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ROH Border Wars - May 12, 2012

by SamoaRowe

-From Toronto, Ontario. Our hosts are Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness.

-The show starts with a fancy camera shot of Kelly and McGuinness in the ring. Equipment upgrades rule.

-We’re treated to footage of Rhino squashing the fuck out of a jobber on TV. Rhino and Truth Martini come to the ring for the opening match. Martini takes a mic and says that he gets along with Rhino because he speaks the language of money.

-My VOD stream died at this point and took a few minutes to get it back. It was bad enough that the live stream was plagued with problems, but you’d think at least the On Demand version could function.

Rhino (with Truth Martini) vs. “Die Hard” Eddie Edwards

This is a fresh match that has my interest, so I have high hopes. Edwards uses his technical prowess to match Rhino’s strength. Rhino throws a chop but Edwards delivers an arm drag. Eddie isn’t fast enough to avoid a hard shoulder block. Eddie delivers a hurricanrana to send Rhino to the floor. Rhino cuts off a springboard move and a camera man gets caught in the crossfire. Back to the ring, Rhino begins targeting the midsection. Rhino shakes off an enziguri and press slams Edwards to the floor! Cue the bear hug! Eddie blocks a press slam and struggles to hit a German suplex! Eddie uses his speed advantage and overwhelms with chops. Running knee to the face by Eddie gets 2. Martini grabs Eddie’s ankle but Rhino’s sneak attack fails. Eddie nails a springboard moonsault to the floor! A missile drop-kick isn’t enough. Belly to belly suplex by Rhino! Edwards counters the gore with a drop-kick! Martini and Rhino suffer a miscommunication and Eddie gains the pinfall at 10:58! Solid opener here, Eddie did well against the seasoned Rhino, **½.
Winner: Eddie Edwards

-Rhino is upset over the loss and threatens to attack Martini. Martini desperately shoves a fistful of dollars into Rhino’s hand to save himself. They awkwardly shake hands and this alliance seems to have survived.

-Kevin Kelly tries to introduce a video package for the next match but instead we get a replay of the Rhino/Edwards finish. C’mon, guys. They finally play the hype video, containing dueling promos from The Young Bucks and The All Night Express. I guess they’re still feuding, I didn’t get to see their second Showdown in the Sun match due to the technical difficulties.

The Young Bucks and Mike Mondo vs. The All Night Express and TJ Perkins

ANX and Perkins clear the ring immediately. Perkins sprays some mist into Mondo’s eyes out of where. Kenny King helps Perkins double team Matt Jackson. Mondo tags and gets his suplex reversed by King. Spinebuster by King. The crowd chants “Spirit Squad” as Mondo gets isolated. Matt tags in but only takes Mondo’s place as a whipping boy. Rhett Titus nails a drop-kick to the face Nick grabs Rhett’s ankle, which sets up a triple team spot. Titus is wiped out at ringside by the flying Bucks. Titus becomes isolated as the heels make quick tags. A triple drop-kick spot is botched, but Nick Jackson plays it off well. Titus dumps Nick and Mondo to the floor and spins Matt around onto the turnbuckle. Nick and Mondo prevent a tag by pulling King and Perkins off the apron. Titus finally makes a hot tag and King cleans house. Perkins makes a blind tag and wipes out the Bucks. Sit-out power bomb by Perkins gets 2. Titus saves Perkins from a Mondo DDT, but Mondo leg sweeps Titus to the mat. Blind missile drop-kick by Perkins! Everyone is in the ring throwing stiff shots! Everyone is down and out and the crowd is marking out. Buckle bomb/Yakuza kick combo by the Young Bucks! Mondo and the Bucks orchestrate a splash but King saves Titus from a pinfall. Mondo wipes out pretty much everyone (including himself) with a dive to the floor. Bodies go flying, but it comes down to Perkins nailing a 450 splash so Titus can pin Matt at 12:56. This was a good, old-fashioned spot-fest, that was unfortunately sloppy at times, **¾.
Winners: The All Night Express and TJ Perkins

-They replay the hard-sell promos from Jay Lethal and Tommaso Ciampa from TV.

Tommaso Ciampa (with The Embassy Ltd) vs. Jay Lethal

They start brawling during the ring introductions, therefore the bell hasn‘t rung. The fight spills to ringside, where Lethal is the aggressor. It’s worth noting that Ciampa is sporting a goofy looking white beard now. Ciampa utilizes the steel barricade, but Lethal dodges a running knee, causing Ciampa to crash into the steel. Ciampa grabs the “Section C” sign but Lethal catapults him into it! Lethal delivers a hip toss and a drop-kick to the face! Lethal finally enters the ring but R.D. Evans shields Ciampa from a dive. Lethal dispatches Evans and tries again, but Ciampa blocks! The bell finally rings as the fight enters the ring. Ciampa slows things down to wear Lethal out. The crowd chants “Yes!” as Lethal hits a leg lariat. Lethal builds some momentum but can’t seem to gain the pinfall. Ciampa cuts the comeback off, stealing Lethal’s patented DDT. Lethal is back up but the Embassy provides a distraction. Ciampa nails a hard lariat for 2. Project Ciampa is countered with a roll-up for a very close near fall. Hard knee strike by Ciampa also gets a close fall. Ciampa exposes his knee and delivers repeated running knees in the corner. Lethal counters with an Alabama Slam into the turnbuckles! Prince Nana gets in the referee’s face, preventing Lethal’s small package to end it. Lethal Injection! That would’ve ended it, but Evans pulls the referee to the floor! Lethal drop-kicks Evans out of the equation and heads to the top. The Flying Elbow only gets 2! Lethal thrashes Ciampa against his knee repeatedly and nails the DDT for the win at 10:44! Ciampa has been defeated! Damn good brawl with a hot, HOT finish, ***½.
Winner: Jay Lethal

