Philadelphia, PA – 1.20.2012
ROH World Champion: Davey Richards
ROH Television Champion: Jay Lethal
ROH World Tag Team Champions: The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)
Commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly and Bill Burger.
Bobby Cruise informs us at the top of the show that Eddie Edwards will not compete tonight due to suffering from a staph infection. Edwards was scheduled to compete against Roderick Strong in a No Holds Barred match. Edwards comes out with his arm taped up. He’s unhappy with the doctor not clearing him to compete and gets the fans to chant “Fuck the Doctor.” Well that’s just not nice. He hypes up the fans for the rest of the show.
Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin vs. Future Shock (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly)
This is a rematch from “Gateway to Honor.” Haas and Benjamin put down the fans before the match. Haas is still jaw jacking with the fans when he and Cole start off. Haas controls him on the mat. Cole comes back with a shoulder tackle. Haas knocks O’Reilly off the apron. This distracts Cole and allows Benjamin to attack him from behind. Haas lays in some punches to Cole before legally bringing in Benjamin. Cole hits a trifecta of dropkicks and tags in O’Reilly. O’Reilly boots Haas off the apron. O’Reilly throws multiple kicks and sweeps out Benjamin’s legs. O’Reilly fights out of a suplex and puts on a Guillotine. Haas boots O’Reilly to break the hold. Benjamin throws O’Reilly shoulder first into the ring post. Haas and Benjamin cut the ring in half to wear down O’Reilly. O’Reilly evades a corner splash from Benjamin and gives him a tornado DDT. Cole tags in and missile dropkicks Haas. Haas catches his crossbody attempt. Cole spins out into a DDT for two. Haas shoves Cole out of the corner to stop Cole’s barrage of punches. Cole enzuigiri’s Haas. Benjamin comes in and takes a neckbreaker. Cole superkicks Haas and O’Reilly superkicks Benjamin. Future Shock double boots Haas in the corner. They double suplex him for a two count. Haas gives Cole an atomic drop. Benjamin superkicks Cole. O’Reilly is there to make the save. O’Reilly enzuigiri’s Haas and gives Benjamin a chin breaker. O’Reilly accidentally elbows Cole in the corner. O’Reilly eats Pay Dirt from Benjamin. Haas and Benjamin double powerbomb Cole for the pin at 11:32. Haas and Benjamin turning heel was absolutely the right move to make. They’re able to react to the crowd properly which brings out some more of their personality. Haas has especially embraced the change. Cole and O’Reilly are just excellent. Even though this was only the slightest step below their Gateway to Honor bout, it was a very fun way to kick off the show. **3/4
Grizzly Redwoood says he’s ready to pick up the victory in his hometown.
Mike Bennett vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Andy Ridge vs. Grizzly Redwood
Ciampa has the Embassy Ltd. in his corner. Bennett has nobody in his corner, surprisingly. Bennett and Ciampa send Ridge and Redwood to the floor and stare each other down. Ridge goes for his slingston Ace Crusher, only for Ciampa to turn it into a backbreaker. Bennett and Ciampa wish bone Ridge’s legs. Bennett clotheslines Ridge in the corner. Ciampa forearms Ridge repeatedly for a two count. Ridge superkicks Ciampa and tags in Redwood. Redwood delivers acannonball senton in the corner. Ciampa shoulder blocks him to the mat. Bennett helps Ciampa with a neckbreaker/suplex combo. Bennett stomps Redwood down in the corner. Bennett hits a lariat. He and Ciampa decide to take turns bullying Redwood. Redwood squeaks his way out of their corner. Ridge tags in and knees Bennett in the side of the head. He throws some kicks at Ciampa’s upper body and O’Conner rolls him for two. Bennett forearms Ridge from the apron. Ciampa hits a lariat but Bennett breaks his cover. Bennett slaps him in the face, leading to Ciampa throwing a series of chops. Ciampa dropkicks his leg out and goes for Project Ciampa. Bennett shoves him to the corner instead. Bennett accidentally crotches himself on the middle turnnuckle. Ciampa rams his knee into Bennett’s face twice. Ridge catches Ciampa with a slingshot Ace Crusher for two. Ridge boots Ciampa in the corner. Redwood blind tags in. Redwood comes off the middle rope with a leg lariat. Bennett brings Ridge to the floor. Ciampa mows them both down with clotheslines. Redwood dives out. Ciampa catches him and gives him an Air Raid Crash on the ring apron. In the ring he gives Redwood Project Ciampa for the pin at 8:46. Bennett has annoyed me less on these recent shows, so there’s that. Ciampa has been doing fantastic in his ROH tenure and I expect big things from him going forward. Redwood and Ridge seem destined to never rise above their current status. **1/4
Cole argues with O’Reilly backstage about O’Reilly hitting him in the corner. Cole says he’s frustrated that everyone knows their potential but they keep failing to reach their goal. O’Reilly apologizes and tries to assure him that the future will get better. Cole says they need to get re-focused. O’Reilly sternly tells him that he is focused but Cole does not seem totally convinced.
