ROH All-Star Extravaganza VIII (9/30/2016)- Lowell, MA
ROH TV TITLE MATCH: Bobby Fish(c) vs. Donovan Dijak (w/Prince Nana)- 6.5/10
Great storytelling here. Fish worked over Dijak’s knee first thing in the match and basically everything they did after that was affected by this. This is Dijak’s home market, so was getting cheered even though he is a heel, and they worked most of this match with Dijak in the traditional babyface role of fighting from behind and doing all of the cool moves, even though Fish was the smaller man trying to chop down the big tree. The announcers also pushed that the finish was Dijak being choked out and the referee stopping the match, and thus even though Dijak lost he never gave up, which is also a very babyface thing. It was quite strange, but all made perfect sense as well.
FOUR CORNER SURVIVAL #1 CONTENDERSHIP MATCH: Keith Lee & Shane Taylor vs. War Machine vs. The All-Night Express (w/Caprice Coleman) vs. Colt Cabana & Dalton Castle (w/the Boys)- 4/10
Kevin Kelly tells us that The Cabinet “have taken controversy to a whole new level.” Yeah… a low level, maybe. They haven’t done anything other than cut promos saying that small guys don’t belong in wrestling, which what both Silas Young and Matt Taven have also been doing, and Kevin has never said this about them. This stable is a textbook example of how not to do a pop culture tie-in angle. In Delirious’ mind, “The Cabinet is using Trump’s slogan, Trump=controversy, therefore The Cabinet=Controversy,” which is a fallacy of association. The f*cking slogan is not the reason Trump is controversial.
Now they have them kneeling down for Code of Honor-mandated handshake a la Kaepernick for the national anthem. This one is even sillier. The logic, of course, goes “Kaepernick kneeling for important pre-game ceremony=controversy, therefore The Cabinet kneeling for important pre-game ceremony=controversy.” The problem is that people just ignore the Code of Honor half of the time now anyway, so why is it such a big deal if they are kneeling down but still doing it? Isn’t that better than guys like Bullet Club not shaking hands at all? This makes Kevin Kelly calling them “controversial” for doing this utterly laughable. It’d be like people getting angry at Kaepernick for kneeling when a third of the other players are doing their warm-ups in the middle of the national anthem.
I also hate the way Kevin Kelly presented it. He made sure to call them controversial, but went out of his way to not exactly tell you what they were doing, but did go out of his way to specifically mention Kaepernick. This is no different than that obnoxious WWE-style “OOOH! LOOK AT US! Look at this thing that we are doing specifically to show you that we are totally attuned to pop culture!” If Kevin Kelly hadn’t mentioned Kaepernick at all and then they knelt for the handshake, you could nod your head and say “Oh. I get it. Like Kaepernick,” and it would come off as slightly clever. But because of the way Kevin Kelly presents it, it comes off like a plea for us to pay attention to the fact that they’ve been reading the newspaper, and any appreciation for what they are trying to do feels forced because Kevin Kelly did everything he could to tell us to be on the lookout for this super-obvious thing and to explain beforehand why we would realize such a thing was so clever when we saw it.
Caprice claimed to have “a letter from the US Senate” stating that if anyone attacks ANX while they “peacefully protest,” there will be disqualified. Right. Because the US Senate has jurisdiction over ROH. Can we please have heels that aren’t jokes? Please? And even worse… Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are endorsing the letter, examining it and claiming it’s real! OH MY G-D! These shows would be so much more enjoyable if there were no microphones anywhere in the building. While the announcers and Caprice are engaging in this bullsh*ttery, there is wrestling going on in the ring, which they are completely ignoring.
Once they start paying attention, we interrupt this #1 contendership match to bring you stupid comedy. Cabana and Castle wind up as he two legal men, have a goofy stare-down, and then Dalton leans all the way back and Colt goes to pin him, because a f*cking Fingerpoke of Doom is something your babyfaces should be doing.
After that, spots happened. Some of them were impressive, but it was a mostly incoherent clusterf*ck whose only resemblance to a story was that War Machine and Lee & Taylor wanted to fight each other. Then Dalton pinned Rhett. I like Castle and Cabana winning here, but it makes ZERO F*CKING SENSE to have them lose to the Briscoes in their only match as a two-man unit before tonight. This way, if they were going to win here you could push them as being undefeated and having won both this crazy four-way and having defeated the greatest team in ROH history in their only two matches together. This would make them seem like a major threat to the titles, as opposed to the angle we have now which is that Nigel “saw something in them” and thus decided to stick them in a #1 contendership match which they happened to have won.
Corino claimed to have gotten a text from his family watching at home calling this “the greatest tag team match they’ve ever seen in Ring of Honor history.” That’s funny. I’d have figured that their first show would be one Steve is actually wrestling on, but apparently not.
DRAGON LEE vs. KAMAITACHI- 7.5/10
Oh. So that’s what the hype is about. This was definitely spotty, but it was that type of jaw-dropping spotfest that you don’t mind seeing every once in a while.
KYLE O’REILLY vs. ADAM PAGE- 6.5/10
Fine match, but nothing particularly great. The important part is that Page jumped Kyle after the match and injured his arm with a chair and the ringpost, with Bobby Fish being just too late to make the save. The announcers tried to protect Page a bit by speculating that he tapped out specifically to get Kyle’s guard down so he could attack him and injure him.
