ROH Homecoming 2012 1/20/2012

ROH 296 – Homecoming 2012 – 20th January 2012

Not that you’d know it, but this is quite a big show for Ring Of Honor. The first live event of a new year is traditionally pretty hit or miss, but personally I believe there is some pressure to deliver something decent with this one. The last time ROH was live it was a month ago, Final Battle 2011, and their biggest show of the year. But since then they’ve let a month go by without ANY new content being broadcast and here we are returning to the very city that ROH was born in to present a show which has had basically no hype. The card isn’t bad, but there’s just no build to what should be a special night for Ring Of Honor. Granted the promotion taped their TV show in this market for two years and hasn’t even been gone 12 months, but this is the first time ROH have run a ‘full’ live show in Philadelphia since 2008 – and crucially they are back in the popular and atmospheric National Guard Armory rather than the historic but somewhat redundant former ECW Arena. Anyway, since the casual fan wouldn’t have a clue this show was even taking place as there has been no hype for it at all, and it’s been a full month since the last show, Sinclair are really relying on their core fanbase for this one – so to that end they really need to produce the goods and put on something with a little more wow factor than an average house show. And, to be fair, the card ain’t half bad. Kevin Steen formally returns to the roster, whilst Chris Hero finally says goodbye. Chikara invade ROH and enter the Proving Ground, and in the main event it’s champion vs champion as Davey Richards defends the World Championship against Jay Lethal. We’re in Philadelphia, PA with Kevin Kelly and some other guy. Bill something…

SIDENOTE – No fancy DVD production this time. We’re back to clunky and still menus, lousy sound and even worse picture quality. So much for praising the improvement in DVD quality we had at Battle In The Carolinas and Final Battle 2011. Clearly it’s only the important shows ROH cares about when they release them onto DVD…

Bobby Cruise has to announce that Eddie Edwards (who was scheduled to face Roderick Strong in a No Holds Barred Match) has been removed from the card due to a staph infection. He is here tonight though, and he comes out to complain about a doctor not letting him compete…

Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin vs Future Shock
WGTT managed to beat Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly twice on major shows last year – most recently at Gateway To Honor when Shelton survived a real onslaught on his injured ribs to ensure his team escaped with the Tag Titles still around their waists. But since then WGTT have lost the belts – dropping them to the Briscoes at Final Battle. Both teams will be looking to get into contention for the first shot at the new champions so a win here is critical…

In case you missed their turn, WGTT cut a heel promo before the match, slating the Philly fans. They don’t shake hands either. This new commentator is beyond awful – I want Prazak! Haas starts with Cole and uses his size advantage to bully him. Benjamin tries to do the same thing only for Adam to hit a flurry of dropkicks before making the tag to O’Reilly. He takes it to Shelton with rapid fire strikes, then counters a suplex into the guillotine choke…but sadly for him Haas is waiting to punt him in the back of the head to break it. There is nothing fancy from WGTT at all as they use simple punches, kicks and dirty tricks to cut the ring in half and isolate Kyle. Benjamin gives him a window of opportunity by missing a Stinger Splash – and O’Reilly takes it as he nails a swinging DDT before making the hot tag to Cole. Charlie and Shelton both get caught out by his speed and find themselves on that mat after a whirlwind flurry of offence. WGTT hit an atomic drop/superkick combo on Cole…but O’Reilly makes the save at 2! Then Kyle accidentally smashes his own partner in the face! Benjamin with the flatliner on O’Reilly! WGTT win with a double powerbomb at 11:32

Rating – *** – I was expecting to hate this. The cliché ‘we’re heels now’ promo didn’t help, and the new announcer is genuinely worse than Gabe when he started announcing…but actually the wrestling here was solid. Haas and Benjamin were effective in the ring and definitely look more comfortable in an ROH ring as heels – and of course Cole and O’Reilly are tremendous in the underdog role. It’s a little frustrating that, after over a year of teaming together, Ring Of Honor officials don’t see Future Shock more on an even level with WGTT, and they still have Adam and Kyle as opening match jobbers. Still, I’m guessing that’s why they started to grease the wheels on a Future Shock split with that finish. Can’t say I’m ready for the team to end but Kyle has his links with Davey and Adam is good enough to be a solo guy anyway.

