battle in the carolinas

DVD Release Date: Monday, January 23, 2012

Kevin Kelly and Jim Cornette are on commentary for both shows, which is now being done live! That’s a big step in the right direction.

Southern Defiance: Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium – Spartanburg, SC – Saturday, December 3, 2011

MATCH #1: “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett vs. Adam Cole

Bennett is rolling without Brutal Bob Evans tonight. The fans throw streamers for Cole, which is a bit much. I’m all for streamers but they should be limited or else it’s not special. They go back and forth in the early going trying to establish the pace. Bennett wants to keep it slow and Cole tries to speed it up. Cole sends Bennett to the floor with a right hand and wipes Bennett out with a house show dive. The battle continues on the floor, where Bennett is able to catch Cole and deliver a spinebuster on the edge of the ring apron. Back in the ring Bennett goes on offense, setting his methodical pace. Cole tries to fire up but Bennett cuts him off with a dropkick. Finally Cole is able to make the comeback with a lungblower out of the corner. Cole unloads with a long series of punches, a superkick, and a bridging German Suplex for two. He follows up with an enziguiri and a cross body block off the top rope for another two-count. Bennett responds with a punch to the face and a TKO for a near-fall. He tries the Box Office Smash but Cole counters to an Ace Crusher. Cole hits another enziguiri and a flash kick to the head for two. He goes for the Panama Sunrise but can’t hit it, instead getting a sunset flip for two. Cole goes back to the second rope and Bennett pulls him down into a hard backbreaker. Bennett follows with the Box Office Smash to get the pin at 9:32. That’s a solid opener and maybe Bennett’s best match ever.
Rating: ***

MATCH #2: The Bravado Brothers (Lancelot & Harlem) vs. Los Ben Dejos

Am I crazy or did TNA at one time show a vignette for Los Ben Dejos? They are Cruz and Rios. Lancelot and Rios start the match, and Los Ben Dejos quickly take control. Harlem tries to interfere but he gets quickly thwarted. Lance pulls Cruz into the middle turnbuckle and makes the tag. Harlem goes to work, hitting a delayed vertical suplex for two. The Bravados keep Cruz isolated from his partner and jaw with the crowd. Cruz avoids a charging Lance, sending him to the floor, and is able to make the tag. Rios is a house afire on Harlem, almost putting him away. Cornette compares Los Ben Dejos to Air Traffic Controllers, but that comparison isn’t really apt. Lance makes a blind tag to Harlem and the referee loses control. Lance traps Cruz in an O’Connor Roll with a bridge to get the win at 5:36. The Bravados will need to beat a real ROH team to truly be taken seriously, but that was decent filler.
Rating: **

MATCH #3: Proving Ground Match – ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal vs. TJ Perkins

They start off cautiously, jockeying for control in the early going. Lethal strikes first with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for just a one-count. The champ keeps up the pressure, hoping to put Perkins away. Perkins is able to fight back with his unique offense, particularly submission moves and kicks. They trade superkicks and Lethal tries a suplex but Perkins reverses it to one of his own. Both men are down. They get up and start slugging at each other. Lethal sends Perkins to the floor with a boot to the face, but Perkins recovers quickly and dropkicks Lethal to the floor. The champ is able to get back in the ring quickly as well, but Perkins catches him in a nice powerbomb for two. Perkins tries a rana and it leads to a series of pinning combination reversals. Lethal catches Perkins with the Lethal Combination for a very close near-fall. He goes up top but jumps right into a boot. Perkins tries to capitalize but Lethal is able to hit the handspring Ace Crusher (the second move called the Lethal Injection, which used to be the dragon suplex) to get the pin at 11:33. Perkins looked great in losing and Lethal continues his good match streak with another solid showing.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #4: Tag Team Challenge Match 1 – The All Night Express (Rhett Titus & Kenny King) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)

