ROH Brew City Beatdown 7/14/2012

ROH 309 – Brew City Beatdown – 14th July 2012

Whilst the ROH fans who only watch for free on TV are currently in the midst of nearly a month of Road Rage content, those of us who want to pay to follow the product (be it through live event tickets or DVD sales) are treated to ROH’s only scheduled live event in July. It’s fair to say that ROH isn’t in a good place right now. Despite the critical success of the June shows and TV, from a business perspective many were writing the promotion off as the pressure was turned up over the summer. Kenny King, one half of the Tag Champions walked out and went to TNA, whilst two live events in the Carolinas were hastily cancelled. It’s fair to say that vultures were circling again and, after a miserable May, it’s not been a good few months to be an ROH fan. Can they reward their die hards with a decent live event here tonight on what is, I believe, the promotions first trip to Wisconsin since 2004? Some of the card looks like total B-show filler…but there are some promising matches lined up too. The main event pits the Briscoes against the SCUM tandem of Kevin Steen and Jimmy Jacobs, and there’s also an Edwards/Rhino Border Wars rematch, Lethal/Mondo in a Battle Of Richmond rematch and what should be a hugely physical encounter between ROH veterans Roderick Strong and BJ Whitmer. Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino will call the action from a beautiful little venue in Milwaukee, WI.

Rhett Titus vs Mike Sydal
So most of the wrestling world feels pretty sorry for Rhett Titus right now. Having busted his ass to overcome the stigma of being an ROH Wrestling School student, having earned the respect of the ROH fans and worked so hard over the last few years with Kenny King in the All Night Express, it was a real feel good moment to see him win the Tag Titles at Best In The World 2012. Sadly he never made it to a first defence as his partner walked out, declined a new contract with ROH and instead signed with TNA. Nobody is particularly blaming King for leaving, but the timing is sh*tty and it really screws his partner. Titus has been stripped of the Tag Championship (there will be a tournament for the vacant belts culminating at the next ippv) and is now somewhat directionless and again looking to define and give purpose to his ROH career. A confidence-boosting win over Mike Sydal is much-needed here.

Titus has been taken so off-guard by King’s departure that he still has to wear his ANX trunks to wrestle. We start extremely basically, and surprisingly even considering Rhett’s supposed superiority over little Bourne. They work a very mat-intensive style, which really isn’t the forte of either man. It’s fairly competent but every slip up and error is really noticeable. The crowd seem to like it though, and loudly applaud as Titus gets 2 with a slingshot back suplex. The former Tag Champion starts to target Mike’s ribs – first with bearhugs then with his signature dropkick right into the solar plexus. Sydal then totally no-sells that to Matrix-bridge under a clothesline then drop Rhett with a neckbreaker. He follows that with a rana then a Matt Sydal-inspired hanging clothesline in the ropes. Slice, into the standing moonsault for a nearfall. Here It Is Driver countered with a knee to the guts by Titus. Mike tries a reverse rana…ONLY FOR RHETT TO DROP HIM OUT OF THE RING! Titus falls out of the ring too and Sydal (who somehow isn’t dead) dives at him with a MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! Rhett fires back with a Snake Eyes in the corner, followed by an Impact Explosion Dropkick. Implant DDT drops Sydal right on his f*cking head again…and Titus takes the win at 09:21

Rating – * – Hot opening match, although mostly because these guys were both working so sloppily that it seemed like a contest as to who was going to kill the other first. Sydal is so clumsy and unnatural in the ring, particularly when compared to his brother. Even when he’s ripping off Evan Bourne’s actual spots he looks horrible. Titus, to his credit, was a decent base for Mike to work round and this really picked up when they started throwing crazy spots to the floor…but if I’m honest this didn’t do much for me. The most interesting parts were Mike Sydal doing Evan Bourne spots, then Rhett doing Austin Aries signature moves. And even then it just made me miss those guys rather than enjoy it.

Mike Mondo vs Jay Lethal
These guys contested one of the better matches on the lacklustre Battle Of Richmond DVD. It was Lethal who left Richmond the victor on that occasion, and with both these men supposedly in the TV Title picture No Fear is obviously extremely keen to get a win back this evening.

