ROH Only The Strong Survive 1/15/2011

ROH 275 – Only The Strong Survive – 15th January 2011

With Roddy being champion it was inevitable we’d get a show with this title right? After the previous evening saw a surprisingly lively Richmond event, my hopes are high that this will be a good night. The World Title is defended in a clash between former friends as Strong defends against Jay Briscoe. Christopher Daniels defends the TV Title, four of ROH’s biggest names clash in a packed Four Corner Survival and it’s Kings vs Wolves singles style as Chris Hero faces Davey Richards in arguably the most eagerly-awaited match of the whole weekend. ROH returns to Charlotte, NC. Dave Prazak and Kevin Kelly continue on commentary – and they’re starting to get some chemistry going as a duo now.

Bravado Brothers vs Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly
Future Shock are 2-0 over the Bravados in ROH, but Lance and Harlem are plotting a different outcome this time. They’re in the home state of North Carolina here, and want to pull of a huge win to impress their friends and family in the crowd.

For ‘hometown’ acts, the Bravados don’t get a particularly warm welcome. O’Reilly is equally hostile as he totally batters Lancelot…then watches as Adam Cole sprints into a tope suicida as the Bravados try to leave! MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON FOR HARLEM! Future Shock get their first nearfall with a suplex/crossbody combo. Hiptoss/armbreaker from Kyle to Lance as the Bravados continue to struggle. It takes a cheapshot from Harlem to Cole that finally hands his brother the advantage. Lance runs through Adam with a knee strike and is then joined by Harlem for a Carolina Legsweep for 2. The teamwork continues as the Bravados get another nearfall with a back drop neckbreaker. Tag to O’Reilly who returns to the ring with more stiff kick attacks. ROLLING butterfly suplexes into the double arm DDT get 2 on Lancelot. Superkick/discus lariat combo gets Future Shock their second nearfall in quick succession. CHAOS THEORY from Lance to O’Reilly…only for Cole to break the pin with a splash. Cole fires up on both opponents, but horribly misses a pescado aimed at Harlem and crashes and burns on the floor. Lance grabs Kyle’s tights and rolls him up for 3 at 07:51

Rating – *** – Good match – although I thought the Fate Of An Angel 2 match was better in terms of both in-ring quality and the team that went over. I appreciate the Bravados are trying to get their new gimmick over, Cole and O’Reilly had to win this. They are such a talented duo and capable of far more than slumming it with the slim pickings of a graduate class from the ROH school. The Bravados are good enough at their ‘grandmama’s boys’ act that they’ll get over without winning.

Rhett Titus vs Caprice Coleman
Coleman’s return at Champions vs All Stars has to be one of the most surprising returns to ROH competition ever. Never anything more than a bit-part player in his first run, he worked his first Ring Of Honor contest in nearly a decade last night – and had a hell of a match with Colt Cabana. If he can follow that up with a good showing against the rapidly improving Rhett Titus (who himself had a strong showing in Richmond) then you have to think that Caprice will earn himself future bookings.

Titus tries to cut a pre-match promo and gets sh*t on…which ironically serves the desired purpose of getting Rhett over as a heel and Coleman established as the babyface. Caprice gets a few laughs in return, and admits he wants a job in ROH. Rhett jumps him, then tries to kill all his early momentum by working an elongated headlock. Of course, Caprice does eventually increase the pace and almost runs right through his opponent with a dropkick. A back body drop sends Titus all the way to the floor, and considering he entered this match nursing a head injury caused by Homicide, that’s not good for him. 619 ROUND THE RINGPOST by Coleman! Finally he tries one athletic move too many and springs into Rhett’s dropkick for 2. Titus works a bow and arrow, but doesn’t bank on Coleman bridging out and swinging into a reverse neckbreaker for 2. DOUBLE KNEE DROP from Titus for his own nearfall. Boxing shots from Caprice…then the swinging axe kick and both men are down. Another big punch sends Titus spinning through the air, and he shows amazing agility to leap into a head high leg lariat. Rhett knees him in the stomach but can’t nail the Sexy Suplex as it’s countered into ROLLING NORTHERN LIGHTS SUPLEXES from Coleman! VERTICAL LEAP SUPER RANA! He’s really winning the crowd over now…but as he basks in their applause he doesn’t see Titus smash his neck against the turnbuckles. Rolling neckbreaker from Titus for the win in 09:02

Rating – ** – Caprice Coleman needs to be given a job as soon as the two parties can agree some dates. He can talk, he can work and he can do some incredibly athletic stuff. Some of the work in this match was a little uncoordinated, but between Caprice’s entertaining high-flying stuff and Titus’ strong grasp of his character they easily did enough to keep both myself and the live crowd entertained.