These are two of the best young teams in the business. The Bucks eschew the Code of Honor and the ANX makes them pay for it, causing the brothers Jackson to take a powder. Titus goes out there and puts them in position for King to wipe them out with a corkscrew dive. Back in the ring Nick and Titus start the match proper. The ANX is in complete control, even when Nick manages to make the tag to his brother. Nick interferes from the floor to finally give the Bucks the advantage on Titus. The Bucks are just awesome when they go on offense, keeping Titus away from King while cheating and executing great double-team moves. Finally Titus makes the hot tag and King is absolutely on fire. The referee loses control as all four men are flying around the ring. King hits Nick with the Coronation and Matt barely breaks it up but the crowd thinks King got him and they let the referee hear about it. The ANX sets Nick up for their finisher but Matt breaks it up. The Bucks are then able to hit King with More Bang for Your Buck to get the win at 13:42. That was excellent tag team formula stuff from two very over and very talented teams. The Bucks are really great heels.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #5: Tag Team Challenge Match 2 – Briscoes vs. Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander

All four men come out slugging and away we go. The fight quickly spills to the floor, where the Briscoes excel. Back in the ring Jay and Mark take control on Alexander as Coleman tries to recover on the floor. The Briscoes systematically take Alexander apart, much to the delight of the crowd. Finally Alexander catches Mark with a back drop driver and the tag is made. Coleman is a house afire, taking both Briscoes down and sending Jay to the floor and following him out with an Asai Moonsault. Mark goes to the floor as well and pays for it, as Alexander wipes out both Briscoes with a dive of his own. Back in the ring Coleman hits Mark with a standing rana off the top rope and Alexander follows with a big Frog Splash for two. Jay pulls Alexander to the floor while Mark hits Coleman with the Cutthroat Driver. Alexander jumps back into the ring and drills Mark with a spinning kick to the face. Jay comes back in and catches Alexander with a big boot. The Briscoes follow with the Doomsday Device to get the win at 9:45. Coleman and Alexander looked tough but the Briscoes were just that much tougher. Good stuff here.
Rating: ***

MATCH #6: Proving Ground Match – ROH World Tag Team Champions Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin vs. Roderick Strong & Michael Elgin

The House of Truth is accompanied by Truth Martini. Strong and Benjamin start the match and Strong goes right after Benjamin’s still-injured ribs. Benjamin fights back and makes the tag to his fresh partner. Elgin quickly tags in as well, eager to avenge his loss at Death Before Dishonor IX. When Benjamin tags back in, Martini interferes from the floor to give his boys the advantage. The HOT wisely focus on Benjamin’s injured ribs and keep him away from Haas. After several minutes of beating, Benjamin hits a move that the cameras miss and Cornette only describes it as a “Hail Mary.” Tags are made and Charlie is a Haas afire. Benjamin gets back in the game to hit Elgin with a superkick and Haas follows with the Olympic Slam for two. Strong and Benjamin slug at each other and Strong knocks Benjamin to the floor and follows him out with a dive. Elgin hits Haas with an enziguiri and then a spinning uranage slam for two. He hits a Buckle Bomb and Strong follows with a Sick Kick but Benjamin breaks up the cover. The referee has lost control. The champs hit Strong with the Leap of Faith. Martini goes to the top rope to interfere but he gets crotched and sent back to the floor. Elgin takes out both champions and goes up for a moonsault but Benjamin leaps up and German Suplexes him. Haas covers and gets the pin at 15:57. More good formula stuff here and the champs looked vulnerable, which I like.
Rating: ***