-Ciampa is beside himself due to the loss and storms out on the Embassy. Lethal seems to like what he sees.

Mike Bennett (with Brutal Bob) vs. Lance Storm

Maria is MIA, the excuse being that she didn’t want to grace Toronto with her presence. Also, Lance Storm is a pervert. They lock up and Storm gains the early advantage. They exchange shots, with Storm getting the better of that exchange as well. Storm targets the midsection with hard knee shots. Cue the abdominal stretch! They block hip tosses and Bennett sends Storm crashing against the ring post. The crowd chants “Fuck you, Bennett” as Bennett directs a ringside brawl. Back to the ring, Bennett works over Storm’s back. Storm powers out of a chinlock and they exchange shots. Springboard back elbow by Storm! Storm drives his knee into Bennett’s face for 2. Bennett blocks the super kick and dishes out a spinebuster. Springboard clothesline by Storm misses and Bennett nails a spear. The Box Office Smash only gets 2! Storm sells the hell out of a dragon screw leg whip. Bennett smells blood and applies a half Boston crab. Storm counters into the Canadian Maple Leaf! Yeah, I know it’s the same move. Brutal Bob pulls Bennett into the ropes. Storm dives over the ropes! Storm blocks a chair shot and uses the weapon himself! The referee was distracted by Bob and never saw it (though he should’ve heard it). The super kick finishes Bennett at 12:11. Bennett was really hoisted by his own petard that time. This really picked up in the later portions, at first I was disappointed with the lack of heat, ***.
Winner: Lance Storm

-Storm takes the mic and asks if he can be serious for a minute. Storm thanks the fans and puts ROH over. He acknowledges that this might have been his last match, but makes no promises. This is the type of nice moment that helps keep me hooked on this product.

Michael Elgin (with Truth Martini) vs. Adam Cole

Elgin kicks things off by nonchalantly tossing Cole across the ring. Cole has to work extra hard to make his offense stick. Elgin tosses Cole again, but runs into his boots. Missile drop-kick by Cole gets 1. Cole delivers a head scissors takedown to send Elgin to the floor. Cole dives but Elgin catches him for a power slam onto the entrance ramp! Elgin wins an exchange of shots. Cole applies a guillotine choke, but it’s countered. Cole’s Florida Key suplex is blocked and Elgin nails an Alabama Slam. Elgin works over Cole’s back. Cole escapes, but Elgin remains in control. They trade shots again as the crowd is now clearly behind Elgin. Tirt-a-whirl DDT by Cole! Cole follows up with a DDT onto the apron. Cole nails the flying cross body for 2. The Florida Key is blocked again and Elgin nails a Chaos Theory suplex! Cole counters into a small package for 2. Cole attacks the head but still can’t get the job done. Elgin shakes it all off and nails a hard clothesline. Cole hits a surprise enziguri but gets kicked off the ropes. Top rope falcon arrow by Elgin only gets 2. Sheesh. Cole counters a crossface. Cole drops Elgin head-first onto his knee. Elgin catches Cole in a cross body and delivers Buckle Bomb and sit-out power bomb for the win at 13:53. This was mostly a disjointed collection of MOVES. I think they can do much better, **¼.
Winner: Michael Elgin

-Truth Martini takes a mic and puts Elgin over as the break-through star of 2012. My stream freezes again at this point, so I’m taking a break.

-Fit Finlay informs Roderick Strong that it’s all over for him. He’s coming to ROH to become TV Champion.

ROH Television Championship:
Roderick Strong © vs. Fit Finlay

The normal 15 minute time limit for TV title matches has been tossed out at Strong’s request. Strong rejects a handshake, which doesn’t seem to bother Finlay one bit. They feel each other out and Finlay lands a long headlock. Strong is hapless and gets trapped by the leg. Strong rolls to ringside for a break. Strong finally throws a chop and goes after Finlay’s arm. Finlay shakes it off and retains control with a short-arm clothesline. Cue the chinlock! They begin brawling at ringside, with Strong getting dropped on the barricade. Strong forces a comeback, driving Finlay into the ring apron and post. Strong applies a waist lock. Finlay counters with a jawbreaker but Strong throws a drop-kick. Finlay reverses an Irish-whip, sending Strong crashing into the guard rail. Strong returns the favor. Strong goes to work on Finlay’s midsection. Finlay throws an uppercut but it doesn’t take long for Strong to regain control. Strong lets the fans distract him long enough for Finlay to roll him up for 2. Finlay quickly escapes the Strong Hold. Finlay Roll out of nowhere! The Celtic Cross gets 2. Strong shoves Finlay off the top rope but misses a dive, getting caught in the apron. Double Knee Gut buster by Strong gets 2. I love finishers that never finish matches. Rolling elbow and a kick to the head finishes Finlay at 17:12. Credibility building win for Strong here. The match was technically sound, but it never kicked into a higher gear like I wanted it to, ***¼.
Winner and still Television Champion: Roderick Strong