Tommaso Ciampa vs Andy Ridge vs Mike Bennett vs Grizzly Redwood
Much like Future Shock, this is a match between four guys who haven’t really moved up the card at all in the last year. Ridge and Redwood are still jobbers. Bennett is still a cocky guy who the fans don’t like (or accept) and hasn’t won any of his biggest matches, whilst Ciampa is still doing nothing more than killing jobbers and wasting time on the undercard. I’m guessing Sinclair don’t fancy The Prodigy as a future main eventer by the way they halted his push as soon as they took over – so maybe it’s time to give Tommaso a go and start pushing him up the card instead.

Ciampa MURDERS Grizzly with a big boot as the bell rings, and unsurprisingly Bennett refuses to wrestle him. Right Leg takes his place, and slingshots himself straight into a backbreaker from the Dominant Male. Only when Ridge is beaten down does Mike reluctantly agree to take himself into the contest. Redwood looks for some revenge on Tommaso, only for his attempt at a sliding bulldog to be easily countered…into a back suplex/neckbreaker combo by the duo of Ciampa and Bennett. He tries some chops but it’s all in vein as Tommaso nearly rips the beard off his face! Andy tags and dishes out the kicks to both the heels…so Ciampa floors him with a big lariat. Bennett and Tommaso go at it as the fans chant ‘f*ck you both’ at him. Project Ciampa blocked so the Dominant Male pulls down the knee pad and delivers the multiple exposed knees to the face. Ridge saves Bennett with the slingshot cutter for 2! Grizzly thinks about a tope suicida…but Ciampa catches him for a RUNNING AIR RAID CRASH ON THE APRON! PROJECT CIAMPA! He wins at 08:46

Rating – * – Predictable and boring, but the finishing sequence was good and the right man won so I like the outcome if nothing else. Say it quietly, but Tommaso seems really good. He has a good mix of speed, power and athleticism – and perhaps most importantly, he is believable as a total psychopath that just wants to kill his opponents. He is deceptively charismatic in his body language and facial expressions, and I think he’ll really take off with the fans if he can produce a few 4* matches in 2012.

In the locker room Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly bicker about their loss. Adam is clearly frustrated at all their losses and tells O’Reilly he needs to focus…

Elsewhere The Embassy have the backing of new investors and are now The Embassy Ltd. RD Evans is focused on making ‘the investors happy’, whilst Nana wants to party and eat shrimp cocktail. Tommaso (who has got changed into his street clothes very quickly it seems) wants Jay Lethal to win the World Title tonight – so his Proving Ground Match (scheduled for tomorrow night) gives him the chance to earn a World Title shot. Evans and Tommaso leave to focus, whilst Nana, Mia and Ernesto are off to find a bar.

Steve Corino comes to the ring to talk about his future. He is injured, but he says he’s not going to retire…and at that point Kevin Steen chooses to make his entrance. Mr Wrestling thinks Corino is still evil and wants to bring the King Of Old School back – burying Jim Cornette and the ROH locker room in the process. Fantastic promo from Steen, absolutely oozing star power. He might not look like your typical wrestler but he is the hottest thing on the independent scene right now. Steve walks out without saying anything, leaving Steen to get ready for his match.

Kevin Steen vs Kenny King
ROH certainly haven’t given Steen a quiet, low key match to reintroduce himself to the roster. He goes right into a big match with one of the breakout stars of 2011 in Kenny King. Rhett Titus has now had knee surgery after carrying an injury for the final quarter of last year – and whilst he rehabs, it gives his partner a chance to shine in singles competition. We know Mr Wrestling wants a World Title shot, but since Cornette hates him the only way Steen is getting near that belt is if he puts together a formidable winning streak. In short, he needs to be beating guys like Kenny, talented though he may be.

