ROH Raising The Bar: Night Two 3/8/2014

ROH 348 – Raising The Bar: Night 2 – 8th March 2014

It might not have had the finest of undercards, but at the business end of the show in the three main event matches, the first night of Raising The Bar weekend really delivered. Tonight is ROH’s first visit to it’s Chicago stronghold in 2014, so the pressure will be on to deliver a great show to a core market. Chris Hero’s World Championship rematch gets top billing, as he battles Adam Cole again – this time in a Ringmaster’s Challenge Match. Tag team wrestling will take centre stage tonight, with no less than three top class tag bouts signed. The Decade face Adrenaline RUSH, the Briscoes face Outlaw Inc. (in a match which could be really great, or really AWFUL – it’s 50/50) and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Champs the Young Bucks challenge reDRagon for the ROH Tag Title. We’re taped in Chicago Ridge, IL – called by Kevin Kelly and a combination of Steve Corino and Nigel McGuinness providing colour analysis.

SIDENOTE – We’re fast approaching a quarter of the way through 2014, and Ring Of Honor badly needs a new opening credit sequence. Seriously. The new ‘Creating Excellence’ clip is excellent, but the actual credits are massively outdated – and features the following wrestlers all of whom really aren’t part of the company: Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, Bravado Brothers, Rhett Titus, Headbanger Mosh, Mike Posey, Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, Rhino and Mike Mondo. There are probably others I didn’t react quickly enough to spot too. And I’ll repeat, current World Champion Adam Cole is BARELY in it. Neither is ROH’s top draw Kevin Steen. Or current Tag Champions reDRagon. Or current TV Champion Tommaso Ciampa. Or Chris Hero. Or AJ Styles. Or Matt Hardy. Or The Decade. Basically the entire landscape has shifted in ROH – the titles need to be updated.

Tyson Dux vs Michael Elgin
Both of these guys came up through the Canadian scene, with the match billed as a ‘teacher vs student’ match, so I guess Dux may have had a hand in training Unbreakable. Clearly Elgin is looking to repay Tyson’s assistance early in his career by working him tonight.

The crowd is a polar opposite of Milwaukee last night, and sit in total silence as Dux tries to look credible in a basic exchange with his former protégé. Tyson makes a statement – hoisting Elgin up for a stalling vertical suplex…only for it to be angrily no-sold and for Michael to scoop him up into a stalling suplex which lasts twice as long and includes a few squats and dead-lifts just for giggles. Showing knowledge of his opponent’s multiple knee injuries and surgeries before entering ROH, Dux sets to work on his legs. He swiftly does serious damage meaning even after Unbreakable levels him with a lariat Elgin rolls around on the ground clutching his knee. Windsor Cloverleaf blocked, into ROLLING GERMANS! Once again Elgin comes up limping from his own offensive move, and continues struggling with the knee even after levelling Tyson with the ST-Joe. He takes way too long climbing the turnbuckles giving Dux the chance to catch him for a superplex…rolled STRAIGHT into a fisherman buster with the bad leg cradled. MAFIA KICK ON THE APRON by Elgin! He’s not finished either – GUARDRAIL BOMB! Dux COUNTERS the Buckle Bomb with a running DVD into the turnbuckles for 2! Seemingly unable to hit his usual finishers, Elgin tries the Crossface instead but again Tyson escapes. BACK FIST! The Buckle Bomb/Elgin Bomb combo wins it at 09:08

Rating – *** – I’ll happily give Tyson Dux another chance based on this showing, as this was his best Ring Of Honor match by a comfortable distance. Admittedly he was helped by having one of ROH’s top guys willing to sell and bump around to put him over, but it was Dux’s performance that impressed me the most here. He put together a match with a clear, coherent narrative through it – and wrestled a match entirely in keeping with the idea of a mentor now trying to cash in on his apprentice’s fame and glory to secure himself a spot in the company.

