Last Week: After two weeks of recapping the first thirteen ROH TV, Ring of Honor returns with full matches and highlights from some of ROH’s live events during the end of 2011 - “Road Rage”.
ROH TV Episode 16 - “Southern Defiance”
1/7/12; Taped 12/3/11
Executive Producer Jim Cornette and Kevin Kelly greeted us from Spartanburg to talk about how the great action from ROH’s live events will now have an opportunity to be shown outside of the DVDs they’re are sold on through ROH TV and “Road Rage”. Two of those matches include tonight’s Proving Ground battles; one being Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team versus The House of Truth of Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin. But the first match is all about the TV title. Lets hear from the participants.
ROH TV champion Jay Lethal emphasized his respect for TJ Perkins, and promised that lightning will strike Perkins tonight. Perkins noted that he wouldn’t need twenty minutes to defeat Jay Lethal. Sadly for TJ, he only has fifteen minutes, not twenty. Reshoot, anyone?
Proving Ground match: TV champion Jay Lethal vs. TJ Perkins
Nice “Randy Savage” chant to kick this one off before the intense collar & elbow tie up. The tie up turned into a knuckle lock where both tried to push the other to the mat. The lucha exchange from the knuckle lock ended with Lethal catching a running Perkins with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker to a huge ovation, and a two count. Seriously, a lot of fans got up for that backbreaker. They also responded great for Lethal’s follow up high elevation belly to back suplex and the handspring back elbow for another pair of two counts for the champ. TJ fired back with a series of strikes, but ended up taking the Lethal Double before being tied up in that high elevation Indian deathlock. Perkins was ready through, slipping his legs around Lethal’s as the champ rolled him over, freeing himself prior too hooking Jay’s legs. Lethal was in the pendulum for a few seconds until Perkins turned the submission into a pin attempt.
When Lethal kicked out, Perkins dropped a leg across his head to slow him down. It worked well for a second until Lethal elbowed his way off the mat. Lethal thought he had some distance to jumped to the rope for something, but ended up in the tree of woe for that hesitation dropkick. As Jay Lethal kicked out of Perkins’ pin attempt, we headed to a commercial break.
Back from the break, the crowd was behind Lethal as he struggled his way off the mat. Ramming Jay into the turnbuckles, Lethal was able to fire off some chops. Perkins responded with two kicks to Lethal’s chest for another two count. Once again, Lethal fought his way off the mat, only to get kicked in the face. Super kick from Lethal as a retaliation, but he didn’t get all of the kick as Perkins turned Lethal’s suplex against him. They got up, throwing forearms, uppercuts, and chops. A big boot by the champ sent Perkins to the floor, but the quickness of TJ allowed him to slip in, dropkick and catch Lethal’s kick on the rebound with a power bomb … for a near fall!
The crowd was split down the middle as they exchanged pin attempts. Lethal Combination … for another near fall! The crowd loved the action. Lethal headed to top, but his Hail to the King elbow was met with a boot to the face. Lethal was still in this fight, blocking the Detonation Kick. Lethal sprung off the ropes, hitting Lethal Injection to pick up the win, and knock back another potential challenger.
We got some highlights from the “Southern Defiance” fans both entering the building and in their seats before seeing the action that got the crowd so excited about Ring of Honor. They also showed the fan interaction between the people who love ROH and some wrestlers like The Briscoes, Eddie Edwards and Shelton Benjamin.
Cornette and Kelly talked about the action of “Southern Defiance” before sending us to the conclusion of Adam Cole vs. Mike Bennett from the event.
Mike Bennett vs. Adam Cole
We enter this match with Bennett being caught in a German suplex … for a near fall! Cole was on fire as he did everything possible to take Bennett down. “The Prodigy” survived the cross body off the top, catching Cole seconds later with the TKO … for another close two count!
Cole countered the Box Office Smash not once, but twice. Enzuguri-buzzsaw kick from Cole somehow didn’t put Bennett away. Bennett blocked the Panama Sunrise (a Canadian destroyer that sees Cole leap from the middle rope before flipping his opponent into the piledriver), only to end up sunset flipped. Cole was kicking Bennett away over and over again. Cole’s attacks became predictable, and Bennett was able to use Cole’s upcoming kick against him by yanking Cole into a backbreaker. With Cole staggered, Bennett drilled him with the Box Office Smash to pick up the, seemingly, hard-fought victory.
Jim Cornette and Kevin Kelly introduced Jack Connors, who has set up the show for tonight and got the TV show a slot on both Fox stations in Spartanburg. And Jack demands you watch. You better not anger Jack!
In the back, Truth Martini wondered how much more The House of Truth has to prove when Roderick Strong is a former ROH World champion and Michael Elgin is the current “Survival of the Fittest” champion. And it was through the change of Truth Martini that had brought forth the greatness of The HOT.
