ROH 328 – Best In The World 2013 – 22nd June 2013
This show wound up being extremely significant, in that it became Ring Of Honor’s last internet pay-per-view offering for the foreseeable future. Another night of farcical feed problems meant that, once again, the slowly recovering reputation of ROH was dragged through the mud…and Sinclair finally decided enough was enough and cancelled all future ippv broadcasts to focus on their growing (and reportedly very popular) VOD business. All of this was completely unbeknownst to me as June 22nd 2013 just so happened to be my wedding day. I’d seen none of the TV in the build up to this, and didn’t find out the results of the show until mid-July – so I’ve not seen many write-ups on how good or bad this DVD will be. The main event has Mark Briscoe challenging his brother for the World Title. I have my reservations about how it was booked, but those two always bring the goods when they work each other in ROH, so I have high hopes despite Mark’s alarming decline as a wrestler over the last 18 months. Kevin Steen faces off with Matt Hardy in the other headline bout – in what promises to be an extremely heated and controversial encounter. We also have Ciampa/Elgin, triple threats for the TV and Tag Titles, Wolves vs Adrenaline RUSH and lots more. Kevin Kelly calls the action, accompanied by Steve Corino for the first half of the show and Nigel McGuinness for the second. This is the first time we’ve been to the Du Burns Arena in Baltimore, MD for a show that wasn’t TV tapings.
SIDENOTE – Credit where it’s due, the pre-show hype video for Briscoe vs Briscoe is absolutely superb. It’s a shame there wasn’t anything that effective on TV to promote it! The camera and lighting crews also do a great job making the Du Burns look different, and making the first ippv from this building look and feel different to a regular TV episode.
Mike Bennett vs BJ Whitmer
This one is billed as a ‘grudge match’, although the extent of the grudge is that these two were both on the losing end of the TV Title #1 contenders three way dance on TV recently. Maria Kanellis, frustrated at The Prodigy’s loss, made Bennett assault Whitmer after the match, so now the Buzzsaw wants a little revenge on ippv.
The first punch is thrown by Whitmer, and he’s soon taking flight into a tope suicida to follow that. Not to be out-done, The Prodigy goes high risk too and dives off the apron into a flying lariat to the floor. We come back inside with BJ getting a nearfall following a backbreaker. Brutal Bob is on hand to grab at his foot, causing him to turn his back on Bennett and give him a window of opportunity to deliver a devastating superkick. Prodigy targets his offence at the midsection, then the suspect neck with a cobra clutch. Maria keeps crashing commentary, but at no point can you hear what she’s actually saying. In the ring BJ mounts a comeback, hitting rolling suplexes for 2. Good resilience shown by Bennett though, as he absorbs some of BJ’s best shots before getting back to his feet and delivering his spinebuster. TKO nailed for 2. He decides it’s time to cripple Whitmer…but sees his piledriver blocked. Bob Evans tries a ludicrous run-in only to be Kai en Tai’d (Corino took the Bushwhacker reference so I went for a Royal Rumble 2000 one)…and winds up distracting his own protégé! Bennett is confused and strolls casually into the EXPLODER ’98! Whitmer wins at 08:56
Rating – ** – Had we had a better finish, had we been able to hear a word Maria said (her stints on commentary were uber-distracting) and had Whitmer bothered to sell some of the solid work Bennett produced I could have gone higher on this rating. BJ got the popular victory, but personally I thought this was a timely reminder of how good Mike Bennett can be in the right setting. If WWE aren’t signing him then I’d suggest ROH get him inked to a new contract and push him
Maria is pissed off at another Bennett loss, and angrily tells Mike that it was Brutal Bob’s fault he lost…then leads him away leaving Evans in the dust.
Adrenaline RUSH vs American Wolves
I wasn’t too impressed with RUSH’s last outing (a losing Tag Title challenge against reDRagon at Live & Let Die), but these two teams had a corking little match on the Sinclair TV show earlier this year so I’m glad we have a higher profile rematch on pay-per-view. The Wolves are back in the hunt for the Tag Titles after a huge victory over the Briscoes on TV last week, and will know one more big victory could well be the push Match Maker Nigel McGuinness needs to book another Wolves/reDRagon bout.
