Ring of Honor returned to Richmond, VA for the ‘The Battle of Richmond’ in May. The card was far from stacked but had some promise with Charlie Haas taking on Jay Briscoe in a Lights Out Match in the main event. Davey Richards vs. Jimmy Jacobs also has a lot of potential and we have a World Tag Team title match as Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team defend against the All Night Express. So, how did ‘The Battle of Richmond’ (5/19/12) turn out?
ROH World Champion Kevin Steen and Jimmy Jacobs come to the ring to start the show, there is no Bobby Cruise tonight. Steen says that he can’t compete tonight due to a concussion he suffered the night before in Baltimore. He apologises to the crowd before Davey Richards and Kyle O’Reilly, their scheduled opponents for tonight, hit the ring. Richards says he came to fight, he subsequently challenges Jimmy Jacobs to a match and he agrees.
Our opening contest sees Mike Mondo take on Jay Lethal. This maybe wasn’t your stereotypical ROH opener but it worked well and the crowd seemed to like it. Mondo continues to impress and was using any chance he could to get an advantage. Lethal prevailed however when he got his knees up to block a frog splash from Mondo and then hit the ‘Hail to the King’ for the three count. Decent match but maybe not as fast-paced and hot as a normal opener, would have been better suited to the middle of the card.
Next up are the returning Bravado Brothers who are back after a tour of Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan. They talk about how they want to be Tag Team champions and are then cut off by the champs Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team. They offer the Bravados a title match right now and they gladly accept. The match itself wasn’t up to much, WGTT dominated the whole thing with Harlem Bravado taken out on the outside, it left Lancelot to fight two against one. On two occasions, WGTT had the match won but they pulled Lancelot off the mat to break the count. Eventually, referee Paul Turner told Haas to stop it, he then shoved Turner and earned a disqualification. I’m not sure this match did anything for the Bravados. Kevin Kelly spoke about how they were a much better team thanks to Japan but they got beat down for five minutes non-stop. Anyway, ANX come down after the match which leads to our next contest.
That’s right, our next match is an ROH World Tag Team Title match as WGTT defend against ANX. They were restricted with what they could do in this one with this obviously not being the last match between the two teams. Despite that, it was an entertaining match and showed ANX as legit contenders. They went for the Blockbuster on Haas but Benjamin managed to kick Kenny King off the apron. As Rhett Titus went to check on King, Haas grabbed one of the title belts and when he turned round, hit him over the head with it. Paul Turner clearly saw it and disqualified WGTT for the second time this evening. Not a fantastic match but it continued the storyline and was fun while it lasted.
After that, we have Adam Cole taking on Tommaso Ciampa. Kevin Kelly questions “why would Ciampa grow such a horrible beard in a looks driven business?”. That’s the million dollar question, right there. I tend to think that his trunks are much worse than his beard but I digress. There was a good match in there somewhere but it just never seemed to break out. When the action threatened to get into second gear, there would be a break of 10 or 15 seconds which really ruined the flow of the match. It was a decent match but not one that will last long in the memory. Ciampa wins after a sunset flip and grabbing a handful of tights. Prince Nana tells Ciampa to beat Cole down after the match but he refuses. Instead, Nana pushed Ernesto Osiris into Cole who proceeds to hit a superkick on Ernie before delivering the Death Valley Driver/Backbreaker. Still not sold on Ciampa’s new ‘psychopath’ gimmick but Cole’s a star waiting to really explode.
Our next contests sees some tag team action as Michael Elgin and Roderick Strong of The House of Truth battle The Briscoes. With Jay Briscoe facing Charlie Haas in tonight’s main event, this was obviously not going to be a crazy long match. However, it turned out to be a very fun one. These four have good chemistry in the ring and packed a lot of stuff into 10 minutes or so. At one point, Truth Martini got stranded in the ring and got his trousers pulled down by Jay to expose… a pair of Roderick Strong’s trunks. Elgin accidentally ran into Martini, Strong then missed a forearm and hit Elgin which led to the finish with Mark Briscoe hitting the froggy elbow on Elgin for the win. Nice little match that kept the fans’ interest and added a bit of humour too. After the match, Elgin and Strong argue (have they done that after every match each one of them has had for the past six to eight months?).
