ROH Supercard Of Honor VII 4/5/2013

ROH 322 – Supercard Of Honor 7 – 5th April 2013

Every year the festival of wrestling that is Wrestlemania weekend gets bigger. Last year ROH seemed to have more competition than ever, but ended up presenting what many called the best match of the entire weekend when Davey Richards and Michael Elgin battled for the World Championship. This year the amount of promotions running the NY/NJ market alongside WWE’s Wrestlemania has grown again. ROH gets to present a show in their strongest market, and has sold out the prestigious Hammerstein Ballroom for this evening’s ippv presentation – so will be looking to make a huge statement with a ton of potetial new fans to reach. The headline bout sees the World Title showdown between dominant champion Kevin Steen and perennial ‘bridesmaid’ Jay Briscoe. Can he defy a serious shoulder injury and pull off a major upset in our main event? The other titles are on the line too, with Matt Taven defending the Television Championship against both Adam Cole and Matt Hardy, and Tag Champions reDRagon squaring off with their arch rivals the American Wolves. Plus a huge ROH vs SCUM 10-Man Tag, Lethal and Elgin locking horns to determine a new #1 contender for the top prize in the promotion, a mystery partner for QT Marshall debuting, Shelton Benjamin making an appearance despite Charlie Haas’ retirement, and New Japan star Karl Anderson returning to ROH for the first time since 2007. I know I’m an ROH fan, but I truly believe there wasn’t a better card on offer from any of the companies promoting shows this weekend. It’s up to them to deliver on that promise now. Kevin Kelly and Caleb Seltzer are in Manhattan, NY.

QT Marshall and RD Evans head to the ring to get us underway. The speculation over who Evans has recruited to be Marshall’s new partner has been rampant…and after much stalling and teasing some names, the Barrister reveals that it will be him that will team with QT. God’s Gift doesn’t look overly impressed with the news, but doesn’t have time to do anything about it as their match is now…

QT Marshall/RD Evans vs Tadarius Thomas/ACH
We know that ROH Match Maker Nigel McGuinness put TD and ACH together as he thought their styles meshed well together. They had a blistering debut bout on TV where they pushed the American Wolves to the limit, and now make their ippv bow against an unknown quantity in the tag division. Marshall has been floundering in the midcard as a singles act so could do with a change of direction. Pairing him with RD Evans as a manager clearly hasn’t worked, so perhaps a tweak to the dynamic and bringing in Evans as a regular wrestling talent for the first time will help him.

Evans assures Marshall that he’s capable of starting the match…and immediately regrets his decision as Thomas throws multiple capoeira kicks in his direction. A ‘muscle tweak’ means he finally does have to bring QT in. ACH steps in to meet him and is far too quick to deal with. Evans tags himself in, only for Tadarius to go nuts on both opponents at once! He literally starts beating on Marshall with RD’s own foot! Marshall finally blasts TD with a lariat, flipping him through the air and giving his team the advantage for the first time. They get 2 with a nice backbreaker/running neckbreaker combo, but can’t keep Thomas in the ring. ACH gets the hot tag and dishes out some wild kick variants in the corner before hanging them up for a DOUBLE tree of woe lariat! SWINGING Texas Cloverleaf on Evans, and Marshall has to save his Barrister from certain defeat there. STEP UP SOMERSAULT PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR! Thomas wants to dive too but is cut off by Evans. The Barrister tries a pescado again…only to belly flop into his own partner! Thomas with the SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP! Evans hits the INVERTED STYLES CLASH on ACH! TD saves his partner from God’s Gift! CAPO KICK/CRADLE DDT COMBO! TD and ACH get the win at 09:53

Rating – *** – It’s so important to get a hot start for these New York shows, so this was a real pressure match for these four. They absolutely delivered the goods, highlighted by another top notch performance from ACH. He is so exciting to watch that he brings crowds to life, and after being a little off colour in the Proving Ground fourway at WAR it was good to see him back to his very best. The team with TD has some real promise, particularly as Thomas appeared to step up his high flying and striking game to hang with his new partner. They are an exciting duo, and you feel that Marshall and Evans do have real comedic potential as an undercard team too. RD is extremely charismatic, and Marshall as the boneheaded muscle of a comedy tag team is infinitely preferable to having to take him seriously as a singles wrestler.

