A2Z Analysiz: ROH Gateway to Honor (American Wolves, All Night Express)

Collinsville, Illinois – November 6, 2011

Dave Prazak and Kevin Kelly are on commentary. I was at this venue in March of 2009 for Stylin’ & Profilin’ and it’s probably the nicest venue I’ve seen Ring of Honor at. But I’m still partial to the Frontier Fieldhouse for all the memories, particularly Brad Garoon and I being part of the original Age of The Fall at Man Up! in September of 2007.

MATCH #1: Tommaso Ciampa with The Embassy vs. Andy “Right Leg” Ridge

The Embassy is in full force tonight, with Prince Nana, Mia Yim, R.D. Evans, and Ernesto Osiris accompanying Ciampa to the ring. Ciampa was originally slated to face Delirious, but for some reason that’s not happening and we get Ridge as a replacement. Oh, goody. Ciampa immediately grabs Ridge in a release German Suplex before the bell rings. He unloads on the hapless Ridge in the early going, not giving him room to breathe. These two were in the ring together as part of the Double Danger Scramble (they should do that again) at Revolution: Canada in Toronto. They take it to the floor and Ridge is able to land a couple of solid kicks and whip Ciampa into the barricade. Back in the ring Ciampa resumes control. Ridge shows some fight but Ciampa overpowers him. Once again Ridge hits some more kicks, so Mia gets on the apron to distract the referee, allowing Nana to sneak into the ring. But before Nana can do anything, Delirious runs out to make the save. Delirious kisses Mia and chases Nana, Evans, and Osiris to the back. Ridge hits a springboard Ace Crusher for two. He goes for a rana but Ciampa catches him and hits Project Ciampa for the pin at 6:26. I actually like Ciampa, and that was an effective opener. Ciampa’s undefeated streak continues.
Rating: **½

MATCH #2: Special Challenge Match – Jay Briscoe vs. TJ Perkins

The crowd is heavily behind Jay, despite his heel status. This is a brawler versus grappler match, and I like the prospects of it. They go back and forth a bit early on and Perkins gets the better of it so Jay takes a powder. Back in the ring Jay kicks Perkins square in the face and takes control. Perkins fires back with his unique offense as the crowd chants “Man Up.” The former Puma hits a neckbreaker, but then runs into an STO into the middle turnbuckle. They trade kicks but it looks like Jay’s is more powerful as he gets a two-count. Perkins is able to catch Jay with a sitout powerbomb from a unique position for a near-fall. Jay fights back with a spinebuster. He goes for a Death Valley Driver but Perkins counters to a release German Suplex and a superkick. Jay shrugs it off and hits a big boot and the Jay Driller to get the pin at 8:44. This was fun to a point but the no-selling was pretty rampant, especially at the finish.
Rating: **¼

MATCH #3: The Bravados vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Steve Corino

Corino and Harlem start the match. This is the first time Jacobs and Corino have teamed together in Ring of Honor. Corino gets the advantage so Harlem tags his brother Lancelot, and Corino responds by tagging Jacobs. Lance uses a Sleeper and Jacobs immediately “falls asleep.” The crafty Jacobs uses the satellite headscissors to send Lance to the floor. The Bravados try to pull the old switcheroo, but referee Todd Sinclair is wise to their schemes. Jacobs and Corino involve Sinclair in their offense, which the crowd always approves of. In fact, the crowd chants Sinclair’s name, which I think may be a first. The Bravados use some questionable tactics to take control, working Jacobs over in their half of the ring. Jacobs blasts Harlem with a clothesline and makes the tag to Corino, who handles both Harlem and Lancelot. Corino and Jacobs execute simultaneous Thumb in the Bums, which is the move I hate more than just about any other. The Bravados recover from the humiliation of that move, but Jacobs drills Lance with a Spear to take him out. Jacobs then hits Harlem with the Contra Code and Corino follows with the Eternal Dream to get the win at 8:47. That was solid tag team action, despite the thumbs.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #4: Michael Elgin with Truth Martini vs. Grizzly Redwood

