Ring of Honor: Southern Defiance

Spartanburg, SC – 12.3.2011

Championship Rundown
ROH World Champion: Davey Richards
ROH Television Champion: Jay Lethal
ROH World Tag Team Champions: Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin

Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly and Jim Cornette.

Adam Cole vs. Mike Bennett

Bennett slaps Cole after shoulder blocking him to the mat. Cole drop toe holds Bennett into a front chancery. He puts on a hammerlock. Bennett backs Cole to the corner and elbows him in the face. Cole ducks a punch and sends Bennett to the floor with a punch of his own. Bennett covers up to avoid a dive. Cole waits to slap Bennett in the face, then follows with a pescado. Cole slaps Bennett against the guardrail. Bennett catches Cole with a spinebuster on the edge of the ring. This gets him a two count back in the ring. Bennett hits a reverse DDT/falling clothesline combo for two. Cole blocks a front facelock with a chinbreaker. Bennett dropkicks Cole as he comes off the ropes. Cole leapfrogs over Bennett and gives him a back cracker. Cole lays in ten punches in the corner. Cole gets greedy trying to get more punches and gets shoved out of the corner. Cole delivers a superkick and German suplex for two. Bennett sends Cole outside. Cole however enzuigiri’s Bennett from the floor. Cole comes back in with a crossbody for two. Bennett punches Cole. He delivers a TKO for two. Cole counters tow of Bennett’s attempts at the Box Office Smash. He kicks Bennett in the side of the head for two. Cole goes for the Panama Sunrise. Bennett blocks it. Cole sunset flips Bennett from his blocked position for two. Bennett trips Cole off the ropes into a backbreaker. He successfully hits the Box Office Smash for the pin at 9:32. I really like how competitive this match was and how both guys got a chance to shine. As much as fans dislike Bennett, its matches like this where I think he is best utilized. Cole got to look very strong and stood out as something special, which has been lacking the past couple of shows for him. **3/4

Harlem tells us that they were warned that if they lose another match, they could be on their way out. He says he’s going to defy the odds by winning their tag team match, and by winning the Honor Rumble. Well, one of them anyways.

The Bravado Bros. (Lancelot & Harlem Bravado) vs. Los Ben Dejos (Jay Cruz and Rios)

Lancelot takes a cocky approach to Rios. Rios tags in Cruz. Lancelot is able to control them for a second. Cruz and Rios however take Harlem out to the floor then use some quick tandem offense to take out Lancelot for two. Lancelot throws Cruz face first into the second turnbuckle and tags in Harlem. The Bravados team up on Cruz, using some illegal tags to their advantage. Cruz rolls under a clothesline to tag in Rios. Rios comes in with a seated senton to Harlem. He snapmares Harlem and drives his knee into his chest for two. Rios holds Harlem so Cruz can punt him in the face. Lancelot breaks the pin just in time. The Bravados hit the Gentlemen’s Agreement on Cruz. Lancelot German suplexes Cruz and Rios breaks the pin. Harlem bicycle kicks Rios to the floor. Harlem rolls up Cruz for two. Lancelot O’Conner rolls Cruz and leans back. Harlem grabs Lancelot’s hands to sinch the pin in even further. They get the win at 5:37. Solid tag team action here. I liked what I saw from Los Ben Dejos and wouldn’t mind seeing them in action again. **

