ROH Showdown In The Sun Day 2 3/31/2012

ROH 301 – Showdown In The Sun: Day 2 – 31st March 2012

If you read or follow my reviews, chances are you’re already a fan of Ring Of Honor. And if you’re a fan of ROH, chances are you already know that this event is famous for it’s much-hyped main event of Davey Richards vs Michael Elgin. A lot of people called it the best match across all the promotions who converged on Florida that weekend, which would be a real feather in ROH’s cap if true. The rest of this special afternoon card is decent too. The Blind Destiny trio of matches (Richards/Elgin alongside Edwards/Steen and Strong/Lethal) all have the potential to deliver, but there’s also a Tag Title grudge match, ROH vs Chikara action, the second half of the Bucks/ANX Dual Duel plus more from the likes of Jimmy Jacobs, Tommaso Ciampa and Mike Bennett. The War Memorial Auditorium (which looks pretty cool on DVD) in Ft Lauderdale, FL welcomes us…as do Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness.

SIDENOTE – After getting panned for horrendous ippv problems the previous evening, ROH promised everything would be rectified and working for this evening. Unfortunately fate dealt them a cruel blow as weather in the Florida area caused the notorious ‘brown out’. Power issues meant the feed, again, was impacted. ROH, again, were forced into an embarrassing apology…and once again their technical issues would take away from what should have been a triumphant night for the promotion.

Jimmy Jacobs interrupts Kevin and Nigel’s introduction to the ppv. He calls himself a Zombie Princess, which is pretty odd. Before he can say much more El Generico sprints through the curtain, dragging Todd Sinclair with him…

Jimmy Jacobs vs El Generico
Last night, after over a year renouncing his evil ways, Jacobs fell off the wagon again as he ran in at the end of the Steen/Generico Last Man Standing Match and attacked the luchador – handing Mr Wrestling the win. He compared stabbing Steen with the spike at Young Wolves Rising to an orgasm after a year of celibacy, and has now aligned himself with the man dubbed ‘Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare’. Generico is, understandably, livid and wants instant revenge this evening.

Jimmy’s new ring gear appears to be a tie-dye skirt and a D-Lo Brown flak jacket…it looks f*cking awful! He is soon retreating as Generico pummels him, then dives to the floor after him with the somersault plancha. Generico tries to run the ropes into a tornado DDT, but he is noticeably slower after his gruelling war yesterday and Jacobs pounces to crotch him on the top rope. Cactus elbow to the floor scores! Jacobs is on top – only to let the crowd distract him, giving Generico a window to score with a flying crossbody then the Blue Thunder Driver for 2. Yakuza Kick blocked then countered into a tornado snap suplex from the ‘Zombie Princess’. Rebound Ace Crusher gets him a nearfall. He runs at Generico…who catches him with the turnbuckle exploder! Yakuza Kick COUNTERED WITH THE END TIME! Jacobs pulls out the spike, but he only succeeds in stabbing the top turnbuckle before turning into the half nelson suplex. Jacobs tries to spike him again…then Generico steals it and tries to stab him! Jacobs ducks and rolls into a schoolboy pin for 3. 08:01 was the time

Rating – ** – Not a great match, but it seems harsh expecting much more from Generico considering it can’t even be 18 hours since he was nearly killing himself in that crazy match with Steen yesterday. Jacobs needed the win to cement his heel turn (and was always going to get it since Generico isn’t under contract), and he generated good heat for the majority of the match. If ROH can get him rediscovering his form of 2008 when the Age Of The Fall was at it’s peak then he’ll be a real asset.

Cedric Alexander vs Tommaso Ciampa
Although they lost last night, it’s still been a big week for C&C after they scored a win over WGTT on television. It would get even better if Cedric could end Ciampa’s undefeated streak. Tommaso didn’t wrestle yesterday, and has promised to return the TV Title belt he stole from Lethal this afternoon. If he wants to stay in the hunt for that belt he can’t afford to drop this one.

