WINNER CHALLENGES FOR THE ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLES LATER TONIGHT:
The Kingdom vs. Bully Ray & the Briscoes - 6.5/10
That spot where T.K. O'Ryan teased trying the same move on which he broke his leg at the 15th Anniversary Show earlier this year in this same building but then didn't do it and instead made a rude gesture to the fans was completely stupid. What does he gain from faking the fans out? I really wish wrestler would concentrate less on getting cheap heat by not giving the fans something they want and more on trying to make actual heat that contributes to the match.
This was the first time that I ever belt that Bully Ray contributed positively to a match in ROH, by which I mean that I wouldn't have found the match more enjoyable if he were replaced by Will Ferrara or some other such generic quasi-jobber. Vinny Marseglia has still yet to accomplish even that, however, detracting from this match with his mostly boring moves and annoying noises. The fact that he got to wrestle on this (or really any) show, while Colt Cabana did not is criminal. Jay Briscoe was "salty" (as Cabana put it) after this win, thought I have no idea why. His team won and it's not like anyone hit him by accident. The only reason I can think of is that Mark did the Doomsday Device with Bully instead of with him, but even that would be so idiotically petty that I really hope that isn't the reason (although the announcers did make sure to call attention to it). Jay would eventually get a chair and throw it at the head of whichever member of The Kingdom got pinned (Taven, I think) as revenge for them giving him a concussion earlier this summer.
BULLET CLUB PRE-TAPED PROMO - Something about Adam Page being missing. None of the announcers have sounded at all concerned about him, so I assume this is referring to some dumb joke angle they're running on Being The Elite and Delirious just decided to waste PPV time with this because he's an idiot.
CHUCK TAYLOR vs. MARTY SCURLL - 7/10
A great match, with what I will naively hope is the only heel finish we get all night.
Jay White vs. Punishment Martinez - 7.75/10
I was not fond of White attacking Martinez from behind to start things off, but the number of times Martinez has attacked White when White was unprepared or tired during this feud makes it more palatable to me. This was a GREAT weapons match and a worthy blow-off for this feud. Martinez going over presumably signals that White is on his way back to New Japan soon.
ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Hung Bucks(c) vs. Bully Ray & the Briscoes - DUD!
Jay Briscoe entered on his own and Bully made a point of going over and asking him if they were good, which obviously means they're not. Hopefully they don't waste too much time before doing their angle.
Speaking of angles, Page didn't come out with the Bucks to play up the stupid "missing" gimmick. We were told not to fear because this match would take place either way, with the ROH Board of Directors having mandated that no replacement partners are allowed, despite the fact that the last time this situation came up - at ROH's last show in this very building, the night that Bully Ray and the Briscoes won these titles - a replacement partner was, indeed, allowed (and the time before that in this building we actually saw two f*ckers come in as substitute partners in the middle of a match). It's nice how the rules can just bend to fit the needs of the plot rather than having any sort of consistency. Because that's definitely good storytelling right there. And all of this could have easily been avoided, but the booker decided that this poor storytelling was justified by the fact they would be doing this big swerve that fooled a grand total of zero people. Good job, Russo... I mean Delirious.
So yeah. It was a swerve. Page jumped out of the crowd with his mouth duct-taped and his hands duct-taped together in front of him... and then ROH Senior Official Tod Sinclair ordered the bell to be rung to start off this match, despite the fact that ONE OF THE LEGAL COMPETITORS HAS HIS HANDS TIED TOGETHER. Then, with his hands taped together, Page takes out both Briscoes with double axe-handles, then does a moonsault press off the post to the floor, because all Bullet Club cares about is being "cool heels" (aside from Cody, who only cares about proving that he is better than Vince McMahon because he doesn't even need tons of facepaint to make himself look like a clown) and Delirious will just let them do whatever they want, no matter how dumb or detrimental to the overall product.
