We're heading into Ring of Honor territory for our next review, and this time around we're taking a look at one of their event DVDs, heading back to Richmond, Virginia on May 18th, 2013. Kevin "Owens" Steen was there, as were Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards before they dropped the American and became ordinary Wolves, and B.J. Whitmer challenged World Champion Jay Briscoe in the main event of Relentless.
The show began with Michael Elgin taking on Kyle Matthews.
The proverbial speed versus power battle proved to be a great way to start the show. At first it looked as if it would be little more than a squash match when Elgin displayed his incredible power, but when Matthews came back with some nice looking high-flying moves an upset was on the cards.
Elgin managed to regain control for a few moments, but every time it looked as if he was about to put his man away Matthews kept coming back, and that upset almost became a reality when he countered Elgin's sit-down powerbomb attempt with a roll-up.
All this did was anger the unbreakable one, and after throwing Matthews into the corner with a buckle-bomb he finally put him away with a sit-down powerbomb for the pin.
It was two Adams for the price of one in the next match as Adam Page faced Adam Cole.
The two Adams gave us the second short and sweet encounter in a row with a keenly fought contest filled with great sequences. It was a pretty even match-up throughout, with Page in particular looking impressive. He was more than able to keep up with his more illustrious opponent. He gave Cole no end of problems, and the frustration was apparent for all to see as the match went on.
Page gave us one of those holy you know what moments when the action spilled to the outside when he connected with a standing shooting star press as Cole staggered around the floor. It wasn't enough to end the match though, and after he frustrated the former TV champ a bit more Cole was finally able to put him away with his Florida Keys finisher.
The special challenge match saw Mark Briscoe going up against Roderick Strong.
Hard-hitting action was the order of the day in this very enjoyable encounter. With both guys working the babyface side of the fence the spirit of the match was kept up throughout as they put together some great sequences, with the momentum of the match changing more often than not.
Of course the main story behind this was whether Briscoe could keep his own momentum going in the weeks before the World title shot against someone he was very familiar with, and at times it looked like Strong was going to knock him off his tracks as it were.
But in that respect Strong failed, and it was during a fast exchange of roll-up and pinning combinations that Briscoe managed to get the better of his opponent and take the winning pin.
The singles action continued with Chris Lerusso facing Tommaso Ciampa.
There's not really much to write home about here. It was your basic squash match. Lerusso managed to get in one offensive move, but it was Ciampa all the way, taking the pin after two running knees to the head in the corner and another running knee to the head while Lerusso was on the mat.
Then it was on to the first tag match as Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards of the American Wolves faced the S.C.U.M. team of Cliff Compton and Rhett Titus.
This one was quite good as well. There were a couple of dodgy moments, but overall it was pretty enjoyable.
Now I haven't seen much of Titus and Compton as a unit before, and between you and me I still kind of miss Titus' All-Night Express team with Kenny King, but this pairing with Compton put on a decent display against their more seasoned opponents, and they doubled-up to good effect on Richards as they gave him the punching bag treatment.
Needless to say that the hot tag to Edwards signalled the start of the all hell breaking loose moment as both teams brought out the heavy artillery, and yours truly marked out a little as Titus and Compton brought out the old Power and Glory finisher. Sadly it didn't get the job done, and eventually the S.C.U.M. boys found themselves in a double submission predicament as Richards applied the ankle lock to Compton and Edwards the Achilles lock to Titus. Both men tapped out at the same time to give the Wolves the win, much to the annoyance of colour commentator Steve Corino.
More tag-team action followed as Jay Lethal, Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander faced Tag Team Champions Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish of reDRagon and TV Champion Matt Taven.
This match, pitting champions against their top contenders, was a fast-paced and somewhat frantic affair, and as good as it was you'd be forgiven for be distracted a little by the screeching argument between commentators Joe Dombrowski and Steve Corino at ringside.
