ROH 12th Anniversary Show 2/21/2014

ROH 346 – 12th Anniversary Show – 21st February 2014

This show has a great card on paper, which is obviously a good thing, but it also makes me somewhat nervous. There are some tremendously exciting prospects on this card – but in the current ROH climate where those in charge are desperate to stick to 3-hour shows and stifling time-allowances for undercard matches I am concerned this may not live up to expectations. The ‘scheduled’ main event will see Adam Cole defend the ROH Championship against Chris Hero in what could be a classic, but that won’t go on last – as following that will be the ‘unsanctioned’ Street Fight showdown between Kevin Steen and Cliff Compton. AJ Styles is booked tonight, in a juicy meeting with fellow TNA-alum Jay Lethal. The undercard is awash with title matches too, as Adrenaline RUSH challenge reDRagon, Hanson goes for Tommaso Ciampa’s TV Title and Michael Bennett faces off with Jay Briscoe hoping to win the ‘Real World Title’. Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are in Philadelphia, PA. This is the first time an ROH anniversary show has been held in the city of it’s birth since the Fifth Year Festival in ’07

SIDENOTE – This marks the first DVD release following ROH’s switch from traditional plastic DVD cases to the slimline, cardboard cases. They do look really nice, and will obviously save some room on my shelf (with 12 years of ROH shows on them, my wife will be thrilled) – but I really am not a fan. Much as with the ‘special edition’ cardboard cases for the ROH ppv’s in 2007 (Respect Is Earned, Driven and Man Up), they are just so flimsy compared to the plastic cases. Inevitably they arrive bashed up, or dented, with crumpled corners…and they simply don’t offer the actual disc itself enough protection. The plastic fastenings for the disc almost always break – meaning the disc comes loose and is susceptible to scratching and damaging as it rattles around during a trans-Atlantic ship. I understand that is hardly ROH’s fault – and it was pointed out to me by a couple of fans in mainland Europe that they’ve never had that issue, so it could well be the UK post office (it wouldn’t surprise me). However, I just wanted to document that I dislike the cardboard slimlines, and want plastic cases back!!!

Silas Young vs Matt Taven
Both of these guys have lost recent Television Title shots, so will know a win is essential if they want to get back into contention for that belt. Matt Taven is trying to forge a singles career for himself after quitting the House Of Truth whilst Young remains in search of a break-out moment which elevates him higher up the card.

Young clings to Taven’s hair, using it to drag him into a chinlock with knee strikes. Taven retaliates with a hurricanrana rolled into a kick to the chest, then a standing moonsault for 2. Truth Martini comes to the ring, creating an obvious distraction for the former TV Champion. Silas stomps on his chest – and knocks him to the floor with a McGuinness-esque REBOUND LARIAT! Matt lands a succession of heel kicks, a superkick and a Lionsault for another nearfall. We get an awesome sequence next as Taven ducks Young’s backbreaker/lariat combo, tries to counter it into Angel’s Wings, only to see that countered into a shortarm lariat by Silas! Headstand Arabian Press misses, allowing Taven to go up for the FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH! Taven wins at 06:47

Rating – ** – A perfectly adequate opening match, albeit too short to really mean anything. It speaks volumes for Silas’ ability to draw heat that Taven actually got over as a babyface for the first time. Silas is crying out for something to do in ROH now. He has the in-ring skills, the gimmick, and he certainly has the promo chops to carry a much bigger load than jobbing around on the undercard.

Silas jumps Taven after the match, to the delight of Truth Martini, who hops in the ring to offer his hand to Young. Silas isn’t interested, and walks out without offering him a handshake

Roderick Strong/Jimmy Jacobs/BJ Whitmer vs Mark Briscoe/Cedric Alexander/Adam Page
All three of their opponents tonight have previous with The Decade. Cedric Alexander is embroiled in a bitter dispute with Roderick Strong in particular. He is in trouble for using his ‘Lumbar Check’ backbreaker because it borrows from Roddy’s backbreaker gimmick – and when he refused to play the young boy at State Of The Art he was physically ejected from the locker room. Decade tried to recruit Mark Briscoe back in Nashville, but when he refused to join they ended up fighting both he and youngster Adam Page (another young talent who needs to be taught some respect apparently).

