Monday, April 25, 2011

ROH Honor Takes Center Stage: Chapter Two iPPV (4/2/11)

ROH Honor Takes Center Stage: Chapter Two iPPV 4/2/11
April 2nd, 2011
Center Stage Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance: 800+

This is Day Two of ROH's annual pair of Wrestlemania weekend shows, both of which were offered on iPPV this year live from the historic Center Stage (site of many WCW TV tapings in the 90s) in Atlanta, Georgia. Both shows were drew good crowds and each show was said to have done roughly 1,750 buys apiece, which is damned good for a medium like internet PPV. Today's big matches include the newly crowned ROH tag team champions Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas taking on the American Wolves, the Briscoes and the All Night Express facing off in a grudge match, as well as former ROH champ Roderick Strong taking on El Generico and a whole lot more.

Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak

Chris Hero/Claudio Castagnoli vs. Kyle O'Reilly/Adam Cole

The Kings just dropped the tag belts to Haas & Benjamin less than 24 hours ago, so they're in a bad mood which could spell trouble for the hot young babyfaces O'Reilly and Cole. Have I mentioned how great of a tag team O'Reilly and Cole are? The Kings are all business at the bell and open the match with an extended beatdown on their opponents, tossing the younger Cole and O'Reilly around the ring like ragdolls. Things settle down a bit as Claudio and O'Reilly trade strikes. O'Reilly eats a double powerbomb from the Kings and then a senton back splash from Hero for the first near fall of the match. Crowd is very hot to start us out tonight. O'Reilly plays the babyface in peril for awhile as Hero and Claudio just basically beat the shit out of him, but O'Reilly keeps fighting back. Eventually Cole gets the hot tag and takes out the kings with a big missile dropkick. Cole blocks everything the Kings try on him and hits a big leg lariat on Hero. Claudio is sent to the floor and Cole follows him out with a slingshot hurricanrana to the floor! O'Reilly follows it up with the badass running dropkick off the apron and Claudio is out of it while Cole cross-body blocks Hero for a close two count. Hero eats a superkick but comes back with a pair of Roaring Elbows for O'Reilly and Cole and manages to tag Claudio back in.O'Reilly hits a tornado DDT on Claudio though and transitions right into the guillotine choke! Hero tries to break it up with a trio of big kicks but O'Reilly is full of piss and vinegar as usual and refuses to let go of the choke hold. Hero tries for another Roaring Elbow to break up the choke but eats another superkick out of nowhere from Cole! Claudio eats a superkick as well while Hero bails to the floor for a breather, but Cole just follows him out with a big tope suicida! Claudio is very close to tapping but he somehow still has enough strength to launch O"Reilly 8 feet into the air and take his head off with a huge European uppercut! Hero and Claudio hit a pair of double bicycle kicks on O'Reilly and that's enough to put the younger man away at 9:17. This was absolutely stellar from bell to bell, and with another ten minutes could have been in nearly five star range if they continued at the pace they were going here. Red hot crowd, incredible action, O'Reilly and Cole look great again even in the loss and the Kings of Wrestling get a win to get some of their heat back after dropping the titles the night before. Terrific opener. ****

Dave Taylor vs. Colt Cabana

Prince Nana and his entourage come out to the ring before the match to introduce Taylor as the latest member of the Embassy. I wouldn't mind seeing him in the company on a somewhat regular basis. Kevin and Dave try to sell this as a pure wrestling match, which isn't exactly what you think of when you think of Cabana's in-ring work these days. They deliver on that promise though as this is a battle of holds and counter-holds from the start. Taylor stiffs Colt with a few European uppercuts and I cringe. Colt tries to do the flip flop and fly but Taylor just nails him again with another stiff European uppercut. He works a stepover toe hold on Colt for a bit. Very old-school style of match here obviously, which is a nice change of pace for ROH. Colt counters a few moves from Taylor and just rolls him up with a schoolboy for the win at 6:31. A nice display of holds and counter-holds, but not much more than that. **

