ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds Tour 2018: Day 1 (5/9/2018)- Lowell, MA
THE BRISCOES vs. JUSHIN “THUNDER” LIGER & FLIP GORDON- 7/10
A great opener with a very hot crowd. Flip in no way looked out of place in the ring against the Briscoes.
DEONNA PURRAZZO & SKYLAR vs. SUMIE SAKAI & TENILLE DASHWOOD- 5.75/10
The same interchangeable eight-minute match we always get from the Women of Honor. Tenille pinned Skylar after a dropkick. Yes, really.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- dull
Deonna was raising Skylar’s hand as if losing in eight minutes to a dropkick was some sort of accomplishment, when Kelly Klein ran out and attacked Deonna from behind, continuing their seemingly never-ending feud. They brawled and wound up being separated by security.
DALTON CASTLE PROMO- good for what it was
He immediately bungles basic match, saying that were are “teetering on” it being “six months” since he won the ROH World Title. We’re actually a few days short of five months, not six. He has apparently been dealing with a lot of injuries over the past few months but hasn’t told anyone, and now those injuries are preventing him from defending his title tonight. He did a very good job controlling the crowd during this promo even while telling them that they wouldn’t be getting their highly-anticipated world title match. He then had the Boys throw the fans a whole bunch of croissants. Yes, really.
THE KINGDOM PROMO- backwards and frustrating
Taven reminds us all that when he blew out his knee at Final Battle 2015 he still had to wrestle his match. Those situations are different because Taven blew his knee out during the match, not before it, but he’s a heel so we’ll overlook that, as well as his claim to have kept wrestling for “ten more minutes” (something Kevin Kelly has falsely claimed as well) in a match that only went a grand total of 3:10. The important part of this was that Taven then claimed that it was unfair that ROH officials were letting Dalton get away with not defending his title here, even going so far as to accuse Dalton of faking his injuries because he had “lost his smile” a la Shawn Michaels in in this same building in 1997. He said that ROH should award him the championship… and then started to be a total babyface by talking about how he would celebrate with the crowd all night long and put over the local basketball team.
Taven claims that the reason this isn’t happening is because of the “conspiracy” he claims exists against him in ROH. If so, this would be the very first piece of evidence of any sort of conspiracy, and there is actually a lot of evidence to the contrary. For example, The Kingdom came out wearing the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship belts, which they stole form the rightful champions OVER A MONTH AGO… and ROH management has apparently made no effort to get them back.
Furthermore, I find this whole thing frustrating because this is the first bit of evidence Taven has actually presented to support his claim. Before this he would just say “ther eis a conspiracy against me/us” in every promo, providing nothing even resembling details. And unless Dalton’s injuries are a work (and I highly doubt they are because if they were then more than just the hand that Marty injured at SCOH would have been talked up on commentary over the past few months), then we have finally been presented with evidence not as part of any sort of plan the booker had, but purely by happenstance. What does it say about the booker when the only piece of evidence we get for what should be a major storyline claim (that Ring of Honor is actively conspiring to keep an up-and-coming competitor down) is something forced upon the story by fate rather than being part of the story as planned?!
Also, where is someone from ROH management to explain to Taven that he is wrong? On commentary for the next match Taven told us that he only found out that his title match tonight had been cancelled when Dalton came out and announced it. Conspiracy or not, this doesn’t make ROH management look very good. Without someone actually doing anything to refute Taven’s claims that ROH management seems corrupt at worst, with Taven’s claims being totally correct, and at best they’re just ignoring their talent and don’t seem to give a sh*t whether fans think the company is honest and trustworthy or not.
Taven vows to kill the conspiracy by the end of tonight, return to Lowell as ROH World Champion, and says other babyface things, including pointing out his elderly grandfather in the crowd.
COAST 2 COAST vs. THE KINGDOM (T.K. O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia)- DUD!
