ROH Northern Aggression 12/4/2011

ROH 294 – Northern Aggression – 4th December 2011

So the first night of Battle In The Carolinas came and went without much incident to report. Jay Lethal won a World Title shot, Eddie Edwards and El Generico had a decent match…and that’s pretty much it. Will Ring Of Honor turn up the heat for Night 2 of this double shot – headlined by a now notorious and historic 8-man Tag Team encounter pitting the Briscoes and the House Of Truth against WGTT, El Generico and Eddie Edwards. Since so much has been said about that match, you’d be forgiven for overlooking the rest of the card. When so much talent is packed into the main event the rest of the line-up often suffers, and that’s the case here. But Lethal/Cole and Bucks/C&C could both be decent if they’re not rushed or restrained to total house show mode. We’re in Greensboro, NC this evening. Once again commentary is provided at ringside by Kevin Kelly and Jim Cornette.

Mike Bennett vs TJ Perkins
This is a first time ever match and should be decent – but it also stands as a testament to how far Prodigy’s career has fallen in 2011. Pre-SBG, Ring Of Honor were grooming him to be a top tier talent, but that faith obviously hasn’t been shared by the Sinclair team who have been gradually scaling his role back and he’s right at the bottom of the card now.

Bennett quickly negates the speed advantage of Perkins by drilling him during the Code Of Honor handshake. Sensibly TJ makes himself hard to pin down, rocking a few dropkicks and armdrags then going into a flurry of unique submission holds. He flings Mike through the ropes with a hurricanrana but takes too long winding the crowd up for a dive spot…and that gives Bennett the chance to sweep his legs and mash his face into the guardrails. Prodigy returns to the ring and nails a backbreaker. Inverted DDT follows moments later as he starts dropping heavier bombs. TJP tries the McGuinness corner headstand spot, only for Bennett to catch him and deliver a dropkick right to the base of the neck. Perkins hangs in the ropes instead and this time does manage to land a tope suicida which brings the previously quietened crowd to life. Sit-out powerbomb gets 2, but despite being rattled The Prodigy still finds a way to block the Detonation Kick. Bennett shoves the referee into the ropes to crotch TJ to halt his momentum. Spinebuster nailed for 2 – a move which has won him matches in the past. Box Office Smash blocked…Detonation Kick blocked too! Bennett wins by holding the ropes at 09:07

Rating – ** – Aspects of this were pretty good, but overall this was bland, forgettable house show stuff that you could comfortably skip. I know it’s never a popular thing to say, but I like Bennett. The best thing about this match was him. Despite his anti-ROH style, he’s a good solid worker who holds his end of a match well. The problem with this was TJ not selling the back, reducing the whole match to a forgettable spotfest, and the f*cking lousy booking. Perkins, at this stage, is nothing more than an expensive jobber. Even if Sinclair have cooled on Bennett, he’s still a top contender for the TV Title. The fact that Mike can’t even beat Perkins cleanly makes him look so weak – especially considering Lethal defeated him on the previous show.

Bravado Brothers vs All Night Express
This isn’t quite as straightforward as you might expect. We’ve seen these guys cross paths before and more often than not it’s been ANX leaving victorious. But the Bravados are always improving, and tonight they wrestle in their home state which should give them plenty of additional momentum. On the flip side, King and Titus come into this on the back of losing to the Young Bucks last night, and with Rhett carrying a serious knee injury too.

The Young Bucks attack King and Titus during their entrance, launching into a vicious assault on Rhett’s knee. Nick smashes the bad leg with a chair before they leave. Titus can barely stand so Kenny agrees to a handicap match against both Bravados. The whole thing is sort of awkward since, despite being the villains of the piece, the Young Bucks were miles more over than any of these guys and got more of a reaction. King settling down to fight both Harlem and Lancelot by himself is met by near silence. He guillotines Lance over the top rope…only to walk into a FLYING KNEE off the apron by Harlem! That’s the turning point that allows the Bravados to start working the numbers advantage and wear Kenny down. Finally King retaliates with the capo kick and a spinebuster on Lancelot…except of course Harlem is waiting to instantly break the count. Rhett Titus limps back to the ring and demands a tag despite only having one leg…then beats up both of them! Gentleman’s Approach on King for 2, and this time it’s Rhett that is able to break a pinfall. Doomsday Blockbuster on Lancelot! The All Night’s secure an unlikely victory at 10:30

Rating – * – Everything after Rhett’s return to the match was really good…unfortunately before that was near enough ten whole minutes of stalling and wasting time which bored the hell out of the crowd. No way this needed to go as long as it did. Even considering Rhett’s knee problems, the booking here was amazingly bad.