Richards starts with ACH, and much as they did with reDRagon last week, it’s clear that RUSH are happy to exchange wrestling holds rather than take to the skies right away. And as with their title shot, that doesn’t seem to favour him as the Wolves take advantage and lay into ACH with chops and kicks. Tadarius tags in but doesn’t fare much better than his partner. Finally Thomas back flips into a dropkick, and takes Edwards off his feet with some cartwheeling capoeira kicks. Richards blindsides TD off an unseen tag and scrambles his brains with a diving headbutt for 2. The Wolves start wearing Thomas out…with Eddie breaking to DESTROY ACH with a running elbow as he stands on the apron. Texas cloverleaf applied by Richards, with Eddie pulling back on his own partner for additional leverage on the hold. Amazingly, TD still manages to Matrix under a clothesline, hit a jumping enzi on Die Hard then get the hot tag to ACH. Sliding lariat through the ropes connects on Edwards, and even Richards can’t lay a hand on him before he dives off the ropes into a flying crossbody for 2. Slingshot Stunner…into a capo kick from Thomas for 2. DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK! SUPERKICK GERMAN! Just like that it’s the Wolves who are in charge once more. Richards Machine Gun kicks ACH seemingly into unconsciousness in the corner, but can’t stop Tadarius dropping his partner with the Sling Blade. BRAINBUSTER BY DAVEY! FROG SPLASH OUT OF NOWHERE BY ACH! Big Bang blocked…Alarm Clock COUNTERED with a reverse rana! BIG BANG DDT…GETS 2! Thomas MISSES Bermuda Triangle moonsault and eats a superkick. ALLEY OOP SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY ACH INSTEAD! 450 SPLASH COUNTERED TO A SMALL PACKAGE! That wasn’t pretty but it’s enough for Richards to pin ACH at 12:56
Rating – *** – I slightly preferred the TV match, in that I felt they packed more excitement and more purposeful wrestling into the 8 minutes they got there as opposed to the 13 they got on ppv tonight. That said, this was still a really exciting match and a welcome return to form for Adrenaline RUSH after their Proving Ground shot against reDRagon earlier this month was uncharacteristically dull. We’re clearly building up to another Wolves/reDRagon showdown, so Davey and Eddie needed to win (especially since they’ve both stared at the lights for the World Champion already in June)…but ACH got in enough of his own spots to leave his mark on the contest.
Adam Cole vs Roderick Strong
In a move which certainly presses home the importance of the live shows (especially considering ippv is done after tonight), this one is built almost entirely out of incidents on the house show circuit. Strong won a hard-fought match with Cole at Honor In The Heart Of Texas, which left Adam so annoyed that he walked out without shaking hands. He returned at Live & Let Die a week later and apologised – but he announced on TV this week, since losing his TV Title he’s more keenly aware than ever of the importance of winning in Ring Of Honor. He’s been losing more than he’s won recently, and needs a high profile pay-per-view victory to get his career back on track.
Strong isn’t interested in going at a fast pace and starts out working headlocks, knucklelocks, clearly wanting to slowly and methodically break down his opponent. Apparently Adam is overcoming a staph infection in his elbow he sustained during his match with Roddy in Texas…and Strong wastes no time attacking that arm. It brings out a more aggressive streak in Cole who quickly knocks him away to land a neckbreaker. Stronghold blocked, but Roderick is still able to lift Cole into a tree of woe to deliver an unprotected running knee to the abdomen. Adam goes to the neck again with a DVD over the knee for 2. TOPE SUICIDA connects (in the aisle rather than into the guardrail unlike San Antonio), and softens Roderick up enough to allow Cole to begin an onslaught on his leg in preparation for the Figure 4. Flying Crossbody COUNTERED with a mid-air dropkick but that hurts Strong’s legs as much as Cole’s ribs. Strong is up first, dropping Cole chest-first over the top rope but can’t quite land the Death By Roderick as yet. Cole kicks him in the neck…then lands the Shining Wizard for 2! FIGURE 4! Strong makes the ropes…DEATH BY RODERICK! SICK KICK! STRONGHOLD! Somehow Cole kicks him away! Superkick…into the Cradlebreaker from Cole! CHOPS ON THE APRON! COLE SUPERKICKS HIM THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPING TABLE! Cole wrestles with his conscience, thinking about helping Strong to his feet…then DROPPING HIM and returning to the ring with a big smile on his face. He laughs and accepts the count-out victory at 15:21
Rating – *** – It gets the same rating, but I thought this was better than the San Antonio match and much closer to the standard of contest these guys produced working each other back in 2012. Lots of crisp, hard-hitting wrestling action – leading to a finish which, whilst deflating in the short term, certainly poses lots of intriguing questions and provides a touch of acceleration to this Cole heel turn which already feels like it’s starting to drag a bit. I could have done with Roddy putting over Cole’s attack on the legs a little better (he basically no sold everything to hit his usual spots), but by and large this was a decent match and will surely lead to another rematch somewhere soon.
