Silas Young & Ian Riccaboni are on commentary again tonight. I very much enjoyed them last night but one thing that hit me right off the bat here was that we REALLY need to get some consistency on who it is that is making the kayfabe decisions in ROH now. They can't say "the ROH Executive Committee" in one sentence, "the ROH Board of Directors" in the next and "ROH Management" in a third. Yes, I know that it is possible that these are indeed three separate groups or that one is a blanket term that encompasses the others, but it really just makes it look like ROH (both the commentators and company, in kayfabe and out) don't have their sh*t together.
DONOVAN DIJAK vs. DALTON CASTLE (w/the Boys) - 6.5/10
We start off with the usual Stupid Dalton Tricks. If he's going to lean back like that far and put himself in that position, why doesn't Dijak just run up to him and kick him in the head? And even outside of the context of a match, the idea that there are still people who are... entertained?/amused?/whatever by this same pointless spot after two years is completely baffling to me. Or, as Silas Young put it "This is my problem. He's an idiot, and then these other idiots cheer for him."
Once Dalton stops his stupid stalling crap and they actually start wrestling things start getting enjoyable. Who could have seen that coming? The story of this match was Dalton working on Dijak's head, which was already weakened due to having a steel chair smashed into it last night by Cody Rhodes. Dalton picked up the win, as he should heading into an ROH World Title match in two months at Supercard of Honor XI.
RHETT TITUS PROMO - He finally gives an example of ROH holding The Rebellion back: Kenny King & Caprice Coleman aren't even booked on this show. Rhett then said that The Rebellion is in "recruitment mode" tonight and explained to us exactly why Andy Dalton would fit in with their group. Andy Dalton then came out and cut a short promo about why he was angry with ROH. This was all perfectly fine... or at least it would have been if it had ended there.
Rather than just go to the match we would eventually get (Rhett & Andy vs. War Machine) they had Andy Dalton tell Rhett that he went to ROH Management and got them a match... and apparently ROH Management didn't even bother to tell Rhett about this match because Rhett was under the impression that he would be facing Andy Dalton in a singles match. Instead Dalton reveals that it's a tag team match and they are facing War Machine, at which point Rhett begins to freak out and shove him. This made Rhett look like an idiot. He's a f*cking professional combat athlete. Yeah, War Machine are big and tough but so what? I don't remember Rhett being afraid of them last year when he and Kenny King challenged them for the ROH World Tag Team Titles.
Doing this just makes Rhett look like a joke... and wasn't the point of the whole change from The Cabinet to The Rebellion that they were going to be serious now? But no. Apparently not. They just changed from one stupid joke of an undercard heel stable into another joke of an undercard heel stable. Way to go, Delirious. Are you actually proud of the amount of everyone's time and SBG's money you've wasted on these guys over the past nine months? Because the only possible explanations for this are malicious self-sabotage or total incompetence. Which one is it, Lizard-Man?
WAR MACHINE vs. RHETT TITUS & ANDY DALTON - 4.25/10
Ian Riccaboni tries to tell me that there is "bad blood" between ANX and War Machine after their ROH World Tag Team Title match last year. This would be a lot more believable if EITHER TEAM HAD EVER SAID ANYTHING ABOUT IT AT SOME POINT SINCE THEN.
The match started off with Dalton immediately getting flattened by Ray Rowe. In fact, he spent most of the match being made to look like a total jobber. Yeah, he got two or three spots in, but nine spots out of ten in which he was involved were him looking like he was in totally over his head. This, combined with his confident attitude earlier- now exposed has having been overconfidence- basically kills him as anything other than a clown in ROH. Do you remember those jobbers that WWE would bring in to cut optimistic promos before facing off against either Braun Strowman or Nia Jax? That's what Andy Dalton came off like. And because of this and the fact that the announcers and Rhett both put him over as being so talented, it kills their credibility, too, for trying to sell me that this jobber had the potential to win the Top Prospect Tournament.
THE ADDICTION vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole & Cody Rhodes) - 6.25/10
Bullet Club stalled for a while. Cody even called for a microphone. As Cody was asking for the mic, some fan said something that upset all four wrestlers and had the rest of the crowd chanting "KICK HIM OUT!" We couldn't hear what it was. Cody then proceeded to swerve the fans by pretending to be happy that he is from Texas but then saying he's happy he doesn't live here anymore. Can we please have some wrestling? They've been in the ring for at least five minutes now and absolutely nothing has happened.