For the second night in a row Coleman gets ‘please come back’ chants, and he openly acknowledges them in an attempt to land a spot in the company. What a great comeback weekend for him…

In the locker room Colt Cabana talks to Grizzly Redwood about their match. He wants a ‘fair and fun’ match…and Redwood is down with that.

Colt Cabana vs Grizzly Redwood
The Chicago-native is on a mission to bring pure, honourable competition back to Ring Of Honor – and the lack of it was emphasised to him when Mike Bennett cheated to beat him at Tag Title Classic 2. He began his 2011 with a competitive loss to the World Champion on HDNet, followed by an uber-entertaining little match with Caprice Coleman last night. Can he go 2-0 this weekend, or will he underestimate the skills of the Littlest Lumberjack?

Cabana isn’t taking this too seriously at all, mocking Redwood’s appearance before the bell. He offers his wrist to Grizzly, giving him the first move of the match…then completely no sells his wristlock and dumps him on his ass. He offers Redwood a ‘free headlock’ but Grizz flies in with a satellite abdominal stretch, then a multi-revolution crucifix pin for 2. Big slaps from Cabana now…so Redwood tries to run away. Todd Sinclair is tripped up in the melee, and everyone is having a good time it seems. Colt starts to use his power, felling the lumberjack with double-handed chops then a nonchalant release suplex. Redwood tries to the ‘chop them down’ offence…and when that fails resorts to more drastic measures with a flying rana into the turnbuckles followed by a swinging DDT for 2. Having seen enough, Colt powerbombs him into the Billy Goat’s Curse. It’s over at 07:22

Rating – ** – This was good, harmless comedy fun. At the time I read some live reviews that absolutely raved about this one, calling it one of the funniest matches ever in ROH etc – which I really don’t agree with. But it was inoffensive and charming in it’s own way…although you can’t help but notice Colt is really drifting around without any real purpose at this point.

The Bravado Brothers are hanging out in the bathroom…and ambush unsuspecting members of the public trying to recruit them to the ‘Bravado Bandwagon’.  ‘You’ll get your newsletter’ – Harlem.

Mike Bennett vs Cedric Alexander
It’s impossible to deny that The Prodigy is on a hot streak at the moment. In the TV Title mix and undefeated on HDNet, he’s also racked up house show wins over Colt Cabana and Adam Cole too. He’ll look to keep the momentum going against Alexander – who is a local talent to this area who impressed me last summer when ROH ran in this market.

Bennett launches straight into a mean-spirited slap, then delivers a resounding body slam. A hard Irish whip follows and Cedric, in his hometown, is immediately on the back foot. Fair play to him, he comes back to drive Bennett out of the ring and takes flight with a beautiful somersault plancha up the aisle. He returns to the ring with a springboard knee strike for 2…but misses a second attempt at it and walks into Bennett’s Spinebuster. Hanging backbreaker out of the corner gets another nearfall. SPINNING corkscrew enzi out of nowhere from Alexander…but again he gets over-excited and eats a Buckle Bomb. Bennett makes him tap to the Fujiwara armbar at 04:23

Rating – * – For my money this was too long to be a resounding squash win for Bennett, but also too one-sided to consider it a ‘plucky underdog’ showing from Cedric thus getting the crowd behind him. I like both guys but this was basically an exhibition of Bennett’s moveset, with a few high spots from Cedric thrown in randomly. Not my taste…

And, having won his match, Bennett sits at ringside and waits patiently to watch the next contest – since it’ll be Chris Daniels defending the TV Title that he covets…

Christopher Daniels vs Claudio Castagnoli – ROH TV Title Match
I thought ROH made a big deal at the end of last year about not defending the TV Title on house shows anymore? In fact, wasn’t that point emphasised when Stevens challenged Edwards for the belt on a Plymouth house show because it was supposed to be Nana’s ‘money’ that bought that opportunity? Nevertheless, this would be Daniels’ first defence I believe. He actually defeated Claudio’s tag partner Chris Hero to earn the #1 contendership to the TV Title…but not even that has aired on HDNet yet so, in theory, the live audience don’t know any of that.

