Final Battle 2009

Manhattan Center – New York City, NY – Saturday, December 19, 2009

PRESHOW MATCH: Alex Payne vs. Andy “Right Leg” Ridge

This is Ridge’s highest profile match to date. Payne tries to control the action with a headlock, but Ridges escapes. Undaunted, Payne continues to hold the advantage, staying one step ahead of Ridge. They somehow manage to blow a back body drop spot, and Payne tries to cover it up with a dropkick. Payne gets a La Magistral rollup for two. Ridge fights back with a couple of nasty kicks for a two-count. A big boot to the face and a running kick to the face gets another near-fall. Payne comes back and tries a German Suplex but Ridge reverses it to an O’Connor roll and grabs a handful of tights to get the pin at 2:49. I don’t know what they expect the students to learn if this is all they get. It’s the preshow, let them go nuts and get all their stuff in.
Rating: ½*

Dave Prazak and Eric Santamaria are on commentary.

MATCH #1: Pick 6 Series Four Corner Survival – (6) Kenny Omega vs. Rhett Titus vs. (1) Claudio Castagnoli vs. Colt Cabana

Castagnoli is accompanied by Prince Nana and Mr. Ernesto Osiris. Omega defeated Castagnoli in a singles match at least year’s Final Battle. Cabana and Titus opened the last New York show, Glory By Honor VIII with a singles match, so there’s plenty of history here. Omega and Cabana reprise their tag team by going after Castagnoli, and merely threatening Titus. Their lack of a killer instinct gives Castagnoli and Titus to take control. Cabana and Omega are too smart for them though, and they come back with dueling atomic drops to send their opponents to the floor. We wind up with Omega and Castagnoli wind up in the ring, and when Castagnoli tries to backdrop Omega to the floor, Omega lands on the second turnbuckle and hits a moonsault to the floor on Titus! Cabana is in the ring now and he hits a headscissors on Castagnoli and then dumps him to the floor. Omega gets back in with a rolling prawn hold on Cabana for two. Cabana throws Titus back in the ring, while Castagnoli throws Omega into the barricade. Back in the ring Titus hits Cabana with a dropkick. Castagnoli goes back to the floor to ram Omega into the barricade again. He gets back in the ring and hits a double suplex with Titus. Omega gets back in the ring with a cross body block on both men. Cabana tries to give Omega the Stop Sign, but Omega hits him with an enziguiri and then a uranage for two. Titus throws Omega to the floor, but then Castagnoli executes the UFO on him. Omega gets back in the ring with a missile dropkick on Titus and then a dragon suplex on Castagnoli for two. Omega and Cabana battle on the rope and when Omega knocks Cabana down, Titus takes the opportunity to hit the Super Sex Factor. Cabana then locks Titus in the Billy Goat’s Curse, which Castagnoli breaks up with a bicycle kick. Castagnoli then hits Titus with a German Suplex with a bridge to get the pin at 6:17. That was brief but certainly energetic and was a good choice to open.
Rating: **½

MATCH #2: Delirious & Bobby Dempsey vs. Bison Smith & Erick Stevens w/ Prince Nana & Ernesto Osiris

Necro Butcher was originally scheduled for this match, but I believe couldn’t make it due to travel difficulties caused by the Asshole Snow Storm, so Delirious starts the match by himself! He gets double-teamed and beaten down pretty quickly by his larger opponents. The battle spills to the floor, where Delirious gets dumped into the crowd. Smith charges and dives over the guardrail to wipe Delirious out. Then some music hits and Pelle Primeau comes from out of nowhere to make his ROH return. Primeau unleashes a flurry of offense on Stevens, but Smith comes in and clobbers him with a clothesline. Smith military presses Primeau to the floor. Bobby Dempsey’s music hits and now he’s here to be Delirious’ partner. He hits a powerslam on Stevens for two. He makes the tag to Delirious and apparently we’ve got a real match here. So why was Primeau involved – just to build to Dempsey coming out? Smith breaks up a pin attempt and pitches Delirious to the floor, where Nana and Osiris take free shots while Dempsey stupidly distracts the referee. Now the Embassy takes control of the masked man. Santamaria points out that both men who came to Delirious’ aid are ROH students, and Delirious is the current head trainer. After a few minutes Delirious makes the hot tag to Dempsey. The fat man is a house afire, bringing Stevens down in the corner. Delirious charges in with a Panic Attack and Dempsey follows with a Cannonball. Both Stevens and Smith are on the floor now, and Dempsey and Delirious follow them out with simultaneous somersaults, although Delirious’ came from a much higher altitude. Back in the ring Delirious goes for Shadows over Hell on Smith but Stevens pushes him to the floor. With Dempsey on his own, the Embassy hits a Claw Slam / Backbreaker combination. Stevens appears to have injured his knee. Smith goes for a powerbomb but Dempsey backdrops his way out of it. He comes back with a lariat for two. Smith then connects on a powerbomb to get the win at 9:41. I like Smith and Stevens as a tag team, but the match was nothing special. I don’t get the Pelle Primeau thing.
Rating: **