Once they started wrestling the match was fine, aside from one spot towards the end where Bullet Club decided to try to use a chair and the referee made absolutely zero effort to stop them. Then we got a minute of very good stuff that then ended with the ROH World Champion pinning the #1 contender completely cleanly in the middle of the ring. To make matters worse, Ian Riccaboni tried to portray Cody grabbing Daniels foot to get his attention so that he wasn't in position for Celebrity Rehab as some sort of dastardly deed. I mean... technically it's illegal, but it's the sort of thing that happens all of the time without comment. For example, Ian did not react as if anything untoward happened just a few moments before when Cody was about to hit Daniels with the Cross Rhodes but Kaz flew in with a springboard dropkick to save Daniels.
POST-MATCH PROMO - Cole cut a promo saying that he has gotten into Daniels' head and that Daniels has no chance of beating him at the 15th Anniversary Show. The promo was not only very good, but its inclusion here made me a bit more comfortable with this storyline of Cole getting into Daniels' head to try to psyche him out. Or, more specifically, it made me feel a bit better about Daniels losing cleanly to Cole here for the sake of this story. This is a fine example of how letting the wrestlers cut their own promos to get their own stories over rather than having the announcers explain the stories to us makes the stories better. When a wrestler cuts a promo it is raw and first-hand, and we are hearing the wrestler's emotions and intentions straight from the horse's mouth. When an announcer does it, it often feels like they are trying to impose a story onto a series of events where it doesn't necessarily fit. Without Cole's promo here, Daniels' is just a loser, and when the announcers say "Cole is definitely in Daniels' head" it comes across like they are trying to make excuses for Daniels or like they're grasping at straws for something to say about this feud. When Cole does cut this promo Daniels is still a loser, but the fact that Cole is making something of that loss makes the loss feel more like part of a story than a match that is happening for no other purpose than "these guys have a title match coming up so let's book them and their friends in a tag match," and thus like it serves a greater purpose in the overall narrative.
JAY LETHAL vs. ADAM PAGE - 6/10
Page jumped Lethal as he was coming through the ropes. I actually like that he waited until Lethal was coming through the ropes rather than attacking Lethal from behind while Lethal was doing his pose on the apron, because standard wrestling procedure seems to be that the bell should be rung as soon as there is physicality and both men have entered the ring, so if Page attacked Lethal from behind and knocked him off of the apron, the referee wouldn't have to ring the bell and might even back Page off until Lethal had recovered so Page wouldn't be able to seize on the advantage he created.
Page worked over Lethal's head but needed help from Bullet Club to get the win. They beat Lethal down after the match but The Addiction came out to make the save. Then Daniels not only cut his own promo to build up his feud with Cole, but also was kind enough to cut a promo for Jay Lethal to build up the Lethal vs. Cody feud. That was very weird to listen to.
FOUR CORNER SURVIVAL MATCH:
Johnathan Gresham vs. Will Ferrara vs. Jax Dane vs. Sho (w/Yo) - 4.5/10
We started off with the three smaller men all being afraid of the over 300 lbs Dane and not wanting to start off the match against him. This was played for comedy which is fine, but I think it was a missed opportunity to have a guy like Gresham jump in there and show no fear of a larger opponent to help get him over as a babyface. I can't see a guy like Spike Dudley or Amazing Red or Lio Rush backing down the way these three did here, and if they ever did, they certainly wouldn't have done so more than once in a match.
The match was pretty short but they managed to pack a lot of story into it. Basically, the big guy dominated the small guys. Then small guys tried to work against him in a pair but to no avail, only finally being able to deal with him when they worked as a trio... but in the middle of them working together as a trios Ferrara caught Sho off guard and hit him with Eyes Wide Shut to get the pin, with Gresham being just a moment too slow to break it up. They announcers played up that Silas Young was very interested in Dane being a potential third partner for himself and the Beer City Bruiser to go after the six-man tag titles... which is why it's so strange that they seemed to miss pointing out the obvious fact that here was Dane battling against three men all by himself at the same time (and even occasionally holding his ground).
LIO RUSH vs. BOBBY FISH - 8/10
The fans are shouting "SWEEEEEET" after every two count. Can we please not do this stupid sh*t?
