Tonight it truly is “winner takes all”. Your main event is ROH World Champion Jay Briscoe defending in a four corners match against “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin, Tommaso Ciampa and Hanson. Before that however, you’ll see Jay Lethal defend the TV Title against Alberto El Patron, a triple threat tag match featuring The Addiction, The Bullet Club and The Kingdom, more tag action with reDRagon defending the ROH Tag Titles against the Young Bucks and ODB take on Maria Kanellis.
Meet us back here at 7:30 EST sharp for live ongoing coverage with match highlights, match results and immediate reactions!
So it seems like 7:30 is the pre-show. I can’t say I’m surprised, but they really should have made it clear that this was a pre-show and not actual action. Meet us here at 8 EST instead!
One thing I have to note heading in as the show starts, the lighting and presentation tonight looks excellent in HD.
Match 1: Cedric Alexander vs Matt Sydal
Winner: Matt Sydal via pinfall
The Action: Sydal is of course completely on point, but he hasn’t really brought anything new to the table since his re-debut in ROH aside from the shoulder kick counter to sweep to standing moonsault. Also, there is WAY too much of this kick out followed be “OMG NO WAY HOW COULD HE” reaction going on in wrestling in general. Nobody is surprised that a guy kicks out of not your finisher, Cedric. Now, Sydal kicking out of the Lumbar Check can warrant that. Soon after the Lumbar Check, Cedric comes flying in for a corner dropkick and whiffs, dropping himself into perfect position for a Shooting Star Press and a solid Sydal victory.
The Reaction: Perfect opener. A beloved veteran, a young wrestler who’s still working on his direction and it wasn’t a show stealer. They did everything they should have and showcased a bit of Cedric’s newfound aggression. This will allow him to move forward in ROH and elsewhere. Cedric and Sydal are both incredibly crisp in the ring and will always get a crowd pumped.
Match 2: Moose vs Mark Briscoe
Winner: Moose via pinfall
The Action: Moose puts Mark on the top rope and dropkicks him off. This wasn’t one of those “dropkick him in the chest” spots. He almost OVER jumped Briscoe’s head. What an athlete. A lot of floor work here – The giant swing into the barricade spot, then a fall away slam into the barricade soon after. The match thus far is a major Moose showcase. The pop up clothesline is an absolutely stupid spot. Mark returns the favor on the floor and hits a blockbuster off the apron followed by a Cactus Jack elbow. Mark flips out of a backdrop attempt but turns around into a Moose spear and that’s all she wrote. Veda is adamant that Moose not adhere to the Code of Honor which Moose doesn’t seem thrilled about. He’s either going to fall under her spell and go full heel or eventually push away from her and be a big powerful babyface.
The Reaction: Surprisingly clean win for a guy with two managers. This was meant to be a showcase of Moose’s power and athleticism. Much quicker than the opener and talks of Moose going through the champion’s brother to get to him. Interesting angle but I don’t see an ROH World Title shot in Moose’s immediate future, he’s far too awkward in the ring when it comes to awareness and placement.
Match 3: The Addiction vs The Kingdom vs The Bullet Club, Triple Threat Tag Team Match
Winners: The Kingdom via pinfall
The Action: Surprisingly, no Maria with The Kingdom. Machine Gun comes out alone, as Doc Gallows sent out a video earlier in the day that he’s stuck due to the snow. Anderson says he doesn’t need a partner because he IS Bullet Club and it seems like he’s going to go it alone tonight. This gets him jumped but he quickly, along with The Addiction, toss The Kingdom to the floor. Taven gets in the ring and one of the first thing he does is a Moonlight Drive neck breaker – His psychology is still in its infancy. After everyone spills to the floor, The Addiction catches a Taven plant, dodge a Bennett baseball slide then toss Taven into Bennett into the barricade. Not having a partner isn’t much of a detriment to Anderson so far, given the nature of the match. Kaz hits a slingshot cutter on Anderson, which kind of cheapens his finish of the Gun Stun. Anderson one ups him with a TKO-style Gun Stun but it’s broken up. The Kingdom hits a Twist of Fate and a Swanton but Kaz kicks out at two. The Kingdom steals it after another schmoz with a spike piledriver on Anderson.
