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Ring of Honor - Best in the World (June 26, 2011)
-From the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Our hosts are Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak.
-We kick things off with Jim Cornette in the ring to pander to the NYC fans. Cornette claims this is the largest live crowd in ROH history and he’s probably correct seeing as the place is packed. When the new television show debuts in September, they will prove to the world that pro wrestling is not dead. They’re going to have to do better than the HDNet show if that’s the goal.
Colt Cabana vs. Tommaso Ciampa (with Prince Nana)
Ciampa is in the midst of an undefeated streak. Cabana teases a handshake in obnoxious fashion to kick things off. Cabana toys with Ciampa during the feeling out process. Ciampa blocks Cabana’s leg work but Cabana gleefully uses his own legs to earn a pin attempt. Cabana takes a moment to stomp on Nana’s fingers on the apron, which sadly gives Ciampa an opening. Ciampa appears to have studied WWE midcard matches as he wears down Cabana. Ciampa counters a springboard moonsault with knees to the midsection. Cabana forges a comeback. Cabana corners himself in the ropes and eats a German suplex. Cabana applies the Billy Goat’s Curse but it gets a rope break. Modified (also sloppy) backbreaker by Ciampa ends this at 6:57. Rough match as Ciampa didn’t shine and Cabana was going through the motions, *½.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa
-Kelly and Prazak put over the returning Jay Lethal.
Mike Bennett (with Brutal Bob Evans) vs. Jay Lethal
Lethal is treated to a kind reception and the crowd can barely wait to chant “fuck TNA.” Lethal imitates the Macho Man to chants of “Randy Savage.” Bennett makes the most heelish clean break in history by patting Lethal on the cheek. Bennett is looking for a slow paced match but Lethal continually tries to speed things up. Lethal fires up Bennett’s chest with some chops. Headscissors by Lethal and a suicide dive to the floor! Crowd chants. Bennett distracts the ref while Brutal Bob slams Lethal onto the apron. Bennett hits a leaping clothesline to establish his control. Lethal elbows out of a surfboard stretch and forges a comeback. Flying leg lariat by Lethal gets 2. Lethal goes high risk but Brutal Bob trips him on the turnbuckles. Bennett delivers the superplex but can’t get 3. Bennett misses a flying elbow drop and eats a super kick. Lethal connects with the Lethal Injection for the win at 9:40. Same formula as the opener, just more interesting and crisp, **.
Winner: Jay Lethal
-Lethal remains in the ring, pounding the ROH logo on the mat to spark a chant. Lethal could be a key player in ROH’s upcoming television show, so hopefully he sticks around.
-Homicide enters the ring for the street fight and takes a few moments to disrespect Rhino’s hometown of Detroit. That’s just hurtful, man.
No Holds Barred Street Fight:
Homicide vs. Rhino (with Prince Nana)
Rhino charges into the ring and a brawl erupts. Homicide dives onto Rhino through the ropes. Rhino elevates and drops Homicide onto the mat. Rhino misses a dive to the floor! Rhino seems eager to impress the ROHbots, I’d say. Rhino reverses a power bomb, dropping Homicide through the timekeeper’s table! Rhino places a ladder in the ring but leaves it to continue brawling. Homicide chases after Nana but gets lead into a trap. Rhino slams the ladder into Homicide’s midsection. Homicide counters a suplex onto the ladder! Rhino launches Homicide onto the ladder propped in the ropes. Press slam on the ladder by Rhino! Flying shoulder block by Homicide gets a near fall. Piledriver by Rhino! They battle on the top rope with Homicide ultimately flying into Rhino’s knees. Homicide blocks the Gore and hits the Ace Crusher. Rhino props a table in the corner. Rhino attempts a Gore through the table but Homicide counters with a sunset flip for the win at 10:16. That was a surprisingly tame finish. This was a decent brawl, as they clearly weren‘t aiming to steal the show. Rhino seemed to be enjoying himself, **½.
-Homicide fights off Prince Nana but Rhino GORES him through the table. That’s more like it. Homicide really hams up his selling of the table spot.
-Kelly and Prazak talk about Steve Corino, working to get his career on track. Corino has found a sponsor and it’s Jimmy Jacobs, who also is working to turn his life around. It’s neat that ROH has made a storyline out of heels trying to legitimately become baby faces.
-Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs enter the ring and take the microphone. Corino says he is an evil person but each day he and Jimmy Jacobs try to get just a little better. Corino says there is someone else who wants to make a change, that person being Kevin Steen, who was last seen losing his ROH career in a match against El Generico. Steen appears on the balcony as he technically isn’t allowed in the building. Security stops Steen from entering the ringside area. During the confusion, Michael Elgin runs in and attacks Corino to start their schedule contest.