Steen doesn’t seem overly impressed with Sinclair changing his ‘Anti-Christ of Pro-Wrestling’ nickname to ‘Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare’. He tries to attack Rhett on crutches at ringside, which leads to he and Kenny having a big brawl on the floor. REBOUND CORKSCREW SENTON OFF THE APRON BY KING! That turns the match in his favour, and he stays in the ascendancy as Steen horribly misses a cannonball senton. Finally Mr Wrestling has seen enough and he lobs King crotch-first into the ringpost. CANNONBALL INTO THE GUARDRAIL! Amusingly, despite being the heel in this, the Philadelphia crowd are completely behind Kevin Steen. Back in the ring he send the ANX member flying with a jawbreaker and slows the pace down. Indeed, it’s when he tries to pick it up and deliver a moonsault that Kenny moves and turns the match in his favour. STO into a standing moonsault from King gets 2! Kenny misses a pescado though…and gets POWERBOMBED INTO THE APRON! He tries the Steen-ton Bomb…but flips himself into King’s knees. Kenny guillotines Steen on the top rope and nails the springboard blockbuster for another nearfall. Steen goes for the Package Piledriver…but Jim Cornette has made that move illegal after what he did with it at Final Battle. F-5 INSTEAD! Steen wins at 10:49

Rating – *** – Not an instant classic or anything like that, but a fun and snappy midcard match which did a terrific job of reintroducing Steen to the roster. I don’t like the decision to remove the Package Piledriver from Steen’s arsenal because it’s one of the coolest moves in wrestling – but it was a nice touch to have him try it here, only to break out a different finisher and win anyway seconds later. If I’m an ROH official I’d be a little concerned about what they’re going to do with ANX when Rhett is back. At Death Before Dishonor last year they were super-over, but by not pulling the trigger and giving them the belts after that Ladder War victory over the Briscoes and letting King and Titus fall back to the midcard the fans have simply stopped caring about them. Here the Philly crowd were totally pro-Steen, and almost ignored King altogether. Delirious, Cornette or whoever is running the show now needs to find something prominent to do with them.

Rhett Titus tries to hit Steen with one of his crutches…only for Steen to smack him in the knees. SHARPSHOOTER ON THE SURGICALLY REPAIRED KNEE! Kenny saves his partner but the damage is done! The crowd are absolutely delighted with his destruction of ANX by the way.

SIDENOTE – Production quality on this DVD is SO horrible. You can’t hear Kevin Kelly on commentary at all, but you can hear Bill Burger like he’s shouting everything as loudly as possible. VQ is all over the place as some cameras look great whilst others you can barely make out what’s going on. Such a shame after Battle In The Carolinas and Final Battle were such positive steps.

Michael Elgin vs Chris Hero
It’s fitting that Hero’s final ROH appearance is in the building where he made his debut, and in the town where he received such raucous support as part of the ROH vs CZW feud in 2006. House Of Truth weren’t happy that he gatecrashed what was to be a forfeit victory for Roderick Strong at Final Battle, and have now sent the enforcer to rough up That Young Knockout Kid on his way to WWE.