The Baltimore fans roundly boo Cole, who once again leaves without shaking hands. Steve Corino chases him up the aisle singing his praises too. Veda Scott wants to take Corino’s spot next to Kevin Kelly…only for Kevin to decide he’d rather talk to RD Evans. Veda makes way for the Barrister but she doesn’t look thrilled. That was awkward…
Tommaso Ciampa vs Michael Elgin
Elgin is still conspicuous by his absence from the World Title picture, but his continued status as the #1 contender as and when he wants a title shot certainly puts a target on his back for other wrestlers to shoot at. Ciampa made a spectacular return to ROH at the last ppv, then stormed straight onto television to assault his enemies QT Marshall and RD Evans. But he wasn’t done there, he also picked a fight with Unbreakable – an act Elgin actually respected. These are two big, hard-hitting dudes with the potential to be future World Champions of this company so this should be an interesting match.
Ciampa goes straight for his big guns – missing with knee strikes and a Project Ciampa attempt in the first thirty seconds. RD Evans, on commentary, suspects he wants this to finish early because his knee can’t be close to 100%. STALLING SUPLEX BY CIAMPA! But it’s still far too early for the exposed knee strikes and this time he sees them countered with the Black Hole Slam into a Crippler Crossface. Credit to Tommaso, he works his way back to his feet them slaps Elgin into a crossface of his own! Elgin stands up trying to counter it and shakes off elbows from Tommaso for a RUNNING DVD TO THE BUCKLES! You better believe Unbreakable is in charge now, and he does the equivalent of pissing all over the ring to mark his turf as he hoists Ciampa up for an even longer stalling vertical suplex. They meet in the centre of the ring again, teeing off on each other elbows and clotheslines, before Tommaso forces the match outside following a Cactus clothesline. SPEAR INTO THE RAILS! Ciampa is on fire and starts tearing up the padding to expose the indoor soccer flooring of the venue. Pop-up basement dropkick nailed, but Elgin blocks a tope suicida…THEN BRAINBUSTERS HIM ON THE EXPOSED FLOOR! Tommaso barely makes it back to his feet…SO ELGIN F*CKING POWERBOMBS HIM INTO THE GUARDRAILS!
