Dragon's Reign also features Jay Lethal taking on Jimmy Jacobs in a No DQ match, a three way between Roderick Strong, Adam Cole, and BJ Whitmer, and a series of matches featuring up-and-coming wrestlers trying to make a name for themselves against the established stars of ROH. Let's get the road to Best In The World going with the first match...
QT Marshall & RD Evans vs American Wolves
Marshall and Evans do their usual schtick at the beginning of the match: Marshall corrects the announcer for mispronouncing his name, then Evans talks and talks and talks while I wonder why they keep giving him a microphone. The Wolves' entrance finally interrupts Evans' speech, and while this started as I thought it would with the Wolves taking Evans and Marshall apart, it picked up steam once we got to the last few minutes of the match as the momentum kept swinging back and forth. The Wolves hit their finish on Evans, but Marshall made the save and then on his own managed to kick out of a pair of top rope double stomps from the Wolves. The Wolves finally get Evans and Marshall in stereo submissions, and QT taps out to Davey's anklelock.
Winners: American Wolves
This was a very competitive match, and a lot more exciting to watch than I expected. Aside from the promo stuff at the beginning, this was probably my favorite match involving either Marshall or Evans since they've been in ROH, they worked their butts off and you could tell they really wanted this one.
Tommaso Ciampa vs Vinny Marseglia
I figured this one would be a squash too, but they went back and forth for several minutes until Ciampa tweaked his knee on a leapfrog attempt. Rather than hamper Ciampa's performance, that just seemed to piss him off and led to a prolonged and brutal beatdown on the floor, as Ciampa gave Marseglia a nasty suplex on the concrete, then tossed him back in the ring so he could drill Marseglia with repeated running kneestrikes before tossing Marseglia back out to the floor. Marseglia finally gets a bit of an advantage out there by kicking Ciampa into the barricade, then hits a dive to the floor before rolling Ciampa back inside where he connects with a missile dropkick. Ciampa made it to his feet and they traded blows, Ciampa got the advantage and hit more kneestrikes in the corner, then hit a top rope Air Raid Crash for the win.
Winner Tommaso Ciampa
Another competitive match, but I'm not sure I like Marseglia being this competitive with Ciampa given how low on the totem pole he is. It was a good match, but at least Evans and Marshall have been around ROH, Marseglia's still basically a tryout guy and I don't think he should get that much offense on a monster like Ciampa, especially given that Ciampa's headed into a match with a much tougher opponent in Michael Elgin at Best In The World.
Proving Ground Match: Matt Taven vs Tadarius Thomas
This is a rematch of the Top Prospect Tournament finals that Taven cheated to win, leading to his heel turn and eventual victory for the TV Title. Taven gets almost no offense in early on, as Thomas easily dominates him and overcomes distractions from Truth Martini while countering out of Taven's front DDT by cartwheeling through the move. Thomas is clearly very focused and prepared, but Truth's distractions finally create enough of an opening for Taven to take the fight out to the floor and gain the advantage. Unfortunately for Taven, that didn't last long before Truth or one of the Hoopla Hotties tripped Thomas from the floor. I didn't catch which one of them did it, but it doesn't really matter because all three of them got bounced from ringside and forced Taven to go it alone. Thomas got his second wind as Taven's crew was being escorted to the back, and he started pummeling Taven with martial arts offense. Thomas appeared to have Taven on the ropes, but Taven managed to drill Thomas with the front DDT for the clean win.
Winner: Matt Taven
This was a really good match, it told a good story and I like that Taven still managed to win clean instead of making it out like he can't do it without cheating just because he's a heel. Taven has now eliminated his rival Thomas from title contention by beating him in this Proving Ground match.