Steve Corino (with Jimmy Jacobs) vs. Michael Elgin (with Truth Martini)
Elgin has something to prove as he pounds away at Corino. Corino fires back with some chops. Back suplex by Corino! Corino’s clotheslines have little effect on Elgin but an abdominal stretch (complete with a thumb in the ass) has better results. Corino goes for a dive but Elgin catches him and drives him onto the barricade and floor. Corino looks dazed as he tries to fight back against a dominant Elgin. Elgin punishes Corino with a Boston Crab in the turnbuckles! Corino rebounds with a lariat but Martini trips him. Jacobs chases after Truth but Elgin makes the save. Corino tries to roll up Elgin but gets 2. Elgin delivers the TKO and super kick! Elgin hit’s a gut-wrench suplex but is slow to follow up. Corino kicks out of a power bomb! Elgin power bombs Corino into the corner and hits another one for good measure. Elgin finally picks up the win around the 10 minute mark. Good storytelling here as Corino’s ongoing character arc drove the match, **½.
Winner: Michael Elgin
-Jimmy Jacobs runs in and attacks Elgin. Truth Martini clocks Jacobs with the Book of Truth! Oh no, who will save them?!? Kevin Steen charges into the ring and makes the dramatic save. Steen power bombs Elgin. Martini hits Steen with his best-selling book but it’s no sold and Steen delivers a super kick. Jim Cornette and Cary Silkin storm out, apparently ready to boot Steen out again, but Corino pleads with them to reconsider. Steen takes the mic and says all he wants to do is make things right. It’s a swerve as Steen hollers “Fuck Ring of Honor” and plants Corino. That was awesome. The crowd sings El Generico’s music as Steen is escorted from the building. Cornette swears on his mother’s grave that this is the last we’ll ever see of Steen in ROH. The crowd chants “We want Steen” in typical fashion.
ROH Television Championship:
Christopher Daniels © vs. El Generico
Daniels is aggressive against plucky underdog baby face El Generico. Generico wakes up and outsmarts Daniels in a speed contest. The fight spills to ringside with Generico whipping the champion into the guard rail. Generico moonsault off the barricade to retain control. Back to the ring, Daniels pleads for mercy. Generico accepts a handshake but slaps Daniels back down. Daniels drops Generico off the turnbuckles and delivers a clothesline to turn the tide. Daniels mimics Jeff Jarrett to earn a “Fuck TNA” chant. Daniels spends a little too much time playing to the crowd and gets caught with a sunset flip. Generico’s comeback is short-lived as Daniels chokes him with a head scissors in the ropes. Cue the chinlock! Powerslam by Daniels and an Arabian press. Generico ducks to send Daniels crashing to ringside and connects with a dive. Generico lands a cross body and a driver but can’t get the pinfall. Daniels rebounds with a submission attempt. Generico blocks Angels Wings but eats the Last Rites. They trade shots and counters until Generico scores with the Brainbuster! Generico puts Daniels in a tree of woe and connects with a coast to coast leg drop! Now Generico is just hitting moves for the sake of hitting moves. Daniels counters on the apron, dropping Generico into the guard rail. Suplex on the floor by Daniels, who is making a late comeback. Daniels brings the TV title into the ring and happily awaits a count-out victory. Generico returns but suffers a takedown. Daniels is continuing to wrestle while wearing the TV title. Best Moon Sault Ever is countered! Brainbuster on the turnbuckles finishes it at 19:26! Generico is the new TV Champion! This was a solid match where I was hoping for a great one, ***.
Winner and new TV Champion: El Generico
-Kevin Kelly buzzes about the title change and suggests this could be a sign of more title changes to come.
4-Way Elimination match for the ROH Tag Team Championship:
Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas © vs. Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli (with Sara Del Rey) vs. Kenny King and Rhett Titus
Normally, I might scoff at 4-way match like this being used on pay-per-view, but these four teams really encompass what Ring of Honor’s tag team division has been over the past year. Charlie Haas kicks things off against Rhett Titus. Haas takes a moment to visit a child in the front row, I’m guessing there’s a story behind that. Either way, it sparks a “Little Jimmy” chant. Haas uses his technical wrestling skills to take King down. Haas counters a slingshot with a sick backbreaker. Shelton tags and squares off with the other black guy in the match, Kenny King. They trade some counters until Benjamin hits a messy cross body. Haas tags and looks to keep King isolated from the other teams. Jay Briscoe gets an unintended tag but quickly does the same for Claudio Castagnoli. Hero tags and assists in a double big boot before continuing to work over King. King fights back and makes the lukewarm tag to Titus. King and Titus isolate Hero. Claudio tags and is as interested in posing as he is in dishing out uppercuts. Hero finds himself in the Briscoes’ corner and they unload on him. Mark is tossed to the floor and takes a dive from Haas. Things break down, with Jay moonsaulting to the floor on a group. Hero moonsault over the ropes himself and the predictable ROH crowd is awoken by the high spots. Claudio and Kenny fight on the top rope but Shelton hops up and suplexes them both off! The Briscoes return and jump Shelton like a pack of wolves. The Briscoes and the Kings of Wrestling take turns wearing down Benjamin. Haas finally gets a hot tag and cleans house. Titus tags himself in and also cleans house. The Briscoes get the better of Titus, complete with a double neck breaker. The Doomsday Device misses and they trade near falls. King hits Jay with a backbreaker and allows a leg drop by Titus to eliminate the Briscoes at 24:12! What an upset!
