With Ring of Honor celebrating its 10th year of existance, it’s only fitting that they would come back to the place where the company was born. ROH returned to Philadelphia with a stacked card for the Philly fans who have been missing out on some ROH action. Davey Richards defends the World Title against Jay Lethal. Local CHIKARA talent invades as Jigsaw and Hallowicked enter the Proving Ground against The Briscoes and Chris Hero has his last match for the company. All that and much more, including a stand-out performance from Adam Cole, on ‘The Homecoming 2012′ (1/20/12):
Kevin Kelly and Bill Burger on commentary this evening. Before the first match, Bobby Cruise notifies us that Eddie Edwards will not be competing tonight due to a staph infection. Edwards comes out and complains about not being cleared to compete by the doctor in the back before apologising.
Our first contest of the evening is Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team up against Future Shock.Both Haas & Benjamin cut brief promos before the match saying how much they hate Philadelphia – cheap heat! This was a good opening bout and it must be said that WGTT are getting a lot of heat now they’ve turned heel. They controlled a lot of the match but Future Shock fought back and there was some good action. The end came when O’Reilly accidentally hit Cole which allowed WGTT to hit Wrestling’s Greatest Finisher (double powerbomb) for the win. I think this match showed what was wrong with Future Shock – good win against an established team but came up short.
Up next is a four corner survival match between Tommaso Ciampa, Andy ‘Right Leg’ Ridge, Mike Bennett and Grizzly Redwood. As four corner survival matches go, this wasn’t great. There wasn’t much interaction between all four men, instead Ciampa and Bennett formed a team and isolated Redwood and then Ridge. Eventually their impromptu team broke down and the kast couple of minutes were an improvement. Ciampa got the win after catching Grizzly, who was going for a suicide dive, hitting an air raid crash on the apron and then the Project Ciampa. Was a bit too long and lacked the sort of action you normally see in these kind of matches.
Steve Corino then came out to the ring to address his future in ROH after losing to Kevin Steen at ‘Final Battle 2011′. He says despite losing, he has finally earned the respect of the fans, the ROH office and his peers. He continues that in 2012, he is not done and will be back in the ring. Steen cuts him off and tells him he’s still an evil man – it’s in his blood. He says that he used to be his idol and that Philadelphia was the birthplace of ‘The King of Old School’. He says he doesn’t understand why he is so desperate to get the respect of Jim Cornette. He tries to goad Corino into doing something but instead he decides to leave which leads us into our next contest.
Kenny King comes out for his scheduled match against Kevin Steen who is already in the ring. This was Steen’s first match back in ROH after winning his job back at ‘Final Battle 2011′. This was a decent match that started off with lots of brawling. Steen was his usual crazy self and even kissed a guy in the front row. Unfortunately, this one was a bit sloppy in places and the fans weren’t really into it – probably because the result was so obvious. It was nice to see Steen in action though and he’s just damn entertaining and he got the win after an F-5. After the match, Rhett Titus got in the ring on crutches and tried and failed to attack Steen. Steen kicked Titus’ knee, used the crutch on it and then locked in the sharpshooter before leaving.
After that one, we have Michael Elgin taking on Chris Hero. Shane Hagadorn comes down to the ring before the match and offers his services to Hero which he turns down. Hero goes with some comedy early on which annoys Elgin. This was a really good last match for Hero in ROH – it typified his career in the company with lots of strikes and cravates which is never a good thing. The only slight ting about this match is that the last couple of minutes or so were unneeded and dragged a little but I think they wanted to get close to the time limit so I can’t fault them really. Overall, a very good match and a massive win for the always impressive Elgin who kicked out of a rolling elbow and rolling boot. He got the win with the spinning sit-out powerbomb after a Truth Martini distraction. Hagadorn comes back down after and tells Hero that he needs him, after a couple of minutes of abuse, Hero lays him out with an elbow before going to the back.
Some more House of Truth action next as Roderick Strong comes to the ring for his No Holds Barred bout against Eddie Edwards. Edwards is out injured so Strong asks Bobby Cruise to ring the bell but before he can, Adam Cole hits the ring and we have a match! Martini gets knocked unconscious by a Cole superkick as the match begins. This was another great match and I really liked the way they decided to go with Cole as Edwards’ replacement – it’s a win-win situation. Cole took a lot of punishment but just wouldn’t give up and the crowd were completely behind him. Some nice spots in this one that really helped the flow of the match. Michael Elgin hit the ring and began to attack Cole before Edwards stormed the ring and took him out. Cole almost got the win with a front suplex on a chair but Truth Martini recovered to break the count which allowed Strong to hit a suplex into a backbreaker for the win. After the match, Cole got a standing ovation from the crowd – a new Ring of Honor star has been born.
We have some CHIKARA action now as Jigsaw & Hallowicked enter the Proving Ground against The Briscoes. This match continued the run of really entertaining matches. It’s always nice to see something different and the CHIKARA team really brought that. Both teams had quite a lot of chemistry and it made for an enjoyable back-and-forth match that the Briscoes mostly dominated with Jay double stomping Jigsaw through a ringside table! Towards the end, various members of the CHIKARA roster came to support their men and after Jay Briscoe got distracted trying to take out Saturyne until Fire Ant caused him to stop. This allowed Jigsaw to hit Jay with a superkick and then he rolled him up for the pin. The Briscoes looked on angrily and said that CHIKARA has signed its own death wish. Ultramantis Black got on the mic and said that the Briscoes don’t respect the mask and that soon, CHIKARA will take something sacred to them – the ROH World Tag Team titles. Jigsaw & Hallowicked look like they will get their shot at the titles at the ‘Synergy’ event in April.
Tonight’s main event sees Davey Richards defending his ROH World Title against Jay Lethal.This is a match that fans have wanted to see for a while and I’m glad to say that these two didn’t disappoint. The simple story of this one was that both guys are so good – they knew what each other was going to do and that led to a lot of interesting reversals and submission moves. They kept the match interesting throughout and the fans loved it. Roderick Strong interfered at one point but quickly got taken out by Lethal. The TV Champion almost won after the Lethal Injection but Richards just about kicked out. In the end, Richards retained after several kicks to the head. Please, just get a damn finishing move already! Brilliant match and a fitting one to end such a great show. Post match, both men agree to a rematch at the next TV tapings.
Overall Thoughts: With Ring of Honor returning to Philadelphia, everybody knew that they had to deliver a strong show and they certainly did that. There wasn’t one bad match on the entire card and the last four matches were all very good. There was something for everybody on this one and it’s an enjoyable watch all the way through. The main event steals the show but the Briscoes/Team CHIKARA match is also great, and Adam Cole puts in a terrific performance against Roderick Strong. You can’t go wrong with buying this DVD – you will not be disappointed.
Overall Score: 8.5/10