Taven was on commentary with Cabana and Whitmer for this match. He tried to claim that a second piece of evidence for his conspiracy was that The Kingdom never got a rematch for the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles after having to vacate them due to an injury, and Cabana agreed that this was a good point. The problem, of course, is that it’s NOT TRUE. They got a rematch for those belts relatively quickly after O’Ryan returned, at Global Wars 2017: Buffalo. Not remembering this takes well over the line from a lying heel into the territory being a total clown, and Cabana not remembering it and thus agreeing with Taven’s point makes him look bad, too.
Vinny Marseglia’s terrible “Horror King” gimmick now includes a stupid spot where everyone “gets sucked under the ring like it’s a horror movie!” (as Colt told us several times). Then Marselia’s balloons got sent up to the ceiling of the arena. Colt said this was “symbolic.” Whatever it’s symbolic of, it’s not really doing a good job of being symbolic of that thing because I have no idea what it is supposed to be a symbol of. This stupid spot led to… nothing. First O’Ryan and the referee emerged and just stood around, confused. The, when O’Ryan went to look back under the ring, Ali and LSG both emerged, afraid, but unscathed. Marsegia then emerged with more balloons (which he also let go) and his stupid axe. Marseglia then tried to get in the ring with the axe but the referee stopped him. This resulted in Marseglia distracting himself so that Coast 2 Coast could hit him with a move. So yeah. That was totally worth spending almost a quarter of the 8:47 they got for their match on.
Then the heels- the guys who just tried to murder the other team with an axe for no reason- got to be the ones to get the hot tag and run wild. They had the babyfaces beaten when SoCal Uncensored snuck down to ringside and stole their belts back, distracting the heels so that that Coast 2 Coast could pick up the win. Coast 2 Coast are supposed to be one this big roll, and yet they need a distraction to beat the second-lowest heel tag team on the totem pole?
Actually, now that this match is over, let’s take a moment to talk about that, shall we?
Yes, Coast 2 Coast got a supposedly “big” win here, just like they got one against MCMG on the previous show. And you might even remember that they won a four-way the night before that. In fact, they’ve actually won five in a row, and eight out of their last ten, with their only losses being a DQ loss to BCB & Milonas on TV, and a loss in a three-way with The Dawgs and The Briscoes where they weren’t the team that got pinned.
And yet none of this is made to actually matter in the slightest. They weren’t on any other shows this tour. They weren’t on the UK Tour, either, which is understandable… but then their only one of them was booked on the NYC tapings (randomly teaming with other guys for a title shot, no less), they’re not booked for the Texas shows, they’re not booked for the PPV, and they’re not booked for the TV tapings the night afterwards… so what do these wins even do for them? You can tell me they’re making progress and moving up the card all you want, but if you don’t do anything to actually move them up the card then it doesn’t matter.
In fact, I’ll go one further and say that this sort of thing kills the value of wins and losses. After all, why is LSG getting a better opportunity for just being on the card at the NYC TV tapings, teaming with Jonathan Gresham and Alex Shelley in a totally makeshift team to compete in a in #1 contendership gauntlet for the six-man tag titles (against a bunch of other teams, many of which also haven’t done sh*t to earn anything) but he and Ali can’t get a tag title shot after five straight wins?
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- stupid
So SoCal Uncensored have now stolen their belts back. Taven then cuts a delusional heel promo claiming that they are the only rightful champs in history and that they want those belts back. Taven- a heel- then once again becomes a total babyface just because they’re in his home market and talks about how much he loves the fans and wants to give them something big and worth their money, so he challenges SoCal Uncensored to put the belts on the line later tonight. We didn’t hear SoCal Uncensored say anything, but apparently they accepted the match.
Why would SoCal Uncensored do this? First of all, they’re heels. Second of all, they don’t like The Kingdom. The Kingdom has interfered in big matches of theirs over the past few months, and then stole their championship belts from them, so why would SoCal Uncensored give these guys a title shot?
