We kick off this week’s show with our animation before heading inside the heralded Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Kevin Kelly is joined by Prince Nana, who is the new talent scout for ROH. Tonight, we will see three quarterfinal matches in the World Title tournament. KK runs down the card and then we head to the ring for our opener.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Michael Bennett – ROH World Title Tournament, Quarterfinals
Prince Nana tells us that he is not a Ciampa fan, but doesn’t really say why. No Maria tonight, as Nigel McGuinness has banned her from ringside since the fiasco in Toronto. That makes JR a sad panda. Ciampa is being played down live by rock band Last Remaining Pinnacle. Pretty cool little touch there. Ciampa has definitely been booked like a big time star since his return from injury. Nana is still talking shit on Ciampa, warning that he will report him to Nigel. I have no idea where this whole Nana angle came from, and this is an issue I have mentioned before. Sometimes these angles crop up without thorough TV explanation. Or it may be an old angle that we should know, but they could give a quick refresh for newer fans. KK reminds us of what Bennett did to BJ Whitmer, effectively ending his career. Things get off to a slow start as Bennett stalls and avoid Ciampa. That stalling ends when Ciampa slips outside, grabs him by the legs, pulls him off the apron and swings him into the barricade. Nana says that Ciampa’s only chance is to utilize what Nana has taught him over the years. Ciampa dominates in the ring as KK tells Nana to leave his personal feeling aside in this one. Ciampa plays possum, faking a leg injury to lure Bennett back in for a small package and near fall. Bennett takes it to the floor as the fans chant “balding sucks”. I guess they know Matt Rotella. Bennett just takes way too much time out there, like a rookie athlete that doesn’t let the game come naturally and instead overthinks every play. You can almost see the wheels turning before each move. Ciampa turns the table and whips Bennett into the barricades, ending with a German into one of them. That was a cool spot. Ciampa follows with a big running knee as we hit a break.
If YOU want American Wolves merchandise, just text “ROH” to “Today”! Back to the match, Ciampa is still working over Bennett, but Michael is able to block the Project Ciampa and then superkick Ciampa off the top rope. Ciampa gets hung in the Tree of Woe and Nana makes me laugh by saying “good for him, hanging off the tree like a little fool.” Bennett starts to work that reconstructed knee as KK recounts how these guys advanced to this point. Ciampa finally shakes him off and crunches Bennett with a clothesline. Bennett comes back and goes for a piledriver, but Ciampa slips free. Bennett slugs him down and locks in a modified Sharpshooter, where he stands and puts the pressure on the neck like an old school Liontamer. Ciampa breaks free but eats a bulldog as the crowd is alternating between being bored and hating on Bennett. Ciampa blocks Bennett’s attempt at a Go 2 Sleep and then hits a G2S of his own for a near fall. Bennett rolls to the apron where Ciampa meets him, leading to a trade off of chops. Bennett loads up a piledriver to a loud buzz, but Ciampa blocks it before kneeing Bennett to the floor. Ciampa nails a Kryptonite Crunch on the floor, rolls Bennett inside and gets the win. Ciampa moves on to the semifinals. This was good in spots, and built well with some nice teases. Not sure how I felt about teasing the apron piledriver, but it did draw some good heat when the tease came. Bennett still needs to be led, and when Ciampa was in charge, this was good. Otherwise, it was just there. Ciampa moves on as the push continues.
