Defy or Deny 2 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 19th, 2013
Opening Match: Adam Cole vs. Silas Young
If Young can defeat Cole or last the time limit, he’ll receive a shot at the World Television Title. This crowd is hot and the venue looks great on camera. The fans immediately get behind Cole as Young takes him over with a cocky armdrag. Truth Martini comes out to scout Young once again. Cole hits an atomic drop and connects with a dropkick. Young knocks him off the apron and sends him into the barricade. Young takes control until Cole blocks a lariat and hits a neckbreaker. Apparently Kevin Kelly talked to the building manager and he hasn’t seen a crowd like this in quite some time. Cole connects with an enzuigiri and a shining wizard. He hits a fireman’s carry neckbreaker. Young shoves him into the corner and hits a shoulder-capture suplex. Cole responds with a brainbuster over his knee for a nearfall. Young pushes away a figure four attempt and hits a backbreaker-lariat combination. Cole interrupts a Pee Gee Waja Plunge attempt with a rollup for a two count. Young tries again but Cole superkicks him while he’s doing a headstand and hits the Florida Key for the win at 8:37. The crowd was vocal for literally everything that they were doing. If they would have had a longer finishing stretch, it would have seemed like they were burning the crowd out. Hopefully the crowd energy can be maintained throughout the rest of the show and hopefully Young’s appearances in ROH become more frequent. **¾
Match #2: Bobby Fish vs. Tadarius Thomas
Fish delivers an overly-complicated handshake to mock Thomas in a hilarious moment. The crowd chants “that was racist” at him. They trade control on the mat. Fish hits a slingshot senton along with a back suplex. Thomas charges at him but walks straight into a knockout kick. Fish hits a samoan drop and maintains the advantage. Thomas comes back with a series of kicks as Truth Martini comes back out. He plants Fish with a tiger suplex. Thomas misses a corner yakuza kick and hurts his left leg. Fish chop blocks the left leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Thomas tries to create some space with a series of rollups to no avail. Fish applies an achilles lock for the victory at 9:50. The structure of this match was interesting, with the action picking up half-way through and the last two minutes consisting of Fish dismantling Thomas’ leg to pick up the (relatively easy) win. While the one-sided action made it difficult for the crowd to get invested, Fish came out looking strong. **½
Match #3: Charlie Haas vs. Rhett Titus
Titus starts brawling with Haas before the opening bell. Titus throws him into the barricade and chokes him in the ring. Haas finds an opening to send Titus face-first into the ringpost. Haas utilizes a piece of the guardrail and takes over. They attempt the spot where Titus goes for a slingshot senton only for Haas to put his knee out, but Titus overshoots the knee. The crowd chants “Shelton Benjamin” at Haas, showing how good of a crowd they are. Titus fights back with a rydeen bomb and a leaping bulldog. Haas ducks a lariat and hits an olympic slam. He follows with a full nelson slam but Titus won’t stay down. The action goes to the floor where Haas back suplexes Titus onto the guardrail. Haas brings a six pack of beer into the ring. The referee takes it away. Titus his Haas with a can of beer behind the referee’s back. Haas blocks a frog splash with knees and just pins Titus for the win at 12:05. This was the longest match of the show thus far but contained the least engaging action. These two had an average singles match last June at LivE Strong and didn’t top that encounter here. I have no idea what purpose the finish served and Titus looks extremely weak for using a weapon and getting defeated so easily afterwards. *½
Match #4: Steve Corino, Jimmy Jacobs, and Rhino vs. Jay Lethal, Jay Briscoe, and Mark Briscoe
