ROH 315 – Glory By Honor 11: The Unbreakable Hope – 13th October 2012
This is the last ppv (and indeed, last live event anywhere) before Final Battle, and for the first time in a while I think there’s a genuine sense of intrigue amongst the ROH fanbase as we go into it. After a year of ppv balls-ups ROH ended up giving this ippv away for free to hundreds of fans (including myself). But, after a year of being in the creative doldrums Sinclair also took the decision of reportedly removing the book from Jim Cornette and handing it back to Delirious. With Delirious and the promotion making noises that they were going to get back to what they do best (providing a cutting edge, contemporary in-ring product) and start moving away from at least some of the old school mentality that Cornette instilled. That, coupled with an interesting set of results and promising live reviews of the show in Rahway last week meant that fans were cautiously optimistic and the pressure was on ROH to produce something special. Was Cornette really gone from the company? Would the ‘new’ ROH be any different? After a completely underwhelming Death Before Dishonor could the company rebound on ppv in a strong way? Would they stop pushing obvious ‘Cornette guys’? Would the main event deliver everything we’d hoped for? Would the company’s patchy ability to produce a glitch-free ippv hold up with hundreds of fans giving them the ‘one more chance’ they swore they never would? You’ve got to say that, with TV this month focused around Survival Of The Fittest, meaning we’ve not had much build for the ppv, despite that the card is really strong. The main event is one of the most eagerly-anticipated of the year as Michael Elgin finally cashes in his SOTF 2011 win to challenge Kevin Steen for the World Title. Many people have this pegged as a potential MOTYC which is a lot of hype to put on a guy who is still relatively untried at main event level in Elgin. The other belts are on the line as well, with the Briscoes challenging SCUM for the Tag Titles and Eddie Edwards looking to regain his TV Title at the expense of his friend Adam Cole. Lower down we’ve got WGTT in a grudge match against Titus and Whitmer, Mondo and Bennett looking to settle their very personal rivalry, the Bravados and C&C hoping to recreate their classic bout from Caged Hostility last month – and a rematch from the finals of Survival Of The Fittest 2012 as Jay Lethal and Davey Richards go head to head. Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness are in suburban Toronto, ONT.
Bravado Brothers vs Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander
Going into Caged Hostility, if you’d have told someone you thought Bravados/C&C would be the showstealer you’d probably have been told you were crazy. But in their home state the two teams produced a thrilling 20-minute tag team battle which stands up amongst the best in ROH’s tag division all year. After spending all of 2012 scratching around on the periphery of Ring Of Honor, it brought them both back into the spotlight in spectacular fashion. But despite putting them back on the map, the Bravados won’t have forgotten that they lost in Charlotte. They’ll desperately want to even the score, whilst C&C will want a big win on ppv so they can get back into contention for another shot at the Tag Titles
Aggressive start from the Bravados, who knock Caprice off the apron and immediately set about isolating Alexander inside the ring. It’s early for something like that though, and the athleticism of C&C soon brings them back onto an even footing. The Hart Attack leg lariat gets 2 on Harlem. Lancelot distracts Cedric as he tries to come off the top though, allowing Harlem to drag him back to the canvas and once again cut him off from Coleman in his corner. At the five minute mark Alexander is in real trouble, rolling around on the floor outside after Lancelot delivers a brutal body slam out there. Mexican surfboard applied next – with the Bryan Danielson stalling and high angle chinlock thrown in too. The Bravados could do a lot worse than styling themselves after the greatest worker to come through Ring Of Honor in American Dragon. They’re not Danielson yet though, and a goof up on an attempted double team gives Cedric the opportunity to bring Caprice back in. He blocks Harlem’s tornado DDT and counters with the ROLLING northern lights…INTO A DOUBLE NORTHERN LIGHTS ON BOTH BRAVADOS! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY CEDRIC! BERMUDA TRIANGLE BY HARLEM! SPRINGBOARD SUICIDE DIVE TO THE FLOOR BY CAPRICE! Harlem is laughably begging Nigel McGuinness for help…and although Nigel refuses he does manage to trap Coleman in the UNPRETTIER for 2! Lancelot in next, and he gets a nearfall with a torture rack neckbreaker. McGuinness literally cheers him on as he nearly decapitates Coleman using a big lariat too. Alexander comes to his partner’s aid, hitting a rebound enzi from the top rope. DVD OVER COLEMAN’S KNEES FOR 2! Lancelot’s nose is bleeding badly, but it doesn’t stop him dragging his own brother off the top with an Iconoclasm Senton on Cedric! Gentleman’s Agreement for 2! TOTAL ELIMINATION BY C&C! OVERTIME NAILED! C&C win again in 12:17
Rating – *** – An electrifying start to the show, and a worthy sequel to their stellar first encounter last month. They started slowly and I was worrying if Charlotte was a bit of a fluke…but I shouldn’t have been concerned. Once they lit the touch paper here it was a scintillating spotfest between four motivated and hungry workers – clearly desperate to use the apparent new booking regime to springboard their ROH careers. It was hard-hitting, it was high-flying and, most importantly to me, it was mostly really clean as well. The live crowd ate it up too. What a way to start such a crucial show!
