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ROH Reclamation: Night One 7/12/2013

ROH 330 – Reclamation: Night 1 – 12th July 2013

After all the silliness and shenanigans of Truth Martini’s Night Of Hoopla, ROH restores some normality this evening as they begin their ‘Reclamation’ weekend (although I’m not entirely clear on what it is they are actually reclaiming so to speak). With the World Championship currently in limbo it will be the rivalry over the Tag Titles between reDRagon and the American Wolves which takes centre stage this evening. Eddie Edwards faces Kyle O’Reilly on the undercard, whilst our main event will see the long awaited grudge match between Davey Richards and Bobby Fish. Those two are the most prominent in a veritable parade of enticing bouts on this card – with Steen/Silas, Ciampa/Rhino and the non-title Elgin/Cole/Lethal/Taven four corner all showing promise. Kevin Kelly is with Nigel McGuinness on commentary from Milwaukee, WI.

Adrenaline RUSH vs Mike Sydal/Zizou Middoux
I believe Sydal’s new team are called the #PartyBoys, but since they’re not officially billed as that yet I’ll hold off on the name. He’s been floating around on TV tapings and Midwest undercards for a while, and failing to break out. Perhaps this new team will be his ticket to a full-time roster spot. They face a team who don’t have that much more Ring Of Honor experience than they do, but despite that Tadarius and ACH will understandably start as overwhelming favourites to win. In a lovably awful pre-taped promo, the #PartyBoys say they have a counter for every move Adrenaline RUSH have, and are going to teach them ‘how to #PartyHardy’.

The reactions ACH gets from fans are staggering. Chicago loved him yesterday and the Milwaukee crowd similarly lose their sh*t as he makes his entrance. There’s not a lot of partying early on for Sydal as he finds himself being picked apart by Thomas. Middoux botches a standard Irish whip, which is concerning. He looks equally lost as he leaves his jaw exposed to one of TD’s cartwheel roundhouse capo kicks. Sydal does his buddy a favour by dragging Tadarius out of the ring and mugging him against the rails. Wow, where did that come from? Did Sydal just get interesting? If he did, it doesn’t last long as he and Zizou botch a cartwheel double dropkick spot in sequence. If it didn’t look so terrible you’d think they did that on purpose. Apparently Middoux’s brother is Justin Gabriel – according to Kevin Kelly anyway. Sydal shows off his flexibility with a bridging MutaLock on Thomas, made worse as Zizou puts a double boot through his face (and doesn’t actually f*ck that up). ACH tagged, and he immediately lures Mike into accidentally enziguri kicking his own partner. SWINGING PUMPHANDLE SUPLEX gets 2! Middoux stops ACH hitting the 450 Splash then launches Mike into the Sydal Lariat in the corner. The #PartyBoys try a double superplex only for TD to save his partner with a ROPE RUN Russian legsweep. 450 SPLASH NAILED! ACH wins at 09:05

Rating – ** – This is a tough one. On the one hand, the #PartyBoys were f*cking awful and spent pretty much all their time on offence stumbling around and botching spots for fun. BUT, on the flip side you have the fact that RUSH produced some really exciting moments – plus, even though their skills might not be up to much, it’s hard to deny that this new gimmick is an infinitely better use of Mike Sydal than having him stare at the lights whilst botching his big brother’s spots. Their gimmick is almost entirely a 2013 retelling of Special K though(plus – if ROH wanted comedy undercard ROH Dojo graduates on their undercards why the hell did they get rid of the Bravados- who had an over gimmick and were actually, y’know…halfway decent wrestlers too??) But this was certainly more promising than the multitude of botches suggests it should be.

#PartyBoys decline a handshake at the end of the match. I can practically hear Gabe’s commentary in the background shouting ‘they’re just spoilt rich kids, spending all their parents money on drugs and partying with sluts’…

Athena vs MsChif
These two ladies clashed in the main event at Night Of Hoopla last night, and their rivalry at the forefront of the Women Of Honor division continues now as they go one-on-one without the confines of television time limits. Will MsChif continue her dominance, or will Athena continue her remarkable rise to prominence with a high profile win over her rival?

