ROH World Champion: Roderick Strong (since 9/11/10)
ROH World Tag Team Champions: The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli) (since 4/3/10)
ROH World Television Champion: Christopher Daniels (since 12/10/10)
Opening Match: Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly vs. Michael Elgin and Mike Mondo
Mondo is trying to prove that he belongs in the House of Truth. O’Reilly frustrates Elgin with his kicks to start. Cole and O’Reilly take Elgin over with a hip toss and connect with stereo dropkicks. They follow with stereo basement dropkicks to Mondo. Elgin clotheslines O’Reilly on the apron and does the same to Cole. The House of Truth isolate O’Reilly until he plants Elgin with a tornado DDT and makes the tag. Cole comes off the middle rope with a leg lariat on Mondo and lands a flying crossbody. He runs into a slingshot shoulder tackle from Elgin. Mondo connects with a diving headbutt on Cole. Elgin misses a twisting senton and O’Reilly superkicks him. Elgin hits a fallaway slam on Cole and a samoan drop on O’Reilly at the same time. O’Reilly connects with a missile dropkick on Elgin. Cole and O’Reilly hit a lungblower-backcracker combination on Mondo. Cole superkicks Mondo and hits a german suplex for the win at 12:22. Cole and O’Reilly are quickly becoming crowd favorites in New York City. It’s also pretty tough not to react to Elgin’s impressive displays of power. While the crowd wasn’t accepting Mondo, he was serviceable and didn’t hinder the action. This is exactly what you want out of an opener and it’s nice to see Cole and O’Reilly picking up a win. ***
Truth Martini gives Mondo a thumbs down after the match and Elgin powerbombs him.
Match #2: Grizzly Redwood vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Grizzly utilizes his agility early on. He lures Ciampa to the floor and follows out with a dive. Mia Yim tries a sneak attack but Grizzly kisses her. Grizzly throws Ciampa into the barricade. Yim dropkicks Grizzly out of nowhere. In the ring, Ciampa hits a neckbreaker and takes control. Grizzly blocks a charge and comes off the middle rope with a double axe handle. He snaps off a hurricanrana but walks into a clothesline. Ciampa hits Project Ciampa for the victory at 7:53. Opinions may vary, but I saw this match as a three-minute squash for Ciampa. I don’t think that Grizzly will ever be treated as a serious threat in ROH and he didn’t need to last eight minutes with the Embassy’s main player. *½
The Embassy attack Grizzly until Steve Corino makes the save. Corino tries to regain Grizzly’s trust but Mike Bennett and Brutal Bob interrupt. Corino tells Bennett that he’s not going to let him ruin his road to recovery. Bennett keeps talking trash. Corino yells “Kevin, I’m sorry” and tells Todd Sinclair to ring the bell…
Match #3: Steve Corino vs. Mike Bennett
They trade punches and Corino connects with a dropkick. He follows with a leg lariat and Bennett regroups with Brutal Bob. Corino gives chase and whips Bennett into the barricade. Bennett returns the favor but misses a plancha. Corino attempts a dive but Bennett blocks it with a dropkick. Bennett takes over after hitting a superplex. They exchange punches and Corino hits an STO. He follows with the Colby Shock and a powerslam. Corino connects with a northern lariat and the Eternal Dream for a nearfall. Bennett finds himself in an abdominal stretch and Corino uses his thumb! Corino is in disbelief as Todd Sinclair checks on Bennett. Brutal Bob sneaks in the ring and punches Corino with brass knuckles. Bennett covers for a two count. He hits two side slams for another nearfall. Bennett hits one more side slam for the win at 9:37. This match was a lot more fun than it had any right to be. The crowd’s hatred towards Bennett combined with their love of Corino helped matters and they worked well together in the ring. There was finally some progression with Corino’s character as he went back to his old ways by using his thumb. I’m willing to give this storyline a chance and see where it goes from here. **¼
Bennett and Brutal Bob attack Corino after the match. They wait for Grizzly Redwood to make the save but he doesn’t come out. Bennett lays out Corino with a piledriver and stands tall.
