Hallelujah! We finally have a way to watch Border Wars! Ring of Honor is offering iPPVs on their website, and you can buy Border Wars for $14.95, and watch it for an entire year! If you're a ringside member, you get 15% off the show, which is $12 and some change. Since this is the last Honor Roll before the Pay Per View, I will offer my predictions for each of the matches. As I mentioned last week, this looks like the biggest ROH show ever on paper. And ROH isn't the type of company to fail to live up to expectations.
Six Man Tag: TJ Perkins and the All Night Express vs. Mike Mondo and the Young Bucks
Check my review of the 5/5 ROH TV show later in this column for how this match came about. I was pleasantly surprised to see a six man tag team match made, because this was the last match signed, and it looked like a standard tag between ANX and the Young Bucks, which we've seen many times over. I like the addition of Perkins and Mondo, who has really made a name for himself lately, added to this match. Frankly, this is a pick em. I'm sure either Mondo or Perkins will take the fall for their team, and since Mondo went over Perkins last week on TV, the good guys will get the victory in what will most likely be the opening contest.
Predicted Winners: TJ Perkins and the All Night Express
Battle of the Breakout Stars: Michael Elgin vs. Adam Cole
I'm really looking forward to this match, as I mentioned last week. This match will be a main event a year or two from now. For this card, it's the second from the bottom. Still though, it's interesting to see who will continue their momentum after this match. Cole hasn't won a match against Elgin yet, but I actually predict that the trend will continue, rather than end. Elgin's set for some really big things very soon, and I don't really know where Cole fits in the immediate landscape. Elgin wins this, but it'll steal the show.
Predicted Winner: Michael Elgin
Grudge Match: Tomasso Ciampa vs. Jay Lethal
Ciampa has put up another crazy promo, but it looks like this time, ROH authorized it. However, I have no idea what kind of hot water he got himself into by putting up a promo complaining about not getting a TV title shot. I think if there's any time for him to lose his undefeated streak, this is it. The storyline certainly calls for it, as Ciampa was instrumental in Lethal losing the TV title. Lethal wins, and it sends Ciampa over the edge.
Predicted Winner: Jay Lethal
Challenge Match: Eddie Edwards vs. Rhino
This is an interesting pairing. You have a ROH stalwart in Edwards against a part-timer in Rhino. Edwards has plateaued storyline wise after losing three title matches in a row, so this is a great way to give Eddie something to do while he waits for his next storyline. I think this is going to be a brutal war, but Edwards will pick up the duke.
Predicted Winner: Eddie Edwards
Showdown in the Sun Rematch: Lance Storm vs. Mike Bennett
With Bennett getting the win in Florida, Storm seems almost destined to get revenge in his home country. I've been wrong before, but I think ROH is going to go for the feel-good moments all night long. The hot Toronto crowd will really make this one fun, as I'd imagine they'll be all over Bennett and Maria, and firmly behind their countryman in Storm. Bennett will make it interesting, especially with some underhanded tactics, but Storm will make Bennett tap to the half crab.
Predicted Winner: Lance Storm
TV Title Match: Roderick Strong (c) vs. Fit Finlay
Yet another interesting pairing here. Both guys like to hit hard, so I expect a chop and strike fest. I don't think Finlay would win the TV title, so Strong takes this one fairly easily. I consider this one the lock of the night.
Predicted Winner: Roderick Strong
Tag Team Titles: Fight Without Honor: The Briscoes (c) vs. Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team
If it seems like this feud has gone on forever, it's because it has. One year ago Haas and Benjamin defeated the Briscoes at Revolution: Canada, and the situation has escalated since then. Thankfully, ROH has already advertised that this is going to be their last encounter. The All Night Express is lying in wait for the winner, and I think ANX is going to take the Tag Team Titles from the winner. With that knowledge in mind, I'm actually going to make a pretty big reach and say that Haas and Benjamin actually win the Tag Team Titles in this match (and then promptly lose them to Titus and King). More than likely, the Briscoes will retain again, but I think WGTT taking the belts is most certainly in play.
Predicted Winners: Haas and Benjamin
ROH World Championship: Davey Richards (c) vs. Kevin Steen
I've written at length that Steen needs to win this match. Knowing ROH though, they'll want to drag out Steen's title win as long as possible, with him finally winning the belt at Final Battle. I highly caution against this. By the time Final Battle rolls around, the fans will most likely both have given up on Steen and be sick to death of Davey. ROH needs to strike while the iron is hot, and with this match taking place in Canada, with all of the buildup, and Steen vowing that he only needs one shot to take the belt, if he doesn't, then what? I think with the pro-Canada and pro-Steen crowd, plus the abilities of both men, this has all the makings of a Match of the Year candidate. After the Elgin match, the bar has been set extremely high, but I think Davey and Kevin will surpass it, with Steen winning the ROH World Championship!
Predicted Winner: Kevin Steen
Seriously, get this show. I think it'll be the best show of the year, and one of the best shows in company history.
Now, let's get into this week's show.
