By Big Red Machine
From June 11, 2016
ROH Road to Best in the World 2016: Hopkins (6/11/2016)- Hopkins, MN
JUICE ROBINSON vs. DALTON CASTLE (w/the Boys)- 5.5/10
Castle’s Boys have different hair tonight, and are noticeably paler. It’s entirely possible that they’re Sheamus’ nephews. In other appearance-related news likely related to the fact that they’re in Minnesota, there is a woman in the front row who appears to be wearing nothing on top but her bra. In her defense, it’s Minnesota, and this might well be the only week of the year she can do this without risking frostbite.
Dalton picks up the win in a solid match, with no obnoxious comedy whatsoever. This match right here is proof that he can still be Dalton Castle, without devolving into stupid, pointless comedy. This is what I’d like to see a lot more of out of him.
LIVE FISH TANK WITH BOBBY FISH- sh*t.
His guess was Dalton Castle. They had “no room in the budget” for chairs so they used the Boys instead. They did some comedy with this. Dalton seemed to lose his Dalton Castle voice for the first chunk of this, so if you’ve ever wondered what he sounds like when he’s not being a weirdo or a sailor, buy this DVD to find out.
This segment was a huge waste of time. Fish’s question to Dalton was “what is going to go down in our match?” for the TV Title at the PPV. They vowed to have brunch together after their match. They continued to converse, spending almost ten minutes saying absolutely nothing with any value until Dalton had one line about how there was no way he was going to let the TV Title slip away from him. Then they went right back to comedy, ending the segment with Dalton declaring that brunch was cancelled. If they had given these twelve minutes to one of the matches or even split them among two or three matches, it would have made this show much better.
CHRIS SABIN vs. WILL FERRARA- 5.75/10
TAG WARS 2016 FIRST-ROUND MATCH: War Machine vs. Silas Young & Beer City Bruiser vs. Lio Rush & Moose (w/Stokely Hathaway)- 6.75/10
Christopher Daniels joined the commentary team. They had a graphics screw-up so that the graphics for War Machine read “The Addiction, ROH World Tag Team Champions.” That’s embarrassing. Doesn’t anyone watch these before they put them up in order to catch things like this?
BJ Whitmer referred to the team of Lio Rush & Moose as “Moose & Squirrel.” BRILLIANT!
The big men did big-man stuff, Lio Rush did small-man stuff, and Silas Young was just kind of there. Fun match.
ACH vs. ALEX SHELLEY- 6.25/10
WAY too short. So short in fact (just ten minutes) that what should be a big singles win and a step up for ACH didn’t really feel that important. This right here is a match that could have used those twelve minutes they gave to the Fish Tank.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- After the match ACH put Shelley over on the mic, which seemed completely unnecessary. He’s Alex Shelley. We don’t need some young up-and-comer to tell us that he’s great. Shelley then put ACH over in a way that felt more authentic, but Shelley’s big speech about how hard ACH works and how much he busts his ass every night would have felt like it meant a lot more coming after a match that went twenty minutes instead of just ten.
Then we got to the real meat of this segment, which was Shelley telling ACH that he doesn’t like Sias Young either and Silas always has BCB with him, so if ACH ever needs any help Shelley would be honored to help him. In fact, he would be so honored to team with ACH that he says that if they ever need a third member of MCMG, they want it to be ACH. And in return, they’d like ACH to have their backs against Bullet Club because Bullet Club has so many guys.
So here were are four and a half months later: ACH and Silas finished their feud off… and yet the Guns never once helped ACH (they didn’t even have a house show where Silas was angry that they offered to stick their nose in his business and demanded that MCMG face him and the Bruiser without ACH being there). MCMG continued to feud with Bullet Club… and yet ACH never helped them once in that feud, either. We’ve got a tournament for the new ROH Six-Man Tag Team Titles going on… and ACH is teaming with some other guys while MCMG aren’t even in the tournament. So basically NOTHING THAT HAPPENED IN THIS SEGMENT EVER MATTERED… so why waste everyone’s time doing it?
STEVE CORINO PROMO- and the Kevin Sullivan bullsh*t begins. Also, did Corino really think anyone would be able to take anything he said seriously after claiming to have “tasted the cosmic cookie?” This would have been a great promo without the Kevin Sullivan-esque bullsh*t. Also, the threats of murder.
CHEESEBURGER vs. DONOVAN DIJAK (w/Prince Nana)- 5/10
This was your standard Cheeseburger match. It’s not bad per se, but it’s been over two years of this with no progression whatsoever for young Cheeseburger. Kevin Kelly made reference to his big pin on Daniels at War of the Worlds 2016 just a month before this… and he’s already right to feeling like the same jobbers we’ve been seeing for years.
TAG WARS 2016 FIRST-ROUND MATCH: Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice vs. The All-Night Express- 7/10
Being members of Bullet Club the Young Bucks are supposed to be ROH’s top heels… so of course we start this match off by having Kenny King cut a heel promo on them then have Kevin Kelly act like ANX are doing something wrong by going after the Buck’s injured bodyparts, both of which do nothing but build up sympathy for the Bucks. Then ANX and Roppongi Vice teamed up on the Bucks. THIS IS SO BACKWARDS. So the top heels proceeded to be the babyfaces in peril for a while until finally the hot tag was made and they made their comeback. Then the match got pretty good for the last five minutes. Then ANX won by stealing the Bucks’ pin. Again… SO BACKWARDS.
MICHAEL ELGIN vs. KAMAITACHI- 7.75/10
Elgin deserves a lot more credit as a workhorse than he gets. Kamaitachi looked great in his best singles outing in ROH so far, and it was different to see him not playing the heel.
DANIELS PROMO- Nothing much. Just a short promo to the point that you wonder what the point of it was.
TAG WARS 2016 FIRST-ROUND MATCH: The Briscoes vs. reDRagon vs. Roderick Strong & Jay Lethal- 8.25/10
Lots of great action in here and the match escalated very well. The Young Bucks attacked Lethal and cost him the match to get the Lethal vs. Bullet Club feud on this show and to take him out so he couldn’t save Roderick from the Jay Driller. The Briscoes cut a great babyface promo after the match.
Booking-wise I will give credit where credit is due here and point out that this match was put together to highlight not just the matches going on at Best in the World 2016 (Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal, Mark Briscoe vs. Roderick Strong), but also some other important matches/potential matches that were to come over the summer (Kyle vs. the Briscoe/Lethal winner the day after BITW and Fish vs. Mark at Death Before Dishonor XIV). Because of that, though, I need to take issue with the name of this show. It wasn’t just building to Best in the World 2016, as some of the matches build to here as well as the title shot the winner of the Tag Wars tournament would get would be on later shows, so this show (and tomorrow night’s show) should not have been “Road to Best in the World 2016: City X.” Tag Wars 2016 nights one and two would have been much better names as that is where the focus of these shows is. After all, the Survival of the Fittest shows are not called “Road to Final Battle,” right?
As for the show itself… it was pretty skippable. Most of the card is rather unremarkable, there is nothing really worth going out of our way to see, and the only storyline value this show has is as the first night of a two-night tournament, so if you’re not both planning to watch night two and spoiler free (which you’re not if you’ve been reading carefully because I told you who won two of the tournament matches), then there really isn’t much for you here. You won’t be unhappy watching it (unless you’re like me and get really annoyed by stuff like the Shelley-ACH segment that highlights the lack of storyline cohesion you’ll find between any given non-televised show and the general product), but I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see it either. Even if you’re a completionist, I’d say wait a year or two for the price to drop and then buy it during a Black Friday sale.