-Finlay hangs around in the ring long enough to get a standing ovation from the live crowd. That’s nice.

-They replay Inside Ring of Honor segments chronicling the WGTT/Briscoes rivalry.

ROH Tag Team Championship:
The Briscoes © vs. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team

Jay shows up by himself, as it turns out that Mark wasn’t allowed into Canada. It turns out to be a TRAP, as Mark sneaks in dressed as a hockey player and attacks WGTT with a stick. The Briscoes’ music plays throughout the opening beat down, which is hilarious. The Briscoes enjoy the early advantage and begin using chairs and guard rails to dish out punishment. Shelton Benjamin gets competitive but the Briscoes drop-kick a chair into his face. Meanwhile, Charlie Haas gets catapulted into the ring post. The Briscoes continue to control a hardcore brawl until Shelton snap mares Mark off the top rope through a table! Jay is alone and gets trapped on the ropes by Haas so Benjamin can leap up for a suplex. Mark returns to save Jay from getting crotched in the ring post. Cue the Redneck Kung Fu! Mark nails the flying elbow on Haas for 2. Jay sets Benjamin on a ringside table, but Haas stops Mark from jumping off the ropes. Jay blocks a German suplex off the apron, but winds up going through it in an electric chair. Haas sprays something into a rag and shoves it into Mark’s face. Haas pins Mark at 14:28! What, this feud isn’t over?!? Jeez. As stale as the feud has become, these teams still bring the goods, ***.
Winners and new ROH Tag Team Champions: Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin

-They replay footage of Kevin Steen putting a hurting on Davey Richards at a recent live event. They suffer some audio troubles at this part. Steve Corino also joins the commentary table, but doesn’t have much to say.

ROH World Championship:
Davey Richards © vs. Kevin Steen (with Jimmy Jacobs)

Steen immediately goes for a package piledriver, but it’s blocked. Steen wins a strike fest but Davey dumps him to the floor. Suicide dive! The camera misses Steen DDTing Richards off the ropes. Steen thrashes Richards around the ringside area. Richards absorbs a lot of punishment but counters with a suplex on the apron. The crowd chants “Fuck you, Davey” as Richards takes control in the ring. Davey goes to work on the legs. He plays to the “same old shit” chants and delivers some hard kicks. Steen gets knocked to the floor, but Davey misses a running kick and nails Jacobs. Steen plants Richards on the apron! Steen follows up with a second power bomb on the ring frame. Running cannonball gets a 2 count. Davey counters the senton bomb! Steen absorbs a German suplex but Richards nails a kick. They trade hard kicks and Steen nails a hard lariat. Steen nails a shoulder-breaker that knocks Richards’ mouth guard out. Typically, Kevin puts on the mouth piece. They trade moves but Steen locks on the sharpshooter! Davey gets the ropes and looks half dead. Davey ties Steen’s leg up in the ropes for a flying double stomp! GROSS! A second double stomp gets 2 for Richards. Cue the ankle lock! Davey blocks the piledriver and nails the DR Driver for 2! Richards kicks the face but Steen responds by spitting and slapping. Steen nails the F-5 for only 2! Kevin nails the moonsault but is slow to cover. The package piledriver is blocked yet again and Davey’s running kick gets 2. Richards counters Steen into the ankle lock! Steen reverses into the sharpshooter! Sadly, Davey reverses back to the ankle lock. Steen thrusts Davey into an exposed turnbuckle! Steen finally nails the package piledriver and pins Richards at 24:19! New champion! This was a great match with a great atmosphere, and a perfectly built finish, ****¼.
Winner and NEW ROH World Champion: Kevin Steen

-Carey Silkin refuses to hand the ROH title to Steen and storms off. Steen and Jacobs celebrate together. Steve Corino enters the ring and looks ready for a fight. Instead, Corino embraces Steen. The three men share a group hug, which can’t bode well for the future of Ring of Honor.

Final Thoughts: I might have to admit to being spoiled, as this felt like a frustrating show in that there were a lot of good matches where there should have been great matches. I really wanted more from the Briscoes/WGTT (including closure), Finlay/Strong, Bennett/Storm, and especially Cole/Elgin. On the plus side, Tommaso Ciampa’s undefeated streak coming to an end was a cool moment, and the main event delivered in a big way. Steen as ROH World Champion should mean that business is about to pick up. Solid show, thumb’s up.

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