Back to Chicago's Frontier Fieldhouse and in front of a rabid crowd, Executive Producer Jim Cornette welcomes the Brisco Brothers to talk about their attack on new tag champs Haas/Benjamin. The brothers shrug off Cornette's $5,000 fine for that beatdown. They've held the belts six times and want their shot for a seventh reign. The audio goes funky, but Cornette sets up a contender's match next week with the All Night Express. Winners get the champs. There's some more of that ringbell censor sound effect.
This week's ROH Focus is on the undefeated Dominant Male Tommaso Ciampa, and there's his manager Prince Nana, the head of the Embassy. I'm fine with an evil-foreigner stable. That never isn't fun. But ROH loses distinction when they show Nana in his feathered frippery. That's pre-nWO WCW bad. Ciampa doesn't have kids or bills; he can concentrate on winning and making money. Cornette does a better job at getting him over than Nana.
Tommaso Ciampa w/The Embassy vs. "Right Leg" Andy Ridge Ridge's nickname comes from his devastating kicks, we're told. Steve Corino joins Kevin Kelly at ringside. "I am Steve Corino, and I am an evil person, and everyday I try to be a little bit better." Get that guy in the ring right now. That's a better gimmick presentation than Bennett AND Ciampa. Ciampa gets one streamer, which is sad. A graphic shows he has has no code, and yep, he doesn't shake hands before the bell. Ridge uses body kicks immediately and runs into a clothesline. Ciampa spins him around in the corner and chops his back! Yikes. That sets up a Sicilian suplex (a German where the victim is sitting on the second rope). They trade chops and kicks on the apron before Ciampa trips Ridge onto his back, grabs his legs, and swings him headfirst into the railing. This is a Rey/Batista match. Corino says Ciampa is making the same mistakes he did, listening to the wrong people who will abandon him. Ciampa covers for two.
A snapmare kick sets up CM Punk's figure four headlock with elbow strikes. Only gets a one count, and he puts on a seated headlock. Ridge jawjacks out and kicks away to set up a fat running knee. Iffy camerawork misses a kick from the outside that sets up a springboard cutter. That gets two. Ciampa corners him and hits him with a series of running knees to the head. Ridge is deadweight, and Ciampa ends it with Project Ciampa, a powerbomb into a Backstabber (wowsers). Kelly wishes Corino luck in his rehabilitation, and the latter is being set up as the face manager against Bob Evans and Nana.
Nigel McGuiness asks a fan who's gonna win in the main event tonight for the ROH world title. Instead the fan chants for ROH to bring back Kevin Steen, and Nigel cuts him off. That's a nice payoff on this recurring segment.
A video package details "one of the most heated rivalries in all of combat sports," Davey Richards vs. Roderick Strong. Strong wants the belt to continue his string of achievements from school because the girls will do lots of favors for him. And taking the belt off Richards will crush the champ. Richards notes that he was raised by his grandfather who adored watching wrestling. When his grandfather was dying, Richards was able to rush to his deathbed to say thank you before going to Japan to train. While there, his grandmother died. He mentioned both in his title victory dedication from the summer PPV and seen again on ROH's first Sinclair show. The title connects him to his grandparents. A solid, solid display of conflicting atttitudes. Strong is the Big Man on Campus, and Richards is the focused performer.
ROH world champ "American Wolf" Davey Richards vs. Roderick Strong w/Truth Martini I really and truly hate Martini already because he looks like the quintessential heel manager without adding anything new to it. STREAMERS! The intros start with just under 30 minutes to go in the show. MORE STREAMERS! Crowd is decidedly for the champ. Strong's adherence to the code seems to depend on who he faces. I'm gonna guess he will not code it up tonight. Staredown to start, and there's the bell. The lock up goes to the ropes, and Richards breaks clean. Strong wrings the arm, and Davey reverses. Strong grounds him with a facelock. Davey breaks on the ropes again, and Strong slaps his chest as the champ backs up. Davey laughs it off. Back to the arm. Richards tries a dropkick, and Strong catches his legs. Davey whips him off and Strong cartwheels to his feet. Richards ducks a chop, and Strong ducks a kick, and they hold their ground to get the crowd worked up.
