Friday, August 28, 2015
This is definitely one of the more interesting settings I’ve ever seen for a Ring of Honor show, taking place outdoors at a baseball stadium, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. The first shot we get is Taeler Hendrix throwing out some kind of first pitch to Steve Corino, who is dressed as a cow.
Side note, this will be more of a recap than a play-by-play review.
For some reason, Christopher Daniels is dressed as a general. The Kingdom’s theme rules. Daniels doesn’t follow the code of honor, so Adam Cole kicks his ass in a hot start. Daniels wisely targets Cole’s recently injured left shoulder, giving us the story for the match. It’s really well done work that looks vicious at times. Steve Corino, in his cow outfit, spends the duration of the match making some cow based puns and is highly entertaining. My favorite spot probably comes as Cole kicks out of a move, only for Daniels to turn it right into a Koji Clutch. I’ve always loved how seamless Daniels’ offense can be. Cole starts the comeback, which works well because he’s so over. He hits a German suplex and shining wizards for two before applying a figure four. Out comes Chris Sabin, but his distraction backfires as he eats a superkick. Cole won with a Brainbuster onto the knee, which is a sweet finish. This worked very well as an opener. It got the crowd excited, didn’t overdo anything, smartly played into Adam Cole’s shoulder injury and the right guy went over. I suspect Cole is going to be Jay Lethal’s challenger for the ROH World Title at Final Battle, so all singles wins for him are good. I could be wrong though.
Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer was the Killer Elite Squad and they are the reigning GHC Tag Team Champions. There is no code of honor and the teams instead brawl. I like that Davey Boy Smith Jr. has done his best to add some MMA stuff to his offense. As a corner bronco buster is missed, Steve Corino steals the show with a line of “that will hurt your lower ding ding.” Commentary sells that War Machine is a hot commodity because NJPW and Pro Wrestling NOAH are both negotiating with them. That’s a good way to put them over. We get some classic tag formula that works well. K.E.S. nearly win a few times, which I think a lot of people expected considering they hold the gold. War Machine survives and hits Fallout to win. A good tag team match here. War Machine brings something different, due to their size, than the rest of the ROH tag team division. The Killer Elite Squad is a good team for them to have a badass match with, which is what we got here.
Judging by the post-match interaction between the teams, War Machine shouts that they are coming to NOAH and want a shot at the GHC Tag Team Titles.
The two guys to get the unlucky draw and start are Adam Page and Dalton Castle. Page cuts a promo on Jay Briscoe again beforehand. Castle is insanely over. His antics are the highlight of this first battle for sure. Page does a good job of drawing heat by mocking Castle. Their battle is really good as the crowd is into everything and there are some good near falls. Castle advances, but Page attacks him, making him easy picking for Frankie Kazarian. Even with Dalton down, Chris Sabin cheats for Kazarian. Castle is able to reverse a victory roll and beat Kazarian. Kazarian and Sabin then attack Castle. Poor guy. Next up is Silas Young, who is in a feud with Castle. He runs out to cover but Castle kicks out. He hits his finisher to get rid of him. Out now is Bushwhacker Luke. That is not a typo. He is knocked out of the ring and then just does his Bushwhacker walk around the bases with a huge grin. “You still got it” chants make me laugh as he is counted out. MOOSE! MOOSE! For being so new to the business, Moose is pretty damn good. He puts down Silas to advance. Truth Martini’s Donovan Dijak is next out. They do a good job in playing up that the big Dijak is a threat to Moose. Both of them get to showcase how agile they are for being their size. After the managers chase each other to the back, Moose puts him down. Cedric Alexander is next, but instead, we just get Veda Scott. Cedric sneaks in while she distracts and lay out Moose with the wrench again to eliminate him. Watanabe is out now. I must again praise commentary as they mention Alexander having won a gauntlet match previously. After a good back and forth, Moose appears again, which distracts Cedric. Shortly after, Watanabe picks up the win to Veda’s dismay. I honestly can’t think of a way that this could have been booked better. Page and Dalton was a good match but everything after made sense. They advanced programs (Dalton/Young and Cedric/Moose), while keeping everyone strong. The winner may have been a bit of a surprise too, which is cool.
Matt Taven takes Steve Corino’s cow head and humps it. I’ve never enjoyed the work of the Young Bucks, so I may be mixed on this. As you should expect, this is very fast paced. While I’ve commended Steve Corino and commentary throughout the night, every single time he shouts SUPERKICK PARTY, I die a little inside. ACH steals the show by jumping over Maria on the apron with a ridiculous dive outside. Another rather fun spot sees Roppongi run the bases before hitting a knee on Sydal. The Kingdom try it but it leads to the most obvious of superkicks. The match ends after a ton of high spots. The Bucks hit More Bang for your Buck, followed by an ACH 450 splash and Sydal’s Shooting Star Press. It was a giant spotfest, and those can definitely be fun. However, I feel like each time I see the Young Bucks, I dislike them more and more. Anyway, outside of the running the bases stuff, this was pretty much every Bucks/RPG Vice like spotfest that you get. Fun, but nothing groundbreaking.
