border wars

Ted Reeve Arena – Toronto, ON – Saturday, May 4, 2013

MATCH #1: Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander vs. ACH & TaDarius Thomas

Coleman and Thomas start the match. They chain wrestle at a fast pace, and I get the feeling that this one will be hard to keep up with. After a standoff both men make tags and now it’s ACH and Alexander’s turn. The pace gets even quicker with these two, and it’s ACH taking control. Alexander gets isolated in the wrong half of the ring. After a brief time Alexander is able to catch Thomas with a dropkick that sends him to the floor. Coleman tags in and goes for a dive but ACH cuts him off from the apron. Alexander knocks ACH to the floor and then wipes him out with a dive. Back in the ring Coleman and Thomas go at it, and this time it’s the C&C Wrestle Factory taking control. After a few minutes of C&C control, Thomas is able to fight back and make the hot tag. ACH is flying all over the place. Thomas takes Coleman out with a dive to the floor, and ACH follows with one on Alexander. Back in the ring ACH and Thomas double-team Alexander and Coleman has to come break it up. Coleman hits ACH with three rolling Northern Lights Suplexes and gets a two-count. The referee has lost control and I’m not sure he knows who the legal men are anymore. After a flurry of offense from both sides, C&C are able to trap ACH alone in the ring and hit Overtime to score the win at 10:56. That was the perfect choice to open the show, a high energy tag match between four guys the crowd likes so they were popping for everything. Both teams looked good.
Rating: ***

MATCH #2: “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett with Maria Kannelis vs. Roderick Strong

They feel each other out in the early going and as soon as Strong lands his first chop Bennett takes a powder. Back in the ring Strong goes on offense, stomping Bennett down in the corner. Strong gets distracted by Maria, allowing Bennett to briefly gain control. They spill to the floor and Strong unloads with chops. Bennett is able to catch Strong and slam his back on the ring apron. That puts Bennett in control and he goes to work. After a few minutes of that, Strong fires up and unleashes with a flurry. Strong takes Bennett up top and brings him down with a superplex for a two-count. Bennett comes back with a nice spinebuster for two. Strong avoids a charge in the corner and hits a big knee lift, a running forearm, and a half nelson backbreaker for a near-fall. He goes for the gutbuster but Bennett catches it and gets a jackknife pin for two. Bennett hits a Spear for another near-fall. Strong comes back with the Stronghold and Maria gets on the apron. The referee is distracted and doesn’t see Bennett tapping out. Strong releases the hold and Bennett nails him with a Superkick and the Box Office Smash for two. For reasons I don’t remember, CHEESEBURGER comes out and forces himself on Maria (only in wrestling does that get cheered). Bennett obviously gets distracted by that and that allows Strong to hit the Sick Kick to score the pin at 12:44. Like a majority of Bennett matches that was perfectly acceptable but not all that exciting. I’m sure the interference from CHEESEBURGER made sense at the time, but damned if I can remember what that was about now, so it just comes off as lazy and uninspired. Winning like that does nothing for Strong, and building up Bennett for a feud with CHEESEBURGER doesn’t really help either.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #3: ROH vs. S.C.U.M. I Quit Match – BJ Whitmer vs. Rhett Titus with Steve Corino

