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Rostraver Ice Gardens – Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania – June 30, 2012
It’s a cold open to the arena. My friend Mike Z is running the ringside camera! Kevin Kelly is handling the ring announcing. Steve Corino and Bill Burger are on commentary.
Kyle O’Reilly gets on the microphone to insist that he did not tap out to Adam Cole at Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis. He says he’s proud of sending Cole to the emergency room, and he promises to beat Jay Lethal tonight.
MATCH #1: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Jay Lethal
They start with some chain wrestling and fight to a stalemate. Lethal hits the hiptoss/dropkick combo for a two-count. He continues to press the advantage, locking in the parachute hold. Corino reveals that Lethal and former WWE superstar Viscera are cousins. Is that true? O’Reilly fights back with a Cross Armbreaker and Lethal wisely reaches the ropes. Now O’Reilly continues to focus on the arm. Lethal tries to fight back with the Lethal Injection but O’Reilly catches him in another Cross Armbreaker! That was a cool counter. O’Reilly continues working the arm but Lethal is able to connect on a handspring back elbow smash and both men are down. Back on their feet Lethal unleashes a flurry of offense. Lethal hits an enziguiri that sends O’Reilly to the floor and then follows him out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring Lethal goes up top and hits Hail to the King for a two-count. O’Reilly fights back with kicks and a Saito Suplex for two. He hits a running forearm in the corner but Lethal fights right back with an IED. Lethal hits a superkick and a modified Lethal Injection to get the pin at 10:24. I would have thought these two would be higher up the card but it was a good choice for an opener and they did some cool stuff together. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it higher up when they have a rematch.
Ring of Honor COO Joe Koff is in the ring, which is surrounded by the ROH locker room. He says some boring stuff and talks a little bit about Bruno Sammartino’s career. Koff then presents Sammartino with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Bruno looks badass with just a moustache. He cuts a quick thank-you promo and the crowd shows appreciation to him.
Elsewhere, Veda Scott gets a word with Pepper Parks. Who the hell is that? Parks says tonight is a huge opportunity and stuff.
MATCH #2: Adam Cole vs. Pepper Parks
Cole just won the TV Title last night at the TV tapings in Baltimore from Roderick Strong, but this is non-title of course. They start with some chain wrestling, as most ROH matches tend to do. This is not a Proving Ground match but one might assume that if he gets a win he’d put himself in line for a shot at the TV Title. After a few minutes Parks knocks Cole to the floor and goes for a tope, but Cole cuts him off with an enziguiri. Back in the ring Cole covers for two. Cole hits a dropkick for another two-count. He goes up to the second rope for a missile dropkick and parks rolls to the apron. Cole charges but Parks gets a knee up right into Cole’s face. Back in the ring they trade strikes and Parks hits a snap powerslam for two. Parks gets a few moves in but then both men have the same idea and try a cross body block, knocking the wind out of each other. Cole gets up and hits a brain kick and a shining wizard for a near-fall. He follows with a Death Valley Neckbreaker for two. Cole goes for a Figure-Four Leglock but Parks grabs a small package for a two-count. Parks blocks a superkick and hits the Moss Covered Three Handled Family Credenza for two. He puts Cole up top but Cole knocks him down with a headbutt. Cole tries the high cross body but misses. Parks goes up top and hits a huge neckbreaker for a near-fall. Cole comes back with a superkick and the straightjacket German Suplex for the pin at 9:35. That was a competent match and a good showing for Cole, but instantly forgettable.
Veda Scott is backstage with Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis. Maria objects to how close Veda is standing to her man, so she takes over the interview. Bennett says he should have been in the title match tonight, and that he could be the man to take the title from Steen. He calls the four-way tonight a speed bump on his way to the title.
Elsewhere, Adam Cole gives credit to Pepper Parks for their match tonight. Cole promises that he will have a successful reign as ROH Television Champion.
