ROH A New Dawn 9/28/2013

ROH 337 – A New Dawn – 28th September 2013

A week after Adam Cole won the vacant Ring Of Honor World Championship, his championship reign begins in earnest here tonight. Jay Briscoe and Michael Elgin are both in hot pursuit following his actions in the aftermath of his victory in Philadelphia, but tonight his immediate focus should be on the Honor Rumble. 15 men will enter the Rumble, with the winner getting a shot at Cole’s newly won championship in the main event. The rest of the card is rather juicy too. Matt Taven faces the sternest test to his TV Title reign so far, as he defends against both Davey Richards and Roderick Strong. Jimmy Jacobs has the second match in his Best Of 5 redemption series against fellow SCUM-founding member Kevin Steen. Adrenaline RUSH face Michael Elgin and Jay Lethal in an exciting undercard tag, and there’s also Edwards vs Bennett and the eagerly anticipated debut of the Monster Mafia to look forward to. Kevin Kelly is ready for (what appears to be post-production taped) commentary duty. He is joined during the show by special guest Adam Cole (who is all over this show). It’s also a new market debut – we’re in Hopkins, MN.

Cole, rocking some excellent new entrance music, comes to the ring to begin the show. In mere seconds he has this crowd HATING him – he really is that good as an arrogant heel. He trashes Michael Elgin and Jay Briscoe…but unbeknownst to him Jay is in the building tonight! Adam promptly leaves the ring and scurries up the aisle, leaving Briscoe in the ring promising he’ll take his World Title back as soon as the doctors clear him to return from his shoulder injury.

reDRagon vs Monster Mafia
Independent wrestling fans have been waiting for Ethan Page and Josh Alexander to debut in Ring Of Honor for sometime. According to some they have visa issues that makes it a little difficult to book them in the US, but clearly ROH has managed to get them to Minnesota this evening – and dropped them into a non-title showdown with the current Tag Champions. With the challenges of the Forever Hooligans and the American Wolves seemingly beaten back, Fish and O’Reilly sit proudly atop the ROH tag team mountain and await new challengers. C&C WrestleFactory and Adrenaline RUSH supposedly lead the chasing pack, but a non-title victory for the Monster Mafia tonight would surely push them right to the front of that queue.

O’Reilly starts with Page, seemingly a step ahead of his debuting opponent when it comes to mat wrestling. Ethan is significantly stronger though, and dusts off O’Reilly’s attempts at shoulder tackling him. Kyle ends up being body slammed with such force that he rolls back to his corner with his tail between his legs. Alexander and Fish are in next, albeit with some hesitance on Bobby’s part as he suspects Josh is hiding a foreign object in his Rick Steiner headgear. Josh doesn’t need any foreign objects though, as he batters Fish into the deck then out of the ring. RUNNING POWERSLAM/DDT COMBO by Monster Mafia for 2.Kevin Kelly is so busy shilling DVDs, tickets and other assorted merch items it’s like listening to Gabe’s commentary in 2004. reDRagon try to isolate Page, frequently tagging in and out and using their speed and wrestling advantage over the bigger man to keep him away from Josh Alexander. Eventually Ethan drops Fish with a RELEASE SUPLEX and gets the hot tag! Alexander comes in throwing around suplexes to both opponents. He hoists Fish up…as Page joins him for an ASSISTED BLUE THUNDER DRIVER! ELBOW SUICIDA BY PAGE! Amazingly, O’Reilly clings to a sleeper hold on Alexander – who tries to fight them off even as the life starts to fade away from him. MMA STRIKE COMBO BY O’REILLY! Page goes down after that, but Alexander is back up and he nearly takes Kyle’s head off with an elbow smash. SUPERKICK GERMAN…gets 2 for the Mafia! They pancake O’Reilly into the canvas, but Fish saves his partner before they can hit a Doomsday Device. CHASING THE DRAGON! Alexander is pinned at 13:14

Rating – *** – Exciting way to open the show from an in-ring standpoint, and an outstanding Ring Of Honor debut for the Monster Mafia team. Their work has had people calling for them to get an opportunity in this promotion for sometime – and they definitely didn’t let that opportunity pass them by tonight. reDRagon were excellent as always (particularly O’Reilly, who has grown into an utterly superb worker), but Page and Alexander were hanging with them every step of the way. I like the Mafia duo’s combination of size (neither of them are small guys) and obvious wrestling skill. They have a look I can imagine the Sinclair guys will get behind, so if they can sort their visa issues preventing them from getting more bookings they could really achieve something in ROH.

