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Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium – Spartanburg, South Carolina – December 3, 2011
Kevin Kelly and Jim Cornette are on commentary, which is now being done live! That’s a big step.
MATCH #1: “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett vs. Adam Cole
Bennett is rolling without Brutal Bob Evans tonight. The fans throw streamers for Cole, which is a bit much. I’m all for streamers but they should be limited or else it’s not special. They go back and forth in the early going trying to establish the pace. Bennett wants to keep it slow and Cole tries to speed it up. Cole sends Bennett to the floor with a right hand and wipes Bennett out with a house show dive. The battle continues on the floor, where Bennett is able to catch Cole and deliver a spinebuster on the edge of the ring apron. Back in the ring Bennett goes on offense, setting his methodical pace. Cole tries to fire up but Bennett cuts him off with a dropkick. Finally Cole is able to make the comeback with a lungblower out of the corner. Cole unloads with a long series of punches, a superkick, and a bridging German Suplex for two. He follows up with an enziguiri and a cross body block off the top rope for another two-count. Bennett responds with a punch to the face and a TKO for a near-fall. He tries the Box Office Smash but Cole counters to an Ace Crusher. Cole hits another enziguiri and a flash kick to the head for two. He goes for the Panama Sunrise but can’t hit it, instead getting a sunset flip for two. Cole goes back to the second rope and Bennett pulls him down into a hard backbreaker. Bennett follows with the Box Office Smash to get the pin at 9:32. That’s a solid opener and maybe Bennett’s best match ever.
Backstage – Harlem and Lancelot Bravado note that ROH has stated if they continue to lose they will be dropped from the roster. They promise to win both their tag team match tonight and the Honor Rumble in the main event.
MATCH #2: The Bravado Brothers (Lancelot & Harlem) vs. Los Ben Dejos
Am I crazy or did TNA at one time show a vignette for Los Ben Dejos? They are Cruz and Rios. Lancelot and Rios start the match, and Los Ben Dejos quickly take control. Harlem tries to interfere but he gets quickly thwarted. Lance pulls Cruz into the middle turnbuckle and makes the tag. Harlem goes to work, hitting a delayed vertical suplex for two. The Bravados keep Cruz isolated from his partner and jaw with the crowd. Cruz avoids a charging Lance, sending him to the floor, and is able to make the tag. Rios is a house afire on Harlem, almost putting him away. Cornette compares Los Ben Dejos to Air Traffic Controllers, but that comparison isn’t really apt. Lance makes a blind tag to Harlem and the referee loses control. Lance traps Cruz in an O’Connor Roll with a bridge to get the win at 5:36. The Bravados will need to beat a real ROH team to truly be taken seriously, but that was decent filler.
MATCH #3: Proving Ground Match – ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal vs. TJ Perkins
They start off cautiously, jockeying for control in the early going. Lethal strikes first with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for just a one-count. The champ keeps up the pressure, hoping to put Perkins away. Perkins is able to fight back with his unique offense, particularly submission moves and kicks. They trade superkicks and Lethal tries a suplex but Perkins reverses it to one of his own. Both men are down. They get up and start slugging at each other. Lethal sends Perkins to the floor with a boot to the face, but Perkins recovers quickly and dropkicks Lethal to the floor. The champ is able to get back in the ring quickly as well, but Perkins catches him in a nice powerbomb for two. Perkins tries a rana and it leads to a series of pinning combination reversals. Lethal catches Perkins with the Lethal Combination for a very close near-fall. He goes up top but jumps right into a boot. Perkins tries to capitalize but Lethal is able to hit the handspring Ace Crusher (the second move called the Lethal Injection, which used to be the dragon suplex) to get the pin at 11:33. Perkins looked great in losing and Lethal continues his good match streak with another solid showing.
Backstage – Jay Lethal tells TJ Perkins that he takes all Proving Ground matches personally. However, he does respect Perkins. Lethal has another Proving Ground match tomorrow night against Adam Cole, and he hopes Cole took notes tonight, because he’s going to need them.
