JAY BRISCOE vs. RHETT TITUS - 3.75/10
Rhett Titus comes out and says he wants to rub Jay Briscoe down with baby oil, and also says that Jay Briscoe isn't in shape. Couldn't you have just explained to the crowd that Brody King's wife is having a baby and Rhett is his replacement tonight? Did we really need Rhett to cut this stupid promo to rub in that he's a goofball with no chance of winning?
This was short. Jay won.
SHINOBI SHADOW SQUAD vs. DALTON CASTLE & THE BOYS - 6.5/10
I'm not sure what "dissension" between Dalton and the Boys the announcers were talking about going into this match, but there was definitely some at the end. There is definitely a story to be told here with Dalton's Boys growing as wrestlers and Dalton needing to learn to accept that, but I really don't want to see Dalton go heel, so hopefully this works itself out without it getting that far.
Speaking of people who are "growing as wrestlers," the Shinobi Shadow Squad feel like real members of the roster now! They've done a very good job with Isom (he got to pin Dalton Castle here!) and Nova never really had the jobber stink on him, but after years of absolutely zero character progression no matter how many "the biggest win of his career!" moments Delirious tried to give him, Cheeseburger finally feels like he's not a joke anymore and is someone I have no trouble accepting as the leader of a team of young wrestlers.
ZACK SABRE JR. vs. COLT CABANA - 6.75/10
FOUR CORNER SURVIVAL:
Marty Scurll vs. Kenny King vs. Willie Mack vs. Silas Young - 6.75/10
A decent action-packed four-way. The finish saw Marty have Silas tapping to the Crossface Chickenwing but Kenny King distracted Tod Sinclair by bringing a chair into the ring, and when Sinclair went to put the chair away, Kenny kicked Marty in the nuts, then rolled him up for the pin. A good finish to set something up between these two while keeping Marty Strong because he still has a world title shot due to him and also building Kenny up for the eventual world title shot he claims he deserves.
ROH WORLD TV TITLE MATCH:
Jeff Cobb(c) vs. Rocky Romero - 7/10
Cobb worked over Rocky's midsection in addition to the expected speed vs. power story.
ROH WOMEN OF HONOR WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Kelly Klein(c) (w/Camp Klein) vs. Mayu Iwatani (w/Sumie Sakai) - 7.5/10
This was a great match, and I was shocked at the pop the title change got... but I simply don't understand why Delirious changed the title here. It's completely out of nowhere, cuts Kelly's reign extremely short, and puts the belt on someone for whom no future dates have been announced. This felt like putting the title on a Japanese wrestler simply for the sake of putting the title on a Japanese wrestler, which did no good for the TV Title when Delirious temporarily put it on Tomohiro Ishii almost three years ago (Ishii won the belt from Roderick Strong, did nothing with it, and then lost it a few months later to Bobby Fish, who had already been feuding with Roddy over the TV Title when Ishii took it from Roddy). This feels like yet more evidence that like the other championship he has created in the past few years, the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles, Delirious has no solid plans of any sort for what to do with the Women of Honor World Title, either.
COAST 2 COAST & THE BOUNCERS vs. LIFEBLOOD (Mark Haskins, Tracy Williams, Juice Robinson, & Bandido) (w/Tenille Dashwood) - 7.75/10
Stuff happened in the beginning, all nice and clean. Then LSG and Bandido are in there, doing their spots and they come to a stand-off... and all of a sudden, FOR NO REASON, the other six guys just get into the ring and have the most pointless, manufactured shouting match you have ever seen. The referee starts to order them to all go back to their corners, but the fans are chanting "LET THEM FIGHT!" but because these guys are all babyfaces they go back to their corners like respectful athlete... and, of course, the fans all boo. This is why you should stick to wrestling unless the spot you're doing is necessary to tell the story of your match.
After almost ten minutes of completely clean wrestling, Beer City Bruiser just randomly starts biting Mark Haskins on the face, right in front of the referee. WHY?! Even worse, this was pretty much the only bit of cheating all match. I mean... aside from people running into the ring when they weren't legal, but that happens in every tag match. But then again, why not use that to held LifeBlood stand out as true rule-followers. At this moment they're just a bunch of random dudes in a faction. They supposedly have an ideology, but they don't really do anything different than, say, Jay Lethal or Jonathan Gresham, so what is their purpose?
