Category Archives: Ring of Honor

Ring of Honor TV review (Sept. 6): Young Bucks vs. The Addiction, Silas vs. Kendrick

When you watch enough wrestling, it’s hard to actually have moments or matches where you have to step back and wonder, “What exactly did I just see?” Some promotions make a living (or go out of business) by having such events in a bad way.

The latest episode of ROH had the “WTF?” quality, but it wasn’t a bad thing. It … was a good thing. A VERY good thing.

The first match is good. The second match is a hidden gem. The main event? The hardest I’ve popped for a tag match in more than four years.

If you haven’t yet, get off your ass (or stay on it) and watch this show. If you’re a fan of fast-paced, athletic, pure in-ring competition, this is one of the greatest hours of professional wrestling you’ll see.

•••

We get superkicks for days in the main event! But we start with The Decade. Yay.

ROH 090614 BJ Whitmer

I still think BJ Whitmer sucks as a human being, especially after interrupting that Tadarius Thomas promo. Granted, Thomas’ second take was actually better until the end.

“You have no redeeming qualities. You’re a piece of shit, and I hope you die.”

That was a bit much. Anyway, Whitmer and Jacobs are in action.

THE DECADE (BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs, w/Adam Page & Tadarius Thomas) vs. CAPRICE COLEMAN & WATANABE

ROH 090614 Caprice Coleman Watanabe The Decade

Nice trunks, Whitmer. What a smug bitch. Watanabe hits a lariat for the first advantage, and we get a tag and a drop toehold/splash to the back combo. Jacobs gets in and eats a Coleman dropkick and a kick combination. Also, nice trunks, Jacobs. I actually mean it that time. Watanabe whips Jacobs into the corner multiple times and side slams him. But Watanabe gets too close to the wrong corner, and Whitmer evens the score on the apron. Neckbreaker and cover, but Jacobs can’t really follow up. Nice vertical suplex from Watanabe, and it’s time to tag. Coleman goes right, left, right, lariat, right, elbow, claw before Whitmer hits him from behind. Coleman responds with a frankensteiner for Whitmer, a chain of three Northern Lights suplexes for Jacobs, and a springboard moonsault to the floor on both. Great sequence.

Dropkicks for both in the ring, and a tag to a fresh Watanabe, but since Whitmer’s still in there, he stops the threat. Coleman pulls the rope to dump Whitmer, then Watanabe hits a belly-to-back on Jacobs and goes up top with his partner. Whitmer knocks Coleman off and distracts Watanabe, which leads to a Jacobs spear and a double-team finisher, the All Seeing Eye.

Time: 6:16

Technical Merit: Caprice is fantastic. The man just doesn’t seem to slow down, especially in a tag-team setting. Great combinations and sequences that really moved the match along.

Artistic Impression: The bad guys took a beating, but won the numbers game at the end. Was it decisive? No. Does that matter? Not really.

TOTAL SCORE: **1/4

After the match, The Decade starts recruiting? I guess it’s the “if you can’t beat us, join us” philosophy.

ROH 090614 Jimmy Jacobs The Decade

Caprice puts an end to that when he comes to.

•••

ROH 090614 Silas Young

“The other day, I walked into the house, and I saw my nephew on the computer, and he told me he was being cyber-bullied. So I picked up the keyboard, I smacked him in the back of the head, and i told him, ‘Now you’re really being bullied.'”

A great prelude to the appearance of The Last Real Man in Professional Wrestling.

ROH 090614 Silas Young 2

Also, he doesn’t like streamers, so he throws them back. I’ve found my favorite heel in ROH.

Hey, I remember this guy!

ROH 090614 Brian Kendrick

His TNA run was … well … interesting. He’s, well, interesting. Maybe he’ll have an interesting match!

BRIAN KENDRICK vs. “The Last Real Man” SILAS YOUNG

ROH 090614 Brian Kendrick Silas Young

Silas doesn’t think much of the Code of Honor, so Kendrick gives us the first superkick of the night. Drives the knee into the back of Silas’ head and the cover. Several kicks, but that just makes Silas angry as he hits a lariat. Meanwhile, Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are marking out to Kendrick on the mic. Chops from Kendrick, but forearm to the back from Young. Kendrick rollup, then some forearm shots. Charge in the corner, but Silas bodydrops him on the floor.

COMMERCIAL BREAK … and the weekly Jay Lethal Markout Moment

ROH 083014 Jay Lethal

Next week? Briscoes vs. Young Bucks.

“It’s been a real long time since we got to whoop yo ass. You got a little bit more pretty, we got a little more ugly, and next week, it’s gonna be a pretty damn ugly ass-whipping for y’all little bitches.”

ROH 090614 Jay Mark Briscoe

That’s it. I’m a Jay Briscoe mark. I love the ugly son-of-a-bitch.

ANYWAY, BACK TO THE MATCH …

It’s the 3:36 mark, and Silas is covering Kendrick. Headlock on the floor, then Silas hits a powerslam, but Brian rolls through! I like it. Silas doesn’t, so he’ll trade chops with Kendrick, who has much better ring attire than last time I saw. Pretty sure the tighty-whitey look was his thing for a while.

Now we switch to forearms, then kicks, and Kendrick ends it with a heel kick. Standing moonsault? Nope, that’s blocked. A few seconds later, the best rolling senton I’ve ever seen. Silas pops right back up, does a headstand thing on the top turnbuckle, but misses the springboard moonsault. Kendrick hits Sliced Bread No. 2, but Silas does a not-so-manly thing and gets his foot on the rope.

Forearm shot and another superkick, but a well-placed knee and a suplex from the apron to the floor put Silas in control … -ish. There’s no way that didn’t destroy both men.

ROH 090614 Brian Kendrick 2

Kendrick whips Silas into the edge of the ring, then Silas goes for some sort of body drop, but Kendrick hangs on and hits a sick DDT onto the mat. Brian goes up top and hits a frog splah, but that’s not enough either. Sliced Bread No. 2 attempt thwarted, so Kendrick goes for a backslide. Silas rolls out and just kicks the hell out of Kendrick’s dome. But that doesn’t faze him as Kendrick gets a boot up, but then he falls victim to a backbreaker/lariat combo for 2. Kendrick kicks out, so Silas locks in the King Cobra hold. Kendrick can’t hit the rope for a break, so he rolls Silas up for 2. Second attempt on the senton/springboard combo is successful, but Kendrick kicks out yet again.

ROH 090614 Silas Young 3

Superplex blocked, but Kendrick can’t take advantage as Silas crotches him up top, back to the ring. Kendrick fends off Silas and hits Sliced Bread No. 2 FROM THE TOP … for 2.

ROH 090614 Brian Kendrick 4

Kendrick jumps around a bit, and Silas puts Kendrick in a fireman’s carry. Kendrick goes for the rollup, but Silas sits into it and finally gets 3. Hell of a match.

ROH 090614 Brian Kendrick 3

Time: 11:23

Technical Merit: I forgot how good Kendrick is in the ring, and he showed a vicious side as well when needed. I’ve never been disappointed by Silas Young, and he played the counter game extremely well with Kendrick.

Artistic Impression: Both men hit multiple moves that could’ve ended the match, but they kept going. But it didn’t feel contrived like it does in WWE, when The Rock would hit about 3-4 of his finishers (and one of yours, AND the Sharpshooter) to no avail. They told a great in-ring story of attrition and determination, and you kind of knew it was going to be a matter of who can find a way to keep the other man down for 3 seconds as opposed to a decisive win.

TOTAL SCORE: ****

ROH 090614 Brian Kendrick Silas Young 2

NOW we get the handshake. Turns out you just have to earn Silas Young’s respect! I get a feeling that’s hard to do, though.

•••

ROH 090614 Matt Jackson Young Bucks

The superkick count is at 2 for the night. It’s about to increase exponentially. I’ll be honest … I HATED The Young Bucks as Generation Me in TNA. Like, “GET THEM OFF MY SCREEN!” hate. But that was 4 years ago. You know who I didn’t hate in TNA? Their opponents.

