Jay Lethal and Kyle O’Reilly Wrestle to a Time Limit Draw for Lethal’s ROH TV Title
Lethal and O’Reilly each had a chance to cut a taped promo before this main event match. Lethal and Truth Martini, as usual, came off as dominant, loathsome heels. O’Reilly, who rarely speaks from the heart, was more engaging than usual and showed that he’s closer to true main event status than many would speculate.
Although the match started with nearly 35 minutes left in the TV broadcast, O’Reilly went straight for his Armageddon armbreaker. Lethal could not break the hold, but forced O’Reilly to let it go by rolling into a pin. O’Reilly transitioned into a headlock that he worked snugly for almost five minutes through several attempts at escape by Lethal.
When Lethal finally freed himself and took control of the offense, he continued to favor the arm that O’Reilly attacked at the start of the match. Every time O’Reilly found an opening, he went back at Lethal’s left arm with a wide variety of maneuvers. He even locked Lethal in Armageddon in the ropes, only for Martini to smash him with the Book of Truth when the referee had his view blocked by Lethal.
Lethal remained meticulously in control until O’Reilly caught him with one big knee strike. He grabbed Lethal in a guillotine choke, but Lethal countered it with the Lethal Combination to escape and get a near fall. Lethal took his time as he hit an inverted DDT while O’Reilly sold the significant damage he had withstood.
Lethal hit Hail to the King and tried to follow it with a superplex, only for O’Reilly to counter it with an armbreaker from the top rope to the canvas. The fans fully supported O’Reilly while he and Lethal traded wild right hands. O’Reilly could barely stay on his feet, but he hit Ax and Smash, a big rebound clothesline, and a brainbuster to get a two count. Despite Lethal’s tap out, O’Reilly put him straight into another arm submission.
Although Lethal fought out, O’Reilly gathered enough strength to apply Armageddon once again. With Lethal ready to tap out, the bell rang and the match was declared a time limit draw. O’Reilly incited a “Five More Minutes” chant from the crowd, but Lethal rejected them when the fans started to chant “Man Up” toward Jay Briscoe.
When Lethal left in anger, Briscoe- still smarting from his match with War Machine earlier in the taping- replaced him and issued his own impromptu challenge to O’Reilly. Before they could engage, Lethal returned to the ring, clocked Briscoe with his TV Title, and posed over the ROH Champion to end the show.
The match worked on several levels. Above all, the wrestling was a thing of beauty. O’Reilly’s persistent arm attack is a blast from the past and it weaves a thread through his matches. Meanwhile, both wrestlers took their time to sell the significant damage the other inflicted. The ending allowed O’Reilly to look like more of a singles star than he ever has in ROH. This finish is a perfect example of why the time limit draw has been the focus of so many Going Over Podcasts.
The interaction between Lethal and Briscoe was also very artful. It has been clear for months that they were destined to square off eventually, but this was a subtle way for their paths to finally cross. Lethal’s insistence that his TV Title is the only one worth anything in ROH creates a natural storyline. The fact that ROH took the time for the rivalry to develop semi-organically rather than having the two champions open the show by screaming at each other makes the rivalry more compelling.
Michael Elgin def. Caprice Coleman
Coleman is a steady hand. He works consistently solid matches, fans are always interested to see him, and he does not complain over the fact that he loses consistently. On the other hand, he suffers from the same syndrome that afflicts Kane in WWE- it’s so obvious that he’s on TV to do a job that there is no anticipation over the outcome of the match. Even so, every wrestling promotion needs guys like Coleman on the roster matches precisely like this one. Elgin looked strong and got a key win to reassert his dominance.
Coleman had his moments in the match. He hit a springboard moonsault to the floor to disorient Elgin. He followed it up with a flying leg drop into a pin on Elgin, but it was not enough to keep him down for three. Elgin turned the tide with a gigantic clothesline and finished the match with a buckle bomb and a sit-down powerbomb to secure the pin.
While it appears that Elgin may be on his way back into a title feud, I would like to see him become enmeshed in a more personal feud with a top babyface. A series of quality matches with someone like Roderick Strong would help to alleviate the lingering feeling that Elgin is constantly thrust to the top of the card.