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ROH Live & Let Die 6/8/2013

ROH 327 – Live & Let Die – 8th June 2013

Is it me or should this should have been called ‘Live Free Or Die Hard’ if they were going for a movie-themed title? It’s another ROH house show, from another really gorgeous looking new venue (Sinclair get knocked for a lot of things, but since they took over they’ve booked some really unique and attractive looking venues which has improved the overall ‘look’ of the product and presumably doesn’t come cheap). On paper this is another strong line-up for a non-televised event too. Jay Briscoe, having fending off the challenge of one American Wolf in Texas last week, faces the other as Eddie Edwards makes his charge to become a 2-time World Champion. Tadarius Thomas and ACH (now christened Adrenaline RUSH) challenge reDRagon in the Proving Ground too. Kevin Steen continues his mission to wipe out SCUM as he takes on Rhino…and SCUM are here in force with Matt Hardy also booked, plus the usual trio of Titus, Compton and Jacobs. Perhaps the stand-out undercard bout sees Cedric Alexander (who has been quietly having a superb 2013) face Davey Richards in what could be a showstealer. We’re in Columbus, OH with Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino.

Caprice Coleman vs Adam Cole
Cedric isn’t the only member of C&C WrestleFactory given a high profile singles outing tonight. The senior partner in their team also has a tough booking, taking on an increasingly unhappy and unpredictable Adam Cole – who keeps losing matches and is still struggling to come to terms with the nature of his World Title defeat to Jay Briscoe back at Border Wars.

First blood goes to Cole, who knocks Coleman clean out of the ring with a dropkick. Credit to Caprice, as he slides back in and does the same thing right back. Adam ups the stakes to land a tope suicida up the aisle. Leg lariat from Coleman gets 2…but he gets over-zealous with his attacking intent and is driven hard into the mat with a jumping neckbreaker. Cole is all over the neck from there, hitting a snap suplex then a grounded headscissors submission hold straight afterwards. Caprice manages to hoist him out of the ring…SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT OVER THE ROPES TO THE FLOOR! This crowd is loud! We return to the ring with Coleman nailing the standing super rana for another 2. He goes for a Lionsault, but sails into Adam’s knees. Rolling northern lights suplexes…COUNTERED TO THE CRADLEBREAKER! FLORIDA KEY! Cole wins at 07:18

Rating – *** – A breathless, all-action encounter to get us started – which the crowd absolutely loved. In seven minutes there’s no point harping on about something like neck selling. This was all about high spots and crisp athletic wrestling and they delivered on both fronts. The finishing sequence was outstanding, as was Caprice’s inside-to-out springboard moonsault.

Cole nearly leaves without shaking hands again, but comes back at the last moment and does shake Caprice’s hand.

QT Marshall vs Roderick Strong
With no RD Evans in the building this evening Marshall has a huge chance to re-establish his credentials as a singles wrestler in ROH. Certainly his original run didn’t work-out but he’s picked up a bit of momentum whilst teaming with the Barrister and now looks to carry that into battle against the man calling himself ‘Mr ROH’.

‘When did he turn into a good guy?’ – Corino questioning ROH’s booking of Roddy. Marshall cheap shots Strong then shows his power with some emphatic shoulder blocks. Strong has to absorb some big impacts but is equally capable of dishing them out, and the sound of him chopping QT’s chest is soon echoing through the building. He needs to put a stop to that quickly and Marshall does so by crotching Roddy on the top rope. QT attempts the ‘God’s Gift Elbow’ (People’s Elbow), but misses it and nearly loses the match for being a bonehead. Strong knees him right in the jaw and follows it with a dropkick for 2. Death By Roderick blocked with elbows to the neck…so Strong converts it to the Olympic Slam instead! Gibson Driver attempted, but Marshall has too much gas in the tank and (just about) manages to drive the former World Champion into the deck with a tilta-whirl slam. Strong nails a superplex only for QT to nearly snatch the win with a sneaky roll-up. He then DESTROYS Roddy with a lariat! Death By Roderick! STRONG HOLD! Marshall taps at 09:25

Rating – ** – The hot crowd helped, but in a week’s time you’ll have forgotten everything about this match (except perhaps QT attempting The People’s Elbow). Strong didn’t have to work too hard, whilst it was visible Marshall was really busting his ass to keep up with him. That said, at times this was as good as QT has ever looked in a singles match. Teaming with Evans seems to have given him a much firmer grasp on his character and in-ring identity – which in turn means he can draw a lot more ‘we don’t like you’ heat from a crowd and a lot less ‘you suck and we don’t want to watch you’ anger.