Prince Nana is very pleased with Ciampa’s victory. Nana says they’re going to celebrate tonight. Barrister RD Evans says they need to keep their investors happy and believes Ciampa needs to start winning matches that matter. Ciampa reminds us that he has a Proving Ground match with Jay Lethal tomorrow. If Lethal wins the ROH World Championship tonight, Ciampa’s Proving Ground match will be for both titles. Ciampa walks away while Nana talks about partying. Evans leaves to try and keep Ciampa happy.
Steve Corino comes out to the ring. Corino talks about how he spent 2011 redeeming himself only to lose to Kevin Steen at Final Battle 2011, effectively letting Steen re-join the ROH roster. Although he lost the match, Corino says he won the battle of getting respect. His shoulder is injured now, but he plans to come back to the ring in 2012. He lists some of the top talent in ROH, prompting Kevin Steen to make his way out. Steen is convinced Corino is still an evil person after facing him at Final Battle. Steen doesn’t want to listen to Corino bury his “King of Old School” persona in the city in which he was born. Steen tells Corino that the fans and locker room should have respected him from the start. Steen feels cheated that Corino spent 2010 terrorizing Jim Cornette but once he (Steen) was gone, Corino wanted his respect. Steen doesn’t know why Cornette’s respect is so valuable considering some of the awful things he’s done in the business. Quite frankly I agree with Steen. Steen also tells Corino the only person’s respect that matter is Corino’s own. Steen points out that he is here for Steve Corino while Jimmy Jacobs isn’t. He wants Corino to help him burn ROH to the ground. Steen begs for Corino to respond to him somehow, but Corino just walks away. With Steen in the ring, his opponent for tonight (Kenny King) makes his way out with an injured Rhett Titus in his corner.
Kenny King vs. Kevin Steen
Steen tries to attack Titus on the floor. King cuts him off and sends him shoulder first into the guardrail. King breaks the referee’s count. Steen whips King to the ring. King jumps off the apron into a corkscrew senton. Back in the ring King gets a one count. King spinwheel kicks Steen to the corner. Steen evades an elbow in the corner. Steen knocks him down but misses a cannonball senton. Back on the floor Steen rams King crotch first into the ring post. Steen kises a fan ringside and then cannonball sentons King into the barricades. Steen boots King back in the ring. Again they go to the floor where Steen bits King’s ear. Steen pins him for two back in the ring. Steen whips King to the corner. King turns it into a sunset flip for two. Steen gives him a Code Breaker to take control once more. He misses a second rope moonsault. King clothesline Steen twice. King delivers an STO and hits a standing moonsault for two. King misses a dive to the floor. Steen powerbombs him onto the ring apron. King manages to kick out. King gets his knees up to block a swanton. Steen catches King’s slingshot move. King however snaps Steen’s neck on the top rope. He hits a springboard Blockbuster for two. King and Steen fight on the ropes in the corner. Steen pushes King off and pops him up into a powerbomb for two. Steen goes for the Package Piledriver, but referee Paul Turner reminds him it is banned. King cartwheel kiks Steen in the head. Steen blocks King’s shotgun knees with the F5 for the pin at 10:49. Steen’s character in ROH is far and away the most interesting and most enjoyable to watch. Everything he’s doing right now is perfect. This really was a showcase for him, which really is how it should have been. King was a great foil for Steen and really helped make Steen look even more evil. **3/4
Titus comes in to help King from taking a Package Piledriver. Steen takes out Titus’ bad knee and puts on a sharpshooter. King chases Steen off.
