ROH Year in Review – The Conclusion of 2014

Discussion in 'ROH Feed' started by ROHNEWS, Jan 1, 2015.

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    Following the World Title shocker in Toronto, Jay Briscoe entered the National Television taping in Wheeling, WV with a bull’s-eye squarely upon him. But how would the now two-time ROH World Champion face the pressure? Head on, as he told the raucous crowd at the WesBanco Arena.


    Despite being down on the list of title contenders, Adam Cole told the new champ that winning the Honor Rumble later that night would earn the former champion another shot at the gold. It was clear that the heated words exchanged between Jay Briscoe and Adam Cole meant it their rivalry would never be over. Would Adam Cole’s plan come to fruition?


    As each man entered the “Honor Rumble” by luck of the draw, it was clear that everyone was hungry for opportunity. One young man surprised everyone and most importantly, Jay Lethal, when newcomer Will Ferrara eliminated the World Television Champion from the over-the-top-rope match. When Cedric Alexander’s name was called, the Panther from Charlotte was nowhere to be found. That was because Tommaso Ciampa beat down the up-and-coming star to gain entrance into the “Honor Rumble”.


    But why? Why would Ciampa take out Alexander? Stung by suspension, the Sicilian Psychopath was delusional and the actions of the rage-driven star worsened his standing with Ring of Honor officials. This would lead to a violent series of matches between Ciampa and Alexander later in the year and the announcement of a “zero tolerance policy” for Ciampa going forward.


    Late in the contest, Adam Cole and fellow Kingdom member Michael Bennett were two of the last three men left in the Honor Rumble. It would be a night for celebration for the Kingdom but not for the former ROH World Champion as Bennett won the World Title shot, capturing victory in the “Honor Rumble”. Cole was in disbelief and openly questioned Bennett’s motives but Maria Kanellis was able to calm the situation. Confident in proclaiming that “Matt’s” return to Ring of Honor was imminent, the First Lady of ROH was surprisingly calm in a wake of controversy.


    Jay Briscoe defeated Michael Bennett at the Reloaded Tour event to retain the ROH World Championship but was crushed by the Kingdom at the conclusion. Maria was right… “Matt” did return but it was Matt Taven who came back to ROH and joined the Kingdom, making the Kingdom stronger than ever.


    Another “Matt” who returned to ROH in Wheeling was Matt Sydal, who faced “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles in a match that not only featured high-flying moves but also tremendous technical wrestling. Sydal’s return would find him “Reborn” in Ring of Honor.


    October


    Wedding bells rang for Maria Kanellis and Michael Bennett but not before a special “Bachelor Party” event hosted by Adam Cole. A night filled with debauchery and antics, Michael Bennett’s Bachelor Party is one event not to be missed on ROHWrestling.com.


    All fun and games would end, however, at “Champions vs All Stars” in Kalamazoo, MI as the four reigning ROH Champions faced off against four top contenders in an 8-Man Elimination main event. The standout of the night was ACH, who shocked Jay Lethal was an immediate elimination and then later scored victory over one-half of reDRagon. But ACH’s night was ended by the dominance of World Champ Jay Briscoe, who shook the hand of the mercurial young man from Austin, TX when the night was over.


    Much had been written about the very public collapse of former ROH World Champion “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin which began with losing to Jay Briscoe. Would Elgin quit or be fired? ROH officials hoped for a peaceful outcome but Elgin made a noisy return in Kalamazoo, jumping the guardrail and trying to interject himself in the main event. This would not be the last of embarrassing displays from Elgin in 2014.


    At the end of October, the bright lights of television burned bright for the debut of ROH in the legendary wrestling hotbed of Lakeland, FL as the “Road to Final Battle” was paved with aggressive actions.


    The Decade came apart at the seams as Roderick Strong had enough of Adam Page and BJ Whitmer, fighting both and looking for revenge. With Jimmy Jacobs absent, Whitmer seemed to enjoy stirring the pot and favoring his pick of the “Young Boy” litter. Fueled by his quest to get back on top of Ring of Honor, Roderick Strong chased Page and Whitmer after BJ made a challenge to Roddy to face Adam Page at Final Battle.