WGTT were angry and declared The HOT would take a beating of a lifetime. Simple and scary. Simply scary.
Proving Ground match: ROH World Tag Team champions Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team vs. The House of Truth w/Truth Martini
For those who don’t, this event happened before “Final Battle”, where, spoiler alert, The Briscoes defeated WGTT to become the ROH World Tag Team champs. Even though WGTT aren’t the champs any longer, even if The HOT win here, they get a shot at whoever has the gold when they see fit. Unlike the TV title Proving Ground match, this one has a twenty-minute time limit.
Strong immediately took the fight to Shelton Benjamin, working over Benjamin’s taped abdomen. Benjamin felt the powerful hands of Roderick, only to fire back with some chops of his own to set up the Stinger Splash. The move proved nearly detrimental as it took Shelton a while to make the cover, and tagged out almost immediately after Strong kicked out. Strong rolled to Elgin, tagging in the big man. Dropkick by Haas sent Elgin to the floor. Just as WGTT had Elgin cornered when he reentered, Shelton tagged in and got caught on the wrong part of town. Martini halted a red-hot Benjamin by tripping him. Benjamin kicked Martini and Strong away, only to run into Elgin’s power slam as we headed to our final commercial break.
Returning to the action, Shelton found his ribs being abused in the HOT’s corner. All it took was one attack from Elgin or Strong to drop Shelton when he tried to fight back. Delayed vertical suplex by Elgin on Shelton was highly impressive, but couldn’t get the three count for his team. The bear hug from “Unbreakable” actually gave Shelton a chance to fight back, but a big spine buster from Elgin stopped Shelton’s hope of tagging out. The HOT isolated Benjamin on the floor after Roderick tagged in and pitched him outside. Benjamin’s back met the barricades, rattling his hurt ribs. Roderick was in complete control after using that double knee gut-buster to set up the Stronghold. Roderick positioned himself so he could stare at Charlie Haas as Shelton clawed his way to the ropes.
Benjamin listened to his partner, and saved himself. Shelton heard Charlie and the fans, powering through the Gibson Driver attempt before tagging out. Haas was peppering the now legal Elgin with right hands. An overhead belly-to-belly suplex by Haas on Elgin almost gained the champions a victory. Big back body drop and a suplex stopped Elgin and Roderick respectively. Benjamin slipped in, super kicking Elgin into Haas’ Olympic slam … for a two count thanks to Roderick!
Benjamin and Strong were trading strikes in the ring until Strong kneed him on the jaw. Roderick dove on Shelton on the floor as Elgin showed some incredible agility by using an enzuguri to halt Haas’ momentum. The HOT had Haas worse for wear following a Roderick double knee-Elgin spinning sidewalk slam combination. Thanks to Shelton, Haas was not pinned following Strong and Elgin’s turnbuckle bomb-Sick Kick double team.
Elgin whipped Shelton into the ropes, only to be DDT’ed on the rebound. When Shelton got up, he threw, and connected with that dragon whip kick on Strong that put Strong in position for the Leap of Faith. Martini, for some reason, scaled the ropes to stop the action. Shelton stopped whatever the manager had in mind by crotching him on the top turnbuckle and rope. Behind Shelton, Haas tasted Elgin’s back fist. When Benjamin turned around, Elgin used the spinning sidewalk slam on him, too. TKO on Haas by Elgin had both WGTT members down. Elgin decided he wanted to go for the moonsault on Haas. Before Elgin could complete his attack, Benjamin leapt to the top rope, German superplexing Elgin across the ring. Haas jumped on top of Elgin, ending this Proving Ground battle.
Next week, “Road Rage” enters Greensboro, NC with “Northern Aggression”.
Overall: With this show being promoted as a highlight reel from a recent ROH event, the only thing you can judge it on is what Jim Cornette and Kevin Kelly promised - quality in-ring action. And that’s exactly what we got. The opener was very good with a great crowd backing both men as they went all out. WGTT and The HOT put on a quality main event that told a simple, yet fun story. And if Cole vs. Bennett captured the audience so well throughout the match as they did during the closing minutes, I have to see that whole match. I also must note that the video and lighting quality of the event was almost on pair with the TV show (with the lighting actually better compared to some of the TV episodes). The only difference was the darkened crowd more than usual; but at least they could be heard. But not all was well. Once again, the dreaded odd camera cuts returned, and key moments would’ve been lost if not for the announcers (for example, Elgin’s back fist was completely missed, and I wouldn’t have known it happened if Jim Cornette didn’t say something). Slight production problems aside, ROH delivered on its promise to give us great wrestling, and people looking for a good fifty minutes of no-nonsense wrestling should check this episode out.