BULLY RAY PROMO - Bad. No, he didn't make anything a hardcore match or say that "no one wants to see" regular wrestling matches. What he did was just two minutes of my life... during a speech in which he had the audacity to not once but twice say that tonight's show would be "all killer, no filler." Because sending the authority figure out to cut a pointless promo definitely isn't killing time.
In this speech, he emphasized that this was good old "professional wrestling" and "not sports entertainment." Hey, asshole! Aren't you going into Vince's Hall of Fame in a few weeks? You might want to try not crapping on him for a while, okay? It makes you look like a jerk.
Also, I know they had some travel issues tonight due to the weather because Ian Riccaboni told me right up front, which I appreciated because it is the right thing to do in a situation like this, but did anyone tell the people in the building? If not, that's something Bully should have done here.
THE BRISCOES vs. THE DAWGS vs. COAST 2 COAST - 6/10
Our commentary team for this match was Ian Riccaboni, Colt Cabana, and Chris Sabin. The Briscoes charged right at both teams the moment they got into the ring to start things off. This was a fun little fast-paced opener. Seeing Coast 2 Coast's mini-streak end was a little sad, but at least they didn't get pinned.
BRISCOES PROMO - They heeled on the fans, then said that they would take the tag titles from MCMG at the 16th Anniversary Show and there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it. A strong ending to a promo that was then ruined by Iac Riccaboni not knowing when to just lay out, because rather than letting Jay's words sink in, Ian felt the need to shout "There is someone who can do something about it, and they're called the Motor City Machine Guns!" This was an idiotic comment that served no purpose.
JENNY ROSE & SUMIE SAKAI vs. DEONNA PURRAZZO & TENILLE DASHWOOD - 5.75/10
The announcers are trying to convince me that Tenille Dashwood "shocked the world" and "broke the internet" when she showed up at Honor Reigns Supreme 2018... despite the fact that just about everyone in the world assumed she would be in this tournament the moment the tournament was announced, a month and a half beforehand. One of the reasons I lover the EVOLVE announcers so much is that they understand that if something is, say, an 7/10 on the scale (of surprise, or violence or whatever happens to be relevant at the moment), it's better to push it as an 8/10 than to shout your head off about how it was totally a 10/10, because trying to push something as a 10/10 when it's not even close will kill your credibility.
Sabin's job of hyping his tag title match with the Briscoes at next weekend's PPV being finished, he was replaced on commentary by Mandy Leon. Mandy and Ian showed off the Women of Honor Title version of those atrociously stupid "rings that look like the title belts" that ROH sells (and which I would be shocked if anyone has actually bought). They both looked like idiots wiggling their fingers to show these dumb things off.
Deonna and Tenille both worked the other team's arms and wound up getting the win. Tenille snubbed Sumie on the post-match handshake for no reason whatsoever. Sumie shoved her... and then hugged her and they were friends again. What was the purpose of any of that?
SOBERANO JR. vs. PUNISHMENT MARTINEZ - 4.5/10
All of the talk coming out of this match was that it sucked and Soberabno Jr. was f*cking things up left and right, but I'm going to flip the script here. Did Soberano screw up and cause things to not go according to plan? Yes. But Punishment Martinez saved this match for me by the way he reacted to things not going to plan. Rather than taking phantom bumps or bumps off of contact that looked very weak, he called an audible to play up his stoic monster character and didn't sell things that didn't touch him hard enough to make him sell. That then played into the story of him being harder to knock off of his feet, and made his aggressive cut-offs and dominating offense seem all the more vicious. Major props to Mr. Martinez.
IF FLIP WINS, HE GETS BOOKED AT ALL IN:
Flip Gordon vs. Cody Rhodes (w/Brandi Rhodes & Bury, the Drug-Free Bear) - 2.5/10
How much do you want to bet that Bury, the Drug-Free Bear runs in the same social circles as CP Munk? Some idiot it the front row has a sign that says "One Sweet." This has got to be the dumbest sign of the year, right?
