ROH War of the Worlds Tour: Dearborn (5/9/2016)- Dearborn, MI
Kevin Kelly is alone on commentary as Mr. Wrestling III had to go rush home due to the contents of the flash drive BJ Whitmer gave him last night (and if you think that sounds goofy now, wait until you see what was actually on the thing and it makes this seem even more ridiculous).
OPENING SEGMENT- Bullet Club comes out to open the show. Kevin Kelly seems pretty nonchalant about having been assaulted for no reason last night. Someone needs to tell the Jacksons that part of being heels means not Too Sweeting the fans, even if they’re cheering for you. Adam Cole then ran down the list of all of the people they superkicked last night. He then said that people want to know if they are “afraid of and repercussions.” That’s a freakin’ great question that I haven’t heard anyone bring up yet. I mean… they assaulted innocent people including cameramen and announcers. Shouldn’t there be some sort of disciplinary action from the office for this? Hell… hasn’t a big plot point in the Corino- Whitmer feud been the “zero tolerance policy” regarding going after an announcer? So shouldn’t the Bucks be at least suspended for attacking Mr. Wrestling III and Kevin Kelly?
Well apparently that wasn’t the type of “repercussion” Cole was thinking of because all he said that was that they weren’t afraid of Colt Cabana or Jay Lethal or the Briscoes. Why would they need to be afraid of the Briscoes? They didn’t attack the Briscoes, and if they Briscoes had a problem with them attacking all of those other people, surely the Briscoes would have come out to stop them last night, right? I mean… when have the Briscoes ever backed down from a fight? (We would later learn that they were in the hospital after their match with War Machine, which is a fine explanation… but good storytelling provides answers to questions like these BEFORE they pop up. If this was going to be your explanation, why not mention it at some point during last night’s show? Briscoe vs. War Machine went on THIRD. It’s not like there was no time to get us this information before the main event).
Out of nowhere, Cole directs them to attack ring announcer Bobby Cruise (which, for the record, Tommaso Ciampa did get suspended for, which was the reason the whole “zero tolerance policy” was put into place in the first place). The restrain him to set him up for a superkick but the Briscoes make the save because I guess they like Bobby Cruise better than they like Kevin Kelly or Steve Corino or any of the security guards from last night. Jay cut a promo on the Bullet Club that ended with him calling them “dick-wad bitches.” Then MCMG came out and Chris Sabin also cut a promo on them. MCMG suggested that instead of having their scheduled main event against the Briscoes, they would team up to face Bullet Club. Adam Cole pointed out that this was still five-on-four, so Adam Page came out and said he would team up with the Briscoes and MCMG to face the Bullet Club.
Page wants to fight right now but the Bullet Club back off. They agree to the match but say they want to be the main event instead of the opener. And just like that, Kevin Kelly takes this all as fact without any sort of approval from anyone in authority. I mean… you’re changing the card, including not having a heavily advertised main event that is, as Sabin pointed out, a rubber match many years in the making. You’d think that someone official would need to sign off on this. Would it really have been that hard to have Nigel McGuinness come out and officially sanction this card change, or even to just have Kevin Kelly wait a few moments and then say the he has gotten word from ROH management through his headset that this change has been approved?
After Bullet Club left, the babyfaces all shook hands in the ring, and they made kind of a big deal about Jay Briscoe and Adam Page shaking hands after their feud last August and September.
SILAS YOUNG & BEER CITY BRUISER vs. MATT SYDAL & ACH- 6/10
ACH came out wearing a straw hat and a Hawaiian shirt because… um… I guess because Silas cut a promo on him telling us that he hates ACH because ACH is goofy and someone in the office finally realized that if we are basing this dislike on ACH being goofy, maybe we should actually have him be goofy. It would have made a lot more sense to play up ACH’s goofiness/playfulness whatever in the few months BEFORE this feud started (especially because ACH wasn’t actually doing anything during that time) but better late than never, right?
