Inside Pulse 12

A2Z Analysiz: ROH/NJPW Global Wars (Adam Cole, Kevin Steen)

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Ted Reeve Arena – Toronto, ON – Saturday, May 10, 2014

Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are on commentary.

MATCH #1: Michael Bennett vs. ACH

Bennett has his left knee bandaged up so ACH targets it in the early going. ACH keeps Bennett on the mat and works the leg, which is a different strategy for the usual high-flyer. He sends Bennett to the floor and follows him out. ACH almost hits Maria accidentally, and that allows Bennett to hit a spinebuster right on the floor. Back in the ring Bennett covers for two. Bennett focuses on the back, keeping ACH down and away from Bennett’s injured knee. In a great moment, Bennett mocks ACH even at the expense of his own injury. That’s a heel folks. Unfortunately for Bennett that allows ACH to resume control and really zero in on the leg. ACH hits a nice double stomp right to the knee and goes for a cover, but Maria gets up on the apron to stop the count. That angers ACH, who confronts Maria on the apron. Bennett goes to the apron as well and lands a nice superkick. He lines up for a Spear and ACH avoids it, so Bennett takes out his own fiancée! Bennett is distraught and that allows ACH to wipe him out with a dive. Back to the ring ACH goes up top but can’t connect on the 450. Bennett drills ACH with a Spear for a near-fall. ACH counters Bennett’s next attack with a kick to the head. He goes back up top and this time Bennett shoves the referee into the ropes to knock ACH down. That puts ACH in perfect position for Bennett to bring him down with a Dominator to get the pin at 7:53. That was a good choice for an opener, and both men wrestled a smart match.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #2: Michael Elgin vs. Takaaki Watanabe

Both men show off their power in the early going, and Watanabe surprisingly is able to keep pace with one of ROH’s top guys. Elgin scores the first near-fall off a powerslam. He follows with the extremely delayed vertical suplex. Elgin keeps Watanabe grounded and wears him down with his strength. Watanabe tries to fight back but Elgin catches him with an STJoe. Elgin goes up top and misses the senton. Watanabe unleashes a flurry of strikes but Elgin puts a stop to that with an enziguiri. Elgin goes to the second rope and hits a Codebreaker. Watanabe fires back with a forearm and a Saito Suplex for two. Elgin delivers a rolling elbow to the back of the head, and then hits the deadlift German Suplex for a two-count. Watanabe rolls to the apron and Elgin goes for the superplex but Watanabe fights it off. He hits a backstabber and goes up top, but jumps right into a spinning back fist. Elgin hits the Buckle Bomb and the Elgin Bomb to get the pin at 6:48. Watanabe looked good here, but not too good since Elgin has a shot at the IWGP Title next week. I wouldn’t mind seeing them go longer.
Rating: **½

MATCH #3: Three-Way Tag Team Match – BJ Whitmer & Jimmy Jacobs vs. reDRagon vs. The Briscoes

Jacobs and Whitmer have TaDarius Thomas in their corner. All three of three of these teams are former ROH Tag Team Champions, with 12 reigns amongst them. Mark Briscoe and Kyle O’Reilly start the match. This one is likely to be chaotic. Mark is able to fight off both O’Reilly and Bobby Fish in the early going, and he makes the tag to his older brother Jay Briscoe. #DemBoys are in control in the opening minutes, sending reDRagon to the floor while the Decade watches on from the apron. Fish tags Whitmer, who comes in to battle Jay. Momentum quickly changes back to the brothers from Sandy Fork. Jacobs has to interfere from the apron to give the Decade their first advantage. The Decade isolates on Jay for a bit until Fish tags himself in at Jacobs’ expense. Fish and O’Reilly continue to beat on Jay, keeping him away from his brother. Jay fights out and eventually makes the tag. Mark busts out his not funny Redneck Kung Fu and the referee loses control here. Everyone is coming in and out of the ring at will, trying to put somebody down for the count. The Decade is able to hit Fish with the All-Seeing Eye but Mark prevents a pin from even being attempted. Mark clotheslines Whitmer to the floor and then takes O’Reilly out with a dive. Jay press slams Jacobs into a Death Valley Driver, and then the Briscoes hit him the Doomsday Device to get the win at 7:53. That was all action the entire way through, and it was a great deal of fun to watch.
Rating: ***

