wrestling / Video Reviews

Zen Arcade Reviews: ROH Border Wars

May 22, 2012 | Posted by Jake St-Pierre

If ROH didn’t have a terrible server, you would have gotten the best stream ROH ever put out. Everything here is run so crisply that it’s even more disheartening that ROH couldn’t handle the site traffic.

Nigel McGuinness and Kevin Kelly open up talking about the main event. They then shift us to a video package of Rhino’s TV debut. Much, much smoother than when they ran videos in previous PPVs.

Rhino vs. Eddie Edwards
This is quite the odd choice to open, but it’ll no doubt get the crowd pumped.

Pre-Match: Truth Martini (with a beard! HA!) shills Rhino a bit.

Rhino overpowers Eddie early. They trade wristlocks, but Rhino gets frustrated and slugs Eddie. Eddie soon shakes it off and slips on an armbar. Eddie builds more momentum and tries an Asai moonsault, but Rhino trips him up on the apron. Eddie nails an enziguri, but Rhino shakes it off and throws Eddie to the floor. Rhino goes to work on the ribs with a bearhug, and forearms Eddie in the gut when he shakes it off. Eddie hits a SICK dead weight German on Rhino. He does this all while selling the ribs, which makes me a happy camper. Shining Wizard! One, two, th—no. Martini tries to interfere and make way for Rhino to GORE!~! Eddie off the apron, but Eddie JUMPS and Rhino goes tumbling out. Moonsault! Rhino nails a belly-to-belly and looks for a Gore, but Eddie nails a dropkick instead. Martini tries to interfere, but Eddie rolls Rhino up for the three count in 11 minutes.

Post-Match: Rhino nearly fucks Truth Martini up, but Martini hands him some cash and Rhino’s all like THANKS BITCH and shakes his hand.

Analysis: ***1/4 I might be overrating this a tad, but in my opinion, I thought this match was absolutely great for the time allotted. Rhino did a fine job of playing the big bully, working over Eddie’s ribs like a pro. Eddie also sold the ribs for the entire match and added another dimension to the contest. Eddie is one of the most underrated wrestlers in the world and he works as a great underdog, hence the “Die Hard” moniker. Great opener to amp up the crowd. Rhino’s going to be one hell of a hand for ROH in the coming months.

Mike Mondo & The Young Bucks vs. TJ Perkins & The All Night Express
This is an extension of the Bucks/ANX feud just with two extra people. Mike Mondo had a stellar match with Matt Taven on TV and earned future bookings on that principle. Good ‘nuff. Also, TJP is finally not being used as a jobber. You’ve got a happy reviewer here even though the “Technical Lightning” nickname for TJP is absolutely ricockulous. Just let him be TJ Perkins!

We start with TJP and Mike Mondo. Action is just fast and furious early, too fast to call. Kenny King and Mondo end up in the ring together and King is in control. The face team trades frequent tags until Kenny King puts Matt Jackson in an armbar. Matt Jackson isolates Titus and tags his brother, who nails a double stomp. The heels isolate Titus some more. Mondo prevents a hot tag. Titus finally makes the hot tag to King, who cleans house. The Bucks take control of King, but TJP finally tags in and saves King. Mondo looks for a double arm DDT. KICKS ALL AROUND! TJP tries to fake the Bucks out, but he falls to a DOUBLE SUPERKICK! Hell of a sequence there. Holy crap. King hits a corkscrew to the outside. Powerbomb/Blockbuster from ANX, 450 Splash from Perkins. That gets the 3 count in 12 minutes.

Analysis: ***1/4 Man, that was fun spotfest. Every wrestler played their part well, but if there’s one complaint I have, it’s that TJP just wasn’t in there enough. He really shone during the closing minutes of the match, but I don’t think he was in there but a few seconds during the first 8 minutes or so. But that’s a minor complaint on a really exciting match, which got the crowd going even moreso than the bout before it did. The day ROH really lets ANX and The Young Bucks cut loose, it’s gonna be a damn good tag match. Let’s just hope it’s for the tag titles…

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jay Lethal
These two have had a pretty good feud, with Ciampa establishing a good character. Lethal proved how absolutely moronic TNA was for ditching him, but such is wrestling. Oh my God, Ciampa looks like a damn psycho with his beard. I don’t know if I like it or not.

