ROH Gateway to Gold (6/4/2017)- Collinsville, IL
Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana were on commentary for this show. Ian was fine. Colt was often annoying, and there were far too many times where he would make the wrestlers in the ring look bad in the “what a bad mistake to not hook the leg there” kind of way. Ian was also the ring announcer tonight.
FRANKIE KAZARIAN vs. FLIP GORDON- 5.5/10
This was Flip’s first ROH house show match. You’d think the powers that be would want to see what this young up-and-coming babyface could do when given some time (and a veteran like Kazarian is the perfect guy to test him against)… but apparently not. Instead, we got a bland, eight-minute match, where Flip didn’t get to show much of anything.
COAST 2 COAST vs. THE REBELLION (Rhett Titus & Caprice Coleman) (w/Shane Taylor)- 6.25/10
Caprice Coleman, who is in this supposedly militant faction, decided to start doing comedy. The match was a solid but unimpressive ten minutes. The Rebellion won clean.
After the match, Shane Taylor called out Jay Briscoe to have their match right. Never one to turn down a fight, Jay come out and we got…
JAY BRISCOE vs. SHANE TAYLOR- 7.5/10
This was a GREAT match. I don’t think it was worthy of the standing ovation many in the crowd gave it, but it was certainly quite great. AS you’d expect with these two, they just pounded the crap out of each other with extreme intensity. There was even an extended grounded headlock spot that they made look vicious as hell. With hindsight, this was the first glimpse we got of the Shane Taylor who was been rising up the ranks in ROH over the past two years. It’s just a shame that the booking would continuously let him (and Rhett Titus and Caprice Coleman, too) down over the following two years. Hell, Rhett STILL hasn’t really gone anywhere. Even in the top babyface faction in the promotion in 2021, he feels like he doesn’t quite fit.
GAUNTLET MATCH FOR AN ROH WORLD TITLE SHOT LATER TONIGHT: Jonathan Gresham vs. Yoh vs. Jake Crist vs. Kenny King vs. Sho vs. Dalton Castle (w/the Boys) vs. Cheeseburger vs. Will Ferrara vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Jay White- 4.5/10
The gimmick here (aside from it being a gauntlet match) is that the competitors were randomly chosen from the set of wrestlers who had never been ROH World Champion before. If you’re going to do a dumb, random #1 contendership match for a title shot later in the night like this, it’s always best to come up with a reason why obvious names aren’t involved.
Gresham made a good run of it early before being eliminated by Kenny King after Kenny beat him up on the outside for a while. After that, Kenny beat Sho with the Last Chancery as a shout-out to Austin Aries, who was in the news at this point for being disgruntled in WWE.
Dalton Castle was in next, and the announcers rightly castigated him by going through his whole elaborate entrance, giving Kenny a lot of time to recover. For no intelligent reason, these two decided to have f*cking thumb war in the middle of this #1 contendership match. The crowd cheered and chanted “THIS IS AWESOME!” but I didn’t really expect anything else from a bunch of idiots who shouted “SWEET!” after every two count instead of paying attention to the potential end of the match. This moment just solidified my hatred of them and made me wish the roof would have collapsed, ensuring that ROH’s next trip to Collinsville would be much more pleasant. ROH was a little bit nicer than that, and simply decided not to return to Collinsville after this show. They didn’t even return to the St. Louis market for over two and a half years (their next show there was in St. Charles Missouri, and was actually their last show before the COVID pandemic shut everything down).
When they started to actually wrestle, Kenny and Dalton had a fine little match with a dirty finish which saw Jay Briscoe came out and distract Dalton, then chase the Boys away. This was followed up by yet another distraction finish when the Motor City Machine Guns distracted Kenny King to allow Cheeseburger to counter the Royal Flush and roll him up. Then we got yet another bad finish, as Will Ferrara decided to throw away his chance at a title shot to hit Cheeseburger with a chair because he recently decided he hated him because they lost a tag title shot that they hadn’t done anything to earn, anyway.
Punishment Martinez came out and cleaned up the pieces of Cheeseburger, setting us for a final segment of Punishment Martinez vs. Jay White, who happen to already be feuding, so that worked out nicely. They had a really hot start that quickly spilled to the outside, where they brawled until we had a double-count-out. The crowd booed this vociferously, but were mollified by Christopher Daniels coming out and being the big babyface and saying that he would defend the title against both men in the main event. In a vacuum, this would have been a fine finish for the storyline, but as the finish of a gauntlet match that went well over FORTY MINUTES, the majority of which was spent with bottom-of-the-card wrestlers in the ring, and with a big series of f*ck finishes leading up to it, this was a very annoying finish, especially with how great White vs. Martinez seemed like it was going to be.