The best commentator in ROH, BJ Whitmer, came out to do commentary with Kevin Kelly to fill in for the apparently late Nigel McGuinness. Kevin Kelly was very unhappy about this. Kevin Kelly justified Mr. Wrestling III’s absence from commentary as being due to the superkick he suffered last night, so as to not have to admit that he is really Steve Corino and was concerned about whatever was on the flash drive Whitmer gave Mr. Wrestling III “to give to Corino” last night.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- WHAT THE F*CK?!
ACH cuts a promo saying that Sydal has taught him very much, but now he must be his own man and won’t let Sydal hold his hand anymore, so he is breaking up their tag team. They part amicably.
WHAT THE F*CK?! This team was together for A YEAR AND A HALF… and they did NOTHING! All they did was have a best of five series AGAINST EACH OTHER for no clear reason (more on that in a moment), and then they continued to do nothing. And do you know what’s even more f*cked up about this? They are just breaking up right now despite the fact that THEY HAVEN’T LOST A TAG TEAM MATCH IN EIGHT MONTHS (and in that time they are also 2-1 in six man tags)… and Delirious didn’t even think to get SOME use out of this team by using this winning streak as justification to give them a tag title shot so they could at least put the champions over before breaking up! And it’s even worse when you realize that the pieces were all in place for them to get a tag title shot at Supercard of Honor X: Night 2, but instead they were just put in a random match against ANX while Silas Young & Beer City Bruiser, who literally never win against legitimate opponents and had just lost an eight-man tag against the tag champs the night before wound up getting a tag title shot that night!
So anyway, Kevin Kelly seemed completely baffled by this at first, but then he started to talk about how “getting ACH to be himself” was what “all the training” and the best of five series were all about. WHAT THE F*CK?! Nowhere did they ever mention anything about the best of five series being about Sydal wanting to get ACH to be himself. Not on the website and not on commentary, either before or after. In fact, just to be sure, I went back and found the article from the website introducing the series, and it stated that ACH felt that (for some unexplained reason) the only way he could “prove himself” was if he could beat Sydal in a match and Nigel decided to make it a best of five… so no part of the best of five was even Sydal’s f*cking idea!
And what “lessons” is Kevin Kelly talking about? We’ve never seen Sydal teach ACH one move or even give him one single piece of advice. Hell… this might actually be the first time we’ve even seen them SPEAK TO EACH OTHER outside of a wrestling match.
Everything about this team has been a microcosm of almost everything that has been wrong with Delirious’ booking: They formed out of nowhere, then went nowhere as a team for nine months (Sydal occasionally helped ACH out in his feud with Adam Page, but that was only a few matches). Then, completely out of nowhere, we were told that one of them wanted to “prove himself” against the other, so they were booked into a series of matches against each other, and while this series was going on, we got about eighteen different reasons for why it was happening, ranging from one guy wanting to “prove himself” to jealousy, to mistrust. Then, once the series was over, we had to wait six months for it to have any relevance to anything (meanwhile, as a team, they did absolutely nothing despite not losing a single match), and when the series supposedly had relevance again, it popped up completely out of nowhere and it’s supposed relevance had nothing do to with anything we saw or were told about while it was happening or at any point between now and then. Stuff pops up out of nowhere, happens for completely contradictory reasons, and isn’t relevant for months until it pops up out of nowhere with no explanation once again. Throw in some pointless overbooking, and you’ve got basically every Delirious angle.
RODERICK STRONG vs. LIO RUSH- 7.25/10
They had Roddy come out and cut a promo explaining the change in tonight’s card (he was supposed to face Liger but Liger got injured last night). In his promo Roddy said that when he arrived at the building, Nigel McGuinness pulled him aside to tell him about this change. This would be the same Nigel McGuinness who Kevin Kelly told us isn’t here yet. Whoops.
They had a really great match with Roddy working the back and Rush playing his underdog role to perfection. Roddy took a really scary bump on his head off of a poisonrana, but appears to be okay. They did some stuff to build to a Roddy vs. Liger match both before and after the match. That should be pretty cool when it happens.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: War Machine(c) vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Gedo)- 6.5/10
Liger joined the commentary team for this match. BJ Whitmer was insisting that this was Steve Corino dressed up as Liger and that this was horribly disrespectful.
