Ring of Honor: Jay Lethal – Lethal Injection

Disc One

Special K (Hydro, Deranged, Angel Dust, & Yeyo) vs. The Ring Crew Express (Dunn & Marcos) & The Outcast Killaz (Oman Tortuga & Diablo Santiago)
“Revenge on the Prophecy” – West Mifflin, PA – 1.11.2003

Hydro was Lethal’s name when he was a member of Special K. This is also his debut match in ROH. Special K jump the RCE and Killaz before the bell. Yeyo, Hydro and Angel Dust all suicide dive on their opponents. Deranged comes out with a springboard somersault senton. Angel Dust and Marcos are the first two back in the ring. Marcos gives him a backbreaker and headscissors his head into the corner. Hydro dropkicks Marcos. He hits a couple dropkicks. Santiago attacks him from behind. He blocks Hydro’s huracanrana with a powerbomb. He throws Hydro to the floor where people are brawling. Yeyo leg lariats Santiago. Dunn picks him up for a Gory Special. Deranged huracanrana’s Dunn and nails a tornado kick. Dunn catches him with a knee strike. Deranged turns a wheelbarrow into a DDT. Tortuga gives him a sloppy DDT. Deranged gives him a headscissors. Tortuga hits a reverse DDT. The Special K bodyguard Slugger comes in and chokeslams every one of Special K’s opponents. Angel Dust gives Marcos the Rubix Cube. Hydro hits a modified Black Tornado Slam on Santiago. Yeyo suplexes Dunn. Deranged hits the Yoshi Tonic on Tortuga. Slugger gives Marcos a modified slam. Everyone on Special K pins Marcos at the same time, pinning him at 7:08. Sloppy spot fest. Not much more to say than that. *

Hydro vs. Alex Shelley
“Generation Next” – Philadelphia, PA – 5.22.2004

Hydro steps up to Shelley when Shelley claims there isn’t a single real wrestler in Special K. The fans are solely behind him. Hydro does not shake Shelley’s hand. They start with a wristlock exchange. Shelley turns him over into a modified surfboard. Shelley key locks the legs and goes for a chinlock. Hydro flips out of it when Shelley loosens up on the hold. Shelley puts Hydra in a leg-lock parachute stretch. Hydro goes for an armbar but Shelley gets the ropes quickly. Hydro knocks him down with a back elbow for two. Hydro lays in some strikes against the ropes. Shelley drives Hydro’s neck across his knee, then clotheslines him into a neckbreaker across his knee. Shelley uses a few different submissions to wear down Hydro’s neck. He comes off the top with a knee strike to Hydro’s neck for two. He calls for Shell Shock. Hydro instead O’Conner rolls Shelley for two. Shelley rolls out and goes for the Border City Stretch. Hydro rolls out. Hydro takes him down into the Last Chancery. Shelley slips out. Shelley catches him with the Shell Shock. He puts on the Border City Stretch for the submission at 7:30. That was a really excellent technical display. Both guys made the most of their seven minutes and really got themselves over. This is a shining example where both guys come out looking better than they did going in. ***

We cut to “Survival of the Fittest 2004” where CM Punk (by himself) just retained the ROH tag titles in a four way tag match against the Ring Crew Express, The Outcast Killaz, and the Special K team of Hydro and Dixie. He says it would be nice on his next defense if he could face people who can actually hang with him in the ring. Hydro gets on the mic. Punk technically stole the pin from him, so Hydro wants to prove himself against Punk in a singles match right now. The fans are down with this idea. Punk says “maybe next time.” Hydro calls him a pussy. The fans chanting “CM Pussy” convinces Punk to walk back to the ring. He tells Hydro that he is not on his level. Hydro smacks Punk in the face. Hydro offers Punk his hand, something he has not done in ROH up until now. Punk tells Hydro he made the biggest mistake of his life. We get a handshake and the match is on!

Hydro vs. CM Punk
“Survival of the Fittest 2004” – Philadelphia, PA – 6.24.2004

Nobody from Special K is ringside. Hydro smacks Punk in the face when Punk gives him a little shove. Punk backs him to the corner. He smacks Hydro, causing Hydro to punch him. Each guy breaks the others’ headscissors on the mat. Punk calls hair pulling, which is simply untrue. Hydro unleashes a flurry of offense, sending Punk to the floor with a back elbow. Hydro chases him back into the ring. Punk misses an elbow drop. He does however catch Hydro’s springboard and gives him a powerslam. Hydro chops Punk to the corner, so Punk pokes his eyes. Punk snapmares him into a back kick. Punk key locks Hydro’s legs and uses Hydro’s own wifebeater to keep them tied up. He throw multiple kicks at Hydro’s chest and throws forearms in the corner. Punk dropkicks him in the back of the neck before choking him with his boot. Outside the ring, Punk shoves Hydro back first into the barricades. Punk knee strikes him in the corner. He hits Welcome to Chicago, MF. Hydro throws some chops. Punk cuts him off with a knee to the stomach and a slingshot senton. Hydro fights out of a headlock. Punk knees him as he comes of the ropes. Punk sets up for the Pepsi Plunge. Hydro fights out and gives Punk a superplex. He unleashes a few clotheslines and a leg lariat for two. Hydro ducks a clothesline. Punk lands on his feet to avoid a German suplex and then hits the Shining Wizard. He has Hydro pinned, but decides to pick him up before the three count. He back kicks Hydro. Hydro gives him a backbreaker and a suplex. Punk puts his foot on the ropes to break the count. Hydro and Punk exchange some nearfalls. Hydro hits a big clothesline which takes some energy out of him. He crawls over for a cover and gets two. Punk gives him an arm-capture DDT and again picks up Hydro before the three count. Hydro rolls though a super huracanrana. They roll around trading nearfalls again. Hydro Dragon suplexes Punk onto his stomach for two. Punk rolls through an armdrag and catches Hydro in a cradle for the pin at 18:49. This was a little on the long side, but really good in terms of building Hydro up. The fact that he almost looked to be on CM Punk’s level was quite an accomplishment at the time. Looking back, ROH did a good job breaking him out of Special K. ***

At “Reborn: Completion”, Samoa Joe talks to Hydro backstage. He doesn’t think Special K has what it takes to party with the top guys. Joe says Hydro has the skills to be a champion, but he needs to cut all the Special K BS out and get serious. He wants Hydro to drop his silly name and become a better competitor. With that, Hydro would forever be known as Jay Lethal.

