Ring of Honor had a great start to 2013 and looked to continue their momentum with one of their biggest shows in recent history. They returned to iPPV from the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge, IL with their 11th Anniversary show. With one of the most stacked cards in recent memory, and a main event that had been built up for several months, the expectations were high for this one. So, how did the ’11th Anniversary’ (3/2/13) turn out? Let’s take a look.
To kick off the show we have a six man mayhem match involving ACH, QT Marshall, Silas Young, Tadarius Thomas, Adam Page and Mike Sydal. All six of these men competed in the recent ‘Top Prospect Tournament’ on ROH TV. Lots of fast-paced action to begin this with Sydal hitting a running shooting star press on QT Marshall. Then Thomas hits a handspring somersault onto the outside before Sydal hits a moonsault off the top rope. With the five men all on the outside, ACH hits the Air Jordan! Then RD Evans gets on the top rope and gets suplexed to the outside onto the other men by Young! Crazy action here. Young goes for a moonsault on Sydal in the ring but he evades it and Young ends up running into a big boot by ACH. ACH follows up with a cradle DDT to pick up the victory. Great way to start the show with plenty of action and some awesome spots. The right man won too.
Up next is a tag team grudge match as Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander face SCUM (Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs). C&C dominate early on and hit some nice double team moves. The action continues at a good pace with both teams having periods of dominance. Leg drop from the top rope by Cedric almost gets C&C the win and they then attempt Overtime but Corino breaks it up and has a chain around his wrist. Corino then grabs Cedric and Jacobs goes to the top as SCUM hit the spike piledriver and pick up the win. Afterwards, Corino tells us ‘they’re coming’. Maybe a bit shorter than I had imagined but was still a good match while it lasted. I think this one was more to build up the suspense of SCUM’s plans for later in the evening.
The third match of the night sees Charlie Haas and BJ Whitmer go at it in a No Holds Barred match. Whitmer brings a trash can, chair and ladder into play early on and keeps Haas floored with methodical attacks. Cheeseburger then out of nowhere grabs Haas’ leg as he comes off the ropes and he gives Haas a middle finger! Whitmer is then sent through a table on the outside, however, as Haas hits a belly-to-belly suplex from inside the ring! Haas continues to punish Whitmer but BJ just won’t stay down. Haas sets up another table in the middle of the ring and hits a belly-to-belly through it off the top rope – similar to Final Battle. Somehow, Whitmer kicks out. Haas then sets up a ladder on two chairs inside the ring and Whitmer hits an exploder suplex onto it for two! BJ, however, then hits a flurry of knees to Haas’ head and referee Brian Gorie ends the match with Whitmer picking up the win. This was exactly what we were expecting. Plenty of hatred between these two and it showed as both men went to extremes to hurt the other. I’m not sure about the finish but it was an enjoyable hardcore match.
Back to tag team action now as The Forever Hooligans (Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov) take on The American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards). Koslov grabs a mic before the match begins and proceeds to sing the Russian national anthem. That was painful. The beginning of the match plays on the history between Richards and Romero which is nice to see. The match keeps a good pace throughout with all four men working well together. Koslov manages to kick out of a tombstone piledriver from Richards as the Wolves then hit a double stomp on the Russian. Davey goes to the top but is cut off and Romero hits a super hurricanrana followed by a frog splash from Koslov but Davey somehow kicks out. Richards hits Romero with the soccer kick off the apron and then Edwards gets Koslov up as the Wolves hit a powerbomb into backcracker combination for the win. This was good, there’s no doubt about that. But I’m not sure it really reached the ‘dream match’ stage. I’d like to see the Hooligans come back for more matches as they were impressive. Still a really enjoyable match.
Back after intermission and we begin the second half with a 2 out of 3 falls match between Michael Elgin and Roderick Strong. Elgin picks up a very early first fall, hitting a massive spinning backfist followed by a buckle bomb and the Elgin bomb to go one up. Black hole slam from Elgin followed by the crossface but Strong manages to get out of it. Big superkick to Elgin gets Strong two as he attempts to level the match. Elgin to the top, Strong blocks him and hits a backbreaker onto the top turnbuckle. He follows that up with the End The Heartache for the pinfall to make it 1-1. Strong follows that up with a gutbuster but Elgin kicks out. Elgin comes back with a corkscrew senton from the top but doesn’t get all of it and Strong kicks out. Elgin rolls through an attempted sunset flip and deadlifts Strong into the Elgin bomb but Roddy somehow kicks out. Elgin locks the crossface in straight away and Strong has no option but to tap as Elgin wins the match. I liked the booking of the first fall and the way Strong came back into it. This was a really hard-hitting match between these two and a really intense contest. Another really good match from these two that cemented Elgin as a top player in ROH.
The first of our three title matches up now as Adam Cole defends his ROH World TV Title against Matt Taven. Taven won the Top Prospect Tournament and in turn aligned himself with Truth Martini, who accompanies him to the ring. Matt Hardy comes to the ring before the match and says he’ll become champion the following day at the TV tapings before joining commentary. Truth comes to the ring in rather… interesting attire. Taven goes for a diving move to Cole on the outside but just walks into a big enziguri. Martini pulls Cole’s leg though which allows Taven to take charge. Springboard corkscrew senton gets Taven a near fall as Martini gets involved again while Todd Sinclair’s back is turned. Cole fights back with a backbreaker for two. Taven back with a spinning neckbreaker for a near fall.