We start off with a slugfest. They brawl around the ring like the intense bastards they are. Lethal pulls out a Section C sign (which gets its own chant!) and catapults Tommaso into it. RD Evans tries to stop Lethal but Lethal dropkicks him off of the apron…Evans takes a SICK bump, going backfirst to the ground. What a trooper you are Arch—RD. Ciampa takes control in the ring as things settle down. Lethal makes his comeback and we get a slugfest. Ciampa lariats Lethal out of his shoes. Ciampa nails his MURDERDEATHKILL knee, but Lethal slithers out of a pinfall. Lethal fucking ALABAMA SLAMS Ciampa in the corner. Lethal Injection connects, but RD Evans pulls Todd Sinclair’s fat ass out of the ring before he hits three. Macho Elbow! One, two, thr—NO! Great nearfall. Lethal hits the first part of the Lethal Combination 10 times, and completes the move to end Ciampa’s undefeated streak in 14 minutes.

Post-Match: Ciampa gets up and goes all Eugene on Lethal’s ass, yelling and making weird hand motions. He storms off soon after.

Analysis: ***1/4 I was all ready to give this match below three stars, but then the last 3 minutes kicked in and elevated this one significantly. Although these two showed their technical chemistry doesn’t amount to much, they’re good with building up nearfalls and overall putting together a good finishing stretch. The story was simple but well executed, as Lethal was looking for retribution against Ciampa, who cost him the TV Title he held for 6 months. I don’t think I agree with Lethal ending Ciampa’s undefeated streak but in the context of their feud, it was a good little ending to what was a good feud so it can be forgiven.

Lance Storm vs. Mike Bennett
These two had a pretty good match at Showdown in the Sun, but it didn’t wow me like it did for some. THERE’S NO MARIA?! Oh, fuck you ROH.

Lance Storm’s all like BRING IT BITCH early. They trade some stiff chops but Storm just kills Bennett with a couple European uppercuts. Storm tries to suplex Bennett outside, but Mike rams Storm into the ringpost. Bennett takes Storm inside after a bit and gets a 2 count. Storm comes back by leaping from the top rope Shelton Benjamin-esque and hitting a back elbow. Codebreaker gets two. Bennett catches a superkick and nails a spinebuster. Storm misses a springboard and eats a spear from Bennett. One, two, no. Box Office Smash! One, two, no! Bennett stalls a comeback with a Dragon Screw. Bennett does a classic heel move and puts in the Maple Leaf on Storm. STORM REVERSES! Brutal Bob pulls Bennett out, but Storm hits a crossbody to the outside! Bennett brings a steel chair in, but Storm steals it and whacks Bennett with it! Superkick gets Storm with three count in 13 minutes.

Post Match: Storm puts over ROH, the fans, and thanks everyone who he thinks deserves it.

Analysis: ***1/2 I know this may not be the popular decision, but I thought this was noticeably better than Showdown in the Sun. Storm looked more motivated since he was in his home country and Bennett did really well too. They worked a faster pace and blended in some clever counters all with a hot crowd. That’s basically why I prefer this match over Showdown in the Sun, but you can’t go wrong with either one. Storm obviously still has it and he knows it, as he’s working other independent shows and is coming back to ROH at the next TV Taping for another match against Bennett.

Michael Elgin vs. Adam Cole
Elgin had 2012’s current MOTY with Davey Richards at Day 2 of Showdown in the Sun. Cole pinned Davey in the awesome tag match at Young Wolves Rising. It’s only right for them to wrestle each other, right? I expect a good match here.

Elgin uses his strength to his advantage early. Elgin CATCHES COLE ON A TOPE and slams him on the guardrail! Elgin destroys Cole with an elbow and soon after hits an Alabama Slam for 2. Cole makes his comeback with a spinning DDT. Elgin nails the CHAOS THEORY. God damn it, I love that move no matter who does it. Shining Wizard from Cole gets 2. Cole hits a superkick to the back of the head, but Elgin MASSACRES him with a rolling lariat. Elgin goes up top and lifts Cole FROM THE APRON AND NAILS A SUPER FALCON ARROW! Wow. Cole nails a knee brainbuster! Cole looks for the diving crossbody, but Elgin catches him and nails a Buckle Bomb. Spiral Bomb gets Elgin the 3 count in 13 minutes.

