September 28, 2013

Michael Bennett . . . shows that it’s possible to win after doing almost nothing, as long as you have a killer finisher.

Kevin Steen . . . welcomes his old friend Jimmy Jacobs back to ROH.

Adam Cole . . . proves that it’s no fluke that he’s the ROH Champion, despite the alleged controversy over his win.


Aside from a couple of nice double teams from Ethan and Josh, and a cool finish, there isn’t much to see here. The idea seems to be that the tag champions don’t think that Josh and Ethan are worth their time, but, instead of them stepping up and showing that they have what it takes to beat the tag champions, and the champions stepping up in return, the four of them just plod along and do very little of any note. It shows that there isn’t too much thought being but into things when Josh is dodging and knocking down Bobby, while he’s trapped in a sleeper from Kyle. Things pick up a little bit toward the end, with the fancy double teams, and Kyle holding on after the tornado DDT to set up Chasing the Dragon is a nice touch, but, nobody here seemed motivated enough to get this out of first gear.


It’s understandable that this is short, with Mark working twice more tonight, but this is still rather dull overall. Mark’s Redneck Kung-Fu is amusing, but nothing that anyone thinks will actually help him win. The Kobashi-style neck chops would have been a nice touch, had he done anything else, before or after them, to suggest that he was trying to wear down the neck for something. Silas is no better, his best spot is probably the backbreaker/lariat combo, and just like Mark, he doesn’t do anything else to give the idea that he’s building up to anything. The one nice touch to the finish is that Mark’s sunset flip is at a higher angle than normal, which explains why Silas doesn’t kick out. But, Adam Cole’s color commentary was better than the work from either of them.


The fact that they try to stick with the formula is enough to make this better than either of the previous matches, but, even this isn’t much more than just watchable. The effort of trying to build to a hot tag to both Elgin and later ACH is nice, but, neither team is especially heelish, so, they don’t do much to build sympathy and create excitement for that tag. It’s nice to see that ACH can doggedly keep Lethal in a headlock, even as he’s getting elbowed in the ribs, but, it’s not like the hold is doing anything to help them win. The work is a little better after Elgin gets the tag, since he can bump the other team around, but, it doesn’t last nearly long enough to make much of an impact. It also doesn’t help that ACH decides that the time to make a last ditch comeback attempt is after he takes a top rope elbow from Elgin. Elgin sets him up for the powerbomb, and ACH double legs him down and hits a diving stomp. After an ugly sequence that was apparently supposed to be a sunset flip, Elgin rolls through and hits the buckle bomb and Elgin bomb to pin ACH. I guess it’s something of a positive that Elgin needed his two biggest guns in order to finish him off, but the top rope elbow ought to have meant a lot more.


This looks a lot more like the New Japan Rumble than it does a Royal Rumble. Some of the pairings follow the current storylines, like Davey Richards going after Kyle O’Reilly and Mark Briscoe going after Silas Young, but, this is dull overall. There certainly aren’t any of the creative eliminations that you’d expect to see in a Royal Rumble match, although Delirious having a very short night is funny. It doesn’t help that pretty much everyone in the match is working double duty (and Mark winning it means he has to work triple duty), so it makes sense that they’re either too spent to add much, or, they’re trying to conserve energy for their match later on. The only story to the match was Bobby Fish drawing the last spot and taking his sweet time getting into the ring, and even that was far too short lived.


If you don’t mind the fact that Eddie, and all his good work, is sacrificed at the altar of Bennett’s piledriver, then you’ll think that this is good. Eddie controls most of the match, which means that the crowd gets a good show, because Eddie is more than capable of bringing the good offense and keeping things exciting and interesting. Bennett gets a few good shots in, like the superkick and the straight punch, which Eddie puts over very well, but, Bennett isn’t able to parlay those openings into hitting anything big, both times he attempts the Box Office Smash, Eddie easily escapes. It’s not until Eddie gets tripped up by Maria that Bennett can hit the piledriver, but, when he does, Eddie is finished. It would have been nice for this to be less lopsided so that Bennett looks like he actually earned the win, but, the way this plays out puts over his piledriver as much as possible. ***


There are a few nice touches here, but this is all go-go-go, with more emphasis on big spots than telling a story. Both the guardrail and a table get used in the first minute or so of this and neither spot winds up meaning a thing. There are a couple of smart moments from Steen that keep this from being a complete afterthought, like rolling Jimmy away from the ropes after the sleeper suplex, and learning his lesson after the F-5 was countered, and using the pop-up powerbomb to stun Jimmy before doing the Package Piledriver. But, the match itself seemed to take a backseat to the angle afterward with Bennett attacking Steen to get even more heat on his piledriver.


I guess it’s too much to ask for the champion to retain his title in a manner that makes him look worthy of being the champion. Taven gets in next to nothing as far as real offense goes, as opposed to the boatloads that Davey and Roddy roll out over the course of the match. He spends most of the match stooging for them, and looking like the weak link. When Taven finally does get in one of his own big spots, the near fall on Davey from the splash, it’s because Roddy had worn him down for it, with Taven simply being in the right place at the right time to try to swipe the pin. The only big moment that comes from Taven is the Climax as a counter to the Gibson driver, which puts Roddy out of the match. But, instead of Taven building up any more momentum, the final stretch is Davey looking like he’s about the win the title, until the valets interfere and give Taven the opening to steal the pin.

ADAM COLE © vs. MARK BRISCOE (ROH World Heavyweight Title)

With this being Mark’s third match of the night, it’s no surprise that this is short. But, it’s nice to see them make the most of their time by telling a story, and working smart. Cole’s early cheap shot superkick to Mark works on two levels, it allows Cole to take control early and explains why he controls the bulk of the match, and, it’s a reminder of their previous match, where Cole won by taking advantage of Mark coming off a concussion. Cole isn’t quite as vicious as you might expect, he doesn’t do anything on the level of the kicks to head that he gave Ciampa in their tournament match. But, everything he does is perfectly legal, even if the superkicks weren’t exactly set up in the most ethical manner. There’s no props, used of the ring post, or exposed turnbuckles being used. His work is simple, but it’s still very effective, like his roll-though of Mark’s sunset flip to hit the running knee, the elbows to the head to escape Mark’s grip, and even his mocking of the Redneck Kung-Fu plays well into the idea of Cole going after the weak spot. In addition to that, there are other smart moments here, such as Mark’s near fall from the sunset flip, after it won for him earlier, and Cole’s figure four after taking out Mark’s knee when he escaped the sunset flip powerbomb. Cole may not have gone for the head kicks while Mark was in the figure four, but, there was still the fear of him doing so and that was enough.

With Cole working such a smart match, it only makes sense for him to win by outsmarting Mark. Cole goes for the ultimate insult and tries the Jay driller, only for Mark to counter it, and wind up doing his own. Cole sells it like death, barely getting his foot on the rope and telling the ref he can’t move. But, of course, it’s a ruse, and, with Mark not expecting it, a second superkick KO’s him, and Cole easily pins Mark with the Florida Key. While, one could argue that they disrespect the Jay driller here, it’s not too big a deal. Cole hadn’t taken a ton of punishment during the match, and, it stands to reason for Mark, especially in a woozy state, to not be able to pull of the move as effectively as his brother. This probably wouldn’t even be a blip on the radar of the best ROH Title matches, but, it scores points for putting over Cole as a champion who has what it takes to defend his title, which is a lot more than we got from the other title match. ***1/4

Conclusion: A couple of good matches from wrestlers you’d expect to put on good matches. But, overall, this isn’t anything to pick up ASAP, unless you’re a completest or a big Cole fan.