Shane Hagadorn comes out and laughably tries to stooge back into his job as Hero’s manager…but is knocked back. Elgin looks like he’s carrying some holiday weight, and isn’t amused as Hero does all the needless flips and nip-ups he used to do as the centrepiece of Sweet’n’Sour Inc. Hero clobbers him out of the ring, then back flips over the ropes to the floor for no reason. The Philly crowd is loving this by the way. Finally Unbreakable counters an elbow attempt into a Bossman Slam – and does so with such force that he turns the match in his favour with a single move. He rides the former Tag Champion with a chinlock, then easily catches Hero coming from the outside to plant him with a Samoan drop. Elgin wants to hit an exploder but finds it blocked and eats a Flash Kick in response. BIG ELBOW floors Elgin! ROARING ELBOW DOES IT AGAIN! Somehow Michael kicks out at 2 there. Cravat-O-Clasm gets 2 as well! But he tries one elbow strike too many and this time is caught in the exploder suplex by Elgin. Death Blow…COUNTERED TO A WRIST CLUTCH POWERBOMB! Somehow Hero absorbs that and fires back with a Saito Suplex. But Elgin LEVELS him with a lariat anyway! Spiral Bomb countered with a flurry of elbows and a cravat suplex. NO SOLD! BACK DROP DRIVER BY ELGIN! NO SOLD BY HERO! They stand in the middle of the ring, refusing to give an inch and stiffing the sh*t out of each other. Hero drops Elgin with the Rolling Elbow…but still it’s just 2 and we’re nearly at the time limit. Bicycle Kick…Roaring Bicycle Kick…still 2! Roaring Elbow COUNTERED to a Buckle Bomb. SPIRAL BOMB NAILED! Elgin wins at 14:43

Rating – *** – This was infinitely better than Hero/Strong at Final Battle. They didn’t try anything fancy, and worked a basic puro-influenced midcard stiff fest. It was the kind of match you see on the midcard of NJPW’s G1 Climax Tournament, and I mean that in a good way. Fair play to Hero – I’m sure he didn’t have to take these bookings as he finally exited the indies and went to WWE, so for him to agree to come in and put House Of Truth over on his final ROH appearances was a nice touch. And a victory over him is a real feather in the cap for Elgin, who has a big year ahead of him after being voted 2011 Breakout Star by the fans.

Philadelphia erupts into a standing ovation and ‘Thank You Hero’ chants…until Shane Hagadorn comes out to spoil the party. He credits himself with the success of the Kings Of Wrestling, and implies (without saying it directly) that the reason he hasn’t signed for WWE yet is that they don’t want him. The inevitable happens and Hero knocks him out with an elbow then leaves. Unless his WWE career doesn’t work out (which it should – he’s easily good enough) that will be his final act in ROH.

In the locker room Kevin Steen promises to end 2012 as World Champion, and implies Kenny King won’t get anywhere in Ring Of Honor until King does to Rhett Titus what he did to El Generico. He ends by reiterating his challenge to Davey Richards…

And in the House Of Truth locker room Michael Elgin thinks 2012 will be the year he ascends to ROH World Championship glory too…

Roderick Strong comes out after intermission, much to the confusion of the officials at ringside given as his scheduled match with Eddie Edwards has been cancelled. He says he’s coming for both the World and TV Titles this year before demanding he is awarded forfeit victory. Adam Cole, still pissed off at what happened earlier, interrupts the festivities. He wants to replace Eddie, and even offers to do it in a No Holds Barred Match. Truth Martini says he’ll keep interfering to make it 1-on-2…so Cole superkicks him in the face – and the fight is on.

Roderick Strong vs Adam Cole – No Holds Barred Match
At Battle In The Carolinas weekend we saw Eddie Edwards and Adam Cole interacting backstage, with Eddie indicating that he was impressed with the youngster’s abilities. Now it seems that Cole is further winning favour with the former World, TV and Tag Champion by replacing him in a match with Roddy. Will Strong decimate Cole and strengthen his claim for top contendership to both singles championships in ROH, or will this be a major breakout moment for Adam?

