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The French Connection was a drug-smuggling scheme through Turkey to France, then the U.S. about 40 years ago. The 1971 movie of the same name starring Gene Hackman and depicting the smuggling scheme picked up Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. An episode of the O.C. titled "the French Connection" did not win anything, unfortunately.
As for ROH's "French Connection" show, Gene Hackman, Turkish Delight, and Academy Award-winning performances were not made available for the Montreal audience. Well, Kevin Steen was very entertaining, so props to Mr. Quebec.
The show was serviceable to advance storylines for the following night's show in the Toronto-area. As with most ROH DVDs I've reviewed, things picked up in the second-half of the card after getting through the "generic-looking-men" portion of the show.
I'm not saying undercard wrestlers need to put on a fake gimmick like Duke the Dumpster or T.L. Hopper, but wrestlers need to understand how to stand out. Otherwise, fans aren't going to pay money to see someone in the ring who looks like their next-door neighbor.
The DVD starts with Kyle "where's-Becky-Bayless?" Durdin trying too hard in his interviews of Nigel McGuinness and Erick Stevens. He's improved in the recent ROH Video Wires, but this was rough to start with.
(1) Erick Stevens beat Eddie Edwards. Lighting is pretty terrible. (Note: the lighting drastically improved as the night went on.) There was a generic-looking man ringside shouting instructions to Edwards. Shane Hagadorn, apparently. Didn't recognize him without Adam Pearce. He was in a track jacket and some raggedy jeans, which reminds me of the Jimmy Hart line: "If you look like the people, you'll end up sitting with the people." Stevens with the Doctor Bomb at 8:00 for the win. Fine match other than Hagadorn being ringside. (**)
Before the show: Rhett Titus was looking for love with Durdin. This segment really showed how small the arena looks without lighting. It would be like showing how tiny the TV studio actually is for Wheel of Fortune. No reason to give away the illusion.
(2) Jay & Mark Briscoe beat Kenny Omega & Kenny King. Briscoes dominated this match, then King bailed on Omega when he needed a hot tag. Rhett Titus showed up to talk it out (more like point and laugh at Omega). Omega was by himself as King talked trash in the insert promo screen. Briscoes with the Doomsday Device for the win in 11:00. Essentially a squash for the Briscoes to advance an undercard feud involving Omega, who was positioned to get sympathy for being bailed on. (*1/2)
Backstage: Durdin brought in Jerry Lynn for an interview. How does it feel to start your career all over? Lynn was offended and called him a miscarriage that survived. Ouch.
(3) Necro Butcher beat Brodie Lee via DQ. Nigel McGuinness joined the broadcast position a minute into the brawl to talk down Necro, who took a beating early on from the taller Lee. Necro came back at 8:00 with the punch/slap combo. Necro then grabbed a chair and the Age of the Fall stormed the ring to attack Necro for a DQ finish in 8:00. Nigel had enough and left the imaginary broadcast position. After the Age left, Nigel's music hit and he came out to the ring with his kneepads around his ankles, looking very naked. He cut a promo on Necro ahead of their ROH Title match on the next show, which I'll be reviewing this weekend. Nigel stood out for actually playing the part of a wrestler unlike the other bozos on this show. (*1/4)
(4) Jerry Lynn beat Delirious (w/Jimmy Jacobs). Nigel back on the broadcast. Three minutes into the deal, Jimmy Jacobs was booted from ringside. New referee initiative in play here. Where's Shane Sewell when you need him to Hulk Up? Lynn went conservative in the match to stretch out his body's longevity. In other words, not a memorable match, but enough to get some love from Montreal for his efforts. Lynn with the Cradle Piledriver in 10:00. Nigel: Drats! Fiddlesticks! Spoiled again by SuperOldMan Jerry Lynn! (**)
(5) Davey Richards beat Roderick Strong. Lighting has progressively improved over the course of the show after looking very "indy" during the opening hard camera shot of the arena. Shane "generic" Hagardon was back ringside to watch Richards work over Strong. Action really picked up at 10:00 with a series of great counters and nearfalls. Davey's classic "fire up, pump-that-fist, and rapid-fire strikes" sequence came at 15:00 before Strong nailed him with a stiff kick to the face for a nearfall. Eddie Edwards and Hagadorn then ran interference to allow Richards to hit the DR Driver on Strong for the win in 16:00. Heck of a match until the finish. Didn't take away from the action too much other than generic Hagadorn appearing on my screen again. (***1/4)
Afterward, Strong fought back against an attack from Davey, et al. Go Shiozaki then showed up to attack Strong and continue the Sweet 'n Sour attack on Strong. Stevens made the save for Strong.
(6) Bryan Danielson & Austin Aries beat Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black). Fast-paced tag match with a furious finish at the end culminating with Aries hitting the brainbuster suplex on Jacobs into a modified Muta Lock - Horns of Aries - for the tap-out victory in 20:00. Afterward, seeds of dissention between Black and Jacobs after Black let the team down in Jacobs's eyes. Fine, but very similar to other ROH tag matches with the sequences of power moves followed by a lack of selling. (***)
(7) ROH champion Nigel McGuinness beat ROH tag champion Kevin Steen, ROH tag champion El Generico, and FIP champion Go Shiozaki in a four-way match to retain the ROH Title. Steen rocks all worlds. He stands out from the "genericism" of ROH's undercard with personality, unique offense, and a mouth that doesn't stop. Generico and Steen are great entertainers, but Generico was eliminated 12:00 into the match with Shiozaki nailing an elevated suplex into lariat smash for the pin. Steen then worked on Go and eventually put him in the Sharpshooter for a tap-out elimination at 16:00.
Down to Nigel vs. Steen, Nigel teased the heel Sharpshooter in Montreal, but Steen escaped and went for a Sharpshooter of his own for a teased finish. Ref was knocked down temporarily, then Generico snuck into the ring and gave Nigel a Yakuza kick in the corner. Steen wanted the Package Piledriver and he made the cover for the win, but Nigel had his foot on the bottom rope, continuing the "ROH recommitment to rules" initiative of the show. Steen went for a top rope splash, but Nigel blocked then finished him off with the rebound jawbreaker lariat for the pin in 22:00 to retain the ROH Title. After the match, Nigel quickly left, then Steen took the mic and cut a promo in French. Apparently it was hilarious. Good main event thanks to Nigel's work and the entertainment value from Steen and Generico. (***1/2)
Recommendation: Not a must-have DVD, as it was more of a set-up for the following night's show in Toronto. Steen's entertainment value alone makes the DVD worth picking up on discount during one of ROH's on-line sales. Nigel's commentary was solid, but heavy on the juvenile and sophomoric humor reserved for seventh-graders, not grown men.