ROH Tag Team Turmoil 7/8/2011

ROH 287 – Tag Team Turmoil – 8th July 2011

Best In The World 2011 saw the Sinclair era begin with a bang. This weekend marks the final ‘regular’ Ring Of Honor events before SBG really get to grips with the product and make major changes, starting next month with the first TV tapings in Chicago. I’m not sure the line-ups for either show this weekend will particularly set the pulses racing, but it’s often these potentially underwhelming events that go on to really surprise you and become sleeper hits. Tonight we have Tag Team Turmoil, an apt name for a show with only six matches booked – five of which being tag team encounters. The headline bout sees the American Wolves team again just weeks after their epic World Title clash in New York, with their opponents being Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin. We also have the ROH ‘Contenders Lottery’ tournament (with four teams meeting in a one-night tournament to earn $5000 and a shot at the ROH Tag Titles) and a defence of the belts by the existing champions as Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team defend against Colt Cabana and El Generico. We’re in Richmond, VA (for the last time to date…ROH under SBG stewardship is yet to revisit this market). Commentary comes from Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak.

How is Eric Santamaria back in this company? Whilst I don’t agree with it, if Sinclair don’t like Dave Prazak that’s fair enough…but in what way is this guy better? Tonight he appears to have snagged Bobby Cruise’s job as well, and introduces Jim Cornette to the live crowd.

Cornette is only here to introduce Davey Richards anyway…thus making Eric even more pointless. Richards cuts a vaguely more coherent version of his post-match New York promo before being interrupted by Truth Martini and Roderick Strong. Roddy makes fun of his crying which pisses Richards off…but Cornette refuses to let House Of Truth (Elgin is in the ring too now) goad Davey into agreeing to put the title on the line. Eddie Edwards runs out to even the odds…so Martini calls his troops back.

Shane Hagadorn thinks Chris Hero’s ‘travel problems’ are BS, and feels disrespected by ROH officials considering he’s the most successful manager in Ring Of Honor history. Slightly pointless…

Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander vs Adam Cole/Rhett Titus – Contenders Lottery Match
We started 2011 with back to back impressive performances from Caprice at Champions vs All Stars and Only The Strong Survive. ROH promised he’d be back and they’ve delivered on that promise. He teams with another stand-out talent from this region in Cedric in what should be an athletic and exciting battle against THE outstanding young team in Ring Of Honor right now.

O’Reilly and Alexander start with some crisp and entertaining chain-wrestling which is warmly received by the live crowd. Cole and Coleman do very similar when they take their turns in the ring together. Future Shock string together a few combo moves on Caprice which gives them the first significant advantage of the match. Rolling Butterflies from Kyle…but Coleman blocks the double arm DDT and shoves him into an athletic kick from Alexander. Rolling northern lights suplexes from Caprice, an amusing retort to O’Reilly’s signature spot. The new team start showing veteran instincts by cutting the ring in half and preventing a tag to Cole – using multiple double team spots to keep O’Reilly on the canvas. Even when Kyle tries to fight back Alexander completely FLOORS him with a roundhouse kick straight to the side of the head. In the end O’Reilly has to dropkick Caprice’s knee out from under him and lunge into the hot tag to Cole. Tornado DDT from O’Reilly, then a suplex crossbody double team gets Future Shock a close nearfall. Adam is flipped over the ropes…so Coleman hits a RINGPOST 619 kick, shoving him into the path of a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA from Alexander! STANDING SUPER RANA/FROG SPLASH COMBO! O’Reilly only just kicks out! SWINGING NECKBREAKER/BRIDGING GERMAN COMBO! 2 AGAIN! Cedric takes O’Reilly upstairs but ends up trapped in a tree of woe and blasted with stereo basement dropkicks. TOTAL ELIMINATION on Cedric! Future Shock advance at 12:01

Rating – *** – I really liked this. I liked Coleman and Alexander individually at the last Richmond/Charlotte weekend, and I liked them even more as a tag team this time around. Most of this match wasn’t overly flashy, but it was good solid junior heavyweight wrestling absolutely perfect for its spot on the card. Excellent choice to jerk, and we need to see more from Caprice and Cedric.

