New York, NY – 9.17.2011
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak.
Homicide & Jay Lethal vs. The Embassy (Tommaso Ciampa & Rhino)
Lethal and Homicide send The Embasy to the floor before the bell. Ciampa knocks down Lethal with a shoulder block. Lethal hip tosses Ciampa into a low dropkick. Ciampa tags in Rhino. Lethal hits a back handspring elbow for two. Homicide tags in and Rhino backs away. Rhino press slams Homicide and delivers a shoulder block. Rhino shoves off a tornado DDT but takes a neckbreaker for two. Ciampa lays in a flurry of strikes to Homicide in the corner. Homicide fights off the rest of the Embassy and clotheslines Ciampa. Lethal tags in. Homicide knocks Ciampa down with a back elbow allowing Lethal to get a two count. Lethal gets dropkicked into the barricade. Rhino and Ciampa isolate Lethal in their corner. Lethal side steps The Gore and superkicks Rhino to sneak in a tag to Homicide. He gives Ciampa the Three Amigos after some punches. Rhino breaks up the pin. Homicide sends him out with a headscissors. He ducks Ciampa’s clothesline and suicide dives onto Rhino. Ciampa Northern Lights suplexes Homicide for two. Ciampa clobbers Homicide with three running knee strikes in the corner. Homicide blocks the Project Ciampa with an ace crusher. Rhino breaks the pin. Lethal takes himself and Rhino to the floor with a huracanrana. Homicide goes for the Cop Killa on Ciampa. Ciampa turns it into Project Ciampa for the pin at 11:17. ROH has a ton of fantastic young talent, but I really do not think Ciampa gets the credit he deserves. He always does a very good job and is a great fit for the new Embassy. The other three did a great job too and put together a fun opener. ***
Shelton Benjamin vs. Mike Bennett
Bennett goes between to the ropes to break an aggressive lock-up in the corner. Benjamin stomps on Bennett’s hand. Bennett knees Benjamin and punches him in the face. Benjamin fights back causing Bennett to bail to the floor. He comes back in, only to get sent back out with a hip toss. Benjamin chases Bennett around the ring. Brutal Bob grabs Benjamin’s leg and throws him off the apron into the guardrail. Bennett drops Benjamin back first on the ring frame. Bennett clobbers Benjamin with multiple right hands back in the ring. He suplexes Benjamin for two. The fans get more hostile with their chants as Bennett continues to stay on offense. Benjamin small packages him for two. Benjamin counters a suplex with a neck breaker. Both men trade punches mid-ring. Benjamin backdrops Bennett and delivers a Samoan drop for two. Benjamin hits a Rydeen Bomb for two. Bennett blocks the Pay Dirt with a backbreaker for two. Bennett missile dropkicks him for two. Benjamin rolls him up for two. He drops Bennett nearly on his neck with a German suplex. Evans puts Bennett foot on the bottom rope. Evans accidentally throws Benjamin’s foot into a roundhouse kick on Bennett. He superkicks Evans and drops Bennett with the Pay Dirt for the pin at 10:53. Nothing was bad per se, but this was very basic and not all that exciting. The hostility against Bennett really should send a message to Ring of Honor. In case you don’t get it by now, people dislike Bennett in all the wrong ways. **1/2
Future Shock (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. The Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson) vs. The Bravado Bros. (Harlem & Lancelot Bravado)
Harlem and Lance jump Future Shock after shaking their hands. They send the Young Bucks to the floor and stomp on Future Shock some more. Cole and O’Reilly send the Bravado’s out. Cole pescado’s onto Lance. The Bucks take Cole and Lance out with the Crazy Dive. Harlem dropkicks the Bucks to the floor and moonsaults onto Lance and Nick. Matt superkicks Harlem and O’Reilly dives off the apron to dropkick him into the guardrail. Lance throws shots at O’Reilly and Nick. O’Reilly lights him up with kicks. Nick and O’Reilly double elbow Lance. Cole tags in and takes out Lance with some tandem offense. Nick hits a springboard splash and Harlem breaks the pin. Nick superkicks Harlem to the floor. Nick tags in and drop Lance with a wheelbarrow facebuster/ace crusher combo. Harlem attacks Cole from behind just as Cole and Matt are