ROH No Escape 7/9/2011

ROH 288 – No Escape – 9th July 2011

Last night’s Richmond show was a very low key affair. If you’re being brutally honest, I don’t think the line-up for tonight’s event is that much stronger either. However, the bigger matches of the weekend are undeniably booked for tonight. The Briscoes/ANX feud continues as they wrestle in singles matches (with their partners handcuffed at ringside), Roderick Strong and El Generico end their rivalry with a Steel Cage Match, and the midcard is highlighted by an enticing Wolves/Future Shock match. Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak call the action – taped in Charlotte, NC

Andy Ridge cuts a decent promo about wanting to dethrone Mike Bennett as ROH’s ‘top prospect’

Mike Bennett vs Andy Ridge
This is a rematch from the semi-finals of the Top Prospect Tournament – with Andy looking to get a win back over The Prodigy who walked away victorious on that occasion. Mike is looking to end a losing streak which now extends to three matches after losing to both members of ANX yesterday.

Bennett takes the microphone and promises that tonight will be the start of a winning streak that will lead him all the way to the World Title. Although he gets so distracted talking that he doesn’t see Andy sneak up behind him and nearly pin him in the first ten seconds of the match. Ridge tries a double stomp off the apron but misses and is scooped into an apron backbreaker by The Prodigy. Hanging backbreaker out of the corner scores next for 2. It must be hot in this building as there are doors open on all sides of the arena, letting bright daylight in on almost all camera angles which is a little distracting. Right Leg levels Bennett with a few kicks and has his opponent on the run – all the way to the ropes where Andy hits a slingshot Ace Crusher for 2. The fans are really getting behind Andy, and audibly gasp in disappointment as Mike scoops him up into a spinebuster. The Prodigy wins with his piledriver at 05:11

Rating – ** – Of course this wasn’t a reinvention of the wheel or anything, but it was miles better than their HDNet match. The crowd were vocally behind Ridge (helped of course by Mike getting some promo time) and, unlike the televised match, these guys worked a fast, energetic pace.

Mark Briscoe vs Kenny King
This is the start in a double header of Briscoes/ANX singles matches (it feels like the second or third time ROH have done this in recent months), with the added twist that the other member of each team will be handcuffed at ringside to make sure they can’t get involved.

‘It is standing room only here in Charlotte’ – Kevin Kelly as the entire crowd sits down for the start of the match. That will teach him to use dullard clichés won’t it? Hot start from King as he instantly floors Mark with a heel kick then the mounted forearm strikes. From his vantage point, handcuffed to a turnbuckle, Jay is able to save his brother from a suplex by grabbing his boot – giving Mark a window to suplex Kenny over the top rope. And Mark immediately leaves the ring to enlist the one-armed help of his brother as Jay throws a clothesline then holds King exposed to a big chop. Rhett Titus soon repays the favour by distracting Mark, giving Kenny the opportunity to kick him in the head. Titus throws a few kicks as well, stunning Briscoe enough for King to attempt a springboard leg drop off the guardrails, although the barrier gives way so it’s debatable as to how much he actually got of that. Jay takes a few cheap shots…so again the match moves to the other side of the ring where Titus BACK DROPS Mark on the floor! Back in the ring Kenny hits the Shotgun Knees and a springboard clothesline for 2. Springboard blockbuster misses though, allowing Mark to hit an Iconoclasm. Cut-Throat Driver blocked…Royal Flush blocked! CORONATION! King wins at 08:37

Rating – *** – At first I thought the handcuff gimmick was going to be stupid but all four men made it fun. They used the unique stipulation sensibly, kept it entertaining without overdoing it and worked a decent little match without ever really needing to break out of second gear – ideal for a house show.

Jay Briscoe vs Rhett Titus
It’s an instant switch as one set of partners is removed from cuffs to be replaced with the two who just fought. Rhett and Jay had a really underrated match late last year (was it Allied Forces?) and seem to have decent chemistry together (such as the bloody face-off in Atlanta) so this should be good.