MATCH #3: Fight without Honor – Chris Hero vs. Eddie Kingston

Hero is accompanied by Sara Del Rey and Shane Hagadorn. Does Del Rey really have a purpose in ROH at this point? I know she’s a good wrestler, but when was the last women’s match? Kingston meets Hero in the aisle and the fight is on. I think this is going to be a lot of kicks, punches, and forearms. Hero gets the first advantage and finds a chain. He whips Kingston with it, and then wraps it around his throat and mouth. He throws Kingston into the guardrail, taking out a camera man in the process. Back in the ring Hero continues using the chain to abuse Kingston. Hero hits an elbow and Kingston kicks out at one. Back up Hero hits headbutts and a boot to the face. Kingston is bleeding from the forehead. Hero tries a Liger Bomb but Kingston counters with a headscissors and a uranage. Kingston hits an enziguiri and a Northern Lights Bomb for two. Hero comes back with a series of elbows for two. They rip each other’s shirts off and trade chops. Hero hits another elbow for two. He goes outside and brings one of the barricades in the ring. Back in the ring Hero hits a Saito Suplex. Hero and Hagadorn set the barricade up horizontally in the turnbuckles. He sets Kingston up on the top and then climbs on the barricade, and ends up hitting a powerbomb off the top rope and onto the barricade. Kingston kicks out at two. I call bullshit. Hero goes back to the chain and wraps it around Kingston and tries the Death Blow, but Kingston reverses to a straight jacket suplex. Kingston wraps the chain around his arm and hits a lariat for two. Hagadorn and Del Rey interfere, and Del Rey takes a leg capture suplex for her troubles. Hero puts on the golden elbow pad but Kingston ducks a shot and hits the Back Drop Driver. Kingston tries the spinning back fist but Hero ducks and hits a low blow. Hero then kisses Kingston on the head and then hits a rolling elbow for two. Kingston gets up and hits two spinning back fists but Hero kicks out at two. He takes Hero’s golden elbow pad and hits a rolling elbow to get the pin at 15:09. If you’re into this feud and this style of match you’ll probably love this, but it went astray for me when Kingston kicked out of that ridiculously sick powerbomb. Some moves should just finish a match.
Rating: **

MATCH #4: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The Young Bucks

These two teams met at both Contention and Aries vs. Richards, with Steen & Generico getting the win both times. The video packages tonight have been pretty great across the board. Steen is noticeably hobbling on his way to the ring, and he looks despondent. Generico and Nick start the match. They wrestle on the mat briefly before taking it to the air for some of the high flying both men are known for. Steen asks to be tagged in and gets his wish, so Nick tags in Matt as well. Matt takes the advantage and it’s obvious that Steen is not 100%. Things get personal when Matt offers to help Steen up and gets spat at. Matt counters by spitting his gum at Steen, who picks it up off the mat and puts it in his own mouth just to spit it at Nick on the apron. Both men knock each others’ partners off the apron, but Generico sneaks in the ring and helps Steen gain an advantage, and he hits the front flip legdrop. Steen then knocks Nick off the apron and blasts him with a snot rocket. The former ROH World Tag Team Champions isolate Matt in their half of the ring and work him over. Matt comes back with a standing Sliced Bread and makes the tag. Nick comes in a house afire, knocking Steen off the apron and hitting Generico with a springboard swinging DDT for two. Now the Bucks isolate Generico. After a few minutes of abuse, Generico makes the hot tag. Steen is all over both Bucks, taking them both down with a simultaneous clothesline. He hits a cannonball on Matt and then an Orton DDT on Nick for two. The match breaks down a bit, with people coming in and out of the ring. Steen hits Nick with the pumphandle neckbreaker for two. He goes for a powerbomb but Nick flips out and hits a kick to the head. Matt gets tagged in and Generico gets knocked to the floor. The Bucks double-team Steen and get a near-fall. Steen comes back with a Codebreaker and he tags Generico, who hits a high cross body off the top rope on Matt for two. Generico gets trapped in the corner and Nick hits him with a running knee and the springboard X-Factor. When Nick tries that flip to the floor thing he does in every match, Steen catches him and powerbombs him on the ring apron. Back in the ring Matt hits Steen with a superkick and then Generico catches Matt and suplexes him into the turnbuckle. Nick comes back in and pitches Steen to the floor. He then wipes Steen out with a dive over the top rope to the floor. Meanwhile Matt hits Generico with the Diamond Dust, and then the Bucks hit a moonsault/splash combo for a close two-count. The match breaks down and Steen dumps Matt to the floor. Generico hits Nick with a running Yakuza kick and a half-nelson suplex. Steen follows with a frog splash, but it only gets two! He sets up for the Package Piledriver but Nick escapes it. After a couple reversals, Steen powerbombs Nick and traps him in the Sharpshooter. Matt tries to break it but Generico cross bodies him to the floor. Steen’s knee gives way and he has to release the hold. Matt rams Generico into the guardrail. Steen once again tries the Package Piledriver but Matt breaks it up and hits a superkick. The Bucks hit More Bang for Your Buck but Steen kicks out at two! Why are we killing finishers on an already injured wrestler? The Bucks each hit two superkicks and then a double superkick to finally get the pin at 17:10. That was the usual pretty good tag team match between the two teams, but the Bucks pretty much do the same stuff in every match, and really don’t understand why Steen had to kick out of their finisher only to get beat by superkicks just seconds later.
Rating: ***¼

Steen gets on the microphone as the crowd chants his name. The sound on this DVD is horrible; I can barely understand what he’s saying. It sounds like he’s cutting a goodbye promo from what I can hear. Steen hugs Generico. You know how I know those guys are gay – because they’re holding each other ever so gently. Steen then swerves us all by telling Generico he “hates his fucking guts,” and then pulls a Chris Jericho and kicks Generico in the balls. He grabs a steel chair and cracks it over Generico’s head. Colt Cabana comes running out to question Steen’s actions, so Steen kisses him on the lips and bails. It sounded like a great promo; I wish I could have heard it better. After three years teaming together in ROH and one World Tag Team Title reign, I’d say Kevin Steen & El Generico are over.

