The continuation of the ROH World Championship Tournament – Adam Cole vs Jay Lethal and Brian Kendrick vs Kevin Steen. Plus Roderick Strong takes on Matt Taven. I have to admit, knowing how all of these turn out does make the show a tad less interesting.
Show opens with a quick vignette and Nigel explaining BJ Whitmer’s neck injury at the hands of Michael Bennett – Whitmer will be missed for the time being, but Bennett was still on his feet, so he has advanced.
Match 1: Roderick Strong vs Matt Taven (ROH TV Champion), Ring of Honor World Title Tournament 1st Round
Winner: Roderick Strong via pinfall
Nigel preempts the match by pointing out that Scarlet Bordeaux doesn’t have a manager’s license and if she wants to stay ringside, she needs to sit in a chair by McGuinness and Kelly.
Taven tries an arm wrench, but Roddy reverses and grounds him, leading to a wrench of his own. Flips back and forth ends up in a Roddy chinlock. Taven grabs the ropes and forces a break. Taven bails to a corner and Roddy is tired of his crap, so he spits at him. Taven with a knee and a forearm to answer, but Roddy hits a dropkick off a couple of go-overs in the corner. Strong chops in the corner, then a pendulum back breaker for two. Strong puts Taven back in the corner for echoing chops. Taven reverses a whip and Truth Martini tries to trip Strong, but he shakes it off and kicks Taven in the face. Strong follows with a suplex for two. Roddy gets sent to the apron and Truth grabs his leg this time, letting Taven boot him to the floor…and into a commercial.
Taven ducks a clothesline as we return and hits an enziguiri for two. Taven with a sitout gordbuster as Truth and Scarlet are up to shenanigans with McGuinness. Taven tries a moonsault, but gets knees to the gut. Strong unleashes on Taven with a flurry and just when Taven fights back he gets back dropped, thrown to the floor and dropkicked in the face. Salezia runs interference and Truth bops Strong in the back with the Book of Truth. McGuinness has had enough and Taven mistimes a boot, hitting his manager. Strong takes Taven up in a rack and throws him to the apron for a backbreaker and a very near fall. Taven reverses a suplex and hits a spin kick to the head of Strong, but runs into a boot and an enziguiri in the corner. Taven answers with a rolling boot and Angels Wings, but Strong is out at two. Taven heads to the top but takes an enziguiri from Strong, followed by a superplex. Taven kicks out at two, right into a Stronghold. Taven manages to get the ropes and then pulls Strong into the ropes by his tights. Taven hits an elevated neckbreaker and a frog splash, but only gets two. Roddy reverses the Climax into a pair of backbreakers and the vertical suplex to double knees to beat him. Still not sure if he’s calling that End of Heartache or Strong Breaker. Either way, freakin LOVE that move.
Match 2: Brian Kendrick vs Kevin Steen, Ring of Honor World Title Tournament 1st Round
Winner: Kevin Steen via submission
Kendrick with a go behind and a headlock on the much larger Steen. Steen sends him to the ropes and Kendrick tries for a shoulder block and bounces off of him, with Steen saying “I don’t know about that”. Kendrick tries again with a similar result. Kendrick ducks a clothesline and hits forearms, then Steen reverses a whip but ends up in a victory roll. Another shoulder block and this time Kendrick goes down then eats a dropkick from Steen. Steen cheers and Kendrick runs away to the floor for some reason. Kendrick gets in and then bails right back to the floor. Steen gives chase and drops Kendrick face first on the apron, then tries the apron powerbomb, but Kendrick lands on the apron wrapped in streamers. Kendrick hits Sliced Bread on the ring frame and both men are on the floor.
Back into the action, Kendrick has Steen in a mounted sleeper. Steen powers up to his feet and backs Kendrick into the turnbuckles, but he won’t let go until Steen drops him on his back mid-ring. Strikes back and forth ends with a Steen clothesline and the pumphandle neckbreaker for two. Kendrick dodges an incoming Steen and hits a calf kick, then tries a fireman’s carry which doesn’t work. Kendrick settles for a chin breaker, but runs into a back elbow. Steen heads to the top rope, which allows Kendrick to scoop him and hit a DVD for two. Steen bails to the apron and Kendrick wants to suplex him back in – Steen resists and sunset flips his way into a Sharpshooter attempt that Kendrick boots out of. Steen delivers a slingshot and Kendrick lands on the middle rope and dives off for a tornado DDT, getting a two count. Steen puts the brakes on a Sliced Bread attempt and hits F-Cinq for two. Kendrick crawls away from a Package Piledriver and hits a superkick then gets Sliced Bread countered again, this time into a sleeper suplex and another two count. Steen wants a cannonball and Kendrick drags the ref in the way, then hits a low blow after he throws the ref away. Steen answers with a chokeslam and gets the cannonball this time, followed by a Sharpshooter. Kendrick immediately taps.
