WWE were not the only game in town this past Saturday as Ring of Honor Wrestling proudly presented Manhattan Mayhem IV at the Manhattan Center. The show featured two must-see main events as Eddie Edwards challenged Roderick Strong for the ROH World Championship, and Davey Richards and Christopher Daniels had their second encounter in a Pure Rules Match.
The card also boasted a Dream Non-Title Tag Team Match between The Kings of Wrestling’s Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli against The Latin American X-change’s Homicide and Hernandez. The two teams–multi-time tag team champions–offered great tag team wrestling. There was even an exhibition of strength between the teams’ strong men as Castagnoli hoisted Hernadez for the UFO backbreaker rack airplane spin with no hands, and Hernandez lifted Castagnoli for a 30+ second delayed vertical. However, despite near-fall after near-fall, LAX were unable to pick up the victory for a future title shot.
Since paying farewell to seasoned vets Austin Aries and Kevin Steen this past year, Ring of Honor is now brimming with top prospects, mostly stemming from its wrestling school The ROH Academy. Among the prospects were: Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Michael Elgin, Mike Mondo (former Spirit Squad member Mikey), Grizzly Redwood, Tommaso Ciampa, and “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett all taking up the first half of the card. Cole and O’Reilly continued to impress wrestling fans by scoring the pin-fall over the much larger duo of Elgin and Mondo (who was destroyed afterwards by his tag team partner). Redwood and Ciampa had an excruciatingly hard-to-watch match, that had the NYC fans pleading for it to end. Then, “The Prodigy” Mike Bennet, the winner of The Young Prospect Tournament on HDNet, forced Steve Corino to wrestle him by droning on and on the same insult, “C’mon, old man!” The reason why Corino was so reluctant to wrestle was because he’s guilt-ridden over costing Kevin Steen his job with ROH, and feels that by not wrestling, he’s atoning for his past actions. However, Corino’s lack of drive cost him the match, and granted him a post-match beat down.
Other matches on the card included The All-Night Express defeating Jay and Mark Briscoe, with a post-match brawl in favor of The Briscoe Brothers; and an exciting bout between El Generico and T.J. Perkins, with Generico dropping TJP with a Brainbuster, and the two respecting the Code of Honor afterwards.
The first main event of the night was the highly anticipated Richards vs. Daniels II. Nearly a year since Daniels returned to Ring of Honor at “The Big Bang” in April 2010, the night he confronted Richards about his intentions in Ring of Honor, the two have faced off only once in Chicago Ridge this past October with Davey getting the better of “The Fallen Angel.” Now, about five months later, with both men failing to unseat Roderick Strong for the World Title, Richards and Daniels faced off at The Manhattan Center in a Pure Rules Match, in preparation for their future World Title opportunities.
There are two distinct guidelines to Pure Rules: 1) Each wrestler has three rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls during the match. After a wrestler exhausts his rope breaks, submission and pin attempts under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal. 2) There are no closed-fist punches to the face allowed in a Pure match, only open-handed slaps or chops to the face are allowed. Punches to other parts of the body (save for low-blows) are permitted. The first use of a closed fist will get a warning, and the second will cause the wrestler to be penalized a rope break. If he is already out of rope breaks, he will be disqualified.
The match was everything to be expected, with each wrestler exhausting their rope breaks and unmercifully locking in submission holds within the ropes for added punishment. Daniels attempted to end the match with super Angel Wings from the top turnbuckle, but Richards evaded the move into an ankle lock. While the match was great in every way, the match almost took a tragic turn when Richards completely missed the ring during a Shooting Star Press. The move believed that would end the match, instead had Richards move to the side and landed belly first onto the ropes. Usually NYC fans are quick to blurt out “You F#%ked Up!” but the bizarre landing left fans silent until we were assured that he was alright. Richards quickly ended the match with a jack-knife roll over for his second victory over Christopher Daniels.
The main event of the night, and the top story to break out of NYC, was Eddie Edwards defeating Roderick Strong to become the new ROH World Champion. Davey Richards, the other half of the American Wolves, congratulated Edwards on becoming champion.
Edwards had earned this title match with his victory at “Survival of the Fittest 2010” back in November. On that night, he suffered a severe shoulder separation during his match with Chris Hero. Despite ROH Officials and doctors pleading that he not compete, Edwards returned to the finals and defeated Kenny King. If it were not for his pride and determination, NYC would not have witnessed this memorable moment.
Roderick Strong, who many had believed to be only a transitional champion, finally lost the belt in his sixth title defense (defeated Christopher Daniels, Davey Richards, Jay Briscoe, El Generico, and Homicide) since winning the belt at Glory By Honor IX. While many did not approve of his methods during his title reign, with constant assistance from Truth Martini and the House of Truth, Strong managed to hold up a close contest against Edwards.
As a former World Tag Team, and World TV champion, Edward’s ROH World Title victory marked him as the first Triple Crown Champion in ROH’s history.
ROH announcements: Manhattan Mayhem IV also marked ROH’s final show in The Grand Ballroom, as ROH will return, this time, to the Hammerstein Ballroom on Sunday June 26. Also, the next time ROH will be available on iPPV will be Friday April 1st and Saturday April 2nd with a pair of live shows dubbed “Honor Takes Center Stage” courtesy of GoFightLive.TV