MATCH #5: Pick 6 Series – (4) Roderick Strong vs. Kenny King

They lock up and Strong grabs a wristlock. King comes back with a takedown and then locks on a side headlock. He knocks Strong down with a shoulderblock, but when he gloats Strong makes him pay with a spinning heel kick for two. Strong hits a chop and puts the boots to King. He maneuvers King to the floor, and then takes him down with a clothesline off the apron. He hits a chop, rams King into the edge of the ring frame and hits another one. King blocks a whip into the guardrail and takes Strong down with a twisting senton off the barricade. Now King takes advantage of the outside, ramming Strong’s head into the barricade several times. Back in the ring King gets a two-count. It’s all King now. King hits a spin kick for two. He gives Strong a taste of his own medicine with a backbreaker. He tries a springboard legdrop but Strong moves out of the way. King hits a few strikes in the corner and then dances to celebrate, giving Strong the chance to unleash a backbreaker of his own for two. Strong hits a dropkick for two. King counters with a spinebuster for two. Strong goes for the Stronghold but King reverses out of it and hits an enziguiri. King follows up with a clothesline for two. They take the fight to the apron and Strong hits King with the back suplex right on the ring frame. King comes back with a sunset flip, and a series of reversals ends with King hitting an enziguiri for two. He sets Strong up on the top rope and they slug it out, and King pulls Strong out with the Royal Flush for two! King goes for the double knees but misses and Strong hits the torture rack backbreaker for two. Strong goes for a crucifix but King rolls through with a schoolboy rollup for the pin at 10:27. This was technically proficient but not terribly exciting. King extends his hand, and Strong spits on him.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #6: Rocky Romero vs. Alex Koslov

This match is courtesy of the AAA promotion in Mexico. I’ve yet to see what others see in Alex Koslov, so this should be interesting. Romero gets on the mic to announce that Jack Evans and Teddy Hart are not here, so instead of the tag team match we get this singles match. The crowd is not pleased, so hopefully Romero and Koslov can get them into it. They take it to the mat and wrestle to a couple of quick stalemates. They’re working cautiously, since apparently they know each other very well from Mexico. The crowd seems to be with them now, which is good. The pace quickens and Koslov does the stupid stop sign just like Kenny Omega, and Romero just stops. Both guys stand there for a few seconds and then Romero hits a low dropkick. Romero is able to lure Koslov into crashing to the floor, and then he wipes him out with a dive that sends him all the way into the crowd. Back in the ring they decide to exchange strikes. Romero hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, but then falls victim to a kick to the back of the head by Koslov. That gets a two-count for the agile Russian. Koslov hits the Russian Legsweep and puts on his little hat. He hits the kicks to the head, which Romero no-sells. Romero hits a rana, and Koslov counters with a drop toehold. Koslov ties Romero up in a surfboard using the ropes, which looks really cool. Back in the ring Romero hits a flurry of offense and then he puts on the hat and does some dance moves of his own. Romero hits a swinging DDT for two. The fight spills to the floor and Koslov chops Romero into the crowd. Koslov leaps off the top rope and wipes Romero out. Back in the ring Koslov tries a splash off the top rope but Romero gets his knees up. Romero hits a reverse enziguiri for a two-count. Koslov comes back with a vicious superkick for two. He goes up top again and Romero pops up and locks on the Diablo Armbar and the bell rings at 11:19. The crowd is rightfully pissed because Koslov didn’t actually tap out and the bell rang out of nowhere. The match was a terrible mess of guys just hitting moves and not selling a damn thing. I understand what they were going for in trying to make up for Jack Evans and Teddy Hart not being there, but it just didn’t work for me. Plus the messed-up finish, which the commentators gloss over, didn’t do the match any favors.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #7: World Tag Team Title Match – American Wolves w/ Shane Hagadorn vs. Mark & Jay Briscoe