Lethal is hugely over with the live crowd and starts as red-hot favourite. He scores a couple of early nearfalls, but struggles to overcome the power of Mondo and soon has to dive to the ropes to evade the Double Arm DDT. He knocks No Fear out of the ring and scores with a tope suicida. Hiptoss Dropkick gets 2 as Lethal starts to use his speed to assert his dominance. Mondo goes on the defensive, looking to derail Jay’s momentum by attacking his arm. That includes a shoulder-first trip into the guardrails which does some serious damage. Bridging deathlock next, picking apart a second body part to ensure Lethal is unable to utilise any speed or high-flying. The former TV Champion is obviously slowed, but somehow rallies to land the Lethal Combination for 2. Mondo stomps Lethal’s face into the mat after avoiding the Macho Elbow…and all of a sudden both guys look totally exhausted and can barely stand. Lethal Injection blocked…and Mondo crumples to the mat indicating he has suffered a leg injury. He crawls to the floor – and despite being immobile refuses to let the referee or Jim Cornette stop the match. He limps back into the ring to trade strikes until his leg gives way again. BACK FLIP LETHAL INJECTION! Lethal wins the match at 15:18

Rating – ** – The scorching hot crowd definitely helped this one a lot, and I liked what they were going for with Mondo going after the leg, arm, head or anything else he could grab onto in order to negate the speed and athleticism of Lethal. I was convinced that Mondo’s leg injury was a work…as he’s done that exact spot before and faked an injury. If it’s legit then fair play to him for toughing it out in the closing minutes. If it was a work then it did nothing but kill the momentum of the match.

Samson Walker/Chris Silvio/Mohamad Ali Vaez vs Tony Kozina/Shiloh Jonze/Adam Revolver
This is basically an OVW trios match with Kozina thrown in for good measure. Samson has worked a few shows after impressing at a training seminar. He’s always looked decent without ever really forcing his way onto the roster. Kozina is massively experienced, but these days more famous as ‘the other guy’ in Team Richards alongside O’Reilly and Davey. Of the OVW guys, Revolver and Vaez have the least ROH experience. Jonze and Silvio have been regulars at ROH TV tapings and the occasional house show for sometime but, like Walker, haven’t done anything significant enough to nail down a full-time spot. Will anyone break out from the pack here tonight?

Corino complains about OVW guys getting booked instead of ROH school graduates like Redwood, Ridge, Hagadorn and so on. Jonze and Silvio start, with Shiloh seemingly a step ahead of his adversary at all times. Revolver and Vaez tag next as Corino continues to grill Kevin Kelly on why OVW guys get bookings over other talent. Mohamad gets the better of that sequence, but is then spun into the knots by the speed of Tony Kozina. Walker misses a hip attack on Revolver, but quickly recovers to hack Shiloh down with a lariat then flatten Kozina with a powerslam. With their opponents beaten down, Vaez and Silvio cheerily tag in and out of the ring trying to work Tony over – intentionally pissing the crowd off by refusing to tag Samson back in. Eventually he does get a tag, and laughably stops Kozina getting out by squashing him like a big with a double stomp. Silvio forces Walker out again, then takes too long posing to the crowd and misses a Superfly Splash. Hot tag to Shiloh who flies at Chris with a diving lariat from the top for 2. Revolver hits a cactus clothesline on Vaez in the melee, which means he’s at least on the outside as Walker gets the tag and DESTROYS Silvio with a running DVD. Samson is the winner at 11:18

Rating – ** – This would have been pretty bland, but as with Lethal/Mondo, a great crowd really helped improve it. The OVW guys aren’t bad workers, so this was always going to be fine but the problem is they are all very similar and completely bland. Samson Walker continues to impress as much as anyone whenever he does get booked by ROH though. He’s a solid big man, and is someone I’d like to see more of if ROH can find the right storyline. He’s the only one of the six who can really contribute. The rest of the OVW crew are average, whilst Kozina’s only real use would be as the ‘Brutal Bob’ figure to Team Richards.