Bravado Brothers vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe – Contenders Lottery Match
The Briscoes have to be the overwhelming favourites to win this thing. They are 6-time former Tag Champions and probably possess more experience as a tag team than the other three teams in this tournament have combined. They face the Bravados, who aren’t flavour of the month with fans or management after they brought the spectacular GenerationMe/Future Shock dark match to a non-contest at Best In The World. It would be a major upset, and huge addition to their resume if Harlem and Lancelot could somehow get past the Briscoes here…but they do have extra motivation in that they’ll get to have their long awaited ‘grudge match’ with Cole and O’Reilly if they get there.

Am I the only one who hates the Briscoes’ new death metal entrance music? They boot the unsuspecting Bravado Brothers in the face to get the match started. Mark takes Lance to the floor to kick his ass out there whilst Jay decimates Harlem inside the ring – scoring several nearfalls in the process. Mark pulls Harlem out next, brutally smashing him into the guardrail whilst Jay distracts the referee. Even when a regulation tag match breaks out there is still near enough zero Bravado offence to speak of. Harlem manages a standing Shiranui out of nowhere and makes a crucial tag to Lancelot who actually strings a few moves together. Mark quickly stops that with a rolling DVD then is joined by his brother for the Splash Mountain Neckbreaker. Doomsday Device nailed…but Jay pulls Lance’s shoulder up at 2 to continue the assault. Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin run in, leading to Benjamin superkicking a chair into Jay’s face. The Bravados snatch the unlikeliest of wins at 06:23

Rating – ** – As a match this wasn’t anything spectacular but I’ll give the booking a lot of credit. The Briscoes don’t need to win this tournament at all – in fact letting them win would be nothing more than a vanity exercise and would deprive other teams of the opportunity for some much-needed bragging rights. Jay and Mark are ALWAYS top contenders for the Tag Titles in essence. They absolutely battered the Bravados, and had the benefit of a run-in finish, so nobody is acting like the Bravados are ‘better than them’. But for Harlem and Lance, a win over the Briscoes is a MASSIVE deal. They’ll have bragging rights, ammunition for their promos, something to rub in Future Shock’s faces etc.

Mike Bennett vs Kenny King
These two are both strong midcard acts, so their eligibility for future title shots and bigger match opportunities is almost entirely dependent on beating the other one here. Both King and Bennett have been embroiled in feuds recently (King with the Briscoes, Bennett with Steve Corino) so have slightly lost focused on their singles aspirations…

The Prodigy is coming into this after a loss in New York, and he starts slow here with King getting the better of the majority of the opening exchanges. That is until Mike shows his knowledge of King’s skillset by COUNTERING Kenny’s Japanese armdrag with one of his own. King fires back with an STO into a standing moonsault for 2. Bennett keeps blocking King’s moves as he evades a spinebuster, ducks a spinning heel kick then nails his own spinebuster for 2. The ANX member’s ability to hit his signature moves has been compromised, and it’s at this point that Bennett starts to dominate. That lasts for a couple of minutes before Kenny retaliates with a spinning heel kick. Capo Kick follows, into a corkscrew enziguri for 2! Prodigy rakes the eyes…but it isn’t enough to stop King hanging him in the ropes. He hides behind Todd Sinclair instead, and when King goes for his springboard clothesline Mike emerges from behind the official to counter it with a dropkick. APRON BACKBREAKER! Bennett follows it with a diving clothesline to the floor as well! Side Effect countered with the cradle suplex from King…but Bennett turns the Royal Flush into a schoolboy with the tights…and wins at 09:16

Rating – *** – Lousy cheap finish, but the match before it was actually deceptively good. I’d go so far as to include it with Bennett/O’Reilly (HDNet 99), Bennett/Daniels (Defy Or Deny) and Bennett/Lethal (Best In The World 2011) as one of The Prodigy’s best ROH matches thus far. He had his working boots on tonight, and they produced a smart little encounter based around Bennett’s ability to continually counter King’s signature moves. That meant Kenny was never able to mount any genuine momentum, and ultimately played into the finish when Bennett countered yet another move in order to secure the victory.

