THE CABINET PROMO - They're not the Cabinet anymore. They've dumped this stupid gimmick. Hooray! Kenny King accurately describes the Cabinet as "an incomplete thought." Unfortunately, they seem to have a new half-baked idea gimmick. Caprice called a fan a "jive turkey" and the announcers reacted as if he had just said the N word.
CAPRICE COLEMAN, RHETT TITUS, & KENNY KING vs. THE TEMPURA BOYZ & MISTERIOSO JR. - 3/10
Yeah... this wasn't very good. Especially Misterioso Jr. He didn't do much, but the things that he did... well... they were one pathetically low dropkick and one powerbomb which almost resulted in Kenny King being dropped on his head. The former Cabinet win clean. Rhett and Kenny seem to be back to their old selves, while Caprice is still acting like a clown, just a different manner of clown than before. The former Cabinet did not come out to any music or have any played upon their victory, which was an interesting touch.
The ring announcer called the Tempura Boyz "the Nakamura Boyz." I'd buy that Shinsuke is their illegitimate father.
SILAS YOUNG vs. MARK BRISCOE - 6.5/10
Before the match Silas cut a GREAT promo on the local fans as well as Mark Briscoe. The sad part is that his criticisms of both feel completely spot-on to me. The match was good, but nothing special. There was also one spot that should have been a DQ but wasn't. Kevin Kelly talks about Silas Young now having "a streak of fantastic wrestling matches," and that's just 100% not true... but if ROH wants to start pushing Silas, or Dijak, or Adam Page or Lio Rush or anyone else, Delirious is going to have to start giving them the time and opportunity to put on awesome matches BEFORE the push begins so that the fans will be more accepting of him. And speaking of guys ROH is looking to push who need to prove themselves to the fans first...
ADAM PAGE vs. DONOVAN DIJAK - 7.5/10
This would be a great opportunity to do that, and these guys got most of the way there, but this match felt like it could have been a big break-out performance for Dijak with another 5-8 minutes. These guys facing off here should be getting twenty minutes, not twelve. It would probably help even more if the announcers would call the match instead of chatting about the how long it has been since each of them talked to Joe Blanchard. Yes, it's nice to bring up wrestling history, but the announcers' top priority should be to focus on what is going on in the present.
They also talked about Dijak not reaching his full potential because he is suffering from "bad management"- i.e. Prince Nana. These would be the same yahoos that have spent the past year putting Nana over as one of the greatest managers in ROH history. But back to the wrestlers...
They told a great story with Page working over Dijak's knee, preventing him from using his power moves. Dijak sold very well and had a very strong babyface showing. I just wish it could have gotten more time.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT WITH MCMG - Interesting. The Motor City Machine Guns came out and put Dijak over. They also announced that Shelley can't wrestle tonight because he got injured in a backstage attack last night (which is also why he missed last night's match). They noted they were sick of getting jumped and losing the numbers game, so they are looking for a third guy to watch their backs, and who would also come in handy with the new ROH Six-Man Tag Team Titles about to be awarded to the tournament winner next month at Final Battle. They teased that they might want Dijak as their partner, which came off as very strange because they have never interacted before and Jay White seems to have basically been playing that role for them already. They then went on to mention Jay White, who makes sense except that he is already in the tournament finals with his own team, and Lio Rush, who does have a (very tenuously established) kayfabe connection to Shelley- who is apparently a mentor to him (how many times have we seen this damn angle in the past year and a half?), to the point where he was able to get him out of some ROH bookings to go to the UK for a month, which he is returning from this weekend. Of those three, Rush makes by far the most sense, but I think he needs to be on his own, with an actual angle that will allow him to show some personality, rather than being the third Machine Gun.
COLT CABANA vs. CHRIS SABIN - 5.75/10
For those who don't know, Colt Cabana turned on Dalton Castle at the most recent ROH TV tapings (I think it airs next week). Colt cut a pre-match promo that was basically designed to inform the local crowd as to what had happened. He set this up by saying that instead of adding a third guy, Shelley should dump Sabin and be a singles guy like he did to Dalton. The transition was good, but I thought Colt's tone was all wrong here. He almost seemed to be back to fun-loving Cabana, and not being fun-loving Cabana has been what his babyface run this year was built on. His turn seems to have been based on the idea that Dalton wasn't serious enough and that was costing the team matches, so for him to be fun-loving Cabana here makes no sense whatsoever.
Some of that did seem to carry over into the match at first, although they did a good job of making Colt's antics be both funny and dickish, or, in hindsight, as things Colt seemed to have specifically done to set up a situation where he could cheat later. For example, when he got Sabin in a headlock and hit him with an open hand, he made a big show of the open hand and even ran over to high-five the referee. Then, a minute later, he got into the same position but this timed used his body to screen the ref, and hit Sabin with a closed fist, then made the same big deal he had before about showing off his open hand. It was very cleverly done, and the finish, too, was a great piece of cheating by Colt, but...
I don't think Cabana should be cheating here at all. If Colt's point is that Dalton was letting the team down by not being serious, then in order for the feud to actually being interesting (i.e. Colt not being just another generic, lying cheating heel), Colt needs to be shown winning cleanly by being serious. Colt shouldn't even be in this spot at all. Last night it should have been Cabana winning his Survival of the Fittest qualifier while Dalton loses his (although in Dalton's case it's not so much because it helps the story for him to lose so much as it is because he is already due an ROH World Title shot for pinning Cole in Champions vs. All-Stars, so him being in the SOTF finals not only wastes a spot in the finals on someone who everyone knows won't win but also puts Dalton in a situation where he needs to be pinned even though he has a title shot coming).