Jay Lethal vs. Low Ki
“Midnight Express Reunion” – Philadelphia, PA – 10.2.2004

Julius Smokes is in Ki’s corner. Ki refuses to shake hands. Ki backs Lethal to the corner in a lock-up and breaks cleanly. Ki paint brushes the back of his head. They exchange wristlocks. Ki kicks Lethal away. Lethal fires back with some strikes and sends Ki out with a leg lariat. Lethal suicide dives after him. Lethal hops over Ki back in the ring. He gives Ki a belly-to-back suplex. Smokes gets on the apron to distract him. Ki hits him with a dropkick. He snapmares Lethal into a back kick. Smokes is getting in an argument with Jay Lethal’s legitimate mother in the front row as Ki chops Lethal against the ropes. Lethal fights back with some punches. He sends Ki to the apron. Ki snaps Lethal’s neck across the top rope. Ki taunts Lethal’s mother while putting Lethal in a headscissors. Lethal ducks a back clothesline and sunset flips Ki for two. He ducks a boot and goes for another sunset flip. Ki twists up Lethal’s neck with his feet to counter. Ki splashes him in the corner. He comes off the top rope with a double stomp. On the floor, Smokes holds Lethal’s armsback while Ki chops him in front of his mother. Lethal comes back with some slaps to the face. Lethal’s mother gets in a slap herself! Now the fans are way behind Lethal. Lethal ducks a kick and gives Ki a gutwrench suplex for two. He gets two with a neckbreaker as well. Ki grabs the referee to block a Dragon suplex. Smokes grabs Ki’s foot. Lethal shoves Ki down and grabs Smokes. He clothesline him to the floor, but turns around into a Koppu Kick. Ki makes Lethal bite the bottom rope and curb stomps his head. Ki puts on the Dragon Clutch. Lethal taps out at 14:25. That was a lot of fun to watch. This was Lethal’s true coming out party, completing his transformation from Hydro to Lethal. Ki beat the snot out of him, but it got the Philly crowd totally behind him. It also made Ki an even bigger heel. After the match, Ki threatens to beat respect into Lethal. ***1/4

Jay Lethal & Samoa Joe vs. Nigel McGuinness & John Walters
“Weekend of Thunder, Night 1” – Revere, MA – 11.5.2004

McGuinness and Lethal feel each other out. McGuinness hops over Lethal and headstands in the corner. He baits Lethal into an O’Conner Roll for two. They go back and forth with cradles. Walters tags in. Lethal snaps his neck across the top rope and then comes in with a springboard dropkick for two. Walters sneaks in a couple of quick two counts and snaps off an armdrag. Joe tags in with Walters, making it a first time encounter between the ROH World and Pure champions. Joe trips Walters and smacks him upside the head. Walters throws some crossfaces in response. Walters throws a dropkick. Joe forearms him right away and tags in Lethal. Lethal back elbows him down for two. McGuinness tags in and goes to the mat with Joe. Joe chops him in the corner. He knocks him down with a forearm. Walters saves McGuinness from taking the face wash kick. McGuinness hopes over Joe. He headstands in the corner, but Joe wastes no time booting him in the face. Lethal and Joe do a good job isolating and wearing McGuinness down. McGuinness rolls Joe into a superkick and tags in Walters. The referee didn’t see it however, so McGuinness is still the legal man. McGuinness gives Lethal the Divorce Court so he can tag out again. Walters gives Lethal a neckbreaker for two. Walters picks up Lethal for an electric chair drop. He forearms Joe off the apron. McGuinness and Walters throw uppercuts at Lethal. Walters nails a lariat for two. McGuinness takes Joe to the floor. Lethal places Walters on the top rope. Walters brings him down with a super backpack stunner. Lethal kicks out. He hits a leg lariat and tags in Joe. Joe goes nuts with slaps on Walters. He powerslams him for two. He floats over into a cross armbreaker which McGuinness breaks. Walters jumps off the second rope and gets caught with the uranage from Joe. Lethal powerbombs Walters for two. He gives Lethal a back cracker. Lethal armdrags McGuinness. He gives him a Flying DDT and Walters breaks the count. Joe throws Walters out. He gives him an elbow suicida. McGuinness drops Lethal with another Divorce Court. He twists up Lethal in an arm submission. Joe breaks it. He face wash kicks Walters into the barricades. McGuinness headstands in the corner. He catches Lethal with the Tower of London for two. McGuinness twists up Lethal’s arm again. Walters stops Joe from breaking the hold and Lethal taps out at 18:09. Really good match here. They not only played up Joe having a problem with the Pure Championship (and therefore Walters) but also made McGuinness look really strong. It also showed that Lethal wasn’t quite at the level he needed to be, but that Joes mentorship had helped him grow. ***1/2

