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Ted Reeve Arena – Toronto, Ontario, Canada – May 12, 2012
Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness are in the ring to welcome the audience to the iPPV. They show a video package for Rhino to set up the first match.
MATCH #1: Special Challenge Match – “Die Hard” Eddie Edwards vs. “The Man Beast” Rhino w/ Truth Martini
Martini cuts a quick promo introducing Rhino as the newest member of the House of Truth and puts over his purpose as a stopper for Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin. Rhino only wearing one kneepad looks very awkward. Even with the one kneepad, Rhino overpowers Edwards to start. Edwards tries working the arm and has some success with it. They go back and forth with strikes and Edwards hits a hurricanrana to send Rhino to the floor. Edwards baseball slides Rhino into the camera man. He tries a slingshot move but Rhino pulls him off the apron. Back in the ring Rhino squashes Edwards with a shoulderblock in the corner. Edwards comes back with an enziguiri, and then Rhino press slams him and dumps Edwards straight to the floor! Rhino rams Edwards’s back into the guardrail. Back in the ring Rhino gets a two-count. Rhino works a bearhug now. Edwards comes back with a sick release German Suplex. Both men are down. Back on their feet Edwards wins a strike battle and lands a Shining Wizard for two. Rhino dumps Edwards to the apron, where Martini grabs Edwards’s foot. When Rhino goes for a Gore Edwards is able to avoid it and Rhino crashes to the floor. Edwards hits a moonsault off the apron. Back in the ring Edwards hits a missile dropkick for two. Rhino comes back with a belly-to-belly suplex. He goes for the Gore but Edwards dropkicks him mid-route. Martini tries to hit Edwards with the Book of Truth but almost hits Rhino instead. That gives Edwards the chance to snag a quick rollup to get the pin at 10:53. That was a good choice for an opener as the crowd was into both guys and their styles mesh well together.
Rating: ** ¾
After the match Rhino is angry with Martini, but Truth shoves a handful of $20s in his face, and since Rhino is a mercenary only in it for the money that is enough to appease him.
They show a quick video package detailing the feud between Mike Mondo and TJ Perkins, and how the Young Bucks and All Night Express got involved, as well as quick promos from the Bucks and the ANX.
MATCH #2: Six Man Grudge Tag Team Match – The All Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus) & “Technical Lightning” TJ Perkins vs. The Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson) & “No Fear” Mike Mondo
Mondo and Perkins start the match. Perkins dumps Mondo to the floor and Matt comes in to replace him. It looks like they’re playing by Dragon Gate rules in this one. The Perkins/ANX team takes control in the early going, keeping all three of their opponents off guard. They isolate on Mondo for a few minutes before Matt tags back in and King goes to work on his arm. Nick trips Titus from the floor, distracting him long enough to take control. Mondo throws Titus into the guardrail and sort of hits him with an Asai Moonsault. The Bucks and Mondo keep Titus isolated in their half of the ring. After a few minutes Titus is able to hit Snake Eyes on Matt but Mondo and Nick pull King and Perkins off the apron before a tag can be made. Moments later Titus is able to create another window of opportunity and the tag is made. King is a house afire, and Perkins soon follows suit. Perkins hits Matt with the powerbomb for two. The referee has lost control of this one. Mondo hits Titus with a snap mare driver, a move I really like. The action is getting too fast to call. The Bucks end up alone in the ring with Titus but they can’t put him away. Mondo badly overshoots a dive, missing everyone almost entirely. King and Matt battle in the ring briefly until King hits a somersault senton off the apron onto Nick and Mondo. The ANX then hit Matt with the One Night Stand and Perkins follows with the 450 Splash for the pin at 12:57. That was super fun and a great showcase for all six guys involved. The ANX looked the strongest, which makes sense with them being positioned as the Number One Contenders.
Jay Lethal cuts a quick promo, promising to end Tommaso Ciampa’s undefeated streak. Ciampa gets a retort, noting how he never lies and Lethal will find out what Project Ciampa is all about.
MATCH #3: Grudge Match – Jay Lethal vs. “The Dominant Male” Tommaso Ciampa w/ The Embassy Ltd.
These two were feuding over the TV Title, but Ciampa caused Lethal to lose the belt to Roderick Strong back in March. The Embassy Ltd. includes Prince Nana, R.D. Evans, and Ernesto Osiris. Lethal attacks before the bell and they take the fight to the floor. Ciampa takes advantage and goes for a running knee strike into the barricade but Lethal avoids it. They continue fighting around the ring and Ciampa grabs the Section C sign. Ciampa tries to ram Lethal into it, but Lethal avoids it and catapults Ciampa into it instead. Lethal hits the hiptoss/dropkick combo and then gets in the ring. He goes for a dive but Evans gets up on the apron to stop him so Lethal Jericho Dropkicks him down. Lethal tries the dive but Ciampa blasts him with a knee.