Elgin gets a microphone and puts Dux over HARD after the match. The limited crowd response to him during this promo and during the preceding match serve to highlight why I have my reservations about him seemingly being the ‘chosen one’ to take the belt from Adam Cole.

Adrenaline RUSH vs Roderick Strong/BJ Whitmer
The Decade’s campaign of violence against returning hero’s and young upstarts in the locker room continues as they face A-RUSH tonight. It’s been hinted at several times that ACH has backstage heat thanks to his attitude, so they’ll be looking to give him the Cedric Alexander treatment. Jimmy Jacobs and Decade’s new ‘young boy’ Adam Page are also at ringside.

ACH and Strong start, with the young guy seemingly keen to prove himself on the canvas with the former World Champion. He holds his own there and when the pace quickens he drives Roddy out of the ring with his skills. In turn Thomas dives at Roddy and Page with a tope suicida. Inside the ring Whitmer manages to cheap-shot ACH – catapulting him forward into a cradle backbreaker from Strong. Within seconds ACH is totally isolated and doesn’t make it anywhere near his partner for a tag. Whitmer and ACH botch a suplex spot (ACH bumped it like a DDT)…and for the next couple of minutes The Decade punish him with some cringingly stiff and rough offence. Finally ACH scores with a flying elbow from the top and gets a hot tag to Tadarius – who gets into the ring with great relish having been mocked by Strong for most of the match. He uses capoeira striking to soften Roddy up, putting him in position for ACH’s slingshot cutter. Death By Roderick/Lariat combo gets 2…before TD counters the All Seeing Eye by tossing Whitmer out of the ring. AIR JORDAN scores for ACH! That takes him out of the match though, allowing Strong to beat TD with the Sick Kick at 11:25

Rating – ** – One of the weaker Decade matches thus far. I thought it really lacked the character work of Jimmy Jacobs, who is far more charismatic than either of his stable-mates and is far more able to convey the Decade’s motivations through his work than them. Despite the botch, for me, the most enjoyable part was the heat segment on ACH. He is a believable face in peril and watching him getting roughed up with some really stiff work was a lot of fun. I repeat my suggestion that maybe it’s time to split up A-RUSH now and let ACH enjoy more of a singles run.

Michael Bennett vs Jay Lethal
There’s a lot of ‘championship potential’ between the two men involved in this match. Lethal has held ROH gold before of course, but both feel that they are capable of being a champion again and just need to be given an opportunity. Jay is preparing to face Tommaso Ciampa (who is currently on a tour of Europe) for the TV Title at Supercard Of Honor, whilst Bennett will know a victory puts him into immediate contention for that belt should Jay win.

We begin with classic Bennett tactics as he pisses off the fans and avoids as much contact with Lethal as possible. Whenever Jay does manage to land an offensive strike he quickly retreats to Maria for a soothing kiss…until Lethal inadvertently knees him in the balls. Maria isn’t so keen to kiss that better in public, putting Bennett in a compromised position and enabling Lethal to dropkick him off the apron. Tope Trilogy (plus added smack to Maria’s ass) scores. Maria shows her psychological awareness and sells the (metaphorical) sh*t out of her butt for the next few minutes. Meanwhile her fiancé levels Jay with a spinebuster into the side of the ring for 2. Lethal Injection blocked, with Bennett attempting to counter it to the Pepsi Twist! Jay blocks that old CM Punk classic, so Bennett drops him with the Box Office Smash instead (although Kevin Kelly has forgotten that it’s one of Michael’s moves at puts it over as Matt Hardy teaching him the Side Effect). Lethal Combo into Hail To The King has it won for Lethal until Maria appears on the apron causing a distraction. Lethal Injection countered and Bennett rolls him up using the trunks to win at 10:50

Rating – *** – The Chicago crowd are starting to warm up now. They elevated what was a pretty basic house show match and made it something far more entertaining thanks to their interactions with the wrestlers. Lethal and Bennett were working a perfectly fine (and, at times, genuinely funny) match without putting their foot down, stepping out of their comfort zone or doing more than their signature spots. It was the fans that elevated this made this something significantly more entertaining than a bog standard house show match.