The worst part of all of this, though, is that all of the pieces were in place for this to make sense a mere two minutes ago, but the finish of the match ruined that! If Taven & Marseglia lose cleanly tonight, then Taven, perhaps in a fit of desperation, could call SoCal Uncensored out and tell them that if they want to get their belts back, then they’ll have to take them from The Kingdom in the ring, later tonight. This not only gives SoCal Uncensored an obvious motivation to accept the match (reclaiming their stolen property) but Taven’s delusion that The Kingdom should be the rightful champions means that SoCal Uncensored would find it believable that Taven would accept it if The Kingdom lost tonight because in his mind, they’d be “defending” the titles. This, plus the fact that SoCal Uncensored would think they have a better shot at winning if they face them tonight because O’Ryan & Marsegia have already wrestled would be a perfect reason for them to accept this match… and yet ROH just flushed all of that down the toilet by having SoCal Uncensored steal the belts back! (Which they only did so that we could have a f*ck finish in a match meant to push two young babyfaces!)
BULLY RAY vs. CHEESEBURGER- no rating, HORRENDOUS SEGMENT
The match last 5:04. In that time Bully shoved Cheeseburger once, then gave him a powerbomb. Then he just waited for a while and gave him another powerbomb. Then he waited even more before hitting a third. Burger sold each one like he was dead, which makes you wonder why the referee never stopped the match. Bully then went to get his steel chain. The referee took it away from him, which had to happen because Bully apparently had to get his “look what I stole from Nakamura” low blow in. Unfortunately, the referee turned around too soon and was looking right at it... and yet did not call for the bell. That’s because apparently the planned finish was for Bully to then stand on the outside trying to intimidate fans and show us all that he didn’t care if he got counted out.
As always, Bully’s attempts to intimidate the fans failed miserably. This is a guy who you know calls fans “marks,” and yet here he is trying to intimidate fans who are showing absolutely no fear of him because they know it’s a work and that he won’t do a damn thing to them if they don’t touch him first… and yet he still thinks he can intimidate them because he’s Bully Ray. So who’s the real “mark,” asshole?
Bully then got back into the ring and mockingly raised Cheeseburger’s hand in victory, then attacked him again. None of the babyfaces came out to help Cheeseburger. Not even Flip Gordon, who saved Burger from Bully Ray at a recent show. Colt Cabana, who had had an altercation with Bully before the match said that “it’s not my place” to save Cheeseburger because “I’m just an announcer.” What a bullsh*t cop-out that is.
Bully then set up to powerbomb Cheeseburger on the floor. Still no one came out to save poor Cheeseburger. Thankfully, Cheeseburger didn’t need saving, because Bully Ray just decided not to powerbomb Cheeseburger on the floor for no logical kayfabe reason. The real reason, of course, was because he knew that teasing such a move but not delivering would get boos, but it never occurred to him that it would make more sense to just not tease it in the first place because it’s not like he wasn’t getting boos already. Bully then spent some time intimidating Bobby Cruise and Unnamed Attractive Ring Attendant, because (unlike the fans) they actually have to pretend to be afraid of his fat, old, washed-up ass. He then went up to the commentary booth to yell at Cabana some more before leaving.
This probably seems like the usual terrible Bully Ray fare, but what made this even more frustrating to me was the portrayal of Cheeseburger. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I don’ think Cheeseburger should be used in any role other than that of a comedy jobber to get destroyed, but that is not the track has decided to take with him and they’ve made that clear for years. So clear, in fact, that over the last few years they have kept touting him to us as some sort of “top prospect” who we are supposed to take seriously… and yet now Colt Cabana is telling me that it’s wrong for Bully to be “picking on” Cheeseburger because Cheeseburger is so small, and telling how Cheeseburger has had to “fight through so much” just to graduate from the ROH Dojo and all of that crap. Quite frankly, you can’t have it both ways. Cheeseburger is either a legitimate competitor, or he’s the same small dope that Charlie Haas picked on back in the winter of 2013. You can’t switch back and forth with a character as the needs of your story require.
CHAOS (Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero) vs. BULLET CLUB (Marty Scurll, Adam Page, & Cody Rhodes) (w/Bernard the Business Bear)- 6.5/10
Cody was going to do the Shattered Dreams to Yoh while Tod Sinclair was distracted… but then didn’t do it because the fans wanted to see it. What has wrestling come to where the heel gets heat by teasing kicking the babyface in the testicles but then not doing so?