Kyle O’Reilly complains that he didn’t tap out in the Hybrid Rules Match at Best In The World and is proud of what he said to Davey Richards before the main event.

Tadarius Thomas vs Kyle O’Reilly
This is a main show debut for Tadarius, but you may recognise him as he’s worked a number of dark matches and has popped up a number of times as a member of security or an extra on ROH TV. This is his chance to shine, if he can get past the man who is delighted to step out of Davey Richards’ shadow and start to forge his own successful ROH singles career in Kyle O’Reilly. Can Kyle secure an emphatic victory or will he struggle with Thomas’ unique capoeira fighting style.

They get right into a fierce grapple exchange where Kyle obviously has an edge and makes all the aggressive running. But when they move to kicks and strikes Tadarius is obviously more than a match as he easily evades O’Reilly’s shots. Kyle sensibly takes it back to the mat and comfortably dominates Thomas there. The newcomer quickens the pace and showcases his athleticism as he effortlessly takes Kyle over with a series of armdrags. O’Reilly is peppered with kicks and he absorbs some real damage before managing to catch Thomas in the ropes with a jumping knee strike. Palm strike duel…but Tadarius is still rattled from that knee in the ropes and he has his legs swept from under him for 2. They exchange strikes again…and FLOOR each other with simultaneous roundhouse kicks. Kyle is the quicker to his feet and levels Tadarius with an elbow strike…but is then totally bewildered as Thomas hangs himself upside down in the ropes to kick him in the face! Slingblade nailed for 2. It’s actually O’Reilly who looks the worse for wear at this stage but again he staggers to his feet to engage Thomas in yet another kick battle. This time he’s sensible though – and catches his boot to hit a Regalplex! Capo kick combo from Thomas…DRAGON SUPLEX GETS 2! Thomas throws a Buzzsaw kick only to see it countered into a dragon screw. Not to be phased, he literally starts rolling IN CIRCLES around Kyle peppering him with insulting kicks across the face. Axe Kick from O’Reilly, then a Roaring Elbow…INTO the Back Drop Driver. Cross Armbreaker…COUNTERED by Thomas! So Kyle counters back to the Fujiwara Armbar – and gets the submission victory at 12:17

Rating – *** – MOTN thus far, and an excellent main show debut for Tadarius. He needs some work on his body language and physical charisma, but he certainly has a lot of skill and appears to be able to work that unique capoeira stuff into his style without making it too gimmicky and silly. He absolutely made an impression and will surely be brought back after that. The biggest compliment I can give him is that, where ROH normally goes for guys like Ciampa, Bennett or QT Marshall from their training seminars, he’s the kind of talent DGUSA/Evolve usually pluck from theirs. He looks like someone the Dragon Gate crew would take a second look at, which is decent praise from me.

Kyle refuses to let go of the hold just to be a jerk…and eventually Tony Kozina has to come out and talk some sense into him. FUJIWARA ON KOZINA! He is well and truly out of Team Richards! Thomas and Kozina are left in a heap as O’Reilly storms off…

Roderick Strong vs BJ Whitmer
It certainly isn’t the first time these two have stood across an ROH ring from each other. Whitmer has recently returned from hiatus, but before that he was a regular in the company from 2003 onwards, whilst Roddy has basically been ever-present since 2004 and his breakout with Generation Next. Their matches might not always be of the highest quality, but they are always hard-hitting and extremely gruelling. With both seemingly directionless in the midcard right now it’s important to rack up the wins and move towards a championship opportunity.