The Briscoes argue with the referee before reluctantly heading to the back. Castagnoli squares off with Titus. The All Night Express send the KOW to the floor and fight off Shelton Benjamin. The match transitions into the KOW isolating Shelton. Benjamin counters Castagnoli with an electric chair but the Kings prevent a tag. Hero pulls Haas off the apron to keep him from tagging in. The live crowd is dead, but I’m really digging this stretch. King accepts a tag and cleans house on the Kings. Leg cradle suplex by King only gets 2! Hero clocks Titus in the head but can’t put him away. The KOW double team Titus. Sara Del Rey distracts the referee while the ANX’s pinfall attempt is foiled and Hero utilizes a loaded elbow pad. The ANX are eliminated at 34:27. Haas targets the elbow pad but finds himself stuck in the KOW corner. Haas outsmarts the KOW and delivers a release German suplex on Hero. Benjamin is back in and cleans house for what feels like the 100th time of the match. Benjamin counters with a double DDT! Haas and Benjamin are on a roll until Hero counters with a rolling boot. Castagnoli spins Haas on his shoulders but Shelton makes the save. Big swing by Claudio into a Hero drop-kick! Haas and Benjamin put Hero down with a double spinebuster for the win at 40:01. Certain parts of this match were interesting, other parts simply dragged. The dead crowd didn’t help. Ultimately, this was technically good, but felt long for the sake of being long, ***¼.
Winners and still ROH Tag Team Champions: Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas
-The Briscoes, being the sore losers that they are, return and put Haas and Benjamin down with chair shots.
The All-Night Express return, armed with weapons, and chase the Briscoes off. It looks as though we can expect plenty of rematches in the near future.
ROH World Championship:
Eddie Edwards © vs. Davey Richards
The story is that if Richards doesn’t win the title, he’ll quit ROH. Edwards and Richards are friends and tag team partners who were reluctant to face one another, at least until Edwards became offended that Richards assumed he’d win if they did wrestle. Edwards and Richards display good sportsmanship in the early feeling out sequence. The tension builds as they trade kicks to the back. Snap suplex by Richards and a leg submission. Edwards bounces back with a face buster. Gut-wrench suplex by Edwards and an abdominal stretch. They trade stiff shots. Richards drops Edwards to the floor and kicks from the apron. Suicide dive by Richards! Back to the ring, Davey connects with a missile drop-kick. Davey no-sells a backpack chin breaker and fiercely applies an armbar. They trade head butts on the ropes, which actually looks kind of silly. Superplex by Richards, who holds on for an armbar. They trade counters, with Davey favoring the armbar. Edwards counters with a modified (but not botched) face buster. Fishermen buster by Eddie gets 2. Richards shakes off a Code Breaker with an armbar. Things get nasty, as Edwards stomps the face. Eddie goes for a standing moonsault off the apron and lands awkwardly on the barricade. Eddie begins selling a knee injury from that spot as it effects his ability to hurt Richards. They battle on the apron with Edwards hitting a SICK suplex. Eddie hits a double stomp off the top onto Davey through a table! That’s it, Davey’s dead. Richards crawls back to the ring only to suffer a second double stomp. Richards manages to get Eddie’s leg tied up in the ropes and returns the favor with a double stomp of his own. Ankle lock by Davey! They continue to battle on the top rope (complete with more silly head butts) until Richards hits a German superplex! Super-kick and another German suplex by Richards but no pinfall! They trade ankle locks. Davey accidentally kicks the ring post, giving Edwards a chance to regroup. They find themselves on the top rope again with Edwards countering into a hurricanrana. Eddie finds his second wind with a clothesline and power bomb for a near fall. Cloverleaf by Edwards! Both men are exhausted as they trade offense. Davey delivers a sickening series of kicks until finally pinning Edwards for the title at 35:53! That finish caught me completely off-guard. This was a strong main event as both men pulled out all the stops to have a memorable match. I’m sad to see Edwards’ reign ending so quickly, but Richards was long overdue for the belt. This match is also a great example of how to have a title change where the new champion looks strong and the former champion retains his credibility, ****¼.
Winner and new ROH World Champion: Davey Richards
-Edwards and Richards share an emotional embrace. Edwards graciously places the belt around Richards’ waist. Richards takes the microphone and cuts a tearful celebration promo, thanking the fans for sticking with him while his personal life was falling apart.
This was an all-around solid show, though I was hoping for a blow away event. I may just be selfish, as ROH has raised a ridiculously high standard for their iPPVs. However, the main event is worth seeing and will likely go down as one of the most iconic moments in the company. The Kevin Steen angle was also great fun, so order the replay or just wait a couple months for the DVD. Thumbs up.
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