Annoyingly Cedric comes out of the locker room. I suppose his exile lasted just the one show then? Page starts strongly with Jacobs, getting 2 with a flying crossbody…only to be branded disrespectful and slapped in the face. Mark jumps in, telling Page to stand up for himself before punching Jimmy in the face! Strong flattens Briscoe with the Olympic Slam, hauling him to The Decade’s corner for a triple team beating. Mark climbs to the top rope and jumps ACROSS THE RING into a hot tag to Cedric! Before Alexander can build any momentum he is cheap-shotted by Whitmer, leaving him exposed to the rebound Ace Crusher from Jacobs. Strong immediately tags in and takes great delight in planting him with a backbreaker. Decade come together in the ring again, each grabbing a limb to toss Ced into the lights before driving him down onto that back again. Cedric lands a corkscrew enzi – then SOMERSAULTS into the hot tag, which is an awesome moment because Jimmy referenced getting in trouble for doing that in San Antonio. Uncle Mule Kick from Mark to Jacobs, and the Decade scatter. FLIPPING NECKBREAKER OFF THE APRON from Briscoe to Whitmer! SSP OFF THE APRON BY PAGE! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY ALEXANDER! In the ring Page gets 2 with a Red Star Press. Strong tosses Page into a SPEAR from Jimmy! SICK KICK ON MARK! It comes down to Strong and Cedric! Orange Crush Backbreaker COUNTERED TO THE LUMBAR CHECK! Whitmer angrily storms in to hit a lariat. ALL SEEING EYE! Decade win at 10:32

Rating – *** – How much fun was that? If I gave half stars this would get one, as I had a blast watching it. Every guy played their role perfectly, making this a surprisingly rewarding undercard trios tag. The Decade are the most interesting angle ROH has going right now, and the feud with Cedric is doing masses to elevate him. It felt like a missed opportunity to add a little more heat by not having Alexander come out through the crowd (it would be so simple, and a great follow-up to State Of The Art), but the match itself was brilliantly played out. Cedric hit his backbreaker on Strong, but was denied the cathartic victory as Roddy’s fellow veterans smacked him down again. Mark Briscoe delivered a great, character-driven performance too. He also played a veteran role, but did so by trying to coach Cedric and Page throughout the match – and in doing so it really highlighted the ‘jerk’ aspect of Decade’s approach.

Decade spill out of the ring where they antagonise Caprice Coleman (Cedric’s friend) who had joined commentary. Whitmer has to be separated from Steve Corino too

Tommaso Ciampa vs Hanson – ROH TV Title Match
It is tradition that the winner of the Top Prospect Tournament goes on to receive an ROH Television Title shot. In 2011 Mike Bennett won the TPT, before losing his shot to Christopher Daniels at Defy Or Deny, however, the 2013 winner (Matt Taven) went on to win the belt from Adam Cole a year ago at the 11th Anniversary. Ciampa is a physically imposing specimen, but he has nothing on the massive 2014 Top Prospect Tournament winner. Hanson battered his way past Raymond Rowe to earn this shot and is more than a match for the Sicilian Psychopath here.

Each man takes a knee in opposite corners…then sprint across the ring as the bell rings to beat the hell out of each other. Ciampa beats Hanson back into his corner only to see him explode back out looking for the Spin Kick Of Doom. BACK SUPLEX TO THE FLOOR! Tommaso sprints after him with a SUICIDE DIVE! He got his knee brace caught on the top rope as he did so, and came close to landing on his face too. Knee strikes into the guardrail next, but amazingly Hanson simply absorbs all that punishment and simply hoists the champion up for an anti-clockwise powerslam. AIR RAID CRASH by Ciampa! They trade elbow smashes and simply refuse to back down! CARTWHEEL LARIAT gets a nearfall for Hanson. Project Ciampa blocked…and countered to a Bronco Buster? HANSON HITS A MOONSAULT! COUNTERED TO THE SICILIAN STRETCH! Hanson stands up and tosses him into the SPIN KICK OF DOOM! Luckily Ciampa lands under the bottom rope and clings to them to stop Hanson pinning him there. Tommaso CARRIES Hanson out of the corner…INTO PROJECT CIAMPA! It’s all over, and the champion retains at 06:40

