SOLD OUR SOUL FOR ROCK ‘N ROLL
May 23, 2014
Alex Koslov . . . treats Rocky Romero like his hated rival, instead of his regular tag team partner.
Trevor Lee . . . gives 3/4 of the Mount Rushmore of Pro Wrestling all they can handle.
Adam Cole . . . once again looks like the underdog against his former partner, and, once again proves that he’s able to hold his own.
RODERICK STRONG vs. BRIAN CAGE
The way that this is laid out is odd. It’s designed to put over Cage as much as possible, even though Strong is the one who gets his hand raised. Cage shows off his strength by bumping Strong six ways from Sunday with some impressive looking spots, like the backbreaker into the facebuster. Cage also shows off how agile he is for such a big guy, with a double-jump moonsault and a 619, and he even gets to escape the Stronghold. No, he doesn’t break it by crawling to the ropes, Roddy ges the hold, and Cage proceeds to roll himself back over and kick Strong off. Roddy mostly gets in strikes, one of which bloodies up Cage’s nose, but, until the back cracker (which sets up the Stronghold) Roddy’s offense wasn’t much more than a stall tactic. The finish isn’t much more than Roddy finally getting to string together some offense leading to the running boot for the pin. There’s nothing wrong with Strong going over Cage, but, you’d think that they would have a less lopsided match.
AR FOX vs. RICH SWANN
Overall, this winds up being more fun than it is good. Their spots, and execution are good more often than not, and Fox also takes some horrendous bumps, especially from the axe kick. But, this is ultimately just a spotfest, with both of them being more worried about style than story. They both take big bumps from a DDT, and neither of them mean anything two minutes later. Their best work comes just before the finish, with a very nice sequence of counters and reversals, before they wrap things up. If you simply want to see pretty spots, then this is hard to steer clear of, but, don’t expect anything too deep.
CHUCK TAYLOR/TRENT BARETTA vs. JOEY RYAN/CANDICE LeRAE
The work here is fine, but, its disappointing to see that the first match that told a story was just doing it for comedy. Granted, the comedy worked really well, and paid off in the end. Chuck and Trent didn’t want to hit a woman, even though Candice was taking the fight right to them, including a big slap when Chuck told her that he wasn’t going to hit her. Finally, Chuck runs to the back and comes back in a dress and wig, and starts fighting Candice with the same intensity that he was doing with Joey, including the Super Dragon violence party flurry and the Awful Waffle. But, it’s too little too late by that time. The Best Friends miscue their double chokeslam, and Trent gets pinned after a superkick from Joey and reverse rana from Candice. Candice and Joey beat the reigning DDT4 champs, and the most recent tag titles challengers, and move on to challenge for the titles at the next show. Simple, straightforward, booking at it’s finest.
ROCKY ROMERO vs. ALEX KOSLOV
Aside from the SSP near fall from Koslov, and, that really slow armbar from Romero, this is actually a really fun match. They’ve been partners forever, so they’re plenty familiar with each other, and Koslov is more than willing to take advantage of that, and he outsmarts Romero at every turn. Rocky seems to be holding back at first, since he and Koslov are partners, but, one he sees that Koslov isn’t giving any concession to the Forever Hooligans, then Romero follows suit, and, as a result, this is the first match of the show to really feel like it has some genuine intensity to it. They go a bit crazy toward the end, Koslov could have left behind the SSP and nobody would have blinked, especially since it was followed with Romero’s backslide near fall and that big slap exchange. Romero’s segue to the juji-gatame makes up for his mediocre one earlier, and his quick cinching down forces Koslov to tap out almost immediately, after Koslov had quickly escaped the earlier one. ***1/4
ACH vs. RICOCHET
If not for Ricochet, this would have been the expected spotfest, not unlike the match between their respective partners. But, Ricochet’s heel touches, added some personality to the mix, and, made it better than Fox/Swann. Ricochet cheap shots ACH during his crowd surfing spot, nearly knocking him out, and also spoiling the fans fun, and then, he actually tops that by wrapping up ACH in that standing stretch hold that Tajiri used to like, and then bouncing his head off the turnbuckle. The other cool moment from Ricochet is when ACH was crowd playing before a lariat in the corner, and when ACH finally went for the move, Ricochet stops him with a diving knee. But, aside from those few touches, there isn’t much else to separate this from the Fox/Swann match, the spots are spectacular, and Ricochet’s bump from ACH’s diving stomp is just as good as Fox’s bump from the Axe kick. It’s just too bad that the only real story to found was in those few touches, rather than spread throughout the whole match.
