Rant of Honor 1.26.13 (Adam Cole v BJ Whitmer, Matt Hardy, Top Prospects)

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The Glimpse:

Jay Lethal and Kevin Steen will be allowed to come face to face tonight!  Adam Cole will defend his TV Title again BJ Whitmer and Matt Hardy is in action.  Truth Martini is on color commentary.

The Action:

In Ring Face to Face

Nigel McGuinness will allow Jay Lethal to face Kevin Steen face to face to settle their current situation.  Rhino enters with the rest of SCUM, solidifying his status with the group.  Lethal challenges for the ROH World Title and Corino answers for Kevin Steen – How dare he?!  Corino cracks mom and dad jokes to ignite Lethal, which could cost him his title shot.  Steen interjects to allow Lethal to continue.  Lethal tells Steen that he’s vile, disgusting and an egotist.  Lethal reminds us that Steen wants to “kill” Ring of Honor and Lethal says he’s the biggest believer in ROH.  Lethal says he needs Steen so he can become the ROH champion and Steen needs Lethal to face him so that he can finish off ROH.  Lethal is positive he can beat Steen – He’s fueled by his family, his hatred and his confidence.  Lethal says that until Steen beats him, he isn’t s–t.

Steen steps out to the apron to make some space and simply says “I accept”.  SCUM is left befuddled in the ring and Lethal grins.

Match 1:  Silas Young vs Adam Page, Top Prospect Tournament First Round

Winner: Silas Young via submission

Adam Page is in charge from the start and gets a near fall with a flying lariat, but Young turns it around with a Randy Orton middle rope DDT.  Back and forth action with some interesting combinations from Young until Page takes over by back body dropping him to the floor.  Page hits his apron shooting star press and gets the crowd behind him.  Page hits a top rope cross body and Young kicks out, surprisingly.  Young hits a Bubba Bomb and beats Page with the Stock Lock – A full nelson from a side position on the mat.

Charlie Haas in Ring

The Outlaw hops in the ring to the usual cold reception.  Haas talks trash about Ray Lewis and the crowd and is apparently pissed off that the corporate office told him he’s to be censored.  He flips the camera off to answer them.  Haas makes a good point – He beat BJ Whitmer by tossing him through a table and now Whitmer gets a TV Title shot.  Haas turns his attention to McGuinness who booked a tag team gauntlet match with Shelton Benjamin not available.  One of the ringside boys is cleaning streamers from the mat and Charlie takes exception to it, calling him into the ring.  He mocks the kid for being scrawny and names him “cheeseburger”.  Cheeseburger affirms that he’s a wrestler enrolled in the ROH dojo and Haas says he’s going to get his chance to wrestle tonight.  The always apt ROH crowd starts a “cheeseburger” chant as he sheds his shirt, happy to fight Haas.  The Outlaw gives Cheeseburger a belly to belly suplex clear across the ring and then wraps him up in the Haas of Pain.

Match 2:  Rhett Titus vs Matt Hardy

Winner:  Matt Hardy via pinfall

Typical match start for both men until Titus tries a plancha and misses, hurting his taped ribs on the floor.  Hardy continues to focus on the ribs and hits a bulldog for two.  Hardy tries a signature middle rope axe handle but gets a Titus dropkick in the gut.  Titus follows up with a corner dropkick and a sitout spinebuster for a near fall.  Ludicrously sloppy series of strikes and blocks ends in a Side Effect (which is the same as Mike Bennett’s Box Office Smash, so I expect we see a lot more TKOs out of him while Hardy is around).  Hardy wants a Twist of Fate but Titus reverses into a backslide for a desperation two count.  Titus baseball slides between Hardy’s legs on the apron and then pulls him down face first.  Hardy uses the ring to further attack the injured ribs and drops Titus on the floor with a front slam.  Back into the ring, Hardy hits a Twist of Fate for the win.

