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The Turner Hall Ballroom – Milwaukee, Wisconsin – January 19, 2013
Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness are on commentary, along with some help from Truth Martini.
MATCH #1: World TV Champion Adam Cole vs. Silas Young
This is a non-title match, and is also not a Proving Ground match for some reason. They start with some chain wrestling and both guys are cautious as they feel each other out in the early going. Cole strikes first with a nice dropkick for two. Young is able to knock Cole to the floor and he follows him out. He whips the TV Champion into the barricade. Back in the ring Young gets a two-count. Young continues the assault, focusing on the back. Cole pops out of the corner with a clothesline and follows with a flurry of offense. He hits a neckbreaker, an enziguiri, and a Shining Wizard for a near-fall. Cole hits a Death Valley Neckbreaker for a two-count. Young comes back with a move Kelly describes as “Up, Down!” The vaunted Up, Down only gets two. Cole hits the vertical suplex neckbreaker but only gets two when Young grabs the bottom rope. He goes for another Shining Wizard but Young avoids it and hits the backbreaker/clothesline combo for two. Young hits the Finlay Roll and goes for the Pee Gee Waja Plunge but Cole surprises him with a schoolboy rollup for two. The determined Young hits a superkick and goes for the Plunge again but Cole superkicks him. Cole hits the Florida Key for the win at 8:40. They could have gone longer, but they certainly made the most out of the time they had. Young continues to look great and Cole is on an incredible roll.
MATCH #2: Singles Action – Bobby Fish vs. TaDarius Thomas
Fish is accompanied by his tag team partner Kyle O’Reilly. Much like the opening match, these two take some time feeling each other out to begin with. Fish takes the first advantage, quieting the crowd and keeping Thomas on the ground. Thomas tries fighting back but Fish cuts him off and arrogantly works him over. Finally after several minutes Thomas lands a couple of his inventive kicks. Just as Thomas is beginning to build momentum, Truth Martini makes his way to ringside. Thomas hits Sling Blade for two. He tries a Tiger Suplex but Fish’s shoulders don’t stay on the mat so there’s no count. Thomas goes for a running knee in the corner but Fish moves and Thomas hits the post. Fish smells blood and goes after the leg. Thomas gets a couple of pinning combinations but Fish won’t stay down. After a series of reversals Fish puts on the Fish Hook for the win at 9:50. This was a solid little midcard match, though Fish seemed pretty dominant over a guy that was competitive with the ROH World Champion the night before.
MATCH #3: Grudge Match – Charlie Haas vs. Rhett Titus
Haas cuts standard heel promo 101 before the match. Titus gets tired of Haas’s words so he attacks him and they head to the floor. It’s all Titus in the early going, as he dominates “The Outlaw.” They go back to the floor and Haas reverses a whip into the post. Haas uses a chair and a piece of the barricade. Referee Brian Gorie is being pretty lenient with the rules here. Kelly and McGuinness surmise that Haas was UNDER the piece of barricade (he wasn’t), and therefore Haas wouldn’t be disqualified because he didn’t “technically” hit Titus with the chair. I’d say that ranks with the dumbest justifications I’ve ever heard out of a commentator’s mouth. Back in the ring Haas continues slowly going to work. Titus eventually fights back and the crowd sort of cares. Kelly says that Titus has “great agility flying skill” and describes a Sky-Hi Powerbomb as “oooh down hard.” The Sky-Hi gets a near-fall. Titus hits the Rocker Dropper for two. Nigel wonders what Titus is thinking about, “BJ, perhaps.” The commentary in this match rules. Haas hits the Angle Slam for two. He follows with the Uncle Slam for another two-count. Haas dumps Titus to the floor and Titus appeared to land awkwardly on his head. To capitalize on the head bump, Haas drops Titus back-first on the guardrail. Back in the ring Haas goes to hit Titus with a case of beer but Gorie takes it away from him. With Gorie’s back turned Titus hits Haas with a can of beer. Titus goes for a Frog Splash but Haas gets his knees up. That is enough to get the pin at 12:03. I know it’s just Rhett Titus, but seriously THAT was enough to get a pin? The match was brutally boring up to that point too.
