ROH 359 – Death Before Dishonor 12: Night 1 – 22nd August 2014
The roster for this weekend’s annual Death Before Dishonor shows is really strong, and really shines a spotlight on how weak shows like Summer Heat Tour: Aftershock are when they don’t have access to the big name, part time talents like AJ Styles or the Young Bucks. Milwaukee is fast becoming a core venue for ROH, with numerous memorable moments like Mark Briscoe’s balcony dive, the only time in ROH history that Kevin Steen and the Young Bucks joined forces, Matt Taven’s ‘shots’ title shot – and the memorable Elgin/Silas grudge match back at Brew City Beatdown in 2012. Those two great rivals renew hostilities in the same building tonight – this time with Elgin’s World Title on the line. That should be a hard-hitting main event, but it may actually struggle to eclipse a loaded undercard. AJ Styles faces Kyle O’Reilly in a match many have given MOTYC hype to, Daniels and Kazarian (now formally known as ‘The Addiction’) face The Kingdom’s Adam Cole and Michael Bennett in a match rescheduled from Summer Heat Tour: Cincinnati, Roderick Strong faces the massive Hanson, and two of the finest tag teams on the planet lock horns – it’s Briscoes vs Bucks once again. Kevin Kelly and Caprice Coleman are, as discussed, in Milwaukee, WI for commentary.
The show opens with a promo from Daniels and Kazarian, with Daniels talking about wrestling as if it was crack – which explains why they are called ‘The Addiction’. I’m glad the team has a name, and Daniels is so good on promos that he nearly pulled it off, but goddamn this is f*cking corny.
NEW CREDITS! NEW CREDITS! Like a year overdue, but we have new credits! Get them on the TV show now! And much like Field Of Honor, the show has a full, personalised graphics package. Suddenly the ROH home releases are starting to look really slick and professional.
SIDENOTE – Having praised the production, I should probably point out that the audio is all over the place. The crowd sound hot, but they’ve been turned WAY down so you can hear the commentary. Except the levels for Kevin and Caprice’s microphones are all over the place too. It’s a pretty choppy listen, which is a shame because this is one of the most atmospheric venues ROH runs.
Adam Cole/Michael Bennett vs The Addiction
We were supposed to get this match back in Cincinnati but Bennett got sick and had to miss that show. Jay Lethal replaced him on that show, and ultimately Daniels and Kazarian were able to defeat an inexperienced and impromptu duo. Tonight, though, The Kingdom are out in force and looking to get a win back.
Daniels is crazily over, which visibly annoys Cole. The Fallen Angel is clowning around, out-wrestling him and getting major pops for it. The two veterans play punch tennis with his face then chop Bennett down too as he tries to intervene. Adam steps out of the way of a Kazarian pescado attempt, but then he pauses to celebrate his intelligence…and is promptly wiped out with a tackle off the apron from Kaz. Rolling neckbreaker/Asai moonsault combo gets 2. Maria Kanellis involves herself now, raking Daniels’ eyes – blinding him and causing him to fall backwards into the Bennett spinebuster. The Kingdom start isolating the oldest man in the match, but it’s nothing he hasn’t seen a thousand times before. Daniels runs through a loud-mouthed Adam Cole with an STO…only to have a tag denied as Maria drags Frankie off the apron. Kazarian does tag in soon afterwards though, and snapmares Cole into the turnbuckles. SLINGSHOT ACE CRUSHER NAILED! Daniels then stomps Bennett into the canvas for a nearfall. Superkick/Spear combo from The Kingdom gets 2! Box Office Smash blocked as everyone piles into the ring. Maria tries to interrupt again – and this time gets knocked to the floor. Back suplex gutbuster combo gets Addiction the win at 11:17
Rating – *** – A solid opening match although this is the third show running where The Addiction have been screwed for time on what could, on paper, have been a showstealing match. Of course, this is corporate ROH now, so no doubt they are playing by the rules and working under orders – which I understand…but three shows running is a little annoying. Cole and Bennett are pretty over as heels, and played their parts well, but they don’t have anything like the experience of Daniels and Kazarian, and it showed here. Addiction probably needed the win more than they did after two losses to reDRagon already in their brief tenure thus far.
