ROH Defy Or Deny 3/18/2011

ROH 279 – Defy Or Deny – 18th March 2011

To me, this event marks the first time that ROH has returned to being a ‘non-televised’, live event only wrestling experience. I know the HDNet show has one episode left to run, and technically the official announcement that the show had been dropped happened in January 2011, but after HDNet ended this week to take a three week break before returning for a one-off final instalment after the WrestleMania iPPV’s it’s clear that ROH is now back on it’s own. Now, moreso than ever, they need B-shows like this to really deliver if they are to generate vital cash to sustain them whilst they seek out a new TV deal (which I presume was the plan). Of course, there’s a big Manhattan show tomorrow and going there is always a major event, but it’s clear that there’s a lot of thought gone into tonight’s show as well. The main event sees a rematch of HDNet Episode 98’s headline bout and gives three of the top contenders to the World Title the chance to earn another title shot. Davey Richards faces Claudio Castagnoli as he continues his campaign to rebuild his career before challenging for the World Title again whilst, fresh of winning the Top Prospect Tournament this week on TV, The Prodigy challenges the Fallen Angel for the Television Championship. Hero/TJP, Edwards/Elgin and Briscoe/O’Reilly all look really fun as well by the way. This is the last show (to date) at the wonderful Plymouth, MA venue which is a real shame as the building always looks great. Dave Prazak and Kevin Kelly call it.

Mike Bennett and Bob Evans come out to start the show, getting a hostile reception despite being in his hometown this evening. He ensures any residual babyface heat he might get is stamped out by crapping all over Plymouth. After a few verbal potshots at Steve Corino, he gets interrupted by the King Of Old School. Corino comes out and yells at him for disrespecting Christopher Daniels and still being over-confident. This is effective stuff, but the fact that nobody has seen the HDNet show means most of the crowd sh*ts on it and makes ‘funny’ comments. Steve thinks there’s a real chance he’ll fall off the ‘recovery’ wagon when he faces Bennett in New York tomorrow. Again Corino throws the first punch at Bob Evans…but unlike on Monday he gets the upper hand and forces Bennett and Evans out of the ring. Good, long promo segment to start the show…and it’s nice to have actual storyline developments taking place on the b-shows again.

The new Embassy is delighted to bring Tommaso Ciampa to Plymouth tonight. RD Evans (who’s choice of outfit is just brilliant) says he’s happy to be a supporting player to royalty like Nana, Mia and the ‘project’ Ciampa…

Kyle O’Reilly vs Mark Briscoe
This has been a good building for O’Reilly in recent months. He put in a courageous effort with Austin Aries on his penultimate live event with the promotion, then came back at Tag Title Classic 2 and nearly stole the show in a mat classic with TJ Perkins. Tonight he tests himself against a 9 year veteran of ROH competition in Mark Briscoe, and will want to avenge the loss he suffered to Mark’s brother Jay in Dayton at World’s Greatest.

The opening 90-seconds of this are non-stop action. Not all of it is smooth but the workrate is undeniable and they are deservedly applauded for it. Mark, in a rare position for him, seems to have a power advantage over his opponent and uses throws and suplexes to get the early edge over O’Reilly. He decides to take the youngster out of the ring to utilise his superior brawling skills. That seems to work, but as they re-enter Kyle grabs him for the rolling butterfly suplexes. COUNTERED with rolling northern lights suplexes by Mark! Then O’Reilly counters those into a hiptoss armbreaker! They keep trading submissions on the canvas – an environment which suits the skills of O’Reilly far more than Briscoe. Instead Mark goes for a tumbleweed senton…but misses! Strike flurry from Kyle completely floors him before he scores with an armwrench in the ropes. MISSILE DROPKICK TO THE FLOOR! Did he aim that at the arm he just snapped at the ropes too? He tries more kick combos but this time Mark retaliates with some Redneck Kung Fu! Urinage suplex dumps the Team Richards member on his head for 2. Cut-Throat Driver INTO A BUZZSAW KICK by O’Reilly! They start dropping BOMBS on each other, with Mark blocking Kyle’s discus lariat into a superkick. Frog Elbow wins it at 11:10