Roderick Strong vs. Kevin Steen – ROH World Title Tournament, Quarterfinals
Roddy Strong is out first and even though he has no chance here, I wish he could have moved further along in this tournament as he has been one of my favorites to watch in 2013. Steen gets the streamer treatment and plays to the NYC fans as Nana puts him over as a great former champion. KK thinks there is a lot of pressure on Strong, much of which he puts on himself. Strong starts super hot with a knee to the face and a double knee backbreaker for two. Things spill outside, where Steen hits a powerbomb on the apron. Back inside, Steen hits a swanton bomb for a near fall. Now THIS is a fucking great pace that has he crowd rocking. Steen snaps off a hanging DDT but Strong stays alive by hooking the ropes with his foot. The fans love Steen. He drops on Strong with a senton and then just stands on him for a minute. Roddy tries to chop his way back into the match, but Steen won’t slow down. They trade right hands but Steen crunches him with a knee to the gut. KK & Nana are laying low a bit here and letting the crowd and storyline take over. Roddy gets a flurry of knees and an Olympic Slam to rock Steen. The fans rally Steen as I get a glimpse of the PTB Balcony, bringing back fond memories. Steen cracks Roddy with a clothesline but is slow to get back up. They battle to the top rope, leading to a massive superplex by Roddy. He covers but Steen kicks out at two. Roddy grabs the Stronghold but Steen gets the ropes. After a break and a word from Rob Levine and RI Dolls, we return to Roddy trying to take Steen over with a German. That is blocked into a Steen powerbomb for two. Roddy kicks out of a Sharpshooter attempt, but Steen blocks a double knee backbreaker and locks in the Sharpshooter on the second try. Roddy gets to the ropes and the match continues. Roddy lands the double knee gutbuster and sick kick for two. This is a great match and you can just see the difference in how smooth they are out there as compared to Bennett or Matt Taven, two guys that are always a step behind. They both end up on top again, and this time Steen hits a super brainbuster but Strong kicks out again. Roddy slips free of the package piledriver and hits a forearm flurry, but Steen shakes that off. He follows with a sleeper suplex and package piledriver for the victory. Steen moves on but Roddy looked great too. This was a fantastic TV match, never slowing down and building to the big spot at the end. That is how you do it. Steen joins Ciampa in the final four.
After break, we get a video recap of Karl Anderson defeating Michael Elgin back in April in this very same venue. That rematch is now!
Michael Elgin vs. Karl Anderson – ROH World Title Tournament, Quarterfinals
Anderson does his usual entrance but it is clear that Elgin is the crowd favorite here. As he should be. KK gives Anderson the edge thanks to his international experience. They shake hands but are hesitant to break as the intensity builds. Elgin meets him with a boot to the face and the two immediately start trading heavy blows back and forth. KK and Nana talk about how shocking Anderson’s April win was to some because he was an unknown to many fans. He then talks about Karl’s team with Giant Bernard and what Anderson has been doing sense. He also compares ROH to New Japan, which triggers Nana to talk about the types of talent he will be scouting in this role. Elgin starts to overpower Anderson and hits a delayed suplex with a dead lift that hit just around a minute. Crazy power. After our final break, we see that Anderson has turned the tide and is stomping away on Elgin. Elgin swings momentum and eventually picks up a near fall with an Oklahoma Stampede. He tries for a deadlift German, but Anderson powers out. Things even back up and they are back to trading blows. Elgin gets the advantage and hits a series of short clotheslines to the chest of Anderson. Anderson stops him short with a spinebuster for two. After Elgin misses a splash off the top, he comes back with a deadlift German into a bridge for a near fall. The fans rally behind Elgin as he again heads up top. Anderson meets him with a kick and then hits a TKO off the top rope for a near fall. He follows with a gutbuster but Elgin survives that as well. Elgin ducks the Ace Crusher and gets a backslide which he then transitions into a crossface. Anderson escapes and comes right back at Elgin with a leaping kick to the back of the head. Elgin is stumbling around and Nana thinks he may be knocked silly. He pops up and meets Anderson on the top rope where they slug away. Elgin slips to the mat but kicks Anderson to the apron. Elgin hulks up, deadlifts Anderson up to the top and hits a superplex for a very close neat fall. Elgin’s strength is amazing. I never get tired of watching him toss dudes around from crazy positions. The fans are all in now, chanting “This is Awesome”. Anderson bounces off a bucklebomb with a big boot, leading to a series of alternating kicks and reversals. Elgin drops Anderson with a sit-out powerbomb, but that isn’t enough. He pulls Anderson up for the bucklebomb, but Anderson wiggles free again. Elgin cracks him with a spinning backfist, turns that into the bucklebomb and Elginbomb for the win. Elgin gets his win back and advances to the semifinals where he belongs. This was a very strong match and the best I have seen of Anderson in this current run. We will see when he pops back up again. Elgin has words for Steen as we fade out.
Another episode focused very heavily on in ring action as the TV continues to power through the tournament. Three quarters of the final four is now set, and it is hard to argue with the talent involved. The Steen/Strong match was clearly the best bout of the night, with the main event coming in second. I definitely recommend the Steen/Strong match, as it was a fun sprint with a hot crowd and good finish. That is it from here, so have a great week and always respect the code!