THE ADDICTION (Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels) vs. THE YOUNG BUCKS (Matt & Nick Jackson)

ROH 090614 Addiction Young Bucks 2

Corino hypes the Bucks as the best tag team in the world. Apparently he forgot about reDRagon. Hell, I know about reDRagon. Nice headscissors from Matt early, but Kaz keeps him from getting much further. But Matt tosses Nick into a missile dropkick on Kaz. Nick then tries to splash onto Kaz and Daniels, but they catch him. Matt slides under, and Kaz and Daniels throw Nick into Matt into the barricade. With that, it’s time for a break.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

We’re back at about 2:45, and Daniels is on Matt. Tag in, and a kick/lariat to the back/senton combo from The Addiction. But the Bucks take over from there and show some innovative double-team offense on both opponents.

OK, forget what I said earlier.

Nick handsprings for days … into a back rake. That’s awesome. Besides that, this is just too damn fast to call. Daniels bulldogs one Buck while clotheslining the other, then uses one to legdrop the other before a cover. For his next trick, he puts Matt up top, then catches him right into the reverse STO and the Koji Clutch!

Nick breaks it up, but Daniels maintains the aggression. Tag, then elbow drop/legdrop combo. Delayed vertical suplex from Kaz. Tag, and a leapfrog/lariat/assisted moonsault/springboard moonsault combo.

Spinning leg lariat from Daniels, which incapacitates Matt enough for him to turn right into Kaz’s corner. Another tag and a gutwrench suplex, and another break.

Just kidding! We’re right back at 8:30, and Matt’s still taking a beating from both foes. But Matt gets breathing room with a leaping snapmare driver variation from the top and … HOT TAG TO NICK!

Daniels takes the sea of lariats, and Kaz takes a dropkick. Nick’s just going off. Sitout facebuster from the apron back in on Daniels, then a tornado DDT onto the mat for Kaz. Nick re-enters with a top-rope crossbody for 2 as Nigel McGuinness rightly points something out … there hasn’t been a superkick, and we’re 10 1/2 minutes in. This feels very heelish. I’m down.

First attempt at one is blocked by Kaz, and he and Daniels hit a sitout powerbomb/neckbreaker tandem move for 2. Now a Full Nelson into a stomp from the top, and Daniels dives onto Matt outside. Meanwhile, Kaz hits a cutter on Nick for 2.

FIRST SUPERKICK of the match at 12:30 from Matt while Kaz has Nick tied up, and Nick rolls through for a cover. Daniels breaks it up, hits an enziguiri on Matt and goes for Angel’s Wings, but Matt headscissors out. Nick has running knees for both, and Matt has his own Sliced Bread No. 2 variation. Another running knee and a cover. Kaz causes the Bucks to collide, then comes from the apron back in with a DDT on Nick. Matt hits a spear, then Daniels with the palm strike and STO. We’re a few seconds away from two more superkicks, one by each Buck for each opponent. All four men down at 14:00.

Daniels up first and has a series of strikes for Nick. Spinning roundhouse for Nick and a lariat outside. Then … hold up. Kaz rolls Nick up. Matt goes for a kick to break it up, but Kaz, WHILE STILL IN THE ROLLUP, ducks a lariat, hits a Northern Lights suplex on Matt and COVERS THEM BOTH.

ROH 090614 Kazarian Young Bucks

Naturally, both kick out, because it’s hard to cover two men. He keeps the pressure on, but he gets stereo superkicks for his troubles. Bucklebomb into a kick to the back of the head. Matt hits a rolling senton to set up Nick, but Daniels knocks him off the top, comes back into the ring and lariats Matt out. He follows with a springboard moonsault onto the floor. He goes for a superplex attempt, but Nick blocks with a superkick. Kaz climbs up and hits the Flux Capacitor (great name for a finisher!) for 3.

… damn.

Time: 16:36

Superkick count: 6 (match), 8 (show). That’s 2 cubed, so it was exponential. Yes, I know. I’m a nerd.

Technical Merit: Kaz slipped a bit on the ropes before gathering himself and hitting his finisher. That’s the ONLY thing that wasn’t absolutely perfect. This was a 16-minute match that took about a half-hour to watch, just to go back and digest what moves actually took place. It was innovative and fast-paced, with plenty of fresh tandem moves and great individual efforts. You go into a tag-team match dreaming of something like this, and it happened here.

Artistic Impression: What’s not to love? In a one-off dream match, the only story you have is the one in the ring. Both teams told a beautiful story of athletic competition that’s just unparalleled in “mainstream” wrestling today. There just aren’t many teams who could keep up or have a match that good. There’s reDRagon … and who who else in the U.S.?

TOTAL SCORE: *****

I’ve now given the 5 twice. The first was Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro at NXT ArRIVAL, because it’s WWE’s match of the year. Granted, my wrestling viewing hasn’t strayed a whole lot from the mothership, especially from 2011 until a couple months ago, but this was the best tag team match I remember since the finale of the Motor City Machine Guns vs. Beer Money best-of-five series for the TNA Tag Team Championship in 2010. I saw that match and lost my damn mind. Hell, I’m gonna watch it again now! Bucks-Addiction had the same mind-blowing quality for me. Hopefully it happens again soon.

ROH 090614 Addiction Young Bucks 3

Advertisements

Ring of Honor TV review (Aug. 30): Elgin vs. Cedric, Briscoes vs. War Machine

“Bring yo ass.”

Those are the last words spoken in the intro package hyping what appears to be tonight’s main event between two ugly-ass, badass tag teams, The Briscoes and War MachineJay Briscoe dropped that line, but look at Rowe and Hanson. They’re more than ready to oblige.

ROH 083014 War Machine
All photos are screenshots from ROHWrestling.com.

Did I say main event? Make that a semi-main … because the world title is on the line?!

ROH 083014 Michael Elgin Cedric Alexander

OK, I’m in.

Hold up … the tag match is first?! Like right now … ?

Good lord. My kind of show!

WAR MACHINE (Rowe & Hanson) vs. THE BRISCOES (Jay & Mark)

ROH 083014 War Machine The Briscoes 2

I love the streamers, but how odd are they preceding this match?

ROH 083014 War Machine The Briscoes

Rowe with the power/real wrestling game to start, and when Jay blocks a shot from Rowe, both men tag. Random fun fact: Jay hasn’t been pinned in 2 years … ? Didn’t Roddy Piper have a crazy streak like that before WrestleMania 8? Anyway, way off topic here. Rowe’s beating the hell out of Mark in the corner; to be fair, any face rearrangements would be an improvement. Mark might be the ugliest man in wrestling.

ROH 083014 Mark Briscoe

Jay? A little bit better.

ROH 083014 Jay Briscoe

OK, Mark and Rowe are trading blows, but it’s time to plug for knee braces. I love the Internet.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Back to action, we’ll call it 4 minutes, 20 seconds in. Rowe with almost a running cannonball into a standing Mark, and Hanson hits what I’ll call a Clydesdale Buster. Far too big to be a Bronco. Mark gets into chops and punches to break free, and Jay tags in and puts in some work. Hanson cartwheels away, so Jay hits Rowe instead. Rowe hits a German suplex that would make Brock Lesnar jealous, then Mark clotheslines himself and Rowe out of the ring. With three men on the floor, Hanson hits a 275-pound suicide dive, but Mark knocks him onto the announce table a few seconds later. Jay, seeing an opportunity, stomps on Hanson and breaks the table. With Rowe fending for himself, the Briscoes take control, and Mark hits a huge lariat, but Rowe responds with a saito suplex that forces Mark to the floor. Jay leads with the left, then the headbutt, but Rowe lands some forearms and haymakers with the right until Hanson hiptosses him onto the floor. Mark hits a mule kick on Rowe, but then Hanson with his best Clothesline From Hell impression. Jay decides, “Let’s add some chairs!” But Hanson comes outside and introduces Jay to barricades on two sides. Then they decide mats are for pussies and pull them up. Unfortunately, a few more punches are about as far as they get before the ref calls the whole thing off.

