A2Z Analysiz: ROH Underground (Davey Richards, Kyle O’Reilly, House of Truth)

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Norfolk, Virginia – January 21, 2012

Eddie Edwards makes his way out, with Jim Cornette already in the ring. Cornette announces that due to a staph infection, Edwards will not be competing tonight. However, Edwards did want to say something. Edwards says he wishes he could wrestle tonight, and he thanks everyone for coming out.

Backstage – Veda Scott gets a word with Andy Ridge. “Right Leg” is frustrated that since the Trial Series a year ago his career has still gone nowhere. I would be mad too.

MATCH #1: Kenny King vs. Andy “Right Leg” Ridge

King dominates the early going as Ridge gets frustrated. Ridge perseveres and hits some of the kicks that he is known for. King takes a powder and Ridge follows him out to continue the fight. That proves to be a mistake though, as King takes control out there, dropping King face-first on the ring apron. Back in the ring King maintains control, hitting a leg lariat for a two-count. King continues to keep Ridge grounded and avoid getting kicked. He lands a big clothesline for two. A t-bone suplex gets another near-fall. King tries a slingshot splash but either misses or hits knees, it’s hard to tell. Ridge hits a running knee strike for two. He hits a superkick and the slingshot Ace Crusher for a near-fall. King fights back with a couple of kicks and then the shotgun knees. He follows up with the Coronation to get the win at 7:53. Ridge is still trying to figure himself out as a performer, and he has shown some improvement. King is on a roll and ready for a bigger push. This was a decent opener.
Rating: **¼

Backstage – Kenny King reflects on the match he just had. He really puts Ridge over, saying that he and everyone else has been sleeping on Ridge. He offers words of encouragement to the youngster.

MATCH #2: Mike Bennett vs. Grizzly Redwood

This is a rematch from ROH Revolution: USA last May. Bennett is rolling without his trainer Brutal Bob or his girlfriend Maria Kanellis. He cuts a promo before the match, since he was supposed to be facing Eddie Edwards tonight. Bennett says Edwards was afraid to face him. He then gives Redwood the chance to walk away rather than get beaten. Redwood of course declines and the match is underway.

As Bennett puts the microphone away, Redwood hides underneath the ring. That allows Redwood to sneak up behind him and get a schoolboy rollup for two. Redwood controls the early going with his unorthodox offense but can’t keep Bennett down. He does the mounted punches in the corner and Bennett takes him down with an inverted atomic drop. Bennett goes to work now, hitting a bodyslam. He goes to the top rope but Redwood knocks him down and crotches him on the top rope, and does the old Shawn Michaels spot with him. Redwood then runs directly into a big boot. Bennett goes back on offense but Redwood stays in it, locking on a Sleeper. Redwood continues on offense, even hitting a seated senton off the second rope for a two-count. He tries a cross body block but Bennett catches him and puts him up on the top rope. Redwood hits a headscissors to send Bennett’s face into the second turnbuckle. He tries another cross body block and this time Bennett catches him and hits a TKO to get the win at 5:03. That was what you would expect – nothing much.
Rating: *¾

Backstage – Veda Scott gets a quick word with Adam Cole, who is about to face Kevin Steen. Cole admits that he’s nervous to face Steen, but he’s also underestimated by his opponent tonight, and that gives him an advantage.

MATCH #3: Adam Cole vs. Kevin Steen

Steen eschews the handshake and takes the fight to Cole right away. Cole is ready for him though, and he brawls right back. He hits a dropkick that sends Steen to the floor and he takes the right to him there. Cole gets back in the ring and tries a baseball slide, but Steen blocks it and dumps Cole to the floor face-first. Steen then throws Cole’s ribs directly into the steel ring post. The fight continues outside the ring and Steen is fully in control. Back in the ring Steen kicks Cole in the face and covers for two. Steen continues to abuse Cole and act like a jerk about it. Cole fights back and hits a leaping DDT off the second rope. He follows up with an enziguiri, a superkick, and a shining wizard for a two-count. Cole charges into the corner and Steen backdrops him to the floor. From the floor Cole hits an enziguiri, but when he tries to follow with a slingshot maneuver Steen cuts him off and hits the Orton DDT. Steen hits the cannonball in the corner for a two-count. Cole comes back with a lungblower for two. He blasts Steen with two straight superkicks and then runs right into a hard powerbomb. Steen hits a huge Lariat and then the F-5 to get the pin at 10:05. These two worked well together in this brief match, and I would definitely like to see it again – and higher on the card.
Rating: ***

After the match Steen goes for the Package Piledriver but Eddie Edwards comes out to break it up. Jim Cornette also lumbers out for no particular reason.

Backstage – Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander promise that they’re winning the ROH World Tag Team Titles tonight. Alexander is pretty generic in promos, but Coleman has an odd charisma about him.