Lots of stalling by Cody before we start things off. Yeah, he's trying to get the Omega feud over, but he's doing it in such a cartoonish way. Trying to get fans ejected for cheering for Omega and threatening to walk out of the match if fans cheer for Omega or Flip? We know you're not going to, so stop wasting our f*cking time and just wrestle.
Now we're wasting time with Cody teasing throwing his t-shirt to the fans but not doing it, and then Flip picking it up to give to the fans. Oh my G-d knock this stupid sh*t off already. If you want to get a reaction from the crowd, how about you doing it by working a limb. Stupid Bullet Club fans are now helping Coy waste time by chanting "WE WANT BURY!" How about you chant "WE WANT WRESTLING!" instead like an ROH crowd should?
They finally touched each other a good seven minutes after Cody's entrance. They did a lock up, we got a clean break in the corner... and they Cody stalled AGAIN, so we went almost another full minute without any contact. Another lock-up, another break in the corner... and then Flip was a dick and blew a kiss to Cody's wife. Either that, or Cody got upset that Flip blew a kiss at the dude in the bear costume. This, of course, gave Cody and excuse to go to the outside, threaten to bring a chair in the ring, argue with the referee etc., killing off another forty seconds... and then we're back to another lock-up.
Shoulder tackle by Cody but Flip kip-ups right back to his feet. Tackle drop-down leapfrog dropkick... and Cody's back on the outside again. He grabs some water, talks to Brandi, spits water at a fan, paces back and forth etc. Flip does a fake dive so still no contact. Then he blows a kiss at either Brandi or the bear again so Cody gets angry again, etc. This kills off another minute and twenty seconds before Cody gets back into the ring and tries to throw a kick.
Flip catches Cody's leg, spins him around and goes for the quick pin: ONE! TWO!... and the fans immediately shout "SWEET!" instead of caring about Flip's pinfall attempt on Cody. But who can blame them? It's not like this match has a special stipulation that will be fulfilled if Flip wins the match that they themselves voted on, right?
They finally start doing stuff and wind up on the outside and Brandi grabs Flip from behind. He shoves her... and apparently I'm supposed to feel bad for her. Why? She tried to interfere in the match, so she got shoved backwards and fell on some mats. She deserves it! What was Flip supposed to just let her grab him?
Anyway, she gets right back up and this time she does successfully grab Flip form behind she's holding his arms behind his back so Cody can punch him... and can someone please explain to me why this is not a cause for disqualification?
Flip pulled a water bottle out from under the ring to take a drink from so that he could hold the water in his mouth to spit it in Cody's face to temporarily blind him. You know... just like a heel would. Doing something like this is problematic not only because the good guy is cheating for no reason, but it also makes me not get angry a few seconds later when Cody cuts Flip off by raking his eyes because that's just Cody getting even.
Cody managed to hit the Cross Rhodes... and then, didn't pin him just so he could go up to try a moonsault so that Flip could move out of the way. Dude... if you don't want someone to kick out of your move, then DON'T HIT IT. This set up for Flip hitting a 450, which Cody then kicked out of. Flip then picked Cody up and sat him on the top turnbuckle... just so he could kick him in the head. What was the point of putting him on the top rope, then? Why not just kick him in the head when he's on the ground?
Flip went out to the apron to set up some sort of springboard but Brandi hopped up on the apron to distract him. The referee didn't come over to yell at her or anything, so apparently we've just stopped trying to enforce the rules at all. Cody went for Disaster Kick but Flip ducked and Cody accidentally hit Brandi instead. The match ground to a halt so both men could be concerned about Brandi. Flip of all people went to check on her but Cody grabbed him from behind and hit the Cross Rhodes for the pin. So basically this last spot was done so that 1) Flip didn't have to lose clean, and 2) Cody gets to be a heel by not caring about his wife getting hurt (and the announcers can be outraged about it). I'd have much rather seen Flip just lose cleanly and Cody not have to be a complete and total caricature who makes sure that he checks off every single box on the checklist of how to be evil.