The Wolves have been champions since 4.10.09, and this is their tenth defense. This feud began one year ago at Final Battle 2008. This is the Wolves’ first title defense since Ladder War II almost three months ago. Richards and Mark start the match. They chain wrestle for a bit, and then Edwards gets tagged into the match. Edwards and Mark trade kicks to the back and Edwards tags back out to Richards. Mark subdues Richards with a headlock and then goes after his leg. They trade some holds and wrestle to a stalemate, and then tag their partners. Edwards kicks Mark right off the ring apron just to be a dick. Richards gets tagged back in and Jay returns the favor by kicking Edwards to the floor, and then the Briscoes level Richards with a double tackle, sending him to the floor. The Wolves attempt to regroup on the floor while the crowd chants “Man Up.” Back in the ring it turns into a pier-six brawl, with everyone kicking each other in the face and head. Mark hits Edwards with a T-bone suplex and Jay follows up with a boot to the face for two. The challengers are cutting the ring in half and working Edwards over. The Wolves use some clever double-teaming to target Mark’s knee and take advantage on him. Mark comes back with an Ace Crusher on Edwards and makes the tag. Jay is all over both Edwards and Richards. He drops Edwards with a spinebuster for two. Edwards appears to be injured, while Richards throws Mark into the guardrail and kicks him into the crowd. In what should come as a shock to no one, Edwards was playing possum, and the Wolves hit Jay with the Superkick-German Suplex-Jackknife Pin combination for a two-count. The Wolves work Jay over for several minutes. Jay comes back with a Death Valley Driver on Edwards and both men make tags. Mark is on fire with his redneck kung fu. He hits Richards with an Iconoclasm for two when Edwards breaks it up. Mark hits Richards with a missile dropkick, and then the Briscoes execute the Sidewinder (!) for a near-fall! I love that move. Jay sets Richards up for the Jay Driller but Richards escapes it. Edwards gets tagged in and he exchanges strikes with Jay. He hits an enziguiri and then charges into a big boot. He fights back with the Backpack Chinbreaker for two. Edwards hits a super Frankensteiner and Richards hits a running kick to the chest. Richards follows up with a DR Driver but it only gets two! Edwards has a Half Crab locked on Jay, while Richards has a Texas Cloverleaf on Mark. The Briscoes counter them both with small packages for two-counts. Mark gets dumped to the floor and the Wolves hit the double-team Alarm Clock and a powerbomb/lungblower combination for two. Edwards locks Jay in the Half Crab and he reaches the ropes to break it. The Wolves try a Doomsday Device but Mark breaks it up and the Briscoes throw some suplexes. Jay turns Edwards inside out with a lariat for a two-count. He goes for the Jay Driller but Edwards fights it off. The Briscoes hit Edwards with a double superkick for a two-count. Jay hits Edwards with the Jay Driller, which only gets two. I hate how that move doesn’t mean the end of a match. The Briscoes nail Edwards with the Doom to get the pin and their sixth ROH World Tag Team Title at 22:52. I think they could have cut a few momentum shifts out of the early going and had a much tighter match at 18 minutes or so, but this was still really a very good match. It does make me wonder though why didn’t they move the titles over to the Briscoes back in September when Edwards got hurt, and then you could have done the rematch here? That way the title wouldn’t have sat dormant for three months and the same result is achieved.
Rating: ***½

While the Briscoes are celebrating, Claudio Castagnoli comes out and gets in the ring. Meanwhile Chris Hero sneaks up behind Jay and hits an elbow! The Kings of Wrestling then hit Mark with the KRS-One and hold up the tag belts as the crowd chants “Kings of Wrestling.” I’m all for this.

MATCH #8: Jack Evans vs. Teddy Hart

Bobby Cruise is in the ring to announce the main event, but the lights go out, and when they come back on Jack Evans and Teddy Hart are in the ring with Julius Smokes! Evans proposes that he and Hart face off in a singles match. There’s no referee so there’s no opening bell, so I don’t think this really counts as an official match. Evans busts out an early Super Space Flying Tiger Drop. He hits a springboard 450 and goes for a cover but there’s no referee. Hart comes back and hits some wicked head-dropping maneuvers to the delight of the fans. J-Train has stepped in as the referee. Hart tries a Shooting Star Press but eats knees. Evans tries a 630 but also meets knees. Hart hits an amazing back suplex into a powerbomb. He hits another piledriver variation for a two-count. Evans comes back and this time hits the 630 senton for the three-count around six minutes in. The fans got to see Jack and Teddy do a bunch of crazy spots in a short amount of time, so I think they did the best they could under the circumstances.
Rating: *

MATCH #9: ROH World Title Match – Austin Aries vs. Tyler Black

Aries has been the champion since 6.13.09, and this is his lucky thirteenth title defense. The champ immediately bails to the floor and wastes some time. Back in the ring Black takes Aries down in the corner and stomps away, so Aries bails again. Aries bails a third time. They wrestle on the mat and Black hits a mini piledriver, so Aries bails again stomps on Black sliding back in the ring. Black hits some mounted punches and the crowd barely cares. Aries takes Black down with another headlock. This is just brutal. They take it to the floor, where Black chops Aries into the crowd. Speaking of the idiots in the crowd, they’ve brought Twinkie back. Another part of the crowd chants “shut the fuck up” while Aries literally runs away from Black, very slowly. They go back to the floor and Black hits Aries with a moonsault off the guardrail. Aries continues trying to escape Black on the floor. Half the crowd is just actively booing Tyler Black. Aries takes he advantage and works on Black’s left knee. They’re about 15 minutes in but it feels more like 45. Aries takes forever to try the pendulum elbow, so Black comes back with a kick to the head and a flurry of offense. Black knocks Aries to the floor and follows him out with a running moonsault, on his badly injured knee. Back in the ring Black hits the springboard lariat for two. He gets an O’Connor Roll for two, and then lands a running knee to the face for two. He misses the Quebrada but hits the standing shooting star press. Aries slips out of paroxysm and hits the shinbreaker / belly-to-back suplex. He goes for the IED but Black blocks it with a boot to the face. Black sets Aries on the top rope, but it’s Aries who’s able to hit Black with a Super DDT for two. Aries then locks on the Last Chancery but Black gets out of it. Black comes back with an IED and Paroxysm for two, and then locks on the Last Chancery. Aries elbows his way out of it. Black goes up for the Phoenix Splash but Aries shoves him down to the floor. Aries follows him out with the Heat Seeking Missile. A few minutes later Black tries the Phoenix Splash and misses, so Aries goes back to work on the knee. Aries locks on the Figure-Four Leglock and Black turns it over. The hold is broken and Black goes on offense to the seeming chagrin of the crowd. Black puts Aries up on the top rope, but Aries counters the superplex into a super gourdbuster. Before he can capitalize, Black jumps up and kicks Aries in the head, sending the champ crashing through the timekeeper’s table! Thirty minutes have gone by. Aries simply recovers and goes back on offense. Black reverses a whip and sends Aries into the barricade. Back in the ring Black gets a two-count, and Aries bails again. Aries tries the brainbuster but Black reverses it to a gourdbuster and sets up for the superkick, so Aries bails AGAIN. That takes the fight to the apron, and Aries hits a Death Valley Driver on the edge. Aries then shows he was playing possum with his arm injury. So what was the point of the table spot anyway? The chants are dueling, but the Austin Aries chant is murdering the Tyler Black chant. Aries hits knee strikes and then locks on the Last Chancery and Black is able to reach the ropes. Now Aries tries to keep Black on the floor and win by countout. This goes on FOREVER. Black finally has enough and fights back and this time Aries bails. The crowd chants “we want wrestling.” I don’t blame them. Now they’re chanting “this is bullshit” about 40 minutes in. Aries continues trying to run away and Black chases after him. He actually goes back to the locker room and Black follows him. A sizable group chants “don’t come back,” and then they boo when it happens. Black is carrying Aries on his shoulders and hits an F-5 on the ramp. He convinces the referee not to count them out, turning himself into an even bigger accidental heel. Aries has been busted open. Black carries him back to the ring and locks on the End Time. Aries rolls that into a pin cover for two. We’re past the 45 minute mark here and the crowd is fairly hostile.

