ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds Tour 2019: Day 1 (5/8/2019)- Buffalo, NY
P.J. BLACK vs. ALEX COUGHLIN- 4.75/10
Black won with a moonsault double-stomp.
ROH WOMEN OF HONOR WORLD TITLE MATCH: Kelly Klein(c) vs. Kate Carney- 2.5/10
Allure kicked Ian Riccaboni off of commentary for this match. Angelina Love said that upon seeing her, Ian had to “run off to his mommy” “just like any Ring of Honor male,” to which Cabana pointed out that this is clearly false because he himself had not done so. Velvet and Angelina tried to talk themselves up as “credible” due to their runs with the TNA Knockouts Title. Fine. But eventually they have to back that up in the ring, which will be problematic because when was the last time any of those three had a great match? Maybe something Angelina did with Gail Kim in 2008?
The other problem is that based on ROH’s booking patterns over the past few years, what’s probably going to happen is that every time there is a women’s match between now and their first big match (which ROH will almost certainly hold off on for months), we are going to have to sit through Allure coming out on commentary and saying the same exact sh*t over and over and over and over again.
I also felt their commentary took away from the match, as I was spending too much mental energy getting annoyed at what they said. The Women of Honor World Champion was dominated for 90% of the match against this random nobody who is getting a title shot because giving title shots to random nobodies just to have a title match on the card has pretty much been the gimmick of this title. Kelly is a babyface now, so I think that’s the third time she’s turned in six months. “I’m a babyface when I have the title but a heel when I don’t” is not a good gimmick, and I fear that Kelly will not get any more development during this feud with Allure because over the past few years ROH has shown almost no ability to develop anything in a feud or character beyond the basic one sentence headline pitch (in this case it’s “mean pretty heels vs. tough babyface champion”).
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Allure came down to the ring to have a stare-down with Kelly Klein.
CLARK CONNORS & KARL FREDERICKS vs. THE KINGDOM (Vinny Marseglia & T.K. O’Ryan)- 5/10
Rhett Titus came out to do commentary for no reason and said nothing important, just like he has been doing for the past year or so. The Kingdom beat the NJPW Young Lions. They also managed to both have the best match on the show so far as well as not do anything that infuriated me with its stupidity, which is a rarity for them, so I guess that’s a win.
SHANE TAYLOR vs. HIKULEO- 2/10
Taylor won a match that only went three and a half minutes, which is a damn shame because I was actually looking forward to seeing what these two guys could do, given time. The announcers tried to convince me that losing to Shane Taylor in three and a half minutes somehow made Hikuleo impressive. I just saw a young-boy last twice as long against P.J. Black and a woman I had never heard of before and who had done nothing to earn a title shot dominate that Women of Honor World Champion for well over six minutes. How is losing in three and a half minutes to a guy who has never won anything or been anything more than an undercard dork as a singles wrestler supposed to be impressive?
LIFEBLOOD (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams) vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada & EVIL)- 7.5/10
We got the usual Paradise Lock stupidity early on. Unless you’re going to start stomping your opponent on the head while they are helpless, DON’T DO THIS MOVE. Making matters worse was Ian Riccaboni attempting to explain that the reason you get freed from the Paradise Lock after being hit in the butt with a dropkick as a “nervous system reaction,” which is ridiculous. Getting hit in the ass doesn’t make you move your hands. It’s the application of force, which moves the arms in a way the Paradise Lock restricts the wrestler from moving which frees the wrestler.
Other than that this was a great match, but watching it- and, more specifically, the crowd’s reactions to it- were quite frustrating at times. LifeBlood are supposed to be these guys who stand for everything ROH is supposed to be about, but they’ve been here for five months now and haven’t done sh*t. They’re just generic bodies that get plugged into the card somewhere. And now here they are, facing this team of guys known for not necessarily playing fairly and who refuse to follow the Code of Honor, and the fans are cheering the other guys? People should not be cheering when LIJ hit Tracy Williams with a chair! But as much as I want to blame the fans, I find it hard to place too much blame on them because LIJ have made themselves into this group that everyone thinks are so cool for reasons beyond my understanding, while LifeBlood, who should be over as huge babyfaces, have been turned into generic wrestlers on the card due to incompetent booking.
The announcers used the chairshot to suggest a match with two officials to prevent such cheating in the future. I was all on board with this until they suggested that the second official be a New Japan official, and even less on board when they suggested that Red Shoes would a good choice. Have they just not watched any New Japan shows over the past few years? But it’s all probably a moot point, as my guess is that such a rematch will never take place, because that would mean cheating was actually being followed up on, which never happens when everyone involved is a regular member of the ROH roster, so I have absolutely no hope that it will be followed up on when half of the guys involved only come in for ten shows a year. It’s much more likely that the finish was done the way it was because NJPW didn’t want their guys to lose and ROH didn’t want their guys to lose clean, so rather than not booking the match, we book a f*ck finish, because that’s definitely what Ring of Honor is supposed to be about.
