No Kevin Kelly or Steve Corino at the top of the show. It’s ROH correspondent Larry Mercer, whose name sounds like a guy the WWE would give to someone with a boxer gimmick. Mercer is all decked out in a tux too. Why? Because it’s ROAD RAGE this week. Raising the Bar Nights 1 and 2 in Milwaukee and Chicago provide our matches, so we get Roderick Strong vs. Chris Hero and reDRagon vs. The Young Bucks. I’m pumped, you should be too, let’s watch.
Roderick Strong vs. Chris Hero: Footage from earlier in the night precedes the match. BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs, the other members of Decade, offer Adam Page a spot. He accepts, though doesn’t exactly look thrilled about it. Decade stays in back for now with only Roderick Strong out for the match. The crowd is roaring before the bell even rings. Milwaukee might have great acoustics, but no doubt this crowd is hot.
Jimmy Jacobs interrupts Corino and Kelly as Strong and Hero work the mat. Hero looks like he picked up a lot from William Regal based on how he works Strong’s joints. Strong tries to leapfrog Hero. Hero anticipates it and boots him in the chest. Jacobs on commentary distracts me. He sounds out of breath and the announcers aren’t calling the match either. Hero tosses Strong to the ropes and lines up a big boot. Strong catches himself and slides outside to avoid that. Hero runs at Strong, who moves out of the way when Hero dives. Hero braced for that too, diving over the top rope, springing his hands off the apron, and completing a front flip unscathed. Now he boots Strong in the face.
Hero tries to senton Strong from the apron into the ring. Strong gets his knees up. Strong smells blood. He takes Hero outside and whips him into the barricades. Hero collides back first. There’s almost no room to maneuver out there. It looks like the set up has half the space between the ring and barricades that it usually does. Strong beats on Hero outside the ring then takes him back in for a two count. He keeps working Hero’s back with a chinlock stretch. He puts the boots on hard and uses the ring post to stretch Hero more. Hero boots Strong in the face as he gets back in the ring, stopping Strong for now.
Hero doesn’t get to do anything else before Strong dropkicks his face. Strong continues to work the back. Hero powers out of a hold and chops Strong across the chest. Strong nails Hero with an enzuigiri to cut him of once again. Here come the stiff chops. Hero fires back with chops of his own. A hard right backs Strong into the corner. Hero comes at him, Strong whips his leg up for an enzuigiri again, this time Hero ducks under it and boots Strong in the jaw.
Hero alternates between big boots and hard elbows. He’s got Strong reeling now. Hero tries to lift Strong into the electric chair position. Strong fights out. Hero gets it on a second attempt though Strong slips out again. Strong lands an Olympic slam, a running knee into the corner, and then eats yet another boot from Hero as he tries a second running knee. Hero goes for another boot. This time Strong slips under it, catches Hero’s leg in a cradle, and drops the lanky striker over his knee.
Strong cinches in a backslide that gets a two. Hero comes back with a la magistral that gets two. Both throw desperation blows. Hero brutalizes Strong with a stiff elbow. It gets a two count; I bought it as the finish. Hero gets Strong in the electric chair again. Strong slips out again but fails at an O’Connor roll. He gets a big jumping knee instead and an even stiffer Sick Kick. Hero kicks out at two and Strong immediately takes him into a Stronghold. Hero twists to escape and pulls Strong into a cradling pin for a two. Hero crushes Strong with three discus elbows. He gets Strong up in the electric chair again, drops him to his feet, and throws a great discus elbow. Strong drops, dead to the world. Hero puts him in the Stretch Plum. The referee calls for the bell right away. There was no tap out, the ref had to stop it for the unconscious Strong. ****
Wow, I loved this. Hero is killing it since he went back to the indys. Strong looked great. He worked the back smartly and kept cutting Hero off at the right time. I could gripe about not enough selling if I wanted to but instead, I’m going to point out that they weren’t exactly no-selling either, plus this was more of an elongated sprint. Hero’s striking is one of my favorite things going right now.
ROH Tag Team Championship – reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) (c) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson): I was lucky enough to be in attendance for this one. The Young Bucks came out to a huge face reaction, despite being heels everywhere else. Nick Jackson superkicks a streamer out of the air, getting a pop from the crowd. Scarlett Bordeaux introduces them as IWGP Junior tag champs, but only the ROH titles are on the line tonight.
Nick Jackson and Kyle O’Reilly start. O’Reilly tries a cross armbreaker very early. Nick counters it into a pin. O’Reilly kicks out but almost eats a superkick as he rises to his feet. Nick wrings O’Reilly’s arm and tags his brother in. Bobby Fish makes an early save, probably unnecessary, which Nigel McGuinness notes on commentary. Fish tags in next. Matt takes it to the mat and then focuses on Fish’s elbow. His brother helps out after tagging back in. They add one of their trade mark, over-the-top back rake spots.