MATCH #3: Four Corner Survival Match – “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett vs. Mike Mondo vs. Kenny King vs. Mike Sydal
Bennett is accompanied by Maria, and King is accompanied by his ROH Tag Team Title belt. It would turn out to be his last match in Ring of Honor, unfortunately. Bennett and Sydal start the match, but Bennett aggressively tags Mondo before any contact is made. Sydal and Mondo chain wrestle a bit and then King tags himself in. King takes Sydal to the mat now and everyone is just kind of showing what they can do. That is, except for Bennett, who avoids contact with anyone and prefers to taunt Mondo from afar. Finally Bennett makes a blind tag and Sydal doesn’t notice as he dumps King to the floor. Sydal goes for a dive but Bennett cuts him off and press slams him to the floor. Bennett taunts the crowd and Mondo clotheslines him to the floor. Mondo then wipes out everyone with a dive. Everyone is on the floor still and Sydal sneaks back in the ring to wipe King out with a tope. He pays for it though when Bennett hits a spinebuster onto the edge of the ring frame. Back in the ring Bennett continues the assault on Sydal. After a few minutes King gets the hot tag and he is a house afire. King hits Bennett with a couple of high-impact kicks. Mondo tags in and King gives him the same treatment. King hits Mondo with a spinebuster for two. Back up on their feet Kind and Mondo slug it out. Sydal tags in and hits both King and Mondo with a moonsault at the same time. He puts Mondo in the Sleeper, and then Bennett puts Sydal in the Sleeper, and predictably King puts Bennett in the Sleeper. The rubes in the crowd chant “Yes!” Mondo starts a chain reaction jawbreaker to break it up as Maria watches on with a concerned look. Offense starts coming from all over the place. King hits Mondo with shotgun knees. Bennett hits King with the Box Office Smash. Sydal hits Bennett with an enziguiri and a standing moonsault. Mondo catches Sydal with the Double-Arm DDT to get the pin at 11:26. That started slowly and then got a little more exciting by the end. It was pretty forgettable all in all though.
MATCH #4: First Time in ROH – Eddie Edwards vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Prince Nana and Mia Yim come out first. Nana cuts a quick promo about how the Embassy is forever and such. He gets down on one knee in front of Mia, but before he can do what it seems like he was about to do, Ciampa and R.D. Evans make their way out. Ciampa destroys Nana and the Prince has to be taken to the back. Evans and Mia remain at ringside.
Edwards and Ciampa lock up and jockey for position at the start. They take it down to the mat and wrestle to a stalemate. The crowd certainly appreciates their efforts. Edwards ties Ciampa up in the Tree of Woe and hits the hesitation dropkick. He rolls to the floor and chases Evans and Mia away before hitting another dropkick right to the face. Ciampa comes back moments later with a Northern Lariat. He controls briefly before Edwards cuts him off with an enziguiri. Edwards goes for the Backpack Stunner but Ciampa counters with an electric chair drop for two, and then turns it into a wheelbarrow suplex. Ciampa looks to be going for the running knee but Edwards cuts him off with a chop. They trade chops now and take the battle back to the floor. Edwards actually hits a moonsault off the apron, which I don’t think I’ve seen him do before. Ciampa rams Edwards back into the guardrail. He then runs right into a belly-to-belly suplex on the floor. Back in the ring Edwards hits a Shining Wizard for two. Edwards follows with the Boston Knee Party for two and then goes for the Achilles Lock but Ciampa reaches the ropes. Ciampa lands a solid knee to the face and then hits another one with Edwards down in the corner. He puts Edwards up on the top rope and hits a super Schwein but it only gets two! Ciampa goes for Project Ciampa but Edwards avoids it with a rana for two. Edwards then puts on the Achilles Lock and Ciampa escapes it. Ciampa goes for a running knee but Edwards avoids it and utilizes the toilet flush rollup to get the pin at 16:09. These two worked surprisingly well together.
Veda Scott is backstage with BJ Whitmer, who will reignite his rivalry with Jimmy Jacobs tonight. The two haven’t wrestled in ROH since 2007. Whitmer says he’s learned from his mistakes, and this feud will end once and for all tonight.
MATCH #5: The War Reignites – BJ Whitmer vs. Jimmy Jacobs
They start throwing punches right away, which makes sense given their history. It doesn’t take long for the fight to spill to the floor. Whitmer throws Jacobs into the barricade a couple of times. Jacobs drop toeholds Whitmer into a steel chair. He charges but Whitmer moves and Jacobs eats the barricade again. Whitmer tries to whip Jacobs into the barricade but it gets reversed. They are pretty barricade-obsessed in the opening minutes here. Jacobs sets up a chair and jumps off it to deliver an elbow drop. After several minutes they finally make their way back in the ring. Whitmer takes control and hits a backbreaker. Corino calls Whitmer a former two-time ROH Tag Team Champion but that’s a lie: he held it twice with Jacobs and twice with Dan Maff. While I correct Corino Jacobs has taken control of the match. Jacobs gets cocky and slaps Whitmer, just firing up his former partner. Whitmer grabs Jacobs with an exploder and both men are down. Back up on their feet Whitmer unleashes a flurry of offense. Whitmer hits a vertical suplex and rolls it into a Northern Lights Suplex for two. He drills Jacobs in the face with a big boot for another two-count. Jacobs comes back with the leaping Ace Crusher off the second rope for two. Whitmer hits a spinning Fisherman Buster and holds on to hit a Fisherman Suplex for a near-fall. Jacobs hits the Contra Code for two. He goes up top for the senton but Whitmer gets his knees up. Jacobs perseveres and locks on the End Time but Whitmer suplexes his way out of it. Once again Jacobs stays strong and locks the hold back on. Whitmer powers up and goes over to the top rope. Both men go tumbling to the floor. Jacobs makes it back in the ring first and when the referee has his back turned Kevin Steen runs out to distract Whitmer, causing him to get counted out at 11:41! These two have undeniable chemistry together and it was great fun to watch them fight again. The finish was cheap but it leads to a rematch so I’m okay with that.