SILAS YOUNG vs. RUSH- 1/10
Dalton Castle came out to ringside to watch this match. He brought a bedazzled riding crop with him. Instead of doing his job and counting the wrestlers out, Paul Turner just followed them around outside and impotently told them to get back in the ring while ignored him.
Silas worked over Rush’s knee and then his chest, then put a chair around his neck and ran him and hit into the post, face-first. Silas got back into the ring, and Paul Turner (whose back had at least been turned for the chairshot) began to count someone out for the only time this match. Rush beat the count at about ten, got into the ring, and made his big comeback. This involved them winding up on the floor again… and Paul Turner didn’t count this time because… ummm… because that’s the spot, I guess. Turner also somehow missed Rush throwing a garbage can in Silas’ face. He rolled Silas back into the ring, hit his finisher and won. The match went a mere seven minutes, most of which was spent on the outside while the wrestlers weren’t being counted out. If you’ve got these great wrestlers on your roster, give them time to actually have great matches! Rush vs. Silas Young should not be three and a half minutes shorter than NJPW young-boys vs. Vinny Marseglia & T.K. O’Ryan!
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Dalton Castle and Rush had a good little confrontation. I enjoyed the way they structured this one a little different from the norm, with Dalton staring at Rush, from the apron then tossing a chair into the ring, and, feeling that his message had been sent, went to leave, while Rush was the one who picked the chair off and then cut Dalton off as Dalton was trying to get up the ramp, continuing the confrontation while Dalton tried to ignore him.
ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Villain Enterprises(c) vs. Jeff Cobb, Yuji Nagata, & Satoshi Kojima- 7.25/10
Matt Taven joined the commentary team for this match. The match was all action because it was actually about setting up the post-match segment (and I do appreciate it being given time to deliver even though it was really just an excuse to get to the post-match segment), but, as strange as this sounds, I think this being a title match made it feel more like filler than it otherwise would have because it made the outcome feel like even more of a foregone conclusion than it already did. Throw in the fact that a trio that has never teamed together before is somehow getting a title shot (and, to make matters even worse, just a week and a half after two thirds of the champions cleanly defeated two thirds of the challengers on a high-profile show streamed on Honor Club), and having this be a title match felt like it actually devalued the titles and made the show feel less important, which is the exact opposite of what a title match is supposed to do.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- excellent!
The Kingdom attacked Villain Enterprises after the match. Things came down to Taven clobbering PCO from behind with the ROB World Title belt, putting PCO down… and then, as Taven posed over PCO’s fallen body, PCO’s body was suddenly fallen no more and he stood up, scaring the hell out of Taven. A wonderful angle to build up to tomorrow night’s ROH World Title match between these two.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Guerrillas of Destiny(c) vs. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham- 7.25/10
Kenny King has joined the commentary team for this match even though he’s doing a gimmick where he is supposedly blind although we all know he’s not because of the ridiculous excuses he has been giving for not getting the surgery he claimed he was going to be getting. No one seems to be willing to outright call him out on this, which makes ROH management look like morons for letting him get away with it.
Kenny’s commentary was obnoxious and distracting, but it was for from the worst offense on behalf of the commentary and production people during this match. For example, the idiot director cut away from the match for a solid eight seconds to show us the announcers standing in the booth, talking. It’s a f*cking subscription service. There is no one watching this who can’t identity Kenny King’s voice, and even if there were, it’s Ian and Colt’s job to remind them who their commentary guest is, not yours, so why the f*ck are you cutting away from the wrestling match (never mind a f*cking championship match)?! At a later point they would cut away from the action to zoom in on the “ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP” sign on the CaryTron, just so they could then pan back to the match. The fact that this director (and the camera operators, too, if they’re turning around to shoot something like that without any sort of instruction to do so) is inexcusable. They don’t cut away from an in-progress play at the Super Bowl to zoom in on the Super Bowl logo painted on the grass, do they?