MATCH #4: Six Man Tag Team War – S.C.U.M. (Steve Corino, Jimmy Jacobs & RHINO) vs. The Briscoe Brothers & Jay Lethal
S.C.U.M. is over in Milwaukee. Corino cuts a long promo that I don’t find important enough to recap. The Briscoes are the current ROH World Tag Team Champions. Lethal leads the way and this one turns into a brawl right away. The Briscoes take Jacobs and RHINO to the floor while Lethal battles Corino in the ring. Other referees come out to try and restore order. Lethal takes Corino out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring Lethal continues working Corino over. Lethal and the Briscoes isolate Corino and really wear him down. Jacobs and RHINO interfere to allow Corino to hit Jay with the Colby Shock. RHINO tags in and S.C.U.M. works on Jay fo r a while. Lethal gets a tag and he’s a house afire. He hits the Lethal Combination for two and tries the Lethal Injection but Jacobs blocks it. S.C.U.M. cheats to reclaim the advantage. RHINO gets caught with a handspring elbow from Lethal and both men are down. Mark gets a hot tag and he’s a redneck afire. He uses the Redneck Kung Fu. The match turns into a pier-six brawl and the good guys are in control. Lethal and the Briscoes dump Jacobs and Corino to the floor and focus on RHINO. Lethal hits Hail to the King and Mark follows with the Froggy ‘Bow. Mark covers but Jacobs and Corino break it up. Now Jacobs is left alone in the ring with the Tag Champs. The Briscoes go for the Doomsday Device but Jacobs avoids it. Mark takes Jacobs out and celebrates. RHINO hits an unsuspecting Mark with the GORE to get the pin at 12:08. That was good chaotic fun and a smart way to continue the S.C.U.M. versus ROH feud. RHINO looking like a beast is good for everyone.
MATCH #5: Special Challenge Match – Matt Hardy vs. BJ Whitmer
ROH World TV Champion Adam Cole joins the commentary team. Hardy cuts a promo before the bell, saying he should be the TV Champ since he beat Cole at Final Battle 2012. He promises to beat Whitmer tonight with the Twist of Fate. Whitmer replies by asserting his toughness. Whitmer starts the match fired up and sends Hardy to the floor. He teases a dive but Hardy sneaks away. Back in the ring Whitmer hits a leg lariat and Hardy goes back to the floor, but this time Whitmer lands the suicide dive. Back in the ring Whitmer tries to follow up but Hardy cuts him off and hits the elbow to the back of the neck off the second rope. Whitmer is coming into this match with an injured neck so that’s good strategy. Hardy hits a DDT for two. He continues to focus on the neck but Whitmer keeps fighting. Both men clothesline each other and they are down. They rise to their feet and Whitmer is the aggressor. Whitmer hits two clotheslines and a spinebuster for a two-count. He continues the assault but Hardy comes back with the Side Effect for two. The crowd chants “same old shit.” Hardy goes for the elbow again but Whitmer avoids it and hits a Fisherman Suplex for two. For some reason Whitmer gets into an argument with the referee and Hardy grabs him in a back suplex. Hardy hits the Twist of Fate but Whitmer kicks out at one! Hardy goes for another one but Whitmer counters with a schoolboy rollup for two! The tenacious Hardy hits another Twist of Fate and Whitmer kicks out at two. Hardy has no finishers left in Ring of Honor. He locks on a guillotine choke and Whitmer refuses to quit. Whitmer’s tag team partner Rhett Titus comes down to ringside and throws in the towel, giving Hardy the win at 12:20. Knowing what we know now about S.C.U.M. this is a fine finish and it makes sense, but on its own at the time it’s a crock. The match was pretty dull and the commentators just HAMMERED home how tough Whitmer is. I know Whitmer is tough, I’ve been watching ROH for 10 years. Stop telling me how tough he is and just let him show it himself, he’s fully capable.
Adam Cole Confronts Matt Hardy
Hardy talks trash to ROH match maker Nigel McGuinness, saying that he should be the TV Champion since he pinned Adam Cole back at Final Battle 2012: Doomsday. Cole makes his way out and says he’ll defend the title against Hardy any time. Hardy tries to kick Cole in the gut but Cole blocks it and stomps Hardy down in the corner! Officials come out to pull Cole off, giving Hardy the chance to hit Cole with his own title belt. Hardy then leaves with the belt.
MATCH #6: Grudge Match – Davey Richards vs. Kyle O’Reilly
O’Reilly attacks Richards before he can even get in the ring. He puts on Richards’ silly little vest and whips Richards into the barricade. Bobby Fish joins Kelly on commentary. Richards reverses a whip and sends O’Reilly into the barricade. He goes to the apron and connects with the running kick. They make it to the ring to start the match proper.
