Things are a bit different for ROH in their Pittsburgh return. They moved from Belle Vernon (outside the city of Pittsburgh), to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, which is inside the City of Pittsburgh itself. Also, in a good move by ROH, this event took place the day before the WWE Royal Rumble, which took place in Consol Energy Center in downtown Pittsburgh. This meant that ROH drew a very sizable crowd for their show.
ROH Wrestling's Finest
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1/25/14
1.) Chris LeRusso, Rik Matrix & Ryan Reigns vs. Mark Hauss, Moose & Nick Merriman: *3/4
Not really much to say about this one. Typical pre-show match stuff. Funny seeing Moose in here (and in later ROH appearances) since he's now working for Dragon Gate USA/Evolve as the bodyguard for The Bravado Brothers. Moose's team of good guys gets the win.
1.) Adrenaline RUSH vs. The Decade (Jimmy Jacobs & BJ Whitmer with Roderick Strong): ***1/4
We start off with tag team action. Jacobs & Whitmer refuse to shake hands with Adrenaline RUSH. This was a pretty solid opener. ACH & TaDarius Thomas were able to hit a good deal of offense while the Jacobs & Whitmer looked to be back on form as a team (having been several years since they teamed before they formed The Decade). At one point Jacobs speared Thomas off the apron into the guardrail in a sick spot! The Decade then hit ACH with the tag team finisher, The All Seeing Eye, to win the match.
2.) Top Prospect Tournament Finals - Hanson vs. Raymond Rowe: ***
Before the match, we get a very good video package highlights the 2014 Top Prospect Tournament and the road to the finals. Raymond Rowe defeated Kongo & Corey Hollis while Hanson defeated Cheeseburger & Andrew Everett. This was a pretty solid match. Not the best match on the card, but a fine big match match. Michael Elgin came down and watched the match in the aisle way. After a bit of back & forth action, Hanson hits the Spin Kick of Doom to win the match and the Tournament. He has now earned a World TV Title Shot at the 12th Anniversary Show. Elgin applauds their efforts and Hanson & Rowe shake hands after the match.
3.) The Romantic Touch vs. Michael Bennett (with Maria Kanellis): **1/4
The Romantic Touch brings out a box of chocolates in an attempt to win over Veda Scott, who is joining Kevin Kelly & Steve Corino on commentary. Before the match, Maria cuts a promo about how she is truly a powerful woman in wrestling and that she's not afraid of anything. She also mentions that Bennett will debut a new finishing move that she "taught him in bed". Bennett gets a few words in as well before the match starts.
The match itself was ok. The effort was there, but I think the problem is that we're suppose to take Bennett seriously (especially after his feud with Kevin Steen), but here he's having a competitive match with The Romantic Touch. Again, nothing really bad, but how the match played out doesn't do Bennett any favors. Maria distracts Touch with some dancing on the apron and Touch offers Maria his box of chocolates. She takes one, but then shoves the chocolate box in his face. This allows Bennett to take advantage and gets the win with his "new" submission move: The Anaconda Vice.
After the match, Veda Scott continues to berate The Romantic Touch, once again accusing him of being Rhett Titus. Titus sweeps her off her feet and looks to carry her of to do, presumably "romantic" things with her, before Veda runs off.
4.) ROH World TV Title - Triple Threat Match - "Sicilian Psychopath" Tommaso Ciampa vs. Matt Taven vs. Jay Lethal: ***1/2
When Matt Taven makes his entrance, he comes out alone, but Scarlett Bordeaux & Seleziya Sparx follow a little ways behind. Taven is confused by this, and then Truth Martini comes out. He says that he & Taven had something special when Taven was the World TV Champion, but when he lost the title to Tommaso Ciampa at Final Battle, he killed their lifestyle. He declares that Hoopla is Dead, and tells the Hoopla Hotties to get lost. Taven then interjects, saying he realizes that he never needed Martini, and tells Truth to hit the bricks. Martini leaves through the crowd.