Look... there were some parts of this that were good. The problem is that they totaled about five minutes of this seventeen minute match (and also just five minutes of the total of twenty-four they were out there for).
Anyway, Flip can't be on the Bullet Club show six months from now. But don't worry. I'm sure he'll be fine. He can find a guy named Spot to team with and go win the PWG tag belts.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Cody celebrates for a while instead of checking on Brandi, then has the bear carry her to the back instead of doing it himself, and all the while the announcers are acting so outraged about this... and quite honestly I just find it annoying because we all know that it won't actually lead to anything. Brandi isn't going to leave him, and he's not going to realize he needs to start treating her better and turn babyface, so it's just a totally unnecessary attempt to get heat in a character who already does everything in a completely over the top manner, while bad announcers dial the outrage meter up to seventeen when they can't even muster up a three when someone is cheating in a promotion called Ring of Honor.
During intermission they aired the Bryan Danielson vs. Samoa Joe match from the One Year Anniversary Show, complete with the commentary where Gabe can't stop talking about "that riot we just had" without giving any specifics (because he's assuming you just got done watching it eight straight times or whatever ridiculous number of replays of that whole segment they showed on that DVD). I'd absolutely love to know how the uninitiated responded to this. You might try to argue that this is mean to be a hook to encourage people to check out the old shows available on the Honor Club... but that would require them to have uploaded that stuff, which they haven't done. The stuff they have uploaded so far is almost the exact same list of stuff available in the old "Ringside Members" section of the website, minus the few non-HDnet, pre-Sinclair Era shows they had.
COLEMAN'S PULPIT - Stuff happened and time was wasted. The fans wanted to hear Caprice interview Cabana but Matt Taven came out instead and announced that SoCal Uncensored couldn't make it because of the weather so The Kingdom is taking their spots in the main event.
SILAS YOUNG, BEER CITY BRUISER, & BRIAN MILONAS vs. CHEESEBURGER, CHUCK TAYLOR, & KENNY KING - 5/10
This match would have been so much better if it was just Chuck & Kenny vs. Silas & Bruiser. And even better if it was just Kenny vs. Silas.
JAY LETHAL & ULTIMO GUERRERO vs. VOLADOR JR. & DALTON CASTLE (w/the Boys) - 8/10
This was an excellent wrestling match that build very well, and while Lethal and Dalton certainly looked good, it was definitely the CMLL pairing who stole the show. We always expect Volador Jr. to be good, but Ultimo Guerrero surprised me with just how good he remains in big situations at his age. I would not object to seeing a Jay Lethal vs. Ultimo Guerrero singles match coming off of the finish of this match (not as the main event, but, like third from the top. Supercard of Honor XII seems like an opportune time to book such a match). Dalton, for his part, looked the best I've seen him look since winning the belt. Even the commentary was good, and I found Ian wondering if Dalton wanted to team with Volador Jr. because he looks vaguely like Dalton's Boys very amusing.
ULTIMATE MAYHEM MATCH:
Shane Taylor & The Kingdom vs. Bullet Club (Young Bucks, Adam Page, & Marty Scurll) - 8.5/10
This match is like War Games but without the cage. Cody Rhodes was on commentary, and even he noted that he could just walk down to ringside right now and take his stupid ring back. But he's not going to. He didn't have any sort of reason why he wouldn't. He's just not going to do it because the story doesn't call for him to do so right now.
The first two men in were Scurll and Taven, and they had a good first five minutes. The Kingdom won the coin toss, so the third man in was Vinny Marseglia, who was hiding under the ring, just so he could get the drop on Marty... and had a bunch of balloons under there with him, for no reason at all. Seeing as how this match is no DQs and he is planning to be able to get the drop on Marty, you'd think Marseglia might bring his axe with him to use as a weapon. It's not like he is afraid of maiming someone with it because he tried to cut Kenny Omega's arm off at Elite... but of course he doesn't have it with him here because... um... Yeah. This is why you don't have a stupid weapon like that as your gimmick. Because when you inevitably hit a moment where it makes all the sense in the world for you to use it but of course you don't because there is no way to believably use it (even if you gimmick, how are you then going to have the person you hit with it have a gimmicked axe wound?), the whole thing looks stupid.