Strong knows that Whitmer is a powerful athlete so immediately sets about getting him on the canvas where he can’t use that strength. He boots BJ into the corner next, then hauls him outside where Truth Martini can get involved as a distraction. He preoccupies BJ, allowing Strong to set up for a gutbuster into the side of the ring. It starts looking like a total demolition job as he brings it back inside for repeated suplexes and stretches that reduce Whitmer to a gasping, hurting mess. He’s in such pain he can’t even get up off the canvas in the corner as Roderick hammers him with chops. He lands an exploder suplex out of nowhere…but it’s Strong who gets back to his feet first. BJ tries more suplexes then hoists the former World Champion into a spinebuster for his first significant nearfall of the match. Strong quickly cuts him down with the urinage backbreaker for 2. RUNNING KNEE! DEATH BY RODERICK! That combo looked brutal, so it’s to Whitmer’s credit that he gets the shoulders up again. Sick Kick COUNTERED into another exploder! RUNNING POWERBOMB! GETS 2! BJ isn’t done and grabs Roddy again for ROLLING fisherman suplexes. Roddy hides behind the referee…and Martini hops onto the apron to nail BJ with the Book Of Truth. Sick Kick wins it at 11:47

Rating – ** – I feel like I’m being quite a harsh critic on this show, but this really wasn’t my bag. The last few minutes were great – but before that it seemed like an aimless mess with Strong using generic spots to endlessly beat up Whitmer who in return mounted zero offence. Like I said, it did get good, but the first half was completely skippable and seemed like two workers going through the motions on a house show they really couldn’t have cared less about.

Silas Young gets some promo time, looking extremely different from the guy who used to bounce around singing Journey songs. He has history with Michael Elgin and is here to prove he’s better than Unbreakable tonight and that he deserves a spot in Ring Of Honor.

Truth Martini tells Rhino that he paid some serious money to secure a rematch with Eddie Edwards. His mission tonight is to rip Die Hard in half…

Michael Elgin vs Silas Young
Young is no stranger to ROH or independent wrestling in general, but it’s been sometime since he’s made an ROH appearance. I know he spent some time in WWE developmental although I don’t recall if he made it to TV or not. He’s worked the independent scene for a long time, and has feuded with his opponent tonight in the past. He wants bragging rights over an old foe and a full-time roster spot too.

Elgin is uber-focused on this one and takes the microphone to put Young over then send Truth Martini to the locker room. Silas shows he isn’t remotely intimidated by Unbreakable and absolutely pastes him with an elbow strike before flooring him with a dropkick and smirking as Elgin backs up to the corner. Sadly for him Elgin is so powerful it’s frightening – and he easily scoops Young up into a powerslam for 2. Young shows his experience wrestling the big man though, as he escapes the Oklahoma Stampede attempt and quickens the pace to send him to the canvas in a series of takedowns. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA NAILED! Back in the ring he hits a neckbreaker for 2, followed by the Finlay Roll into HEADSTAND ARABIAN PRESS! But Elgin moves and dishes out a sickening GERMAN SUPLEX INTO THE TURNBUCKLES! Silas looks dead, hanging half out of the ring giving Elgin the opportunity to drop a big leg on the apron for good measure. Unbreakable slows the pace and starts picking Young apart – not even letting up off the canvas as he pounds on him with forearms and stomps. Just when it seems like Silas has nothing left he stands up and SLAPS Elgin in the face! Michael reacts by clobbering him back down in brutal fashion. Stalling vertical suplex countered with knee strikes though…and he NIPS UP! Scoop backbreaker rolled into a seated lariat gets 2! Silas back flips out of the corner, counters a wrist clutch attempt from Elgin then scores a close nearfall with a Lionsault. Elgin MURDERS him in the corner with lariats then drags him out into a Bossman Slam. JUMPING ENZI in the corner knocks Young to the apron…so Elgin climbs the ropes to give him the DEAD LIFT SUPERPLEX! Buckle Bomb nailed, but Young STILL counters the Spiral Bomb…INTO ANGEL’S WINGS! FOR 2! Repeated lariats from Elgin…Finlay Roll again from Silas! HEADSTAND ARABIAN PRESS NAILED! ELGIN KICKS OUT! The crowd thought that was it! Young tries to dive out of the corner…AND IS KILLED WITH A MID-AIR LARIAT! BUCKLE BOMB! SPIRAL BOMB! Elgin finally puts his old rival away at 17:42

