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Hammerstein Ballroom – New York, NY – June 24, 2012
Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness are on commentary, and they hype the major matches for tonight’s show, including three big title matches.
MATCH #1: Grudge Tag Team Match – Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. The Guardians of Truth w/ Truth Martini
Martini cuts a promo before the match, saying his usual stuff. He wants tag team gold, so he has brought in two guys in masks called the Guardians of Truth, who are in fact the team formerly known as the Headbangers, Mosh and Thrasher. The Guardians attack before the bell and the match is underway. Jay gets dumped to the floor and Mark gets double-teamed in the ring. Mark fights back with his Redneck Kung Fu. Jay comes in and hits a Guardian with a spinebuster while Mark wipes out the other one with a dive to the floor. The Briscoes are firmly in control now. The ring ropes are incredibly loose so the fans chant “fix the ropes.” That’s pretty clever. Martini gets on the apron to distract the referee, allowing the Guardians to pull the ole switcheroo. That gives the Guardians control. That doesn’t last long before Jay makes the tag. Mark is a house afire with his Redneck Kung Fu. He goes up top but cleverly stands on the ring post to hit the Froggy Bow. The other Guardian breaks up the pin. Martini gets on the apron again but this time it backfires and the Briscoes pull the fake tag. The Briscoes go for the Doomsday Device but the Guardian tries to block it with a victory roll so Jay just squats down on him to get the pin at 6:00. It’s a big show so the Briscoes had to be on it, but it’s a shame this is the most interesting thing they could come up with. It was fine for an opening match squash I guess.
The Briscoes are about to give Martini a taste of his own medicine, but the Guardians comes to his rescue and lay Jay out before bailing with their manager.
MATCH #2: Die Hard Challenge – “Die Hard” Eddie Edwards vs. “Notorious 187″ Homicide
Homicide eschews the Code of Honor and here we go. Edwards hits an immediate Saito Suplex and Homicide bails. That does him no good though, as Edwards wipes him out with a dive. They continue the fight on the floor and Edwards is the aggressor. Back in the ring Edwards hits a missile dropkick for two. Edwards follows with a Shining Wizard for two. Homicide fights back and they trade strikes. They kick each other in the face and both go down. Homicide then hits a belly-to-belly suplex and then throws Edwards shoulder-first into the ring post. He then throws Edwards into the post again just to be a dick. Homicide goes o the floor and teases bringing in a chair but referee Paul Turner talks him out of it. Back in the ring Homicide keeps Edwards on the mat and works on his shoulder. Homicide hits Two Amigos and then Edwards reverses it and hits Two Amigos of his own, but Homicide cuts him off by attacking the shoulder again. They fight up top and Edwards hits a huge superplex. Both men are down. Edwards gets up and hits a Death Valley Gourdbuster and a Fisherman Buster for a two-count. He follows with the Boston Knee Party for another near-fall, and then floats over into an STF. Homicide reaches the ropes and then goes back on offense. He hits a tornado DDT for two. Edwards tries the Chin Checker but Homicide counters to the Ace Crusher for another two-count. Homicide hits a Lariat for two. He tries the Gringo Killa but Edwards slips out and cradles Homicide for two. Edwards is then able to cinch on the Achilles Lock. Homicide kicks his way out of it and grabs a small package for two. He then hits the Gringo Killa to get the pin at 12:45. Not only am I stunned by the result, but I’m stunned that I thought the match was as good as I thought it was. They worked well together and kept the action going for the duration of the match. Looks like Homicide might be a bit of player in ROH now.
MATCH #3: Hybrid Fighting Rules – Kyle O’Reilly vs. Adam Cole
The rules are complicated, and here they are – 15 minute time limit; victory by 10-count K.O., submission, tap out, TKO, or disqualification; critical fouls are grounds for immediate disqualification and they include eye gouging, groin attacks, biting, hair pulling, foreign objects, outside interference, and abusing the official; three regular fouls will also result in a disqualification, and they include exiting the ring, using the ropes, hooking the tights, and accidental eye/groin shots. The winner will be the most accomplished in all fighting styles. What the hell does that mean? This is way too complicated.
