WHAT TO WATCH: The main event tag team match between the American Wolves & Michael Elgin vs. Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong is excellent. Watch it. The interviews are nothing special so reading the recaps is sufficient. The Top Prospect finals is solid, not spectacular. Watch the end, though, for a storyline development.
Kevin Steen comes to the ring for an interview.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Kevin Steen explains that he didn’t hate ROH. He hated what Jim Cornette had done to it. Now that Jay Lethal has run Cornette out of the company, he’s proud of ROH again. Steen is willingly putting his title at stake but is confident that Lethal cannot defeat him.
KEVIN STEEN: Ring of Honor has been through a lot of changes, and not necessarily for the better, at least not a first. Because in 2010 this company wasn’t about pro wrestling anymore. This company became about one man - Jim Cornette. I wasn’t smiling last year, I wasn’t proud of [my ROH Championship] victory. I wasn’t happy that I was ROH Champion. The only reason I wanted this was because I thought it would help me kill this company. And I didn’t want to kill this company because I hated it. I love ROH. I always have. And that’s exactly why I wanted to kill it. I wanted to put it out of its misery because of what Jim Cornette was doing to it.
KEVIN STEEN: ROH was never meant to be a playground for a 50 year old jackass trying to relive his glory days. Ring of Honor was about young, talented wrestlers busting their asses to prove they belong in this industry. And the truth is, since Jim Cornette's gone, this company is exactly about what it should be - and that’s pro wrestling. And you can call me a lot of things. You can say I’m sick. You can say I’m an asshole. But you can’t say I don’t love pro wrestling, because I’ve dedicated my life to it. I’ve bled for it. I’ve cried for it. And I’m not sorry I’m consumed. Since Jim Cornette’s departure, I’ve cared about this company and I’m proud to be Ring of Honor World Champion.
KEVIN STEEN: So Jay Lethal, that’s why I’m giving you the title shot even though I don’t have to. Because you deserve it. But hey, as talented as you are, you don’t deserve it because you’re a great wrestler or because you’ve beaten a lot of great wrestlers, because truthfully, you’re the one who got rid of Jim Cornette! But Jay, let me make this clear. Since winning this, I’ve beaten Eddie Edwards. I’ve beaten Davey Richards. I’ve beaten Roderick Strong. I’ve beaten Rhino. I’ve beaten Michael Elgin. I’ve beaten El Generico just to name a few. I’ve put myself through hell. And now, more than ever, I will do everything and anything to keep this title. [speaking directly into the camera] And Jay Lethal, what makes you think you can beat me? The truth is...you can’t beat me.
Match 1: Matt Taven def. Tadarius Thomas in the finals of the ROH Top Prospect Tournament in 9 minutes and will receive a TV Title match at Chicago Ridge. Truth Martini wandered around ringside during this match. This was a back and forth contest where Taven employed his usual collection of high spots and Thomas executed his capoeira. Things were a little sloppy at points (you can see why these guys aren’t full fledged members of the roster yet), but the match never fell apart.
Early on, Taven focussed on Thomas’s abdominal area. He hit a really nice springboard twisting leg drop and deftly countered Thomas’s offense. Truth grabbed at Taven’s leg allowing Thomas to hit a back heel kick and clothesline. Is Thomas in cahoots with Martini?
Thomas hit a handstand windmill kick. They traded haymakers but Thomas nailed a tiger suplex for a two count. The ref got knocked down. Truth Martini removed his boot and threw it to Thomas. Thomas picked up the boot and threw it right back and Truth.
TRUTH: [throwing the boot back in the ring] What are you doing!? Hit him with it!
Taven led Thomas into the ropes where Truth nailed him in the head with the Book of Truth. Taven covered for the three count!
As Taven celebrated, Truth ran in and kneeled next to him. Truth extended his hand, but Taven stepped away. Truth grabbed Taven by the shoulder and whispered something in his ear for several seconds. Whatever Truth said, Taven liked it because he shook his hand and they celebrated together, much to Truth’s delight. As he was leaving, Taven grabbed a sign at ringside that said “the truth will set you free.”