Tadarius Thomas vs Adam Pearce
Pearce has been brought in by The Decade to teach their young boys a lesson. Both Page and TD have been stepping up in recent shows, with Page in particular producing some impressive displays. It seemed to have brought increased dissension to the group, with both the young boys threatening to stand up for themselves against their ‘mentors’ before eventually backing down. Strong, Jacobs and Whitmer decided to call in another bitter, angry veteran to teach them respect…and the Scrap Daddy returns to ROH for the first time in well over a year.
Jimmy Jacobs orders Pearce to ‘beat’ respect into his opponent here. To that end, there is no Code Of Honor, and the unsuspecting Decade young boy gets pasted with elbows and chops. Pearce’s old school approach is totally unprepared for TD’s capoeira striking though – and he soon goes on the retreat after Thomas kicks him all over the ring. Tope con hilo scores too…but as Tadarius basks in the applause Pearce rises to his feet and tackles him straight into the railings. Learning from his previous mistakes, Adam keeps a close proximity to his opponent, repeatedly knocking him to the ground and choking him in the ropes to ensure he can’t utilise more capoeira strikes. Unfortunately TD is also a proficient boxer and he fights back again using a succession of body shots…into a fierce German suplex. Mafia kick in the corner nailed, then a diving Slingblade from the top rope! The rest of Decade scream at Thomas to stay on his opponent rather than pose to the crowd – and he doesn’t heed their advice. Pearce delivers a crafty low blow then picks up the win with the Piledriver at 06:30
Rating – ** – As another innovative way to advance The Decade’s storyline this was a solid piece of business. I love the idea of bringing Pearce in as another way of torturing the young boys. He’s never been a huge star in Ring Of Honor, but most fans are smart enough to know he was booker here, or remember his in-ring contributions during the ROH/CZW war, or his part in both the Hangman 3 and Sweet’n’Sour Inc. And his promo skills and ability to get his character over are both so frighteningly good that he can effortlessly win casual fans over too. This match played out exactly as it should do, with Pearce using lots of crafty veteran tactics to dominate, whilst also giving TD a few hope spots which play up his MMA skills. I can’t help but feel this would have been a better angle to run at a TV taping rather than at a live show though.
EDIT – I just remembered they actually put most of this stuff on the television show anyway.
BJ Whitmer leads the post-match tongue-lashings for Tadarius, until Jimmy Jacobs comes between them. Jimmy asks everyone to leave ringside so he can work his match solo…
Jimmy Jacobs vs Tommaso Ciampa
Ciampa is slowly losing his grip it seems. After a string of defeats he is growing more and more frustrated. Those frustrations boiled over at Field Of Honor when he assaulted two officials after a refereeing error cost him a match against Silas Young. Can he get his career back on track with a win against the wily, crafty Decade veteran here? Jacobs says he knows enough about being crazy, and has enough tricks up his sleeve to inflict another demoralising defeat on the Sicilian Psychopath tonight.