MATCH #4: ROH World Tag Team Championship Match – The Briscoes vs. Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander

The Briscoes have been the Champions since 12.23.11, and this is their second defense. The winners of this match will face the winners of tonight’s main event in a couple of weeks in Cincinnati. Mark and Coleman start it off. The Briscoes take early control but Coleman fights back with a dropkick on both brothers at the same time. Coleman hits a leg lariat on Jay in the corner and uses his momentum to take Mark out on the floor. That was pretty neat. Back in the ring the challengers take control. Unfortunately for them it doesn’t last too long and the Briscoes go right back on offense, this time working Alexander over in their half of the ring. Eventually the challengers come back and quicken the pace, flying all over in and out of the ring. The Briscoes cut Coleman off with a big boot / dragon suplex combination. Jay hits Coleman with a Falcon Arrow for two. Coleman makes a blind tag, allowing Alexander to take Jay down with a springboard flying clothesline. The referee loses control as all four men are in the ring. Coleman quickly sends Mark to the floor and the challengers double-team Jay but can’t put him away. Jay fights back, hitting Coleman with a spinebuster and Alexander with a big boot. The Briscoes then hit Alexander with the Doomsday Device to get the win at 10:03. There wasn’t much of a story to that match but the challengers brought a lot of energy and the Briscoes are fairly reliable these days.
Rating: **¾

Backstage – The Briscoes give their opponents racially charged nicknames while bragging about their victory. That’s #DemBoys for ya.

MATCH #5: Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Team A1

Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin make their way out for a promo. They run down the fans, talking about all the big venues they’ve wrestled, but now they’re stuck here. What does that tell you about them? They challenge any team from the back to come out and face them. A1 is comprised of Jeff Early and Zak Hilton. Jeff Early wrestled Steve Corino at Champions Challenge in Richmond on August 27, 2010, while this is Zak Hilton’s ROH debut.

Benjamin starts the match with Hilton, and this is an obvious mismatch from the get-go. Things go exactly as one might expect, and then Haas is tagged in to continue the abuse. Benjamin comes back in and he allows Hilton to make the tag. This squash match continues long after I thought it would be over. Team A1 gets a couple of double dropkicks in and WGTT get frustrated out on the floor. Hilton and Early make the mistake of going to the floor and they get kicked in the face for their troubles. Back in the ring Haas and Benjamin go back to work on Early. The match crosses the seven-minute mark, really. I don’t understand why this is happening. This is the longest squash match ever. Referee Paul Turner tries to stop WGTT from double-teaming one of the jobbers and Hass shoves him to the mat for the disqualification at 9:50. What did I do to deserve that?
Rating: ¼*

Haas and Benjamin continue the assault after the bell and bring in a steel chair. The Briscoes run out for the save (why do they care about the jobbers?) and clean house. Jim Cornette waddles down again. A referee actually wrestles a chair away from Mark Briscoe, which is preposterous. Everyone yells a lot.

Backstage – Jay Lethal cuts his usual adequate but slightly goofy promo about his Proving Ground match against the Embassy’s Tommaso Ciampa tonight.

MATCH #6: Proving Ground Match – Jay Lethal vs. Tommaso Ciampa

Ciampa is accompanied by Prince Nana, Barrister R.D. Evans, Ernesto Osiris, and Mia Yim. Lethal has been the TV Champion since 8.13.11, and has won Proving Ground matches against Mark Briscoe, TJ Perkins, and Adam Cole in that time. The champ gets the first advantage and sends Ciampa to the floor after the hiptoss / dropkick combination. Back in the ring they start chain wrestling and Lethal stays one step ahead. Lethal sends Ciampa to the floor again and follows him out with a house show dive. He pitches Ciampa back in the ring and then the Embassy interferes to give their man an unfair advantage. Ciampa abuses Lethal out on the floor, and then continues to do so back in the ring. He doesn’t really target a body part, but rather just generally works the body. Lethal tries a quick Lethal Injection but Ciampa blocks it with a dropkick for two. Moments later Lethal simply fires up and slugs Ciampa down in the corner. Ciampa cuts him off and hits the running knee strike in the corner. He follows with two more and Lethal pops up and hits a superkick. Both men are down. They get up and trade strikes as the crowd boos and yays alternately. Lethal unleashes a flurry of offense as the ring announcer notes that three minutes are left in the time limit. With time running down Lethal hits a handspring elbow, which is almost the Lethal Injection but not quite. That gets a two-count. Ciampa almost fights back but Lethal cuts him off with the Lethal Combination for another near-fall. Lethal goes up top for the Elbow Drop but Ciampa stops him and hits a super Schwein, which surprisingly only gets two. We’re down to one minute (though not by my clock) as Ciampa goes outside the ring to grab a chair. Nana stops him, not wanting him to get disqualified. Back in the ring Lethal starts knocking Embassy members off the apron, but has a kiss for Mia. That gives Ciampa the chance to hit Project Ciampa for the win at 15:20. Is it really that hard to time matches properly? The crowd was into this one but there wasn’t much of a cohesive story being told. Ciampa steals the belt on his way back to the locker room.
Rating: **½