Redwood is game, but Elgin overpowers him right from the start. He uses Elgin’s momentum against him, sending him to the floor, but when he tries a dive Elgin catches him and hurls him violently into the guardrail. Back in the ring Elgin goes to work, using his power to keep Redwood on the mat. They go back and forth like that for a bit, with the plucky lumberjack doing everything he can to stymie Elgin’s power. Redwood goes up top but gets caught with a Black Hole Slam for a two-count. Elgin locks on a Samoan Crab and Redwood taps out at 7:36. I’m beyond over the Redwood character, and outside of getting squashed I just don’t see much of a use for him.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #5: World Tag Team Title Match – Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas) vs. Future Shock (Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly)

Benjamin and Haas have been the champions since 4.1.11, and this is their fifth defense. Future Shock earned this shot by defeating Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander and the Bravado Brothers at Tag Team Turmoil 2011 on July 8 in Richmond. Cole and Haas start the match and take it right down to the mat. After a couple of minutes tags are made and Benjamin and O’Reilly also wrestle on the mat. Benjamin is coming in to this match injured, and Haas is showing visible concern for his partner. Cole and O’Reilly wisely focus on Benjamin’s injured ribs. Benjamin is able to come back and hit O’Reilly with a hard clothesline. Haas tags in and he goes to work on O’Reilly. Benjamin recovers enough to join his partner in the attack. After several minutes Cole gets the hot tag and he’s a house afire. Cole hits Benjamin with a missile dropkick for two. The referee loses control a bit and the challengers lock the champions in simultaneous guillotine chokes but Benjamin and Haas free themselves. All four men continue to stay in the ring as the crowd chants “this is awesome.” The champs get rid of Cole but then blow a double-spinebuster on O’Reilly and the crowd lets them hear it. Haas then locks O’Reilly in the Haas of Pain and he taps out immediately at 19:31. That ran a little long and the finish took a little wind out of the sails but it was pretty solid aside from that. Haas puts on his stupid little hat before cutting a self-congratulatory promo. Who does he think he is, Davey Richards?
Rating: ***

MATCH #6: Women of Honor – Mia Yim with The Embassy vs. MsChif

This is MsChif’s first appearance since the 9th Anniversary Show in February. MsChif takes the early advantage as Mia looks nervous. Even so Mia is able to come back with a series of kicks. Unfortunately for Mia all of her offense looks stilted and awkward. MsChif comes back and hits a Tree Slam for two. Mia fights back and hits a release German Suplex and a running kick to the chest for two. She hits a bodyslam and goes for the Sky Twister Press but misses. MsChif then hits the Desecrator to get the win at 4:44. That wasn’t very good. And no disrespect meant to the wrestlers, but until ROH actually brings in women’s wrestler and does something with the division these matches are pointless.
Rating: *

MATCH #7: Proving Ground Match – World TV Champion Jay Lethal vs. Mark Briscoe

In the Proving Ground, if you last the time limit or beat the champion, you are entitled to a title shot within 60 days. Mark gets a quick schoolboy rollup right off the bat and nearly pins the champion. Lethal comes back and knocks Mark to the floor and wipes him out with a dive. Back in the ring Lethal keeps Mark on the mat and wears him down. Mark comes back and crotches Lethal on the top rope to get a reprieve. He knocks Lethal to the floor and whips him into the guardrail. Back in the ring Mark goes to work. Lethal fights back with the handspring elbow and both men are down. Back on their feet they exchange blows and Lethal gets the better of it. Lethal hits a handspring Ace Crusher for a near-fall. I don’t know if I’ve seen that move before. Just like his brother Jay, the crowd supports Mark even though he’s a heel. Mark comes back with a Death Valley Driver, a running knee to the face in the corner and an exploder suplex for two. He sets Lethal up top but gets shoved down. Lethal tries another handspring but Mark catches him and goes for a Cutthroat Driver, but Lethal slips out and hits a superkick and an enziguiri. The champ follows up with the Lethal Combination and then hits the Top Rope Elbow Drop to survive the Proving Ground at 11:17. That was a solid showing for both guys, and they showed good chemistry together. I wouldn’t mind seeing Mark get a shot at the title.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #8: First Time Ever Singles Match – “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett vs. El Generico