    Jay Briscoe teamed with his brother, Mark to face the Kingdom’s team of Michael Bennett and Matt Taven. Despite the win, the Briscoe’s were once again flattened by the Kingdom’s numbers advantage, as the devastating foursome, led by Maria Kanellis stood tall. It seemed at this point that the Briscoe’s had no answer to combat the Kingdom.


    Cedric Alexander looked to get even against Tommaso Ciampa for costing him a potential World Title shot in the Honor Rumble. Unable to strike any non-wrestling ROH personnel, Ciampa focused his intensity on Alexander but got himself disqualified in their singles bout and then brutalized Cedric after the unfavorable decision was announced. These two were just getting started.


    “The New Streak” continued with Moose and RD Evans gaining another tag team win but Prince Nana had words with RD’s sign carrier, Ramon, as the former leader of the Embassy made a promise of revenge against RD Evans.


    Unsure of what “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin would do after being contractually obligated to appear in Lakeland by ROH officials, the former World Champion continued down a self-destructive path by refusing to wrestle in a scheduled match against Caprice Coleman, embarrassing himself once again. Many long-time Elgin supporters began to wonder if he had lost his mind after losing the title.


    In a rematch from a “Match of the Year” contender, Jay Lethal bested ACH to retain the ROH World Television Championship. Lethal targeted ACH’s neck, which had been weakened in post-match attack by Lethal and Truth Martini at Champions vs All Stars two weeks prior and that led to the victory. Providing color commentary for the match was “Reborn” Matt Sydal, who had been courted by Martini for a spot in the House of Truth. Following the win over ACH, Lethal invited Sydal to come into the ring and shake hands with the TV Champ to seal the deal. But Sydal refused, simply pointing to Lethal’s World Television title belt.


    Lethal was enraged and insulted but many speculated he was also concerned about the possibility of facing Matt Sydal at Final Battle. The World Television Champion attacked Sydal following his match against Adam Cole but that did not prevent Sydal vs Lethal from being signed for December 7th with the gold on the line.


    AJ Styles returned to ROH action and had his hands full with War Machine’s Hanson. Could Hanson exceed all forecasts by scoring the biggest win of his career? The Lynn, MA native nearly came through with the win but “The Phenomenal One” told the Lakeland crowd that Hanson was the real deal and would be a champion in ROH one day soon.


    Also in Lakeland, QT Marshall came back to ROH TV.


    November


    Columbus, OH hosted Night One of “Survival of the Fittest” with six qualifying matches and a barnburner of a “No-DQ” main event. The red-hot crowd at the State Fairgrounds saw a huge upset as Hanson bested Jay Lethal to advance to the finals as well as The Addiction downing the Decade in tag team action.


    In other qualifying matches, Matt Sydal topped ACH, Tommaso Ciampa beat Will Ferrara, Adam Page surprised Cedric Alexander, Roderick Strong came back to stop Tadarius Thomas with an amazing final flurry but what about Adam Cole?


    Ever since losing the ROH World Championship at “Best In The World”, Adam Cole wanted to get back in the title hunt. Coming up short in his rematch at “Field of Honor” meant Cole’s climb would be more arduous and the former champ became more frustrated with each passing day. Adam Cole’s final chance to go for the ROH World Title at Final Battle would be at “Survival of the Fittest”.


    His qualifying match opponent was Delirious, a former “Survival of the Fittest” winner who had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Fearing defeat, Cole aggressively attacked Delirious outside the ring and took a countout win into the finals the following night. Would Adam Cole make good on his promise to face Jay Briscoe at “Final Battle”?


    The night was not over for the Kingdom, as Michael Bennett and Matt Taven faced the Briscoe Brothers in the main event. A wild brawl with anything not nailed down used as a weapon and the ending was as brutal as the beginning. With Jay tied in the ropes, Taven and Bennett hit a spike pile driver through four chairs on Mark Briscoe, as Maria Kanellis enjoyed the view. Soon after, Adam Cole came down and the Kingdom dominated the Briscoe Brothers again. Would Jay Briscoe ever get even with Adam Cole?


    “Survival of the Fittest: Night Two” capped an amazing comeback for Adam Cole, cemented Hanson as a future main-eventer and saw the agenda of Michael Elgin finally come into focus. But what would Maria Kanellis do after being speared by Michael Bennett during his win over Will Ferrara?


