It's not often I start a match thinking "poor Michael Elgin", but this is one of those occasions. Elgin follows the Code of Honor and Finlay follows suit...then pulls Elgin in for a very tense staredown. They tie up and Elgin powers Finlay to the corner, Finlay reverses and breaks clean. Finlay takes Elgin to the corner and head feints at Elgin, but Elgin doesn't flinch. Elgin with what Finlay apparently considered a playful shove, then he gets Elgin in a side headlock. Elgin takes Finlay to the ropes and slowly breaks, but Finlay shoots right in on the leg and takes Elgin down, then stomps on the knee and kicks him in the face for good measure. Elgin gives him a forearm to the face as a receipt, and they go back to circling one another. Finlay goes behind and steps on the back of Elgin's knee to break him down to the mat, then rams an elbow down to the top of his head. Finlay is absolutely playing with Elgin at this point, getting a drop toehold and a side crossface. Elgin tries to roll Finlay to his back, but barely manages a 1 before Finlay rolls back and goes after Elgin's arm. Elgin finally has had enough and fires a couple of forearms at Finlay, who just dropkicks Elgin's knee out from under him and goes back to the side crossface. Finlay breaks Elgin down to his knees again and rams a forearm to the chest. Elgin reponds with a pair of forearms of his own, so Finlay takes him down with another single leg and grinds Elgin's knee with his elbow. Elgin locks his hands around Finlay's chin to try and peel him off, but finlay holds on until Elgin rolls out and they're back on their feet. They circle one another and Finlay slaps Elgin in the face, Elgin gets pissed and smashes him with a couple of forearms, but Finlay with yet another single leg takedown and Elgin has to expend energy to get out of the hold. Elgin finally gets a go behind on Finlay and gets a waistlock, but Finlay again has an answer and uses his hips to roll Elgin over him and back onto the mat where Finlay gets him in a top wristlock. Elgin gets to the ropes, so Finlay uses the referee to distract Elgin so he can come in and kick Elgin in the gut and pound on him with forearms to the chest. Elgin reverses a whip and sends Finlay into the corner, but runs into Finlay's boots. Finlay dodges another couple of wild swings, but Elgin gets a suplex and then drops Finlay down with a huge clothesline. They go out to the floor, but that turns out to be a mistake for Elgin, as he winds up on the wrong end of an exchange where Finlay rams Elgin's back into the ring apron, then picks Elgin up in a fireman's carry and drops him across the top of the guardrail. Finlay gets inside and waits for Elgin to get onto the apron, then just drills him with a hard forearm and sends him back out to the floor. Elgin rolls back in under the bottom rope and he looks pissed. Finlay backs toward the corner, then boots Elgin in the face again and charges out with a hard forearm that drops Elgin on his ass. finlay with a short clothesline and a kneedrop for 2, then gets Elgin in a rear chinlock. Elgin picks Finlay up and gets a back suplex, but Finlay maintains control and gets another nasty chinlock. Elgin counters to a legscissors as they seem to be losing parts of the crowd, but Finlay escapes and takes Elgin back down by the legs. Elgin suddenly catches Finlay with an enziguiri out of nowhere, then dodges a charge and Finlay runs his shoulder into the ringpost. Now Elgin takes the golden opportunity to hit Finlay with several clotheslines in the corner and a superkick. Elgin suplexes Finlay off his knees and drops him forward into a uranage for 2. Elgin goes for a powerbomb, Finlay backdrops but now Elgin uses one of his own tricks against Finlay by mulekicking him out of the corner. Elgin goes up for a moonsault, but Finlay shoves him out to the floor, then goes out and rolls him back inside and covers for 2. Finlay hits the Celtic Cross, but Elgin kicks out at 2 so Finlay hoists him back up and hits a Tombstone, but Elgin again is out at 2. Finlay can't believe it, but he drags Elgin back up one more time and goes for another Tombstone. Elgin slips out the back, palmstrikes Finlay in the face, powerbombs him into the corner, and htis the sitout powerbomb for the hardest fought win of his life.
Winner: Michael Elgin
This told a great story because you had Elgin, who's been one of the most dominant guys in the company for the last year, coming in and basically being manhandled to show that no matter how good you are, there's always someone way better. He survived massive amounts of punishment and managed to turn a really bad situation around really quickly with the flurry of moves at the end. This was much better for Elgin than if he would have cakewalked through Finlay, or even been presented as even with him because the win means much more because of what he had to do to earn it.
Finlay wants to shake Elgin's hand after the match, Truth Martini laughs Finlay off, but Elgin comes over and shakes his hand like a man. Martini gets in Elgin's face about it, so Elgin backs him to the corner while apparently expressing in no uncertain terms that Truth Martini should try not to tell him how to live his life.