On a side note, it would probably help sell the Cole vs. Dalton feud if the announcers put the feud over instead of spending way too much time joking about whether or not Cabana will now be invited to the fictitious "rule-breakers convention." Even worse, Corino kept insisting that Colt wouldn't be invited because he was "fun-loving Colt," which, as I said above, goes against everything Cabana has said and done since returning to ROH in April. There is no excuse for a lead announcer to be this off the mark (and even worse, it feels like the only reason he strayed this far was because he and Kevin Kelly had to get their stupid "rule-breakers convention" joke over).
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - the lights went off, but I don't think this was intentional, as it wasn't dark enough to obscure who came out and the announcers didn't pretend they couldn't see anything. Kenny King, Rhett Titus, and Caprice Coleman came out and attacked MCMG. Donovan Dijak limped out to try to make the save but he got beaten down, too. They started to tape MCMG and Dijak to the ropes and beat them down a bit while they cut a promo in which they asked MCMG and Dijak to join them, saying they were showing them mercy this time, but in the future they had to choose whether they would either "lay down or stay down." Also, I think they're called "the Rebellion," now. The promo was mostly good, although I'm kind of confused as to what they want MCMG and Dijak to join them in doing.
Also, it would have been nice for someone... ANYONE... to come out to try to help our babyfaces. There was no security, no Lio Rush (who has already been kayfabe connected to them) or The Addiction (who are in the process of turning babyface) or anyone. Just some referees yelling in effectively.
This segment is really hard to rate. There is a lot of it that was good, but with no real clarity as to what Kenny, Rhett, and Caprice are talking about, I really can't judge it. I'm also quite warry just because I've seen so many stops and starts with these guys in the past year that I have no real confidence that whatever this is will be anything other than another vague, generic undercard angle.
NO RULES MATCH:
War Machine vs. Keith Lee & Shane Taylor - 9/10
The hoss fight to end all hoss fights. This was two teams of large, mean, angry f*ckers slugging it out, smashing into each other, slamming each other, throwing each other into guardrails, putting each other through tables, diving onto each other, and just generally beating the sh*t out of each other. Never once during the match did it cease to feel like a fight. When you can make a f*cking moonsault feel like part of a slugfest, you've done something amazing. These guys did that. YOU MUST SEE THIS MATCH FOR YOURSELF.
KYLE O'REILLY vs. FRANKIE KAZARIAN- 7.75/10
Alex Shelley came out to replace the now possibly deceased Kevin Kelly on commentary. He and Corino made a surprisingly good team, and got to call the best singles match Kaz has had in ROH. Also surprisingly, Kaz shakes Kyle's hand after the match.
CHRISTOPHER DANIELS PROMO - very good.
JAY BRISCOE vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS (w/Frankie Kazarian) - 7.5/10
Daniels works over Jay's midsection. The match was great. Daniels shook Jay's hand afterwards.
2016 SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST MATCH:
Bobby Fish vs. Lio Rush vs. Jax Dane vs. Damian "Punishment" Martinez vs. The Panther vs. Dalton Castle- 8/10
This was Lio Rush's match. He didn't win (unfortunately), but he is the guy who came out of this looking like a star. He had great sequences with everyone other than Dalton and Dane (including a Matrix half-minute or so with Martinez), and he came off like the most "never say die" underdog in history. I defy you to watch this match and not wind up rooting for Lio Rush by the end.
So that (plus Martinez being awesome) was the good stuff. Unfortunately there was also a lot I didn't like. First of all, there was WAY too much overbooking here. Dalton was eliminated because Colt Cabana distracted him (they had had a shoving match at the curtain). Then, just a few minutes later, Adam Page attacked Bobby Fish, and we had Martinez attacking Rush after Rush eliminated him. It was just too much, especially the Dalton and Page stuff so close together, and I'm not even sure why the Page thing happened considering that his feud with Fish should be over with Fish having retained the TV Title against him last weekend. We've also seen Page just come out and attack Fish way too many times for such a short, simple feud.
After attacking Rush, Martinez went to the announcers' table, got a chair, and sat right in front of Steve Corino for the remainder of the match. Then, after the match was over... he just got up and left. If this was the best they could come up with to push the Whitmer/Sullivan/Martinez vs. Steve Corino angle tonight, then it would have been better to just not have Corino on commentary for this match. That also would have avoided another problem, which was that until that moment, Corino had treated Martinez like he was any other guy. It created a massive disconnect for me. How is Steve Corino acting so normal around this guy who he 1) thinks is a reincarnation of The Purple Haze, and 2) who he has been so distressed over the fact that Sullivan summoned him to aid Whitmer against him?
I also wasn't a fan of the comedy that Bobby Fish and Dalton Castle were engaging in early on. It was such a downer to see these two acting like clowns in this extremely important match after the match had started with that FANTASTIC sequence between Rush and Panther. Fish's handshake antics before the match were also annoying, although I was pleased to note throughout all of that bullsh*t, Martinez stayed on the apron, not reacting in any way, waiting for the match to start. I assume it was Whitmer or Sullivan, but whoever taught him to never let a monster character like his get caught up in bullsh*t comedy is someone that more guys in the locker room need to start listening to.
An AWESOME show from ROH. SOTF is always guaranteed to deliver, and even if this show had only had SOTF and the War Machine vs. Lee & Taylor match I'd have said it was well worth it, but everything here after the first match was solid, and only one match in the final six was less than a 7.5/10