Claudio sets his stall out to showcase his power, slinging the champion across the ring and flexing his biceps triumphantly. Two minutes into the match he’s had such an easy time of it Daniels is dripping in sweat whilst he isn’t even flustered. Eventually Daniels resorts to pissing him off with mock-poses of his own…prompting the challenger to leave the ring sulking. He returns to apply an emphatic headlock, followed by an effortless military press snake eyes. Next he works an elongated knucklelock with multiple knees driven to the exposed ribs. Daniels has seen enough and starts attacking his arm – an easy and obvious way to negate the strength advantage. The champion doesn’t hold anything back, repeatedly tying Claudio’s arm in the ropes for illegal additional damage to be inflicted. Castagnoli tries to fire back but noticeably now has to use his other arm or his legs to strike the Fallen Angel now. And maybe that distracts him as the champ lures him to the ropes for a hanging headscissors hold. FLYING HEADSCISSORS OVER THE TOP ROPE! Double C is on the run so Daniels tries another headscissors, this time off the apron. But he’s CAUGHT! Claudio swings him into the guardrails with brutal force and leaves him struggling on the outside. The challenger tries a European uppercut but yells in pain, so instead has to go southpaw with multiple violent left-handed punches.

He starts working the back and neck which are both traditional ‘problem areas’ on the ageing champion’s body. But Daniels COUNTERS the Pop-Up European to a mid-air DDT and both men go down. We’ve now passed 15 minutes which is supposed to be the time limit for TV Title matches by the way. Daniels is up first to hit the running STO. He gets a nearfall with a flying stomp to the chest WITH the bad arm in a knucklelock which is a nice touch. Angel’s Wings blocked purely because Castagnoli is so powerful! DEAD-LIFT OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! Daniels evades the UFO once with a roll-up, but can’t do anything about it second time around and Double C hoists him up for the Unidentified Flying Opponent. He uppercuts the neck…SPRINGBOARD UPPERCUT COUNTERED TO THE KOJI CLUTCH! Claudio is tapping but Shane Hagadorn distracts the referee! Hagadorn is bumped. POP-UP EUROPEAN GETS 2! Now Mike Bennett is on the apron with the TV Title belt for no reason. The distraction means nothing as Daniels hits the urinage slam into the BEST MOONSAULT EVER! But that move hurt his injured midsection so he can’t cover! We’re now past the advertised 20-minute time limit as well, with Claudio getting a nearfall with the Bicycle Kick. ANGEL’S WINGS! CLAUDIO KICKS OUT! BME AGAIN! Daniels wins at 21:26

Rating – **** – I had a number of problems with this match…yet still found it to be tremendously exciting. Firstly, I didn’t like that they totally no-sold all the stipulations set up for the TV Title on the HDNet show. I’ll admit most people at the live shows probably don’t watch the television show…but it’s the TELEVISION Championship…what’s the point in having it defended on non-televised events, and with different time limits as well? I also didn’t like that the whole ‘Daniels working Claudio’s arm’ was basically ignored for the second half of the match. And what was the point of Mike Bennett’s interference? BUT, even with those issues this was great. The ‘power vs veteran’s experience’ storyline they went for was absolutely awesome and made Claudio look superb even in defeat. I’ve not seen Edwards/Daniels from TV yet but this was easily the best TV Title match since Eddie/Davey last year.

INTERMISSION – The Bravados are STILL in the toilets, now giving out autographs to kids and shilling their ‘Bravado Bandwagon Newsletter’. One of them proudly tells them that he takes Tae Kwon Do, then looks horrified when Harlem responds ‘Kyle O’Reilly takes Tae Kwon Do and you saw what happened to him’. This gimmick is awesome even if their ring skills are average.

