RADICAN'S TAKE RADICAN'S ROH DVD REVIEW SERIES: "Kevin Steen: Hell Rising" - Steen discusses relationship with Cornette, run as ROH champ, new details on time away from ROH in 2011
Jun 30, 2013 - 3:59:18 PM
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By Sean Radican, Torch columnist
RADICAN’S ROH DVD REVIEW SERIES
KEVIN STEEN: HELL RISING
BY SEAN RADICAN, TORCH COLUMNIST
Note: This release has been pulled from the ROHWrestling.com online store
It’s a shame this DVD was pulled from the ROH online store because it is one of the best DVDs ROH has ever put out in terms of giving an insider perspective on an important period in the company. Kevin Steen has done a lot of shoot interviews talking about his exile from ROH in 2011, but this account is more detailed than any of the other shoot interviews he has conducted.
The strength of the DVD is the way it was produced. The period this release covers is 2010 to April of 2013 and Steen discusses his relationship with Jim Cornette during this interview in great detail. When Steen discusses certain events, they are highlighted by footage of the events he’s talking about airing while he discusses them. It’s refreshing to see a DVD this well-produced and edited from ROH.
Steen and Cornette never got along once Cornette took over for former ROH booker Adam Pearce in 2010. Steen had written out an entire program for him and Generico that was set to last for all of 2010, but when Cornette took over, it was clear he didn’t care for Steen and Generico. Nor did he care for Steve Corino and Colt Cabana, who were also a major part of the Steen-Generico program.
Steen talks about trying to work with Jim on the storyline in 2010. Cornette’s lack of response to Steen’s attempts to communicate with him about his storyline resulted in a great deal of frustration for Steen, who figured out that Cornette had his favorites like Davey Richards, Roderick Strong, and Chris Hero, but didn’t want to spend any time on Steen’s program with El Generico. The situation dissolved to the point where Steen hated Cornette.
Steen tells several stories that illustrate the hostility between Cornette and the wrestlers involved in his storyline. There was a real lack of communication between Cornette and Steen, but Steen was able to get his feud with Generico to stretch to “Final Battle 2010,” but it is clear from Steen’s perspective that Cornette wasn’t clear with him about when he would return to ROH after finishing up his program with Generico.
It is hard not to feel bad for Steen, who was frozen out of ROH for most of 2011. Steen talks about going back to PWG, but not being in the greatest state of mind at the beginning of the year because of his lack of uncertainty about his future in ROH. He also talks about how he believes Cornette was telling Cary Silkin that Steen would be brought back, but that Silkin was unaware that Steen was being frozen out of ROH bookings. It is clear that the way Cornette communicated with Steen resulted in a lot of animosity between the two.
Steen details the fight he had to put up to get back into ROH and eventually he signed a new contract and came back in June of 2011 at “Best in the World” only to be told he would have to wait another six months to return to ROH. Steen, who was motivated to lose weight and get into shape during this period, ended up gaining back all the weight he had lost once he found out he was going to out of ROH for another extended period of time.
It’s unbelievable, but Steen says that Cornette thought that he was going to be the babyface when Steen returned to ROH and that Steen would be seen as a heel. Steen talks about Cornette being surprised when the fans booed him at “Best in the World 2011.”
Steen pushed and was able to get back into the company before the end of 2011. One of the best parts of the interview is Steen talking about Cornette’s old school booking and how he cut the legs out from under Richards by not having him have an edge when he was Champion. Steen talks about Cornette using interference constantly in every match, which wasn’t what ROH is about in Steen’s mind.
When Steen returned to ROH, the company had been bought by Sinclair. Steen talks about going to TV and seeing people from Sinclair that had no idea who he was and how the company did nothing to introduce him to the TV audience. He was also less than thrilled at ROH’s weak attempts to have a small group of fans chant his name at various TV tapings before he made his return. When Steen came back for TV to build to “Final Battle 2011,” the TV was filmed in Louisville, Kentucky and Steen talked about how none of the fans knew he was and his in-ring verbal exchange with Cornette was greeted with silence because the audience wasn’t made up of hardcore ROH fans.
The highlight of the interview is Steen’s discussion of the skit he did with a bunch of real life lawyers building to his return to the company. Steen talks about how cheesy the skits were and details how uncomfortable he was doing them. As Steen discusses the skits he did with the lawyers, the footage of the angle is perfectly spliced in to match up with his comments.
Steen is even-handed in his criticism of Cornette and when he returned to ROH, Steen admits that he enjoyed his verbal exchanges on the mic with Cornette. He accurately points out that Cornette makes for a great on-air character, but his booking philosophies are too old school.
Although Steen enjoyed his verbal battles on the mic with Cornette, he remained frustrated with the booking in 2012. Steen details how the formation of S.C.U.M. was dragged out and discusses that it was frustrating for the formation of the group in 2012 with Corino and Jimmy Jacobs to be dragged out for so long.
Steen talks about winning the ROH World Title and enjoying the challenge of having his title on the line in every singles match he was in. He talks about his various opponents and points out that he wishes he and Mike Bennett had had more time for their ROH World Title match on television and puts over Bennett’s talent.
Steen also talks about the plans for S.C.U.M. after he formed the unit with Corino and Jacobs and gives some insight into how certain aspects of the angle weren’t highlighted well enough on television, although he seems disappointed by how the angle was presented, he wasn’t mad at any particular person for the storyline not being highlighted correctly on TV.
One of the more interesting things that Steen talks about is that the plan was for him to always drop the ROH Title to Jay Briscoe. Going into “Supercard of Honor VII,” the way that the Steen-Briscoe match was built, it seemed like Jay was just another challenger for Steen and hadn’t been wrestling many singles matches leading into their match.
One of the things ROH has failed to do with Steen and now Jay Briscoe is develop true rivalries for them as ROH World Champion. Steen never had a true rival and although the title switch to Jay was booked well in advance, he didn’t have any natural rivals as ROH World Champion either.
“Kevin Steen: Hell Rising” is a DVD you’re going to want to seek out if you can find it on eBay or elsewhere. The DVD is well-produced and Steen’s versions of the events from 2010-2013, especially his discussion of his relationship with Jim Cornette are compelling to listen to. Steen provides a lot of insight on several different aspects of his time out of ROH that I hadn’t heard before.
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