MATCH #7: “Die Hard” Eddie Edwards vs. El Generico

The crowd is split down the middle in support of both men. Edwards has held all three titles currently offered by ROH and Generico has held two of the three, so there’s an impressive championship pedigree between these two. They take it down to the mat and Edwards goes after the arm. Generico fights back with armdrags and such, as both men are trying to set the pace of the matchup. Edwards works Generico over for a few minutes and Generico comes back with a low bridge to send Edwards to the floor. Generico follows him out with a dive to the approval of the crowd. Back in the ring Generico hits a cross body block off the top rope for two. A Blue Thunder Driver gets another two-count. Edwards comes back and hits the Backpack Stunner for two, and then rolls that into an STF. Generico reaches the ropes. Generico comes back with a running Yakuza Kick from out of nowhere, and then goes for a suplex and both men tumble to the floor. Both men barely make it back to the ring and pull themselves up. Generico hits a Michinoku Driver for two. Edwards responds with a Saito Suplex and goes up top. Generico cuts him off with a Yakuza Kick. He tries to follow with the Super Brainbuster but Edwards turns it into a pancake move down to the mat. Edwards hits a superkick and a back fist for a two-count. He goes up top to hit a double stomp and then hits a powerbomb for two. Edwards rolls that right into the Achilles Lock and Generico taps out at 18:01. Generico is pretty much automatic at this point. Edwards is just Edwards ya know?
Rating: ***½

MATCH #8: 20 Man Honor Rumble, Winner receives a future ROH World Title Match

This is exactly like a Royal Rumble, with one-minute intervals. TJ Perkins is entry #1, and Matt Jackson is #2. They start off hot and Kenny King is entry #3. Next up is #4, Harlem Bravado. Entry #5 is Cedric Alexander, still selling the beating he received from the Briscoes earlier. Speaking of, Jay Briscoe is #6. Jay quickly eliminates King, Alexander, Harlem, Matt, and Perkins, totally clearing the ring. His next opponent is Caprice Coleman at #7. Coleman doesn’t last long as Jay’s dominance continues. Charlie Haas is #8, and the elimination streak may be over for Jay. Lance Bravado is #9, and Haas and Jay quickly dump him to the floor. Haas and Jay tear right back into each other. Mark Briscoe comes out at #10, giving the Briscoes a decided advantage. Grizzly Redwood is #11 and he goes right after Jay. Mark comes to his brother’s rescue and they go back to work on Haas. Next up is Adam Cole at #12. Lucky #13 is Shelton Benjamin, and he goes after the Briscoes, pausing to eliminate Cole. Jay and Benjamin eliminate each other, while Mark and Haas do the same. That leaves Redwood all alone in the ring. Michael Elgin comes out at #14 to oppose Redwood. El Generico is #15. Next up is TV Champion Jay Lethal at #16. Nick Jackson is #17 and he goes right after Lethal. Next up is #18, Mike Bennett and Lethal tears into him. Rhett Titus sneaks into the ring early, assuming he’s #19. Roderick Strong rounds out the field as #20. Elgin eliminates Redwood and Titus eliminates Nick Jackson. Next to go is Titus, courtesy of Elgin. Generico eliminates Bennett with a Yakuza Kick and we’re down to the Final Four. Strong battles Generico while Elgin works on Lethal. They trade dance partners and Strong eliminates both Generico and Elgin at the same time. Elgin is not happy that his tag team partner is the one who eliminated him. Lethal and Strong go at it now, and Strong is just a little bit fresher than the TV Champion. These two went the distance back at Glory By Honor X in Chicago. Lethal is able to hit the Lethal Injection from out of nowhere and he gets Strong to the apron. Strong tries to suplex Lethal to the floor but Lethal stops on the apron. Lethal hits a Superkick to knock Strong down to the floor and win an ROH World Title shot at 24:26. That was fun and a good change of pace from the usual ROH main events. Lethal going over is a solid choice too.
Rating: ***

Northern Aggression: Greensboro Coliseum – Greensboro, NC – Sunday, December 4, 2011

MATCH #1: First Time Ever Singles Match – “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett vs. TJ Perkins

Perkins uses his speed right away to keep Bennett off-guard. The crowd shows its disdain for The Prodigy early on. Perkins sends Bennett to the floor with a hurricanrana. He signals for a dive but Bennett pulls him to the floor, and then hurls him into the barricade. Back in the ring Bennett works to keep Perkins grounded and does a pretty good job of it. Bennett tries to throw Perkins to the floor but Perkins hangs on and low bridges Bennett, sending him to the floor. Perkins then follows him out with a dive. Back in the ring Perkins hits a missile dropkick to the back for a two-count. Perkins is a house afire, hitting his unorthodox powerbomb for two. He goes for the Detonation Kick and Bennett slips out but Perkins is able to land an enziguiri and a bodyslam. Perkins goes up top and Bennett shoves the referee into the ropes to crotch Perkins. Bennett goes for a superplex but Perkins knocks him down and hits a cross body block but Bennett rolls through for two. The Prodigy follows up with a spinebuster but Perkins is able to kick out at two. Perkins goes for the Detonation Kick again but Bennett avoids it, so he tries a sunset flip but Bennett kneels down and grabs the ropes to get the pin at 9:07. That was the second straight solid opener from Bennett, and Perkins continues to be a good addition to the roster.
Rating: **½

