ROH goes straight into a match so I don’t have much to open with. We’ve got Silas Young vs. Matt Taven to start and the world championship match between Chris Hero and Adam Cole for the main event. Let’s begin.
Silas Young vs. Matt Taven: Silas came out with a strap, whipping it into the boards and against the ring. He doesn’t bring it into the ring though, so Taven can breath easy. The two lock up. Silas drives Taven into the corner. Taven fires at Silas with hard punches. Silas blocks an O’Connor roll attempt but can’t dodge the follow-up arm drag. Taven lands a standing moonsault that gets him an early two. Silas rolls out of the ring to take a breather.
Taven is looking away, distracted by something. Silas hurries back into the ring and ambushes him. Turns out that Truth Martini came out from the back, which caught Taven’s attention. Silas and Taven trade momentum back and forth until Silas grabs the ref and pulls him between them. The show goes to a break, returning with Silas holding Taven in a chinlock. Silas drops Taven on the top rope between his legs. A springboard clothesline knocks Taven out of the ring. He crawls back and Silas immediately gets on him. Taven rolls past Silas, who puts on the breaks to avoid crashing against the corner, but Taven enzuigiris Silas to change the flow of the match.
Taven is on fire, knocking Silas down again and again. He lands a springboard moonsault that gets a two. Silas tries a killer combo, but Taven ducks under the lariat. Taven lifts Silas for the angel’s wings, but Silas gets out of it and immediately counters with a hard lariat. Silas hits the Finlay roll, goes into the corner headstand and then the springing moonsault. Taven rolls out of the way, Silas lands on his feet. That looks familiar. Big spin kick from Taven, flooring Silas. Taven goes up top and hits a frog splash. Three count follows. Silas shakes Taven’s hand before a sucker punch. Truth wants Silas to join him once Silas stops putting the boots to Taven. Instead, Silas walks right past Truth, disinterested. **
Fast paced action. Taven could benefit from slowing it down a little, at least in my book, but he put on a fine show. Very clean match too, I saw no noticeable missteps in there.
ROH Television Championship – Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Hanson: Hanson won the top prospect tournament, giving him this title opportunity. Philly loves Ciampa. The two charge right at teach other and trade blows. Hanson bullies Ciampa into the corner with hard forearms and fists. Ciampa fights back, first booting Hanson then following up with blows of his own. Ciamapa dumps Hanson outside with a back drop then dives onto the big man. It looks like he hit the top rope on the way out, so it wasn’t a smooth dive.
Ciampa sits Hanson down and hits running knees. Ciampa catches Hanson on a jump and slams him down in an impressive show of strength. The two of them go back and forth with hard forearms. They bounce off the ropes and come back with a forearm about a dozen times. Hanson throws a cartwheel in for good measure then clotheslines Ciampa with all his might. The struggles continues until Ciampa catches Hanson with a rising knee as Hanson stands up.
Ciampa looks for the Project Ciampa. Hanson knows it, so he drives Ciampa into the corner. He elbows Ciampa again and again. Then a big splash. Hanson goes up top and moonsaults onto Ciampa. Ciampa kicks out at two. Ciampa immedately brings Hanson into the Sicilian Stretch. Hanson rolls over and to his feet. He re-positions Ciampa on his shoulders, breaking the hold. Hanson tries to dump him but Ciampa lands on his feet. Spin kick of doom! Ciampa wisely rolls to the ropes and holds on for dear life.
Ciampa climbs onto the top rope again before Hanson cuts him off. Ciampa fights out of a precarious position and drops behind Hanson. Ciampa pulls Hanson off the top rope. Project Ciampa! Two knees right into Hanson’s back. Ciampa gets the pinfall and retains his TV title. **3/4
Fun sprint of a match. Hanson’s agility is really impressive for such a big guy. His moonsault isn’t quite a Vadersault, but kudos for even trying it. Ciampa wisely doesn’t try to toss Hanson around too much. When he stands toe-to-toe, Hanson gets the best of him, so he has to rely on big impact shots and counter blows.
ROH World Heavyweight Championship – Adam Cole (c) vs. Chris Hero: Hero got the pin on Cole in an elimination tag, giving him the right to challenge for Cole’s title. Cole is anything but eager to lock up with Hero tonight. Hero turns Cole around within seconds and gets a neck crank. Cole grabs the ropes to escape.