CORKSCREW SENTON…FOR 2! Elgin senses blood in the water, and looks shocked as Ciampa shakes off the Buckle Bomb to flatten him with the Air Raid Crash. Repeated knee strikes! ELGIN NO SELLS! BACK FIST BY CIAMPA! KNEE STRIKES AGAIN! And Tommaso’s knee is strong enough to drag his massive opponent up from the canvas and up the ropes for the AVALANCHE AIR RAID CRASH! Both men are down, and the crowd are seemingly split down the middle as to who they want to win. Still Tommaso can’t hit Project Ciampa, and he sees another knee strike countered with the ST-JOE! DEAD-LIFT FRONT SLAM FOR 2! Ciampa tries to crawl away but is waffled with the spinning back fist! DEAD-LIFT SUPERPLEX…COUNTERED TO PROJECT CIAMPA!!!!! ELGIN IS IN THE ROPES! The Sicilian Psychopath is in shock that he didn’t win there, and ups the ante again with an AIR RAID CRASH ON THE APRON! AIR RAID CRASH ON THE FLOOR TOO! STILL Unbreakable refuses to stay down. And he won’t let Tommaso get into position for another Project Ciampa. BUCKLE BOMB! LIGERBOMB! CIAMPA HAS ELGIN IN A TRIANGLE CHOKE! HE’S TRYING TO POWERBOMB FREE! MMA ELBOWS BY CIAMPA! BUCKLE BOMB AGAIN! SPIRAL BOMB COUNTERED TO AN EXPOSED KNEE STRIKE! ONE COUNT OF DISRESPECT! Elgin does his best to kill Ciampa with a close-range lariat, then again with REPEATED SPINNING BACK FISTS! DEATH BLOW! LARIATOOOOOOO! Finally Elgin puts Ciampa away at 19:56
Rating – ****1/2 – These two need to have a word with whomever it is that designs the cover art for ROH’s DVD’s. There won’t be a better match than this all night, and they aren’t featured anywhere on the packaging for this show. What a match. I’ve seen people rating this highly, but I thought this was just an epic, hulking display of power that ROH so rarely has the right athletes to produce. ROH always has good technicians, and generally has some decent, athletic wrestlers too. But watching these two big guys come out and try to kill each other (literally from the opening seconds when Tommaso was trying to knock Elgin out with knees) was quite extraordinary. A straight-up fight of the highest quality, and both athletes should be highly commended for it. Not a botched spot to be had, and although Unbreakable gets the win for now (he is the #1 contender after all), this one confirms Tommaso is good to go after his knee injuries, and is absolutely ready to be pushed right into the main event scene should the situation call for it. A quite spectacular match, a brilliant return to ppv for Ciampa and another quality match in a fantastic year so far for Michael Elgin.
As both men need assistance after such a brutal fight, QT Marshall saunters down the aisle looking to pick the bones. But he takes so long taking off his suit jacket that the opportunity passes him by. Ciampa and Elgin are ready to fight him…so he turns and walks away instead.
INTERMISSION – The ROH locker room gives their thoughts on who will win the World Title bout between the Briscoe brothers tonight.
Matt Taven vs Jay Lethal vs Jimmy Jacobs – ROH TV Title Match
This was originally scheduled to be Taven defending the title against Lethal. After all, Jay did win a #1 contenders triple threat on television – beating out BJ Whitmer and Mike Bennett to earn this spot. But SCUM leader Steve Corino was furious that Jimmy Jacobs wasn’t entered into that contendership bout. Particularly since Jimmy boasts a clean win over Lethal on television. Nigel reluctantly agreed to slot the Zombie Princess into the match, but has vowed to make sure that SCUM won’t get any more title shots if they don’t get the job done tonight.
I love Scarlett, but the other Hoopla Hottie (Seleziya Sparx) is awful. She clearly has no real interest in being a valet, totally half-asses her job and nearly falls flat on her ass stepping on poor Scarlett’s ankle as she botches the House Of Truth intro pose. Lethal clearly isn’t a fan of Jacobs, as he sprints across the ring to plant him with a superkick. They go to the floor…AND TAVEN HITS A CRAZY SUICIDE DIVE! He ended up in the damn crowd after that! YAKUZA KICK BY JACOBS! But the Zombie Princess soon finds himself having to evade an attack from Truth Martini, allowing Taven to powerslam him on the floor! Lethal capitalises on those two fighting to smash the champion into the rails. He comes back inside with a running DVD for 2. Jimmy returns, and surprises Lethal with a neckbreaker from behind as he tries to slam Matt. The champion tries to skin the cat only to be viciously dropkicked into the laps of the Hoopla Hotties by SCUM’s representative in this one. Taven takes a while to recover, but eventually returns to hit an Angel’s Wings on Lethal, dropping him on top of Jimmy in the process. Taven inadvertently gets his ass exposed, but unfortunately for Baltimore he enjoys it! Lethal swoops to hit a flatliner/DDT combo on both opponents…and all three are down. Headlock Driver COUNTERED with the Contra Code! Lethal then hoists Jacobs up into a facebuster for 2. Lethal Combination on Jacobs…FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH BY TAVEN! But still Matt can’t land the Headlock Driver, and sees it countered with a pop-up neckbreaker from Jay. Macho Elbow scores, but Jacobs rolls back into break up the pin. Lethal clears the ring to hit a tope suicida. Enter Scarlett…who slaps him in the face! HE RIPS HER SHIRT OFF! Truth Martini is furious, and preoccupies Lethal for long enough to allow Jacobs to hit a spear! Seleziya gets in Jimmy’s face now! She tries to Air Raid Crash Jacobs…SO LETHAL SUPERKICKS HER! Rebound Ace Crusher from Jimmy, but he is then held down by Martini as Taven swoops to steal his win at 12:54
