ROH Pursuit: Night Two 11/16/2013

ROH 342 – Pursuit: Night 2 – 16th November 2013

We move to the second of the Pursuit weekend shows, and after an emotional rollercoaster of a main event between Adam Cole and Jimmy Jacobs last night, it’s sure to be more of the same tonight as C&C WrestleFactory finally get their shot at reDRagon’s Tag Team Championship. We also have Davey Richards’ last ROH match to date, as the American Wolves take on Outlaw Inc. (who weren’t at last night’s Dearborn show). Adam Cole faces ACH in the Proving Ground, Tommaso Ciampa and Mark Briscoe collide, plus lots more – including an appearance by ‘Real World Champion’ Jay Briscoe. Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are in Columbus, OH.

Silas Young vs Tadarius Thomas
The Last Real Man had a bad night yesterday, and lost to Jay Briscoe in mere minutes. That’s a loss he’ll be looking to rebound from quickly. As will Tadarius, who will know Adrenaline RUSH’s Tag Title prospects took a hit yesterday when both he and ACH failed to win their respective triple threats with the members of reDRagon and C&C.

TD has shaved his head since yesterday’s show. The two trade bad tempered headlocks in the first couple of minutes…but every time Silas pauses to run his mouth he finds himself getting tagged with an unorthodox strike from Thomas. Finally Young has had enough and BOOTS him in the mouth! He looks to keep Tadarius on the ground, and does so for several minutes until he connects with a cartwheel kick then the Slingblade. HALF NELSON SUPLEX for 2! Silas retorts by springboarding off the ropes into a lariat. Capoeira strikes from Thomas…then a fisherman neckbreaker for another close nearfall! Young leaves the ring to kill his momentum…and when he returns he quickly blasts him with the backbreaker/lariat combo. KICK OF DEATH! HEADSTAND ARABIAN PRESS! Silas actually gets a rare, clean victory at 08:14

Rating – ** – This really wasn’t anything remarkable, but it was perfectly passable entertainment and the live audience seemed really into it. The contrast between Silas’ rugged, no-thrills approach and the ornate, complicated striking offence of Tadarius was a lot of fun to see play out. After getting crushed yesterday I’m glad Silas got the win here. I know ROH want to build Adrenaline RUSH as top contenders for reDRagon, but Young has heaps more potential as a singles guy and needed to comeback strong after getting crushed yesterday.

Jimmy Jacobs vs Rik Matrix
So last night Jimmy failed in his quest to win the World Championship. It will no doubt have been a tough loss to take, but he can comfort himself with the fact that he does now have his ROH job back. As such, he now goes to the bottom of the card looking to rebuild and refocus his career – perhaps before moving into contention for another title shot down the line. His opponent is some old, hefty guy who seems to be working a ‘mentally deranged’ gimmick.

Matrix is wrestling in muddy wrestling boots, which I hate. He’s three times the size of Jacobs, so starts well until Jimmy trips him out of the ring…and knocks him into the crowd with a tope suicida. Sik Rik then tries to run at Jimmy…who moves and causes his opponent to clatter into the ringpost. The camera man nearly gets killed as Matrix flattens Jacobs into the rails. Rik wants to use a chair, eventually setting one up in the corner for a ONE MAN FATTY POETRY IN MOTION! Matrix does some inexplicable break dancing into the cover for 2. Jacobs looks for the rebound Ace Crusher, and connects in somewhat bizarre fashion as Matrix flops onto his back. SUPER UGLY CONTRA CODE! Rik goes for a big tackle…only for Jacobs to counter to End Time. Rik is choked out at 08:20

Rating – ** – What a strange match that was. I’m not sure Jimmy was able to execute any of his moves cleanly due to Matrix’s utterly bizarre methods of selling and bumping, but this had undeniable car crash interest as a viewer. Watching some fat, old veteran work a rather convincing lunatic gimmick whilst tossing poor Jimmy Jacobs around like a child was a lot of fun. I certainly don’t want Matrix to get a full-time spot or anything, but this was bizarrely watchable.