Rating – *** – I don’t know whether it’s a good thing for his career or not, but O’Reilly is developing a real habit of being involved in tremendous opening matches. His match with Jay at World’s Greatest gets lots of praise, but I thought this one was even better. This was pretty basic (as the opening match should be) but the whole thing was fought with a fervent energy, from the opening mat-wrestling stuff to the big strike exchanges at the end. Excellent start to the show…

All Night Express vs Steve Corino/Grizzly Redwood
Corino and Redwood have formed a makeshift team, almost entirely based on the reforming Corino’s respect for Grizzly’s courage simply to be in this business at all. Tonight they have their work cut out for them against a team who have their reputations as workers at an all-time high after their stellar Tag Title Match with the Kings at the 9th Anniversary Show…but their status in the tag division at it’s lowest as they now have to start at the bottom and work up into getting another title opportunity.

Where as the first minutes of Briscoe/O’Reilly were full of action and purpose, the opening period here is frightfully slow. The point is that Corino doesn’t want to take any kind of cheapshot or shortcut to get an advantage but demonstrates that through a series of lifeless collar and elbows with Titus. Redwood puts Titus in an armwrench, and even then Corino struggles with his moral compass just to hit a basic double team. Rhettski finally drops Grizzly on his neck with a clothesline and makes a much-needed tag to Kenny King. All four run around dropping spots, with Corino eventually shoving Redwood out of the way and EATING the Shotgun Knees himself instead. Superkick from King totally floors him and ANX are now in full-control. Capo Kick/Dropkick combo gets 2. But Corino is soon firing back with the Colby Shock DDT then gets a hot tag to Grizzly. He sets about chopping King ‘down to size’ then sends Titus into the turnbuckles with a flying headscissors. Stereo abdominal stretches from Corino and Redwood, only for the All Nights to escape in tandem and hit the springboard blockbuster over the knees for 2 on Grizz. Corino tries to save his partner but knocks him out with the Eternal Dream! Royal Flush to the One Night Stand wins it for ANX in 13:44

Rating – ** – Not bad by any stretch of the imagination but it was at least five minutes too long. I do like the creative direction they’re pushing with for Corino, but this was the third or fourth time we’ve seen his basic undercard ‘I don’t want to be evil anymore’ routine, so the opening minutes where he just reran a load of spots we’ve multiple times before felt very slow. ANX picked it up during their heat segment and, to be fair, by the end of the match the fans were very into this.

Grizzly is pissed off at Corino for accidentally knocking him out, and leaves the ring without shaking his hand. Steve looks devastated…

Tommaso Ciampa vs Adam Cole
This is excellent timing as we just saw Ciampa debut this week on HDNet. He easily squashed Mike Sydal in an impressive debut, but immediately faces a step up in quality tonight. His opponent, Adam Cole, has just returned from a couple of months working in Europe (where he received RAVE reviews for some of his matches) and this is the first time he’s been in an ROH ring since January. Can he return with a win, or will it be the Embassy’s ‘project’ (making his live event debut this weekend) who leaves Plymouth and makes the drive to New York with a win?

I’m going to go ahead and say it – Mia Yim is hot. Ciampa is clearly a strong guy, abut Cole hangs right there with him and they engage in such a heated collar and elbow lock up that they fall out of the ring. Cole wisely tries to pick up the pace…so Tommaso pretty viciously smacks him in the face. B*tch slap in return by Cole forcing Ciampa to leave the ring. He returns to hit a big clothesline on the apron which drops Adam out of the ring and into the path of a few cheap shots from Nana and RD Evans. Next Mia Yim grabs him to dish out a flurry of martial arts kicks, flooring Cole again. You’d think, given that she accompanies him to ringside in CZW, he’d be aware of that wouldn’t you? And Cole’s problems continue to mount up as Tommaso body slams him into the ringpost. Next he hangs Adam in the ropes then delivers a running dropkick right to the small of the back for a 2-count. Cole lands a series of clotheslines and kicks but is much slower now than he was earlier in the contest. He still manages to kick Ciampa out of the ring though…and as he recovers Cole flattens Ernesto Osiris with a pescado. Ciampa tries a baseball slide…COUNTERED WITH AN OCEAN CYCLONE SUPLEX INTO THE SIDE OF THE RING! Are you kidding me? In the ring Cole tries another ocean cyclone suplex…but this time Ciampa counters into a torture rack powerbomb for 2. He tries Project Ciampa but it’s countered with a rana and together the go into a flurry of pinfall attempts. SNAP German suplex from Tommaso…only for Cole to no sell and start superkicking him! Bridging German suplex gets Adam a 2-count now. OCEAN CYCLONE LUNGBLOWER! But Prince Nana is on the apron distracting the referee. Tommaso utilises that to hit PROJECT CIAMPA! He wins at 14:05