Rowe provides the highlight a minute after a bell, tackling Mark from the apron onto a table as Jay can only look on.

ROH 083014 Jay Briscoe 2Internet Time: 9:12

Technical Merit: Plenty of impact and brutality, and it was all well applied. If you’re gonna have a brawl, these four are the men to call. Plus, War Machine are agile. I like bigger guys who can move, and Rowe and Hanson certainly can.

Artistic Impression: Artistic seems an odd word here, but there was an art to what these guys were doing. Two teams of asskickers came to kick ass, and wanted to kick ass so badly that the ref threw their asses out. I WANT A REMATCH!

TOTAL SCORE: ***

•••

ROH 083014 Jay Lethal

More knee brace promo time, only this time it’s also World Television Champion promo time. That means it’s the weekly Jay Lethal Markout Moment.

After that, another type of promo, this one from Caprice Coleman, a very stylish individual.

ROH 083014 Caprice Coleman

He implores his partner, Watanabe, to follow his lead, not that of The Decade. Seems like sound advice, right?

Wait, we get a Silas Young promo, too? YES!

“You know, I’m getting real sick of seeing these anti-bullying campaigns. If it wasn’t for bullying kids out of their lunch money on the schoolyard, I wouldn’t have been able to put myself through college.”

ROH 083014 Silas Young

Are you gonna mess with The Last Real Man? Neither would I.

•••

OK, back to wrestling, and back to The Decade. God, I hate Whitmer’s smug face. What a freaking tool. I’m glad this pic is blurry; it looks worse as it gets sharper.

ROH 083014 BJ Whitmer The Decade

Steve Corino sums it up best: “Whitmer’s been a real butthole lately.” But at least this match means Veda Scott’s on my screen. Hello, Red.

THE DECADE (Adam Page & Tadarius Thomas, w/BJ Whitmer) vs. R.D. EVANS & MOOSE (w/Veda Scott & Ramon)

ROH 083014 Moose RD Evans The Decade

Moose… Moose… Moose… Moose…

Now that that’s out of the way, Moose hits a dropkick on TD about 45 seconds in, then tags in to Evans, who is 139-0 how? Page puts an end to this mockery with a lariat. Like seriously … I think could whip R.D.’s ass. Tag back to TD, who stomps Evans’ face a bit and tags out. Page slips into a semi-pumphandle variation and takes Evans down. Suplex attempt countered into a backslide attempt countered, then escaped into stereo tags. Moose with some corner charges and a headbutt, and a flapjack to Thomas … then Evans blind tags in. Moose hits the spear, and Evans covers! Awesome.

ROH 083014 RD Evans

You know what that means …

ROH 083014 RD Evans 140-0

Ramon seriously brought 139-0 AND 140-0 signs to the ring. Well done!

The result, though, also means Whitmer slaps around the losers, who finally seem to grow a collective set, if only for a moment before cowering through the ropes. Whitmer REALLY sucks.

Time: 4:09

•••

Coming up on iPPV “next week” at All-Star Extravaganza VI … some matches I can get behind! It may or may not be set up on another tab to go after this.

•••

Last time I checked in on ROH, Cedric Alexander won the Golden Gauntlet for a title shot.

ROH 083014 Cedric Alexander

Tonight, he gets his reward. The champ is here, people.

ROH 083014 Michael Elgin

“Unbreakable” MICHAEL ELGIN (c) vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER, ROH World Championship

ROH 083014 Michael Elgin Cedric Alexander 3

Cedric starts with a running dropkick and a cover! Elgin tries for a crossface, but Alexander rolls into a cover. Then a monkey flip into a cover. Hey, gotta pin to win, right? Cedric is the aggressor, though Elgin starts driving the knee into the abdomen near the 1:30 mark. Then a reverse Tree of Woe sets up a running pair of knees into the back.

Random fun fact: Bryan Danielson apparently has the most ROH Title defenses with 38. Not sure whether that’s one reign, which they made it sound, or overall.

Not-so-random fact: Cedric tries to dive in from the apron, and Elgin’s fist causes a crash landing.

Alexander recovers to dropkick Elgin to the floor, but Elgin blocks a dive by pulling Alexander’s legs, picking him up and throwing him into the barricade. Then whipping him into another one.  And throwing him back into it. And getting a middle finger from an enthusiastic detractor on the other side.

Back in the ring, cover for 2. Cedric slaps the taste out of Elgin’s mouth, which responds with a spit in Cedric’s direction. That will motivate a man. A short dropkick to the head, however, will kill that momentum. Deep breath and a suplex attempt with a creative block — knees to the shoulder while up top. STO attempt turns into an armdrag, and a Samoan Drop turns into a gutwrench into a piledriver attempt, but Cedric blocks. Elgin tosses Alexander off, and Alexander returns with a Codebreaker. That, my friends, is counter wrestling.

Both men trade forearms, but Cedric absolutely no-sells Elgin’s. He pulls the rope to dump Elgin outside, and after some deliberation, he goes for the dive? Nope. He dupes Elgin, goes to the apron and hits the springboard lariat. Now the elbow pad is off, and the elbow is in Elgin’s face. Elgin follows Cedric off the ropes, but Alexander cuts him off and hits the Michinoku driver for 2. The frustration is starting to set in.

ROH 083014 Cedric Alexander 2

Back from commercial at about 9:00, and Elgin is in rest hold mode. Alexander hits an enziguiri upon release, then hits a big boot on Elgin as he charges into the corner. Elgin turns him around and hits him in the back of the head, then sets up like a Razor’s Edge but throws him over, instead of straight out, for a cover. Elgin has an enziguiri for Cedric, then Cedric has a springboard kick in response. Ced’s thinking top rope, but isn’t quick enough to execute, and it could be superplex time. Nope, it’s push off and leap over time, and for Elgin it’s “catch the left leg and work the knee” time. A few strikes, then he slaps on an over-the-shoulder single crab while calling some spots. That looks like it’ll stretch a man.

ROH 083014 Michael Elgin Cedric Alexander 4

Ced breaks the hold, and a few seconds later hits a jumping roundhouse to knock Elgin outside. THEN he hits the dive outside and a frog splash to the back on the inside, then one to the front … but Elgin kicks out at about 13:15.

Breather/reset time while Alexander sells the knee. Elgin goes for what looks like a discus clothesline, but Ced blocks with a strike to the head. Elgin elbow in the corner, but Alexander kicks Elgin while the latter is on his way up the buckles. Alexander goes for a move out of the fireman’s carry twice, but Elgin ducks and locks in that over-the-shoudler crab once more. Ced breaks, but gets a boot to the dome and a bucklebomb for his efforts. Cedric into a jackknife cover, then a Liontamer variation (the Stronghold), but the knee doesn’t hold up. It was enough, however, to injure Elgin’s back.

ROH 083014 Michael Elgin 2

Alexander attacks in the corner, but Elgin ducks, catches him and goes back into the horse collar … this time with some stomps to the head. That’s just VICIOUS. Cedric’s out, and Elgin escapes.

ROH 083014 Michael Elgin 3

Time: 16:13

Technical Merit: I like having to look up moves, because it further educates me as a fan. (In this case, the over-the-shoulder single crab.) If you’re doing that, you’re putting on a technically sound display. Both men brought a full arsenal to the dance, and it made for a great balance of submission holds, high-impact maneuvers, some aerial stuff and some straight-up beatdowns. Elgin has more mat skills, obviously, but I was more impressed with the challenger. Alexander is a star, and he’s believable doing anything in the ring. A great skill set and very fun to watch. This is twice in a row he’s impressed me.

Artistic Impression: I liked how Cedric kept getting frustrated, like he knew his chances were slipping away. I also liked how Elgin won the match, but he was far from standing tall at the end. You got the feeling these wrestlers pulled out all the stops to try to win a world championship.