The fans all chant "WELCOME BACK!" at Page and Bucks give him a big hug and the announcers make jokes about which hashtags you should use to talk about this show on Twitter right now rather than paying attention to the actual match because this all just one big f*cking joke to all of them. And who can blame them? It's not like there is some sort of championship on the line and also a story we're supposed to be paying attention to regarding Jay Briscoe not getting along with his partners or anything, right?
Some stuff happened. No one seems to care who the legal man is. The babyfaces cheated by doing a WHAZZZZUP?! elbow drop. Even worse, they did it right in front of the referee, who made no attempt to stop them and didn't punish them in any way after they did so, even though it should have warranted a DQ. You know... because you've got to make sure get your sh*t in, no matter how little sense it makes in the situation.
Then Bully calls for his team to "GET THE TABLES!" and the Briscoes go to do so, and the crowd starts to chant "TABLES! TABLES! TABLES!" because they'd be perfectly happy to see a title match on PPV in Ring of Honor end in a disqualification so long as they get to see a table bump. The previous match was a Street Fight and we've got a Last Man Standing Match coming up later on, but say the word "table" and these fans go nuts for it, even though it would mean the babyfaces throwing away a title shot on PPV for no reason.
There has been a lot of talk over the past fifteen years or so that wrestling crowds had become so smarky that they were impossible to please, but at this point I think they've looped back around into mark-hood. It's a selective type of mark-hood where they choose the things they like almost arbitrarily, but they're marks nonetheless because they show up and they just cheer mindlessly. The only difference between them and your stereotypical 1980's WWF crowd or 1970s southern territory crowd is that those people were marks for professional wrestling while crowds today tend to be marks "professional spots and comedy performed in a wrestling ring."
Tod Sinclair finally grew a spine and told Jay Briscoe not to set up that table... so Jay just threw it at Bully Ray's face without any sort of provocation. Normally I would jump on this and declare Jay Briscoe to be a bastion of honor who was angry at Bully Ray for risking DQ in a title match, but Jay was just as enthusiastic in the whole "GET THE TABLES!" bit as Bully and Mark were, and he made no effort for to stop Mark from getting the table, either. He just randomly decided that now was a good time to turn on Bully Ray.
This is what we get from Delirious. Random turns. One day in February Jay Briscoe got all pissy that Jay White asked ROH management to book a rematch of a match between them that went to a draw the previous August, and since then Jay has been on-and-off PMSing as the plot calls for it with no reason given other than that he is an angry person and no actual development of any kind until now, seven months later, when he picks a moment to turn on Bully Ray that is completely random as far as anything that has happened between the two of them, but due to being on a PPV happens to be a moment where drama is expected within the confines of the fake wrestling promotion.
Anyway, this one table thrown at his head is enough to knock out Bully Ray, a man who has made his name wrestling in hardcore matches for the past twenty-two years. Adam Page pins him and Bullet Club retains the titles. This was also apparently the first time Bully Ray has been pinned in ROH, which I figured was true, but at the same wasn't sure of because I've never heard any of the announcers mention it before, meaning that they got absolutely nothing out of keeping him unpinned for six months.
Mark asks Jay why he did it, and Jay responds by shouting "WE'RE the best tag team in the world, not that motherf*cker!" and while Jay is absolutely correct about that, that's no reason to throw a championship match. Jay walked off while Mark went to check on Bully.
ROH TV TITLE MATCH:
KUSHIDA(c) vs. Kenny King - 8/10
Watching this match and the pre-match video package just made me frustrated that it took appearing on a f*cking reality TV show for Kenny King to finally get his due in pro wrestling. He has been the single most underused talent in wrestling for the majority of the past five years.
Kenny's daughter is in the crowd, as is KUSHIDA's mother. KUSHIDA gave Kenny a Reverse STO into the guardrail fight in front of his daughter, then turned around and bowed to her, which came off as heelishly mocking to be, but she just bowed right back, seemingly completely unconcerned about her father. If you're going to do something with someone you plant in the crowd, make sure you smarten them up first!