RD Evans joins commentary for this one as Ciampa beats the hell out of Alexander from the bell. To the floor they go, where Tommaso sets his opponent up in a chair and LEVELS him with a running boot. He sets up for the exposed knee strikes to the face, which Cedric wisely rolls away from. He catches Tommaso in the ropes and delivers a flatliner out of them for 2. IED finds the mark as well and he has Ciampa on the run! SUPLEX INTO THE GUARDRAILS! Tommaso is getting desperate and almost murders Alexander by swinging him into the turnbuckles from the outside. EXPOSED KNEE STRIKES ON THE APRON! Ciampa wins at 05:26

Rating – ** – For an extended squash this was ok. Cedric was comprehensively beaten but at least managed to throw some good spots in there. I’ll concede Ciampa needed a dominant victory after failing to beat Lethal at the 10th Anniversary…but this should probably happened on TV rather than on a big pay-per-view.

Caprice Coleman tries to argue with Nana and gets Project Ciampa for his troubles.

Fire Ant vs TJ Perkins
Ring Of Honor and Chikara are co-promoting a double header in Chicago next month. We’ve seen interactions between the two rosters at Homecoming 2012 and the 10th Anniversary Show, and to further hype Synergy weekend Fire Ant has been booked to showcase the Chikara style on ippv. TJP, who is signed to ROH but is little more than a talented jobber, should be the ideal opponent to let him demonstrate his skills.

Fire Ant gets a big pop from the crowd. Unbeknownst to him Kevin Kelly is doing his best to put Chikara over in some of the most condescending ways imaginable. The opening 90 seconds of this is contested at 100mph…made all the more impressive by the fact that they hardly touch each other. Ant seems to have the edge in speed, so Perkins wisely tries to tie him up on the canvas. ROPE RUN SPRINGBOARD ARMDRAG! TJP tries to hold him down in a tree of woe instead, but still Fire escapes into a headscissors. Impressive start, but lots of what Fire Ant does is very low impact. He also lacks a bit of size and finally he goes for one spectacular move too many and is caught in a backbreaker from TJ. He tries a springboard dropkick…but Ant moves and hits a tope suicida! He’s not done, straight back into the ring for a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! Ant comes off the top rope again, only to propel himself into a dropkick to the ribs. That’s followed by a neckbreaker…but Fire counters right back as he turns the Ligerbomb into an Ace Crusher. Detonation Kick from TJ…gets 2! Perkins ascends to the top rope for a 450 splash. That’s enough for him to win at 08:18

Rating – *** – Entertaining exhibition match. I know Chikara has a lot of fans, but if I’m honest their style has never really captured my imagination. Fire Ant didn’t particularly change my mind tonight, but he and TJ worked a fun little sprint…and in a style you don’t normally get to see on ROH cards. A nice appetiser for Synergy weekend.

SIDENOTE – Chikara fans, please don’t bash me for disliking their product. I know I’ve not seen enough of it to really judge, and I know there are no Chikara reviews on my site. That’s a fair criticism, and as I always get emails asking me to review Chikara I’ve taken the plunge and ordered their 12 Large Summit collection and a couple of their ‘Best Of’ year ending compilation sets. Look out for those reviews sometime in the next few months…

Kyle O’Reilly vs Adam Cole
Former tag partners collide in what was one of the most anticipated matches of the entire weekend. Future Shock were a great young team, but one that struggled to turn terrific in-ring performances into big victories. O’Reilly, as a member of Team Richards and Davey’s protégé, started to drift away from Cole and gravitate towards his running buddies – which Adam interpreted as a lack of focus and dedication to their tag team. Finally Kyle ditched Future Shock altogether to form Team Ambition with Davey (or as he calls them, the ‘new American Wolves’). Adam’s response was to form a team with Richards’ jilted partner Eddie Edwards…and he went on to score the biggest win of his ROH career when he pinned the World Champion in the main event of the 10th Anniversary Show. As is always the case when tag teams split then feud – this one is all about the bragging rights.

