a passion in their performances that simply draw the audience in. No one does smug like Steen, and no one does dangerous like Homicide. See them clash!
Daizee Haze remains the top name among ROH’s women wrestlers, which should be obvious, but the Haze has always been a wrestler in the same vein as Steen or Homicide. Bringing in Jamilla Craft (the prize student) and Nevaeh helps to showcase new talent, and Lady JoJo by any name has always shown that she can work.
There’s lot to look at on Richards vs Daniels, and that main event doesn’t need a blow-by-blow recap as much as it needs you to watch it, if you haven’t, and to show someone depressed about the nature of today’s business, if you have.
Joe Babinsack can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Matt Murphy’s book (c’mon, Chris Cruise promoted and gave out $15 payouts!), Bruce Hart’s book, and Road Warrior Animal’s book, and much, much more indy wrestling on its way.