BOBBY FISH vs. JAY LETHAL- 7.75/10
Great stuff, but once again marred by a f*ck finish. This is getting frustrating. This was Bobby Fish’s last match in ROH. If I remember right he was on some sort of short-term deal and everyone thought it was a distinct possibility that he would go to WWE. The office had to at least know that there was a strong possibility that this would be his last match in ROH. He’s currently a babyface, and has been a big part of the ROH product for the past four and a half years. You give him twenty minutes to go out there and have an awesome match where puts your #2 singles babyface over clean. This shouldn’t be that hard!
But apparently it is if you’re a gibberish-speaker with a lizard brain, because Delirious decided to give him thirteen minutes and have him BEAT Jay Lethal after interference from Silas Young. After the match, Silas Young and Beer City Bruiser beat both guys up. That’s the angle here. That’s what you need to get to. That’s where the heat is. Delirious had the option of getting there by either letting Lethal beat Fish cleanly and then having the heels attack them afterwards- which both adheres to both common sense and the ROH ethos of keeping finishes clean whenever possible- or he could have the heels interfere to cost Lethal the match (meaning the guy who might be leaving the company gets the win) and then attack afterwards- which defies both common sense and the ROH ethos- and he chose the latter.
Silas also cut a promo demanding that Bully Ray and Mark Briscoe come out for their match right now, which the commentators interpreted as Silas going against the booked order of the card… which means that (based on the way everything else was ordered), for some reason, Silas Young & Beer City Bruiser vs Mark Briscoe & Bully Ray with no stipulations of any kind was booked to be higher on the card than either the world title or tag title matches (if not both). Now you’re just creating logical problems where none previously existed!
BULLY RAY & MARK BRISCOE vs. SILAS YOUNG & THE BEER CITY BRUISER- 4.5/10
Predictably, Mark Briscoe was the babyface in peril, making the hot tag to fat old Bubba, who gets to make the comeback. We got a Froggy-Bow Whazzup to Silas’ nuts right front of the referee with no DQ, followed by Bully Ray making Mark Briscoe be the Replacement Devon for the “GET THE TABLES!” spot… even though this isn’t a no DQs match. The dumbf*ck fans all join in with “GET THE TABLES!” because I guess they want to see a disqualification.
The babyfaces go to get the tables because they apparently don’t give a sh*t about winning, but luckily for them, the heels cut them off. It’s Mark who is getting beaten up, of course. This included BCB going for a hip-attack in the corner which very clearly made no contact with Mark, but Mark sold it anyway. Mark saved himself, then Bully came in to hit a big boot on BCB and then be the base for Rocket Launcher Froggy-Bow, because G-d forbit Lardy McF*ckface not be involved in the finish.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- infuriating
The fans once again prove themselves to have IQs lower than the chairs they’re sitting in by chanting “YOU’VE STILL GOT IT!” at Bubba after a match where he did basically nothing. He puts over the fans, the Briscoes and the company. That was nice, but at this point in his run, it was more than clear that the only reason he grabbed a mic in the first pace is because he knew that the fans would cheer for him. His whole abysmal run is littered with Bully Ray promos before and after matches that serve no useful purpose other than to put the old turd in a position to say things that will make the crowd cheer.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Young Bucks(c) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia)- 8/10
These our did an excellent job of keeping this feeling like it was all action, even while sticking to the traditonal babyface-in-peril heat segment formula. Combine that with a nice little story about the heels trying for a spike piledriver on the mat-less floor and you’ve got yourself an awesome tag team title match. The only thing I didn’t like was how quickly Taven was moving under his own power after taking an Indy-Taker to the unprotected floor. That should be a stretcher-job spot.
MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Page & Cody Rhodes)- 7/10
Action-wise, this was a great match (thing TV main event-level), but it never felt important, which it should have when you consider who was in it and its spot on the card. Like many Bullet Club matches of this era, it felt like filler, and while it was very good, it wasn’t at the level where it felt like it enhanced the card and got you more excited to see these guys in the future (even in just “filler” spots, because this match would have shown that they can bring you something really worth seeing even if it seems like it’s just a filler match for them with little to no storyline consequences).
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH: Christopher Daniels vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Jay White- 7.5/10
This was a great main event showing for White and Martinez given the time the match got (a disappointingly short fourteen minutes, considering this is an ROH World Title main event), but it was definitely hurt by the fact that no one in the world thought a title change was possible.
Despite some very strong matches, I just cannot bring myself to call this a good show, because part of it were just so damn frustrating to watch. I shouldn’t be getting this angry at sh*t that is almost four years old, but I just can’t help it. You’d think that distance would make it easier, but it has only made it worse because I now have the hindsight to know how much of this never went anywhere or meant anything. People sh*t on Cornette’s reign (and rightfully so), but I think that in terms of booking, January-December 2017 might be the worst twelve-month span in ROH history.
GLORY PRO CROWN OF GLORY TITLE MATCH: Myron Reed(c) vs. Curt Stallion- 7/10
This was awesome for the time it got, and I don’t know how they didn’t immediately offer both men contracts.
MANDY LEON vs. STACY SHADOWS- 4.5/10
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