Strong tries to put the boots to Cole, but the Future Shock member more than holds his own in strike exchanges. He knocks Roddy out of the ring with a jumping enzi kick then SCORES with a tope suicida! Strong tries running away…luring Adam across the ring to walk straight into an enzi kick straight across the face. He throws Cole ribs-first into the ringpost then ominously pulls a chair out of the crowd. Body slam into the apron! Now Adam is fighting injured, but he still hits a neckbreaker over the knee for 2! Roderick’s response is to start attacking that knee with a chair. Camel clutch WITH A CHAIR IN THE THROAT! But still Cole gets back to his feet and defies his injuries to keep fighting. Roddy again blasts him in the ribs with a chair and seems delighted as Adam rolls on the mat gasping for air. Book Of Truth to the back and chest repeatedly – revenge for what happened to Martini minutes ago. He wedges chairs in all four corners…but takes so long about it it’s actually Cole that gets to send him into all four of them! German suplex by Adam…into a flying knee strike for 2! BRAINBUSTER THROUGH AN OPEN CHAIR! Strong only just kicks out…and goes after the back and ribs again with a BACK SUPLEX ON THE APRON!

Interestingly, Roddy isn’t stalling and cockily strolling around the ring now, he immediately drags Cole back into the ring and tries to pin him. Repeated, unprotected chops and elbows…followed by Death By Roderick but it’s still just 2! HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER THROUGH A CHAIR! COLE KICKS OUT! STRONGHOLD! Cole gets to the ropes…and Roddy breaks it – which is pretty sporting considering it’s No Holds Barred. Roderick disrespectfully starts stomping a chair into Cole’s face, and is so on top he just doesn’t see the OCEAN CYCLONE INTO THE APRON!! Adam comes within a fraction of scoring the upset and is clearly doing too well as Michael Elgin runs in to beat the hell out of him. Eddie Edwards comes out to make the save and brawls back to the locker room with Unbreakable! Strong and Cole crawl back to their feet and exchange strikes in the middle of the ring. Strong knees him in the face, but somehow Cole absorbs it to hit a SUPERKICK! TKO THROUGH TWO CHAIRS! MARTINI BREAKS THE COUNT! Cole had it won there! He goes after Truth, turning his back which is a huge mistake. SUPLEX FLIP BACKBREAKER! Roderick wins at 16:28

Rating – **** – This was called a breakout match for Adam Cole as a singles star in ROH and it’s hard to disagree with that. Fans of CZW have known for a long time how talented the guy is as a singles worker, and have even gone so far as to imply that Ring Of Honor are wasting Cole in the undercard tag team Future Shock. Here he produced a terrific, gutsy and charismatic babyface underdog performance – and together with Roderick Strong they had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. Congratulations to both men on a show-stealing match.

ROH’s new interviewer Veda Scott (you might have seen her at ringside doing various jobs on previous shows) tries to interview the Briscoes who, as you’d expect, aren’t particularly respectful to her. Mark wants to know why people in Chikara dress like ‘insects and bugs’…

Roderick Strong reminds Adam Cole that after competing in Steel Cage Warfare Matches and Fights Without Honor, stepping into a No Holds Barred Match with him wasn’t a problem.

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Jigsaw/Hallowicked
This is a Proving Ground Match, with the Chikara team looking to earn a Tag Title Match at what would turn out to be the co-promoted double header in Chicago in April. Both guys have been in ROH before, but neither achieved great success (Jigsaw is working with his mask on again by the way) and have faded away from the roster – whilst still achieving genuine success in their home promotion of Chikara. Since that company is based in Philadelphia, much as with CZW in 2006, you can expect segments of the crowd to be vociferous in their support of the masked team.

