And we’re back! Episode 130 of ROH TV, pre-taped from ROH’s ancestral home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Tonight’s main event is Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jay Lethal for the TV title, but that’s some ways off. Let’s go to the start.

Team Benchmark (Bill Daly & Will Ferrara) vs. Hanson & Raymond Rowe: Team Benchmark make their ROH debut. They must be looking for some Observer love, since they’re bringing a banner full of sponsor ads down ringside. Hanson and Rowe look like badasses compared to these guys. Hell, they look like badasses next to anyone on the ROH roster. Hanson takes it to Ferrara from the get go. Rowe keeps that going after a tag. Daly has to make a save after a Hanson German suplex.

Daly tags in and throws a pretty mean right cross at Hanson’s jaw. He follows it with a chop, but Hanson isn’t exactly reeling. Daly ducks a clothesline by Hanson and tags Ferrara back in. Ferrara gets to take it instead. Rowe comes in and tosses Ferrara with a hard fallaway slam. He got real snap to that one. Ferrara keeps serving as their punching bag and does his job well enough, save for whacky selling on one spot. Daly gets in again and goes right at Rowe. Kevin Kelly equates him to Johnny Manziel with his antics. Steve Corino doesn’t get the reference, he’s a baseball guy. Ferrara tags back in. Daly is too busy screaming in excitement to notice Hanson. Hanson’s boot greets him upside the head. Rowe grabs Ferrara and ends it with Death Row.

Michael Elgin comes out after the match while Rowe and Hanson are still in the ring. Neither ‘prospect’ is afraid of him, but Elgin isn’t playing the intimidation card. He talks up both guys, saying they represent the best wrestling in the world. Rowe and Hanson got his respect, now he has their back. *

Okay squash match to open things up. It could have been a bit shorter if they wanted a pure squash. Rowe’s finisher still looks vicious and like it’s going to cripple someone in the shoot way. Elgin hinted at them having tag team gold. Hopefully that means ROH is pushing these two as a team. I’m all for that.

Kevin Steen is in the ring after the break, mic in hand. Outlaw, Inc. come out before he can get a word in. They say that they took care of his Cliff Compton problem, now they want him to become an outlaw. Steen says it didn’t work out too well last time he did something like that, and with all due respect, those guys were better men. Outlaw, Inc. try an ambush, but Steen fends them off while Nigel McGuinness and a crew of refs come running. Impromptu match time!

Kevin Steen vs. Homicide: Homicide answers the fight, so Kingston gets on commentary. Steen’s has the best of Homicide at the start ’til Homicide gets a dropkick in. The two go outside, where Steen throws Homicie into the boards. They take it back to the ring so Steen can casually slip a clothesline and continue the beating. Homicide hits a swinging DDT and goes straight for the cover, but it’s just a two.

Homicide puts Steen up in the corner until Steen bites his way free. Steen sentons Homicide from up top. He has Homicide in position for a cannonball in the corner, but Kingston leaves the announcer’s table and saves his wounded partner. Why not kill two birds with one stone? A Steen cannonball from the apron to the outside does that.

Steen tries for a package piledriver. Homicide slips out and tries to counter with an ace crusher. Steen shoves him into the ropes, pops him into the air, and powerbombs him back down. He gets ready for a package piledriver when Kingston enters the ring. He hits a spinning backfast on the unexpecting Steen, ending the match via DQ.

Homicide takes the ringbell afterwards and goes after Steen. Him and Kingston are about to get the duct tape out when Cliff Compton comes flying out of nowhere, chair in hand. Outlaw, Inc. head for the hills while Steen and Compton stare each other down. Compton still has a chair in hand, but he never attacks. *

DQ ends an unremarkable match. Homicide and Steen really weren’t clicking in there. Their timing seemed a bit off, neither guy looked particularly smooth either. Watchable but skipable if you’re in a hurry.

Nigel addresses the crowd when the show returns from another break. He’s goin to say something about the New Orleans show when Jay Briscoe interrupts. Jay appreciates being a ‘credible contender’, but he beat Adam Cole cleanly in San Antonio. As far as he’s concerned, no one ever beat him, so he’s still the champion. Two men claim they’re champions and that’s one too many. Nigel wants to do away with the controversy. There’s only one way how. LADDER WAR FIVE.

