ROH Road to Best in the World 2016: Indianapolis (6/4/2016)- Indianapolis, IN
THE ALL-NIGHT EXPRESS vs. STEVIE RICHARDS & DALTON CASTLE (w/the Boys)- 5.5/10
This was supposed to be Stevie vs. Dalton in a singles match but ANX came out and cut a good promo on them, which led to this being a tag team match. It would have been nice if Nigel or someone could have made this official (even just have Ian Riccaboni or Veda Scott pretend to have gotten word of their headsets or something), but whatever. I did like that Scarlett re-did the intros to officially inform the crowd that this was a tag team match. Dalton needs to call people “turds” more often. It just kind of works.
ANX gets another cheap win, this time after Stevie had a visual pinfall on Rhett but the ref was distracted with Dalton, allowing Kenny King to hit Stevie with a chair an flip them over so it was Rhett doing the pinning.
The lights in the building kept fading out for some reason. I guess Undertaker was debating whether or not he would make an appearance.
CHEESEBURGER vs. CAPRICE COLEMAN- DUD!
Caprice cut a promo where he talked too fast for me to understand. Then he offered Cheeseburger some sort of food item during the pre-match handshake. Instead of just saying “no thanks,” Cheeseburger slapped it out of Caprice’s hand like a jerk. Maybe this played into Caprice’s promo, but the announcers didn’t do anything to really indicate that it did. Cheeseburger also did stick his hand out for the Code of Honor-mandated handshake right afterwards so it came across more like Cheeseburger wanted this to be serious… except that explanation falls apart because the motherf*cker’s name is “CHEESEBURGER.”
They did some crap with the cereal bars, including Cheeseburger hitting Coleman in the face with one, which should have been a DQ. The reason they were able to get at them so easily was that the referee let Coleman leave the big jar of them (as well as a bag of something else) right there in the corner of the ring, which is the opposite of what you are supposed to do. As I will discuss in the “Stupid Announcer Quotes” segment, the commentary here was infuriating, and the match was short. The most enjoyable part of this was Veda Scott’s defense of her unprofessional behavior of eating on while doing commentary by saying “it’s a free cereal bar!” through a big mouthful of said cereal bar.
CHRISTOPHER DANIELS vs. RAYMOND ROWE- 6.25/10
Ian Riccaboni remembers that Rowe had a visual pinfall on then-ROH TV Champion Jay Lethal, and points to his as evidence that Rowe can win big singles matches. This is a good point. So good a point that it makes you wonder why Rowe has never even been talked about as part of the TV Title picture in the YEAR since then. He hasn’t even gotten a Proving Ground match, despite ample opportunity to have done so (Aftershock Tour: Hopkins comes immediately to mind, when Rowe’s partner Hanson was also being built for a TV Title shot, so giving him a singles win would have made sense, freeing Rowe up for a title shot or proving ground match against Lethal [which would have also helped put over this idea that choosing to keep and defend both the TV and world titles could result in Lethal being overworked by having him defend the belt on his very first show as champion], but instead we got War Machine beating perennial losers Silas Young & Beer City Bruiser, while double champion Jay Lethal was wasted in a pointless tag team match that was built around a feud between manager Truth Martini and stale comedy act ODB).
Also, it is just astonishing that Ian is able to remember this one result from a show a full year ago while he says… well… go check out the first Stupid Announcer Quote.
Anyway, these guys had their match and it was fine while it lasted, but the whole time I had my eye on the curtain because I was 100% certain that the finish would involve some sort of run-in from Kazarian, either as a distraction or physical interference either leading to the pin or to a DQ… and of course I was right. The reason I expected this is because (as if the pair of singles matches between the partners wasn’t warning enough), Delirious almost always overbooks, and especially when involving heel champions or the Addiction. The aforementioned match where Raymond Rowe got a visual pinfall on Jay Lethal that led to absolutely nothing is just one example (perhaps more egregious was Lethal’s inability to cleanly defeat Takaaki Watanabe- a New Japan Dojo trainee in ROH for his learning excursion, in an ROH TV Title match on Watanabe’s last show in the US before going back to New Japan. Another, more recent example, would be at the recent show in West Warwick, when, we also had Kaz and Daniels scheduled in separate singles matches, and Daniels match with Lio Rush ended in a DQ when Kaz interfered, at which point Kaz’s scheduled opponent came out to make the save and it resulted in a tag team match (which the Addiction lost when Rush pinned Daniels anyway).
