Monday, March 13, 2017
After the debacle that was Global Wars last May, I gave up on ROH. I only caught a select few matches and lost all interest in the company. Since then, the company has lost several stars (including Kyle O’Reilly, who I love) and put the title on a guy I don’t think is all that good (Adam Cole). However, I’ve heard good things about this show and had several requests to do this review, so I’ll give it a shot
Right off the bat, I did like the opening video. It showcased the better days of ROH and the history of the company. The commentary trio is Kevin Kelly, Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana. Riccaboni seems poised to take over as the main play-by-play guy when Kelley leaves.
Kenny King is now part of a group called the Rebellion. Jay White is from the New Japan Dojo. I miss him on NJPW shows. They worked some solid early back and forth before a few kicks came off looking awkward. White busted out Kokeshi, getting a pop for the Tomoaki Honma tribute. After a King dive outside, White fired off stuff inside before taking out Coleman with a suicide dive. More back and forth inside led to a strike exchange. They did battle up top and White hit a cross body. King rolled through but got pulled into a small package. This was a solid way to start the show. Both guys put in a good effort and White is one of the best at kicking off a show.
These matches are commonplace on ROH cards. Page and Kazarian represented the Bullet Club. Right from the start, it was action. Cheeseburger was too weak for his dive outside to take out three guys, so Martinez followed with a sick somersault to finish the job. It was impressive as hell for a guy his size. He got to play the dominant role at times, as it took several guys to take him down. Each guy was given a chance to get their stuff in and the pace never slowed. At the end of another wild flurry, Kazarian won with the Ace of Spades on Cheeseburger, earning a TV Title shot. My expectations were exceeded. It was wild, the fans were loud for each guy and everyone brought it. Fun stuff.
They hyped this as a “top contender’s match”. Lethal’s entrance pyro looks so bad. If you don’t have the budget to make it look good, simply don’t do it. Fish quickly grew tired of mat work and just kicked the shit out of Lethal, sending him outside. Lethal kind of returned the favor and cockily held the ropes open for Fish to get back in. Fish wanted none of that and kicked Lethal’s leg before avoiding a suicide dive and sending him into the guardrail. They clearly had each other well scouted. Fish took the opportunity to attack Lethal’s chest. Wisely, Lethal only tried another suicide dive towards the aisle, where there was no guardrail. He did get dumped on his head inside as the match got more intense. Lethal, again showing brains, held the ropes to block a Fish move and quickly hit a cutter. Somehow, Fish countered an elbow drop into the Fish Hook but Jay survived. Fish kept avoiding Lethal Injection, including an awesome one where he caught Jay in the Fish Hook. Again, Jay survived and they went into a strike exchange before the Lethal Injection hit to end it. Awesome match. It felt like it mattered and the stuff they did was smart. Working the chest is different and they organically made sure it made sense, playing off Fish having Lethal well scouted. No bullshit here. Just two of the company’s top guys in a straight up wrestling match with a clean finish.
I have a soft spot for Castle and the Boys. The Kingdom are the exact opposite. Maria Kanellis was the only good thing about the original group and it’s now led by bland Matt Taven. Dalton and the Boys ran wild early, hitting twin dives and getting the crowd going. The Kingdom regrouped and took over, beating on the Boys. The champs worked some mildly interesting tandem offense. The Boys used twin magic to make the hot tag to Dalton. He did his thing before the Boys got in trouble. They may have rushed the finish because O’Ryan broke his shin on an Asai moonsault that landed on the guardrail. The other Kingdom members won with an assisted powerbomb. The weakest thing on the show so far, but still a bit of fun.