Match 3: Jay Lethal vs Adam Cole, Ring of Honor World Title Tournament 2nd Round
Winner: Adam Cole via pinfall
Coles rolls out of an arm wrench and gets a break from the ropes. Cole with a headlock and a takeover, then shoulder blocks Lethal down. Lethal dodges a leapfrog with a headlock takeover, then Cole answers with one of his own. Lethal corners Cole and hits chops, wanting another headlock takeover, but Cole blocks with a Majistral roll. Lethal sits down on it and Cole rolls him back over and then grabs another headlock takeover. Lethal tries to whip Cole off, but he holds tight. Cole flips out of a belly to back attempt and Lethal hits a hiptoss and a low dropkick. Lethal with a pendulum backbreaker and a one count, then another. Lethal throws Cole to the turnbuckle and delivers a chop. Quick back and forth and Lethal hits a belly to back for two. Lethal grabs a chinlock and Cole elbows out, blocking a super kick and hitting a leaping neckbreaker. Odd commercial break cut and an exchange of kicks puts Cole on the floor to eat a suicide dive from Lethal.
Both men roll in and stare each other down. Forearms back and forth until Lethal switches to rights and chops, but he runs into a fireman’s carry and a DVD onto Cole’s knee for a nearfall. Cole heads to the top rope but Lethal cuts him off and chops him. Lethal climbs up to meet him on the top floor and Cole fights him off, wanting and hitting a sunset flip powerbomb, then a shining wizard for two. Cole grabs Lethal, who knees his way out of a suplex attempt, then goes behind on the second one. Lethal Combination out of nowhere for two. Lethal points to the corner, wanting Hail to the King. Cole rolls to his feet and cuts him off then readies for a superplex, but Lethal resists. Lethal headbutts Cole to the mat and dives into a missile dropkick, but Cole swats him aside wanting the Figure Four. Lethal gets a small package instead for two then kicks Cole in the gut, calling for the Lethal Injection. Cole grabs the tights, but gets an elbow in the face, then superkicks Lethal out of midair on the Injection attempt and hits the brainbuster onto his own knee for two. Cole starts talking to himself “I’m number one” and picks up Lethal, who hits a jaw breaker and gets rolled up. Lethal blocks a super kick but eats an enziguiri, then delivers a super kick of his own. Cole ducks another kick and tries the Figure Four again, but eats another super kick. Lethal heads right to the top and hits Hail to the King, only getting two. Lethal can barely lift Cole, who sells being unable to get up, but surprises Lethal with a super kick. Lethal counters a Florida Key but gets a super kick to the back of the head and counters a second Florida Key attempt. Lethal hits the Injection but only gets a two count. Lethal puts Cole on the top rope, who sneaks under and super kicks Lethal’s leg out. Cole hits a German suplex from the top, then a low super kick and the Florida Key to pick up the win.
Good to see Strong overcomes the odds in decisive fashion. The important thing to note here is the announcers smartly putting over Taven fighting on his own (after Martini is removed from the equation) and saying he looks strong. The booking backs it up and although he ultimately loses to a former ROH Champion, he’s allowed to look competitive. Taven will absolutely have to make a clean break from Martini at some point to establish himself, since he absolutely comes off as a guy who can’t win without two or three people interfering on his behalf.
That was wonky. Kendrick seemed pretty sloppy – The strikes barely connected, the super kick was a lollipop and he practically opened the match with his finish on the apron. The low blow was pretty out of nowhere as well. I’m usually a fan of Steen matches, but this one was far from a “must-see”. Ultimately it seems like a wasted bracket spot on Kendrick, which is kind of a shame.
What’s a finishing move? Don’t ask these guys. Lethal’s finishers have been rendered completely worthless in professional wrestling – It always takes multiple Injections or Combinations to put a guy away and this booking is not doing him any favors. Cole and Lethal both have Young Buck Syndrome and throw super kicks like they’re forearms. This will never stop bothering me, as it’s one of the chief complaints most fans have of ROH and it’s getting increasingly difficult to defend them.
This tournament actually ends Friday night at Death Before Dishonor XI. So the explanation of the TV being significantly behind the night after is going to be another of those pitfalls of the ROH TV taping schedule.
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!
Tags: Adam Cole, brian kendrick, Jay Lethal, Kevin Steen, matt taven, Ring of Honor, Roderick Strong, ROH, scarlet bordeaux, Truth Martini