Steve Corino/Andy Ridge vs Alabama Attitude
As we saw last night, Corino is a man overcome with guilt. He is ashamed of his actions, not just through 2010, but for a whole career spent wrestling as an ‘evil person’. But he wants to change, and is starting this weekend by giving young up and comers the chance to work with him. He faced Caleb Konley yesterday, and this evening was SUPPOSED to face one of the top students out of the ROH wrestling school in Andy ‘Right Leg’ Ridge. But he wants to help Andy in a different way – by teaming with him against two men who’s attitudes he thinks needs to change. We saw Posey and Hollis on HDNet programming recently so this isn’t their first taste of Ring Of Honor action.

Corino and Ridge start positively, taking turns in working over the arms of both their opponents. Steve is so hellbent on being a good guy he even hesitates on the opportunity to double-team Hollis. That leads to Posey trying to drag him out of the ring…only for the King Of Old School to mash him into the barricades. Cory Hollis takes advantage of the distraction to hit a headscissors in the ropes then his bitter partner quickly drags him out of the ring to obtain a revenge guardrail bump. Corino takes down both AA members with a Colby Shock/DDT combo and makes the hot tag to Right Leg. He beats the snot out of Hollis with multiple kick variations for 2. Corino tagged in…and he nearly loses the match after more Attitude double teams. Eternal Dream on Cory…then he gives Ridge the opportunity to tag in and win it with his Superkick at 06:03

Rating – ** – I like the angle they’re working with Corino, and I like how he’s worked his new character into both his matches this weekend as it’s made two complete filler matches that little bit more interesting to watch. Unfortunately it didn’t take away the fact these were still little more than filler popcorn bouts…

Chris Hero vs Davey Richards
This is a grudge match on a number of levels. Not only do Davey and Hero have bad feelings over the American Wolves’ treatment of Shane Hagadorn, but twice in recent weeks we’ve seen Hero blindside Richards and cause significant damage. At the end of 2010 he ended up costing Richards $10,000 in the HDNet Holiday Gauntlet Match when he cheap-shotted him…and even last night in Richmond he chose to attack Richards to ‘weaken him’ ahead of the Champions vs All Stars tag. These two faced off a critically acclaimed match in PWG so come into this one with pressure and expectancy sky high to deliver another classic.

Hero starts out by trying to out-wrestle Richards which makes sense since Davey is probably quicker and more agile where as he has the edge in terms of size and power. By trapping the American Wolf on the canvas he certainly gets the best of the opening five minutes, and after landing a big shoulder block Davey leaves the ring entirely – clearly needing to rethink his strategy. The commentary audio levels, which have been poor throughout this show, get worse to the point that you can’t hear Dave Prazak. Richards returns to the ring and immediately quickens the pace and runs into a spinning heel kick. He looks set to unleash a whole flurry of kicks…but Sara Del Rey hops onto the apron to distract him and Chris pounces to put him back on the canvas again. Weirdly, the crowd goes nuts for this and starts a ‘Sara Del Rey’ chant. Richards back drops Hero to the floor, with the King taking a NASTY fall too, and his opponent is quick to capitalise with a running kick from the apron. He tries to whip Hero into the rails…but he JUMPS them and as Hagadorn distracts Davey Hero returns to ringside to hit the Rolling Flash Kick to the back of the head.

‘That Young Knock Out Kid’ looks to live up to his moniker and, knowing that Davey suffered a concussion at Final Battle, starts going for repeated blows to the head. Davey tries to throw some kicks but he’s now visibly disorientated and Hero takes full advantage by catching his leg and hitting a fierce and unprotected big boot to the side of the face. He starts teeing off with big elbows to the head…only for Richards to FIRE BACK with equally vicious kicks. Hero resorts to headbutts to knock his groggy adversary back to the mat. And even when Richards rolls to the apron he doesn’t get any respite as Hagadorn is on hand to lay in an few slaps. He keeps getting up though…SO HERO BACK SUPLEXES HIM OVER THE TOP ROPE! Hero goes for a somersault plancha and LANDS ON HIS FEET! RICHARDS SPRINTS ACROSS FOR A TOPE SUICIDA THROUGH THE GUARDRAIL! That’s a big move for Richards and goes a long way to evening the match up. Chris goes back to peppering his head with strikes, but their impact is weakened now and Richards is able to absorb them and hit the Handspring Enzi for 2. He hits a tornado divorce court and locks in a Satellite Armbar…and Hero is quick to dive into the ropes. He favours his arm now…KNOCKOUT ELBOW WITH THE OTHER ARM!