Corino cuts a quick promo calling Whitmer out, and “The Buzzsaw” charges out and takes it to his former tag team partner Titus. It takes no time at all for Corino to interfere, so Nigel McGuinness goes backstage to get a couple referees to make Corino leave. Why didn’t Nigel just do that himself? Meanwhile, Whitmer knocks Titus to the floor and wipes him out with a dive. Whitmer continues to dominate and they head back to the ring. He appears to try a super hurricanrana, you know, a move he does all the time, and Titus drops him face-first on the top turnbuckle. Titus goes to work now, wearing Whitmer down both in and out of the ring. He focuses on Whitmer’s neck, which is always good strategy given how many injures Whitmer has had. After several minutes Whitmer fights back with a series of right hands and an exploder suplex. Titus cuts him off and produces a zip tie. Whitmer kicks Titus in the face and grabs the zip ties, attaching Titus to the top rope. The defiant Titus spits in Whitmer’s face. Whitmer goes outside the ring and grabs a steel chair. Steve Corino makes his way back out, rendering the first part of the match pretty pointless. Corino offers to take the chair shot for Titus, so Titus says “I Quit” to try and save Corino, giving Whitmer the win at 11:32. That whole thing was pretty dumb. Corino got kicked out at the beginning of the match, only to come back out later with no protest from the authority figure who did the kicking out? Why was Titus certain that if he quit, Whitmer wouldn’t just hit Corino anyway? None of it makes sense, and the match was dull to boot.
Rating: *

Jimmy Jacobs and Cliff Compton run out to attack Whitmer, which brings ROH stalwarts Michael Elgin and Jay Lethal out to save the day. That leads nicely into the tag team match.

MATCH #4: ROH vs. S.C.U.M. Tag Team Grudge Match – Michael Elgin & Jay Lethal vs. Two Members of S.C.U.M. with Steve Corino

Titus is still tied to the top rope as referee Paul Turner calls for the bell. That makes this a sort of handicap match, but Lethal fixes that by nailing Titus with a superkick. Lethal and Elgin dump S.C.U.M. to the floor and take the fight outside. Titus gets cut out of the zip ties and he apparently makes his way to the back as Elgin and Lethal are destroying his S.C.U.M. brethren. Lethal and Jacobs take the fight back to the ring as the match has regained some order. Jacobs gets isolated in the wrong half of the ring and gets worked over for quite some time. Eventually Jacobs is able to thumb Lethal in the eyes and make the tag to Compton. Lethal hits Compton with a handspring elbow and now it’s Compton’s turn to get beat on for a while. Jacobs tries to interfere and Lethal knocks him off the apron with a dropkick. Lethal then takes Jacobs out with a suicide dive, but he severely wrenches his knee in the process. Elgin goes out to check on his partner, giving Jacobs and Compton time to recover. Eventually Elgin decides to go it alone and he does pretty well for himself. Jacobs tries a Spear but Elgin catches him in mid-air and powerbombs him right into Compton. Elgin then picks up both men for a Samoan Drop/Fallaway Slam combo. That gets two on Compton. Finally the numbers game catches up to Elgin and S.C.U.M. is able to take control. Elgin is able to weather the storm and fight back against the odds, but he is still out numbered. Then from out of nowhere Kevin Steen comes in through the crowd and gets in Elgin’s corner to take Lethal’s place! Nigel allows it, and Elgin makes the white hot tag. Steen is a house afire and the crowd is in love with him. They spill to the floor, where Steen hits Jacobs with a powerbomb on the apron. Back in the ring Elgin goes for the Elgin Bomb on Jacobs but Compton clips his knee. Steen hurls Jacobs to the floor and flattens Compton with a pop-up powerbomb. He goes for the Package Piledriver but Jacobs sneaks back in and gets a schoolboy rollup to surprise Steen for the pin at 20:08. I really like that finish, because Steen is trying so hard to prove that he is worthy of joining Team ROH to fight S.C.U.M., but his lack of focus cost them the victory. The match was fun stuff too, with Elgin looking like a beast and the crowd really being behind ROH and really getting into it when Steen came out.
Rating: ***¼

Marshall Law

The unannounced and uninvited Marshall Law – R.D. Evans and Q.T. Marshall – make their way to the ring in their gear. Evans talks smack as the crowd tries to shut him up. He wonders why the ROH World Tag Team Champions reDRagon are not on the show, and he thinks they should be stripped of their titles as a result. Evans continues going on and on until Tommaso Ciampa’s music hits and “The Sicilian Psychopath” is back! This is Ciampa’s first appearance since Boiling Point back in August. Ciampa takes Marshall out with repeated knee strikes, and when he goes for a running knee in the corner, Evans pulls Marshall to the floor to save his hide. Evans and Marshall hightail it to the back.