It’s unrelated to the match, but as MsChif comes to the ring with lots of tape on her shoulder and heavy braces on both knees I suddenly realise that she has been around for a LONG time and wonder how much more gas she has in the tank to wrestle in the indies without pursuing a WWE or TNA deal. Maybe Sara Del Rey should put a word in for her. Nigel actually says the same thing on commentary. Athena makes the mistake of trying to grapple with the veteran and unsurprisingly finds herself tied in knots then drilled into the mat with a legsweep. Showing a ruthless streak, MsChif starts using her opponent’s hair to throw her around. Athena goes aerial, failing with a standing moonsault but connecting with a handstand double knee right across the ribs. MsChif grabs the hair again – for a HAIR-PULL NECKBREAKER IN THE ROPES! She stays on the neck, working a stranglehold then going back to the ropes with a hanging camel clutch. Athena is taking a beating and seems to surprise the crowd a little as she flies through the air and actually connects with a springboard crossbody. In response, MsChif traps her against the bottom turnbuckle for REPEATED curbstomps – all coming down across that neck. She tries to set up that avalanche facebuster…only this time Athena counters with a SECOND ROPE GERMAN! Chokebomb gets 2 for MsChif. Desecrator COUNTERED with an electric chair drop! Athena goes upfairs…O-FACE! Athena beats MsChif at 10:16

Rating – ** – A really hard-fought and physical match that had to lot to like about it. I really try to avoid being one of those critics for deducting from my star rating solely on the grounds of somebody not selling – but in this instance I do feel that Athena needed to sell that neck more. MsChif was putting her over, and doing some fabulous assault work on that body part…only for Athena to pop up as if completely impervious to it and do things like springboard moves, or electric chairs. I gave MsChif/Veda from the SBG show 3* because, even in a short time, they told a brilliant story and executed it very well. Here these ladies got more time, and certainly produced a real slug-out – but it lacked in that story-telling aspect which is why I didn’t enjoy it as much. Really interesting choice to pull the trigger on Athena getting a win over MsChif though. Is she going to be around more?

Much as she did on television after a loss, MsChif reacts by giving Athena the Green Mist.

Michael Bennett vs BJ Whitmer
‘The Prodigy’ split from Bob Evans (I think this happened at the TV tapings after Best In The World) and has rebranded himself as ‘Michael’ rather than Mike. These guys met in a grudge match at Best In The World, which saw BJ gain a measure of revenge for the beating he sustained on television when he beat Bennett. Now the rebranded, repackaged and refocused Bennett is coming to get his win back…

Bennett charges into battle, and is made to look like a chump as Whitmer rips into his chest with a barrage of chops. He tries to leave the ring and again finds BJ all over him, diving through the ropes with a tope suicida. Bennett is struggling, so goes after the long-documented weakness of BJ – his neck. A swinging neckbreaker in the ropes instantly turns the match in his favour. He starts dishing out unprotected punches to the side of the head, then positions Whitmer’s head against the ringpost to rattle his skull against the metal pole as well as his fist. Repeated knees to the neck come next, then a deep rear chinlock to pile more pressure on that same body part. Michael has an assortment of signature moves and a finisher which target it too, instantly demonstrated as he hoists BJ up for a spinebuster. Whitmer desperately tries the Exploder ’98 which brought him victory at the pay-per-view, but sees it countered for more neck damage as Bennett drills him with a TKO. Piledriver is blocked by the Buzzsaw, who rocks Michael with a turnbuckle exploder for 2! Wrist Clutch Exploder countered with a spear. BOX OFFICE SMASH! Whitmer kicks out! He catches Bennett in a small package…and would have won it were it not for Maria Kanellis on the apron distracting Todd Sinclair. PILEDRIVER NAILED! That’s all it takes for Bennett to get the in 09:48

Rating – *** – Better than the Best In The World match in my opinion. They kept the outside interference to a bare minimum, and I love the new, more serious direction they are taking Bennett’s character in. He’s come a million miles from the guy that they over-pushed at the end of the HDNet-era. He has become an extremely solid wrestler, capable of telling believable stories in the ring with the right opponents – which we absolutely saw here. Remember in the last match when I complained about MsChif and Athena not making the story of their match believable. This one had no such issues. Whitmer was kicking Bennett’s ass, so he went after BJ’s bad neck and used that to get the win. It’s totally simple, but these two executed it really well. Rumour is that Bennett has now signed a new deal with ROH – which can only be a good thing.