The faces charge the ring and the fight is on. Lethal connects with a baseball slide on Corino and lands a dive to the floor. The action settles down after multiple referees come out to establish order. Lethal comes off the top rope with a double axe handle on Corino. Commentary raves about the Cole/Jacobs match from The Hunt for Gold, which they should. Jacobs distracts Jay, allowing Corino to hit the Colby Shock. SCUM isolate Jay until he flatlines Corino into the middle turnbuckle and makes the tag. Lethal connects with a leg lariat on Jacobs and hits the Lethal Combination. Jacobs blocks the Lethal Injection and Corino clotheslines Lethal. SCUM now work over Lethal until he connects with a handspring back elbow on Rhino and tags out. Mark showcases his redneck karate, even fooling Corino who thought he had it figured out. The faces connect with stereo corner punches. They take Rhino down with a series of strikes and Lethal lands Hail to the King. Mark follows with his froggy elbow for a nearfall. Jacobs escapes the doomsday device. Rhino Gores Mark out of nowhere for the victory at 12:09. This felt like something you’d see on a 2007 ROH card, which is a good thing. They didn’t reinvent the wheel or do anything mind-blowing, but they had a fun six-man tag that the crowd of course helped with their enthusiasm. ***
Match #5: Matt Hardy vs. BJ Whitmer
They trade chops. Hardy retreats to the floor and runs away from a dive. Whitmer connects with a leg lariat. Hardy goes back out to the floor but Whitmer is able to catch him with a dive this time. In the ring, Hardy comes off the middle rope with an elbow smash to the back of the head. He takes control, working over the head and neck. Whitmer comes back with rolling suplexes but Hardy slows him down with a Side Effect. The crowd gets on Hardy’s case for his repetitive offense, which might be a bit harsh. Whitmer hits a fisherman suplex for a nearfall. Hardy hits a back suplex while Whitmer argues with Todd Sinclair. Whitmer kicks out of the Twist of Fate and Hardy is in disbelief. He counters a second Twist of Fate into a rollup for a nearfall. Hardy hits a third Twist of Fate for another nearfall. Hardy applies a guillotine choke but Whitmer refuses to quit. Rhett Titus appears at ringside with a towel. Titus throws in the towel and Hardy picks up the win at 12:23. Between Adam Cole kicking out of five Side Effects and Whitmer kicking out of three Twist of Fates, Hardy better rely on that guillotine choke of his from now on. The match was technically fine but nothing I’d ever want to watch again. Also, the less “throw in the towel” finishes, the better. **¼
After the match, Hardy scolds Nigel McGuinness for not giving him a shot at the World Television Title. Adam Cole comes out and tells Hardy to shut up. Hardy attempts a cheap shot, but Cole catches him with a series of strikes. Multiple referees attempt to hold Cole back. Hardy hits Cole with the title and leaves with it.
Match #6: Davey Richards vs. Kyle O’Reilly
O’Reilly attacks before the opening bell with his missile dropkick from the apron. He puts on Richards’ ring jacket and lays in more kicks at ringside. Richards sends him into the barricade and punts him from the apron. In the ring, Richards applies a cloverleaf and connects with the Alarm Clock. They battle on the apron, where O’Reilly hits a brainbuster. Richards is slow in getting back into the ring. O’Reilly immediately applies a guillotine choke and goes to work on the neck. Richards finds an opening to connect with a double stomp. He lands a dive to the floor and follows with a missile dropkick back in the ring. They exchange slaps and Richards connects with a handspring gamengiri. Richards lays in a forearm smash to the side of the head and hits a german suplex. O’Reilly fires back with more kicks. He attempts a shoulder-capture suplex but Richards reverses into an ankle lock. O’Reilly fights out. They charge at each other with kicks. O’Reilly counters the Alarm Clock into a shoulder-capture suplex for a nearfall. Both men are down. Richards unloads with kicks in the corner. O’Reilly returns the favor and hits a saito suplex. Richards answers with one of his own. They both connect with knockout kicks and fall to the canvas. They trade headbutts on the middle rope and O’Reilly hits a back superplex. He transitions into a guillotine choke. Richards escapes but gets caught by a corner yakuza kick. O’Reilly hits a tornado DDT, a brainbuster, and goes back to the guillotine. Richards counters into an ankle lock and connects with another Alarm Clock. He hits a tombstone for a nearfall. Richards lays in a knockout kick. O’Reilly stops the referee from counting to three. Richards says something to O’Reilly and connects with another knockout kick for the victory at 20:10. This match felt very reminiscent of Richards/Edwards from Best in the World 2011, especially with the awkward finish. I think the general consensus is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with these kind of matches, but Richards and O’Reilly would be capable of a much more interesting encounter if they deviated from this style. The booking is also very confusing, as Fish and O’Reilly just look inferior to Richards and Edwards after Final Battle and this match. As expected, the mileage that everyone gets out of this one will vary. ***¼