TOTAL SCORE: ****

ROH 083014 Michael Elgin Cedric Alexander 5

Check back later this week for more reviews, including (hopefully) All-Star Extravaganza VI and (definitely) NXT Takeover II. Wanna talk wrestling? Comment below or follow me on Twitter @jpetrie18.

Ring of Honor TV review (Aug. 2): Cedric Alexander wins the Golden Gauntlet for a world title shot

The last episode was about the ROH Tag Team Championship. This one?  It’s for this.

All photos are screenshots from the ROHWrestling.com broadcast.
All photos are screenshots from the ROHWrestling.com broadcast.

Michael Elgin is taking on all comers, and he wanted the Golden Gauntlet match to take place. As a result, six men who have never been ROH World Champion have to go through each other to get to him, and they get an hour to sort it out.

I’m a huge fan of the past two “theme” episodes to set things up for later. No cheesy promos or five-move wonders … just go out, wrestle and see who’s the best. I can totally get used to this. I can also get used to Nigel McGuinness in the booth. He just seems so much more credible and intelligent than Steve Corino, who apparently is training for his match with Kevin Steen in the latter’s ROH farewell.

Anyway, no frills or gimmicks this week — just right into the Golden Gauntlet.

GOLDEN GAUNTLET for a future ROH World Championship shot

B.J. Whitmer (w/TaDarius Thomas & Adam Page) vs. Caprice Coleman

Obviously, these men are at a disadvantage for this event, and obviously there probably won’t be any huge risks — pace yourself, and hope the other man makes a mistake. McGuinness basically repeats this around the 1:45 mark. Chop exchange at about 2 minutes, and Whitmer goes with the thumb to the eye before and after the chops. Somebody tells Whitmer he sucks; Whitmer reminds that fan he’s No. 1. First cover at 3:15 after a Whitmer side suplex.

Now Whitmer calls somebody a bitch. I think he might be the heel in this one. ANOTHER thumb to the eye at 4:10, because why not? Now rest hold and spot-calling time, then Whitmer yanks Coleman’s head to the mat. Coleman’s just here to bump at this point. Slapfight at 5:30, which Whitmer wins with a knee to the gut. Whitmer with a basic scoop slam before the break.

Double clothesline when we come back. Frankly, the break on ROHwrestling.com was almost more entertaining. I know which GM vehicles will result in plenty of compensation when I get hit, and it was promo time with Christopher Daniels and Kazarian, who won a great tag match last week. Coleman hits what looks like a Million Dollar Dream into a legsweep into a choke, but Whitmer rolls him up. Then the heel strategy comes in. Thomas gets on the apron, and while Coleman goes for the Frankensteiner, Page takes advantage of the ref’s distraction by holding Whitmer to block the move. One lariat later, and Whitmer advances to a “You still suck!” chant.

ROHWrestling.com Time: 10:32

Technical Merit: Probably the slowest ROH match I’ve seen yet, but considering the situation, it made sense.

Artistic Impression: Heel does heel things and using his heel cronies to survive and advance. It’s as old as time, and it still works.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

•••

B.J. WHITMER (w/TaDarius Thomas & Adam Page) vs. MATT TAVEN

Taven forces Whitmer out with a shot to the nose, which was injured during the Coleman match. Page tries to sneak up on Taven and eats a superkick, but that allows Whitmer to gain the advantage and toss him into the barricade. Whitmer’s using at least 4 1/2 of the available 5 count every time he’s in the ropes. Taven escapes a corner charge and hits an enziguiri and a superkick for 2. Both men block suplexes, and a nice powerslam by Whitmer for 2, followed by two fisherman suplexes. Never seen a man roll through and hit another one. Taven blocks the Rock Bottom attempt with an armdrag, then a roundhouse kick at break time.

We get back and Taven’s on the top rope. Whitmer ducks under, but Taven hits a springboard kick. He slips on the ropes, but hits the frog splash for the win.

Time: 6:36

Technical Merit: At this point, are superkicks just kicks? It kind of ruins things for me when a signature or finishing-type move is just a basic part of the offense and doesn’t even really do any damage. Besides that, not too bad. I’ll give Taven a pass for the slip.

Artistic Impression: Heel does heel things with heel cronies to try to win, but babyface wins anyway. Also as old as time, and it was OK in this quick setting. A bit bland, but OK.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

•••

This is followed by possibly the greatest entrance music and best gimmick I’ve ever seen. Seriously, if I were a professional wrestler, I would want to be this guy.

ROH 080214 The Romantic Touch

MATT TAVEN vs. THE ROMANTIC TOUCH

We have high-fives and hugs, but Touch rolls him up for 2. Taven asks what’s up, Touch says it’s for the gold, and Taven declares he’ll never hug him again. “You’re right; I will.” So he does and ends up in a headlock, but wins the sequence with a head scissors. Deep armdrag at 1:35, and it looks like we’re down to wrestling now. Touch hits a back elbow from the second rope, a short dropkick and goes to the fists as Kevin Kelly and McGuinness discuss his body fat. Taven with a moonsault at 3 minutes, and after a bit of cat-and-mouse, he turns a side suplex into a sitout powerbomb for 2. Atomic drop and a belly-to-belly from Touch, and business starting to pick up. Stomp time for Touch, then kick time for Taven. Nice springboard 180 senton for 2. Taven goes for a springboard move again, but Touch catches him with a dropkick. Possible powerbomb blocked into a backslide attempt, but that’s blocked as well, but a kick to the head leads to The Climax and the win. Surprisingly, that’s not The Romantic Touch’s finisher.

Time: 5:41

Technical Merit: The pace quickened for this one, and the in-ring work improved. After the humorous opening, they made the most of the short time they had.

Artistic Impression: Absolutely hilarious, then a decent athletic contest. This is how I like my wrestling.

TOTAL SCORE: **

•••

Business, my friends, is about to pick up. This is also my mark-out moment for the evening.

ROH 080214 Jay Lethal

Naturally, we go to commercial.

MATT TAVEN vs. ROH World Television Champion JAY LETHAL (w/Truth Martini & Seleziya)

We join in progress, and Taven is in progress chopping the hell out of Lethal. Both men outside, and Lethal introduced to two barricades and a big boot. Scoop slam on the mat, and The Champ is introduced to a count greater than 10. Taven is introduced to a barricade, meaning they’ve managed to hit three sides. Just need to go opposite the hard camera to touch ’em all. Springboard dropkick from the corner from Taven, then a dive outside. Seleziya throws Lethal back in, then tries to distract Taven long enough for Truth to drop some knowledge on his head, but Taven ducks and throws manager and valet into each other. Truth sells like a champ, and Seleziya picks him up and carries him up the ramp. That’s just funny. Taven with a spinning neckbreaker with Lethal hanging on the ropes for 2?! I like it. Taven does his block and roll in the corner for the third straight match, but Lethal hits the step-up enziguiri. Lethal Combination, also known as the Reality Check, for 2, then Lethal grabs the TV belt … ? Odd decision. Superkick from Taven, then the head of security knocks Taven off the top rope. Clearly I need to watch more and get caught up on some storylines here. Lethal Injection follows, and Lethal’s into the final match.

Time: 6:07

Technical Merit: You can tell these guys have chemistry and beef. We got to see a bit of both in this one, though more outside the ring than in it.

Artistic Impression: This type of match seems congruent to their story, so it works.

TOTAL SCORE: **

•••

ROH World Television Champion JAY LETHAL vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER

Alexander turns it up to 10 with the pace, but Lethal slows it down during commercial. Lethal rolls into the ring, but Alexander executes a sunset flip from the apron for 2. A Ric Flair-worthy chop from Lethal, which only stands to remind me of this:

Cedric has a great in-ring strategy — come out quick, use as many strikes and impact moves as possible, and hope Lethal just wears out. Unfortunately for him, Lethal brings him to a halt with a bodydrop onto the top rope. Jay dumps Cedric outside, then hits a dive through the ropes. The fans want it once more, and Lethal appears to oblige, but hits the brakes to boos. What he will do is beat up Alexander outside, break the count and continue the onslaught. Back in, up top, then the double axe handle. Lethal calls for Truth to no avail, but Lethal’s momentum isn’t stunted for now. He asks the fans if they want to see the double axe again as he goes up top … then steps down to boos. GREAT, simple heel work, then he tells a fan to shut his mouth. Meanwhile Alexander back kicks Lethal, then hits a tornado DDT to give both men a breather. Straight right fist from Alexander, and Lethal responds in time. They switch to chops, and Lethal moves to a midsection kick and DDT to precede the final commercial. Online, it’s not even a break.