The frantic stuff came at the beginning, with the match settling down a little as the champions did a number on Lethal until he managed to get back to his corner for the hot tag to signal the start of the all hell breaking loose segment. At one point it looked as if Coleman wouldn't be able to continue when he was pushed off the top rope and took a nasty spill on the commentator's table before hitting the floor.
He managed to survived that little accident though, and as the action kicked into overdrive the C&C team took O'Reilly down with their impressive finisher, a Coleman hurricanrana from the top rope followed by an Alexander top rope splash for the winning pin. Nice work all round, which would have been nice if I hadn't had Corino and Dombrowski screaming out of my speakers.
The penultimate match was the battle of former S.C.U.M. team-mates as Jimmy Jacobs took on Kevin Steen.
These two began their night's work with a brawl that began in the aisle and took them all around the ring, but when they eventually venture between the ropes Jacobs took out a chain and choked Steen, with the referee calling for an immediate disqualification.
But after referees, security and S.C.U.M. members came down to the ring to separate the brawlers Steen grabbed the microphone and challenged Jacobs to a no DQ brawl. A quick phone call to match maker Nigel McGuinness later and the match was on, with Steen quickly dispatching the S.C.U.M. guys so he could brawl with the Zombie Princess.
So what followed was a very entertaining encounter in which the former buddies tried to beat the proverbial out of each other. Both guys got in their fare share of shots as Corino screeched out of my speakers again, almost deafening me with his ranting.
The match took an interesting turn when Jacobs introduced a piece of guardrail into the proceedings, and although he managed to sweep Steen's legs from under him, smashing his head onto the metal, his follow-up chair shots missed their mark, and it was then that Steen took his man down with his package piledriver on the guardrail for the winning pin.
Then Steen, as a silent Corino looked on from ringside, put the icing on the cake when he picked up Jacobs again and took him down with an F5 on a chair.
The main event saw B.J. Whitmer challenging Jay Briscoe for the ROH World title.
This proved to be a very interesting battle. This was Briscoe's first title defence, and with baby brother Mark replacing Corino at the commentary table (thankfully) it began as a very friendly affair until the inevitable happened and the tempers began to flare.
A brief brawl around ringside followed as Briscoe took Whitmer to the proverbial woodshed, and when they eventually made it back to the ring they put together some great back and forth sequences. But the mood of the match changed entirely when Briscoe back dropped Whitmer over the top rope and through the time-keeper's table, with the challenger's head and neck taking the brunt of the blow.
It looked as if the match was going to end there, but as several officials came out to check on Whitmer's condition Briscoe warned them and sent them away before grabbing his challenger and pushing him back into the ring, but when he went for the pin Whitmer surprised everyone by kicking out of Briscoe's pin.
To say that the champion was shocked would be an understatement. Briscoe went into overdrive a little, and he was even more shocked when Whitmer kicked out after he was taken down with a Jay Driller, and when that didn't work Briscoe connected with a series of running boots to the head. Whitmer eventually went down, and when Briscoe locked in a dragon sleeper Whitmer held on for as long as he could until he passed out. Upon seeing this the referee called for the bell, giving Briscoe the title-retaining win.
In conclusion - it's been a while since I've reviewed a Ring of Honor live event DVD, and although the company has been putting more emphasis on it's television product over the past couple of years they're still putting in a great effort with what are now essentially live event DVDs.
Even though there were a few iffy moments throughout, and Steve Corino's commentary left a bit to be desired at times, overall Relentless was a pretty decent show jam-packed with top notch action from top to bottom, and these shows are always worth watching considering the current success of a few former members of the ROH roster.
And speaking of guys who went on the pastures new, I'm giving my match of the night no-prize to the Kevin Steen/Jimmy Jacobs brawl. Steen was as impressive here as he has been in WWE, and the way Steen and Jacobs put the match together was spot on throughout, although it would have been nice if Jacobs had brought along that old railway spike of his!
So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give this DVD the thumbs up.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. ROH Relentless is available to buy online at www.rohwrestling.com.