Jay Lethal is in the ring for an interview.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Lethal thinks it’s great that Kevin Steen has turned a new leaf, but he also thinks Steen is full of shit. Jay promises he won’t fall prey to his mind games.
JAY LETHAL: I want to talk to the world champ. Kevin Steen, you were out here earlier and it’s great that you had a change of heart. I think it’s great that you now love Ring of Honor and you want to be an honorable champion. All of these things are great. But Kevin, I also think that you’re full of shit.
JAY LETHAL: You see, Kevin, I’ve got you all figured out. I’ve got your number. You’re a master of mind games. You’ve enjoyed getting into the heads of your opponents and most of your matches are won before the bell even rings. You came out here and total everyone what you thought they wanted to hear. Also, to prove my point, I think that Davey Richards is one of the best in the world. The mind job that you pulled on him to win the Ring of Honor World Championship was nothing short of amazing.
JAY LETHAL: But I can guarantee, Kevin, that in Chicago that will not happen to me. You see, Kevin, I’ve got your number and I've got it all mapped out. I’ve forgotten the past. My parents will be miles away. I’ve removed all my distractions. And Kevin, when they talk about the great Ring of Honor champions after March 2, they'll have no choice but to say: Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Bryan Danielson...
CROWD: Yes! Yes! Yes!
JAY LETHAL: At the 11th anniversary show in Chicago, I think I can win because you think I can’t. [crowd cheers]
Match 2: Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly def. Michael Elgin & The American Wolves in 10+ minutes. This match was awesome. The pace was furious the whole way through and there were a ton of really fun spots. Watch this. The Briscoes were on commentary. The Wolves received a huge positive reaction.
Here are some big spots and highlights of the match:
1) To start, all men battled on the outside.
2) Fish, O’Reilly and Strong all missed running splashes into the corner and got piled up. Eddie chopped, Davey kicked and Elgin crushed them with a full speed run. The first man fell, so Elgin crushed the second and followed with a huge scoop slam. The Wolves ran interference while Elgin executed a (literally) 30-second delayed vertical suplex. Wow.
3) Roderick and Davey worked each other over, but eventually Davey desperately needed the tag. He nailed a handspring twisting kick, but Fish and O’Reilly knocked Edwards and Elgin off the apron, preventing the tag. Davey rammed Fish into O’Reilly and made the hot tag to Eddie who cleaned house in spectacular fashion.
4) Fish hit a falcon arrow on Eddie.
5) Roderick applied the Strong Hold on Eddie. Eddie countered into the single leg crab. Roderick tried to counter again, but Eddie popped him up as Davey finished the Alarm Clock. Great stuff. Fish and O’Reilly broke up the pinfall at two.
6) Elgin made the blind tag while the Wolves took out Fish and O’Reilly with suicide dives.
7) Elgin pummelled Roderick. Then with Kyle on his back, Elgin suplexed Fish...WITH KYLE ON HIS BACK!!! The crowd gave this a standing ovation.
8) The Wolves hit consecutive top rope double stomps.
9) Elgin transitioned a delayed vertical into a Rock Bottom, but Fish and O’Reilly broke up the pin. Strong hit Death by Roderick, then Fish and O’Reilly hit Total Elimination. Roderick’s pin attempt was broken up by the Wolves.
10) The two tag teams go to town on each other with kicks, forearms, enzuigiris, etc.
11) Roderick hit a torture rack backbreaker on Davey.
12) Elgin tried to hit Roderick with the Death Valley Driver, but Roderick pushed off, hit the muay thai knee, kick to the face, bicycle kick off the rope and got a two count. Elgin popped right back up and total Roderick to bring it, bitch! Roderick kicked Elgin in the face, elbow, punch, elbow, elbow, another muay thai knee and then a vertical suplex into a backbreaker for the three count.
Very, very good match.