Outlaw Inc. vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
There is plenty of history between the Briscoe Brothers and Homicide. For the Notorious 187’s team this is a huge match. They lost their Tag Title shot at Final Battle and missed out on a championship rematch last night in Milwaukee. Many are questioning whether they are good enough to be in ROH, whilst Eddie continues to complain about the lack of promotion they get on TV and DVD from the Sinclair production team. A victory over the most successful tag team in Ring Of Honor history would put them back on the map and push their case for a rematch with reDRagon.

Homicide plays up the history between he and the Briscoes by making a huge deal out of the Code Of Honor. TOPE CON HILO nailed in the first minute! ELBOW SUICIDA BY KINGSTON! The Outlaws don’t have any intention of following the rules as they fill the ring with weapons, and it’s something the Briscoes are fine with as they start helping! Cide gives Mark a suplex on a floor, as on the other side Jay rings the bell in Eddie’s face. CHAIR DUEL between Mark and Homicide! The match is thrown at 03:08 both teams are far happier using weapons and beating the sh*t out of each other than they are following the rules. The bell doesn’t stop the fight though, with Mark and Cide trading chair shots as their partners are mashing each other into the guardrails. Nobody is happy with the conclusion so Nigel McGuinness comes out to restart it as a No DQ Match. BLOCKBUSTER OFF THE APRON from Mark to Eddie! He makes it worse with a chair guillotine seconds later! In the ring Homicide blocks a flatliner and rams Jay skull-first through a chair in the corner! Every major spot is punctuated by a fit of chair-throwing with all four guys repeatedly tossing them into each others heads at every opportunity. Jay brings tables into play, back dropping Homicide off the apron into the timekeeping table…and tossing King through it when it didn’t break from the first bump. Cide tries to make friends, pointing out was on the first ever ROH show with Jay…but it’s all a scheme to poke him in the eyes! Three Amigos COUNTERED into a falcon arrow, meanwhile outside Mark drops Kingston with a FISHERMAN BUSTER THROUGH CHAIRS! OVERTIME HEADBUTT gets 2 for the Outlaws! Mark nearly snatches a win with the Froggy Bow then scoops Homicide up for his brother to join him in a Splash Mountain Neckbreaker for 2. Naturally Homicide’s response is to throw another chair! Mark sets up open, back-to-back chairs and escorts Kingston up the ropes. EDDIE COUNTERS TO AN AVALANCHE BACK DROP THROUGH THE CHAIRS! Jay ducks the Back Fist To The Future and hits a SPINEBUSTER THROUGH A CHAIR! GRINGO CUTTER from Homicide to Jay for 2! Cop Killa blocked…Jay Driller blocked! Lariat COUNTERED TO THE JAY DRILLER! Jay wins it for the Briscoes in a total time of 13:14

Rating – **** – I’m probably over-rating this a little, and I’m sure there will be some disciples of the ‘new’ ROH philosophy on violence that dismiss this as a stupid match, but I had a blast watching it. Outlaw Inc. have had a great comeback weekend and delivered two excellent performances in very different matches. They just ‘get’ their characters, and they are so different to anything else on the roster that they provide genuine entertainment and diversity – thankfully this weekend they added that whilst also providing quality matches. Last night I criticised the booking of Jay Briscoe as he respectfully shook Hero’s hand even though he was effectively disregarding the ‘Real World Title’. Thankfully tonight we were back on form, and this was exactly the kind of match you’d expect between two crazy tag teams who want to hurt their opponents almost as much as they want to win.