Kyle O’Reilly vs Eddie Edwards
It’s certainly not the first time these two have done battle. O’Reilly was at the centre of all the controversies which led to the American Wolves breaking up first time around – a fact which Eddie strongly resented Kyle for. Now they find themselves in the midst of a heated tag team rivalry as the reunited Wolves hunt down reDRagon and their ROH Tag Championship. There’s also an interesting sub-plot here, since both gentlemen are regular team-mates of Bobby Fish. Is reDRagon better than the Edwards/Fish duo in Pro-Wrestling NOAH? Fish is on commentary to watch this too…

It’s a ground-based match to start with, and it seems that Eddie’s extra size and power gives him a slight edge. They come to a stand-off as Kyle throws his arms up to block a chop, then sees Edwards do the same thing to block a kick aimed for his temple. They work a knucklelock next, and maintain the hold for well over a minute from various positions and utilising various counters. Edwards looks for an STF, only for O’Reilly to escape and we’re still at a stalemate as we approach five minutes. They go to duelling headstands next, still slapping each other! Cross armbreaker by Kyle blocked…Achilles Lock by Eddie blocked – and the Milwaukee crowd are going nuts for this! Edwards makes the first error, accepting a fake handshake from O’Reilly and getting slapped in the face! Shades of Low Ki and Bryan Danielson at Era Of Honor Begins as they take it in turns snapmaring and kicking each others necks! CHOP TO THE NECK by Eddie! Kyle’s response is another short-range slap to the face! Die Hard starts to edge in front as he lands more and more chops to the Tag Champion’s reddening chest. Rolling Mexican surfboard next – which is applied with such devastating effect that he gets a nearfall from it! They go up the ropes, where O’Reilly counters a superplex with a SECOND ROPE ARMBAR DDT! Instantly we see Edwards rolling out of the ring clutching at his shoulder. The lighting at the venue is atrocious for some reason, and it’s in near-darkness that we just about make out O’Reilly wrapping the arm and shoulder around the ringpost, then the guardrails, then the apron! HAMMERLOCK SNAP SUPLEX scores once they get back into the ring! Brilliant innovation from the former Davey Richards protégé there! He drives kicks to the point of the shoulder…only to be stunned as Edwards slings him with a German suplex. NO SOLD! LARIATOOOOO! Both men down, but with that arm injured Die Hard is the one in worse shape at this stage. With one arm he’s struggling, so he confused Kyle by sliding in and out of the ring. He boots O’Reilly out of the ring. ELBOW SUICIDAAAAAAAAAAA! Both guys splatter into the rails then lie in a heap! Back in the ring Edwards locks in a Crossface – but Fish immediately picks up that he’s not pulling back on the hold thanks to the bad arm! O’Reilly makes the ropes and immediately drops him with a basic arm wrench. HE THROWS EDDIE SHOULDER-FIRST TO THE RINGPOST! MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON TO THE FLOOR! Back in the ring they go, with Eddie hitting a ONE-ARMED BACKPACK STUNNER! O’REILLY HOLDS ON FOR THE CROSS ARMBREAKER! EDDIE COUNTERS TO THE ACHILLES LOCK! ARM CAPTURE BRIDGING REGALPLEX FROM O’REILLY! CROSS ARMBREAKER! Eddie makes the ropes, so the fight will continue! Kyle looks for a hammerlock superplex, but is dragged up to the top for an AVALANCHE DOI 555! POWERBOMB BY EDDIE! WITH ARM SELLING! ACHILLES LOCK! WITH FACE STOMPS! THE REF STOPS IT! A stunning flurry from Edwards, and he wins at 21:35!