Match #4: Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. Kenny King and Rhett Titus
Jay and Titus waste no time getting heated with each other. Titus connects with a dropkick and tags out. King hits a springboard leg drop on Mark, who responds with a tiger suplex. The Briscoes biel King across the ring. Titus catches Mark with a slingshot shoulder tackle and takes out Jay with a dive to the floor. Mark repeatedly rams Titus’ head into the barricade, busting him open. The Briscoes work over Titus he drops Jay head-first across the top turnbuckle and makes the tag. King connects with a spin kick on Jay and an enzuigiri on Mark. He plants Jay with a spinebuster but gets caught by a gamenguiri from Mark. Mark hits an exploder on Titus and Jay adds a clothesline. Jay gives the crowd the middle finger and hits a falcon arrow on Titus. King connects with shotgun knees on the outside, sending Mark into the barricade. Jay hits a spinebuster on King. The Briscoes attempt the doomsday device, but Titus victory rolls Jay for the victory at 14:03. This was a nicely executed “double turn” where the All Night Express are now faces and the Briscoes are now heels. I feel as though both teams are in a better position, especially the All Night Express as crowds can now get behind and cheer them for their resiliency. These two teams delivered a worthwhile match that accomplished its goal while not giving away too much and creating intrigue for their upcoming feud. ***¼
The Briscoes attack the All Night Express after the match. Staff members attempt to break things up but the Briscoes lay them out. They attack Titus on the floor but King saves him with a dive to the outside. Enough staff members rush out to separate the two teams. The Briscoes throw chairs at the All Night Express and leave to a chorus of boos.
Match #5: El Generico vs. TJ Perkins
Perkins catches Generico off-guard with his speed and connects with a dropkick. Generico snaps off a few armdrags and connects with corner punches. Perkins responds with double knees and takes control on the mat. They exchange strikes and Generico hits a michinoku driver. He adds a blue thunder bomb but falls victim to a sit-out powerbomb. Perkins applies a sharpshooter but Generico is able to reach the bottom rope. Generico connects with a corner yakuza kick. Perkins escapes a brainbuster and connects with a pele kick. He tries a dive to the floor but Generico catches him and hits a brainbuster on the apron for the win at 7:30. Definitely an entertaining sprint but I’m surprised that the match only went eight minutes. A brainbuster on the apron is more than enough to end a match. However, I expected a more drawn-out beginning portion and a longer finishing stretch. This contest is still worth a watch but it doesn’t reach the heights that it could have had it been given more time. ***
Match #6: Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli vs. Homicide and Hernandez
Homicide snaps off a headscissors on Hero. Claudio and Hernandez trade shoulder blocks and clotheslines. Claudio lifts Hernandez for a delayed vertical suplex, but Hernandez immediately pops up and returns the favor. Hero suplexes Homicide onto Claudio’s knees and hits a senton. The Kings of Wrestling isolate him until he blocks a springboard european uppercut with an ace crusher and makes the tag. Hernandez cleans house and hits a spinebuster on Claudio, who impressively responds with the UFO. Claudio superplexes Hernandez and Hero follows with a moonsault. Hero connects with his stomp-roaring elbow combination on Hernandez but falls victim to a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Homicide hits rolling suplexes on Claudio but Hero interrupts with an elbow. Hernandez attempts a Border Toss on Claudio but Hero once again breaks things up with an elbow. Homicide hits a tornado DDT on Hero. Hernandez Border Tosses Homicide to the floor onto the Kings of Wrestling. Hernandez follows out with a dive onto Hero. In the ring, Hernandez powerbombs Hero and Homicide adds a splash from the top rope. A distraction by Sara Del Rey allows Hero to put on his loaded elbow pad. He misses an elbow and Homicide pulls off the elbow pad. The Kings of Wrestling catch Homicide with a bicycle kick-mafia kick combination. Claudio follows with a european uppercut for the victory at 17:12. There’s a certain novelty that comes with seeing Homicide and Hernandez team up once in awhile. The Kings of Wrestling were the right opponents for them, as there were some quality exchanges throughout, especially between Claudio and Hernandez. The match delivered as expected and I wish that Homicide could always be this motivated. ***½
Julius Smokes confronts Homicide in the back about his recent losing streak. He tells Homicide not to forget where he came from. Homicide says that it’s time to “open the gates of hell.”