Davey looked out cold but somehow got a shoulder up at 2. Big boot duel…ends when Hero hits the ropes for a quebrada press! Stretch Plum, and he CHANGES ARM to make sure he’s using the good one! Davey escapes so Hero delivers another crushing boot to the head, then the Rolling Elbow. He goes to the top but Richards is on him before he can deliver the moonsault. ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPERPLEX NAILED! BACK DROP DRIVER! FOR 2! And he almost wins it again seconds later with a Buzzsaw Kick. His head is still causing him problems though, and he walks into a ROARING ELBOW FOR 2! DEATH BLOW COUNTERED TO THE FALCON ARROW ARMBREAKER! That’s more damage to that bad arm but Hero still makes the ropes. Machine Gun kicks by Richards…but he’s still all over the place and Hero TURNS IT TO MACHINE GUN CHOPS! CHOPS VS KICKS DUEL! DOUBLE ROLLING ELBOWS! DAVEY NO SELLS FOR A DISCUS LARIAT! ROLLING FLASH KICK! 2 AGAIN! JUMPING PILEDRIVER! The man is recovering from a concussion and still kicks out! Hero resorts to pulling out the Loaded Elbow…but the referee catches him! MISSILE DROPKICK ON THE BAD ARM! SHOOTING STAR PRESS! INTO THE KIMURA! CROSS ARMBREAKER! Hero taps at 29:03

Rating – ****1/2 – I thought this was absolutely phenomenal, to the extent that it’s probably Hero’s best singles match in ROH. And what’s crazy is, I heard that their PWG match is actually even better than this one. I know a lot of people sh*t on Hero for being all elbows and nothing else, and I know even more people sh*t on Richards for his lack of selling and finisher overkill…and the fact that both guys worked those tendencies into the story of the match is what made this work so well. The fact that Hero was actually TRYING to knock Davey out, bearing in mind his recent concussion injury, made perfect sense. And giving him a brain injury meant Davey’s erratic and wild comeback flurries entirely believable – especially given that he actually sold it pretty well too. The added dynamic of Richards going after Hero’s arm, and the immense sell-job Chris did on that, made for a captivating final quarter of the match as the knocked goofy Davey and the one-armed Hero were just kicking the sh*t out of each other. For my taste there was maybe a *tad* too much outside interference, and some of the false finishes at the end did become a little extreme, but this was still a great bout and will be match of the weekend for sure.

Kenny King vs Mark Briscoe vs Homicide vs El Generico
It seems like ages since ROH ran a four corner survival with four actual ‘name’ talents in here, as opposed to a couple of names and a couple of enhancement talents. Back in his first run Homicide was absolutely awesome in this environment (Revenge On The Prophecy, Death Before Dishonor and Tradition Continues to give you just a few examples). King will want a piece of Homicide after he split his partner Rhett Titus open yesterday, whilst Mark Briscoe and El Generico aren’t exactly strangers to one another either.

