Earlier this week, Voices of Wrestling contributor Dave Hatton wrote an excellent piece about new Ring of Honor World Champion Michael Elgin.
Dave made a good point about how ROH tries to make their title changes a major event. So much so that after the last two title changes the new champion gets an hour long profile on ROH television. It was only natural then, that this week’s episode focuses on “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin who won the title two weeks ago in Nashville. The profile on Adam Cole was superb and did a great job chronicling the progress of his career within the company. I am curious to see how Elgin’s episode does.
Prelude to the Mullet: The show begins with a music video showing highlights of Elgin killing opponents with his signature Revolution Elgin Bomb. Clips are shown of Elgin tossing men like Okada, Kevin Steen and A.J. Styles around like rag dolls. Overall, a very nice way to showcase the strength of the new champion. The segment segues into an interview with the man himself. Elgin talks about how he was around wrestling from a young age and how he has always loved it. We get a few pictures of Elgin from early in his career. In one of them he looks like Rusev. A friend of Elgin’s from backyard wrestling introduced him to the school where he was trained. According to his trainer, Tyson Dux, Elgin stood out from the very beginning. Elgin talks about how over the years Dux has become a friend and mentor to him. Earlier this year in Chicago Ridge Dux became something else, Elgin’s opponent!
Tyson Dux vs. Michael Elgin: The crowd chants “Elgin’s gonna kill you” at Dux before the bell. Both men grapple for a bit to a stalemate. Elgin dares Dux to play a game of who can know the other man of his feet first. Dux can’t take the big man off his feet and runs into a powerslam. Dux exacts a little revenge a few moments later by stealing Elgin’s delayed vertical suplex spot. Having his thunder stolen only fires Elgin up. He hoists Dux up for the same spot as the show goes to its first commercial break.
Back from the break Elgin is preparing to hit Dux with his dead lift superplex. Dux crotches Elgin and then hits a dragon screw on the ring ropes. Back in the ring Dux works over Elgin’s knee with a series of stomps etc. Elgin breaks the assault with a vicious looking lariat. Dux counters two German suplex attempts by Elgin and goes for a Texas Cloverleaf. Elgin reverses and finally hits Dux with the German. Elgin nails another for a close two count. Trying to put Dux away Elgin goes up top only to find himself at Dux’s mercy.
Dux hits a superplex followed by a fishermen’s brainbuster for a close two count. Both men jockey for position on the ring apron before an Elgin drop kick sends Dux to the floor. Elgin powerbombs Dux into the gurardrail and throws Dux back into the ring. Instead of staying down Dux kips up and hits Elgin with a running DVD into the turn buckle for another two count! Elgin catches Dux off guard and lock in a crossface which Dux rolls into another two count. Elgin has had enough and knocks Dux silly with two spinning back fists. A buckle bomb and a Revolution Elgin Bomb puts Dux down for good.
I liked how Dux kept reversing a lot of Elgin’s early moves and how he kept working the knee. But I don’t like how the knee work did not play into the finish and frankly I think that is a waste of time. I also wasn’t a fan of the superplex into the fishermen’s brainbuster. Combinations like that are supposed to end matches. Dux’s DVD into the corner was a fun spot and really jazzed the crowd. At the end of the day though this match served its purpose, Dux looked competitive and Elgin got a good win. ** ¾
Breaking In and the Match: Elgin talks about how his exposure to independent wrestling came via videotapes in 2002. He says that he had never seen wrestling like that in his life.
Jimmy Jacobs says that Elgin was always dedicated to getting better. He would drive 16 hours to Minnesota on the off chance that a promoter would book him on a show. Elgin finally got his chance with Ring of Honor by attending one of their tryout camps. Truth Martini was one of the instructors at the camp and liked what he saw. By late 2010 Elgin was on the ROH roster and was included in the first incarnation of the House of Truth. Jacobs said that while Elgin was getting noticed he still had not found a way to really impress the front office or the fans. Elgin says he used that mixed reaction to make himself better.
Elgin and Truth both talk about how his big chance was at Showdown in the Sun Day 2 against Davey Richards. Kevin Kelly says that the match was so good that the normally reserved Nigel McGuiness was exploding with excitement. Jimmy Jacobs and Truth Martini both agree that the match made fans take notice of how good Michael Elgin really is. From that point on Elgin had a lot of momentum and started to put on a string of quality matches. One of those matches is the finals of the 2011 Survival of the Fittest which we join already in action.
2011 Survival of the Fittest Final Fall, Michael Elgin vs. Kyle O’Reilly: The action is already ongoing. O’Reilly and Elgin are trading blows. O’Reilly rolls Elgin up for a crucifix pinning combination but can’t maintain control. Elgin picks up the smaller man but O’Reilly elbows his way out of the predicament before Elgin dazes him with a stiff kick and a spinning backfist. O’Reilly is about to get Buckle Bombed before he reverse into a Guillotine Choke. Only a few seconds pass before Elgin rams O’Reilly into the corner to break the hold. O’Reilly tries another choke but is met with a release Northern Lights Suplex.