Rating – ****1/2 – When I originally wrote this review, I had this one down at 4* and left it at that. But I went away to think about it, and couldn’t get this match out of my head. Every bit as good as the Richards/O’Reilly classic from television and, upon reflection, deserving to be called an MOTYC for ROH. This kind of thing isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it was right up my alley. The opening minutes were tense and perfectly laid out. They weren’t just doing the typical indy wrestling chain-wrestling for the sake of it opening. Every movement had a purpose. Every hold was testing their opponent for a weakness. I said that the way Davey fought Kyle on TV really put O’Reilly over. Tonight, again in defeat, Kyle looks great – but this time it’s entirely down to how he worked the match. Edwards’ selling of the arm was mostly good (including some awesome one-armed modifications of his standard spots) – but it was the ferocity and effectiveness of his assault on the arm that sold me on this one. That sequence where he LAUNCHED Eddie into the ringpost, then dived at him like a psycho with that missile dropkick to the floor spot was unreal. I’ve seen no reviews for this weekend’s shows, so I honestly don’t know how other critics have received this match. Initially I wrote this off as a 4* match, but upon reflection, I struggled to think what I was marking it down for. The pacing was good. The selling was strong. The story was believable. The conclusion was exciting. Both men came out of the match looking good. The crowd (the Milwaukee crowd has become a great one for ROH) was fantastic too. Had this happened on one of the big shows we’d be raving about this match, and ultimately I felt like I’d penalised it for not taking place at an ippv, or taped in New York or Toronto. For those that are going to email me criticising this (and I’m sure they will) – just let me know what it was you felt I should have marked this match down for.

Rhino vs Tommaso Ciampa
For some reason the Man Beast has been kept around, despite being part of SCUM. Maybe something went down at the TV tapings that explains that – because right now I don’t get why the rest of SCUM have been sidelined (Corino is gone from commentary, and you’ll notice there’s no Jacobs, Compton or Titus on the cards) yet Rhino is still booked. He even has his own entrance music now. This should be a real test of Ciampa’s credentials. He survived a hell of a war with Michael Elgin at Best In The World, but ultimately came up on the losing end of that and now needs to start securing some high profile wins against formidable opponents like Rhino if he wants to rise up the card.

Nigel is the guy who is thrown under the kayfabe bus in having to explain why Rhino is booked post-SCUM. His explanation is predictably vapid. This one wasn’t expected to be pretty, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint as Ciampa marches to the ring and batters the War Machine into the corner. He actually beats Rhino out of the ring…and gives chase before forcibly making him Gore the guardrail! Rhino gets his own back by suplexing him on the exposed wooden floor of the building. We see an uncompromising, rugged style from the veteran though. He’s not throwing fists at a thousand miles an hour like Tommaso was – he slows the pace to a crawl, choking him in the ropes, working the ribs and generally inflicting as much damage with as little movement as possible. Ciampa absorbs some serious punishment, before tripping Rhino into a cobra clutch crossface. The Man Beast fights free with repeated tackles for 2. Tommaso catches Rhino, and the commentators, off-guard with a ferocious German suplex then drives home the bare knee strikes in the corner. He lands a climbing knee strike in the corner and a superplex from the second rope but it isn’t enough to put the former ECW Champion away. Rhino explodes back to life with the belly to belly suplex. GORE COUNTERED WITH A BARE KNEE STRIKE! Ciampa has knocked Rhino out! He wins at 09:30

Rating – *** – Really fun little midcard slug-out between two of the bigger hitters on the roster. Want to know the reason why Rhino has been accepted (and pretty much uniformly cheered) by ROH audiences, whilst someone like Matt Hardy has been roundly rejected and caused such anger? It’s because you can see him working hard, and putting the existing ROH talent over. He’s basically lost every match he’s bad this year. This is a former World Champion, a former WWE superstar, happily busting his ass and staring at the lights in front of a few hundred fans in a ballroom in Milwaukee. The guy probably doesn’t need to do it (and I question whether ROH really needs to spend the cash bringing him in), but ROH fans certainly respect him for it. He and Ciampa worked well together, and for Tommaso to beat him so emphatically certainly makes the up and coming star look terrific.

Kevin Steen vs Silas Young
According to his promo, the ‘Last Real Man in Pro-Wrestling’ is angry at Steen, since he tried to kill the company he’s been busting his ass to get into. He has a family to feed, and knows securing that permanent roster spot and increased exposure on television is the way to increase his income. Meanwhile Steen is still angling for his World Title rematch, and every win counts in that regard.

