With the St. Louis Cardinals just coming off an MLB World Series win, the area of St Louis was on a high and ROH had a lot to live up to. Fortunately, they delivered a solid card for their return to the area with a couple of first-time bouts taking place. Highlights include a ROH World Tag Team title match between Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team and up-and-comers Future Shock as well as Mark Briscoe entering the Proving Ground against Jay Lethal. The cherry on the cake is undoubtedly the first, and maybe last, match between the American Wolves and the All Night Express – and ROH tag team dream match. So, did Gateway To Honor (11/6/11) deliver? Read on to find out…
Tommaso Ciampa w/The Embassy vs. Andy “Right Leg” Ridge
This match was originally going to be Ciampa vs. the returning Delirious but he was pulled due to ‘conflicting interests’. I’m not really sure why they announced it if they were going to that… Anyway, onto the match. This was the simple extended squash match really although it was still an entertaining match-up. With Mia Yim and Prince Nana interfering, Delirious makes the save! He starts to chase Nana around the ring and then kisses Mia Yim. He continues to chase Nana and in turn, Ernesto Osiris and RD Evans chase Delrious. RD Evans has the funniest laugh ever. They all run to the back and back in the ring, Ridge gets a near fall before Ciampa hits the Project Ciampa for the win. Not bad at all for an opener and the crowd seemed to be into it.
Jay Briscoe vs. TJ Perkins
On the face of it, this seems like a bit of a mismatch with Jay using a predominantly brawler style of wrestling where as TJP is more of a quick high-flyer. Despite that, it worked well in my opinion. This, like the opener, was an easy to watch match that didn’t overstay its welcome. TJP’s style means that things never get dull and the only thing that held this match back is that it just felt like a bunch of moves one after the other with no story. Despite that, a decent match and the Briscoes are insanely over!
The Bravado Brothers vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Steve Corino
I think it’s safe to say that Jacobs has been horribly underused by ROH since he returned. The guy’s awesome both in and out of the ring and the response he got from the crowd in Collinsville proves he’s still over with the fans. This match had its fair share of comedy moments including Todd Sinclair clotheslining both Bravados after Corino and Jacobs grabbed his arms. They also did a double thumb in the bum which eventually led to them picking up the win. Jacobs hit the Contra Code on Lance and Corino followed up with the Eternal Dream for the victory. Not bad at all and the comedy aspect made this refreshing from the recent ultra-serious ROH style.
Michael Elgin w/Truth Martini vs. Grizzly Redwood
If you were expecting a quick squash match here, think again. This one lasted for quite some time considering everybody knew who was going to win. Despite that, Elgin looked great as usual. Even though his power is terrifying, he comes up with new, innovative ways of destroying his opponents. Elgin got the win with a modified boston crab after it looked like he botched a powerbomb attempt. As I said, this one dragged out for far too long but seeing Grizzly getting beat up is fun!
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team © vs. Future Shock
This is the tag team title shot that Future Shock earned by winning the tag lottery back at ‘Tag Team Turmoil’. This match had the simple story of Shelton being injured. He has taped ribs after the chair attack by the Briscoes and Future Shock were trying to capitalise on that. Both teams seemed to take it turns to be heels and faces with Shelton first being dominated and then O’Reilly. There were some good spots in this one but it was really missing one or two great sequences to elevate it to the next level. WGTT got the win after Haas made O’Reilly tap out with the Haas of Pain. I think the original finish was going to be the double spinebuster but Shelton completely botched it – he tried to use the ‘injured ribs’ excuse afterwards. The ending was a bit flat because of that but the crowd were definitely into it and it helped make Future Shock look like legitimate contenders.
MsChif vs. Mia Yim
This was the first Women of Honor match for quite some time. It was also Yim’s first match since joining ROH. Prince Nana has been funding Yim’s training in Japan and it certainly showed as she launched a series of impressive kicks throughout the match. In a brief back-and-forth encounter, the experienced MsChif got the win after Yim missed an impressive spinal tap like move off the top rope – MsChif took advantage and hit the Desecrater for the win. Very brief match here that never got going.
Jay Lethal vs. Mark Briscoe
This is a Proving Ground contest meaning that if Mark can last the 15 minutes or even win the match, he will get a future TV title shot. This is the first match between these two which is kind of surprising. This was another back-and-forth match and both guys had lots of offense. Both guys are fun to watch and it made for an entertaining match. Lethal got the win after hitting the Lethal Combination followed by the top rope elbow drop. Seriously, will Kevin Kelly stop calling the wrong moves the Lethal Injection? Lethal actually shouted “Lethal Injection!” before hitting the handspring cutter but Kelly still got it wrong. Anyway, despite that it was a good match, if only a bit brief.
Mike Bennett w/Brutal Bob vs. El Generico
These two were the challengers for the TV Title going into the end of 2011 and a win for either man would surely give them a psychological boost. This match, like most he’s involved in, showed how resilient Generico is and it proved that Bennett is over with the crowd as a heel. Bennett gets better and better and this match also showed that he can have a good match whilst still getting his character over. Bennett managed to kick out of a brainbuster and then Brutal Bob grabbed Generico’s leg. “The Generic Luchador” walked into Bennett but reversed the Box Office Smash and hit another brainbuster for the win. A good match between these two and Bennett is slowly improving. You have to ask if it was good enough to be on second last, though it gets a slightly better rating because the crowd were hot for it. After the match, Brutal Bob attacks Generico and then Bennett hits the Box Office Smash.
The American Wolves vs. The All Night Express
Yet another first time match-up for this Collinsville crowd and another quite surprising one at that. These two teams had a hell of a lot to live up to considering people have wanted to see this match for some time and with the rest of the show being relatively uninspiring. And to be fair to them both, they did. They managed to put on one hell of an awesome match. They started off slowly with both teams having spells of domination that built up to hot tags. The Wolves were acting a bit cocky which helped ANX get over a bit more and not only did we have some awesome double team exchanges but some one-on-one action too. In the end it was ANX who picked up a massive victory. King shoved Edwards into Richards who then fell off the top rope and through a table at ringside. ANX capitalised with Titus hitting a frogsplash and King nailing a perfect Shooting Star Press for the win. This match really helped put ANX over as legit Tag Team title contenders and I just hope they hold them soon. They proved that as a team, and as single stars, they have what it takes to put on great matches. After the match, both Eddie and Davey put over ANX.
Overall Thoughts: This show had quite a lengthy card at nine matches but only came in at around two-and-half hours. It was easy to watch with it not being so long and didn’t feature any bad matches. A couple maybe didn’t live up to expectations but the main event more than made up for them as it completely delivered. The quality of the DVD isn’t great; the hardcam looks a bit grainy and Kevin Kelly’s commentary was full of errors. Despite that, it was an enjoyable show and the crowd deserve props for being awesome too. If you want to see a great tag team match that you might not see again in ROH, you have to buy this DVD.
Overall Score: 7/10