Rating – *** – After a couple of strong outings for Taven at recent house shows, I could complain about how he was forced to take a back seat to the Hoopla on pay-per-view again. BUT, for all that this match had it’s shortcomings, it’s hard to deny that this was an absolute riot. Taven, when he actually got to wrestle, looked great whilst talents like Jacobs and Lethal can throw spots around for fun when the situation calls for it. The stuff with Scarlett and Seleziya at the end was undeniably entertaining too. I think we’re still waiting for a defining clean win to truly ‘make’ Matt Taven in Ring Of Honor, but decent matches against Tadarius Thomas and Eddie Edwards recently have bought him some time. This was certainly different to the stuff ROH has been throwing onto their PG-rated TV show too!
reDRagon vs Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander vs Rhett Titus/Cliff Compton – ROH Tag Title Match
Just as in the last match, it was ROH’s C&C who became #1 contenders and earned their title shot on television. They won a triple threat also featuring Adrenaline RUSH and the team RD Evans has now dubbed ‘Marshall Law’. But Corino pointed out that Compton and Titus have won matches over these guys recently too, and have a rightful claim to be top contenders to the belts. Much as with Jimmy Jacobs, the SCUM team have been thrown into this one, with Rhett looking to reclaim the belts he was harshly stripped of last year when Kenny King left the company.
Credit where it’s due, Titus has gotten himself into drastically better shape than he was in last year and looks a lot closer to the physical condition he was in back in 2011 when the All Night Express were really taking off. O’Reilly and Fish stand in one corner and opt to watch as C&C continue their on-going fight with SCUM. Finally they join in and actually help C&C beat up Compton and Titus. Alexander takes flight with a somersault plancha, but as reDRagon encourage Caprice to do the same they are, of course, setting him up for a cheap shot. Cedric saves his partner with a double missile dropkick to the champions. SCUM are back, with Cliffy knocking Alexander off the top rope and Rhett hitting his dropkick on Coleman. SCUM start targeting the shoulder Caprice injured at Border Wars, and he is very much a wounded animal by the time he gets to his corner for a tag to Cedric. He and O’Reilly run through a thrilling little strike exchange before C&C hit the Hart Attack leg lariat on Compton. Titus is thrown out of the ring onto his own partner, and C&C set Kyle up for Overtime! SCUM drag O’Reilly out of the ring to save him being pinned…so Caprice suicide dives from the top at both of them. Fish sneaks into the ring and kicks Alexander in the head…and it’s over at 06:58
Rating – * – Too short, too chaotic, and this would have been much better if they’d booked a straight tag match – be it reDRagon defending against SCUM or C&C. There were some neat little moments (Kyle and Cedric need to have a singles match booked between them), but this was pretty much a waste of time and did nobody involved in it any favours. Coleman and Alexander busted their asses out there, but it really was all for nothing.
Matt Hardy vs Kevin Steen
This might not be the prettiest of matches, and Hardy in ROH might not be to everyone’s taste (mine included), but beyond a shadow of doubt this is the money match for him in Ring Of Honor. Here he is lined up against ROH’s top star and biggest draw and a big grudge to be settled between them. The catalyst for Steen leaving SCUM was Corino’s decision to bring in Matt, and place him as the ‘crown jewel’ of the group. Hardy is now ‘the guy’, and it’s he that will receive the title shot SCUM earned at Border Wars (by defeating Steen) tomorrow at the TV tapings. Kevin manages to throw the first punch, and has defeated a few SCUM members in singles matches recently, but he’s been on the wrong end of more than one Twist Of Fate since Supercard Of Honor when he lost the title. Nigel McGuinness has told him to prove he’s worthy of a World Championship rematch – and one would suggest kicking ‘the Icon’s ass on ppv would be the way to do that.