Rating – *** – It turns out Hanson is actually really good at this brief, super-physical slugfests with other hard-hitting opponents. We saw it in the rugged Top Prospect Tournament final against Ray Rowe, and it was more of the same here. They packed so much brutality into less than seven minutes that it was impossible not to enjoy it. Hanson got to show off plenty of his offence which was so impressive that, in turn, Ciampa looked like a beast for surviving it all and coming out victorious.

Apparently we were supposed to be getting Michael Elgin vs Matt Hardy tonight. Elgin stomps to the ring in a foul mood because Hardy’s flight was cancelled so he isn’t here to face him. However, he wants to honour the ROH tradition of creating future stars – and challenges Raymond Rowe to a match.

Michael Elgin vs Raymond Rowe
Much like Ciampa/Hanson, this one comes as a result of the events that transpired during the Top Prospect Tournament. Elgin made his presence known right at the start by decimating defeated first round super-heavyweight Kongo. And he watched the final from ringside, applauding both men for their efforts as Hanson defeated Rowe. With Matt Hardy off the table for the evening, he wants to give Rowe a spot on a big show and a chance to showcase his skills against one of ROH’s top stars.

Rowe goes straight for Death Rowe…but is knocked away with the ST-Joe. Stalling vertical suplex is initially blocked with knee strikes. Elgin, however, is so strong that he finds a way to shake them off and hit the move regardless. Rowe showcases his strength in return, hitting a dead-lift STALLING gutwrench suplex for 2. Unbreakable ups the dead-lift ante by executing his dead-lift superplex. He lays into Raymond with a flurry of lariats before driving him into the canvas for the Crossface. With the neck in serious pain Michael goes in for the kill. He drags Rowe over the ropes into a bridging German…and when he kicks out of that Elgin simply stands up for a dead-lift variant too. Despite obviously starting to weaken, Rowe tosses some offence back at his opponent and gets a 2-count with the one-arm spinebuster. Death Rowe blocked…Crossface blocked…into a cradle powerbomb from Raymond. EXPLODER SUPLEX DUEL! Elgin decapitates Rowe, for a 1-count of disrespect! Buckle Bomb countered into a belly to belly suplex! Then Rowe looks for a tope suicida only for Elgin to duck it causing him to hand on his head! GUARDRAIL BOMB BY ELGIN! He drags Rowe back into the ring, hitting the Spiral Bomb for the win at 12:36

Rating – *** – The placement of this one meant it suffered from a really poor crowd response. It was poor booking to put two heavyweight slug-outs on one after the other, with Elgin and Rowe really paying the price. Ciampa and Hanson worked a fast paced, spot-filled match, so when these two went out working basically the same style, but slowed down trying to tell a little more of a story with it, the crowd just died. However, watching on DVD I really respected what they were doing. It followed a similar pattern throughout, with Elgin consistently hitting bigger and bigger offensive bombs and Rowe continually fighting back without staying down. That built to the extremely logical finish with Elgin taking drastic measures (the powerbomb into the guardrail) to finally put his plucky opponent down. No blame attached to the live audience, or the wrestlers, for a poor crowd response. However, despite the silence coming from the stands, I thought these guys delivered a decent match.

Adam Cole runs in looking to level Elgin with the World Title belt…only for Rowe to stop him. Michael Bennett gives Elgin a low blow just as he looks poised to give him a Buckle Bomb…and Jay Briscoe enters the fray soon afterwards taking shots at both men.

Jay Briscoe vs Michael Bennett
Supposedly the ‘Real World Title’ is in the line here. Bennett formed a new alliance with Adam Cole at State Of The Art after apparently being upset at the treatment the World Champion had been receiving from the likes of Jay Briscoe and Michael Elgin. He wants to do his new friend a favour here and beat him up before Jay has a chance to get his hands on World Champion Adam Cole.

