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Pennsylvania National Guard Armory – Philadelphia, PA – January 20, 2012
Kevin Kelly and Bill Burger are on commentary.
Ring announcer Bobby Cruise announces that Eddie Edwards is too injured to compete tonight. Edwards was slated to take on Roderick Strong in a No Holds Barred match, but he unfortunately has a staph infection. He comes out to basically apologize to the fans and talk trash about doctors.
MATCH #1: “Gateway to Honor” Rematch – Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) vs. Future Shock (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly)
Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team have fully turned heel now, and they talk smack to the fans before their opponents are even introduced. Haas and Cole start the match. They chain wrestle and Haas throws in some strikes to try and take control, but Cole fights fire with fire by hitting a big shoulderblock. Haas repositions the referee, allowing Benjamin to clobber Cole from behind. Benjamin tags in and Cole fights back. O’Reilly tags in and goes to work on Benjamin with a series of kicks. He locks on a guillotine choke and Haas has to break it up. Benjamin throws O’Reilly into the corners repeatedly. Haas tags in and they continue to wear down O’Reilly. The Philadelphia crowd does not like Haas and Benjamin, so the heel turn is working. After a few minutes O’Reilly avoids a charge in the corner and this Benjamin with a tornado DDT. Tags are made and Cole is a house afire. Cole hits Haas with a missile dropkick and a flurry of offense. He goes back up top for a cross body block and Haas catches him but he turns it into a DDT for two. Cole stays hot and the referee loses control. He hits Haas with a superkick and O’Reilly follows with one for Benjamin. Future Shock kicks Haas in the face together and then hit a double belly-to-back suplex for two. Benjamin throws O’Reilly to the floor and Haas catches Cole with the inverted atomic drop and Benjamin nails a superkick for a very close near-fall when O’Reilly breaks it up. O’Reilly hits a series of kicks and then accidentally nails his partner with a running forearm. Benjamin hits O’Reilly with Paydirt. WGTT then hits Cole with a double powerbomb for the win at 11:33. Future Shock is an awesome team and always a good choice to open. I don’t love WGTT but making them full-on heels was definitely a good move.
Backstage – Grizzly Redwood is excited about his opportunity in the Four Corner Survival match tonight. That seems to be about all he gets anymore and I’m okay with that.
MATCH #2: Four Corner Survival – “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Grizzly Redwood vs. Andy “Right Leg” Ridge
Ciampa is accompanied by Prince Nana, R.D. Evans, Mia Yim, and Ernesto Osiris. Ciampa and Bennett get rid of the other men and stare each other down. Bennett then bails and lets Ridge take the brunt of Ciampa’s offensive assault. Of course Bennett is more than happy to tag in when Ridge is worn down. He and Ciampa work together to wear down the ROH Academy graduate. Ridge catches Ciampa with a superkick and makes the tag to Redwood. The littlest lumberjack is a house afire but quickly gets cut off by Ciampa’s power. Bennett comes in and hits Redwood with a neckbreaker for two. He and Ciampa continue working together until Redwood is able to tag Ridge, who unleashes a series of kicks. Of course the union between Bennett and Ciampa was never destined to last and they start arguing with each other. The words turn to fisticuffs of course. Ciampa takes Bennett down in the corner and hits ac couple of running knees but Ridge cuts him off with the springboard Ace Crusher for two. Redwood and Ridge wind up in the ring together and Ridge takes him down with a kick. Bennett pulls Ridge to the floor and then Ciampa takes both of them down with a clothesline. Redwood tries a dive on Ciampa but gets caught and slammed onto the ring apron. Ciampa then hits the Project Ciampa to pin Redwood at 8:46. Bennett and Ciampa together were interesting and all four guys packed a lot of action into a short amount of time. It’s just interesting to see two guys ROH obviously wants to push and two guys ROH will probably never push co-existing together.
Backstage – Future Shock is frustrated. Cole is upset that O’Reilly accidentally cranked him with that forearm in the corner. O’Reilly apologizes and they try to get on the same page.
Elsewhere – The Embassy is gloating about their victory tonight. It’s champagne and shrimp cocktail for everyone! Ciampa is focused on his Proving Ground match against Jay Lethal tomorrow night in Norfolk.