There’s an ECW-esque atmosphere as Steve Corino riles the crowd up despite being under fire from a barrage of toilet paper rolls. Steen arrives and demands it’s made a No DQ match too. Hardy hides behind the referee, then goes after Steen’s legs in a desperate attempt to halt the early onslaught of the former World Champion. Mr Wrestling storms back using a crutch handed to him by someone in the crowd though. The brawl continues at ringside and even Papa Briscoe storms through the crowd cheering for Steen. Corino starts bringing out weapons for Matt to use, handing him a garbage can which he uses to good effect. Hardy misses a moonsault (he used to get a LOT more hang time on that during the TLC-era!) and eats a GARBAGE CAN-NON BALL! Steen wants to F-5 him from the ring through a table at ringside…but Rhett Titus runs in. PACKAGE PILEDRIVER on him! Of course, Matt is waiting to strike with repeated Side Effects. They fight on the apron over that perilously placed table…until Jimmy Jacobs runs out to move it. APRON BOMBS ON HIM! Hardy gets one of those too, before Cliff Compton smashes Steen in the back with a chair. Hardy has a ladder, and whacks Steen right in the face with it. On commentary Nigel points out that nobody from the ROH locker room is coming to help Steen. He doesn’t need them right now though, as he hits a LADDER-ENFORCED CODEBREAKER for 2! Corino distracts him…and he eats the Twist Of Fate – but kicks out! Hardy wants another Twist Of Fate, but is hit in the nuts then given the F-5. SIDE EFFECT ON THE LADDER! Still Steen kicks out! The Icon gives him a Twist Of Fate through two chairs, and wins the match at 14:11
Rating – ** – It was a bizarrely entertaining spectacle, but once more I’ve got to question the booking of Hardy. I know he has a title shot tomorrow, but why the f*ck is Delirious putting Matt over his top guy. The fans HATE Hardy, and they love Steen. Mr Wrestling is their top guy, and was crying out for a high profile ppv win after losing at Supercard Of Honor and Border Wars. Instead they pointlessly put Hardy over another one of their top guys on a big show. To put this in perspective – had Steen won I could have gone 3* on what was a vaguely enjoyable car wreck of a match, but seeing Matt win again has left a sour taste in my mouth. Someone tell me what the point of him going over Adam Cole (Cole never got his win back) and Steen really is?
SCUM assault Kevin Steen, with nobody coming from the back to help him. Referees and security guys finally create enough space to get Kevin out of the ring but SCUM look absolutely dominant going into Hardy’s title shot and Steel Cage Warfare at the tapings tomorrow.
Larry Legend is in the crowd with a mass of Briscoe family members (including Jay’s wife, wearing a classy ‘Coming Soon: Baby Briscoe’ shirt). Papa Briscoe seems to have had a few drinks, but is wearing an original 2001 Briscoe Brothers T and is eagerly awiting our main event.
Jay Briscoe vs Mark Briscoe – ROH World Title Match
We can sit here and argue all day about how badly this has been built up. Yes they should have put more effort into building this rather than rushing straight into it. Yes, the gimmick they’ve run with Jay being cocky and Mark getting annoyed about that has been stupid. The reality is that when these guys in an ROH ring together it’s usually pretty special. That’s a tradition which stretches back to the sixth ROH show ever (Honor Invades Boston)…when Mark made his in-ring debut to pull off the upset victory over his brother. They were on opposite sides as The Prophecy looked to bring ROH down in its early days. They blew the roof off the Madhouse Of Extreme at the 1st Anniversary Show…and they damn near killed each other in an epic double knock-out conclusion to their showdown during the 5th Year Festival in the UK. Can Mark emulate his brother, and repeat the result of his very first ROH match to take home the World Championship this evening?