Michael Elgin vs ACH
Elgin starts the match by powering ACH around the ring until ACH outmaneuvers him with some flippy dippy moves, but since ACH still doesn't appear able to actually wrestle, he zips around until Elgin catches him on a dive and starts throwing him around on the floor. ACH eventually hits more flippy stuff until Elgin swats him like a fly and starts unloading the big guns. ACH takes a bunch of Elgin's best shots and continues to kick out and nearly pins Elgin with a 450 splash, but Elgin drills ACH with a deathblow, a deadlift German suplex, a buckle bomb, and finally the sitout powerbomb for the win.
Winner: Michael Elgin
This was an exciting match, but I really am not a fan of ACH and he shows how limited he is every time he gets in the ring. I suppose he may eventually grow out of it like Ricochet did, but so far all I've seen from him is spots, spots, and more spots. Elgin made him look like a million bucks, but if you really break it down, all he did was kick out of a bunch of Elgin's big moves and hit highspots. ACH came into ROH with a ton of hype, but I think he's got a long way to go before he's ready to move above where he is now.
Dalton Castle vs Dalton Castle
Okay, one of them is actually named Jimmy Nutts (I hope that's just his work name), but it doesn't matter because they just did generic preliminary stuff until Rhett Titus ran in and took them both out.
This flagrant act of aggression infuriates Kevin Steen, who runs out of the back to lead us right into our next match...
Rhett Titus vs Kevin Steen
Steen rushes the ring, destroys Titus, then chucks him out to the floor and beats him up out there, too. Steve Corino is at ringside on commentary and distracts Steen to give Titus an opening to nail him from behind, but Steen quickly regains control and repeatedly wishbones Titus on the ringpost. Titus responds by ramming Steen into the barricade and starts working him over on the floor as Steve Corino launches into this amazing rant where he accuses Steen of being a selfish jerk who only pretends to care about the fans, and generally does everything but accuse him of pushing over little old ladies and stealing candy from babies. It was comedy gold that reminded me of the way Bobby Heenan would trash Hulk Hogan on commentary, but it didn't stop Steen from giving Titus an F5 on the ring apron. The ref gets whacked and goes down, Titus hits a low blow and nearly gets the win off a rollup, but Steen returns the favor with a low blow of his own and hits the package piledriver for the win.
Winner: Kevin Steen
Solid match, but the commentary from Corino really enhanced what Steen and Titus were doing in there. Steen's quest to take out SCUM one by one is off to a good start, and Steen celebrates by giving Titus two more package piledrivers for good measure.
Roderick Strong vs BJ Whitmer vs Adam Cole
Cole got a good response from the crowd, complete with streamers. They do an extended three way test of strength to start the match, then take turns drilling each other with big moves, then take turns getting dumped to the floor so the other two guys can fight, then they take turns hitting dives to the floor, then they take turns hitting big moves and having their pinfall attempts broken up by the third guy. These matches tend to be very formulaic by necessity, and I don't mean to disparage the effort because they all work hard, but there's only so much you can do in a match like this. They take turns hitting superkicks and kneestrikes until Whitmer hit Cole with the T-bone suplex for the win.
Winner: BJ Whitmer
Solid match, but like I said, a bit limited by the rules.