This wasn’t supposed to be a title match but Rowe cut a pre-match promo saying they were fighting champions and wanted to put the belts on the line tonight. The match itself was fine, but the problem was that the people really came to see Okada so they weren’t into the parts of the match that were War Machine getting heat on Gedo, which was a large chunk of it.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Bad.
The Addiction come out and claim that 1) they never got their rematch after losing the tag titles to the Kingdom back in September (they did. It happened on the TV tapings in Kalamazoo in October… and if they think they didn’t, why haven’t they been complaining about that for the past six months?), and that they are undefeated in ROH (which is also very much not true). This sort of thing doesn’t get you heel heat for lying. It just makes you look like delusional idiots who shouldn’t be taken seriously at all (and there are a number of other factors that also make the Addiction seem like jokes, such as Kazarian’s Star Wars references and the way the announcers always joke about him being fined for swearing).
Addiction say they want a tag title shot this weekend in New York City. Hanson says that they don’t deserve a title shot but their recent sore-loser antics mean that they do deserve an ass-kicking so they’ll Addiction a title shot in NYC. Rowe then says that in the past day they have beaten the best in ROH (i.e. the Briscoes) and the best in New Japan (Okada & Gedo), so they’ll be perfectly fine putting the titles on the line against The Addiction later tonight. Once again, there is no company official out here to sanction this major change to the card, but everyone just goes along with it anyway. Even more bafflingly, The Addiction are apparently unhappy about this.
KUSHIDA vs. DALTON CASTLE (w/the Boys)- 7.5/10
A great match that did a good job of showcasing what each guy can do… and particularly things that we don’t usually see them do. Castle spent more time focusing on his in-ring stuff, while this was a rare KUSHIDA match where he didn’t focus on the arm. Probably would have been a 7.75 if they didn’t do that stupid “MY BOYS!” “NO, MY BOYS!” spot. If the Boys are going to be Dalton’s loyal manservants (boyservants?) that’s fine, but if you are doing spots where they seem completely driven by an inescapable compulsion to fan anyone who demands it of them, then their relationship with Dalton comes across less like an acceptable although unconventional one and more like Dalton taking advantage of two people with an extremely rare mental disorder.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI & MICHAEL ELGIN vs. THE ALL-NIGHT EXPRESS- 6.5/10
Nigel McGuinness is now on commentary, replacing Liger.
Tanahashi, the babyface of all babyfaces, does not follow the Code of Honor. Not cool, dude. ANX got heat on Tanahashi. Tanahashi made the hot tag, and the babyfaces eventually won.
More importantly, though…
During this match, Kevin Kelly asked Nigel McGuinness to address the Bullet Club’s actions last night, specifically mentioning that attacking announcers and other innocent bystanders is not something that should be allowed to happen. Nigel responded by saying the following:
“It certainly isn’t a direction we want to go, but let’s be honest: as much as I disagree with some of their actions last night, you can’t deny that they’re good for business. Maybe if I’d been superkicked last night I’d be thinking about this differently, but the bottom line is after the show last night they went to the merchandise table and they sold… well… I won’t tell you how much they sold, but it’s enough to pay all of our wages for these shows, so the bottom line is there’s a board of directors here, and the bottom line is: what’s good for business is good for Ring of Honor.”
What kind of f*cking sell-out bullsh*t sellout logic is this? First of all, ignoring violations of the law and the safety of your employees for the sake of turning a greater profit is exactly the kind of thing you see done by every evil corporation in every movie ever. And there’s a reason for that: It’s morally reprehensible!
Secondly, that line about “maybe if I’d been superkicked last night I’d be thinking about this differently” turns Nigel into a heel. “Well, some innocent people got assaulted, but at least I wasn’t one of them, so I guess I can let it go.” Again… this is Lex Luthor sh*t right here.
Now we get to the part about the merchandise. If ROH are the ones making money from the sale of Bullet Club merch (which it must be otherwise Nigel’s whole explanation makes no sense), then why do they need Bullet Club to be there in order to sell their merch? Why can’t they just suspend and them and sell the merch anyway?