MATCH #4: Tag Team Challenge Match #1 – The All Night Express (Rhett Titus & Kenny King) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
These are two of the best young teams in the business. The Bucks eschew the Code of Honor and the ANX makes them pay for it, causing the brothers Jackson to take a powder. Titus goes out there and puts them in position for King to wipe them out with a corkscrew dive. Back in the ring Nick and Titus start the match proper. The ANX is in complete control, even when Nick manages to make the tag to his brother. Nick interferes from the floor to finally give the Bucks the advantage on Titus. The Bucks are just awesome when they go on offense, keeping Titus away from King while cheating and executing great double-team moves. Finally Titus makes the hot tag and King is absolutely on fire. The referee loses control as all four men are flying around the ring. King hits Nick with the Coronation and Matt barely breaks it up but the crowd thinks King got him and they let the referee hear about it. The ANX sets Nick up for their finisher but Matt breaks it up. The Bucks are then able to hit King with More Bang for Your Buck to get the win at 13:42. That was excellent tag team formula stuff from two very over and very talented teams. The Bucks are really great heels.
Backstage – The Briscoes ruminate on things Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman posted on Twitter comparing them to the Bushwhackers. Elsewhere, Coleman and Alexander tell the Briscoes not to underestimate them.
MATCH #5: Tag Team Challenge Match #2 – Briscoes vs. Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander
All four men come out slugging and away we go. The fight quickly spills to the floor, where the Briscoes excel. Back in the ring Jay and Mark take control on Alexander as Coleman tries to recover on the floor. The Briscoes systematically take Alexander apart, much to the delight of the crowd. Finally Alexander catches Mark with a back drop driver and the tag is made. Coleman is a house afire, taking both Briscoes down and sending Jay to the floor and following him out with an Asai Moonsault. Mark goes to the floor as well and pays for it, as Alexander wipes out both Briscoes with a dive of his own. Back in the ring Coleman hits Mark with a standing rana off the top rope and Alexander follows with a big Frog Splash for two. Jay pulls Alexander to the floor while Mark hits Coleman with the Cutthroat Driver. Alexander jumps back into the ring and drills Mark with a spinning kick to the face. Jay comes back in and catches Alexander with a big boot. The Briscoes follow with the Doomsday Device to get the win at 9:45. Coleman and Alexander looked tough but the Briscoes were just that much tougher. Good stuff here.
MATCH #6: Proving Ground Match – ROH World Tag Team Champions Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin vs. Roderick Strong & Michael Elgin
The House of Truth is accompanied by Truth Martini. Strong and Benjamin start the match and Strong goes right after Benjamin’s still-injured ribs. Benjamin fights back and makes the tag to his fresh partner. Elgin quickly tags in as well, eager to avenge his loss at Death Before Dishonor IX. When Benjamin tags back in, Martini interferes from the floor to give his boys the advantage. The HOT wisely focus on Benjamin’s injured ribs and keep him away from Haas. After several minutes of beating, Benjamin hits a move that the cameras miss and Cornette only describes it as a “Hail Mary.” Tags are made and Charlie is a Haas afire. Benjamin gets back in the game to hit Elgin with a superkick and Haas follows with the Olympic Slam for two. Strong and Benjamin slug at each other and Strong knocks Benjamin to the floor and follows him out with a dive. Elgin hits Haas with an enziguiri and then a spinning uranage slam for two. He hits a Buckle Bomb and Strong follows with a Sick Kick but Benjamin breaks up the cover. The referee has lost control. The champs hit Strong with the Leap of Faith. Martini goes to the top rope to interfere but he gets crotched and sent back to the floor. Elgin takes out both champions and goes up for a moonsault but Benjamin leaps up and German Suplexes him. Haas covers and gets the pin at 15:57. More good formula stuff here and the champs looked vulnerable, which I like.
