Joe Babinsack looks at ROH Manhattan Mayhem

Manhattan Mayhem V
Ring of Honor
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
A lot of things stand out on this ROH Event: great tag team action, the continuation of the ROH World Title Tournament (minus the awesome graphics), a throw-back series – an actual program of sorts – between two wrestlers with a conclusive finish, the ever-present ROH style, and the ever-present need to label every match on the DVD, and also one of the best introductions of new talent in a long time.
Silas Young vs Adam Page
Kevin Kelly calls it the rubber match, but I call it a program, and a great thing.
I’ll set aside the reality that Prince Nana is back as a Talent Scout and he feels that Silas Young is a young and up-and-comer, instead of a former AAW Champion out of Chicago with an impressive run in that promotion.
Cole is very much the young up-and-comer, by the way.
It’s a solid opener, ending with the Pee Gee Wara Plunge, which has never been a favorite finisher of mine, but ironically it looked awesome here and was sold greatly by the announce crew, even though there’s no excuse for not giving a name to a much-used finisher.
ACH & Tadarius Thomas vs Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander
These four are the near future of Ring of Honor. They bring a new demographic to the promotion (which is well spotlighted from the camera) and a new level of talent. ACH, as always, shows that finding new, great talent isn’t the problem with this industry – knowing what to do when it is found certainly is.
As tag teams, both units are worthy of runs. As individuals, any of these four are solid roster players.
There was one series of spots that was clumsy all around for these talents, but ACH can dive like no one else in this business (and I’ve seen plenty of the best). C&C Wrestle Factory is gelling as an excellent team (look, double-team moves and most of all with their confidence) , and their opponents have raw, unique and potential talent that will put them on the map.
Matt Taven vs Mike Mondo
There’s something about the Proving Ground matches that I just don’t get, but also see the potential of the concept. It’s a step better than a non-title match, but to me, if the opponent isn’t an unknown, what’s the point?
The Hoopla Hotties and Truth Martini are the “It” entourage these days, and even dialed back a little here, are a bit too outrageous, but hey, it’s different and in a PG era, it’s not mainstream and Taven is one of several potential break-out stars on this roster.
Taven’s heel approach is curious – the heel tactics don’t exactly work, but it definitely gets the crowd into it. In the end, there’s nothing at all wrong with a hot chick doing a hurancan-rana behind the referee’s back.
The Forever Hooligans vs The Young Bucks
This was the first of the two feature tag team matches, and with the New Japan talent (the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champs Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov), and the awesome heel attitudes of the Jackson brothers and the slightly different style, it realized the almost to typical “This is Awesome!” chants.
Everyone knows that the Midnight Express are the heels to the Rock-n-Roll Express, but the Young Bucks are the true anti-Rock-n-Rollers: they are really brothers, they are both super-talented (in the era they work), and they have this level of heel heat that seems so natural (where Morton & Gibson had innate babyface heat).
The spot-style of the Jacksons is by no means the hot-tag approach of the RnR Express, and there’s a lot to gripe about, but how can anyone see the Jacksons in action and not understand the act?
The Hooligans have their own spots, and both teams played off them, which provided a good change-up to the typical ROH style.
As heels, the Bucks caved a bit on the hand-shakes, but that was an aspect to this match that was well played by Kelly and Nana.
The interlude with Mar-shall Law was excellent for me, but not exactly for the fans in the opening minutes of RD Evans’ promo. Evans is a CHIKARA stand-out, and finally seems to be getting his due. Mar-shall has a weird   vibe – he’s not a jobber by look, and has some promise, but in a promotion that has Michael Elgin, Kevin Steen, Tommaso Ciampa and Michael Bennet, where can he possibly fit in?
We get a response to Evans’ challenge from Prince Nana, and the first impression is the Psycho Clowns, but well-dressed ones. While there’s something inexplicable about touting guys brought in by the Talent Scout as “Outlaws”, there’s no mistaking the talent of Homicide and Eddie Kingston, and the Hammerstein Ballroom crowd is much appreciative.
The match is good, but it goes back to the questioning as to why every match is a well fought battle.
And while I’m nitpicking, not sure why Kingston gets the references to being a Champion in “other places” and eventually the Grand Master reference, but Silas Young does not. Furthermore, if you’re booking Champions or former Champions of other promotions, why aren’t they in the ROH World Title Tournament???
Three Quarter Final Tournament ensue:
Michael Bennett vs Tommaso Ciampa
No Maria, which is explained in commentary. Ciampa here sells (very, very well) his surgically reconstructed knee, which is good, bad and inexplicable.
Good: Ciampa selling.
Bad: Ciampa is the “Sicilian Psychopath” begging off like a chickensh*t heel. That shouldn’t be his character, even if he attempts a quick small-package off the setup at one point.
Inexplicable: Why can’t Ciampa lose a Tournament match because his opponent takes quick and full advantage of a surgically repaired knee? That sets up a revenge match and also gives Bennett a more dangerous reputation.
Because of the selling, the match feels a lot different and better.
Kevin Steen vs Roderick Strong
Watching these – two despite the ROH house style – is well worth the time. I think both guys are strong at the basics and great at getting good matches out of anyone, so against each other there’s much to expect, and little disappointment.
It’s hard to complain about either being in the Tournament, nor with this well worked battle.
Karl Anderson vs Michael Elgin
The New Japan attitude made this match awesome.
From the opening bell, Elgin and Anderson were trying to destroy each other, and not put on a high spot festival, and that flavored the work tremendously. Sure, it went long, but Elgin should be a feature player in this company: he has a look, had the fans behind him and has the understanding of styles to be able to work well with high-flyers and wrestlers and strong men.
Yeah, I know those are antiquated concepts.
Anderson is a contender (it could be said a little more strongly) for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, so he’s a great add for the Tournament. If you call it a World belt, then it should have worldly talent.
ROH World Tag Team Title
The American Wolves vs reDRagon
Kevin Kelly explains the DR again, which is that insider stuff come to wrestling reality – if it needs explained …. Well, where does that gripe end?
That being griped, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish are an excellent team, and Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards deserve a hell of a lot more accolades and respect than what has been given them. Richards is this generation’s Dynamite Kid, and while there is no platform at the mainstream for his talent as a singles wrestler, this is a guy that can seize the stage if given the opportunity: His passion, talent and understanding of the sport is that good. Edwards has more of the indie style and body shape but in a world where former ROH World Champions are being given opportunity, he can also shine.
The establishment of O’Reilly and Fish is very interesting.
That’s where I love the “DR” reference, and with O’Reilly as a former protégé and Fish as the guy who paid his dues around the world, and came into ROH gunning for the top. The two have formed a fundamentally sound, wrestling based team in an era where the high flying types get more of the accolades.
O’Reilly shows the promise of a young Von Erich, and Fish shows that being all but a jobber in EVOLVE and Dragon Gate and in Japan doesn’t mean that such guys can’t be later pushed. One can readily surmise that Bobby Fish learned his way, all the while using a curiously ironic name (Fish = Jobber in some circles of wrestling vernacular to avoid the hypocrisy of my earlier griping).
Wherever Richards & Edwards end up, their legacy is both waiting to be written, and already established in Ring of Honor, with these two guys who aren’t just pretending to walk the walk, but who just cemented their own claims to the ROH World Tag Team Championship with another victory over two of the best of the best.
With the fifth Manhattan Mayhem, Ring of Honor again establishes its claim to excellent wrestling and a vastly talented roster. As part of the Tournament to crown a new Heavyweight Championship, because of the great wrestling, and in terms of developing new stars, this is one DVD that shouldn’t be missed.

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