Rating – *** – This got far more time than I was expecting. I’m not sure it necessarily benefited from that as Tommaso looked pretty average during his heat segments and most of the ‘excitement’ in this match was based around needlessly crazy stuff (like that apron bump) or the copious amount of no-selling in the last five minutes. That said, I think Adam Cole is fantastic and, with him throwing himself about selling the sh*t out of everything Ciampa or his ringside crew did, this certainly never felt boring, even with a match-time approaching 15-minutes.

SIDENOTE – Tommaso looked good in that match too, but I have concerns with him being brought in. On first glance he seems to wrestle like a slightly more spotty, and less charismatic version of Mike Bennett. Not that it is necessarily a problem – but if you remember, I recently said I don’t have a problem with a worker like Bennett in ROH as his style is so ‘different’ to what everyone else in ROH does. But with Mike Mondo now working here on a semi-regular basis, and now Ciampa on the full-time roster as another slow-paced, methodical bruiser, all of a sudden the roster starts to look very full of guys who have great looks, great bodies, but their ring-skills are some way behind that. This kind of athlete is absolutely NOT what ROH is all about, and it makes me concerned that Jim Cornette’s influence over what talent Ring Of Honor brings in is really starting to grow. I know Ciampa and Bennett were both scouted after attending ROH training seminars and camps which Cornette helps run for ROH. I think they both have a lot of potential. And, in Ciampa’s case, I think Mia Yim and RD Evans are terrific additions to The Embassy entourage. But I look at it and wonder why Adam Cole couldn’t have filled that spot. He works with Mia in CZW, he’s an adept heel, has a lot of potential too…and despite several months of impressive showings, now seems to be stuck playing enhancement talent inferior up-and-comers in Bennett and Tommaso. Those are my thoughts – make of them what you will. I’m not knocking Tommaso or Bennett, I am just curious as to why they are coming in and being given lots of hype and wins whilst Cole and O’Reilly are putting in stellar matches but basically losing constantly. Incidentally, I’d also like to know why ROH’s ‘training seminars’ give us Bennett and Ciampa whilst DGUSA/Evolve’s give them the likes of Uhaa Nation and Rich Swann who both look set to take the indy scene by storm in the next few years.

In locker room Cole and O’Reilly console each other after suffering yet more defeats. The Bravado Brothers arrive to offer words of consolation too. They congratulate Future Shock on helping make their opponents look good…and promise to show them how to win in their match tonight.

Since this is a B-show the Kings Of Wrestling don’t even bother with cutting promos. They’ve sent Shane Hagadorn in their place and he has words of warning for both Davey Richards and TJP.

Chris Hero vs TJ Perkins
TJP explosively returned to ROH at the end of last year, and appeared in Los Angeles, stealing the SoCal Showdown 2 event with a stellar match against Davey Richards. He’s been added to the roster at least on a part-time basis now, and is rewarded with a big match against one-half of the Tag Team Champions. But will his technical wizardry be enough to get the better of That Young Knockout Kid?