SIDENOTE – The difference between the sedate, sullen and withdrawn New Jersey crowd last week to this scalding hot group of fans in Canada is amazing. Credit to them as they really added to the spectacle of that last match.
Mike Bennett vs Mike Mondo
This one is four months in the making. The rivalry started at Best In The World 2012 when Mondo interrupted Bennett’s ‘Live PSA’ to attack him. Since then he’s been a continual thorn in Bennett’s side, a distraction as The Prodigy has looked to progress from winning his feud with Lance Storm into the World Title picture, and a sex pest to his girlfriend Maria Kanellis. Sadly it’s not the 80’s anymore, and being booked, as a babyface, to sexually assault Maria has mostly just appalled ROH fans – and it’s really hurt Mondo as his great matches with the likes of Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole and Davey Richards in recent months have mostly been forgotten in favour of this lousy angle. He wants to beat up Mondo, whilst the ‘heel’ Bennett is here to fight for Maria’s honour and stop No Fear getting into their business once and for all.
Maria looks ridiculously hot tonight, but isn’t happy and declines to smooch Bennett before the bell – instead ordering him to focus on kicking Mondo’s ass. Bennett slaps Mondo rather than follow the Code Of Honor of course, and the fight is underway. Maria immediately tries to get involved, but finds her slap blocked for Mondo to start grinding up against her. Prodigy doesn’t like that either, but can’t find Mondo as he flees under the ring. In fact, he’s still looking as No Fear reappears for the POUNCE INTO THE GUARDRAILS! He dives off the apron looking to follow up…BUT BENNETT CATCHES HIM WITH A POWERSLAM ON THE FLOOR! Bennett follows that up with a horrific looking whip into the guardrails then a SPEAR onto the concrete for good measure. Mondo is limping and Bennett makes it far worse as he punches him off the top rope with his legs wrapped in the ropes. SPINEBUSTER ON THE APRON! What is up with Mondo tonight? He is taking some psychotic bumps! They finally return to the ring where Mondo shakes off a cobra clutch attempt and the two men collide in the middle going for crossbody blocks. That didn’t last long, as they brawl up the aisle. Bennett tries a powerbomb…and gets back body dropped on the concrete. It seemed fairly innocuous, but somewhere in that Mondo has really seriously hurt himself. He is struggling to put any weight on one of his legs now…although he comes up with a fine defensive strategy in repeatedly bashing Bennett’s head into the railings. He stops the ref declaring the match a count-out then CROTCHES The Prodigy over the guardrails even whilst standing on one leg! Bennett lands so ugly that that segment of barricade collapses on top of both of them. What is Mondo doing now? No Fear lives up to his nickname by doing a Mark Briscoe and climbing up the entrance scaffold! SUICIDE DIVE OFF THE TOP OF THE SCAFFOLD! Absolutely crazy stuff…and both guys are so beaten up it’s a desperate crawl just to get back to the ring. Maria is on the apron again, and seems incredibly aroused by Mondo’s display of courage with that dive. It’s a fake of course…and she slaps Mondo in the face. He falls backwards into the TKO – giving Bennett the win at 10:53
Rating – *** – What an absolute war that was. And I’m not sure I mean that in an entirely positive way. Expectations were extremely low for this one going in, but I think that was more based on how badly booked this feud has been than the wrestlers themselves. Mondo and Bennett are two of the most improved workers in the whole company this year…but really aren’t at the point where ROH fans will support them whilst being booked like idiots. As a brawl this was crazy. I mean, literally crazy from almost the opening bell. This is the second match on the card, in a feud the fans are sh*tting on. What possessed these guys to go out there and start throwing themselves around, taking nutty bumps on concrete and guardrails from first bell to last is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong – I loved watching it. And, as I said after my Killer Instinct review, it really feels like the whole roster is wrestling with a fire and passion that we’ve not seen for most of the year. But to put this into perspective – Mike Mondo broke his f*cking leg in this match. To reiterate, this was so crazy the guy broke his own leg. I loved the match, but as a fan and critic it makes me uncomfortable to know he was so desperate to entertain me that he thought he needed to dive off the entrance set-up with a fractured ankle. Memorable and totally brutal match – so much better than anyone expected it to be. But it’s an unsettling and disturbing watch too…and Mondo deserves so much respect for finishing it with a horrible injury.
SIDENOTE – Mike Mondo deservedly gets a standing ‘o’ after that, and an audible ‘Ring Of Mondo’ chant. His injury means that was the last of him we’ll see in 2012. Personally I think he deserves enormous credit for his body of work this year. He was terrible – but turned his career around with great matches at Border Wars (the trios tag including the Bucks, ANX and TJP), The Nightmare Begins (the Davey Richards draw) and that brutal fight with Matt Taven on TV. Through the second half of the year he’s been a consistent in-ring performer, even whilst Cornette’s booking has left him looking like an absolute fool. It’s at the point now where his workrate will be a big miss in the midcard.