Silas Young vs Mark Briscoe
Jay’s return to ROH programming at Death Before Dishonor was headline grabbing, particularly as there were many who thought ROH and the Briscoes may be going their separate ways. Such was the focus on Jay’s return that Mark’s return to competition has almost gone under the radar. He was involved in an outstanding World Title tournament match with Adam Cole on SBG TV, and now returns to the house show circuit with an intriguing encounter against fellow indy veteran Silas Young. The ‘Last Real Man’ would surely love to bolster his rising stock in ROH with a victory over a ‘day one’ stalwart of the company.

Young swings clubbing punches in Briscoe’s direction, but is put on the back foot as Mark uses his speed to out-manoeuvre him. Silas actually does a damn good job keeping pace with Briscoe, before eventually succumbing to karate thrusts. He crashes into the guardrail after a through-the-ropes dropkick to the floor! Not taking kindly to that, Young decides to dump Mark out of the ring too…then hurls him into the guardrails. He starts to focus on the head and neck which is a wise move given Mark’s recent injury problems. Chinlocks keep Briscoe on the canvas…then scoops him into the cradle backbreaker/lariat combo when he finally makes it to his feet. Finlay Roll nailed, but Mark evades the Arabian Press! More karate thrusts from Mark, into the Uncle Mule Kick. Froggy Bow blocked…but Mark dives out of the corner into a flying sunset flip which scores him the win at 08:37

Rating – ** – This was much more enjoyable than a 2* rating probably suggests. I was digging the action between these two savvy indy veterans. Silas is great at what he does and finally looks set for a genuine opportunity in Ring Of Honor now…and in turn Mark is the perfect foil for him. Mark has become something akin to Colt Cabana these days. His act doesn’t change too much, he does mostly the same comedy spots in every matches…yet live crowds continue to dig him. And whilst he does have that enduring popularity, it’s nice to see it harnessed in an environment which also helps a guy like Young – who really deserves a spot.

Silas really isn’t happy he lost. He jumps Briscoe after the bell and beats him senseless. After repeated, unprotected punches to the face he then drives his skull into the canvas clearly looking to exacerbate his recent concussion problems. Hold the phone, Delirious isn’t actually trying to book a feud on the undercard is he?

Adrenaline RUSH vs Michael Elgin/Jay Lethal
There certainly isn’t a feud between these four. They are all popular workers in ROH, but all looking to break through that glass ceiling and really become a genuine main event talent. And with reDRagon seemingly looking for new challengers, both teams will know wins in the tag division are as critical as ever if you want to get near challenging Fish and O’Reilly. In particular, all eyes will be on Elgin as he rebounds from his devastating loss in the finals of the World Title tournament last weekend in Philly.