Aries once again tries to run away so Black Buckle Bombs him onto a chair on the floor and follows up with a superkick. He quickly rolls Aries back in the ring but the champ grabs the ropes before a three-count can be made. Black goes for a Phoenix Splash and misses, and both men are down. Aries goes up the ramp again and this time he’s able to hit Black with a Brainbuster on the ramp. Now Black is busted open. The challenger barely makes it back to the ring as we go north of 50 minutes. Aries locks on the Last Chancery, and then decides to straight up choke Black and not break on the count of five, but he doesn’t get disqualified. He hits a blatant low blow, but Black begs him not to call for the DQ, so the match will continue. Aries pulls a turnbuckle pad off and rams Black’s head into it, but Sinclair still won’t disqualify him. He hits a Russian Legsweep into the steel turnbuckle. He hits a perfect 450 Splash but Black reaches the bottom rope. Aries goes back to the Last Chancery and Black elbows his way out. So Aries goes to the floor and brings the belt into the ring and the referee tries to stop him. This distraction allows Black to come back with a schoolboy rollup for two and then a kick to the head. They trade punches as 55 minutes have elapsed. They trade kicks and Black is able to take Aries down with Cattle Mutilation. Black then rolls that into Bryan Danielson elbows and back to the Cattle Mutilation. The crowd doesn’t seem amused. Aries escapes the hold and hits a brainbuster for a close near-fall. One minute remains now as they duke it out. Black hits God’s Last Gift but Aries kicks out. Before anything else can happen, the bell mercifully rings at right around 60:00 (a little short by my clock but after Injustice II I’ll take it). This whole match was just a big bowl of wrong. This was just the worst match they could have possibly put on for this crowd under the circumstances. The crowd turned on it in a number of ways and I don’t blame them. This was an absolute disaster in every sense of the word. Hopefully this doesn’t set a bad omen for 2010.
Rating: DUD

Eye of the Storm 2: Sports Network and Fitness Inc. – Manassas, VA – December 18, 2009

Dave Prazak and Eric Santamaria are on commentary.

MATCH #1: Adam Pearce & Matt Classic vs. The Set

The larger member of the Set is known as J-Sinn, and the smaller one is Lance Lude. They, along with Pearce’s partner the masked Matt Classic, are all making their ROH DVD debuts tonight. Classic and Lude start the match, which was necessitated by a terrible snow storm that caused several wrestlers to miss the show. It’s all stalling and comedy in the early going, which I’d say is the right choice given the participants. Lude hits Classic with a flying headscissors that sends him to the floor, and Pearce charges at Lude and gets sent to the floor as well. J-Sinn gets the tag and he backdrops Lude to the floor to wipe out both opponents. He sends Classic back into the ring and the Set uses some double-team maneuvers to wear Classic down, but they can only get a one-count. Classic tags Pearce, who immediately gets armdragged by Lude. Last time we saw Pearce he was getting beaten by Bobby Dempsey back in March. Pearce comes back with a big lariat. He teases a fallaway slam but hits a simple backbreaker instead, and then knocks J-Sinn off the apron. Classic enters the ring illegally and Classic hits an old-timey suplex. Pearce and Classic take turns working Lude over, using their strength to toss him around. Eventually Lude avoids a Pearce charge in the corner and makes the tag to J-Sinn. The larger member of the Set is a house afire on Pearce, and when he goes for a pin Classic tries to break it up but elbows Pearce instead. Pearce gets in Classic’s face and gets shoved and rolled up for a two-count. Moments later Pearce and Classic collide once again and Classic falls to the floor. The Set hits Pearce with a double-team DDT but can’t put him away. Pearce comes back and goes for a superplex on J-Sinn but Lude breaks it up. J-Sinn sends Lude down onto Pearce with a Super Snap Mare, and then he follows with a big splash to get the pin on Pearce at 9:13. That was perfectly inoffensive tag wrestling, and perhaps the only appearance Matt Classic will ever make, so it’s a bit of a hidden gem.
Rating: **

