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ROH UNITY DVD REVIEW: THE BRAVADO BROTHERS HAVE THE BEST MATCH OF THEIR ROH CAREERS AGAINST THE YOUNG BUCKS, THE BEST OF CHIKARA CHALLENGE THE BRISCOES FOR THE ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE, DISSENSION CONTINUES TO TEAR TEAM AMBITION APART, AND MORE

By Stuart Carapola on 2012-06-21 21:46:26
ROH and CHIKARA came together this past April to present Synergy, a double header that would include shows from both companies at the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge. Wrestlers from each company appear on the other's shows, including the main event of the ROH event as Jigsaw & Hallowicked from CHIKARA challenged Jay & Mark Briscoe for the ROH World Tag Team Title. I was looking forward to seeing the DVD of this show since ROH and CHIKARA have drastically different styles, and I was interested to see how the unique ways they present their products would mesh.

ROH Unity: 4/28/2012 in Chicago Ridge, Illinois

We kick the show off with a match that could easily main event an ROH show, as the All Night Express took on Roderick Strong & Michael Elgin of the House of Truth. The HoT was coming off a very successful Wrestlemania weekend where Strong defeated Jay Lethal for the TV Title and Elgin had the match of his life against Davey Richards. The ANX were still trying to regain momentum after Titus was sidelined for several months with a knee injury, and the HoT targeted that knee after Strong gave Titus a kind of kneebreaker on the ring apron. A Michael Elgin match just isn't complete without at least one freakish show of strength, and in this case he had Titus up for a slam while holding King in a fireman's carry, and gave them a combo fallaway slam/Samoan drop. Miscommunication between the members of the HoT reared its ugly head again, as Strong accidentally hit Elgin with a clothesline, then Elgin accidentally knocked Strong off the ring apron. The referee went to check on Strong as he lay on the ground clutching an apparently injured leg, and wasn't in position to make a count after Elgin hit Titus with the sitout powerbomb. Strong was down on the floor for the rest of the match, leaving Elgin to fight the ANX by himself and eventually lose the match after the ANX hit the powerbomb/Blockbuster combo. Strong magically recovered after the match, and an irate Elgin pulled his shoulder straps down and got into a shoving match with Strong. Truth Martini managed to calm the situation down and force a very tense handshake between Strong and Elgin, but you can tell that these two are going to explode at some point. Very good opener, and they've done a good job of teasing the dissension between Strong and Elgin.

Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis come out to exchange pleasantries with the fans, then Bennett tells the fans how ROH was forcing him to pick a tag team partner for the evening. His first choice was Brutal Bob Evans, but Bob is busy back in Boston stretching people who want to train and taking their money. Instead, Bennett decided that he and Maria would have ROH's first ever official makeout session right in the middle of the ring. They get started, but then Mike Sydal (the legit younger brother of Matt Sydal, aka WWE's Evan Bourne) runs out and says that he's been a fill-in guy in ROH for a long time now, but he sees that Bennett doesn't have an opponent for the evening and wants to take the opportunity and challenge Bennett to a match. Bennett's on the fence about whether to accept the challenge until Sydal mentions how Maria smells like diarrhea (he must have been watching Raw when he came up with that one), and Bennett flips out and attacks Sydal to jump start the impromptu match. Sydal got an impressive run at Bennett early on and connected with a bunch of high flying moves, but Bennett nailed him with one big boot to the chest and turned the tide just like that. Sydal got another flurry of offense in later in the match, including several moves out of the Matt Sydal playbook, but this was mostly Bennett unloading with heavy offense before hitting the TKO for the win.

Maria got a microphone after the match and asked Sydal how it felt being in second place since that's something he's so used to, and asked how his brother's doing. She told Bennett to get Sydal out of the ring because she doesn't like to be around second best, then ripped on the Chicago crowd for being full of second place losers like the Cubs. The crowd started a CM Punk chant, and Maria said that she hears that he still wants her, but now she's with the guy who's better than the best. She finishes by mentioning that Lance Storm begged for a rematch with Mike Bennett, but assured us that the result would be the same as the first time around.

