Tonight on Ring of Honor television, we will see a Texas Death Match between Jay Briscoe and Charlie Haas to blow off that long standing feud. To open the show, however, we will see Mike Mondo take on former ROH World Champion, Davey Richards. Former World Champions opening the show? ROH is walking down some very WWE-esque roads here.
Veda Scott interviews Mondo and he says he doesn’t like or fear Richards, but he does respect him. Never heard that before in an ROH interview, right? Mondo says Richards has no right to claim to be the best in the world until he has wrestled and beaten Mondo. It’s a given that people need to show bravado in a wrestling promo, but Mike Mondo trash talking Davey Richards is a bit of a stretch, even for pro wrestling.
Match 1: Mike Mondo vs Davey Richards
Winner: Time limit draw
Richards gets his now-usual mixed reaction entrance. The crowd has turned on him a bit in 2012, but he still has a fairly strong fan base, as he should. After Steen’s show closing promo from Best in the World 2012, I think the fans will find themselves happy to get a bit more behind Richards again; it also falls to Richards to change his matches up a bit. No Code of Honor tonight from Mondo and the match begins. Mondo tries to go behind, but finds himself in an arm wrench, which he quickly turns around to take the control. Richards goes into his normal bridge escape for the wrist lock. The men go to opposite corners to reset. “Davey Richards” chants from the crowd as Mondo goes behind again and clubs Richards with a forearm. Richards answers with a spin kick to the gut and a round kick to the chest. The American Wolf grabs a headlock and the men collide shoulders off the ropes – neither goes down. Fair enough, as they are incredibly similar in size. This time, Richards hits the ropes and after a leapfrog, follows up an okana roll with the signature Richards surfboard. Richards flips into a pin and now Mondo with the surfboard. These are the spots that get “that” part of the crowd to start running Richards-Cena comparisons. Every match, we see Richards do this, along with some other spots, and they’re far too contrived. Are we to believe that a former ROH World Champion falls for the same reversal into the same submission move every time and hasn’t come up with something for it?
Mondo now rolls into the pin and after Richards kicks out, they exchange arm drags and kick counters to reset again. Now a knuckle lock and an odd transition into a pin for Mondo that gets two. Mondo throws a kick to the gut and Richards goes up and over in the corner to transition to a backslide for two, and Mondo answers with a snapmare into a body scissors pin for another near fall. Richards comes back with an arm drag and another quick pin. Back on their feet, both men try an arm drag and spin off of each other, resetting one more time. A “This is Wrestling” chant breaks out as Mondo and Richards come face to face in the middle of the ring. Mondo elbows Richards in the jaw and sends him to the corner, but misses on the charge. Richards is on the apron and wants to put Mondo’s head into the turnbuckle, but Mondo stops it with his foot and gives one to Richards. Mondo hits the ropes, but Richards low bridges him, putting Mondo on the floor. Richards runs the apron and kicks Mondo in the face, leading him into a full backflip and Richards continuing the hunt down on the floor. Richards puts Mondo against the guardrail and delivers a kick to the chest. Richards breaks the count and takes Mondo to the next side of the ring and repeats the kick to the chest. Richards rolls Mondo in and climbs to the top, trying a double stomp, but comes up empty. Richards rolls out of it and Mondo low bridges Richards to the apron, then shoulder tackles Richards off the apron into the guardrail, leading to a commercial break.
Back to the action, Mondo has Richards on the mat in a seated abdominal stretch. Richards fights back with knees and hits the ropes, but Mondo delivers a knee to the midsection. Mondo cinches in his version of an Indian Deathlock and sits up, pressing both fists into the midsection of Davey, to drive the breath out of him. Mondo delivers a headbutt and breaks it up and tries an Irish whip, but Richards reverses, then reverses a sunset flip attempt from Mondo into a standing double stomp. Both men get up and exchange forearm shots. Richards hits repeated forearms, then ducks and leapfrogs Mondo, following with a dropkick to the outside (we call that “the ole AJ Styles”). Richards follows with a suicide dive, taking Mondo out. The crowd goes wild and Richards rolls Mondo in again. Mondo gets to his feet and Richards delivers a missile dropkick, followed by a rush to the corner, which Mondo stops with a boot to the face. Richards answers with a huge kick to the head and a German suplex for a close two, then goes right into the Ankle Lock. Mondo tries to roll out, but Richards grapevines the leg. Mondo resists tapping and the fifteen minute time limit expires, forcing a draw. The crowd wants five more minutes and Todd Sinclair asks the men if they want to keep going. Richards is eager, but Mondo, limping after the Ankle Lock, leaves the ring.