    The answer was she would be left unresponsive at the announcer’s table during the immediately following match with Matt Taven facing ACH. How callous and uncaring could the newly married Bennett be to his bride? Anything it takes to win for the Kingdom!


    Thankfully for the fans, the Kingdom kept their noses out of the Briscoe Brothers tag team match against the Addiction that had the Toledo crowd on their feet and “The New Streak” lived on with RD Evans and Moose continuing the winning ways, one week before RD Evans’ biggest test against Jay Lethal.


    The main event was the finals of “Survival of the Fittest” featuring the six winners from qualifying matches the night before. The winner would face the ROH World Champion at “Final Battle”. Tommaso Ciampa looked strong early on while Adam Page did everything he could to avoid Roderick Strong. It also appeared that the other finalists were content to leave Hanson on the apron for as long as possible.


    When the Top Prospect winner did make it in, he was an immediate force. Ciampa continued to press the pace when the music stopped… and Michael Elgin appeared. Within seconds, Ciampa and Elgin were brawling, with Elgin eventually driving Ciampa through a table. How sad that a former World Champion who had seemingly thrown his career away would now cost Tommaso Ciampa his chance at the World Title?


    To make matters worse, after destroying Ciampa, Elgin also turned on Hanson, who watched Elgin’s back and never asked for anything in return. Truly, Michael Elgin had turned “Survival of the Fittest” upside down.


    Somehow, Tommaso Ciampa was able to gather up the strength to come back and eliminate Matt Sydal after chasing Bennett and Taven away from the ring in their effort to help Adam Cole. But again, moments later, Elgin returned and smashed Ciampa with a steel chair, leading to Cole eliminating the “Sicilian Psychopath”.


    The final two were Adam Cole and Hanson and the Toledo crowd knew their favorite was “War Beard”. Battered but not beaten, Hanson refused to stay down. Despite a super-human effort and the support of the fans, Hanson eventually fell to Cole.


    Adam Cole had fulfilled the first portion of his prophecy by winning “Survival of the Fittest” and earning the World Title match at “Final Battle” but would the former champion regain the gold? We only had two events and 29 days to wait.


    The next stop on the “Road to Final Battle” was “Glory By Honor XIII” in San Antonio, TX, highlighted by two “golden” opportunities for hometown favorites. Thanks to his remarkable showing in “Champions vs All Stars”, ACH earned a ROH World Championship match against Jay Briscoe and RD Evans faced Jay Lethal in a match billed “The Streak vs The Title”.


    Almost mythical in level of hype and hyperbole surrounding it, “The New Streak” had grown to a record-tying 173-0. Jay Lethal had amassed more successful ROH World Television title defenses than any other champion in history. Something had to give as Lethal faced RD Evans in front of many of RD’s friends and family members.


    After repeated interferences, Veda Scott, Ramon and Truth Martini were all ejected from the match. When referee Todd Sinclair accidentally was knocked down, out came Moose, who then turned on Evans by spearing his now-former tag team partner. That spear opened the door for Lethal, who pinned Evans to retain the Television title. After the match, Ramon came back out with a sign that read "173-1 A New Era" as he and Moose stood over the fallen RD Evans. The fix was in, Evans was betrayed and the Streak was over.


    Would ACH be able to “man up” and unseat Jay Briscoe? The toughest test of ACH’s promising career was too much for the challenger on this night. But after the match Jay Briscoe said that ACH was the future and “manned up tonight”. Great display of sportsmanship brought San Antonio to its feet.


    After a win earlier in the night over Christopher Daniels, Adam Cole’s night was not over. Following Briscoe’s win, Cole came out, challenging Jay to make their match at “Final Battle” a Fight Without Honor! Instantly, Briscoe accepted but seconds later, Matt Taven & Michael Bennett attacked Jay from behind. Hanson & Mark Briscoe then came out followed by Michael Elgin and Tommaso Ciampa.


    The brawl that ensued punctuated the aggression and intensity of the Ring of Honor stars on the “Road to Final Battle”.


    The last stop on the journey to New York City and the Pay-Per-View experience of a lifetime at “Final Battle” was a visit to Charm City for “Tag Wars”. Baltimore has been a home base for Ring of Honor and the hot crowd at Myers Pavilion was ready for the out-of-this-world action.


