It was a time of change as Eddie Edwards challenged Roderick Strong for the World title in the main event of Ring of Honor’s Manhattan Mayhem IV, held this past March and recently released on DVD.
The show began with tag team action as Michael Elgin and Mike Mondo, accompanied by Truth Martini, faced Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly.
Before the match began Martini went on a long rant about how Roderick Strong was going to beat Eddie Edwards in the main event. He then told Mondo that this was his final chance to earn a full time spot in his stable as he was looking to dominate the tag team division. So what happened to those original House of Truth guys?
This was a tremendous match. Martini’s men had trouble keeping up with Cole and O’Reilly at first, but Elgin’s impressive power brought them back into the match.
But after taking it to their opponents for several minutes Cole and O’Reilly came back.
We then saw several great sequences, including the moment when Elgin took Cole and O’Reilly down at the same time with a fall away slam and a Samoan drop.
But it just wasn’t enough. Moments later our beloved baby faces had the win, pinning Mondo with a bridging back suplex.
Mondo then awaited his fate, and as Martini gave him the big thumbs down Elgin connected with a clothesline before finishing him off with a sit down power bomb. Impressive stuff all round.
The singles action kicked off with Tommaso Ciampa, accompanied by Prince Nana and the Embassy, taking on Grizzly Redwood.
Grizzly, because of his size, is always going to be cast in the role of the underdog, and it’s a role he plays pretty well.
This was evident in this encounter. Both men put on great performances in this back and forth encounter, With Ciampa getting a little help from his Embassy friends, especially Princess Mia, who took Grizzly out with a dropkick at ringside - while wearing high heels.
Ciampa took the win after taking Grizzly down with his power bomb into a back breaker.
Then, like a pack of rabid dogs, the Embassy attacked Grizzly, with Steve Corino making the save. Corino then grabbed the microphone, telling Grizzly that he’d kept his promise of watching Grizzly’s back, asking his friend if he would do the same for him.
But before Grizzly could answer Mike Bennett and his coach Bob Evans came down to the ring. Bennett proceeded to mock and goad Corino into “falling off the wagon” so he’d face him. At first Corino refused, but Bennett persisted until Corino gave in, beginning the next match by clobbering Bennett with his microphone.
What followed was a highly enjoyable battle between youngster and veteran as they put on a great back and for the encounter.
Corino eventually went back to his old ways, especially when he used his thumb to….well, you know what Corino does with that particular digit.
Bennett eventually came back, but not even a right hand from Evans or two side slams in a row could put Corino away. A third side slam from Bennett did the job, giving him the winning pin.
Bennett and Evans then attacked Corino after the bell, and while everyone was expecting Grizzly Redwood to make the save Bennett took Corino out with a pile driver, with Grizzly still conspicuous by his absence.
The “tag team challenge match” saw Kenny King and Rhett Titus, the All Night Express, taking on the Briscoe Brothers, Jay and Mark.
How best to describe this match? Tremendous would probably be the best way, especially when you’re talking about two of the best teams on the roster.
These two teams put on a great back and forth encounter, part brawl, part wrestling match, but full of great action, with both Jay and Titus bleeding for their art here.
So after over fifteen minutes of great action the Briscoes looked like they were going to take Titus down with their version of the doomsday device, but as Mark came off the top rope Titus ducked and took Jay down with a victory roll for the winning pin.
The brothers were none too happy with the result, and attacked King and Titus after the bell, dealing with several members of the security team while they tried to take Titus out with a jay driller on the floor. It was lucky for him that King came off the top rope to hale the attack, the action ending with the Briscoes being dragged away before they could cause even more damage.
Another “challenge match” followed as El Generico went up against T.J. Perkins.
This was a short and sweet encounter. Perkins certainly didn’t come into this match to lie down, giving his all against his more experienced opponent in this fast pace move for move encounter.
Perkins went close to winning several times, but when he went for a suicide dive Generico caught him and took him down with a brain buster on the ring apron, rolling him back into the ring so he could get the three count.
Afterwards both men got a great ovation from the crowd, leaving me to wonder if they’ll get a re-match and more time to show what they can do.
Then it was on to the “dream tag team match” as Tag Team Champions Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli, the Kings of Wrestling, accompanied by Sara Del Ray and Shane Hagadorn, faced Homicide and Hernandez. Just don’t call them the Latin American Xchange in this match. Ring of Honor didn’t. Oh, and it’s also a non-title match.
This brought back memories of just how good LAX (whoops) were back in the day. It took them a few minutes to get going but once they did it was like old times.
This was tag team wrestling at it’s best, two teams giving their all as they tried to achieve victory. All the big moves were there, and as the action built to a crescendo we saw the tremendous sight of Hernandez border tossing Homicide onto the Kings at ringside.
But despite the great efforts the Kings took the win when Castagnoli took Homicide down with a running European uppercut for the winning pin.
Afterwards Hernandez was given the “please come back” chant from the ROH faithful. If only this reunion could happen again.
The penultimate match saw TV Champion Christopher Daniels taking on Davey Richards in the first pure rules match in years.
This proved to be as great as their last encounter. The pure rules stipulations were perfect for these two as they exchanged submission holds, from arm bars to clover leaves to koji clutches, each man using their three permitted rope breaks to escape.
When the ropes finally came into play we saw even more inventive submission attempts. Daniels went fore a koji clutch in the ropes, while Richards went for a clover leaf on the top rope.
But in the end the outcome wasn’t decided by submission as Richards countered Daniels’ angels wings attempt with a roll-up.
Daniels was not a happy fellow, refusing to shake Richards’ hand at first before finally relenting.
The main event saw the other American Wolf, Eddie Edwards, challenging Roderick Strong, accompanied by Truth Martini, for the World title.
Before the match began Strong made the rather unexpected move of sending his manager to the back, telling him “I got this.”
As the old saying goes they saved the best for last. This was an enthralling affair. For nearly 30 minutes Strong and Edwards put on a hard hitting back and forth no nonsense style of match.
It just had everything, both men pulling out all the big moves, including a brutal duel of chops which not only turned Strong’s chest bright red it cut him open as well.
The ending was as dramatic as the match. Edwards kicked out of the pin after Strong connected with the sick kick. He also countered the Strong hold with his Achilles lock.
But then, as they jockeyed for position so they could apply their holds again Edwards went for a roll-up and got the three count for the title winning pin.
Afterwards, in what must rank as one of the feel good moments of the year Davey Richards came down to the ring to embrace his tag team putting the belt around his waist.
DVD extras come in the form of several post-match interviews, as well as two editions of the ROH Video Wire.
In conclusion - you know, I’m starting to wonder if there’s any point in reviewing ROH DVDs, because we all know what the end result will be, because this is another great release from them.
From the opening match right up to the main event this show was jam packed with tremendous action, and once again it’s far better than anything the big two have put out this year. So Manhattan Mayhem IV definitely gets the big thumbs up from me. (Hey, I think Truth Martini stole my gimmick here!)
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Ring of Honor Manhattan Mayhem IV can be purchased online at www.rohwrestling.com.