(Almost) 5-Star Match Reviews: Kevin Steen vs. El Generico – Fight Without Honor – ROH Final Battle 2010
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are two of the biggest wrestling stars active today. For decades these two toiled away on the North American independent circuit and struggled in lower-card matches in WWE. Many people thought these two would be forever stuck in WWE’s bloated midcard with the main-event scene only fingertips away but still beyond reach.
Then, after plenty of patience and lots of hard work, the two men became certified WrestleMania main-eventers. A year-long story led to a huge match at WrestleMania 39 and it ended with the two French-Canadians holding tag team gold for the first time in their WWE careers.
But, as big of a career moment as that was, it wasn’t the pairs best match overall. That honor goes to the match we’re revisiting today which, ironically, is a match without any honor in the first place.
As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star and almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes back to the 1980s and I’m going to pick different matches from different eras to see how they look today. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here.
Steen and Generico were real-life friends growing up in the Montréal area and entered the wrestling business more or less the same time. They entered ROH together as a team and spent several years teaming together and eventually won the company’s tag team titles in 2008. They lost the titles in April 2009 but spent the rest of that year trying to get them back.
The duo’s failure to regain those titles caused Steen to snap and at Final Battle 2009, he turned on Generico and found a new partner in Steve Corino. So began a long and bloody war that would last the rest of the following year.
All throughout 2010, Steen and Generico traded wins and losses in aggressive and violent matches. Things escalated throughout the year and then peaked when Steen unmasked Generico at Glory By Honor IX. To end this feud once and for all, Generico proposed an unsanctioned Fight Without Honor with his mask on the line against Steen’s career. Steen eventually accepted, and so the feud would come to an end on the one-year anniversary of its start.
This match originally took place on December 18, 2010. It was rated ****1/4 out of five by the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It is a fight without honor, which is a fancy way of saying no holds barred. It’s also a wager match: if Generico loses he must unmask; if Steen loses his ROH career is over.
Generico has a different mask from usual: this one is all black instead of the usual black-and-red. He must be doing the Hayabusa gimmick with dark colors = dark side coming out. Owens points out the image on his shirt and it angers Generico so much he spits on Steen when Steen asks for a handshake. Steen spits back and Generico unloads with a big boot. Steen falls to the floor and Generico hits a suicide dive. Generico’s all fired up as he brawls with Steen around the ring. he pulls out a steel chain from underneath the ring and uses it as a whip and to choke Steen. Then he wraps the chain around his fist and punches Steen’s head. Generico follows with a Helluva kick with the chain wrapped around Steen’s head, which busts Steen open.
Generico pulls out a table and then resumes brawling with Steen. Then he pulls out a ladder and drives it into Steen’s head. Steen ends up in a corner, but before Generico can capitalize, Steen kicks his gut and then powerbombs him onto the edge of the ring apron. As Generico writhes in pain, Steen writes something in his blood on his arm and then licks it. “You sick f**k” indeed. Then Steen pulls a piece of guardrail covering with the ROH logo on it and smashes Generico with it. Steen grabs a few more pieces of covering, buries Generico under them, and then hits a frog splash from the apron onto the pile.
Steen grabs a whole piece of guardrail itself and charges with it but Generico dodges. He goes for another powerbomb but this time Generico powers out. in the ring, Generico throws the ladder at Steen’s head, then places the ladder against the ropes, and then teases a half-and-half suplex into the ladder. Steen blocks it and then answers a charge with a back body drop onto the ladder. Steen gloats and then writes something in his blood on Generico’s back. he tries ripping the mask off but Generico hits back helplessly. Steen trash-talks the fans as he lands more kicks, knees, and punches. Generico tries fighting back but Steen shuts him down with a pop-up powerbomb. Steen gloats yet again and does an arrogant cover but only gets a two-count.
Steen brings some chars into the ring and throws one at Generico’s head. he pushes one into Generico’s face and then hits his corner cannonball with the chair as well. then Steen breaks a folding chair over Generico’s back and tries ripping his mask off again. Steen goes for another chair-shot. Generico blocks and the two struggle over it until Steen hits a chair-assisted Codebreaker. Steen follows with a standing somersault senton onto the chair onto Generico’s head, which busts Generico open.
Steen grabs a regular version of Generico’s mask and uses it as a sock puppet and then as a boxing glove. Then he takes the mask and puts it in his crotch and then licks blood off Generico’s head. disgusting. Steen rubs himself with Generico’s blood like it’s body soap but Generico ends his gloating with a big bitchslap. But Steen shuts him down with a chain-assisted punch and then goes back to mocking the fans for still being behind Generico.
Steen sets the ladder on the mat sideways and teases a slam onto the edge but Generico escapes and hits a Michnoku Driver. All of Steen’s weight lands on the hard edge of the ladder! Generico follows with an Exploder suplex onto the ladder in a corner. The crowd fires up as Generico teases another half-and-half suplex onto the ladder again. Steen elbows out but Generico pulls him in again and connects with that suplex. One, two, Steen kicks out.