Titus quickly clotheslines Briscoe over the ropes to take the battle right back to the outside where we saw much of the last match fought too. He actually picks Jay up and RAMS him into his own brother to ensure Mark can’t be a factor in the battle the same way Jay was. Thankfully for Briscoe the match is soon returned to the confines of the ring, where he uses his brawling skills to put himself into the ascendancy for the first time. But as hard as he hits Titus, Rhettski just won’t stay down. He returns fire with an Austin Aries springboard reverse elbow to leave both of them on the canvas and scrambling to recover. Titus is up first to land the Thrust Buster! Baseball slide dropkick sends Jay all the way out of the ring…into the path of the SOMERSAULT PLANCHA UP THE AISLE! Frog splash misses…and Jay leaves the ring to grab a pair of bolt cutters. He decks the referee then frees his brother, meaning it’s now 2-on-1 with Kenny King powerless to help! They use a belt to whip him, before he eats a Jay Driller…and the bell finally rings at 10:01 presumably for the disqualification of the Briscoes?

Rating – ** – I didn’t think the match was as good as Mark/King, and the whole handcuff thing had gotten a little old by halfway through the ten minutes this one lasted. The ending, with Jay releasing his brother for an assault on poor Rhett was very effective though.

The attack continues with a Doomsday Device on Titus, as Todd Sinclair desperately tries to cut Kenny King free. Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin come to Rhett’s aid and the now-liberated Kenny chases the Briscoes up the aisle with a chair…but the damage has already been done.

Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly call their match tonight their biggest test to date. Kyle credits Davey for making him the ‘fighting machine’ he is today. Maybe ROH shouldn’t put an ‘Earlier Tonight’ caption on a promo taped in pitch darkness when we just saw it’s still broad daylight at this point in the show…

Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly vs American Wolves
The Wolves ended a long stretch without a tag team victory when they successfully defeated the House Of Truth in the main event last night. Now they look to re-establish their tag team prowess in the aftermath of the Best In The World title match by completing a 2-0 weekend. It’s a particularly special match for Davey and Kyle since they live and train together and this is the first time they’ve faced off in a Ring Of Honor ring.

Davey addresses the live crowd to make sure everyone knows of his relationship with Kyle, but also says he won’t be going easy on his protégé this evening. Edwards and Cole start with some terrific near misses and counter wrestling. O’Reilly tags, and of course he immediately asks to fight Davey. The World Champion lays in a couple of slightly nonchalant slaps…and is duly punished as Kyle traps him in a cross armbreaker! That’s countered to an Anklelock attempt, and when O’Reilly rolls through it becomes an outstanding exchange of kicks, thrown at a blistering pace. O’Reilly lands a big slap which noticeably rattles Richards…leading to the champ throwing out some brutal kicks and Kyle absorbing them actually throwing some right back at him! Triangle choke applied by Kyle, and Davey has visible problems escaping it! SLAP DUEL IN THE CORNER! O’REILLY FLOORS RICHARDS! But the youngster makes a foolish mistake in trying to climb the ropes…and is punished with entrapment in a tree of woe and a double basement dropkick from the Wolves. Davey takes his protégé to the outside and BOOTS him into the front row for good measure! He puts him in a Cloverleaf, with Eddie actually pulling back on Richards to provide extra leverage in the hold. Kyle keeps fighting, looking pissed off as he tries swinging kicks at the World Champ even whilst lying in the deck! He then escapes a Saito suplex attempt and kicks his mentor in the head…but can’t tag as Eddie has knocked Cole off the apron. RAPID FIRE SLAPS ON BOTH WOLVES! DOUBLE DRAGON SCREW NAILED! At ten minutes O’Reilly dives into the hot tag to Adam Cole! He dives over into a missile dropkick, and has a fair crack at trying to trade strikes with Eddie Edwards. Eddie starts KILLING him with chops but he refuses to go down, scoring with a Death Valley neckbreaker for 2!

Backpack Stunner scores for Edwards in response! The Wolves try to double kick Cole but he ducks and they knock shins, leaving Eddie vulnerable to some double teams from Future Shock! Eddie misses a double stomp but kicks O’Reilly away before rolling Adam into the Achilles Lock. Davey stops Kyle saving…SO O’REILLY SLAPS THE GUILLOTINE CHOKE ON HIM! BUT DAVEY COUNTERS TO THE ANKLELOCK! SUPERKICKS FROM COLE AND O’REILLY! REVERSE RANA FROM COLE TO DAVEY! NO SOLD! LARIATOOOOOOO! ALL FOUR DOWN! The place is going nuts at this point! Of course, Davey and Kyle are the first up and they go straight back to kicking and elbowing each other! KAWADA KICK DUEL! Richards nearly decapitates O’Reilly with a discus lariat then slaps on the Anklelock again! Cole tries to break it with kicks but Davey just shakes them off! COLE DDT’S EDWARDS ON THE APRON! SHARPSHOOTER FROM O’REILLY TO RICHARDS! ROLLING BUTTERFLIES! But Davey counters the double arm DDT! Cole superkicks him! DOUBLE ARM DDT/OCEAN CYCLONE COMBO FOR 2! Eddie had to dive in at the death to save Davey then! He dragon screws O’Reilly in the ropes, hanging the leg there then delivering a towering double stomp for 2! Kyle is in extreme pain, but kicks out even when Davey is screaming at him to stay down! Guillotine Choke on Edwards…COUNTERED TO AN ALARM CLOCK TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD! SUPERKICK GERMAN…COLE SAVES! POWERBOMB LUNGBLOWER! ACHILLES LOCK ON O’REILLY! Again Cole saves, then nearly kills himself hitting a crazy tope suicida on Davey! ACHILLES LOCK AGAIN! WITH REPEATED STOMPS TO THE HEAD! The stops it at 21:26…but the bell doesn’t ring until 21:50 due to a timekeeping error!