Ciampa gets in the ring as the bell rings and he covers for two. That would have been a clever finish actually. Ciampa continues the abuse and works Lethal over for a few minutes. Lethal comes back with a leg lariat off the second rope. Both men get up and they trade punches. Lethal takes the advantage with a flurry of offense, including a flapjack and a TKO on the knee for a two-count. He hits the handspring elbow for another two. Ciampa steals a page out of Lethal’s book by hitting the Lethal Combination for a near-fall. Lethal fights back but the Embassy gets up on the apron to distract him, allowing Ciampa to hit a huge lariat for two. Ciampa goes for Project Ciampa but Lethal counters with a hurricanrana with a cradle for two. They both charge each other and Ciampa hits a huge knee strike to the face but it only gets a two-count! Ciampa hits a series of knee strikes and tries Project Ciampa again but Lethal counters with an Alabama Slam into the turnbuckles! Nana gets in the ring to protest and referee Todd Sinclair shoves him down! Lethal gets an inside cradle for two. Ciampa tries to bully Lethal but that just fires Lethal up, and he hits a series of strikes and the Lethal Injection but Evans pulls Sinclair out of the ring! Lethal takes Evans out with a dropkick and then goes up top for Hail to the King! Ciampa kicks out! Ciampa tells Lethal exactly how he feels about him, so Lethal grabs him in the Lethal Combination, but hitting ten backbreakers instead of the usual one, and that gets the pin at 10:50. That was way better than I expected it to be, as these two have a legitimate reason to dislike each other and they showed it throughout the match. The finish was good and they made a big deal out of the streak being over, so I got everything I could have wanted out of the match. Bravo.
Ciampa is very angry after the match, and they tease dissension within the Embassy. Lethal celebrates his significant win.
Next up is a video package for Storm versus Bennett, who met back at Showdown in the Sun – Day #1. Bennett got the win and then hit Storm with the Box Office Smash during their post-match handshake. Storm was so angry that he asked for a rematch. That’s a good enough reason for me.
MATCH #4: Return Grudge Match – Lance Storm vs. “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett w/ Brutal Bob Evans
Both men try to psyche each other out in the early going. Storm takes the first advantage and uses an abdominal stretch. They fight to the apron and Bennett rams Storm into the corner, sending him to the floor. Bennett throws Storm into the barricade a couple of times and throws him back in the ring for a two-count. The cocky Bennett continues the advantage, wearing Storm down with his usual brand of offense. Storm fights back with a series of right hands and a pop-up back elbow off the top rope for two. He follows with a Codebreaker for another two-count. Storm signals for the Superkick but can’t connect with hit and Bennett flattens him with a spinebuster for a near-fall. Storm tries the springboard flying clothesline but Bennett ducks and then hits a Spear for two. Bennett hits the Box Office Smash for another two-count. He follows with a dragon screw leg whip. Bennett then puts on the Maple Leaf, just to be a dick. Storm of course knows how to counter it and puts the hold on himself. Brutal Bob pulls Bennett out of the hold to the floor. Storm takes advantage with a house show dive. Back in the ring Bennett tries to hit Storm with a chair behind the referee’s back but Storm blocks it and cracks the chair across Bennett’s back. Storm then lands a superkick to get the pin at 12:43. Bennett continues to show improvement and the Canadian crowd being totally behind Storm made this a rather enjoyable match.
Storm cuts a brief promo after the match thanking the fans, Ring of Honor, and the locker room. He sounds very sincere.