Nigel McGuinness congratulates Jimmy on his success in the Trial Series, and confirms he is back in Ring Of Honor. Jimmy demands a big challenge for Final Battle…only for Nigel to tell him that the card is already booked and he’s not on it. He has to wait until 2014. Jacobs walks away disappointed…

Mark Briscoe vs Tommaso Ciampa
I guess these two have been thrown together as they’ve both recently been considered top contenders for the TV Title. Ciampa ended up winning the #1 contendership match and now challenges Matt Taven at Final Battle, but Mark presumably remains in the hunt and will look to win here and secure a shot at the belt early in 2014.

Veda Scott is at ringside discuss RD Evans’ ‘victory’ over Ciampa yesterday, and to call for RD to be made top contender for the TV Title instead. It’s a strong start for Briscoe, knocking Tommaso back with a flurry of karate thrusts…until Ciampa KILLS him with running knee strikes. We go to the floor where they start teeing off on each other with some frightfully stiff strikes. Mark looks for a running dive, but Tommaso slides in and decapitates him with a lariat! He gets 2 with a snapmare driver. Ciampa keeps Briscoe on the ground, pummelling him with elbow strikes and repeatedly choking him with chinlocks. From this position Briscoe is unable to use the Redneck Kung Fu or start diving around. Air Raid Crash blocked though, and Mark drops him ON HIS NECK with a urinage! MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! He hauls Tommaso back inside and gets with a fisherman buster. Throat chops from Briscoe….knees from Ciampa! Mark floors him with a jumping enzi then sets him up for his big finish with the rolling DVD. Froggy Bow blocked! Avalanche Air Raid Crash blocked too. CLIMBING KNEE STRIKE! AVALANCHE AIR RAID CRASH! Ciampa wins at 10:14

Rating – *** – I wasn’t particularly excited about this, but they really proved me wrong with a hell of a match. It was physical in the extreme, with both gentleman lugging the hell out of each other with every strike. This was exactly the kind of match you’d expect when a Sicilian Psychopath and a crazy redneck come together. And actually, I need to credit Mark in general, who’s work has really been improving in the last couple of months. He’s still stayed true to his character, but he’s definitely toned down the goofy kung fu and stopped doing the same comedy spots in every match.

Outlaw Inc. vs American Wolves
If Homicide and Eddie Kingston want a Tag Title shot, winning this match would go a long way towards solidifying their claims. The Wolves are the most recent former Champions, they’re both former World Champions and are established as two of the best workers in the promotion. If the Outlaws can earn a victory here few will deny they are top contenders to reDRagon. This is also Davey’s last ROH match to date. He and Eddie were scheduled for a formal farewell (many thought they were WWE-NXT bound, but they actually ended up signing with TNA) at Final Battle – but something happened between this show and then which pissed the ROH officials off so much that they dropped Davey from the card. Things became quite acrimonious, and Richards has since made some really angry comments in various interviews – so it’s clear there was a bitter falling out. He remains a legendary figure in this company regardless of how Sinclair/ROH try to spin his departure.

Kingston starts with Richards, but is soon scared off by his striking ability. Homicide, another former World Champion, makes the tag and has no hesitation in grappling with Davey. Edwards comes in and again they work the deck with great precision. The Wolves use their experience as a team, with fluent tags and rapid double teams, to get the better of Kingston. Cide rakes Davey’s eyes, handing the advantage to the Outlaws…until Edwards clobbers him so hard Homicide falls out of the ring. reDRagon are at ringside, dressing up in Outlaw Inc.’s clown masks. The Wolves continue to dominate Kingston, whilst Homicide throws a tantrum on the outside. Eventually King hits an exploder suplex on Davey, and makes the much-needed hot tag to the Notorious 187. Three Amigos on Richards! Edwards boots Cide in the face to block the Frog Splash though. He then saves Davey from the Doomsday Bulldog too. Richards lines up the handspring enzi…only for Homicide to COUNTER with a jumping neckbreaker. Cop Killa blocked…into the DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK! Kingston saves Homicide from the double stomp combo. BACK FIST ON DAVEY! DOOMSDAY BULLDOG! The Outlaws get the victory at 11:24!