This was atrocious, and there are two possible explanations for what happened here: 1) Delirious came up with a completely horrendous explanation for this gaping plot hole. 2) Delirious either didn’t come up with any explanation at all or he came up with one but didn’t tell Kevin and Nigel about it, so Nigel’s answer here was completely off the cuff and now this horrendous explanation that wasn’t supposed to be part of the storyline is official, either because Delirious had no explanation for his plot hole or because he completely failed to communicate his explanation to the two people who would be providing it to the audience (a similar lack of communication between the booker and the talent could also explain why Kevin and Roddy made completely contradictory statements about Nigel’s whereabouts earlier in the show). Either way, this is VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY BAD.
And really? Best for business? That’s the route where going here? Could you not have come up with a better concept than one that WWE has beaten into the ground for the past few years?
Nigel would go on to say that if he had suspended the Bullet Club then some of the boys would be unhappy because they wouldn’t get to fight the Bullet Club. He specifically named Lethal, Cabana, and the Briscoes. Well if they want to fight Bullet Club so badly then why didn’t Lethal or Cabana come out in that opening segment? (And as for the Briscoes, see above)
Nigel also said he fined them for their actions, which is exactly the sort of thing Kevin Kelly should have told us at the beginning of this show to at least make it look like ROH was doing SOMETHING. As I said above, some combination of Delirious, Kevin Kelly, and Nigel McGuinness f*cked up REALLY BAD in this whole thing. At the very least they should have had Nigel, Kevin, and BJ re-record the commentary the commentary before putting this out as a VOD. Didn’t Delirious notice any of these problems when he watched the footage before okaying it to be published for sale? He does do that, right? Because if he doesn’t, that’s pretty f*cking negligent. And if he did and he still didn’t notice any of these issues, that shows some major, major flaws in his ability as a storyteller.
TOMOHIRO ISHII vs. MOOSE (w/Stokely Hathaway)- 7.5/10
A hard-hitting, Ishii-style match, but without the obnoxious no-selling. A good showing for both men. Definitely a match-up I’d like to see again.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: War Machine(c) vs. The Addiction- 6/10
Before this next we were told that Nigel McGuinness had to be called to the back because of something having to do with the main event and the Bullet Club. We would later learn that this was Nick Jackson refusing to come out unless they used that stupid superkick counter graphic from last night in tonight’s main event. See… this is part of what drives me nuts. They have the foresight to have Nigel get called away to deal with this situation so that he isn’t at ringside when Kaz and Daniels cheat, but not the foresight to make sure to emphasize DURING Global Wars that War Machine and the Briscoes went to the hospital to explain why they weren’t out there fighting Bullet Club last night and all of a sudden want to fight them tonight.
As I’m sure you’ve already heard by now, The Addiction won the belts. They got the win via shot with the one of the tag titles, which is a fine heel finish, but there were two problems with it here. The big one is that the title belt shot wasn’t what the announcers focused on at all. Throughout the night Kevin Kelly had been talking up how War Machine “went to the limit with the Briscoes” last night and were “taken to the hospital after last night’s match” and how this was their “third title defense in twenty-four hours.” When they lost the belts, Kevin Kelly said “three title defenses in twenty-four hours proved to be too much” while Whitmer said that Rowe cost them the titles by asking for this match to be tonight. Even when mentioning the belt shots, Kevin Kelly also made sure to point out that Rowe had been hit with the Rainmaker earlier tonight. Putting the emphasis on this instead of the cheating quite frankly makes Whitmer 100% right. War Machine succumbed to their own hubris.
(For those maybe thinking that this is a case of bad communication between the announcers and the booker resulting in the announcers focusing on something other than what they are supposed to be focused on, there was no reason they couldn’t have had The Addiction cheat to win the titles at the Toronto or New York shows later this week. Doing it here and setting it up the way they did makes it obvious that the angle is supposed to be that War Machine lost because it was their third match in less than twenty-four hours, and the problem with that is that the way they set this up makes it entirely their own fault that they lost.)