MATCH #7: “Die Hard” Eddie Edwards vs. El Generico
The crowd is split down the middle in support of both men. Edwards has held all three titles currently offered by ROH and Generico has held two of the three, so there’s an impressive championship pedigree between these two. They take it down to the mat and Edwards goes after the arm. Generico fights back with armdrags and such, as both men are trying to set the pace of the matchup. Edwards works Generico over for a few minutes and Generico comes back with a low bridge to send Edwards to the floor. Generico follows him out with a dive to the approval of the crowd. Back in the ring Generico hits a cross body block off the top rope for two. A Blue Thunder Driver gets another two-count. Edwards comes back and hits the Backpack Stunner for two, and then rolls that into an STF. Generico reaches the ropes. Generico comes back with a running Yakuza Kick from out of nowhere, and then goes for a suplex and both men tumble to the floor. Both men barely make it back to the ring and pull themselves up. Generico hits a Michinoku Driver for two. Edwards responds with a Saito Suplex and goes up top. Generico cuts him off with a Yakuza Kick. He tries to follow with the Super Brainbuster but Edwards turns it into a pancake move down to the mat. Edwards hits a superkick and a back fist for a two-count. He goes up top to hit a double stomp and then hits a powerbomb for two. Edwards rolls that right into the Achilles Lock and Generico taps out at 18:01. Generico is pretty much automatic at this point. Edwards is just Edwards ya know?
Backstage – Eddie Edwards puts over his match with El Generico tonight, and looks ahead to his World Title match with Davey Richards at Final Battle. He says he needs the victory.
MATCH #8: 20 Man Honor Rumble, Winner receives a future ROH World Title Match
This is exactly like a Royal Rumble, with one-minute intervals. TJ Perkins is entry #1, and Matt Jackson is #2. They start off hot and Kenny King is entry #3. Next up is #4, Harlem Bravado. Entry #5 is Cedric Alexander, still selling the beating he received from the Briscoes earlier. Speaking of, Jay Briscoe is #6. Jay quickly eliminates King, Alexander, Harlem, Matt, and Perkins, totally clearing the ring. His net opponent is Caprice Coleman at #7. Coleman doesn’t last long as Jay’s dominance continues. Charlie Haas is #8, and the elimination streak may be over for Jay. Lance Bravado is #9, and Haas and Jay quickly dump him to the floor. Haas and Jay tear right back into each other. Mark Briscoe comes out at #10, giving the Briscoes a decided advantage. Grizzly Redwood is #11 and he goes right after Jay. Mark comes to his brother’s rescue and they go back to work on Haas. Next up is Adam Cole at #12. Lucky #13 is Shelton Benjamin, and he goes after the Briscoes, pausing to eliminate Cole. Jay and Benjamin eliminate each other, while Mark and Haas do the same. That leaves Redwood all alone in the ring. Michael Elgin comes out at #14 to oppose Redwood. El Generico is #15. Next up is TV Champion Jay Lethal at #16. Nick Jackson is #17 and he goes right after Lethal. Next up is #18, Mike Bennett and Lethal tears into him. Rhett Titus sneaks into the ring early, assuming he’s #19. Roderick Strong rounds out the field as #20. Elgin eliminates Redwood and Titus eliminates Nick Jackson. Next to go is Titus, courtesy of Elgin. Generico eliminates Bennett with a Yakuza Kick and we’re down to the Final Four.
Strong battles Generico while Elgin works on Lethal. They trade dance partners and Strong eliminates both Generico and Elgin at the same time. Elgin is not happy that his tag team partner is the one who eliminated him. Lethal and Strong go at it now, and Strong is just a little bit fresher than the TV Champion. These two went the distance back at Glory By Honor X in Chicago. Lethal is able to hit the Lethal Injection from out of nowhere and he gets Strong to the apron. Strong tries to suplex Lethal to the floor but Lethal stops on the apron. Lethal hits a Superkick to knock Strong down to the floor and win an ROH World Title shot at 24:26. That was fun and a good change of pace from the usual ROH main events. Lethal going over is a solid choice too.
The Pulse: At less than two and a half hours, this show is a breeze to get through. Considering that only one of the eight matches goes less than three stars is a minor miracle, as I can’t remember the last time that happened on an ROH show (or any show for that matter). The ROH roster is starting to hit a groove and the improved production was noticeable and appreciated. This show is packaged with Northern Aggression (review coming soon), but even on its own this is worth a purchase. You can pick it up at the ROH Store.