The former tag team partners start chain wrestling and O’Reilly is cocky from the get-go. They wrestle to a standoff like it’s 2002 or something. These two made it look pretty good though. Cole goes after O’Reilly’s leg, which is taped up coming into the match. O’Reilly counters by going after the arm, particularly with a Cross Armbreaker. They continue going back and forth, showing how evenly matched they are. That leads to them kicking each other in the face at the same time and both men go down. Back on their feet they trade strikes and Cole’s mouth is busted open something nasty. The strike exchange gets fierce as we’re told that Cole’s two front teeth have been knocked out and he’s pouring blood. Cole fights back with a superkick and knocks O’Reilly’s mouth guard out. Kevin Kelly’s “God Bless You Adam Cole” cheerleading is really annoying. Be a professional. Both men get back to their feet. Cole tries a superkick but O’Reilly catches it hits a huge clothesline. Amazingly Cole gets right back to his feet and they trade blows. The image of Cole squirting blood from his mouth is pretty sick. O’Reilly hits a Back Drop Driver. Both men are down again as the official doctor comes out to check on Cole, who refuses medical attention! O’Reilly locks on the End Time but Cole counters it into a vertical suplex neckbreaker. Both men are down and the crowd is chanting “Adam Cole” very loudly. They rise and Cole hits a huge superkick that sends O’Reilly to the floor. Cole throws him back in the ring and they trade submission holds. O’Reilly tries the Cross Armbreaker and Cole responds with leg submissions, including the Figure-Four Leglock, and he forces O’Reilly to tap out at 12:38! The rules in that match were stupid are barely came into play, but damn this match is quite the spectacle. It’s rare a crowd goes as nuts for someone as they did for Cole in this match, and it’s a totally star making performance. Even with his eventual TV Title win I would maintain that this is the quintessential Adam Cole match so far.
Backstage the House of Truth is getting fired up for their respective matches tonight. Michael Elgin is confident he can beat Fit Finlay, which Roderick Strong says isn’t that impressive since he already did it. Strong mocks Elgin, and Elgin says he wants to beat Finlay without help from Truth Martini or Strong.
MATCH #4: Special Challenge – “Belfast Bruiser” Fit Finlay vs. “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin
They start slowly, feeling each other out. This is going to be quite the power struggle. Finlay takes Elgin down to the mat and focuses on various body parts. Elgin tries to fire back with forearms but every time he does Finlay takes him right back down. After several minutes of abuse Elgin is able to make a comeback and knock Finlay out to the floor. Elgin follows him out but gets clocked for his troubles. Finlay rams Elgin’s back into the ring apron and then drops him chest-first on the barricade. This has been almost a squash for the first 10 minutes or so, but Elgin tells Finlay to keep bringing it. Finlay grabs a headlock and Elgin powers out of it with a suplex. Unfortunately for Elgin, Finlay just goes right back on offense. They’re trading holds on the mat and the crowd is chanting “boring.” Finlay charges into the corner but Elgin moves and Finlay hits nothing but post. Elgin clubs Finlay down and nails a hard superkick. He follows with a dead lift vertical suplex for a two-count. Elgin sets up for a powerbomb but Finlay backdrops his way out of it. Finlay charges into the corner and Elgin gets a boot up. Elgin goes to the top rope and Finlay dumps him to the floor. Back in the ring Finlay hits the Finlay Roll and the Celtic Cross for a two-count. Finlay then hits the Tombstone Piledriver but Elgin kicks out again! He goes for another one but Elgin slips out and hits a spinning back fist and a Buckle Bomb. Elgin then hits the Spiral Bomb to get the win at 19:15. Finlay dominated the match and Elgin hit half a dozen moves to get the win. I’m not opposed to slow-paced matches, but I do not get the Finlay love at all. He was all over the place and the ending just came out of nowhere.
Truth Martini comes out to celebrate Elgin’s big victory. Elgin shakes Finlay’s hand, and Martini gets in his face about it so Elgin shouts back.