Elgin starts with ACH, which brings back fond memories of their outstanding battle earlier this year. Poor ACH struggles taking Unbreakable off his feet, so sensibly he decides it’s better to trip him out of the ring then play to the crowd with some back flips instead. It counts for little and he’s soon flying through the air for different reasons as Elgin propels him skywards before pancaking him into the mat. Thomas and Lethal enter next and are far more evenly matched. TD has to work hard but draws a round of applause as he holds his own against the offensive advances of his opponent. Jay peppers him with strikes next…and that’s an obvious mistake as Tadarius DESTROYS him with multiple capoeira strikes. That was a major error, and it was one that gives RUSH the chance to isolate an opponent for the first time. Elgin and Lethal have marginally less experience as a duo, and it shows as their opponents keep their victim well away from his corner. The power of Elgin is completely nullified if he can’t get into the ring after all. Out of nowhere Jay nails the Lethal Combination…and that power is now in the equation again as Michael Elgin steps in. His power is such that Tadarius is overwhelmed before he can unleash the capo strikes. STALLING DEAD-LIFT GERMAN for 2! A recovered Lethal joins him in the ring for a double stalling vertical suplex. Such is Elgin’s power that Jay can actually release the hold, bash ACH off the apron, then return to join his partner for the finishing flourish. Hiptoss dropkick combo gets 2 for Lethal. Thomas brings ACH in, with him wildly swinging strikes at Elgin but again getting nowhere. SLINGSHOT SWINGING FLATLINER INSTEAD! Finally he gets Unbreakable off his feet and gets 2. It only lasts a few fleeting moments though because Elgin is soon back on his feet battering ACH with lariats. FALLAWAY SLAM/SAMOAN DROP COMBO on both members of Adrenaline RUSH! Lethal goes upstairs, only for TD to stop him from nailing the Macho Elbow. He then drops Elgin with a swinging neckbreaker and the match is even once more. POP-UP NECKBREAKER BY LETHAL! Since he failed with his top rope move last time, Jay is ordered to stay down and let Elgin go to the top rope. MACHO ELBOW BY ELGIN! FOR 2! Lethal settles for a tope suicida which wipes out Thomas instead. ACH misses a sunset flip on Elgin and is dragged into the BUCKLE BOMB! SPIRAL BOMB! Elgin pins ACH at 16:03

Rating – **** – I wanted to rate this lower if I’m honest. I really enjoyed it, but I’m not quite sure it reached 4* level. However, when I started reviewing wrestling shows over a decade ago, I set out with a promise to myself that if I liked something, I’d reward it. I never wanted to become an embittered hack who picks holes and faults in things BEFORE finding stuff I like. And you know what, this was a lot of fun. I could have done with a little more substance and story-telling outside of basic, time-killing formulaic stuff. However, all four men played their roles extremely well. Everyone got the chance to shine, and they built to an exciting exchange of spots down the stretch. Ultimately I want to reward that even if this one was perhaps more style than actual substance. ACH really needs to be doing more by this point. He is so popular and talented – he’s wasted drifting around jobbing in the midcard.

Honor Rumble
There have been multiple Honor Rumbles over the years, and since it’s just ROH’s renaming of the Royal Rumble concept everyone should be familiar with the rules. There is a slight twist this time around in that the winner of the Rumble will receive his ROH World Title shot later tonight.

Having just completed a hard-fought tag team encounter, there is no luck for Jay Lethal as he gets the #1 spot. #2 is TV Champion Matt Taven. He jumps a weary Lethal in the corner…only for Jay to retaliate with that f*cking hiptoss dropkick combo AGAIN. He repeatedly fails to toss Taven out of the ring as the clock ticks down for #3…which is Kyle O’Reilly. He forms a makeshift alliance with Taven, but is nearly eliminated as Lethal aims a springboard dropkick in his direction. #4 is Davey Richards…who makes a beeline for O’Reilly. Having beaten him into the corner he turns his attention on Taven, softening him up ahead of their TV Title encounter later. #5 is Michael Bennett and the ring is starting to fill. As Richards clings to an Anklelock on Kyle…#6 is Delirious! Rather than get into the ring he chases the Hoopla Hotties and Maria Kanellis around the building! Finally he enters the ring, and is promptly tossed out by Bennett to become the first man eliminated. #7 is ACH, joining Lethal in the ring mere minutes after their tag match that preceded this one. O’Reilly has become Road Dogg in the 2000 Royal Rumble as he death-grips the bottom rope whilst Lethal tries to boot him out.

Roderick Strong is #8, with Adam Cole rightly pointing that he hasn’t done anything of real value in the last year. Entrant #9 is Cheeseburger…who nearly botches a flying crossbody as he goes right after Bennett. He still gets the biggest pop of the night though. Richards and Lethal actually stop wrestling to cheer him on! Silas Young is #10, and he takes his time about getting in the ring. Maria makes fun of Cheeseburger as Bennett chokes him in the ropes…and doesn’t see Silas checking her ass out as he enters. #11 is Mark Briscoe, presumably still feeling the effects of that post-match assault from Silas. He goes straight for Young, choking him in the corner. #12 is Josh Alexander of the Monster Mafia, and at the same time Bennett eliminates Cheeseburger. Lucky #13 is Eddie Edwards, with Bennett immediately being shown the exit! Josh Alexander follows moments later as finally we start to thin down the field. Briscoe eliminates Silas…who then pulls him under the bottom rope and repeatedly bashes his skull into the guardrails. #14 is Tadarius Thomas – another guy feeling the effects of the Elgin/Lethal vs Adrenaline RUSH match. O’Reilly and Richards are still beating the snot out of each other…but fortunately for Kyle his partner Bobby Fish is the final entrant at #15. Not that Bobby is in a rush. He stays in the aisle doing his stretches.