Post-Match: Truth Martini cuts a rambling promo but gets his teeth kicked in by Adam Cole. Elgin carries his manager out with no emotion.

Analysis: ***1/4 If there is one thing from this match you should find out (if you hadn’t already) it’s that Michael Elgin is one strong S.O.B. That deadlift Super Falcon Arrow was absolutely bonkers and earns a star on its own. But, let’s not forget Cole, who played the plucky, gutsy babyface excellently. They told a good story, with the underdog Cole trying to earn the respect of the Canadian fans that were so behind Elgin. This was a really fun match and I hope that in a couple years, we’ll see a classic between these two for the World Title. It’s inevitable.

TV Title Match, No Time Limit: Roderick Strong © vs. Fit Finlay
Finlay is one of the most underrated wrestlers of all time. I said it. He’s had some really, really awesome matches over the years, including two absolute WARS with Sami Callihan in EVOLVE most recently. Tonight he looks to make an impactful debut by winning the TV Title. I’m venturing to guess that this match will be insanely stiff. Just a hunch.

We start with a couple of catch-as-catch-can exchanges. Roddy pisses of the Irishman and soon finds his leg being worked on. Roddy gets defiant again and Finlay just ain’t havin’ it. Man, I just love Finlay. The guy is most likely a legit badass and you can tell. He’s a stiff fucker too, evidenced by the chops he delivers to Roddy on the outside. Roddy takes control soon after however. These guys are wrestling a great old school match here. Roddy goes to work on Finlay’s ribs, which were hurt by the guardrail. Good psychology. Roddy plays to some REALLY fat chick in the crowd, but Finlay rolls him up tightly for 2. Roddy puts in the Stronghold. Finlay nails the Celtic Cross! One, two, th—no! Roddy tries to put Finlay away, but Finlay just won’t die yet. Sick Kick wins Roddy the match in 14 minutes.

Analysis: *** While no Finlay/Callihan, these two wrestled a good old-school match with plenty of psychology which is to be expected with Finlay. It wasn’t fast-paced at all, but the way they incorporated a simple story into made up for any excitement that they lacked. The finish kind of hurts the rating a bit, as I could have gone for 2 or so more minutes for a fun little finishing stretch but such is wrestling. I’m glad Roddy went over cleanly, as it gives him a little more legitimacy in the eyes of the new ROH fans that haven’t been around for very long. Although there were a few flaws, Finlay’s first foray into Ring of Honor was a success. I’d love to see him back for a match against Michael Elgin or someone of the like.

Fight Without Honor for ROH World Tag Titles: The Briscoes © vs. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team
I generally have enjoyed the continuation of this feud since Final Battle, but I desperately hope this is the last match they have…forever. And ever. I’m sick of watching them wrestle. Oh, and I love Charlie Haas. That man is a heel God.

Jay seems like he’s come alone at first, but Mark comes out with a hockey stick! We start off with a heated brawl. They’re protecting the headshots…shoulda fuckin’ done that at Final Battle guys. Dem Boys are in firm control early. Jay hits Charlie with a sweet reverse STO onto a chair that was hung in the turnbuckles. Ouch. Charlie is busted open from the guardrail. Mark looks for a diving move onto Haas, but Shelton throws him through the timekeeper’s table. WGTT takes control of Jay afterwards as Mark recovers. Mark Briscoe recovers and nails Haas with the Froggy ‘Bow, but Shelton Benjamin breaks up the pinfall. Shelton tries to German Jay through a table (!) but ends him giving him a much less climactic Electric Chair through the table. Charlie Haas sprays a rag with ether and smothers Mark with it. That gets him the fucking stupid 3 count in 15 minutes.