Shelton Benjamin comes to the ring, getting a surprisingly decent pop from the crowd. He confirms that Charlie Haas isn’t in New York and the WGTT grudge match has been cancelled. Cheeseburger is summoned to the ring with Shelton offering him a handshake for standing up to Charlie. The crowd are completely bored by this now…to the extent that they actually pop for Mike Bennett, Maria Kanellis and Bob Evans interrupting to make an ROH return. He’s not been in ROH for a while as he’s currently the hottest free agent in wrestling – with offers to go to other companies, to do reality shows, to record hip hop records and so on. Cheeseburger stops him announcing where he’s signing to call Maria a ‘cum burping gutter slut’…which starts a fight…which leads to an impromptu match

Shelton Benjamin vs Mike Bennett
This is an interesting situation, in that both of these two have been featured very prominently on ROH television since Sinclair took over – but now are both off the regular roster as they chase WWE deals. Bennett has been linked with a developmental deal for a while, and Shelton was even at the 2013 Royal Rumble with a potential spot in the Rumble match itself on the cards for him. They have no real reason to want to fight each other, but equally they have massive egos and a passionate dislike for the New York crowd. Therefore it’s a safe bet that both competitors would like their hand raised in victory…

Maria screams in terror as Benjamin plasters Bennett then scoops Brutal Bob up for a Samoan drop inside the first ten seconds of the contest. Running double stomp in the corner from the former Tag Champion gets an early nearfall. Mike throws some elbows, disorientating Shelton sufficiently to enable him to land a spinebuster. Rather than follow up Bennett heads to his corner for a celebratory bump’n’grind from his fiancé instead. TKO is countered to a backbreaker from Shelton, and the match is moving at such a frenetic pace that both wrestlers are starting to visibly tire. Benjamin hits the Stinger Splash and floats it straight into the T-bone suplex for 2. Paydirt blocked…into the Box Office Smash! That’s usually his finish, but Bennett has bigger plans to piss the ROH fans off. He hoists Shelton up…GO TO SLEEP COUNTERED TO A HALF CRAB! Maria is on hand again though, distracting the referee so Bob can run down Shelton with a football tackle. Bennett hits a flying leg drop…but for the second time in the match he opts to grind it out with Maria rather than target Shelton. DRAGON WHIP! Maria unwittingly grinds with Shelton. ‘She’s got jungle fever’ – Caleb. BENNETT ACCIDENTALLY NAILS MARIA! GERMAN SUPLEX…GETS 2! Kanellis is selling that like she died! Back drop driver by Shelton, but again Paydirt is evaded. He tries to slingshot in from the apron, only for Bennett to grab the ropes (plus Bob) to cling on for a cheap win at 08:58

Rating – *** – I’m giving a very generous 3* for this. Certainly not a remarkable match by any stretch of the imagination, but honestly I was entertained by this as I was for the opener. Bennett, for all his critics, has been so fun to watch since ROH managed to tempt Maria on screen with him as part of his act. They are such a blast that they even made the charisma-blackhole of Shelton Benjamin exciting too. In Shelton’s defence, he is a great worker when he actually wants to put some effort in, and his workrate tonight was considerably higher than it has been with WGTT for some time. I really hope ROH can convince The Prodigy to stick around. His act is so over, Maria surely is as much of a draw as any of the ex-WWE guys on the roster and, much to the annoyance of some ‘smart fans’ who just want to bash him, he is genuinely a decent in-ring worker too.

Shelton gets a standing ovation after the match, and pauses to acknowledge those cheers. Presumably that’s the moment where both fans and the wrestler himself realises it’s the end of his run here.

Michael Elgin vs Jay Lethal
This is a #1 contendership bout, with the winner receiving a title shot at the World Champion at a future event. Both Elgin and Lethal have previously challenged Kevin Steen and been unsuccessful. Unbreakable put up a hell of a fight before falling to defeat at Glory By Honor last year, whilst Lethal failed to dethrone Mr Wrestling at both Killer Instinct and the 11th Anniversary Show.