Steve Corino Address His Future
Corino begins by recapping his 2011, most notably his loss to Kevin Steen at Final Battle 2011. He starts to put over the roster but gets interrupted by Kevin Steen, who says that Corino is still an evil person. Steen says that Corino doesn’t need to earn anyone’s respect because he should have had it all along. He goes on to run down Jim Cornette and his various failures. Steen wonders where Corino’s sponsor Jimmy Jacobs is and says that he’s the one who’s here. He wants Corino to join him in burning ROH to the ground. He wants Corino to punch him but instead Corino just walks away.
MATCH #3: Special Challenge Match Number One – Kevin Steen vs. Kenny King
King is accompanied by Rhett Titus. Steen goes out to taunt the injured Titus and King makes him pay for it. King shows off his impressive speed and agility, wiping Steen out with a reverse somersault senton off the apron. Back in the ring King hits a spinwheel kick. Steen fights back and tries the Cannonball but King avoids it and they go back to the floor. Unfortunately for King, Steen picks him up and slams him nuts-first into the steel ring post. Steen kisses a ringside fan and then flattens King with the Cannonball. Back in the ring Steen continues the assault. King gets a quick sunset flip for two but Steen cuts him off and goes right back to work. Steen misses a moonsault off the second rope and King is on fire now. King tries a dive to the floor but Steen avoids it and powerbombs King onto the ring apron. Back in the ring Steen covers but only gets two. Steen tries the Swanton but King gets his knees up. King hits the springboard blockbuster and Steen kicks out at two. He puts Steen up top but Steen pushes him down and hits a powerbomb for two. Steen signals for the Package Piledrive but since it’s illegal he decides against it at the referee’s urging. King tries the Shotgun Knees but Steen catches him and is able to turn it into the F-5 to get the pin at 10:51. That was a sold match and a good showcase for Steen’s act.
Steen looks to continue the attack after the bell, and when Titus tries to stop him Steen takes him down and locks on the Sharpshooter. King breaks it up but the damage has been done.
MATCH #4: Special Challenge Match Number Two – Chris Hero vs. Michael Elgin with Truth Martini
Elgin is accompanied by Truth Martini. Before the match can begin, Shane Hagadorn comes out to ringside and tells Hero that he’s here for him. Hagadorn pleads with Hero to allow him to be his manager again. Hero appreciates their past, but he wants to wrestle tonight on his own.
They start off by trying to win man-game with each other and Hero shows off some of his agility from the Sweet N Sour days. Hero unloads with some chops and assorted strikes. They spill to the floor and Hero stays in control with some kicks. Back in the ring Hero hits a senton for two. Elgin comes back with a Boss Man Slam and starts going to work. He uses his impressive power and thwarts Hero’s comeback attempts, including catching Hero in a springboard with a Samoan Drop for two. Finally Hero catches Elgin with a big boot to the face and both men are down. Back on their feet they trade chops and Hero wins the battle and continues with strikes. Hero lands a rolling elbow for a near-fall. He puts Elgin up top and brings him down with a cravat slam for another two-count. Elgin catches Hero charging into the corner and suplexes him. He follows up with a pumphandle Michinoku Driver (I guess?) for two. Hero counters a powerbomb into a Saito Suplex and then hits a couple of running forearms. Elgin comes right back with two clotheslines for a two-count. He hits the suplex into a Boss Man Slam for two. Elgin tries the Powerbomb again but Hero slips out and hits a Rolling Elbow. Hero follows with the cravat suplex. Elgin responds with a Saito Suplex. He goes for another one but Hero slips out and they trade strikes again. Hero hits another rolling elbow but Elgin kicks out! He goes up top and misses a moonsault, but then connects with the rolling boot for a near-fall. Hero goes for another one but Elgin catches him and hits a Buckle Bomb and then the Spiral Bomb to get the pin at 14:43. Cruise had been announcing time left in the match so I thought they might be going for a time limit draw and I’m glad they didn’t Hero was on his way to WWE and a win like this does a lot to help Elgin. Plus it was a solid power match with a good finish. Elgin is really on the rise.
Shane Hagadorn comes back out and talks trash to Hero, rubbing salt in the wound of his loss. Of course that ends with Hero blasting Hagadorn with an elbow.
Backstage – Kevin Steen is ruminating on what’s going to happen in the year 2012. He wants to win the ROH World Title this year, but more than that he wants to fight Davey Richards.
