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Ring of Honor: The Conquest Tour
by Samoa Rowe
March 14th, 2015
-I figure if I’m going to give TNA a second (for eighth) shot in 2015, I might as well give ROH another try too. I am a lapsed ROH fan who hasn’t properly watched the product since the fall of 2013, so here goes something.
-From Chicago Ridge, IL. Our hosts are Joe Dombrowski and Steve Corino.
-Truth Martini walks J. Diesel to the ring but first needs to address the challenge made by Cliff Compton to fellow Truth client, Jay Lethal. Truth pumps the crowd up “Make some Illi-noise” and promises violence because there will be a Street Fight later on. After some theatrics, including a spinaroonie, Martini remembers that Diesel is standing there and is in need of getting put over.
Will Ferrara vs. J. Diesel (with Truth Martini)
This is the first time I can recall seeing either of these guys, so this should be interesting. Both guys look well put together and have a lively opening exchange. Diesel overtakes his opponent with a series of jabs. Ferrara finds himself on the defense, with a head scissors attempt getting countered into a power bomb. Diesel works a Torture Rack into his weardown offense. They exchange strikes and Ferrara finds his second wind. Big time tornado DDT by Ferrara only gets 2, as does a German suplex. Diesel rebounds with a fall away slam and Death Valley Driver for the win at 5:23. Fine exhibition that showcased what these guys currently have to offer, **.
Winner: J. Diesel
-WWE-bound Jimmy Jacobs, accompanied by BJ Whitmer, heads to the ring. Whitmer finds time to stare a hole into Steve Corino on commentary. BJ ends up refusing to do commentary and is quickly replaced by Matt Sydal.
Jimmy Jacobs (with BJ Whitmer) vs. ACH
ACH leaps onto the middle rope to get into Jacobs’ face, setting the tone for the contest. Jacobs uses the ropes to cut off an attempted hot start by ACH and then turns around moments later with a cheap shot in a rope break. What Jacobs lacks in size, he makes up for with ruthlessness. ACH shows off his athleticism with a cartwheel display, but Jimmy drives him into the steel barricade. Jimmy jumps off a standing chair for an elbow drop (after nearly botching it the first time). ACH pops up and sprints around the ring to swing around the ring post for a hurricanrana! Whitmer grabs ACH’s ankles, giving the advantage back to Jacobs. ACH absorbs some punishment and a double cross body spot leaves both men down. Enziguri by ACH and a leaping DDT get a near fall. BJ pulls Jimmy out of the way of a dive and ACH retaliates with a soccer kick to the face. It still allows Jacobs to connect with a dive. Back senton by Jacobs gets 2. They trade counters until Jacobs hits a springboard cutter for another 2 count. Mule kick by ACH but the 450 splash misses. Jacobs locks on the End Time for the submission false finish. ACH nails a backdrop to connect with a running dive on both Jacobs and Whitmer. ACH misses a double stomp and Jacobs nails a spear for 2. ACH nails a super kick counter to Jacobs’ back elbow and nails the 450 splash to win at 13:49. Strong outing that packed some surprises and played on my expectations, ***¼.
-ACH would like a handshake, but BJ Whitmer has to remind Jimmy Jacobs that they’re bad guys and do not shake hands. Jimmy says that even though they put ACH through hell over the past year, he’s still here and has proven he belongs in ROH. Jacobs insists on the handshake, despite it chipping away at his alliance with Whitmer and the Decade.
Silas Young vs. Matt Taven vs. Roderick Strong vs. Mark Briscoe
The winner gets an ROH title shot later tonight. Strong and Briscoe start things off with some mat wrestling until reaching a stalemate. Strong knocks Mark out of a crane stance with a drop-kick. Taven tags in and flounders against Mark, eating a vertical suplex. Young tags himself in and punches Mark off the apron, causing the match to break down. Strong removes Taven and Young with a double drop-kick to the floor, and all three catch Mark in a somersault senton. Strong flapjacks Mark onto the apron, but Taven catches him with an axe handle off the barricade. Silas finally gets the be the legal man and destroys Taven with a lariat. Strong returns to swing Taven into Young before delivering a backbreaker. Taven gets picked apart but still manages to nail a springboard kick on Mark. Taven and Young isolate Mark as if it was a tag match to wear him down. Roderick gets a “hot tag” and cleans house, including superplexes on everyone! Taven saves Strong from Young, only to hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for 2. Spinning neck breaker by Taven, but the frog splash misses. Mark rejoins the fray with his Redneck Kung Fu tricks. The match breaks down for a second time and bodies go flying. Young ends up countering Mark’s froggy elbow drop and pulls the tights for the win at 12:07. This was the type of unapologetic spot-fest I used to love from this company, ***.