Proving Ground Match
Jay Lethal vs. TJ Perkins

If Perkins is able to survive the 15 minute time limit, or defeat Lethal, he will earn a future shot at Lethal’s Television title. We get a clean break in the corner with the initial lock-up. They monkey flip each other in a double knuckle lock. Lethal catches Perkins with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for one. Lethal gives Perkins a back suplex for two. Lethal tries to locks Perkins’ legs, but Perkins cradles Lethal for two instead. Lethal back handsprings into an elbow for two. Perkins boots Lethal’s arm out of the corner. Lethal hip tosses Perkins into a dropkick for two. Lethal goes for a submission. Perkins quickly turns Lethal into a pendulum. He turns that into a Gedo Clutch for two. Perkins crotches Lethal on the top rope. He hits a delayed dropkick while Lethal hangs in the tree of woe. Perkins then stretches out Lethal’s arms, neck and back. Lethal gets in a few strikes before Perkins kicks him back to the mat for two. Perkins locks Lethal’s arm behind his back while applying a chinlock. Lethal elbows his way free. Perking superkicks Lethal. Lethal throws one back. Perkins reverses a suplex, leaving both men laying on the mat. More strikes are exchanged mid-ring. Lethal boots Perkins to the floor. Perkins runs in and dropkicks Lethal to the floor. Lethal comes back in. Perkins ducks an enzuigiri and powerbombs Lethal for two. They each go for some quick pin attempts. Lethal then gives Perkins the Lethal Combination for two. Perkins gets his boot up to block Lethal’s top rope elbow drop. Lethal ducks a clothesline and hits a handspring Ace Crusher (now known as the Lethal Injection) for the pin at 11:34. This was an excellent display of athleticism and will power. This really made Perkins seem like a legitimate contender against the champion, holding his own and even outsmarting Lethal at times. It’s a shame he didn’t win because I’d love to see a rematch down the line. ***1/4

Backstage, Lethal apologizes to Perkins for taking his Proving Ground matches personally since he always feels like he is the on who has something to prove. He feels the need to protect his title. Lethal says while he sees some similarities, he would take down Perkins if he came for his title in the future. Lethal says he hopes Cole was watching his match tonight because he will need all the help he can get for their match tomorrow night.

The All Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus) vs. The Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson)

The Bucks pretend like they will actually shake the ANX’s hands, but they instead shake each others’ hands. King and Titus respond by attacking the Bucks. They hit stereo backdrops, causing the Bucks to retreat to the floor. Titus throws their heads together and King flies out with a corkscrew tope. King suplexes Nick before laying in some punches. Titus suplexes Nick and King springboards in with an elbow drop for two. Nick gives King a chinbreaker and tags in Matt. King armdrags Matt immediately and holds onto his arm. Titus puts him in a front facelock. Matt backs Titus to their corner where Nick can grabs Titus’ hair. Nick enzuigiri’s Titus from the floor and jams his legs against the ring frame. The Bucks go to work on Titus’ leg in their corner. They even dropkick King off the apron at one point, taunting him as they pick apart his partner. As Matt goes to the top rope, Titus kicks Nick into the ropes which crotches Matt on the ring post. Titus gets to tag in King while the Bucks recover. King cleans house on both Bucks, sending Nick to the floor and a two count on Matt with a fisherman’s suplex. King spinwheel kicks Matt for two. Nick runs in to knee strike King in the corner. Matt hits a tumbleweed Ace Crusher for two. King blocks More Bang for Your Buck. However, Nick comes off the top to help Matt with a sunset flip for two. Titus throws strikes at both Bucks. Matt spears Titus. Matt goes for a springboard splash. King catches him and hits the Coronation. Matt breaks the pin which angers the crowd. King enzuigiri’s Nick on the top rope. ANX set-up for the One Night Stand. Matt kicks Titus’ leg out to block it. Titus goes to the floor to recover. The Bucks hit King with More Bang for Your Buck for the pin at 13:43. Another great athletic and fun match. The Bucks really have shown that they were always meant to be heels no matter where they are. They did a terrific job of working over Titus’ leg, getting the crowd to despise them and paying off the leg work in the end. Really not much more I could ask for. ***1/2

A Briscoes promo is played during their entrance for the next match. Jay says “Shaniqua” (either Coleman or Alexander) compared a picture of the Bushwackers to their father. This does not sit well with them. They begin to talk about female body parts, but then get to their point by saying they’re going to beat Alexander and Coleman tonight. We then cut to Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander. Coleman says they’re going to beat the Briscoes tonight so they can get their names right.

Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)

Coleman and Alexander attack the Briscoes when the Briscoes refuse to shake hands. The fight spills out to the floor. Jay suplexes Coleman on the ring entrance. Jay holds Alexander so Mark can dropkick him from inside the ring. The Briscoes beat down Coleman and Alexander on the floor some more before bringing Alexander back into the ring. The Briscoes get a few licks in. Alexander dropkicks Jay’s leg out, allowing Coleman to come in and legdrop the back of Jay’s neck. Jay throws Alexander face first into the second rope. Mark shotgun dropkicks Alexander into the corner. The Briscoes once again team up on Alexander. Alexander Saito suplexes Mark and ducks Jay’s boot, tagging in Coleman. Coleman drives Jay’s face into the canvas with a cravate. He gives Mark a modified reverse STO. Jay breaks the pin. Coleman double dropkicks the Briscoes after avoiding a double clothesline. Coleman kicks Mark and moonsaults onto Jay on the floor. Mark makes chase. He gets caught with a tiger-feint kick from Coleman. Alexander tope con hilo’s onto both Briscoes. In the ring, Alexander gives Mark a Leap of Faith. Alexander frog splashes Mark and Jay quickly breaks the cover. Alexander and Coleman set up for a double team move. Jay trips Alexander and brings him to the floor. Mark gives Coleman the Cut-Throat Driver. He kicks him to the floor. Alexander flies in. Mark catches him but Alexander manages to hit an enzuigiri. Jay and Mark both give Alexander a big boot. They deliver the Doomsday Device to pin Alexander at 9:45. Coleman impressed the heck out of me. For whatever reason he hasn’t stood out since his return, but I see him in a completely different light after what I saw out of him here. He and Alexander gave the Briscoes a run for their money and even got the pro-Briscoe crowd to get behind them at points. It wasn’t the kind of blow away battle you’d expect, but for its placement on the card it was excellent. **3/4

Proving Ground Match
Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin vs. The House of Truth (Roderick Strong & Michael Elgin)

If The House of Truth are able to survive the 20 minute time limit, or defeat Haas & Benjamin, they will earn a future shot at WGTT’s tag team titles. Truth Martini is in Strong and Elgin’s corner. Strong and Elgin of course turn down the opening handshake. Strong goes right to Benjamin’s injured ribs. Benjamin shrugs off Strong’s chops to his chest. Haas gets in a shot from the apron and Benjamin gives Strong some chops of his own. He delivers a corner splash which does no favors for his ribs. Haas and Benjamin double shoulder block Strong for two. Elgin tags in. Haas dropkicks Elgin to the floor. Haas tags in Benjamin after throwing Elgin to his corner. Elgin shoves Benjamin to his corner. He and Strong go to double team him. Benjamin fights back until Martini grabs Benjamin’s foot from the apron. Elgin catches Benjamin with a powerslam for two. The HoT now isolate Benjamin in their corner, smartly targeting his ribs. Martini delivers some cheap shots when able. Benjamin is able to kick out of Death by Roderick and resists submitting in the Stronghold. Benjamin backdrops his way out of the Tiger Driver. He kicks Strong away and tags in Haas. Elgin also tags in. Haas knocks him down with various strikes. He overhead suplexes him for two. Haas backdrops Elgin. Strong forearms Haas and Benjamin. Haas throws Strong to the corner. Elgin blocks the Angle Slam but eats a superkick from Benjamin. Haas now delivers the Angle Slam. Strong breaks it up. Strong knee strikes Benjamin to the floor. He follows with a pescado. Elgin enzuigiri’s Haas. Elgin Oklahoma Stampedes Haas into Strong’s knees. He power slams Haas for two. He deadlifts Haas into a buckle bomb. Strong hits the Sick Kick and Benjamin breaks the cover. Benjamin gives Strong a neckbreaker and Elgin a tornado DDT. Benjamin spin kicks Strong. Strong takes the Broken Arrow. Martini tries to interfere but gets crotched on the top rope. Elgin backfists Haas and Bossman Slams Benjamin. He drops Haas with a TKO and foolishly doesn’t go for a pin. He goes to the top rope instead, only to be suplexed off by Benjamin. Haas jumps on Elgin and pins him at 15:55. This is the best Haas and Benjamin match I have seen in months. It helps that the crowd was excited to see them and that Strong and Elgin worked very hard and very smart. I’m noticing a pattern of good storytelling and clean finishes which I am really happy about. ***1/4