During the G1 Climax, these two had a really good match and I hope for more of the same here. Goto’s theme is one of my favorites. Similar to that match, this is just two badass dudes hammering away on each other in a fun manner. Elgin is a very polarizing figure but he got super over in New Japan, doing things like his major stalling suplex, which he does for more than thirty seconds here. In a fun contrast to the G1 match, Goto got in more of the offense here. Probably a good way to get him more over in the States, like how Elgin got more in the G1 to get him more over with Japan. They built to a good finish, with both guys getting in some higher impact moves as time went on. Goto wins clean with the Shouten Kai. A strong ROH debut for Hirooki Goto. While both of their matches have been good, and were on about the same level, neither has wowed me. Still though, Michael Elgin seems to be rejuvenated and it’s leading to some of the best work of his career. I honestly found the result to be a surprise since Goto beat him in the G1. I figure Elgin would win here and set up an Intercontinental Title match down the line. Still, a good old fashioned hard hitting battle.
More New Japan gold here as KUSHIDA is the reigning IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion. Alex Shelley and his old partner, Chris Sabin, had some of my favorite tag team matches ever against the Briscoes back in 2008, so I’m looking forward to this. I like this starting with the Briscoes being the aggressive guys and the Time Splitters using their incredibly quickness. At one point early on, Shelley has his two front teeth knocked out. ROH would pay for them to be fixed, which was cool of them. KUSHIDA does the hoverboard lock, which gets a major pop but doesn’t stay applied for long. Jay is able to win it with the Jay Driller. All in all, this wasn’t on the level of those old Briscoes/MCMG matches but I didn’t expect it to. The Briscoes did a good job in the role of hard hitting team, while the Time Splitters were good as the fast paced guys. Alex Shelley deserves credit for his efforts with the broken teeth. It started a bit slow, but really picked up once the Time Splitters got going.
Kazuchika Okada is the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion. This is Mr. ROH against arguably the top dog in NJPW, outside of Hiroshi Tanahashi. This starts off rather slow, but in a good way as Roderick Strong wants to dictate the pace. When they go outside, he hits a back suplex onto the guardrail, channeling his heel persona from PWG. Roddy does a good job throughout in using the entire environment with his offense. Roderick Strong did a great job in having the Rainmaker scouted, managing to avoid and counter it several times. One of them leads to a sick kick for a very close near fall. It takes two Tombstones but the Rainmaker is yet again countered. After nearly four attempts, the Rainmaker finally puts down Strong. A great battle between two of the very best in the world. Roderick Strong dominated at points, playing the guy that was doing any and everything to try and win to earn a future title shot. Strong showing heel tendencies was definitely interesting as I usually prefer Okada to play that role. Commentary hypes that Strong could be in line for a future shot anyway. I like him having the Rainmaker scouted and that it took so very long to finally hit it. Very smart stuff.
The crowd absolutely loves Shinsuke Nakamura. The contrasting personalities of Jay Lethal and Nakamura makes for an interesting dynamic early. Lethal is a dick to him, so Nakamura doesn’t tag and lets reDRagon kick his ass for a bit. Hilariously, Nakamura makes up for this by offering Lethal a hug. Following that, the oddball pairing start working better as a unit. They made sure to showcase that Kyle O’Reilly is a viable threat to Lethal considering his upcoming title shot. Truth Martini tries to get Nakamura to cheat but he declines, throwing the book to the pitcher’s mound. Nakamura then counters Kyle’s rebound lariat into his gorgeous armbar. Lethal nails the Lethal Injection on Fish to win. Fun is the best word to describe this match. The dysfunction between Jay Lethal and Shinsuke Nakamura was highly entertaining and, considering they are two of the best singles wrestlers in the world against, in my opinion, the best tag team in the world, this delivered. Awesome match that sets the stage for All-Star Extravaganza and maybe even a future Nakamura/Lethal match.
After the match, Shinsuke Nakamura shakes hands with reDRagon and goes to do the same with Jay Lethal, but Lethal disrespects him by declining and walking off.
All in all, I feel like this was a great show. Nothing on the entire card was bad and I gave everything at least three stars. That’s impressive. The final two matches are the best but there is seriously nothing really worthy of skipping. It’s one of the easiest shows I’ve watched all year and would only be slightly behind TakeOver as the best show from the big wrestling weekend of the summer.