Jacobs isn’t waiting for Ciampa to get himself set here – and dives at him with a tope suicida before the bell even rings. SPINEBUSTER against the side of the ring by Tommaso! The bell hasn’t rung yet, so there’s no count out as Jimmy clings to a sleeper hold to save himself from being suplexed on the wooden floor. CIAMPA DIVES ONTO THE METAL RAMP! It was a nasty landing and it’s surprising Jimmy didn’t break his arm. He doesn’t get much time recover though, and finds himself escorted around ringside absorbing multiple knee strikes to the head. Project Ciampa COUNTERED to End Time! With knee strikes too! Tommaso counters into a northern lights suplex but Jimmy HOLDS ON! Ciampa climbs the ropes whilst still in the End Time. That’s insane! AVALANCHE AIR RAID CRASH NAILED! FOR 2! They fight to the apron now – and Jacobs elbows his way out of Ciampa’s clutches and spears him all the way to the floor. Back and forth they go…until Ciampa grabs Jimmy and suplexes him onto the EXPOSED hard wood floor! Jacobs tries to attack his opponent with a microphone now but is socked away with a discus lariat. Ciampa screams like a lunatic into the mic as he pummels him with elbows then locks in the SICILIAN STRETCH! Jimmy taps! There was no bell so no time, but what a war…
Rating – **** – For the last two years, Jimmy Jacobs has possibly produced some of the best in-ring performances of his entire career. He’s not the focal point of the company like he was back in 2007 and 2008, and his singles matches are rather rare these days, but he almost always produces the goods. From the much-loved Adam Cole Proving Ground Match in January 2013, through SCUM, through the Jimmy Jacobs Trial Series (which featured awesome matches against Steen, Bennett and Strong), through his World Title shot at Pursuit weekend, through the terrific match against Elgin at Road To BITW and now this – he almost always delivers the goods. Ciampa is another extremely consistent talent too, and these guys tore the roof off the place with an unbelievably violent and chaotic match which was perfectly befitting of their various personas. Ciampa has a title shot tomorrow, so needed a victory – and the rather demented and psychotic manner of this one was very much in keeping with the angle they are running with him now. Some of the bumps here were wild too. It didn’t go long, but was among the more brutal and physical matches we’ve seen all year.
Kyle O’Reilly vs AJ Styles
In 2014 Styles has, quite possibly, been the very best wrestler on the planet. Very few people have delivered the goods in the way he has across multiple high profile companies. And Kyle O’Reilly has quietly been having a pretty awesome year too. PWG fans love him, in ROH he and Bobby Fish’s reDRagon team have become as entertaining as they were lethal, and there is now clamour to get them to New Japan more often as well. There isn’t a huge amount of storyline here, but it’s a high profile match pitting two of the best in the world right now against each other. Kyle will know that NJPW won’t be able to ignore him if he notches a win over AJ, and likewise Styles will know he needs to win this if he is to get back in the hunt for the Ring Of Honor Championship.
Bobby Fish amusingly tries to perch in the corner as if it was a reDRagon tag match, and looks absolutely furious when Paul Turner orders him off. Kevin immediately brings up NJPW’s G1 tournament, and wonders if fatigue will play a part for AJ here. Certainly Kyle starts more quickly and starts targeting his arm – and even clings to it as Styles tries to slam him over the ropes, effectively making that move more painful to the aggressor than the recipient. He kicks AJ in the face, but obviously hasn’t watched every AJ Styles match ever because he walks straight into the dropkick. Fish tries to distract the IWGP Champion – allowing O’Reilly to pounce on the arm again. AJ looks for the Styles Clash, but falls backwards with his arm clearly troubling him. Fish is still distracting him too, and this time Kyle strikes with an arm wrench onto the apron! Not content with that he then starts hammerlocking the shoulder straight into the guardrails. Suddenly everything the Tag Champion does works that body part – right down to hammerlocking the arm before hitting a legsweep meaning AJ lands right on his bad shoulder. His arm gives way as he