Aside from that, these two had an awesome match, with KUSHIDA working over Kenny's arm, and plenty of exciting reversals into and out of their signature submissions and maneuvers.
LAST MAN STANDING MATCH:
Silas Young vs. Jay Lethal - 8/10
Early on Lethal worked over Silas' back with lots of moves on the floor, and then by whipping the absolute sh*t out of Silas with a belt Silas took from Bobby Cruise with the intention of using on Lethal. It looked absolutely brutal!
The Beer City Bruiser then came out to help Silas, still selling a leg injury he suffered at Lethal's hands in a Street Fight on ROH TV recently. Bruiser eventually got taken out when he tried to crush Lethal with a diving splash through a table in what was just one of many allusions to various other moments in this feud. These guys definitely brought the hatred and the violence one last, and for the first time I finally feel like Silas Young has truly been elevated by a big win.
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Young Bucks(c) vs. Motor City Machine Guns - 7/10
This a great that got derailed by a ref bump and a completely pointless run-in from The Addiction. They attacked MCMG, then left... and then came back to attack the Bucks when the Bucks had simultaneous sharpshooters on Sabin and Shelley. Eventually MCMG and the Bucks teamed up to take them out before resuming their match, cutting right to (the great) finishing sequence.
The reason they interfered is because they're angry at ROH and thus wanted to ruin this match. First of all being generically angry at is what they did for the entire year of September 2015 through September 2016, and now, in September 2017, they're right back to it (and speaking of things we're going right back to, this clearly seems intended to set up for a three-way feud for the tag titles between these three teams, which was the main event of last fall's All-Star Extravaganza VIII PPV). But even if we ignore the repetitiveness of the (so-called) "creative" side of things, this whole thing makes no sense just within the confines of this show.
1. Why did they decide to ruin this match and no others?
2. If they wanted to ruin this match, why didn't they just run in at the beginning and cause a DQ? If your goal is just to "ruin the match" and you have no interest in the actual outcome, there is no reason to wait for a ref bump.
3. Where were the rest of Bullet Club? Or MCMG's back-up in Search & Destroy?
4. I said above that this seems to be clearly intended to build to a three-way match at the next big show, but this actually does a pretty poor job of that because The Addiction's interference didn't do anything (the same team that was winning when they first ran in still picked up the win) and they got beaten right here by both teams, so where's the heat?
This sort of thing is very frustrating, but it becomes even more frustrating when you realize that they could have just attacked MCMG while MCMG were celebrating with their belts, which would not only avoid running this match with a pointless ref bump and interference, but it would have gotten actual heat, and would have made the feud a personal one between MCMG and The Addiction, which would free the Bucks up to defend the six-man tag titles so that we don't once again run into the one other issue that this match ran into, which was that the babyfaces were fresh while the heels had already wrestled tonight. Why not just have the Briscoes & Bully vs. Kingdom #1 contendership match tonight and do the turn there so that we don't taint MCMG's babyface moment like this and also so that we can take all of the time (including entrances) that went to the six-man tag title match, plus some of the time from the #1 contendership match (which now wouldn't need to go thirteen minutes because it's about the turn rather than the match), and give that time to the...
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Cody Rhodes(c) (w/Brandi Rhodes) vs. Minoru Suzuki - 2.75/10
Yup. That's right. We got another main event that was just plain WAY too short for an ROH PPV. Thirteen minutes for an ROH World Title match main event on PPV featuring Minoru Suzuki's first match in the US in twenty-five years. And not even an action-packed thirteen minutes, either. Just like in the main event of the last PPV, Cody just kept f*cking stalling. I'd be shocked if there was more than thirty seconds of action in the first four minutes of this match. All the rest was Cody stalling. But hey! Cody used to work for WWE and has a famous father, so let's put the belt on him. Good idea, Dixie... I mean Delirious.