ROH Pure Championship
John Walters (Champion) vs. Jay Lethal

“Trios Tournament 2005” – Philadelphia, PA – 3.5.2005

Weirdly enough, the match listing on ROH’s website says only clips of this match are shown, but the whole match is actually on the set. Walters misses a cheap shot. Lethal takes him down with a bulldog for two. Lethal has one shut eye because he was attacked by a mystery assailant earlier. Lethal gives Walters a leg lariat off the second rope and a bulldog. Lethal slams Walters’ face into the ring apron. He gets two with a monkey flip. He puts Walters in a parachute stretch. Walters grabs the ropes to escape, causing him his first rope break. Walters gives him a backpack stunner from the second rope. He claws at Lethal’s face and gets two with a suplex. Lethal crucifix pins him for two. Walters blocks a huracanrana and puts on a sharpshooter. Walters clotheslines Lethal in the corner when he escapes. Walters elbows Lethal in the kidneys before giving him an electric chair drop. Walters goes for the back cracker. Lethal blocks. They trade pin attempts. Walters grabs a rope to break another pin, causing Walters his second rope break. They hit simultaneous clotheslines. Lethal takes control when they get to their feet. Lethal fights off a suplex. He powerbombs Walters for two. He applies a Camel Clutch after some backbreakers. Walters escapes and gives Lethal three back crackers. Lethal kicks out. Walters brings Lethal to the top rope. Lethal knocks him down and nails the Flying DDT for two. Walters elbows Lethal in the corner. Lethal blocks the back cracker and turns Walters inside out with a clothesline. Lethal hits the Dragon suplex for the pin and the title at 11:19. Technically this was fine, but it wasn’t very exciting and the finish came out of nowhere. The Flying DDT would have been better. Still cool to see Lethal finally win the title after all his hard work. **3/4

ROH Pure Championship
Jay Lethal (Champion) vs. Spanky

“Stalemate” – Dorchester, MA – 4.16.2005

They take it to the mat right in the opening minutes. Lethal puts on a Camel Clutch. Spanky digs his elbow into Lethal’s knee, so Lethal goes for a cross armbreaker. Spanky rolls out and applies a side headlock. Lethal breaks it and hits the ropes. Spanky armdrags him and keeps the arm barred. Lethal puts on a side headlock. Spanky shoves him to the corner. Lethal flips out and eats a closed fist. The referee warns Spanky because of it. Lethal blocks an armdrag. He forearms Spanky and slams him for two. Spanky drop toe holds him onto the second rope. Lethal suplexes Spanky and he rolls to the floor. Lethal suicide dives onto him, but his arm collides with the guardrail. In the ring, Lethal gives him a suplex for two. Lethal rolls him into a parachute stretch. Spanky grabs the ropes, using his first rope break of the match. Spanky punches Lethal with another closed fist. That causes him to lose another rope break. Lethal gives him a backbreaker. Spanky Divorce Courts his arm and puts on a Fujiwara armbar. Lethal uses his first rope break to escape. Spanky does some more damage to Lethal’s arm. Lethal gives him a leg lariat. Spanky slips out of a Dragon suplex. He superkicks Lethal and goes for Sliced Bread #2. Lethal turns it into a gutwrench suplex. Lethal dropkicks him in the back of the neck. He throws Spanky neck first into the corner a few times. He misses a diving headbutt, allowing Spanky to hit a second rope elbow drop. After a suplex Spanky nails a frog splash for two. He locks on a cross armbreaker right after. Lethal uses his second rope break. Lethal powers out of another armbar. He gives Spanky a diving headbutt to his ribs. He follows up with a leg lariat from the second rope. Lethal gives him a Dragon suplex. Spanky uses his third and final rope break to stop the count. Spanky uses a chin breaker to stop another Dragon suplex attempt. Lethal shoves Spanky to stop Sliced Bread #2. Spanky superkicks Lethal to the floor. Spanky dives onto him. He goes for Sliced Bread $2 on the apron. Lethal blocks it and puts Spanky in a Boston Crab in the ropes. Since Spanky is out of rope breaks, this move is perfectly legal. Since Spanky has nowhere to go, he taps out at 15:27. Clever finish. I dig whenever someone is out of rope breaks and they work it into the match. These guys were game for having a really good match with solid storytelling. ***1/2

We go to some clips from “Death Before Dishonor III” (6.18.2005) where Jay Lethal took on Low Ki. Julius Smokes tried to interfere but it backfired as Lethal was able to hit the Dragon Suplex on Ki regardless. Smokes jumps into the ring to break the count. Referee Mike Posey calls for the bell, with the official result being a No Contest. A disqualification seems more correct, but whatever. Homicide comes to Ki’s and Smokes’ aid when Lethal tries to attack Smokes. He takes them backstage.

Jay Lethal & Samoa Joe vs. Homicide & Low Ki
“Punk: The Final Chapter” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 8.13.2005

An all out brawl starts the match off. Joe clotheslines Homicide to the floor and delivers an elbow suicida. Lethal gives Ki a few elbows and clotheslines. Joe whips Homicide into the barricades. Lethal hits a springboard dropkick which sends Ki out. Ki elbows Lethal to block a suicide dive. Homicide begs of Joe back in the ring. Ki blindslides him with a double sledge. Ki and Homicide double clothesline Joe. The Rottweiler’s manage to isolate Joe, which is no easy task. They resort to some cheap tactics to do so. He overhead suplexes Homicide so he can tag in Lethal. He gets two with a backdrop. Same with a leg lariat. Ki flicks Lethal in the eyes and then goes back to the apron. With that, Homicide is able to take control and now the Rottweiler’s go to work on Lethal. His beatdown is more lengthy than Joe’s. Lethal however is able to evade a double stomp from Ki and give him a leg lariat. Joe tags in and backdrops both Ki and Homicide right away. Joe drops Homicide with a Death Valley Driver for two. He powerbombs Homicide, transitioning into the STF. Ki double stomps Joe to break the hold. Ki kicks Lethal from the apron. Homicide drops him with an Ace Crusher for two. Homicide low blows Lethal to block a Dragon suplex. Joe powerslams Homicide and then fights Ki on the floor. Lethal hits a diving headbutt on Homicide for two. Joe misses a face wash kick and hits the barricade. Homicide nails an enzuigiri on Lethal. Ki tags himself in. He blocks a sunset flip with a double stomp. He cannot believe Lethal is able to kick out. Ki comes off the top with an elbow for two. Ki double stomps Lethal on the second rope while Joe and Homicide fight on the floor. Lethal manages to kick out of that too. All four men end up back in the ring. Lethal gives Ki a Dragon suplex. Homicide elbow drops the referee, causing the match to be thrown out at 17:19. That was crazy and fun, but this was just the beginning. What’s worth talking about is the post match brawl. With a finish, this would have been ranked even higher. ***1/2

All four men fight into the crowd. Amongst the spots are Joe suplexing Homicide on the entrance ramp Low Ki leaping off the bleachers for a double stomp on Lethal. When Homicide and Ki end up ringside, Joe throws chair after chair out of the crowd onto them. It’s pretty awesome. Ki gives Lethal a Ki Crusher and stands tall with Homicide in the entrance way.

