MATT TAVEN PROMO - Despite being a heel, he cut what was 99% a babyface promo, playing up that he's a hometown boy and putting over the local sports team that happened to get lucky and win the world series. He said that the last time ROH was in Lowell he had promised to kill the conspiracy by ROH's next return (i.e. tonight), and now (again) declares that the "conspiracy is dead." While making this declaration he triumphantly held up his ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship belt... which doesn't really make sense because the last time they were in Lowell, The Kingdom won those belts. This whole "conspiracy" thing irks me so much in part because they have never once had Taven (or anyone else) flat out come out and say what exactly, this conspiracy was doing to keep him down, or explain how his title win has defeated it. Until you explain that, the whole thing feels nebulous and half-assed.
BUSHI vs. MATT TAVEN - 5.75/10
Despite the fact that BUSHI is a babyface and Taven is a heel, it's Taven who offers the Code of Honor-mandated handshake and BUSHI who snubs him on it. They had a decent match for the short time they got.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Taven went to raise BUSHI's hand and then offered him another handshake. BUSHI took the handshake, but then kicked Taven in the nuts. Unless you're doing a feud between Taven and BUSHI (which I'm pretty sure they're not) then what was the point of this?
Also, if Taven is a babyface now then the rest of The Kingdom is by extension... so what heels does ROH have left? Bully, Silas, the Briscoes (kind of) and who else? Over the past eighteen months or so we've had SCU, The Kingdom, and every single person in Bullet Club turn babyface without ever actually having a single TURN on-screen. How the hell does that happen?
THE BOUNCERS (Beer City Bruiser & Brian Milonas) vs. JUICE ROBINSON & DALTON CASTLE (w/the Boys) - DUD!
Rhett Titus came out to pose and to add nothing to the commentary. Here's a novel idea: either pay Rhett to wrestle, or stop paying him at all!
The match itself was infuriatingly stupid. First, one of the Boys stole BCB's beer. That's theft, and BCB was right to go after him. Dalton had no reprimand for the Boy in question, either. BCB being distracted by this of course led to the babyfaces cutting the heels off. What is this backwards-ass bullsh*t?!
Next we got a spot where Milonas did a big splash to a prone Dalton Castle while parallel too him, and everyone pretended Milonas was too fat to get up. The Boys, ROH Senior Referee Todd Sinclair, and Juice (and, presumably, Dalton pushing up) all tried to push this guy off but couldn't. Then, even though having his partner's massive weight crushing Dalton's back was theoretically good for his team, BCB decided to help push Milonas off of Dalton. They did some spots for a while, including Dalton- with his bad back- and Juice lifted Milonas up into the air and hit him with a double vertical suplex, even though four f*cking guys including Juice had trouble just rolling Milonas. Then, on the finish, they wanted me to believe that Dalton alone was capable of holding Milonas back from breaking up Juice's pin. F*ck off. And of course everyone drank beer together afterwards. If I were BCB and these assholes stole my beer earlier, there is no way in hell I'm sharing it with them.
This is the sort of sh*t that needs to stop immediately, and also a perfect example of how guys like BCB and Brian Milonas drag down cards by their presence. If you don't have to fir these two goofs on the card you could have just done a four-way with Dalton, Juice, Flip and Kaz and would have had a good twelve minutes or so to disperse to other matches on the show to help them deliver.
FLIP GORDON vs. FRANKIE KAZARIAN - 6/10
This was a good match, but if Flip is going to be moving up the card, he needs to be given more than eleven minutes. He got the pin on Kaz via roll-up, so maybe this will lead to something involving the tag titles, but I don't have my hopes up. Kaz showed Flip respect after the match.
PROVING GROUND MATCH:
ROH Women of Honor Champion Sumie Sakai vs. Jenny Rose - 5.75/10
This exceeded expectations, but mostly on the back of a strong last minute or two. Jenny Rose has zero charisma, Sumie is not an inspiring babyface, and there is no reason we should ever see this combination in ROH again (or really see Jenny Rose at all). Additionally, Paul Turner failed to do his job properly when the wrestlers were on the outside, the commentary (Colt and Ian, joined by Brandi Rhodes) was bad, and at least twice during this match the camera cut away from the match to show us the announcers just standing there and talking, which is something that should never, ever happen unless you're using it to cover an edit.
