ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds Tour 2018: Day 2 (5/11/2018)- Toronto, ON
IWGP UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH: Jay White(c) vs. Punishment Martinez- 6.75/10
This match went eleven minutes. In any other promotion in the world (maybe WWE, TNA, or LU excluded), if you put these two guys in a title match, they would actually give them the necessary time to show us that these guys really are capable of delivering at a top level (which they have proven elsewhere)… but not in ROH, where they will continue to be given midcard time forever, because G-d forbid we actually create some new excellent rather than just living off of the reputation the promotion had when the guys in the “Creating Excellence” opening video they play before every show were actually in the promotion.
The match was very good. White is an excellent seller, Martinez uses his size extremely well and often seems to have fresh takes on how to do so, so these two meshed well. White’s strike-heavy style also allowed Martinez to show vulnerability while still coming across like a big scary monster, which might be his greatest strength.
Unfortunately, some idiot in the production truck decided that we should keep cutting away from the match to show us that Adam Page was arriving at, remaining at, and at the finish leaving the commentary table. None of this was necessary. All we need is to hear Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana tell us that Adam Page has joined them on commentary and then hear Page’s voice. You don’t need to prove to us that he’s there. We believe you. The cutting to the commentary table to show us him leaving it to prevent Martinez from hitting White with a chair was doubly frustrating because when we cut back to the hard-cam we could clearly see Page turning into the aisle and running down it, meaning we would have seen him coming anyway, and the director/producer/whoever should have known this.
The finish consisted of Page taking a chair away from Martinez, causing Martinez to become distracted and thus allowing White to roll him up for the pin. This is the sort of non-clean finish that I normally wouldn’t have a problem with- even in ROH- because it’s productive (protects Martinez while building up to the Page vs. Martinez grudge match tomorrow night)… but the fact that we get so many completely pointless dirty finishes in the promotion makes this much harder to swallow. It’s okay for ROH to have dirty finishes, but you shouldn’t be doing them just because “heels are supposed to cheat” or because you don’t want to beat someone cleanly. They should serve an actual purpose for a storyline, and should be followed up on.
BULLY RAY PROMO- bad
He tried to get heat by telling the fans to not throw streamers for him. Unfortunately for him, this not only resulted in them laughing and doing so, but then chanting “STREAMERS! STREAMERS! STREAMERS!” Bully then said “if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s disrespectful, Millennials, snowflake marks like you,” and now I suddenly find myself agreeing with Bully. That doesn’t mean I don’t wish he would just shut up and move onto to his match, though.
He kept on talking. The fans chanted “WE WANT DEVON!” Just shut up and don’t humor this idiot. Bully claimed to not know who his opponent tonight is going to be, but Ian and Colt seemed to know- and claim that Bully knew- but wouldn’t tell us. Eventually- and predictably- Cheeseburger came out, s till selling from last night. He insists that he’s not afraid of Bully Ray, and insists that the referee ring the bell to start…
BULLY RAY vs. CHEESEBURGER- no rating, dull segment
Credit where it’s due: Bully at least changed his offense up a bit here (I even popped for the wheelbarrow suplex) and Burger getting a nut-shot in on Bully as revenge for the last show along with Bully’s subsequent DQ for hitting Cheeseburger with the chain (after having already obliterated him) does technically build something of a new layer onto this feud… but the fact remains that this still felt like I was watching the exact same segment I saw in Lowell two nights ago. Bully obliterates Burger and has him beat but purposely loses instead. Bully then continues to beat on Burger after the match and no one comes to help, even when Bully threatens to powerbomb Burger onto the floor (he even pulled the mats up this time). Bully then doesn’t powerbomb Burger onto the floor (or a table right next to it, which he also threatened to do) for no reason other than because the fans want to see it, which really doesn’t make much sense from a kayfabe point of view.
The fans here tonight were also clearly just in a “we want to have FUN!” mode, so they booed the DQ, but then also cheered for Bully to cripple Cheeseburger. Fans like these make it basically impossible to do an angle like this unless you basically ignore them, and Bully’s desire to be an old-school “heat-getting” heel doesn’t allow him to realize that they’re not going to play along and so the whole thing just comes across even worse.