Is it just me, or does Elgin’s combination of lemon yellow singlet and balding mullet haircut make him considerably less intimidating than he should be? They test for weaknesses in the early going, racing back and forth as they try out power moves, strike moves, speed moves…and eventually end with a neat sequence which sees both a Lethal Combination and a Spiral Bomb attempt countered. Elgin looks to use his power with a Chaos Theory only for Jay to grab the ropes then fly at him with a second rope heel kick – so give the first point to Lethal and his speed advantage. He quickens the pace and lands a series of heel kicks and dropkicks. With Unbreakable on the mat he looks to further negate his power by keeping him on the canvas with a chinlock. That works for a time, until finally Jay goes for one aerial move too many and catapults himself into a powerslam from the big man. THIRTY SECOND SUPLEX NAILED! Some of the crowd slightly ruin the moment with a smart ass ‘that’s impressive’ chant…and get worse seconds later with a ‘Chris Benoit’ chant when Elgin locks Lethal in a Crossface. Jay makes it to the ropes and cranks up the speed again with the REPEATED TOPE SUICIDAS! Elgin tries to counter one…SPRINGBOARD DROPKICK INSTEAD! Yes – I love familiarity countering and intelligent work like that. For f*cks sake now the dumb ass fans are doing the ‘twinkie’ chant. Lethal dumps Elgin on his head with a running DVD then heads to the top rope. RUNNING MAFIA KICK by Elgin to block the Macho Elbow! DEAD-LIFT SUPERPLEX! Both men are worn down, and gesture to their waists that they each want to be the next World Champion! Michael does his best to knock Lethal out with punches then drills him into the canvas with the Black Hole Slam for 2. GERMAN SUPLEX INTO THE TURNBUCKLES! Lethal is in a heap on the mat, giving Elgin the confidence to climb up the ropes for that corkscrew senton…which only gets knees of course. Jay hits a pop-up neckbreaker, but STILL can’t hit the Macho Elbow. Koji Clutch applied instead! Unbreakable refuses to tap! Lethal Injection…COUNTERED TO THE CHAOS THEORY…COUNTERED WITH A SUPERKICK! SPINNING BACK FIST! BUCKLE BOMB! NO SOLD! SUPERKICK DUEL! LARIATOOOOO BY ELGIN! He drags Jay up for another Buckle Bomb! Spiral Bomb COUNTERED WITH A REVERSE RANA! LETHAL INJECTION NAILED! ELGIN NO SELLS! LETHAL COMBINATION! HAIL TO THE KING! ELGIN KICKS OUT! The crowd, who were total assholes just minutes earlier, are going batsh*t crazy now! Jay is in shock that he didn’t win it right there. He tries something drastic in the corner…and finds it countered with an AVALANCHE ELGIN BOMB! BACK FIST! BUCKLE BOMB! SPIRAL BOMB! Elgin wins at 19:05

Rating – ****1/2 – ROH’s first legitimate MOTYC for 2013. I know a lot of people loved Punk/Taker, and I’ve not seen the DGUSA/Evolve Mania weekend shows yet, but you may need to start calling Elgin ‘Mr Wrestlemania Weekend’ because he just stole the whole event for a second year running. These two were given a decent time allowance, and from the opening bell it was clear they were planning to produce something pretty special. There wasn’t a single throwaway move in this match. Literally everything was done for a reason. The opening two minutes of near misses and counter sequences wasn’t just pretty wrestling to pop the crowd. It set up the dynamic for the whole match – with Lethal’s speed pitted against the raw power of Elgin. Throughout the contest we had Michael dropping huge bombs, and we had Jay’s agility and experience allowing him to bust out some crazy counters to Elgin’s signature moveset. There were familiarity counters (which I’m a mark for), and some absolutely unbelievable exchanges down the stretch. Toss in a better crowd (seriously guys, Chris Benoit chants? Are you kidding me?) and a finish which didn’t bury Jay quite so spectacularly (Elgin kicked out of ALL of Lethal’s finishers then totally murdered him with his) and I’d have gone even higher. Like I said, I’ve not seen Gabe’s companies shows from Wrestlemania weekend as yet, but I put this above anything on the Wrestlemania card – including the CM Punk vs Undertaker match.

Just when it looks like we’re going to get a handshake between the two, SCUM members start jumping the guardrails and making their presence felt on the card for the first time. Compton, Jacobs, Rave, Rhino and Titus maul Elgin and Lethal in a 5-on-2 assault with Steve Corino on the microphone egging them on.

Jimmy Jacobs/Jimmy Rave/Rhett Titus/Cliff Compton/Rhino vs Mark Briscoe/BJ Whitmer/Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander/Mike Mondo
This is ROH vs SCUM warfare. All five of the ROH guys have been beaten up multiple times by Corino’s troops. They interrupted Mike Mondo’s big comeback on TV to lay him out. Rhett Titus spectacularly broke up his team with BJ when he joined SCUM. Rhino separated Mark’s brother’s shoulder with the Gore at the 11th Anniversary. C&C have been handcuffed and assaulted repeatedly. Will they uphold ROH’s pride and get a measure of retribution for those deeds, as well as the comprehensive 3-0 whitewash on the ROH vs SCUM episode of the SBG TV show last weekend?