attempts a brainbuster…but he keeps his wits about him and counters a tornado DDT with a SNAP SUPLEX TO THE TURNBUCKLES! Flying elbow (with arm selling) nailed, then a DVD over his own knee…before he slumps to the ground grasping his shoulder in pain. Styles Clash COUNTERED TO ARM-AGEDDON! AJ tries to Styles Clash his way free – but once more drops him thanks to his bad shoulder…and this time gets thrown shoulder-first into the turnbuckles. MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON! O’Reilly is apoplectic with rage that AJ just won’t stay down, and he angrily kicks at the shoulder before going back to ARM-AGEDDON! Then switches it to a triangle choke! COUNTERED TO THE ONE-ARM STYLES CLASH! BOTH MEN DOWN! They eventually get back to their feet and absolutely HAMMER each other with strikes. Roundhouse ducked into AXE & SMASH! NO SOLD! PELE KICK NAILED! DISCUS LARIAT! GETS 2! Styles then knocks O’Reilly out with a brainbuster before stalking the ring. STYLES CLASH COUNTERED TO A CHOKE! STYLES CLASH BLOCKED AGAIN…SO STYLES PILEDRIVES O’REILLY ON HIS DAMN HEAD! STYLES CLAAAAAAAAAASH! AJ wins at 17:28
Rating – ****1/2 – Those out there that know me, or take the time to email me, will be well aware that I’ve followed Ring Of Honor for a long time, and that I’m not necessarily the biggest fan of the direction the company has taken since Sinclair took over. I fully understand the reasons why, and I largely still enjoy the product, but it hasn’t felt the same for several years now. Having said that, the highest praise I can give this match is that it FELT like the old ROH. This would have been right at home back in the 2004-2006 hot period. Kyle O’Reilly has evolved into one of the very best wrestlers in the world, with a style which combines all the best bits of Davey Richards with a major flavour of guys like Bryan Danielson. He’s cutting his teeth as PWG’s World Champion now, and assuming that goes well it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he is moved into the ROH World Title picture once this latest run with the Tag Titles is over – if ROH can keep hold of him. And what more can I say about AJ Styles? His nickname is ‘Phenomenal’, and the man himself has been nothing short of a phenom since he left TNA. It doesn’t matter what company he works for, he steals the show more often than not. He’s not able to be booked on every Ring Of Honor event, but every time he is he’s pretty much worth the price of a ticket, VOD or DVD by himself. His matches against Chris Hero, Michael Elgin (the 30-minute draw) and now O’Reilly are easily amongst the best matches this company has produced in 2014. Plenty of people have already hyped this as an MOTYC, and you can add my name to the list. Kyle was outstanding with his arm work, Styles sold it well for the most part, and down the stretch some of the countering they produced was just a joy to watch. The finish was among the best things I’ve seen in wrestling for a long time too. This is must-see, and more than likely the best match of the entire weekend.
Adam Cole stomps back to the ring after intermission. He’s not happy about losing to The Addiction, he’s equally displeased about his World Title rematch being made a four corner match at Field Of Honor, and he’s absolutely livid that as a result of losing he’s now at the very back of the line when it comes to contenders. His claim is that the office is scared of how good he is, and that he’s being held back because of it. GREAT promo…the best from this company in a very long time. He knocks out a referee then leaves…
SIDENOTE – Steve Corino replaces Caprice Coleman on commentary for the second half.
BJ Whitmer vs Adam Page vs Cedric Alexander vs Bobby Fish vs ACH vs Jay Lethal
I missed a lot of the build up to this weekends events, so I’m not sure if this is officially acknowledged as a contenders match for the TV Title or not. Certainly if anyone can win this at the expense of Lethal then they’ll go to the front of the line for a title shot regardless. The same can probably be said if anyone scores a pinfall on Fish. The Decade will provide the focal point for this one. Will Page and Whitmer work together or will BJ take out as much frustration on his young boy as anyone else? Can Cedric and ACH keep their eyes focused on victory when their enemies in The Decade stand across the ring from them?
