Ring of Honor returned to New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom August 17 with “Manhattan Mayhem V.” It’s a show with a lot of history and this year’s installment had a lot to live up to. The card looks great on paper with three title tournament matches and a dream tag team match of The Young Bucks taking on the Forever Hooligans. Was the show worthy of the “Manhattan Mayhem” name? Let’s find out!
The show kicked off with a rubber match between Silas Young and Adam Page. Each man holds one win over the other heading into this contest, with Page winning in the Top Prospects Tournament and Young picking up a win several weeks ago on television. The two did a good job working the familiarity with each other throughout the match with some nice counters to each other’s signature moves. Page is a great prospect at only 21-years-old, but Young’s time should be coming soon. He has an understated charisma and is able to work and interact with the crowd like few others on the roster. The two put together a fine opener that featured some nice action, but it didn’t go overboard or overstay its welcome. Young won after connecting with his moonsault finisher, which is one of the coolest finishing moves in the company. This was a solid way to start the show.
Before the next match, Steve Corino tried to join the commentary team but he is removed by security.
The second match of the show featured the C&C Wrestle Factory taking on Adrenaline RUSH in a Scramble Rules tag team match. Scramble Rules are essentially lucha libre tag rules, where if a wrestler exits the ring, then his tag partner can enter the match without a tag. The rules played into the beginning a bit, but the stipulation wasn’t all that noticeable. I’m assuming the rules were implemented to allow the wrestlers to hit some crazy spots without worry of traditional tag rules. If that’s the case, then it succeeded. There was some sloppiness throughout the match, including a nasty looking botch from Cedric Alexander, it didn’t take away from the contest much at all. It was a fun spotfest with everyone hitting some kind of high-flying spot. ACH, who was incredibly over in front of the New York City crowd, had the best moment of the match by hitting a beautiful step-up springboard dive. In the end, though, C&C got the win with the Overtime. C&C received some boos during the match. I don’t know if it’s people the crowd didn’t like them, or if ACH was just that popular, but I did find it interesting. I’m not sure how well Coleman and Alexander would work as heels, but it’s an intriguing thought. But this was an entertaining spotfest that the crowd loved.
Up next, Mike Mondo made his ROH return when he stepped into the Proving Ground against ROH World Television Champion Matt Taven and the House of Truth. There was a new Hoopla Hottie named Casie Rae (I hope I spelled that correctly), as Scarlet was disappointingly absent. The match started off pretty slow and not much of note happened until the end. They did build some pretty decent drama with some good near falls and interference from the House of Truth. Usually, when the HOT gets involved, I think it takes away from the match. But here, I thought Martini and the Hotties’ involvement in the match helped it quite a bit. The new Hottie is pretty athletic and hit a nice hurricarana on Mondo at one point in the match. Then the Book of Truth got thrown in, which allowed Mondo to hit a curb stomp into it. The ending came when Taven hit the Climax, his modified DDT, on Mondo, which looked devastating. Sure, the name isn’t as good as the STDDDT, but it’s still a pretty good name. The match ended up being a little bit better than I thought it would be, but it’s easily the weakest match of the show thus far.
The show continued with The Young Bucks wrestling The Forever Hooligans. If I had one word to describe this match, it would be “awesome.” If I had words, they would be “Ring of Honor’s Match of the Year.” This match alone is worth the price of the VOD and is my favorite ROH match of 2013 so far. It featured incredible action from start to finish with great high spots and exciting near falls. The Young Bucks are the most entertaining tag team in world, whether it’s their characters or their in-ring work. The Hooligans have been a wonderful addition to the tag team division over the past month and I would love to see them back in the future. The Forever Hooligans got the win with a reverse DVD and knee to the face combo, but not before all four men put on a spectacular match.