We’re back, and Alexander blocks a boot and goes into a Full Nelson into a faceplant. Both men to the top, and Lethal blocks the superplex and hits the flying elbow for 2. Alexander hits a kick, Lethal misses 2, Alexander hits a superkick, Lethal matches, and Alexander hits a lariat but can’t follow up. Both up at 7, trade blows, both down. Lethal calls for Truth once more, but no dice. Alexander escapes the Lethal Combination by handspringing out, then thwarts the Lethal Injection attempt with a kick to the back. Dropkick in the corner, then another after Lethal blocks the brainbuster attempt. The second try is successful, then Alexander hits an absolutely sick finisher … a lift into a backstabber variation near the neck. That’s called the Lumbar Check, and it looks devastating as hell. Such a quick pace to finish a solid match, and Alexander gets Elgin in a world title match at a later date.

ROH 080214 Cedric Alexander 1

He gets the staredown now as we sign off.

Time: 12:26

Technical Merit: By far, the best and most unique match of the night. The battle to set the pace was entertaining, and Cedric is absolutely electric when he gets going. Probably a good thing he went last, because that would’ve been VERY difficult to follow.

Artistic Impression: Jay Lethal is an amazing heel, and he showed it in the finale. Alexander blocked Lethal’s two most effective moves to get the win. Both men were strong and had a great athletic match. That’s all we can ask.

TOTAL SCORE: ***

Next episode, we get this:

ROH 080214 Kyle O'Reilly Michael Elgin

I’m excited. I’m already a fan of Kyle O’Reilly‘s work, and this will be my first exposure to Elgin. Come back later this week (hopefully it’ll be before Sunday) for a full review.

What did you think of the Golden Gauntlet? Comment below, or on Twitter @jpetrie18.

Ring of Honor TV review (July 26): reDRagon, Christopher Daniels and others show how tag team wrestling should be

“Tag team wrestling is alive and well, especially here in Ring of Honor.”

Steve Corino said this to set us up for what is now last week’s episode of ROH TV. This was one of the biggest freaking understatements I’ve ever heard in professional wrestling.

Let’s have a four-way main event to determine the No. 1 contenders for the ROH Tag Team Championship. Better yet, let’s throw in guys The Champ has even seen before (this is my third ROH viewing ever). Give ’em the entire second half of the hour.

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s just bring in the champs unannounced to open the show and have the fastest paced tag matches I’ve seen all year.

With a deep roster and only a 1-hour show each week, it’s hard to put together a home-run program each time out. Take a look at NXT, which can be awesome one week and suck the next if the top tier isn’t involved. My first ROH viewing a couple months ago was … meh. A fan told me to stay the course, and the next week was decent. The third time? This was a grand-slam episode of wrestling that must be viewed ASAP. It’s also a not-so-subtle reminder that production values and looks are all well and good, but in-ring quality and synergy between teammates and opponents are what make professional wrestling great to watch.

ROH Tag Team Champions reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. MONSTER MAFIA (Josh Alexander & Ethan Gabriel Owens), non-title match

This match was so action-packed, I actually had to watch it twice. Also, must find the champs’ entrance music (“Dance Away” by Damn Valentines) and try to match Fish’s mustache.

Alexander going for the amateur look this week with the headgear … Corino informs us he wrestled under a mask in high school. Corino’s also facing Kevin Steen in three weeks. Very well.

Nice double-team work with a drop toehold into Owens’ legdrop to the back of the head. More quality work with a Blue Thunder Bomb while Owens splashes outside. The champs can’t get their bearings until O’Reilly pushes Owens off the top, after much resistance, at about 2:30. O’Reilly continues the onslaught with a sliding knee and a kneedrop, and the quick tags and double-team chance eventually pays off with a kick combination. Fish hits a senton from the apron for 2, and O’Reilly slaps on the rear chinlock. Owens turns the tide, and Alexander goes off on the hot tag. Northern Lights suplex, and the combination is countered, but he counters a tandem suplex and simply suplexes both opponents. Double-team combo into a DDT variation, but Fish kicks out. O’Reilly saves Fish from a tandem spike piledriver, and Fish jacknifes Alexander for 2. Fish hits the Samoan Drop and tags out, and O’Reilly goes off until Alexander hits a forearm so hard, O’Reilly loses the mouthpiece. Enziguiri from Owens, and the Mafia hits an Alexander torture rack into an Owens powerbomb at 7:15, but FISH MAKES THE SAVE. Fish takes care of Owens via the barricade as O’Reilly keeps Alexander at bay inside. Fish Saito suplex, O’Reilly tornado DDT, then Chasing the Dragon — a brainbuster with a kick to the dome — and the champs escape.

TIME: 8:15

Technical Merit: For someone used to the WWE style, that was too quick to even process. I think this is a good thing. Liked the combination of double-team maneuvers, high-impact wrestling moves and vicious striking attacks. A little bit of everything in only 8 minutes? Sold.

Artistic Impression: Monster Mafia looked better, but the champs were strong at the finish. Not knowing much about the combatants, this was quality booking.

TOTAL SCORE: ****

•••

“You’re looking at the future of Ring of Honor, and the future of professional wrestling.”

ROH 072614 Hakim Zane
All photos are screenshots from ROHWrestling.com

I guess we’ll see whether Hakim Zane is legit. His opponent started 20 NFL games on the offensive line, goes about 295 and answers to Moose. Methinks Mr. Zane is done.

MOOSE vs. HAKIM ZANE

We’re about to see some “monster” booking here. Zane doing more escaping than anything, until Moose hits a sick dropkick. He’s already better than Mojo Rawley! Zane thwarts the momentum with a short dropkick to the leg, but his top-rope dive is countered by a flying headbutt. Spear. Done. Moose. Moose. Moose. MOOSE.

ROH 072614 Moose

Time: 1:38

Apparently our new hero was made an offer at Best in the World by manager Veda ScottHello, Red. Her offer still stands, but not for long. Ramon appears to want it to expire. Now. Guess we’ll have to see.

•••

ROH 072614 Golden Gauntlet

A Golden Gauntlet to determine the No. 1 contender for the ROH World Championship? I like it, whatever it is. My money’s on this guy, because Jay Lethal.

ROH 072614 Jay Lethal

•••

Hey, I remember The Decade! Is the group a little bigger than last time? Maybe it’s because Jimmy Jacobs is actually in the ring and looks kind of like a wrestler? Like the pink and black theme nonetheless.

Hey, I remember this guy, too!

ROH 072614 Christopher Daniels

OK, I’m on board. You have my attention.

THE DECADE (Jimmy Jacobs & Roderick Strong) vs. WAR MACHINE (Hanson & Rowe) vs. CHRISTOPER DANIELS & FRANKIE KAZARIAN vs. THE BRISCOES, Four Corner Survival No. 1 contender match for the ROH World Tag Team Championship

Bobby Fish is ringside for commentary, making him the hardest working man in Ring of Honor. The pre-match highlight, referring to The Briscoes: “It’s so loud when they come out. I don’t like it.”

How long do you think the Code of Honor takes with eight men in a match? Daniels starts vs. War Machine’s big, scary guy (Hanson), as opposed to War Machine’s other big, scary guy (Rowe). Once he gets momentum, Jacobs tags himself in. Mark Briscoe does the same to Daniels. Are the Briscoes faces? Because that bad camo and fringe/bad beards bit makes them heels in my book. It’s like What’s Wrong With America (also known as “Rednecks”) rolled into one. Mark dropkicks Jacobs into the corner, but the former Bad Influence forces its way in and actually makes a successful tag to a teammate. Rowe is in, and big-man offense reigns supreme. Though you don’t often see two men of that size use one powerbombing the other as a double-team maneuver. I’m intrigued. Soon, though, they’re bumping for the Briscoes. Both teams are in the ring jawing as we go to our first break.

