ROH Elite (11/11/2017)- Fort Lauderdale, FL
SILAS YOUNG & THE BEER CITY BRUISER vs. COAST 2 COAST- 4.75/10
This was a perfectly fine small young underdog babyfaces vs. larger veteran heels match, but the lack of any real storytelling in the booking meant that fans had not been given any reason to get invested in Coast 2 Coast and thus they didn’t care about them other than one moment towards the end when Shaheem Ali was able to pick up the Beer City Bruiser, though they immediately stopped caring when he wasn’t able to do anything with him.
JOSH WOODS vs. SIMON GRIMM vs. JONATHAN GRESHAM- 4/10
During last year’s fall show in this building, Bull James came into ROH fresh off of his WWE run… and completely shat the bed, dragging Adam Cole down to one of the worst matches in Cole’s entire ROH tenure. Thankfully, this year’s new WWE outcast, the debuting Simon Grimm, had a much better showing for himself. The match was disappointingly short (only about six minutes), but it was enough to convince me that Grimm deserves to be brought back for a greater test of his abilities.
PUNISHMENT MARTINEZ vs. SHANE TAYLOR- 5.5/10
This was two big men hitting each other hard and doing cool athletic things (okay, the latter was all Martinez) and it was really fun while it lasted… but it didn’t even last seven minutes. What gives? These are supposed to be two stars of the future, but they’ll never come across that way to the fanbase if you don’t give them time to prove to us that they can have ROH-quality matches.
BRISCOES PROMO & SEGMENT- bad.
They’re officially heels now after laying out the old farts from ECW. Jay is wearing Bully’s steel chain around his neck and stole his dumb catchphrase. They heeled on the fans and called out Bully Ray, who we were told was only booked on this show to sign autographs. They said that if Bully didn’t come to the Briscoes then the Briscoes would come to him. I thought this meant that they were going to go to the merch table and beat him up or something, but instead they just took a random security guy and hit him with a 3-D. I figured that this would lead to Bully trying to save the security guy, but Bully never showed up. This was very odd.
BEST FRIENDS vs. THE ADDICTION vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Page & Marty Scurll)- 5/10
The Addiction are heels whose gimmick has been that they are “trying to ruin everything the fans love about Ring of Honor.” To this end they have recently done things like interfere in title matches and refuse to wrestle matches they were scheduled to wrestle in, leaving far inferior replacements and cheating the fans out of a match they paid to see. And they show up here in Florida and the fans throw streamers for them. Wrestling fans in 2017 are dumb.
This started off as a nice, serious wrestling match until Best Friends started doing their stupid Best Friends shtick, which was an unpleasant reminder of why it took until this May for Chuck Taylor to finally debut in ROH despite having been a major name on the indy scene for a majority of the past fifteen years.
We went back to serious wrestling for a bit until we got a spot where Trent was trying to give Page a sunset flip and Marty Scurll tried to help Page by kicking Trent’s hands away but Trent moved and Scurll accidentally kicked Page in the nuts. And just as I was thinking about how this is a perfect example of a good comedy spot (it flowed naturally from the match and made logical sense, with the comedy coming from the fact that he tried to help his partner but instead accidentally kicked him in the nuts rather than coming from guys doing some wacky thing for the sake of doing a wacky thing), they killed it for me by taking it too far and having Scurll run all the way to the back and Page chase him to presumably try to get him back, with neither guy caring about the wrestling match they are currently participating in.
We were then down to a standard tag team match and The Addiction got some good heat on Trent for a while… until Page and Scurll showed back up, as Page had apparently chased Marty all around the arena and Marty wound up running right back into the ring, and it was only here, in the middle of a dangerous wrestling match- but where the fans could see it, of course- that Scurll decided to change tactics from running to begging for mercy. Page’s attempt to attack Scurll was interrupted by him being dragged back into the wrestling match he was already a part of, and things continued for a few more minutes until we got a “payoff,” if you want to call to it that, to this whole thing where Page teased attacking Scurll but then showed him there were no hard feelings by instead doing Marty’s stupid arm-flapping them. More stuff happened, Page accidentally hit Scurll with the Honor Roll/Buckshot Lariat/whatever I’m supposed to call it now which took them out of the match, and Best Friends pinned The Addiction. This was a wonderful example of how an otherwise good wrestling match can be ruined by the insertion of pointless comedy.