Weird booking – This is the type of result you produce for someone that is to get a real push. Going toe to toe with the former World Champ and not tapping to his finisher is something to boast about. Mondo is good in the ring, but he just doesn’t strike me as the type who ROH is going to push to the TV title, let alone the World Championship. Hopefully we see a real development on this one. None of that even touches on how odd it is to see Richards go from main event of a PPV to the TV opener in the span of a week.
Jim Cornette and Kevin Kelly give us a quick recap of action earlier in the night, with a Four Way Dance between Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, BJ Whitmer and Roderick Strong with proving ground rules – If anyone but Roddy wins, they get a TV title shot. We cut to the end of the match.
(The end of) Match 2: O’Reilly vs Cole vs Whitmer vs Strong, proving grounds four way dance
Winner: Adam Cole via pinfall
Roddy shakes off Whitmer, but he answers with a hurricanrana pin for a close two. Roderick fights back, but Whitmer avoids Death by Roderick and rolls a swinging fisherman’s suplex into a traditional one, but Cole breaks up the pin. O’Reilly tags himself in and kicks Whitmer, who chops him back. They continue to exchange strikes until O’Reilly takes over with a flurry and a regalplex, which Strong quickly breaks up. Whitmer hits a jawbreaker and Cole tags in with a flying cross body on O’Reilly. Cole hits an enzuigiri, O’Reilly answers with a rolling elbow and Cole comes back with a shining wizard, trying to pin, but Strong breaks it up again. Cole is first to his feet and he and O’reilly begin a kick exchange. Strong tags himself in and takes it to Cole with a backbreaker, but Cole kicks out. Roddy now chops Cole in the corner. Strong hits Death by Roderick and Whitmer breaks up the pin attempt. Whitmer hits a t-bone off the ropes, Cole superkicks Whitmer, O’Reilly tags Cole with a discus lariat and Strong hits O’Reilly with a jumping knee, leaving all four men on the mat.
All four get up at the same time and strikes are exchanged in all directions. Whitmer suplexes O’Reilly over the top and O’Reilly hangs on, putting both me on the floor. Strong tries a schoolboy on Cole, who kicks out, but then takes a superkick while on his knees for another two. Roderick picks up Cole, who goes behind and gets the win with a crucifix pin and earns himself a TV Title match down the line.
Ton of action for just “the end” of a match, but this is the type of hard hitting match that makes people come back to ROH for more. Cole is a good choice for a potential future TV champion, or at least the chase for it. The hybrid fighting rules match from Best in the World is proof enough of that. See my thoughts on that here.
We cut back to the arena with some local guys that “helped bring ROH to Charleston”. They encourage the Sinclair markets to sell ROH, which as a fan I back, but this being on TV isn’t really helping anybody. This was more than likely part of an agreement with the sponsors.
We get a breakdown of the Texas Deathmatch Rules: No DQ, no countout, no time limit and the match will not stop for injury. After a fall, there is a 30 second rest period. If a wrestler cannot answer a 10 count after this rest period, they lose.
Match 3: Charlie Haas vs Jay Briscoe, Texas Death Match
Winner: Jay Briscoe
Haas attacks before the announcements, but Briscoe quickly rolls him up with a sunset flip for three. The first rest period begins, but the men fight into the commercial break. Back, Briscoe is in control on the floor. Jay whips Haas into the barricade and grabs the ring bell. He sits it on Haas’ head and rings it with the hammer – classic pro wrestling. Briscoe throws rights to the head, but Haas ducks the last one and delivers a belly to back on the barricade. Haas quickly rolls Jay in and pins him, forcing another rest period. Haas kicks Briscoe before the thirty seconds is up then spaces out to see if Jay will answer the referee’s count. Briscoe is up at three and Haas chokes him in the corner, then clubs his back. Jay fights back with rights, but Haas goes for the eyes and shoves him to the corner. Jay tries to fight out, but Haas catches him and pins him with a t-bone suplex. Another rest period and Haas attacks early again.