MATCH #5: Non-Title Match – GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori vs. Eddie Edwards

Kevin Kelly keeps saying that this is Ishimori’s ROH debut, but that is not true. Isihmori debuted back at The Tokyo Summit in September 2008 with a win over El Generico. So shut up Kevin Kelly. They start with the chain wrestling, with both men showing off their unique athleticism. Ishimori starts to fly and he sends Edwards to the floor with a headscissors. He goes to the top rope and wipes Edwards out with a nice monsault. Back in the ring Ishimori goes to work. Edwards soon fights back and gives a receipt by knocking Ishimori to the floor and wiping him out with a dive. Back inside now it’s Edwards wearing Ishimori down. Edwards hits the Die Hard and cinches in the Achilles Lock, but Ishimori makes it to the ropes. Momentum continues to shift back and forth, with neither man able to hold an advantage for an extended period. They end up doing a Fish out Of Water spot and Edwards almost gets himself pinned. They trade some shots and Ishimori hits a reverse rana and Edwards pops up with a big lariat. Both men are down. They rise and trade shots, a battle that Ishimori wins with a series of superkicks for a near-fall. Ishimori tries a 450 Splash but Edwards gets his knees up. Edwards lands a super hurricanana and then a basement superkick. He follows with a powerbomb and a Liger Bomb for two. Edwards then hits the Die Hard Driver to get the victory at 15:40. That was a fine match, but there was not really any reason to get invested in it. Both men are talented, they did stuff that looked good, and then it was over. I’ve pretty much forgotten about it already.
Rating: ***

MATCH #6: World TV Title Match – Matt Taven with Truth Martini vs. Mark Briscoe

Taven has been the Champion since 3.2.13, and this is his third defense. He has Truth Martini, Scarlett Bordeaux, and Seleziya Sparx in his corner. Briscoe beat BJ Whitmer, Caprice Coleman, Cedric Alexander, and Mike Mondo in a five-way match to earn this shot. They start with some back and forth mat wrestling. Mark controls first with a headlock. Taven fights back but Mark cuts him off and sends him to the floor. Truth and the Hoopla Hotties help Taven regroup. It doesn’t do much though, as Mark is able to keep beating on the TV Champion. Mark assaults Taven both in and out of the ring, as Truth and the Hotties look concerned. When Mark goes to the top rope, the Hotties distract the referee and Truth pushes him down, finally giving the Champion an advantage. Taven does some stuff but none of it is enough to keep Mark down. Mark fights back and hits an exploder suplex into the turnbuckles for two. He goes for the Froggy ‘Bow but Taven gets his knees up. Taven hits a rolling neckbreaker for a two-count. He ascends to the top rope but Mark brings him down and hits a powerbomb for a near-fall. Mark goes for the Cutthroat Driver but Taven avoids it. Taven goes for a springboard something or other but has trouble and Mark catches him in a spinebuster. Mark hits a rolling Death Valley Driver and Truth comes in and tries to hit Mark with the Book of Truth but he misses and flies to the floor. The book is in the ring by Taven though. Scarlett and Seleziya get on the ring apron and make out, which is enough to distract Mark. That allows Taven to score an O’Connor Roll for the win at 13:44. While I enjoyed the finish as much as the next guy, there wasn’t much in this match to get excited about. Mark’s character does nothing for me, and Taven’s work at this time was pretty generic.
Rating: **