FR JOSIE vs. CHEESEBURGER- no rating, meh segment.
Josie looks like a pale chimpanzee with all of his body-hair shaved off. They went for about a minute or two until Cheeseburger was about to hit the Shotei but The Dawgs came out and Rhett Titus pulled Joie out of the ring and threw him into the barricade to cause Cheeseburger to lose by disqualification (a result, the ring announcer didn’t event announce). That last part was something that I picked up on, but neither of the announcers mentioned. Instead we got Ian Riccabonni disgustedly saying “come on now! This is not sanctioned!” as if every other time when a wrestler wants to attack another wrestler outside of the confines of a match, they go ask management first and management gives them the okay. No one cared. The whole point of this was to set up for the next match, so at least they had the decency to keep it short.
The Dawgs then attacked Cheeseburger and were going to hit him with some sort of double-team maneuver when Hanson made the save, leading to…
THE DAWGS vs. HANSON & CHEESEBURGER- 5/10
Personally, I thought Colt Cabana’s suggestion of having this turn into Cheeseburger and FR Josie vs. The Dawgs would have been a lot better. That way you could stick Hanson as the fourth man in the Gresham vs. Grimm vs. Woods match so that it is a more traditional ROH Four Corner Survival and a big star like Hanson actually has a match advertised going into the show (Hanson sure is lucky that these jerks decided to attack Cheeseburger or else he wouldn’t have gotten paid for wrestling tonight).
Hanson dubbed the team of him and Cheeseburger “War Burgers,” and all of a sudden the fans were into it because they had been given something to chant. They lost, with Ferrara pinning Cheeseburger in a match that went longer than any of the first three matches, all of which featured guys who aren’t comedy jobbers like Burger or bottom of the barrel loser heels like The Dawgs.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Motor City Machine Guns(c) vs. The Kingdom (Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan)- 7/10
The Kingdom jumped MCMG from behind to start things off, which set the pace for the great babyfaces vs. heels tag team title match. The Kingdom lost, in part due to O’Ryan accidentally hitting Marseglia with a baseball bat. On commentary, Colt Cabana pushed the idea that they might win more if they just stuck to wrestling and not trying to use weapons in non-weapons matches.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- fine
Matt Taven came out to attack MCMG because The Kingdom have a match against MCMG & Jonathan Gresham next week at Survival of the Fittest 2017: Night 1. Flip Gordon came out to help the Guns which flowed into…
FLIP GORDON vs. MATT TAVEN- 5.75/10
Flip Gordon’s way of ducking is doing a kip-up. What else would you expect from a guy named “Flip.”
Taven got in the face of loser old Hulk Hogan cosplayer in the crowd, and the crowd actually started chanting “HOGAN! HOGAN!” Taven made it worse by going back to jaw with this dork multiple times. The entire story of the match was that Taven would get the advantage on Flip but then squander by yacking with the crowd, giving Flip enough time to recover. While they certainly told this story effective (too, effectively, really), it’s not a story that makes for a very exciting or entertaining viewing experience. Based on this story, you’d think the finish would be something like Flip rolling Taven up after one of Taven’s yap-fests, but instead the finish was Flip setting Taven up for some sort of move but TK O’Ryan came out and threw his baseball bat into the ring to distract the referee, allowing Taven to kick Flip in the groin when he slipped free, and then pin him. This felt like it was done purely for the sake of giving us a dirty finish, because G-d forbid young up-and-comer Flip Gordon lose cleanly to a man who is a former ROH TV Champion, former ROH World Tag Team Champion, and former ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champion and we put Flip over for his valiant effort against this decorated veteran foe… or better yet, that Taven, the heavily-decorated veteran who isn’t doing sh*t right now, actually just cleanly put over the young up-and-comer. This is Ring of Honor for G-d’s sake!