There are so many guys involved in this it is complete chaos. Mark is diving off the apron into a Cactus Elbow in the first ten seconds – it’s that mental. Caleb Seltzer and Steve Corino are having an amazing argument on commentary, with Corino completely embarrassing poor Caleb. As a semblance of a match breaks out SCUM look to isolate Mondo from his partners. It’s not the most inventive of heat segments and it fades into the background of Corino’s amazing rants from the commentary table. Stereo somersault planchas from C&C bring the ROH team back into proceedings…and in comes Briscoe for a SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT DIVE TO THE FLOOR! Titus lays Whitmer out with the Thrust Buster, as Cliff drops Coleman with a falcon arrow. SCOOP LUNGBLOWER from Cedric to Compton! Jacobs hits a Pedigree for no apparent reason…but Mark stops Rhino landing the Gore as he absolutely blasts him with the shotgun dropkick. Rave in with the Ghana-rea on Briscoe! ELBOW SUICIDA BY WHITMER! Corino and Seltzer are arguing again…and this time Steve drabs Caleb away from the table and MURDERS HIM AGAINST THE GUARDRAIL! Amazing!!! Corino gets into the ring and supervises his troops handcuffing BJ to the ropes. Compton throws powder as usual (although I don’t know who he actually hit with it), and Jacobs runs in to belt Mondo with a chain. GUTWRENCH PILEDRIVER FROM COLEMAN TO RAVE! He dropped him right on his head! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE! Rhino pins Caprice at 11:15

Rating – *** – That was so chaotic it was almost impossible not to enjoy it. It reminded me of (one of the better) Scramble Matches from 2002, with guys just chucking ridiculous spots and bumps around, doing silly moves with very little rhyme or reason just to pop a crowd. Why on earth did Jimmy Jacobs feel the need to do a Pedigree in the middle of the match when he’s never done it before in ROH, it’s not one of his moves AND Jimmy Rave uses it as a finish? Why the hell did Caprice try to cripple Rave with that nutty piledriver variant which didn’t even get a nearfall? Did Mondo get in ANY offence in the whole match? The point I’m getting at is that this one had a lot of problems – but you’ll love it anyway. Corino on commentary was a blast as well.

INTERMISSION – We run a video package of all Jay Briscoe’s previous unsuccessful title shots. Nearly a decade later and his matches with Samoa Joe still look hellaciously violent. I miss Joe in ROH to this day.

Nigel McGuinness replaces Caleb Seltzer for the second half. I didn’t actually hate Caleb’s commentary. In fact I even prefer him to the near-intolerable Kevin Kelly at times. Nigel is a clear step above him, and raises the overall quality of the announcing when he is at the booth though.

Roderick Strong vs Karl Anderson
Lets not beat around the bush here, ROH being able to bring Karl Anderson in for an ippv and a TV taping appearance at Wrestlemania weekend is a huge deal. Of course it’s not his debut, but back when he was last in ROH he was a west coast worker who went on Japanese tours periodically. He returns in 2013 as a major star in NJPW and a critically-acclaimed act for the biggest promotion in Japan. He was hot off a hugely well-received IWGP Title Match. At this stage getting Machine Gun in is a major coup and speaks volumes for ROH’s apparent growing relationship with New Japan.

Anderson is clearly the stronger athlete and overpowers Strong in the early going – easily forcing him to the canvas and riding him with a side headlock. Roddy tries a leapfrog only for Karl to literally MOW THROUGH him! Quickening the pace seems to be a smart strategy though, enabling Roderick to land a jumping heel kick. He lands a few chops only for Anderson to step out to meet him with a dropkick to the knee. The ROH star is instantly hobbled and Machine Gun is all over that injured limb.  With Roddy limping badly he tries to flee…only for Karl to chase him into the crowd and attempt an Ace Crusher over the rails. COUNTERED TO A GUARDRAIL GOURDBUSTER! Clearly Strong wants to midsection, but with a bad leg can he utilise much of his backbreaker-based offensive arsenal here? He smashes Karl with a running elbow to the neck then scoops him into an Olympic Slam for 2. Both men are now struggling with injury and resort to pelting each other with chops. Sick Kick is countered to the spinebuster by Anderson. From a position of apparent dominance, Machine Gun leaves his jaw exposed and EATS the Black Superkick! He goes to the apron to evade the Stronghold, leading to an exchange of strikes out there. RUNNING APRON DROPKICK FROM ANDERSON! Diving neckbreaker scores for 2, and Karl shows his NJPW influences by running across the ring for a Ligerbomb. Ace Crusher COUNTERED with the Sick Kick for 2! Death By Roderick…Sick Kick again! Again they get to their feet and HAMMER each other with ferociously stiff strikes. Orange Crush Backbreaker…COUNTERED TO A SIT-OUT SCREWDRIVER FOR 2! Strong is on rubber legs and barely avoids the Ace Crusher on a couple of occasions…but is powerless on the third occasion. ACE CRUSHER wins it for Anderson at fiercely competitive 12:33