Rating – ****1/2 – This is why completists love getting every ROH show. If you skip the non-essentials, occasionally you miss out on absolute classics like this one. How this didn’t get more MOTY hype is beyond me as I thought it was fantastic. The Richards/O’Reilly stuff was great, but Edwards and Cole were every bit as good as support acts. In fact, I actually found some of the exchanges between Eddie and Adam even better than the stuff their partners were doing. I know the ‘proving ground’ concept was brought in by SBG’s ROH as a term for making non-title matches more important…but this was very much a ‘proving ground’ for Cole and O’Reilly. Eddie and Davey set their stall out to push the young pretenders to their limits, and the way in which the up and comers met the challenge of the American Wolves was utterly spectacular. Unless the Strong/Generico Cage Match is something really special (and by all accounts it isn’t) then this will be the best match this weekend by a million miles.

Davey is pissed off at the timekeeper (who appears to be Mike Sydal – who the hell would trust him?)  and absolutely furious with Eddie Edwards for not letting Kyle out of the hold when he deemed the match had finished. The Wolves angrily shove each other, and the scene ends with Davey refusing to shake Eddie’s hand…leading to Edwards walking out by himself.

Michael Elgin/Chase Owens vs Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander
We saw the ‘C&C Wrestle Factory’ team together for the first time last night, in a valiant defeat against Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly. Tonight they have another chance to prove they belong amongst the big fish in the ultra-competitive Ring Of Honor tag division. Owens is another House Of Truth ‘recruit’, looking to earn a spot where the likes of Caleb Konley and Zach Gowen have failed in the past. I know Davey Richards is a big fan of his work (I think Davey actually defended the ROH World Title against him in another promotion) so it’s no surprise he’s getting an opportunity like this.

Coleman and Elgin start…and Caprice quickly realises he needs to find ways to utilise his speed and negate the colossal power of his adversary. He takes some abuse there, but does a lot better with Owens, who walks straight into a dropkick for 2. Cedric back flips into another dropkick seconds later for the same result. Chase wisely brings Elgin back and he crotches Alexander on the ropes. Both opponents are picked up…RUNNING DOUBLE POWERSLAM NAILED! House Of Truth try to isolate Caprice, keeping him in their corner for several minutes. Eventually Elgin misses his corkscrew senton (has he ever hit that move) and that allows Coleman to make the hot tag to Cedric. Double gourdbuster gets 2 for C&C. SPRINGBOARD CUTTER from Alexander to Elgin. IRISH AIR RAID ON OWENS! Elgin breaks the count so Alexander dives at him with a somersault plancha. Standing super rana/frog splash combo finishes Owens off at 09:13. Big win for Caprice and Cedric

Rating – ** – There were a few sloppy moments and obvious communication errors, which are why I’ve knocked the rating down a little. But the three key workers in this were Caprice, Cedric and Elgin…and all three of them looked very good so ultimately the match served it’s purpose. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more of the C&C team as they have a lot of upside. Caprice is a charismatic performer, whilst Alexander clearly has a lot of raw potential and you can see he has a bright future (as you could with the likes of Eddie Edwards, Paul London, Roderick Strong or Davey Richards in their early ROH performances).