This one is joined in progress after the ‘brown out’ problems forced ROH officials to stop the match whilst they scrambled to get any kind of ppv feed working. When we return it’s obvious they are stalling for time with O’Reilly standing n the stage refusing to get into the ring. When he returns to the ring it’s obvious they are still stalling as they go to the mat to work a very ponderous exchange of holds as fans chant ‘f*ck the live feed’ at them. Given how O’Reilly trains, that obviously plays into his hands and he is at least able to demonstrate some really neat counters and submission stretches. Adam turns it into a fight and levels his former partner with a few elbows then a running knee strike for 2. Superkick attempt…COUNTERED with the discus lariat from Kyle. Some British fans in the crowd are calling Kyle a ‘gyppo’ – is that racist? It distracts him for long enough to allow Cole to start smacking him in the head. Tornado DDT COUNTERED to a brainbuster over the knee! Cole dives off the top with his crossbody…but Kyle rolls through and wins whilst holding the tights at 07:44 (shown)

Rating – * – How disappointing was that? I feel so bad for these guys because, in different circumstances, they could have delivered one of the best matches of the whole weekend. Instead they were sent out there, not allowed to do anything except stall for time…and even had to STOP because ROH and GoFightLive couldn’t get their shit together with the technical issues. It’s not fair to the wrestlers, the live crowd or the paying audience on the internet. They had some good ideas and some of the familiarity countering was good…but most of this 7-minutes shown was rolling around on the canvas killing time. And here’s the real irony – the feed was down for this whole match anyway. They may as well have let Adam and Kyle work the match they were going to so at least the live crowd was entertained and it could have been good on DVD. By f*cking around all they did was piss EVERYONE off for no good reason. Bad match, but it’s hard to blame Adam and Kyle at all

Young Bucks vs All Night Express – Street Fight
This is the second half of the Dual Duel. Last night the Young Bucks had ‘their’ match…but wound up losing the Tornado tag rules clash between the two. But it was an unsatisfying roll up finish and Rhett Titus certainly won’t feel he got the retribution he craves after spending months on the injured list thanks to the sneak attacks from the Jacksons.

The Bucks come out in jeans and tassled up t-shirts, and quickly arm themselves with brooms in anticipation for the arrival of ANX. Unknown to them, Rhett and Kenny come through the crowd looking like they robbed New Jack’s house. The start of the match feels very New Jack as they beat the Bucks all over the ring whilst their music continues playing. Nick gets put in a trash can and pummelled with King’s Capo Kick, then Rhett’s dropkick. Same treatment for Matt who is smashed to pieces with the brooms. The beating continues outside the ring as Nick is whipped hard into the ringpost on one side, with Matt eating guardrail on the other! MOONSAULT OFF THE STAGE BY NICK! The Jacksons start to turn it round, and hang Kenny off the guardrail and over a chair…before Nick delivers a SPRINGBOARD DOUBLE STOMP off the barrier! He’s not done either! SWANTON BOMB OFF THE STAGE THROUGH A TRASH CAN! Matt puts King in a shopping cart…and WHEELS him into a superkick from his brother! After some thrilling offensive bursts the Young Bucks decide they have time to pose to the cameras and crowd…and don’t see Titus coming at them and swinging a chair into their knees. It’s a lot more damaging when Nick flings a chair into his leg though! Kenny tries Shotgun Knees on the floor…AND MURDERS A SECURITY GUARD! DDT on the apron from Matt to Rhett…CORKSCREW PESCADO BY KENNY! Matt is captured by ANX with Nick out of it on the floor. DOOMSDAY BLOCKBUSTER THROUGH A TABLE! But somehow Matt lands on top of King…and actually pins him 11:13

Rating – *** – Lets get something straight – the Young Bucks are absolutely awesome…but that finish was one of the worst things ROH have done all year. They are an outstanding tag team and, as their PWG careers have shown, in this kind of environment they are crazily innovative and exciting. Why ROH booked them in a Street Fight and only gave them ten minutes is beyond me. Oh, and why ROH has completely buried them in 2012 is beyond me too. Yes, they won this evening…but a fluke win after ANX’s finishing move. This comes after they lost ‘their’ match to a roll-up and were essentially squashed by the Briscoes in New York too. They are one of the best teams, not just on the indies, but anywhere in wrestling…and their misuse by Ring Of Honor continues to amaze me. What little ‘push’ they were getting disappeared after this weekend and they must have known the writing was on the wall when they were ‘given the summer off’ by Sinclair despite being under contract. Good match with a f*cking awful finish. The Bucks would be better off in DGUSA…hell, they were used better in TNA.