Chris Hero vs. Michael Elgin
Truth Martini is in Elgin’s corner. Shane Hagadorn comes out and tells Hero that he is going to keep his eyes on Martini for him. Hero appreciates Hagadorn’s support, but wants to do things tonight by himself. Hagadorn acquiesces. After exchanging arm holds, both Hero and Elgin stand tall when the other goes for a shoulder block. Hero does some flips and risorte’s to show off, ending with a right hand to Elgin’s face. Hero throws some Tracy Smothers offense in the corner. Hero plays around some more, leading to him clotheslining Elgin to the floor. Hero flips out to the floor and does some jumping jacks. Hero goads Elgin into a dropkick through the ropes. In the ring, Hero snapmares Elgin into a senton for two. Hero wins a strike exchange, but Elgin delivers a Bossman Slam. Elgin gets two with a delayed vertical supelx. Elgin forearms Hero in the chest and legdrops him on the apron. Hero fights his way out of a side headlock. Elgin whips Hero to the ropes. Hero flips over and boots Elgin from the apron. Elgin catches Hero’s slingshot attack and delivers a Samoan Drop for two. Elgin fights for a suplex. When that fails he knees Hero in the chest. When Elgin hits the ropes, Hero hits the opposite side and boots him in the side of the head. Hero cracks Elgin with an elbow after taking a chop. A rolling elbow gets him a two count. Hero boots Elgin on the top turnbuckle. Hero brings Elgin down with a cravate buster for two. Elgin blocks a flying elbow in the corner with a belly to belly suplex. Elgin gives him a 2k1 Bomb for a two count. Hero lands a couple flying elbows. Elgin splashes Hero and lariats him for two. Elgin vertically turns Hero into a uranage slam. Hero elbows Elgin and suplexes him out of a cravate. Elgin Saito suplexes Hero in response. Hero is dizzy when he comes to. They both throw punches and chops while looking dazed. Hero delivers another rolling elbow for two. Elgin side steps a moonsault. Hero bicycle kicks and Cyclone Kicks Elgin for two. Elgin blocks a Cyclone Kick. He buckle bombs Hero, then hits a spinning powerbomb for the pin at 14:43. As a long time ROH fan I enjoyed seeing Hero act as a conglomeration of all his previous ROH personas; a little Sweet N’ Sour Inc, mostly Young Knockout Kid, all fun to watch. Elgin looked like he was able to hang with one of ROH’s top guys and this win further solidifies him as a future main eventer. ***1/4
Shane Hagadorn gives Hero a verbal berating for losing. Hero looks to just walk away until Shane namedrops Claudio. Hagadorn takes credit for the Kings of Wrestling being the longest reigning ROH tag team champions. Hagadorn calls Hero a bum that nobody wants. Hero cracks Hagadorn with an elbow to shut him up.
Backstage, Kevin Steen says he’s going to end the year as the ROH World Champion. He tells Kenny King needs to drop the dead weight attached to him if he truly wants to succeed. He likes King, but he just happened to be put in Steen’s way. Steen also plans to take out Adam Cole tomorrow in Norfolk, VA. Everyone knows he’s an animal lover/zoo enthusiast, and all he wants this year is a wolf.
Truth Martini is with Michael Elgin. Martini spouts off about being a manager to the stars. Elgin says he endured all the elbows and boots Hero threw his way, proving just how Unbreakable he is. He believes 2012 is the year of Elgin being on the path to becoming ROH World Champion.
Speaking of Truth Martini, he and Roderick Strong make their way to the ring. As stated earlier, Strong was supposed to meet Eddie Edwards in a No Holds Barred match tonight. Strong wishes Jay Lethal and Davey Richards tonight because he’s coming for both of their titles no matter who wins. Strong wants the referee to count Edwards out and give him another win. Before that can occur, Adam Cole makes his way out. Cole says he thinks he would be a good replacement for Edwards and will even adhere to the No Holds Barred stipulation. Martini tells Cole flat out I will essentially be a handicap match if Cole actually does take the match. Martini tells Cole that Cole will have to shut him up. Cole superkicks Martini, prompting Strong to strike and the match to begin.
