MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS vs. THE REBELLION (Caprice Coleman & Rhett Titus) - 6/10
Shayne Taylor didn't accompany his Rebellion stable mates to the ring, but instead he just wandered out to ringside a few minutes in. This was so the announcers could tell us that he should be focusing on his match with Hirooki Goto later tonight, which Kevin Kelly tells us that Taylor himself has called "the biggest match of his career." You know... if they had ever let Shayne Taylor cut a promo where he talked about how important this chance was to him, I might have actually given a sh*t about that match during the build-up to tonight's show instead of writing the match off as a match booked for no other reason than Goto needed an opponent so Delirious supplied him with an under card guy he could beat without anyone caring.
Rhett and Caprice had a very good showing here. Taylor did eventually help his pals win. Ian Riccaboni said that this feuded started "all the way back at Champions vs. All-Stars." I'm almost certain that's not true, as my notes have no record of these factions interacting each other at all on that show, and The Rebellion was still The Cabinet at that point. He probably means the next month's Survival of the Fittest 2016: Night 2 when the newly rechristened Rebellion attacked the Motor City Machine Guns, but either way, this feud has now been going on for at least SEVEN MONTHS and NOTHING HAS HAPPENED! They're just having random tag matches all over the place and the results never matter because they just get booked against each other again. And they're already booked to have another on the next show in this tour.
SHANE TAYLOR PROMO - so Shayne Taylor finally gets to cut a promo and he says... that he doesn't want to wait anymore and he wants to have his match with Goto right now. Not even one single word about how important the match was to him.
HIROOKI GOTO vs. SHAYNE TAYLOR (w/the Rebellion) - 6.25/10
A good showing for Taylor, but it still felt like a disappointing waste of Goto.
DALTON CASTLE & THE BOYS vs. CHAOS (Roppongi Vice & Gedo) - DUD!
Yeah. ROH brings in ELEVEN of the stars of New Japan and decided that the f*cking Boys also needed to wrestle on this card. If you're bringing in a bunch of outside guys that means that you can book FEWER of your own people- both to help offset costs and to make space on the card so that it doesn't either go too long or get too crowded. Delirious completely fails to understand this. Instead we got this match, featuring two of the most tired shticks in wrestling: on one side we've got Dalton Castle and on the other side we've got Rocky Romero. Uch.
Stupid comedy and tired shtick is abound for the first few minutes. It was all comedy, and in that time I only laughed once, which was when Gedo "threw out his back" trying to lean back like Dalton Castle. CHAOS then started to get frustrated and were throwing things on the outside. It started with Trent picking up a trashcan, and when he did I actually found myself hoping that he would hit one of this opponents with it to cause a DQ so that this match would just end. Instead they started to walk out like they were going to take a count-out. No one believes that this will actually be a count-out, so why even bother with it?
Well, it turns out that the reason to bother with it was so Dalton could send the Boys to go after them and so Dalton could try to go after them but referee Tod Sinclair would hold Dalton back for no discernible reason other than so Dalton could be yanked off of the apron by a member of CHAOS. In other words they went out of their way to create a situation no one believed in so that they could have the referee act completely illogically just so they could cut the babyfaces off and go into the heat. How about, instead of doing all of this stupid sh*t you just have the heels cut the babyfaces off like normal in a match where you actually wrestle like normal from start to finish?
Once the serious part of the match starts, the announcers immediately go off on some tangent about some stupid thing or another. One of the Boys was the babyface in peril. The hot tag came when Gedo got distracted, allowing the Boys to pull twin magic, and when Gedo kicked out of the fresh Boy's small package, the Boy immediately made the tag to Dalton. So yes, the babyfaces cheated to get the hot tag. Making matters worse was the predictably idiotic announcing, where heel commentator Colt Cabana rightly complained about his while the babyface announcers- the two men who have been called "the Voice of ROH," were all but mocking Cabana by saying they had no idea why he was getting so upset. But of course the next time we see a heel cheat Kevin and Ian will talk about how terrible it is, because they're hypocrites, which is just about the worse thing a babyface announcer can possibly be.