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Homicide

Ciampa is another one of Nana's recent additions to the Embassy. He gets introduced by RD Evans, a member of Nana's entourage who plays the pencil-neck geek heel Harvey Whippleman role better than Harvey Whippleman did. Action in this one quickly spills out to the floor where and both men trade kicks. Ciampa gets dropped throat-first over the steel guard rail. Back inside Ciampa hits a variation on the Burning Hammer and Homicide kicks out. Thankfully it wasn't an actual Burning Hammer or I would have thrown up my hands in disgust at the kick-out. Crowd is behind Homicide but don't seem to be into it as much as the first two contests. Back out on the floor Homicide does a running tope con hilo off a part of the bleachers, which looks great. Homicide gets a near fall back in the ring and Ciampa tries to mount a comeback. Homicide attempts a double underhook but Ciampa counters with a nasty twisting neckbreaker for a two count. He tries for a powerbomb but Homicide escapes and nails him with the ace crusher. He tries for the Cop Killa but winds up getting distracted by Princess Mia at ringside long enough for Ciampa to deliver a bridging Northern Lights suplex for the upset win at 9:47. Pretty shocking to see Homicide do the somewhat clean job for Ciampa here, but it does a lot to improve Ciampa's credibility and the match itself was fairly decent. **½

After the match Homicide smashes a chair into RD Evans face who sells it like death. The war between the Embassy and Homicide clearly is not over.

Christopher Daniels vs. Michael Elgin

Big jump down the card tonight for Daniels, but he's never had a problem with helping out the younger guys. Elgin is actually a pretty decent young powerhouse who has a good amount of potential. Strange to see Daniels working babyface here after refusing to shake Eddie Edwards hand last night. Daniels takes Elgin to the floor quickly and tosses him into the barricade. Back inside Elgin hits a huge vertical suplex but he gets sent to the floor again by a Daniels' kick. Elgin rams himself into the steel post inadvertently but hits a big shoulder block back in the ring that sends them yet again to the floor where Elgin rams Daniels into the steel barricade with a running start. Elgin delivers a nice delayed vertical suplex that delays just a bit too long, but Daniels gets the shoulder up at two. Elgin misses a shoulder-block off the top and Daniels starts his comeback. Crowd seems pretty dead here as Elgin hits a pumphandle driver for a two count. Tilt-a-whirl sideslam won't put away Daniels either so Elgin tries and misses a somersault senton off the top. He tries a lariat but Daniels nails him with the STO. Daniels nails Elgin with a low blow behind the refs back and picks up the win with the Best Moonsault Ever at 10:18. Another thoroughly decent match, but not much heat. The low-blow at the end would seem to back up my belief that Daniels will be turning heel soon. **½

After the match we go into the show's intermission, which lasts over 20 minutes. Intermissions are great for live shows, but they're rather annoying on a PPV show.

After the intermission ends, Jim Cornette makes his way out to the ring and grabs a mic. He cracks a joke on the Jeff Hardy-Sting match at TNA Victory Road 2011 and then polls the crowd on their thoughts on Ring of Honor. He introduces Davey Richards next for an interview, and he gets his usual good reaction from the ROH faithful. Davey puts over Eddie as the new champ and seems hesitant about the possibility of a title match between the two. Eddie Edwards heads out next and he puts over Davey as well, but not before saying that if it comes down to it, he'll fight Davey for the title. He even reminds Davey that he beat him last year in the finals of the TV Title tournament. As others have noted, this came off very similar to the current Jon Jones/Rashad Evans feud going on in the UFC. Both men are friends and partners and one man (Davey) didn't want to spoil that by fighting, while the other man (Eddie) seemed all too happy at the thought of a potential match down the line. Throw in Cornette as the shit-stirring promoter ala Dana White and this whole segment came off very similar to the Jones/Evans UFC feud. This had been planned for months though, so they weren't ripping the UFC off either. Good segment all around that lays down the seeds for the Edwards vs. Richards feud that we all know will be happening this summer.

SHIMMER Tag Team Title Match
Daizee Haze/Tomoka Nakagawa
© vs. Ayumi Kurihara/Hiroyo Matsumoto