It is noticeable that Mark embraces the Briscoe family as he enters, whilst Jay walks straight past them such is his focus on the forthcoming match. He also refuses to follow the Code Of Honor. Mark tries to get his head down, unsuccessfully trying to grapple his older brother down to the canvas. Just as we saw in their first ever match, their ability to chain wrestle back and forth is remarkable – and they work the mat with impressive fluency. Mark has problems dealing with Jay’s power, but likewise the champion can’t pin down his more athletic and quicker brother. Mark actually manages to sling Jay out of the ring, quickly pouncing on him to deliver a dropkick through the ropes. Unimpressed, Jay steps up from the mat and does his best to cave his little brother’s skull in with a big boot. Suplex on the apron by Mark! They go back inside…and square off with Jay’s street fighting punches against Mark’s Kung Fu thrusts. The advantage goes to Jay as lands a superkick and a roaring elbow in quick succession. The turnbuckle flatliner follows but Mark has plenty in reserve and takes him off his feet with a jumping enzi moments later. The champion has to leave the ring for a breather, then calls his brother out to help him set up a table. With that done, they launch right back into battle and start forearming the crap out of each other right there on the floor. JAY PRESS SLAMS MARK OFF THE TOP ROPE TO THE FLOOR! That’s just a ridiculous bump for Mark to take! He skittles off the protective pads and ends up legitimately the opposite side of the ringside area from where that rough ride started. The champ thinks that’s enough but can’t quite lift Mark up for the Jay Driler…and is taken off guard when the challenger nails the urinage suplex. Iconoclasm scores for 2! To the apron we go, hovering ominously over the table they helped each other set up. It’s close, but still no table bump as Mark shunts Jay out and floors him with a pescado. To the top rope he goes again. FROGGY BOW THROUGH A TABLE ON THE FLOOR! He tosses Jay back into the ring, delivering another Froggy Bow and getting a close nearfall. Jay slowly gets back to his feet and we’re almost back to square one with the brothers teeing off on each other. CUT-THROAT DRIVER! That’s how he won way back in 2002, but tonight Jay finds a way to kick out. He tries it again, only for Jay to rake his eyes to escape. JAY DRILLER! FOR 2! An irate Jay pulls Mark up and lariats him back down onto his neck! JAY DRILLER! ONE COUNT! A third Jay Driller finally puts Mark away at 21:10
Rating – **** – I went into this with pretty low expectations. I’d not seen too many positive reviews, and I’ve been massively negative about most of Mark Briscoe’s singles work for sometime. But maybe those low expectations helped as I actually really liked this. They kept some of the good things about their previous matches together (the lightning fast chain sequences, the strike exchanges, the entertaining ‘we’re brothers and we like fighting – even if it’s with each other’ mentality etc). But, showing their growth as performers, they delivered a quality bout without necessarily slinging around countless head-drops. Their chaining sequences didn’t look like overly-rehearsed, overly-fake routines as they did back in 2002 either. Sure it wasn’t as fast paced, or as exciting as 5th Year Festival Finale, but for a match with zero build up, minimal crowd interest going in and with both men reportedly working with various degrees of injury this was better than it had any right to be.
The Briscoe family comes into the ring to check on the brothers, who both look completely messed up after what they just put each other through…
SIDENOTE – I wasn’t sure where to rant about this, so I’ll do it here. This would go on to be Jay’s last weekend as World Champion, and a real pinnacle of the Briscoe Brothers’ respective careers as they got to main event an ippv for the World Title (and the TV show was a ‘Briscoe Brothers’ special to boot). Jay would go on to defend the belt against Matt Hardy the following day at the tapings, before it was revealed that the Briscoes weren’t booked for any forthcoming shows, were both taking time off, Jay’s shoulder injury was mysteriously much worse than had previously been reported…and the historic, much-heralded, legendary, unbroken 11-year lineage of the Ring Of Honor World Championship was ruined when Sinclair stripped Jay of the title.