Adam Cole is back out here to apologise for not shaking Roddy’s hand last week in San Antonio. They have a rematch booked for Best In The World 2013 apparently, and he plans to get his win back in Baltimore.

Cedric Alexander vs Davey Richards
Every time C&C have a match, I seem to comment on how great Cedric has looked. Since he came into the company he’s looked to have huge potential, yet despite being an exciting athlete he’s always remained a hint of sloppiness to his work and a hint of blandness to his persona which has stopped him from becoming a ‘can’t miss’ prospect. But for the past six months or so he’s been absolutely nailing it. He has produced some strong showings, no more so than during the excellent Wolves/C&C match at WAR. Stepping into the ring with Davey is the ultimate test of just how far he has progressed this year.

Alexander looks pumped and doesn’t back down from Richards as they go hold for hold in the first minutes. He actually backs the Wolf out of the ring such is the quality of his opening salvo. Richards is visibly struggling to get himself into the contest and the first nearfall goes to Cedric after a sliding dropkick to the neck. Sexy MutaLock from Davey as he pounces on the first real error Alexander makes. A volley of kicks comes next…only for Cedric to nip up into a rana then BACK SUPLEX Davey out of the ring! Pescado misses…RUNNING PUNT FLIPS CEDRIC THROUGH THE AIR! Diving headbutt gets 2 for the American Wolf. Arm capture cloverleaf next, and Cedric now seems to be really struggling. He needs to get some distance and quicken the pace, and does just that by tripping Richards out of the ring then wiping him out with a RUNNING SWANTON TO THE FLOOR! Back in the ring he hits a mafia kick then a split-legged moonsault for 2. He sets up a springboard move only for Davey to sprint and DROPKICK THE TOP ROPE to cause him to fall to the floor! Alexander sweeps the legs though and this time does land the springboard lariat. FULL NELSON DRIVER for 2! Richards is now the one struggling, and he wearily gets to his feet before they start absolutely clubbing each other with elbows, chops and kicks. ROUND HOUSE KICK TO THE JAW! CEDRIC NO SELLS! JUMPING ENZI…COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK! TEXAS CLOVERLEAF! But somehow Alexander converts that to a small package! Alarm Clock nailed…REBOUND ENZI BY CEDRIC! Davey batters Alexander into the corner with Machine Gun Kicks then heads back to the top rope. Before he can connect with the London Killer Cedric charges up the ropes to meet him. ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPLEX BY RICHARDS! In a hot, sweaty building that was amazing! BRIDGING GERMAN…FOR 2! He still can’t connect with the double stomp though, missing it so Cedric can connect with ROLLING REVERSE RANAS! BRAINBUSTER! DAVEY KICKS OUT! He thinks about a frog splash but takes too long setting it up and dives into Richards’ knees. Double stomp nailed but still he can’t put Cedric away! Kick Of Death! BUZZSAW KICK! ALEXANDER KICKS OUT! TEXAS CLOVERLEAF! Alexander finally admits defeat and taps out at 18:13

Rating – **** – Well that was a killer little match to sneak onto a house show undercard. From Davey’s point of view this was the archetypal Davey match so lots of kicks, some no-selling, some head drops etc – so if you don’t like his style then chances are you won’t get quite as much enjoyment out of this as I did. However, to me, the real story was Cedric. The way he stepped out and upped his game to Davey’s level was really spectacular. He dominated the opening five minutes, went strike for strike with him in the middle portion and was still there throwing spots with him at the end. Ultimately Davey’s resilience, experience and submission superiority saw him emerge victorious but not without a hell of a fight – and one which substantially increases Cedric’s stock in Ring Of Honor.

reDRagon vs Adrenaline RUSH
I’m undecided as to whether I like this new name for the TD/ACH team, but I like that they have an identity now. Perhaps it’s a little early to rush them into title shots, but since Tadarius in particular has meshed well with O’Reilly and Fish in the past this should be a solid title defence. This is a Proving Ground Match so RUSH could make a real impact by securing a title shot.