The Kingdom beat Scurll down for two minutes until Matt Jackson made his entrance. More stuff happened until it was time for the next entrant... at which point a fan dressed in Bullet Club gear threw a trash can at Jackson, hopped the barricade, and started to beat him up, then got swarmed by security until he took his ask off to reveal himself to be T.K. O'Ryan. Why didn't he take his mask off right away? If these Kingdom guys are so smart, you'd think they would have realized that if a fan jumps the guardrail, security is going to tackle them, which is exactly what was happening here! They turned their own three-on-two advantage into one two-on-two fight and one eighteen-on-one fight. I'm sorry if this seems like a nitpick, but it really annoys me when people only think things out half way.
More people came in, big spots happened, etc. etc. This was exactly what you would assume it would be, with weapons spots and vies and table bumps and so forth. Highlights include a CRAZY diving elbow drop from the top rope through a table on the outside by Matt Jackson to Marseglia, Page doing a dive off of the balcony, and Page running wild with a chair when he finally entered the match. Everything built really well with the notable exception of the finish, in which, after using HUGE moves to all of the members of The Kingdom (& Shane Taylor) down, starting with Indy-Takers on the floor and then each heel taking a huge bump through a table, they felt the need to have Adam Page hit his f*cking move on O'Ryan before pinning him. It didn't help that this mean that O'Ryan needed to be in the ring and on his feet less than fifty seconds after taking a monstrous backdrop over the top rope and through a table on the outside.
Two other small details that caught my eye, one positive and one negative. The negative one when Bullet Club was doing their spot where the Bucks hit a double superkick on someone and then another member of their team stops the guy from falling down and propels him back up for another superkick. O'Ryan, who was taking the kicks, kept looking back over his shoulder as he was going down from the superkick to make sure that he was falling backwards right onto Scurll's feet, which really rubbed in how staged the whole thing was. The positive one was that during the obligatory chain of babyface dives to the outside, the Bullet Club members who were not doing the dive didn't tumble down with the heels when the dive it. Instead, they got out of the way at the last moment. This made it feel like they were shepherding the Kingdom members into the target landing area rather than, as it so often does, that everyone was getting together to safely catch the diver.
The stipulation was totally unnecessary from a storyline point of view, both for the Bullet Club vs. SoCal Uncensored feud it was originally booked to feature or for the Taven (& The Kingdom) vs. Cody (& Bullet Club) feud it eventually did feature, but I do think that the structure it provided helped them come up with a match that built better than what we would have seen without it, which would undoubtedly be some wild PWG-style thing (and the fact that they did this and not that means that they can still do that later in the feud and it won't feel the same). That being said, the lack of cage does create on major logical hiccup, which is, of course, why they all didn't just run in right away, so, all things being considered, I'd like them to either not do this stip again, or (even better) just come up with some plausible reason for them not to just run in immediately, like management threatening to take people's title shots away or whatever.
This was a pretty bad show that was saved by the final two matches. Cody once again failed to deliver in the ring, the women were once again not given the time they need to show they can deliver, and the six-man tag was yet another waste of time that just shines a glaring spotlight on both the lack of effort put in to booking the product and the vastly-lowered standards required to work in ROH. This very much failed to live up to the Manhattan Mayhem name that was bestowed upon it, which, for a long-time fan like myself shows an apathy towards the rich and nuanced history of the promotion that Delirious has been entrusted with running. It used to be that when you heard that a show was "Manhattan Mayhem," you knew it was either going to be a barn-burner or that something really unexpected would happen (and usually it was both). This show felt no different than any other ROH show in 2017-2018.