Then we get the Triple Threat Match for the World TV Title. It was a pretty good match. They went all out from the beginning and it made for a good Triple Threat Match. Everyone got to hit their stuff and all three guy looked good. Truth Martini came back out mid-match for commentary. Kevin Kelly & Corino insinuate that Taven fired Martini, but Truth denies this. Towards the end of the match, Martini slides the Book of Truth to Taven, but Taven kicks its away. Then Taven gets pushed into Martini by Lethal. I should mentioned that Lethal had a visual pin on Ciampa, but the referee was distracted. Truth, in response, trips up Taven, allowing Ciampa to take out Taven and get the win. A bit of a convoluted finish, but the action was still good.
5.) Cedric Alexander vs. Andrew Everett: ****
Here's the story. Originally, we were going to see Roderick Strong vs. Paul London in a 2/3 Falls Match, where the winner would face Adam Cole for the ROH World Title in San Antonio, Texas on February 8th. This match was put on ice when Strong got injured via a botched Styles Clash from AJ Styles at the Nashville TV Tapings in early January. Cedric Alexander was then tapped to be Strong's replacement to face London, but London had flight troubles and couldn't make the show (I think the weather had something to do with it). So now we have Alexander vs. Andrew Everett. Roderick Strong was out on commentary, but his mic wasn't working, so we heard nothing from Strong at all.
This is actually an interesting matchup as these two are mainstays in the Mid-Atlantic/Carolinas Independent Scene in places like PWX & CWF Mid-Atlantic. This was a really great match. Both guys put forth great efforts and we saw a lot of cool action. Everett just amazes me with his ability as a high flyer. Alexander gets his knees up to counter a 630 from Everett, and then hit his version of the backbreaker (The Lumbar Check) for the win. Strong was not happy with this, to say the least.
6.) ROH World Tag Team Champion Kyle O'Reilly vs. Kevin Steen: ****
Bobby Fish is in Japan, so Kyle O'Reilly is on his own. We got a pretty great match here. Some really good action in this one, but that's just what you would expect from these two. At one point, Steen puts O'Reilly's mouth piece in his own mouth, which was both funny & disgusting. It definitely pissed off O'Reilly. At one point, Cliff Compton shows up at in the front row but his held back by security. This distraction allows O'Reilly to take advantage. Steen is able to overcome this, however, and makes O'Reilly tap out to the Sharpshooter.
After the match, Steen calls out Compton to fight him right now! They start brawling, with security guys and referees flying everyone. Steen gets the upper hand for a bit, but Compton takes control. He eventually gets Steen on a table and hits him with a Superfly Splash off the top rope to the floor, putting Steen through the table.
7.) Three-Way Elimination Tag Team Match - "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin & Chris Hero vs. The Briscoe vs. ROH World Champion Adam Cole & "The Icon" Matt Hardy: ***3/4
Before the match starts, Bobby Cruise announced that he received a message from Nigel McGuinness, who told him to relay that if anyone pins or submits Adam Cole, then they get a future ROH World Title Shot. This pisses off Cole & Hardy to no end. Also, Chris Hero & Mark Briscoe team up to take out Hardy's Shirt in a funny moment. They worked this match similarly, in the beginning, to how the Final Battle 2013 Main Event started out, with Cole & Hardy avoiding getting tagged in and forcing the other two teams to fight it out. Eventually, The Briscoes and Hero & Elgin ganged up on them and a brawl ensued. We got some pretty good acton in this one. Surprised this wasn't the best match on the show (the previous two matches were slightly better), given who was involved, but it was still solid. The Briscoes went out first as they were eliminated by Hardy & Cole. The actioned continued for a bit afterwords until Hero got the advantage and knocked out Cole to not only win the match for his team, but earn himself a World Title Shot.
Matt Hardy attacks Hero after the bell, but Elgin fights him off. Cole looks to attack Elgin, but he is stopped in his tracks. This allows Hero to lay out Cole with the Golden Elbow Pad to close the show.
This was by no means an amazing show, but it was on the whole, a pretty good one. The matches are the undercard were fine, but for the most part, pretty average. The World TV Title Match had some great action but was hampered by a bit of a convoluted finish, booking wise. After that, the show definitely picked up steam, as the last three matches delivered and were all very good. A solid outing from Ring of Honor that set some things in motion for events down the line.