Ian Riccaboni and Silas Young are your commentary team for tonight. I thought they were pretty good at The Experience, so hopefully that wasn't just a one-night thing.
OPENING SEGMENT - Fine. Daniels cuts a promo about the history of ROH and the wrestlers who have made it so great. Some asshole fans chanted "NXT!" Daniels then continued to cut a short promo saying that he would win the ROH World Title.
He gets interrupted by The Kingdom. Taven says he is too old. His stupid "Mevlin" schtick already feels old and he's only been back in the ring for a few months. Daniels cuts a promo on Taven and challenges him to a match. T.K. O'Ryan jumps in instead and goes after Daniels, so we get...
CHRISTOPHER DANIELS vs. T.K. O'RYAN (w/The Kingdom) - 4/10
I like them giving O'Ryan a chance to show what he can do in singles action here, although the fact that they are treating one of the six-man tag champs as expendable is a bit concerning. I want O'Ryan to develop a personality on his own and feel like he is something more than Interchangeable Taven Sidekick #2, but I'm not sure if having him do a job is the best way to do it. It also probably would have worked a lot better if the match bad been allowed to go longer so he could have gotten more time to show his stuff. This would also have allowed it to feel like The Kingdom's interference wasn't the only thing O'Ryan had going for him here. As it was, the story of the match was very much Daniels overcoming the whole Kingdom rather than Daniels having a match with O'Ryan in which The Kingdom occasionally tried to help O'Ryan win. This was good for a four-minute match, but a guy like T.K. O'Ryan needs more than four minutes if he is going to be a guy ROH wants fans to accept as being an important player in the company, both now and down the road.
COLT CABANA vs. DALTON CASTLE (w/the Boys) - 4.75/10
At one point, the following phrase was uttered by play-by-play announcer Ian Riccaboni: "We've seen what Colt Cabana can do with these feathers."
The story of the match was that Cabana kept getting preoccupied going after the Boys, which allowed Dalton to capitalize and get the win. That sounds like Dalton got a heelish win, but they did a pretty good job of having the Boys not do anything that was really illegal (although I have to agree with Silas that a lot of it was pretty borderline and perhaps referee Paul Turner was wrong to not make any effort to reprimand them).
ROH TV TITLE MATCH:
Marty Scurll(c) vs. Sonjay Dutt - 6.25/10
They did their best, but they were completely hamstrung by the fact that no one thought Sonjay had a snowball's chance in hell of winning (which is exactly what happens when you give title shots to random outsiders instead of building up your own challengers).
WILL OSPREAY vs. DRAGON LEE - 6.75/10
This was the standard fun spotfest you'd expect from these guys.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: The Young Bucks(c) vs. Jay White & Lio Rush - 7.75/10
This match was pretty darn nuts for the time it got. I always enjoy it when the Bucks make an effort to change their offense up a bit, and White and Rush provided excellent plucky underdog opponents. That spot with Jay White and the chops is an excellent example of how you can do comedy while maintaining the serious atmosphere of a match. And how about that finish. That was CRAZY!
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- the lights went out and then the Broken Hardys appeared in the ring. The crowd goes bonkers. They (the Hardys, not the crowd) challenge the Young Bucks to an ROH World Tag Team Title match right here, right now, and for some reason the Bucks accept, so we get...
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Young Bucks(c) vs. The Hardy Boys - 6.25/10
Whoever had the bright idea to use one camera shot for the Bucks' crotch chopping and a different one for the Hardys' "DELETE!"ing and to switch back and forth every single time should be flogged.
They stuffed just about everything they could into these eight and a half minutes, and it resulted in the Hardys winning the ROH World Tag Team Titles, which is a booking decision that I just do not understand. It's a title switch that will only result in a quick switch back within a month (Matt only announced three more dates that they would be in ROH), which devalues the titles... and for what? If you wanted buzz then just the Hardys showing up and announcing that they had signed contracts with ROH would have done it (especially with the news we'd get in the main event about Bully Ray doing the same), and if you wanted to get them on the PPV all you had to do was book them against Kenny King & Caprice Coleman instead of doing the King vs. White match. This is going to be yet another short title reign, which is something ROH has been booking far too often over the past four years.
HONOR ROYALE BATTLE ROYALE FOR A FUTURE SHOT AT THE ROH WORLD TITLE - 3.75/10
This match was basically everyone on the roster who didn't wrestle in any other match (plus T.K. O'Ryan). The only guys I can think of who weren't in this match that you would expect to be on an ROH card are Alex Shelley (who seems to be injured), Jonathan Gresham, Shane Taylor, and BJ Whitmer (who, I have a sneaking suspicion, has quietly left the company). This includes Rhett Titus, who had claimed to be out 8-10 months with an injury at The Experience, but I guess that was a work.