JAY BRISCOE vs. SCORPIO SKY - 5.75/10
Jay Briscoe jumped Scorpio Sky from behind during Sky's entrance to start things off. They had a decent ten-minute brawl. Mark Briscoe came out to hold onto Jay's leg to prevent Sky from hitting him with a Superplex. Even though ROH Senior Referee Todd Sinclair was staring right at this, he did not call for a DQ. Kazarian came out to brawl with Mark, which distracted Sinclair enough to allow Jay to grab a chair but Sky ducked the chairshot and rolled him up for the pin.
BULLY RAY & SILAS YOUNG vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada & EVIL) - 6.25/10
Bully spent several minutes cutting a promo to get cheap heat. Once everyone else came out, he spent several more minutes stalling. In fact, from the time Bully's entrance began to the time the bell rang to start the match, over ten minutes had passed. A further fifty seconds passed from the time the bell rang until the time Silas and Sanada actually locked up, much of which was due to Bully grandstanding. Keep that in mind as the show goes on.
Silas and Sanada did one sequence, then more time was wasted. Firs tit was with Bully and Silas arguing about whether or not Silas should wear a shirt, then them arguing about whether or not Silas should be offering Sanada a handshake, then time was wasted with Sanada deciding whether or not to accept the handshake. Silas, being a total cartoon character, had his fingers crossed behind his back, which would only serve to expose his deception to either the fans or EVIL, who could warn Sanada about it (and wouldn't it be more heelish to just straight up lie instead of building in an childish excuse for why you didn't?). Sanada, apparently being a moron, accepted the handshake and was immediately sucker-kicked and thrown to the mat. Then Sanada just kipped up and hit Silas with a dropkick, so Silas' cartoonish attempt to get heat created no real heat.
Silas and Bully argued some more and Bully tagged himself in. He stalled, then, instead of locking up with Sanada, chopped EVIL. Even more time was spent stalling as LIJ milked the tag. Bully and EVIL spent several minutes yelling at each other in an unintelligible but intimidating fashion before we finally got some more action.
Said action was short-lived, and ended with Bully knocking EVIL down before doing some posing and mocking Sanada's trainer, The Great Muta. The nuance of this was lost on the crowd, who just assumed that Bully was doing a mocking "KARATE" pose against two random Japanese men and thus chanted "THAT WAS RACIST." So if any of you who from the crowd who chanted that are reading this right now, you owe Bully Ray an apology. Okay... that time when he did the Crane pose, you have an argument for.
The psychology here was fine, but the match was killed the times the heels spent stalling. This match went thirteen minutes, though it was really only ten due to the time wasted by the stalling. LIJ won after Bully accidentally hit Silas, then LIJ hit Silas with their finisher.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Okay. Bully and Silas yelled at each other, then got into a shoving match. They teased a fight but Bully decided to offer Silas a hug instead. Silas shoved Bully and then walked off, and unlike Sanada, did not fall for Bully's "I want to shake your hand" trick. If Silas and Bully are going to split up on this show then why the hell did they beat the Young Bucks last night when the Bucks are headed into a tag title shot? Having then turn on each other after two screw-ups in a row is better storytelling than having them do so after just one.
JEFF COBB vs. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS - 6.75/10
These guys got less than nine minutes, and used every moment of it to tell their story. That story, sadly, was that Cobb was just too big and strong for Daniels to deal with. This wasn't a squash by any means, as Daniels was able to get in some solid offense via strikes and some high-risk moves, but when push came to shove, Cobb was just too big. Because of the short length of the match the way they sold it (i.e. like real people would in this situation and not the usual "look at how much fighting spirit I have! Please cheer me, crowd, and please give me some snowflakes Uncle Dave"), I thought Cobb kicking out of Angel's Wings at one worked brilliantly. Cobb kicked out of it like it was more than a normal move, but he didn't just fire up and stop selling so much as he was determined to kick out of the pin and thus did so as early as he could muster, while Daniels reacted with pure shock, which is how the fans reacted as well, and how people really should react to a finisher getting kicked out of at one. It should garner shock and amazement, not a "cheer loudly for the highspot" reaction that it usually gets. And from that point on in the match, it was ALL Cobb, blocking all of Daniels' attempts to hit the STO to set up the BME, hitting his signature stuff, and getting the win. Daniels raised Cobb's arm in victory after the match.