MATCH #5: Battle of the Breakout Stars – “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin w/ Truth Martini vs. Adam Cole
This is a rematch from Rise & Prove. Elgin uses his power advantage right off the bat. Cole responds with his quickness and agility. He hits a dropkick off the second rope for a one-count. Cole hits a hurricanrana to send Elgin to the floor. He tries a dive but Elgin catches him and hits a running powerslam onto the entrance ramp. Back in the ring Elgin covers but only gets two. Elgin continues the abuse, keeping the high-flying Cole on the mat. Cole tries a tornado DDT but Elgin blocks it and tries a powerslam and Cole slips out of that. Elgin gets out of a German Suplex attempt and decks Cole in the face. He follows with an Alabama Slam for two. Every time Cole tries to fight up Elgin cuts him off. They trade forearms and Cole actually wins that battle. Cole hits the Tornado DDT this time and follows up with a slingshot DDT on the edge of the ring frame! Back in the ring Cole goes up top and hits a big splash for two. Elgin comes back with a Chaos Theory for two. He tries a vertical suplex but Cole counters with an inside cradle for two. Cole hits a Shining Wizard for another two-count. He hits another one and again gets two. Cole hits a superkick but Elgin clobbers him with a lariat to send him to the floor. Elgin goes to grab Cole but gets kicked in the head instead. Cole goes up top and Elgin kicks him in the face to knock him down to the apron. Elgin goes to the second rope and actually pulls Cole from the apron into a super Falcon Arrow. That only gets two but it could have finished. Elgin puts on the Crossface and Cole rolls into a cradle for two. Cole hits the vertical suplex dropping Elgin’s neck on his knee for a two-count. He goes up top for the cross body block but Elgin catches him and hits the Buckle Bomb and the Spiral Bomb for the win at 13:54. That was slightly better than their previous match. These two make natural opponents and I’m sure they will fight again, perhaps when a title is on the line.
Truth Martini cuts a promo after the match, gloating about the House of Truth’s victory. Cole doesn’t want to hear it though, and he dumps Martini to the floor.
Backstage – Fit Finlay introduces himself to ROH audiences. He says that he’s coming to take the ROH TV Championship.
MATCH #6: ROH World TV Championship – Roderick Strong vs. “The Belfast Bruiser” Fit Finlay
Strong has been the Champion since 3.31.12, and this is his second defense. This is Finlay’s Ring of Honor debut, so I’m not sure how he earned a title shot. There is no time limit in this match, and Strong is rolling without Truth Martini. They start slowly, trying to psyche each other out. Finlay works a headlock, and the switches it up and goes to the right leg. They take the fight to the floor and Finlay continues to dominate. Finlay drops Strong chest-first on the barricade. Strong comes back by ramming Finlay back-first into the apron, and then dropping him chest-first on the same apron. He whips Finlay into the ring post and throws him back inside for a two-count. Strong works the midsection. Finlay hits a jawbreaker but Strong cuts him right off with a dropkick. Strong kicks Finlay back to the floor and throws him into the barricade again. Back in the ring Finlay makes a random comeback. Strong cuts him off and hits a back suplex for two. He gets distracted by the fans and Finlay gets a quick rollup for two. Now Strong goes for the Stronghold but Finlay blocks it. They trade forearms and Finlay hits the Finlay Roll from out of nowhere. Finlay hits the Celtic Cross for a near-fall. Strong knocks Finlay back to the floor. He goes for a house show dive but Finlay traps him in the ring apron. Somehow the top turnbuckle pad fell off. Back in the ring Strong kicks Finlay right in the face and follows with a gutbuster for two. Finlay comes back with a clothesline and Bombs Away for two. Strong hits the Sick Kick for the win at 17:16. I thought this would be better, but Finlay seemed to make random comebacks without rhyme or reason and the finish was quite out of nowhere. The gutbuster would have made more sense as a finish given that Strong worked it for the whole match.
They show a quick video package with promos from ROH TV to build up to this Fight without Honor. Haas’ “what he said” is such an awful catchphrase.
MATCH #7: Fight without Honor for the ROH World Tag Team Championship – Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team
The Briscoes have been the Champions since 12.23.11, and this is their eighth defense. It’s the fourth time they’ve defended against Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas. Jay comes out on his own and Mark sneaks in the ring from behind in hockey gear with a hockey stick and the Briscoes are off and running! They quickly take it to the floor and the challengers don’t know what hit them. The Briscoes take Benjamin back in the ring to double-team him and Haas tries to pull his partner to safety, but the Briscoes dropkick them through the ropes. Jay and Haas get in the ring while Mark and Benjamin battle on the floor. Benjamin takes Haas’ place and hits Jay with the spinwheel kick. The Briscoes have controlled most of the action for the first five-plus minutes. Haas’ head is busted open. Mark goes to the top rope and Benjamin pulls him down through the timekeeper’s table at ringside! There’s definitely an edit at this point and we come back to Jay hitting Benjamin with a Death Valley Driver. Jay goes to the top rope and Benjamin pops up and hiptosses him down for a two-count. WGTT hit Jay with a super spinebuster for two. Mark comes back in with some Redneck Kung Fu. He hits Haas with the Iconoclasm and the Froggy Bow for two. The crowd chants for tables and Jay obliges them. He sets Benjamin up and Mark walks across the ropes but before he can dive off Haas pulls him down with an Angle Slam. Jay produces a steel chain and tries to hit Benjamin with it but can’t connect. Benjamin tries to suplex Jay off the ring apron but instead pulls him down with an Electric Chair Drop through the table. Haas grabs a towel and sprays something on it. He suffocates Mark with it and gets the pin at 14:09. The thing about Haas and Benjamin is that they’re not interesting. Also these two teams have faced each other a bullion times so there wasn’t much new they could do to each other. This was also a title change no one wanted to see and a lame finish from out of nowhere. Nothing about this match worked for me.