Young grabs the microphone and starts running Steen down, which Mr Wrestling takes offence to and so gets the match started by punching him in the face. He shows off the work he’s been doing in the gym with the likes of Michael Elgin as he gets CRAZY height on a standing dropkick which knocks Silas out of the ring. It’s an intense brawl around ringside, where Young manages to back drop Steen on the hard floor to give himself the advantage. There’s a neat atmosphere in the crowd as Young is heeling it up to the max, but as he’s in his home region there’s a segment of fans that clearly really like him. And that portion of the audience won’t enjoy seeing Steen hit the cannonball senton for 2. F-5 blocked, then turned into the scoop backbreaker/lariat combo from Silas. APRON BOMB by Steen! He hits that spot in almost every match and it’s still every bit as brutal! Steen-ton Bomb nailed…only for Young to kick-out at 2. Package Piledriver COUNTERED with the Finlay Roll. Arabian Press misses…and Steen drills him with a powerbomb. PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! Steen wins at 07:57

Rating – *** – Disappointingly brief, but a real blast while it lasted. Steen is the face of ROH now. Moreso than Davey, or Eddie, or Cole. He is the star of the show, and people just love the guy. It seems such a waste to have him wrestle less than 8-minutes, but I suppose he’s been the main attraction for a long time now, and needs to rest up and work a slightly easier schedule whilst some other guys carry the ball for a bit. I do hope Delirious has a strong creative vision and storyline in mind for Steen though. Since he’s just about the only major attraction they have that isn’t currently linked with an imminent WWE departure he’s still massively important for this promotion. And hopefully he’ll be working with Young again in future. I think it’s clear ROH are finally going to be bringing him in more, and they like the ‘Last Real Man’ stuff enough to push it. He’s certainly got the wrestling skills and has been delivering in the ring in pretty much every match he’s had over the last year.

SIDENOTE – I hate Matt Taven’s entrance when he has Martini and the Hoopla Hotties in tow. The House Of Truth ‘Hoopla’ theme hits (admittedly it’s a fun entrance song) before Truth, Scarlett and Seleziya come through the curtain and bask in the applause like they are the main events…then as they start walking towards the ring Taven sort of bumbles through the curtain like an after-thought. The guy is a serious talent and is seriously being wasted at the moment, despite being part of a prominent stable and holding the TV Title.

Matt Taven vs Adam Cole vs Jay Lethal vs Michael Elgin
This is non-title, so Taven’s Television Championship isn’t up for grabs (and nor is it under Proving Ground rules). But, as ever, in ROH when a champion is involved, if you pin him you’re going to the front of the line for title shots. That will be of particular interest to former TV Champions Adam Cole and Jay Lethal – who have both had recent run-ins with Matt. Elgin, as #1 contender for the World Title, will also have a target on his back – even with the current status of that championship up in the air following the Briscoe/Briscoe World Title Match at Best In The World. This is the first time we’ve seen Cole since that ppv too – and if you remember he took another step in his descent into heel-dom when he gleefully accepted a count-out victory over Roderick Strong after putting him through a table.

Elgin is wrestling in trunks tonight, and looks in phenomenal shape. Interestingly, Cole all but demands to start the match with him – and they go back and forth in power vs speed exchanges, with neither man really putting a marker down. Taven tags in with Lethal…but is soon running away as Jay peppers him with chops. Seleziya gets in the way, only for Elgin to lay in some chops to Matt as she protects him from Jay! Lethal and Cole then have a surprisingly physical exchange which ends with Jay flat on the deck after a swift jumping neckbreaker. He retaliates with the hiptoss/dropkick sequence (seriously, why does that never get countered?) and having softened Adam up he vacates the premises and lets Unbreakable take his place with the stalling vertical suplex. He holds Cole in the air for so long he is legitimately purple when Elgin finally lets him down. Taven throttles him on the top rope to make matters worse! He then crotches Lethal, before hitting the RUNNING SUICIDE DIVE UP THE AISLE aimed at Elgin! Weirdly, the TV Champion seems to select his biggest opponent as the guy he is going to try to wear down (although it helps that Truth Martini is at ringside to throw in some illegal chokes from the outside). Elgin doesn’t like it one bit, so GERMAN SUPLEXES HIM INTO THE TOP TURNBUCKLE! Lethal shows ‘killer instinct’ (Nigel’s words, not mine…or Jim Cornette’s) by blind tagging himself in after that and going to work on the fallen HOT representative. Cole takes a turn as well, getting a nearfall with the DVD over the knee.