Fight Without Honor
Jay Lethal vs. Low Ki

“Glory By Honor IV” – Lake Grove, NY – 9.17.2005

At the start of the show, Lethal comes out. He doesn’t want to wait any longer; he wants his match with Low Ki right now. Julius Smokes ends up on the entrance ramp instead of Ki. He wants to know what’s in it for the Rottweiler’s if they take this match (even though it is already scheduled). He suggests that if Ki wins, he’s officially re-instated in ROH (he’s been technically suspended for awhile). Lethal agrees to the stipulation, even though he doesn’t have the power to re-instate Ki. Ki attacks Lethal from behind and the match is on.

Ki throws a bunch of chops. Lethal ducks a clothesline. He dropkicks Ki and nails a leg lariat. A backdrop, slam and elbow get a one count. Lethal chops him in multiple corners. He gets one with a suplex. He legdrops the back of Ki’s neck on the ring apron. Ki kicks Lethal back to the apron after a failed pin attempt. They throw chops at one another. Ki ends up bodyslamming Lethal on the floor. He throws his head into the barricades. Lethal goes for a double stomp through the table. Lethal moves off the table, so Ki just jumps off the apron and sends Lethal into the barricades. He goes for the Ki Krusher on the floor. Lethal blocks and goes for the Dragon suplex. He drives Lethal’s back into the barricades to stop him. Ki sends Lethal shoulder first into a table set up against the barricades. Lethal is now bleeding. Ki brings a metal sign into the ring and sets it up against the ropes. He uses Lethal’s blood to do a bit of writing on it. Ki misses a double stomp. He comes off the second rope with a leg lariat. He suplexes Ki and heads up top. He comes off the top with a diving headbutt. Lethal has Ki hooked for a Dragon suplex when Smokes gets on the apron. Lethal grabs Smokes and goes to give him the suplex. Ki comes at him with a chair. Lethal notices and lets Smokes go. He gets the chair but Ki kicks it into his chest and face for two. Ki comes off the top with a double stomp for two. Ki slams a chair into Lethal’s ribs. He places the chair on Lethal’s chest. He double stops the chair into his chest to get the pin at 16:23. The hatred between both men oozed off the screen. I can’t put my finger on it, but the chemistry between these two is something else. They brought out some of the best in each other during their matches. ***1/4

After the match, Ki looks for a handshake. When Lethal goes for it, he gives him the “fuck off” hand sign. We then fast forward to later in the night, after Homicide and Colt Cabana’s match. Basically, after a brawl between the Rottweiler’s and Cabana/Joe, Ki is left in the ring. Lethal comes out and wants another fight with him. Ki accepts, and we have our second Fight Without Honor of the night.

Fight Without Honor
Jay Lethal vs. Low Ki

“Glory By Honor IV” – Lake Grove, NY – 9.17.2005

Lethal’s head is bandaged up. He sends Ki out with a back elbow. He whips Ki into the barricades. In the ring he gets a two count with a suplex. Ki gets up and smacks Lethal in the face. He snapmares Lethal and kicks him in the back. Lethal absorbs the kick and fires up. They begin to angrily throw chops at one another. Lethal side steps a splash and superkicks Ki for two. Lethal comes off the top rope with a diving headbutt. Ki goes for the Ki Krusher. Lethal blocks and goes for a Dragon Suplex. Ki blocks that. Julius Smokes gets on the apron. Samoa Joe takes care of him. Ki puts Lethal in the tree of woe. He delivers the double stomp. Ki misses a springboard kick. Lethal plants him with the Dragon suplex for two. The Rottweiler’s come out to save Smokes from Joe. Cabana follows behind to help Joe. Ki throws Lethal out to avoid a Dragon suplex. Ki goes up top to dive to the floor, but he loses his balance and gets crotched on the top rope. Lethal comes back inside to give Ki a super Dragon suplex for the pin at 9:20. That was better than the first match, although pretty unnecessary. Lethal should have just gone over in the first place. However, this was really cool so complaining is pretty worthless. ***1/2

We are then shown a video package in which Jay Lethal challenges Samoa Joe for a one-on-one match at “Steel Cage Warfare.” Lethal wants to step out of Joe’s shadow. He plans to do so by defeating Joe in the same city that Joe defeated him for the Pure Title.