Taven goes for a superplex but Cole reverses it into a sunset flip powerbomb followed by a German suplex and a shining wizard for a very near fall. Taven onto the ring apron and Cole comes from nowhere to hit a jumping DDT onto the apron! Neckbreaker from Cole and then locks in the figure four leg lock but Taven gets to the rope. Jumping enziguri from Cole, he comes off the ropes but gets hit with the book of truth. Taven follows up with a modified inverted DDT to win the match and become the new ROH World TV champion! A big upset after a brilliant match. This was a fantastic way to introduce Taven and he and Martini make a great team. This was a great match and both men had great chemistry. After the match, Hardy looks pretty pissed and walks off.
The ROH World Tag Team Titles are on the line next as The Briscoes defend against Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly. The match starts out even until Fish & O’Reilly start to target the left knee of Jay Briscoe and manage to keep him grounded in their corner. Mark finally gets the hot tag and uses the Redneck kung-fu to take out both Fish & O’Reilly. Dragon suplex on Fish gets him a two count. Frog splash from Jay but O’Reilly breaks up the pinfall. Fish & O’Reilly fight back and hit the total elimination on Jay for a near fall. Fish goes to the top but is pushed off by Mark as Jay then picks O’Reilly up and they hit the Doomsday Device on the outside! Froggy ‘bow from Mark on Fish back in the ring gets another two count.
Briscoes go for the Doomsday on Fish but O’Reilly breaks it up. Mark and O’Reilly trade headbutts on the apron before O’Reilly pushes him into Fish who is also on the apron and he hits an exploder suplex onto the floor! Back in the ring, Fish & O’Reilly go after Jay and hit the Doomsday on him but Jay somehow kicks out. They follow that up with the Chasing The Dragon (a kick into a brainbuster combo) to win the match and the Tag Titles. That’s our second title change of the evening! Much like the TV title match, this was a terrific contest. It started off methodically and then the pace really took a step up. Some great spots and a smart decision to cash in on the great start by Fish & O’Reilly as a tag team. Great job all round.
Now onto our main event of the evening as Kevin Steen puts his ROH World Title on the line against Jay Lethal. The match quickly spills to the outside as Lethal hits two suicide dives but Steen stops a third attempt and powerbombs Lethal onto the ring apron. Steen then gets fired up and begins to dominate with a running senton and begins to trash talk with the crowd before hitting a pumphandle suplex into a neckbreaker. Lethal comes back with a pop-up neckbreaker of his own for two. Steen goes for the F-Cinq but Lethal’s leg inadvertently knocks Todd Sinclair down. Lethal hits the Lethal Injection but the ref’s still down as Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs hit the ring and begin to beat him down. They hit the spike piledriver on Lethal and then roll Steen onto him but Lethal kicks out!
Jacobs hits an elbow drop on Sinclair and he’s out again. Corino grabs a chair but Nigel McGuinness comes down and takes it off him before backing Corino to the backstage area. Jacobs back into the ring but Lethal hits him with an enziguri. Lethal hits a couple of Dragon suplexes but Steen manages to just kickout. Lethal off the ropes but walks into a pop-up powerbomb for two. Lethal fights back and hits five superkicks in a row followed by the Lethal Combination. He then hits the Hail to the King but gets a very near fall. Lethal locks in the Koji clutch but Steen manages to roll to the ropes to break the hold. The two begin to battle on the ring apron and Steen manages to hit the F-Cinq that sends Lethal through the timekeeper’s table at ringside!
Jacobs grabs Lethal’s leg to try and stop him from getting back in the ring but he manages to get in at 19. He walks straight into Steen who hits the Package Piledriver… but Lethal kicks out! Jacobs goes to give Steen the spike but he tells him to get the hell out of there. Lethal rolls Steen up for two as both men struggle to get back to their feet. Lethal goes to the top but Steen cuts him off and he hits the Brainbustaaaah!! He covers Lethal for the victory to remain champion. What a fantastic match. Full of fantastic pieces of action and plenty of drama. The way they had Corino and Jacobs interfere to build the tension was great and the match definitely delivered. Just when you think Steen’s reign might be coming to an end, he puts on another classic match.
After the match, Rhino hits the ring and gores Lethal as Jacobs takes out Todd Sinclair. The Briscoes come down to level things but they are overran by Rhino and Jacobs. Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander down next to do battle with Rhino and Jacobs. Out of nowhere, Jimmy Rave hits the ring with a SCUM shirt on and takes out C&C! BJ Whitmer now in for the save but Rhett Titus follows and hits him with a dropkick and then reveals a SCUM shirt too! Elgin is the next to try and save the day until Cliff Compton enters with a SCUM shirt. This is absolute carnage. And it’s awesome. SCUM handcuff Elgin to the bottom rope as the Wolves come down and fail to to do much. Adam Cole is next but he is taken out by Matt Hardy who is the next to reveal a SCUM shirt. Both Briscoes have been tied to the ropes. Corino comes back down to the ring with a mic and says we are witnessing the beginning of the destruction of ROH and there’s nothing we can do. He says SCUM’s mission has never changed and Steen is the King of SCUM and the best ROH champion ever. Steen didn’t take part in the beat down however and I think he’ll be out of SCUM soon enough. Tonight, war has been declared and tonight, honor has died. That was brilliantly done and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Final Thoughts: Once again, Ring of Honor has delivered. This was a show that was fitting for the company’s 11th anniversary. The undercard was very solid with a fun six-man opener and also the no holds barred match. The Wolves versus the Hooligans was good without ever becoming truly great in my opinion but was still an enjoyable watch. The second half of the show was just awesome. Strong and Elgin put on a great show before three fantastic title matches. We saw a new World TV champion and new Tag champions and after the end of the terrific main event, we saw SCUM live up to their promise as they started their plan to kill ROH by introducing four new members. The show did a great job of building up to the main event throughout without the other matches being overshadowed. It was a really great watch and a show that I’d gladly go and watch again at any time. Not only did we get quality matches but we also got the continuation of one of the most fascinating storylines in quite some time. That’s what ROH is all about.