Match #7: Elimination: Kevin Steen vs. Michael Elgin vs. Eddie Edwards vs. Roderick Strong
This is the second “Defy or Deny” match. I guess the idea is that either Elgin, Edwards, or Strong will defy Steen and earn a title shot or Steen will deny them of one. If anyone has a better idea, let me know. Elgin attacks Strong before the opening bell. Edwards sends everyone to the floor and lands three consecutive dives. Steen powerbombs him onto the apron. Elgin catches Strong with a slingshot back elbow and hits a delayed vertical suplex. He holds Strong up for a minute as Steen politely claps at ringside. Steen hits a DDT on Elgin but Strong pulls him out of the ring and rams him into the barricade. Elgin fights off both Steen and Strong single-handedly, even hitting a dead-lift german suplex on Steen. Edwards military presses Steen from the apron onto the entrance ramp. Strong and Edwards overwhelm Elgin with a barrage of strikes until Strong turns on Edwards with a half nelson backbreaker. Elgin hits an STO on Strong followed by a swinging side slam. Strong escapes a bucklebomb, allowing Edwards to catch Elgin with a missile dropkick. Elgin blocks a lungblower from Edwards and hits an air raid crash for a nearfall. Elgin bucklebombs Strong and hits a samoan drop-fallaway slam combination on Steen and Strong. Edwards immediately lays in a flying double stomp on Elgin for a two count. Everyone catches each other with strikes. Steen elevates Elgin into a powerbomb and hits the F-Cinq for a nearfall. Elgin back drops out of a package piledriver and dead-lifts Steen into a powerbomb. Strong hits the orange crush backbreaker on Elgin to eliminate him at 15:57. Edwards hits a backpack chinbreaker on Strong but Steen catches him with a swantan. Strong hits a gutbuster on Steen and Edwards comes off the top with a double stomp for a nearfall. Strong and Edwards trade rollups to no avail. Edwards applies the achilles lock. Strong hits a flipping leg drop while Strong is still in the hold. Strong passes out and is eliminated at 19:39. Steen low blows Edwards and hits the package piledriver for a two count. Steen avoids a flying double stomp and hits a package piledriver on the apron for the win at 21:18. These four eschewed the traditional four corner survival format and kept the action moving for the entire twenty-one minutes. I didn’t see much callback to Steen’s individual title defenses against either opponent, but Strong and Elgin’s rivalry provided some storytelling elements throughout the contest. This was a well-executed spotfest that placed a good deal of importance on obtaining a title shot. Steen winning might be perplexing, but I don’t think Elgin, Strong, or Edwards needed a title shot that badly right now. ***¾
Overall: Quality-wise, I would say that Defy or Deny 2 is on par with The Hunt for Gold. Whereas with the latter I talked about how the show lacked meaningfulness, Defy or Deny 2 managed to maneuver around that problem. A molten crowd, a strong grudge match between Davey Richards and Kyle O’Reilly, and a great main event that placed some importance on the ROH World Title helped this show out a great deal. While I could probably go either way, based on the aforementioned high points, I have no problem giving a slight recommendation here. ROH started 2013 with two shows that illustrated steps in the right direction. There are still some clear problems, but everyone is receiving an appropriate amount of time to showcase themselves.
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Ryan Rozanskii has been a professional wrestling fan since he was six years old. His first memory of it comes from witnessing Scott Hall win a sixty-man battle royal at WCW World War 3. Of course, that was before alcohol became a problem for Scott. Speaking of alcohol, Ryan is a youngster…not even old enough to consume alcoholic beverages. However, Ryan has used swear words to describe how much he loves Pro Wrestling Ponderings. That is something he’ll never try again, due to the risk of possibly being grounded by his parents. Some people compare Ryan to Butters from South Park. Currently, that comparison has yet to have any legitimacy.
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