Rhett Titus/BJ Whitmer vs Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin
We have another grudge match now, as Rhett Titus and Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team go head to head once again. Rhett pinned Haas at Best In The World to win the Tag Titles for the All Night Express (something Charlie and Shelton would call a fluke) but was then unceremoniously stripped of the gold when his partner left for TNA. With a tournament to crown new champions planned during Shelton’s suspension (for a chair attack on the departing Kenny King), Haas and Titus agreed to team up with the end goal of winning the belts then settling it amongst themselves. At Death Before Dishonor their plan fell apart, with Titus being blamed for their failure even though it was Shelton who laid him out with Paydirt before he lost. The rivalry intensified now Rhett and WGTT had fallen down the Tag Title pecking order. Forced to find himself a partner, Rhett recruited ROH veteran and proven tough guy in BJ Whitmer to back him up. Will they settle things definitively here in Canada tonight?
WGTT jump Rhett and BJ during their entrance and put a real beating on them in the aisle. Titus in particular is completely mauled, which in turn makes it very easy for Haas and Benjamin to bring Whitmer into the ring for a 2-on-1 beatdown. Titus finally makes his way to the ring to save BJ from Wrestling’s Greatest Finisher…and Whitmer then mows Haas down with a violent elbow suicida. That was a high risk move and BJ’s landing is so ugly that Charlie is actually up first. He delivers the guardrail backbreaker and leaves Rhett laying right alongside him after a smash against the turnbuckle bolts. WGTT isolate Titus using frequent tags and veteran positioning to keep him well away from his own corner. Rope run belly to belly attempted by Shelton, but Titus knocks him away…and they collide in the middle of the ring off a simultaneous clothesline attempt. Tags all round…and BJ makes it to the middle of the ring first to rock Haas with a flurry of suplexes. ‘F*CK YOU’ DUEL between those two…then a German suplex battle! Haas wins it with the Olympic Slam for 2. IED by Rhett, and it takes a last gasp save from Benjamin to save the match after Whitmer drops Haas with a fisherman neckbreaker. WGTT hit Wrestling’s Greatest Finisher on Whitmer to win at 10:11
Rating – ** – I’m actually being quite harsh with a 2* rating. Had this been on the Sinclair show (and therefore not following the super-exciting Bravados/C&C and Bennett/Mondo start to the ppv) I think I may have given this a higher rating. The brawl at the start after WGTT jumped their opponents on the ramp was very effective, as were the last few minutes which really got the crowd going. What ultimately dragged this one down was a very tedious heat segment on Titus. Shelton wasn’t working particularly hard at all, and Rhett is so immobile at times that it looked so clumsy – and the hot live crowd were noticeably losing interest. Whitmer brought an infectious energy to proceedings whenever he was in there though. He might not be the most interesting character in the world, but from a workrate perspective he is still a top quality worker and he’s a real asset to ROH now he’s back.
Kelly and McGuinness introduce some highlights from the main event of Killer Instinct (which took place the previous weekend). Credit to Sinclair for getting some footage from that show ready for broadcast on ppv within a week. They show the entire Jay Lethal meltdown, and although it’s heavily censored it’s actually a lot more effective and seems a lot more dangerous with every other word ‘beeped out’. Cornette’s table bump makes the cut…before we go back to Toronto. Kevin briefs us on all the fallout from the show – namely that Cornette is now out injured and Steen would spend all this week arguing with ROH officials about the consequences of Lethal’s actions. More on that later…
Jay Lethal vs Davey Richards
Having failed to win the World Title in Rahway, we saw a very dangerous side to Lethal’s character that night. Provoked by Kevin Steen spitting in his mother’s face, he certainly showed more than enough ‘killer instinct’ when he assaulted multiple referees, tore up ringside then attacked Jim Cornette backstage. He has another title shot in his back pocket after winning SOTF, so presumably is now going to start preparing hard and waiting for the right time to cash that in. And speaking of his SOTF win, tonight is a rematch with the man he beat in the final two to win this years tournament. Davey successfully defended the World Championship twice against Lethal earlier in 2012, but couldn’t get the job done for a third time in Baltimore. Will he get a third singles victory against him tonight, or will Lethal’s fury and outpouring of ‘killer instinct’ guide him to a win over the American Wolf here?