ACH starts with Page, who is still all about seizing opportunities after the recent pep talk from Jacobs. He struggles to lay a finger on ACH though and instantly rolls out of the ring to bring Lethal in. Jay has no interest in fighting ACH however – instead simply marching across the ring and tagging Bobby. The Tag Champ lays in MMA kicks to drive ACH out of the ring only to be caught off guard by the explosive Cedric. It’s at this point that Jay hops in to blindside an unsuspecting opponent. The entire House Of Truth pause for photo ops at Alexander’s expense, as Corino discusses Lethal’s history in Special K as a pioneer of the ROH scramble style. The Decade take over the isolation of Cedric…until he hops out forcing Page and BJ to square off. The veteran psyches the younger worker out…and orders him to lie down! Naturally everyone else piles in to break up the pin, with Cedric clocking BJ with a corkscrew enzi. In one motion he pops up and sprints into a somersault plancha up the aisle too. SHOOTING STAR HEADBUTT OFF THE APRON from Page to Lethal! RUNNING MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR BY ACH! 450 SPLASH! Page saves his mentor from losing the match and destroys ACH with the slingshot somersault lariat. Whitmer destroys Alexander with a Saito suplex before eating a jumping enzi strike from ACH. DOUBLE STOMP! ACH then pins the TV Champion with a bridging German suplex at 09:21!
Rating – *** – I didn’t like the rushed finish (if ACH was going over, the 450 Splash should have been the ending, with or without Lethal taking the fall) but it’s undeniable that this was a really fun spotfest. It had some great wrestling, some exciting spots, had some fun with The Decade’s current storyline and served to greatly enhance the reputation of the winner. I’d deem that a success on every level
Roderick Strong vs Hanson
Hanson got in the faces of The Decade at Field Of Honor when he pursued them with a bat. His scheduled match with them had been cancelled thanks to Ray Rowe’s unfortunate road traffic accident, but out of adversity comes opportunity as the 2014 Top Prospect Tournament winner now goes solo for the foreseeable future. He made enemies of The Decade by interrupting their abuse of up and coming wrestlers in New York and now steps into the ring with one of the greatest and most prolific performers in the history of this promotion.
Realizing how outsized he is, Strong tries to start the match fast and peppers his huge opponent with strikes…except nothing works. Hanson shakes off his strikes, no sells his chops, catches his dives and in the end splats him on the apron with ease. BJ Whitmer appears on the apron ordering a battered and battle-weary Adam Page back to ringside to continue his water boy duties. Strong and Hanson are delivering some vicious strikes in the meantime, with Roddy knocking his massive opponent off the top rope to cement some sort of advantage for the first time. Suddenly his strikes start knocking Hanson off his feet, he can start working a few submission holds – and even when he does try to mount a comeback Roderick is easily experienced enough to counter most of what comes his way. BRONCO BUSTER BY HANSON! He then gets a nearfall with the awesome reverse swing powerslam. Unfortunately he then botches something and drops Roddy right on the point of his head. The crowd, who weren’t convinced by Hanson anyway, are all over him after that. Page inadvertently costs Roddy victory by distracting the ref when he had the big guy pinned…so Strong hoists Hanson up for Death By Roderick instead. Cartwheel lariat gets 2…before Page drags the ref out of the ring. Whitmer is back to hit the EXPLODER ’98 ON THE FLOOR! Sick Kick gets 2! Most of the crowd actually boo that. Page tries to give Strong a chair…and when Mr ROH refuses he turns around straight into the Spin Kick Of Doom. Huge win for Hanson at 11:09
Rating – ** – Hanson is a hell of a talent, and well worth persisting with. But he hasn’t had too much exposure in most of ROH’s markets yet and certainly hasn’t appeared in most towns as a singles guy. The Top Prospect Tournament showed he can deliver, explosive and action packed five minute sprints, but it has to be said he was very exposed in a longer match and he really struggled. The crowd didn’t seem overly familiar with him, and really didn’t buy him as serious competition to Roddy. It’s easy to point to the botched powerbomb spot but in truth this match had gone awry well before that. Without the crowd buying into Hanson, it felt like a very elongated, lethargic slug-out with an overbooked and unpopular finish. Chalk it up as an off night in front of the wrong crowd for Hanson. For Roddy, I understand he’s working without a contract, but his name value is rapidly starting to diminish because he basically loses in every match.