about to battle. Harlem back elbows Cole for two. Harlem suplexes Cole for two. Cole crucifix pins Harlem for two. Harlem enzuigiri’s Cole into a German suplex from Lance. O’Reilly breaks the pin. Matt drops Harlem with an Asai DDT. Harlem pump kicks him. Nick comes in from the apron with a slingshot X-Factor. O’Reilly puts Nick on his shoulders on the floor. Cole suicide dives onto Nick. Matt suplexes Lance off the apron onto the floor. Cole crossbody’s onto Harlem for two. Harlem rolls him up for two. Cole superkicks Harlem into the Ride The Lightning from O’Reilly and Cole for the elimination. The Bucks and Future Shock trade forearms. Nick dropkicks O’Reilly off the apron. Matt powerbombs Cole twice. He hits a Buckle Bomb. The Bucks drop Cole with a tandem tombstone piledriver and O’Reilly makes the save. O’Reilly takes the Bucks out with a double dragonscrew leg whip. O’Reilly suplexes Matt and baits Nick into a triangle choke with elbow strikes. Cole puts Matt in a Guillotine choke. Matt falls onto Nick and O’Reilly to break both holds. O’Reilly enzuigiri’s Matt. Nick superkicks Cole to block Ride The Lightning. A sequence of superkicks and a lariat knock all four men down. The Bucks hit Cole with More Bang For Your Buck for the victory at 10:50. This match to me is what Ring of Honor should be about: old school psychology with a new, fresh style of wrestling. The Bravados left the flash and panache to the other two teams since they’re heels. When it comes to the flash, the other two teams delivered in spades. I really like all three teams and see just how awesome ROH’s tag division has become. The Bucks refuse to shake hands afterward. ***1/2
El Generico vs. Jimmy Jacobs
It should be noted that Kevin Steen is sitting in the crowd for this match. Even though Cornette banned him, he purchased a ticket and claims to be there as just a fan. Both men break two separate lock-ups cleanly in the corner. They feel each other out both on their feet and on the mat. Jacobs gives Generico a cute “huss” after an armdrag. Jacobs takes Generico over with a headscissors. Generico catches him with a backbreaker for two. Generico gets two again with a standing moonsault. Jacobs gets fired up from Generico’s strikes. He spears Generico and gives him a neckbreaker. Jacobs sends Generico to the floor, avoiding a yakuza kick. Jacobs follows with a suicide dive. In the ring Jacobs gets two with a swinging DDT. Jacobs blocks a yakuza kick. Generico blocks the Contra Code with a spin-out slam for two. Generico hits the Michinoku Driver for two. Generico sends him to the corner with a half-nelson suplex. Jacobs puts Generico in the End Time to block the yakuza kick. Jacobs sunset flips Generico for two. Jacobs jumps off the second rope and delivers an ace crusher for two. Generico catches Jacobs with the yakuza kick and sets him up for the super brainbuster. Jacobs fights Generico to the ring apron and spears him back first onto it for two. Generico yakuza kicks Jacobs as Jacobs goes to the top rope. Jacobs rights off the super brainbuster with a super tornado DDT. Steen jumps the guardrail. He says he’s never going away and gets the fans to chant ROH. Steen’s mic gets cut off as he trash talks Jacobs. A bunch of staff and security come out to take Steen away, including Jim Cornette. The match is ruled a No Contest at 11:50. This match was going along really well until the finish and looked like it was about to get good. While that is a tad irksome, for Kevin Steen, this finish is completely worth it. **3/4
Jimmy Jacobs and Steen start fighting. Steen powerbombs him on the ring apron. Generico tope con hilo’s into the crowd, except Steen who manages to slide into the ring. Steen fights off everyone in the ring until Ring of Honor president Cary Silken comes into the ring and tries to calm Steen down. Steen sets up Cary for the Package Piledriver but security manages to get him to the corner. Others are restraining Generico and Cornette. Steen gets sent through the crowd and Generico has to be stopped from chasing after him. This angle is by far the most interesting thing ROH is doing right now. Steen is a white hot star between his work here and PWG and I can’t wait to see him back on the roster in ROH.