Even after all these years, the response the Briscoes get when they come out shows you they are still MASSIVE stars in Ring Of Honor. Mark starts with Jigsaw and shows that despite all the aggression and redneck stuff, he’s still a great wrestler. It needs both members of Team Chikara to get the better of him in the early going. They go after Mark’s arm, but Jay realises their strategy and blind tags himself in before any serious damage is done. The sheer physicality of the Briscoes puts them in charge, and they have Hallowicked in the ring and isolated from his partner. Wicked manages to flip Jay out of the ring, only to have his attempt at a tope countered with an elbow to the face. FLYING DROPKICK THROUGH THE ROPES BY MARK! Jigsaw tries a dive too, but again Jay stops it – this time with a rugged spinebuster. Mark follows that by nearly breaking the ring as he dropkicks Jig into the turnbuckles. Jigsaw absorbs that, but can’t make a tag as Jay is waiting in the corner to drag his partner off the apron. HE SHOVES JIGSAW OFF THE TOP ROPE ONTO THE TIMEKEEPING TABLE! DOUBLE STOMP THROUGH THE TABLE NEXT! Jigsaw is done and the Briscoes are happy to take a count-out win to eliminate the challenge of Team Chikara. Somehow Jigsaw drags himself out of the wreckage and beats the count, and Mike Quackenbush leads a whole hoard of Chikara stars to the ring to cheer their representatives on. The Briscoes aren’t impressed with the assortment of characters now surrounding the ring but continue to beat on Jigsaw. Ultramantis Black comes out waving his staff, which distracts the Briscoes allows Wicked to get the tag. He nails Go 2 Sleepy Hollow on Jay, then drops Mark with the Rydien Bomb too! Mark goes after his mask, and doesn’t see a German suplex from Jigsaw coming! On the floor Jay Briscoe FLOORS Dasher Hatfield and drags Saturyne into the ring. Fire Ant tries to interfere…AND JIGSAW PINS JAY! Team Chikara win at 13:59

Rating – *** – This was a really cleverly executed match. The Briscoes were awesome in their interactions with the Chikara guys, and the way the entire Chikara roster came on board to bring their team home was super fun. I’ve not got any real interest in a full-scale inter-promotional feud (since there’s no way it would feel like anything other than a rehash of the ROH/CZW war) but this was great fun and a great way to hype the double header in Chicago later this year.

‘We didn’t sign up to fight baseball players, bitches, bugs and Loony Tunes’ – Jay. He promises to murder Jigsaw and Hallowicked in Chicago. Ultramantis Black rambles on about taking the Tag Titles to Chikara, but somewhat loses the crowd after going on too long.

Davey Richards vs Jay Lethal – ROH World Title Match
This is the championship opportunity Lethal earned himself by winning the Honor Rumble back at Southern Defiance. He still holds the TV Title so this is a rare champion vs champion encounter. His performances since he returned to ROH in the middle of 2011 have received lots of praise – and if he wins tonight I’m pretty sure he’d be the only man to hold the World, TV and Pure Titles. It’s only Davey’s third defence of the belt in ROH since he won it in June, and he’ll need to be fully focused, despite seemingly having a date with Kevin Steen to worry about sometime soon.

Richards looks to lay down a marker, and it’s to Lethal’s credit that he hangs in there as the champion tries to pick him apart in the early going. After absorbing an early kick to the sternum, Jay starts to even the match out and finds a way to go hold for hold with Richards on the canvas. He even strikes with his hiptoss/dropkick combo and establishes his control over the champion as we tick towards five minutes. That is until he enters into an ill-advised strike combo and finds himself outgunned, then taken down into the arm capture Cloverleaf stretch. But once again the challenger finds a way to take Davey’s best shots then retaliate in turn – hitting a tilta-whirl backbreaker then a back suplex for 2. Richards eventually resorts to toppling Lethal out of the ring…only for Jay to duck his running kick from the apron a couple of times even then. ARM WRENCH ON THE APRON! That represents Davey breaking out the big guns and delivering a huge offensive move after being on the receiving end of a lot of abuse thus far in the match. He leaps into action and starts attacking that arm with ferocity. This time when Jay tries to mount comebacks Richards is able to put him down with roundhouse kicks to the damaged shoulder. Diving headbutt, targeted right at that body part, gets 2 before Davey floats into the Kimura – a hold he’s used to win ROH matches in the past. Machine Gun Kicks in the corner with everyone aimed at the chest and injured shoulder! But incredibly Lethal explodes from the turnbuckles with a flying heel kick to leave both men down. Jay quickens the pace with a handspring elbow and gets 2 for it…AND he’s bloodied Davey’s knows somewhere in that last exchange.