So this dirty finish here was no surprise… but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t frustrating and annoying. So far we’ve had three matches tonight, which have been one bad squash with comedy in it, and two dirty finishes. This is RING OF HONOR. The company that was founded on this sort of sh*t NOT happening, and that continued for be a guiding philosophy until about a year ago, at which point things have seemed to turn to sh*t.
For those wondering how I would solve the problem of not having a dirty finish while also not beating either the champions or the #1 contenders, the answer is very simple: I wouldn’t have booked these matches in the first place. These guys don’t need to interact tonight. They wrestled last night in a six-man tag and they’re wrestling tomorrow in a No DQs match for the tag titles (plus they wrestled on the last show before this tour as well). Putting them in here together doesn’t do anything other than make their in-ring meetings less special because they’ve already wrestled so many times. That’s one of WWE’s major problems nowadays, and it seems to have made its way into ROH recently as well.
So as expected, the Addiction beat War Machine down but War Machine make their own comeback and Rowe and Daniels brawl to the back, leaving us with…
FRANKIE KAZARIAN vs. HANSON- 4/10
Props to Scarlett for doing the intros for this impromptu match while the action was going on. It makes things feel more official, which helps them feel a little bit more real.
Hanson won clean in the middle of the ring, defeating one half of the ROH World Tag Team Champions in just five minutes. Between losses like this all of the DQs, and the whole angle where they were on this massive losing streak before winning the titles via belt shot over opponents who had already wrestled, the Addiction have pretty much been killed off as believable tag champs. There is heel heat, and then there is irreparable damage, and this is much more towards the second one than the first.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- and on that note, Daniels jumps Hanson after the match, but Rowe comes right out to make the save and beats Daniels up, pretty much nullifying Daniels’ already-tarnished victory by removing any heat it might have gotten. Then War Machine lay Daniels out with their finisher. Anyone who thinks that this was good because it shows people that War Machine can beat the Addiction and thus we should think that they are going to win the tag titles tomorrow night is overlooking the important point that such a feeling was already established via the very heelish manner in which Addiction won the belts from War Machine and the finish their rematch at the New York show in which Addiction got themselves purposely disqualified to keep the belts because they thought they were going to lose. The last fifteen minutes of this show have served no purpose other than to bury the ROH World Tag Team Champions.
SIX MAN MAYHEM: Roderick Strong vs. Kamaitachi vs. ACH vs. Will Ferrara vs. Lio Rush vs. Jason Kincaid- 7/10
This was a really fun spotfest that managed to function like a second opener for me. A fun, exciting reset after a fifty minutes of crap. Ian and Veda note what appears to be a developing storyline with Roderick losing multi-man matches but not taking the fall, which makes you wonder how close they were to keeping Roddy around and when the final decision was made.
MATT SELLS vs. BJ WHITMER- 0.5/10
They did a segment where (after the traditional several minutes of “shut the f*ck up!” chants), Whitmer cut a promo noting that his opponent looked like Old School Steve Corino. They’re both Caucasian, both sometimes wore black kneepads, black boots, and yellow trunks, and both are naturally dark-haired but dyed their hair blond, so I guess they look the same. You know… in the same way that pre-beard and haircut Triple H looks like Adam Cole because they’re both Caucasians who sometimes where black trunks, boots, and kneepads, and have long hair. Just because they are different sizes and have different facial hair doesn’t mean they can’t look the same, right? Hell… at least both Cole and Hunter don’t have tattoos, whereas Corino only has a few on his arm but Sells has them all over the place.
The story of this match was that Whitmer beat the sh*t out of Sells and kept pulling him up at two. This almost cost Whitmer as Sells got a small comeback but then Whitmer beat him.
Can we PLEASE stop it with these f*cking Cheeseburger (and Women of Honor) t-shirt commercials on the VODs/DVDs. There is NO ONE who is buying a DVD or VOD from the ROH website that does not know that these products are available from the ROH website, so they’re not actually doing anything for sales, and the Cheeseburger one in particular is extremely obnoxious. No one wants to hear a bunch of people yell “CHEESEBURGER!” and make other obnoxious sounds over and over again.