Elsewhere – Truth Martini and Michael Elgin are celebrating Elgin’s victory tonight. Elgin even gets a few words in, and hopefully his promo ability will continue to improve as his in-ring ability has.
MATCH #5: No Holds Barred – Roderick Strong with Truth Martini vs. ?
Strong is accompanied by Truth Martini, and they come out not knowing who Strong is about to face. He says everyone is all booked up so the referee should just ring the bell and award him the match, but Adam Cole comes out to challenge that claim! Cole even agrees to keep the No Holds Barred stipulation. Truth thinks this is foolish but the challenge is accepted. Cole superkicks Truth out of the ring and then Strong attacks Cole to start the match.
Strong takes the early advantage but Cole is ready for a fight. They trade strikes and Cole knocks Strong to the floor, and then wipes him out with a dive. Strong is able to regain control with a solid kick to the face. He follows up with some chops and then bodyslams Cole into the ring apron. Back in the ring Strong keeps up the offense but Cole shows fire and won’t be intimidated. Cole hits the Death Valley Neckbreaker for two. Strong cuts him off with a boot to the gut and then grabs a chair. He uses it on Cole’s knee and then further attacks it. Strong slams Cole on the chair for a two-count and then puts on a Camel Clutch with added leverage from said chair. He stomps Cole’s face into the chair and gets a two-count. Cole tries to fight back but Strong cuts him off with a big boot for two. Strong continues the abuse and even uses the Book of Truth as a weapon. He sets up chairs in all four corners but it backfires as Cole throws him into all four chairs, and then hits a release German Suplex and a flying chuck for a near-fall. Cole sits Strong up in a chair and goes to the top rope but Strong kicks him right in the face. Strong tries to suplex him down but Cole reverses it and hits a brainbuster right on the chair! That only gets two. They fight to the apron and Strong hits an enziguiri and a back suplex right on the edge of the ring frame. Back in the ring Strong gets a two-count. Strong presses the advantage and hits the gutbuster for two. He sets up a chair and hits the Half-Nelson Backbreaker and amazingly Cole kicks out! Strong puts on the Stronghold and Cole is nearly bent in half but is still able to reach the ropes. They go back to the floor and Strong grabs another chair. Strong gets cocky though and Cole is able to grab Strong’s legs and hit the Wheelbarrow Suplex onto the apron! Back in the ring Cole covers but only gets two. Michael Elgin makes his way down and puts the boots to Cole, which of course is completely legal. Eddie Edwards comes out to make the save. Back on their feet Cole and Strong trade strikes. Cole catches Strong with a superkick and then hits a Falcon Arrow onto two previously set up chairs, and Martini has to save Strong by pulling the referee to the floor. This distracts Cole long enough for Strong to hit an enziguiri and the suplex backbreaker to get the pin at 16:24. That was a really good match and an excellent showing for Cole; probably his best singles match to date. Strong of course is pretty much automatic at this point. The crowd gives Cole a standing ovation and chants his name.
Backstage – Veda Scott gets a word with ROH World Tag Team Champions Jay and Mark Briscoe. #DemBoys are confident about their Proving Ground match with Jigsaw & Hallowicked tonight.
Elsewhere – Truth Martini and Roderick Strong are celebrating their victory over Adam Cole. Strong gives Cole credit, but notes that Only the Strong Survive.
MATCH #6: Proving Ground Match – World Tag Team Champions Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Jigsaw & Hallowicked
Jigsaw and Mark start the match with some mat wrestling. Team CHIKARA takes the first advantage but the Briscoes fight back and go to work on Hallowicked. They double-team him a bit util Hallowicked backdrops Mark to the floor. Hallowicked goes for a dive but Jay cuts him off and holds him in place for Mark to deliver a dropkick. Jigsaw then kicks Mark to the floor and signals for a dive but Jay cuts him off with his spinebuster. The Briscoes now focus on Jigsaw, wearing him down in their half of the ring. Jigsaw almost makes a tag but Mark pulls Hallowicked off the apron before it can happen. Even so, Jigsaw goes to the top rope and Jay knocks him down to the ringside table and then double stomps him right through it! When Jigsaw gets tossed back in the ring Mike Quackenbush makes his way out to ringside, as well as Frightmare, Dasher Hatfield, Fire Ant, Saturyne, Green Ant, Soldier Ant, and UltraMantis Black! Team CHIKARA is out in full force and that seems to fire up Jigsaw! The tag is made and Hallowicked is a house afire. The Briscoes won’t go down without a fight though. Jigsaw tags back in and this Jay with a missile dropkick. Mark goes after Hallowicked’s mask, turning it around. Jigsaw hits Mark with a release German Suplex. Jay goes after Saturyne and both Hatfield and Fire come to her rescue. The distraction allows Jigsaw to hit a superkick for the upset win at 13:59. That was the usual goodness from the Briscoes and I like the CHIKARA craziness at the end.