MATCH #2: Sonjay Dutt vs. Grizzly Redwood

Dutt attacks Redwood right away, paying no heed to the Code of Honor. He takes Redwood down and spends a lot of time posing. That gives Redwood the chance to recover, so he locks on a headlock. Redwood tries to take Dutt down with shoulderblocks but can’t do it, so he instead stomps the foot and hits a diving shoulderblock to take Dutt off his feet and send him to the floor. Back in the ring Redwood jumps off the top rope and Dutt sort of catches him with an inverted atomic drop and then a lariat. Dutt works Redwood over, and the crowd still goes nuts for snap mares. He removes Redwood’s suspenders and wears them himself. He locks on a rear chinlock. Redwood escapes and hits a flurry of offense, including the baby bulldog for two. He tires a dive off the second rope but Dutt avoids him and gets a one-count out of it. A nice springboard splash gets a two-count when he pulls Redwood up. He hits a bodyslam and a quebrada and this time doesn’t even go for the cover. He hits a second quebrada and then does the Jarrett strut. He finally goes for the cover and Redwood rolls him up with an inside cradle to get the pin at 7:45. Dutt is an extraordinarily boring wrestler and character, and the finish could be seen coming from miles away. Ever the heel, Dutt shakes hands with a fan on his way to the back.
Rating: *½

MATCH #3: Pick 6 Series – (6) Kenny Omega vs. Rhett Titus

Omega is currently ranked #6 in the Pick 6 Contender’s Series. The amount of sexual suggestiveness in Omega’s armbar on Titus is even creepier when he starts licking Titus’s hand. The crowd isn’t sure how to react and the commentators thankfully don’t mention it. Omega is one step ahead of Titus in every regard in the early going. Titus avoids a monkey flip with a kick to the face, and then goes for the sexy suplex. Omega avoids it and goes to work on Titus’s arm. They trade hip toss attempts and Omega wins that battle, sending Titus to the floor. Omega follows him out with a dropkick through the bottom and middle ropes. Titus uses the referee to distract Omega, and then lands a dropkick. He’s firmly in control now, stomping on Omega in the corner. He slingshots Omega’s neck into the bottom rope and gets a two-count. Omega tries to fire back but Titus attacks his eyes. Titus hits a hot shot and gets another count of two. He gets Omega’s head against the ring post and hits a running kick. Back in the ring Titus hits a suplex of some kind for a two-count. Titus locks on a rear chinlock and Omega breaks it, only to get slammed down to the mat by his hair. Now Titus locks on a headscissors. Omega tries to power out of it but his neck is too damaged. They trade strikes for a while until Titus hits a chinbreaker. Omega comes back with a dropkick to the face. He then hits a couple of Polish Hammers and a spin kick for two. Titus gets up and tries his version of the bulldog, but Omega counters with his own for a two-count. Omega hits a uranage slam for another two-count. He once again tries Croyt’s Wrath but Titus grabs the referee and slips out of it, and with the referee still distracted Titus hits a low blow. Titus hits a standing blockbuster and puts his feet on the ropes during the pin but Omega still kicks out. Omega comes back and hits a running elbow in the corner and then a nasty looking springboard dropkick to the back of the head. He hits the Dragon Suplex but Titus kicks out. Well there goes that finisher. Omega goes up top but Titus pops up and hits the Super Sex Factor for two. Titus sets Omega up for a Super Muff Driver but Omega escapes and hits Hadouken. Omega then finally hits Croyt’s Wrath to get the pin at 15:45. Who on earth gave these two this much time? It felt longer than it was. Just once too I’d like to see work on a body part pay off, like Omega shouldn’t hit the Croyt’s Wrath because his neck is too badly hurt and he has to rely on the Dragon Suplex or something else instead. Come on, work with me here people.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #4: Erick Stevens & Bison Smith vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico

I like the idea of Stevens & Smith together as a tag team. They’re accompanied by Prince Nana and Mr. Ernesto Osiris. Generico and Stevens start the match. Both teams need a win since tomorrow night the Embassy is battling Delirious & Necro Butcher, while Steen & Generico are battling the Young Bucks. Stevens overpowers Generico early on, which is no surprise. Generico comes back with a series of armdrags and shows how much quicker he is. Stevens makes the tag to Smith, and Generico responds by not tagging out. Generico tries to take Smith off his feet but can’t do it with shoulderblocks that’s for sure. He makes the tag to Steen, who seems to be having trouble with his knee. Even so, Steen hits Smith with a vertical suplex for a one-count. Generico gets tagged back in and throws forearms at Smith to little effect. Smith tosses Generico into the air and lets him fall chest-first on the canvas. He throws Generico to the floor and Stevens hurls Generico into the crowd. Bison goes to the floor and dives over the guardrail, wiping Generico out. That was impressive. Generico and Smith get back in the ring while Stevens attacks Steen’s knee on the floor. Stevens gets tagged in and hits the Embassy Elbow for two. A few moments later, Generico rolls under a clothesline and tags Steen into the match. Steen is a house afire, leveling Stevens with a dropkick off the second rope. He hits the cannonball, and then has to fight off Smith. Generico hits Smith with a drop toehold and Steen hits the front flip legdrop, hurting his own knee. Smith goes to the floor and Generico wipes him out with a dive. Steen hits Stevens with the pumphandle neckbreaker, and once again hurts himself. He covers but only gets two. He goes up top for the Swanton but Stevens gets his knees up. Generico gets tagged in and he hits Stevens with a swinging DDT for two. Steen and Generico both go up top, but Nana pushes Steen off the ropes, causing even more damage to his knee. Generico tries a cross body on Stevens but gets caught and rammed into the turnbuckle. Stevens goes for the Choo-Choo but Generico cuts him off with the running Yakuza. Generico goes for the Super Brainbuster but Smith comes in and puts Generico on his shoulders for a Doomsday Shoulder Block. Smith hits a huge lariat and Stevens hits the Doctor Bomb for the pin at 10:31. Stevens and Smith as a team is money. The match was quite good and used Steen’s injury appropriately, ensuring that the Embassy team looked good.
Rating: ***