Elgin stalks O’Reilly in the corner and charges but gets a boot to the face. O’Reilly rushes forward with a DDT that he transitions into another guillotine. Desperately Elgin tries to break the hold by rapidly ramming O’Reilly into the corners. In a last ditch effort Elgin reverses the hold into a sit out Powerslam for a close two count. Elgin continues the assault with hard stomps to O’Reilly before finally getting the buckle bomb. As he transitions into the Revolution Elgin Bomb O’Reilly swerves around and plants Elgin on his head with a reverse rana. As Elgin staggers around, knocked goofy, O’Reilly hits him with a Regalplex for another close two count.
With the big man down O’Reilly locks in an Armbar and transitions it into a Triangle Choke. Elgin powers to his feet as O’Reilly holds on for dear life and starts throwing elbows to put Elgin back down. When that does work he rolls Elgin into a pinning combination for a close two. O’Reilly peppers Elgin with kicks to soften him up and Elgin goads him on by wanting more. This fires both men up and they trade forearms before Elgin pancakes O’Reilly with a lariat. Elgin plants the loopy O’Reilly with a Side Powerslam turned into a Piledriver for a close two count as O’Reilly sticks his foot on the ropes. Both men head outside for a breather before O’Reilly murders Elgin with a running knee strike from the apron. As Elgin gets back into the ring O’Reilly goes up top but gets caught by Elgin who hits his trusty Buckle Bomb/Revolution Elgin Bomb for the win.
In the second to last Survival of the Fittest Kyle O’Reilly and Michael Elgin gave the ROH fan base a taste of what both men would become down the line. Elgin man handled the smaller O’Reilly with clubbing blows and power moves for much of the fall. All O’Reilly really had to beat Elgin with was a series of chokes that he went back to time and time again. Neither man quit after taking the others best moves. Eventually, O’Reilly deviated from his game plan which cost him the match. I can’t say enough about this forgotten gem and easily give it ****.
Michael Elgin vs. Rhino: As 2012 went on Elgin began to distance himself from the counsel of Truth Martini as did Roderick Strong. Truth was desperate to keep his faction together and tried to talk Elgin out of a match with the newest HOT member Rhino which lead to this match in late 2012.
Both hosses start the match by trading bombs. Elgin wins the exchange and floors Rhino with an elbow to the side of the head. Elgin works Rhino over in the corner with a series of elbows and stomps. A spring board elbow by Elgin frustrates Rhino to the point where he bails to the floor to regroup.
The two competitors take turns whipping the other into the guardrail as Roderick Strong makes his way to ringside to survey the action. Truth and Roddy make small talk as Elgin takes to the air and hits Rhino with a flying should tackle that yields a one count. Rhino seizes the momentum with a belly to belly suplex and gets into position for the Gore. Elgin dodges and rolls Rhino up for a two count. The stable mates trade blows with Rhino winning the exchange and hitting a spine buster for yet another two count. Rhino gets another two count via a short arm clothesline.
Rhino quickly locks in a Randy Orton special, the rear chin lock, in an attempt to wear Elgin down. Elgin buys some time to recover with a leaping kick to the head. He goes for the win with a combination of clubbing blows in the corner, a bicycle kick and a spinning sidewalk slam but only gets a two count. Another combination of a spinning forearm and German suplex by Elgin again only gets two. Rhino reveres a power bomb attempt by Elgin and hits a TKO for a close two count. Roderick Strong distracts Todd Sinclair which allows Martini to enter the ring and plead with both men to quit the match. Rhino goes to beat on Truth, the diversion allows Elgin to spear Rhino and hit the Revolution Elgin Bomb for the 1-2-3.
I’m surprised. This match was actually pretty good for the amount of time both men were given. The match was two big guys just pummeling each other with power moves and the only drawback was that the match felt condensed due to time constraints. Even the hijinks from outside parties served to further an angle. Give this another five to six minutes and this is an excellent T.V. main event. As it stands though I will give this one ** ¾.
Vindication: Jimmy Jacobs and Kevin Kelly say that there is no limit to what Elgin can do in his the ring. Tyson Dux says that Elgin will go down as one of the ROH greats. Elgin says that the only way anyone can stop him is that if he is six feet under.
Match wise there is nothing wrong with this episode of ROH television. There are two solid undercard bouts and a fantastic contest between Elgin and Kyle O’Reilly. Every one interviewed did a fantastic job putting Elgin over as performer on his way to greatness.
Still, I feel like ROH missed a chance to really tell Elgin’s story. Adam Cole’s special charted his journey to the top of the card and featured several of his best matches. Elgin’s matches were out of order and besides his Survival of the Fittest win were not of any long term importance. There are several Elgin matches, especially his match with Davey Richards that better serve as a mark for evaluating Elgin’s progress. I also feel like the episode neglected to show anything from the last two years of Elgin’s ROH career. Because of the factors listed above I would pass on this week’s episode. If you want a more comprehensive look at the early part of Elgin’s ROH career order the “Unbreakable” DVD from ROH’s web site.