Jay Lethal vs. Samoa Joe
“Steel Cage Warfare” – New York, NY – 12.3.2005

Joe takes Lethal to the mat and grabs his face. Lethal gets to the ropes before a submission can be applied. Joe stretches out Lethal by his legs and arms. Lethal applies a facelock until Joe grabs the ropes. Joe armdrags Lethal out of a double knuckle lock. They each snap off an armdrag and sweep the leg. They side step each others’ kicks and stand-off. Lethal comes off the second rope with a crossbody, then bars Joe’s arm after an armdrag. Lethal misses another crossbody due to Joe simply walking out of the way. Joe throw some kicks to his chest. Lethal Tiger Walks Joe to the corner. He dropkicks him in the back of the neck for one. He gets a two count with a standing moonsault. Lethal ducks Joe’s boot and delivers a leg lariat. He sends Joe to the floor via springboard dropkick. Lethal suicide dives onto him. Lethal dishes out some chops back in the ring. Lethal puts on a modified chinlock. Joe fights out. He gives a big boot and a senton for two. So does a knee drop. Now he puts on a chinlock. Lethal fights out. Joe kicks him in the face. Joe delivers a running knee strike. He goes for the face wash kick, but Lethal slides to the floor. He then throws Joe’s leg into the ring post. The commentators insist it is instinctual since Joe is his mentor. They change their mind when Lethal slams a chair against Joe’s leg repeatedly! Lethal continues to target the leg back in the ring. Lethal mockingly yells things at Joe as he kicks at his leg. He slaps Joe across the face. Joe catches him with a powerslam. Joe sunset flips Lethal and rolls him around by his shoulders. He lariats Lethal for two. Joe goes for a Death Valley Driver. Lethal fights out and gives Joe a lariat. He suplexes Joe and heads up top. He nails the diving headbutt to Joe’s leg. He puts on a Half Crab. Joe escapes. Lethal shoots Joe to the ropes. Joe crumples under his own leg. Lethal goes for a springboard and Joe catches him mid-air with the STJoe. He gives Lethal a German suplex. Joe’s leg crumples again when he tries to Muscle Buster. Lethal gives him a Dragon suplex for the pin at 20:44. Lethal’s heel turn was done so tremendously well. It got him over instantly and it seemed totally organic. The action was great too, and the New York crowd helped make the atmosphere. ***1/2

Disc Two

Jay Lethal vs. Mike Bennett
“Best in the World 2011” – New York, NY – 6.26.2011

“Brutal” Bob Evans is in Bennett’s corner. Lethal is all smiles as the fans chant “Randy Savage” at him. Bennett pats Lethal on the face and mocks his Savage shtick. Bennett forearms him in the back. Lethal avoids a leapfrong and chops Bennett. He knocks him down wih a shoulder block, and avoids another leapfrog with a chop. He hip tosses Bennett and then cartwheels into a dropkick. Bennett sends Lethal to the apron. Lethal slingshots into a huracanrana. He dropkicks Bennett to the floor and follows with a suicide dive. The fans chant “you still got it” as if Lethal had ever stopped wrestling, or like he’s not only 26 years old. Evans drops Lethal on the ring frame while Bennett distracts referee Paul Turner. Bennett jumps off the apron with a clothesline. Bennett gets a two count back in the ring. Bennett suplexes Lethal for two. Bennett stretches out Lethal’s back and arms. Lethal avoids a corner attack. He delivers a flying forearm then springboards into a back elbow. Lethal hits a leaping leg lariat for two. Evans catches Lethal on the top rope, allowing Bennett to nail him with a forearm. Bennett superplexes Lethal for two. Bennett misses a flying elbow drop. Lethal delivers a superkick. Lethal hits a flying elbow drop for the pin at 9:42. It’s amazing how much charisma Lethal possesses after his initial ROH reign. He looked excellent in his re-debut and I am happy to see him come back. Evans’ interference aside, this was a solid affair. **1/2

ROH Television Championship
El Generico vs. Jay Lethal

“ROH on SBG” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 8.13.2011

Generico ends a wristlock exchange with an armdrag. He huracanrana’s Lethal to the corner. Lethal backflips out of a wristlock and armdrags Generico to the corner. He takes Generico down with a headscissors. Lethal snapmares him into a dropkick to the back of the head. He then hip tosses Generico into a dropkick for two. Lethal puts him in a modified parachute stretch. Lethal dropkicks Generico to end a strike battle. Generico springboards over Lethal. He gives him two armdrags and a toreador to the floor. He tope con hilo’s after him. After the commercial, Lethal hits a dropkick back in the ring. Generico hits one of his own for two. Lethal slingshots in from the apron for a sunset flip. Generico kicks out and drives his elbow into Lethal’s neck. Lethal comes back with a back handspring elbow. Lethal hits a missile dropkick for two. He pops Generico up for a neckbreaker. Generico fights out of a powerbomb attempt. He runs the ropes for a tornado DDT and gets a two count. With one minute left, Generico hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for two again. Generico goes for the yakuza kick. Lethal blocks it and rolls up Generico for two. They block each others’ moves just as the time limit expires at 15:00 (12:53 shown). Generico and Lethal are both not happy with the decision. The fans ask for 5 more minutes. Jim Cornette says they have about three minutes left, so they will let Generico and Lethal go until the end of the show. We start the new match with both men throwing furious fists. Lethal forearms him to the corner. Generico yakuza kicks him across the ring and gives him a half-nelson suplex for two. Generico wants the super brainbuster. Lethal turns it into a suplex before they can get on the ropes. Lethal goes for a top rope elbow. Generico evades it and sets up Lethal on the top rope. Lethal shoves him off. He connects with a top rope elbow for two. Generico suplexes him into the corner. Lethal superkicks him and hits the Lethal Combination. That gets him the victory and the title at 2:51. At the time I was really upset (and still am in some ways) that Generico lost the TV title in his first defense. However, seeing that this was a good match with a hot ending makes me feel better about it. They went through the motions in the first fifteen minutes, but the last three minutes made up for so much of what was lacking in the earlier portion. Fun match all around. ***1/4

Jay Lethal & Homicide vs. The Embassy (Tommaso Ciampa & Rhino)
“Death Before Dishonor IX” – New York, NY – 9.17.2011

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, and 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 contest. ***