MATCH #5: Pick 6 Series – Colt Cabana vs. (3) Chris Hero

This is a Pick 6 Contender’s Series matchup. Hero is ranked #3, and is accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. Cabana goes ringside and grabs a fan’s birthday hat, much to the delight of the crowd. He asks for another party hat and puts it on Todd Sinclair. During the pre-match search, Sinclair finds Matt Classic’s mask tucked in Cabana’s jacket. They start cautiously, feeling each other out. Hero stalls a bit, arguing with a fan at ringside. Back in the ring Hero utilizes the headlock to take Cabana down. Cabana comes back with a headscissors that Hero has difficulty escaping. Hero finally does escape by getting to the ropes, and then once again jaws with fans. Back in the ring Cabana takes control with his usual stuff. Cabana goes to the second rope, but when the referee isn’t looking, Hagadorn trips Cabana up and he falls on his face. Hero is firmly in control now. He uses a variety of elbows and holds for several near-falls. Cabana ducks a blockbuster attempt, and then ducks another elbow and gets a series of pinning combinations for two-counts. He hits a series of jabs and a big splash for two. He tries Billy Goat’s Curse but Hero avoids it. He goes to the top rope and Hero joins him up there. Cabana knocks Hero down, but then Hero charges in and hits a big boot, sending Cabana to the floor. Hagadorn takes a couple of cheap shots and sends Cabana back inside. Hero hits a rolling elbow for two. Cabana comes back and goes for as many pins as possible but he can’t put Hero away. Hero comes back with another rolling elbow and once again gets two. Cabana comes back with a move Santamaria calls “flying butt scissors,” and Prazak calls it the “reverse flying ass.” I like the first one better. Either way it only gets two. Cabana goes for the Colt 45 but Hero avoids it. He goes for the Flying Apple but Hagadorn gets on the apron and gets hip tossed into the ring. Cabana dumps Hagadorn to the floor, giving Hero time to put on the loaded golden elbow pad. Hero hits Cabana in the back of the head with it, and then once more from the other side for good measure to get the pin at 12:41. That was one of the better Cabana matches I’ve seen in a while, as he wasn’t quite as goofy and Hero was his usual excellent self.
Rating: ***

MATCH #6: Austin Aries & Kenny King vs. The Young Bucks

Aries cuts an awesome promo before the match, telling the Young Bucks that their offense is weak and that wearing hideous, 1980s matching gear with tassels is lame, both points I agree with. He and King then unveil some hideously ‘80s matching gear of their own. Aries says their tassels are on back order, but they didn’t need them for a B-town like Manassas anyway. Matt Jackson starts the match with the ROH World Champion Austin Aries. The champ immediately takes Matt down to the mat and tears off one of his boot tassels and puts it down his pants. Matt focuses on getting his tassel back, and when he does he wraps it around Aries’ neck. That’s disgusting. Aries tags King into the match for the first time. King spends too much time taunting the Bucks, and Matt gets an armdrag and makes the tag to his brother Nick. The Bucks tag in and out, keeping the fresh man in the ring. Aries puts a stop to that and tags back into the match as they isolate Matt’s arm. They tag in and out just like the Bucks, just to be jerks. Naturally their uppance does come as Matt moves out of the way of an Aries flying knee and it hits King instead. The Bucks hit Aries with a double dropkick and both Aries and King are trying to regroup on the floor. Back in the ring things continue to go the Bucks’ way. They go for a double-team move but Aries low-bridges Nick, sending him crashing to the floor, and Aries and King once again go to work on Matt. They incorporate cartwheels into their repertoire to once again just be jerks. I love it. To really drive the point home about the Bucks’ ‘80s gear, Aries hits a big boot and King follows with a legdrop. After several minutes of abuse Matt hits a flipping Diamond Dust and tags in Nick. The blond Buck is all over both King and Aries. Nick hits King with the slingshot X-Factor. The Bucks continue to use double-team moves but King is able to kick out. Aries interferes and hits Matt with the IED. He and King execute their own version of More Bang for Your Buck but they can’t complete it. Aries goes for another IED but Matt avoids it and King takes it instead. Matt takes Aries out with a superkick, and then the Bucks hit King with More Bang for Your Buck for the bug upset win at 12:56! I’m normally not a huge fan of Aries but his character really worked for me tonight. He and King are a great team and the Bucks felt a little more reigned in than usual. After the match Aries and King blame each other for the loss. With all of their antics there should be plenty of blame to go around.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #7: Pick 6 Series – (4) Roderick Strong vs. (5) Tyler Black