Live – Prodigy Service Announcement w/ “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett, Maria Kanellis & Brutal Bob
The full entourage is with Bennett tonight, as his girlfriend Maria Kanellis and trainer Brutal Bob are with him for this live Prodigy Service Announcement. ROH still has a crappy sound system after all these years. Bennett talks some trash to New York City and says he should be competing in a title match, and that he’s “Better Than The Best” (CM Punk). He then makes out with Maria in the middle of the ring, which is awesome. Mike Mondo comes in from out of nowhere and says he’s from New York and Bennett is full of shit. Mondo goes on with his usual terrible promo and challenges Bennett to a fight. He actually says, “after I fight you [Bennett], I’m gonna f*ck you [Maria].” Um, that’s not cool at all.
MATCH #5: Mike Bennett vs. Mike Mondo
Mondo and Bennett start scrapping and Paul Turner comes out to I guess make it an official match. They’re just throwing hands and Mondo is dominant. Mondo hits a Thesz Press so Brutal Bob pulls Bennett to the floor to save him. That doesn’t help too much though, as Mondo goes to the apron and takes out Brutal Bob with a dive. Bennett catches Mondo with a spinebuster onto the apron. Back in the ring Bennett gives Mondo the beating he deserves for threatening to rape his girlfriend. Bennett tries a running powerslam but Mondo slips out and they sort of clothesline each other down. Mondo unleashes a series of strikes and a modified curb stomp. He goes up top but misses a diving headbutt. Bennett talks trash and Mondo rolls him up in a small package to get the win at 4:07. Ring of Honor has shown some bizarre moments of misogyny in the past and this one ranks right up there, as Mondo is supposed to be a babyface for threatening to have sex with another man’s girlfriend against her will. The match sucked besides, and I just really hate Mike Mondo.
MATCH #6: ROH World TV Championship – Roderick Strong w/ Truth Martini vs. Jay Lethal vs. “The Sicilian Psychopath” Tommaso Ciampa
Strong has been the Champion since 3.31.12, and this is his fourth defense. Lethal’s hair looks ridiculous here. Ciampa has Prince Nana, R.D. Evans, and Mia Yim with him. Strong has Truth Martini in his corner. This is an elimination match. Ciampa and Lethal tear into each other and take the fight right to the floor. Strong joins them for some reason rather than hanging back and watching them duke it out. Ciampa throws him hard into the guardrail and then he takes the fight with Lethal back inside. Strong comes back in but Lethal pitches him right back to the floor. I like the dynamic of Lethal and Ciampa only wanting to fight each other rather than the man with the belt. Lethal ducks a clothesline and soars through the ropes to wipe out Strong on the floor. Ciampa distracts the referee and Princess Mia gets up on the apron to nail Lethal with a superkick! That was impressive. Ciampa pulls down the knee pad and unleashes knee strikes on Lethal’s face. Strong rejoins the fray and drops Ciampa chest-first on the top rope for a two-count. He then turns his attention to Lethal and abuses him with punches and chops. Strong hits Lethal with a backbreaker for two. Ciampa grabs Strong with an electric chair drop for two and then hits a wheelbarrow suplex for another near-fall. He turns his attention to Lethal but runs into a superkick. Ciampa shrugs that off and levels Lethal with a knee strike for two. Strong pitches Ciampa to the floor and covers Lethal for a two-count. The TV Champ focuses on Lethal now and tries to wear him down. Strong hits a dropkick for two. Ciampa gets on the apron but Strong nocks him back down. Lethal fights back trades chops with Strong. Ciampa comes back in and gets ping ponged between his two opponents. Lethal catches Strong with a leg lariat and then hits Ciampa with a handspring elbow. He then hits Strong with the Lethal Combination for two. Lethal hits Ciampa with a Tornado DDT and then locks Strong in the Figure-Four Leglock. He adds a Crossface on Ciampa at the same time! That’s pretty cool. Strong and Ciampa fight their way out of it. Lethal catches Strong with a pop-up neckbreaker for two. Ciampa catches Lethal with a knee strike and goes up top for his own version of Hail to the King for a near-fall. He goes for Project Ciampa but Strong breaks it up with a knee strike. Lethal hits Strong with a superkick. He takes Ciampa up top but Strong breaks that up too. Strong hits Ciampa with a superplex and both men are down. Lethal hits Ciampa with Hail to the King but it only gets two. Strong dumps Lethal to the floor and Lethal gets into an altercation with the cadre of managers outside. Ciampa tries Project Ciampa on Strong but Nana rolls into the ring and accidentally clips Ciampa’s knees and Strong gets a cradle for the first elimination at 12:48! Oh man, Ciampa is going to be pissed! Lethal is back in the ring and tries the Lethal Injection but Martini cracks Lethal across the back with the Book of Truth. Strong hits the vertical suplex backbreaker to get the pin and retain the title at 13:08. I liked the aggressiveness Lethal and Ciampa showed, and the energy from all three guys was off the charts. The intrigue between the Embassy and the House of Truth worked for me too. This was great fun.