The ‘Rufio’ chants for Perkins even force TJ himself to start laughing as he squares up to Hero. Over the last few shows we’ve seen how proficient Perkins is on the mat, but Hero is no slouch there either and is able to use his size and power advantages to edge the opening exchanges. TJ absorbs shots, but quickly rebounds by delivering a dropkick then bating Hero out of the ring. Chris slides back in, straight into a diving double knee strike from TJP for 2. Rolling Elbow blocked…and Perkins wisely attacks that arm. Hero KNEES HIM INSTEAD! Great psychology, and he follows it up with a big boot that floors his opponent. He keeps up the attack but is then trapped in the ropes by TJ and a hanging armbar. TJ just isn’t doing enough damage to that arm fast enough and Hero drops him again with a running suplex. Cravat suplex is blocked…so Hero boots him out of the ring! As the referee tries to reason with Hero, he doesn’t see Shane Hagadorn and Sara Del Rey assaulting Perkins against the guardrails. Perkins starts firing up though, and actually starts NO-SELLING Hero’s strikes to get right in his face. ELBOW SMASH! Perkins goes down again but is very much on the comeback trail now – and soon dumps Hero out of the ring to mow through him with a tope suicida. And again he attacks the elbow-ing arm, this time with a standing armbar. Hero clobbers him with an elbow once more but this time comes up selling his arm. He can’t lift TJ for the Ligerbomb either, allowing him to counter to a cloverleaf. Hero escapes and starts using his other arm to elbow Perkins. Ligerbomb gets 2 this time, but then Perkins starts countering his moves again! Death Blow and the Rolling Elbow countered in quick succession to a TORTURE RACK PELE KICK! ROLLING FLASH KICK BY HERO! He snatches the win in a hard-fought 15:29

Rating – *** – Super-fun midcard match. Unlike Ciampa/Cole which went a little longer than it needed to, here I felt these guys just needed another minute or two to really finish the story they were going for. Throw in a few more nearfalls, and maybe give them a little longer to flesh out the ‘TJ attacking Hero’s arm’ sub-plot and this could have become something really special. As it stands, this was still very entertaining, much as you’d expect from two well-travelled and experienced veterans.

The Bravado Brothers come to the ring next, fully dressed to compete even though they weren’t booked for this weekend. Harlem is sure this was a clerical oversight and is ready to give everyone on the Bandwagon their money’s worth anyway. They bring out some local guys and book their own match

Bravado Brothers vs Matt Taven/Guy Alexander
The gimmick with the Bravados being so naively into themselves that they didn’t realise they weren’t booked for this weekend is quite funny. Although I don’t really want to see a HDNet-eque squash on my DVD in truth.

Taven jumps both of them and hits a pescado. He looks like a jobber from a 1993 episode of Superstars by the way, but it doesn’t stop him and Alexander hitting a couple of double teams on Harlem. He dropkicks Lance into the turnbuckles as well, with Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak admiring the Bravados awesomely horrific new gear. The Bravados hit back with the back suplex neckbreaker on Guy for 2. Harlem nearly murders him by dropping him on his head…then rolls Taven up using the tights to win at 03:44.

Rating – DUD – I suppose you could say this did what it was supposed to do – but personally I didn’t enjoy watching it. I like the Bravado gimmick, and I love the angle of them not being booked this weekend but showing up anyway. But just cutting the promo was good enough, as would have been cutting a promo and beating up the jobbers. I don’t get why we needed a 4-minute match against two enhancement talents that they had to CHEAT to beat.

Truth Martini, in a promo laced with homosexual overtones, confirms that Michael Elgin faces Eddie Edwards tonight with the sole purpose of inflicting as much damage as possible before Eddie faces Roderick Strong for the World Championship tomorrow.

Michael Elgin vs Eddie Edwards
It’s nice to see Roderick Strong on the other side of the enforcer role, given what a great job he did as Austin Aries’ enforcer in 2005 when A-Double first held the ROH World Title. Elgin has been dishing out punishment to Roddy’s rivals all over the place recently. He put a beating on Chris Daniels in Dayton, bashed up El Generico in Chicago, and now has his highest profile assignment thus far in that he is tasked with roughing up Eddie Edwards before he challenges Strong for the championship at Manhattan Mayhem 4. Die Hard, who cashes in his Survival Of The Fittest title shot tomorrow evening, knows he has his work cut out just to make it to New York in one piece.