Richards stomps away at his former protege and unleashes some kicks. He locks on a Texas Cloverleaf and O’Reilly reaches the ropes. The fight goes to the apron and O’Reilly hits a brainbuster! Richards barely makes it back into the ring before the countout and O’Reilly locks on a guillotine choke. That doesn’t get a submission but O’Reilly stays in control. O’Reilly uses a variety of strikes and submission holds to wear Richards down. Richards fights back and after a series of reversals he’s able to land a double stomp. O’Reilly rolls to the floor and Richards hits a precision suicide dive. Back in the ring Richards hits a missile dropkick. Richards follows with the handspring spin kick for a two-count. He hits a bridging German Suplex for another near-fall. They trade strikes and O’Reilly goes for the Regalplex but Richards counters to an Ankle Lock. O’Reilly escapes and they trade more strikes. Richards tries the Alarm Clock but O’Reilly counters into a Regalplex for a close near-fall. That was pretty wicked. They get back to their feet and trade forearm shots. Richards wins that battle by upgrading to kicks. O’Reilly responds in kind. Richards comes back with more kicks. Then they trade Back Drop Drivers and neither guy sells them. Nice job. Then they knock each other out with kicks to the head. Both men make it to their feet before the count of 10. They’re on the apron and they continue to slug it out. Richards starts a series of headbutts and O’Reilly plays the headbutt game too. O’Reilly gets Richards in position to hit a belly-to-back superplex but it only gets two! He locks on a guillotine choke and Richards turns it into a cradle for two. O’Reilly hits a big boot and a tornado DDT into a brainbuster for a near-fall. He then locks on another guillotine choke. Richards powers out of it and turns it into an Ankle Lock! O’Reilly counters with a cradle for two. Richards hits the Alarm Clock and a huge clothesline. He follows with a Tombstone Piledriver but only gets two! Richards goes up top and hits a double stomp but O’Reilly kicks out again! He lands a knockout kick and referee Paul Turner counts two but O’Reilly physically stops him from counting to three. If you have that kind of energy, you should just kick out. That’s a pretty stupid spot. Richards hits one more knockout kick to get the pin at 19:00. They didn’t seem to save much for a rematch there, as both guys went all out and busted out some wicked cool reversals. There were a few goofy spots as per usual in Davey matches, but for the most part these guys clicked and the crowd was going nuts most of the time. I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would.
MATCH #7: Defy or Deny Elimination Match – ROH World Champion Kevin Steen vs. Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards vs. Roderick Strong
If Elgin, Edwards, or Strong get the win on Steen, they will receive a title shot. If Steen wins, the man that he pins will not get another title shot as long as Steen is the Champion. Strong was in the first Defy or Deny match as Champion, and he beat Homicide, Jay Briscoe, and El Generico. He cuts a promo before the match and promises to beat everyone, which Elgin doesn’t take too kindly to so he attacks and away we go.
Everyone gets sent to the floor and Edwards hits all three of them with suicide dives. I hate “soaring and scoring” as one of Kelly’s catchphrases, by the way. The pace everyone is cutting here is rapid. Steen powerbombs Edwards on the edge of the ring frame and then hangs back to watch. Elgin and Strong wind up back in the ring first and Elgin is hammering away. He lifts Strong up for a full minute in a delayed vertical suplex. That’s just impressive, but it only gets a two-count. Steen rejoins the fray and hits Elgin with a clothesline and sends Strong to the floor. He hits Elgin with a DDT for two. Strong pulls Steen to the floor and goes back in the ring to take it to Elgin. Steen watches Strong and Elgin battle each other while Edwards is still out from the powerbomb. Every time Edwards tries to get in the ring someone knocks him back down to the floor. Elgin looks like he’s taken the most punishment so far. Steen and Strong talk about joining forces but Elgin fights them both off. Elgin hits the dead lift German Suplex on Steen. That’s just ridiculous. Steen goes to the apron and Edwards surprises him with a bodyslam onto the entrance ramp! Edwards and Strong join forces briefly and Strong is the first one to turn. The three-way battle continues as the Champion tries to recover on the floor. After several minutes of action Elgin hits Strong with the Buckle Bomb. Steen makes his way back in and Elgin hits the combination Samoan Drop / Fallaway Slam on Steen and Strong. Amazing. Edwards surprises Elgin with a double stomp off the top rope for a close near-fall. Steen comes back in and hits Elgin with a powerbomb and the F-Cinq but Elgin kicks out! Now Steen goes for the Package Piledriver but Elgin reverses it into a powerbomb! Strong catches Elgin with the End of Heartache for the first elimination at 15:52.
Strong drills Edwards with a knee and they take it to each other at a fast pace. Edwards hits the Chin Checker for two. Steen comes off the top rope with the Swanton on Edwards for a two-count. He tries to pin Strong as well but only gets two. Strong hits Steen with Death by Roderick and Edwards follows with a double stomp off the top rope to the back, but Strong only gets two on that cover. Strong and Edwards exchange absurdly hard chops. They try various ways to beat each other but they’re both too tough. Edwards puts on the Achilles Lock and adds kicks to the head. Steen accentuates it with a flipping legdrop and Strong is out. The referee declares Strong eliminated at 19:39. Steen hits Edwards with a low blow and the Package Piledriver but Edwards kicks out! HE tries the Swanton but Edwards gets his knees up. The fight spills to the apron and Steen hits a Package Piledriver! Obviously that’s enough to get the win at 21:18. This was much better paced than the previous Defy or Deny match, with action coming from all over the place and the elimination structure making sense and furthering feuds. Steen looks like a million bucks coming out of this.