This is the first time the SHIMMER Tag Team titles have been on the line at an ROH show I believe, and definitely the first time on iPPV. Both teams got into it yesterday after Kurihara and Matsumoto's match against Sara Del Rey and Serena Deeb. Kurihara and Matsumoto offer a handshake before the match but the heel champions won't have any of it. The great thing about matches like these in ROH? They actually have heat unlike most women's wrestling matches in other promotions. Matsumoto dominates Nakagawa to start for a bit until Haze comes in and they try the double-team, but Matsumoto hits them both with a cross-body block and gets the first near fall of the match. Kurihara tags in now and applies modified figure four until Haze runs in to break it up. Daizee tags in and Kurihara applies a nasty cross armbar over the top rope on her momentarily. Haze bails to the floor Kurihara climbs to the top rope to follow her out, but Nakagawa sprays water into her eyes and tosses her back inside. The heels team up on Kurihara some more but she won't stay down for three. Matsumoto tags in and cleans house on the champs, delivering a nasty back drop suplex to Nakagawa. They do a bizarre spot where Kurihara jumps on Matsumoto in a piggy back and both women hit tandem knee drops on Nakagawa while Haze is trying to choke Matsumoto out. Kurihara just absolutely destroys Nakagawa with stiff knees but she's still able to tag Daizee back in. Total chaos at this point with tag rules out the window. Haze gets dropped on her head with a pair of towering Saito suplexes but Nakagawa breaks it up at two. Daizee hits a heart punch (no, really) and a Yakuza kick on Matsumoto before her finishing her off with a Tiger Suplex at 7:40. Not quite as good as the previous night's women's tag match, but still a fun and fast paced exhibition for all four women. ***

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs. Kenny King/Rhett Titus

These two teams have been feuding for months now and things have totally gotten out of control so this is the big grudge match to settle the feud. It's downright strange to see the Briscoes working heel here while King and Titus work face, when the roles would have been the exact opposite only 6 months ago. The Briscoes attack from behind to start and immediately all four men begin brawling around the ring. They make their way back into the ring eventually for the match to officially start but all four men won't abide by the tag rules so a second ref hits the ring and forces both teams apart much to the crowds chagrin. Jay eats a big lariat from King for a two count and both members of the All Night Express start double-teaming Jay. Mark tags in and lays in some stiff Buzz Sawyer-like forearms on Titus. Jay shoots Titus head-first into the ring post and he's split open. Titus gets isolated for a bit by the Briscoes who trade frequent tags and seem to be genuinely enjoying beating Rhett's ass. Jay uncovers the time keeper's table at ringside while Mark hits a slingshot double-stomp on Rhett for another two count. Rhett's playing the babyface in peril very well here, and a few "Rhett!" chants even break out sporadically. No, seriously, they're chanting for Rhett Titus. That's an accomplishment in and of itself. Rhett slams his knees down on Mark from the top rope and gets the hot tag to King for a nice pop. King is all fired up, hitting kicks and clotheslines before delivering a cradle-leg suplex on Jay for a two count. They fight to the apron and Titus gives Jay a huge Sex Factor off the apron through the time keeper's table! King and Titus double team Mark for a bit until Jay recovers and nearly takes Rhett's head off with a lariat before spraying an entire mouth full of blood into the air like it was red mist. That's got to be one of the craziest and coolest things I've ever seen. Jay is just POURING blood at this point as you'd guess. Rhett drops Mark right on his head on the top turnbuckle and then turns his attention to Jay as both men have a stand-off with each of them completely covered in their own blood. Kevin Kelly compares the scene to a Quentin Tarantino movie and the fans are as hot as they've been at any point during this weekend of shows. Slingshot neckbreaker from King on Jay gets a close near fall but Jay gets right up and hits the Jay Driller on King for the win at 16:03! This was an all out war between these two teams and was everything you could ask for in a blow-off grudge match, and then some. King and Titus probably could have used the win more, but that's a minor gripe with a great match. ****

After the match Jay, who looks straight out of a horror movie, calls Titus a bitch and challenges Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas for a title shot.

El Generico vs. Roderick Strong

Nice to see Generico back on the upper part of the card again. It'll be interesting to see where they go with Roddy now that he's no longer the champ, and the same goes for Generico now that the Steen feud has been over for a few months. Both men trade holds to start off, taking their time and feeling each other out. The crowd is still trying to catch their breath from the last match, but they start getting into it after a few minutes, rallying behind Generico while Strong works a chinlock. The fight out to the floor and Strong uses Truth Martini as a battering ram on Generico. Back inside Generico hits a Blue Thunder bomb for a close two count. He tries a modified Michinoku driver next but Strong again gets the shoulder up. Roddy fires back with one of his many backbreaker variations. He nails Generico with a jumping knee to the temple which gets him two. They trade forearms and Generico spits right in Strong's face, so Roddy spits right back. You shouldn't play ookie mouth at a time like this guys. Generico hits a gigantic tornado DDT that sends Strong out to the floor, but Truth Martini sweeps Generico's legs out from under him before he can attempt a tope. Martini gets into the ring and mocks Generico but gets accidentally low-bridged by Roddy, who joins him a moment later as Generico gets a running start and delivers a huge somersault senton to the floor, wiping everyone out. An overhead half-nelson suplex gets Generico a close two back inside the ring. Generico tries for a superplex but Michael Elgin makes the run-in and breaks it up. Generico quickly disposes of Elgin though and nails Strong with the brainbuster to pick up the win at 16:12. A fun match that just flew by in no time, even with the attempted interference by the House of Truth. Good stuff. ***¼

