Ring of Honor kicked off 2013 with two great house shows as ‘The Hunt For Gold’ and ‘Defy or Deny 2’ received high praise from ourselves. The company returned to Cincinnati at the historic Masonic Center looking to continue their momentum. The show features some great matches with latest ROH signee ACH battling Roderick Strong, Tadarius Thomas facing Jay Lethal and the debut of Truth Martini’s ‘Hoopla Uncut’. The main event pits the ROH All-Stars (Adam Cole, Davey Richards & Michael Elgin) against SCUM (Kevin Steen, Jimmy Jacobs & Steve Corino) in a match that should have big ramifications for the ’11th Anniversary Show’. This looks like a good show on paper, so let’s see how ‘Honor vs Evil’ (2/16/13) turned out!
Nigel McGuinness returns to commentary alongside Kevin Kelly, who also acts as ring announcer.
The show begins with QT Marshall coming to the ring before his scheduled match against Jay Briscoe. The microphone audio volume isn’t great but QT talks trash about the Cincinnati Reds’ former player and manager Pete Rose and says he shouldn’t be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Briscoe fortunately cuts him off to a brilliant reaction as we begin the action. QT is his usual cocky self but Jay quickly knocks that out of him by launching him into the steel ring post. Marshall comes back and dominates with some methodical offense as he riles up the crowd. QT hits a nice backbreaker/powerslam combination but Jay kicks out. Too much showboating costs him again though as Jay hits the Jay Driller for the win. This was a perfectly fine lower-card match. QT got a lot of heat from the crowd and they absolutely loved Jay. It was a decent back-and-forth contest to kick off the show.
Up next is an interesting one as Tadarius Thomas takes on Jay Lethal. Some absolutely brilliant technical wrestling to begin this one and it’s difficult to keep up with it as both men are going at 100 miles an hour. We then see a fantastic combination as TD bridges out of a submission move before going for a hurricanrana, only to see Lethal hold on and transist to an STF! TD comes back with a number of kicks that have Lethal gasping for air. A double stomp gets TD a near fall and then a Tiger suplex gets him two. Out of nowhere, Lethal hits a superkick followed by the Lethal Injection, which looked a tad awkward, for the win. This match was loads of fun and these two really meshed well together. I wasn’t a big fan of TD but after seeing this, he’s winning me round. It was quick, methodical when it needed to be and played up to Lethal’s shot at Steen at the ’11th Anniversary Show’. A really good match that made both guys look awesome.
Mark Briscoe is in action next as he faces a man who hasn’t been seen in ROH for a while, ‘Spyder’ Nate Webb. The match begins with a lot of kung-fu before Webb, who is probably just as unorthodox as Mark, uses some unique tactics to fight back. However, Mark takes advantage again with a flying dropkick to the outside followed by a suplex to Webb on the ring apron. Arachnid Kick from Webb knocks Mark to the outside before hitting a somersault. Mark blocks a running move from Webb before hitting a Dragon suplex into the corner. He follows that up with the Froggy ‘Bow for the win. This was never going to be a classic but was decent enough with some funny spots. The crowd seemed to be into it and the Briscoes are insanely over.
We continue with the action as the latest man to sign an ROH contract ACH goes one-on-one with Roderick Strong. ACH starts the match well but it’s not long until Roddy gains control. With both men on the ring apron, ACH does a crazy flip back into the ring before dropkicking Strong to the outside. He then goes for a slingshot moonsault off the ropes but Strong moves. ACH tries to go for a hurricanrana but Strong blocks it and launches ACH into the barricades! Roddy slows the match down and begins to wear ACH down before launching him onto the ring apron from the outside. ACH begins to come back and hits a nice jumping kick before a slingshot cutter for two. Roddy escapes to the outside but ACH follows up with the innovative diving move he calls the Air Jordan. Top rope crossbody gets him a near fall as Strong is in trouble. The more experienced man again fights back with a backbreaker for two before ACH kicks out of another one! ACH blocks a Gibson Driver attempt and then gets a couple of near falls with rollups. They trade strikes before ACH reverses a gutbuster into a reverse hurricanrana! Strong manages to get his foot on the rope to break the pin before avoiding a 450 splash attempt. Roddy quickly takes advantage and hits the End The Heartache for the win. This was just an awesome match from top to bottom. They had great chemistry in the ring and ACH has quickly gained a lot of fans in ROH. It was a really competitive match that made both guys look amazing. Just when you thought it was going to end, it got even better. A really, really enjoyable watch.
Up now is Truth Martini as he presents his in-ring segment called ‘Hoopla Uncut’. He is accompanied to the ring by two hoopla hotties. Truth says this is a talk show about life and life is nothing but love, pain and hoopla. He quickly discusses the main event before reading through some fan mail. He then says today’s secret word of the day is underwear before asking one of the hoopla hotties to take her pants off and she obliges. Truth is awesome. He then welcomes tonight’s guest, Adam Cole. He keeps goading Cole into saying the secret word ‘underwear’ and then tells him when he faces Matt Taven, the TV title will come home to the House of Truth. Truth says Cole is a disappointment and that leads to him giving Truth a superkick right to the face. I hope this segment becomes a regular thing!