To his delight O’Reilly eliminates ACH…who shuns the faux-sympathy from Fish to toss him into the ring. Tadarius is so unimportant his elimination isn’t even shown on camera – it happened somewhere during that. Mark eliminates another opponent as he clubs O’Reilly to the floor. On commentary Adam Cole seems pleased that there won’t be a Future Shock reunion in the main event. Taven and Lethal, the first men in, are still going at it on one side of the ring, whilst on the other the American Wolves are teaming up to assault their rival Bobby Fish. Fish BACK SUPLEXES Davey to the floor! Next Strong is eliminated, falling victim to Lethal’s springboard dropkick. Jay is approaching 40-minutes of match-time so far tonight by the way. The crowd boo loudly as Taven eliminates Edwards with a corkscrew enzi…giving us a rather odd final four of Lethal, Taven, Mark Briscoe and Fish. Redneck Kung Fu from Briscoe! He then picks Lethal up for a DOUBLE cartwheel dropkick. It’s like they know how much I hate that spot and really want to piss me off! Fish tosses Mark over the ropes…but he catches himself and lands on the apron. Bobby doesn’t realise that, and as he topples both Taven and the unfortunate Lethal from the top rope to the outside he celebrates like he’s won. Sadly for him he’s mistaken, and Briscoe is back in his face with another volley of Kung Fu thrusts. He tosses Fish to the floor – winning the Honor Rumble at 23:52

Rating – ** – The best Royal Rumble matches are the ones with a central theme which carries the match. I’m referring to things like Kane in 2001, Shawn Michaels in 1995, Ric Flair in 1992, Chris Benoit in 2004 and so forth. You can even use memorable feuds (like Rock/Big Show in 2000) or moments (John Cena’s return in 2008) to punctuate the monotony of guys stalling, clinging to ropes and lying around against the turnbuckles. Sadly ROH has always struggled with that concept in their Honor Rumbles…although you could argue that not having the headline spot at Wrestlemania doesn’t help either. This was, sadly, no exception. It was near-25 minutes of pretty tedious wrestling. Not a lot happened, there wasn’t much great wrestling, no comedy (Cheeseburger threatened some laughs, but got lost in the shuffle) and nothing memorable. In the end I felt bad for Jay Lethal. Cole/Lethal isn’t going to headline a major show anytime soon, so would have been a fun main event. They met in the tournament so there’s history there – plus Jay having already worked 40-minutes on the show would have played up Cole’s reputation as a rather fortunate Champion (given that people are saying he only beat Elgin because he’d been roughed up by Kevin Steen first). Mark Briscoe has got something to do now (apparently feuding with Silas) so, other than his association with Jay, I’m not sure what the merits are of Cole/Mark in the main event over and above what Jay Lethal would have offered.

Michael Bennett vs Eddie Edwards
These two had a decent series of matches against each other last year, but it’s been a while since they’ve had a singles match, and Bennett is always improving, so I have high hopes for this. They briefly crossed paths in the Honor Rumble before intermission, and both will be sore that this is their only match left tonight, and they don’t have a World Title match to prep for too.