After the match, Marseglia came out, too. With his axe. Taven picked up the axe and teased MURDERING Flip Gordon with it. You’d think tonight’s events would lead to Flip Gordon feuding with The Kingdom but nope. I’m writing this a month and a half later, and the only matches they had together since then were an already-announced Survival of the Fittest qualifier between Flip and O’Ryan, and then the ensuing Survival of the Fittest match the next night which involved both Flip and Taven. Flip would instead be moved into a feud with the Young Bucks rather than with the men who cost him a match and then threatened to murder him. Hooray for Delirious booking!
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH: Cody Rhodes(c) vs. Rocky Romero- 4.25/10
Ian Riccaboni praised Cody for the “whirlwind” schedule of title defenses he has taken on, but then in his very next sentence laughed off two of them as being utter jokes with the idea that Cody wanted those defenses because he thought they’d be walks in the park. Which one is it, Ian? You can’t have it both ways!
Caprice noted that despite being around ROH for so long, this is only Rocky’s second shot at the ROH World Title… which is incorrect. It’s his third. Caprice forgot his shot against Bryan Danielson at Steel Cage Warfare, which surprised me because the fact that he was cashing in his “book your own match” reward for winning the first-ever Trios Tournament makes that match a lot more memorable to me than his shot against Samoa Joe at Gold.
The announcers then tried to convince me that Rocky’s long layover between ROH World Title shots was proof that ROH World Title matches are hard to come by. This was problematic for two reasons. First of all, the fact that most people who get them don’t do sh*t to earn them (like the aforementioned Cheeseburger… or even Rocky himself tonight, who is 0-3 in his last three matches in ROH) seems to contradict that sentiment (and if it is true that title shots are rare and that people who get them seldom do sh*t to earn them, then that just makes ROH look incompetent).
Secondly, while Rocky has been around ROH since 2004, he was only really a regular competitor in 2004 (where most of his time was spent defending the tag titles), the first half of 2005, 2007, and the first half of 2008. Since then he has basically only come in with New Japan, and has spent the extreme majority of his time in tag matches. In the nine singles matches Rocky has had in ROH since he challenged Dragon for the ROH World Title, Rocky is 2-7, with his most recent win coming by DQ. For the last time he won a singles match in ROH by pinfall or submission, you have to go back almost eight full years, to Final Battle 2009. This would be like a WWE announcer trying to convince you that shots at the WWE Title are very hard to come by because it’s been almost two years since Triple H has had one.
Cody, in his typical fashion, wasted three whole minutes stalling on the outside before getting in the ring for the handshake and opening bell. As part of this stalling, he first asked a fan in a Bullet Club shirt to kiss his stupid ring, and when the fan went to do so, Cody flipped him off. Then he found another fan, this one not in a Bullet Club shirt and asked the fan to kiss the ring, and when the fan refused, Cody got upset. Then he went over to a large group of fans in Bullet Club shirts who had been chanting “KISS THE RING!” at the previous fan and offered for them to kiss the ring… then pulled back and flipped them off just like the first fan. Does he want fans to kiss the ring or not?
Aside from the pointless stalling, this also infuriates me because the only reason for Cody to do any of this to be a heel by not giving the fans what they want… but if Cody is doing this just to get heat that means he knows he’s supposed to be a heel, so why does he do Bullet Club stuff that he knows will get a babyface reaction?
The referee once again failed to make Cody take his ring off before signaling for the match to start. Cody then tried to make Rocky Romero kiss the ring. Even if Rocky (or anyone else Cody does this with, which is everyone) were inclined to actually do so, why does Cody think that this interaction with the fans who wanted to kiss the ring wouldn’t change his mind?
After Cody’s stalling act, the match started to go really well, with Rocky working over Cody’s arm. Then Rocky random pulled a table out from under the ring, even though tables are not legal in this match, Rocky is a babyface, and the referee is fully conscious. The announcers, who had just been having the discussion I mentioned above where they emphasized the rarity of receiving a shot at the ROH World Title, all seemed to think that this was an excellent idea, as if they were completely unaware that purposely hitting your opponent with a table or throwing him through is an immediate disqualification and would cause Rocky to lose this rare and precious opportunity he has been afforded. Rocky put Cody on the table and was about to leap off of the turnbuckle and use high-risk maneuver to put Cody through it, but Cody got out of the way before Rocky jumped, saying Rocky from being disqualified due to his own stupidity.