Bennett takes some unpleasant trips into the guardrails during a chaotic opening minute which has Adam Cole running for cover and Nigel McGuinness at ringside trying to calm the situation and this match hastily rebooked for earlier in the show than scheduled. BRAINBUSTER ON THE APRON! That was a brutal spot, completely no sold by the commentators who don’t even mention it! Maria Kanellis comes out next, distracting Briscoe for long enough to allow Bennett the chance to grab him and toss him THROUGH a guardrail segment. Jay responds by suplexing him on the entrance ramp! Unfortunately the pace slows and the action much more generic when it returns to the ring. Briscoe no sells a superkick to plant Bennett with the Rude Awakening for 2. He then dives most of the way across the ring into a frog splash which gets another nearfall. Box Office Smash scores…but Jay blocks the Go Back To Japan for a falcon arrow. Adam Cole returns as Briscoe sets up the Jay Driller…and Bennett pounces to hit him in the balls. But with Maria and Cole on the apron distracting Todd Sinclair, Jay low blows him right back! Jay Driller wins it at 10:49

Rating – ** – The opening brawl on the outside of the ring was really dynamic, and I liked the finish too – but the middle portion of the match really disappointed me. There was no attempt at telling a story, or doing anything of note. Instead they just meandered back and forth hitting generic spots, not really selling anything and basically wasting time. Both of these two are much better workers than that.

SIDENOTE – Stunningly beautiful as she is, Scarlett Bordeaux is really quite grating as ring announcer tonight, bless her. To be fair, it is her first attempt, and she was asked to step in because Bobby Cruise had similar flight problems to Hardy – but for my money she’s playing it too straight-laced. I know ROH is a serious promotion, but if they want Scarlett to do this job from time to time they need to let her show a bit more personality.

Nigel McGuinness seems to be replacing Steve Corino for the second half of the show.

reDRagon vs Adrenaline RUSH – ROH Tag Title Match
Tadarius Thomas and ACH went over twenty minutes with the Tag Champions in a Proving Ground Match two weeks ago at State Of The Art – and emerged victorious. It earned them an immediate championship opportunity, and after almost a year of disappointment in the tag division, can they finally smash through the glass ceiling tonight with another win?

Fish starts with Thomas in a tense exchange allowing both men to showcase their respective MMA-influenced skills. Bobby breaks it off to tell ACH that Kevin Steen hates him, before we get tags all round. O’Reilly lands some rather disrespectful strikes…which comes back to bite both champions when ACH lands slaps to both of them! The challengers look to isolate Kyle for a couple of minutes, but fall victim to the massive experience reDRagon have developed – with Fish blind-tagging in and catching Tadarius off-guard as he attacks him from behind. Arm-ageddon blocked, but O’Reilly smokes TD with a high octane strike flurry and the champs are soon in complete control. Thomas lands a swinging neckbreaker before making as unheated a hot tag as you’ll ever see. ACH captures both opponents in the corner to hit the sliding lariat…and hooks them up again for the flatliner/cutter combo. Cartwheel capoeria kick into a German suplex from Tadarius, only for reDRagon to ground him again with a backbreaker/knee drop. He tries to block Arm-ageddon, but this time Fish hits a diving headbutt enabling O’Reilly to lock it in. ACH makes the save at the last moment, and leaps out of the reach of the camera when hitting a double missile dropkick. Thomas hits a tope con hilo, as in the ring ACH hits a FROG SPLASH! THREE COUNT! But Fish’s leg was in the ropes! People actually start booing when they thing reDRagon have lost. After the restart Bobby drops TD with a Saito suplex. O’Reilly levels ACH with a snap German suplex then Axe & Smash…before collapsing to leave all four men down. MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON from O’Reilly to TD. AIR JORDAN BY ACH! He tries another frog splash…this time flying straight into a TRIANGLE CHOKE! reDRagon retain at 16:42