Briscoe and King start, keen to renew the Briscoes/ANX rivalry we saw start to grow at the end of last year as the All Night’s look to grow their reputation at the expense of the 6-time former Tag Champs. Kenny scores with a Japanese armdrag but celebrates too heartily and is punished with some Redneck Kung Fu. Generico and Homicide collide next with some surprisingly fast-paced lucha exchanges – some of Homicide’s best work since his return. The Notorious 187 gets frustrated at the luchador’s skills so he leaves the ring to tear up a section of guardrail and swear randomly for a few moments. In the meantime King and Mark return to the ring and start teeing off on each other with some ferocious strikes. Then the other two take centre stage again for Homicide to take Generico out with the Tope Con Hilo. El Generico starts to get isolated now, with first Homicide then Kenny taking turns to work him over. Amusingly, Cide declines to team with Kenny and pokes him in the eyes before grabbing Generico for the Three Amigos. Generico has had enough of being the whipping boy and grabs Mark for the TURNBUCKLE EXPLODER! Briscoe bumped ugly on his head for that. King gets it next as the masked man runs the ropes for a tornado DDT on him…followed by a Michinoku Driver on Homicide for 2. Yakuza Kick on him, then a tope atomico on King! Mark then nearly MURDERS Homicide with the world’s ugliest Buckle Bomb, into a fisherman buster for a 2-count. Ace Crusher on Briscoe…but as Cide goes for the Lariat King dives in with the springboard Blockbuster. King tries to back flip out of the corner only to be mown down with the Yakuza Kick. LARIAT from Homicide to Mark and all four are down! It’s Cide and King who are first up, taking wild punches at each other. Cop Killa COUNTERED to the Capo Kick, then a corkscrew enzi. Shotgun Knees nailed, then Generico grabs him for the HALF NELSON SUPLEX! Frog Elbow by Briscoe but he’s not legal (apparently) so can’t win. HEAD DROP GERMAN from King to Homicide! BRAINBUSTER ON KING BY GENERICO! He scores the win going into his title shot in LA at 15:01

Rating – *** – Nothing very clever here (it was a pretty run of the mill spotfest), but for it’s spot on the card it was absolutely perfect. The crowd was pretty dead at the start of this, clearly burnt out after the Hero/Davey theatrics…so sending four of the more over guys out to throw spots around for 15 minutes was a sensible way to allow the crowd to recover before building them up again towards the end. Everyone looked good here too. Generico gets the win going into his title shot at SoCal Showdown 2. King, the least over of these four, looked great against three major ROH names. Mark got his big win for the weekend last night but was still entertaining as hell here, whilst Homicide, in terms of straight up wrestling, probably hasn’t put in a better performance than this since his return.

Generico tries to celebrate but an annoyed Homicide gives him the Cop Killa and leaves indicating that it’s him that will be the next World Champion, not the Generic Luchador.

Roderick Strong vs Jay Briscoe – ROH World Title Match
I’ve noticed that most Ring Of Honor World Champions have the obligatory title defence against Jay Briscoe somewhere during their reign. Xavier, Samoa Joe, Takeshi Morishima, Nigel McGuinness and Jerry Lynn all successfully defended the belt against him and, but this point, his title defences are feeling pretty predictable. BUT, arguably for the first time since the Joe/Jay Cage Match in 2004, there is actually a legitimate storyline reason for him getting this shot so I’m excited for the match. He and Roderick used to be friends and drinking buddies. They had a fiercely contested but friendly rivalry in 2009 which showcased their skills and also their ability to leave the physicality in the ring and stay buddies outside it. But now Truth Martini has appeared on the scene, they’ve drifted apart. After Strong defended the belt in New York at Final Battle, Briscoe barged into his locker room unhappy at Truth’s interjections in his career and tried to talk sense into his friend. Strong took offence to that and went against Martini’s advice to offer Jay a title shot here tonight.

The match starts in a very similar fashion to their 2009 matches – with an intense and evenly matched battle on the mat. Roddy seems to have the edge there and Briscoe shows signs of frustration. He decides he’ll have better luck working at a faster pace and quickly lands a hurricanrana and a jumping heel kick in succession. Strong tries to beat him back with chops but that strategy only leads to a violent exchange of forearm smashes which Briscoe actually wins. Roderick flees the ring, lying in wait on the floor to deliver a big kick into Jay’s ribs. They fight around ringside trading chops with Jay again showing his toughness by hanging with the champion in that environment. JUMPING KNEE! Roddy then blasts Briscoe into the guardrails repeatedly – with increased force each time. And f*ck me is Briscoe bleeding heavily after that. It’s not quite At Our Best bad but it’s close. Strong lands another chop and a haze of blood and sweat flies through the air splattering the front row fans. The guy is a mess and is leaving blood all over the ring producing audible moans of horror from the crowd. STALLING VERTICAL SUPLEX…WITH BLOOD POURING OUT OF HIS HEAD! STALLING PILEDRIVER! Then the World Champion starts smearing his bloody head into the mat, almost painting with the challenger’s blood! Strong tries a FRONT CHOKE! That’s shades of his mentor James Gibson! He can’t make Jay tap though, and Briscoe actually gets to his feet and starts DARING Strong to keep hitting him.