Matt Taven vs Silas Young
This is a grudge rematch from the 12th Anniversary Show, with Truth Martini’s shadow hanging over it despite him managing neither worker. Truth has a beef with Taven after he quit the House Of Truth, and wound up costing him the World Championship at Raising The Bar Night 1. He’s also seemingly been trying to recruit Silas although it remains open to interpretation as to whether that’s something Young wants or not. In Philadelphia Matt got the win, but tonight he is competing with a shoulder injury sustained in his match yesterday.

Clearly looking to make this as short as possible, Taven jumps Young during his entrance with a tope suicida. Suplex off the apron blocked by snapping the injured shoulder over the top rope – and immediately he drops to the floor grabbing the arm. Silas is, of course, a bastard about it and rams the shoulder into the apron then the ringpost in quick succession. Mounted punches by Taven, only for him to be toppled over the ropes to crash right down on the bad shoulder again. Most of Matt’s offence is now strike based, connecting with a rebound enziguri kick for 2. Angel’s Wings countered as he has no strength in the arm, with Young dropping him on the shoulder again in the wake of the backbreaker to lariat combination. Headstand Arabian Press countered with a SUPERKICK! Truth Martini appears ABOVE the stage and entrance curtain, distracting Matt as he was about to hit the Five Star Frog Splash. Young capitalises and lands the headstand Arabian press to win at 06:40

Rating – *** – A step up from their Philly match, with Young’s arm work telling a significantly better story and Taven providing both a decent sell-job and well-timed comeback spots. As with the Outlaws, it’s been a good weekend for Taven. He had one of the best matches of his ROH career yesterday, and this was a really strong individual performance too.

Martini weirdly flops backwards off his perch above the entrance set, as in the ring Taven demands to know whether Young is in league with him…then levels him with the Frog Splash.

Cedric Alexander vs Kevin Steen
It hasn’t been an easy 2014 thus far for Cedric. His issues with The Decade have blighted his rise up the card and left him with a less-than-favourable win/loss record. Tonight he has a chance to forget that and an opportunity to shine with the most popular worker on the ROH roster. Steen is in the hunt for a World Title shot, and with so many others in the race he’ll know he can’t afford a loss to an up-and-comer at this point.

Steen is starting to look a lot slimmer now, and is on a level of popularity that nobody else on the roster is even close to. He has the fans eating out of his hands and at the same time totally dominates Cedric. Even when the youngster tries to leave the ring Steen shows veteran instincts by reaching through the ropes and poking him in the eyes! He then starts playing with Todd Sinclair as well, inventing a fake injury and crawling back into the ring to break a ‘close’ 20-count on the floor. The beating continues back inside the ring with Steen brutally dumping Ced into the corner before flattening him again with the Cannonball. We tick past the seven minute mark and Alexander has barely landed a single offensive move as of yet. He desperately jumps into an enzi strike and springboards off the ropes into a flying lariat. Kick 2 Kill blocked…only for Ced to counter the F-5 into a DDT for 2! He’s not done either, with the Package Piledriver COUNTERED TO KICK 2 KILL! Kevin Kelly says that’s another Roderick Strong move, which it isn’t remotely. Alexander gets knees on a frog splash, allowing Steen to hit a DOUBLE ARM IMPLANT DDT! DOUBLE SPRINGBOARD F*CKING MOONSAULT – MISSES! Yes, Steen seriously just attempted that! He isn’t on the back foot for long either, dropping Cedric with a sleeper suplex then effortlessly dismissing him with a powerbomb. Package Piledriver CONVERTED TO THE LUMBAR CHECK! Steen kicks out! Impact Explosion Dropkicks from Ced, but he slips climbing up the ropes after his opponent and is punished with an AVALANCHE fisherman buster. Package Piledriver wins it for Steen at 14:06

Rating – *** – Nigel sums this one up perfectly – ‘it took a while to get going’. I had high hopes for this one and was actually a little disappointed. I’m not going to deny that Kevin Steen was SUPER entertaining here, but the first half of the match was basically an in-ring version of the Kevin Steen Show. It was fun to watch of course, but when ROH have been doing an effective job of building Cedric up so far in 2014, it felt like a backwards step to have Steen easily beat the crap out of him. Thankfully in the second half of the match there were some awesome moments, including Steen’s incredible double springboard moonsault and some impressive counter sequences from Cedric.