Fish and Thomas start, and with both men so proficient in multiple MMA disciplines as well as professional wrestling there’s little to choose between them. It’s more of the same when ACH and O’Reilly take to the ring but the longer those two are in there together, the more it’s clear that Kyle has the edge if this stays a methodical, mat-based bout. Tadarius tags to help his partner, striking Kyle with such precision that the younger half of the tag champions quickly backs off and tags out. Fish hatches a plan to negate the respective skills of his opponents and tries to attack their legs…but it’s all for nothing as ACH body slams TD into a senton for 2. Kyle targets ACH’s arm, delivering a JUMPING ARMBAR DDT out of the corner. reDRagon stay on that limb for the next few minutes and really have ACH in trouble, well-adrift from Thomas in his corner. Fish is such a pro at this tactic that, even whilst not actually legal, he spots a window of opportunity to deliver a diving headbutt right onto the shoulder of their stricken opponent. ACH hits him with a Stunner out of nowhere…and that’s a somewhat anti-climactic way for him to get the hot tag to TD. Capoeira strike combos fly from all angles with Tadarius in the ring…and reDRagon have no answer as the Sling Blade drops O’Reilly. ACH tries to return to battle, even with his injured arm hanging limply by his side. Fish cuts off Thomas’ handspring moonsault to the floor…as Kyle slaps ACH in a Fujiwara armbar. BRIDGING pumphandle suplex from ACH to counter…broken with a moonsault from Bobby. Saito suplex to Tadarius! ACH manages to drop both champions with a cutter/flatliner combo but that hurts his own arm so much he can’t capitalise. Arabian press to the floor misses…and Fish SPEARS him into the guardrails! MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON from O’Reilly! CHASING THE DRAGON ON THE FLOOR FOR TD! ACH is left to fight solo, and he does so with gusto – ducking, diving and countering for all he’s worth. RUNNING ENZI/STALLING REGALPLEX COMBO from reDRagon! ACH recovers to hit a Last Rites on Kyle…as Fish picks Thomas up for a Samoan drop on the floor. ACH lines up the 450 Splash, but it’s COUNTERED back to the Fujiwara. He taps at 20:37

Rating – ** – Putting this on after the Richards/Alexander match certainly didn’t help, but the first half of this match would have killed even the hottest of crowds. You have two of the most exciting teams ROH has produced for years…so for some reason they started out with five minutes of some of the most aimless, disinterested and half-paced wrestling you’ve ever seen. You could hear a pin drop in the building during the opening portion with none of the four guys looking particularly interested in what they were doing. Things did get better, with some solid arm work from the champs (ACH’s selling was pretty mediocre on that front too) and a few exciting spots tossed around at the conclusion. A real disappointment considering how good these guys have been recently.

Truth Martini comes to the ring next, with a veritable swarm of Hoopla Hotties for company for his next ‘Hoopla Uncut’ segment. Most of the ladies are from a local gym auditioning to be the newest official Hoopla Hottie (apparently). Cheeseburger is called into the ring to be interviewed too. Truth wants to know how it felt to kiss Maria Kanellis at Border Wars. It was good apparently, and Martini responds by booking Cheeseburger for A Night Of Hoopla (his ‘ROH unauthorised’ show in July). He admits to getting a boner…and is rewarded for his honesty with a lapdance from the Hoopla Hotties. Cheeseburger takes his pants off…and is promptly murdered as Rhino crashes the HOT’s party! GOOOOOOOOORE! Time for our next match…

Rhino vs Kevin Steen
Mr Wrestling has vowed to earn his World Title rematch by defeating ever member of SCUM put in front of him. Tonight it’s possibly his toughest challenge though, as Corino brings Rhino in for the first show in a few weeks, and wants to use his hired Man Beast to put Steen out of Ring Of Honor permanently (before he makes it to Best In The World and gets his hands on Matt Hardy).