ROH Television Championship
Jay Lethal (Champion) vs. Mike Bennett

“ROH on SBG” – Louisville, KY – 10.1.2011

Brutal Bob Evans is in Bennett’s corner. The initial lock-up is broken mid-ring. Lethal hip tosses him into a dropkick. Bennett throws Lethal to the ropes and shoulder blocks him. Bennett catches him with a dropkick for two. Lethal sends Bennett to the apron and dropkicks him to the floor. Lethal slides out and gives him a chop. Bennett shoves Lethal back first into the ring apron. In the ring he puts on a leg-lock parachute hold. He releases it to pin Bennett for two. Lethal dropkicks him in the side of the head. Evans distracts Lethal. When he goes for a springboard, Bennett catches him and drops him on the top rope. He nails a clothesline right after. We come back from commercial with Bennett clotheslining Lethal in the corner and giving him a neckbreaker for two. Lethal elbows him in the corner. Bennett catches him with a powerslam. Bennett elbows him in the side of the head while applying a bodyscissors. Bennett puts on a front facelock. Lethal escapes with a Manhattan Drop. He hits a leg lariat and the Lethal Injection. Bennett somehow kicks out. Lethal comes off the second ropes. Bennett catches with a spinebuster and gets two. Lethal escapes a German suplex and delivers a DDT. With one minute, Bennett cradles Lethal for two. Lethal superkicks him and goes up top. He misses an elbow drop. Bennett throws punches while Lethal covers up. Bennett wants referee Todd Sinclair to stop the match, but Lethal reverses the mount just as the time expires at 15:00 (13:02 shown). This dragged at times but ended up being better than I anticipated. I like that Bennett got to look strong and it was a good way to build up a rematch. Nothing too exciting, but a solid defense nonetheless. **3/4

Proving Ground Match
Jay Lethal vs. Mark Briscoe

“Gateway to Honor” – Collinsville, IL – 11.6.2011

If Briscoe is able to last fifteen minutes or defeat Lethal, he will earn a future TV title match. Briscoe goes for a quick roll-up and gets two. Briscoe grabs a side headlock. He shoulder tackles Lethal to the mat. Lethal huracanrana’s Briscoe to the apron and dropkicks him to the floor.
Lethal suicide dives onto him. Briscoe side steps a missile dropkick back in the ring. Lethal however does connect with a leg lariat for two. Lethal hip tosses Briscoe into a dropkick for two. Lethal puts Briscoe in a full body stretch. Lethal turns him into a pinning predicament for two. Briscoe crotches Lethal on the top rope to stop his leapfrog attempt. Briscoe throws Lethal into the guardrails. In the ring Briscoe drops a fist for two. Briscoe gives Lethal a bulldog out of the corner for another two count. Lethal counters an Irish whip with a back handspring elbow. Both men throw punches once back on their feet. Lethal wins the exchange and knocks down Briscoe with a flying forearm and back elbow. He hits a back handspring Ace Crusher for two. Briscoe counters the Lethal Combination with a rolling Death Valley Driver. He gets two with an exploder suplex. Briscoe and Lethal fight on the top rope. Briscoe comes crashing down to the canvas. Lethal goes for another handspring maneuver. Briscoe catches him on his shoulders. Lethal slides off and delivers the Lethal Combination. He follows with the Savage elbow drop for the pin at 11:17. These two had really good chemistry with each other and provided a very engaging contest. This ended before they could kick things up a notch, which actually makes me want to see a longer rematch. For what it was though, it made Lethal look good as the champion and Briscoe good for being able to hang with him. ***

Proving Ground Match
Jay Lethal vs. Roderick Strong

“Glory By Honor X” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 11.19.2011

If Strong either wins the match or lasts the 15 minute time limit, he will earn a future shot at Lethal’s television title. They exchange hammerlocks and Strong quickly pops out of Lethal’s headscissors attempt. Lethal dropkicks Strong out of a sunset flip. Lethal’s legdrop gets him two. Strong catches Lethal with a dropkick as Lethal springboards in from the apron. Strong only gets one with a backbreaker. Strong shoulder blocks Lethal in the corner. Lethal snaps Strong’s neck on the top rope from the ring apron. Lethal springboards in with a senton and dropkicks Strong to the floor. He whips Strong shoulder first into the guardrail. Martini trips Lethal off the apron when he goes for another springboard maneuver. Strong backdrops Lethal on the ring apron for two. Strong dropkicks Lethal as he fights free from Strong’s grasp. Strong only gets a two count. Lethal chops Strong silly. Strong shoves Lethal to the opposite corner. Lethal boots Strong and hops over him. He hits a leg lariat and takes some time to catch his breath. Strong and Lethal exchange punches when they both get to their feet. Strong hits a back handspring elbow for two. Strong catches Lethal on the top rope. He grabs the ropes when pinning Lethal but only gets two. He O’Conner rolls Lethal into a side slam for two. Strong hits the Death by Roderick for two, just as the two minute warning is thrown out. Strong puts on the Stronghold. Lethal crawls to the ropes to break it. Lethal small packages Strong for two. Strong hits Death by Roderick again for two. Lethal tries another small package and again only gets two. Strong runs to the floor to run out the clock, but Lethal immediately brings him back in the ring. Lethal puts Strong in the figure four leg lock as the 30 second warning is given. Strong runs out the clock before tapping, earning himself a title shot (with a time limit draw decision) at 15:00.

Jim Cornette comes out and tries to convince Martini and Strong to give the fans who are chanting “five more minutes” what they want. Cornette ensures Strong will get his title match either way. Martini says no to the five more minutes, but once Cornette calls Strong a pussy, he’s suddenly game for the challenge. The bell rings and these two throw a flurry of punches at one another. Strong knee stirkes Lethal and hits a gamengiri. The Sick Kick gets him a two count. He sets up for the Tiger Driver but Lethal shoves him to the corner. Lethal hits the Lethal Combination for two. Strong puts Lethal in the Stronghold. Lethal kicks Storng away and small packages him for two. Strong hits Death by Roderick. Lethal superkicks him and then hits a handspring Ace Crusher for the pin at 2:03 (17:06 total). I’m completely puzzled why Lethal pinned Strong when Strong just won a title shot. That seems completely stupid if you ask me. Questionable decision aside, the action was solid and consistent. I would have kept this at the 15 minute draw if I were them. ***

