Hey guys!  Drew here, bringing you the first in a weekly set of reviews for Ring of Honor television.  I’m a long time ROH fan, but admittedly when the product began airing on Sinclair I lost touch.  There’s no Sinclair stations in my area, so it has been a long, long time since I’ve seen anything from Ring of Honor.  I’ve followed along with the results online, but there are many stars I’ve never seen wrestle a match.

So, that being said, I’m looking forward to watching the next 50 minutes of wrestling.

I will not be covering a full play-by-play, not initially anyhow.  I want to take the product in, get to know who is who, and present it as a whole, and I’ll be providing highlights of the match as well.

So, let’s get started, with the episode for 09/21/13, shall we?

Kevin Kelly and Prince Nana introduce us to the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC.  In the World Championship tournament, “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson will face “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin, plus Keivn Steen vs. Roderick Strong.  But, we’ll start with Michael Bennett vs. “Sicilian Psychopath” Tommaso Ciampa.

Bennett gets some streamers during his entrance.  They show highlights of 09/07/13 when Nigel McGuiness removed Maria from the ring.  She’s not allowed here tonight.

Tommaso gets a live band playing his entrance this week.  Pretty cool.

The winner of this match will face off against Adam Cole.  There’s a quick Tale of the Tape comparing some stats, and the bell rings.

Michael Bennett vs. Tommaso Ciampa in a World Title Tournament Match

The announcers discuss BJ Whitmer’s injury due to Michael Bennett’s piledriver a few weeks ago.  Bennett plays up the heelish stuff early, and gets swung into the barricade early.  

Ciampa has the advantage early on.  Ciampa’s offense is pretty unique.  He plays possum and plays up his knee injury, but goes for a quick roll-up.  I’m not too sure which one is the heel here, after all.

Bennett takes action outside and gets the advantage.  It’s short lived.  Ciampa hits a running knee to Bennett’s head, driving it into the barricade.  He hits a German suplex into the barricade, then another running knee.  We go to a short commercial.

When we get back, we’re back in the ring.  Ciampa gets caught in the ropes upside down, hanging by his legs.  Of course, Bennett takes advantage.  Doesn’t last long.

Bennett’s work on the leg pays off, and Ciampa is having trouble standing on two feet.  Bennett works the leg, then sets Ciampa up for a piledriver.  It’s blocked, but Bennett locks in a cross between a Sharpshooter and a Liontamer.  Ciampa barely reverses it.  

Ciampa hits a Go 2 Sleep for a near fall.  On the apron, Bennett teases a piledriver on the edge of the ring - same move that hurt BJ Whitmer.  He doesn’t get it.  Ciampa hits his finisher outside the ring, quickly rolls Bennett into the ring and gets the pin for the win.

Winner: Tommaso Ciampa to advance to the semi-finals of the tournament

Kind of a slow and prodding match.  First time watching in a while, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but I wasn’t certain who to cheer for.  The fans seemed restless.  This wasn’t a spot-fest, so that could be why.  ROH fans tend to be trained for spot-fests (myself included).

Roderick Strong vs. Kevin Steen

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen both these men wrestle.  I’m fully aware of what they are capable of, so my expectations are pretty high.  Let’s see if they are fulfilled.

Steen gets a ton of streamers for his entrance.  Strong takes it to Steen immediately.  Steen catches him and powerbombs him on the apron.  He goes for a pin attempt.  Within 30 seconds, this is everything the last match lacked.

The fans are way into this match.  It feels more like a fight.  It’s very back and forth, hard hitting.  Strong hits a nice enzuigiri, but eats an elbow to the head.  Both men are laid out for the count.  Interesting neckbreaker from Steen, driving Strong down on his knee.  Gets him a two count.

Strong hits a superplex off the top rope and goes for a cover.  He locks in the Stronghold, a variation of a Boston Crab.  Steen grabs the rope and we go to break.

We’re back.  Steen bites Strong.  He bites him.  Honor?  Not so much.  Steen blocks a gut-buster and locks in a Sharpshooter.  Strong grabs the ropes.    I’m not sure how I feel about that.  Two different wrestlers doing a variation of a Sharpshooter so far.

The fans appreciate the match, and it’s pretty good.  Steen reverses a second superplex attempt into a single underhook suplex.  Nice.  Steen hits his Package Piledriver finisher to win.

Winner: Kevin Steen to advance to the semi-finals of the tournament.

Very good match.  Both men worked well together and the fans loved every moment.  Worth watching.

We get highlights of a previous match between Karl Anderson and Michael Elgin.  Anderson won that match, back in May.

“Machine Gun” Karl Anderson vs. “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin

The men shake hands, but immediately get in each other’s faces.  I’ve seen some of Anderson’s work in Japan, but I’ve never seen Elgin wrestle.  I’m looking forward to this.

Anderson goes for an Ace Crusher pretty early on.  These two are at a stand-off.  Test of Strength attempt.  Nope.  Just kidding.  

Elgin gets Anderson up for a brain-buster and holds him up for at least a minute!  Impressive!  He rolls it back into a normal suplex.  Quick break for commercial.  We’re back and Elgin is hulking up.  He hits a running powerslam.  He deadlifts Anderson for a German Suplex but doesn’t quite get it.  

Anderson blocks a clothesline attempt, but ends up getting hit by a dozen anyhow.  Spinebuster on Elgin, two count.  Elgin lifts Anderson up with one arm and slams him down.  He goes for some sort of spinning senton and misses.  Elgin teases a neckbreaker, elbows to the back of the head.  This time he nails the deadlift German.

Anderson hits a running kick on Elgin, who is on the top rope.  Anderson picks him up in a fireman carry.  He hits a swinging Ace Crusher off the top rope for a two-count.  That probably should’ve finished him off.

Elgin locks in a Crossface but Anderson grabs the rope.  Both men on the apron.  Anderson kicks Elgin in the jaw.  Anderson up to the top.  Elgin meets him up there and hits a jumping enzuigiri to the face.  

Elgin hits a sweet superplex from the top, but only gets two.  The two men trade kicks and elbows back and forth.  Elgin picks up Anderson in a suplex but switches it into a sitout powerbomb.  It looked kind of awkward.  After a nice sequence, Elgin hits a spinning sitout powerbomb to get the pin, and the win.

Winner: Michael Elgin to advance to the semi-finals of the tournament.

Pretty good match.  Both men worked very hard and the fans were into it.  

Overall, Ring of Honor delivered a solid hour of wrestling.  I didn’t much care for the first match, but the other two were quite good.  One fault I have - and I have always had - is the movesets of many of the wrestlers.  I can be quite critical of WWE but they have always protected certain moves - only one wrestler does the Sharpshooter, and noone is allowed to do anything that even resembles it.  I felt ROH and other wrestling federations should take notice of things like that.  

I’m looking forward to seeing the semi-final matches next week.  I hope you’ll join me.  Thanks for reading, folks!