Another tag team match now and it’s a bit of a showcase match as Team A1 take on Totally Awesome. Totally Awesome consist of OVW wrestlers Chris Silvio and Paredyse while Team A1 is made up of Zak Hilton and Jeff Early. If you had taken 10 minutes off this match, it would have been a pretty good filler. As it was, it dragged on and it took away from the action. The match went about 16 minutes in total and apparently the guys thought that time was bell-to-bell rather than the whole thing including entrances. Anyway, for what it was, it was decent. The fans seemed to like it and were behind Totally Awesome all the way. They got the win after Paredyse, ahem, kissed Early who then walked into a running forearm from Hilton for the win.
Back to singles action as Mike Bennett takes on Eddie Edwards. Edwards is sporting his ‘Chop Your Face’ t-shirt which is, well, probably the worst item of wrestling merchandise ever. Anyway, the match itself was surprisingly very entertaining. These two have really good chemistry in the ring and that means we end up getting a really good match. Bennett played the heel role to great effect and in the ring, he is improving all the time. ‘The Prodigy’ tried to capitalise on Edwards’ injured shoulder and almost got the win with a Box Office Smash. Maria then got on the apron, Edwards grabbed her and then moved out of the way when Bennett charged him which led to Bennett knocking Maria to the floor. Edwards rolled Bennett up for the three count. The only thing I questioned about this match was the finish – does Edwards really need a flash pin to beat Bennett? Either way, it was a very good match.
Our penultimate contest sees Davey Richards going one-on-one with Jimmy Jacobs. Richards has Kyle O’Reilly in his corner and Jacobs has Kevin Steen. This was scheduled to be a tag match but Steen wasn’t cleared to wrestle. This could have turned out to be a really great match. Jacobs has been criminally underused since his return but what we got here was disappointing. The fact that it was half the length of the tag match between two teams not even in ROH was a shame. It was entertaining but too brief for a match that could have been great. Steen and O’Reilly went at it on the outside and most of the crowd ended up watching them rather than the two guys inside the ring. The finish came when Richards kicked Steen from the apron and then locked in the ankle lock on Jacobs in the ring. O’Reilly hit his running dropkick off the apron to Steen as Jacobs tapped out. Such a shame that they weren’t given 15-20 minutes to really put on a show.
The main event of the evening sees Charlie Haas pull triple duty (why was this show not called Haasamania?) as he takes on Jay Briscoe in a Lights Out Match. There are no rules and the match is unsanctioned. This match is a ton of fun and did exactly what it needed to do. Briscoe used cups of beer as his main weapon before the top ring rope gets loosened and Haas choked him with it. Later, Briscoe sprays a bottle of beer in Haas’ face and then picks him up before Shelton Benjamin hits the ring and superkicks him. He then hits the paydirt on Jay which brings out Mark Briscoe. He hits redneck kung-fu on both Haas & Benjamin before spearing Shelton through a table. Haas then grabs the steel wrench that connects the corner post to the turnbuckles and low blows Jay for the victory. Jay then gets on the mic and challenges Haas to one last match in West Virginia – a Texas Death Match! As I said, this was great fun and really entertaining, good job from both guys.
Overall Thoughts: The card for this show wasn’t one that would have blown anybody away. And unfortunately, none of the matches really wowed anybody. There were a lot of solid matches in this one and none of them were a chore to watch. But there was nothing on this DVD that you would go back and watch again or any matches that you would remember for a long time. The fact that ROH put this show in the Ringside Members’ area not long after it was released sort of shows you that it’s not a classic by any means. If you are a Ringside Member however, give it a watch.