The opening segment favours Edwards, as Bennett foolishly tries to trade wristlocks and wrestling holds with him. The ex-Prodigy reacts angrily to his mistake, then makes another as he sprints at Eddie and winds up hung in the corner for a tree of woe dropkick sequence. Bennett just can’t get going here, and Maria Kanellis has finally seen enough. She appears on the apron to distract Edwards – and successfully does so, enabling Bennett to land a big punch to the jaw. Spinebuster follows next, and Bennett is in the ascendency for the first time in the contest. Edwards ducks under an offensive charge, tripping Michael to the floor. ELBOW SUICIDA nailed. Double stomp misses, but Edwards reacts quickly to hit a sliding enziguri strike. Box Office Smash countered…into the Boston Knee Party. Credit to Bennett, he absorbs that and chops Eddie down with a spear. Backpack Stunner from Eddie gets 2…into the Achilles Lock. Bennett escapes that and plants Eddie with a TKO. They go to the top rope, where Eddie fights off an avalanche Box Office Smash and blasts him with a running mafia kick. Maria distracts Eddie again! Avalanche Box Office Smash…EDDIE BACK FLIPS OUT! Even though they’ve done that spot a few times it’s still amazing to see. Maria botches grabbing Eddie’s leg, then they re-run the spot, allowing Bennett to hit the Piledriver for the win at 11:21

Rating – ** – Some will think I’ve been a little harsh on this one (particularly after what I said after Elgin/Lethal vs Adrenaline RUSH), but I have my reasons. These two had some terrific matches against each other last year…and this was nothing more than a greatest hits package of those encounters. Edwards, by this point, knew he was on the way out of the company and was really going through the motions, hitting his popular spots and not doing much else. But why should he when that’s exactly how ROH are treating him? They are booking Eddie because he’s popular, but he’s not a featured performer now and has been an after-thought on cards since the summer. With the Wolves/reDRagon issue apparently done, he and Davey are going to fill out the undercard, put over guys like Bennett until they finish up their dates with the company. Personally, I think Bennett would get a hell of a lot more over if he worked a solid 20-minute wrestling match with a guy like Edwards and actually got a clean victory…rather than a forgettable 10-minute filler bout like this with a shady finish. But what do I know…

Jimmy Jacobs vs Kevin Steen – Trial Series Match #2
At Death Before Dishonor we saw BJ Whitmer emotionally retire from pro-wrestling. On his way out he pleaded with Match Maker Nigel McGuinness to give his old tag partner and rival Jimmy Jacobs another chanced in Ring Of Honor. Nigel agreed, and the following evening at the TV Tapings presented Jacobs with his opportunity: a 5-match Trial Series. If he wins more than he loses, he gets his job back and a World Title shot in his home state at the next Dearborn show. As those episodes haven’t aired yet continuity is all over the place as we go into this one. Either way it’s a huge challenge for him as he faces his fellow co-founding SCUM member Kevin Steen. These guys have torn each other apart in violent battles before, but never have the stakes been so high for Jimmy.

Apparently Jacobs is 1-0 in the series having beaten Silas Young at the tapings. He nearly goes 2-0 in the first five seconds as he sprints at Steen with the spear for 2. FALLAWAY SLAM INTO THE GUARDRAIL by Steen! STEEN-TON BOMB…gets 2! Jimmy desperately evades the Cannonball and hits the CONTRA CODE! Another nearfall! They go to the apron…WHERE JIMMY SPEARS STEEN THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPING TABLE! They go to the top rope…AVALANCHE FISHERMAN BUSTER BY STEEN! This is crazy stuff! Mr Wrestling tries another Steen-ton, but this time only succeeds in getting Jacobs’ knees…and Jimmy responds with the rebound Ace Crusher for 2. Senton Bomb by Jimmy, and it’s another nearfall. SLEEPER SUPLEX by Steen! F-5 COUNTERED with a small package, so Steen powerbombs Jimmy instead! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! STEEN WINS! In an amazing 4:23, Steen gets the win and Jimmy goes 1-1 in the Trial Series.

Rating – **** – In less than four and a half minutes this was about as good as it gets. On the surface of it this was a crazy spotfest, but what I enjoyed was the added depth these two extremely talented story-tellers brought to it. Before the match you had Steen, now unbelievably positioned as the ‘man of honour’ in this scenario, refusing to trust his old buddy Jacobs – refusing to even follow the Code Of Honor. This made perfect sense considering Jimmy was part of the SCUM assault on Steen when they forcibly ejected him from the group after he lost the World Championship to Jay Briscoe. Then the match began, and Jimmy wasn’t just hitting spots. He was giving up a large amount in weight, so decided his best chance of victory was to catch Steen by surprise and drop every bomb he had on him in the first couple of minutes. Steen rose to the challenge, and ultimately had the heavier artillery in his arsenal (as well as 100-ish lbs in weight) to score the win. These guys may well have stolen the show in less than five minutes!