Rating – **** – This was probably a three and a half star match rather than four, but I like to be generous with my ratings and I felt the combative, physical and unrelenting ferocity of the battle between these two was enough to deserve a stronger rating. This was very much like an undercard match on a puro card. They threw some limb-work out there, but it was largely a perfunctory back story to flesh out was essentially two hard-hitting and well-travelled warriors stiffing the crap out of each other. Despite not running in the same promotions overly frequently, I thought the level of countering they were able to do to each other’s signature spots was really impressive too. In the SBG TV era, when ROH are always looking for talent who can produce GREAT matches in the shortest possible time allocation, I imagine Delirious and his team were backstage purring over this one. Anderson is booked for TV tomorrow afternoon, and really hope Ring Of Honor can find a gap in his full-time NJPW schedule to bring him back.

Matt Taven vs Matt Hardy vs Adam Cole – ROH TV Title Match
I believe this one is under elimination rules. Hardy and Cole have had issues with each other going back to Death Before Dishonor 10 last year. They were scheduled to settle their differences at the recent Chicago TV tapings, with Adam set to defend his TV Title against Hardy. Sadly Matt Taven and the House Of Truth spoiled those plans when he shocked Cole (with help from Truth Martini) to win the Television Championship the night before the tapings on internet pay-per-view. Cole was devastated, Hardy was in shock…and their scheduled championship showdown was relegated to a #1 contendership bout. A winner couldn’t be determined when they met on SBG leading to Nigel booking the pair of them into this one.

Corino gives Hardy an elongated introduction, interrupted constantly by the vocal anti-Hardy fans in attendance. Taven stands there watching as Cole and Hardy continue their feud and fight amongst themselves. Even when he tries to get involved Adam simply runs past him into a tope suicida aimed at the retreating Hardy. Finally the TV Champion involves himself, kicking Cole off the apron then flying over the ropes into a suicide dive to wipe out both opponents. Scarlett, Truth’s Hoopla hottie, totally steals the attention of everyone in the crowd by giving Nigel McGuinness a lapdance. When the camera pans out there honestly isn’t a single visible crowd member watching the match. Hardy tries to get some attention back on the wrestlers by hitting his second rope leg drop on Cole for 2. ‘You fat f*ck’ – New York to Hardy. Cole scores with a Shining Wizard…and it appears Taven is so irrelevant here he doesn’t even need to wrestle. He is genuinely sitting on the floor outside barely even watching. Finally he gets up, hitting Air Taven to break the Figure 4 Leglock. Hardy tries to give the champion a Twist Of Fate but finds it blocked by a running neckbreaker from Adam. Cradlebreaker from Cole to Taven gets 2. Corino and Nigel start shoving each other at ringside, once again drawing twice as much heat as anything going on in the ring. The distraction allows the three men to climb up the turnbuckles for a SPIDER SUPERPLEX TOWER OF DOOM spot! Hardy is up first, dropping Cole immediately with the Side Effect. He ducks Taven’s rebound enzi and nails the Twist Of Fate! Martini is on the apron in an instant to distract the ref…COLE KICKS HARDY IN THE BALLS! SMALL PACKAGE! Cole eliminates Hardy at 10:05 in exactly the same manner that Matt beat him at Final Battle 2012. Pop of the night for Hardy being eliminated! McGuinness dismisses Hardy and Corino’s appeals…so Steve heads into the ring trying to recruit Cole for SCUM. Those two come to blows which allows Taven to sneak in under the rader and drop Adam with the Headlock Driver to retain at 11:27

Rating – * – Not a just a poor match, but I felt this was spectacularly bad booking to allow your TV Champion to be less of an attraction than SIX other talents in a triple threat. Cole, Hardy, Corino, Nigel, Martini and Scarlett all got more spots and more pops than Taven did. I know people will say he’s a bland talent (and there may be some merit to that argument), but what the hell was he supposed to do with a match laid out like this? Cole and Hardy were feuding. His sidekicks (Martini and Scarlett) were at ringside openly distracting the crowd and stealing heat from the match…as were Corino and Nigel. I’m not shying away from the fact that Taven has had a bad week (the Proving Ground fourway at WAR last weekend was really poor too), and I’m quite sure the fans and the creative team are starting to doubt whether the Taven experiment is a sensible idea at this point…but he was booked to fail here tonight. Other than Cole stealing Hardy’s Final Battle finish this was a massive chore to sit through.