Rating – ** – I wasn’t a massive fan of their State Of The Art match, and I thought this one was worse (albeit with a hotter closing sequence). These two teams just don’t seem to have good chemistry together. ACH and TD don’t seem to have the quality as a tag team to match the champions, and in return the style Fish and O’Reilly want to work seems to bring Adrenaline RUSH’s usual fast-paced style to a grinding halt. It doesn’t help that Tadarius is chronically NOT over. Much like San Antonio, he was in the ring for long periods, and those segments really bored me. reDRagon weren’t doing anything meaningful with their offence, and nothing about TD’s performance made me want to support him either. ACH had a terrific 2013, but he’s starting to regress as a worker too, as he keeps getting stuck in these multi-man matches where he gets little opportunity to do anything more than hit his usual spots (sliding lariat through the turnbuckles, missile dropkick, slingshot cutter, Air Jordan) before losing. After this loss I’d separate Adrenaline RUSH. It’s not doing much for them, portions of the crowd audibly rejected them (by booing when they did the false 3-count finish), and ACH is too much of a talent to risk killing his upside trying to keep Tadarius Thomas over.

SIDENOTE – Kevin Kelly describes AJ Styles as a ‘good’ Pure Champion. This being the guy who had one title defence then left for another company. Does he do any serious research about this company at all? It’s my biggest problem with him.

Jay Lethal vs AJ Styles
The Phenomenal One announced his return to ROH with a memorable victory over Roderick Strong, including a Styles Clash so devastating that it injured Strong causing him to miss a few weeks of competition. Lethal was quick to challenge AJ. The two are both former TNA performers, and Lethal will be keen to show how much he has improved in ROH whilst Styles has remained there.

We have a tentative start, trading headlocks, wristlocks and knucklelocks in front of a hot crowd. First blood to Lethal, who knocks Styles out of the ring with a springboard dropkick. AJ responds by sprinting across the ring to clothesline him to the floor! Moonsault off the apron misses, and Jay mows him down with a TOPE SUICIDA! Lethal seems happy working at a slow pace, really looking to beat up his opponent. A backbreaker lands, then he dusts off a hurricanrana attempt to plaster him with the hiptoss dropkick. Styles escapes to the apron and both guys fight desperately for a suplex. Lethal is hauled over the ropes…INTO A BRAINBUSTER ON THE APRON! Next he hauls the former TV Champion into the ring for a snap suplex into the turnbuckles. He folds Lethal in half with his big dropkick – one of the first times he’s managed to hit a signature AJ spot and it’s more than ten minutes into the match. Lethal punches and chops his way free…and they absolutely TEAR into each other with strikes. Lethal Combination nailed, followed by a POP-UP NECKBREAKER for 2! He goes for a superplex, only for Styles to hop between his legs and sweep him off the top. It’s a rough landing for Jay, made worse by Styles flying at him with his springboard flying elbow. Styles Clash blocked, discus lariat blocked…into a superkick! DISCUS LARIAT NAILED! Lethal grabs the ropes, desperately fighting off the Styles Clash to hit a jumping heel kick which puts both men down. Pele Kick drops Lethal to his knees…only for Jay to get to his feet to hit the Dragon Suplex! Macho Elbow scores for 2. Lethal Injection…only for AJ to duck and roll him over his shoulders. INTO THE STYLES CLASH! Styles goes 2-0 on his ROH return at 18:12

Rating – **** – I’ve seen this one get some lukewarm ratings, but I thought this was a fantastic match. In many ways it was the perfect antidote to the reDRagon/Adrenaline RUSH match which I really hated. There we saw four guys hitting vapid spots for twenty minutes, without ever making a serious attempt to make what they were doing mean something. In this match every move meant something. Each offensive manoeuvre was a struggle. There were multiple counters, countless blocks. Lethal, in particular, was awesome at blocking AJ’s usual offensive combinations – meaning it actually took until the tenth minute for Styles to hit any of his signature spots. Maybe this was fought at a slower pace than some expected, but I thought it was outstanding and told a gripping story as it unfolded.