It’s a hard-fought and very even opening sequence – with Lethal surprising a few people and competently matching Davey on the canvas as they trade stretches. The stakes are raised when Jay slaps the taste out of Richards’ mouth. The Wolf didn’t like that one bit and he isn’t any happier when Lethal whips him off his feet into the hiptoss dropkick combo. Richards retaliates with the bridging chickenwing spot Nigel used to do (complete with Nigel McGuinness hand gestures). Gradually Davey starts to dominate Lethal, who clearly needs to get back to his feet and start increasing the pace and using his athleticism rather than looking to outwrestle the former World Champion. He leaves the ring, but staggers around on the floor and doesn’t see Davey’s running punt from the apron coming. OLE OLE KICK ON THE FLOOR! And sensibly, having done damage out there, Richards drags his opponent straight back into the ring where he can continue stretching him out. Jay knows he is being overwhelmed with the heavy submission based style…and takes to the air to counteract it. Springboard dropkick nailed, and instantly followed with a tope suicida! LETHAL INJECTION ON THE APRON! Both guys land ugly on that, and need the full 20-count to drag themselves back into the ring to pick up the fight. Alarm Clock from Davey…NO SOLD! SUPERKICK! LETHAL COMBINATION! KOJI CLUTCH! Davey has been in that hold from multiple competitors though and makes it to the ropes with ease there. HEAD DROP GERMAN SUPLEX! LETHAL NO SELLS AGAIN! Davey responds by simply kicking Lethal across the jaw then planting him again – with a bridging German for 2. Lethal is fired up now though, and levels Davey with a gourdbuster. Richards chases him up the ropes to ensure he can’t hit the Macho Elbow. Superplex…but Lethal COUNTERS the roll into the second suplex with a small package! LETHAL INJECTION ON LETHAL! BUZZSAW KICK! ARIES BRAINBUSTER FOR 2! WARRIORS WAY GETS 2! ANKLELOCK! KILLER INSTINCT FROM LETHAL! He stands up and destroys Davey with multiple superkicks…and it’s still just 2! Davey tries to climb the ropes so Lethal BOOTS HIM THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPING TABLE! Lethal is happy to win by count-out…and when Richards rolls into the ring he’s ready to pounce with the MACHO ELBOW! GETS 2! DRAGON SUPLEX…2 AGAIN! Lethal appears to have snapped now, but loses his focus and sees the Lethal Injection COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK! COUNTERED TO THE CRUCIFIX! COUNTERED TO THE KONDO CLUTCH! LETHAL SUPERKICKS THE BACK OF THE HEAD! LETHAL INJECTION! DAVEY KICKS OUT! KOJI CLUTCH! Davey was basically unconscious before the hold was even applied…and Lethal is declared the winner at 23:31
Rating – ****1/2 – I don’t know if everyone will rate this as highly as me, but I thought this was an absolute epic. I went close to calling their Homecoming 2012 match an MOTYC but just stopped short. I can’t do it to them a second time – I absolutely loved this. Both guys played their roles to absolute perfection, and it had so many subtle little storytelling threads that were an absolute pleasure to watch. We know that Lethal is FURIOUS at the moment. But he made a point of saying before the match that he respects Davey. Which is why it made total sense that he wouldn’t want to rip Richards’ head off in the first five minutes. Their submission battle on the canvas was engaging in and off itself, but in context made total sense as both men wanted a respectful wrestling match. And we know Richards is back in ROH to win back lost supporters by showing respect himself. The way he referenced former World Champions throughout the match (Nigel, Joe, Aries, Ki etc) was a wonderful and understated little homage to Ring Of Honor’s heritage. But my favourite plotline was Lethal’s gradual descent into pure, blind rage. THIS, to me, was the match that showed his ‘killer instinct’. By the end of the match he’d forgotten about wanting to be respectful or whatever. He was kicking Davey through a table. He was dropping the Macho Elbow on his head literally as soon as he crawled back in. He was dishing out unprotected superkicks to the back of the head. The concluding sequence was a stunning display of unrelenting brutality – and it put Lethal over in a HUGE way. Great match – honestly one of my favourites in all of 2012. I thought it delivered on so many different levels.
In an interesting development, it’s Eddie Edwards who comes out to check on Davey’s well-being. He helps Richards to his feet, before the Wolf raises Lethal’s arm in a show of sportsmanship.
INTERMISSION – Kevin Kelly breaks the news that Mike Mondo is in the hospital getting his leg and ankle x-rayed after sustaining a serious injury in his match with The Prodigy.
We are scheduled to get the second half underway with Tadarius Thomas facing Roderick Strong. However, Roddy comes out in street clothes and is clearly not happy. He yells at Truth for not getting him anything better than the popcorn match against a ‘nobody’ on one of the biggest shows of the year. He isn’t just on strike now – he officially quits the House Of Truth. He’ll apparently be back for the main event and will sit at ringside to watch Elgin lose. Martini disappears momentarily, then comes back dragging Rhino with him and saying everything is fine with Roderick. The Man Beast isn’t best pleased, but accepts the money to sub in for Roderick…
Tadarius Thomas vs Rhino
The House Of Truth is now well and truly crumbling around Truth Martini. Michael Elgin doesn’t want anything to do with him and has been openly disobeying him for months. Roderick Strong just quit having been at loggerheads with Unbreakable for a long time too…and Rhino looks extremely unhappy about being hauled out from the locker room unprepared and made to compete here. Tadarius is somewhat caught in the middle, but it’s another chance for him to shine on ppv after his win at Death Before Dishonor 10 in Chicago. It would be a huge feather in his cap and a big springboard to his career if he could capitalise on the ‘hoopla’ surrounding the HOT to defeat the Man Beast tonight.