Other than wanting to see if Christopher Daniels would win the World Title, this was what I wanted to see most on the card. Rush earned the show with a win over Scurll in a 2/3 falls match. He used his speed to overwhelm Scurll early, seemingly having his number. Scurll was as villainous as ever, nailing every character moment. He targeted Rush’s hand and arm. One spot stood out when Marty went for his signature finger break and everyone went quiet. Lio stopped it with a slap that sounded brutal thanks to the silence. Marty continued the assault on the arm, but Rush again had him scouted and countered some of his best shots. Rush’s offense worked, until he tried lifting Scurll and his arm gave out. They threw bombs before Scurll applied the chicken wing. Rush escaped with a cradle for two and then kicked out of a piledriver! Lio nailed Rush Hour but it wasn’t enough. Frustrated, he went to use the TV Title as a weapon. He thought better of it and hit Dragon’s Claw for a near fall that most fans bit on. Lio set up chairs outside and looked to superplex Scurll there. Scurll got free, hit Tower of London and put the chicken wing back on. He also removed Lio’s shoulder tape and delivered elbows to retain. Best Lio match since the Lethal one last year. Scurll looked like a complete badass, while Lio showed a ton of fire as the underdog babyface. Both men delivered and played their roles well. Lio threw everything he had at Scurll but it wasn’t enough. Marty is so great working with athletic high flyers.
This was originally supposed to see the Briscoes against the Killer Elite Squad, but Lance Archer is on the shelf. DBS teaming with War Machine is just odd considering he’s in Suzuki-Gun. The six men brawled at the bell but it quickly calmed down to a normal tag. The babyface team had fun with the WAZZUP spot and getting the tables. War Machine took over and looked to hit Fallout but DBS tagged himself in, leading to an argument. Bully Ray got a hot tag but the Briscoes also got in a bunch of stuff. All three members hit cross bodies, with Bully being last up and taking everyone out. Hanson took a Jay Driller and Froggy Bow, while Rowe ate a triple team 3D and that was all. A fun brawl that played to the strengths of everyone but Smith. Smith’s inclusion at least allowed for some angle build.
TNA sent out a cease and desist letter to the Hardys earlier in the day, claiming they owned the rights to the “Broken Universe”. To get around any legal issues, ROH had the champs appear in the ring, never used their “Broken” or “Brother Nero” names and having the fans chant “DELETE” instead of Matt and Jeff. I’m not about to try and do some play-by-play for this. It was wild though. At times, RPG Vice felt like an afterthought since the focus was on the Hardys/Bucks rivalry. Ladders were brought in and then RPG Vice took over. At one point, Beretta pushed Nick’s ladder over, but he just bounced off the ropes into a dive onto a pile outside. Insane Rocky pulled out a thumbtack covered sleeve and hit the FOREVER clotheslines. Poor Beretta took an electric chair drop into the tacks, then had some placed in his mouth where he took a superkick. That dude takes all the bumps. In the end, it was Beretta taking another bump by eating a swanton off a ladder through a table and getting pinned. Not everyone’s cup of tea but I expected an insane brawl full of huge bumps and I got that. RPG Vice were EASILY the MVPs of this match. They were the most fun, took the biggest bumps and had the best spots.
It’s been years and I still don’t see the appeal in Adam Cole. Daniels’ 0-8-1 record in ROH World Title matches was brought up. That’s similar to Hirooki Goto in IWGP Heavyweight Title matches. For the most part, the match followed an easy story. The overconfident champion was a dick to the veteran who always came up just short. Cole seemingly didn’t take Daniels seriously. Daniels got busted open and had to fight from behind. It helped move things along following a slow start. Daniels would come close but couldn’t quite finish the job. He busted out a Styles Clash in honor of his buddy AJ Styles for the best near fall of the match. It’s ROH though, so there had to be a ref bump. This set up a Kazarian run in. He teased hitting Daniels only to reveal he was loyal to him all along. Daniels planted Cole and hit the BME three times to finally win a World Title. They handled most of the match well and told a simple but effective story. Best Cole match since working AJ Styles in 2015. I wasn’t a fan of the finish or the Kazarian angle in general but the feel good moment in the end was well done.
Daniels got the big celebration and absolutely deserved it. Plus, it got the title off Cole, so there’s that. To make things cooler, they not only gave Daniels the World Title but also handed the original ROH Title from the early days of the company.
Overall: . That blew away my decidedly low expectations. ROH lost a lot of talent in a short time and their booking is typically bad. They got most things right on this show though. This is what I want from ROH. A show with good matches up and down the card with logical booking. There are still acts I don’t like getting pushed (Bucks, Cole, Kingdom) to be honest. However, almost everyone delivered in their matches. Scurll/Rush and Fish/Lethal were the standout matches but there was nothing on the card.