These are the top two contenders to Jay Lethal’s TV Championship. Proof positive that Jim Cornette is out of touch with today’s wrestling product is his insistence on pushing Bennett rather than Generico. They go back and forth in the early going, both trying to control the pace. When Generico speeds it up Bennett takes a powder to regroup with his trainer Brutal Bob Evans. Back in the ring Generico maintains control, hitting a leg lariat for two. Bennett distracts the referee, allowing Brutal Bob to interfere and give his protégé the advantage. Back in the ring again Bennett takes control with his boring offense. Generico comes back and sends him to the floor, and then follows him out with a flip dive over the top rope. Back in the ring Generico hits a high cross body off the top rope for a two-count. The Generic Luchadore hits the Blue Thunder Driver for another two-count. Bennett fights back with a TKO for two. He follows up with a spinebuster for another two-count. Generico tries the Brainbuster but it gets blocked twice, so he hits the running Yakuza Kick and then the Brainbuster but Bennett is able to kick out. He sets up for another one but Evans grabs his legs to distract him. Bennett tries the Box Office Smash but Generico blocks it and hits another Brainbuster to get the win at 11:56. For a Bennett match it wasn’t too bad; Generico was more than game for trying to make him look good.
Rating: **¾

Evans gets in Generico’s face after the bell and receives a running Yakuza Kick for his troubles. Generico goes for the Brainbuster but Bennett breaks it up and hits the Box Office Smash.

MATCH #9: First Time Ever Dream Tag Team Match – The American Wolves (ROH World Champion Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards) vs. The All Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus)

Richards is also currently one half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions along with his old No Remorse Corps stable mate Rocky Romero. Edwards and King start the match. They quickly wrestle to standoff and their partners check on them. Speaking of the partners, they tag in and do some chain wrestling as well. Things quickly get heated as the ANX takes control of the Champ. The Wolves come back and knock Titus and King to the floor and then wipe them out with simultaneous dives. Back in the ring the Wolves take control on Titus. Richards has lines cut in the side of his head like I had when I was seven or so. Titus is able to drop Edwards face-first on the top turnbuckle and make the tag. King is a house afire, unleashing a flurry of offense on “Die Hard.” The ANX keeps Edwards isolated in their half of the ring. After several minutes of this, Edwards fires back on both King and Titus and is able to tag in the Champ. Richards comes flying in with a missile dropkick on both opponents and then starts throwing kicks. Dave Prazak says “plants him” way too often. Learn the names of the moves, man. King is able to send Richards to the floor and he’s able to take both Wolves out with a dive off the apron. That leaves Titus alone in the ring, but he doesn’t stay there long, also wiping out both Wolves with a somersault dive of his own. King and Richards get back in the ring and start trading strikes. Richards tries the Alarm Clock but King catches him and hits a cradle suplex for two. The referee loses control and all four men are flying all over the ring. Titus and Richards exchange strikes while Edwards and King do the same. Richards is able to trap King in a cross armbreaker while Edwards puts Titus in the Achilles Lock. The ANX both reverse to cradles but neither man can get the pin. I wonder who the referee was counting; I’ve lost track of who the legal men are. The Wolves hit King with the Big Bad Wolf Combo (I’m calling it that now) but only get two. A powerbomb/lungblower combination gets another two-count. Edwards traps King in the Achilles Lock but Titus breaks it up. Some miscommunication causes Richards go get knocked off the top rope and through the announce table on the floor. The ANX hits Edwards with the powerbomb/blockbuster combo but it only gets two. I bought that as a finish. Titus hits a Frog Splash and King lands a Shooting Star Press to finally get the win at 26:14. That’s a big win for Titus and King on their way to a tag team title shot at Glory By Honor X in a few weeks. The match may have been a little bit long but the action was good all the way through and the right team went over.
Rating: ***¾

Richards cuts a promo after the match, as usual. He puts over the All Night Express for beating two championship athletes like the Wolves. Edwards puts his two cents in as well.

BONUS – Davey Comes Home

This is an in-ring promo by the ROH World Champion Davey Richards. He’s glad to be back in St. Louis, which is sort of his home. He puts over the All Night Express, and promises victory tonight. The whole thing ran about three and a half minutes.

The Pulse: The main event is really good and most of the rest of the card is solid to good, so this is a bit of a sleeper show. I like the build for Ciampa and Elgin, plus Future Shock and the All Night Express looked really good. At two hours and 25 minutes this show is a breeze to get through and it’s fun. You can purchase it at the ROH Store.

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