Thomas is a tricky customer and evades the clutches of Rhino with some easy in the opening minutes. His bizarre striking combinations have some success…until the Man Beast drops him on his face with a brutal TKO. Martini brings his bag to ringside and Rhino literally starts taping up his wrists and getting ready to wrestle whilst putting the boots to TD. Truth lays in some cheap shots as well – against the wishes of Rhino who admonishes him for doing so. Martini gets back in the good books of his man by pulling out the baby oil and oiling up his shoulders. I wish I hadn’t just had to type that! Tadarius again comes from all angles with capoeira strikes…so Rhino drops him again with a belly to belly suplex. But as he sets up for the Gore Truth Martini again gets involved, moving Thomas with a trip. The delay proves costly as TD evades the second Gore attempt and grabs a flash pin to win at 05:56
Rating – ** – This rating breaks down as a star for the match (which was actually funnier and better than the total bust I thought it was when watching live) and a star for putting Thomas over. I’m not completely sold on Tadarius yet, but he is at least fresh new talent with the potential to improve going forward – and that is the kind of guy Ring Of Honor should focus on. That said, I’d probably have preferred them not to have a match at all. I’m not sure why Rhino even needed to be booked…
Rhino is furious at Martini for costing him the win. So pissed off in fact that he ignores the money Truth throws at him and PRESS SLAMS HIM FROM THE RING INTO THE GUARDRAIL! Martini’s leg is a f*cking MESS after that bump by the way. That’s another guy out of the HOT!
Adam Cole vs Eddie Edwards – ROH TV Title Match
This is actually Die Hard’s first televised appearance for ROH since he was ‘injured’ at the hands of Rhino in their #1 contendership match on Sinclair TV (Eddie actually took some time off to tour Japan with NOAH). He’s not done much to necessarily earn this shot, but as the first ever ROH Television Champion he does have a certain about of credibility in this division. He’s also a friend and mentor to the current champion Adam Cole – making this an intriguing contest. The 15-minute time limit has been doubled too, giving these two plenty of time to pit their skills against each other.
Sensibly Edwards takes the match to the ground immediately. Cole is no match for him down there, and it’s a great way to negate the agility and athleticism of the champion. But a theme of the five minutes of mat work they run through at the start is that, although Eddie seems to be the aggressor for most of it – Adam shows real resilience and surprising amounts of skill in hanging with him. Never is that better exemplified than the ease with which he rolls out of the Achilles lock. Eddie escapes the Figure 4 moments later. Chop blocked…superkick blocked…duelling dropkicks! After six minutes of competition we’re literally right back where we started. Edwards has a look on his face which clearly says ‘sorry buddy, I’ve got to crank sh*t up a notch’ before he blasts Cole with a venomous chop. Adam falls out of the ring, but it doesn’t stop him firing right back as he counters the elbow suicida with a big jumping enzi through the ropes. BIG BOOT from Eddie anyway, into the ELBOW SUICIDA second time around! Back in the ring there is a sickening thud as he connects with a sliding enzi for 2. Cole tries to work on Eddie’s leg to set up for the Figure 4…but Die Hard is an old pro when it comes to that tactic and snaps back at him with a dragon screw. His finisher works on the leg too remember. He pummels the champ with a succession of chops…so Cole creates some space by punting him onto the apron. SLINGSHOT DDT ON THE APRON! EDDIE LANDED ON HIS HEAD ON THE FLOOR TOO! Todd Sinclair’s look of horror tells you everything you need to know about how serious that could have been…and Eddie does seem to have taken some real neck damage there. Adam lands a Superfly Splash for 2, then makes the neck damage much worse with a Death Valley neckbreaker! Edwards hits the Backpack Stunner but it hurts his neck as much as it hurts Cole. Adam tries a neckbreaker in the ropes…but it’s caught and Eddie hits a dragon screw in that position instead. ACHILLES LOCK! Adam KICKS THE NECK looking to escape. Seriously, not the head, he is aiming them right at the neck and finally he punts the challenger away. Figure 4 Leglock applied, but since he’s not worked on the legs sufficiently Edwards is able to escape. They battle to the top rope, but Eddie’s neck can’t support Cole’s weight and they BOTH FALL TO THE FLOOR! I’m not sure if that was planned but it looked brutal! Eddie’s landing seems to have been softened by landing on top of Cole. He drills the champion with superkicks…SO COLE DROPS HIM ON HIS NECK WITH THE CRADLEBREAKER! FLORIDA KEY! COLE RETAINS! It’s over at 19:09
Rating – **** – Much as with Lethal/Richards earlier, I suspect I may have enjoyed this a great deal more than some critics out there. I’m not sure this was exciting or explosive as some may have liked – which probably hurt it for some. Personally I thought the back and forth technical battle they had was a lot of fun, and in the context of them both being friends it did make sense. And, as a match, it put Cole over huge. After getting dominated for six minutes or so – from that point on Adam was the aggressor. He was the one who opened up an injury (Eddie’s neck) and he was the one who went after it viciously. By attacking the neck and repeatedly going after it to ensure victory he comes off looking like a real threat to all main event level talent in Ring Of Honor. I loved the final few minutes in particular. Whether planned or not, Eddie collapsing under Cole’s weight and both of them falling to the floor was a brilliant way to emphasise how much damage Adam had done to his neck. And the way Cole shut down Eddie’s final offensive flurry with that cradlebreaker was as brutal as it was ruthless. Like I said, maybe not as exciting as some would have hoped…but an engaging and very cerebral bout nonetheless
Jimmy Jacobs/Steve Corino vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe – ROH Tag Title Match
This is comfortably the sternest test of SCUM’s brief title reign thus far. They emerged victorious over two teams last week in Rahway, but WGTT and the Rhett/BJ team had issues of their own which Corino and Jacobs benefitted from. Tonight they face 7-time former ROH Tag Champions, and a team which already holds a win over them (Boiling Point 2012). In fact, the Briscoes have more wins over SCUM than losses right now and could arguably be considered the favourites here.