MATCH #7: ROH World Tag Team Championship – Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) vs. The All Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus)
Haas and Benjamin have been the Champions since 5.12.12, and this is their third defense. If they get disqualified, they will lose the titles. King and Haas start the match. Haas tags out before any contact is made. King and Benjamin chain wrestle jockeying for position. The younger King gets an advantage so Benjamin takes a powder to regroup. Back in the ring King keeps up the pressure. Benjamin forces King back into his corner and Haas tags in. The crowd is not fond of Haas, so he quickly brings Benjamin back into the fray. Benjamin goes for a powerbomb but King punches his way out of it and hits a dropkick. Titus tags in and the ANX controls both Benjamin and Haas, keeping them grounded and in their half of the ring. The champs have to use some dirty tactics to reclaim the advantage. They focus on King and keep him away from his partner at all costs. After a few minutes King counters a double suplex with a simultaneous DDT and everyone is down. Titus gets the hot tag and he is on fire but can’t put anyone away yet. Benjamin tries to grab Titus off the top rope but Titus drops him face-first onto the top turnbuckle. King then hits Benjamin with the shotgun knees. The referee has lost control as all four men are brawling in the ring. Haas hits Titus with the Angle Slam and then goes to the floor to fight King. Benjamin covers Titus for two. King throws Benjamin a chair in an effort to score a disqualification. Really, only Eddie Guerrero can get away with that stuff, everyone else just looks like a pussy for trying to take the easy way out. Eddie was special. Meanwhile, Titus hits Benjamin with a DDT on the chair but it only gets two. King gets back in the ring but quickly exits with a dive to wipe out Haas. Titus looks to follow but Benjamin clotheslines him out. Haas distracts the referee and Benjamin hits Titus with one of the tag title belts. Titus is busted open. Back in the ring Haas can literally smell blood and he zeroes in on Titus’s bloody head. Haas gets on the microphone and ass referee Paul Turner if he’s going to stop the match. Of course he won’t, so the match goes on. The champs go for the Broken Arrow but King breaks it up with a (sort of) Blockbuster on Benjamin. Haas gets distracted and Titus rolls him up for the pin to win the titles at 22:50. Boy that thing just kept going didn’t it? I like that the ANX finally won the belts and it felt like a big moment, but the finish totally makes them look like flukes. The match also veered into that “forced epic” mode with Titus’s blood. I get what they were trying to accomplish with the story it just didn’t quite come together for me as well as I would have liked.
MATCH #8: ROH World Championship, Anything Goes – Kevin Steen w/ Jimmy Jacobs vs. Davey Richards
Steen has been the Champion since 5.12.12, and this is his second defense. He’s accompanied by the Zombie Princess Jimmy Jacobs, and the Package Piledriver finisher is legal for just this match. Steve Corino joins the commentary team and Jim Cornette has a sat at ringside to keep an eye on him. The crowd is very pro-Steen here. Kyle O’Reilly makes his way out to talk trash about Adam Cole and the match they had earlier tonight. He tells Richards that he’s hear not to stab him in the back, but to stab him in the fucking eye. O’Reilly says he’ll never look like anything but Richards’s bitch as long as he stays with him, so he’s going out on his own now.