Outlaw Inc. crash the show, and take Scarlett Bordeaux hostage. Eddie Kingston is furious that they were suspended, meaning they’ve not been paid for months and are extremely pissed off. He says they’ve been recruiting, and will have a new member soon…

Nigel McGuinness announces that he’s sent Michael Bennett, Maria Kanellis, Michael Elgin and Jay Briscoe back to their hotels for the evening to ensure we have a clean World Title match

Adam Cole vs Chris Hero – ROH World Title Match
That Young Knockout Kid made his return to Ring Of Honor at Final Battle, laying out the victorious World Champion and his new mentor Matt Hardy. He followed that up by pinning Cole as part of the triangle tag team main event at Wrestling’s Finest to earn this one. He’s a multiple time former Tag Champion and Survival Of The Fittest winner, and has made it clear he returned to ROH for the World Title. Without Hardy, Bennett or Maria is Cole able of beating him?

The match begins on the canvas, which does Cole no favours and he retreats to the outside after being easily out-wrestled. When he comes back inside the challenger demonstrates his striking power as well – sending him hurtling through the air after a big boot to the sternum. At five minutes Cole is still doing his best to evade Hero and is still waiting for his first offensive moves of the match…finally sprinting into a big boot on the floor! BIG BOOT OFF THE APRON! Major offensive strike for Hero, but Adam fires back with a jumping enzi to his seated opponent from the floor to the apron. Having struggled with the striking power and size of his opponent, Cole wisely tries to negate it with a rear chinlock. Hero is strong on the mat so can counter out…but it wears him out sufficiently for Cole to hit the Shining Wizard. He lines up the cradlebreaker, only for Hero to counter into the release vertical suplex. Flipping neckbreaker nailed next, then another big boot which again has the World Champion rolling out of the ring in pain. ROARING ELBOW for 2! He sets up the Electric Chair Death Blow and when Adam counters he is in the perfect position to boot him in the face again. NECK DROP Cravat suplex gets 2! Cravat superplex blocked…JUMPING PILEDRIVER IN THE ROPES! What the hell was that? He berates Hero as the Philly fans take great delight in making fun of him – finally distracting him for long enough to allow Hero to hit the ELECTRIC CHAIR DEATH BLOW! Once again it has Cole falling out of the ring. Hero tries to retrieve him…GERMAN SUPLEX ON THE FLOOR! In a flash the rejuvenated champ hauls Chris back into the ring and lands the cradlebreaker. Todd Sinclair is bumped as Hero blocks the Florida Key…into HERO’S WELCOME! STRETCH PLUM! Cole taps but there’s no referee! Jumping enzi counters another Death Blow! Then a superkick counters the rolling Bicycle Kick! FLORIDA KEY…FOR 2! ROLLING FLORIDA KEYS! Cole finally retains at 18:15

Rating – **** – Getting workers with the experience and quality of Chris Hero (or AJ Styles) back in ROH is huge. This was a fantastic match, giving Cole a major victory in his World Championship reign, but you felt they kept plenty back for a potential rematch down the road (which would turn out to be at the next double shot weekend). Cole was a really fun pantomime villain, playing lots of fun games with the crowd and providing the sort of heel performance we haven’t really seen in a World Champion since Austin Aries. He was unable to live with Hero’s wrestling proficiency, striking ability and sheer size – but he showed a ruthless streak as he capitalised on being given a ‘lifeline’ whilst Sinclair was knocked out and destroyed Hero with Florida Keys to sneak the win. He’s been World Champion for a number of months now, but this was the first time I’ve really felt like he ‘got it’. His wrestling was fine, but it was the character-driven performance he produced which came to the fore.

As Cole starts to celebrate Kevin Steen’s music hits. He has a title shot in his pocket after winning the State Of The Art main event and is happy to fight the World Champion there and then…prompting Adam to leave the ring and walk out. Steen then orders Kevin Kelly, Cary Silkin, Scarlett Bordeaux and their ringside colleagues to leave ringside. The ROH show is over…it’s unsanctioned main event time.