Outlaw Inc. are on the ramp taunting Steen again, with Homicide eating the biggest pasta salad ever conceived by man. Mr Wrestling wants a fight (and burns them with a killer 2006 reference) but finds the aisle blocked by referees and Nigel McGuinness.

reDRagon vs Young Bucks – ROH Tag Title Match
Fish and O’Reilly have basically beaten everyone on the core roster, have sent the American Wolves packing and are now rightly considered one of the most dominant tag teams in ROH history. Tonight, however, international challengers have been brought in. One of the most decorated tag teams on the independent scene and current IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Champions in New Japan – the Young Bucks. The Jacksons are looking to add a first ROH Tag Championship to their lengthy list of accolades, and should take inspiration from fellow NJPW guys the Forever Hooligans who defeated reDRagon in similar circumstances last summer.

O’Reilly and Nick start, with Kyle attempting the Arm-ageddon early only to be tossed back and narrowly missed with the first Superkick attempt. The Bucks instantly enter the ring together, hitting O’Reilly with a gutbuster/neckbreaker/backbreaker sequence as an early warning of their prowess as a duo. Matt isn’t letting a broken hand affect his confidence clearly – dishing out cocky slaps to both the champions then holding him in the corner so Nick can hit the handspring back rake. Kyle has seen enough, and goes outside to ram the broken hand into the guardrails! His big mouth earned him that and it sees him isolated in the ring for the next few minutes. ARM-AGEDDON ON THE BAD ARM! Nigel points out Kyle pulling the fingers and putting pressure directly on the broken hand too. Matt looks increasingly bedraggled, and eats an armbreaker as he edges towards a tag. One last burst of energy sees him hit a spear on O’Reilly and get the much-needed tag at last. Nick comes in with the slingshot X-Factor on Fish for 2. Kyle kicks him off the apron…MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON COUNTERED WITH A SUPERKICK! ELEVATED 450 SPLASH ON FISH FOR 2! Bobby counters a Shining Wizard from Nick…only to eat another Superkick from Matt instead! But Nick inadvertently kicks his own partner, flattening him in the corner and allowing reDRagon to hit the tilta-whirl backbreaker/knee drop combo. BACK DROP DRIVER ON MATT! AXE & SMASH ON NICK! SUPERKICK ON O’REILLY! Everyone goes down! Fish blocks Nick’s moonsault off the apron, and counters it with a GUARDRAIL SPEAR! MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON from O’Reilly! AVALANCHE FALCON ARROW gets a 2 for Fish. The champs line up Chasing The Dragon but Nick saves his brother…so O’Reilly whacks him right in the broken hand! SUPERKICK FLURRY! NO SOLD! Matt levels him with the cast on his broken hand instead! SPIKE TOMBSTONE NAILED! FISH SAVES! MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK COUNTERED WITH A TRIANGLE CHOKE! COUNTERED TO A ROLLING PIN! BUCKS WIN! New champs at 15:12!

Rating – ****1/2 – Well that rocked. These guys always had the potential to deliver a classic, and they more than lived up to it – and a shock title change at the end certainly makes this one all the more memorable. Everyone was on top of their game here, which is a remarkable achievement when you consider Matt Jackson has a broken hand. The Bucks did what they do best, delivering picture perfect, rapid-fire double teams and combo spots…and they meshed really well with a more grounded team like Fish and O’Reilly. reDRagon more than held up their end too, with a sound heat segment working Matt’s hand and some outstanding spot-work of their own. This one was more than just a tag team spot-fest and deserves this rating in my opinion.