MATCH #2: The All Night Express (Rhett Titus & Kenny King) vs. The Bravado Brothers (Lancelot & Harlem)

As the All Night Express is making their entrance, the Young Bucks come out and viciously attack them! Nick Jackson smashes Titus’s knee with a steel chair, possibly injuring his knee. The Bucks look proud of themselves as King, referee Paul Turner, and Cornette check on Titus’s condition. Instead of supporting Titus, the crowd chants “Justin Bieber” at Harlem. Cornette gets on the mic and says that King can face either Bravado brother. King agrees, but the Bravados want to compete as a tag team and face King in a handicap match. King agrees and away we go.

Harlem starts the match and King takes him down to the mat and goes to work on the arm. Lancelot is able to get a tag and he stomps away on King. Even with a two-on-one advantage the Bravados use some nefarious tactics to keep control of the Pretty Boy Pitbull. This goes on for quite some time, both in and out of the ring. Finally King makes the comeback with an atomic drop and an enziguiri on Harlem. It looks like King is instinctually going to his corner but of course there’s no one there. King backdrops Harlem to the floor and then fires up on Lancelot, hitting a spinebuster for two. He hits Harlem with a t-bone suplex as the sound goes out for the second time in this match. Titus limps his way out to the ring and King makes the hot tag. His knee is taped up but Titus is still a house afire, throwing both Bravados around the ring. King tags back in and the referee loses control. Harlem gets sent to the floor and the ANX hits the Powerbomb Blockbuster to get the win at 10:31. That would have been the ideal time to give the Bravados a win for once and keep the ANX strong. The match was not too special until Titus came back and the crowd came alive.
Rating: **¼

MATCH #3: Proving Ground Match – ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal vs. Adam Cole

Both of these men started their wrestling careers as teenagers. They go back and forth to start, jockeying for position. Cole hits a hurricanrana and Lethal comes right back with a headscissors. They do the Indy Respect Standoff, popular in the early days of ROH. Lethal hits the hiptoss dropkick combination for a two-count. He follows with a leg lariat off the second rope for another near-fall. Lethal tries the handspring but Cole catches him in a release German Suplex for two. Cole presses the advantage, hitting a Northern Lights Suplex for another two-count. He follows with a spinning neckbreaker for two. Lethal fights back and this time nails the handspring elbow. Both men are down. Back on their feet both men start slugging away and Lethal catches Cole in the Lethal Combination for a close near-fall. Cole responds with a lungblower out of the corner for two. Lethal backdrops Cole to the floor and goes for a dive but Cole cuts him off with an enziguiri. The TV Champ comes right back with a springboard dropkick a la Chris Jericho and goes for another dive, but Cole catches him and hits an awesome wheelbarrow suplex onto the apron. That was sick. Cornette isn’t sure that move has a name, but I assure him that it does. Back in the ring Cole hits a cross body block off the top rope and Lethal rolls through for two. That spot is overused. They both try an inside cradle and roll around on the mat. Cole strikes first with a superkick for two. He goes up top and Lethal catches him with a TKO Chinbreaker, I guess you would call it. Lethal follows up with the Lethal Injection to get the pin at 13:12. That’s another excellent Proving Ground match from Lethal and a great showing for Cole. I really think Cole is destined for big things in ROH.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #4: Tag Team Challenge Match – The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs. Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander

Alexander and Matt start the match with some fast paced back and forth. Coleman tags in and they work Matt over with some effective double-teaming. Nick tries to interfere but he gets caught and double-teamed as well. Coleman and Nick tumble over the ropes and onto the timekeeper’s table and then rejoin their partners in the ring. The referee has no control of the match as the Bucks are able to change the game and go to work on Coleman. Matt and Nick execute awesome offense to keep Coleman away from his partner. I seriously love these guys and they need to win the ROH Tag Team Titles. Finally Coleman is able to make the hot tag and the crowd is juiced. Once again the referee has lost control of the match as bodies are flying all over the place. Alexander throws Nick to the floor and wipes him out with a dive, and then hits Matt with a cross body block back in the ring for a two-count. All four men take each other down and when they get back up it’s more non-stop offense. The Bucks knock Alexander to the floor and hit Coleman with a double Tombstone Piledriver for the win at 11:51. That was Coleman and Alexander’s best showing to date, and the Bucks were their usual awesome selves. ROH clearly has the best tag team division in the business today.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #5: Andy “Right Leg” Ridge vs. Samson

Samson is a rather large individual. He tries to use his power while avoiding Ridge’s kicks in the opening minutes. That’s exactly what happens, as Samson overpowers Ridge and intimidates referee Paul Turner. Ridge may have a broken nose, as the blood is flowing. He keeps trying to fight up but Samson just knocks him right back down. Finally Ridge avoids a knee drop and scores with a running kick to the face. Ridge scores with more kicks but can’t put Samson away yet. He charges into the corner and Samson kicks him in the breadbasket and then hits the running hip attack in the corner for a two-count. Ridge is able to slide to the apron and hit the slingshot Ace Crusher but Samson kicks out at two. Samson comes back with a hard sitout powerbomb but it only gets two. He goes for another one but Ridge counters with a sunset flip to get the pin at 8:03. It’s nice to see Ridge finally get a win but that match felt a lot longer than it was.
Rating: *½

MATCH #6: All-Star Elimination Tag Match, Special 2 Hour Time Limit – ROH World Tag Team Champions Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin, Eddie Edwards & El Generico vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe, Michael Elgin & Roderick Strong w/ Truth Martini

Haas, Benjamin, Edwards and Generico are the Red Team, while the Briscoes and House of Truth are the Black Team. Jay and Haas start the match. But before any contact can be made Strong and Edwards are tagged in. They stall a bit and then take it to each other with fury. Strong powders and his teammates get between him and Edwards for protection. Back in the ring Generico and Elgin tag in. Jay tags in so Generico tags Benjamin and Jay bails. Elgin gets in the ring to battle Benjamin, and Elgin wisely attacks the ribs. More tags are made as everyone gets a chance to work as both teams battle for the advantage. Every time one of the WGTT tag in the Briscoes make sure they are not in there. Edwards and Mark do battle, and the Briscoes are able to take control of the former American Wolf. With Edwards in a prone position Strong finds it a good time to tag in and battle his rival. That backfires though as Edwards forces him back into the wrong corner and tags Generico. The Red Team works on Strong as 15 minutes have gone by. Haas curses too much for my taste. His “badass” persona is ROH’s most irritating aspect. Strong fights back with a backbreaker on Generico and Elgin tags in. The Black Team isolates Generico for several minutes until he’s able to make a hot tag to both Benjamin and Haas and they finally get at the Briscoes! The fight quickly spills to the floor and all eight men are involved. The crowd is going nuts. It’s hard to follow all the action, as it’s happening in four different places involving all the participants. Bobby Cruise announces that Jay Briscoe and Shelton Benjamin are the legal men in the ring and they have 10 seconds to get back in or risk disqualification. That’s a good move for the referee to restore order, as 30 minutes have gone by.