The Reaction: Lots of action, not a ton of psychology. The Kingdom using so much Matt Hardy stuff fits in with their gimmick, but it robs them a bit of their own identity. Anderson with a strong showing on his own, but The Kingdom pinning one half of the IWGP Tag Team Champions could very well have some implications later this year. The Addiction are amazing as always, but their role in ROH is strange. You’d think bringing in a team like them would result in title shots and title runs but what they’ve served to do is elevate everyone that they face. It’s just impossible to have a bad match when Daniels and Kaz are involved. Kevin Kelly made a big deal about them using a piledriver and what I pulled from that is that the piledriver is currently banned in ROH but because it was a tag team spike piledriver it “skirted the rules”. I don’t buy that for a second and it would have been better to just talk about how devastating a piledriver can be instead.
Match 4: Roderick Strong vs BJ Whitmer
Winner: Roderick Strong via pinfall
The Action: Roddy hits the ring hard and goes right after Whitmer. This is 100% a grudge match. All throughout they are just bludgeoning each other, with a hint of knowing each other’s repertoire given the reversals that we see. Whitmer hits a fisherman’s neck breaker followed by a fisherman’s suplex for two. Page grabs Roddy’s foot for the second or third time so he baseball slides him then hits Death by Roderick and a Sick Kick for a very near fall. Roddy begins to set up for the turnbuckle backbreaker but Whitmer fights him off and hits a gourd buster off the top for two. Whitmer gives Roddy a kiss of death but runs right into a jumping knee, forearm, jumping knee, End of Heartache combination to be put down for three.
The Reaction: Even Jimmy Jacobs on commentary seems happy to see this rivalry end. It’s not doing anything for Roddy and leaves him spinning his wheels. Fortunately, he lands an incredibly solid win and should be back in title contention soon. Both guys are always great in the ring and this was no different. Whitmer can slow down if he’s ready to, but The Decade doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Match 5: ODB vs Maria Kanellis
Winner: ODB via pinfall
The Action: Maria grabs the mic before things get rolling and says she can’t wrestle tonight because she’s pregnant. Bennett super kicks Mark Briscoe out of the ring and Maria hits ODB with the Title of Love to try and steal the win but ODB kicks out. Bennett teases a piledriver on the floor but Mark throws him off ODB who then delivers a fall away slam to Maria into the barricade. Back in the ring, Maria hits a super kick for two. Maria holds ODB for a Bennett super kick but she rolls away and he kicks his wife. Surprisingly, Maria kicks out at two. ODB grabs Maria off the top and press slams her onto Bennett, then dives on them from the top to the floor. This time Bennett accidentally spears his wife on the apron. Mark and ODB hit a Doomsday Device to Bennett on the floor which hopefully keeps him out of the equation now. ODB scoops Maria up for the BAM and it’s somehow not a cutter at all. It’s mercifully the end.
The Reaction: How the hell do you botch a TKO all the way over to a neck breaker? I expected a squash, but instead we got a cluster mess. Shame for ODB who can actually go in the ring to have a showpiece match rather than an actual one. With this belt back in the hands of the Briscoes, I assume Jay is going to retain tonight and bring it back. If you’re picking and choosing matches to watch in a later viewing, go ahead and skip this one unless you’re desperate for some bells and whistles.
Match 6: ACH vs AJ Styles
Winner: AJ Styles via pinfall
The Action: No IWGP belt tonight, which is a surprise. ROH has a friendly enough relationship with NJPW that there should be no issue at all with him wearing the belt to the ring. AJ flips out of a jackknife pin and tries for an early Clash, but ACH escapes and it’s a slow, methodical break. A lot of back and forth until ACH wants Air Jordan and AJ drops him across the ropes, which gives him a big advantage. ACH turns things around and starts getting cocky, dropping a Styles-style knee on the man himself. Styles hits a neck breaker across his knee to start building toward the Clash. AJ wants his springboard forearm and ACH returns an earlier favor by shoving him to the floor. ACH quickly follows up with a corkscrew moonsault over the ropes. ACH tries a driver off his shoulder with Styles’ leg draped over his head but it’s only good for two. Styles turns things around on the floor then hits a springboard forearm. AJ side steps ACH in the corner then snap suplexes him leg first right into the buckles. Styles wants possibly a Spiral Tap but ACH crotches him and hits a Flash Kick, then heads to the top himself. This time its Styles with the counter but ACH hits a double stomp after dodging a Pele kick. ACH whiffs a 450 and AJ grabs a Calf Killer which ACH rolls over for a two. ACH tries a jackknife but Styles spikes him with Bloody Sunday followed by the Clash to cinch it.