    “Tag Wars”, a single night tournament where six contending teams face off in three tag matches, with the final contest featuring a four-way elimination match against reDRagon for the ROH World Tag Team Championship. Would the “Road to Final Battle” be paved with gold?


    The Briscoe Brothers advanced with a win over Jay Lethal and J. Diesel of the “House of Truth”. The Addiction qualified by defeating The Decade and Matt Sydal and ACH pulled an upset over the Young Bucks. The finals would be a different story, however, against reDRagon, recently having captured the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles and gaining traction as the best tag team of 2014.


    Another surprise in the finals as Mark and Jay Briscoe were eliminated first, followed by The Addiction, leaving reDRagon and Sydal and ACH as the last two teams remaining. After several near falls, it looked as if Sydal and ACH would walk away with the titles but in the end, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly proved their dominance and were victorious in “Tag Wars”.


    Two singles matches were intertwined with violence, featuring two future opponents for a “Final Battle” match one week later. After the situation at “Survival of the Fittest” between Hanson and Michael Elgin, ROH Matchmaker Nigel McGuinness ordered a singles match between the two huge stars. In the wake of the controversial outcome of their match in Lakeland, McGuinness also made a No-Disqualification match between Tommaso Ciampa and Cedric Alexander.


    Many were unsure what we would see from Michael Elgin on this night. Would he want to fight or talk? The answer was a hard right hand to the obliging jaw of Hanson, who replied with one in kind. The brawl ensued and wound up with referee Paul Turner having no choice but to throw out the melee. So tough is Hanson that he was driven through a table but got up from the wreckage, still looking to fight.


    No stoppages other than pin fall or submission for the mayhem of Ciampa vs Alexander and this match featured fantastic action and heart-stopping intensity. An aggressive side of Cedric, normally dormant, surfaced late in the match but Tommaso Ciampa picked up with victory after hitting a neck breaker on the usually canvased and padded plywood boards of the ring, after the “Sicilian Psychopath” tore it apart.


    FINAL BATTLE – DECEMBER 7, 2014


    The biggest and best collide at Terminal 5 in New York City for “Final Battle”, Ring of Honor’s second live Pay-Per-View of the year. The highlights and moments were plentiful and will last a lifetime for ROH fans.


    Hanson capped off a remarkable 2014 with a win over Mark Briscoe, Caprice Coleman and Jimmy Jacobs in a Four Corner Survival match.


    Roderick Strong defeated Adam Page, when the “Young Lion” passed out after refusing to tap out to the “Stronghold”. After the match, BJ Whitmer ripped the headset away from Steve Corino at ringside to talk up Page’s toughness but infuriated Corino in the process.


    “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin was victorious over Tommaso Ciampa but the story of Ciampa seemed to inadvertently strike the referee but with Nigel McGuinness at ringside, the ROH Matchmaker may not see things Ciampa’s way. Questions remained about Tommaso’s ROH future.


    The Young Bucks and ACH topped The Addiction and Cedric Alexander in a wildly entertaining, fun Six-Man Tag Team Match. The win put a punctuation mark on great campaigns this year for the Bucks and ACH.


    Moose destroyed RD Evans, who also saw Veda Scott turn on him, joining Moose, Stokely Hathaway and Prince Nana. Big things on the horizon for the former NFL star but questions as to what the future holds for RD are still unanswered.


    ROH World Television Champion Jay Lethal got past Matt Sydal. A major highlight featured Lethal catching Sydal out of midair while “Reborn” was about to hit the Shooting Star Press on manager Truth Martini. Lethal’s confidence grows with every successful title defense.


    reDRagon retained the ROH World Tag Team Championship with a win over the Time Splitters. KUSHIDA and Alex Shelley did everything and then some to gain the victory but the submission win for Fish and O’Reilly give them a 2-1 advantage in their series with the ‘Splitters.


    In the “Fight Without Honor” for the ROH World Championship, Jay Briscoe defeated Adam Cole in one of the most violent World Title matches Ring of Honor has ever seen. Both men were bloodied and beaten but only Jay Briscoe was victorious. How each man recovers from this potentially career-shortening match is still up for speculation but the actions of both in this match speak to the level of hatred these two men feel for one another. It may never be over between Adam Cole and Jay Briscoe but the last chapter in the story of 2014 was written in blood and Championship glory at “Final Battle”.


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