Briscoe is up to his feet at four this time and Haas greets him with a right and a run into the turnbuckle. Haas keeps the rights up as they walk the corners and delivers a snapmare and kick to the spine. Haas whips Briscoe low into the corner and readies to continue the assault. Haas with a headbutt now, but Briscoe tries to fight back to no avail. Haas gives Jay a clothesline in the corner and then a biel for two. Haas settles into a chinlock and chokes Jay with his wrist tape. Briscoe fights up to his feet and fights out with elbows – Haas low bridges Briscoe as he hits the ropes and he tumbles to the floor. Briscoe makes some space, but Haas meets him on the floor with a boot to the head, then tosses Briscoe into the guardrail. Haas stands on the neck of Jay and then throws him face first onto a chair. Haas jaws at Kevin Kelly and as the crowd rallies behind Briscoe, they take one more commercial break.
As we return, Briscoe is fighting back with a kick to the gut and a piledriver attempt on the floor. Haas back drops him out of it and trash talks the crowd as he is always wont to do. Haas stays on Briscoe and rolls him back into the ring. Charlie grabs a chair and follows into the ring, but Jay boots it into his face, leaving both men on the floor. The ref begins the 10 count, and if neither answers, we would have another rest period. Briscoe stirs as a “MAN UP” chant starts and they exchange right hands mid ring. Briscoe lands jabs and tries a big right hand, but Haas ducks and lands an Olympic slam; the ref takes a face full of Briscoe boots as he does so. Haas wants a cover, but there is nobody to make a count. Haas gets on the floor and throws a tantrum, then grabs the bell table, which Jay Briscoe baseballs slides into his face. Briscoe climbs to the floor and slides the table into the ring, then whacks Haas in the back with a chair. Briscoe walks toward the back and reemerges with a cooler, a piece of backstage fencing and a traffic cone, prompting a “He’s got goodies” chant. Briscoe grabs a beer and foams it in Haas’ face. Briscoe opens another cold one and drinks it, then throws it at Haas, but misses, almost hitting Bobby Cruise. Briscoe delivers a super kick to Haas and readies the table for some carnage. Haas clubs Briscoe in the head with the traffic cone, which Jay ignores, delivering a clothesline. Briscoe lays Haas on the table and heads to the top rope. Jay double stomps Haas through the table, but the ref is still unable to get to his feet. Jay pins Haas, but there’s still nobody to make a count.
Briscoe sets up a pair of chairs and sets the fence piece on top of it. Briscoe delivers a DVD through the fencing and referee Paul Turner begins to stir. Briscoe heads back to the cooler and retrieves a kendo stick. Haas gets up and kicks Turner back down, once again removing the referee. Haas delivers a low blow as Briscoe enters the ring again, then delivers a shot between the eyes with the kendo stick. Haas already booted the ref, though, so there’s nobody to make a count. Haas goes under the ring and retrieves a towel and “ether”, repeating how Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team defeated the Briscoes for the Tag Titles. Briscoe ducks the rag and cracks Haas with the kendo stick. Briscoe grabs the towel and can now, but throws the towel away and clocks Haas with the can. Turner counts a slow three, forcing another rest period. The ten count begins with Haas still out on the mat. Haas rolls over to his belly and crawls for the ropes and tries to stand, but tumbles out at nine, not establishing a vertical base, making Briscoe the winner.
That was a whole lot more action than you normally get on an episode of ROH television, and I’m happy for it to be my introduction to the readers of Pulse Wrestling. The Mondo/Richards match points to a push for Mondo, especially following the exchange Mondo had with Bennett and Maria at Best in the World. Mondo has been around the block a few times, odd for a push now, but it’s welcome; Mondo is solid in the ring, even if he has to tone down the promos a bit. Richards is supposedly heading toward retirement, so elevation of guys that are sticking around should be his primary focus if that holds true. Instead of the usual “Inside ROH” segment, we got the action packed ending of a proving grounds match; this is a welcome change to add to the amount of wrestling on a given episode, but why not televise the actual match? Proving grounds should be a big deal, as it guarantees a title shot to the winner. Briscoe and Haas have what seems to be the blowoff to the Briscoes/WGTT feud, which is odd to do in a singles match. With the All Night Express the new tag champs, it’s interesting to see if the Briscoes fall right back in line for a title shot, or somebody else will be having a go at King and Titus first.