As you’d expect this isn’t even remotely pretty, and soon spills out of the ring for a brawl around ringside. Steen absorbs some lusty blows from the Man Beast…and hits right back with the cannonball senton off the apron. The former ECW Champion didn’t like that at all and drags Mr Wrestling back inside to hit a spinebuster for 2. He tries to use a grounded headscissors to wear Steen down, and it appears the unrelenting offence of the War Machine is starting to take it’s toll. Kevin is struggling to take Rhino down and eventually has to defy the pain he’s in and come off the second rope with a missile dropkick just to get him off his feet. F-5 blocked…but the Steen-ton isn’t and Steen nearly takes the match right there. F-5 attempted again, but this time countered with the belly to belly suplex from Rhino. Gore blocked…GORE BY STEEN! F-5! Steen wins at 08:04

Rating – * – This was pretty weak too, and nothing even approaching the quality of their World Title Match at Death Before Dishonor last year. The finish was good, but before that it was just rudimental house show brawling. Still, Steen looks strong as he continues his war against SCUM, and Rhino is perennially over thanks to his finisher, and is clearly a good sport about coming in and lying down for the more permanent roster members so nobody is really damaged in the bigger picture.

Before Steen can celebrate Matt Hardy and Steve Corino are in the ring…with Matt dropping Steen with the Twist Of Fate.

Matt Hardy vs Mark Briscoe
It’s more ROH vs SCUM action now, with both men looking to defend the honour of their respective groups whilst also preparing for a bigger match on ippv later this month. Mark needs all the wins as he can get as he gets set to challenge his own brother for the World Title, whilst Matt (who is scheduled to face the World Champion at the TV tapings the night after Best In The World) has to worry about facing Kevin Steen when he can’t sneak attack him or hide behind multiple other SCUM members.

Hardy has no answer to the early Briscoe onslaught and heads for the sanctity of the arena floor. Unfortunately before Corino can console him Mark is on the scene diving through the ropes to dropkick ‘the Icon’ in the face. Corino shoves Briscoe off the top rope, giving Matt the chance to land the Side Effect for 2. He keeps his opponent down with repeated neckbreakers…and probably needs a rest after that so applies a sleeper hold so he can take a breather. Before Briscoe can break out the Redneck Kung Fu he has his legs grabbed by Corino, and again Matt drops him with a neckbreaker. Mark trips Hardy off the ropes as he wastes time needlessly posturing to the crowd…and this time does connect with the Redneck Kung Fu sequence for 2. He thinks about the Froggy Bow but once again Corino involves himself causing a distraction. Hardy snapmares Briscoe off the top rope…but sees the Twist Of Fate countered to a sleeper from Mark. Rhett Titus tries to run in, but is chased straight back out of the ring by Kevin Steen…and with Compton and Jacobs circling the ring too it’s Steve Corino who sneaks into the ring to drop Mark with the $10 Punch. Twist Of Fate wins it at 08:11

Rating – * – Two eight minute matches and barely 2*’s between them. Is that value for money out of what it takes to book Hardy and Rhino? To be fair, if they are going to be booked I’m happy Delirious is keeping their matches brief, but both of these were just completely skippable house show dross. It made Mark look like an idiot, Hardy continued to look like an out of shape, washed up hack, and the ridiculous finish does nobody any favours. There’s so much great talent still out there on the indies at present. For all the ‘name value’ Rhino and Hardy might have, surely the money they cost could be better spent recruiting better talent to longer term contracts and making draws out of their actual roster rather than veterans living off past glories. I’ve liked Rhino in ROH, but I’d happily see both of these two go permanently after Best In The World weekend.