Cole comes out to respond. “Absolutely unbelievable” are the first words from his mouth. He’s disgusted with Nigel’s matchmaking, but if this is how it has to be, this is how it has to be. Cole keeps talking while Michael Bennett sneaks int othe ring, gets behind Jay and low blows him. Mark comes running ut for the save, but Cole and Bennett walk away with their hands in teh air.

ROH Television Championship – Tommaso Ciampa (c) vs. Jay Lethal: Lethal got a visual pinfall last time these two met, but Ciampa walked out with the championship. Matt Taven, the distant third in this television title trio, joins the commentary team. Bobby Cruise is about to get in the ring when Ciampa lunges at Lethal. The two start to trade blows, no introductions, they’re going right to the fight. Inside and out of the ring, they’re trading forearms and fists. Neither guy is willing to back down. Lethal starts to wobble but he throws an enzuigiri that brings Tommaso down first.

Lethal hits a missile dropkick and Ciampa rolls out onto the arpon. He follows with a springboard kick that finds nothing but air after Ciampa moves. Ciampa drags Lethal to the ring apron, takes him by the leg, and throws him HARD into the boards outside. Lethal hit shoulder first, so Ciampa picks Lethal up and throws him shoulder first into the boards again. Lethal sits there, sucking air, while Ciampa comes charging with a rising knee. He throws Lethal into the boards again. Ciampa gets some space and comes running back for another knee until Lethal surprises him with an armdrag. Lethal cartwheels after that, placing himself in front of Ciampa so he can hit a dropkick.

Lethal drags Ciampa into the ring and covers. One count. Lethal suplexes him then goes for another cover. Up to two now. Lethal throws stiff chops at Ciampa. He bodyslams Ciampa then hits a diving dropkick to Ciampa’s head. Cover gets another two. Ciampa bounces off the ropes and kicks Lethal in teh chest when he bends over for a back body drop. A hard chop of his own flips the match around.

They’re up in the corner next with Ciampa hammering away at Lethal with elbows. Lethal almost falls off the top to the outside. Ciampa hits the rarely seen superplex as we go to commercial break. He’s putting boots to Lethal when the match continues, but not for long. Lethal shoots up to his feet and hits a flurry of strikes. He tries a Lethal Injection; Ciampa pulls him down into a lungblower. Two count after that.

Ciampa gets flipped onto the ring apron. As he rises, Lethal springboards off the middle rope and hits a dropkick. Lethal’s got a burst of energy, enough for three straight suicide dives. The third sends Ciampa crashing into the audience. Lethal rolls Ciampa back into the ring while he goes up top. Lethal lands an elbow drop but it’s not enough to end it.

Lethal wants the lethal injection while both men are on the apron. Ciampa cracks him with a rising knee then slams him hard. Both men tumble outside. The ref starts the count but the cameras turn to the ring entrance, where Truth Martini has come out. Taven is on commentary still, but they refuse to acknowledge each other. Ciampa and Lethal barely get back in the ring as the ref counts nineteen.

Both guys are working hard to one up each other. Lethal stops Ciampa with a lethal combination which he rolls into a koji clutch. Ciampa works his way out of that and goes straight into a Sicilian stretch. Lethal gets a foot to the ropes while Truth Martini starts to berate Taven. Taven’s had enough of that nonsense, so he takes Truth by the lapels and throws him onto the ring apron. The ref tries to sort that out while Lethal and Ciampa continue. Ciampa goes for a sunset flip that Lethal reverses it into a pin of his own. He clutches Ciampa’s legs and gets another visual pinfall, nearly a six count, but Ciampa gets out by the time the ref turns. Ciampa deadlifts Lethal up from the mat and shatters his back with the project Ciampa. Ciampa makes the cover and gets the three count. **1/4

Both guys go for the classic, all action, fast-paced style. Ciampa had some good moments in there where he shows his anger with Lethal, after all, it was Lethal who hurt his knee. The match could have used more of that, more visceral actions between the two.

Final Thoughts

Next week is a six man, Decade vs. Adrenaline Rush and Andrew Everett. This week wasn’t as strong as last week, but that doesn’t mean it was weak. This was a pretty exposition heavy episode, which you need from time to time. The two prospects have some direction now, Steen is going in a new one, and the main event kept both guys looking good.