The other problem here is that this really feels like the wrong time to take the belts off of War Machine. They just had their biggest accomplishment so far as champions, but they have only had two feuds so far (and the feud with the Briscoes was extremely rushed). A babyface monster team (and any babyface in general who you are trying to elevate to a new level by giving them a title reign) needs a good long time be cemented as main eventers before you take the belts from them because otherwise it looks like they weren’t as big and powerful and cool and dominant as we all thought they were, so they look like failures. War Machine did nowhere near enough to feel like the dominant babyface monsters they should feel like.
Emphasis on “taken to the hospital after last night’s match” “went to the limit with the Briscoes”
reDRagon vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES (Tetsuya Naito & Jay Lethal) (w/Taeler Hendrix)- 8/10
They had an awesome match. The babyfaces worked over Lethal’s arm while the heels cheated because they’re heels. Naito and Lethal had some miscues towards the end, which contrasted nicely with a spot they had done just before where Fish sacrificed himself to save Kyle from a Lethal tope. Kyle pinning Lethal clean felt like a big moment, and the post-match stuff between Lethal and Naito could lead somewhere interesting as well.
ROH announcers need to stop talking about people taking each other “to the limit.” They say Rush did it to Lethal, that Kyle did it to Naito, and that War Machine and the Briscoes did it to each other. None of those matches was even twenty minutes long. The closest was Lethal vs. Rush, which was nineteen and a half… except we’ve seen Lethal go longer than that quite often (his sixty-minute draw with Roderick Strong last year being the most obvious and high-profile example). War Machine and the Briscoes have both had longer matches than the almost sixteen then went last night, and Kyle vs. Naito… hell, they had a longer match against each other at last year’s ROH/New Japan shows than their meager twelve minutes here. When you say that someone got taken to the limit when that is obviously not true you’re not putting anyone over; you’re just shooting your own credibility.
BULLET CLUB vs. THE BRISCOES, THE MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS, & ADAM PAGE- never happened because apparently Page got attacked by the Bucks backstage so he can’t compete tonight. Cole pointed out that this made it five-on-four but our babyfaces don’t care so they go after Bullet Club anyway and the match starts. Bullet Club beats the babyfaces up on the outside while Cole cuts a promo until COLT CABANA decides to come out and join the babyfaces, so we get…
BULLET CLUB vs. THE BRISCOES, THE MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS, & COLT CABANA- 6/10 (but like last night, a disaster one the real “match” part ended the “segment” part began).
The Bucks and the Machine Guns did that stupid f*cking testicular claw spot AGAIN. They’ve done it in every single match they’ve had against each other in ROH (which is now at least four in two months) and they always do it in the exact same way and they always do it right in front of the referee and it’s NEVER a DQ. How has no one told them to cut that sh*t out?
Meanwhile, f*cking Nigel, who was earlier upset about Naito hitting Kyle when Naito wasn’t legal, Stokely Hathway giving Moose a little bit of help trying to beat a count-out (at a point where Moose really wasn’t that close to being counted out) and even something as ridiculous as Taeler Hendrix kissing Jay Lethal’s hand after Kyle stomped on it… says absolutely nothing about this blatant low blow.
They did moves for a while until we got a ref bump. They had Nigel McGuinness go to the back specifically to get another referee. He never came back. While Nigel was gone they did a series of spots that was nothing but the Young Bucks getting their sh*t in on the babyfaces. One of the guns ate a Indytaker on the floor, and perhaps worst of all we got a series of spot where one by one each other the other four babyfaces got into the ring and immediately got double-superkicked. They all looked like complete and total chumps. This company NEEDS to bring in someone with a clue about how to put matches together in such a way that your heels actually get heat. At least Cole tries, but the Bucks just clearly don’t give a sh*t about anything but making themselves look good.
So anyway, we wind up with all five Bullet Club members surrounding a downed Jay Briscoe when Adam Page comes out with a steel chair to make the save. The Bullet Club scatters and Page helps Jay up and hands him the chair… and then immediately hits him in the nuts because SWERVE. First of all, this would have been a lot more surprising if they hadn’t done a similar Russo-swerve last night with the entirely pointless superkicking of the Bucks father. Once people know you’re willing to do this dumb sh*t, they expect it every time. And when you keep doing it, well… you become TNA.