Rhett Titus (who doesn’t have a match tonight since Hero couldn’t make it) comes to point out Bennett’s cheating to Todd Sinclair. Despite clearly not having seen it (hence he counted to three), Todd reverses the decision and awards the match to Kenny King…much to Bennett’s irritation. He throws Titus into the guardrails, so Jim Cornette comes out and forces Bennett into facing Rhett later tonight…

Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin vs Colt Cabana/El Generico – ROH Tag Title Match
If you’re honest, it’s hard to justify the decision to give Colt and Generico a title shot here. Admittedly Generico is red hot having won the TV Title from Chris Daniels at the last show, but even that shouldn’t be enough to earn a Tag Title shot for two guys who stopped teaming in late 2010! It’s good to see Colt and Generico back together though, and they are perhaps the beneficiaries of WGTT’s vow to be fighting champions and defend their belts against all comers. In 2010 Colt said Generico’s preoccupation with Kevin Steen was all that stopped them from becoming Tag Champions. Now that Steen is ‘gone’ from ROH, will the team be able to win the titles this evening?

Before the match starts the Briscoes try to attack WGTT and have to be ejected from the building by Jim Cornette (who is all over the show tonight). That interjection puts Charlie Haas in a foul mood and he is in no mood for Colt Cabana’s usual antics. Perhaps sensibly Generico volunteers to start for his team, even though WGTT both of them take turns in comprehensively out-wrestling him. Finally he hits a few armdrags on Shelton then agrees to let Cabana in. As expected, Cabana doesn’t take it seriously and dons Rick Steiner-esque headgear and tries to lure Benjamin into a mat-wrestling exchange…only for Shelton to kick him in the face. Haas gives Generico similar treatment and once again the champions take control of the match. Benjamin hits a devastating Argentine backbreaker, staying on the back afterwards as well when he follows up with a camel clutch then a powerslam. Haas tags and dishes out the rolling German suplexes to do yet more damage. Slingshot spinning Samoan drop gets 2! Colt is roaring encouragement to his partner in broken Spanish which is really funny, but somewhat distracting. The hot tag does eventually come and Cabana comes in to smash Shelton into the ringpost. Generico sort of connects with a somersault plancha on him as he falls to the floor, leaving Colt in the ring to get 2 with a jumping ass strike on Haas. Flying Asshole next, but Shelton breaks the fall and drops Colt with a spinebuster. Quebrada misses and WGTT capitalise, looking to hit the Leapfrog Hilo. SPRINGBOARD CROSSBODY by Generico for the save! Yakuza Kick then the rope run swinging DDT on Benjamin for 2! Haas chases the TV Champion up the ropes but fails…so Shelton tries instead, and slips on the ropes trying to kick Generico in the face. Then he botches the Leapfrog Hilo spot…and hits his flatliner to win at 14:55

Rating – * – What the hell was up with Haas and Benjamin tonight? I don’t think they hit a spot clean all match, with everything they did ranging from clumsy and mis-communicated…or sloppy…right the way through to some horrible botches in the closing moments which killed the match. Cabana and Generico were working within themselves too which didn’t help. The structure of a decent match was there, and some of the stuff they did was good (Generico’s crossbody to counter that Leapfrog Hilo spot for instance) but too much of this was bush league, amateur hour stuff…and considering the experience of these four men that’s not acceptable.

Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly vs Bravado Brothers – Contenders Lottery Final
These two teams have wrestled each other multiple times in the last nine months, both on HDNet television and at live events. Future Shock have the edge in matches won, but the last time we ran these markets it was the Bravados beating Cole and O’Reilly in Charlotte at Only The Strong Survive. Lance and Harlem are pissed that their slated grudge match was cancelled from the Best In The World card so the Young Bucks face them instead…and have turned up at multiple shows they’ve not actually been booked for in recent months. Will Cole and O’Reilly pick up the victory and a shot at the titles, or will it be the Bravados completing one of the biggest underdog stories in ROH history and taking the title shot and the $5000 home to Grandma Bravado?