Maria Kanellis comes out to make fun of Kevin Steen. She points out that he’s fat and has no title belt. Michael Bennett then appears, presumably to make the point that he has a better Piledriver than Steen’s Package Piledriver variant. PILEDRIVER ON STEEN! This really is a new dawn. Delirious seems to have started two undercard feuds on the same night.

Matt Taven vs Davey Richards vs Roderick Strong – ROH TV Title Match
I’m not entirely sure how this one came about (most of Taven’s title reign has disappeared into a blur of forgettable Proving Ground Matches, underwhelming title defences, irritation at Truth Martini etc), but it’s certainly a hell of a test for Taven, who soon to become the longest reigning champion in ROH history. Roddy calls himself ‘Mr ROH’, is one of only two Triple Crown winners in company history, and as a former House Of Truth member would love to be the one to end Matt’s lengthy run with the belt. If he could do so he’d also become the only 2-time TV Champion in ROH history, another milestone for him. And speaking of the Triple Crown, despite his wonderful career and impressive body of work as part of the Ring Of Honor roster, Davey Richards is NOT a Triple Crown Champion. The Television Title is the belt he needs to complete the set.

To his credit, Taven is drawing genuine heat for this one. He’s also drawn the ire of the two former NRC members as they join forces to take him apart with strikes. Matt bails, and immediately Richards and Strong turn on each other in a renewal of their epic rivalry. Strong eats a soccer punt from the apron, and as Taven celebrates his safety Davey is sprinting across the ring into a tope suicida aimed at him. Roddy dishes out strikes to both opponents, driving Taven into the canvas with the Olympic Slam then dropping Richards with the urinage backbreaker seconds later. The American Wolf scales the ropes to floor both opponents with a missile dropkick. Machine Gun Kicks on Taven! EXPLODER ON STRONG, WITH TAVEN PINNED! FOR 2! CLIMAX…COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK! TRAILER HITCH ON TAVEN! ANKLELOCK ON RODDY! Davey is awesome. ROH’s loss at the end of 2013 is very much TNA’s gain. Strong hits a cradle backbreaker on Taven, then Death By Roderick for 2. Strong and Richards trade strikes…until Davey nails Roddy with a brainbuster. FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH gets Taven a nearfall. ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPERPLEX BY DAVEY! But he goes upstairs again and is captured by Strong for a superplex of his own. Stronghold on Richards, but it’s broken with a rebound enzi by Matt. Gibson Driver…COUNTERED TO THE CLIMAX! Davey breaks the fall at the last. Incredibly, Taven then goes strike for strike with Davey! He doesn’t back up an inch, and is unfortunately to be trapped in the Anklelock. FLYING DOUBLE STOMP gets 2! Anklelock again, but Scarlett Bordeaux is distracting the referee as Taven starts to tap. Seleziya is in the ring…ANKLELOCK ON HER! Inevitably Taven rolls Davey up with the tights, and retains his belt yet again at 11:57

Rating – *** – Not that he had much to do with it, but this was actually one of Taven’s better TV Title defences in my opinion. He wasn’t exactly bad here, and that strike exchange with Davey in the closing stretch was probably the highlight of the match for me. However, you have to be honest and say that this match was carried by the amazing offensive intensity and creativity of Davey Richards. As I’ve been saying all year, ROH just don’t have guys sitting on their roster who can replace Davey. By all accounts he is exceptionally difficult to manage, but most great talents are. He was the focal point of everything entertaining in this triple threat. Even in the last couple of years when ROH have tried to marginalise him he’s still been, more often than not, the best wrestler in the company. No amount of cheap wins for Taven will do anything to elevate him to a fraction of the status and respect Davey should command. If he can keep his nose clean and not piss management off TNA have a hell of a worker on their hands – their version of Daniel Bryan perhaps?