Steen and Hardy start fighting at ringside, as Michael Elgin, Jay Lethal and BJ Whitmer arrive on the scene to carry the fight to Jacobs, Compton and Titus as the lead in to their match…

Jimmy Jacobs/Rhett Titus/Cliff Compton vs Michael Elgin/Jay Lethal/BJ Whitmer
Presumably all of these guys are looking to be players in the ROH vs SCUM 8-man winner takes all match at the next Sinclair TV tapings in Baltimore so much is at stake when it comes to ‘softening up opponents’ going into the big showdown. That’s a much more glamorous way of describing this match than ‘this is another ROH vs SCUM multi-person tag match and since the awesome 10-man tag at Supercard Of Honor 7 they’ve all sort of blended into one’.

Apparently there are ‘no rules’ for this. SCUM hit a trio of simultaneous snap suplexes…only for Team ROH to get right back up for STEREO stalling suplexes! Soon there are bodies tumbling everywhere, with Lethal hitting a tope suicida as Elgin ruggedly dispatches Cliff into the rails. All six men split off into separate fights across the darkness of the arena which leaves Corino alone in the ring freaking out. This whole segment is pretty much wasted as the building is too dark to see what’s going on. The live crowd are lapping it up though, and that’s all that really matters. Back in the ring Lethal blocks Jimmy’s Contra Code with a superkick…only to be knocked out of the ring via a discus lariat from Rhett. Whitmer nearly cripples his former partner with an exploder, but then gets taken out himself as Compton drops him with a Michinoku Driver. Elgin back fists Cliffy to the floor…then is used as a catapult by Jacobs who slingshots off him (in Contra Code position) into a moonsault to the floor onto everyone else. He comes back into the ring with the rebound Ace Crusher…but Elgin CATCHES him as he tries the senton bomb and does his best to murder him with a shortarm lariat for 2. Fallaway slam/Samoan drop combo on the other members of SCUM! Jacobs hits Elgin with a chair, but it has no real impact until Compton rams it him with a Van Daminator. Jay tries to fight everyone in SCUM by himself but is whacked in the back with a chair as he lines Cliff up for the Lethal Injection. Compton capitalises to hit the F-5 on Lethal for the win at 10:28

Rating – ** – The crowd for this were absolutely superb. The ROH/SCUM feud in 2013 would have turned out a lot better had every audience been as raucous as this one. If anything, I don’t think the match was anywhere near as good as the crowd deserved. It certainly wasn’t bad, but up until the last couple of minutes there wasn’t really much going on at all. Lots of copy and paste brawling sequences, a fairly standard kill time in the crowd segment (which completely passed those of us watching on DVD/VOD by), and even Elgin and Jacobs, who have both been tremendous this year, seemed a little subdued. At least the lower profile (but more regularly appearing) members of SCUM finally got a clean win to beef up their credentials before Steel Cage Warfare.

Jay Briscoe vs Eddie Edwards – ROH World Title Match
After winning the belt, Briscoe demanded top notch competition, vowed to defend his championship with honour, and seemed supremely confident that he’d ‘whoop the ass’ of all comers. Nigel quickly lined up some strong competition. BJ Whitmer put up a hell of a fight at Relentless, whilst Davey Richards pushed Jay to his absolute limits in a cracking main event at Honor In The Heart Of Texas last week. The final hurdle before he advances to Best In The World to fight his own brother is the first ever Triple Crown winner – Eddie Edwards. Die Hard comes in hot too, having bested Matt Taven in the Proving Ground last week to secure himself a forthcoming TV Title shot too. Having survived one Wolf, does Briscoe have the stamina and quality to beat two former World Champions in a week?