The Reaction: If anyone has ever thought “ACH can’t hang with veterans” or ANYTHING along those lines, you’ve just been proven wrong. ACH can hang with, emulate and out-athlete damn near any wrestler on the planet today and being able to hang with arguably the best one breathing right now is a huge feather in his cap. AJ worked the neck all match and eventually hit the Clash to put away someone who took him to his absolute limit. Very fun match.
Match 7: Young Bucks vs reDRagon (c), ROH Tag Team Championship
Superkick Count: 6
The Action: Bombs in every direction early on, as this is a rivalry that spans years, continents and promotions. 2015 is going to be the year of these two teams. Rocky Romero on commentary announces that his new partner is going to be Trent Barreta as reDRagon begin to take over. The “guys in red masks” show up in the crowd and are apparently known as the KRD (Knights of the Rising Dawn). They’ve done nothing so far and I’m waiting for some pay off. Curious if it’ll be similar to Chikara and Kid Cyclone unmasking to debut as an upstart.
Matt Jackson goes absolutely ballistic and takes out both opponents with a Sliced Bread, dives and a moonsault. O’Reilly catches him in the ropes with an armbar while Nick flies over both of them onto Fish on the floor and delivers a super kick to break the hold. Elevated Swanton is good for just two on Fish. Attempted sunset flip bomb to the floor is assisted with a super kick and both members of reDRagon get power bombed into the barricade. Fish starts to fight back with a samoan drop and it’s tags to Nick and O’Reilly. Kick combo from O’Reilly suplexes Matt and catches Nick in a triangle lock off a dive attempt. Fish helps O’Reilly lock on an arm bar with a diving headset but Matt breaks THAT up with a diving elbow. Fish breaks up a pin attempt with a moonsault. Double super kick to Fish then a double dragon screw from O’Reilly. Matt drags O’Reilly to the floor and the Bucks hit Indytaker on the floor. This leaves Fish alone with the Bucks and they hit Chasing the DRagon but he fights out at two. This time it’s More Bang for Your Buck and Shayna Baszier, whom reDRagon brought with them drags Todd Sinclair to the floor before he can count three. This lets O’Reilly come in absolutely on fire and take out both Bucks. Matt takes a tornado DDT followed by a super falcon arrow and Chasing the DRagon and this time Nick drags Sinclair out. Another Chasing the DRagon after Matt gets tossed from the ring and reDRagon retain.
The Reaction: We’re going to get to see this all year in multiple companies and that’s…a good thing. *DDP Grin* By year’s end, one team will have both sets of Tag Belts and we’ll have a load of amazing matches. This was ROH at its best/worst depending on your taste. By all rights, O’Reilly should still be unconscious, but we’ve hit a point in 2015 where a spike tombstone is a move that just stuns a man (Which is funny considering what a big deal Kevin Kelly made about a spike piledriver earlier tonight). When your joy in wrestling comes from seeing and basking in the athleticism on display and you can lapses in logic go, this is the match for you. If you’re the type of fan to be here reading this, the match is a must watch for you.
Match 8: Alberto El Patron vs Jay Lethal (c), ROH Television Championship
Winner: Jay Lethal via pinfall
The Action: Early flurry including a suicide dive from El Patron but Lethal grounds him and takes over, keeping things at his own pace. A lot of Diesel/Martini interference early on. The KRD are back in their spot but still haven’t done anything. In the interim, Alberto hits a reverse superplex to reset the match and lead to a slow stand up from both men. Lethal dodges the Cross Armbreaker and rolls into one of his own. Lethal hits triple suicide dives and El Patron goes into the crowd. Back in the ring, Lethal wants a superplex but El Patron punches him down into a tree of woe and delivers a huge double stomp for two. Punches back and forth and then the Lethal Combination for two. Lethal wants Hail to the King but Alberto cuts him off with a step up enziguiri. Martini gets in the ring and ends up in an armbreaker then Alberto catches a diving Lethal in one. Diesel slides the Book of Truth to Lethal who flattens Alberto with it but he manages to kick out at two. Lethal wants the Lethal Injection but his hurt arm won’t let him do it. Alberto ends up in the ropes and eats a huge book shot from Truth then the Lethal Injection.
The Reaction: Color me surprised. I thought for sure this belt was going to be put on Alberto El Patron. Way too much outside bullcrap in this match. Truth Martini has been a presence in ROH for quite some time and this is how it always is for his clients. It’s beginning to get a bit monotonous. I don’t doubt for a second we’ll see a rematch between these two soon enough. This is a great match to have between Bucks/reDRagon and the four way main event. It had plenty of action but it went at its own pace and didn’t overwhelm the crowd. Definitely worth a watch.