It’s a couple of years too late (they should have been champions when Sinclair had them under contract), but the Bucks genuinely look pleased to be ROH Tag Champions. They receive the belts from Nigel McGuinness, and will now head to NJPW carrying them. Meanwhile Bobby Fish is irate at losing the titles to an NJPW team for a second time and marches towards the announce table to demand Nigel sanction a rematch asap.

Adam Cole vs Chris Hero – ROH World Title Ringmaster’s Challenge Match
That Young Knockout Kid had every right to feel aggrieved at the conclusion of the 12th Anniversary Show. Having already pinned Cole once (at Wrestling’s Finest in January), he had him tapping to the Stretch Plum, but didn’t leave with the title as referee Todd Sinclair had been knocked to the ground. He immediately petitioned Nigel McGuinness for a rematch, and was granted one this weekend under Ringmaster’s Challenge rules. It will be 2/3 Falls, the first fall is pinfalls only, the second submission only and the third, if needed, will be a 15-minute Iron Man. Cole was fortunate to leave Philadelphia as World Champion. Will his luck run out in Chicago tonight?

Hero lays out his stall early by easily out-grappling the World Champion. Why has Kevin Kelly completely forgotten that the Cole/Strong Ringmaster’s Challenge WASN’T for the World Title. He’s run with that commentary thread two nights running – indicative of his laziness when it comes to doing actual research for his commentary. Thankfully he has enough dated, generic hyperbole to see him through. Hero continued to dominate throughout that mini-rant, until Adam clung to the ropes to avoid a boot strike and tosses him out of the ring. That success is short-lived though, with Hero flipping over the ropes, blocking a superkick and levelling the champ with a big boot on the floor. He flips the ropes for a second time – and this time gets punished. Cole rakes his eyes, and as he hangs there entwined in the ropes Cole levels him with a JUMPING PILEDRIVER! Hero is understandably knocked silly by that and almost goes onto auto-pilot by engaging his opponent in a strike exchange…which is obviously to his detriment as it allows Cole to scramble his brains again. He finally rallies, delivering Muay Thai knees and a rolling neckbreaker. CRAVAT NECKBREAKER out of the corner gets 2! Adam looks to fend him off with a superkick only to be decimated with strikes in the corner! MOONSAULT MISSES! FLORIDA KEY! Cole wins the first fall at 10:01! The announcers point out that Hero dominated the first fall and lost.

The World Champion begins the second fall by going after his still-wounded opponent’s legs in preparation for the Figure 4. The knee is smashed into the ringpost, setting him up for an illegal Figure 4 out there to do yet more damage. Hero tries to pin Cole, which shows how weary he now is. There are no pinfalls, and Cole laughs at him as he starts taking him down again with repeated dragon screws. ELBOWS! STRETCH PLUM! Cole makes the ropes, and counters the Death Blow with a superkick to the knee! Panama Sunrise instantly countered with a boot to the head though! ELECTRIC CHAIR DEATH BLOW! STRETCH PLUM AGAIN! Cole taps at 14:46 – having controlled most of the second fall just as Hero did the first! We’re into the 15-minute Iron Man…and Cole immediately starts running away just as he did in the closing moments of his Ringmaster’s Challenge with Roderick Strong last year. It’s far too early for that though, and he gets caught with repeated mafia kicks against the rails! Back in the ring Hero hits the Rolling Bicycle, and goes 1-0 up in the final fall at 17:20. Electric Chair Death Blow countered again, with Cole landing a cradlebreaker for 2! Florida Key blocked…so Adam kicks out Hero’s knee again, dropping him down into position for a Shining Wizard. DVD over the knee lands as well, but the frustration starts to mount as Cole continues to chase an equalising fall with ten minutes remaining. He brings his belt into the ring and NAILS HERO WITH IT! It’s 2-0 Hero at 20:35…but of course he’s now unconscious! Cole instantly makes it 2-1 at 20:58! He drops Hero on his head with another cradlebreaker – and goes to 2-2 at 21:30!