Nigel is on commentary for the main event. He actually makes a rare statement in pro wrestling: giving a wrestler’s real height. He mentions Hero as 6’2-6’3 and Cole as 5’10. This is critical for Hero being able to get leverage, he notes. Hero makes it look easy on the mat as he out wrestles the champion. Cole keeps backing away, scared. He manages to shoulder Hero down one time and immediately shouts his own name with the height of hubris.
Cole finds himself in another cravate until he shoulders Hero into the corner. Cole steps out of the ring, calling a time out. Referee Todd Sinclair starts the count, so Cole rolls into the ring for a brief second to stop that. He won’t go near Hero, so Hero chases him around the ring. Hero changes directions when Cole isn’t looking and surprises the champion with a big boot. Cole has a reason to run now as Hero boots him in the face two more times.
Cole cuts Hero off and takes control for the first time in the match. He taunts the crowd, teasing a PK on Hero but instead he drops down and throws on a chinlock. Hero fights back until Cole hits a shining wizard. He made a weird, guttural sound as he did it and the crowd imitates it en masse as the show goes to break.
Cole kicks Hero’s knee when the match continues. The crowd mocks him again. Hero clothelines Cole and follows with a neckbreaker as Cole gets back up. Hero catches Cole’s foot as Cole tries to boot him. Instead it’s Hero who lands a kick, once again right into Cole’s face. Cole dodges a springboard curb stomp but not the rolling elbow that came after. Hero keeps going after Cole’s neck, landing a cravate suplex. Hero sits Cole up top and puts on a cravate. He boots Cole in the face once more when Cole resists. Cole finally lands a boot of his own on Hero and changes the tide.
The crowd will not stop mocking Cole for the sound he made. Cole has this amazing look on his face, a mixture of being disgusted and pissed off. He tries to yell at Hero but the crowd cuts him off. Cole taunts Hero, who isn’t going to stand for that nonsense. Hero decks Cole with a beautiful right. He gets Cole up in the electric chair position and drops him to his feet. Rolling elbow, right into the back of Cole’s head. Cole drops forward and out through the ropes. Hero KO’d him and he has to deadlift Cole back up to get him in the ring. Cole immediately rolls back out, buying precious time. Cole takes another boot. When Hero tries to toss him back into the ring, Cole reverses it and gets Hero with a waistlock. Cole Germans suplexes Hero on the mats outside. Now the champion seizes the moment. He brings Hero back in the ring for his suplex into a neckbreaker. Hero kicks out at two.
Cole cannot believe that didn’t finish the job. Cole struggles with Hero, trying to get a straight jacket German. Hero fights out of it with hard elbows, but an errant blow smacks the referee, knocking him out. Hero lands a downward spiral and then a big neck crank on Cole. Cole has to tap. He quits right there, clean in the middle of the ring. He’s slapping his hand on the mat. But Nigel McGuinnes is busy tending to the unconscious Todd Sinclair, so no official sees it. Hero brings Cole up for another neck breaker. Cole steps away and lands an enzuigiri. Cole hits the ropes; Hero boots him. Hero hits the ropes; Cole boots him. Cole lands a super kick and goes right into a straight jacket German. Hero kicks out at two. Cole doesn’t let go. A second Florida Key, as he calls it. Cole rolls over, still straight jacketing Hero, and lands a third one. One-two-three, and the champ will leave with his title. ****
I liked this match a lot. A whole lot. Hero’s offense looks great and I’m a big fan of his big boots, straight rights, and rolling elbows. He’s crisp on the mat and knows how to work the neck. Cole is a top notch chickenshit heel. He knows the Philly crowd will love Hero, so he refuses to engage him and does everything he can to play up their animosity. His facials and mannerisms are elite for someone his age. I heard complaints about the ending, but I have no problem with it. Yes, it’s a tainted win, but that fits perfectly for the situation. Hero made Cole tap so he’s the better wrestler. The entire match was about him being a better wrestler. Cole is the winner though, and that’s all he cares about.
Probably the best ROH TV episode that I’ve reviewed yet. Great main event and two strong undercard matches. Make sure you watch it. Next week is Jay Lethal vs. Tommaso Ciampa for the TV title. Lethal calls out Ciampa for what hapened in their last match: Lethal had Ciampa out cold and in a pin but the ref wasn’t there to make the three count. We’ll see if he can get the job done this time.