ROH Television Championship
Jay Lethal (Champion) vs. El Generico

“ROH on SBG” – Louisville, KY – 11.5.2011

Mike Bennett and Brutal Bob Evans are watching this match with snacks in hand. Generico and Lethal reach a stalemate out of the opening exchange. Lethal uses the ropes to deliver a headscissors. They each maneuver out of a monkey flip and stand-off. Generico gives him a pair of armdrags and a toreador. Generico gets two with a backbreaker. He dishes out some chops. The split-legged moonsault does not do the trick. Lethal sends him to the apron. He dropkicks Generico to the floor right by Bennett and Evans. Lethal throws some punches and chops. He tells the referee to keep his eye on Bennett and Evans. Generico flips off the guardrails, but ends up eating a superkick. Lethal brings him back in the ring for two. Generico ducks a pair of clotheslines and ends up eating a leg lariat. Lethal turns him over into the leg-capture parachute hold. Lethal hip tosses him into a dropkick. Generico kicks him in the face when he goes for a backdrop. He clotheslines Lethal and looks for a Blue Thunder Bomb. Lethal fights it off at first, but Generico ends up hitting it for a two count. Lethal comes off the ropes and Generico catches him with a Michinoku Driver. Lethal blocks a yakuza kick. He pops up Generico for a neckbreaker and a two count. Bennett picks up the Television title belt and has Evans put it around his waist. Lethal hits the Lethal Injection for two. He enzuigiri’s Generico to the corner. Generico yakuza kicks him in the opposite corner. He gives Lethal a half nelson suplex. Lethal musters a superkick before falling to the mat. He rolls to the floor as the one minute warning is given. Bennett taunts Lethal with the belt around his waist. Lethal gives him a punch to the face. Generico goes for a brainbuster. Lethal ends up O’Conner Rolling him instead for two. Lethal goes up top after hitting the Lethal Combination. He hits his elbow drop, but Bennett distracts the referee from making the count. The time expires at 15:00 (they showed the portion of the match that was cut from TV!) This was a slight step down from Lethal and Generico’s initial encounter. The action was very good, but the crowd was either tired or just not feeling what they were doing. ***

Lethal knocks Bennett off the apron and fights him near the entrance way. Generico tope con hilo’s onto both of them. Lethal and Generico are standing tall as the show goes off the air.

Proving Ground Match
Jay Lethal vs. TJ Perkins

“Southern Defiance” – Spartanburg, SC – 12.3.2011

If Perkins is able to survive the 15 minute time limit, or defeat Lethal, he will earn a future shot at Lethal’s Television title. We get a clean break in the corner with the initial lock-up. They monkey flip each other in a double knuckle lock. Lethal catches Perkins with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for one. Lethal gives Perkins a back suplex for two. Lethal tries to locks Perkins’ legs, but Perkins cradles Lethal for two instead. Lethal back handsprings into an elbow for two. Perkins boots Lethal’s arm out of the corner. Lethal hip tosses Perkins into a dropkick for two. Lethal goes for a submission. Perkins quickly turns Lethal into a pendulum. He turns that into a Gedo Clutch for two. Perkins crotches Lethal on the top rope. He hits a delayed dropkick while Lethal hangs in the tree of woe. Perkins then stretches out Lethal’s arms, neck and back. Lethal gets in a few strikes before Perkins kicks him back to the mat for two. Perkins locks Lethal’s arm behind his back while applying a chinlock. Lethal elbows his way free. Perking superkicks Lethal. Lethal throws one back. Perkins reverses a suplex, leaving both men laying on the mat. More strikes are exchanged mid-ring. Lethal boots Perkins to the floor. Perkins runs in and dropkicks Lethal to the floor. Lethal comes back in. Perkins ducks an enzuigiri and powerbombs Lethal for two. They each go for some quick pin attempts. Lethal then gives Perkins the Lethal Combination for two. Perkins gets his boot up to block Lethal’s top rope elbow drop. Lethal ducks a clothesline and hits a handspring Ace Crusher (now known as the Lethal Injection) for the pin at 11:34. This was an excellent display of athleticism and will power. This really made Perkins seem like a legitimate contender against the champion, holding his own and even outsmarting Lethal at times. It’s a shame he didn’t win because I’d love to see a rematch down the line. ***1/4

Proving Ground Match
Jay Lethal vs. Adam Cole

“Northern Aggression” – Greensboro, NC – 12.4.2011

If Cole is able to survive the 15 minute time limit, or defeat Lethal, he will earn a future shot at Lethal’s Television title. Lethal breaks a lock up against the ropes. Cole shoulder tackles Lethal to the mat. Lethal hip tosses him. They exchange a waistlock, ending with Cole delivering a huracanrana. Lethal comes back with a headscissors. They stare down one another after a short exchange on the mat. Lethal suplexes Cole for two. Lethal hip tosses him into a dropkick for two as well. Cole chops Lethal to the corner. Lethal comes off the second rope with a leg lariat for two. Lethal goes for the Lethal Injection. Cole German suplexes him to counter. Cole blocks a leapfrog with a Manhattan Drop. He turns that into a bridging suplex for two. Cole cuts off Lethal’s backdrop attempt with a neckbreaker. Lethal looks for a figure four leg lock. Cole cradles him for two. Lethal catches Cole with a handspring elbow strike. Cole delivers some strikes. He hits the ropes only for Lethal to catch him with the Lethal Combination for two. Cole hops over Lethal in the corner. He hits a back cracker for two. Lethal sends Cole to the floor. Cole catches him with an enzuigiri when he attempts to dive. Lethal dropkicks Cole back to the floor when Cole tries to re-enter the ring. Lethal goes for a baseball slide. Cole catches Lethal and German suplexes him on the ring apron! Lethal manages to get back in the ring before being counted out. Cole crossbody’s onto Lethal. Lethal rolls through for a two count. Cole sits down on a sunset flip for two. They roll around in a small package attempting to score the pin. Once they escape, Cole superkicks Lethal and falls on top of him for two. Cole kicks Lethal from the corner. He goes for the Panama Sunrise. Lethal catches Cole and drops him face first on his knee. Lethal then hits the Lethal Injection for the pin at 13:13. Much like the Proving Ground match from the night before, this did a tremendous job of making Cole look like a legitimate contender and Lethal a strong champion. Cole is really the best guy on a losing streak ROH may have ever had. Like the Perkins Proving Ground match, I’d dig a rematch between these two. ***1/4