Whitmer gets on the microphone after the match and is angry. He says nothing has been settled, and that this story is far from over.
Veda Scott is backstage with Prince Nana, who is angry about getting beaten up by Tommaso Ciampa earlier tonight. Mia Yim (wearing different clothes) walks in to comfort Nana but they get into an argument instead. Not a good night to be Prince Nana.
MATCH #6: Grudge Match – Rhett Titus vs. Charlie Haas
Oh goodie, a Charlie Haas singles match. At least Brian Gorie is refereeing (he’s one of the best). Haas stalls to start, jawing with the fans and such. Titus finally gets tired of waiting and goes out to Haas on the floor and delivers a chop. He throws Haas into the barricade and keeps up the pressure. Back in the ring Titus hits a Thesz Press. Haas comes back with a hiptoss over the top rope that sends Titus back to the floor. He follows Titus out and delivers more abuse, even dropping him back-first on the barricade. Ouch. Back in the ring Haas continues to abuse the Tag Team Champion. This goes on for a very long time. Finally Titus avoids a charging Haas, who crotches himself on the middle rope. Titus fires off a series of punches, a kick to the head, and then a neckbreaker for a two-count. He hits a big powerslam for two. Haas cuts him off with a release German Suplex for a two-count. He hits a belly-to-belly suplex for another near-fall. Haas goes outside the ring and brings in a steel chair. Gorie takes it away from him and Titus gets a quick rollup but the referee is out of position so Haas kicks out. Haas kicks Titus in the face and then grabs the tag team title belt. Titus ducks it and kicks Haas in the gut. He picks up the belt and goes to hit Haas with it. Gorie takes the belt from Titus and while his back is turned Haas hits a DDT on the steel chair to get the pin at 14:14. I thought that might never end. Neither of these guys are interesting solo acts.
Veda Scott gets a word with the Briscoes, who promise to whip ass on the House of Truth. I love Briscoe Brothers promos.
MATCH #7: Tag Team Grudge Match – Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Michael Elgin & Rhino
Mark and Elgin start the match. Elgin scores first with a big powerslam for a two-count. Mark comes back with a knee lift and a back brain kick. Rhino tags in and Mark takes him off his feet pretty quickly. Jay tags in and takes it to the Man Beast as well. Elgin unsuccessfully tries to interfere as the Briscoes are rolling. The fight spills to the floor and Mark is flying all over the place. Back in the ring the House of Truth uses some nefarious tactics to take control of Jay. Rhino and Elgin use their power to keep Jay on the mat and away from his brother. Elgin hits the spinning back fist and goes for the Spiral Bomb but Jay slips out and hits the Flatliner into the turnbuckles. The tag is made and Mark unleashes Redneck Kung Fu. Mark hits Elgin with a t-bone suplex for two. He goes up top but Elgin stops him. Jay comes in and pulls Elgin off the second rope with a side Russian Legsweep. Mark then hits the Froggy Bow for a two-count when Rhino breaks up the cover. Jay sends Rhino to the floor but Elgin successfully fights off both Briscoes with a simultaneous Alabama Slam. That’s impressive. Elgin covers Mark for a two-count. Rhino tags in and hits Mark with a belly-to-belly suplex. He signals for the Gore but Mark avoids it and gets a quick rollup for two. Jay comes in and drills Rhino with a superkick. Mark covers for two. The referee has lost all control as all four men are brawling in the ring. Somewhere in all the chaos Rhino hits Mark with the Gore to get the pin at 12:24. That was a nice brisk tag match and I like the way Rhino and Elgin work together as a team.