The big guys with the beards are beating up the little guys with the beards as we return, but the Briscoes seize the momentum, and Jacobs and Daniels blind tag themselves into action in short order. Daniels goes to the apron, but he makes the mistake of doing so right next to Strong. The former Triple Crown winner makes his first appearance 9 minutes in, using the apron to incapacitate Daniels with a side suplex. He finally makes his first appearance in the ring, though briefly before Jacobs continues his attack. Daniels somehow manages to be isolated, and Strong deposits him outside. Jacobs tries to do some damage to Daniels, but Mark joins in. Strong handles that by putting Mark into the barricade. Back inside with the first true resthold of the night, which Daniels hiptosses out. Jacobs, though, provides the distraction and Strong hits the dropkick. Another resthold because, well, Daniels kind of deserves it at this point. Daniels suplexes out, but NO TAG. Strong makes certain of that by booting Kaz off the apron. Neckbreaker from Jacobs with a slight twist — literally — to shift the impact a bit. This gets manly as the announce team refers to Silas Young, discusses mustaches and Strong tries to make Daniels humble.

ROH 072614 Roderick Strong Christopher Daniels

This really has turned into a Decade vs. Daniels handicap match, which is impressive since they can only use like a quarter of the ring. Strong has Daniels around the gut, and he jawbreaks out … right into a Strong dropkick. Daniels kicks out leading into the second commercial break.

Nigel McGuinness informs us during the break that at Death Before Dishonor, this will happen.

ROH 072614 Field of Honor title

Anyone else want to see A.J. Styles with two world titles?

Anyway, back from break, Daniels is STILL IN THE RING. Fireman’s carry into a gutbuster from Strong, dropkick by Jacobs, Daniels still doesn’t quit. Kaz goes for a tag on a whip and misses, but Daniels hits the STO and TAGS TO KAZ at 17:32. Hot tag includes a springboard legdrop, then a sick guillotine legdrop on Jacobs using the ropes and the apron. He DDTs Strong, bobbling a bit, on the way back in, but we finally get some other guys in the ring in a moment. Rowe destroys Daniels with a throw, and the Briscoes and War Machine create some in-ring chaos. Mark Briscoe throws himself and Rowe outside. Strong tags in, hits the boot on Daniels, but no. Jacobs goes for Sliced Bread No. 2, but Kaz neutralizes that threat. Strong hits the jumping knee on Kaz, but Daniels hits the standing uranage slam and the Best Moonsault Ever … HOLY CRAP DANIELS GETS THE PIN.

Time: 20:42

Technical Merit: The only move that wasn’t well executed was a DDT while leaping over the ropes a few seconds after a guillotine legdrop on the apron. Otherwise, 20 minutes of awesomeness.

Artistic Impression: For someone new to the product, the only good way to tell a story is in the ring. Want someone to get to know eight guys? Throw them all in and let them all showcase their stuff. Want to get a returning team over? Have one of them wrestle basically the entire match, take a beating from all comers and finish on top. This was a psychological and storytelling masterpiece you can only see by taking one of the exits off the WWE freeway.

TOTAL SCORE: ****

Ring of Honor review (May 31): ACH and Roderick Strong help make a strong second impression on The Champ, and Jay Briscoe beats down Michael Bennett

Last week was the first time I ever watched a Ring of Honor wrestling program. The show was a little flat, though Silas Young cemented himself as one of The Champ’s favorites and Jay Lethal provided quite the nostalgia trip. Besides Lethal, Homicide and Kevin Steen, I hadn’t heard of anyone.

This week’s viewing lived up to the hype … and that’s even with a DQ in a triple threat.

OK, so Lethal, with Truth Martini‘s help, weaseled his way out of a World Television Championship defense. But who cares? ACH and Roderick Strong put on an eye-opening wrestling match that had a great balance of everything — mat wrestling, high flying, high impact and dynamic pacing throughout.

The best part? We didn’t have to wait at all for it!

Note: All views expressed are those of a fan who has never actually seen any of these guys before, and is unfamiliar enough with their movesets to not even know half of what is going on. I’m green, but I’m a work in progress, people. Work in progress.

ACH vs. RODERICK STRONG (w/The Decade)

ACH really appears to have knocked off elements of MVP‘s gimmick. How many times can you crossover and shoot without an actual basketball? Luckily for him, he has more conventional wrestling attire … and no Breathe Right strip. Strong looks like a frat boy who decided to moonlight as a wrestler.

All photos are screenshots from ROHWrestling.com.
All photos are screenshots from ROHWrestling.com.

Easter egg for a newbie to follow: The Decade won’t shake hands with ACH. Instead, ACH will shake hands with everybody in Baltimore to infuriate The Decade. Strong is mat-based to start with the front facelock, but when ACH gets on top, Strong sticks a leg on the rope to break. Side headlock, but ACH backs him into the corner. After a clean break, ACH breaks out the knife-edge chop. Lather, rinse, repeat, then a series of armdrags, side headlock takeovers and a head-scissors. ACH ends the sequence with the headlock. Strong tries to suplex his way out, but ACH lands on his feet and BACK TO THE HEADLOCK. Randy Orton would be smiling right about now. Strong finally gets a break … and a chop. Pace picks up once more with a stellar dropkick and cover near the 4-minute mark. Then, with Strong on the floor, ACH runs along the apron and kicks him. After a springboard moonsault safely comes up empty, Strong not-so-safely lifts and tosses ACH into the post. This is fun, and this is break time.

Back around 5:45, and Strong gets told by a 12-year-old. Or maybe he’s 14?

ROH 053114 Roderick Strong fan

Strong responds by continuing to abuse ACH outside. Roddy finally returns ACH to the ring in an attempt to, you know, win the match. He stays on ACH with the hands and feet, then a vicious tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2. He turned ACH on that one so the leg was parallel to the back, and the point of the knee was right on the spine. ACH escapes another backbreaker, but eats a dropkick instead. Cool bump kind of buckling back, but he’s able to kick out.

Pro tip/math lesson: ROH’s ring, according to Steve Corino, is 18-by-18. That’s 76 square feet smaller than WWE. The next math lesson may be just how many corner lariats ACH just hit … I think it was five. Cool front suplex variation from ACH, and that only yields 2. Back outside, and ACH not only hits a reverse STO into the apron, but a crossbody onto the floor. Nice flying elbow, but another kickout. Strong appears to go for an Angle Slam, but that turns into an armdrag. ACH goes onto the apron, comes through the ropes and appears to hit R-Truth‘s finisher, only much better. However, it’s only worth 2 as well. Corner dropkick attempt, but nobody home. Strong hits a Shining Wizards in the corner, a running forearm and an Angle Slam. STILL ONLY 2. Roddy takes them up top for a superplex, but ACH dumps him, goes for a stomp and misses, then eats a straight kick and an enziguiri. Double underhook powerbomb is countered is countered into a hurricanrana, then ACH rolls through the roll up, gets the back stomp and hits a kick for 2. Strong takes a breather outside and tries to take his foe with him, but ACH kicks him into the barricade, then hits a huge springboard flip dive. Great extension. Strong’s back in, and ACH misses the 450. Big boot from Strong, and what looks like a vertical suplex turns into a backstabber variation for the win. Holy hell.

Time: 14:15

Technical Merit: For an ROH newcomer, that one’s gonna take some time to process. Fantastic wrestling match. So many of the nearfalls were sold well, and the sometimes repeated moves (headlock, headlock, headlock) seemed to actually serve a purpose.

Artistic Impression: It really felt like ACH would get one up on The Decade, but Strong kept coming and truly earned the victory. Neither man was afraid to lay out (I’m specifically thinking ACH’s 450 miss) to advance the story being told.