reDRagon vs American Wolves – ROH Tag Title Match
This is a rematch from Final Battle. That night the Wolves reunited for the first time in over a year and successfully overcame the dangerous new team of Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish. It proved to be only a temporary setback for the unit known as ‘reDRagon’ though. The Wolves lost a subsequent Tag Title shot to the Briscoes at a January live event in Michigan, then went on to fall victim to reDRagon in the concluding leg of a #1 contendership Gauntlet on Sinclair TV. Fish and O’Reilly succeeded where Davey and Eddie failed – and ended the 8th reign of the Briscoe brothers to become new Tag Team Champions at the 11th Anniversary. Since Richards and Edwards have actually beaten reDRagon before they become instant top contenders and receive this opportunity as a result.

Bobby Fish wears a Bluetooth headset to the ring, so has clearly been watching his Larry Sweeney tapes. Davey starts with O’Reilly, at an understandably tentative pace given how well they know each other. Eddie and Bobby in next, and as regular partners in NOAH those two are no less familiar. Fish disrespectfully slaps Eddie in the back of the head…then heads to the announce booth to tell Kevin Kelly how impressive that was. His cockiness is immediately punished with a flurry of Wolves double teams which leave him isolated from his partner. Kyle tries to fight his way in to kick Edwards but instead it’s him that is trapped in the challengers’ corner for a real working over. It’s to his credit that he absorbs some of Davey’s best shots only to get right back up and level him with an impressive kick flurry. He removes the pad to expose his knee…then hits the ropes for a sliding BARE KNEE strike right into the ribcage. Despite the success of O’Reilly (or perhaps because of it), Fish lets his guard down and walks blindly into Davey’s handspring enziguri spot. It allows the tag to Edwards who rocks him with a SLINGSHOT Codebreaker into a running double knee strike in the ropes. The champions are lured onto the apron…and duly dispatched to the floor with a running punt combo. The Wolves set up for their stereo tope spot, only for reDRagon to charge back into the ring to block it! Stereo ranas by Davey and Eddie…THEN THE STEREO TOPE SUICIDAS! They drag Bobby in for a running powerslam/flying Wolverine combo which gets 2. O’Reilly quickly saves by booting Edwards off the apron and down to the outside

SLINGSHOT SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY FISH! MISSILE DROPKICK TO THE FLOOR BY O’REILLY! Edwards retaliates by back suplexing O’Reilly down on top of his own partner! Richards tags, blasting both opponents into the corner with a Machine Gun Kick flurry. He gets 2 on his former protégé with a snap German suplex. Eddie lunges in with the Boston Knee Party but still the Wolves can’t put their opponents down. SLAPS FROM KYLE! DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK COUNTERED WITH A DOUBLE DRAGON SCREW! Kyle tries to do Davey’s signature running punt…only for Richards to counter that to a Trailer Hitch. Fish boots him in the face, but he refuses to break the hold! Anklelock on Bobby at the same time! The champs escape that predicament, but O’Reilly puts his head up into an absolute barrage of kicks from Davey! He tries to counter one to the Regalplex, only for Richards to block with a knee right on his jaw. Double Alarm Clock nailed, but they MISS the Superkick German with Eddie accidentally laying out his own partner! KICK DUEL between Kyle and Davey! GERMAN SUPLEX…NO SOLD! DOUBLE STOMP! EVERYONE DOWN! DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK ON RICHARDS! REGALPLEX FOR 2! It looks like Davey is out on his feet…but of course he shows his fighting spirit at the last to chase O’Reilly up the ropes. EDDIE DIVES PAST BOTH OF THEM INTO A SPRINGBOARD SUPER RANA ON FISH! SUPERPLEX FROM DAVEY…ROLLED INTO CHASING THE DRAGON ON O’REILLY! FOR 2! DOUBLE DOUBLE STOMP COMBO NAILED! They think about the Powerbomb Lungblower only for Kyle to show a new lease of life to counter it with a reverse rana. He grabs a handful of Davey’s tights, pinning him for a massively deflating victory at 21:06

Rating – **** – It had some problems, but this was hands down the best tag match ROH has done in a while. Putting it into perspective, I thought this was better than Wolves/reDRagon at Final Battle, plus Wolves/Briscoes in Dearborn or Briscoes/reDRagon in Chicago. It started in an entirely underwhelming manner – with the first ten minutes amounting to little more than time-killing fluff. It looked good, but ultimately accomplished nothing more than a very grand stall tactic. Thankfully, the pay-off for that stalling was absolutely spectacular. The second half was an electrifying exchange of high spots. It had the usual no-selling you’d probably expect, but some of the sequences were just spectacular. That explosion out of the ropes with Eddie hitting a wild super rana on Fish then getting up to help Davey hit the champions’ own finisher on O’Reilly was utterly stunning. Had they produced something more substantial and meaningful in the first portion of the match, and if Delirious had come up with something better than a cheap ‘he’s got the tights’ finish we’d be talking firm MOTY territory.