Chase Owens gets the big thumbs down from Truth, leading to an assault from Elgin…

Chris Hero vs Colt Cabana
There’s no drastic grudge to settle here, although in a brief promo Colt frames this match nicely by pointing out that these two have known each other for years and wrestled all over the world. The real question is whether Cabana will get his wish for a good, clean, pure wresting match or whether Hero will bring the loaded elbow and his crew (Del Rey, Hagadorn etc) into play…

Both of these two are very popular with the live audience, bringing about a lengthy duelling chant between the respective sets of supporters. There is an interesting chemistry in play because although Colt is more famous for working the British chain-wrestling style these days, Hero is equally well versed in that has spent plenty of time in the UK honing his skills too. He comfortably holds his own with Colt on the mat, then teases throwing an elbow only for his opponent to duck. Cabana psyches him out then rings his bell…and Hero quickly bails to prevent him building up any momentum. But Colt does start to get into a rhythm, dragging Hero in all sorts of angles as he presses home his advantage. Again Chris leaves…and this time Cabana hides behind a photographer before giving chase around the ring with a series of chops. Shane Hagadorn distracts Colt and that gives Hero a window to hit a baseball slide boot to the side of the head which quickly turns the match in his favour. He lands a few strikes but can’t complete on the senton…Roaring Elbow instead! Cravat applied in the turnbuckles, into a big boot which sends Colt plummeting all the way back to the floor. This time it’s Hero giving chase, and he pursues him all the way up the aisle to deliver an elbow smash at the entrance curtain. Cabana has a LONG walk back to the ring and barely beats the count-out. When he does make it back he heads upstairs for a tomahawk chop! Quebrada scores for 2 moments later…but Hero still has enough in the tank to block the Colt 45. Roaring Elbow ducked…and countered into the Billy Goat’s Curse! But Hero escapes and scores with a devastating stomp/elbow combo for 2. ROLLING CRAVAT NECKBREAKER FOR 2! He repeatedly boots Cabana in the face but somehow he finds the will to stay on his feet and nail a jumping butt attack! Hagadorn comes in and gets bumped, but the Flying Asshole is countered to the Rolling Flash Kick. Hero wins at 15:56

Rating – *** – This was one of the better Hero/Cabana matches in ROH. Some of the pace was incredibly slow, but things really picked up in the closing stages…and both of them were so over with the live crowd that they were hot for the contest throughout. Both of these guys would be gone from the roster by the next live show (Death Before Dishonor 9 in September).

I think this is Colt’s last ROH appearance to date. He gets a standing ovation, which the editing team have clearly included as somewhat of a send-off to a guy who has meant a lot to ROH…

Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team say they’re pissed off and are going to vent their frustration on the Bravado Brothers in their match tonight

Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin vs Bravado Brothers
Obviously the ROH Tag Titles are not on the line this evening. It is a big night for the Bravados though. They got the biggest win of their ROH careers when they beat the Briscoes albeit with a lot of help from WGTT themselves, and now get the chance to face the reigning champions in their home region of North Carolina. These two teams have met before – and Haas and Benjamin made short work of the Bravados in that clash on HDNet. Will history repeat itself, or will Lancelot and Harlem upset another high profile team this weekend?

Lancelot has his shoulder heavily bandaged and his left arm hangs limp at his side – still clearly showing the scars of a tough night for him in Richmond. Haas and Benjamin get quite a lot of hate from this crowd…maybe some of them saw their botchmania of a performance yesterday. Harlem sensibly starts given that his brother only has one good arm…but doesn’t get a great deal of joy when facing Benjamin. Lance tags and foolishly goes to ground, giving Shelton the chance to amateur wrestle the sh*t out of him. Haas in with a variety of suplexes, dropping poor Lance right on that bad shoulder. Eventually Harlem saves his brother from a dropkick attempt meaning Charlie eats mat and puts the Bravados in charge for the first time. They work a somewhat basic heat segment with Haas, although the sheer fact they are mounting some offence means this is a significantly improved outing for them over the HDNet match. Shelton tags and nearly takes Harlem’s head off with the Dragon Whip. Leapfrog Hilo finishes Lance at 06:18

Rating – * – I’m not really sure what the point of this was. Squashing the Bravados in their home market, the night after the biggest win of their careers seems counter-productive…and doesn’t really do anything for WGTT either. At least most of this was well-executed, unlike WGTT/Generi-Colt yesterday

The celebrations are interrupted by the Briscoes, with Jay demanding Haas and Benjamin fight them here and now. WGTT get the brawl started but since they just had a match they are soon beaten down and out of the ring. Haas is thrown through a table…and even though they’re supposed to be heels most of the crowd have turned on the champions so that is met with roars of approval. Kenny King runs in to make the save, but just as with WGTT saving Rhett Titus earlier, in truth the damage is already done.