Both men leave the ring and Steen blocks Generico’s through-the-ropes DDT with a piece of barricade. Steen places the ladder between the ring and the barricade to create a platform and then powerbombs Generico into another side of the guardrail. He places a table atop the ladder but Generico hits his crazy DDT through the gap between those weapons. Back in the ring Generico charges into a corner but Steen kicks him first. Steen goes for a package piledriver onto an opened chair. Generico blocks and suplexes Steen onto it instead. Generico follows with a Brainbuster but only gets a two-count. Steen blocks a Helluva kick and Generico ends up on the apron near the table and ladder. Steen teases a frog splash. Generico blocks and tries to slam him from the top rope. But Steen blocks by tearing at the gash on Generico’s face. but that doesn’t stop Generico as he throws Steen through the table and onto the ladder. Generico adds insult to injury with a Package Piledriver in the ring. the referee counts one, two, and Steen kicks out. Brainbuster on the apron. The referee counts one…two…and – no, Steve Corino grabs the referee. Corino gets into the ring and clotheslines Generico. All is fair in a Fight Without Honor. Corino gets into a shoving match with the referee and then Corino drops him and grabs a chair. He goes to hit Generico with it but in comes Colt Cabana. He goes after Corino, takes his chair, and whacks Steen with it. the referee regains consciousness and counts one…two…thr – Steen kicks out again. steen spits on Generico and eats a ton of strikes to the face. then he flips Generico the double bird and spits once more. he dares Generico to hit him. Generico charges for a Helluva kick…and hits the referee, knocking him to the floor. Meanwhile, Steen hits a low blow and a Package Piledriver. Another referee runs in and counts one, two, and thr – no, Generico survives. Steen piledrives him as well. Package Piledriver on Generico onto an opened steel chair. A third referee comes in but Generico kicks out yet again.
Steen goes for a superplex but Generico escapes. He lands a Helluva kick and places Steen on the top turnbuckle. BRAINBUSTAAA! Generico spikes Steen on the top turnbuckle and covers but only gets a two-count. Generico goes to swing the steel chair. Steen gets his hands up and shows Generico his old mask. He hands Generico the mask and pleads for mercy. Generico drops the mask and cracks Steen’s head in with a massive chairshot. One, two, and three! Generico wins! Steen’s ROH career is over.
Winner after 31:13: El Generico
There are some matches with stories that really do fit the wrestlers perfectly and this was one such a case. You won’t find a better example of Steen and Generico excelling in their best roles than this one. Generico did an outstanding job playing the underdog babyface that took a merciless beating while out for revenge while Steen was fantastic as the bully d**khead heel. Their chemistry in this match was nearly flawless. Through everything they did in this match they made it come across as a genuine blood feud. Even in the fake and exaggerated world of pro-wrestling, this match had a sense of genuine malice about it. It looked and felt quite real. Steen came across as so callous and remorseless while Generico looked like the tormented hero who was torn between getting revenge and not turning into the monster his friend had become. This was a great match and one hell of a bloody brawl…and it would’ve been a true classic had things not gone off the rails towards the end.
Steen did everything possible big and small to get this crowd to hate him and not fall into the typical indy cliché of cheering both guys because “athleticism”. He spat in Generico’s face many times. He flipped off audience members, argued with the crowd, pretended to be a vampire, ripped off Generico’s sacred mask, and so much more. He was the perfect schoolyard bully that thought and acted like he was better than everyone else and it worked perfectly. The crowd absolutely hated everything he did and in turn loved everything Generico did. It was great storytelling because Owens did everything in his power to embrace his role as the villain and shut down anyone that tried to cheer for him ironically.
What was also great here was that the blood served a purpose beyond just aesthetics and showing savagery. Generico was bleeding so badly that he was blinded and therefore couldn’t see Steen grabbing a piece of barricade to block his DDT. There was a logical reason to bleed here which made it much more important. When wrestlers bleed too much or too often or just for the sake of it, the match can lose its sense of importance. But when blood adds drama and has a psychological reason for being, then the match’s story improves as well.
The storytelling and flow of the brawling was so smooth and airtight for the longest time and it looked like the story was going to reach its peak…until the nonsensical elements came in. First Steve Corino, then Colt Cabana, then a bunch of random ref bumps, and then more “tyical” indy elements came in. It was as if unnecessary elements were being thrown into the match for no apparent reason. Corino and Cabana added nothing to the match; either Steen or Generico could’ve grabbed any chair at any point to jumpstart that final bit with the chair-centric sub-story. The ref bumps were empty pops; it was as if this was a repeat of Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle from SummerSlam 2001 with all the nonsense and shenanigans being added just to create an artificial sense of chaos when none was needed. And then there were the indy-style near-falls sandwiched between a long segment of hardcore narrative-driven storytelling and the story-heavy conclusion and final shot. For a few moments the match veered out of its own self-contained story and turned into another ROH indy-style match. It was as if the story was paused so both guys can do their usual wrestling stuff and this match didn’t need that. Both wrestlers could’ve cut five minutes’ worth of big spots and the story would’ve improved.
Speaking of cutting stuff, the match’s pacing came to a halt when Steen was doing his extended heat. Yes, it worked wonders but he seemed to be wasting lots of time. Sure, Generico was being battered and thus was building sympathy, but at the same time Steen’s control segments could’ve been condensed a bit more and it wouldn’t lessen the impact of what he was doing nor would it weaken any heat he had built.
Final Rating: ****1/2
This was an insane, violent brawl that lived up to its hype as a personal and brutal war between two former friends. Both wrestlers fit their respective roles perfectly and the match really did come across as a grudge match. However, there was still something off about it. It came off as too “ROH-like” and still had the trappings of an indy match. It was as if both men knew they were indy wrestlers and just put hardcore hats on for one night. Had they gone a bit further with the personal elements and shed some of the unnecessary stylistic stuff they put in, this would be an even better match than it already is.
Still, this is by far the best Steen/Owens vs. Generico/Zayn match I’ve ever seen and it’s definitely one of the better ROH matches of the prior decade.
Thanks for reading. You can email me with any questions or comments, and be sure to check out my 5-Star and Almost 5-Star Match Reviews series here.