Secondly, THIS MAKES NO SENSE WHATSOEVER ON MULTIPLE LEVELS:
1. If their plan all along was to hurt these guys and beat them up, then why didn’t Page just come out as a member of the babyface team and immediately turn on them. That way it would be six-on-four instead of six-on-five.
2. If keeping Page’s allegiance a secret was so important, then why would you reveal his membership at a time when the Bullet Club already had the advantage.
3. Why would Page give Jay the chair? What if he didn’t turn around? What if he did turn around but happened to be wearing a cup so the low blow had no effect? What if he heard Page coming? Nope. No consideration for any of that. All they cared about was doing this in the swerviest manner possible.
So Page hits Jay with his finisher onto a table which didn’t break. Then Bullet Club all got in the ring and beat the babyfaces up some more, including Mark Briscoe and Colt Cabana having to stumble into a bunch of superkicks, or get up, only to get superkicked right down like they’re jobbers.
Finally someone pinned someone. It was the now-recovered original referee who made the count. As I guess Nigel just couldn’t find another referee for some unexplained reason. Then the heels started beating up the babyfaces some more and once again they zip-tied goes to the ropes and yet again NO ONE CAME OUT TO HELP. Not Jay Lethal, who we were told all night really wants to get his hands on these guys. Not perennial babyfaces War Machine or reDRagon, not Matt Sydal or ACH or Lio Rush or ANYONE. Not even security this time.
Now, before I talk about what happened next, like I’d like to take a small detour to talk about something that seems like a nitpick, but I think actually illustrates an important and overlooked factor into one of the big reasons why this angle is very bad for the company, which was clearly demonstrated with the event that closed this show:
Remember earlier when we were told that Nigel had been called away to the back to address something involving the Bullet Club and the main event, which we later learned was that Nick Jackson refused to come out unless the superkick counter graphic from last night was used? Well they didn’t use it here at all. This probably seems like an extremely minor thing to complain about, but bear with me here:
It would have made perfect sense to have the thing Nigel was called away about be the supposed attack on Adam Page (I mean, he had to at least be faking an injury backstage, right? So that people wouldn’t get suspicious?). Instead they went with the superkick counter. Why? Obviously I’m purely speculating here, but I think the reason they went with that is that they thought it would be funny. I say this because that’s how these things have all been pushed in ROH: They’re funny. We get spots that are four, five, or even six person superkicks. Steve Corino loves superkicks so much he yells it over the top, even when the Bucks are assaulting his own son in front of him. The only reason to do that is humor. The same goes for the focus on this superkick counter (and how much money he spent on it). Because it’s funny. There is no other reason to have it aside from humor.
The problem, of course, is that these things are supposed to be serious. It’s a kick to the head meant to hurt someone. When you take something meant to hurt someone and instead push it as being funny you not only hurt the perception of that thing as something serious, but also introduce humor into what is supposed to be a serious atmosphere (and the Bucks have been chief among doing that in ROH recently, although others have been guilty of it as well). When that happens too much, you tell the fans that this stuff isn’t serious. It’s funny, so they should react to it that way. Hence we got the ending of this show, where Adam Page grabbed a f*cking NOOSE from under the ring and HUNG ONE OF THE BABYFACES OVER THE TOP ROPE WITH IT… and instead of reacting in horror, people in the crowd started to chant “NOOSE! NOOSE! NOOSE!”
An otherwise good show from ROH that was completely ruined by bad storytelling and atrocious Bullet Club/Young Bucks nWo bullsh*t. And don’t yell at me for the nWo comparison. They’re running wild all over everyone and completely burying the babyfaces all while (the Bucks in particular, but also Cole to a slight degree) do their best to come off as cool as possible, while the announcers are now making a big deal out of their growing numbers. It did have a number of storyline-significant events (possibly more than any other show this year) so I would definitely say you should watch it, but most of those are pretty poorly done. While this Bullet Club angle won’t kill the company financially, it’s getting extremely hard for anyone to deny that ROH has definitely lost its soul.