The first minute is memorable almost entirely because the crowd doesn’t stop cheering for Edwards in his home market. The babyface love in is only interrupted by Elgin and Eddie absolutely tearing into each other with some really stiff shots. Elgin actually runs straight through a couple of chops from his opponent then bashes him down with a shoulder block. He goes straight to work on Eddie’s midsection which is relevant considering that’s the body part Roderick likes to work as well. Edwards retaliates with a kick to the back which sends Michael all the way to the floor. Out there Elgin tries that guardrail powerslam he pulled on Generico in Chicago, but Eddie has clearly been studying his tapes as he puts the brakes on and boots him in the jaw. Tomorrow night’s challenger seems like he has things well under control but Elgin is such a beast that he turns the match on it’s head in a matter of seconds by delivering a POP UP Samoan drop. He delivers more big shots to that midsection, to the extent that when Edwards returns fire with the Climbing Wizard, he barely has any strength left to get up and follow it. Eventually he tries to muscle Elgin into the corner for Machine Gun Chops…but Elgin COUNTERS with Machine Gun Lariats! Rolling backbreakers next, followed by a senton across the chest for 2. Edwards looks extremely fatigued and continues to take shots to the ribs dispersed with violent forearms right across his jaw. He lands a missile dropkick and crotches Michael as he tries his own move from the top rope. BASEMENT DROPKICK FROM THE FLOOR! He nails an enziguri next as finally his big strikes start to have an effect on his powerful opponent. Flying Codebreaker attempted…but Elgin CATCHES HIM! He tries an Awesome Bomb to the floor but Edwards counters it with a rana. MOONSAULT OFF THE GUARDRAIL…ELGIN CATCHES HIM! OKLAHOMA STAMPEDE ON THE FLOOR! Edwards barely beats the 20-count off that. Elgin tries a couple of times to hit a lariat but Edwards keeps blocking, so he spins and hits one from the left side which is just as powerful. Almost out of desperation Eddie clamps onto the Achilles Lock, which brings Truth Martini into the ring. DOUBLE ACHILLES LOCK ON TRUTH AND ELGIN! Elgin has to get to the ropes for both of them, and he gets back to his feet with aplomb to land a swinging front slam for 2. He thinks about trying an Awesome Bomb from the top rope this time but finds Eddie countering it with a double stomp to the back. 2k1 BOMB NAILED! Edwards wins at 18:04

Rating – **** – Potential showstealer right there. I can’t stress enough how well Elgin has done in his last three matches on DVD – from Daniels in Dayton, Generico in Chicago and now here tonight, every one of his performances have been a joy to watch and he’s really showcasing his potential as a future star. And the reality is that booking this one to go nearly 20-minutes was a big gamble. Nothing would have killed Elgin’s credibility and Eddie’s heat going into a big title match tomorrow more than a boring stinker here. Of all the new guys, I think Michael Elgin may even have the most potential of all of them. Ciampa and Bennett have physiques, O’Reilly and Cole are great workers, Cole has the good looks, and The Prodigy is a gifted orator…but for a great combination of size, power and workrate Elgin seems to have them all beaten. The role with House Of Truth is perfect for him right now.

In the back, straight after the match, Edwards has fighting words for Roderick Strong…

Christopher Daniels vs Mike Bennett – ROH TV Title Match
This is the big TV Title showdown we’ve been building to for sometime on HDNet – with Bennett antagonising Daniels on multiple occasions, and pestering him further by repeatedly sitting ringside during his matches. It’s ironic then that, with the television show now canned, his big TV Title Match comes at a non-televised, non-ppv house show. But he fought hard and looked impressive to win the Top Prospect Tournament which in turn made him the top contender for Daniels’ belt. Can he back up his big words about 2011 being the ‘year of The Prodigy’ with a championship victory?