Fish works over Matt when we return from a break. He tags in O’Reilly, who boots Matt but gets a boot to the gut of his own. O’Reilly overpowers Matt and takes him down, squeezing his head. Matt fights out of that, hits the ropes, and tries a sunset flip. O’Reilly never drops. Instead he takes the arm and goes for another cross armbreaker. Matt squirms out, so O’Reilly tries the other arm. Matt desperately fights out of it.
Fish isolates Matt in the corner. He steps on Matt’s casted hand while O’Reilly hits two running knees to the ribs. reDRagon don’t really work over the hand, despite the obvious injury. The commentary harps on that but the champs clearly have another plan. They keep Matt from getting near his brother, try though he may. Matt lands a spear out of nowhere, knocking over O’Reilly. He crawls to his brother and finally gets a tag, just as O’Reilly brings his partner in. Nick is full of fire. He dropkicks O’Reilly off the apron and takes it to Fish until we head into another break.
Nick tags out to Matt when the match returns. O’Reilly throws Nick into the corner of the barricade. He lines up on the apron, takes off, and falls prey to the first superkick of the night. Matt drapes Fish over the middle rope while Nick hits a springboard 450 splash on him. Two count follows. The Young Bucks isolate Fish now. He wipes Fish out with a superkick but the cover takes too long. O’Reilly makes the save.
Now the Young Bucks double team O’Reilly. They Irish whip him into the corner. O’Reilly dumps Nick over the ropes and onto the apron. Matt charges O’Reilly, who moves out of the way as his brother attempts an enzuigiri, so he bites it instead. reDRagon return the double team favors. Matt rolls out of a double backdrop. He throws O’Reilly into Fish, buying himself some time. Matt sidekicks O’Reilly. Fish backdrop driver’s Matt. Nick comes in and spinning high kicks Fish, but O’Reilly avenges his partner with an ax kick and a hard, hard elbow. Matt finishes the circle with a superkick, leaving all four men on the mat.
The Chicago crowd chants for the Young Bucks, willing them to their feet. Fish charges Nick, who drops and pulls the top rope down, spilling Fish outside. O’Reilly takes another boot to the face. Nick goes out to the apron, where Fish yanks him down and then drives him into the corner of the barricades. O’Reilly gets his second chance at a jumping knee from the apron, landing this time. Fish rushes at Matt in the corner. Matt gets his boots up. O’Reilly grabs Matt by the ankle before he can take off from the top, giving Fish time to get back up. Fish hits a top rope falcon arrow. Matt kicks out at two. Fish and O’Reilly start to set Matt up for Chasing the Dragon when Nick grabs Fish by the ankle. Matt slips out of the suplex and rolls behind O’Reilly, pulling him into a school boy pin. O’Reilly kicks out in the nick of time.
Matt elbows and knees O’Reilly until O’Reilly cuts him off with a blow to the injured hand. O’Reilly tries to sweep the leg. Matt hops over it and superkicks O’Reilly. Nick adds a second. O’Reilly stumbles around. he whips his mouth guard at Matt, who teases a superkick but instead cracks O’Reilly with his cast while the ref isn’t looking. Fish gets on the apron, so the Bucks double superkick him back off.
Matt covers the still-down O’Reilly, but he kicks out at two. Nick dives over the top onto Fish, taking him out again. Matt sets O’Reilly up for a tombstone. Nick gets on the apron, springboards in, and finishes the spike tombstone piledriver. Nick makes the cover. One, two, no three! Bobby Fish dives into the ring and shoves Nick off just in time. All four men look exhausted. The crowd chants “this is awesome.” Nick dumps Fish outside. They set O’Reilly up for More Bang for Your Buck. The Finlay roll lands. Nick tries a 450. O’Reilly turns and catches him, taking Nick straight into a triangle choke. Nick squirms around and reaches for the ropes with his legs but he’s too far. Fish grabs Matt, keeping him from saving his brother. Nick keeps fighting the hold. He pushes his legs off the mat, rolling over O’Reilly, flipping him into a pin as O’Reilly keeps the hold locked in. The ref spots the pin, drops down, and counts the three! O’Reilly’s shoulders were beneath his own weight and Nick’s, he couldn’t kick out. New tag champs! The crowd can’t believe it. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly believe it even less. But the Young Bucks get to walk out with the titles. ****
If you’re looking for a fast-paced, all action ROH tag, look here. These four start at a slower pace but build into a frantic scrum at the end with the four wiping each other out repeatedly. O’Reilly catching Nick into a triangle choke looked like it was the end, especially when Fish grabbed Matt. I know I thought it was over when I was there. This one held up from how I saw it live, though ROH did not do the best job capturing the noise of a very raucous crowd.
Whew. ROH TV really turned it up this week. Two blistering matches that are very different from each other. Strong and Hero tried to beat the hell out of each other with stiffness while the tag match was built around high spots and high flying. Both excel at what they did. ROH can add another strong episode to its run of solid TV this year.