Rating – *** – I’ve seen some really negative feedback on this, but personally I thought it was fine. It probably didn’t live up to my expectations and was certainly a very low key way for the Wolves to work their final ROH tag…but it wasn’t a bad match by any stretch of the imagination. The Wolves were in control when they used their tag team experience and ability, whilst the unpredictable, unhinged brawling style of the Outlaws wound up earning them a victory when the match lost all semblance of law and order down the stretch.

SIDENOTE – Since that was Davey’s last appearance, I want to pass on my gratitude for his amazing body of work throughout his Ring Of Honor career. He debuted in a hell of a match against Jimmy Rave at Destiny in 2006, and has been producing killer performances almost ever since. Arguably his break-out year was 2009, which saw him win the Tag Titles with the American Wolves, but also produce star-making singles performances against the likes of KENTA, Bryan Danielson, Austin Aries, Kenny Omega and more. In 2010 he produced one of the finest (and easily one of the most under-rated) trilogies in ROH history with his series against Tyler Black. The World Title showdown between Tyler and Davey at Death Before Dishonor 8 remains one of the greatest ROH matches of all time (and amazingly, wasn’t even my ROH MOTY than year thanks to Steen/Generico at Final Battle 2010). 2010 ended with some memorable matches against the likes of Christopher Daniels and Roderick Strong (with whom he’d share multiple amazing matches)…but it was in June the following year that Davey finally won the World Championship, from fellow American Wolf Eddie Edwards at Best In The World 2011. Unfortunately from there Jim Cornette and Sinclair’s early-ownership teething problems really came to define his title reign. He was made the poster-boy of Cornette’s ‘new ROH’, which in turn made him extremely unpopular with the fans as it made him devastatingly ‘un-cool’ when compared to the returning anti-hero Kevin Steen. But even as he struggled with his popularity, he still provided some of the greatest matches of the Sinclair-branded ROH era. At Showdown In The Sun during the 2012 WrestleMania festivities he and Michael Elgin arguably produced the best match from any promotion in Florida that weekend. The two World Title matches with Kevin Steen at Border Wars 2012 and Best In The World 2012 were easy MOTYC’s. Even towards the end of the year when he slid away from prominence back into the midcard, he pulled off an excellent couple of matches with Jay Lethal (Survival Of The Fittest finals and Glory By Honor 11) to prepare him for his title shot with Steen – and ended the year reuniting the American Wolves. In 2013 it’s been public knowledge that both he and Eddie have been making runs at getting signed by WWE. As a result their exposure as legitimate main event singles workers has been limited. But such is the quality of Richards (and Eddie) that the Wolves have done a hell of a job putting reDRagon over as Tag Champions…and Davey has STILL been producing killer singles matches with the likes of Paul London, Ricky Marvin, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, ACH and so on. The point of this elongated paragraph was to show that, even whilst officials and some fans desperately try to act like losing Davey won’t be a big deal to Ring Of Honor – in terms of producing high quality, show-stealing matches on a consistent basis, Richards is second only to Bryan Danielson. If ROH ever had a weak show, or a bad night, they knew all they had to do was throw Davey out there with any opponent and 20-minutes of ring-time and he’d save the show/shift some DVD’s with his work. Davey deserves thanks and respect for his remarkable ROH career, his contributions deserve to be acknowledged, and for all the people who are quick to dismiss the significance of his departure – I don’t see too many workers on the roster (and certainly not those under a full-time ROH contract) waiting to step up and fill the void.

Adam Cole vs ACH
This is a Proving Ground Match (the World Title doesn’t get many of those), so if ACH can win or force any kind of draw with Cole then he’ll earn a future Championship opportunity. We’ve been saying all year that ACH produces incredible matches when put in the ring with the ‘big dogs’ in the Ring Of Honor yard. After losses to the likes of Roderick Strong, Michael Elgin, Davey Richards, Karl Anderson, Kevin Steen and more, will tonight be the time he pulls off the career-making victory?