After the match the House of Truth beat down Generico until Colt Cabana tries to intervene unsuccessfully. Christopher Daniels hits the ring next to seemingly make the save, but instead he nails El Generico with the Book of Truth! I knew I smelled a heel turn for Daniels soon, but I wasn't expecting it to happen so fast. The fans even chant "Fuck You Daniels" after having cheered for him earlier in the night. Daniels raises his arm with Strong, Truth, and Elgin, seemingly haven joined the House of Truth. Nicely done heel turn, but I have one problem with how it was executed: Daniels just wrestled Elgin earlier in the night, which doesn't make very much sense if they were in cahoots all along. Nevertheless, ROH needed another top-level heel and they just got one.

Davey Richards/Eddie Edwards vs. Shelton Benjamin/Charlie Haas

This is being billed as one of if not the last time Richards and Edwards will team up together, but somehow I doubt that. Crowd is split even in fan support here. Davey and Charlie start us off with some feeling out stuff until Davey tags Eddie and Charlie tags Shelton in. Kind of slow start here as all four men trade holds for a bit. Davey locks in the Muta lock on Haas briefly but he gets the rope break. The Wolves begin targeting Charlie's arm, trading quick tags and attempting to isolate him from Shelton. Eventually he gets the tag to Benjamin though and Shelton rams Davey chest-first into the turnbuckle Bret Hart style. A delayed gourdbuster gets Shelton a two count and he tags Haas back in rather quickly. Strange, Haas wasn't on the apron for very long after taking that extended beating. Shelton locks in a half Boston crab on Davey but Eddie breaks it up. Haas tags in and Davey hits a neat handspring spin kick on him that sends him out to the floor. Shelton gets tossed out as well and both of the Wolves hit tandem tope suicidas on the tag champs! Back inside Eddie gets a two count off a snap suplex on Haas. They both trade shots on the ground until Charlie gets the tag to Shelton. He nails Eddie with a spin kick but Edwards gets the shoulder up at two. Eddie hits a lung blower on Haas though and gets the hot tag to Davey. Richards cleans house quickly and then superplexes Haas for a near fall. Davey rolls through a cradle attempt into the ankle lock on Haas, but Charlie quickly fights it off. Davey reverses a Samoan drop attempt from Shelton into a crucifix for another near fall and then begins laying in kicks on Benjamin in the corner. The Wolves hit a pair of tandem enziguris on Haas and Shelton. Shelton tries to fight both of the Wolves off but to no avail. Haas and Benjamin hit a pair of tandem double German suplexes, but then the Wolves counter and hit a pair of tandem double Germans of their own as well! They do the exact same sequence again, trading more German suplexes than I've ever seen in such a short span of time before all four men wipe each other out with big simultaneous lariats and get a standing ovation from the crowd for the crazy sequence they just saw. Davey eats a nasty superkick from Shelton and just crumbles like a wet paper bag. The Wolves hit a powerbomb-lungblower combo but somehow Shelton kicks out, only to have the ankle lock applied by Davey while Eddie slaps the Achilles lock on Haas! Shelton kicks Davey right into Eddie though and Edwards flies out of the ring, allowing Shelton to give Davey the Pay Dirt for the pin at 32:00! Yet another great tag match on this weekend of shows, this started out pretty slow but the last ten minutes or so was great and the finish was booked perfectly, planting more seeds for dissension between Davey and Eddie in preparation of their eventual feud. ***¾

After the match Haas and Benjamin shake hands with the Wolves and take their leave. Davey offers his hand to Eddie, but Eddie refuses to shake his hand and just walks off, leaving Davey alone in the ring to close out the show.

Bottom Line: Another winner from Ring of Honor on Wrestlemania weekend, the fact that this was such a great show and still wasn't as good as the show the night before speaks volumes about how hard everyone worked for these two iPPVs. Even more crazy tag team goodness on this show, a blow-off grudge match turned bloodbath, and the seeds have officially been planted for the Eddie Edwards vs. Davey Richards feud that everyone knows is coming. Another easy Thumbs Up.

Score: 8.5/10

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