Mike Bennett comes to the ring with Maria (who is so hot it’s unreal), for a live Prodigy Service Announcement. The British fans call him a wanker, which Nigel has to translate for Kevin Kelly. Maria takes the mic to bash CM Punk (which is a great heel move in ROH where he is revered), whilst Bennett steals catchphrases from Punk and Lance Storm, then decides to make out with Maria for an uncomfortably long time. This was entertaining…if slightly weird.

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin – ROH Tag Title Match
These two teams have been feuding for the entire Sinclair ROH era thus far. Last June at Best In The World Jay and Mark beat the hell out of WGTT with chairs…and they haven’t gotten along since. The TV show debuted with the Briscoes in pursuit of the champions as heels – but by the time we got to Final Battle a combination of brilliant promo work from Jay and Mark, combined with some disappointing in-ring performances by Haas and Benjamin meant that the New York fans spectacularly turned on the champions…who didn’t cope with it and lost them. By this point these four want to beat each other up so much that, as the commentators discuss, the titles are almost irrelevant.

The crowd are red hot for this. Whether it’s the ‘right kind of heat’ or not, WGTT are super over as heels tonight. Haas pisses everyone off more when he rolls out of the ring and refuses to begin the match…and he keeps doing that every time Mark looks like getting the advantage. There’s a hilarious little moment in this segment where Jay smashes Haas into a road sign held up by a fan who’d taken it as a souvenir from the ANX/Bucks match. Charlie is so pissed off he swats a drink out of another front row fan’s hand…and that fan just goes NUTS! Wisely WGTT try to keep this as a wrestling match and start working on Jay’s knee. He limps to a tag on his brother, who charges in with some signature Redneck Kung Fu. Benjamin threatens to start botching things, but holds it together to whip Mark into the ringpost. Not content with that – he starts banging the back of his head into the guardrail which knocks him loopy and puts the former champions in charge again at ten minutes. The ensuing heat segment bores the crowd to near silence until Mark converts a back suplex attempt into a crossbody. Jay steams in hot, but is still limping after the attack he suffered earlier. All four pile in trading big strikes. Jay and Haas wind up flooring each other with simultaneous big boots! Fisticuffs all round, ending when Haas hits a German suplex and Benjamin nails a slingshot DDT on the floor. Olympic Slam scores, into the Haas Of Pain! Leap Of Faith attempted but Mark SAVES with a missile dropkick. Jay rolls Haas up in a small package to retain the titles at 16:14

Rating – ** – This wasn’t as bad as some people have said. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the Briscoes looked right on point and really impressed me. The problem was, at north of 15 minutes, it just went too long. The crowd were so hot for this at the start, but Haas and Benjamin have no interest in working hard or doing anything outside of their standard spots at a brutally slow pace. When they are put in shorter, TV-length matches that actually works quite well…but in an environment like this their lack of workrate is horribly exposed by teams like the Briscoes and the crowd just died. How many matches on this card are going to have crap roll-up finishes by the way? Have Sinclair decided to ban finishing moves?

WGTT don’t take defeat well, as Shelton slams Mark into the ringpost then drops Jay with Paydirt. They crotch the older Briscoe into the post repeatedly then pose with the tag belts in front of a hateful live crowd. It’s clear that this feud STILL isn’t over…

Eddie Edwards vs Kevin Steen
This is the first of the Blind Destiny Challenge matches this evening. Since Edwards didn’t walk out with the World Title yesterday Steen doesn’t get his wish of a title shot right away. But, despite being unbeaten since returning in January, Mr Wrestling will know he’ll need to beat the former champion and keep his unblemished 2012 record before Cornette will even consider giving him a shot.

Steen is listed at 5’1 in the Tale Of The Tape graphic. Really? These popular athletes are at a total stalemate in the early going with neither able to outmuscle or outstrike their opponent. Steen declines to give Eddie a clean break (with additional Danielson gimmick infringement), so it’s to Edwards’ credit that he’s able to roll the big man over and slap on a crossface. HANGING DDT IN THE ROPES! The game is changed in an instant and Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare is now in charge! He rolls to the floor which isn’t sensible at all – demonstrated when Steen shunts him into the stage. Kevin goes for the apron powerbomb but it’s COUNTERED to a rana! Eddie charges…STEEN COUNTERS TO THE APRON BOMB! The fight spills up onto the stage now…and Steen sits Edwards down for a CANNONBALL SENTON THROUGH A CHAIR! Eddie retaliates with kicks to the face. FLYING DOUBLE STOMP OFF THE STAGE! He takes it back into the ring with the Backpack Stunner for 2.  Sharpshooter COUNTERED TO THE ACHILLES LOCK! Steen counters to a small package…and wins at 10:40