Whitmer and Strong are furious at Page – since his role is to learn at ringside, not interfere and make decisions for himself. But interestingly BJ is also pissed at Roddy – since he thinks he should have used the chair Page was offering
A bizarre Briscoe promo follows next, with Jay Briscoe freestyle rapping, swearing up a storm then storming off set whilst Mark stands behind him beatboxing…
Young Bucks vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
Ring Of Honor has spent a lot of time recently building up the tag division. reDRagon are, quite rightly, being heralded as being one of the best teams in the world right now. And with the likes of The Addiction, The Decade, The Kingdom, War Machine, the Briscoes and the Bucks all in the hunt for the belts, certainly it seems like a pretty crowded scene all of a sudden. Against that back drop it was perhaps inevitable that these two independent superstar tag teams locked horns in an ROH ring once again.
SUPERKIIIIIIIIIICKS! Both Jay and Mark eat early Superkicks, to the delight of the crowd, and are instantly forced out of the ring. The Briscoes are experienced campaigners though and soon return to the ring to swiftly overpower their smaller opponents. Steve Corino referring to Michael Jackson’s father as the ‘BJ Whitmer of dads’ is possibly the funniest thing I’ve heard all year. It’s the Briscoes who continue to dominate, battering both Jacksons and stopping them building up any kind of momentum. The Young Bucks are no idiots though, with plenty of experience of underhanded tactics themselves. Nick starts attacking Jay from behind, kicking him out of the ring where he is able to repeatedly back rake him. Immediately the pattern of the match changes as the Bucks use frequent tags, combo moves and a liberal dose of rule breaking to isolate Jay and prevent the Briscoes from overpowering them. FLATLINER into Matt’s crotch! Mark rescues his brother with Redneck Kung Fu then DROP SUPLEXES Nick onto the apron! CACTUS ELBOW COUNTERED WITH A SUPERKICK! SPEAR INTO THE RAILS from Matt to Jay! Frog splash/standing moonsault combo gets 2 for the Bucks. Superkicks missed by the Jacksons…SUPERKICKS BY THE BRISCOES! Splash Mountain Neckbreaker gets 2! Press slam DVD from Jay to Matt! SUPERKICK ON THE APRON! FACEBUSTER! TORNADO DDT TO THE FLOOR BY NICK! MORE BANG FOR YOUR F*CK GETS 2! EARLY ONSET ALZHEIMERS ON MARK! Jay BLOCKS More Bang For Your Buck though! JAY DRILLER ON MATT! WHO KICKS OUT AT 2! DOOMSDAY DEVICE NAILED! This time it is over, with the Briscoes pulling out the win at 12:45
Rating – **** – Ordinarily I’d complain about such a major, marquee match on the show not getting much time but, in all fairness, this was comfortably in the Top 3 Briscoes/Bucks matches in ROH history anyway (if you’re keeping track, from memory they had a couple of decent matches during the 2009 Final Countdown Tour, then a cracking Tag Title Match on HDNet in early 2010). The spots at the end, quite predictably, were out-of-this-world fun. The Briscoes worked this style extensively back in 2006/7, but have slowed down massively since then so it was a welcome blast of nostalgia to see them throwing around spots and combo moves as fast as they possibly could. But, what I really liked, was the intelligent opening portion of the match. In PWG the Bucks dominate the tag scene, but Ring Of Honor is Briscoe territory – so the Jacksons starting the match by superkicking them straight out of the ring was a fantastic statement of intent. Jay and Mark used their power, striking and superior brawling to keep the Bucks from unleashing flurries of tandem moves, and in return Matt and Nick used their cunning, cheating and speed to gain an edge right back. These guys packed a hell of a lot into less than thirteen minutes.