No Holds Barred
Adam Cole vs. Roderick Strong
Strong boots Cole vigorously on the mat. Cole leapfrogs over Strong and connects with a dropkick. Cole enzuigiri’s Strong off the ring apron and suicide dives onto him. Strong baits Cole into a gamengiri on the ring apron. Strong chops Cole and throws him rib first into the ring post. Strong body slams Cole onto the ring apron. Strong throws punches back in the ring. Cole fights back with forearms. He gives Strong a neckbreaker across his knee for two. Strong drives the back of a chair into Cole’s leg. Strong slams him on the chair for two. Strong digs the seat of the chair into Cole’s throat in a Camel Clutch. He then stomps Cole’s head into the chair for two. Strong boots Cole when Cole begins to mount of a comeback. Strong sets a chair up in between the top and middle turnbuckle of every corner. He then whacks Cole in the shoulder with Martini’s Book of Truth repeatedly. Cole reverses Strong’s Irish whip, sending Strong into a chair in the corner. Cole proceeds to send Strong into all four chairs. Cole German suplexes Strong and hits a running knee strike for two. Cole seats Strong onto a chair. Strong catches Cole going up top with a gamengiri. Cole reverses Strong’s tornado DDT and suplexes Strong onto the chair for two. Strong enzuigiri’s Cole and drops him back first on the ring frame. Strong chops Cole while he’s hung in the ropes. Strong gives him the Death by Roderick for two. Strong then gives him a backbreaker onto a chair for two. Strong puts on the Stronghold. Cole reaches the ropes to break it. Strong stomps a chair into Cole’s head and hand. Cole trips Strong to the floor and German suplexes him onto the ring frame. Cole desperately brings Strong into the ring for a two count. Michael Elgin runs out and attacks Cole. Eddie Edwards comes out to even the score and fights Elgin all the way back to the backstage area. Strong and Cole throw strikes at each other. Cole Falcon Arrows Strong through two chairs. Martini pulls referee Paul Turner out of the ring to break the count. Cole pulls Martini up to the apron. Strong kicks Cole in the head and suplexes him into a backbreaker. This gives Strong the win at 16:24. This really was Cole’s coming out party as a singles wrestler. Never has he had the chance to show how tough he is or that he could stand alone against ROH’s top guys. This was just what Cole needed to break out on his own and I give him and Strong credit for making it so. ***1/2
Veda Scott is backstage with The Briscoes. They seem to have no idea who she is. She says that Hallowicked and Jigsaw are looking to beat them tonight. Mark says if nothing else they need to prove something to them. Jay says ROH isn’t a comic book factory and that CHIKARA is coming into their house tonight.
Proving Ground Match
The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) vs. Jigsaw & Hallowicked
If Jigsaw and Hallowicked defeat The Briscoes, or outlast the 20 minute time limit, they will get a shot at the ROH Tag Team titles (currently held by The Briscoes) in the future. Mark brings Jigsaw to the mat with a waistlock, transitioning into a side headlock. Jigsaw kicks Mark in the back and rolls him up for two. Mark headbutts Jigsaw in the corner. Jigsaw hops over and armdrags him into a dropkick. Hallowicked tags in. He and Jigsaw double dropkick Mark for two. Hallowicked does some damage to Mark’s arm. Jigsaw and Hallowicked each come off the top with a double axe handle while the other holds Mark’s arm. Jigsaw stomps the arm and gets a two count. Jay blind tags in. Mark whips Hallowicked into a clothesline from Jay. Jay boots Jigsaw off the apron for the heck of it. The Briscoes double team Hallowicked in the corner, with Jay once again knocking Jigsaw to the floor. Hallowicked catches Jay with a boot from the apron. Hallowicked turns Jay’s leapfrog into a roll-up for two. Hallowicked sends Jay to the floor and tags in Jigsaw. Hallowicked tries to suicide dive onto Jay. Jay catches him with a forearm. Mark throws Jigsaw aside so he can dive onto Hallowicked. Jigsaw kicks Mark out. He goes for a dive but Jay stops him with a spinebuster. The Briscoes go to work wearing down Jigsaw. Jigsaw sends Mark into Jay. Jigsaw superkicks Mark. He goes for a tag, but Jay pulls Hallowicked off the apron and throws him into the barricade. Jay also pushes Jigsaw off the top rope onto the timekeeper’s table. When it doesn’t break, Jay double stomps Jigsaw through the table. The Briscoes seem content with a count out victory if they can get it. Jigsaw makes it back in the ring just in the nick of time. Mike Quackenbush makes his way ringside. He ensures he won’t interfere and begins to pound the mat in support of Jigsaw. Other CHIKARA roster members make their way ringside in spurts: Frightmare, Dasher Hatfield, The Colony, Saturyne and UltraMantis Black. The Briscoes meanwhile are still pounding Jigsaw two-on-one. The support of his brethren allows Jigsaw to fire up and tag in Hallowicked. He gives Jay the Go 2 Sleepy Hollow and Mark a step-up enzuigiri. He Rydeen Bombs Mark and Jay breaks the cover. Jay boots Hallowicked to the corner. Jigsaw tags in and missile dropkicks Jay. He gives Mark a flurry of kicks. Mark headbutts Hallowicked repeatedly and turns his mask around. Jigsaw German suplexes Mark to stop him. On the floor, Jay gets in Saturyne’s face. Hatfield comes to her aid but gets punched for it. Jay throws Saturyne into the ring. Fire Ant flies in over Jay to distract him. This allows Jigsaw to superkick Jay for the pin at 13:58. The involvement of the other CHIKARA roster members added a lot by the end. The crowd woke up, the pace of the match picked up and the unpredictability factor made it much more engaging. This was still competent and enjoyable before that, but the ending certainly made up for some of the less engaging portions earlier in the bout. ***
Jay says what just happened with bullshit. He says they didn’t sign up to fight baseball players, bitches and Looney Tunes. He tells Jigsaw and Hallowicked they just signed their death warrant, because when they meet in Chicago on April 28th, they’re going to die. UltraMantis Black takes the microphone. He says all of the CHIKARA folks came here because they’re family and wanted to support their brothers. Mark throws a chair at them, but it hits no one. Mantis says he didn’t like that the Briscoes did not respect the mask, which is sacred to them. Mantis says if they want to mess with something that’s sacred to them, they will take something that is sacred to them: the ROH tag team titles.