Kevin Steen vs Cliff Compton – Street Fight
Compton made his first appearance since the demise of SCUM at the Nashville television tapings, and made his presence felt by choking Steen out after a victory over Chris Hero. At Wrestling’s Finest the two men brawled again, ending with Cliff putting Steen through a table. Compton isn’t part of the ROH roster, and this match isn’t sanctioned by the promotion either. Steen invited Cliffy for a fight, and he is here to give it to him.

No music for Compton, who enters through the crowd straight into a punch up. He almost gets sent packing as Steen starts smashing him into the same guardrails he just hopped over. Steen pulls out a couple of Singapore canes – and tosses one to Cliff! Mr Wrestling wins the ensuing cane duel, then drops his opponent with a cane-around-the-throat legsweep. CANNONBALL ON A GARBAGE CAN! Compton retaliates by dropkicking a chair into his face. Channelling his inner Sabu, Cliff opens up the chair in the ring…then jumps off it into a SUICIDE DIVE TO THE FLOOR! Steen tree of woes him on the ringpost for CANE SHOTS TO THE BALLS! Understandably that incapacitates Cliffy for a period, enabling Kevin to dig around under the ring – creating a double table stack on the floor. Compton blocks his attempts to put him through them though, then counters the Steen-ton back into the ring with a double knee. F-5 TO THE FLOOR! I love that spot! Another table is set up on the floor, and as Cliff lines up his Superfly Splash Steen chases him up the ropes for a press slam through it. The match could be won there, but Steen takes an AGE setting up open chairs in the middle of the ring. By the time he’s ready to use them Cliff manages to hit him in the balls – into a MICHINOKU DRIVER THROUGH THE CHAIRS! Compton retrieves a ladder…and is then POWERBOMBED through it himself for 2. Steen wants to moonsault a ladder onto Compton, but as he gets to the top rope Cliff pops up and SHOVES HIM THROUGH THE TABLE STACK. Funk-style ladder attack from Compton, countered with a PACKAGE PILEDRIVER ON THE LADDER! Steen wins at 20:28

Rating – *** – This was a rather strange match. I don’t think anyone has bought into the Steen vs Compton feud enough to justify the kind of violence these guys broke out here. As a result the crowd were a little aloof and sarcastic, rather than begging for Compton’s proverbial blood. It came off like a WWF Hardcore match from 2000/2001, with lots of weapon shots, tables and big bumps – but it all felt like two guys desperately trying to please a hardcore fanbase rather than executing these crazy moves because their feud really called for it. I love Steen, and he is as effective as anybody in matches like this. But he is chasing a WWE deal this year, and I’m not sure he needed to put his body through this for a filler feud against a guy who (no matter how popular he is with Colt Cabana, CM Punk and other wrestlers) just isn’t that over.

Outlaw Inc. lurk on the entrance ramp as Kevin Steen states his desire to come after the World Title again. Amusingly Homicide completely forgets Steen beat him during his reign and gets rather embarrassed when Mr Wrestling points it out to him.

Tape Rating – *** – I thought this was one of the strongest ROH shows in a while. Not all of it was brilliant (I found myself particularly hating the Tag Title Match which most people seem to consider MOTN), but there was plenty of genuinely high quality wrestling here to enjoy. Weirdly (for modern era ROH under SBG), lots of matches were given a strong time allowance too. reDRagon/A-RUSH, Styles/Lethal, Cole/Hero and Steen/Compton all got north of fifteen minutes…something I felt really benefited the show. And unlike some ROH shows, lots of the undercard matches were strong as well. Obviously main events like AJ/Lethal and Hero’s first World Title shot in years were going to be worth watching. But things like The Decade’s first trios tag, and Hanson’s TV Title shot wound up being almost as entertaining and memorable as the main event level stuff. I’d read very mixed reviews of this DVD coming in, but for my money this was really good stuff. It was just lacking a really awesome, MOTYC-level match to push my show rating up to 4*

Top 3 Matches
3) Kevin Steen vs Cliff Compton (***)
2) AJ Styles vs Jay Lethal (****)
1) Adam Cole vs Chris Hero (****)

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