Adam Cole vs Mark Briscoe – ROH World Title Match
So this will be Mark’s third match of the night. It’s also Cole’s first defence of the ROH Championship he won a week ago in Philadelphia. He’s had much to say for himself on commentary all evening, and considering the colossal advantage he has over Mark (who has worked twice, and been assaulted by Silas Young twice too) he’ll be expecting a commanding victory here. Given that Jay Briscoe is amongst the leading contenders for his newly won title, it’s also a chance to send a message to him by roughing up his brother. Mark, in turn, will want to leave with both the belt and revenge for Jay – but has to know the odds are stacked against him.

Adam Cole says he’s going to accomplish three things tonight…but only divulges the first one – which is superkicking Mark straight in the head! He then hurls him into the guardrails leaving him in a heap on the floor of the arena. Jay Briscoe is irate at the treatment of his brother, and is dragged away by security as he tries to attack Cole. Mark is game for a fight and drags himself back into the ring – right into a dropkick to the face. The World Champion actually uses Redneck Kung Fu on Mark before dropping him with a DVD over the knee for 2. Briscoe actually hits a sunset flip from the second rope for 2, although by this point on the night his movements are visibly rather sluggish. Cole puts him back on the defensive with a Shining Wizard. Sweet Chin Music COUNTERED with a German suplex by the challenger. Uncle Mule Kick follows, then a WILD pescado! Running fisherman buster gets 2. He starts karate chopping Adam’s neck and gets another nearfall with the urinage suplex. JACK-KNIFE POWERBOMB! But still the champ gets a shoulder up. Cole catches Briscoe in the corner, and superkicks his knees out from under him. Instantly Mark favours his knee and finds himself ensnared in the Figure 4 Leglock. Somehow he escapes…so Cole hits him with a cradlebreaker! He tries the Jay Driller just like he did in their SBG TV match, but this time Mark counters with a rolling slam. FROGGY BOW! MARK DRILLER! GETS 2! Cole stays down, clinging to the bottom rope and appearing to be seriously injured. As Todd Sinclair and Mark Briscoe come to check on him, he pounces up from behind the ref to lay Mark out with the superkick. Florida Key nailed, and Cole retains the title in his first defence at 11:34

Rating – *** – Their TV match had a better story and greater emotion running through it. The execution was also significantly better, although that seems harsh considering this was Mark Briscoe’s third match of the evening. This one wasn’t without it’s moments though. Cole is superb as a heel, and has the potential to be the most entertaining champion since Austin Aries’ second run with the belt. I really liked the Jay Driller sequence at the end too. In the end this was a vehicle to put Cole over, and it worked on that front.

After being dragged out by security, Jay Briscoe is back and has come through the crowd to staredown Cole. Michael Elgin has appeared in the ring too, adding to the champ’s woes. Adam flees before Elgin can hit the Spiral Bomb, only to be hauled over the rails for a fight with Jay.  Cole flees to the locker room as Jay starts fighting security guys, and it leaves Elgin alone in the ring to pose with the World Title belt.

Rating – *** – As far as B-shows with little build and minimal storyline enhancement go, this was rather entertaining. The Honor Rumble (mediocre though it was) and intense promotion of Adam Cole meant this was both unique as far as house shows go, and meant the DVD worked as a self-contained and enjoyable couple of hours. I do wish ROH/SBG would get over their boner for shows running less than 2 hours 30 minutes so matches could get a little more time, but this really wasn’t bad. In less than five minutes, the Steen/Jacobs match was INTENSE and a real highlight of the show for me. The title matches were also decent enough, whilst Elgin/Lethal vs Adrenaline RUSH was another strong tag team encounter in what has been a deceptively strong year for tag team wrestling in Ring Of Honor. Monster Mafia’s debut was impressive as well – making this show an easy recommend for the completists or ‘order most shows’ fans. For the more selective buyer this gets a more tentative thumbs up. It’s not going to blow you away, but I was entertained for the duration of this DVD.

Top 3 Matches
3) reDRagon vs Monster Mafia (***)
2) Michael Elgin/Jay Lethal vs Adrenaline RUSH (****)
1) Kevin Steen vs Jimmy Jacobs (****)

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