Kevin Steen vs Jay Briscoe – ROH World Title Match
I think the champion has to win this match to pass the one-year mark as top dog in Ring Of Honor. He is one week removed from defeating Jay’s brother Mark Briscoe in a spirited main event at WAR, and will want to continue his dominating reign as World Champion with a clean sweep of victories over the Briscoes. Match Maker Nigel McGuinness had doubts about booking this match. Jay’s shoulder was injured by Rhino during the explosive conclusion to the 11th Anniversary show, and he still had it in a sling as recently as last weekend in Asheville. He’s clearly not had much time to train or rehab the injury, but at the Chicago Ridge TV tapings he begged Nigel to give him a shot. Jay has been the poster boy for the ‘Honor Lives’ movement last year and knows victory tonight would deliver a seismic dent to SCUM’s plans to put ROH out of business.

Steen makes a point of entering via the ramp, rather than coming through the crowd like the rest of SCUM. Jay has his shoulder heavily taped and noticeably isn’t moving that arm too much during the introductions. The champion takes his time before going into battle. He stalks the ring, circling Jay like a predator zoning in on its wounded prey. Briscoe tries a shoulder tackle like a fool, and drops to his knees in pain. Steen is on it in a flash, forcing Jay to up the stakes and jump into a big dropkick just to protect himself. The Apron Bomb is attempted early – too early as it turns out. Jay blocks it and heaves Mr Wrestling into a rough landing on the hard floor. The challenger shows progression from earlier in the match, lunging at Steen with a reverse elbow using his good arm rather than a tackle using the bad one. Now it’s Kevin who needs to up the stakes, and he does so by delivering a solitary shot to the shoulder then blasting him with a DDT when he drops his head. Even though Briscoe stays in control of the match, that one sequence has caused visible damage and leaves his injured arm dangling limply by his side. He can’t even Irish whip Steen now and the champion capitalises – violently slinging him shoulder-first into the ringpost. Jay tries to throw some shots in his direction so Steen drops him again with an armbar DDT for 2. PUMPHANDLE CRADLEBREAKER! CROSS ARMBREAKER! Jay makes the ropes then comes out of the corner with a blockbuster (using the good arm). Jimmy Jacobs tries to interfere at that stage…but is instantly dragged to the locker room by Mark Briscoe! The distraction allows Jay to hit a DVD, but it does as much damage to him as it does to his foe. Steen SNAPS the arm over the top rope. CANNONBALL SENTON AIMED AT THE SHOULDER! APRON BOMB! Somehow Briscoe absorbs that and still gets the knees up to block the Steen-ton! Rhett Titus and Cliff Compton try to run in now – but VEDA SCOTT drags Cliff off the apron! C&C fight Cliff and Rhett away, meaning we still have a clean wrestling match for the World Title. On commentary Nigel McGuinness is openly begging Jay to take the fight to Steen as the momentum starts to shift. F-5 blocked…and both men collide in the centre of the ring! The Briscoe family lead members of the ROH roster to the ring, roaring Jay on! F-5 SCORES! FOR 2! Package Piledriver is blocked, so Steen hits a SLEEPER SUPLEX! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! STILL 2! SCUM ARE HERE! There is a huge brawl in the aisle as ROH and SCUM fight! Matt Hardy hits the ring trying to give Jay the Twist Of Fate…but Steen tosses his own team-mate out! JAY DRILLER! STEEN KICKS OUT! Jay’s shoulder seemingly has nothing left to give, so Steen locks in a CRIPPLER CROSSFACE! Somehow Briscoe escapes! GERMAN SUPLEX! NO SOLD! LARIATOOOO! Followed by the JAY DRILLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! NEW CHAMPION! Jay wins at 18:19