It seems all three of his opponent have become so irritated by the interventions of his entourage at ringside that they’ve formed a makeshift alliance to beat up the hapless Matt Taven. LETHAL HITS A DROPKICK FROM THE FLOOR! The best part about it is that Cole, Elgin and Lethal aren’t shy about beating each other up at the same time as battering Taven. Michael knocks Lethal goofy with lariats in the corner, then nearly drives Matt through the…well, the mat with the Black Hole Slam. Fallaway slam/Samoan drop combo to both the former TV Champions! The current holder of that belt has to absorb another effortless German suplex. He sets up another stalling suplex…but Lethal saves Taven with a superkick. THREE-WAY SUPERKICK DUEL! DISCUS LARIAT BY ELGIN! Taven goes for the Headlock Driver on Jay, but nearly sees it countered to the Lethal Combination instead. Angel’s Wings nailed! Before Matt can win there he is being smashed in the jaw with a roaring elbow from Elgin. COLE COUNTERD THE BACK FIST WITH A SUPERKICK! CRADLEBREAKER ON ELGIN! Lethal blocks the Figure 4 and knocks Cole outside for the ROLLING TOPE SUICIDAS! Martini and Seleziya are in the ring! AIR RAID CRASH FROM SELEZIYA TO LETHAL! FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH BY TAVEN! LETHAL KICKS OUT! Headlock Driver blocked again…as Jay plants Elgin with the Lethal Combo. Cole crotches him before he can hit the Macho Elbow! ELGIN DEATH BLOWS TAVEN! HE BUCKLE BOMBS COLE INTO LETHAL! SPIRAL BOMB NAILED! Elgin pins Cole at 22:00!

Rating – **** – That rocked! It would have been improved if the HOT hadn’t AGAIN threatened to overshadow what was a good performance from Taven – but by and large that was thrilling excitement from bell to bell. Everybody had some real opportunities to shine. Lethal continued to look like a world class competitor. Cole showcased that new mean streak that broke out at Best In The World. Taven had moments of utter brilliance as he stood across the ring from three of ROH’s best…whilst Elgin looked every bit the World Champion in waiting with another top quality match in 2013. A cracking spotfest.

There are no handshakes from a bitterly disappointed Adam Cole at the end of the match.

Bobby Fish vs Davey Richards
This is the main event. It has been put in that featured spot not just as an extension of the Tag Title rivalry between the American Wolves and reDRagon – but as a result of the bitter personal rivalry between Davey and Bobby. Remember, Fish teams with Edwards in Japan. He might not like him, but he respects him enough to form a competent unit overseas. reDRagon was formed by Fish and Davey’s former protégé Kyle O’Reilly almost entirely out of hatred for Richards. Fish has repeatedly taken to the announce table – be it on the TV show, on DVD shows or ippv – to bash the former World Champion. Tonight is his chance to back up his talk with a convincing defeat of the man he has belittled so frequently, and for Richards it’s a chance to make him eat those words.