MATCH #8: ROH World Championship – Davey Richards vs. Kevin Steen w/ “Zombie Princess” Jimmy Jacobs
Richards has been the Champion since 6.26.11, and this is his eleventh defense. This is Steen’s one and only chance at the belt and the Package Piledriver is legal. ROH has done a really good job of making this match feel important and big. Steve Corino joins the commentary team.
Steen goes for an immediate Package Piledriver but can’t connect. They slug it out and the Canadian crowd is firmly behind their countryman. Richards clotheslines Steen to the floor and follows him out with a suicide dive. Jacobs distracts Richards, allowing Steen to hit an Orton DDT. Richards rolls to the floor. Steen follows him out and works him over a bit. He uses the barricade and the ring post to administer the beating. Jacobs watches on with glee. They take the fight to the apron and Richards hits an exploder! That was cool. Back in the ring Richards gets two. Richards continues the beating now, mixing strikes and submission holds. Jacobs sacrifices himself by taking the running kick on the apron, and that gives Steen the chance to hit the powerbomb on the apron! Steen follows with another one. Back in the ring Steen hits the Cannonball for two. Steen appears to have injured his leg, but even so he goes up top and Richards meets him there. Richards gets knocked back and Steen tries the Swanton but Richards gets his knees up. Back on their feet Richards hits a knockout kick, a release German Suplex, and a lariat for two. A series of reversals ends with Steen hitting his own lariat for a near-fall. They get up and trade strikes. Steen wins the battle and hits the Pumphandle Neckbreaker for a two-count. Richards’s mouthpiece falls out and Steen puts it in. That’s nasty. Steen hits a powerbomb for two and then turns it into the Sharpshooter! Richards gets to the ropes. He’s able to come back and targets the knee with malice. Richards goes up top and hits a double stomp for two. He then locks on the Ankle Lock. Steen escapes out of it and gets a quick rollup for two. After a series of reversals Richards hits the DR Driver! Amazingly it only gets two. Richards hits Kawada Kicks and Steen spits in his face and slaps him. Things get heated and Steen is able to pick up Richards for the F-5! That only gets two. Corino has yet to say a word on commentary. Steen goes up top and hits a moonsault but he hurts his knee and isn’t able to cover right away so he only gets two. He goes for the Package Piledriver but Richards slips out and hits a running kick to the face for two. Richards is visibly frustrated. He lands a nasty kick to the face and a defiant Steen flips him off. Richards goes for another one and Steen catches the leg and puts on the Ankle Lock, but Richards reverses it back to one of his own. Steen is able to reverse it into a Sharpshooter! Richards re-counters and puts on the Ankle Lock again and Steen gets to the turnbuckles and pulls the middle pad off. Steen rolls Richards right into the exposed steel and then hits a sleeper suplex. He hits the Package Piledriver and we have a NEW CHAMPION at 24:23! What a match. The atmosphere was awesome, and Richards was better than his usual self, really making his opponent look good. I also like that Steen only had to hit the Piledriver once, it really put over the effectiveness of the move. They really booked this match perfectly.
Cary Silkin refuses to hand Steen the belt, contrary to his usual tradition. Corino gets in the ring and looks ready to fight but instead hugs Steen and Jacobs joins in as well for a group hug!
The Pulse: The TV and Tag Team Title matches are disappointing but everything else is fantastic and worth going out of your way to see. Steen and Richards compete in a terrific main event and one of the better booked matches/stories in recent ROH memory. The undercard with the six-man tag, Lethal vs. Ciampa, and Storm vs. Bennett definitely did more for me than Strong vs. Finlay and Briscoes vs. WGTT, but your opinion could vary. Either way I think this is a tremendous show and one of the best ROH has done this year. You can pick it up at the Ring of Honor Shop.