Rating – **** – Watching this live I really didn’t think too much of it. The fact that my feed went out halfway through and didn’t come back until after the finish didn’t help of course, but even before that I wasn’t really digging what they were doing. But reviewing this show from DVD has been a real lesson in why sometimes giving a match a second viewing is so important – and a reminder of why I love reviewing shows so much. Second time around, I absolutely loved this. Remember the Tag Title match, where I said that the first ten minutes were basically time-killing wiffle? This one was the complete opposite. Of course they were still in the low gears and setting the stage, but here everything had a purpose. Steen was confident and ruthless – the hallmarks of a great champion and firm favourite in the match. Briscoe was sluggish, making foolish errors and generally displaying all the traits you’d expect of a half-injured, tag team wrestler who has never ‘won the big one’ in a World Championship main event. Briscoe fought valiantly but seemed powerless to stop Steen’s onslaught on his injured arm. The inevitable SCUM interventions were well-timed, and extremely well-booked so as to contribute to and enhance the match rather than take away from it. Indeed, the only time a SCUM member even laid a finger on Jay was Matt Hardy at the end – and that will be a critical story-point moving away from Supercard Of Honor so certainly wasn’t done as a lazy device to ‘save Steen’s heat’ so to speak. Indeed, the SCUM run-ins were pivotal in changing the course of this match. It put the crowd firmly on Jay’s side, and the shift in momentum towards him from that point was noticeable. Steen broke out all his big guns, but couldn’t keep the 8-time former Tag Champion down, and in the end we had the hugely emotional moment as Jay went from 18-year old kid wrestling the first ever ROH match, concluding a turbulent eleven year journey to become the World Champion in this promotion. Like me, if you watched this live and didn’t think too much of it – give it a second chance. Honestly I was blown away by it. Although it didn’t have the same sheer quality, or even the same emotional resonance, it truly reminded me of the Danielson/KENTA and McGuinness/KENTA World Title clashes – a major compliment.

McGuinness is doing victory laps of the ring, Kevin Kelly is screaming in triumph, Carey Silkin, Bobby Cruise and Veda Scott are all hugging each other – and the crowd is going nuts! The Briscoe family (including Jay’s wife and kids) pile into the ring to kick-start a memorable celebration.

SIDENOTE – Unfortunately I can’t move on from this without mentioning what a frustrating live experience watching that match was. Losing the feed in the climactic moments, then coming back in after the finish to spoil the result was a real disappointment, and an undeniable blemish on what should have been Jay Briscoe’s career-defining moment. Credit to ROH, they (eventually) apologised and (eventually) got a fully-functioning replay up. They also sent out $5 goodwill gestures to everyone who ordered the ippv live which was appreciated. Speaking for myself, whilst I was happy to receive that token, I certainly didn’t want or need ROH’s money for the error, and felt an apology sufficed. I’d seen 95% of a great show, and had access to the full 100% (eventually) available for replay on-demand. That said, and as I said on the Forum the same evening – I’ve been burnt by ROH’s ippv issues one too many times now. It seems that the technology, for whatever reason, just isn’t capable of delivering a 100% guaranteed successful viewing experience. If you pay your money for an ROH (or indeed, any other promotion – even the WWE had problems this weekend) ippv, you are taking your chances on whether you’ll get to see the full show error-free. This event was the last time I made that gamble. ROH has now lost my business as a live ippv customer. I will continue to buy their DVD’s, continue to pay my Ringside Membership fees, and may even order the occasional replay if a show seems sufficiently momentous. But it will be a long time before I feel confident enough to purchase another internet ppv from them I’m afraid. Don’t they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Supercard Of Honor 7 was the last ‘last chance’ I personally am giving ROH on that front.

Tape Rating – **** – Once again Ring Of Honor delivers an outstanding pay-per-view (feed issues aside). If you remove the awful TV Title three-way from the equation, this was another tremendous, consistent, top-to-bottom high quality offering. Lethal and Elgin delivered the first truly top quality bout we’ve seen from ROH in 2013, we saw a new World Champion crowned, and two other extremely good matches in reDRagon/Wolves and Strong/Anderson. Throw in more developments – such as Mike Bennett’s return, the formation of the Marshall/Evans team and the wild ROH/SCUM 10-man tag and you’ve got a really memorable show which stands up against the best ‘Supercard Of Honor’ events from years gone by. If you didn’t order this live, it’s well worth picking up now, and as ever, since it features a World Title change really belongs on every serious ROH collector’s DVD shelf. In terms of ‘Top 3 Matches’ I went back and forth on whether I should rank the Tag or World Title match higher. Wolves/Dragon was had some incredible wrestling action, but Steen and Jay told an engaging and well-executed story. Ultimately I’m always the kind of reviewer that favours story-telling over spotfests (although I certainly enjoy both) – hence I put Steen/Jay at #2. Others may disagree and put Wolves/reDRagon over the main event, and that’s certainly an understandable perspective too.

Top 3 Matches
3) reDRagon vs American Wolves (****)
2) Kevin Steen vs Jay Briscoe (****)
1) Michael Elgin vs Jay Lethal (****1/2)

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