Eddie immediately looks to grapple with Jay, grabbing at the problematic arm and looking to use his supposed superior wrestling skills and the champion’s pre-existing injury to gain an early advantage. He presses home that advantage with repeated headlocks, preventing Briscoe from making this match more of a fight. Briscoe desperately tries to pick up the pace and lands a rana…except Eddie raises his game too and lands a DIVING rana from the second rope before going right back to that headlock. Jay has to change the course of this match and does so by punching Edwards in the face so hard that he starts bleeding. The challenger is rattled…so drives Briscoe out of the ring for an absolutely brutal elbow suicida into the guardrails! He misses a double stomp, but Jay doesn’t even have time to get back to his feet after dodging that bullet before being trapped into an STF. Mexican surfboard next – a hold which will obviously wear the champ down but also further stretches out his bad wing. Once more Jay goes to punches and boots, resorting to the most basic of offensive tactics to halt the momentum of the thus far dominant Die Hard. He winds Eddie up for a neckbreaker and gets his first significant nearfall of the contest at nearly 13-minutes. Jay Driller blocked…and converted to the Backpack Stunner. Then to the Achilles Lock! Briscoe grabs at Eddie’s neck again and uses it to haul him down into a pinfall counter to the submission hold. They go back and forth with pinfall attempts, succeeding only with gassing Todd Sinclair with no three count in sight. Edwards rattles off a succession of chops although, as Bobby Fish points out on commentary, getting into an exchange of strikes probably favours Briscoe. Suplex attempted…BOTH GUYS CRASH HARD TO THE FLOOR! They bounced off the ropes and bounced around the apron, floor and guardrails like they were rubber balls there! And they actually battle back to their feet to pick up where they left off by levelling each other with more fierce strikes. They start kicking each other in the head – REPEATEDLY! And when that doesn’t work they go for superkicks instead! German suplex…COUNTERED TO THE ACHILLES LOCK! WITH STOMPS TO THE HEAD! Somehow Jay finds the ropes…only to be dragged into the corner for Machine Gun Chops. HEADBUTTS AND ELBOWS BY JAY! MMA ELBOWS! JAY DRILLER! WHAT A FLURRY! Briscoe retains in violent and emphatic fashion at 19:58

Rating – **** – That was, for the second week in a row, a great title defence for Jay. In 2011 Eddie was in lots of main event matches and got the chance to produce strong matches like this all the time but since his title run and subsequent rivalry with Davey ended at Final Battle 2011, his prominence in ROH has been downgraded, reducing the amount of opportunities he gets to produce stuff like this. It wasn’t the most exciting of matches, but I thought they tapped into a real subtle and engaging little story, which large portions of the excellent Columbus crowd appreciated. Eddie, from the opening bell, looked to grapple and wrestle Jay. It makes sense – he’s a former Triple Crown Champion and is acknowledged as one of the best wrestlers in ROH; a more experienced singles worker, a more proficient ground technician, he wasn’t coming in injured and he certainly wouldn’t beat Jay in a brawl. The ensuing match told the tale of Edwards utilising that tactic until Briscoe finally managed to draw him into a straight up fight. The consequences of striking with Jay rather than out-wrestling him were never more apparent than when, after a string of chops, elbows and kicks, they went to a wrestling hold (a suplex) and both ended up splattered all over the arena floor. Eddie needed to keep it on the deck, and his failure to do so resulted in that destructive finishing burst from Briscoe and ultimately his defeat. Despite Edwards controlling more than 50% of this match, it’s Briscoe that comes out looking like a million bucks.

SCUM, led by Steve Corino, block the aisle – with Steve proclaiming ‘the day after Best In The World’ to be the most important night in ROH’s history, with Matt Hardy challenging for the World Championship and ROH vs SCUM in Steel Cage Warfare – leading to the death of Ring Of Honor.

Tape Rating – ** – This was definitely one of the weaker shows of the year, which is a shame as I really liked the building, I thought the crowd were tremendous and, on paper, it’s a decent line-up. Unfortunately the ROH/SCUM trilogy in the second half of the card were all real busts, and I can’t hide my disappointment at how decidedly average reDRagon/RUSH was. Of course, the two Wolves singles matches are worth checking out. But, that’s been the case over loads of shows already in 2013. Davey and Eddie, at this point, pretty much ARE Ring Of Honor (as they’ve said in multiple promos), and it’s not a good omen that it looks like both may be gone before the year is out. Richards/Cedric was a genuine break-out match for Alexander though, and along with the cerebral main event this one may just be worth checking out if you can pick the DVD up in a sale. At less than two and a half hours it flies by, and the great crowd really draws you into the show.

Top 3 Matches
3) Adam Cole vs Caprice Coleman (***)
2) Jay Briscoe vs Eddie Edwards (****)
1) Davey Richards vs Cedric Alexander (****)

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