The show began with tag team action as Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, took on the Future Shock team of Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly in a Gateway to Honor re-match.
I’m guessing this was after Haas and Benjamin turned heel, mainly because they were both wearing black and bad mouthing the locals.
There was also a distinct difference as far as their style was concerned. Although they used some sound technical moves early on they often attacked their foes with punches and kicks.
Both Cole and O’Reilly took turns in the punching bag role before the mass brawl, and when Cole inadvertently clobbered his partner in the corner it was all over soon afterwards as Haas and Benjamin took Cole down with a double powerbomb for the pin.
The four corner survival match featured the Embassy’s Tommaso Ciampa, Andy Ridge, Mike Bennett and Grizzly Redwood.
Fast-paced action was the order of the day in this one. Resident bad guys Bennett and Ciampa teamed up early on and pulled off some great double team moves.
It was obvious that the relationship wasn’t going to last though, and when they began to argue about who was going to get the cover they came to blows, signalling the start of the four way brawl.
Ridge and Redwood put together some good exchanges here, but Bennett and Ciampa looked better by a country mile, and after a ton of great action Ciampa eventually took the pin after taking Redwood down with his Project Ciampa finisher.
After a non-violent confrontation between Kevin Steen and Steve Corino it was Steen’s turn to compete as he went up against Kenny King in the first special challenge match.
Steen began his second stint of the evening by going after the injured Rhett Titus at ringside. This instigated a brief brawl around the ringside area before the action eventually made it into the ring.
It was there that we saw how much Steen has been missed from ROH. Although there were a couple of dodgy moments he put in a sound and sadistic performance, and with the aid of the always dependable King they put on a very good match.
At one point it looked as if Steen was going to get disqualified when he went for the banned package piledriver after he’d taken King out with a powerbomb. King made a slight comeback after the argument with the official, but it led to nothing as Steen stopped him from coming off the top rope before taking him down with the F5 for the winning pin.
That wasn’t the end of Steen’s work though. With King out of the way he soon took his sadistic tendencies up a notch when he attacked Titus and put him in the Sharpshooter, doing further damage to his already injured knee until King came back into the ring and sent him running for cover with one of his partner’s crutches.
Special Challenge Match #2 saw Michael Elgin, accompanied by Truth Martini, taking on the soon to be departed Chris Hero.
Before the match began Shane Hagadorn came down to the ring and grabbed the microphone, telling Hero that he had his back. Hero responded by saying that he appreciated the offer but wanted to go it alone.
This was a highly entertaining affair. Hero began his night’s work by going through the fitness routine he used in the early days of his ROH tenure. It was annoying then by strangely compelling now.
From there these two put on a hard fought back and forth battle, and with Martini not interfering for once these two brought out all the big moves.
As the time limit approached we saw numerous near falls from both men until Elgin took Hero out with his sit-down powerbomb for the winning pin.
It was then that Shane Hagadorn returned to the ring to verbally berate his former charge. Hero stood silently as Hagadorn tore him a new one. Eventually he had enough, taking him down with his rolling elbow strike and laying him out in the middle of the ring.
Truth Martini made a quick return in the next match, leading his client Roderick Strong into a no holds barred match. But with Eddie Edwards out of action with a staph infection Adam Cole stepped up to the plate to take his place.
Before the match began Martini goaded Cole, telling him that because there were no rules he’d be helping his buddy out. He then challenged Cole to shut him up, something he did within seconds with a super kick to the jaw.
As for the match it was good, real good. We’ve been used to seeing Strong the great technical wrestler over the years, but in this match we saw Strong the fighter.
These two went at it hammer and tongs, holding nothing back and mixing in some hard chair shots with the great exchanges.
Cole put in the performance of his life, certainly the best of his ROH career. He was more than able to match his more illustrious opponent.
Later on when it looked like Strong was in trouble his stable mate Michael Elgin made his second appearance of the evening and attacked Cole. Then, to everyone’s surprise it was Eddie Edwards and not Kyle O’Reilly who came out to make the save, brawling with the unbreakable one all the way backstage.
Within moments Cole looked like he was going to get the win after putting Strong through a couple of chairs, only for a now-recovered Martini to pull the referee out of the ring as he made his count.
Seconds later it was all over as Strong took him down with one of his many backbreaker variations for the three count.
Afterwards the faithful gave Cole a standing ovation, and rightfully so.
The penultimate encounter saw Jigsaw and Hallowicked taking on Tag Team Champions Jay and Mark Briscoe in a Proving Ground match.
Just in case you haven’t been reading my reviews the stipulations for this one were simple. The titles weren’t on the ling, but if the masked duo either won or lasted until the time limit they’d get a shot at the gold.
The high drama in this one made for a highly entertaining encounter, one that had a very interesting twist.
The match started off normally as both teams put together some great sequences, with the masked duo looking particularly good.
But when Jigsaw was stomped through the ringside table the brothers looked content to take the count out win, only for Jigsaw to make it back into the ring as the referee almost finished his count.
It was then that the drama was turned up a notch as Mike Quackenbush led a contingent of Chikara stars to ringside to support their comrades. Naturally this didn’t sit too well with them boys, and after they tried to handicap Hallowicked by turning his mask around, temporarily blinding him, we saw the inevitable ringside confrontation as Jay turned his attention to masked female star Saturyne.
All hell broke loose while the referee was trying to help Hallowicked. Jay threw Saturyne into the ring. Fire Ant tried to save her, and amidst the confusion Jigsaw connected with a super kick before taking the winning pin with a roll-up.
The boys were none too pleased as they told the Chikara gang they’d be getting their title shot at the ROH/Chikara double header the following April. Ultramantis Black replied for his team, basically telling the Briscoes that they should respect the traditions of Chikara’s masked wrestlers.
The main event saw TV Champion Jay Lethal challenging Davey Richards for the World title.
For nearly 30 minutes these two champions put on an encounter worthy of it’s placing on the card.
It was one of those hard hitting back and forth affairs you just couldn’t take your eyes off. This was, by far, the best performance Lethal’s put on since his return to the company.
As for Richards, what can I say about him that I haven’t said before? The man’s done it again. No matter how many times I see him in action I never tire of his performances. They really have been the best thing about Ring of Honor for a few years now.
These two ingredients made for an awesome match. There were so many great sequences it would take far too long to list them here. We also saw countess false finishes and attempted interference from Roderick Strong, and unlike other title matches in other promotions it actually felt like Lethal could pull it out of the proverbial bag and win the whole thing.
Sadly it was never meant to be. Lethal, showing the heart of a lion, took everything Richards had to give, and then some. The champion was finally able to put him away with a series of kicks, getting the winning pin after Lethal slumped to the mat.
Only one bonus feature on this release with the Briscoes giving their thoughts on the city of brotherly love.
In conclusion - I think you can probably guess how this review is going to end.
Despite the rumours that Ring of Honor are on the verge of collapse again they’re still more than capable of putting on tremendous shows, and this release is a fine example of that.
All seven matches delivered big time, and once again I’m left in a quandary about what my match of the night is. As the old saying goes they left the best for last, so I’ll give that particular award to Richards and Lethal.
With that being said there’s only one more thing to do here, and that’s to give ROH Homecoming 2012 the big thumbs up.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. ROH Homecoming 2012 is available to buy online at http://www.rohwrestling.com/.