KEITH LEE & SHANE TAYLOR vs. SILAS YOUNG & THE BEER CITY BRUISER- 5.25/10
The match was fine for what it was: Big dudes doing stuff to each other, Silas working on Lee’s knee, and Lee & Taylor getting to show off their stuff. Silas & the Bruiser do yet another job. I’m not saying Lee and Taylor shouldn’t have won here, but it’d be nice if this win felt like it meant something rather than them beating a team that is so worthless that Delirious wouldn’t even give them the win against a tag team that was about to break up right after their match.
JAY BRISCOE vs. MOOSE (w/Stokely Hathaway)- 7.75/10
This was pretty awesome slugfest. There was only one spot in the match that I didn’t like (which keeps this from being an 8/10), and believe it or not, it wasn’t the spot where Moose fighting spirit-ed up after taking a superplex. That spot worked perfectly. The spot I didn’t like was Moose powerboming Briscoe through a table right in front of the referee. That definitely should have been a DQ but wasn’t. This match (and that spot in particular) continued the story of this weekend’s three shows, which was Jay Briscoe’s ribs being injured, which would pay off tomorrow night in Columbus against Roderick Strong. I believe this was Moose’s best singles match in ROH aside from his No DQs match with Cedric Alexander.
MARK BRISCOE vs. JAY LETHAL (w/Taeler Hendrix)- 7/10
This didn’t start off well at all. Early on Jay Lethal, who is clearly supposed to be in the middle of a face turn, and who just last night not only followed the Code of Honor (in a match against Mark’s brother Jay, no less), but even got into a fight with his own heel partners… started this match off by refusing to follow the Code of Honor and doing general heel stuff. Later on he got help from Taeler Hendrix and also tried to hit Jay Briscoe’s Jay Driller, like a complete and total heel. There was also a spot where the referee just decided not to start counting the wrestlers out, despite both being down outside of the ring. This only gets brought up to a 7/10 because of the great finishing sequence.
MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole & Adam Page) (w/the Young Bucks)- 7.5/10
Bullet Club use heel tactic, including copious interference form the Bucks, to get the advantage. Referee Tod Sinclair eventually ejected them from ringside. MCMG made their comeback and everything was going well until MCMG had the match won but Adam Cole pulled Sinclair out of the ring. Even though it was clear that Cole did it, he was not disqualified. We then got a ref bump which allowed the Bucks to interfere for a quite a while before MCMG eventually overcame the odds and won, with Page doing yet another job.
I really didn’t like the overbooking here. First of all, this is ROH, and a main event no les, so I’d rather not see it for that reason alone. Then we have the fact that this four-on-two was going on for quite a while, and no one came out to help MCMG. Jay Briscoe is kayfabe injured, but both Jay Lethal and Mark Briscoe are feuding with Bullet Club and should have no reason not to help Sabin and Shelley. Having them chase the Bucks away would also have saved Bullet Club- theoretically our top heels, from being punked out despite a four-on-two advantage. They were already losing the match because MCMG are headed into a PPV tag title shot, even though neither Cole nor Page should be losing right now (which is why this match shouldn’t have been booked in the first place), but having them get punked out as a big unit was both counterproductive and entirely unnecessary.
A disappointing show from ROH, filled with a lot of the things about current product that frustrate me the most. It is baffling to me that Delirious will take the time to think out this “Jay Briscoe’s ribs get injured” angle for this weekend- which, while a good story, is really a small thing that doesn’t actually do much for anyone-, but can’t be bothered to come up with a direction for 75% of the midcard. It’s like he has been hired to build a building and he has built one side of it and is focusing on the intricate details of the gargoyles on the outside when he is on a deadline and really should be putting his effort into building the other three walls. I’d recommend that you stay away from this one, especially with the wretched first half of the show.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Ian Riccaboni described Cheeseburger as being on “an impressive winning streak, with a win over Foxx Vinyer on a recent episode of Ring of Honor television as well as win over P-Dog back in Nashville.”