The match settles a bit and the Black Team is working on Benjamin, focusing on his ribs. After several minutes Benjamin makes the hot tag to Haas and the match completely breaks down again with all eight men battling on the floor. The crowd is losing their collective mind as the brawl continues all over the place. The 40-minute barrier has been crossed. Strong and Jay choke Haas and Benjamin out with a towel. Once again Sinclair makes Cruise announce that Haas and Jay are the legal men and they have a count of 10 to get back in the ring or be disqualified. They make it back in and everyone joins them to continue the massive fight. The referees are trying to maintain order but are obviously having trouble doing so. Generico hits Elgin with a Michinoku Driver somewhere in all the chaos. The Red Team then executes simultaneous mounted punches on each of their opponents and then whips them into each other. Haas and Benjamin battle the Briscoes as 45 minutes have gone by. They hit Jay with the Leap of Faith. The Briscoes fight back and Jay hits Benjamin with a chair right in the ribs. Mark goes up top and hits the Froggy Bow and Benjamin is the first man eliminated at 47:29.

Haas comes in and tries to avenge his partner. He quickly hits Mark with the Olympic Slam to even the odds at 48:49. Jay distracts Haas and Strong hits him with an enziguiri and rolls him up to give his team the advantage again at 49:24. Martini distracts the referee but it backfires as Haas drills Jay with a chair. Generico follows with the Brainbuster and Jay is gone at 50:10. We’re down to a regular tag team match now, with the House of Truth against Edwards and Generico. Strong and Elgin focus on Generico, wearing down his back. Eventually Generico makes the comeback and dumps both Elgin and Strong to the floor, and he and Edwards wipe them out with simultaneous dives. Back in the ring Generico hits Elgin with the Blue Thunder Bomb for a two-count. Generico goes up top and tries a cross body block but Elgin catches him in a TKO for a near-fall. Elgin squashes Generico in the corner but Generico comes right back with the running Yakuza Kick and a half-nelson suplex for two as we’ve crossed 60 minutes.

Edwards is in rough shape on the floor as referee Paul Turner checks on him. Elgin decks Generico with a clothesline and goes up top. Generico cuts him off and goes for the Top-Rope Brainbuster but gets shoved back. Elgin hits a big shoulder tackle and then hits the spinning sitout powerbomb to eliminate the masked luchadore at 62:10. Edwards is facing pretty difficult odds at this point. Elgin pummels him with Roots Clotheslines but Edwards fights back with Kobashi chops. Strong tags in and goes to work. Edwards won’t quit though and fights back, but Strong cuts him off with a backbreaker for two. Elgin comes back in and hits a modified Iconoclasm for two. The House of Truth tags frequently to keep the fresh man in the ring. Edwards is able to tag Strong with a missile dropkick and he tries to build momentum. He dumps Elgin to the floor and hits Strong with the facebuster for two. Edwards then hits the Backpack Stunner for two and rolls it into an STF. Strong reaches the ropes. Both men reach their feet and trade forearm strikes. Strong runs into a Superkick and Edwards tries the Die Hard but Strong avoids it. Truth gets in the ring to interfere but it backfires. Since he didn’t touch anybody no one gets disqualified. Elgin is back in and tries an Alabama Slam but a series of reversals ends with Edwards trapping him in a jackknife pin to even the odds at 73:42.

The crowd is juiced as Strong and Edwards slug it out as we pass 75 minutes. Edwards hits the facebuster for a two-count. Strong fights back with an enziguiri as they battle on the top rope. He goes for a super Gibson Driver but can’t hit it, so instead he slams Edwards down through the timekeeper’s table! Amazingly Edwards is able to get back in the ring before the count of 20. Strong immediately blasts him with a superkick but Edwards kicks out! Now Strong locks in the Stronghold and Edwards rolls it into a cradle for two. They trade strikes and Edwards wins that battle with a huge lariat for two. Back on their feet Truth gets in the ring again and Edwards hits him with a Codebreaker and then traps Strong in the Dragon Sleeper and Strong taps out at 80:23! The Red Team comes back to congratulate their teammate and check on his condition. I must admit that I was dreading reviewing a match this long, but I was wrong. This was an incredible match that did not feel as long as it was. The booking was sound, the action was incredible, and the crowd heat was off the charts. I missed a couple of shows and haven’t reviewed Final Battle yet, but this is my 2011 ROH Match of the Year.
Rating: ****¾