No Code Of Honor here, as the four men go straight into a brawl out of the introductions. Mark floors Corino with a suicide dive…then grabs Jacobs seconds later for a suplex on the apron. Jay and Corino busy themselves fighting all the way up the apron as Mark continues the craziness with a rolling senton off the apron to the floor. It’s the psychotic Redneck Kung Fu of the younger Briscoe brother that gives the challengers a pronounced advantage as a semblance of tag team normality is finally instated by referee Paul Turner. Corino puts a stop to Mark’s dominance by flattening him with Colby Shock. He’s not done either, as he blasts Mark with a roll of coins as he crabwalks the middle rope. I much prefer that spot when I’m not supposed to buy it as a finish. Jay gets a measure of retribution with the turnbuckle flatliner…and back flips out of what Corino declares to be their ‘new tag team finisher’ into the hot tag to Mark. Iconoclasm gets 2 on Jacobs before Jay returns to the fray for the sidewalk slam/flying leg drop combo. Corino saves Jimmy from the Splash Mountain neckbreaker…and Jacobs thanks him with a spear on Jay. ASSISTED CONTRA CODE! ETERNAL DREAM! Mark barely kicks out of that flurry. On the outside Jay hits a DVD THROUGH A GUARDRAIL SEGMENT on Corino. Mark hits the Froggy Bow…for 2. Corino returns and shoves the referee into the ropes to block the Doomsday Device. He boots Jay in the balls too, allowing Jimmy to roll him up for 3 at 13:57
Rating – *** – The usual stuff from a Briscoes/SCUM match. That’s not a bad thing as it’s all fairly entertaining, but this is the third or fourth time we’ve seen a match like this and they’ve all started to blur into one and become somewhat forgettable.
SIDENOTE – I’m starting to have concerns about the Briscoes. We all love their characters of course. Jay’s ranting ‘Day One’ persona and Mark’s surprisingly intelligent goofy redneck character are both a lot of fun. But, being honest with yourself, what have they produced in the ring that’s been that worthwhile in 2012? In fact, you can take it further back and say they’ve not done a lot since the end of the feud with ANX at Death Before Dishonor 9. That concerns me somewhat. Honestly, other than their very good defence against Team Ambition in Cincinnati, the ‘bitches, bugs and loony tunes’ promo from Homecoming 2012 and Mark’s balcony dive in Milwaukee nothing about their 2012 stands out at all. I know they’ve been stuck with WGTT for a lot of that period. And I know they absolutely did need to tone down their style a tad from the spot-manic work they produced during their fantastic 2007 run with the belts. But it’s at the point now where every Briscoe match is a succession of the same spots, the same silly Redneck Kung Fu and not a lot else. I hate criticising the Briscoes as they are great talents and tremendously loyal servants to ROH. Their spot in Ring Of Honor history is already assured, as is their place as one of the greatest teams of the modern era. But, to me at least, they are starting to get very stale.
It’s main event time, and Steen is out first with some things to get off his chest. He wasn’t happy with Jay Lethal or his family after the events that transpired last week at Killer Instinct. He threatened to no-show the ppv and rob Ring Of Honor of one of it’s biggest main events all year. Frantic discussions took place – with ROH officials eventually agreeing to a succession of Steen’s demands. The Lethal family are now banned from ROH shows. Jay Lethal is now banned from challenging him for the title. He’ll be getting a new World Championship belt (since Corino and Jacobs got new belts, he wanted one too). And most importantly – the piledriver is now legal once again, freeing him up to use the Package Piledriver in any match he wants.