Brief promos from Elgin and Silas ahead of the main event. Elgin sullenly proclaims that he will prove himself to be the ‘last real man’, whilst Young is far more engaging as he pokes fun at his opponents boasts of being the ‘hardest worker’ in ROH…
Michael Elgin vs Silas Young – ROH World Title Match
These two man share a rivalry that goes back so far it actually predates their Ring Of Honor careers. It was a bruising war with Elgin in this very building back in 2012 that finally elevated Young from a part time talent to the cusp of a permanent contract with Ring Of Honor. Now they return to Milwaukee, Young’s home state, to battle again for the World Championship. Elgin’s reign has started strongly and he has been swatting away high profile contenders regularly. Matt Hardy, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole have all bitten the dust so far. Will Silas be the next victim or will the ‘Last Real Man’ cause an upset and graft his way to the summit of ROH.
Silas is so over as a babyface in Milwaukee that even he can’t help but acknowledge the crowd as they raucously cheer for his introduction. He then KILLS the big fight atmosphere with a droning, boring, generic heel promo. Attempted cheap shot from Young to start, but such is the power of Elgin he simply shakes it off and starts tossing his challenger around. The champ becomes the second guy to nearly suffer a serious arm injury whilst taking a bump on the narrow metal ramp…but he recovers quickly and HIPTOSSES Silas into the guardrails. Running powerslam into the rails scores next, and it’s clear Michael is starting to target the lower back. The stalling suplex spot is broken out too which again punishing that spine. Young blocks the dead-lift superplex though, countering it to a hanging lungblower out of the corner even though that hurts his back executing it. Plunge blocked…so Young tosses the champ shoulder-first into the ringpost. Even the commentators are drifting away from this match now, and are talking about the coffee at local Sinclair TV offices. Whatever Silas was working on gets totally no sold by Elgin…who slides out of the ring like a cruiserweight before propelling himself back in with a slingshot splash. Flying Codebreaker gets 2 and once more punishes the midsection of the challenger. Still Elgin can’t hit the deadlift superplex, this time with it getting countered into a TKO for 2. Roaring elbow to the back nailed, followed by an Argentine backbreaker SLAM! Second rope DVD gets 2, then he cuts Silas in half with a lariat. Buckle Bomb COUNTERED to the Pee Gee Waja Plunge for 2! Silas emerges from that exchange hugely frustrated and leaves the ring to set up a table near the ramp. He can’t use it sadly, as Elgin knees him in the face then delivers a SOMERSAULT LEG DROP to the neck! Elbow suicida attempt blocked by Young, who swings the table into the onrushing World Champion’s face. They slug it out on the apron above the table now. Kevin Kelly points out that Young is struggling to walk now and that may be the deciding factor in losing that slug-out before Elgin BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEXES HIM THROUGH THE TABLE! Realizing he is perhaps mortally wounded from that bump, Young musters up one last offensive flurry and desperately tries to pin Elgin. One last Plunge attempt is blocked with the back fist…then Silas is polished off with the Elgin Bomb at 21:23
Rating – ** – I want to know who’s call it was for Silas to deliver that senseless pre-match promo. Before it the atmosphere was electric, and in many ways reminiscent of the way CM Punk is perennially over as a babyface in Chicago, or Bret Hart in Canada. Whether it was Delirious, SBG or Silas himself who made the call for him to go heel on the crowd – it was a horrendous decision and murdered this match before it even began. The crowd, who were seriously up for it beforehand, largely watched in bored indifference. Elgin wasn’t their guy, and they had no interest in cheering him. Certainly he’s not a particularly likeable character as World Champion either, and gave them nothing to ‘get behind’ as a babyface. In the end we had a match between a guy the crowd didn’t like, and a guy the crowd were essentially bullied into not liking either – no wonder they got bored. The match itself wasn’t brilliant either. And much like the Matt Hardy defence, I actually think Elgin’s performance was the problem here. His assault on the back and neck of his challenger was effective, and easily my favourite part of the match. I loved how it built up and became more aggressive as the match wore on – culminating in the table spot then final offensive flurry from a battered and beaten Young before he succumbed to defeat. HOWEVER, Michael gave absolutely nothing back to Silas. At times this felt like an elongated squash. There was no coherency to Silas’ assaults – purely because Elgin but zero effort into selling ANYTHING. It was like his only concern was getting his sh*t in. In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the Ring Of Honor World Champion to elevate people when they wrestle them. Samoa Joe did that with the likes of Homicide. Bryan Danielson did that with countless opponents. Nigel McGuinness MADE Tyler Black’s ROH career when he defended the belt against him. Even Kevin Steen made guys like Mike Mondo look halfway decent. Can Elgin really say he did the same for Silas with this performance?