Dalton ran wild and he and the Boys won so way to make CHAOS look like sh*t for not being able to beat the f*cking Boys. This was a match that served no purpose other than to fit extra people on the card, and the show suffered for it. They should have opened the show with Roppongi Vice vs. MCMG and stuck Dalton in the next match to make it a more traditional ROH Fatal Four-Way instead of a three-way. As for Gedo... either stick him on the pre-show, or have him replace the unbearable Vinny Marseglia as Taven's partner against LIJ.
BULLY RAY vs. HANGMAN PAGE vs. PUNISHMENT MARTINEZ - 4/10
Adam Page, a member of the top heel stable, came out slapping fives and shaking hands like a total babyface. *face-palm.* Meanwhile, Kevin Kelly tried to describe Page's role as the "problem solver" of Bullet Club (and someone please find me one problem he has ever solved for them) by vomiting out a string of words so incoherent that the only reason I have any idea what he was talking about for part of it was that I saw the show he was talking about- although I have no idea what the heat is between Bullet Club and Martinez that Kevin seems to think exists, nor have I heard a single peep about the rest of Bullet Club being unhappy that Page in particular was not at ringside at the 15th Anniversary Show to stop Kaz from stopping Cole from cheating.
About six people threw streamers at Bully Ray. All of those people should be forced to eat those streamers. There are now "ECW!" chants, too. Well if you want to see ECW so badly why aren't you at home watching it on the WWE Network? How about we only chant for the promotions that are putting on the show and/or involved in an angle, okay?
Bully cuts a pre-match promo in which he tells them to chant "ROH" instead. That was good. He also made a big deal out of following the Code of Honor, which is also good, although his "even though I'm the veteran" almost killed that because he came off like such an asshole who was basically saying that he was lowering himself to their level by shaking their hands. Then he talked about they were all going to "tear the house down" in this match. You know, because wrestling is fake and the goal is to entertain the fans rather than win the match (in a sportsmanlike manner).
Both heels refused to shake Bully's hand. Bully also managed to look like a douche during this by giving Martinez a lecture when Martinez stood there stoically when Bully offered a handshake, to the point where I actually popped when Page jumped this arrogant piece of sh*t from behind to jump-start the match.
Yup. Here's Kevin Kelly condemning Page for hitting Bully in the nuts. He also elaborated a bit on how Punishment Martinez plays into Adam Page not helping Adam Cole at the 15th Anniversary Show and his story is... frustrating. Basically he says that Martinez diving on to Page at the end of their Six Man Scramble many matches earlier injured Page so badly that he couldn't take part in whatever Cole's evil plan to retain the title was. This is one of those things that is frustrating not because it's implausible (which it isn't) but because if this was supposed to be the story then they haven't done an atrocious job of telling it because I didn't even know that it was the story. If this was the story they meant to tell then they should have mentioned in passing on the PPV that Page had to go to the hospital because of Martinez's dive and then gave us a segment of Cole yelling at Page about having not been there to execute the plan. Instead we get Kevin Kelly telling us something two months after the fact, so it feels a lot more like Kevin pulling something out of his ass to try to create a feud where there doesn't need to be one and which will never be blown off... or even acknowledged by the wrestlers involved.
While we're on the subject of Kevin Kelly, can we please note for the record that his comment that Kaz "went back to his roots" by stopping Cole from cheating at the PPV seems to show absolutely no understand of what actually happened- that this was all a plot by Kaz and Daniels from the very beginning to infiltrate Bullet Club to be able to stop them from cheating.
They had to distract the referee earlier in the match for Page to hit Bully in the nuts, but now they're working together to hit the Whazzup right in front of the referee. No comment from Kevin Kelly about how wrong it was for Page to hit Martinez in the nuts, despite his earlier protestations when Page did it to Bully. Bully then wants Page to get the tables (you'd think that whoever told Bully about the Code of Honor would have told him about the part where you're not supposed to do things that would get you disqualified)... and Page head to do so while Bully poses to the crowd... and of course the moment that dumbsh*t Bully Ray turned around, Page kicked him right in the face, and I laughed my ass off. Then more stuff happened, which lead to Page grabbing Bully's scrotum right in front of the referee.