Despite getting a promo segment earlier in the show to draw heat, Bennett being a local guy means he still has a section of fans who seem to want him to win. Amusingly he gets the best of the champion in a basic wristlock and celebrates with jumping jacks, press-ups and general merriment. ‘Let’s go Prodigy’ – Bennett fans. ‘You can’t wrestle’ – Daniels fans. Recognising Bennett’s impressive skillset, Daniels tries to test him by increasing the pace and soon has the challenger out of his depth – and out of the ring on the floor throwing a tantrum. He doesn’t like that so comes in and slows it right down again by attacking Daniels’ nose. In turn Daniels drop toeholds him on his face then curbstomps it into the mat. The veteran starts negating the size difference by trapping Bennett on the canvas with headlocks, interspersed with chops to the neck. The fight spills to the outside where Daniels peppers The Prodigy with jabs then drops him on the hard floor with a back body drop. He actually drags Bennett right over to a vocal section of Bennett fans and starts assaulting him there…which means there is an audible pop with Bob Evans gets involved to shove Daniels off the top rope. Bennett is quick to capitalise with a backbreaker off the ropes for 2. He starts running through his arsenal of cliché’d rest holds, trapping the champion first in a chinlock, then a sleeper hold moments later…but it all serves as a purpose as The Prodigy is noticeably working Daniels’ neck. Just as he tries to further antagonise the pro-Daniels supporters by going to mounted punches in the corner, Daniels counters with a cravat run straight into the turnbuckles. Urinage slam countered by The Prodigy who lays Daniels out with a big clothesline. He then gets 2 with the world’s worst Last Rites attempt. Spinebuster nailed as well but still Daniels kicks out…and that brings Bob Evans back into play – this time wielding the TV Title with malicious intent. Fallen Angel chases him off and by the time he returns to the ring Mike is ready and waiting. Steve Corino to stop Bennett trying to use the TV Title as a weapon. Daniels pounces on the distraction to win with the BME at 16:39

Rating – *** – Say what you want about his ring skills and the ‘kind’ of heat he gets, but there are very few guys on the roster who are able to draw this vocal a reaction from the fans. This one definitely had a big-match feel to it, partially because of the polarising reaction to Bennett, and partially because of the work Daniels has done in elevating the prestige of the TV Title. The match itself was solid and nothing more, but that was all they needed to do as the raucous crowd carried the rest. Of all the guys ROH have, Bennett is one of the most suited to television…and in turn he’s also the guy that may be hurt the most by them losing the HDNet show. He was being built up as the ‘next big thing’ on HDNet and, had this match taken place there, with Daniels’ return to TNA already on the horizon, he most likely would have won. But he’s NOT the right person to carry the TV Title when ROH is looking to sell DVD’s and impress live audiences…meaning his title match was relegated to a b-show and he’s now feuding with Steve Corino rather than winning the strap. Bad for him, but at least this match was a lot of fun.

Another post-match promo now, with Daniels (who nearly falls off his chair, look out for it) angrily proclaiming that he taught Bennett respect tonight. Corino comes in to explain that he doesn’t want the TV Title and was just trying to help, but is given the cold shoulder by an increasingly heelish Fallen Angel…who then storms off.

Claudio Castagnoli vs Davey Richards
And from one man searching for redemption in Steve Corino, we go to another in Davey Richards. He’s still rebuilding his career after the shattering loss to Roderick Strong at Final Battle and is thus far undefeated in 2011 – boasting singles wins over the likes of TJ Perkins, Colt Cabana and even Claudio Castagnoli’s tag partner Chris Hero. The American Wolf has sworn to test himself against the very best opposition before he finally steps back into the ring to challenge for the ROH World Championship, and that theme continues tonight with a Final Countdown Tour Dayton rematch against Double C.

The opening minutes are all about establishing Castagnoli’s power advantage – first through shoulder blocks and then by muscling Davey all the way to the canvas in a knucklelock. Davey’s only response is to play some tricks, luring Claudio out of the ring where he can use his speed to sprint across the ring into a tope suicida. Multi-revolution Fujiwara armbar locked in briefly, and this time it’s Double C with no option other than to leave the ring and try to lure his opponent to follow. Sara Del Rey and Shane Hagadorn start distracting Richards, allowing Claudio to kick him in the head. That marks a real turning point in the match and Castagnoli starts busting his ass to wear his opponent down. He lays in the big shots, and constantly makes sure he keeps Davey on the back foot with chokes in the ropes and regular interventions from Hagadorn and Del Rey. His dominance as Richards tries to throw a kick, only for the European to shake it off and splat him into the turnbuckles with a massive uppercut. They fight on the top rope and just as Richards looks like he’s getting the upper hand Sara Del Rey gets involved again and the distraction enables Claudio to score with a diving uppercut for 2. Finally having had enough of her interference, Davey goes after Sara and manages to knock her off the apron with some inadvertent assistance from Castagnoli. Running apron kick to Hagadorn…TORNADO DDT TO THE FLOOR ON CLAUDIO! Both men go back upstairs…AND BOTH FALL TO THE FLOOR! The quickness with which both guys get up from that makes me think it possibly wasn’t intentional there. Davey picks up where he left off with a Machine Gun kick flurry…only for Castagnoli to floor him instantly with the Bicycle Kick for 2. Chokeslam countered…but as Richards tries to roll into the Anklelock Claudio blocks THAT with a dead-lift German suplex then lifts Davey miles over his head with a chokeslam. Saito suplex from Davey, but Claudio NO SELLS TO HIT THE UFO! But then he goes for one uppercut too many and finds it converted to a cross armbreaker. But Claudio stands up and starts climbing the ropes with Davey on his shoulders! SECOND ROPE FALLAWAY SLAM! That is absolutely crazy strength. Riccola Bomb COUNTERED TO THE CODE RED FOR 2! Pop-Up European is also countered…BUZZSAW KICK GETS 2! Davey is pissed now, and climbs the ropes for a SHOOTING STAR PRESS! He wins at 19:27 and his 2011 undefeated streak continues…