Match 3:  BJ Whitmer vs Adam Cole (c), ROH TV Championship

Winner:  Adam Cole via pinfall

Early in the match, Kevin Kelly informs us that Matt Hardy has sat himself at the commentary booth, so like Haas, he may have a vested interest in the TV Title.  While the men in the ring do their thing, Hardy runs Cole down as a guy who will be “a great middle of the card guy…but not a global brand…”.

Back to the actual action, Cole tries a top rope splash but comes up empty as Whitmer dodges and ROH goes to commercial.  Back in, Whitmer is still in charge as the men start to throw stiff strikes at one another.  Cole blocks a rear waist lock with an enzuigiri and a shining wizard, which is the first thing Caleb Seltzer mentions in this match, albeit softly.  Whitmer kicks out and lands a knee in the corner, then his snap suplex -> northern lights suplex combo for another near fall.  Whitmer follows up with a swinging fisherman’s suplex to a standard fisherman’s suplex for two.  Cole hits a diving cross body after striking back to continue the string of near falls while Hardy says he’s above everyone in Ring of Honor.  Cole runs into an exploder suplex and Whitmer puts the TV Champ on the top rope for a superplex, but Whitmer sells his own head and neck, following on from Final Battle’s table spot.  Cole is first to his feet, but the ref waves him off.  Whitmer slaps Cole and says not to stop – Cole delivers a super kick, a German suplex and a brainbuster onto his knee for an incredibly close two.  Close enough in fact, that they ring the bell.  Cole sets up for the Florida Key and picks up the win.

The Reaction:

A bit wordy, but strong opening promo with the World Champ and his current rival.  Lethal seemed to be heading down the road of being intense and working for himself, but he’s right back to a pro-ROH babyface.  And that’s not a bad thing – ROH needed a guy to fight on its behalf against Steen and SCUM who want to tear it down.  Good stuff.

Adam Page, who I’m far more familiar with thanks to Evolve Wrestling, is definitely an up and comer.  He’s incredibly solid in the ring and just screams “I’m a babyface, cheer for me!”.  Silas Young, who is a bit older and has a bit more of an old school look is a great foil for Page in this match.  Young picking up the win was a legitimate surprise to me – I assume that Page has a contract with Evolve/DGUSA, because if you want to talk about a top prospect in a young wrestler, he’s that.

The ROH crowd was right behind Cheeseburger…until he got tossed 10 feet in the air.  With the name drops and the lack of a tag partner, this may lead to Haas in a hunt for the TV title and a potential three way dance with Whitmer and Adam Cole.  That would be an interesting set of dynamics to see all together.

Geez.  Matt looks completely gassed throughout most of the match and the striking series in the middle of the ring was the work of beginners.  As he got his legs swept on the apron by Titus near the end of the match, he looked like he somehow fell in slow motion.  As a guy that always liked Matt better than Jeff back in the Hardy Boyz days, this isn’t exactly thrilling me.  It also doesn’t bode well that it took some desperation offense to beat a quite-injured Rhett Titus.

So Matt can talk without getting winded, at least.  Good action back and forth, but the ending smacked of a Davey Richards match.  Hardy continues to sell himself as the greatest thing on the planet and everyone else being below him.  The last image we see is Hardy staring Cole down – We’ll likely see them fight for this title.  Whether Haas and Whitmer are involved will stand to be seen.

The Rant:

This one is truncated, kids.  Life gets in the way occasionally, but we’ll be back shortly with ON TIME, revamped reviews for you.

In the interest of getting results up to date, this week is cut a tad short, but moving forward, the Rant of Honor will be revamped to an easier to read (and write!) Review of Honor.

The Preview:

Next week – Tag Team Gauntlet match for a Tag Team Title shot:  SCUM vs American Wolves vs Fish/O’Reilly vs The Bravados!

The Shill:

As always, if you like what you read here, let me know in the comments or on twitter @sbfantom.  I sincerely would like to hear what people think and strike up some conversation!

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Here to bring you Roundtable contributions for Raw, NXT and Ring of Honor where appropriate. Covering ROH and NJPW major events, be they live or PPV. Avid Smash Bros fan and player. Come find me @sbfantom on Twitter and join in on the fun.