TOTAL SCORE: ****

•••

A three-way title match, featuring a heel Jay Lethal as champion? If this weren’t free, I’d just tell you to take my money. But first, we get a longform recap of last week’s events to set it up. That was much to Truth Martini‘s chagrin, by the way.

JAY LETHAL (c, w/Truth Martini) vs. MATT TAVEN vs. TOMMASO CIAMPA, ROH World Television Championship

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Taven’s a babyface?

ROH 053114 Matt Taven

Also, hearing Ciampa’s intro, I was half-expecting Tazz to come out. Instead, Lethal jumps Ciampa about five steps down the aisle, and the triple-threat starts outside. If it starts at all … ? Guess we’ll find out after the break.

We’re back, Lethal’s beating Ciampa with a chair, and Taven’s telling the champ to grow a set and give him what’s his, and Ciampa to stick around to get his head cut off.

We FINALLY get started, and Truth runs in and hits Taven with the Book of Truth. Just like that, we have a DQ in a triple threat 13 seconds in?

ROH 053114 Truth Martini

I mean, I know it wasn’t really honorable, but … let them have at it!

Needless to say, the brawl continues until Lethal dips out, belt in hand, as Truth tells him he’s the best in Ring of Honor. This angle’s hot and, of course, far from over. I’m not even mad.

ROH 053114 Truth Martini Jay Lethal

•••

Before the main event, we get an explanation for Matt Hardy‘s personalized ICONIC Championship.

ROH 053114 ICONIC belt

Yeah, that one. Also, there is no scenario in which I would NOT want to punch Hardy in the face. I went to a TNA house show in 2010 with both Hardys in action, and it hilarious that, though both were heels, Jeff Hardy was cheered while Matt received the most heat of the night. Apparently, hating Matt Hardy is a favorite ROH pastime as well. I can go for that!

ROH 053114 Matt Hardy

Anyway, this is The Champ’s reintroduction to Maria Kanellis. She looks as … um … friendly as ever! Her client’s opponent? Not so much.

MICHAEL BENNETT (w/Maria Kanellis) vs. JAY BRISCOE

The redneck gets the first shot on the Masshole, but the harlot distracts the redneck, so the Masshole hits the spear. Twice. Then runs into a forearm to the dome. Briscoe stomps Bennett repeatedly in the corner, headbutts him, whips him for a lariat on the other side, snapmares him out, then eats a dropkick. We go back to the corner beatdown until Bennett tries the back bodydrop over the top. Briscoe lands on the apron, right into a superkick and barricade bump. Bennett gives him a much more direct introduction to the barricades, then scoop slams him onto the floor. Briscoe finally reverses the barricade whip on like the third try, then goes back to the presumably lethal headbutt. The combatants trade barricade shots, inducing a yawn from yours truly. Now they’re trading blows on the stage. Bennett’s stage suplex attempt is blocked … Briscoe’s is not. YET ANOTHER WHIP INTO THE BARRICADE, then the redneck breaks out the Confederate flag as a prop as we head into break.

Back without a house commercial, and without Briscoe connecting on a top-rope crossbody. Bennett does execute a spinebuster, giving us the first semi-technical in-ring wrestling move of the match. Back to brawling, then a scoopslam from Bennett. Top rope legdrop paying homage to Hardy for 2. Meanwhile, Corino’s had a hard-on for Hardy the entire match. Back to trading blows, then a double crossbody as they take a breather. Both men up, and Briscoe wails on Bennett to set him up for a superplex. Bennett powers out, tries to set up a move and just pushes Briscoe off. Briscoe reverse STOs Bennett’s head into the second buckle, then leads with the jab. A kick and a slow, calculated neckbreaker lead to 2. Fireman’s carry, but Bennett elbows out. Briscoe returns the favor. Superkick from Bennett, then a sitout Rock Bottom for 2. Bennett’s back up waiting, and he tries the Twist of Fate. Briscoe counters with something a little more elementary — the sleeper. Bennett falls forward into the bottom rope to force a break. But that just gives Briscoe time for a kick and a setup for some double underhook move. Bennett hits a hammerlock lariat and tries to get the Anaconda Vise, but Briscoe fights out. Death Valley Driver from Jay, then a double underhook piledriver — the Jay Driller — for the win.

ROH 053114 Jay Briscoe

Then it’s time to call Hardy a bitch a couple times … who doesn’t want to do that? He wants his erstwhile world title, now the ICONIC title, back.

Time: 14:12

Technical Merit: As far as straight-up brawls go, this was a decent one. Once they finally focused and got in the ring, it was solid. Both men have cool high-impact movesets when they decide to use them.

Artistic Impression: This was about Bennett paying homage to Hardy, and Briscoe doling out punishment under Hardy returns. Story played out pretty well, and Maria’s mannerisms add a lot to the presentation.

ROH 053114 Maria Kanellis 2

TOTAL SCORE: **

Ring of Honor review (May 24): Silas Young, Caprice Coleman, Jay Lethal, Kevin Steen & Cliff Compton triumph in The Champ’s ROH debut

For years, I’ve been mildly intrigued by non-WWE wrestling, but never really pulled the trigger outside of TNA. I was sucked into an episode of Impact in 2009 and stuck with it for about two years, until one day I finally was fed up with the booking. I can’t remember what match it was, but I told my wife, “If so-and-so wins, I’m done.” So-and-so won, and I haven’t watched a minute since.

I first heard of Ring of Honor about five years ago. The closest I came to actually watching it was some episode centered around Matt Hardy this past winter. Yawn. Knowing the reputation it’s had as a launching point for many current upper-echelon WWE competitors, the intrigue finally got the best of The Champ this week.

The first impression? Meh.

The most recent episode felt like just another wrestling show. Coming off a couple major events with New Japan Pro Wrestling and a No. 1 contender’s match between Michael Elgin and A.J. Styles the week before, ROH didn’t have much in terms of storyline buildup for this hour. The closest we got was for the main event, in which Kevin Steen and Cliff Compton apparently form an odd-couple pairing to battle Outlaw Inc. None of the four matches were duds, but none were particularly great. It’s clear ROH saves its best stuff for special events, kind of like NXT has done for ArRIVAL and Takeover this year.

I like Silas Young as a “man’s man” heel, and Caprice Coleman as an athletic semi-evangelistic babyface. I’ve always been a fan of Jay Lethal‘s work when he shows up on the screen. But the characters don’t seem to have nearly as much depth as in the more mainstream promotions, and the production values, as expected, are a few steps below the major leagues.

Was an isolated, taped TV episode worth the years-long hype the company has built in my eyes? Not even close. Was the same episode worth giving ROH another shot? Oh, we’ll totally be back next week. After all, my first impression of NXT wasn’t all that great either.

Anyway, on to the stuff that actually matters.

•••

ROH 052414 Silas Young

ETHAN PAGE vs. SILAS YOUNG

Young calls himself “Pro Wrestling’s Last Real Man”, and I tend to believe him. He’s from Milwaukee, he has the mustache of an ’80s Brewers infielder, he starts with a pair of side headlocks … he’s manly enough. Page no-sells a shoulder tackle, and Young gets angry enough to dropkick him and clothesline him. Fallaway slam attempt countered, and Page does the eighth-grade go-on-all-fours-and-trip-him-move, followed by an elbow drop. “Ego” gets tied up in the ropes, and Young hits a springboard clothesline, then it’s time for five elbow drops and a cover. Back to the side headlock, and Page breaks out, hits a backdrop, kicks Young and hits a cool DDT variation for 2. Since this isn’t WWE, I get the feeling I won’t be able to name half these signature moves. I can however, name a rolling senton where Young lands on his feet. He goes for a springboard moonsault but lands on his feet when Page moves, and Page climbs the ropes for a a jumping enziguiri. Want a manly finisher? Try a backbreaker/short lariat combo.

Time: 5:27

Technical Merit: Page still seems a little … green? But I was impressed with Young.

Artistic Impression: Pretty basic story. Manly wrestler beats less-manly, less-skilled wrestler.