Black has a shot at ROH World Champion Austin Aries tomorrow night in New York City. Strong is currently #4 in the Pick 6, Black is #5. They start off slowly, since this is their third time meeting in the last three months they know each other very well. Strong gets the first advantage and zeroes in on Black’s previously injured neck. He levels Black with a leg lariat and gets a two-count. Strong goes right back to the neck area, working him over with a variety of submission holds and strikes. Black punches his way out of a hold and hits a flurry of offense, including a dropkick to the face. He takes time firing up for a charge and Strong powerslams him instead for two. Black comes back with a modified Shining Wizard and both men are down. This has been a pretty even matchup so far. Black hits an Alabama Slam and a quebrada for two. He tries the Springboard Clothesline but Strong blocks it and tries a backbreaker but Black counters that and sends Strong to the floor. Black wipes Strong out with a somersault over the top rope to the floor. Back in the ring Strong comes back with a Falcon Arrow for two. Strong then hits two uranage backbreakers for a two-count. A leg cradle suplex gets another two-count for Strong. A series of reversals ends with Strong hitting a uranage slam for two. Black kicks his way back and gets a quick small package for two. He hits another kick to the head, and Strong returns the favor. Black responds with a standing shooting star press for two. He hits the running forearm in the corner and a tornado DDT for two. He goes up top and Strong stops his climb and hits a vicious chop. Black knees his way out and hits another kick to the head. He follows Strong into the ring with a springboard lariat and a superkick, and the F-5 for two. He goes for the Buckle Bomb but Strong backs him into the corner and then hits a backbreaker and a spinning Ace Crusher for two. Strong hits the gutbuster, but Black comes back with the Pele Kick. Strong tries the running Yakuza but Black counters with a Gibson Driver for two. Black once again sets up for the Buckle Bomb but can’t hit it. Strong comes back with a kick to the head and the rack backbreaker for two. They take it to the ring apron and Strong hits an enziguiri and then drops Black back-first on the apron but it only gets two! Strong goes for the Gibson Driver but Black reverses it, but then Strong reverses that to a God’s Last Gift for two! Once again Strong goes for the Gibson Driver but Black blocks it and hits a superkick and a Pele Kick. Strong brushes it off and hits the running Yakuza and then two Gibson Drivers to get the pin at 21:06! These two definitely have something special going on. This sets Strong up as a potential first challenger if Black is able to win the ROH World Title tomorrow night. What a terrific match.
Rating: ****

MATCH #8: Rocky Romero & The Briscoes vs. Alex Koslov & The American Wolves

The Wolves are the tag team champions, and they are accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. Tomorrow night the Wolves will defend those titles against the Briscoes in New York City. Romero and Richards are former stable mates in the No Remorse Corps and former ROH World Tag Team Champions. They lost the belts to the Briscoes. Also, Romero had many battles against the Briscoes when he was a member of the Rottweilers. So there’s plenty going on beneath the surface of this match. Richards and Romero start the match. They start off cautiously, throwing a few kicks but nothing major. They trade snap mares, and Richards bails to the floor to regroup. Back in the ring Richards straight up spits on Romero, and gets slapped in the face for his troubles. Romero hits a headscissors and then locks on a flying armbar. Richards reverses it to a Texas Cloverleaf, which Romero reverses to a small package for two. They block each other’s kicks and try a dropkick at the same time but neither can hit. Richards tags his fellow American Wolf Eddie Edwards and Romero tags Mark Briscoe. This is Edwards’s first match since Ladder War II in September. He might have a little ring rust, because the Briscoes dominate him. Edwards hits a chinbreaker and makes the quick tag to Koslov. It turns out that Koslov does the same stupid stop sign thing that Omega does. The match turns into a pier-six brawl, and the good guys hit simultaneous fallaway slams, sending all three of their opponents to the floor. Richards is so mad that he puts on Koslov’s hat and takes his belt on his way back to the locker room. Edwards and Koslov follow suit as the crowd chants “Man Up.” Then they come back. Okay. Santamaria makes a stupid crack about how both Russia and the United States are communist countries now. Shut up Santamaria. Back in the ring Jay works over Richards and makes the tag to Romero. Soon after Mark tags in and Richards backs him into a corner, and now the Wolves and Koslov triple team him. Koslov viciously attacks Mark’s knee, and Richards follows suit. Finally Mark makes the tag to his brother Jay, who is the proverbial house afire. Jay hits a splash off the top rope on Richards for two. He sets up for the Jay Driller but Richards blocks it. Edwards gets tagged in and goes for the backpack chinbreaker but Jay blocks it and hits the STO into the turnbuckle. Romero and Mark come in and kick Richards and Koslov down to the floor, and then commence the clubberin’ on Edwards. Mark hits Edwards with an exploder suplex for two. He goes to the second rope and hits a flying knee to the face for two. He tries the Cutthroat Driver but Edwards avoids it and hits an enziguiri. Richards sneaks into the ring and the Wolves hit a double-team Alarm Clock. Edwards and Koslov hit simultaneous superkicks on Mark while Richards hits the German Suplex for two. We’re left with Edwards and Mark in the ring exchanging forearms and slaps. Mark hits an exploder suplex, and Edwards responds with a clothesline and they both sell. I hate that spot. Koslov and Romero get tagged in and they go at it. The match completely breaks down as the referee loses control. The Briscoes and the Wolves take each other to the floor, while Koslov hits a fallaway slam off the top rope on Romero. The Wolves and the Briscoes fight to the back, leaving this a one-on-one match. Koslov puts on his hat and hits the dancing boots for a two-count. Romero comes back with a reverse enziguiri for a near-fall. They try to trick each other with dives to the floor, and Koslov wins that battle. Back in the ring Koslov hits a Frog Splash for two. Romero comes back with a backslide for two. Koslov responds with a brutal superkick for two. He goes for the Russian Legsweep but Romero reverses and hits a German Suplex followed by the knockout kick to get the win for his team at 22:54. The finish was a little anti-climactic but for over 20 minutes all six guys worked hard and beat the crap out of each other, which always makes for a fun main event.
Rating: ***¾

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