September 20, 2013

Silas Young . . . puts on a surprisingly good performance against Jay Lethal.

Maria Kanellis . . . and her color commentary is the highlight of a semi final eight-man tag.

Michael Elgin . . . puts on one of his better singles match performances.


Although this isn’t anything all that special overall, they actually manage to put on an engrossing match, by outsmarting one another, to the point that it really seems like either of them could get the win at any time. One of the first examples of this is Lethal’s attempt to hit his dive sequence, Silas sees it coming and gets back into the ring, or moves out of the way before Lethal can attempt it, but, Lethal gets one up on him when he manages to ole Silas to the floor and quickly hit the first two, and then changes gears to a dropkick when he sees Silas is going to avoid the third, and then hits the third dive while Silas is stunned. That’s how the match plays out, with both of them knowing what’s coming and being able avoid or counter it. The finish plays off this theme rather well, with Lethal changing up the Lethal Injection from the handspring, which Silas had countered, to a back somersault that Silas doesn’t see coming.

ADAM COLE vs. TOMMASO CIAMPA (Semi Finals of ROH World Title Tournament)

From the point that Ciampa’s knee becomes the target, up to the finish, this is really good. Tommaso getting pinned while in the figure four is a unique finish, but isn’t unheard of, and, it plays off the fact that Cole had rung his bell earlier with the running knee, and the Last Shot. There are other good moments, like Tommaso blocking the running knee and trying to muscle up Cole for Project Ciampa, but not being able to get him up because his knee gives out. He hits the move a minute later, but isn’t able to put Cole away. Cole and Ciampa both show a certain aggression and willingness to do whatever it takes in order go gain the victory, and nothing more.

However, it’s before Cole goes after the knee that causes this to drop a few pegs. They try to start off hot, with Ciampa jumping Cole at the bell with the running knees in the corner, and then throwing Cole outside for more running knees, and even a vertical suplex on the floor, but, they decide to reset the action after that. There’s nothing from either of them to suggest that they’re hurt from the suplex, or that Cole is any worse for wear after taking all those running knees or the powerbomb into the guardrail. It’s like they wanted to start hot to get the crowd going, and then realized that they couldn’t keep up that pace, or follow up the bumps.

MICHAEL ELGIN vs. KEVIN STEEN (Semi Finals of ROH World Title Tournament)

Steen’s involvement guarantees that this will at least be amusing at times, but, it’s no surprise that this is far away from the level of the prior two matches. It’s worked at a much slower pace, and they don’t do much of anything to flesh out a story or show that they’re trying to build to something. They have some good ideas, like Steen taking the shoulder bump into the post, and Elgin doing the crossface, but, they don’t full take advantage of them, and instead of continuing to work over Steen’s shoulder, Elgin is content to work his power spots and lariats. Of course, Steen is no prince either. He takes the powerbomb and then the buckle bomb, only to casually counter the next powerbomb into his sharpshooter, without any trouble. Elgin countering the Package piledriver into the crossface for the submission, is a really good finish. It’s just a shame that neither of them felt like doing anything to build to that good finish. When it comes down to brass tacks, the only thing that this accomplishes is killing time to let Cole rest up before the main event.


It picks up OK toward the end, but, for the most part, this doesn’t seem to know whether it’s a tag team spotfest, or a comedy match. Most of the comedy involves the champions having some sort of blunder, like their charging double team in the corner ending up with nobody there, or Rocky’s constant charging into the corner angering Koslov, or, it’s just Eddie and Davey goofing around to play to the crowd. It’s relatively in offensive, but it’s not accomplishing anything either. Things start going somewhere when Davey’s ribs get hurt from a frog splash from Koslov. Davey puts it over perfectly and it leads to a near fall when Koslov hits his SSP, with Rocky holding Davey in place. Eddie is able to make that particular save, but, the champions dispatch him, and Davey is still hurt enough, that they can quickly finish him off with the Contract Killer. If they’d started the story with Davey’s ribs ten minutes earlier, and were as consistently good, then this would have easily been the best match of the first half.