Another tie-up sees Richards roll up Strong for a seated pin. He holds the arms and turns Strong for a surfboard. Strong reverses to one of his own. They trade armlocks, and Strong chops him on the ropes before popping him with a dropkick. Davey wants an anklelock, and Strong rolls him outside. They both miss moves to the floor, and Davey connects outside with body kicks, staggering Strong before he gets put into the railing. Now they exchange chops, and Strong is thrown to the railing, and Davey (following an obvious summons by Strong) boots him in the head. The ref is letting them spend a lot of time out there. Back in, Strong hot-shots him down and takes over in the corner. Davey gives him a standing eniguri and goes up, and Strong hops up with a loud enziguri of his own as Martini distracts the champ. Strong pins for two, and we go to commercials.
Strong hits a backdrop suplex into a uranage for two. A replay shows them throw punches during the ad break before Strong takes over with a dropkick. We're back to the match as Strong runs to the ropes but is caught from behind for a Doctor Bomb. Both men are exhausted and throw tired hands. Davey goes for kicks and drops Strong. Strong floatsover to the apron before getting dropped to the floor. Davey springs over the turnbuckle and clocks Strong in the mush with a soccer kick. Martini tries to help his man, but Davey flattens Strong with a midrope dive. Back in, and Richards connects on a missile dropkick for two. He runs into a boot, and they trade forearms. Davey comes off the ropes with a flying forearm and turns it into a T-bone Suplex for two, and we see at last the "2" sign that has been in play for all these Sinclair episodes. If this was all taped from one house show, the audience got their money's worth.
Strong fights off another suplex and runs into a boot. Davey charges, and Strong catches for a powerslam for two. Strong hits a corner clothesline and sets up for another move, but Davey turns that into an octopus lock and crucifix for two. Strong hits a head kick for two. On the apron, they swap shots before Strong uses the backdrop uranage on the apron! He quickly gets Davey in for a pin, but it gets two only. Davey with another head boot, but Strong comes back with knees and kicks. He runs to the ropes and right into a flapjack into a body kick. Strong connects with a boot and elbow combo, but Davey spins back a discus clothesline. They are exhausted, unable to capitalize for pins.
Strong is up first, and they stagger into another forearm trade. Now come chops and kicks. Davey hulks up and corners the challenger with repeated body kicks. He runs to the opposite corner, but Strong chases him down and scoops him up for an elevated gutbuster onto both knees. Two-count only! He picks up the champ for a suplex, and Richards knees him to block. Strong misses a corner charge, and Davey comes back with a Shining Wizard. He puts Strong up top, and there's a superplex, but Davey holds on to lift him back up for a Falcon Arrrow! Two-count!
Strong pops up his shoulders just enough to help Davey gets his feet but holds onto Strong for an anklelock. Strong kicks out and hops up with a knee to the head, and he wants the gutbuster again, but Davey lands on his feet and rolls through with the anklelock. He grapevines, but That Fucking Martini distracts the champ (just after Richards was tapping, with the ref out of view), and Davey chases Martini into the ring. Strong is waiting with a clothesline, but Davey ducks and busts out a handspring enziguri off the ropes! Martini prevents the pin and is chucked outside. Strong hits the champ with a running boot but only gets two. He slaps on a deep Boston crab, but Davey reverses to the anklelock. Strong kicks him off, and Richards bounces off the ropes with a seated head kick. Strong stands right up and spits on Richards and slaps him for good measure, and Richards answers with angry kicks to the head. They only get two. Anklelock and grapevine, and Strong taps immediately to give the champ the win, and we are out!
Another long main event for ROH, the third consecutive such match topping 15 minutes. A great showcase against the TNA and WWE mains if a little repetitive in the standoffs. Still, ROH is doggedly determined to mix ringwork and old-school gimmickry, and so far it's working.
"To be the man, you gotta beat demands." -- The Lovely Mrs. Tracker
As I watched it live, I thought something was off about both Curb Stomps to Neville from the night after Mania. Like, Neville took them really awkwardly. On the first one, his head went down at an angle rather than flat.