Analysis: *** This gets a half star knocked off for the terrible, terrible finish. I’m sorry, but if you’re going to do that kind of finish on what’s supposed to be a blowoff for a 11 month long feud, do it in a non-hardcore match. I can deal with WGTT being champs again since their heel act is good, but damn it, don’t do that finish. You’re not putting WGTT over by doing this and you’re de-valuing one of the most storied gimmick matches in ROH. However barring that, this match was a very good and heated brawl. They didn’t do any unnecessary stuff spot-wise but they still made it seem like they hated each other. They had the crowd on the edge of their seats the entire time, earning their first “This is awesome” chant of the feud. The match was really fun, but man that finish stunk. I guess it gives ROH a reason to put ANX with WGTT so they can finally win the belts. Such is life, I guess.

ROH World Title: Davey Richards © vs. Kevin Steen
This is a rare occasion of ROH striking while the iron was hot instead of dragging it out until there’s no interest. At first I thought it was a bit rushed but as I pondered it more, I thought that Jim Cornette absolutely made the right choice by booking this so early. The ROH fans are wanting Davey to drop the belt and Steen is the right guy for him to drop it to since he’s bar none the most over guy in the company. It’s simple booking, but it’s an absolute necessity. I love it.

Steen looks for the (unbanned for this match only) package piledriver early. Davey takes Steen out with a plancha early. Steve Corino comes down to commentate but doesn’t say a word. Steen crotches Davey on the ringpost. Davey nails a damn Exploder on the ring apron but only gets a 2 count. Davey isn’t a very good babyface, but he’s excelling here playing the heel. If ROH turns him heel, I think I’ll enjoy him a lot more. Steen dodges a kick on the outside and powerbombs Davey on the ring apron a couple of times. Davey gets a 2 count off of a running lariat. The two exchange kicks, but Steen ultimately wins with a rolling lariat. Pumphandle Neckbreaker! One, two, no! Davey looks to target the knee, but Steen doesn’t mess with that and puts in a sharpshooter. Davey goes to work on Steen’s knee afterwards. Steen gets 2 on a rollup but Davey nails the DR DRIVER! One, two, thr—NO! Wow, I haven’t seen him use that move in about 2 years. Davey is doing really well in this match. F-CINQ FROM STEEN! One, two, thr—NO! MOONSAULT FROM STEEN! One, two, thr—no! I love how Steen sold the knee after the landing. Steen can’t get Davey up for the Package Piledriver, so Davey gets out and NAILS A SHINING WIZARD! That gets a nearfall. Steen catches a spin kick and locks in an ANKLE LOCK! DAVEY REVERSES INTO ONE OF HIS OWN! STEEN REVERSES TO A SHARPSHOOTER! Davey reverses to an Ankle Lock! Steen gets out! SLEEPER SUPLEX! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! ONE, TWO, THREE! STEEN WINS! STEEN WINS! Kevin Steen is your NEEEWWWWW World Champ in 24 minutes.

Post-Match: Cary Silkin leaves Todd Sinclair to present Steen the belt. Man, I love that image. The guy is ROH World Champ, PWG World Champ, and PWG World Tag Champ. This man is an Indie King. Steve Corino enters the ring and looks like he wants to fight and THEY EMBRACE! HAHA YES! “I don’t need a speech: I’M KEVIN FUCKING STEEN!” The show ends with the newly formed trio standing over Davey.

Analysis: **** While no Elgin/Richards, this match was really really good. Davey played the heel and as a result, he put in his best performance in months. He’s not a bad wrestler in the least, but when matches take on his formula of “get ass whipped, no-sell everything and kick my opponent to death” they are really subpar. However, he didn’t do that and pulled out an absolutely great performance. Steen, while a bit large, is a great storyteller in the ring and showed it here. He showed to all the people within ROH who dislike him that he’s a fighter. He’s the best thing going in wrestling right now and I cannot wait to see what ROH has in store for him. Just a great match with the best ending ROH could have booked. It was the right thing to do and Jim Cornette should be amended for it. Corino re-joining the dark side was just icing on the cake

The 411: While there aren't any blowaway matches like Showdown in the Sun Day 2, Border Wars is even more consistent with not a single match dipping below three stars. Sure, some matches were a bit disappointing but they were all entertaining, which makes for an easy sit. The grade may seem high to some, but my favorite quality in a show is consistency and Border Wars has it in spades. Strongly recommended.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.0   [  Amazing ]  legend

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Jake St-Pierre

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