MATCH #4: Roderick Strong vs. Cedric Alexander

Strong calls his opponent out and Alexander is more than happy to oblige. Alexander dumps Strong to the floor and wipes him out with a heat seeking missile. Back in the ring the momentum shifts back and forth until Strong is able to tie Alexander upside down in the ropes, which both wrenches Alexander’s knee and leaves him open to a bevy of strikes. Strong enjoys the advantage now, keeping Alexander grounded and wearing him down. After several minutes Alexander is able to land a beautiful spin kick to the head and both men are down. Back on their feet Alexander is a house afire, flying all over the ring. Alexander hits a Michinoku Driver for a near-fall. Strong is able to fight back with a backbreaker for two. Alexander almost gets a pin with a crucifix but Strong kicks out and cuts him off again. Strong puts Alexander up top and brings him down with a superplex for another two-count. He puts on the Stronghold and Alexander turns that into a cradle for two. Strong continues the assault and Alexander spits right in his face! Things get even more heated and strikes and exchanged. Alexander lands a couple of solid kicks to the head but he can’t quite put Strong away. He’s able to hit the Lumbar Check but Strong is too close to the ropes and it only gets a two-count. Both men struggle to their feet. Strong hits a knee strike and goes to follow up but Alexander gets an inside cradle for the pin at 14:20! These two work well together and the story of Alexander having to overcome the ROH veteran is a solid one. Oftentimes rollup finishes feel a little cheap, but this one works in the context of the story, as it gives reason for another match, and also with its placement on the card it didn’t have to be a spectacular, definitive finish. Good stuff here.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #5: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Championship Three-Way Tag Team Match – The Young Bucks vs. Forever Hooligans vs. Time Splitters

Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson have been the Champions since 11.9.13, and this is their fifth defense. They are also the current ROH World Tag Team Champions, but those belts are not on the line here. The action is going to be hard to follow in this one. Matt and Alex Shelley start the match with some chain wrestling. Several tags are made in the opening minutes, as all three teams try to set the pace. KUSHIDA and Rocky Romero are the last two to get in the ring and they battle back and forth. The Time Splitters gain the first sustained advantage, isolating Romero in their third of the ring. Romero and Alex Koslov are able to absorb the abuse and come out on top, leading to Koslov doing his little Russian Dance gimmick. Shelley finds himself on the wrong end of a Hooligan beat-down. The Bucks decide they’ve been waiting long enough and they insert themselves into the fray. Chaos ensues and the referee loses all control. KUSHIDA takes out just about everyone with a cross body block from the top rope. The Splitters then hit a simultaneous Frog Splash / Standing Moonsault for a near-fall on Matt. Romero and Koslov take the next flurry of offense but it doesn’t last too long before both teams start flying around right along with them. Shelley tries the Sliced Bread #2 on Matt but it gets countered to a spiked tombstone piledriver! The Hooligans break up the cover there. Romero gets super-kicked to the floor and Koslov tries a leap off the top rope and leaps into a pair of Superkicks. The Bucks then hit him with More Bang for Your Buck to get the win and retain at 12:21. Well that was exactly what one would expect from these six and that’s a good thing. All six men went all-out the entire time and everyone hit everything perfectly. Fine job here.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #6: Shinsuke Nakamura & Jado vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Jushin Liger

Jado and Nakamura are representing CHAOS. Nakamura is the current IWGP Intercontinental Champion, in his third reign. He starts the match with Tanahashi, and Corino compares their feud to Flair and Steamboat. I don’t know enough about NJPW to know if that’s accurate, but it’s high praise if it is. Nakamura takes the early advantage, and he works with Jado to keep Tanahashi on defense. Tanahashi is able to take Jado off his feet with a slap to the face, and Liger tags in. ROH fans LOVE Jushin Liger, who immediately sends both Jado and Nakamura to the floor. Liger brings Jado back in the ring and delivers a Palm Strike. He tries a super rana and Jado counters it up with a low blow. Jado and Nakamura isolate Liger and keep him away from his partner. Liger fights back and takes Jado out and then hits Nakamura with the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He makes the hot tag and Tanahashi is a house afire. Tanahashi flies all over the ring but can’t put Nakamura away. Nakamura fights back with strikes and suplexes, and he sets up for the Boma Ye but Tanahashi cuts it off with a dropkick. Jado tries in and traps Tanahashi in the Crossface while Nakamura keeps Liger at bay. Tanahashi gets to the ropes. CHAOS continues the hold the advantage until the referee loses control. Liger takes Nakamura out on the floor. Tanahashi hits Jado with the Sling Blade and the High Fly Flow to get the pin at 11:33. That was a fine tag team match that didn’t really deviate from the classic formula too much but it got the job done. Liger is old, man.
Rating: ***

MATCH #7: ROH World TV Championship Four Corner Survival Match – Jay Lethal vs. Matt Taven vs. Silas Young vs. Tommaso Ciampa