Match #7: Pure Rules: Christopher Daniels vs. Davey Richards
Each participant receives three rope breaks. Also, closed fists will not be tolerated as a warning is given for the first offense and the second offense will result in a disqualification. Richards tries a few quick pin attempts to no avail. Daniels sneaks in a closed fist behind the referee’s back and back drops Richards across the apron. Daniels connects with a stiff forearm and a stomp out of the corner. He applies a triangle choke in the ropes, unintentionally causing Richards to use his first rope break. Daniels basically forces the referee to make that call. He applies another submission in the center of the ring and Richards eventually uses his second rope break. Richards comes back with a moonsault to the outside and connects with a missile dropkick in the ring. He follows with a handspring gamenguiri and hits a powerbomb. Richards synchs in a cloverleaf but Daniels reaches the bottom rope, using his first rope break. They trade rollups and Richards applies an ankle lock. Daniels has to use his second rope break. They exchange strikes and Richards connects with an Alarm Clock. Daniels answers with an STO and locks in a koji clutch. Richards counters into an ankle lock but Daniels rolls through and goes back to the koji clutch. Richards has to use his final rope break. Daniels misses an arabian press and Richards baseball slides him into the front row. Richards connects with a missile dropkick as Daniels is draped over the barricade. In the ring, Richards hits a superplex and transitions into a cross armbreaker. Daniels uses his final rope break and the ropes are now in play for both men. They battle on the apron where Daniels locks in a koji clutch. He eventually breaks the hold and tells the referee to count Richards out. Richards rolls back into the ring at twelve. Daniels hit a uranagi and applies the koji clutch in the ropes. Richards reverses into an ankle lock but gets pushed to the floor. They battle up top where Daniels synchs in a guillotine choke. Richards headbutts out of the hold and applies a cloverleaf. He connects with a flying double stomp. Richards terribly botches a shooting star press and lands midsection-first on the top rope. Daniels attempts Angel’s Wings but Richards reverses into a jackknife for the win at 21:46. The aspect of this match that I appreciated the most was how both men made the stipulation mean something. After the ropes came into play, Richards and Daniels tried numerous submissions in the ropes and displayed some creative counters to escape dire situations. Daniels also did a tremendous job at slowly planting the seeds for his future heel turn by finding a cheap way to cost Richards a rope break and settling for a countout victory at one point. Richards’ botch was scary and I understand why they had to go directly to the finish afterwards. However, the only thing truly missing from this match was a satisfying conclusion. Nevertheless, these two should be commended for working excellently with the stipulation and putting on a great match. ***¾
Daniels reluctantly shakes Richards’ hand and storms away in frustration.
Match #8: ROH World Title: Roderick Strong © vs. Eddie Edwards
Strong sends Truth Martini to the back. They trade control on the mat and find themselves at a stalemate. They block each other’s chops and attempt dropkicks at the same time. Edwards snaps off a hurricanrana and they trade chops. Strong’s chest is already bleeding. They exchange forearms and Strong locks in a crossface. Edwards connects with a flying knee strike and hits a TKO. He puts Strong in a tree of woe and finds success with a sliding dropkick. Strong avoids a flying double stomp and connects with an enzuigiri. He throws Edwards to the outside and slams him across the apron. Back in, Strong takes control. He tries a Gibson Driver on the apron but Edwards hurricanranas him to the floor. Edwards lands a dive to the outside and connects with a missile dropkick in the ring. Strong’s forehead is now busted open as well. Edwards comes off the middle rope with a lungblower and hits a sit-out gourdbuster. Strong answers with a side slam and connects with a superkick. He drops Edwards back-first across the top turnbuckle. They trade chops for a long time as the crowd starts becoming more vocal. Edwards connects with a superkick and a lariat. Strong rolls to the apron and eats another superkick. They battle up top and Edwards knocks Strong onto the apron. Edwards connects with two double stomps and hits a powerbomb. He transitions into the achilles lock. Truth Martini runs out and Edwards boots him off the apron. Strong sneaks in a rollup for a two count. He superkicks Edwards, hits a gutbuster, and connects with the Sick Kick for a nearfall. Strong follows with another superkick and hits his orange crush backbreaker for a two count. He locks in the Stronghold but Edwards reverses into an achilles lock. Strong tries to fight out but Edwards uses his leverage to pin him and become the fifteenth ROH World Champion at 25:35. The great thing about this match is that it was designed to make the already pro-Edwards crowd get behind him even more. Edwards had an answer for Strong’s offense early on and brought the fight to the champion. Strong wasn’t able to hit his signature moves until late in the finishing stretch, which generated some molten nearfalls. When Edwards won the match, the place exploded and it was truly a special moment. Everything about this match clicked, from the multiple strike exchanges to all of the action down the stretch. I’m definitely intrigued by an Eddie Edwards’ title reign, as he won the belt in the best match that I’ve seen from ROH so far this year. ****¼
Edwards is in complete shock as Cary Silkin congratulates him. Davey Richards enters the ring and hugs his tag team partner. Edwards celebrates as the show comes to an end.
Overall: Manhattan Mayhem IV is an extremely consistent show that sets up a lot of interesting developments moving forward. The Briscoes and the All Night Express had a solid match that featured a double turn and the start of their feud. Hernandez made his return to the promotion with a very good tag team match with Homicide against the Kings of Wrestling. Christopher Daniels began hinting at a new attitude during a great match against Davey Richards. Finally, in the main event, Eddie Edwards shocked everyone by winning the ROH World Title in an absolutely incredible contest. Simply a tremendous effort from Ring of Honor and this show earns a high recommendation.