No DQ Match: Jay Lethal vs Jimmy Jacobs
They go right out to the floor before even making contact, and surprisingly, Jacobs gets the advantage by ramming Lethal into the rail and unloading with right hands. Lethal turns that around fairly quickly by giving Jacobs a catapult into the ringpost and suplexing him on the floor. They brawl up the entryway, into the back, back out to the entryway, and then finally head into the ring. Lethal brings a chair in with him and does some old school Raven chair spots on Jacobs, but he then tries the Lethal Injection and gets caught with a chairshot to the back from Jacobs, who grabbed it just in time to save himself from Lethal's finish. Jacobs is unsuccessful in trying to choke Lethal out on the chair, so he dumps him to the floor and hits a Cactus elbow. Jacobs pulls the steel spike out of his boot, Lethal dodges a charging stab and Jacobs sinks the spike into the top turnbuckle, then Lethal rams Jacobs headfirst into a chair wedged in the corner, superkicks him, and bashes him in the head with a trash can for 2. Lethal takes Jacobs out with a dive to the floor, but Jacobs catches him out of nowhere with a springboard Ace Crusher off the barricade and quickly rolls him inside and covers for 2. Jacobs lays Lethal on a trash can and goes up for the senton, but Lethal moves and Jacobs lands on the trash can himself. Lethal goes to nail Jacobs with a chair, but Jacobs has ahold of the spike again and they both stop and stare each other down before a frantic struggle ends with Jacobs ramming the spike into the chair, after which Lethal hits the Lethal Combination on the chair for 2. Lethal brings a table into the ring and stands it in the corner, superkicks Jacobs into it, and gets nailed by Steve Corino, who was back at ringside on commentary. Kevin Steen runs in to stop him and winds up brawling with Jacobs, Lethal throws a superkick at Jacobs, but Jacobs moves and Lethal drills Steen instead. Before Lethal has a chance to react to Steen's presence, Jacobs spears Lethal through the table and pins him.
Winner: Jimmy Jacobs
Steen and Lethal finally lock eyes after the match and have a tense staredown before Steen walks off in disgust.
ROH World Tag Team Title Match: reDRagon vs Jay & Mark Briscoe
If the Briscoes really have wrestled their final ROH matches, then this will turn out to be the last time they ever wrestled for the ROH World Tag Team Title they were mostly responsible for making. Jay is of course the ROH World Champion at this point, and has the chance to be the first double champion in ROH history if he and Mark win the tag title for yet a tenth time. They do quite a bit of stalling to start the match off, Mark and O'Reilly feel each other out before tagging Fish and Jay in, and they do some mat wrestling as well before turning it into a brawl. This seems to favor the Briscoes, and they work Fish over for several minutes until O'Reilly distracts Mark and allows Fish to sweep Mark's leg out from under him. Mark is in trouble, but only for a few minutes before he tags out to his brother, who comes in and cleans house on both of the champions. It's all Briscoes as they work Fish over and hit a Death Valley Driver/corkscrew frogsplash combo for 2, but O'Reilly again sneaks in and kicks Jay's bad arm that he had surgery on, and now the champs viciously target Jay's arm with strikes and submissions. Jay gets away from Fish and nearly gets the tag, but O'Reilly pulls Mark off the apron milliseconds before Jay gets to him, and Jay is stuck in the ring absorbing kicks from reDRagon. O'Reilly nearly gets Jay with a cross armbreaker in the middle of the ring that he turns into a triangle choke as Jay tries to escape, but Jay gets out, hits a spinebuster on Fish, and finally makes the tag. Mark unleashes Redneck Kung Fu on O'Reilly and hits a rolling Death Valley Driver on Fish, but O'Reilly catches Mark with a Saito suplex, then snaps Jay's arm down on the top rope and drills him with the running dropkick off the apron. O'Reilly grabs one of the tag title belts as Mark and Fish engage in a martial arts battle in the ring. O'Reilly hits Mark with one of the belts behind the referee's back and Fish drills him with a knockout kick to the head to score the win.
Solid match, nothing spectacular out but it was solid. The American Wolves, who were at ringside for the last few minutes of the match, get into the ring to get in reDRagon's faces, as BJ Whitmer (who was at ringside doing color commentary for the main event) gets into the ring to face off with Jay, and a huge brawl breaks out. Fish and O'Reilly slink off to the back as the Briscoes, Whitmer, and the Wolves (who are each getting ROH World Title shots in the coming weeks as well) all go face to face and a shoving match ensues as we call it a night.
There was a lot of good wrestling on this show, but nothing really memorable that you need to see since the thing that stood out to me the most was how competitive the preliminary guys were in the first three or four matches. I wouldn't say you need to see this unless you need to have every DVD ROH releases, but if you'd like information on ordering, go to www.rohwrestling.com.
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