MARK BRISCOES vs. FRANKIE KAZARIAN- 6.5/10
We need to save time for the main event, so when we go on the air, these two are already in the ring and throwing punches. They had a really great brawl for the time they got. Unforunately, every time the referee counted two, instead of being on the edges of their seats to see what would happen next, the crowd instead immediately shouted “SWEET!” because it’s 2018 and we’ve taught people that chanting clever things and being funny is more important than telling stories or caring about finishes. Maybe the Bucks could use their influence and teach their cult to be good wrestling fans? Would that be too much to ask?
We went to a commercial break, and when we came back, Jay Briscoe had come to ringside. They did one spot with Jay (Kazarian dropkicked him), then Mark hit a back suplex and went to the top rope for the Froggy-Bow, which missed and Kaz pinned him with a crucifix, so forty-one seconds after we came back from the break, the match was over. I know some people don’t like this sort of thing, but I really did. It makes things feel more live, which is what the show is portrayed as being. I thought these guys gave us just enough time to process Jay’s presence, then did their finish.
The announcers even acknowledged that they tell us that Kaz “is in the best shape of his life” every single time he has a match, with Caprice even claiming “you need to say it.” No, you don’t! Hearing the announcers say the exact same stock phrase every time is f*cking annoying!
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- fine
The Brisoces beat up Kazarian. The rest of SCU came out to help and punishment Martinez got involved on the Briscoes’ side, resulting in the Briscoes & Martinez standing tall. This isn’t a bad feud, but I do kind of wish we had some babyfaces here, simply because while SCU seem to be the ones who are being set up to be babyfaces, it feels like another clumsy “they’re involved with Being The Elite and therefore they will be the babyfaces” thing rather than an actual turn with SCU actually doing babyface things. The last two ROH shows I watched were taped just a week before this show, and Daniels was a total heel on them. Without an extremely compelling storyline, heel vs. heel is just harder for me to get invested in.
GRESHAM VS. LETHAL VIDEO PACKAGE- good
RECAP OF JEFF COBB RUINING THE TOP PROSPECT TOURNAMENT- what a dick
CHEESEBURGER VS. WILL FERRARA FEUD CLIP- We were then shown clips from a three-way match pitting The Dawgs vs. The Bouncers vs. Cheeseburger & Ryan Nova to show us “highlights of the on-going feud between Will Ferrara and Cheeserburger.” One of the biggest problems in this company is that a certain lizard-brained moron thinks that the works “Cheeseburger” and “highlights” belong in the same sentence.
The clip in question consisted of Cheeseburger winning a match, then getting attacked by Ferrara. As Ian himself noted this feud has been going on “for over a year.” The problem, as everyone except for the masked moron with the pencil has noted, is that despite going on for over a year, this feud hasn’t actually gone anywhere. It’s just the same f*cking thing OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
And what was their big angle here that supposedly made this worthy of highlight? That dastardly Will Ferrara hit Cheeseburger with his own move, the Shotei palm strike… which really isn’t even Burger’s move so much as a move Liger taught to Burger. And, really… it’s just a palm strike. I was doing them in Karate class long before Cheeseburger had ever set foot in a wrestling ring. It’s not like he hitting Triple H with the Pedigree where Hunter is THE GUY who that move is associated with. It’s just a palm strike. And this is their big angle ONE YEAR INTO THIS FEUD.
This entire feud is a fine example of why Delirious needs to go. Rhett Titus used to be a productive member of the roster back in 2013 but since then his career has been completely railroaded by two years of the go-nowhere Romantic Touch gimmick, then Delirious being too stupid to book the obvious match-up of the team that got stripped of the titles instead of losing them finally coming back and facing off against the champions without beating ANX several times first, destroying their claim to the title, to the go-nowhere one-note gimmick that was The Cabinet, which then transformed into the go-nowhere one-note gimmick that was The Rebellion, to now this go-nowhere undercard feud, completely destroying any value Rhett had.
Then there is Burger, who is completely overused. Cheeseburger should be our underdog jobber mascot who is used whenever you either need a lovable underdog or need to fill a spot on a show. He should not be constantly engaged in feuds of his own. He should be like Captain New Japan, except that people would actually care about him. But he’s not. Instead he’s a goofball undercard jobber who doesn’t fit with the tone of the promotion at all, and who we are always told has all of the potential in the world, and yet after years of being given these supposedly “big” wins, is still the same goofball jobber who only beats other jobbers on a regular basis because the company has decided to turn into a WWE house-show promotion and put the babyfaces over as much as possible, no matter what is best for the story.
Then there is Will Ferrara, who- let’s face it- only has a job to be a living billboard for the ROH Dojo. Or, more accurately, for the fact that going to the ROH Dojo will get you on ROH TV, because he’s really not the sort of guy who makes you say “wow! He’s a great professional wrestler. If I become a wrestler, I want to be trained by the same people who trained him!” In any other era of ROH, Will Ferrara would never have made it onto the roster.