ACH picked up a leg injury last night, and comes in with a heavily taped knee. Cole wisely keeps the pace slow and looks to ground his athletic adversary. ACH doesn’t shy away from that confrontation, but Cole’s power advantage, plus ACH’s injury really start to grind him down. SUPERKICK TO THE KNEE! Adam launches into an onslaught on the injured knee – stretching it out, and driving countless stomps, knees and elbows onto it. Within a couple of minutes ACH is now rendered unable to even run the ropes. Despite that, he capitalises on Cole wasting time posing to the fans by dragging him into a one-legged turnbuckle flatliner. SHOTEEEIIIIII cleans Adam’s clock though, sending him all the way through the ropes to the apron. PESCADO NAILED! As is the slingshot cutter for 2! But he doesn’t stand any chance of getting Cole up for the Big Bang Attack, and is dropped on his ass again with a Shining Wizard. Cole SPITS on ACH…who responds by dragging him for a sit-out driver. FROG SPLASH GETS 2! But it hurts ACH’s knee and he needs the ropes to drag himself up. BASEMENT SUPERKICK by Cole! FIGURE 4 LEGLOCK! ACH immediately taps at 11:21

Rating – **** – I thought this was awesome! Even whilst being way shorter than I’d have liked, these guys packed in a hell of a match. For a guy who works an almost-exclusive high-flying game, ACH’s selling of the leg was incredible. He’s already a proven, sympathetic babyface who takes a hell of a beating, but the added psychological depth of his performance here was something new from him and truly outstanding. It’s also great to see Cole finally get the chance to explore the heel side of his character in Ring Of Honor. He’s been doing this act for a long time in other promotions, and is infinitely better in this role than as the smiling, babyface worker he’d been presented as throughout his ROH run. Unsurprisingly, his match quality has also massively improved from the first half of 2013 too. This was taped for the SBG show, and it was an absolutely brilliant TV match. Exactly the kind of action ROH should be showcasing to differentiate their television show from their rivals.

Nigel McGuinness returns to the ring, announcing that Outlaw Inc. have now earned a Tag Title shot at Final Battle. They’ll face the winners of reDRagon/C&C in tonight’s main event – but only if they don’t interfere in that match

Matt Taven vs Roderick Strong vs Jay Lethal vs Michael Elgin
Despite not having any obvious feuds here, there are a lot of underlying issues that could flare up between these four. Taven is the current centrepiece of the House Of Truth – a faction which both Roderick and Elgin used to represent. He’s also the current TV Champion, a title both Lethal and Strong have held, and would like back. Elgin has also teamed with both Strong and Lethal in the past. We could see either of those two duos reunite, but equally, those three guys have also had some hard-hitting singles matches with each other so they could just as quickly explode once again. Presumably a victory over Taven would move the victor to the front of the queue for a post-Final Battle shot at the ROH Television Championship.

Taven is accompanied by FIVE Hoopla Hotties (with Scarlett rocking one of the controversial ‘WeAre18’ sponsored shirts)…although one botches getting into the ring. Strong starts with Lethal, although they wind up joining forces to assault Taven (who invades the ring for no apparent reason). I’m so fed up of Corino rambling on about Roddy ‘changing gears’ for the record. Lethal and Elgin briefly lock horns (so no union there then), but Taven blind tags himself in for a STALLING SUPLEX on Elgin! That was impressive, but as he celebrates Michael gets back to his feet and returns the favour with an effortless 60-second suplex, even with Strong kicking him in the stomach! Matt dropkicks Lethal into Elgin…and in turn Jay hits a springboard dropkick to knock Strong to the floor! Lethal tries to give tope suicidas to all three opponents…only for Matt to hide behind Scarlett! She distracts him, and Taven capitalises by ramming Jay into the guardrails. Rolling neckbreaker, and the springboard corkscrew senton score for 2. Sadly, like everyone else, Taven isn’t smart enough to avoid the hiptoss/dropkick combo. JUST DON’T SIT UP! Unbreakable saves Lethal with an exploder suplex, followed by the ST-Joe for 2. He then floors the on-rushing Lethal with a jumping hip attack. To one-up that Strong storms the ring dishing out jumping knee strikes to everyone. He nearly kills Taven with a cradle backbreaker…as Elgin blocks the Lethal Injection with a knee strike. Samoan drop/fallaway slam combo from Elgin to both the Floridians! Lethal Combination on Strong! Jay has Roddy in position for the Macho Elbow…BUT OPTS TO PUT TAVEN THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPING TABLE WITH A MACHO ELBOW TO THE FLOOR! That leaves us with old rivals Strong and Elgin teeing off on each other again. DEAD-LIFT suplex front slam gets 2 for Unbreakable! Spiral Bomb blocked with elbows, and Strong picks him up for Death By Roderick. Sick Kick scores for a close 2! SPIRAL BOMB! Elgin finally leaves with the win at 13:56