MATCH #7: First Time Ever Dream Match – Davey Richards vs. Paul London

London is wearing the same gear we wore during his last ROH match 10 years ago against Samoa Joe at Death Before Dishonor on July 19, 2003. Both Richards and London start a little slowly, as this is the first time they have ever been in the ring together. London is acting cocky to get inside Richards’ head, and it appears to be working. Things get heated and they trade reversals and pinning combinations on the mat, with the wrestlers looking pretty evenly matched. Richards is tenacious in the early going, and he sends London to the floor. He follows with the running kick to the chest. Back in the ring Richards tries to follow up but London cuts him off and sends him to the apron. London goes for a springboard but Richards foils that plan with a kick to the face. Momentum continues to swing back and forth. London knocks Richards to the floor and wipes him out with a swank dive. Back in the ring London rolls Richards up for a two-count. London hits a Red Star Press for two. Richards fights back and is able to wriggle his way into hitting a Tombstone on the arena floor! London makes it back to the ring, proving that he is tougher than Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Richards immediately kicks London back to the apron. He goes up top for a double stomp and absolutely murders London’s face with it. He knew he did it too, because Richards immediately checks on London, and then stalls for quite a bit afterward. The crowd chants “You Killed Paul!” Richards takes London to the top rope and London is able to counter with a sunset bomb! London goes up top for the Shooting Star Press but unfortunately for him, Richards gets his knees up! Richards then cradles London in a jackknife pin to get the pin at 17:56. I actually really enjoyed that, but may have enjoyed it more if the Double Stomp to the face would have been the finish. These two had good chemistry and had a match similar to the one Edwards and Ishimori had, but they infused it with some excitement by beating the hell out of each other.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #8: ROH World Title Match – Jay Briscoe vs. Adam Cole

Jay has been the Champion since 4.5.13, and this is his first defense. Cole tries working the arm to start, but Jay slugs him away and sends him to the floor. The challenger takes a moment to collect himself, and gets back in the ring to receive more punishment. Cole fights back with an enziguiri that sends Jay to the floor, and Cole follows him out with a suicide dive. Back in the ring Cole hits a high cross body block from the top rope, and Jay kicks out at two to prove that he is definitely better than Davey Richards. Cole tries to keep Jay on the mat, but Jay is a fighter and he catches Cole with a full nelson slam. Momentum shifts back and forth, and Cole targets the knee, which is not what anyone expected given the condition of Jay’s injured shoulder. Jay fights back but the crowd is having a hard time getting excited about this lame duck title match. Cole avoids a back body drop and hits the Death Valley Neckbrekaer for a two-count. He goes for the Figure-Four Leglock but Jay avoids it. Jay goes to the second rope and jumps right into a superkick. He shrugs it off and kills Cole with a lariat and then hits a Falcon Arrow for two. Jay goes for the Jay Driller but his knee is too injured to hit it. Cole hits another neckbreaker for a two-count. They fight to the apron and Jay hits a Death Valley Driver! Both men fall to the floor. Both men make it back to the ring, where Jay hits a big boot and a hangman’s neckbreaker for two. Jay goes for the Jay Driller again but Cole counters with a Figure-Four Leglock! The Champ reaches the ropes. Cole puts Jay on the top rope and brings him down with a German Superplex! He follows with a big superkick, and then one to the back of the head. Cole hits the Florida Key but Jay kicks out at two! He goes back to the Figure-Four and Jay gets to the ropes. Cole tries it again and Jay kicks him off, sending him into referee Todd Sinclair and knocking him down. Steve Corino comes running out with a S.C.U.M. t-shirt, and Nigel gets on the apron to stand up to Corino. Nigel thinks about going to get help, but instead decides to handle it himself, flattening Corino with the Tower of London! That’s fun. That distraction allows Jay to hit the Jay Driller to score the pin and retain his title at 19:58. That was a little long for what they were going for, but they really got the people going by the end of it, and that’s no small feat given that Cole had no chance to win the title here. They also sowed the seeds of what would come later, which I know now, and I think that helps my enjoyment of this match. It wasn’t the strongest main event, but it did plenty of things right. Cole is clearly frustrated, but he still shakes the Champion’s hand.
Rating: ***¼