Rating – **** – These two had a great match in Dayton during the Final Countdown Tour, and this was basically more of the same. For my personal taste, I preferred the 2009 match as the first half of his one was a little too reliant on the Hagadorn/Del Rey interference, but there are plenty of people who prefer this one because the finishing sequence is just incredible. That fallaway slam will surely be one of the most memorable spots of the entire year.

Roderick Strong vs Jay Briscoe vs Homicide vs El Generico – Defy Or Deny Match
We saw these four men go at it in the main event of episode 98 of the ROH on HDNet show, but such is the strength of dislike between these three fallen former ROH Title challengers and Roddy Strong that this rematch was booked. If Roderick Strong wins (as he did on HDNet) whomever he pins will be denied ANY further opportunities to challenge for the World Title whilst Strong holds the belt. However, if one of the three opponents wins tonight, they get a title shot on iPPV in Atlanta. Unlike the HDNet match though, this is under elimination rules.

There’s some pre-match promo stuff but the sound quality is so bad I can barely understand what Roderick is saying. I think he wants to form an alliance with Homicide to take out the other two? I can barely hear Kelly or Prazak either so they’re not any help. The match finally starts with Generico and Jay in the ring and Strong not even wanting to get onto the apron to be an option for a tag. Generico tags off the grouchy Homicide, who seems to be on the same page as Roderick as he marches in to fight Briscoe. He and Strong exchange a few tags and start to isolate Jay inside the ring. Briscoe tries to beat the piss out of the World Champion, but Roddy uses his all his big match experience to dropkick the knee out from under him. Homicide tries to pull off the Three Amigos but El Generico shoves him down before he can complete the trifecta which means Jay can finally tag out. But after initial success, the masked man finds himself succumbing to the 2-on-1 numbers disadvantage as he tries to fight Strong and Homicide at the same time. The match starts to meander along, with Jay and Generico trying to isolate Roderick, but it instead leads to more heated strike exchanges between the former friends in Briscoe and Strong. The champ works a camel clutch with DEEP fish-hooks with Cide joining in as well to rake at Jay’s eyes to make it the most illegal camel clutch you’ll ever see.

In a surprising show of psychology, Roddy and Homicide start biting and clawing at Briscoe’s wound from the bloody Only The Strong Survive main event, and that laceration starts to open up again. Roddy hits the Three Amigos and for the first time we see a little dissension between the two men. At last their alliance breaks down and they go at it for the first time. Strong leaves…and is immediately wiped out by Generico’s tope atomico. TOPE CON HILO FROM HOMICIDE TO JAY! Ace Crusher is countered with a spinebuster though, and the match continues with Homicide blocking Briscoe’s Jay Driller into a kimura stretch. Generico saves with a turnbuckle exploder…and Roddy and Jay chime in with some heavy strikes to leave everyone struggling. Homicide drops Jay with the Ace Crusher then opts to climb the ropes rather than pin him. Generico cuts him off with the inevitable Yakuza Kick and Briscoe pounces with a JAY DRILLER! Homicide is eliminated at 18:27. Generico drags Roderick out of the ring and actually SNAPS a segment of guardrail with his back! YAKUZA KICK INTO THE CROWD! As those two brawl on the floor Briscoe decides to join in the fun and wipes out the pair of them with a running suicide dive. Strong sees the Gibson Driver countered with a rope run tornado DDT from Generico, who in turn is stacked with another high-flying crossbody from Briscoe.