KEVIN STEEN/NICK JACKSON/MATT JACKSON vs. JOHNNY GARGANO/TREVOR LEE/CEDRIC ALEXANDER
The fun continues with a trios match that’s better than it has any right to be! It certainly helps that they structure this a bit, instead of going spot-crazy as soon as the bell rings, and, they throw in some storytelling with the idea of Gargano’s jaw injury, and give some context to the superkicks. The control segment on Gargano is totally watchable, due to the combo of the Young Bucks double teams, and the personality that they all bring. Steen’s double lariat miscue that led to the Gargano tagging out isn’t exactly a believable spot, but, it works as a comedy spot. After Gargano’s hot tag, the match breaks down, but, the sheer number of people and things going on means that nothing gets blown off. The closest that they get is Gargano’s lawn dart to Matt, with Matt hitting the post, and, it’s not like Matt just jumped to his feet two seconds later. The finish is another bit of smart booking, with Trevor getting put over as much as possible, and, all three heels needing to collaborate to keep him down, and, it only makes sense that he gets the nod as Steen’s opponent for his last night. ***
ADAM COLE © vs. KYLE O’REILLY (PWG World Heavyweight Title)
It’s only fitting to end a good show with a very good match. It helps that the rules here (submission or KO only) aren’t as complex as their June 2012 ROH match, so, they don’t have to make any real adjustments to how they work. The segments of Kyle working the arm and Adam working the knee aren’t really anything more than filler, but, it’s smart filler for this sort of match. They work some nice exchanges on the mat with Kyle trying for shootstyle holds, while Adam sticks with pro-style holds, with Adam coming out on top. It’s also no surprise that they work in spots to show just how well the former Future Shock partners know each other, the best one being Cole seeing the rebound lariat coming, and hanging up Kyle’s knee in the ropes, and a bit later Cole seems know that Kyle is expecting him to go for the German suplex, so he switches up on him and more or less wheelbarrow throws Kyle into the apron. Not to be outdone, Kyle gets in his own smart counter, when he turns Adam’s attempted piledriver into a Triangle choke.
With how good, and smart, they were working, it really was a shame to see them go a little crazy toward the end, but it’s not enough to ruin things. The worst moment is the obviously cooperative bit where Kyle grabs Cole’s hair, and then wait for Cole to grab his, and then they make sure each other is ready and then start trading punches. But, they follow that with another smart spot, with Cole taking a shot at the knee to open up Kyle for the superkick for a KO tease. There’s an exposing moment when Kyle is getting ready to dive onto Mt. Rushmore and Adam seems to be gearing up to attack, but, then realizes what Kyle is about to do, so he slumps back down. Given Cole’s heel character, it would have made sense to play possum and then strike when Kyle rolled back in. Kyle rolling through the ankle lock and throwing Adam into the exposed buckle was a nice revenge spot for Adam using it earlier, but they were too far away for the spot to look credible, but, at least they were smart enough to not play it up as a possible KO. The finish, while certainly satisfying for the storyline, is also a bit weak. Not so much the interference from Mt. Rushmore and them being run off by the other babyfaces, but, the fact that Kyle beats Adam within an inch of his life, to the point that he has to apply the Triangle himself, instead of counter into it, but Adam still winds up tapping out. The ref calling it off because Adam was unresponsive, or even Cole’s arm dropping three times would have been so much more fitting. They did such a good job laying the match out, and showcasing the familiarity and how good they both were on the ground, it’s just too bad they didn’t give their strikes (with the exception of Adam’s superkick) the same sort of respect. ***3/4
Conclusion: This is easily the best PWG show that I’ve seen, from top to bottom. The only matches that I didn’t care for were the Fox/Swann and Ricochet/ACH matches, but, they certainly weren’t anything bad.