El Generico vs. Eddie Edwards

This is the first singles match these two have had in ROH. They were supposed to meet 13 months ago at “Fate of an Angel II” but Edwards’ injury the night before shelved this match indefinitely. Edwards cleanly breaks a lock-up in the corner. Edwards controls the wrist. Generico and Edwards each trade a pin attempt before reaching a stalemate. Edwards and Generico trade control on the mat. Edwards shoulder blocks him to the mat. He armdrags Edwards twice before delivering a toreador. Generico delivers a few punches in the corner. Edwards brings Generico out, but Generico hits a leg lariat for one. Generico lands on his feet when Edwards evades his split-legged moonsault. Edwards put him in a tree of woe and comes in with a delayed dropkick. Edwards charges from the floor with a baseball slide for two. Edwards suplexes Generico for two. Edwards gets two again after a back elbow. They begin to trade chops in the middle of the ring. Generico baits Edwards to the floor. Generico follows with a tope con hilo. In the ring Generico gets two with a high crossbody. He gets two again after a Blue Thunder Driver. Edwards blocks a yakuza kick. He hits a running knee strike to Generico’s face for two. Edwards gamengiri’s Generico on the top rope. Edwards gives him the Chin Checker for two. He immediately transitions into an STF. Generico crawls to the ropes to break it. As both men recover, another chop battle breaks out. Edwards superkicks Generico. Generico ducks a clothesline and hits a Dragon suplex. Edwards superkicks Generico to the other corner. Edwards delivers a chop, then eats a yakuza kick. He goes for a brainbuster, but Edwards reverses the momentum causing both men to spill out over the top rope and to the floor! Even if their recovery is slow, they manage to make it back in the ring before they get counted out. Edwards charges at Generico. Generico catches him with a Michinoku Driver for two. Edwards Saito suplexes Generico onto his head. Edwards heads to the top rope. Generico yakuza kicks him to cut off his plan. He looks for the super brainbuster. Edwards gives him a super facebuster. He superkicks and backfists Generico, only for Generico to kick out. Edwards double stomps Generico’s back. He powerbombs Generico for two and then turns him right into the Achiles Lock. He digs his knee into Generico’s back while holding onto it, causing Generico to finally tap out at 18:02. This was exactly the kind of match you would hope these two would have. They dished out a crazy amount of punishment on each other but neither man would stay down. They did such a good job of playing up their determination and desperation that some of the usual lack of selling wasn’t nearly as bothersome. It also worked in the sense that Edwards had to prepare himself for his title match at Final Battle against an opponent who was able to go toe for toe with Richards at the last ROH show. Good stuff all around, and a worthy first time contest from these two in ROH. Generico hesitates before eventually giving Edwards a hand shake after the match. ***3/4

Backstage, Edwards calls Generico one of the best, but also says he found out why he is called “Die Hard”. He brings up Final Battle and says he needs to win that match.

20 Man Honor Rumble

The rules of this match are identical to the Royal Rumble (with 1 minute intervals between entrants). The winner of the Honor Rumble will receive a future ROH World Championship match. It’s difficult (and somewhat pointless) to do play-by-play for Battle Royals, so I will provide the order of entry, eliminations, and important notes from the bout.