Winner: Silas Young
-The Young Bucks plug their merchandise in entertaining fashion. You haven’t lived until you see a Jackson brother super-kick a t-shirt.
Chicago Street Fight:
Cliff Compton vs. ROH TV Champion Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini and J. Diesel)
Compton ambushes Lethal during the House of Truth group pose and Lethal has to save Martini from a piledriver on the apron. Lethal misses a super kick and inadvertently puts Diesel through a table. They take turns whipping one another into the barricade. Compton lands a chair shot, but Lethal returns the favor. They head into the stands and get lost in the dark as a spotlight tries to find them. Compton delivers several more chair shots, but Lethal uses a drop toe hold to send him onto a bleacher. They brawl all over the building before returning to the ring, where Lethal uses a trash can to his advantage. Lethal takes off his nice belt and uses it as a whip and choking device. Lethal gets overconfident and strips down to his briefs, just in time for Compton to take away the belt and dish out a whipping of his own. Compton nails a Michinoku Driver, but Diesel and Martini make the save. They set Cliff on a ringside table as Lethal heads to the top rope. Lethal puts Compton through the table with a flying elbow! Lethal turns his back for some showmanship and doesn’t see Compton dispatch the House of Truth. Compton almost scores the upset, but Lethal uses white powder to blind him and score the pinfall at 14:30. This mainly served to put over what a royal d-bag Lethal has become, the match itself was average brawling with one really cool high spot, **½.
Winner: Jay Lethal
Beer City Bruiser vs. Cheeseburger
Who knows where they dug up the Beer City Bruiser, who has a physique resembling your’s truly (ie, overweight). In the years I was away, Cheeseburger continues to be a baffling aspect of ROH, a skinny jobber type who must have naked photos of Joe Koff or something. Cheeseburger uses his speed to fluster the big man and cut him down to size for a head kick. The Bruiser swings Cheeseburger off the apron into the barricade. To his credit, the Bruiser knows how to work like a big man and ruthlessly pummels Cheeseburger into the corner for some running cannonballs. The Bruiser prematurely celebrates with a beer and almost gets rolled up. Cheeseburger knocks the beer out of Bruiser’s mouth but fails to deliver a suplex. The Bruiser misses a senton off the apron and takes a hard bump! Cheeseburger springboards into Bruiser’s arms but knocks him into the ring post. Cheeseburger hits some nifty counters but keeps getting 2 counts. Bruiser finally nails a Two Day Hangover for the win at 7:20. Better than I expected, but still just post-intermission filler, *½.
Winner: Beer City Bruiser
-Silas Young comes to the ring to mock the injured Tommaso Ciampa. He calls out Jay Briscoe so Ciampa can watch him win like a man. Jay Briscoe, looking comfortable in his main event role, struts to the ring and pauses to stand forehead to forehead with Ciampa.
ROH World Championship:
Jay Briscoe © vs. Silas Young
Briscoe hasn’t been pinned or submitted in almost two years, since before he won the ROH title the first time. They have an aggressive handshake and intensely lock up. Silas gains an advantage with a cheap shot and mocks the “Man Up” chant. Jay clotheslines Young and himself to the floor, where they take turns smashing each other into the barricade. Back to the ring, Silas crotches Jay on the ropes for a lariat. Young scratches the back to set up a snap suplex, because he’s EVIL! Jay escapes a chinlock and scores a slam for a near fall that no one bought. Young busts out a short arm clothesline, and unfortunately the crowd isn’t responding. Roaring elbow by Jay and the Death Valley Driver only get 2. Silas puts together a combination of attacks and almost a rope assisted pinfall. Young’s plunge off the ropes is blocked and Briscoe nails the J-Driller for the win at 9:45. Pretty uninspired stuff here, just a bunch of moves strung along to get to an outcome that was never in doubt, **.
Winner and still ROH World Champion: Jay Briscoe
Instant Reward Match:
ROH Tag Team Champions reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) vs. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero and Trent Barreta)
I guess the deal here is that if Roppongi Vice win, they automatically get a title shot afterwards. Bell rings, and Romero and O’Reilly have the typical exchange of these long-form indie style tag matches. That is, until O’Reilly snaps into a cross arm breaker and Rocky crawls on his knees for a tag. Barreta and Fish take a turn exchanging holds. Trent gets bested and hugs the midsection of Romero for a tag. It’s good to know who the heels are. RPG Vice manage to outsmart the champions and isolate O’Reilly for their heat. Kyle knocks RPG Vice off the apron and suddenly reDRagon are back in this. Barreta absorbs some punishment as reDRagon exhibit their technical prowess and mean streak. Barreta counters with brutal knees to the chest of Fish and makes a hot tag to obnoxious heel, Romero. A top rope rana gets 2 for Romero. Kyle saves himself from a 2 on 1 situation, leading to a double team flying knee drop by reDRagon. Romero rebounds with a suicide dive on Fish. O’Reilly and Barreta exchange stiff shots, and RPG Vice nail the Strong Zero for the win at 13:41. They get an instant rematch as a result. I’ll save my rating for the outcome of the title match, but this was a good first chapter.