He can’t get the champion up for a suplex, and switches to a back suplex neckbreaker instead. Not sure that counts as selling but I appreciate the effort. Davey tries his Handspring Enzi only for Lethal to boot him in the face, further exposing that bloody nose. Superkick by Lethal…only for Richards to shake it off and hit a bridging German for 2! LETHAL INJECTION #1…GETS 2! Urgh…Roderick Strong needlessly runs in and brawls with Lethal as he tries the Macho Elbow. ROPE RUN SUPERPLEX BY DAVEY…INTO THE FALCON ARROW ARMBREAKER! Again Jay finds a way to get the better of the champion, and counters that into a roll-up. SUPERKICK DUEL! ENZI BY LETHAL! LARIAT BY RICHARDS! They are extremely worn down, but slowly work their way back to their feet and start slugging it out again! Lethal needlessly aims a tope suicida at Roderick, then blocks Richards’ boot to drop him face-first on the apron. MACHO ELBOW GETS 2! DRAGON SUPLEX FOR 2 AS WELL! That was Jay’s first finisher in ROH by the way. Lethal Injection #3 COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK! JAY COUNTERS TO THE CRUCIFIX! BACK TO THE ANKLELOCK! The fans think that’s it, so look amazed with Jay somehow escapes. ALARM CLOCK…NO SOLD! LETHAL INJECTION #3! DAVEY KICKS OUT! Lethal is desperate now, and has the champion on the rack. He drags him to the top rope…only to be brought down the hard way as Davey nails a sunset bomb out of the corner. STRIKE FLURRY! LETHAL WON’T GO DOWN! BUZZSAW KICK! LETHAL WANTS MORE! SUPERKICK! ROUNDHOUSE KICK! HE’S STILL NOT DOWN! KNOCK-OUT KICK! IT’S FINALLY OVER! Richards retains at 25:51

Rating – **** – Great match…like, seriously great. I’m talking, take out the pointless and entirely stupid Roderick Strong run in (which accomplished nothing) and make Lethal’s arm selling a touch more consistent and we’d be talking a very early MOTYC. Putting it into further context, I thought this was Davey’s best defence thus far which puts it ahead of Richards/Strong on TV, Richards/Generico at GBH10 and Richards/Edwards III at Final Battle. They told a great story of Richards constantly looking to beat up Lethal – only for Jay to continually absorb whatever Davey could throw at him and fire back twice as strong. As a story it meant the match moved at a gripping pace and, even in defeat, Jay maintains his heat which is important considering he holds a belt too. The finish with Davey desperately kicking him in the head with Lethal just refusing to go down was electrifying. Take out the Lethal/Joe Pure Title Match from the original Manhattan Mayhem and this is probably Jay’s best singles match in Ring Of Honor. This was not a carry job by Davey, the whole match was built around an outstanding performance from Lethal. There were those that were sceptical about him when he came back – and I’m 100% sure this is the match that finally silenced the critics.

Davey cuts the usual sporting, slightly tired ‘thanks and goodnight’ promo – but offers Lethal a rematch at the upcoming TV tapings.

Tape Rating – *** – I thought this was a surprisingly good show. The card didn’t look particularly inspiring, but there was barely a bad match on the card and in Strong/Cole and Richards/Lethal we had two memorable main events which did a great job in using existing main eventers to create new stars. The undercard flies by with WGTT/Future Shock providing a snappy start, Steen/King and Hero/Elgin producing engaging and physical midcard encounters whilst the Briscoes/Chikara stuff was very well done. It won’t be winning show of the year (although, rather worryingly by October people were still considering it one of the better shows of 2012), but in terms of in-ring quality this was a sizeable step up from other recent Sinclair-era house shows like Battle In The Carolinas or Gateway To Honor.

Top 3 Matches
3) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Jigsaw/Hallowicked (***)
2) Roderick Strong vs Adam Cole (****)
1) Davey Richards vs Jay Lethal (****)

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