Rating – **** – Maybe this wasn’t quite 4* level, but it was still a total showstealer…and I’ve gone generous on the rating because I loved it – both as a display of Elgin’s supreme talent and as an advertisement for exactly how to put a newcomer over. ROH has been inundated with new talent since Sinclair took over – most of it not very good. But Silas, with years of experience behind him, is a solid hand in the ring and Elgin clearly went out tonight to work hard and make Young look as good as possible. He could have pulled a power play and worked a basic enhancement squash on a routine house show…but instead we saw a near-20 minute slug-out with both wrestlers pushing each other to the absolute limit. Silas has always needed a breakout match to secure a regular spot in ROH – and this could be just that. I didn’t see that coming at all…

Truth Martini returns to steal Elgin’s spotlight…then orders him to the locker room. Elgin and Silas actually leave together, with Martini alone in the ring ready for the next match.

Rhino vs Eddie Edwards
Border Wars rematch here. Die Hard took the win that night with a roll-up, and on the TV show that same evening we also saw the Man Beast losing to Davey Richards in a Proving Ground Match. The House Of Truth have paid a lot of money to buy out Rhino’s contract and bring him into the group. Truth will want a return on his investment and a return victory over the former World Champion here.

Rhino, as ever, looks totally pumped up for this one. Edwards tries to slow him down with some chain-wrestling only to be battered into the ground with a shoulder block. He tries to quicken the pace instead, successfully leapfrogging the Man Beast out of the ring…only for Rhino to drag him out after him and viciously drop him over the apron. Huge shoulder tackles in the corner leave Die Hard rolling around on the mat in obvious pain. Next he chokes Edwards in the ropes, with Martini predictably lending a hand once the referee turns his back. It’s obvious that Rhino’s plan is to soften up the midsection for the Gore. A kick to those ribs is all it takes to counter the Achilles Lock too, pushing Eddie away and leaving him vulnerable to a devastating spinebuster for 2. TOP ROPE SPLASH NAILED! That’s a lot of weight crashing down across the injured ribs but still Eddie kicks out. But instead of lining up the Gore Rhino tries to go upstairs again…only to be forcibly dragged back down with a superplex. Machine Gun Chops from Eddie, followed by a TOPE SUICIDA INTO THE GUARDRAILS! Edwards re-enters with a sliding enziguri and gets 2. German suplex nailed, and Eddie thinks about taking flight again. Double stomp to the back scores…INTO THE ACHILLES LOCK! Rhino gets to the ropes and drops him on his ribs again with a belly to belly suplex. He crouches in the corner…GORE COUNTERED WITH A ROLL-UP LIKE BORDER WARS! RHINO KICKS OUT…INTO THE ACHILLES LOCK AGAIN! Truth Martini tries to break the hold, so Eddie puts him in the Achilles Lock. That’s mistake of course. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORE! Truth’s intervention just handed victory to the Man Beast. Rhino wins at 13:43

Rating – *** – The finish took some of the gloss off this, although I understand Rhino needed to win to get his heat back. Eddie just put Homicide over clean on ppv, so I don’t see why he needed to be protected by a Martini run-in whilst putting Rhino over. However, these two have genuine chemistry together and it was an enjoyable match. Rhino did a solid, basic and effective job working the ribs which Eddie sold pretty consistently throughout the match…and the Gore is super-over no matter what promotion Rhino works for. They probably didn’t have to work as hard as they actually did to get the live crowd into this, so fair play to them for really busting a gut out there when it wasn’t required.

In the locker room Roderick Strong enjoys a victory beer. Despite losing at Live Strong, he remains focused on regaining the World Title…putting him in conflict with Michael Elgin. Even if Elgin does win the belt he will still come after it to take it from him apparently…

And elsewhere Michael Elgin berates Martini for claiming credit for his victory. He puts Kevin Steen on notice…then walks out rather than do his catchphrase/gimmick with Truth

In the World Champion’s locker room, Steen himself is reclining on a leather armchair (a nice touch after he laid into ROH for the sh*thole they made him cut a promo in at Live Strong). Jimmy Jacobs does Briscoe impressions whilst recalling the time he hung Jay Briscoe from the rafters in Chicago…before they head for the ring for tonight’s main event.