Jay Lethal vs Adam Cole
On paper this one of the stand-out matches over the entire Battle In The Carolinas weekend. These are two young, hungry junior heavyweights who should mesh well together to product something special. It’s been a good weekend for Jay so far, having prevented TJP from entering the TV Title picture in a Proving Ground contest then gone on to win the third Honor Rumble to earn himself a guaranteed World Championship shot somewhere down the line. But he’s in Proving Ground action again tonight, and it won’t be an easy task. Lots of people have Cole earmarked for great things in the future, and he could start to break through the glass ceiling tonight by becoming #1 Contender to the TV Title.

Cole runs down a minute of the required fifteen in the time limit simply exchanging basic holds with Lethal. Even with Jay on offence he’s able to cling on to the TV Champion and block the hiptoss to dropkick combo. He tries to flip Lethal to the floor…but Jay HANGS on the top ropes into a headscissors takedown. Rousing ovation from the crowd for that exchange. The champion responds better from there, hoisting Adam up for a bruising back suplex and landing the hiptoss/dropkick combo second time around. He hits a jumping heel kick from the second rope for 2 as we approach the five minute mark. LETHAL INJECTION #3 COUNTERED WITH A GERMAN SUPLEX! Adam zones in on the neck with repeated knees and submission holds. Swinging neckbreaker scores as well – followed with a grounded headscissors as the young pretender presses home the advantage and reaffirms his credentials for a future title shot. Lethal retaliates with a handspring elbow, but such is the damage done to his neck that he stays on the canvas after landing the move. ORIGINAL LETHAL INJECTION from nowhere! It gets 2…LUNGBLOWER BY COLE! Lethal back drops Cole to the floor, but he waits out there and nails Jay with a jumping enzi as he looks for a tope. Springboard dropkick by Lethal anyway! He tries a baseball slide…COUNTERED WITH AN OCEAN CYCLONE SUPLEX INTO THE APRON! Less than five minutes left in the time limit for Cole to survive! He can barely believe Jay even beats the 20-count on that, and is so shocked he gets slack on his flying crossbody and nearly loses to a flash roll-up. SUPERKICK! Cole collapses on top of Lethal but it’s still just 2! He thought he had it won, and doesn’t see the LETHAL INJECTION #3 COMING! Jay wins at 13:14

Rating – *** – If I gave half stars we’d definitely be talking three and a half for this one. I loved it, and have it down as best match of the entire weekend thus far. I’m still not sure if I like the Proving Ground concept, but it certainly gave this midcard encounter added purpose and direction from the outset. Even the basic, killing time exchanges at the start MEAN something because each minute that ticks by takes Cole a minute closer to earning the title shot. I loved Adam’s targeted work on Lethal’s neck, and I loved that Jay didn’t totally no sell it in the closing moments of the match. Although Cole didn’t win, he does get the rub in that he beat Lethal up for most of this match.

In the aftermath Cole cuts a promo about getting frustrated about constantly having great matches but not winning. Eddie Edwards comes in to congratulate him on a good performance regardless.

Coleman and Alexander get some interview time too…with Caprice delivering the verbal goods as always, and Cedric looking increasingly comfortable in front of the camera too.

Young Bucks vs Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander
The Jacksons aren’t popular after their recent antics and interactions with the All Night Express. They also clearly believe they are a premier team in ROH. But as yet they haven’t won the big one and won the Tag Titles. C&C are good, but they are the kind of team Nick and Matt need to beat if they want to get to the front of the queue for a title opportunity in 2012.

Matt Jackson aims a kick at Jim Cornette during the introductions, and he begins the match so totally unfocused that Cedric seizes the early advantage with ease. Nick tries to help but flies into a double team flurry from C&C. Caprice rolls into a heel kick on Matt which converts to a senton over the ropes to Nick on the outside! Bobby Cruise gets wiped out in the melee, so Kelly and Cornette rather cruelly make jokes about nailing his wife! Elevated double stomp by the Bucks…and Nick gets his revenge with a dive to the floor which takes Alexander out. Now the Jacksons are in charge, the shenanigans start with Nick distracting the official as Matt illegally chokes out Coleman in the corner. Swinging neckbreaker/backbreaker combo nailed for 2. The heat segment on Caprice is delightfully fun. The Bucks don’t necessarily have to do anything spectacular, but there are so many nasty little moments – like working the hand for no reason, or slapping the ears, or raking the face…or a simple running punt to the ribs. Nothing too demanding, but it really unsettles the veteran competing in his hometown. Nick lands a flying double stomp to the wrist, but celebrates it too hard and allows Caprice to hit a double dropkick to wipe out both Bucks and make the hot tag to Cedric. Corkscrew enzi into a back suplex backbreaker gets 2 for Alexander. 619 around the ringpost by Coleman…SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY CEDRIC! Matt hits the tumbleweed Ace crusher on Caprice to shut down C&C’s momentum. More Bang For Your Buck COUNTERED WITH A STANDING SUPER RANA! ALEXANDER GETS KNEES ON A FROG SPLASH ATTEMPT! Nick floors Caprice with an enziguri and suddenly all four men are on the deck. Stereo Superkicks by the Young Bucks. DOUBLE TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER ON CAPRICE! The Bucks win in devastating fashion at 11:52