Awesome chokeslam-age occurred and Martinez started to run wild on everyone. Then Bully tossed him out of the ring and hit the Bubba Bomb on Page and pinned him. Fun fact: Bully Ray's wrestling career began the same year that Adam Page was born. Bully Ray did nothing of any use in this match, while Page and Martinez did some cool-looking stuff together. Bully Ray just plain cannot go at an ROH level and he never should have been signed in the first place, but instead they're giving him a big push and having him beat guys who we have been told for years are going to be "the future of ROH."
WILL OSPREAY vs. CODY RHODES - 7/10
Kevin Kelly talks up that Cody could win the ROH World Championship as a "free agent." So what? He's made all of his ROH bookings so far and it's not like the world title is defended on every show or something, so who cares if he has an ROH contract or not? Finally a match that delivers. This was really good aside from Cody's stalling in the beginning. Cody's dickishness got Ospreay all fired up so he wrestled a more strike-based style. It was quite interesting to watch. Ospreay also busted out a bunch of moves I'd never seen him do before.
MATT TAVEN PROMO - bad. He tried to hype up his ROH World Title match against Christopher Daniels in a few days but it took him forever to get around to saying it, at which point the fans were well past the point of giving a sh*t. The only good thing about this is that Marseglia didn't get to talk.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) vs. THE KINGDOM (Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia) - 6.75/10
Because I enjoyed Marseglia so much when he was silent during Taven's promo, I think I'll watch this match with the sound muted (which has the added benefit of sparing me from having to listen to the announcing. Turns out that it did help. This match definitely exceeded my expectations. Still, I'd like someone to explain to me why Naito couldn't get a clean pin on Vinny f*cking Marseglia.
THE BRISCOES vs. SILAS YOUNG & THE BEER CITY BRUISER vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada & EVIL) - 8.25/10
Speaking of exceeding expectations: this match! My main concern going into this match was that Silas & the Bruiser, who very much felt stuffed into this match when it was first announced, would drag down what should have been a great brawl between the Briscoes and LIJ (especially the Bruiser). Instead they added to it. This was the first time that Silas & BCB really felt like a force to be reckoned with in the tag team division, while the Briscoes and this particular LIJ connection did their usual excellent brawling.
Why in God's name are we zooming in on the Beer City Bruiser's beer can sitting on the announcers' table? THERE IS A WRESTLING MATCH GOING ON.
JAY LETHAL vs. KUSHIDA - 8/10
Lethal worked the head, KUSHIDA worked the arm, and they had an awesome match. KUSHIDA winning doesn't make much sense as Lethal is headed for an ROH World Title shot at Friday's PPV, but then again KUSHIDA is scheduled for an ROH TV Title shot at Sunday's TV tapings so... if I were booking this, it would have gone to a draw.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI & THE ADDICTION vs. BULLET CLUB ELITE (Kenny Omega & the Young Bucks) - 6.5/10
This was six extremely talented wrestlers going out there and having a match that went almost half an hour. This was something I should have loved, and yet I found this match extremely frustrating for several good chunks of it. This match was very similar to a match that four of these men were involved in last weekend at Masters of the Craft when the Bucks teamed with Adam Page to take on The Addiction and Dalton Castle. It was similar to that match both in the fact that I had many of the same problems with that match that I did with this one and also in that several of the comedic sequences that they did at the beginning of this match were directly lifted from that one (I hated them then and I hated them here, too). You just can't do that in a promotion that promotes each and every one of its shows as something fans should pay to see. This might come off as being ungrateful for the risks the wrestlers put their bodies through, but quite frankly I found this to be extremely lazy. I already paid to see that stuff once. If I pay for a different show, I expect a different match. It's one thing to do it with wrestling sequences because those can be slotted in at different times and made to feel different, but a comedy spot is the same joke a second time.