TETSUYA NAITO vs. BEER CITY BRUISER- 6.75/10
They stalled for a bit, then Bruiser beat Naito up for a while. Naito got in a hope spot but Bruiser took over and did some bigger stuff. He went for a Frog Splash but missed, then Naito got his sh*t in and they went home. I don’t want to say that they didn’t work hard, but the stalling section of the match really grated me, and it didn’t help that the guy going the stalling was the big international superstar who is making a rare appearance in town.
I’m sorry, but I don’t get the love for most of this Naito shtick. How the hell have we come to fans cheering a guy for stalling? I also really don’t like the whole “he is disrespecting the championship by leaving it in the locker room” gimmick. Fans just cheer him for it and management never treats him any differently despite his constant disrespect of every championship he has won, so what point does it serve?
YOUNG BUCKS vs. SUPER SMASH BROTHERS- 8.75/10
A little spotty, but also quite creative. This was one hell of a match.
ALEXIA NICOLE & XANDRA BALE vs. JENNY ROSE & TENILLE DASHWOOD- 4/10
We’ve swapped Colt Cabana out for BJ Whitmer on commentary. This was apparently done on orders from “the office,” who want to talk to Cabana about something. Also, Women of Honor Champion Sumie Sakai is on commentary. This is because Jenny Rose is getting a title shot in Chicago in a few days because she… um… exists, I guess. Her record since being eliminated from the title tournament (cleanly, in the first round) is 1-2. I guess it’s safe to say that absolutely nothing has been learned from the booking of the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles, which had no effort but into building any of the early challenges and as a result no one has ever looked at them as if they were important.
Another bland 7-9 minute Women of Honor tag match with no meaning.
SOCAL UNCENSORED vs. CHAOS (Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero)- 6.5/10
Ian Riccaboni reminded us of a storyline where in January Joe Koff had announced that he wouldn’t be renewing the contracts of SoCal Uncensored, which expire at the end of this year. The reason he brought this up was to tell us that the fact that they lost the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles to The Kingdom last night now means that they no longer have any sort of “leverage” over ROH to continue their employment after that happens… which just makes their decision to randomly put the belts on the line last night even stupider!
Even worse, if I remember correctly, all SoCal Uncensored did to warrant this was that they were jumping people after matches… and yet Bully Ray comes in here and threatens to murder Cheeseburger and Koff hasn’t said a f*cking word?
The match was good, but it felt very “paint-by-numbers,” and felt like a match that had no meaning whatsoever. Roppongi 3K & Rocky Romero actually beat SoCal Uncensored when SCU were the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions in a non-title match at NJPW Strong Style Evolved about six weeks ago… of course it’s SoCal Uncensored who get the win here so that they can get their win back, even though it would make a lot more sense to give the CHAOS trio another win here in what was supposed to be a title match before SCU lost the belts last night and build them up for a shot at the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles (which they really should have already earned just by virtue of defeating the champions). And it’s not like SoCal Uncensored needed to win because they’re getting a title shot any time soon, either. Instead we’re randomly giving title shots to other trios that have done nothing to earn them (LIJ, the CMLL trio getting the shot in Texas, the wacky trios getting shots in the UK). It’s decisions like this that make these ROH/New Japan shows feel so bland and pointless.
ROH TV TITLE MATCH: Silas Young(c vs. Adam) Page- 5.5/10 (but see below)
Punishment Martinez attacked Page before the match. They had a short brawl that Martinez won when he hit Page in the head with a chair, which set up the story for this match being that Page was weakened (people were trying to take him to the back but he pushed them aside and stumbled down the aisle and insisted on having the match) and that Silas worked over his head. Page sold well and got a nice little comeback, but the match went less than eight minutes.
As build to Page vs. Martinez tomorrow night this was fine, but I think it would have worked better if Silas had just dominated the whole match and it only went about four minutes, because the time they gave this was right in that sweet spot where it went just long enough to feel like a disappointing version of a better match rather than feeling like a segment… but at the same time, I totally understand why Delirious didn’t want this to go shorter because we already had one top name (ROH World Champion Dalton Castle) pull out of this show due to injuries and have the advertised six-man tag title match no longer be for the belts because of a title change two nights before, and to then lose an advertised TV Title match due to an angle would not make the crowd happy.