Rating – *** – That was a blast. The Young Bucks are great, and their heel character has made them as interesting as they’ve ever been in ROH. But this one should also be heralded as the best C&C match in the promotion thus far. They have lots of potential, particularly Cedric who is very green but has enough talent to stick with, and didn’t look out of place trading spots with one of the best tag teams on the independent scene.

Sampson vs Andy Ridge
Nothing more than filler. I presume Sampson is a local talent and, if nothing else, he’s absolutely massive. I’m talking Rasche Brown/Bison Smith levels of huge, which immediately sets him apart from other guys on the ROH roster.

Ridge tries to throw some vaunted kicks at Sampson, who backs into the corner and vocally demands that the referee get him a clean break. Andy absorbs a few shots before landing some kicks…but he can’t cope with the size difference and is MAULED in the ropes by his opponent. Sampson goes so far as to start biting Ridge! Right Leg’s nose is bleeding and he looks helpless as Sampson locks in a bear hug to press home his dominance. He misses a wild knee drop though, allowing a bloody Ridge to deliver a running boot to the face. More kicks by Andy, getting a nearfall with a running knee strike too. But a Sampson running hip attack nearly splats him through the ropes and into Kevin Kelly’s lap. Ridge hits a slingshot cutter for 2…only for Sampson to explode back up with a sit-out powerbomb. Predictably, Ridge snatches the win at 08:03 with a roll-up

Rating – ** – Much better and far more physical than you might have expected. Sampson looks to have some potential, although at this stage he is a pretty generic big man worker. ROH could probably find a role for him, but he’s not so good he NEEDS to be on the roster, and you rather fancy that being from California and breaking a student’s nose in his first match somewhat rules him out of a permanent deal. Fun little cat and mouse wrestling match though…

The two teams get interview time ahead of the main event. Mark Briscoe’s look of total confusion as Truth Martini speaks on his behalf is very funny. ‘You strange looking individual’ – Mark to Truth. He wants to know how they are going to split the $10,000 prize money for winning…and aren’t happy when Martini tries to tell them they’ll be splitting 90% of it 50/50 with Strong and Elgin, with the remaining 10% going to the ‘House Of Truth Foundation’.

WGTT, Edwards and Generico seem to be getting along better. Haas and Benjamin plan on using the 2-hour time limit to beat up the Briscoes whilst Eddie and the luchador want to settle old scores with the House Of Truth.

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe/Roderick Strong/Michael Elgin vs Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin/Eddie Edwards/El Generico
This one has been given a 2-hour time limit, and given that we’re only just over an hour into the DVD, you know this one is going long. It’s the record breaking match that got lots of attention and generated quite the buzz as 2011 came to an end. The Briscoes and WGTT hate each other, and will look to land some pre-emptive strikes ahead of their Tag Title showdown at Final Battle later this month. Generico has had his problems with the House Of Truth and the Briscoes in the past, so doesn’t really get along with any of his opponents. That just leaves Eddie Edwards, who will most likely be using this match to further hone his skills ahead of Richards/Edwards 3 in New York. $10,000 in monopoly money is on the line too for some added spice.