Charlie Haas vs. Michael Elgin
Elgin is accompanied by Truth Martini. Haas takes Elgin to the mat in a side headlock. Elgin escapes but gets taken down again with a pair of armdrags. Haas inflicts damage to Elgin’s arm before applying a modified armbar. Elgin gets the ropes to break. Haas shoulder tackles him in the corner and butterfly suplexes him for two. Elgin pitches Haas to the ring apron. Haas goes for a slingshot maneuver. Martini grabs Haas’ leg to block it, allowing Elgin to knock Haas to the floor. Haas chases Martini, baiting him to take a flying shoulder block from Elgin off the apron. Elgin then hits one off the top rope back in the ring for two. Elgin digs his knee into Haas’ back and pulls back on his arms. Haas goes for an Angle Slam. Elgin blocks it. He and Haas collide with stereo clotheslines two times. They knock each other down the third time. Haas and Elgin trade punches and forearms. Haas wins the exchange and back elbows Elgin in the corner. He German suplexes him four times for a two count. Haas powerslams Elgin for two. Elgin drops him with a wrist-clutch piledriver for two. Haas dropkicks Elgin to the floor. Elgin whips Haas into the guardrail. Haas slides off Elgin’s back and drops him back first on the guardrail. Elgin superplexes Haas back in the ring for two. Haas German superplexes Elgin to prevent him from coming off the ropes. Haas big boots Elgin for two. Haas nails him with a lariat for the pin at 12:42. You know for all that concentration on the back, a lariat for the win is really deflating for a crowd that already wasn’t responsive. This was rather disappointing. Elgin’s power was not utilized to its full effect and Haas did nothing to make this a stand-out bout. Technically fine, but not all that interesting. **1/2
”Ringmaster’s Challenge” – 2 out of 3 Falls Match
Eddie Edwards vs. Roderick Strong
The first fall is pinfalls only, the second fall is submissions only and the third fall (if necessary) is a 15-minute Iron Man match. In the initial exchange, Strong does a small bit of damage to Edwards’ arm. Each guy tries a quick pin attempt to no avail. Edwards takes a forearm in most every corner. Edwards huracanrana’s and suplexes him for two. Strong rolls Edwards into a low superkick for two. Strong back suplexes him for two. Strong pitches Edwards to the floor. Strong follows out and barrages Edwards with strikes against the guardrails. Strong gives him a backbreaker in the ring for two. They exchange forearm strikes. Edwards throws him with a release German suplex. Edwards suplexes Strong and hits a super dropkick for two. Edwards goes for the Chin Checker. Strong instead slams him for two. Edwards delivers a flying Code Breaker. Strong counters with the End of Heartbreak for the pin at 12:00. Strong keeps control at the start of the second fall. He goes for a crossface, transitioning into an armbar. Edwards puts his foot on the rope to break it. Edwards gets the ropes to block the Stronghold, so Strong slingshots him throat first into the bottom rope. Edwards drops him face first and applies an STF. Edwards kicks Strong off the ring apron. He misses a pescado and eats Strong’s knee strike. Strong suplexes Edwards onto a folding chair. Strong puts on the Strong Hold. Edwards gets the ropes to break it. Edwards delivers a gut buster. Edwards escapes a uranage and rolls Strong into the Achilles Lock. Strong taps out at 20:24
Edwards dives onto Strong on the floor to start the third fall. Edwards suplexes Strong on the floor. He dragon kicks Strong back in the ring for two. He suplexes Strong into a facebuster for two. Truth Martini distracts Edwards when he goes to the top rope. Strong drops Edwards back first on the top turnbuckle. Strong gives him a regular backbreaker for two. The match spills to the floor where Strong gives Edwards the Tiger Driver on the entrance ramp. The fans are so enraptured in the action that they chant Twinkies at Todd Sinclair. Edwards makes it back in the ring in time and even has the strength to block another Stronghold. Edwards enuzigiri’s Strong thrice and hits the Chin Checker for two. Edwards Saito suplexes him but Strong puts his foot on the ropes. Strong rams Edwards’ back into the ring frame. Edwards superplexes Strong for two. Strong blocks Die Hard with a crucifix pin. Both men desperately go for a pinfall but to no avail. Martini holds Edwards’ leg to allow Strong to get a pin with a backslide. Martini goes to hit Strong with the Book of Truth. Edwards superkicks Martini and drops Strong with Die Hard for a pin, tying the match up at one fall a piece. Neither guy scores another fall when the 15 minute time limit expires. Jim Cornette comes out. He says the match will go to Sudden Death, meaning whomever scores the next fall is the victor. They trade strikes for awhile. Edwards gets two with a Dragon suplex. Strong comes back with the Sick Kick for two. Strong then hits the Tiger Suplex for two. Strong goes for the Death By Roderick off the second rope. Edwards counters with a huracanrana. He hits the Gut Buster and Strong hits the Sick Kick knocking them both down. Edwards blocks a super Tiger Driver and kicks Strong to the apron. Edwards double stomps Strong on the apron. Edwards double stomps him on the back for two. Edwards powerbombs Strong twice for two. Edwards drops him with Die Hard for the pin at 44:13.