This almost isn’t worth mentioning, except for the fact that way Page carried himself didn’t really look all that far off from what he’d do later with the Decade and then the Bullet Club. He showed a certain calmness and confidence about himself, when Evans puts on his hat, instead of getting fired up and playing to the crowd, he just calmly kills Evans with his reverse piledriver.


Much like the tag titles match, the match comes off fine, but, seems like it could have been better if they took advantage of the opening with Ricky’s knee getting tweaked. Ricky seems to hurt his knee doing a dive, and he’s usually good about keeping it in mind. But, despite the fact that he’s got a finisher that targets it, he doesn’t do anything to go after it. Roddy’s sticks with his usual spots like the chops, gutbuster, superplex, etc. It even comes back to haunt him at one point, when Ricky counters the gutbuster into a reverse rana. Then again, Roddy winds up winning when Ricky stuns himself by missing another dive, and Roddy peels off the gutbuster, running kick, and Gibson Driver to finish him off, so, it clearly wasn’t necessary for Roddy to work over the knee to beat Ricky, but, it makes one wonder why they made the point of showing that Ricky had a bad wheel in the first place.


Overall, this is very formulaic, with nothing that especially stands out. The babyfaces use their flashy offense, and the heels work over ACH after some cheating. The match breaks down with everyone having a dive or a big spot to work in. The only notable thing to take away is that O’Reilly drops the fall to Cedric, to set up Cedric and Caprice challenging for the tag titles.

ADAM COLE vs. MICHAEL ELGIN (Finals of ROH World Heavyweight Title Tournament)

Seeing how smartly this was worked, for the most part, makes me wonder why Elgin’s title win the following June was such a disappointment. The match with Steen left Elgin with a hurt neck, and that perfectly plays Cole’s use of the German suplex, running knees, superkick, etc. Cole’s rope-a-dope strategy comes off rather well, with him knowing that he won’t be able to go shot-for-shot with Elgin, so he takes advantage of being fresher, to make Elgin tire himself out. Elgin clearly hurts Cole, that much is obvious from the bumps and the way Cole puts over the strikes, but, Cole accomplishes his goal of Elgin wearing himself out in the process. One of Cole’s best moments with this is when Elgin catches him with his spinning backfist, and Cole rolls to the floor and underneath the table, forcing Elgin to expend the energy of getting him back into the ring. The table spot that follows is also rather well done, first off, it’s not blatantly obvious that someone is going through it, Cole rolls underneath it to get more time to recover and Elgin moves it away so he can get Cole into the ring. Elgin gets the idea when they’re on the apron of putting Cole through it, and it backfires on him. There’s another smart moment when Cole’s dropkick causes Elgin’s knee to get tied up in the ropes, and Cole goes right for the figure four, and they do the same pinning sequence that allowed Cole to beat Ciampa, with Elgin getting his shoulder up.

As good as this is, it’s still not perfect by any stretch. Both of them have moments when they seem to lose their mind, and blow off a big move for no reason. It’s surprising that Elgin even uses the buckle bomb anymore, between what Steen did in the first match, and what Cole does. Granted, Cole sells the second one, but one wonders why, since the same move a minute ago apparently didn’t hurt a bit. Cole’s use of the flipping piledriver is also questionable, sure, it makes sense with Elgin having a bad neck, but, pulling the spot off so flawlessly exposes the cooperation. The second attempt that has Elgin countering the move actually comes off much better. Elgin blowing off the German was even worse than Cole with the buckle bomb, since he already had the bad neck that had been worked over, so there’s zero reason for it. Some people may not like the ref bump spot, but, it doesn’t come off that bad. It only calls a single near fall into question, nothing more, and Cole rolls to the floor so that he can sell it as long as possible. Cole doesn’t give Elgin another chance to hit the powerbomb, Elgin’s one attempt gets countered, and Cole working over the neck pays off when he gets a totally clean pin after the Florida Key, but, despite what Cole does after the match, and what he’d do for the next few years in ROH, nobody can claim that Adam Cole hadn’t earned the ROH Title. ***½

Conclusion: The main event is the main reason to check this out, but, the show as a whole is unoffensive at worst.