When did Michael Elgin become Davey Richards? Except unlike Davey he made no attempt to big his opponent up at all. He grabs the mic, puts himself over, then does the classic ‘thanks and goodnight’ stuff.
SIDENOTE – That promo is a perfect example of why people are struggling to relate to Elgin. He comes off as bitter, insecure and desperately dislikeable as a World Champion – which is a problem when he’s supposed to be a babyface. We know he can work good matches, and I’ll defend him on that because he’s had some of my favourite ROH matches of 2014, as well as one of my favourite ROH matches of all time in his Glory By Honor 11 challenge to Kevin Steen’s World Title. But performances like this are a problem. He’s so unsure of himself, and so desperate to get over that he’s concentrating on that above putting on good matches or helping get his opponent over too. After basically no selling everything Young did all night, and after Young had murdered his hometown babyface heat FOR ELGIN (regardless of who actually made that decision), he couldn’t even find ten seconds to say ‘that was a hell of a match Silas’ on the microphone? Instead he goes straight into ‘I am Unbreakable. I am the World Champion’. That categorically ISN’T going to get him over. That categorically isn’t the way to draw babyface support from a Ring Of Honor crowd. He needs to go heel, or develop a new character quickly because this was a pretty painful main event to watch.
Tape Rating – *** – A really good show, which I’m rather harshly giving a 3* rating to despite it boasting three matches that broke the 4* barrier (including an MOTYC). Here’s why – all my usual issues with the ROH/SBG product were still there. This DVD barely clocks in at two hours and thirty minutes. The majority of the matches ran way too short AGAIN. I’m bored of making that criticism, and many have emailed me telling me to accept that it’s just the way ROH is run now – but I’m sorry, I don’t accept it. The product is good, but I don’t believe in this day and age that charging people $20 for a wrestling DVD that barely reaches 150 minutes (including entrances) is value for money. I don’t buy that the crowd wouldn’t be able to cope with a marginally longer show, or that they wouldn’t have liked the Briscoes/Bucks and Addiction/Kingdom tags getting an additional 5+ minutes onto their time allocations. The underwhelming, limited and flawed main event also left a sour taste in my mouth – particularly with the nature of a very selfish performance from Michael Elgin, who in my opinion seemed far more preoccupied with making himself look good, and getting himself get over, than he was putting his opponent over or having a good match.
That’s the negatives out of the way. The positives are that, for the most part, this show does flow extremely well. Nothing goes too long, it has a positive opener, plenty of little progressions to long term storylines (Pearce’s return for example) – and there are three really high quality matches dotted along the undercard. Jacobs and Ciampa produced a really under-rated, surprisingly violent little brawl which I dug. The Briscoes and the Young Bucks delivered what I consider one of their best ROH matches – and it was also one which I felt packed plenty of psychology and clever story-telling in before the usual spot-packed finale. And, if for nothing else, this show is absolutely worth checking out for the Styles/O’Reilly match. Watching two of 2014’s most consistent workers lock horns is an absolute joy and their crisp and amazingly worked technical contest stole the entire weekend. Thumbs up for this – even though I do feel I needed to point out that there are still some massively glaring failures in the 2014 Ring Of Honor product.
Top 3 Matches
3) Tommaso Ciampa vs Jimmy Jacobs (****)
2) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Young Bucks (****)
1) AJ Styles vs Kyle O’Reilly (****1/2)