Order of Entry

1. TJ Perkins
2. Matt Jackson
3. Kenny King
4. Harlem Bravado
5. Cedric Alexander
6. Jay Briscoe
7. Caprice Coleman
8. Charlie Haas
9. Lancelot Bravado
10. Mark Briscoe
11. Grizzly Redwood
12. Adam Cole
13. Shelton Benjamin
14. Michael Elgin
15. El Generico
16. Jay Lethal
17. Nick Jackson
18. Mike Bennett
19. Rhett Titus (who entered early)
20. Roderick Strong

Order of Elimination

1. Kenny King by Jay Briscoe.
2. Cedric Alexander by Jay Briscoe. He and King were fighting on the top rope and Jay was able to push them both off and to the floor.
3. Harlem Bravado by Jay Briscoe. Harlem unwisely attacked Jay after he eliminated King and Alexander, so he tossed him out.
4. Matt Jackson by Jay Briscoe. Repeat #3, but put in Matt instead of Harlem.
5. TJ Perkins by Jay Briscoe. Jay went to toss TJ, but TJ hung onto the ropes. Jay ended up fighting TJ from the apron and managed to toss him out. This left Jay in the ring by himself until Caprice made his entrance.
6. Caprice Coleman by Jay Briscoe. Coleman was not happy with Jay considering the outcome of their match earlier. Unfortunately, he became another one of Jay’s victims. This left Jay alone again before Haas came out.
7. Lancelot Bravado by Jay and Haas. Lancelot entered while Haas and Jay were in a brawl and tried to interject. They decided to dispose of Lancelot and then go back to their battle.
8. Adam Cole by Shelton Benjamin. The Briscoes controlled the ring, taking care of Haas, Redwood and Cole. Shelton Benjamin entered and changed the dynamic. He was fighting both Briscoes when Cole attacked him from behind. Benjamin took care of him by tossing him out.
9 & 10. Shelton Benjamin clotheslines Jay Briscoe out of the ring with the momentum carrying him to the floor as well.
11 & 12. Charlie Haas clotheslines Mark Briscoe out of the ring with the momentum carrying him to the floor as well. Grizzly Redwood stands tall as the lone man in the ring as the two teams continue to fight on the floor and to the backstage area.
13. Grizzly Redwood by Michael Elgin. You would think this would have happened much earlier, but didn’t occur until every participant had entered the ring.
14. Nick Jackson by Rhett Titus. Titus entered early to attack Nick (based off what happened earlier in the night). Titus was able to slingshot Nick over the top rope and to the floor.
15. Rhett Titus by Michael Elgin. Elgin enzuigiri’d Titus off of the ring apron.
16. Mike Bennett by El Generico. Bennett had been fighting with Lethal since he had entered because of their problems on recent ROH television broadcasts. Bennett ended up in a scuffle with Generico, who yakuza kicked him out of the ring.
17 & 18. Michael Elgin and El Generico by Roderick Strong. While Elgin and Generico were fighting near the ropes, Strong took the opportunity to dump them both out to the floor.
19. Roderick Strong by Jay Lethal, making Lethal the winner at 24:26 which puts a ROH World title shot in his back pocket. Both men had brought the other to the ring apron. A slug fest broke out seeing which man could knock the other to the mat first. Lethal went for a German suplex with Strong grabbed the ropes to withstand. Lethal ended up superkicking Strong onto the ringside table which Strong fell off of.

This match accomplished a few things. It built some of the matches and instances from tonight which was rewarding as a viewer and I am sure for the live crowd too. It built off of certain television storylines which is good considering we were informed on commentary that two local stations carry the show. Even if you don’t watch the show, you would have picked up on what was going on. Finally, it built up to multiple matches on the Final Battle PPV which made me want to see those matches even more. There’s only so much tremendous action you’re going to get out of matches like this but the pace never slowed down and it was fun to watch things play out. ***

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