I think the right way to handle this would have been to not do a pre-match attack at all and let them have a full match with Silas winning clean, then have Martinez attack Page after the match. While you could certainly argue (with a month’s worth of hindsight) that Martinez attacking Page before the match and thus effectively costing him a fair shot at the ROH TV Title works better with where things seem to be going (Martinez beat Silas for the TV Title a month later in Dallas and earned that shot by stealing a pin Page had in a Proving Ground Instant Reward match, and you can then make the Page vs. Martinez match already signed for Best in the World 2018 a title match with the justification that Martinez has taken this title shot away from Page)… but while that argument is solid, I don’t think that was actually Delirious’ thought process in any of this, just looking at hot other title shots have been given out lately (it’s not like Page actually did anything to earn this title shot here, for example. He actually hasn’t won a singles match in either ROH or New Japan for months, and he hasn’t beaten the champ at any point, either).
JUSHIN “THUNDER” LIGER vs. CODY RHODES (w/Bernard the Business Bear)- 3.75/10
The bear took a bump, as it does in every match. Cody ran over to check on it, while the announcers, as usual, scream about how Cody cares more about the bear than he did about his wife when she got bumped through a table during the match against Kenny Omega. What is the point of this? Brandi’s obviously seen the footage by now and she hasn’t said anything about it, so if she doesn’t give a sh*t, why do the announcers?
The match was dull. Someone apparently decided that we needed another ref bump on this show, this time for so the BABYFACE could cheat to get a false finish. About a minute later, Cody just hit his finisher and won a completely anti-climactic manner.
JAY LETHAL, KENNY KING, & COLT CABANA vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Hiromu Takahashi, Sanada, & EVIL) (w/BUSHI)- 6.25/10
The thing management wanted to talk to Cabana about was him replacing Flip Gordon in tonight’s main event (which has already had ROH World Champion Dalton Castle removed from it due to injury, and BUSHI taken out as well because there was apparently no fourth person able to wrestle for the ROH side), because Flip got stopped at the border. Silly me for hoping that maybe management would make Cabana the new “enforcer” and have him deal with the Bully Ray issue.
We started off with Lethal quickly getting embarrassed and locked in the Paradise Lock from which Cabana had to rescue him. Cabana and Hiromu then tagged in, which then led to stupid, Darryl-based comedy. “LOL WE ALL PRETEND THE STUFFED CAT IS REAL LOL!” It’s been the same stupid joke for a year now. And I’ll bet you anything that most of the people going gaga for Darryl now would have totally buried Colt Cabana kidnapping and torturing Shawn Spears’ treasured Ronnie the Rabbit stuffed animal in OVW ten years ago.
(Side note: I just watched that recently, and it occurred to me that not only is Shawn Spears now Tye Dillinger, but Colt Cabana is making stupid Matt Hardy mouth noises when he laughs in that video.)
Cabana, of all people, got fooled by BUSHI telling him to “look behind you!” and then attacking him when he turned his back. That was ridiculous. The last few minutes of this match were pretty good, but the first eighteen or so were complete and total house-show nothingness, and I doubt it would have been much different if the originally advertised Hiromu, EVIL, Sanada, & BUSHI vs. King, Lethal, Flip, & Dalton match had taken place.
Because everyone needs to get their sh*t in, the finish saw BUSHI blow mist into Cabana’s eyes so that EVIL could hit him with the STO for the pin, because G-d forbid that part-time wrestler Colt Cabana get pinned cleanly. It’s not like this is the main event of an ROH show or anything, right?
Another dull, soulless, paint-by-numbers show on this tour with way too many f*ck finishes. This whole tour feels like a totally pointless exercise. They had maybe one show’s worth of exciting matches and they’re trying to stretch it into three plus a TV taping. The Young Bucks and Super Smash Brothers basically saved this show from being one of ROH’s all-time worst.
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