September 15, 2007
Stevens elevates himself at ROH
By CHRIS SCHRAMM - SLAM! Wrestling
DETROIT - Honor was earned Friday night at Ring of Honor's Motor City Madness 2007 at Detroit's State Fairground Fieldhouse. Erick Stevens, who entered the night seen as a preliminary wrestler by most of the fans, walked out with new earned respect after wrestling two physical matches.
Stevens, who makes his home in Florida, knew he had a tough time when he came to Detroit on Friday. He was relatively new to ROH and had made his debut the last time ROH was in Detroit in March. He knew he had to prove himself.
"I am always proving myself to the fans," Stevens told SLAM! Wrestling after the show. "I am new to this crowd. They don't really know who I am as a wrestler."
Stevens was first involved in a four-way with Delirious, Roderick Strong and Kevin Steen. The match was fast paced, as expected. Stevens pinned Delirious to get a ROH World Heavyweight title shot later in the evening.
"Four-ways take a lot out of you," he said.
When he returned four matches later against ROH World Heavyweight champion Takeshi Morishima, sounds through the crowd could be heard -- 'This could be a short squash.'
The match started off slow, and although fans knew Stevens had some power in him, they had never seen him wrestle a man of Morishima's size. As the match built, Stevens was able to bodyslam, belly-to-back suplex and powerbomb the 330-pound Morishima, leaving to some surprised fan reactions.
"I hung with him. It was a big deal because Morishima is the most physical wrestler in ROH," said Stevens.
The match was built perfectly, as the crowd started to believe Stevens could win the title. It led to a lot of standing, shouts and banging of the guardrails (a ROH tradition). One slip-up by Stevens led to Morishma pinning Stevens following a backdrop. His dream was shattered, but he did not have to win the match. The crowd reaction told the story.
"Erick Stevens, Erick Stevens, Erick Stevens," the crowd repeated following the match, in one of the loudest chants of the evening. Morishima shook Stevens' hand, and left Stevens alone in the ring, it was clear Stevens was the true star of the match.
"That's why I wrestle. Win or lose, the crowd reaction really made it worth it," he said. "This is an incredible elevation for me, and my best years are in front of me."
In another surprise of the night, Bryan Danielson returned to the ring after being out of action for three weeks following an orbital fracture and retina injury. Seen before the show with an eyepatch, SLAM! Wrestling asked if he was clear to wrestle.
"Yes," Danielson told SLAM! "I am still unsure if I am going to wrestle tonight, though. I will be wrestling tomorrow in Chicago."
An eyepatch covered his injured eye, prompting the question if he would wrestle with the patch? "Yes, I have to. I am worried about my peripheral vision so I may want to wrestle tonight to test it out."
He tested it out twice defeating Kenny King and Chasyn Rance in two quick matches. His match in Chicago is for a pay-per-view taping, and he wanted to work out any possible glitches before that match.
Full results from the evening in front of 650 fans:
The show ended around 11:50 p.m., which made for a long evening. The show started a little late, and the intermission was nearly 30 minutes. It hurt the main event, as the crowd was never into the match.
Chris Schramm has been writing for SLAM! Wrestling since 1997. He is a freelance graphic designer with a degree in Advertising from the University of Kansas. He has been a wrestling fan since 1985.