Cody took over after this and they brawled into the crowd. ROH Senior Referee Tod Sinclair made no attempt to count them out. Cody hit Rocky with a cup of beer, but Sinclair did not call for a DQ for a shot with this foreign object. Rocky but one of those big gray plastic garbage cans on Cody’s head and then, like, a dumbf*ck, punched the hard garbage can instead of Cody’s soft stomach. Even worse, with the way the garbage can was sitting on Cody’s shoulders, there was no way Rocky’s punch could have possibly cause the garbage can to make contact with Cody’s face with any force.
They got back into the ring and Rocky started to work the arm again until Cody cut him off with some sort of sloppy shoving him into the ropes or something, then started to work over Rocky’s back. We got some more random stuff until Rocky went back to the arm for a spot or two that set up Cody being on the apron so he could suplex Rocky out of the ring and they could both go through the table, which really should have been a DQ but wasn’t. But at least Tod Sinclair remember to start the twenty-count for the count-out this time, so that’s something, right?
We did a Figure 4/reverse the pressure spot, then some more stuff, then Cody got a bag of thumbtacks from underneath the ring and just dumped them out onto the canvass in full view of the referee. This garnered and ECW chant, which I’m sure is exactly the sort of thing that you want when you’re trying to be the promotion of the future. They did a few very good teases of someone getting knocked into the thumbtacks before Rocky finally tossed Cody into them. Despite taking place in full view of the referee, this was not a DQ. Cue more “ECW!” chants from the crowd. Rocky got a nearfall before going for Sliced Bread #2 but Cody reversed it into the Cross Rhodes for the pin.
Look… if this would have been a no DQs match, I would have loved this. I’d have probably given it something like an 8/10. But it wasn’t a no DQs match, so why did the wrestlers and the referee treat it like it was? Is it really that hard for wrestlers nowadays to either 1) go to the booker before your match and say “hey, we want to do all of these spots. Can you have the ring announcer announce our match as a no DQs match?” or 2) just have a wrestling match that stays within the basic rules of professional wrestling? This shouldn’t be difficult, but apparently it is.
THE ELITE (Kenny Omega & the Young Bucks) vs. JAY LETHAL, KENNY KING, & DALTON CASTLE (w/the Boys)- 8/10
They’re having a very good match for about ten minutes… and then they go and kill it by doing their boots spot where their buddies run into the ring and they manhandle the referee into helping them do their spot and all it says to me is that they clearly don’t care about winning the match because this will obviously get them disqualified but they try to do it anyway just for fun. And it’s not even something major, either. They’re heels, so it would make sense if they would take a DQ to, say, destroy Dalton Castle, the #1 contender to Cody’s ROH World Title, with a steel chair (although putting that in the main event spot would obviously be a booking mistake). It’s just a goofy spot they do that completely falls apart the moment you give it even a single second’s thought (for one thing, the physics of it means that the more boots you add, the less damage you’re actually doing).
After that they went back to serious wrestling for the rest of the match and it was all very good, although heel Bullet Club playing the role of the structural babyfaces was odd. There was even a point where Lethal blew snot at Omega, causing Kenny to try to get into the ring to fight him and the ref cut Kenny off that seemed like it was designed specifically so that one of Lethal’s teammates could come in and double-team the Young Buck in peril like heels would, but Lethal’s team did nothing illegal because even as the structural heels, they’re still being good babyfaces. The match took a long time to really get going, but by the end it was fine for where it needed to be given its main event status.
This was a disappointing show from ROH, with almost all of the matches aside from the top three feeling like they got screwed on time for no discernable reason, while both the Flip vs. Taven match and the ROH World Title match were derailed by the follies of the wrestlers involved. Better time management and better decisions could have made this same card so much better than it was.
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