Lethal has been the Champion since 4.4.14, and this is his third defense. He’s accompanied by Truth Martini. Taven and Ciampa go after the Champion before the bell, and the referee immediately loses control. All four men brawl around ringside, and Ciampa starts throwing out running knees for everyone. Young suplexes Ciampa from the barricade down to the floor. Taven takes everyone out with a dive and then gets distracted by Martini. He heads back in the ring with Lethal and the other two quickly join, with the action continuing to come from all over the place. Lethal catches Ciampa with the Lethal Combination and the Champ is standing tall. Young quickly cuts him off with the Finlay Roll and the Pee Gee Waja Plunge but Taven breaks up the cover. When Young tries the Plunge on Taven it gets broken up by Ciampa, who then drills Taven with a knee strike for two. Ciampa hits Young with a super Air Raid Crash and Lethal breaks up that cover. All the offense is hard to keep up with and we wind up with Lethal and Taven alone in the ring. Taven hits the Angel’s Wings and goes up top but decides to first take Young and Ciampa out with a moonsault. Through some hackneyed shenanigans Taven gets his hands on Martini, and the distraction allows Lethal to hit the Lethal Injection to score the pin and retain the title at 7:27. The finish sucked, but the match was plenty of non-stop action leading up to that so it was at least entertaining until it got to the end.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #8: AJ Styles & Karl Anderson vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo

Styles is the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion (with he defeated Okada for), and Anderson is one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions. They represent the BULLET CLUB. Okada and Gedo are representing CHAOS. Michael Elgin joins Kelly and Corino on commentary. Styles and Okada will start the match. They exchange holds and Okada grounds Styles with a headlock. Styles fights back and delivers The Dropkick. Okada sends Styles to the floor and resumes control. Back in the ring Gedo tags in, and Styles is quickly able to tag Anderson. Gedo and Anderson go back and forth and Styles takes a cheap shot from the apron, allowing Anderson to hit a spinebuster. The BULLET CLUB duo isolates Gedo and wears him down in their half of the ring. After a few minutes Gedo is able to take Anderson down with a cross body block, and the hot tag is made. Okada comes in a house afire and he unleashes a flurry of offense on Anderson. “Machine Gun” is able to avoid the Rainmaker and he hits a neckbreaker. Styles gets the tag and he comes in with the springboard flying forearm. He sets up for the Styles Clash but Okada avoids it. Okada hits a nice dropkick and both men are down. Gedo tags in and drills Styles with a DDT for two. The referee loses control and there’s action all over the place. Okada and Anderson are fighting outside the ring while Gedo tries to put the IWGP Champion away. Styles catches Gedo with the Pele and Anderson follows with an Ace Crusher. As Anderson holds Okada back, Styles hits a nasty brainbuster and the Styles Clash to get the pin at 11:48. I love watching Styles heel it up, and he and Anderson make a very good team. They did a good job of building up tension between Styles and Okada without making Anderson and Gedo into afterthoughts. Things got pretty fun down the stretch too.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #9: ROH World Championship – Adam Cole vs. Kevin Steen

Cole has been the Champion since 9.20.13, and this is his tenth defense. Both men start slugging at each other right away. Steen takes a very early advantage, and Cole cuts him off with a dropkick to the leg. Looks like Cole’s strategy will be to target the leg. Cole sends Steen to the floor and tries to follow him out with a dive but Steen casually avoids him. Steen throws Cole around ringside and appears to be enjoying himself. Back in the ring Steen appears to have things well in hand, but the crafty Champion is able to superkick the knee and that’s enough to give Cole control. Cole focuses on Steen’s left leg, wearing him down and keeping him on the mat. Steen catches Cole with a DDT and that buys him a little time. Cole rolls to the floor and sweeps Steen’s legs so he can lock on the ring-post figure-four. Steen comes back with the apron powerbomb and both men are hurting. Back to their feet Steen hits another apron powerbomb, then a third, and then a fourth. They head back to the ring and Steen hits the Swanton for a near-fall. Steen tries a couple of his finishers but Cole counters to the Death Valley Neckbreaker for two. They fight up on the ropes and Steen brings Cole down with a super Fisherman Buster for a near-fall! Steen misses the Cannonball, and he can’t complete the Package Piledriver because his knee is too damaged. Cole capitalizes and cinches in the Figure-Four Leglock! Steen reverses the hold and Cole breaks free quickly. Steen hits the popup powerbomb for two and then puts on the Sharpshooter but he can’t keep the hold on thanks to his damaged knee. He hits the Sleeper Suplex for a near-fall. Michael Bennett comes out to interfere and Steen makes him pay with a Package Piledriver. Cole drills Steen with a superkick to the back of the head and then this a release German Suplex. He hits the Florida Key and Steen kicks out at two! Cole delivers a superkick and then tries the Panama Sunrise but Steen rolls through and puts on the Sharpshooter! The Champ reaches the ropes and rolls to the floor. Steen tries to grab Cole through the ropes but Cole drills him with an enziguiri. Cole goes up top and Steen shoves him down. Steen hits the corner brainbuster but Cole kicks out! Cole surprises Steen with an inside cradle for two. Steen tries the Package Piledriver and Cole slips out and delivers a devastating superkick to get the pin at 19:35. The superkick was a curious choice for finisher, especially after all the leg work, but it gets the job done. These two have always worked well together and this was no exception, with plenty of great moves and counters from both men.
Rating: ***¾

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