The Bravados attack Cole and O’Reilly during their entrance which demonstrates how seriously they’re taking this. Lancelot is all bandaged up after the assault by the Briscoes…and Harlem has to pull him to safety as Future Shock threaten to hit him with the same double superkick that knocked him out at Supercard Of Honor. MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON BY O’REILLY! But credit to the Bravados as they weather that and set to work trying to isolate Cole from his partner. Several minutes pass before Adam does make the hot tag…and O’Reilly mows Harlem down with a violent strike flurry. He lands a double missile dropkick for 2 then lifts him for the Rolling Butterflies/Elevated Double Arm DDT/Ocean Cyclone sequence for another nearfall! RUNNING SUICIDE DIVE BY HARLEM! Belly to belly by Lancelot…leaving O’Reilly in position for a frog splash by Harlem as he returns to the ring! CHAOS THEORY FOR 2! Lancelot then sprints across the ring to stop Cole hitting his flying crossbody…so Kyle scrambles up the ropes to help his partner with a sunset flip bomb! Crossbody nailed second time of asking! SUPERKICK BRAINBUSTER COMBO by Cole and O’Reilly…into a front choke by Kyle! Harlem taps at 08:48 meaning Future Shock win the tournament

Rating – *** – More of the usual between these two teams in that the dynamism and athleticism of Cole and O’Reilly mesh really well with the goofy characters of the Bravados. Harlem and Lance are good at what they do, meaning live audiences enjoy watching them get their asses kicked. I wasn’t expecting great things from this tournament and in the end it was nothing more than a gimmick to make a low-level B-show seem more exciting. But the booking has been solid and we leave with both the Bravados and Future Shock looking like much bigger deals than when they arrived this evening.

Mike Bennett vs Rhett Titus
Does anyone else find it funny that Cornette and Delirious put their heads together and decided that a fitting consolation to the Richmond crowd for not getting to see Chris Hero was to make them sit through TWO Mike Bennett matches? After cheating to beat Kenny King earlier tonight he pissed the Executive Producer off enough that Cornette decided to make The Prodigy pull double duty…meaning Rhett has the opportunity to avenge his partner’s loss (even though the decision was overturned meaning Mike actually comes into this on a two match losing streak).

Titus sprints to the ring to get the fight started and beats on his opponent as his music continues to play. Bennett tries to throw him but Rhett catches himself and hangs his opponent in the ropes for a series of kicks to the head. Somersault plancha nailed to bring the crowd to their feet! The fight continues with Titus getting some revenge for earlier by flinging Bennett into the barriers then looking for a suplex on the exposed concrete floor…although Mike counters by hitting a reverse suplex onto the apron instead. Titus tries to spring out of the corner but finds himself countered again – this time into a spinebuster for 2. Bennett tries to use the trunks for another pin, but this time the referee is wise to it and stops counting the fall. Rhett tries the same trick but Bennett kicks out at 2 then hotshots him over the ropes. He tries a superplex only for Titus to counter it with the Snake Eyes. Thrust Buster nailed, followed by the big dropkick for another nearfall. Bennett blocks that swinging neckbreaker Titus has been using…so Rhett just keeps kicking him in the face from different positions. Frog splash misses, and Bennett reaches into his boots to pull out a chain. Kenny King sprints to the ring and steals it, allowing Titus to hit the ‘Rhettribution’ (double arm implant DDT) for the win at 11:41

Rating – ** – The Richmond crowd were really hot for this so I guess it succeeded on that level. I personally struggled to get into it though. I liked the brawling segment, and I’ll credit Titus for the way he’s developed his character as nobody had any trouble buying him as an ass kicker coming for revenge for his tag partner…but too much of this was slow and basic for my taste.

In the locker room Cole and O’Reilly are wearing huge smiles after winning the Contenders Tag Lottery this evening. Kyle says they’re going straight into training for their title shot…

Roderick Strong/Michael Elgin vs American Wolves
Despite being in the same faction for a while now, Roddy and Elgin haven’t teamed together too often. They seem well suited to being partners though, and certainly didn’t main event the last ROH event fighting each other as with their opposition this evening. How will the American Wolves fare this evening having put each other through hell at Best In The World? Their last two matches have ended in arguments and defeat and I’m not sure they’ve actually won a match as a team since last summer so they’ll be looking to turn their fortunes around pretty quickly.