I can’t even begin to express how furious I am about this. The fact that they rushed to book this match (and the Hardy match) makes me suspicious, and I am absolutely irate that, particularly after the Kenny King fiasco, they have so willingly dealt a devastating blow to the heritage and prestige of their own championship by not taking the belt off Jay when they had the chance. They took the belt off Kevin Steen, before his title reign had really run it’s course, and before the fans’ choices to succeed him (Elgin or Cole) could do so…and for what? For a cheap pop and some easy publicity during Wrestlemania weekend? For a decent but ultimately pretty average World Title reign for Jay? For a gesture of gratitude for all Jay’s work in ROH? I really don’t care how much ‘buzz’ the forthcoming World Title tournament may bring. This absolutely sickens me. I’d rather see Matt Hardy as World Champion (and believe me, I absolutely HATE that prospect too) than a break in the lineage of the belt.
I genuinely considered making this my last ever Ring Of Honor review, and taking a step back from following ROH after eleven years of being a ‘completist’ fan. Truly it made me that angry. I love the Briscoes, but Jay didn’t need to be World Champion, and they certainly didn’t need to bring down the whole heritage of the World Title as their ‘going away’ present. Of course, there is always the possibility this was just unfortunate circumstances – and even after the Briscoe/Hardy title defence on ppv officials didn’t know how bad Jay’s injury was. But it’s also true that they weren’t booked after this weekend. I also believe their contracts had been run down too. If it’s true that it was just ‘bad luck’, I find it absolutely incredible that Sinclair officials would leave themselves in such an exposed position after what Kenny King did to them last year. As I said, Kevin Steen was having the run of his life and was a massive draw for the company as World Champion. Taking the belt from him and having it descend into this madness is absolutely sickening. It truly feels like taking the belt from him was a desperate cry for attention when the spotlight was on during Mania weekend, and now again it feels like the bookers are trying to artificially engineer a ‘buzz’ when it isn’t there (Jay’s reign hardly set the world on fire – as with Homicide the thrill was in the chase so to speak) by vacating the title and running a tournament.
Apologies for this rant, as I genuinely wasn’t sure where to put this. I really liked the Briscoe TV special so didn’t want to ruin that with this rant. And my TV reviews don’t necessarily attract the same amount of hits as the bigger ppv shows – and I want people to know I’m upset about this. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but as an eleven year fan of this company, honestly I view breaking the title lineage and stripping Jay of the belt as one of my lowest moments following this company. It was nice seeing him headline a ppv with his brother, but totally a bittersweet moment knowing what was to come in the aftermath of this weekend. As it is, rumour has it that the Briscoes are expected to return once they’ve taken some time off. Mark Briscoe actually did come back to make an appearance in the title tournament, whilst Jay cut some video promos begging Nigel not to strip him of the belt. As I write this a new champion hasn’t yet been crowned, and the Newswire did drop hints that Jay wasn’t happy at having to hand the belt over to Nigel McGuinness either – so he could yet make his presence felt at the conclusion to the tournament. I feel better for having documented my rage at the decisions made this weekend.
Tape Rating – *** – This show has some rough reviews, but whilst I agree it was a definite step down in quality from some of the ippv presentations we’ve seen over the last year or so, I was actually pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up enjoying it. Sure the ROH/SCUM matches largely bombed (it’s not the first show I’ve had to say that either), but there was plenty to like here. Roddy and Cole had a fun little match which also showed genuine progression in Cole’s descent into heel-dom once again. The TV Title match was absolutely ridiculous but made for some real entertaining viewing. For an undercard tag match with zero build Wolves/RUSH wasn’t half bad – and what more can be said about Elgin/Ciampa, which I thought was stunning and absolutely one of ROH’s best matches of 2013. I also liked Briscoe/Briscoe, for all it’s flaws, considerably more than most. I am desperately unhappy about some of the decisions being made by ROH right now, and the Tag Title match was a complete waste of my time (not to mention the talents of the guys involved)…but give this show a chance if you’ve not already seen it. It may surprise you – as it certainly did to me. Perhaps all the feed issues that reared their head again played a part in damaging people’s enjoyment of the show?
Top 3 Matches
3) American Wolves vs Adrenaline RUSH (***)
2) Jay Briscoe vs Mark Briscoe (****)
1) Michael Elgin vs Tommaso Ciampa (****1/2)