Kevin Steen/Jimmy Jacobs vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
I think something went down between these two teams at the last tapings, but since we’ve not seen that yet in purely chronological terms there’s no real simmering heat between them. Sure Steen and Jacobs are supposedly holding ROH hostage, whilst the Briscoes are proud of having been in this promotion since Day One…so that does make them natural enemies but this is really one of the opening shots in a bigger picture war. However, as Jimmy pointed out, he and the Briscoes go back a long way – all the way to the Man Up ppv when the Age Of The Fall debuted and made a bloody statement at the expense of the brothers. Incidentally, the team the Briscoes beat in the Ladder War that night contained Kevin Steen…himself having spent most of 2007 feuding with them. This is also important as tag teams jostle for position in the aftermath of Kenny King’s walk-out, all looking for an opportunity to get into contention for the now vacant Tag straps.

SCUM try to follow the Code Of Honor, and Steen does a brilliant job of looking legitimately upset when the Briscoes refuse and jump start the match with a double team assault on Jacobs. Steen doesn’t really pay any interest to the tag rules of this match as he finally storms in to assist his partner and level Jay with the hanging dropkick out of the ropes. Mark runs through both opponents with some Redneck Kung Fu…but as he hops to the top rope Jacobs SHOVES HIM THROUGH A CAMERA MAN TO THE FLOOR! Jay helps out his brother by grabbing Steen and flattening him with a bulldog on the entrance ramp. The referee stomps the match at 05:38 as all four men continue brawling on the floor with the match ruled a double count-out. Jim Cornette storms out furious that he hasn’t seen a finish and Steen will be leaving Milwaukee without getting an ass kicking. He orders the match be restarted under Anything Goes rules…and the fight is on again! The Briscoes take charge, beating Steen and Jacobs around ringside with beer cans and anything else they can get their hands on. Jay picks Jimmy up for the MILITARY PRESS DVD THROUGH A CHAIR! Steen saves Jacobs and hits the APRON BOMB! Urinage from Mark, only for Steen to counter the Cut-Throat Driver with the PUMPHANDLE CRADLEBREAKER THROUGH A CHAIR FOR 2! Jacobs gives Jay the spear then turns into the John Woo Dropkick from a rejuvenated Mark. Jimmy and Mark brawl to the back leaving Jay alone with the World Champion. Jay Driller COUNTERED to the F-5…for 2. Mark Briscoe reappears on one of the balconies over-looking the arena as Jay positions Steen on a table in the ring. BALCONY DIVE INTO THE RING THROUGH A F*CKING TABLE FROM MARK! Jacobs returns in more conventional fashion…and runs into the JAY DRILLER! The Briscoes win at a total time of 13:33

Rating – *** – Everything after the restart was solid gold awesome from four highly experienced professionals. The match was a decent brawl, although one of the most memorable matches ROH has ever produced in that genre…but that balcony dive from Mark was crazy. I knew it was coming but even as he jumped into the air it didn’t seem certain he would make the ring. It was an absolutely psychotic spot to highlight a solid main event of a solid show.

The Briscoes don’t get long to celebrate as Kevin Steen attacks them with the title belt. Rhett Titus emerges from the locker room to beat SCUM out of the ring. He then grabs the mic to say he did it to seize the opportunity to force himself into the World Title picture and rid ROH of Steen and Jimmy.

Tape Rating – *** – Low end 3* for this. Much as with Live Strong and The Nightmare Begins, it’s hard to recommend paying full price for the DVD – but if you can pick it up in a sale then it’s worth checking out. There is a lot of disappointing filler bouts…but the main event is worth checking out for *that* spot alone, and Elgin/Silas was a totally unexpected showstealer. Throw in another competitive encounter between Eddie Edwards and Rhino, and the impressive debut for Tadarius and this was, for a house show, very watchable stuff.

Top 3 Matches
3) Rhino vs Eddie Edwards (***)
2) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Kevin Steen/Jimmy Jacobs (***)
1) Michael Elgin vs Silas Young (****)

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