I don’t know what happened here, but that was really boring. Maybe because it went nearly 45 minutes and was two out of three falls for absolutely no reason. Both these guys had awesome matches at Manhattan Mayhem IV and Supercard of Honor VI, so I was expecting something really great here. Instead we got the usual stuff over and over again. It wasn’t even bad, but just not interesting in any way possible. I give them credit for keeping things physical and in motion for the entire time, but I never need to see this again. With Davey vs Edwards, I felt angry. This match I just never cared and kept checking my watch. That to me is much worse. **3/4
Ladder War III
The All Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)
The winner of this match is the first team to grab the contract hanging above the wing. The contract is for a shot at the ROH Tag Team Championship on November 19th in Chicago, IL at “Glory By Honor X”. The Briscoes attack the ANX from behind. Mark pitches Titus to the floor and helps team up on King. Mark dropkicks Titus and bring a ladder into the ring. Titus brings Jay to the floor and King sends Mark out as well. Jay hits Titus in the back with a chair. King sends Jay into the barricade with shotgun knees, but then gets backdropped through a table by Mark. Jay sets a ladder between the ring and barricade. Jay and Mark team up on Titus back in the ring. Jay throws Titus face first into a chair in the corner. Titus avoids being backdropped on the ladder and instead suplexes Mark onto it. Titus then tope’s onto both King and Jay on the floor. King and Titus dropkick a ladder into Jay’s crotch. Titus splashes Jay on the ladder. King kicks Mark off the ring apron. They put the ladder on Jay’s neck and shove the ladder into the corner. King slingshot dives onto Mark who has a piece of table in his hands. Mark throws a chair at Titus whose face is covered in blood. Mark throws a chair at King’s shoulder. Jay tosses King shoulder first into the barricade while Titus shoves a ladder into Mark’s head in the ring. King moonsaults onto Jay from the barricade. Off screen Jay suplexes Titus on the entrance ramp. Mark somersault sentons off the apron onto King. Jay sets Titus on a ladder on top of two chairs and sentons off the apron onto him. Jay hits King with a chair from the floor and Mark suplexes him. The Briscoes double hip toss King onto a ladder in the corner. Jay then throws a chair right into King’s head. Jay dropkicks the chair into his head as Titus brings a broken piece of table into the ring. Titus pushes Mark off the top rope and through a table to block a Spike Jay Driller to King. King slams the chair into Jay’s head. The ANX put Jay through a table with the One Night Stand. Titus begins to climb the ladder. Mark dropkicks it out from under him. The Briscoes pull out an even taller ladder. They beat down Titus and place him on a table in the entrance way. Mark splashes off the ladder onto Titus through the table. King and Jay fight in the ring while their partners recover. King hits a shooting star press. King and Jay fight atop of the ladder. King grabs the contract for the victory at 27:54. I think this was an awesome capper to what I believe to be ROH’s best feud this year. The fact that nobody even attempted to climb the ladder for about twenty minutes I really dug, as no team was close to giving up that early on. Titus and Mark were taken out in a way that didn’t seem contrived and King’s grabbing of the contract cemented himself and Titus as one of the top teams in ROH. This may not have been the craziest Ladder War, but I could argue that it was the best “worked” of the bunch. ****
Overall: The Ringmaster’s Challenge and the Haas/Benjamin singles matches fell flat and to me did not live up to expectations. However, I was very pleased with the rest of the card. The opening tag match was much better than I figured it would be, the three team elimination bout was better than the Bucks/Future Shock match from the last iPPV and the Briscoes/ANX did a great job culminating their feud. Steen’s appearance was another highlight that deserves mentioning, as he always is a blast when he comes in. For a card that came after the Kings of Wrestling left and Davey Richards was in Japan, they did a good job putting together an entertaining card. Like Richards from Edwards from the last PPV, I’m sure many of you probably enjoyed the Ringmaster’s Challenge more than I did. Mildly recommended.