Rating – *** – Seriously, what the f*ck is with all these roll-ups? There have been so many tonight that it has to be a conscious booking decision, and it’s completely stupid. This was a great match for it’s spot on the card, with two of ROH’s top guys beating the sh*t out of each other and brawling all over ringside. But that finish (considering the finishes we’ve already had on this DVD) really took the shine off it.
Jay Lethal vs Roderick Strong – ROH TV Title Match
This isn’t the match that former World Champion Roderick Strong wanted to be in this afternoon. He wanted to get his belt back yesterday, and failing that he wanted Michael Elgin to sacrifice his spot and let him challenge Davey again. But this is still an opportunity for him. He earned this TV Title shot back at Glory By Honor 10 when he took Lethal to a time limit draw in a Proving Ground Match, and cashes in here as part of Blind Destiny. If he wins he becomes the second ROH triple crown winner.

Apparently this wasn’t scheduled to be a TV Title match (even though Roddy earned one), and it’s only Tommaso goading Jay into defending it that gets the belt on the line. Ciampa then sits ringside wearing the belt just to piss Lethal off. The champion is obviously aware of the striking power Roderick possesses so quickly sets about wearing him down with submission holds. They then proceed to CHOP THE SH*T OUT OF EACH OTHER! Horrific shots there but still Lethal dominates. Strong is sent to the outside with a springboard dropkick and, with Tommaso just yards away, Jay dives through the ropes into the tope suicida. Lethal is clearly distracted by the Dominant Male which works out great for Roderick as he lies around recovering, before grabbing him to hit a back suplex into the side of the ring. That’s the cue for the usual assault on the spine…and Jay doesn’t like that at all. CHOP DUEL AGAIN! Once more it’s Strong that backs down; he stops the chop war and grabs a bear hug instead. Hiptoss dropkick COUNTERED TO THE STRONGHOLD! Finally somebody counters that f*cking combination! Stalling brainbuster gets 2 for the challenger. Strong gets complacent and, such is Lethal’s quality and resilience, the second he turns his back Jay springs into action to hit that hiptoss dropkick combo. He unleashes more ferocious chops and strikes then the handspring elbow for 2. DEATH BY RODERICK GETS 2! Four minutes left in the time limit by the way. Gibson Driver escaped with a hurricanrana…then Lethal scores another nearfall with a dropkick. Lethal Combination scores…and a tired champion starts climbing the ropes. MACHO ELBOW NAILED…FOR 2! Lethal Injection COUNTERED WITH THE SICK KICK! With some assistance from Ciampa, Roddy scoops Lethal up for the SUPLEX FLIP BACKBREAKER! STRONG WINS! New TV Champion at 13:19

Rating – *** – The best of the Strong/Lethal matches we’ve seen in ROH thus far. It still wasn’t perfect, but I liked the amount of great countering they were busting out, along with some simply amazing strike exchanges. The finish, with Tommaso smashing Lethal into the ringpost, was a little unnecessary (could he not have just distracted Jay?), and from a creative standpoint I really don’t know why you keep the belt on Lethal at the 10th Anniversary rather than put it on Tommaso who badly needed the rub…then take it off him two shows later to give it to Roderick who doesn’t need it at all. Weird booking aside this was good, and even if he doesn’t need it, it’s nice to see Roderick take the belt and guarantee his place in ROH history as a triple crown winner. For his length of service to this promotion he really does deserve that…

Strong gets a standing ovation and, although he tries to retain his heel persona, you can see that he’s ecstatic to have won an ROH title in his home state.