One of the problems I had with that match was that there was WAY too much of a focus on antics and comedy, especially in the beginning. This match took that even farther. For the first half of this match I felt like I was watching cartoon characters and not real people. They weren't wrestlers having a worked fight; they were actors putting on what was clearly a staged performance- and not in the "way too well choreographed to be real" way (which I often have no problem overlooking) but by having their actions and mannerisms so exaggerated that I even though the things they did were perfectly plausible it felt so put on that I couldn't possibly believe that it wasn't a performance.
And yes, the crowd was eating it all up with a spoon, but the wrestler's job is to lead the crowd, and if you don't start off with antics and buffoonery, the crowd will never get to the point where they're chanting "THIS IS AWESOME" at Tanahashi doing a double back-rake in the first place. This sort of thing was made even more grating than last week by the fact that while last week's match was just six ROH regulars, this match was one of my few chances to see Omega and Tanahashi in an ROH ring this year (and for Omega it might have been my only chance to do so in North America). I bought this show in large part to see Tanahashi and Omega in a big main event, and I feel like half of it was wasted.
The other big problem I had with this match was the overbooking. They did a spot where Tanahashi hit the High Fly Flow and then Daniels hit the Best Moonsault Ever on Omega and had him pinned, but one of the Bucks pulled referee Paul Turner out of the ring. He made absolutely no attempt to hide that he was the one who had done it by running away or hiding or something. He just grabbed Turner by the leg, pulled him out of the ring when he was about to count the three and started talking to him. Turner chastised the Buck in question for putting his hands on a referee, but it seems to me that he should have called for a DQ.
Then Daniels hit an Arabian Press that hit both the Bucks and the referee and the ref took a bump... and this fact did not matter one bit. No one hit anyone in groin or tried to use a weapon or even got any visual pinfalls or anything. Then once the second referee came out (which took a while), Bullet Club immediately started to distract him so Omega could try to hit Daniels with a title belt. This attempt failed when Daniels ducked, and soon an errant superkick caused yet another ref bump, which the crowd, for some reason, popped for. Don't we as fans want to see the match end with it being made clear who the better wrestler/team is? That can't happen if the referee is unconscious.
After this ref bump it was the babyface Ring of Honor World Champion who grabbed a title belt and tried to hit his opponent with this illegal foreign object. Read that sentence again and let that sink in for a moment. Cody Rhodes of the heel Bullet Club came out to stop him. Thank you, Cody, for preventing this cheating and helping to preserve the integrity of Ring of Honor. But because Cody is a heel we are supposed to be angry at him for doing this, even though Kazarian did the exact same thing to stop Adam Cole from cheating in the exact same way in the match where Daniels won the title less than two months ago, and Kaz was treated as a hero. The reason this ass-backwards spot happened (and the reason the entire second ref bump happened, really) was because Cody is challenging Daniels for the ROH World Title next weekend and this spot is supposed to help build to that match. This is RING OF HONOR. If you can't build to a title match without doing a f*cking run-in- especially in a main event and especially in this sort of ass-backwards way) then you shouldn't be booking here.
And this is all just so frustrating to me because the parts of the match that weren't either antics or overbooking were all GREAT. This is RING OF HONOR. If we've got thirty minutes for our main event why can't we just have thirty minutes of great wrestling? Why does it have to be fifteen minutes of comedy and antics, twelve minutes of great wresting and then three minutes of overbooking?
This was a very disappointing show from ROH. It certainly picked up as things went on but the first half of the card felt completely pointless and the main event was extremely disappointing.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. Ian Riccaboni says that Goto is "the first man to not back down from the 300lbs-plus Shayne Taylor."
Oh. Is that was War Machine was doing in their six month long feud last year? I've seen every match Taylor has wrestled in ROH, and I don't remember anyone backing down from him.