Ring of Honor returned to Rahway, NJ for the first time in three years with ‘Killer Instinct’. The show, named after ROH World Title challenger Jay Lethal, had a number of interesting bouts on the card. Lethal, in his hometown, took on Kevin Steen while we also get to see Richards vs. Mondo II, The Briscoes vs. Cole & Edwards and SCUM defending the ROH World Tag Team Titles. So, how did ‘Killer Instinct’ (10/6/12) turn out?
We kick off the show with what looks like a mismatch of styles as Michael Elgin takes on Mike Bennett. Both men are accompanied by their usual managers; Elgin reluctantly with Martini and Bennett with Maria. This is the first time these two have faced and it should be an interesting contest. The match went as expected; Elgin used his power moves, including an awesome stalling suplex, while Bennett tried to use ring smarts to beat him. Bennett hits a Box Office Smash on the outside after Martini gets in Elgin’s way… again. Elgin finally gets the upper hand back and hits the spinning back fist followed by the buckle bomb and then the Elgin bomb for the win. It was obvious who would win this with Elgin’s ROH World Title shot at ‘Glory By Honor XI’ coming a week after this show. Nevertheless, it was a good opening bout and proved once again that Bennett is improving.
Next up we see the debut of 3.0 (Shane Matthews and Scott Parker) as they face The Bravados. Roderick Strong is on commentary for this one, joining Kevin Kelly who is alone for the evening. Commentary line of the night for Strong as Matthews hits a couple of head scissors: “Shades of Kelly Kelly there…”. This was a good match and I’d like to see both of these teams get more bookings in 2013. The Bravados have been so misused and have improved massively. 3.0 looked sloppy at times but overall, I was impressed. They were given time and put on a really enjoyable match. The Bravados win with a double team move and then suckerpunch 3.0 after the end of the match.
Third match of the night sees newcomer Bobby Fish go up against QT Marshall. Marshall cuts a pre-match promo saying this may be the Garden state but it’s the worst garden he’s ever seen. He then says after he has defeated Fish he’s going to go to New York City and have sex with somebody’s wife. Yeah… The match is a decent one but not one that you’ll be in a rush to go back and watch. Fish looked good and while Marshall isn’t a bad wrestler, he’s very bland and generic. He may be a good worker but I’m yet to see anything from him that warrants his spot on the ROH roster. The match gains some momentum towards the end and Fish picks up the in with a jumping spin kick to Marshall’s head.
Now we head into our ROH World Tag Team Title match as SCUM (Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs) defend against Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) and Rhett Titus & BJ Whitmer. This will be an elimination match with only two men allowed in the ring and after a good few minutes of all three teams brawling on the outside, the action returns inside the squared circle. Rhett seems to get beaten up for the majority of the match by both heel teams – something that tends to happen in every tag match he is involved in recently. WGTT get eliminated after a terrible spot where Haas and Whitmer were both trying to grab one of the titles to use. Jacobs comes off the top and onto the belt that is between the two men; that causes Haas and Whitmer to collide and Haas is then rolled up by Titus. To get his revenge, Haas hits Titus over the back with a chair as he is whipped into the ropes. Apart from the fact that the chair didn’t actually hit Titus… Corino follows up the backdrop driver to retain the titles. This was going well and was a pretty good three-way tag match until the horrible ending. A really contrived spot led to one elimination and a sloppy looking chair shot led to the other. A shame but still a good match up to that point.
We begin the second half of the show with Roderick Strong facing Kyle O’Reilly. QT Marshall joins Kelly on commentary and says Bobby Cruise should be put in prison because he robbed him. I’m presuming he meant Bobby Fish… This match was exactly how I thought it would be; hard-hitting and awesome. Both guys are great and they meshed together really well. It was full of strikes but never got too much. There was plenty of back-and-forth action in this too and I’d be more than happy to see another match between these two somewhere down the line. Roddy got the win after some nasty strikes followed by End The Heartache (vertical suplex flipped into a backbreaker). Really good match and a great start to the second half of the show.
Following that we see Mike Mondo taking on Davey Richards. The story behind this match is that they faced each other before and went to a time-limit draw. It also sees Mondo continuing his rise in ROH and trying to prove he belongs in the ring with the big boys. Jim Cornette joins Kelly for commentary on this one. On paper, this may not look that exciting but it turned out to be a very strong match. Mondo has improved massively since first coming into ROH and mixes good technical wrestling in with some more athletic moves for a good mix. Davey looked good as always and this was one of his first matches back after his hiatus. The only thing I didn’t like about this match was that Mondo ‘injured’ his left arm and it began to bleed. Davey didn’t work on it at all which I thought was a missed opportunity. After a series of ankle lock attempts from both men, Davey locks in a cloverleaf and Mondo taps out. Davey cuts a promo afterwards saying he doesn’t care about what happens outside the ring and that Mondo has come in and earned his respect.
Some more tag team action up next as Eddie Edwards and Adam Cole face The Briscoes. Mike Bennett becomes the latest man to join commentary and save us from Kevin Kelly talking to himself. This was during the brief Cole/Edwards team and they do go together well, hitting some nice double team moves including the backpack chinbreaker followed by a frog splash that almost wins them the match. The Briscoes fight back with a death valley driver and froggy elbow combo for a near fall. “This is awesome” chants and shortly after, Mark fights off Eddie with some redneck kung-fu and the Briscoes then hit the Doomsday Device for the victory. That really was a fantastic match. You always expect the best from the Briscoes and this was no different. Cole and Edwards work well as a team and both teams had great chemistry in the ring. Some near falls, great sequences and drama towards the end. Really entertaining match.
On to our main event now as home town hero Jay Lethal challenges for Kevin Steen’s ROH World Title. Lethal is finally getting his shot at Steen after proving he had a ‘killer instinct’ hence the name of the show. Lethal’s parents are at ringside to watch. The beginning of the match really sets the tone for the match. Lethal hits a superkick as the bell is rung and then four consecutive suicide dives to Steen on the outside! The crowd are really into this one and go crazy as Steen powerbombs Lethal onto the ring apron. Steen tries to keep Lethal grounded with power-based moves while Lethal uses his speed advantage to good effect. Lethal puts Steen in the Koji clutch while Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs come down to ringside to help Steen to the bottom rope. Lethal hits the Hail to the King twice and then takes out SCUM on the outside. Dragon suplex gets him a near fall as the crowd begin to buy into Lethal winning. Lethal hits another superkick and the Lethal Injection but Steen just manages to roll to the outside. Lethal’s mom then throws her drink at Steen as he spits at her in retaliation and Lethal goes crazy, beating down on Steen. Referees and security eventually break them up, SCUM leaves and Lethal paces around looking pissed off. Lethal chases Cornette backstage and Bobby Cruise announces the match has been ruled a no contest to a chorus of boos from the crowd. The match up until the end was very good and has me looking forward to the inevitable rematch. They worked well together and the crowd believed Lethal could win. I wasn’t a fan of the end and neither were the fans. After the show ends, we see backstage footage of Lethal flipping out and throwing Cornette over a table – ending his involvement in ROH both on-screen and creatively for the time being.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed the show. The first half was solid without being spectacular but the second half really delivered. Roddy vs. O’Reilly was as good as I’d hoped, Mondo and Richards was a very good match and the Briscoes vs Cole/Edwards tag was also very enjoyable. The one thing I’d note is that the crowd were pretty dead apart from the main event which was slightly disappointing. The end to the main event wasn’t really my kind of thing but it has set up a good few months of storylines and is probably one of the major points in ROH’s recent history. For that reason, and the fact that there are a few very good matches on this show, I’d give it a recommendation.