The intentions of both men are made clear from they outset – as they walk across from their respective corners and take turns booting each other in the head. It’s all strikes for the first minute and seems extremely evenly matched. They are inseparable when it comes to exchanging submission holds too it seems. Davey looks to have more stretches in his locker though, and starts tying Fish in knots with great relish. Bobby leaves the ring and kills some time by bickering with some front row fans. It’s a move which kills Davey’s momentum and allows the Tag Champion to get back into the ring and pick holes with a succession of precisely based kicks. But he allows himself to get distracted by the vocal Milwaukee crowd and is punished with a soccer punt across the chest and a stint being stretched in the arm capture cloverleaf submission. Richards glides onto the apron…only for Fish to kick his legs from under him, tripping him face-first into the side of the ring. Fish starts working the upper chest – and as that’s right at his ideal kicking height it instantly increases the potency of his strikes. The American Wolf can’t catch his breath and again Bobby is poised to counter – as he begins to attack the leg as well. Richards is hobbling and struggling to breath, and a tilta-whirl backbreaker doesn’t help his cause. He does find a way to evade Fish’s attempts at both a moonsault and a pescado and at last delivers the running punt from the apron. Missile dropkick nailed – and holy sh*t Richards sells that leg! He slaps on a cross armbreaker only for Bobby to escape that by grabbing at the bad leg then rolling to the ropes. Are Davey’s injuries slowing him down? He lines up the double stomp but can’t make it up the ropes before Fish is on him and dragging him into the sky with a superplex for 2. He kicks at Davey’s ribs from the apron only now Richards is shaking them off and firing kicks right back. Kawada kicks on the apron! KNEE STRIKE by Fish! FISHERMAN BUSTER ON THE APRON! Eddie Edwards rushes to the ring to check on the condition of his fallen partner, and desperately encourages him back into the ring to avoid the count-out. MOONSAULT GETS FISH A 2! Davey is rolling around clutching the ribs in agony. On jelly legs he rolls through a German suplex attempt and locks onto the Anklelock. COUNTERED to an Achilles tendon hold by Fish! COUNTERED TO A CLOVERLEAF BY DAVEY! And Fish then converts that back to a pinning combination for 2! What a sequence! TOPE CON HILO BY DAVEY…AND HE ENDS UP IN THE THIRD ROW! Back in the ring he dumps Fish on his neck with a German suplex. NO SOLD! LARIAT! ONE-COUNT OF DISRESPECT! FISH KICKS AT THE LEG AND RIBS! ALARM CLOCK! Davey takes to the skies, nails the double stomp and still can’t get the win! Bobby desperately kicks free of the anklelock…and Kyle O’Reilly pops up out of nowhere to distract Davey. Fish kicks him in the head and wins at 22:42

Rating – **** – Another cracking match, albeit with a massively weak finish. Davey has lost cleanly on a regular basis since he lost the World Title to Kevin Steen, so I really don’t know why they felt the need to protect him with O’Reilly’s little cameo at the end. A clean win would have really been huge for Bobby and wouldn’t have impacted Davey in the slightest. Still, before that it was a fine match. Perhaps a little slow in the beginning as they worked a methodical style – but after his temper tantrum on the outside I thought Bobby’s performance was flawless. The way he subtly worked two body parts and stuck to that with such precision throughout was brilliant. Even in the wild strike exchanges that inevitably came at the conclusion of the match Fish was aiming every shot at either the ribs or the leg rather than the head. Was there some patchy selling – of course. Was there some ‘Fighting Sprit’ moments which people either love or hate – absolutely. This one possibly would have benefitted from going on earlier in the night as subtle story-telling elements and lengthy mat exchanges don’t always work that well in main events, but still a fine match.

Tape Rating – **** – I love shows like this. There might not have been too much story-line development, but with the World Champion out of the picture it suddenly gives Delirious the daunting prospect of a three hour show to fill and no ‘safe booking’ World Title match to stick onto a card, giving any random house show some additional prestige. Instead he just let his guys go out and work hard. The American Wolves and reDRagon have been among the most reliable performers through the first half of the year, so the show was always going to be in pretty safe hands with Eddie/Kyle and Davey/Bobby. Those two matches absolutely didn’t disappoint with one half producing an hard-hitting, MMA-influenced main event whilst the other two stole the show and breezed into ROH’s MOTYC reckoning with a gripping battle. And alongside those two matches, four of Ring Of Honor’s young guns were given twenty minutes in a ring together and tore the house down chucking spots at each other in another encounter well worth checking out. Sure it started a little show (I could have nightmares about Zizou Middoux botching an Irish whip), and had a couple of disappointments along the way (Steen/Silas only getting 7-minutes, the lousy finish to the main event etc), but this one is still very much worth checking out on DVD or VOD.

Top 3 Matches
3) Michael Elgin vs Adam Cole vs Jay Lethal vs Matt Taven (****)
2) Bobby Fish vs Davey Richards (****)
1) Eddie Edwards vs Kyle O’Reilly (****1/2)

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