The story of the match was Marty and Cody not getting along. The big spot that finally caused them to really start shouting at each other and pushing each other was… Marty accidentally kicking the bear while he was clearly trying to hit an opponent. Adam Page then got them back on the same page and they dispatched of Roppongi 3K shortly thereafter, because it’s not like we’d want there to be any actual consequences for Bullet Club. I think the events of this year’s Wrestling Dontaku have proved that that will never happen.
This result is an even bigger mistake when you realize that Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero have an outstanding clean victory over the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions that aired on a much-hyped ROH partner promotion’s big American TV special less than six weeks ago. Page is expendable at the moment now that his matches against Omega in New Japan are over so why not have Cody and Marty’s arguing result in him taking the fall here. You can then continue to build up Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero with another win tomorrow night against SoCal Uncensored (who will lose the titles later tonight), setting up perfectly for them to get a shot at those titles against The Kingdom at Best in the World 2018. Or you can be Delirious and not know how to make things have consequences and just randomly give that PPV title shot to LIJ a mere month after LIJ are getting yet another random title shot (at the tag titles a few nights from now).
Marty was still upset after the match and thus did not participate in Bullet Club’s celebrating. Snore. I have no faith that anything in Bullet Club will ever change, no matter what they tease. If the Omega/Cody stuff this year didn’t result in a split then nothing ever will unless someone leaves ROH/New Japan and Delirious and Gedo then feel forced to write that person out.
SILAS YOUNG, BEER CITY BRUISER, & BRIAN MILONAS vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, & Sanada)- 5.5/10
They had a ten minute match that was mostly forgettable. The only thing that wasn’t was a spot they tried to do where BCB would pass Naito to Milonas, who was already holding Sanada and Milonas would hit a move to both guys, but Naito almost fell when BCB started the hand-off so he had to climb back up into position to get hit by the move. It looked horrific.
JAY LETHAL vs. JAY WHITE vs. CHUCK TAYLOR- 6.5/10
Hey, look! A three-way with count-outs! I approve.
The story of this match was the two CHAOS members working together against Lethal until White tried to take advantage of Chuck’s request for a hug to turn it into a Blade Runner. Chuck managed to avoid it, but he was very unhappy with White. Taylor got a surprise win by pinning Lethal right after Lethal had hit White with a Lethal Injection. Hopefully this win for Chuck actually leads to something.
ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: SoCal Uncensored(c) vs. The Kingdom- 6.5/10
Even in this big title match, we had to get Marseglia’s stupid balloon sh*t. He also popped one in Kaz’s ear, which is terribly unsafe. That was the low point of this match, but the first good chunk of it was pretty dull. Once things started to get going it got pretty good, until Daniels had a clean pin with the BME but Taven pulled the referee out of the ring, and despite the referee knowing exactly who did it, this was not a DQ. This would be bad on its own, but makes even less sense if we’re pretending that The Kingdom are babyfaces tonight like we are apparently supposed to. Then we got a ref bump so that we could have a bunch of weapons shots before Taven finally made a pin and the recovered referee counted the pin. It’s a title match in Ring of Honor! Why can’t we just have a f*cking clean finish?
THE YOUNG BUCKS vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)- 8/10
LIJ jumped the bell on the Bucks, but the Bucks were back in control moments later.
Apparently this match had no count-outs. Either that or we’re just ignoring the rules. I could have done without that, and without the blinded Jackson brother putting the referee in a Sharpshooter by accident being played for laughs. Other than that, though, this was pretty much what you’d expect from these two teams in a main event. Lots of athletic and cool stuff at a fast pace. This was easily the Match of the Night.
Overall, a middling show from ROH. Aside from the opener and the main event there was nothing that managed to be more than just “good,” and several things that were quite bad. That horrific stretch of the Kingdom promos and match followed by the Bully Ray vs. Cheeseburger stuff was nearly impossible to sit-through, and the ass-backwards booking of six-man tag titles shows you why the titles in this company are in the shape they are in. The Kingdom are the champions again… and the belts mean just as little now as they did when The Kingdom became the inaugural champions.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Cabana said that Marty Scurll “saved Cody’s life; saved his career,” by breaking up a pinfall.
I have no words.
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