The rules are clarified to explain that you have to survive to the conclusion of the match to get your cut of the $10,000. The Briscoes have no intention of starting with WGTT, so it’s Edwards and Strong who get us underway. They’ve had some fierce battles in the past, and their initial exchanges are so ferocious that they nearly crash through the announce table. Things get chaotic as the heel team get into arguments with ringside fans, Mark Briscoe starts trying to steal the big fake cheque and Generico sticks his nose in to exacerbate the situation for no good reason. Tag to Benjamin which scuttles Jay and Mark, neither of them wanting any part of him so it falls to Elgin to do the honours. Unbreakable goes straight to Shelton’s permanently injured ribs to give the ‘Black Team’ (HOT/Briscoes) the advantage for the first time. House Of Truth are getting increasingly annoyed at the Briscoes’ refusal to get in the ring with WGTT though, and that lack of cohesion gives Shelton a window to tag out. After 11 minutes of action we’re back to where we started with Eddie and Roddy in the ring together, the Briscoes evading Haas and Benjamin, and neither team on top. Mark tagged and he goes move for move with Edwards in electrifying fashion which brings the crowd to life. WGTT try to isolate Strong, although they have to cope with constant illicit interference from the Briscoes. Eventually Roderick converts Generico’s flip attempt into a backbreaker and makes the crucial tag to Elgin. He counters a rana and tosses the luchador down onto his face with such force that his mask breaks! El Generico is trapped in the ring now, with HOT and the Briscoes tagging through their team keeping everyone fresh as they press home the advantage. Business picks up when Generico finally fights free and makes the hot tag to BOTH members of Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team. They explode into action and, after nearly 25 minutes, it’s WGTT and the Briscoes going at it for the first time.

All 8 men brawl around ringside with bodies and guardrail smashes on all sides! Haas hits a backbreaker over the barricade on Jay Briscoe…as on the ramp Benjamin hits a snap suplex on Mark! Not that it stops Mark, he recovers quickly to hit a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA OFF THE APRON! Jay drops Shelton with a DDT onto the apron too…only for Benjamin to retaliate by laying out both the Briscoes with superkicks. The officials have had enough of this crazy brawling and demand the legal men (Benjamin and Jay) get into the ring immediately or they’ll both be counted out. Jay manages to kick Shelton in the balls then tag himself out so he and his brother can get back to avoiding the reigning Tag Champions. Elgin attacks Shelton’s ribs again as order is restored – a theme the entire Black Team continue as they all take turns doing damage to that body part. It works for a time…until the WGTT/Briscoe feud ignites again, and we go back to all 8 guys flying around ringside in a crazy street fight. Eddie and Roderick brawl in the crowd…although it’s hard to tell what the hell is going on. Not saying it’s easy but a lot of the camera work in this match has been abysmal. Multiple big spots missed, missing SD card and low battery warning lights…it’s very amateur considering this is being taped for TV. Elgin slams Generico on the entrance ramp as we cross the 40-minute mark without a single elimination. The referees try to regain control…so everyone piles into the ring and brawls there instead! The babyface team are in charge, delivering four corners of mounted punches to their adversaries. LEAP OF FAITH ON JAY! He kicks out at 2 – honestly that’s the first nearfall of the match the best part of an hour in! Mark saves his brother, and behind the refeee’s back Jay blasts Shelton in the ribs with a chair. FROGGY BOW ON THE RIBS! Benjamin is eliminated at 47:32! OLYMPIC SLAM from Haas to Mark…and that’s enough to eliminate the younger Briscoe at 48:52. No time for Charlie to celebrate, Strong rolls him up for another elimination at 49:28 to end the WGTT participation in this contest. CHARLIE DESTROYS JAY WITH A CHAIR! BRAINBUSTER BY GENERICO! Jay eliminated at 50:14, so we’re down to House Of Truth vs Edwards and Generico!

Strong levels the Generic Luchador with the Half Nelson Backbreaker for 2…and sensibly the HOT look to slow the pace and isolate Generico from the relatively fresh Eddie Edwards in the opposing corner. Elgin shakes the ring as he scores another close nearfall with an Oklahoma Stampede, and together with his partner they zone in on Generico’s back with savage precision. At last El Generico tricks Unbreakable into a spill to the floor! ELBOW SUICIDA BY EDWARDS! SUICIDE DIVE BY GENERICO! APRON BACKBREAKER FROM STRONG TO EDDIE! In the ring Elgin catches Generico coming off the top and gets 2 with a TKO. For only the second time in ROH history, we’re going past the ONE HOUR mark now! YAKUZA KICK BY GENERICO! HALF NELSON SUPLEX…STRONG SAVES! Eddie is on the floor vomiting…as Elgin nearly takes Generico’s head off with a lariat. SPIRAL BOMB! Generico is eliminated at 62:14! Eddie Edwards can barely walk, so Roddy hurls him into another Elgin lariat for 2. But incredibly he fights back with MACHINE GUN CHOPS – only to be punted in the mouth by Roderick. HOT work the numbers, but can’t put Edwards away. Die Hard refuses to go down without a fight and drags Roddy out of the corner into the Backpack Stunner for 2. He and Roderick stand toe to toe, levelling each other with right hands. DIE HARD BLOCKED! ACHILLES LOCK ON TRUTH MARTINI! JUMPING KNEE BY STRONG FOR 2! Elgin tags…and walks into a bridging roll up by Eddie. THREE COUNT! Elgin is eliminated at 73:48, meaning it will be year-long rivals Roderick Strong and Eddie Edwards to settle their differences with ten grand at stake! Both remaining men lie in a heap on the canvas, gradually struggling back to their feet as the clock ticks past 75 minutes to make this the longest match in ROH history (going past Aries vs Danielson at Testing The Limit in 2004). They fight on the turnbuckles…STRONG WITH A URINAGE BACKBREAKER OFF THE TOP ROPE THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPING TABLE! In the spirit of 2004 ROH – DANGEROOUUUS! Edwards just doesn’t know how to quit though…and he crawls into the ring just ahead of the count-out. BLACK SUPERKICK FOR 2! STRONGHOLD! COUNTERED TO THE MANHATTAN MAYHEM 4 ROLL-UP…FOR 2! LARIAT GETS 2! FLYING CODEBREAKER ON TRUTH! DRAGON SLEEPER ON RODERICK! HE TAPS! EDDIE WINS! EDDIE WINS! IT’S OVER AT 80:28!

