ROH Raising The Bar: Night 2Chicago Ridge, Illinois 3/8/14
1.) Will Ferrera vs. Jake Dirden: *1/4
Nothing really much to this one. Essentially it was a showcase match for Dirden, who was a very interesting look, and much like Hanson, his looked makes him fit right in with The Wyatt Family. I guess being a tall guy with long hair and a massive beard is an in-trend in pro-wrestling right now. Dirden gets the win.
1.) "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin vs. Tyson Dux: ***
Kevin Kelly & Steve Corino put over how Elgin was a student of Tyson Dux. This was a pretty solid opener. You could tell these guys knew each other, and it showed in this match. The action got good towards the end of the match, and Elgin picked up the win. Impressive outing by Elgin and, as I mentioned in my review of Raising The Bar: Night 1, it was nice to see Dux in ROH again.
After the match, Elgin cuts a promo putting over his mentor.
2.) Adrenaline RUSH vs. The Decade (BJ Whitmer & Roderick Strong with Jimmy Jacobs & Adam Page): ***
The Decade come out with Adam Page, who is wearing The Decade's T-Shirt and is carry a bucket with The Decade's logo on it. He holds the curtain & the ropes open for them, wipes down the ropes, and even cleans BJ Whitmer's mouthpiece. Jacobs cuts a promo explaining that Page is there to do whatever The Decade asks them to do (whether that be driving them from town to town, getting them food, carrying their bags, and so on). He also mentions on commentary during the match that Adam Page is their "young boy", and not an official member of The Decade. As far as the match goes, it was fine. Nice to see The Decade mix things up with their tag team pairings. Their were a few sloppy moments, but the match was relatively solid. The Decade pick up the win.
3.) Michael Bennett (with Maria Kanellis) vs. Jay Lethal: ***1/4
There was one Michael Bennett fan in the front row (wearing his pink Michael Bennett T-Shirt) and he was hilarious! He got to interact with Bennett & Maria and even got the T-Shirt that Bennett wore to the ring. The match itself was pretty good. These two have met on a few occasions, and they've seemingly always produced. They did a funny spot at the beginning which almost saw Maria kiss Bennett's "ding dong" (as Steve Corino would say). We also saw Lethal express some frustration during the match, and eventually Bennett was able to pick up the win with a handful of tights.
4.) No DQ Match - Outlaw Inc. vs. The Briscoes: ***1/2
This match originally started as a standard tag team match, but that didn't last long, as the two teams brawled to the outside and weapons were quickly introduced. The match ended as a No Contest, but Nigel McGuinness decided to restart the match under No DQ Rules. The crowd was really into it in the first part but seemingly got a little quieter as the match went on. I thought this was a pretty entertaining No DQ Match. It's going to be good when you have four guys in there who excel at this type of match. At one point, Kingston hit a hurricanrana from the top rope, which was a pretty cool thing to see. The Briscoes were eventually able to pick up the win in what was definitely Outlaw Inc.'s best ROH match to date.
There was a segment that took place on the main show that, for some reason, was pushed to the bonus features. Essentially The Romantic Touch came out and starting seducing Scarlett Bordeaux, who was doing the ring announcing. They ended up kissing and The Romantic Touch gave Scarlett his rose.
5.) Matt Taven vs. Silas Young: ***1/4
Here we have a rematch from the 12th Anniversary Show a few weeks prior, which was won by Taven. I thought this was step up from their first match. Good action in this one. Truth Martini appeared about the entrance stage, which distracted Taven long enough for Silas Young to capitalize and pick up the win. Martini then fell backwards off the top of the stage (purposefully) and vanished.
After the match, Young demanded that Taven shake his hand, but Taven responded but attacking Young and hitting him with the Frog Splash.
6.) Kevin Steen vs. Cedric Alexander: ***1/2
I think it's fair to say that this was probably Alexander's biggest singles match in ROH to date. Not the amazing you might have expected, but it was still a very good match. Lots of solid action in this one, including Kevin Steen hitting this jumping moonsault that is absolutely incredible for a guy of his size. Steen eventually gets the win with the Package Piledriver.
Towards the end of the match. Outlaw Inc. came out and watched from the ramp, with Kingston smoking a cigarette and Homicide eating a giant bowl of....something. Steen calls them out for not fighting him with heart like Alexander did. They nearly get into a brawl but are separated.
7.) ROH World Tag Team Titles - reDRagon vs. The Young Bucks: ****1/2
I forgot to mention this in my Raising The Bar: Night 1 Review, but a few weeks prior to this match, Matt Jackson suffered a broken hand while wrestling in New Japan, and was wearing a cast on both that show and this show. I also forgot to mention that The Young Bucks are still the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions coming into this match. Now, as for the match, I LOVED IT!!! These two teams just clicked from the opening and provided some great tag team wrestling. The match especially picked up down the stretch, with lots of great back & forth double teams, and got really awesome. Even Matt Jackson's cast became involved as a weapon. After a great finishing sequence, Nick Jackson was able to reverse a submission hold put on by O'Reilly into a pin and got the three count!! The Young Bucks are your NEW Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champions!! Just and amazing match from start to finish, and a great moment with The Young Bucks winning the belts.
8.) ROH World Title - Ringmaster's Challenge - Adam Cole vs. Chris Hero: ***3/4
For those of you who have forgotten or aren't familiar, a Ringmaster's Challenge is essentially a 2/3 Falls Match. The first fall is pinfalls only, the second fall is submissions only, and the third fall, if necessary, is a 15 Minute Iron Man Match. In a quick break down of the falls, Cole won the first fall, Hero won the second fall, and the Iron Man Match ended in a draw. There was really good action here, but the crowd seemingly got tired out and quiet for most of the 15 Minute Iron Man Match. Two things here that I should note. Firstly, I think this showed that the crowd didn't think Hero had a chance to win here, though they got back into it a bit during the overtime period. Secondly, I think the 15 Minute Iron Man Match seems to be the flaw of this match when it comes to the crowd reaction. Still, there were elements of this I enjoyed. I though the bit in the Iron Man Match where Cole intentionally got himself disqualified after using his title belt on Hero, but then took the opportunity of a laid out Chris Hero to get two straight falls was genius! Speaking of the Iron Man Match, it ends in a 3-3 tie, but Nigel McGuinness says the match with continue in Sudden Death Overtime!! We then get a good minute or two flurry of action that really gets the crowd back into it, but Cole is able to catch Hero off guard with a backslide to get the win and retains his World Title.
I thought that this went about the same way as Raising The Bar: Night 1 did. A consistent undercard (with Steen/Alexander & Outlaw Inc/Briscoes leading the charge) with some pretty great main event matches. The World Tag Team Title Match makes this show must see and is definitely the leading candidate for ROH Match of the Year thus far. While the Ringmaster's Challenge might not be for everyone, I thought it was a very solid main event. In comparison, I'd put this slightly over Raising The Bar: Night 1 for the World Tag Team Title change alone (it's a pretty big moment). A very good show on the whole.