Winners: Roppongi Vice
-reDRagon decide they’d rather not defend the titles and head through the curtain with the gold. RPG Vice force them back to the ring.
ROH Tag Team Championship:
reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) © vs. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero and Trent Barreta)
Vice have seemingly turned babyface and dominate with repeated whips into the barricade. The bell rings, and Barreta hangs Fish on the ropes for a flying stomp by Romero. They go right for the Strong Zero, but Kyle prevents the attack. Match breaks down with Kyle catching Barreta with an arm breaker in the ropes and Fish jumping over them onto Romero. reDRagon simultaneously trap RPG Vice in submission holds but they get duel rope breaks. Trent blocks Chasing the Dragon and springboards off Fish for a DDT on O’Reilly. A streak of stiff bumps leaves everyone down for the obligatory “This is Awesome” chant. Fish tackles Barreta into the barricade, but Rocky intercepts O’Reilly with a spear. Barreta saves Romero with a top rope German suplex on Fish! Rocky cross bodies O’Reilly on the floor. Trent’s running knee on Fish should have ended it, but O’Reilly tackled Romero onto them for a clever break-up. ReDRagon build some steam, but are unable to hit Chasing the Dragon. Luckily, O’Reilly reverses a leverage pin for the win at 6:44. The action was hard to keep up with. The two matches add up to a satisfying **** match, getting past a potentially awkward stipulation.
Winners and still ROH Tag Team Champions: reDRagon
-Roppongo Vice stick around long enough to put The Young Bucks on notice that they’re coming after the IWGP Jr. Tag Team titles. Well, since they just lost a match, I’d say they’re after a great start.
Michael Elgin vs. Samoa Joe
Elgin soaks up the “Joe’s Gonna Kill You” chants during his entrance. Joe gets a poorly made entrance video on the screen (looks like something anyone could put together with 10 minutes on basic movie-maker software). Still, I find myself marking out for Joe’s entrance, seeing him in an ROH setting brings back warm memories. Bell rings and they calmly exchange holds (no bad blood here). Joe applies head butts to a knuckle lock, forcing Elgin into the ropes. Joe wins another exchange, and it’s stunning how smooth Joe still is when he’s motivated. Elgin scores an elbow shot to knock Joe off his feet, and hits a suplex after a struggle. Joe wrenches Elgin into the barricade by the wrist, setting up the OLE running boot. Elgin dodges, but Joe’s second OLE attempt connects in satisfying fashion. Joe dishes out his bag of tricks, including running boots to the face. Elgin blocks a third boot and delivers a German suplex into the turnbuckles! Elgin dishes out a double knee drop, but Joe kicks out at 1. Joe counters the Elgin Bomb and lands a leg sweep, leading to a back senton for 2. Elgin is having a difficult time building any momentum, as Joe counters a big boot and lands a power slam. Suicide dive by Joe wakes the crowd up. Another OLE kick earns a “Thank you, Joe” chant. Elgin sidesteps for a German suplex and follows with a somersault leg drop. Frog splash by Elgin gets an unconvincing near fall. Joe counters by rolling Elgin around in a pinning combination and nails a lariat for a slightly more convincing near fall. Elgin’s power bomb isn’t enough, so he hits a beautiful dead lift German suplex. Joe wakes up with his uranage counter, but Elgin retaliates with a Codebreaker. Joe relentlessly goes for a Rear Naked Choke, into a German suplex! Elgin succumbs to the Choke at 19:18! Good match that served better as a nostalgia match rather than a cutting edge main event in 2015. The crowd was hot for Joe and his trademark spots, but was oddly quiet throughout the rest of the match. Overall, I felt happy watching this, ***½.
Winner: Samoa Joe
-Joe hangs out long enough to endorse Ring of Honor, the fans, and Michael Elgin. I feel like I’ve seen a thousand versions of this speech from a dozen different people.
Final Thoughts: I’m pleased to say that Ring of Honor is in a good spot right now. The current crop of champions and top contenders are strong, the titles mean more now than they have in a long while, and there’s a sense that ROH is on the rise. This event isn’t the show of the year or anything, but felt like an important chapter in a larger storyline and not just a throwaway card like so many of the ROH DVDs were starting to feel when I gave up on them a few years ago. I’m glad I chose this event as my official reintroduction, I would recommend you do the same. Thumbs up!
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