Rating – *** – Some of that action was absolutely crazy. Great spot warfare from four solid hands, with the obvious highlight being the Lethal/Taven table spot. It’s interesting that ROH are keeping Jay in the title picture even though they’ve gone with Taven/Ciampa at Final Battle. Where do they go with that in 2014 – i.e. is Lethal feuding with Taven, or is he chasing the belt? It’s a shame Roderick had to eat the fall here, as in many ways he’s the best worker of the four – but as his ROH career starts to drift (presumably he’s no longer contracted and is now freelancing as he’s started taking bookings for promotions like Evolve and FIP under the WWNLive umbrella), it’s not surprising that he’s the one staring at the lights and putting Elgin over once again.

Steve Corino calls Jay Briscoe to the ring for an interview segment. The King Of Old School tries to reason with him and points out that he isn’t really World Champion. That irritates Jay, but before he can do anything about it Silas Young attacks him from behind. Cue Mark Briscoe, who fastens a leather strap around Young’s neck and drags him out – a precursor to their scheduled Strap Match at Final Battle. As security struggles to contain that skirmish, Adam Cole appears and a brawl ensues between the two World Champions. Michael Elgin runs in…only to be superkicked in the back of the head by Cole as he tries to Elgin Bomb Jay. Cole lays Briscoe out with a belt shot and poses with both title belts to resounding boos from the Columbus crowd. I’m guessing ROH will use this segment during the lead-in TV episode to Final Battle.

reDRagon vs Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander – ROH Tag Title Match
C&C WrestleFactory have been campaigning for this opportunity for a long time. They feel that whenever they have earned an ROH Tag Title shot it’s always been as part of a three-way, or there’s always been another feud going on which has led to interference that wound up costing them (mostly during the Briscoe/WGTT feud). They won back to back triple threats at Pursuit Night 1, and finally tonight they do have the straight-up title shot they’ve always wanted. Aside from a couple of weeks of madness during the summer when the Forever Hooligans and the American Wolves both had a brief flirtation with the belts, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly have controlled the titles since February. They have a tentative match scheduled for Final Battle now (Homicide and Eddie Kingston wait in the wings – another team who reDRagon have had issues with), but they need to emerge victorious from another stern examination of their championship credentials this evening.

Caprice got a nasty shiner during his match yesterday, and it looks worse today. He looks like he’s seeing just fine though, as he and Cedric waste no time in simultaneously dropkicking both champs off the apron during their entrance! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY CEDRIC! They are super aggressive, trawling all around ringside slamming the champs into the guardrails, the floor, the ringposts and everything else in between. It leaves O’Reilly struggling on the outside whilst they pull Fish into the ring to isolate him. With a cut on his nose, Fish tries to run away…eventually bringing Kyle in for some double team strike combos on Alexander. Such is the fire in Cedric it takes repeated double teams for reDRagon to restrain him…but then the action spills to the floor where Coleman comes to his aid with a 619 around the ringpost! Rolling northern lights by Caprice, into the DOUBLE northern lights on both champions for 2. O’Reilly manages to drive Coleman’s shoulder into the ringpost, then pulls referee Todd Sinclair aside as Fish hits a FLYING ARMDRAG OFF THE APRON! reDRagon start working on Caprice’s arm, but it’s noticeable they keep going back to strikes where possible to ensure that eye flares up as much as possible. After nearly 10 minutes of fast-paced C&C dominance, the pace slows dramatically as the champions methodically pick Coleman apart. Camel clutch applied, with eye gouging and close-range punches which apparently cause his eye to open up.