Rating – **** – What an effort by all involved. I can be a scrooge and say this felt like SBG deciding to put on the longest ROH match ever just for the sake of it…but that shouldn’t take away from what was a phenomenal display of courage and undeniable workrate from eight of ROH’s finest. It rounds off a sensational year for Eddie Edwards, who has gone from being Davey Richards’ sidekick to legitimate Ring Of Honor main eventer in his own right, and served as the perfect way to hype him up going into the year-ending ppv in New York. I didn’t think this was a serious MOTYC candidate because, as I said, it felt very much like they were going long for the sake of going long. That didn’t make it a bad match – in fact it was GREAT to see guys of this quality given the time to really tell a story and not have to rush things. BUT, I felt there was that much less story-telling and significantly less drama in this one than Aries/Danielson in 2004. Lengthy matches like these are a big ask for the viewer (both live and on DVD)…and I felt like Austin and Bryan did a better job running with that responsibility than the guys in this one. The Briscoes/WGTT stuff was very effective, but it didn’t mask the fact that the first 45 minutes were very slow – with lots of the guys resorting to repeating spots to try and run down the clock before the flurry of eliminations. I was also disappointed in how low key Generico’s elimination was, and that House Of Truth didn’t show a little more personality and express themselves better in the concluding portion of the match with Eddie – particularly after Roderick eliminated Elgin from the Honor Rumble in Spartanburg yesterday. So yeah, not an MOTYC but a wonderful, gutsy match worth going out of your way to see.

Generico, Haas and Benjamin return to the ring to congratulate their victorious partner as he is handed the novelty cheque. He’s off to celebrate at Hooters.

Tape Rating – *** – I’m not sure I’d give this show a 3* rating if it was sold as a standalone event, but as the second night in a double-DVD package this was great value for money. The main event is very very good and absolutely worth checking out. For any serious ROH fans this should also be in your collection as it now stands as the longest match in Ring Of Honor history, which is pretty significant. But Lethal/Cole and Bucks/C&C were lots of fun on the undercard too. On the whole, the Battle In The Carolinas double-DVD release was a pretty smart move by ROH. Neither of these shows was good enough to shift vast quantities of DVD’s in their own right (even with the marathon 8-man on the Greensboro event), and significant portions of these tapings would go on to be broadcast on the SBG show as part of ‘Road Rage’ episodes of the television program. As such, packaging them together gives fans maximum value for money and the promotion a better chance of shifting more DVD’s. Honestly, it’s hard to recommend the BITC set to anyone outside of the serious Ring Of Honor collectors…but at least those that buy it are getting their money’s worth.

Top 3 Matches
3) Young Bucks vs Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander (***)
2) Jay Lethal vs Adam Cole (***)
1) Eddie Edwards/El Generico/WGTT vs Roderick Strong/Michael Elgin/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe(****)

Top 5 Battle In The Carolinas Weekend Matches
5) Jay Lethal vs TJ Perkins (*** – Southern Defiance)
4) Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin vs Roderick Strong/Michael Elgin (*** – Southern Defiance)
3) Eddie Edwards vs El Generico (*** – Southern Defiance)
2) Jay Lethal vs Adam Cole (*** – Northern Aggression)
1) Eddie Edwards/El Generico/WGTT vs Roderick Strong/Michael Elgin/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (**** – Northern Aggression)