Yakuza Kick blocked…STRONG COMES ALONG AND GERMAN SUPLEXES JAY INTO THE CRADLE SUPLEX ON GENERICO! Incredibly, Jay and Generico come off better out of that and start killing each other with kicks. Strong sneaks in and grabs Jay for a Brainbuster, and eliminates him at 24:04. It’s down to Roderick and Generico, who are developing a growing dislike for each other by this point. Strong looks the fresher of the two and drags the luchador to the outside for a body slam on the floor. Generico refuses to stop fighting, and even on his knees keeps throwing slaps in the champion’s direction. Roddy tries to get a running start for his Sick Kick, except Generico has a hold of his trunks and hauls him back into a Blue Thunder Driver for 2. He tries again…and this time it’s converted to a Michinoku Driver for another nearfall. Death By Roderick, into the Black Superkick…then the Stronghold! Generico escapes…SICK KICK! FOR 2! STRONGHOLD AGAIN! Even with Roddy standing on his head the masked man finds the bottom rope. Suplex Flip Backbreaker COUNTERED to the Half & Half Suplex. Martini is on the apron to distract the referee…and Michael Elgin is in. AWESOME BOMB ON GENERICO! SICK KICK! It’s a cheap win for Strong at 31:56

Rating – *** – This was a lengthy match and it certainly had its high points and low points. The first 10 minutes were incredibly tedious. It had already been a long show by the time this one started, and the slow pace, with the totally unexplained Homicide/Strong alliance taking centre stage totally killed the fatigued crowd for a while. But the match just kept gaining momentum. The odd Strong/Cide team did give us a chance to see Homicide’s amusing heelish antics around ringside again, and from Homicide’s elimination onwards the action noticeably started picking up. I liked the Generico/Strong conclusion a lot, but there were little sequences dotted through the second half of this match that were incredibly entertaining and, after a long show, the fact that this (basically a filler main event) wound up going 32 minutes without losing the live audience is testament to how much good stuff there was here.

The entire House Of Truth start beating up Generico, bringing Chris Daniels and the American Wolves out to make the save. HOT hightail it to the back, with cameras catching up with them seconds later. Strong actually cuts a half-decent promo, recounting his own experience of being a Survival Of The Fittest winner thinking he was going to win the belt…and he failed. Apparently a similar fate awaits Eddie Edwards tomorrow night.

Tape Rating – *** – Lets give Delirious a pat on the back for this show. He took some genuine gambles and they all paid off. For one thing, he booked a f*cking long show tonight – which I guess is necessary now they don’t have TV to advance angles. Including the Bennett skit at the beginning, backstage interviews and post-match stuff, this is well over 3 and a half hours which, for a b-show is surprising. And outside of the Bravado squash, Delirious made the brave call to give EVERY match a minimum of 10-15 minutes, with most going longer. Like I said, that’s a gamble, but it gives all the young talents a genuine chance to shine. Ciampa and Cole went nearly 15 and had a fun little match. Elgin/Edwards was MOTN for me, and that’s another one that could have gone horribly wrong and backfired on our lizard/booker friend. The lack of TV means Bennett’s role needs to be downgraded, but Delirious has cleverly given Bennett an ‘out’ with the Corino feud and certainly gave him enough time to showcase his skills in a lively little match with Daniels. And, after a LONG night, letting four guys go out and work a 30+ minute four corner match was an exceptionally brave decision – but another totally vindicated call in that as a match it just kept getting better and better the longer it went. This show gets a lot of praise as being one of those ‘under-rated’ events…and I’m inclined to agree with that assessment. There’s no genuinely outstanding match (although Edwards/Elgin came close), but top to bottom there’s just SO much good wrestling that this DVD represents exceptional value for money – even if it might take you a few sittings to get through the whole show.

Top 3 Matches
3) Roderick Strong vs El Generico vs Jay Briscoe vs Homicide (***)
2) Davey Richards vs Claudio Castagnoli (****)
1) Eddie Edwards vs Michael Elgin (****)

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