El Generico vs Roderick Strong – Steel Cage Match
The feud between these two men has been raging since SoCal Showdown 2 when Roderick cheated to beat the Generic Luchador in a World Title Match. He played the numbers to beat Generico again in the finals of the Defy Or Deny match in Plymouth, orchestrated a mass beatdown of both Generico and his friend Colt Cabana at Honor Takes Center Stage, then beat him again in a thrilling No DQ match at Revolution: USA. But all the matches between the two men this year have been blighted by outside interference from the likes of Truth Martini, Michael Elgin and Christopher Daniels. That’s why Generico laid down the challenge to a cage match – giving them the chance to do maximum damage to each other but also ensuring it’s a fair fight as everyone else in the House Of Truth will be kept out.

The fight starts in the aisle such is Generico’s desperation to get at the former World Champion! He even REBOUNDS off the guardrail into a flying crossbody before tossing Roddy into the cage for the first time! Martini gets involved…allowing Strong to fling the door into Generico’s face! CRASH BARRIER GUTBUSTER! Then Truth bashes the luchador with the Book Of Truth for good measure. Back in the ring Strong teases a Death By Roderick, but changes in mid-air to deliver a brutal throw sending him face-first into the cage! The urinage backbreaker gets 2. We’re 5 minutes in and it’s Roderick who is completely dominant. But he makes a mistake – charging at El Generico only to be countered into a back drop into the cage! Generico has a Mick Foley-esque demonic grin as he starts repeatedly hurling Strong into the mesh! The Floridian tries to escape but is caught in the rope run tornado DDT! YAKUZA KICK INTO THE CAGE! Michinoku Driver nailed for 2! But he tries a second Yakuza Kick and finds it COUNTERED to the Black Superkick…and that gets 2 for Roddy! Generico screams defiantly, so Roderick turns his lights out with a jumping knee strike. But Generico hits back with the TURNBUCKLE EXPLODER! YAKUZA KICK! BRAINBUSTER COUNTERED WITH A SUPLEX INTO THE CAGE! SICK KICK GETS 2! Strong keeps finding ways to avoid the Brainbuster, but after getting his skull rattled again with the Yakuza Kick El Generico does manage to hit that Brainbuster…only for Roderick to kick out once again! Sick Kick nearly folds the luchador in half! Death By Roderick…rolled into the Gibson Driver and still Generico finds a way to kick out. The fight goes to the top rope where Generico clings to the cage to block the craziest Death By Roderick ever. Strong falls to the mat…whilst Generico climbs the cage! Truth Martini climbs like Spiderman trying to save his man…and gets knocked off and all the way to the floor! TURNBUCKLE BRAINBUSTAAAAAAH! Generico wins at 17:52

Rating – *** – I’ve seen people go higher on their rating than this so maybe it’s just me…but this wasn’t quite to my taste and was actually one of my least favourite of their matches together. Some of the Strong beating Generico up segments were fun, but for the most part I felt like the cage restricted what they could do and forced them into fairly generic, dull brawling which isn’t suited to their style. I certainly didn’t like the last five minutes which was fairly mundane ‘hit a finish, lie around after a 2 count, stop selling, get up, hit another finisher…and repeat’. The Charlotte crowd have been great all night though, and they really helped increase the drama on this by being red-hot even after a long night of action in a sweltering building.

Tape Rating – *** – This is a one-match card…but Wolves/Future Shock was one of the best matches ROH has produced all year. And the undercard, although pretty forgettable, is full of snappy and short matches which mean it really flies by. I’d also like to pause and commend the live crowd as they were really into each match – adding to every one of them in the process. This isn’t a show of the year candidate by any means…but since ROH is releasing fewer shows this year I really think you can afford the cash to get this one, even if it is a ‘one-match show’ – it’s well worth it.

Top 3 Matches
3) Chris Hero vs Colt Cabana (***)
2) El Generico vs Roderick Strong (***)
1) American Wolves vs Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly (****1/2)

Top 5 Tag Team Turmoil/No Escape Weekend Matches
5) Chris Hero vs Colt Cabana (*** – No Escape)
4) Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly vs Bravado Brothers (*** – Tag Team Turmoil)
3) El Generico vs Roderick Strong (*** – No Escape)
2) American Wolves vs Roderick Strong/Michael Elgin (**** – Tag Team Turmoil)
1) American Wolves vs Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly (****1/2 – No Escape)

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