MATCH #7: Davey Richards & Kyle O’Reilly vs. Roderick Strong & Michael Elgin with Truth Martini

The winners of this match will get a tag team title shot in less than four weeks when ROH makes its debut in Cincinnati. O’Reilly and Strong start the match. They chain wrestle to a standoff and Strong is already acting cocky. O’Reilly responds by going after the leg but Strong counters out of it. Richards and Elgin tag in and they try to intimidate each other. The champ lands a dropkick and Elgin responds right away with a back suplex, sending Richards to the floor. Back in the ring Richards tags O’Reilly, so Strong makes his way back in as well. They go back and forth again but this time O’Reilly gets aggressive and takes Strong down. Richards tags back in and puts on a Texas Cloverleaf. Elgin breaks that up. Strong comes back with a dropkick and makes the tag. Richards and Elgin trade pinning combinations but neither man can get a three-count. They take it to the mat and Richards tries a Cross Armbreaker, but Elgin powers his way out of it into a Buckle Bomb. It doesn’t take long for Richards to fight back and nail Elgin with the running kick from the apron. Strong and Elgin try to regroup on the floor and O’Reilly grazes them with a suicide dive. Back in the ring O’Reilly goes to work on Elgin, keeping him on the mat. They did some good stuff back at Survival of the Fittest 2011 and I’d like to see them have a straight up singles match. Elgin nails O’Reilly with an enziguiri and Strong comes in for the cover and gets two. They fight to the floor and Strong drops O’Reilly’s back across the ring frame. Ouch. Back in the ring that gets a two-count. The House of Truth isolates O’Reilly in their half of the ring. O’Reilly tries to fight back with kicks but Elgin cuts him right off with a spinebuster and then fights out of a triangle choke with a powerbomb. Elgin is strong, yo.

Strong and Elgin continue to abuse O’Reilly, keeping him away from the Wolf on the apron. Finally after several minutes the hot tag is made and the Champ is on fire. Richards hits a simultaneous missile dropkick and then unloads on Elgin with kicks. He hits the Alarm Clock for a two-count. Another kick o the head and a bridging German Suplex gets another two-count. Elgin comes back with the simultaneous fallaway slam and Samoan Drop. Corino thinks that move needs a name. So give it one, that’s what you’re getting paid for. Richards and Strong wind up in the ring and they fight back and forth intensely. Strong hits the gutbuster for two and then locks on the Stronghold. O’Reilly tries to break it up but Elgin cuts him off and O’Reilly counters to a guillotine choke. Meanwhile, Richards counters the Stronghold to the Ankle Lock! The HOT counter with rollups, but they only get two. Everyone gets up and strikes at someone else and then all four men are down. Back on their feet O’Reilly hits the rolling butterfly suplexes into a double-arm DDT for two. Elgin had tried to break it up but he hit Strong instead. O’Reilly kicks Elgin to the floor and Richards holds him for the flying dropkick off the ring apron. Back in the ring O’Reilly hits a missile dropkick on Strong for two. Richards hits Strong with the Alarm Clock. O’Reilly hits a superkick and a Regalplex for a near-fall. Elgin gets back in the ring and starts throwing Richards and O’Reilly around. He hits O’Reilly with a TKO and Strong kicks him in the chest for a two-count. Elgin and Richards take their fight to the floor while O’Reilly gets a small package for two. Strong fights back with a knee strike and then tries a suplex but O’Reilly reverses it to the guillotine choke. Martini gets in the ring to distract the referee and then tries to break the Choke. O’Reilly turns his attention to him, and then Strong grabs O’Reilly from behind. Martini tries to hit O’Reilly but he ducks and Strong gets hit instead! O’Reilly then cradles Strong to get the pin at 29:42. That was like a lot of Richards matches – good but long for the sake of long and followed with a promo.
Rating: ***¼

Backstage – The House of Truth is showing signs of dissension after their loss tonight. Strong seems the angriest of the three.

Elsewhere – Prince Nana and the Embassy celebrate their victory tonight, which earned Tommaso Ciampa a shot at Jay Lethal’s ROH World Television Championship.

The Pulse: I’m glad this one was packaged with another show that got stronger reviews. The main event is the highest rated match at 3.25 stars, which is unusual for a ROH show. Kevin Steen versus Adam Cole is good too, but other than that nothing really stuck out on the show. You can purchase it along with Rise & Prove at the ROH Shop.

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