We head backstage as Veda Scott interviews the Bravado Brothers, back from a three month stay in Japan during which they trained in the Pro Wrestling NOAH dojo. Harlem Bravado says that their grandmother told them to train hard and send postcards every day, but now they're back and are going to remind everyone of who the Bravado Brothers are. This leads into the Bravados taking on the Young Bucks in an interesting pairing of two teams comprised of smartass, entitled brothers. The Bucks took the Bravados lightly, but you could see the difference in the way the Bravados approached their craft almost immediately. They wrestled more aggressively and had a more serious attitude, the fluidity of their teamwork improved, and they even paid more attention to the subtleties, like one spot where Harlem Bravado didn't get as much height as he wanted on a leapfrog attempt. He came down low enough that Nick Jackson ran face first into his groin and the crowd started the usual "you F'd up" chant, but Harlem played it off by selling the groin shot for the next several minutes instead of panicking and letting it throw him off his game. The crowd was really into the Bravados, who had a much more competitive match than you would have seen out of them six months earlier. Their new killer instinct put the Bucks on the defensive and made them pull out weapons from their arsenal that we don't usually see, but the Bravados still managed to block More Bang For Your Buck so Lancelot could catch Matt with a crucifix for the win. This was far and away the best match I've ever seen the Bravados have, and it's easily the biggest win of their careers.

We take a break from the action as Veda Scott introduces Ring of Honor COO Joe Koff, who thanks the live crowd for their loyalty by announcing that Chicago Ridge will host this year's Death Before Dishonor iPPV, at which all three ROH titles will be defended regardless of who the champions are. Kevin Steen and Jimmy Jacobs come out to the ring, and security comes from out of nowhere to form a human shield between Steen and Koff. Steen says that he's going to be the champion on September 15th, and he's going to hold the company hostage. He and Koff don't have any problems yet, but after he wins the title, Koff is going to wish he never bought the company. Steen finishes by telling El Generico and BJ Whitmer to get out to the ring so they can get their match started.

Whitmer and Jacobs go nose-to-nose the instant Whitmer gets into the ring, and in an interesting bit of trivia, Chicago Ridge is the city where Jacobs defeated Whitmer in a cage to win their feud five years earlier. They start brawling and the fight spills out to the floor within seconds, and the security crew who was protecting Koff only moments earlier now swarms all over the four men to try and break them up. Referee Todd Sinclair gets a microphone and tells them to stop because this was signed as a regular wrestling match, not any kind of hardcore streetfight. Steen says he doesn't care what ROH wants, and Sinclair is crazy if he thinks regular wrestling rules will contain the four of them and demands a No DQ stipulation. Whitmer gets a microphone as well and calls Steen a fatass, but agrees that this needs to be No DQ. Sinclair says that unless he gets approval from ROH management in the back, he can't change the rules of the match. As luck would have it, referee Paul Turner runs out of the back with a cell phone that, apparently, has Jim Cornette on the other end of the line. Sinclair has a brief conversation with Cornette before confirming that, indeed, this has now become a No DQ match.

The four men involved waste no time in going after each other, with the fight again spilling out to the floor almost immediately, and Jacobs and Whitmer picking up right where they left off in 2007. There was some really interesting stuff being said on commentary, as Steve Corino wondered why Generico didn't pick him to be his partner against Steen & Jacobs after everything Corino did to prove himself to Generico. This foreshadowed what we'd see from Corino at Border Wars, and Corino continued selling how upset he was for the rest of the match. The four guys involved in this match are kind of the ROH streetfight "dream team" since they've all been involved in some of the most famous hardcore matches in company history, and though this was okay, I think they're all capable of more and would like to see them in another, similar match in a higher profile spot on the card. They did one crazy spot where Generico gave Steen a brainbuster on the ring apron, but then Jacobs took out his steel spike and nailed Generico with it, leaving him alone with his old rival Whitmer. Jacobs put Whitmer on a table and went up top to put him away, but Whitmer came around in time to stop Jacobs and hit an Exploder suplex through the table for the win. So-so match, great finish, and Whitmer finally avenged his loss to Jacobs five years earlier.

Gavin Loudspeaker, the Voice of CHIKARA, introduces our next match as The Colony takes on Jay Lethal, Adam Cole, and TJ Perkins under CHIKARA rules, which basically means Lucha rules where tags aren't necessary and someone new can come in when one of their partners leaves the ring. ROH Ambassador Cary Silkin handles a coin toss to determine whether a CHIKARA or ROH referee would officiate the match, Jay Lethal calls it in the air but CHIKARA wins the toss, so CHIKARA's PJ Drummond is the referee. I always find it difficult to review Lucha matches because, while I appreciate that there's a lot of people out there who love the style, it's not my thing and I'm probably not the best person to tell you how good or bad it is. What I can tell you is that this is one of the matches I was talking about at the top where I wanted to see how the CHIKARA and ROH styles would mesh when they were thrown in a blender. What I saw was that everything went great when they slowed it down and wrestled a more traditional tag team style where one guy was trapped in the ring getting triple teamed, but some of the more comic or family-friendly mannerisms of the Colony sort of clashed with the more serious approach you typically see out of the guys on the ROH team. It was also a little strange to see guys like Lethal and Cole who have excelled in more traditional matches having to do hyper-choreographed sequences where they do triple superkicks, triple suplexes, and the spots where one guy after another starts hitting their big spot on the guy who hit the big spot before him. There was some controversy as Drummond (possibly intentionally) found himself in the way of Perkins as he tried to hit the ropes, and then the referee just happened to have his back to the action as Perkins got Fire Ant in a small package and held him there for about a 7 or 8 count. Green Ant came in and rolld the small package over to put Fire Ant on top, and NOW the referee turned around and counted the fall.