Ian Riccaboni responded to Tama Tonga letting out an expletive during a match by telling us, “That’s a fine. There are kids watching.” I thought we were done with this dumb sh*t when Corino left. Saying something like this makes the promotion seem completely uncool. I’m not saying that you need to curse to be cool. I’d be perfectly fine if I never heard anyone say the words “f*ck” or “sh*t” on a wrestling show ever again. But calling attention to the fact that a no cursing policy exists (especially if it’s because of the welfare of the kiddies who might be watching) makes the promotion seem like it’s run by a bunch of uptight dorks who are stuck in the 1970s as opposed to being the hip, modern alternative to WWE that a promotion like ROH wants to portray themselves as and needs to be if they ever hope to come close to competing with WWE.
The Guerrillas of Destiny jump the bell on their opponents. Gresham was the babyface in peril for a while. Stuff happened. The match was just barely passable for an ROH World Tag Team Title match in this spot on the card. Putting the belts on the Guerrillas of Destiny continues to be a completely inexplicable decision. Whatever big brawly match you want to build up to between them and the Briscoes could have just as easily been done with the Briscoes as the tag champs. If you did that then not only would we have had the belts around for the April shows, but we’d also have champions who would be able to put on matches with guys like Lethal and Gresham that people would actually be excited about.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- dull (yes, really)
The Briscoes came out and Jay cut a promo saying that tonight’s match will be the Guerrillas of Destiny’s only successful title defense because the Briscoes are going to kick their asses and take their titles on Sunday. A predictable brawl broke out, which was quickly broken up by ROH Dojo trainees working security. This was clichéd, paint-by-numbers stuff… and if Sunday’s show were a PPV, or even a big Honor Club show then I would have been okay with this. But it’s not. They’re using they’re subscription service to do what feels like it’s supposed to be a big go-home angle for a match at a freakin’ TV taping that everyone will get to see for free… in a few weeks when the episode airs. That’s backwards. You’re supposed to use TV to build up to matches on the shows people have to pay for, not the other way around!
FLIP GORDON vs. BANDIDO (w/LifeBlood)- 8.25/10
Ringposts appear to be fair game so I wasn’t going to make a big deal out of Bandido- a member of LifeBlood- slamming Flip’s knee into the ringpost, but purposely using the ropes to keep your balance while standing on someone’s knee is pretty clearly illegal (hence why Sinclair was counting) and thus Bandido should not have been doing it at all, never mind waiting until four to stop doing it.
An excellent athletic match, but with a much slower pace than you’d expect from these two. They did a great job of building things up and making sure everything mattered, and Flip sold his knee very well. An awesome main event.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- good
Mark Haskins cut a promo putting Flip over and telling him that there is a spot waiting for him in LifeBlood if he wants it when he comes back from Best of the Super Juniors. There are several ways this could go. Most of which are rather interesting.
This was something of a hard show to digest from ROH. Going on the aggregate of in-ring action and angles I guess I’d have to call it “good” (with the top of the card- and the main event in particular- saving a pretty bad first six matches, LifeBlood vs. LIJ excluded), but while I was watching the show, so much of it felt unimportant. Aside from the top two matches, almost everything felt like it was at best an excuse to get to a post-match angle and at worst pointless, unimportant filler matches whose results were all but irrelevant. Having so many big stars on the show but not actually wrestling (the Briscoes, Dalton, and ROH World Champion Matt Taven, plus Kenny King doing his dumb angle) made the show feel unimportant.
If I were booking I think I would have made the following changes to the card:
1. Have the Briscoes face Connors & Fredericks and kick their asses, which both gets the Briscoes on the card and lets them including a line in their later promo about kicking the Guerrillas of Destiny’s asses as easily as they did the NJPW young-boys earlier tonight.
2. Stick Silas Young in the opener. This is mostly to give him something to do, but it also gives us some more variety on the card, as that would be our only multi-man match.
3. Have Rush actually team with his fellow Ingobernables to take on the Kingdom, with Los Ingobernables winning and Rush getting the pin. This would serve to push the idea of Rush as a world title challenger, create something of a story about Taven being on a losing streak going into his title defense again PCO (and if you’re ready to do the Rush vs. Taven match soon, you could even set it up here by having Rush pin Taven) as well as letting us see a rare team-up of the Japanese Ingobernables with one of their Mexican brethren.
Anyway, that’s what I would do. You can make your own decisions. Definitely watch the main event, but nothing else on this show really felt like it mattered much.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Ian Riccaboni (after Silas Young used a chair on Rush on the outside)- “Against someone that’s undefeated, why not? Try to get that first victory!”
Because cheating is wrong, Ian, that’s why! And you know that because you just got upset about LIJ cheating ten minutes ago! A babyface announcer should not be endorsing someone cheating.
2. Kenny King- “You don’t bring wristlocks to a fist fight.”
I’m going to guess that Kenny is entirely unfamiliar with mixed martial arts, then.
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