Davey Richards says his action will speak louder in his match with Jay Lethal. He tells Lethal he’s a headhunter and gives him the advice to “duck”.
ROH World Championship
Davey Richards vs. Jay Lethal
Each man hesitantly approaches the other in the early going. Lethal goes after Richards’ left arm. After Richards kicks Lethal in the chest, Lethal looks for a crossface. They each put on a seated surfboard. Lethal hip tosses Richards into a dropkick for one. Lethal gets one after a legdrop too. Richards catches Lethal with his own dropkick. Richards ties him up in a cloverleaf. Lethal turns that into a small package. Richards pops out and kicks Lethal in the head. Lethal gives Richards a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and stretches the back out across his knee. Lethal suplexes Richards for two. Richards evades a corner attack. Lethal however throws his head into the top turnbuckle. Richards sends Lethal to the floor. Lethal ducks his kicks from the floor. Richards twists Lethal’s arm and drops him shoulder first on the ring apron. Richards off course does more damage Lethal’s arm once they’re back in the ring. Richards comes off the top with a headbutt to his arm for two, then turns right into a kimura. Lethal gets the ropes to break it. Richards throws multiple kicks to Lethal’s chest in the corner. Lethal comes back with a leg lariat off the second rope. Both men throw punches when they get back to their feet. Lethal spin kicks Richards after a couple running forearms. Lethal hits a handspring back elbow for two. Lethal suplexes Richards into a neckbreaker for two. Richards headbutts Lethal’s arm. He goes for the Damage Reflex but Lethal dropkicks him to counter. Richards kicks Lethal off the second rope and delivers a missile dropkick him. Lethal hits a superkick. Richards kicks Lethal in the head and German suplexes him for two. Richards runs at Lethal in the corner. Lethal cuts him off with the Lethal Combination for two. Roderick Strong runs out to attack Lethal on the top rope. Richards takes the opportunity to superplex Lethal. He turns a Falcon Arrow into a cross armbreaker. Lethal and Richards trade pins on the mat, neither man securing a victory. Lethal hits an enzuigiri. Richards hits a lariat bringing both men to the mat. Richards throws a clothesline. Lethal ducks and suicide dives onto Strong. Lethal trips Richards onto the ring frame and hits a top rope elbow back in the ring for two. Lethal Dragon suplexes Richards for another two count. Richards blocks the Lethal Injection and slaps on an ankle lock. Lethal turns that into a Kondo Clutch/parachute stretch combo. Richards turns that back into an ankle lock. Lethal rolls out of it. Richards hits the Alarm Clock after absorbing a superkick. Lethal hits the Lethal Injection. Richards manages to kick out, leaving Lethal looking desperate. Lethal looks for a Hamachan Cutter. Richards headbutts Lethal and hits a Sunset Bomb instead. Richards’ running kick to the throat and a top rope double stomp only get him a two count. Richards delivers a swift kick to the side of Lethal’s head. Lethal fires up and asks for more. Three more kicks to the head take Lethal out at 25:50. This was one of Richards’ better title defenses because – shocker – there was a story to it. Lethal looked just as strong as Davey did the entire time, which considering he is also a champion makes total sense. True, there was some of the usual fighting spirit nonsense that generally bothers me, but it fit into the context of the match and they saved it for the home stretch. This was a very good main event in ROH’s return to Philadelphia. ****
Richards puts over Lethal after the match. Richards was so impressed, he wants to defend the title against Lethal again. Lethal accepts and shakes Richards’ hand. That match would take place at ROH’s TV Tapings in Baltimore just a couple weeks later where Lethal was unsuccessful. Richards thanks the fans for being with him since his first match in Philly against AJ Styles at “Death Before Dishonor IV”.