Fujiwara armbar from O’Reilly, and for the first time Ced has to start invading the ring to save the match for his partner. Caprice lands a double dropkick…then a DOUBLE HURRICANRANA before finally making the hot tag. Alexander hits a PSYCHOTIC high angle slingshot DDT (the kind where a botch winds up making it look twice as vicious as it would have originally been), then drops O’Reilly with the full nelson facebuster for 2. Total Elimination by C&C for another nearfall, and when Kyle runs for the hills they turn on Fish to ground him with the Hart Attack leg lariat. O’Reilly saves his partner by destroying Alexander against the rails, then storms the ring for a series of knee strikes, then a backbreaker/flying knee drop combo on Coleman for 2. MIND TRIP on Fish! CORKSCREW ENZI FROM CEDRIC TO KYLE! DETONATION KICK! FLYING LEG DROP GETS 2! C&C start firing each other up…but give reDRagon too much time to recover. O’Reilly boots Ced off the apron…INTO THE MISSILE DROPKICK TO THE FLOOR! AVALANCHE FALCON ARROW from Fish to Coleman! How much does Caprice have left? His eye is a mess, he only has one good arm, and he’s on his own with both champions. But he pisses them off still, rolling away every time Fish attempts a move from the top rope. Fish misses a diving headbutt…STANDING SUPER RANA ON O’REILLY! OVERTIME…BUT KYLE GETS THE KNEES UP! Caprice is in tears! He is driven onto his arm again. CHASING THE DRAGON! reDRagon retain at 21:33

Rating – **** – This match was one of the highlights of reDRagon’s remarkable 2013 run. They’ve had some excellent matches this year, but this has to count amongst their best title defences. For Caprice and Cedric, we don’t get to see them compete in main event level tag team matches like this very often. They had an awesome match with the American Wolves earlier this year at WAR, but other than that they spend most of the time dwelling far lower down the card. They worked this one like they KNEW it was their chance to take centre stage. In kayfabe this was the chance they’d worked their whole ROH careers for, but as workers, you could see they were putting everything into this. The story was outstanding too – with the pumped up challengers dominating the opening portion of the contest as the adrenaline flowed…but gradually being dragged back by the street-wise champions who began picking apart Caprice like predators on wounded prey. I nearly gave this an extra half star, but my issue with it was that they sort of forgot that story for a while. They forgot the heat segment on Caprice and just started chucking spots around. I’m not complaining necessarily, as the spots were terrific. I just wanted to see the emotional impact of those spots cranked up with a little more focus on Caprice’s arm or eye. They came back to it (the end, with Caprice actually CRYING when they failed to hit Overtime, then having his arm attacked again for the finish), but I wanted more. A great main event, a complete showstealer and undoubtedly the pinnacle of C&C WrestleFactory’s ROH tenure.

reDRagon shake hands, celebrate, scream into the SBG cameras for a while, then leave so C&C can get the standing ovation they deserve for that performance. Caprice takes the microphone and enthusiastically puts Cedric over. He says that C&C have taken him as far as possible, and although they fought valiantly tonight, Alexander’s future is bigger than their team. They will go their separate ways after this show it seems.

Tape Rating – *** – Much like Night 1 of Pursuit weekend, this wound up being a solid if somewhat unspectacular show. There wasn’t as much outright poor wrestling here as there was at the Dearborn show, and Night 2 also boasts the obvious match of the weekend in reDRagon vs C&C. However, Night 1 probably had MORE high quality wrestling (Lethal/Edwards, Strong/Richards, Cole/Jacobs) – so if you’re looking for me to recommend one over the other that’s how I’m breaking it down. I’d argue both have real merits for the completists because the main event title matches on both shows are well worth seeing. With less bad wrestling, and the killer Tag Title Match tonight this show probably edges it though.

Top 3 Matches
3) Michael Elgin vs Roderick Strong vs Jay Lethal vs Matt Taven (***)
2) Adam Cole vs ACH (****)
1) reDRagon vs Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander (****)

Top 5 Pursuit Weekend Matches
5) Jay Lethal vs Eddie Edwards (**** – Night 1)
4) Adam Cole vs ACH (**** – Night 2)
3) Roderick Strong vs Davey Richards (**** – Night 1)
2) Adam Cole vs Jimmy Jacobs (**** – Night 1)
1) reDRagon vs Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander (**** – Night 2)

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