Like in Liverpool, Cody did the Yes Lock- though they called it the "LeBell Lock" because I guess they thought they'd be in legal trouble if they called it the "Yes Lock," except that Cody then opened them up to those same legal troubles by just flat out doing Bryan Danielson's "YES!" chant and hand-motion. Meanwhile, the announcers talked about how this was "being broadcast around the globe" and how Cody was "trying to send a statement to one of the all-time great Ring of Honor World Champions, American Dragon," and saying that Cody wanted to be a "dragon-slayer" and so on... all to build up a match that if it ever does happen (which is a big IF at this point) would still be a year away. And as I said, ROH has no guarantee whatsoever that Bryan will ever wrestle again, never mind wrestle again for ROH, so to me, as huge Bryan Danielson fan, this just comes off like them exploiting fans' fondness for Dragon and the fact that people want to believe that he'll be able to wrestle again, and trying to get attention by trying to build a match that they have absolutely no control over whether or not they will ever be able to deliver, and that's bullsh*t.
The stalling wasn't as bad for the rest of the match, but it was still there throughout. Cody was constantly being out-wrestled by Suzuki, and while Minoru Suzuki is Minoru freakin' Suzuki, Cody is the Ring of Honor World Champion so he it shouldn't feel like he's a single-A hitter batting against an MLB pitcher. They finally started to build a bit of drama up in the last few minutes, but then Cody just hit one CrossRhodes and won. This might well be the single worst ROH World Title defense that has ever happened in anything even resembling a major spot.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Idiotic. Cody celebrates and makes the unconscious Suzuki kiss his stupid ring gimmick. Then, after Cody left, Suzuki got upset and started beating up ring attendants and almost beat up Cary Silkin but Tod f*cking Sinclair pulled Cary to safety. Based the established rules of the promotion, Suzuki really shouldn't be brought back, because we've been repeatedly told (first in the Ciampa goes crazy angle and then throughout the Corino vs. Whitmer feud) that there is a "zero tolerance policy" when it comes to attacking non-wrestlers, but of course Suzuki wrestled at the TV tapings the next night. A normal person would have thought that rather than create this plot-hole while also taking a few minutes away from our main event world title match, why don't we just not do this and give this time to the match? But not Delirious. No. For the Delirious the only thing on his mind was "what happens in New Japan?" Well in New Japan Suzuki randomly assaults ringside attendants for no reason, so Delirious just mindlessly copied it, just like he does with most stupid things New Japan does:
- Completely pointless six-man tag team titles? Check.
- Cody in Bullet Club? Check.
- Book non-PPV/iPPV shows to the point where nothing that happens on them matters? Check.
- Waste time with completely pointless matches on the card and waste money on a pointlessly inflated roster? Check.
- Completely illogical system for granting title shots? Check.
- Frustratingly frequent interference and referees not doing sh*t about people running in, cheating, or spending too long on the outside? Check.
- Cut down on defenses of major titles rather than put in the work to build up multiple worthy challengers at the same time? Check.
And perhaps the most frustrating part is that this is how I feel at the end of a show that I mostly enjoyed. Aside from the change I mentioned above I didn't feel that there were any truly pointless matches, I thought that they managed the time MUCH better than usual, and I thought that, on the whole, the announcing was pretty good, although not without its occasional issues (at one point instead of just calling Chris Sabin's tilt-a-whirl backbreaker what it is, Ian Riccaboni felt compelled to instead call Sabin "one of the innovators dominators creators of data." If anyone in the world knows what that means, please tell me, then tell Ian to never say it again). Many of the matches were great or better- even one I thought was hurt by the overbooking. But the inescapable truth is that things that have truly frustrating me (Cody, Bully Ray, and stupid Bullet Club shenanigans like the Adam Page thing tonight) still dominate the product, and the over storytelling in the booking continues to be piss-poor. And everything I've seen from ROH in the past six months indicates that these things will not change as long as Delirious is in charge. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping he'll step down or be fired soon. Maybe Gabe will even be available.