We return to the action with Charlie Haas, who comes to the ring with a case of beer for his match against Pepper Parks. Haas gets a mic and trashes Cincinnati, fat people in the crowd and even people in wheelchairs. Nobody escapes the Haashole. Parks comes to the ring and Haas says he’s a bit pissed off because he should be wrestling for the ROH World title instead of facing Cincinnati’s worst. Parks slaps Haas before hitting a diving sommersault to the outside as the match begins. Parks dominates with a back bodydrop and neckbreaker but Haas comes back with an Olympic slam into the steel ring post. Haas continues to pick apart Parks and hits a nice belly-to-belly for two. Parks attempts a comeback and hits a powerslam for two. Haas then catches him in mid-air and hits a spinebuster for two. Haas goes for a superplex but is knocked off the ropes and Parks hits a diving neckbreaker for a near fall. Haas goes to the outside and grabs the beer case but referee Gino Colucci takes it off him. Haas then sprays a can of beer in Parks’ face before rolling him up with a handful of tights for the win. Again, not a classic but Haas is so entertaining. It was a lot of fun and the crowd can’t help but hate him. After the match, Haas goes to the outside and gets sprayed with beer by Cheeseburger. Haas kicks him right in the face before swinging him repeatedly into the barricades. What a Haashole!
We continue the action with Kyle O’Reilly facing BJ Whitmer. Some nice technical wrestling to begin with before Whitmer gets knocked off the apron to the outside and O’Reilly follows up with the running dropkick off the apron. Missile dropkick back in the ring gets him two. O’Reilly begins to work on Whitmer’s arms and slows the match down with a number of submissions. BJ fights back with an exploder suplex and spinebuster for two. Snap suplex followed by a Northern Lights suplex gets him another near fall. Tornado DDT into a brainbuster for O’Reilly but Whitmer kicks out at one and looks fired up. O’Reilly hits a knee striker before Whitmer manages to suplex him out of the ring! O’Reilly goes for the dropkick off the apron again but Whitmer gives him a boot to the face before hitting an exploder suplex into the barricades! Back in the ring and Whitmer hits a spinning neckbreaker followed by a Fisherman’s suplex for a very near fall. Whitmer goes to the top but is cut off and O’Reilly hits a super belly-to-back suplex for two. Regalplex gets O’Reilly another two before he locks in the triangle choke. Whitmer manages to pick him up and slam him down for two. Whitmer hits a number of knees to the downed O’Reilly before locking in a choke and O’Reilly has to tap. This match just got better and better and turned out to be really enjoyable. It built slowly but told a good story of Whitmer not giving up against a submission specialist who was working over his arms. Whitmer has looked awesome since returning and these two meshed well. Another really good match with both guys coming out of it looking awesome.
We’re now onto our main event of the evening with a six-man elimination tag match. The ROH All-Stars (Adam Cole, Michael Elgin & Davey Richards) battle SCUM (Kevin Steen, Jimmy Jacobs & Steve Corino). The match threatens to break down early on with Steen and Elgin going at it but things are quietened down. The ROH All-Stars dominate the early part of the match with Steen taking much of the damage. Jacobs spears Richards on the apron and that gives SCUM the advantage. Things start to break down with action happening all over the ringside area which allows Elgin to pick up Jacobs and launch him outside onto Steen and Corino. Referee Paul Turner asks for some assistance and extra refs come down to help. That doesn’t help Cole though as he’s powerbombed onto the ring apron by Steen. Cole manages to get the hot tag to Elgin who them somehow hits a Samoan drop on Corino and a fall-away slam on Jacobs… at the same time! Corino and Jacobs get their revenge on Cole on the outside though, with a nasty looking spike piledriver. The refs check on Cole and he is helped to the back with a neck injury. SCUM now have a three-on-two advantage in this one.
SCUM use the numbers game and Elgin is on the receiving end until he manages to hit a deadlift German suplex on Corino while Jacobs has a sleeper hold locked in on him! Richards gets the hot tag but with the referee distracted, gets hit by Corino’s roll of quarters. Steen hits the package piledriver and Richards is the first eliminated. This is effectively a three-on-one match for Elgin. Out of nowhere, Cole bursts through the curtain to the dismay of the referees and that allows Elgin to hit a deadlift suplex from the apron into the ring on Jacobs. Cole gets tagged in and hits the Florida Key on Steen but Corino pulls the ref out of the ring to avoid the three. With the ref distracted again, Jacobs hits Cole in the leg with the spike which allows Steen to hit the cannonball followed by the F-Cinq to eliminate Cole. Back to Elgin against all three members of SCUM. Despite that, he hits the buckle bomb followed by the Elgin bomb to eliminate Corino. Jacobs goes for a crossbody but is caught by Elgin who hits another buckle bomb followed by the Elgin bomb to eliminate him. That makes it Elgin v Steen. Steen gets a couple of two counts following a pop-up powerbomb and a sleeper suplex. Elgin hits two deadlift German suplexes (how?!) for two near falls. Corino gets on the apron but is taken out by Jay Lethal. Steen takes advantage and rolls Elgin up with a small package to win the match.
After the match, Lethal enters the ring but is taken down by SCUM. That’s until the Briscoes come down to make the save. This match was booked really well. Multi-man tag matches can be a bit hit and miss but this was definitely a hit. It told a good story throughout and the Cole ‘injury’ was a stroke of genius and really played into SCUM’s hands. Cole and Elgin especially looked great in this and it was a really entertaining match that really delivered. It achieved what it needed to and pushed things forward to the ’11th Anniversary Show’.
Final Thoughts: Overall, it was another very good show from ROH. They have started 2013 really well. I liked the theme of younger guys facing more experienced opponents and they really put that over which was great. I thought TD Thomas and ACH really made their mark with fantastic matches and the main event was also a must-watch. There wasn’t a bad match on the show with something for everybody to enjoy. Match quality overall maybe didn’t reach ‘Hunt For Gold’ or ‘Defy or Deny 2’ but I thought the show as a whole more or less matched them. Truth Martini’s ‘Hoopla Uncut’ was also a really entertaining part of the show and the venue looked great with a crowd that was really into the action for the whole evening. I would definitely recommend getting the show. You can watch it on demand from ROH’s website for just $14.99.