Davey Richards vs Michael Elgin – ROH World Title Match
The House Of Truth have been in hot pursuit of Richards and his World Championship for months. The first Sinclair-televised World Title Match was Roderick Strong challenging for the belt in fact. It’s a feud which has produced some hard-hitting matches and split up the American Wolves…but ultimately looks to have concluded without Martini gaining control of the top prize in the promotion. That could all change tonight. Elgin defeated Davey’s training partner Kyle O’Reilly in the Blind Destiny qualifier, and now steps up for a World Title opportunity in the headline bout on one of ROH’s biggest shows of the year. This will be a second defence of the belt for Richards in less than 24 hours. Will the fatigue from that, on top of his gruelling travel schedule and international commitments, mean he’s not at the top of his game? Unbreakable is so powerful and intimidating that he’ll need to be if he’s to leave Florida with the World Championship belt still around his waist.

Taking a page out of Generico’s book in his match with Steen yesterday, Davey sprints across the ring and starts pummelling Elgin with big kicks. He lands a tope suicida within the first 30 seconds of the contest as his hot start continues! To the apron, which turns out to be a risk too many and Michael capitalises to beat him back into the ring with a clubbing lariat. Now it’s the challenger’s turn to lay down a marker – demonstrating his amazing strength with a stalling vertical suplex which seems to go on for an eternity. Richards drops to his knees to counter an early attempt at the Spiral Bomb…so Unbreakable decides to haul him up and deliver a horrific knee to the stomach. Handspring Enzi COUNTERED into an Argentine backbreaker. Davey is really struggling, throwing wild strikes in the direction of Elgin, only to be easily smashed off his feet once more. The ribs and back are obviously starting to bother the champion and that quickly becomes a focus for Michael’s offence. Davey ups the ante and hurts himself to deliver a missile dropkick to the side of the head…and that’s the risk he needs to take to stop the dominance Elgin has enjoyed for the last few minutes. It softens the challenger up for him to hit a volley of elbow strikes into an exploder suplex for 2. Wrist clutch variant attempted too, but the back is hurting and he can’t get the big man up.

He has to chase Elgin up the ropes to hit a SUPERPLEX! BUT ELGIN NO SELLS! Davey is hurt and in absolute disbelief – what does he need to do to beat the challenger? ELGIN ENZI KICKS HIM IN THE FACE! BACK DROP DRIVER BY RICHARDS! ELGIN NO SELLS AGAIN! LARIATOOOO! ANKLELOCK! Unbreakable wisely crawls straight out of the ring as Davey holds his back in pain. The champ tries the running punt from the apron…COUNTERED TO A FISHERMAN BUSTER ON THE FLOOR! POWERBOMB INTO THE F*CKING GUARDRAILS! Somehow Davey kicks out but the injuries sustained could well be terminal for his championship reign! CORKSCREW SENTON NAILED! Elgin never hits that, but this time he does and comes crashing down across the ribs again. We’re approaching fifteen minutes and this has been nothing short of sensational thus far. Michael thinks about the big finish and sets up the Spiral Bomb from the second rope…only for Richards to block it with elbows to the head. HEAD DROP DRAGON SUPERPLEX! ARE F*CKING KIDDING ME? ELGIN KICKS OUT – STRAIGHT INTO THE ANKLELOCK! They took a while to set that spot up but when they did it was psychotic! The crowd are going crazy for Elgin after that! Richards drills him with more kicks but all they are doing is firing him up!

They take turns DESTROYING each other with knee strikes and Kawada kicks…and the challenger’s efforts are wowing this crowd so much they’ve actually turned on Davey and are cheering him on. CHAOS THEORY…GETS 2! Elgin puts even more pressure on the back with a crossface and there’s a split second where the champ looks like his lights are going out! Both guys can barely stand now, so how they drag their asses to the ropes is beyond me. Richards takes advantage to hit a dragon screw in the ropes then starts to climb with malicious intent. DOUBLE STOMP TO THE APRON! DOUBLE STOMP AGAIN…FOR 2! Wrist clutch exploder nailed second time of asking but still Elgin kicks out and that burst of effort might have been all Davey had left in the tank! Buzzsaw Kick blocked with a Roaring Elbow. Buckle Bomb…DAVEY NO SELLS! ELGIN LARIATS HIM IN THE FACE! SPIRAL BOMB COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK! COUNTERED TO THE LEBELL LOCK! ELGIN KICKS RICHARDS IN THE FACE! SPINNING BACK FIST! SPIRAL BOMB…DAVEY KICKS OUT!! LEBELL LOCK AGAIN! The crowd are begging Richards not to tap! HE PUTS ELGIN IN THE ANKLELOCK WHILST HE’S STILL IN THE LEBELL LOCK! Richards is bent double in pain, and the crowd erupts again as Elgin escapes. KNEE IN THE FACE! ELGIN KICKS OUT AT F*CKING 1! HE WON’T GO DOWN! BUZZSAW KICK…ELGIN KICKS OUT AGAIN! KNOCK-OUT KICK! IT’S OVER! Davey wins a classic at 26:19, and these two just had the best match of the entire weekend here in Florida…

