Tuesday, April 19, 2016
One of the most highly anticipated Ring of Honor non-PPVs in recent memory was this one from the famous 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. There were some relatively big matches scheduled including an IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title match, triple threat tag team match and ROH World Title match.
I’m doing this as a bonus. It took place on the show but wasn’t part of the VOD and instead was uploaded for free on ROH’s YouTube page. There’s something about Veda Scott that I really like. Each girl was given some time to showcase their abilities. The crowd mostly cared about the women they see often (Hendrix, Leon and Scott). Kimura is odd but she held control for her team for a while. So much so that Veda left the ring to do some commentary. It was a nice little touch for her character. Eventually, the faces turned it around and Leon dove onto most of the girls outside. That left Sakai alone with Hendrix, who tried a Tombstone, only for Sakai to counter with a rollup. Decent little six woman tag here.
Kenny King and Rhett Titus reformed at All-Star Extravaganza last September. Castle had no opponent due to a lineup change that kept Kenny Omega out. I don’t know the exact reason but Castle’s promo about Kenny ducking him because of the ab workouts he’s been doing is delightful. He was going to host a talk show but got interrupted by ANX, leading to the handicap match. ANX were pissed that Philly booed them at Final Battle after their win. This was a fun short match fueled by the antics of Castle and the Boys, who were insanely over. The Boys got some shine and Castle did some of the heavy lifting. ANX seemed to have really settled into their heel roles. After taking out Castle, they put down the Boys with a backbreaker for one and a DDT for the other.
During the entrance of Alexander (where I just stuck staring at Veda), Gresham and Page rushed out to attack and start the grudge match. Gresham warred with Alexander on one side of the floor while Page and Whitmer went at it on the other. The outside brawling lasted a few minutes until things went inside and the bell finally rang. Once the match got started, the pace slowed and it seemed like all of the fun would come before it actually started. Thankfully, it picked up as Gresham and Page laid into Alexander with some big offense. Mr. Wrestling III on commentary slid Page a chair to even the odds with Whitmer who also had one. When Whitmer lost out there, he left the ring, leaving Alexander alone to take the Rite of Passage for the loss. Including the brawling before the bell, this was a lot of fun. Plus, Veda.
I didn’t know it until now, but the Briscoes and Cheeseburger is a team I needed in life. I’m still upset we never got vignettes of Toru Yano in Sandy Fork with the Briscoes when they were NEVER Champs in New Japan. War Machine and Moose came out with matching shoulder pads. Matt Taven joined commentary due to his knowledge of War Machine and the Briscoes. Cheeseburger opted to start against Moose and watching him try to overcome the size disadvantage was a blast. Mark took the heat for a while and the hot tag ended up going to Cheeseburger. His offense had little to no effect on their opponents, which was funny. The real hot tag came to Jay as expected. Then the match just broke down into chaos, capped by Moose spearing Cheeseburger for the victory. Everything involving Cheeseburger was a blast, while the match also allowed for a preview of Briscoes/War Machine. Good stuff.
I always love me some KUSHIDA. This was a rare Jr. Heavyweight Title match in the states. ACH was all business and didn’t adhere to the Code of Honor, while showing some brash tactics throughout the match. KUSHIDA was having fun early, doing a John Cena taunt and Stone Cold Stunner. ACH got on offense with a sick front flip over the guardrail, causing KUSHIDA to get serious. He worked the arm by wrenching it at every opportunity. It led to a Hoverboard Lock spot that I truly believed was the end of the match but ACH survived. ACH did a great job of selling the arm in the home stretch. Just when ACH looked like he would overcome it, he crashed and burned on Midnight Star, landing somewhat on the left arm that had been worked on. Not missing a beat, KUSHIDA kicked the arm and then applied a Hoverboard Lock. ACH was forced to tap out and KUSHIDA retained. This was great and the best performance from ACH that I have ever seen. KUSHIDA just continues to have great match after great match with pretty much anyone he steps in the ring with.