Steen mocks Richards for the loss of his friend, so Richards kicks Steen off the apron and he crashes through the timekeeper’s table! Richards follows Steen to the floor and starts whipping his ass. He unleashes some hard kicks to the face and whips the Champ into the barricade several times. Corino refers to ROH as “the Jim Cornette show featuring Ring of Honor.” That’s scarily accurate. Jacobs tries to interfere but Richards makes him pay. Steen recovers and throws Richards in the air for a powerbomb onto the edge of the ring frame. He tears apart the steel barricades and stacks a bunch of them on top of Richards, and then delivers a splash off the apron. Back in the ring Steen goes for a Swanton but Richards gets his knees up. Steen comes back with an Orton DDT. They go back to the floor and Steen bumps into Bobby Cruise. Steen then blasts Cruise with a superkick for getting in his way! Richards comes flying out with a tope to wipe out Steen. They fight on the apron and Richards hits an exploder suplex. Richards sets up a table and the rubes in the crowd chant “Yes!” He goes up top and leaps through the table with a double stomp to break the table. Back in the ring Richards hits another double stomp off the top rope for a two-count. The fans are chanting for “Mr. Wrestling” and Richards looks thrown off by that. Richards grabs four chairs and brings them in the ring, but it backfires when Steen hits a chair-assisted Codebreaker. Steen piles chairs on top of Richards and goes up top. Richards stops him and hits a superplex onto the chair pile! That only gets two. Richards goes outside the ring and brings another table into the ring. He takes Steen to the top rope but it backfires when Steen hits a Fisherman Buster through the table! Amazingly that only gets two. Steen sets up a couple of chairs but that backfires on him when Richards hits a release German Suplex. Richards grabs a chain and chokes Steen with it. He wraps the chain around his boot and delivers several Kawada Kicks. Richards drills Steen with a vicious kick to the head but it only gets two! A frustrated Richards takes out referee Todd Sinclair! Once again the jackasses in the crowd chant “Yes!” Do you know where you are morons? Richards goes out and grabs a ladder but before he can use it Steen catches him with the F-Cinq. Referee Paul Turner comes out but can only get two. Steen makes Turner pay with a Package Piledriver! He then goes for the same move on Richards but Richards reverses it and hits the move on the ladder! But there’s no referee to count! Richards goes out and retrieves Sinclair. Jacobs gets in the ring and pulls out his spike. Cornette comes in the ring and takes it from him and Jacobs cowers. Of course he does. Corino then gets in the ring and kicks Cornette in the balls. Jacobs retrieves the spike and tries to hit Richards but gets caught in an exploder on the ladder! Steen grabs another spike and stabs Richards in the balls! He then hits the Package Piledriver to get the pin at 20:47. That match was awesome, and finally something different out of Richards. He wrestled like a desperate man with something to prove, and the hardcore style was way different than the striking wank-fest he’s known for. Steen of course excels in this kind of match. The only black mark was Cornette having to get involved, but at least he got kicked in the nuts so I approve of that.
Corino gets in the ring and announces Steen as the winner and forever champion. Steen gets on the microphone and starts cutting a babyface promo. He then says he hates hypocrites like Jim Cornette. He also says he himself had to be a little hypocritical just to get the shot at Richards and win the belt. He says the stuff he said about Richards was not true, and that Richards is truly the Best in the World. Steen then turns on the fans and calls them the most hypocritical pieces of shit in all of wrestling, and the fans chant “Yes!” He calls the fans out for turning on every World Champion, including Nigel McGuinness, Tyler Black, and Davey Richards. Steen vows to be the last ROH World Champion because he’s going to kill the company, and the morons cheer. He finishes with “F*ck New York City” and he leaves with Corino and Jacobs presumably to celebrate his victory.
The Pulse: Four matches were over three stars and the main event delivered in spades, so that’s an easy recommendation to make right there. The show as a whole ran a little bit long and a the tag title match could have been shorter or the Mondo segment could have been cut, but overall this is a very strong show and worth picking up from the ROH Shop.