ROH Television Championship – Elimination Match
Jay Lethal (Champion) vs. El Generico vs. Mike Bennett

“Final Battle 2011” – New York, NY – 12.23.2011

Both Brutal Bob Evans and Maria Kanellis are in Bennett’s corner. Bennett goes outside to let Lethal and Generico fight it out. He forearms Lethal in the back and bails again. He does the same thing to Generico. Lethal and Generico trap Bennett on the floor and each get in some punches. They double backdrop Bennett back in the ring, then clothesline him back to the floor. Generico and Lethal argue over who will dive onto him. They decide to both suicide dive onto him simultaneously. Lethal Gedo clutches Generico for two. Lethal uses the ropes for a headscissors. He hip tosses Generico into a dropkick for two. Bennett trips Lethal off the apron. He gives Generico a right punch and chokes him in the corner. Generico sends Bennett to the floor. He sets up for a dive but gets caught with a springboard dropkick from Lethal. Lethal turns Generico over in a leg lock parachute stretch. He drops Generico out of it for a two count. Generico responds with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Bennett attacks Generico from behind. Bennett clotheslines Lethal in the corner. Lethal ducks a clothesline and hits a back handspring elbow. He dropkicks Bennett to the floor. Generico comes off the top with a double axe handle to Lethal’s back. He armdrags Lethal twice and gives Bennett a toreador. Lethal ends up taking both Bennett and Generico down. Generico suplexes Lethal into the corner. Bennett brings Generico to the floor. He punches Evans who gets in his way. Bennett then hides behind Maria who Generico won’t hit. Bennett shoves Maria into him, then punches him in the face. Back in the ring, Bennett powerslams Lethal and gives Generico a TKO. Generico yakuza kicks Bennett and Lethal superkicks Generico, bringing all three men to the mat. Lethal hits the Lethal Combination on Generico for two. Bennett gives Lethal a spinebuster for two. Generico gets two on Bennett with the Blue Thunder Bomb. Lethal enzuigiri’s Generico from the apron. Generico yakuza kicks Lethal to the floor. Generico somersault sentons off the top rope onto Lethal, then dives through the turnbuckles to give Bennett a tornado DDT! He yakuza kicks Bennett into a half-nelson suplex for two. Lethal pops Generico up into a neckbreaker. He then hits a top rope elbow drop on Generico for two. Bennett catches Generico on the ropes. He O’Conner rolls Generico and holds his tights for the elimination at 18:03. Lethal then hits the Lethal Injection on Bennett to win the match at 18:17. The first portion of this match was a bit slow, especially since one man was always on the floor. Once they kicked things into the next gear things got better but it definitely did feel like it went a little too long. ***

ROH World Championship
Davey Richards (Champion) vs. Jay Lethal

“The Homecoming 2012” – Philadelphia, PA – 1.20.2012

Each man hesitantly approaches the other in the early going. Lethal goes after Richards’ left arm. After Richards kicks Lethal in the chest, Lethal looks for a crossface. They each put on a seated surfboard. Lethal hip tosses Richards into a dropkick for one. Lethal gets one after a legdrop too. Richards catches Lethal with his own dropkick. Richards ties him up in a cloverleaf. Lethal turns that into a small package. Richards pops out and kicks Lethal in the head. Lethal gives Richards a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and stretches the back out across his knee. Lethal suplexes Richards for two. Richards evades a corner attack. Lethal however throws his head into the top turnbuckle. Richards sends Lethal to the floor. Lethal ducks his kicks from the floor. Richards twists Lethal’s arm and drops him shoulder first on the ring apron. Richards off course does more damage Lethal’s arm once they’re back in the ring. Richards comes off the top with a headbutt to his arm for two, then turns right into a kimura. Lethal gets the ropes to break it. Richards throws multiple kicks to Lethal’s chest in the corner. Lethal comes back with a leg lariat off the second rope. Both men throw punches when they get back to their feet. Lethal spin kicks Richards after a couple running forearms. Lethal hits a handspring back elbow for two. Lethal suplexes Richards into a neckbreaker for two. Richards headbutts Lethal’s arm. He goes for the Damage Reflex but Lethal dropkicks him to counter. Richards kicks Lethal off the second rope and delivers a missile dropkick him. Lethal hits a superkick. Richards kicks Lethal in the head and German suplexes him for two. Richards runs at Lethal in the corner. Lethal cuts him off with the Lethal Combination for two. Roderick Strong runs out to attack Lethal on the top rope. Richards takes the opportunity to superplex Lethal. He turns a Falcon Arrow into a cross armbreaker. Lethal and Richards trade pins on the mat, neither man securing a victory. Lethal hits an enzuigiri. Richards hits a lariat bringing both men to the mat. Richards throws a clothesline. Lethal ducks and suicide dives onto Strong. Lethal trips Richards onto the ring frame and hits a top rope elbow back in the ring for two. Lethal Dragon suplexes Richards for another two count. Richards blocks the Lethal Injection and slaps on an ankle lock. Lethal turns that into a Kondo Clutch/parachute stretch combo. Richards turns that back into an ankle lock. Lethal rolls out of it. Richards hits the Alarm Clock after absorbing a superkick. Lethal hits the Lethal Injection. Richards manages to kick out, leaving Lethal looking desperate. Lethal looks for a Hamachan Cutter. Richards headbutts Lethal and hits a Sunset Bomb instead. Richards’ running kick to the throat and a top rope double stomp only get him a two count. Richards delivers a swift kick to the side of Lethal’s head. Lethal fires up and asks for more. Three more kicks to the head take Lethal out at 25:50. This was one of Richards’ better title defenses because – shocker – there was a story to it. Lethal looked just as strong as Davey did the entire time, which considering he is also a champion makes total sense. True, there was some of the usual fighting spirit nonsense that generally bothers me, but it fit into the context of the match and they saved it for the home stretch. This was a very good main event in ROH’s return to Philadelphia. ****

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