We come back from intermission with Mike Bennett making his way to the ring with Maria Kanellis and Brutal Bob Evans for the first ever live edition of the Prodigy Service Announcement. He says New York wasn't his first choice for this since he's from Boston, but ROH told him that he could wrestle anyone he wants on the show, but he says that unless it's a title match, he won't do it because he's the best wrestler on the planet and nobody else comes close. Crowd starts a CM Punk, and he says that they can chant for the Best In The World, but he's Better Than The Best, so he's just going to hand the microphone back to his fellow Bostonite Bobby Cruise, and he and Maria will show the fans the best makeout session they've ever seen. He and Maria start to go at it, but Mike Mondo comes out and says he's from New York, the first show he ever came to was here at the Manhattan Center, but it's always been his dream to wrestle here. He keeps getting ignored by ROH management when they see his number on the caller ID, but he wants to live his dream and he says he's not leaving until he gets to fight Mike Bennett, then after he gets done fighting Mike Bennett, he's....well, going to do something else with Maria that starts with the letter F. Mike Bennett jumps Mondo, but gets his ass kicked and he bails out to the floor. Referee Paul Turner is out here trying to break them up, and it looks like we've got a match.
Mike Mondo vs Mike Bennett
Mondo goes out to hte apron and takes out Evans with a Thesz Press, but Bennett picks him up and hits a spinebuster onto the ring apron, then they go inside where Bennett unloads on Mondo with big right hands. Mondo suddenly fires up and destroys Bennett with big uppercuts and kneestrikes to the head, but goes up to the top rope and misses a swandive headbutt. Bennett stands over Mondo and mouths off to him, but Mondo reaches up and catches him in a small package for the win.
Winner: Mike Mondo
Short match, but a good start for Mondo as what I assume will be a regular on the main touring ROH roster instead of just TV spots. I liked how they built Bennett up as this abrasive jerk so Mondo could come out and use his New York credentials to get crowd support for this.
ROH TV Title Match: Roderick Strong vs Tommaso Ciampa vs Jay Lethal
This is being held under elimination rules, and also happens to be the first time Ciampa and Lethal have been in the ring with each other since Lethal handed Ciampa his first loss at Border Wars. Lethal and Ciampa need to be physically held apart during ring introductions, but go right after each other as soon as the bell rings. They fight out to the floor and then come back inside where Strong gets involved and takes out both guys. Strong gets dumped out to the floor and then Lethal goes at it with Ciampa, but Lethal suddenly hits a dive through the ropes onto Strong. Mia Yim gets up on the ring apron and superkicks Lethal, and then all heck breaks loose until Strong hits a uranage backbreaker on Lethal for 2. Lethal unloads with a pair of chops on Strong, but Ciampa comes in and goes after both men, picking Strong up in an electric chair and dumping him on his face and covering for 2. Ciampa tears Lethal down with chops in the corner, but Ciampa comes off the ropes for the kneestrike and Lethal pops up and superkicks him, then Ciampa hits a kneestrike anyway and both men are down. Strong dumps Ciampa to the floor and quickly covers Lethal, but only gets 2. Vertical suplex gets 2 as well, and Strong unloads with hard forearms while talking trash. Lethal gets to his feet and now they trade chops in the middle of the ring until Ciampa comes in and they both chop the crap out of him. Ciampa goes down and Lethal takes both men out with running clotheslines. Lethal with a handspring elbow to Ciampa, then runs off of Strong's chest to hit Ciampa with a tornado DDT. Lethal with a figure four on Strong while locking Ciampa in a Crippler Crossface in a very cool spot, but Ciampa gets to the ropes to force the break. Lethal pops Strong into the air for an Ace Crusher, but Ciampa knocks him silly with a kneestrike and then comes off the top with Hail To The King. He covers Lethal for 2 and then tries for Project Ciampa, Strong hits an enziguiri on Ciampa, Lethal leg lariats Strong and then goes for a superplex on Ciampa, but Ciampa shoves him off right into a rolling elbow from Strong. Strong runs in and hits a leaping enziguiri on Ciampa and then shakes the ring with a HUUUUUGE superplex, and Lethal goes up top and hits Hail To The King and covers Ciampa for 2. Strong Tullys Lethal to the floor and Truth Martini goes after Lethal, Lethal nails him and a scuffle between the two sides happens on the floor, leading to Prince Nana rolling into the ring and tripping Ciampa as he was going for Project Ciampa on Strong. Strong falls on top and pins Ciampa, then something I didn't quite catch happened as Lethal was coming off the ropes for the Lethal Injection and Strong popped him into the air for the vertical suplex into a backbreakerand covers for the win.
Winner: Roderick Strong
A lot going on in this one that and it was a little difficult to catch everything, but solid match overall and I liked how they found ways to eliminate Lethal and Ciampa in such a way that neither one lost anything. Strong really is the master of three way matches, nobody I've ever seen has quite the same ability to use the dynamic to his advantage in the same way tag teams use tag team rules to do stuff you can't do in singles matches.
The ROH World Tag Team Title is on the line next on Page 3!
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