Match 1: Tomasso Ciampa vs. Matt Taven
If you'll recall, Taven was the nobody who wowed the crowd a month ago in a show-stealing match against Mike Mondo. Well, Taven damn near did it again. This match was so much better than the jobber squash it was supposed to be. Ciampa hit a dragon suplex on Taven as soon as Matt made it into the ring before the bell rang, and hit an Emerald Fusion on Taven on the outside in front of Jay Lethal, who had pulled up a chair at ringside, so Taven had to play catch up. And catch up he did. When Ciampa pulled up the mat on the outside to show off in front of Lethal, Taven hit a suplex on Ciampa on the exposed concrete. He then hit a big splash off the top rope in the middle of the ring for a long two count.
Memorable Moment: Ciampa ties Taven up in the ropes and hits an exposed running knee, damn near knocking Taven out.
After that near-knockout, Tomasso hit Project Ciampa on Taven for the win, then jawed with Lethal at ringside after the match. ***
Winner: Tomasso Ciampa
Match 2: TJ Perkins vs. Mike Mondo
Before the match, Perkins cut a promo backstage on Mondo, when he's interrupted by the Young Bucks, who call him emo. He threatens to beat up both of them if they interrupt him again.
This match wasn't as good as Taven's match against Ciampa earlier, but Mondo's stock has definitely risen as of late. He grounded Perkins at points during the match, not enabling him to get his offense going. The Young Bucks came down to ringside to watch Perkins.
Memorable Moment: Mondo whips Perkins into the ropes, but he clings like a spider. Mondo charges, but Perkins sidesteps, and Mondo falls to the outside by the Young Bucks. Perkins then does a somersault plancha onto all three men on the outside.
With the ref distracted, the Bucks trip up Perkins on the apron, and Mondo hits a spike double-arm DDT on Perkins for the upset victory. Mikey's got himself a little winning streak! **
Winner: Mike Mondo
After the match, the Bucks beat up on Perkins, but ANX makes the save, and the six man tag gets made for Border Wars!
This has now become a early 90s WWF Superstars rundown of the PPV card. Kelly mentions all three House of Truth matches in one breath (Strong/Finlay, Rhino/Edwards, and Elgin/Cole), and then cuts to the HOT who cut a promo on their respective opponents. Rhino says that he'll leave Edwards lying in his own "piss, blood, and shit." ROH even bleeped out "blood." They then cut to Edwards who simply says that the time for talking is over.
A brief piece is shown on Fit Finlay and his history in the wrestling business.
The rest of the card is run down, and Mike Bennett cuts a promo on Lance Storm, saying that he's better than the best.
Finally, Haas and Benjamin tell the Briscoes that the only thing that's left to do is to take the tag team belts. The Briscoes give Haas and Benjamin credit for bringing the fight to them for the past year, but it's all over come Toronto.
Main Event: Kevin Steen (w/Jimmy Jacobs) vs. Kyle O'Reilly
Steen gets a warmup for Richards by facing his training partner. O'Reilly cuts a promo before the match saying he doesn't understand why Steen gets cheered, and that he'll expose him in the match, and the fans can wake up from "Wrestling's Worst Daydream." Good promo, actually.
Of course, O'Reilly's getting booed out of the builidng, and Steen is beloved even in Baltimore. Imagine the reaction in Canada! This match ended up being shorter than I expected for a main event. O'Reilly tries a dropkick onto Steen on the outside, but twists his ankle in the process.
Memorable Moment: Steen takes O'Reilly's mouthpiece and puts it in his mouth, then locks in Davey Richards's ankle lock on O'Reilly! Kyle then gets to his feet and hits an enzugiri to break the hold.
After the enzugiri, O'Reilly makes a huge mistake as he picks the mouthpiece up and throws it at Jimmy Jacobs on the outside. This allows Steen to recover and hit the F-Cinq for the victory. The match was a little disappointing only considering that Ciampa and Taven had a better match earlier in the show. **1/2
Winner: Kevin Steen
After the match, Steen and Jacobs attack O'Reilly, which brings Davey out for a pull-apart brawl. Davey ends up putting Steen in the ankle lock, but Jacobs low-blows Richards, and Steen teases putting Davey in the package piledriver before the refs break it up. Davey grabs the mic and says that American Strong Style is over. If Steen wants the wolf, Davey says the wolf is back.
Good show, a shade under last week. Matt Taven continues to impress with his matches, and I think that he needs a promotion to the main ROH roster. He's certainly over in the DuBurns Arena. Mike Mondo seems to have made the main roster, as he's now going over guys like TJ Perkins, who only loses to full time roster members (albeit all the time). I do like how the six man tag was built in this show alone.
The main event wasn't a great match, but the after-match events were intense and really helped take the show home before the Pay Per View. Steen vs. Richards is the most anticipated match of the year, and they have definitely played it up that way.
That's it for me this week. Before I go, ROH has put up another full-length TV show on Youtube here. It's the April 21 show with Briscoes/WGTT and Strong/Lethal. Make sure to check it out. It looks like they're putting it up every week, so I'll continue to post them every week.
See you next week, and enjoy Border Wars if you're watching it! Follow me on Twitter @PocketSeagull