Elgin and Edwards start for their respective teams, wasting no time in getting physical with a series of big forearm exchanges. Tags all round bringing Strong and Richards back together, and they immediately showcase both their skills and their immense familiarity with each other. Elgin blocks Davey’s running kick from the apron and sweeps him face-first onto the edge of the ring. Roddy is in place to capitalise as he punishes the new World Champion with a series of chops on the outside. Eddie and Roderick engage in their own chop exchange, hugely reminiscent of Manhattan Mayhem 4, until Strong thinks better of it and shoves Eddie into their corner where Elgin is waiting to deliver a big knee smash. Eddie endures some punishment but shows his resilience by bringing Michael to the Wolves’ corner where he and Davey deliver a chop/kick sequence that leave the ‘Unbreakable one’ on the ropes. Elgin doesn’t go down though and turns the match on it’s head again as he lands a powerslam then sends Davey out of the ring where Strong and Truth Martini deliver some cheap shots. The champion recovers with a spinning heel kick on Elgin before making a much-needed tag to Edwards. But Eddie has similar problems even getting Elgin off his feet…with Michael even catching him as he attempts the flying Codebreaker. Roderick pops up again to nail an illegal enzi kick to ensure the advantage stays with the House Of Truth. Eventually Eddie almost drops Strong on his head hitting that back drop facebuster, seemingly injuring Strong’s shoulder in the process.

Richards tags and hits the Handspring Enzi on Elgin for 2! Elbow smash flurry into an urinage suplex for 2! Anklelock on Elgin…but he’s too powerful and counters out to hit a sidewalk slam! Machine Gun Kicks on Strong…countered to the Black Superkick for 2! Roderick hits the urinage backbreaker then an Olympic Slam but still can’t put the World Champion down! DEATH BY RODERICK/LARIAT COMBO FOR 2! Edwards in and he runs straight into a corner with Strong for MACHINE GUN CHOP DUEL! ELBOW SUICIDA ON ELGIN! Eddie ran straight past Roderick to seamlessly hit that…and returns to the ring with the Backpack Stunner on him! Richards is back and the Wolves hit the double Alarm Clock then the Superkick German Suplex combo for 2! ALL FOUR TRADE STRIKES! KICKS INSTEAD! SAITO SUPLEX BY EDDIE! GERMAN SULEX BY ELGIN! ALL FOUR DOWN! Elgin is up first to hit a PUMPHANDLE GERMAN SUPLEX! Eddie starts chopping the sh*t out of him…SO ELGIN PICKS BOTH WOLVES UP! SAMOAN DROP/FALLAWAY SLAM AT THE SAME TIME! Davey blocks the Spiral Bomb and counters it to the Anklelock! Strong tries to save…ACHILLES LOCK ON HIM! The HOT try to tap…but Martini dives in and grabs their hands so they can’t! DOUBLE SUPERKICK ON MARTINI! QUADROUPLE STOMP ON ELGIN…GETS 2! KNOCK OUT KICK BY DAVEY! This time Elgin has nothing left to give and he’s pinned at 31:27

Rating – **** – These teams were sent out with a 30-minute time allocation and a simple mission: to produce a show-stealing match. They certainly delivered on that, putting together a hard-hitting, half hour long war which, particularly in the last seven minutes, was unbelievably good. It started slow and did seem to take a while to get going, but by the end, with four guys stiffing the crap out of each other, I don’t think anyone in Richmond really minded. Credit to Elgin as this will almost certainly be the longest ROH match he’s worked and he had no problems hanging with Edwards, Richards or Strong.

Tape Rating – ** – Ring Of Honor have rightfully received lots of praise for their recent DVD releases as they’ve all been very good. So equally I’m sure they’d concede that this wasn’t a particularly remarkable evening for the promotion. The card, which was underwhelming on paper, was unspectacular in the extreme. Yes, a few matches were fun, but everything was short and forgettable. The Tag Title Match was a mess, it’s a show with TWO Mike Bennett matches and there’s really nothing to see outside of the great main event. Very much a house show, and the whole company is very much in stall mode as they wait for August and September when the first TV tapings and next iPPV come around. If you’re desperate to see the biggest win in Cole and O’Reilly’s ROH careers thus far, or you really like the American Wolves this is worth picking up…but you’re missing nothing if you skip it.

Top 3 Matches
3) Kenny King vs Mike Bennett (***)
2) Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly vs Bravado Brothers (***)
1) American Wolves vs Roderick Strong/Michael Elgin (****)

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