Hendrix got on the microphone before the match to talk about Truth Martini getting taken out by Donovan Dijak. She said that Daddiego and later Jay Lethal will set examples for what will happen to him. They nearly adhered to the Code of Honor but Daddiego just leveled him with a forearm. These guys tried but the crowd had next to no interest in what they were doing. Just as things started to pick up, Daddiego grabbed a steel chair and hit Ferrara in the back, resulting in the DQ. This was there to advance an angle.
Donovan Dijak and Prince Nana showed up. Dijak and Daddiego went toe to toe and had to be separated by officials. In the end, Taeler pulled Daddiego out of the ring so Dijak took out his frustrations on security.
Okay, this had my attention. Four of my favorite guys in all of ROH, in the midst of two separate feuds and going at it in a tag match. Tons of accolades among these guys as Strong and Cole are former World and TV Champions each, while reDRagon are three time Tag Champions. This got off to a slower start than I expected but it made sense. The heels did their best to avoid their current rivals until the match moved outside, where it got physical. Fish got a hot tag after Strong and Cole, being the less experienced team, had a miscue that saw Strong hurt Cole’s shoulder. Once reDRagon got going, it was a thing of beauty. They truly are the best tag team on the planet. We saw a lot of submissions, leading to Strong putting Fish in the Stronghold while Cole had Kyle in the figure four. That got turned around into stereo ankle locks from reDRagon. Cole stopped Chasing the Dragon but got put in a sleeper hold. Strong broke it with a knee to Kyle’s skull, earning the three. A really solid tag team match that built to the battle between guys that strongly dislike each other that it needed to be.
It is so great to see the Motor City Machine Guns together again. This was apparently their first official match back together in ROH. Though they play complete heel assholes everywhere, the Young Bucks are very popular. The Addiction had no problem picking up the slacking and heeling it up throughout this match. The Bucks did their thing and ran wild to the crowd’s liking. They brought out “Broomega” to make up for no Kenny Omega and even did the Terminator dive for him by tossing the broom out onto the Addiction. Nick then followed with a dive. The treat of this match was the Guns back in action. They didn’t miss a beat, looking like no time had passed since they last teamed. The Bucks and Guns worked together to take out the Addiction for a good chunk of the bout. The Addiction would win by doing their own version of the Meltzer Driver, with Daniels hitting the Best Moonsault Ever with it. Great finish here. The match itself was the spot barrage that you’d expect. It was mostly fun, though the constant “SUPERKICK” shouting is always so grating.
Sydal is one half of the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Champions here. Commentary hyped up Jay Lethal believing that he was the top champion in the world, though they made sure to mention Kazuchika Okada. I mean, ROH does bow at the feet of NJPW so that makes sense. They worked at a good pace early on, with neither guy gaining a clear advantage. Lethal gets his character so well, knowing the little things to do to get under his opponent’s skin. Hendrix proved to be an asset as she distracted Sydal by pulling him into motor boating her. I’m not kidding. That allowed Lethal to hit his nice suicide dive. Sydal turned it around and got in a fair amount of offense. He had a few close calls before going up for the Shooting Sydal Press. Lethal got up and shoved him off the top, sending him through a table. He beat the count back in, busted out a reverse rana and attempted the Sydal Press again. Lethal got his feet up and followed with the Lethal Injection, retaining the gold. Like Sydal’s shot at the PWG Title a few months earlier, this was good but never flirted with greatness.
Overall: You may not find many other shows this consistent. Outside of the Ferrara/Daddiego match, everything was good. The opener was fun, the tag grudge did what it needed to, the six man tag had awesome Cheeseburger moments and the triple threat tag was what you’d expect. I enjoyed the reDRagon tag as it advanced some angles and the main event was solid though unspectacular. Clearly though, the must see part of the show was the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title match. I’d recommend this show and if you can only see one thing, make sure it’s that match.