O'Ryan was eliminated immediately, and was the only man eliminated in the first few minutes. Did we really have to treat one of the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions like this? This spot couldn't have gone to LSG or Shaheem Ali or Will Ferrara?
They did a good job using some of the eliminations to set up feuds, but I thought there was WAY too much comedy in here. I also hated everything they did involving Cheeseburger. First of all, I don't buy for a moment that Silas Young would pick CHEESEBURGER out of everyone else in the match to make an alliance with him and the Beer City Bruiser. Second, Burger's reason for ending their alliance- that he felt it was wrong to hit Chris Sabin when Silas and the Bruiser were holding Sabin's arms- was idiotic. It's a f*cking wrestling match! NEVER has this ever been portrayed as immoral before, so why should it be so now (and especially when you consider that Burger has, in the past, proven willing to both cheat and to help others cheat [because Silas Young is involved here, last year's Conquest Tour: West Warwick immediately jumps to mind]). Then they had CHEESEBURGER eliminate RAYMOND ROWE with a shotei that send Rowe stumbling, like, four feet backwards and over the ropes. Because God knows we've got to get the one-note comedy jobber over, because those Cheeseburger pushes always matter so much. Remember last year when he pinned Christopher Daniels clean in the middle of the ring on a PPV? Where did that get him? Nowhere. He went back to being a comedy jobber the next day, and that's what he still is, so why the hell to they insist on treating him like he's anything other than a human punching bag with a stupid name?
Just to cap all of this stupidity off, when Silas and BCB threw Cheeseburger out of the ring, War Machine decided to not only catch him, but to throw him back into the ring rather than just putting him down on the ground and letting him be eliminated.
It came down to Chris Sabin, Matt Taven, and Vinny Marseglia. Marseglia hit a low blow on Sabin, and then had to make the most goofy, annoying face possible while keeping his arm on Sabin's groin. You know... there is a reason that Marseglia has been in the business for a decade and yet has rarely every wrestled outside of New York and New England aside from shows with ROH: IT'S BECAUSE HE'S NOWHERE NEAR GOOD ENOUGH TO WARRANT A SPOT IN A NATIONAL PROMOTION! SO WHY THE HELL DID DELIRIOUS GIVE HIM ONE?!
JAY LETHAL & THE BRISCOES vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Page, Cody Rhodes, & Frankie Kazarian) - 7.25/10
Referee Paul Turner just let Adam Page keep his noose in his team's corner. Then, when Jay Briscoe picked the noose up, Turner made no effort to get it away from him, and similarly did not make an effort to get it away from Page when Page had it.
This is one of those matches that follows the theory that if you just take six guys who all range between the upper midcard and the main event and you throw them in a six-man tag together, you're always guaranteed to get a strong, fun match, and that's what this was.
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Adam Cole(c) vs. Bobby Fish - 8.25/10
Fish works the knee, Cole works the head, and they both sell it well. A very simple and yet very awesome match.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. The singles wrestlers in Bullet Club come out to celebrate with Cole. Kazarian gets in Fish's face and they start shoving each other until Cody and Page come over. Faced with a three-on-one situation, Fish starts to throw punches. He is quickly overwhelmed. Bullet Club tries to put him through a table but the Briscoes come out to make the save until the numbers game overwhelms them as well.
Then Bully Ray showed up. He didn't have any music, which was fine because no one would have recognized it anyway because they couldn't possibly have heard his ROH music before. Instead ROH made the interesting choice to have him not have any music at all, which I thought created this kind of cool moment where you could hear the "WHOA!" of surprise spread through the crowd as each person caught sight of him. Bully chokelsammed Adam Cole through a table. It looked fantastic. Then he cut a promo announcing that he was now in ROH. He said other stuff, too, of course, and he seemed pretty genuine in everything he was saying, but the fact that he is now in ROH is the important part.
This was a very good show from ROH, but not at the outstanding level of the previous five shows to bear the Manhattan Mayhem name. That being said, this is also likely to be the most newsworthy show we're likely to see in quite a while, and that includes next weekend's 15th Anniversary Show PPV and next month's Supercard of Honor XI. What you think of that news- specifically the signing of the Hardy Boys and Bully Ray and putting the tag titles on the Hardys- is very likely going to affect your enjoyment of this show. Personally... I'm ambivalent. I wouldn't be opposed to these guys coming in on their own, when you combine it with the many recent or upcoming departures of young promising talent (ACH, Dijak, Rush, Keith Lee) it does start to get a bit concerning. Gabe's comment was essentially that Evolve is going to continue to focus on being the promotion of the future... and that's what ROH used to be and SHOULD be, but seems to have lost the ability to be. In his promo Bully Ray compared ROH to ECW... and it kind of feels like we're fast approaching the year 2000 if you know what I mean.