He beams with joy at his brilliant strategy, dragging an unconscious Hero into the FLORIDA KEY…FOR 2! SUPERKICK FLURRY! Now it is 3-2 at 22:52! Hero might be finished, and soon absorbs another superkick to the head, then ROLLING BACK DROP DRIVERS! NO SOLD! ROLLING ELBOW! BOTH MEN DOWN! Five minutes to go! They crawl to the middle of the ring, both on their knees as they trade strikes again – heads snapping backwards and hair flying everywhere as they tee off! Death Blow COUNTERED WITH A GERMAN FOR 2! Figure 4 Leglock applied, heaping the pressure on Chris’ bad leg with just a couple of minutes left. Somehow Hero escapes and hits the release suplex, with his own knee buckling underneath him as he does it! STRETCH PLUM! Cole makes it to the ropes with a minute to go…and starts running away! It’s Roderick Strong all over again! Thirty seconds left…HERO CATCHES HIM WITH AN ELBOW! IT’S 3-3! Time on the fall was 29:59, and the clock ticks down to a finish at 30:17. The match is tied, meaning Cole retains the title…until Nigel declares sudden death overtime! Hero’s hand is BADLY cut and is smearing blood all over their bodies as he steams into Cole with strikes. Death Blow…COUNTERED to a backslide! Cole finally retains the title, winning the Iron Man 4-3 and the match 2-1 at 31:15 (total)!

Rating – **** – I’d heard a number of bad things about this match. Some have said it didn’t get enough time, some said the Iron Man portion sucked, some said the whole match felt flat. I sense I’m going to annoy a few – because I absolutely loved this. Of course they could have done with more time (this still didn’t touch the quality of Strong/Edwards in the first Ringmaster’s Challenge), but thirty minutes was plenty and they used it to produce something incredibly good. I liked the theme through the first two falls, with the man who dominated the segment going on to lose…and I adored the Iron Man. I’ll admit cramming six falls into 15 minutes was ambitious, but I felt it worked. Cole referencing the last time he was in a Ringmaster’s Challenge rocked. Hero won the Submission fall, so it made sense that he would start the Iron Man strongly. Cole reeled off some offensive strikes but couldn’t get a win – so broke out the weapon shot which was the focal point for the rest of the match. Hero was semi-conscious and running on fumes, but gutted it out to a draw before finally succumbing to a defeat in over-time. To go higher on the rating I was looking for just a little more depth in the first two falls – e.g. Cole worked the leg hard in the second fall, but never really went for a submission or attempted to use it for victory. Still, a great match and one I feel has been cruelly under-rated by many fans

Tape Rating – **** – This was the strongest show of 2014 in my opinion. It had the two outstanding matches of the year so far (reDRagon/Bucks and Cole/Hero), was a top to bottom solid card – and also included one of the more pleasing surprises of the year in the super-fun Briscoes/Outlaws brawl. I’m still having some issues with the current ROH product, such as the extremely predictable pacing on every show which means you can basically skip the first couple of matches without missing anything…or the fact that they seem to be allergic to shows going longer than three hours now. However, this was a really consistent line-up with a couple of outstanding matches at the top to bring it home. reDRagon vs Young Bucks really is worth going out of your way to see (so presumably it’ll be put on free television soon enough).

Top 3 Matches
3) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Outlaw Inc. (****)
2) Adam Cole vs Chris Hero (****)
1) reDRagon vs Young Bucks (****1/2)

Top 5 Raising The Bar Weekend Matches
5) Adam Cole vs Matt Taven (**** – Night 1)
4) Chris Hero vs Roderick Strong (**** – Night 1)
3) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe/Michael Elgin vs Kevin Steen/Young Bucks (**** – Night 1)
2) Adam Cole vs Chris Hero (**** – Night 2)
1) reDRagon vs Young Bucks (****1/2 – Night 2)

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