MATCH #8: ROH World Title Match – Kevin Steen vs. Roderick Strong
Steen has been the Champion since 5.12.12, and this is his third defense. He’s accompanied by “Zombie Princess” Jimmy Jacobs. Strong is of course accompanied by Truth Martini. The crowd is very pro-Steen. Strong charges at the bell and unloads on Steen right away. Steen fires back and this is going to be more of a fight if the opening moments are any indication. Strong hits a dropkick and unleashes some chops. Steen comes back with the Orton DDT and they go to the floor. The champ throws Strong into the floor and commandeers a fan’s bucket hat. Strong reverses a whip and sends Steen into the barricade. He hits some chops up against the ring post but misses one and hits the post. Strong can’t chop now and Steen takes advantage, working on the hand. Steen even rams Strong nuts-first into the ring post. Ouch. Back in the ring Steen covers for a two-count. Strong tries to fight back but Steen hits the Pumphandle Neckbreaker for a two-count. The next comeback attempt is more successful, as Strong hits an enziguiri and a leg lariat from the second rope for a two-count. Steen comes back with a Codebreaker and then the Cannonball for two. The champ goes up top but Strong knocks him down and hits a superplex for a two-count. They spill to the floor and Steen drills Martini with a superkick. Jacobs tries a charge but Strong leapfrogs him and Jacobs crashes into the barricade. Steen then hits Strong with the powerbomb onto the ring apron. Back in the ring Steen covers for two. Steen goes up for the Swanton but Strong hits his knees up. Strong goes for a gutbuster but Steen counters to a sleeper suplex for two. Steen tries o capitalize but Strong is able to hit a knee to the face and the gutbuster. Strong hits the Sick Kick but only gets two! He goes for a vertical suplex but Steen counters to the F-Cinq and that’s enough to get the pin and retain the title at 12:19. The result was never in question but they went full tilt for almost the entire match and it was a lot of fun to watch. These two have always worked well together.
Backstage, Steen is gloating about his victory tonight. Steen insults the company, noting the shabby room that he’s cutting this post-match promo in. He has a point there. Steen points out that he has now defeated the past three ROH World Champions in a span of 15 days. He reiterates that he will be the last ROH World Champion, because the company is not long for this world.
Elsewhere, Tommaso Ciampa is doing his terribly forced “psychotic” act. R. D. Evans shows up and tries to calm Ciampa down. Evans offers to handle Ciampa’s business affairs from now on. Ciampa agrees and storms off. Mia Yim then shows up and offers her services to Evans, who decides the best use of her is to shred papers. Okay then.
BONUS MATCH: Winner Gets a World Title Shot – Roderick Strong vs. Jay Lethal vs. Adam Cole vs. Mike Bennett, Taped 5/18/12 in Baltimore, MD
This match was taped exclusively for the Internet and was not on the TV show. Maria is hot but I don’t like when you can see the woman’s ribs, that’s just weird. Eat a sandwich or three. Strong is the current ROH TV Champion. Bennett and Cole start the match. The pace is quick from the get-go and Cole hits a leaping neckbreaker. Bennett tags Strong and Cole greets him with a couple of armdrags and an armbar. Lethal makes a blind tag and hits Strong and Cole with a simultaneous DDT and Flatliner. He covers Strong for two. Bennett takes a cheap shot at Lethal from the apron, allowing Strong to land a dropkick for two. Strong tags Bennett and he stomps away at his former nemesis Lethal. Bennett and Strong work as a unit to wear Lethal down. Lethal catches Strong in a Lethal Combination. Tags are made and Cole is a house afire. Cole hits Bennett with an enziguiri and a shining wizard for two when Strong breaks it up. The referee has lost control and all four men are in the ring. Lethal and Bennett go to the floor and Bennett catches Lethal with a spinebuster on the edge of the ring frame. Back in the ring Cole hits Bennett with a dropkick. Maria gets on the apron to distract the referee, and Brutal Bob gets up on the other side to distract Cole. Strong dispatches of Bennett and then hits Cole with the vertical suplex into a gutbuster to get the pin at 5:01. I thought it would go longer but they certainly packed a lot into a short amount of time there. Everyone looked pretty good.
The Pulse: I didn’t expect much out of this show going in, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. The opener, Edwards/Ciampa, Jacobs/Whitmer, the semi-main, and the main event all reached three stars or higher, so five out of eight is not bad. The bonus match was enjoyable too and could have been even longer. There were no long-term ramifications for anything that happened but there was some nice advancement for Steen, Ciampa, O’Reilly, and Whitmer, so that’s a plus. You can purchase this show at the ROH Shop.