TOTAL SCORE: *1/2

ROH 052414 Silas Young 2

Kevin Kelly says Young has said some of the most politically incorrect things in professional wrestling. We’ll see right here.

Never again, never again will i be disrespected the way I was tonight with this opponent. It’ sreal simple: I’m the last real man in professional wrestling. I’m Silas Young, and I’ve spent too damn long being overlooked. So if Ring of Honor doesn’t want to give me the opportunities I deserve? Then I’m gonna make my own opportunity, and I’m gonna take it, whether you like it or not.

That was pretty basic, old-school, PC promo. Nice oversell, Kelly.

•••

ROH 052414 Jimmy Jacobs The Decade

The guy in the middle looks about 130 soaking wet, so he must not be the one competing. In fact, it’s Tadarius Thomas. He’ll face an apparent real-life preacher man!

TADARIUS THOMAS (w/Jimmy Jacobs and Adam Page) vs. CAPRICE COLEMAN

Before the match, Coleman informs us that life’s about choices — today’s choices can affect the rest of our lives, and if you let the wrong people in your head, they’ll mess you up. He talks about Jesus, then tells Thomas he can be a legend in life … or he can listen to The Decade. He refers to Jacobs as a cross between Marilyn Manson and Prince, then calls him an “artist formerly known as talented.” That’ll get a boot to the gut to get this going, and Thomas is in control before the break.

On the way back, Coleman hits an STO and strikes T.D. into the corner. He hits a Northern Lights suplex, rolls over and hang on, hits a second, repeats and hits a THIRD with a bridge for 2. That was awesome. Inverted atomic drop is blocked, and Thomas hits what looks a like a rear exploder suplex. Thomas goes up top, but Coleman leaps up for the Frankensteiner, faceplants him and hits a sick top-rope leg lariat for the win.

Time: 4:11

Technical Merit: Great athleticism. Coleman has a different style than I’m used to seeing, and I like it!

Artistic Impression: Coleman beats Thomas, then tries to get him to leave The Decade. After all, why would you want to be in a group where the manager plants your head into the mat with his foot after you lose, then kicks Page in the gut WHEN HE’S NOT EVEN IN THE MATCH? Jacobs is a tool.

TOTAL SCORE: **

•••

ROH 052414 Jay Lethal Truth Martini

This whole foray into ROH started because someone posted a picture of Jay Lethal on Twitter, and I said I missed him from TNA four years ago. Someone directed me to ROHWrestling.com, and in the first episode, we get to see the World Television Champion … and apparently a freshly-turned heel. Lethal wipes his nose with one of the customary entrance streamers to drive the point home.

His interesting-looking new manager, Truth Martini, said his job is to open the eyes of ROH wrestlers and lead them to greatness, but Lethal opened his eyes.

ROH 052414 Truth Martini

I don’t care … just give Jay the mic.

You can go ahead and stop clapping, because you fake guys are the same people who are gonna go home and tell everybody that I’m the worst wrestler in the world because I sold out. You guys are a bunch of fake sheep!

That’s how you start a promo.

ROH 052414 Jay Lethal Truth Martini 2

People are asking Lethal why. Right question, wrong people. We should ask ourselves why we turned our backs on him. He’s the 2012 Survival of the Fittest winner. He’s beaten Kurt Angle and Ric Flair, and on top of that he’s the ROH TV champ. He’s gonna make the TV title second to none … including the world title. So it’s open challenge time, and Cheeseburger, who makes Spike Dudley look like a Greek god, sprints in.

JAY LETHAL (c) vs. CHEESEBURGER, ROH World Television Championship

Let me guess … he’s called Cheeseburger because he needs to eat one? Kelly and Steve Corino talk about how he’s all heart, but heart won’t do a thing for the superkick with which Lethal leads off. It’s photo-op time on the apron …

ROH 052414 Jay Lethal Cheeseburger

… then Lethal pummels his 125-pound foe onto the floor. The beatdown continues, and briefly stops, when Brutal Bob runs down, but a Randy Savage-quality flying elbow drop later it’s … not over?! This must be where the heart part comes in, and the challenger even gets a few forearms in a strike exchange, then a couple chops and a crossbody, but even a fast count can’t keep Lethal down. Superkick to the gut from Lethal, then a backspring move attempt, but Cheeseburger counters with a rollout into a DDT for 2. Lethal goes back to the backspring for a cutter variation, the Lethal Injection. That’s a cool finisher.

A former TV champ, Matt Taven, runs in for another challenge, but Lethal declines and hits the runway. Tommaso Ciampa, the most recent TV champ, cuts him off, and this turns into a three-way brawl until the clearly more-competent-than-WWE referees break it up. Lethal is livid, and he challenges both men to a triple threat for the TV title next week to Truth’s chagrin.

Time: 4:20

Technical Merit: Basic, but effective. Surprised to see Cheeseburger get multiple offensive moves.

Artistic Impression: Fun little underdog story for 4 minutes that also establishes Lethal as a fighting champion. I’ve seen far worse.

TOTAL SCORE: **

•••

Main event time, and speaking of guys I kind of miss from TNA, Homicide is in the house! But what’s with the silly-ass mask?

ROH 052414 Homicide

On another note, this is The Champ’s introduction to Kevin Steen, who must be good if he calls himself Mr. Wrestling. He has a chair, his teammate comes with a chair, and the Charm City Street Fight is on.

KEVIN STEEN & CLIFF COMPTON vs. OUTLAW, INC. (Eddie Kingston & Homicide), Charm City Street Fight

Late in the first minute, Steen, whose chair came from the crowd, uses a kid’s backpack to subdue Kingston. We also have a reference to an Orioles-Mariners brawl from about 20 years ago and about 10 namedrops. Various chair shots ensue, including Homicide crotching Compton with it and whipping him into the propped chair in the corner. Homicide, who’s wearing a tie for the occasion, dives out onto Steen. Back in the ring, Steen catches Homicide, then goes for the Go Home Driver, which looks like a Black Hole Slam, but goes into a White Noise variation. That was cool.

Break time, and when we’re back, Kingston is destroying Compton with the chair and Steen has a ladder. Steen is happy.

ROH 052414 Kevin Steen

He props it up in the corner, but Homicide turns the attention elsewhere with a tornado DDT. He tries to faceplant Steen into the ladder, but Steen blocks and the ladder bends. A back bodydrop later, Homicide’s body appears to finish the ladder off. Steen goes up top and waits for Kingston to get up, but he’s cut off. Compton slips inside and DDTs him as Corino and Kelly discuss Compton’s recent KFC commercial?! Interesting. More interesting: He sets up a chair and drop toeholds Kingston into it. Homicide comes in wearing a bunch of streamers, and Compton tosses him for a second ladder bump. Compton follows up with a Michinoku driver, then vacates the premises, only to return with a second, hopefully sturdier ladder. He DDTs Homicide, rolls him onto the old ladder, then sets up the new one?! Kingston stops the insanity by pushing it over and crotching Compton on the ropes as one of the announcers makes a “landed right on his ding-ding” reference. Steen’s back in, but Homicide hits the Ace Crusher on him onto the ladder. Steen fights off Kingston while Homicide is up top, uses Kingston to knock Homicide down and, while Homicide is in a predicament in the corner, Steen F-5s Kingston onto a ladder for the win.

Time: 8:58

Technical Merit: I mean … it was a street fight. A few cool spots and moves, though.

Artistic Impression: Chair shots, ladders, finishers onto ladders, etc. A cool story if you’re into that sort of thing.

TOTAL SCORE: *3/4

Steen goes for a postmatch handshake with his partner, but Compton rejects it and leaves. Outlaw Inc. briefly ponders taking advantage of the 2-on-1 with Steen, who has a ladder in hand, but the heels dip out to finish the show. Wimps.

Check back next week for more ROH, and come back Monday morning for a review of WWE Payback. In the meantime, please place any thoughts/comments below, and follow The Champ on Twitter @jpetrie18.