Kevin Steen vs Michael Elgin – ROH World Title Match
This is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated ROH World Championship matches all year. Unbreakable announced at Boiling Point that he would be cashing in his Survival Of The Fittest 2011 victory to challenge for the belt in his hometown of Toronto – against the wishes of Roderick Strong and Truth Martini. That kicked off a chain of events which saw Rhino lose his title shot in Chicago (and Elgin Spiral Bomb Strong at the conclusion of that show) and culminated tonight with the complete collapse of the House Of Truth. Unbreakable comes in alone tonight. He stole the show when he challenged Davey Richards at Showdown In The Sun. Tonight he wants to go one better and leave as World Champion. Meanwhile Kevin Steen has been mocking him for not having back up, and buoyed by the Package Piledriver now being legal again, will Mr Wrestling be able to survive possibly the toughest challenge of his championship reign?
New music for Elgin, who isn’t introduced as ‘representing the House Of Truth’. He is distracted by Roderick Strong taking a seat in the front row though. Steen revels in being introduced as ‘Mr Wrestling’ again too. This one has a real big match aura as the two huge men take turns testing each other with shoulder blocks. Suddenly Elgin explodes into life with a Bossman Slam – delivered with such force that Steen turns round and leaves the ring. The fight continues outside as they take turns sending each other into the rails. Steen is clearly struggling with Elgin’s power though. STALLING VERTICAL SUPLEX ON STEEN! As if that wasn’t enough he flies off the second rope with a shoulder tackle and the challenger is now well on top. Steen resorts to desperate tactics, hitting a DDT in the ropes then the APRON BOMB! On a guy as big as Michael Elgin that spot looks horrific. FROG SPLASH OFF THE APRON! He might not be as strong as Elgin, but he’s clearly a better high flier and willing to resort to any lengths to retain his belt. He’s also much funnier, and cracks the entire arena up as he chokes Elgin in the ropes right in front of Nigel then does the Danielson ‘I have till 5’ gimmick at him
Roderick Strong appears to be cheering Steen on too, so the champ rewards him with a tribute chop in his honour. That turns out to be a turning point though, with Elgin exploding into life after that to deliver a jumping enzi. Sharpshooter blocked, and Unbreakable blasts Steen in the back of the head with a Roaring Elbow. Package Piledriver COUNTERED to an Air Raid Crash! Only for Steen to counter right back by turning the Oklahoma Stampede into a neckbreaker and cannonball senton for 2. Elgin gets desperate and tries the top rope corkscrew senton…and goes straight into Steen’s knees. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA INSTEAD…AND IT SCORES! Right in front of Roderick Strong! He pats Elgin on the head…SPINNING BACK FIST ON RODDY! Elgin literally drags Strong over the barricade and drags him all the way to the locker room. RINGPOST BOMB ON STEEN! CORKSCREW SENTON NAILED! But Steen still has enough to block the Spiral Bomb, then counter it to the Sharpshooter! Elgin rolls out to start belting Steen in the back of the head. They brawl to the apron, with Steen trying for a sleeper suplex. ELGIN PICKS HIM UP ONTO HIS BACK AND DIVE BOMBS THEM BOTH THROUGH A TABLE!
A truly desperate move from the challenger, and the crowd roar in approval as both guys drag their asses back into the ring just before they are counted out. BACK FIST by Elgin…only for Steen to respond by hoisting him up into a sit-out powerbomb for 2. He can’t lift Elgin for the Package Piledriver…and sees the F-5 COUNTERED TO THE CROSSFACE! DEAD LIFT GERMAN SUPLEX…GETS 2! He batters Steen with knee strikes, only for the champion to shake them off and hit a Codebreaker! BUCKLE BOMB! STEEN NO SELLS TO HIT A LARIAT! BOTH MEN DOWN! F-5…FOR 2! And Elgin drags Kevin back to the canvas into the Crossface again! Steen makes the ropes…HEAD DROP SLEEPER SUPLEX! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER DROPS HIM ON HIS NECK! ELGIN F*CKING KICKS OUT! That was so close fans had already started throwing streamers in the ring for the end of the match…and Mr Wrestling looks like he’s in tears! He threatens Todd Sinclair…and as Elgin crawls into the corner he aims another cannonball at him. ELGIN CATCHES HIM! BUCKLE BOMB! SPIRAL BOMB! STEEN GETS A SHOULDER UP! Nigel is losing his mind on commentary now. Elgin has one last burst of energy and hauls Steen up the ropes looking for an avalanche Spiral Bomb. STEEN BITES HIM! AVALANCHE PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! STEEN WINS! STEEN WINS! It’s over at 31:30, and Mr Wrestling somehow leaves Toronto as champion.