MARK BRISCOE vs. CODY RHODES (w/Brandi Rhodes) - 6.75/10
We started off with what felt like close to a minute of Cody stalling by milking the act of throwing his t-shirt into the crowd. Because this was a Cody match, Mark Briscoe, one of the most accomplished wrestlers on ROH's roster, must resort to several heel tactics before he is able to get any offense in. Even while in control of the match, mark would do things lie choke Cody with a cable right in front of the referee... and of course this wasn't a DQ.
After this point things got a lot better (until the finish, anyway). This was definitely the best singles match of the night, although it did have the advantage of being the longest as well... and it was only a little over thirteen-and-a-half minutes. Mark was a good heel and Cody was a perfectly acceptable and not over-dramatic babyface. Then we got the finish, without which I would have given this a 7/10. Apparently some idiot decided that rather than having Cody win cleanly, we should do a spot where he gets away with kicking Mark Biscoe in the balls, and that leads directly to him hitting his finisher and winning. Yes, I know Mark Briscoe kicked the rope into Cody's nads earlier, but it makes you even more of a hero and makes you overcome even greater odds if you don't stoop the heel's level and copy his/her cheating ways.
TETSUYA NAITO vs. ADAM PAGE - 6.5/10
We start off with Tetsuya Naito doing comedy, trying to get ROH Senior Referee Todd Sinclair to do the LIJ pose with him, and all just so he can change his mind and not do it with Sinclair.
This match went an extremely disappointing twelve minutes. They did some stuff, but just when the match felt like it was about to really kick into gear, Naito hit Page with Destino and won. If the choices are Naito coming in and having disappointing matches or having no Naito at all, I'd much rather have no Naito at all.
TAG TEAM FOUR CORNER SURVIVAL MATCH:
Time Machine (Chris Sabin & KUSHIDA) vs. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham vs. the Young Bucks vs. The Kingdom (T.K. O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) - 7/10
Our main event for the evening went less than thirteen minutes. The story- to the extent that there was one- was the great chemistry each of these duos had. Well, really just the bucks, Time Machine, and Lethal/Gresham. The Kingdom didn't do much of anything, and really just felt like bodies who were booked in this match because Delirious couldn't figure out where else to book them. This is Ring of Honor; the main events needs to be better than his.
This was an extremely disappointing show from ROH, and is definitely in the bottom tier in company history. The biggest reason for this was that the wrestling was just plain not up to snuff, and the biggest contributing factor to that is obvious: time. Of the ELEVEN matches on this show, I don't think a single one of them went over fifteen minutes (and if you take out time spent stalling, it's entirely possible that none of them even broke fourteen). Everything got the same 9-14 minutes that you would expect from the undercard and midcard of some random indy, not the workrate promotion that ROH bills itself as and made its reputation on being.
The first mistake they made with the time was booking eleven matches in the first place. If you don't want your shows to go too much over three hours (which ROH pretty clearly seems to be trying to avoid, with Supercard of Honor as the notable exception), then don't book ELEVEN matches on the card. The women's match served no purpose at all, so why was it even booked? Between the entrances, the match, and the aftermath, that's probably a good 14-16 minutes you're saving yourself right there. Give ten of that to Page vs. Naito and five to the main event and now you're got yourself a show. If you wanted a Proving Ground match on this show, then Daniels vs. Cobb makes a lot more sense given Daniels current storyline of seemingly needing to win a title to stay in ROH past the end of the year.
The other place I thought they lost WAY too much time was in post-match stuff. The post-match segments in the first two matches specifically both do not as of this writing (and everything through Final Battle has been booked and taped) appear to be going anywhere, so that would be at least five more minutes you could have shaven off (I'd split it evenly between Daniels vs. Cobb and Taven vs. BUSHI). Taking up a lot less time than those were the equally important post-match interactions between Bully and Silas, Daniels and Cobb, and Flip and Kaz (although the announcers certainly dropped the ball on the significance of that last one.
And while we're on the subject of such things, WAY too many matches on this show had either a real show of respect or a fake one leading to an attack, either before or after the match. Yes, this is ROH, but if you're not going to actually enforce the Code of Honor- and I mean the entire thing- then these often just come off as "spots" that feel repetitive and overdone.
Anyway, this was a complete and total house-show in the ring, and with only the Bully/Silas stuff having any storyline importance. Once again, Delirious' poor booking prohibits the talent from delivering to the best of their abilities.