SOOOO much wrong here:
1. Two wins a in a row barely qualifies as a “streak.”
2. It’s wins over two jobbers who are even lower on the totem pole than Cheeseburger himself, so it doesn’t really qualify as “impressive,” either.
3. I remembered neither of these matches, so I looked back at some records. Cagematch.net records the match with Vinyer as actually being a no-contest, while my own review seems to indicate that Vinyer was the one who the interlopers attacked, so it really should have been Cheeseburger losing via DQ… so not only is Ian wrong about the result of a match, but his error whittles this supposed “streak” down to just one win, which isn’t actually a streak.
4. Cheeseburger actually does have a real victory between now and the time those episodes aired (which was back in late March). That win? The so-called “biggest win of his career” when he pinned Christopher Daniels live on ROH PPV at Global Wars (plus he actually won a dark match at the NYC show, too).
5. But that wouldn’t really even make it a “streak” either, because in between this match and the “wins” that Ian describes (and even the ones he doesn’t), Cheeseburger has lost SIX matches, including an ROH World Title match at Supercard of Honor X: Night 2.
So no matter how you try to spin it, Ian Riccaboni is 100% WRONG… and all because he felt the need to say something to add some credibility to A 90 LBS JOBBER NAMED “CHEESEBURGER!” Credibility left him a long time ago.
2. Ian Riccaboni (also about Cheeseburger)- “He went to the ROH Dojo. His goal: to get to Japan.”
How about if maybe we don’t talk about the fact that people go to the ROH Dojo with any goal other than to GET INTO ROH. So Ian will bend over backwards to put over Cheeseburger, but won’t leave out one minor detail to in order to avoid burying ROH. F*cking idiot.
3. Ian Riccaboni said that Lee & Taylor and Silas & Bruiser were “just two of dozens of teams” in ROH. “Dozens?” Really? Using the nicest possible definition, “dozens” would mean twenty-four tag teams. To be EXCEEDINGLY nice to Ian, we will very broadly define how often you have to team up to be considered a viable tag team, and not just count teams in ROH, but also pairings from New Japan that have teamed up in ROH on a semi-regular basis. Using that, I count eighteen. Nineteen at most. And that includes jobber teams like Brutal Bob & Tim Hughes, teams that only seem to exist as on-paper entities but don’t seem to be a real team like Roddy & Lethal, guys in the same stable who never team together as a two-man unit like Lethal & Daddiego, and even the freakin’ Boys. Why couldn’t Ian have just called it the “the deepest tag team division in professional wrestling?” (which it is. ROH alone has nine well-established teams, and that’s without going into anyone who actually has a contract with New Japan but shows up for ROH often enough anyway like Roppongi Vice, or forced-together pairings like Moose & Rush). Why did he have to go and try to make it sound bigger by saying something utterly ridiculous? BY FAR ROH’s best announcers are Veda Scott and BJ Whitmer. Why? Because unlike Ian or Kevin Kelly or Corino, they know how to put something over without using hyperbole to the point that it shatters credibility.
4. Right after talking about how long Mark Briscoe has been in ROH for, Ian Riccaboni tells us that “it has always been Mark Briscoe’s dream to capture the ROH World Television Title.”
Yes. It has “always” been Mark’s dream to win a title that did not exist for the first half of his ROH career.
5. Ian Riccaboni claimed that Mark Briscoe was “undefeated singles match from June 2015 to January 2016.”
I had never heard any mention of this before, so I was sure it was untrue. I did some checking and- if we are counting “singles matches” as meaning only one-on-one contests (excluding, say, Four Corner Survivals and the like), then Ian is still not correct, as Mark lost a singles match in July to Christopher Daniels as well as a world title match to Jay Lethal in June. But he was, actually, undefeated in one-on-one contests from August 2015 until the last ROH show of January 2016. This seems like the sort of thing that is supposed to be important, so why the hell am I only hearing about it for the first time now, almost four and a half months after this streak ended? And now that it’s well over, why even bring it up? The decisions the announcers make about what to bring up in this company are completely incomprehensible. It’s also astonishing to me that Ian can remember unimportant crap like this from months and months ago, but can’t remember the results of Cheeseburgers two most high-profile matches, both of which happened within just over two months of this show.