We move on to a major match between two top contenders to the ROH World Tag Team Title, as Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team takes on Team Ambition. Davey Richards and Kyle O'Reilly do an interesting prematch promo where Kyle O'Reilly seems hung up on running down Adam Cole and proving how much better off he is now that he's teaming with Davey. Davey is clearly not on the same page as O'Reilly about the Cole thing and tells him to let bygones be bygones and move on, but it's an obvious point of disagreement between them. O'Reilly is obsessed with proving himself now that he's away from Cole, and this continually leads him into situations in the match where he gets in over his head, such as trying to mat wrestle and trade blows with Charlie Haas. He comes up on the short end and tags out to Richards in frustration, leading to a tense exchange of words between Team Ambition. That became the ongoing story of the match: Davey would take control, but then O'Reilly would tag in and make a mistake that landed him in trouble. O'Reilly got a little overzealous with repeatedly firing kicks at Haas and Davey came over to pull him off, causing them to have words. Davey turned his back, and Haas popped up and shoved O'Reilly into Davey, making Davey think O'Reilly shoved him. This led to them exchanging more words, but then Shelton laid Davey out with a superkick and O'Reilly, rather than try to hold his own, bailed out of the ring and left Davey to take a 2-on-1 beating for the next several minutes. The crowd turned on O'Reilly big time after that, but he did finally tag back in and rally against Haas & Benjamin for a couple of minutes before Shelton caught him with Paydirt and got the win. O'Reilly and Richards were both frustrated at the loss, and O'Reilly walked off on his mentor when Davey tried to shake his hand.

This brings us to the main event, as the team of Jigsaw & Hallowicked, representing CHIKARA, challenged Jay & Mark Briscoe for the ROH World Tag Team Title. Jigsaw & Hallowicked earned this title shot by beating the Briscoes in a non-title match a couple of months earlier, albeit after the entire CHIKARA roster jumped the guardrail. For those who were curious, this one is being held under ROH rules since an ROH title is on the line. Jigsaw & Hallowicked came out strong with a lot of high flying moves, but found themselves at a disadvantage when they went to the floor because the Briscoes used the environment to turn the match into a brawl. The Briscoes proceeded to destroy Jigsaw once they got him back into the ring, but the CHIKARA guys countered a Doomsday Device attempt by knocking Mark off the top rope and through a table at ringside. The momentum now shifted to Jigsaw & Hallowicked's advantage, and the momentum swung even further in their favor when CHIKARA referee PJ Drummond took over refereeing after ROH official Paul Turner got bumped. The Briscoes wasted no time in "accidentally" taking him out and then giving Jigsaw the Doomsday Device, but referee Todd Sinclair took just long enough to get to the ring and make the count that Jigsaw had time to recover and kick out. The Colony came out to ringside to support their fellow CHIKARA representatives as the two teams went toe to toe in the middle of the ring, but then Cole, Lethal, and Perkins came to ringside as well to support the Briscoes. Jigsaw nearly pinned Jay with a small package like he did to win their first encounter, but then he fell victim to a top rope elbowdrop from Mark and the Briscoes picked up the win. The two rosters faced off in the ring like the Sharks and the Jets after the match, but everyone shook hands and celebrated together in the ring to send the fans of both companies home happy.

* * *

This was a really good show, I thought it told some great stories with the continued decline of Kyle O'Reilly's moral fortitude and Corino's frustration over not being asked to team with El Generico, and every match on here was good to excellent. Like I said, Lucha isn't really my thing, but if you enjoy it and enjoy CHIKARA's product, their wrestlers were put into some very prominent positions on this show and delivered. Jigsaw & Hallowicked in particular were involved in a very good main event, and as long as they're presented in a context that's consistent with the ROH style, I'd be okay with them coming back at some point in the future. Big thumbs up for Unity, and I'll be back next week to cover Rising Above 2012, as Davey Richards defends the ROH World Title against the man who pinned him in the main event of the 10th Anniversary Show, Adam Cole.

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