An angry Jay gets on the mic and says they will defend the titles against Jigsaw and Hallowicked on April 28 in Chicago. UltraMantis Black responds and says that CHIKARA is a family and he doesn’t appreciate what Mark did to Hallowicked’s mask. He promises that Team CHIKARA will take the ROH World Tag Team Titles.
Backstage – Davey Richards says his actions will speak louder than his words. He also says that Jay Lethal is next on his headhunting list.
MATCH #7: ROH World Title Match, Champion VS Champion – ROH World Champion Davey Richards vs. World TV Champion Jay Lethal
Richards has been the Champion since 6.26.11, and this is his sixth defense. They start with some chain wrestling, going back and forth at a fairly rapid pace. Richards should have the advantage on the mat but Lethal appears capable of keeping up with him in the early going. Lethal gets the first control but Richards cuts him off with a dropkick. Richards then tries a version of the Tequila Sunrise with a Texas Cloverleaf but Lethal counters to a cradle for two. Lethal then hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a belly-to-back suplex for two. Richards comes back and sends Lethal to the floor. They fight on the apron and Richards yanks Lethal’s arm down right onto the ring apron. Richards does the wolf cry, which sounds really silly. He also has those lines shaved into his head like everybody had when I was in the second grade. I’m not sure what’s up with that. Back in the ring Richards goes to work on the arm. Richards continues the punishment and even throws in a diving headbutt off the top rope for two. Lethal tries to fight up but Richards cuts him down with kicks. Just as I type that Lethal goes to the second rope and lands a leg lariat. Both men are down. Back on their feet they trade strikes and Lethal wins that battle. The TV Champion hits the handspring elbow for a two-count. Lethal throws Richards into a neckbreaker for another near-fall. Richards tries a handspring but Lethal dropkicks him out of it. The champ perseveres and hits a kick to the face and a missile dropkick, but then runs right into a superkick. Richards comes right back with a kick of his own and a bridging German Suplex for two. Lethal hits the Lethal Combination for two. He goes up top but Roderick Strong comes out to distract him. That gives Richards the chance to pop up and hits a superplex into a Falcon Arrow into a cross armbreaker. That’s quite the combination. Lethal escapes and they do they fish out of water spot. They trade kicks with each other and Richards changes to a clothesline and both men are down. They make it back up and Lethal decides to wipe Strong out with a dive, and then he catches a Richards kick attempt and whips him down face-first. Lethal goes up top for the Macho Elbow but it only gets two. He follows up with a Dragon Suplex for another two-count. Lethal goes for the Lethal Injection but Richards blocks it and puts on the Ankle Lock, which Lethal is able to escape. Richards hits the Alarm Clock but Lethal comes right back with the Lethal Injection but it only gets two. Lethal puts the Champ up top and Richards comes back with a sunset bomb. Richards hits a running kick and a huge double stomp for a two-count. He lands another couple of knockout kicks and Lethal asks for more. Of course Richards is happy to give it to him, and that’s enough to get the pin at 25:50. That was really good for the most part and the crowd was really buying into Lethal. The only part I didn’t really like was the finish – why would Lethal sit there and ask for more kicks to the face rather than try to counter them and win the match?
Richards cuts his usual post-match promo. I’m sick of these and I no longer wish to recap them.
The Pulse: This is a remarkably consistent show, with no matches going below 2.5 stars, and there was good variety up and down the card. Adam Cole versus Roderick Strong really stood out, and I suspect if you’re not sick of Davey Richards like I am you’ll like the main event even more than I did; and at 3.75 stars I still liked it quite a bit. I like the Steve Corino promo, and everything Kevin Steen is doing right now is interesting. The CHIKARA stuff went over well, and sets up something good for the future. Finally, this was Chris Hero’s last appearance before heading to Florida. There’s something here for everyone, and you can buy this show at The ROH Store.