Samoa Joe makes his promised appearance before the main event. Joe talks about ROH being a revolution, alive and well. Joe says that he wishes all four men in the main event good luck but that whoever wins belongs to him. Expect Samoa Joe in the title hunt VERY soon.
Match 9: Hanson vs Tommaso Ciampa vs Michael Elgin vs Jay Briscoe (c), Four Corners Survival for the ROH World Heavyweight Title
Winner: Jay Briscoe via pinfall
The Action: Total cluster mess to start and the champ stands tall as he takes out all three opponents one by one. Briscoe sets up a table very early on which I’m sure will come in to play later. Elgin hits a flipping leg drop on Ciampa in the ring then takes him up for a stalling suplex. Briscoe tries to break it but Elgin keeps Ciampa, drops him into a fireman’s carry and catches Briscoe to deliver a tandem fall away/samoan drop. Elgin’s turn to beat everyone down and he seems to have had his eye area opened up, so expect some crimson in the match. Now Ciampa runs wild with knees and an elevated flatliner on Briscoe for two. Looks to be Hanson time with boots and a stack of opponents in the corner to lay forearms on. Briscoe lifts big Hanson up for a DVD onto Ciampa in the corner. Another DVD for Elgin and it’s only a two count. Elgin rushes Briscoe in the corner and gets a complete shot into the buckle. Ciampa takes him up top, fights off Hanson and hits a second rope Kryptonite Krunch for two. Elgin grabs Ciampa and hits a Dominator onto Hanson. Elgin catches Ciampa on the floor and hoists him up a crucifix power bomb into the barricade. Briscoe hits a flip dive over the rope then Hanson hits one of his own from the top on he and Elgin.
Todd Sinclair takes a huge bump to the floor and Hanson hits a suplex to a Rikishi-style driver but there’s nobody to make the count. The KRD finally hit the ring and take out Hanson. They hit The Climax on Hanson and the Twist of Fate on Briscoe. Hanson’s old partner Ray Rowe returns to dispose of the red mask brigade and they turn tail. Elgin makes the most of it and drops Briscoe with a Jay Driller from the apron through the earlier table. There’s still no ref so Elgin goes digging for a chair which he uses on the neck of the barely moving Ciampa. Elgin teases a one man Con-Chair-To on Briscoe but Nigel hops in to put a stop to it. Ciampa, still on the zero tolerance party, saves Nigel by dragging him to the floor. He then slams Elgin’s skull with a chair, only to be thrown to the floor by Hanson. Hanson gets tossed from the top rope to the floor leaving just Elgin and Briscoe. Ciampa slowly climbs to the top and manages to roll over Elgin for Project Ciampa but Briscoe stops it. This time it’s Project Ciampa for Briscoe and it’s only good for two. Elgin wants an Elgin Bomb, almost drops Ciampa, powers him up and now it’s finisher city. Hanson hits the Spin Kick of Doom on Briscoe and he falls on Ciampa to win it while Elgin disposes of Hanson.
Samoa Joe comes back out and hands the belt to Briscoe and offers a handshake. They go nose to nose, but expect to see this match in the next few months.
The Reaction: That’s kind of a bum ending. It’s cute and plays into the whole Winner Takes All/Vegas shtick but Briscoe’s whole deal is he’s a fighting champ and earns his keep. He won this by getting KO’d by an opponent onto an already KO’d opponent. You want to talk about a schmozfest main event, this was it. I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed. Hanson spent more time getting knocked down than anything else this match, Ciampa spent a good portion on the floor half conscious after the barricade power bomb. Elgin got a distinct visual pin and made a big deal about it so that will likely factor into the coming weeks of TV/next PPV event. The action itself was perfectly fine, but a ref bump, the match maker getting involved, two extra refs, a visual pin – It just smacks of “we booked a match and there’s no clean way out of it.” My guess is we’ll get Joe vs Elgin leading to Joe vs Briscoe or possibly a three way.
Another very solid card from ROH, even if I’m not personally a huge fan of the ending. Tell us your reactions here in the comments or over on Twitter @sbfantom and @pulsewrestling
Tags: alberto el patron, hanson, Jay Lethal, maria kanellis, Mark Briscoe, Michael Elgin, ODB, Ring of Honor, ROH, Tommaso Ciampa