SILAS YOUNG YELLS AT BULLY RAY BACKSTAGE AFTER LAST WEEK’S SHOW- Bully actually seems to be showing Silas some respect.
IRONMAN MATCH FOR THE ROH WORLD TITLE: Jay Lethal(c) vs. Jonathan Gresham- 8.75/10
This would have been so much better if Gresham had actually beaten Lethal at some point going into it (their singles match at Masters of the Craft 2018 seems like it would have been an ideal time for this to happen) rather than being 0-2 and Lethal just giving him this match out of the kindness of his heart and the stipulation being totally random. I mean… how can the announcers be so insistent that “these two men are so equal” when Lethal has won both of their matches completely cleanly? Yes, Gresham hurt his leg in the first match, but the announcers’ attempts to claim that “Gresham came back too early” because “you don’t get many chances to face a guy like Jay Lethal” and was thus not at 100% for their second match are completely ridiculous when you realize that 1) it was never brought up at the time, and 2) he didn’t “come back” for this match against Lethal. That was his third match in ROH that month, including a pointless opener against Chuck Taylor at Supercard of Honor and then a TV match against f*cking WILL FERRARA, and even if it actually was the case that Gresham “came back too early” and was hurt in his match against Lethal, it still wouldn’t matter because Lethal came into that match with a hurt limb as well… and unlike with Gresham, Lethal’s limb was taped-up and Gresham talking advantage of the preexisting injury was part of the story of the match!
Part of the reason I find this all so frustrating is that there is a right way to tell this story if this is the story that you want to tell, but doing so requires putting in some actual forethought and understanding how to tell stories with an interconnected universe that progresses from show to show to show rather than what Delirious does, which is ask you to pluck each match or segment that is important to the storyline out of the timeline and arrange them chronologically in some sort of pocket dimension where I’m supposed to ignore everything that has happened to the characters involved between these segments.
The right way to tell this story would have been as follows: Instead of Gresham vs. Taylor and Lethal & Tanahashi vs. Briscoes for the tag titles at SCOH, you book Gresham vs. Lethal and actually book a tag title match that makes sense. In Gresham vs. Lethal- which would have been Gresham’s first match back since his match with Lethal at Honor Reigns Supreme 2018- you have Gresham’s knee be all taped up and have Lethal work it over and then beat him with a hold that targets the leg. Then you pull Gresham from the events you’ve advertised him for in April (ROH doesn’t actually book matches for than one weekend of shows in advance anymore unless they’re going to the UK so it’s not like you’d be promising a match and not delivering). Then he comes back in May with his leg all taped up and beats guys like Will Ferrara, and by June the tape is gone and he keeps winning matches (or at least not losing; if New Japan won’t let him beat KUSHIDA then go to a time limit draw!) on his way to setting up this title shot! But instead of doing it the right way, Delirious gives us this crap, which comes across as “whoops! I guess we shouldn’t have had Lethal beat Gresham twice. Quick! Someone come up with something to say to protect Gresham retroactively!” and it comes across as the pathetically sloppy retcon that it is.
Having just buried Ian Riccaboni in the “Stupid Announcer Quotes” section below, let me now put over him and the ROH way of announcing. At the beginning of this match, Ian said “fans, if this is your first time watching Ring of Honor Wrestling” and then proceeded to explain the rules of an Ironman Match to us. This was professional and sports-like, which is what it should be. Now compare it to WWE’s way of doing things, which involves the play-by-play guy tell his colleagues, “Remember, guys” and then explaining the rules to them, as if he thinks they are so dumb they might have forgotten them.
The match itself was just as awesome as advertised, though it was more of a straight-up strong-style hard-hitting and emotion-based battle rather than the technical clinic I was expecting based on their previous two matches and hoping for because that is the style I enjoy the most. This match will probably re-open the debate that we saw after the Charlotte vs. Sasha match back in December 2016 because we saw a babyface tap away a fall to tie the match up less than a minute away from winning, and like in that case, I have no problem with this because sometimes you just have to tap out to avoid permanent damage that stunts your career. That’s just how sports work, and this is supposed to be real.
An excellent episode of ROH. Obviously it was mostly on the strength of this one match, but it was done that way by design, and Kaz and Mark deserve credit for doing so much with the time they were given for the opener.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Ian Riccabonni insisted to me that Jay Lethal wore the ROH World Title with more “professionalism” than anyone else.
It’s amazing how the first eleven months of a fourteen-month long title reign manage to disappear when you have such a hack announcer who either expects us not to remember or doesn’t remember himself that Lethal was a heel for most of his title run (and for the year before that).
2. Ian Riccabonni talked about “the role Gresham is on.”
Since the beginning of June (this was taped in late July), he is 2-5, with one of his wins coming in a dark match.
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