Rating – ****1/2 – Unbelievable match, and a sensational performance delivered on a huge stage. Admittedly it’s only March but it’s hard to see anything topping that for ROH MOTY already. An absolute classic – and to deliver that amongst arguably the most criticism and negativity ROH have ever had during a Wrestlemania weekend double header is quite remarkable. It’s the championship-defining bout that Davey Richards has been crying out for since he won it last June, and it’s a career defining match for Michael Elgin. Unbreakable has long been considered a top prospect by ROH fans. But forget Survival Of The Fittest, this is the match that MADE him in the eyes the Ring Of Honor fans. Performances like that are what take you from promising midcarder to accepted main event talent. The journey they took us on was spectacular. Davey, weary from Day 1’s action, tried to end it quickly with a big start…but couldn’t do it and ended up being methodically picked apart by the big man. With his ribs and back screaming in pain he showed great resilience whilst attacking Elgin’s leg to set up his submission holds…and by the end it was two injured warriors beating the sh*t out of each other and refusing to lose. That Elgin 1-count in the dying moments of the match was, very possibly, my favourite moment of Wrestlemania weekend across all promotions. The place just came unglued! Being an asshole uber-critic, I have to say I couldn’t quite go 5* on it. The selling, as ever with Davey, was inconsistent (although it has to be said, he was miles better in this than he can be) and some of the spots, whilst amazing, took a little too long to set up. But this was still a top bout and it will take something truly amazing to unseat it in the year end honours.

Davey gets a lot of stick for these cheesy show ending promos…but he does show amazing humility for spending the majority of it praising Michael Elgin. They get a standing ovation to close the show.

Tape Rating – *** – I might get some heat for this, but I thought this was pretty much a one match show. There is SO much filler on this card compared to Day 1. Obviously Davey/Elgin was out of this world, but nothing else got above low end midcard level this afternoon…and it was an event marred by horrible booking, awful finishes and a number of matches that left me SO frustrated with ROH’s current creative direction. What the hell was that finish in the ANX/Bucks match? Why keep the belt on Lethal at Ciampa’s expense then give it to Strong who doesn’t need it? And that’s before we even talk about the ippv feed problems and the complete farce that was the Cole/O’Reilly match. In summary, Richards vs Elgin was easily the best match of the weekend and will most likely be ROH’s MOTY. If you’re only getting one of the Showdown In The Sun shows, it should probably be Day 2 just for that match. But as a top-to-bottom show, I have to say Day 1 was much better. To end on a positive note, ROH had a bit of a cloud hanging over it this weekend. With Wrestlemania having two ROH legends going in as World Champions (Punk and Danielson) and with DGUSA promoting some awesome cards, you could be forgiven for sleeping on Ring Of Honor. So it’s to their immense credit that they delivered two decent shows…and in Steen/Generico and Richards/Elgin I thought they had the best two matches from all the promotions that ran shows that weekend.

Top 3 Matches
3) Young Bucks vs All Night Express (***)
2) Jay Lethal vs Roderick Strong (***)
1) Davey Richards vs Michael Elgin (****1/2)

Top 5 Showdown In The Sun Weekend Matches
5) Roderick Strong vs Jay Lethal (*** – Day 2)
4) Mike Bennett vs Lance Storm (**** – Day 1)
3) Davey Richards vs Roderick Strong vs Eddie Edwards (**** – Day 1)
2) Kevin Steen vs El Generico (****1/2 – Day 1)
1) Davey Richards vs Michael Elgin (****1/2 – Day 2)