This match told the story of Fish working over Rush's knee and Rush did an excellent job with his selling... aside from that one spot where he did two suicide dives in a row. Even if this wasn't a match where Rush's leg got worked over he really shouldn't be doing that spot because in ROH that is Jay Lethal's spot. This sort of thing normally wouldn't bother me, but I really don't like that spot in the first place (although with Lethal the use it developed organically so it doesn't bother me when he does it), so I'm not happy with seeing more people try to copy it. Anyway, the match was awesome and you should go out of your way to see it.
ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Kingdom(c) vs. Jay White & the Motor City Machine Guns - 6.5/10
This match here is one of the best examples of my issues with the current booking philosophy. It was randomly announced that The Kingdom would be defending their titles on this show against the trio of Jay White & the Motor City Machine Guns, despite the fact that this trio lost their last match together to a different (and more established) six-man tag team unit, and hadn't actually won a trios match together since mid-October. We then have a title match that ends when the champs intentionally get themselves disqualified when the babyfaces are about to win the titles. This was obviously done to set up MCMG & White for another title shot.
The old way of doing things (Gabe, Pearce, Cornette, and even Delirious up until about mid-2015) would have been to have this match be non-title and have MCMG & White just win cleanly. Both wind up in the same spot (White & MCMG deserve a title shot), but while the old way would have given us a clean finish and showed us that they have earned a title shot, the new way gives us guys who don't deserve a title shot randomly being given one (making both the titles and the idea that the results of non-title matches should matter look unimportant), and then gives us an intentional DQ finish in a title match (which would be frustrating enough from WWE or TNA, but in a promotion that was built on the idea of providing clean finishes, it's even worse). Both get to the same place, but old way is satisfying, both in terms of telling a story (however simplistic it may be) and in terms of enjoyment garnered by when viewing the match while the new way replaces that satisfaction with frustration on both of those fronts.
CODY RHODES COMES OUT TO BE THE YOUNG BUCKS' HYPE MAN - he referred to them as "all flips and few fists." That made me laugh, but Cody sure wasn't laughing when Jay Lethal came out and attacked him from behind to get some revenge for earlier tonight. Lethal chased Cody out through the crowd.
2 OUT OF 3 FALLS MATCH FOR THE ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Young Bucks(c) vs. The Briscoes - 6.25/10
Remember what I was saying above about people just being given title shots instead of earning them? When this match was announced, the last match the Briscoes had wrestled as a team was at Final Battle 2016, where they challenged the Young Bucks for the ROH World Tag Team Titles and lost clean. And yet somehow that clean loss has earned them a two-out-of-three falls rematch for the titles.
Also for absolutely no reason, the second fall of this match was contested under Lucha Rules and the third under No Disqualifications rules. Also for absolutely no reason, after the Briscoes cleanly won the first fall, Jay grabbed the mic and expressed his disapproval of Lucha Rules. While he was doing this, Mark got a chair and assaulted the Young Bucks with it for the DQ. WHAT THE F*CK? The Briscoes are the babyface and the Bucks are the heels! This whole thing is completely pointless and completely ass-backwards!
And yes, the crowd did die for a while after the intentional DQ. They barely made a peep when the Briscoes were hitting the Bucks with chairs. They did eventually get them back, but this was the quietest I have ever heard an ROH crowd for a Bucks vs. Briscoes match (and yes, I have seen every single one of them).
They did some stuff for a while and we got interference and a bunch of ref bumps and what the hell happened to this company?! We've got these random stips with a title randomly on the line even though the challengers did nothing to earn it and now we've got a bunch of bullsh*t going on for absolutely no reason, and all of it just took away from the match. If they had just sent the Briscoes and Bucks out there and gave them these same twenty-four minutes to have a regular tag team match there is no way they wouldn't have delivered a match we'd all be talking about for the next month, but instead Delirious decided to ruin all of this with overbooking. "Honor Reigns Supreme" my ass. There have certainly been worse shows in ROH history, but I don't remember ever finding a show more disappointing than this one (although Best in the World 2013 comes close). The last two matches on this show are exactly the sort of things that this company was built on NOT doing. Tellingly, the best match on this show was the one where they just stuck two guys in the ring and had them wrestle each other, with no bullsh*t of any kind.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. Ian Riccaboni claims that, among other teams in the tag team division, Coast 2 Coast "are really heating up."
I cannot recall seeing or even hearing about them winning a single match.