Death Valley Driver by Jay, defying incredible blood loss to take the fight to his former friend. Strong tries another forearm shot only for Briscoe to flatliner him into the turnbuckles for 2. Black Superkick COUNTERED to a falcon arrow for another nearfall. He thinks about the Jay Driller but doesn’t have enough strength to get Strong up and EATS another jumping knee strike. Death By Roderick scores for 2! But then Briscoe counters the Stronghold into a small package and nearly steals it. LEBELL LOCK…WITH ADDED SCRAPING ON THE GAPING HEAD WOUND! BLACK SUPERKICK! GIBSON DRIVER! JAY KICKS OUT! STRAIGHT TO THE STRONGHOLD! As the camera pans round during Briscoe’s battle to the ropes you can see that everyone in the building is on their feet now, and they pop hard when he makes it. The fight spills to the apron…and to the timekeeping table. JAY DRILLER THROUGH THE F*CKING TABLE! But Briscoe realises he can’t win the belt like that so he wearily drags the champion back in…and by the time he manages it Strong has recovered enough to kick out. Strong tries to put him down with chops but Jay defiantly lays him out with a superkick. Jay Driller countered…Stronghold countered! JAY DRILLER SCORES! BUT RODDY IS IN THE ROPES! They slug it out on the turnbuckles, and the blood loss starts to take it’s toll. HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER ON THE TURNBUCKLES! FOR 2! DEATH BY BACKBREAKER! SICK KICK! JAY KICKS OUT AGAIN! He tries one last desperation roll-up but Roddy kicks out and peppers him with elbows. SUPLEX FLIP BACKBREAKER! GIBSON DRIVER! Strong retains at 25:07

Rating – **** – This was hugely reminiscent of the Lynn/Strong World Title Match from A Cut Above in 2009 – when an unexpectedly bloody wound took what seemed to be a fairly routine title defence and made into something far more special. Is it morally questionable that such bloodlust on the part of wrestling fans can do that? Perhaps, but you can’t deny that the entire story here, with Briscoe defying INSANE blood loss to keep fighting was completely compelling. This was a total war and, to me anyway, absolutely smoked Strong/Richards from Final Battle 2010 (and Strong/Daniels) to be Roddy’s best defence of the belt thus far.

Tape Rating – *** – The main events on this show were absolutely awesome so for those, this show is definitely recommended. Richards/Hero and Strong/Jay were nothing short of spectacular, and the TV Title match between Claudio and Daniels is the best TV Title match so far. Outside of those matches though, in truth there is a LOT of filler on this DVD. Last night in Richmond I felt that, despite a top-heavy card, they put on an entertaining top-to-bottom event which felt easy to watch and flew by. Tonight, outside of the main events this wasn’t so easy as matches filled with students, jobbers and enhancement talent came along regularly. If you’re only getting one event this weekend then (unless you didn’t see the Wolves 2009 Tag Title run) it still has to be this. The best matches are here…but as a standalone show I found Champions vs All Stars more digestible in one sitting.

Top 3 Matches
3) Christopher Daniels vs Claudio Castagnoli (****)
2) Roderick Strong vs Jay Briscoe (****)
1) Davey Richards vs Chris Hero (****1/2)

Top 5 Champions vs All Stars/Only The Strong Survive Weekend Matches
5) Kenny King vs Kyle O’Reilly (**** – Champions vs All Stars)
4) Christopher Daniels vs Claudio Castagnoli (**** – Only The Strong Survive)
3) Davey Richards/El Generico/Jay Briscoe/Mark Vriscoe vs Roderick Strong/Christopher Daniels/Kings Of Wrestling (**** – Champions vs All Stars)
2) Roderick Strong vs Jay Briscoe (**** – Only The Strong Survive)
1) Davey Richards vs Chris Hero (****1/2 – Only The Strong Survive)

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