The show rolled along with Marshall Law entering the ring and saying that they weren’t leaving until they had a match. That’s exactly what they got with the reveal of the August 17th mystery in Homicide and Eddie Kingston, who are collectively known as Outlaw Inc. Homicide and Kingston’s entrance was really cool and the camera work was amazing. It set the tone for the bizarre and creepy gimmick the newly returned wrestlers will be working. The only way to describe it would be like the Joker’s henchmen from “The Dark Knight.” It has loads of potential if used correctly. The match itself was nothing much. It probably would’ve been a lot better off just being the debut angle. The action dragged in the middle portions, although it might have only been a five minute match. It was a really cool debut for the new tag team.
The first of three title tournament matches was up next, with Tommaso Ciampa battling Michael Bennett, who was unfortunately not accompanied by Maria. I liked this match quite a bit more than I expected to. They told a simple story of Bennett attacking Ciampa’s surgically repaired knee, but I thought it was very effective. They also teased Bennett’s piledriver throughout the duration of the contest, which was a nice touch as it played off the move that injured BJ Whitmer. It was a solid match, that will come across well when it airs on television, as all tournament matches will be televised. Ciampa will wrestle Adam Cole in one of the two semi-final matches, which should be awesome.
The second tournament match of the night pitted Kevin Steen against Roderick Strong. This match started out fast with both wrestlers hitting the majority of their signature moves in the opening minutes. It was a cool way of starting the contest, but it did lead to the bout dragging in the middle. They had to reuse some of the same moves toward the end of the match to keep the action going, which hurt it. It was a solid match, but it was surprisingly one of the weakest matches on the card. It was a decent match, but it wasn’t anything memorable. Steen advanced to wrestle the winner of the next match in the semi-finals.
The final title tournament match of the night was Michael Elgin taking on Karl Anderson. It’s impossible to talk about this match without mentioning the crowd. The crowd was horrendous in this match. It perfectly exemplified the stereotypical idiotic New York crowd who are more concerned with getting themselves over than cheering for the in-ring action. The action in the match was great, as they played off a lot of what happened in their previous encounter at “Supercard of Honor VII,” but it was hard to get into due to the crowd. This was the second-best match of the night, but it will unfortunately be remembered more for the moronic crowd than the wrestling. Elgin got his win back over Anderson to advance to face Steen in the semi-finals of the tournament.
In the main event, the ROH World Tag Team Champions American Wolves defended the belts against former champions reDRagon. This was a highly disappointing match. These two teams have had numerous matches with each other over the course of the year, both in tag teams and singles, and this was by far the worst one. The action took forever to get going, and it wasn’t anything great once it did. It was a decent match, sure, but it didn’t live up to the expectations of being the main event of a big show. There was little flow to the moves used in the contest as it seemed they were just hitting any kind of move they thought of at the time. The tag rules were thrown completely out the window with all four men entering and exiting the match on their own free will, which made referee Todd Sinclair look pretty stupid at times. I did like the ending, however, as the storyline came full circle with Kyle O’Reilly forcing Davey Richards to tap out to an armbar to get the titles around reDRagon’s waist once more. There is speculation that we won’t be seeing much more of the Wolves, and if that’s the case, then Richards went out the right way by putting his protege over huge.
After the match, Outlaw Inc. stormed the ring again and attacked the new champions and “broke” O’Reilly’s fingers to end the show.
Final Thoughts: “Manhattan Mayhem V” is an interesting show. It didn’t feature anything bad, but other than the outstanding Young Bucks vs Forever Hooligans, it didn’t have anything great on it, either. What it did have, though, was consistently good matches from start to finish. The aforementioned tag team match was amazing and is the best match the company has put on all year. That would be the main reason to by the show, especially with the three tournament matches being shown on television in the coming weeks. So depending on how badly you want to see the great tag match would determine if I would recommend this show or not. If you want to wait, you’ll see three of the most important matches on the card for free. But that tag match may be worth the price of the VOD itself. Overall, the mileage you get out of this show will vary greatly between viewers.