KEVIN KELLY INTERVIEWS SILAS YOUNG- Silas and Bruiser couldn’t find a third partner, so they won’t be able to compete in the tournament, so that makes sense. He then cut a promo building up an ROH World Title match he will be having next month in Florida at what I think is going to be a house show. THIS IS A WASTE OF PPV TIME! This is the sort of thing you should be putting on your TV show or on the website. It’s a promo for a future show. “Promo” as in short for “promotion.” It’s a G-d damn commercial! You put the commercial on free TV, not on a show people are PAYING for.
ROH SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT FIRST-ROUND MATCH: Jay White, ACH, & KUSHIDA vs. Toru Yano & The Briscoes- 6.5/10
The announcers pushed the idea that ACH’s recent tour with Pro Wrestling NOAH made him more mature, and perhaps this was the “missing piece of the puzzle” for him. He then proceeded to be the same ACH we’ve seen for three and a half years in ROH, engaging in the same type of posing and general babyface antics.
The match was good, and Yano’s antics were kept to a very bare minimum (as was Yano’s overall involvement in the match).
JAY LETHAL vs. TETSUYA NAITO (w/EVIL)- 7.25/10
Naito assaulted Bobby Cruise during Lethal’s entrance, which should result in a suspension for Naito and this being the last time we see him for a while, which means that good booking says that Jay Lethal should beat Naito here. But I highly doubt that will happen, seeing how protective New Japan has been of their top guys and how they just put the IWGP Intercontinental Title on him (taking it off of Elgin to avoid the champion having to lose to Cole later tonight, too). In fact, I even doubt any sort of suspension will happen, or even Naito facing any consequences at all, as all three announcers, including babyface Kevin Kelly and matchmaker Nigel McGuinness, treated it like a joke. Nigel, you’ll remember, is the man who created ROH’s “Zero Tolerance Policy” for attacking non-wrestlers when Tommaso Ciampa attacked- that’s right- Bobby Cruise, resulting in Ciamapa being suspended, and a later attack resulted in Ciampa being fired. This policy is also what caused Steve Corino to have to face the year-long suspension he only recently returned from.
They were having a very good match, and then the overbooking started and I was all ready to go on a rant because not only was this overbooking on an ROH show, but it was probably done specifically to protect Lethal in his loss to Naito so New Japan could be happy with not helping their partner out and so Delirious could be happy because he has protected his guy, not realizing how much of a turn-off overbooking is in ROH... and then Lethal made his comeback and won clean!
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH: Adam Cole(c) vs. Michael Elgin- 8/10
They came out all guns blazing, immediately establishing this as Elgin’s power vs. Cole’s work on the knee. Elgin kept trying to hit the Elgin Bomb but Cole kept countering it. Elgin managed to counter the Panama Destroyer… and then went for one of his own! While he didn’t quite hit the Canadian Destroyer, it wound up essentially being a powerbomb version of it, which I actually liked better because it fits more in with Elgin’s game plan. Both guys shifted to working over the head, and after a whole bunch of different brainbusters, superkicks, and Shining Wizards, Cole finally put Elgin down. Awesome match.
LADDER WAR FOR THE ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES: The Addiction(c) vs. The Young Bucks vs. Motor City Machine Guns- a PERFECT 10/10!
This match is basically a highlight reel of the sickest, scariest bumps you’ll ever see. We’ve seen millions of TLC-styles matches over the years, but they still managed to find some new things to mix in. There were so many crazy spots here, but I they all felt important and I can remember all of them. It also never once looked like they were doing a crazy spot for the sake of doing a crazy spot. They even managed to make that spot where there are three ladders under the belts and all six guys are on them trading punches feel natural. I can see some people not liking the interference from Kamaitachi and Jay White, but I thought it worked well as yet another way that these teams (especially The Addiction, whose buddy interfered first) were pulling out all of the stops.
SPOILERS ON THE FINISH AHEAD! IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MATCH YET, WATCH IT FIRST!
The finish also had this beautiful little swerve built into it. One of the Bucks was on top of a ladder and could have gotten the titles, but, after looking at the titles and even reaching out and touching them, he instead decided to help his brother hit Kazarian with an IndyTaker through a table, which looked SICK! The swerve here was that, at the last Ladder War, Jay Briscoe was faced with a similar decision and made a similar choice, and it resulted in him losing the match to the Bucks’ good buddy Adam Cole. This set up the expectation that a similar thing would happen to the Bucks, but they managed to get the belts afterwards anyway. I know that sounds kind of anti-climactic, but trust me: it wasn’t.
There were technically two heel teams in here this one along with MCMG, but this match basically turned everyone babyface. The wrestlers all put their bodies on the line every night, but there are some things that are above and beyond the call of duty. In addition to all of the bumps, Kaz and Daniels both bled all over the place, and Daniels in particular had some blood-covered facial expressions that made you remember just how great he is at every facet of this industry.
An awesome PPV from ROH, but mostly on the strength of the top two matches. The other stuff was mostly all solid with Lethal vs. Naito and Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi both being quite great, but the top two matches are what really make this show.