Rating – ****1/2 – That is ROH’s MOTY for 2012. Put it above Richards/Elgin, put above the Richards/Steen matches, and above the likes of Cole/O’Reilly and Richards/Lethal (from this show) too. How these two huge men managed to keep up that pace and that level of brutality for over half an hour is beyond me. I was expecting a good match. But I wasn’t expecting to see two guys literally destroy each other, dropping each other on their heads and necks like they were main eventing a Budokan Hall show in the 90’s. Ring Of Honor is a great promotion – but a lot of the workers are junior heavyweight guys who work a very different style to this. This was a truly epic heavyweight collision, and that is such a rare thing in ROH that it felt truly unique. Perhaps they could have been slightly more intelligent with it. But they didn’t need to. From first minute to last this was about two men who wanted to beat the hell out of each other. It was about Elgin’s dominating, unbelievable power versus Steen’s cunning and phenomenal ability to move for a guy of his size. This one sort of divides opinion – particularly over the first ten minutes or so which, admittedly were fought at quite a slow pace. But that’s the whole point. Even in that first period of the match, it was all about setting out those themes. Elgin used power moves. Steen was jumping off the apron and dropping him on his head. As the match progressed they were still doing those things…what changed was the pace got more and more frantic, with the crowd responding to that and being whipped into a frenzy. My big concern was that, after laying waste to each other for 30 minutes they wouldn’t be able to pull out a suitable finish. After all that had gone before I was worried the end would feel like an anticlimax. I shouldn’t have worried – that Package Piledriver off the second rope was completely nuts, and after everything the two men had done to each other a perfectly logical and believable way to end it. This wasn’t a mat-based clash like Cole/Eddie. This wasn’t full of subtle story-telling like Lethal/Richards. But it was a stunning main event which people need to see if they hadn’t already. But for the Roderick Strong stuff (which was entertaining but detracted from the overall feel of the match) and silly spot involving Todd Sinclair near the end I may well have gone 5* on this. Absolutely loved it. Watching it live I thought it was good, but I don’t think I entirely ‘got it’. On second and third viewings it just kept getting better as I noticed different things. Like I said, that’s match of the year for me. I take my metaphorical hat off to both workers.
Both men lie flat on the canvas looking exhausted. Steen is cradling his belt like a baby as the grateful live crowd cover the ring in streamers and give them the standing ovation they deserve. Roderick returns to spoil the moment and lay Elgin out with a Sick Kick. Meanwhile on the floor Paul Turner hands Nigel McGuinness a box which apparently needs to be delivered to Kevin Steen. He cautiously steps into the ring and announces that it was marked for Steen’s attention ‘should he retain the belt’ tonight. A familiar chant is already starting to ripple around the arena as Steen opens the box. He’s not happy…AND PULLS OUT AN EL GENERICO MASK! The crowd goes nuts as you’d expect, and with Final Battle our next and last stop in 2012 the man who once ended Steen’s ROH career looks to be heading back one more time to end his title run! It…is…on!
Tape Rating – **** – Ring Of Honor’s show of the year. One problem ROH haven’t had in 2012 is delivering great shows on the big occasions. The 10th Anniversary, Day 1 of Showdown In The Sun, Border Wars and Best In The World were all great shows. But somehow Glory By Honor had them trumped. I can’t quite put my finger on why either. I mean, I’ll admit Steen/Elgin is my 2012 ROH MOTY which certainly helps, but that’s not it. It’s not even the presence of a second MOTYC in Lethal/Richards – Best In The World had the awesome MOTYC double act of Cole/O’Reilly and Steen/Richards 2 remember. Somehow this one just FELT different. I don’t know what ROH has changed since Survival Of The Fittest. I’m not convinced Jim Cornette is as gone as we’re being led to believe. He was the main broker in the ROH/Sinclair deal, he’s clearly very close to the SBG higher ups and, to be frank, we weren’t told about Delirious being removed as booker before – we could just as easily not be told that Cornette still has a lot of pull. But something has changed. I said it during my Killer Instinct review – it seems like the whole roster is wrestling with a fire under it’s ass again. Honestly, for the first time since Sinclair took over, this felt like an ‘old ROH’ show. I know that’s a big statement and a very vague one too…but that was the impression I came away with. For the first time in a long time it felt like everybody from first match to last wanted to steal the show. The undercards under SBG have so often been skippable. Not tonight, with seemingly everyone busting their asses to produce something special. The Bravados and C&C were spectacular in the opener. You had Mondo very literally risking life and limb to deliver in his match with Bennett. Truth Martini got injured during a segment, not even a match! I’m sorry I can’t necessarily find the words to articulate why this is the best Ring Of Honor event this year. The WGTT match, Thomas/Rhino and even the Tag Title Match weren’t even particularly special. Like I said, I don’t know what’s changed and ROH is still very much fighting an uphill battle to recapture the lightning in a bottle that made this promotion such a special place in the early part of the 21st century. But the shoots of recovery have to start growing somewhere and these last two shows may really represent that. Do yourself a favour and own this DVD.
Top 3 Matches
3) Adam Cole vs Eddie Edwards (****)
2) Jay Lethal vs Davey Richards (****1/2)
1) Kevin Steen vs Michael Elgin (****1/2)
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.