The action in the match was pretty great (aside from one or two spots where BCB taking Lucha moves wound up looking hokey- particularly the spot where he was sup[posed to run into Milonas off of a rana), but I really couldn't get into the match because I wasn't really given any reason to care about anyone in it. Bandido once again really shined, but I'd like him and his buddies who should also have me excited to get some actual direction.
MARK BRISCOE vs. PCO - 7/10
In an even worse repeat of the bad idea from the previous match, this time Mark and PCO got STEEL CHAIRS and wanted to hit each other with them but ROH Senior Referee Tod Sinclair got between them and ordered them to put the chairs down, and they complied... and the fans booed. Anyone should have been able to see this coming!
Unlike the last match, this did actually factor into the story as while PCO went to put his chair away, Mark simply but his down and attacked PCO from behind as PCO went to return his chair to the corner of the ringside area, but all of this still could have been avoided by coming up with some other way for Mark to cut PCO off.
Sinclair let them brawl all over the place without getting counted out. They announcers justified this with "referee's discretion." Then, as if to give us an example of why Tod should have interceded and started counting before it got to this point, Mark Briscoe gave PCO a scary powerbomb on the stage, then kicked him down the stairs. This was extremely scary. Fortunately, it seems to have scared Tod into finally doing the right thing, as he then ran back to the ring and began applying the twenty-count.
This match is probably the match I would use to explain 2018-2019 PCO to someone. He takes all of this scary stuff and somehow doesn't stay down and sells everything and plays his character so well that it never once feels like it stretches credulity.
THE KINGDOM vs. JAY LETHAL, JONATHAN GRESHAM, & RUSH - 8/10
The story here focused on three individual match-ups: Taven vs. Lethal, O'Ryan vs. Rush, and Marseglia vs. Gresham. The first two of those have had some built while the third feels more like the leftover guys getting thrown together (but that's fine). I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that rather than having the heels be cowards and try to avoid these match-ups when footing was even, they had them just as willing to get in there as their babyface counterparts.
There was a really great heat segment, some strong nearfalls, and a very exciting last few minutes (although, unfortunately we missed some of it because some moron decided that rather than keep the camera shot focused on the action sequence IN PROGRESS, it would be better to cut to a camera focused on the big screen hanging above the ring that was displaying the logo of the show and then pan down to the ring. This person should be fired. And also flogged.) Also, most surprisingly of all, Vinny Marseglia did absolutely nothing stupid.
Taven got to pin Lethal cleanly to cement the idea that he might actually be able to beat Lethal and validate his claims to being the best wrestler in the world. Based on what we saw tonight their match at the 17th Anniversary Show should be great, although they did have one or two issues. The scariest one involved Lethal going for Hail to the King but Taven I guess didn't roll out of the way quickly enough and rolled towards the turnbuckle so Lethal wound up coming down with his knee driving into Taven's back, but with Lethal's legs spread at an angle that makes you wonder how he managed to avoid getting hurt on it.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Kenny King comes out and cuts a promo on Jay Lethal, calling Lethal a loser while noting that Kenny himself was victorious earlier tonight, pinning Marty Scurll. Scurll came out and attacked Kenny, but The Kingdom then all attacked Marty, and PCO came out and if things had continued from there with a brawl getting broken up then it would have been a very good segment, pushing three storylines at the same time (Lethal/Kenny, Kenny/Marty, and Kingdom/Villain Enterprises).
Instead someone decided that everyone had to run out and it turned into this painfully forced schmoz. In the middle of all of this, Bully Ray went after Tod Sinclair but PCO saved Sinclair and had a thing with Bully, because apparently someone felt that what ROH needs to book right now is match where the two participants have a combined age of almost 100 and where both men had won multiple WWF World Tag Team Championships well before ROH- shortly before its 17th birthday- ever came into existence. This felt like something that was big for the sake of being big rather than making sure everyone had a real reason to be involved, and the result was a segment where the focus ended up completely watered down.
This was a pretty great show from ROH. The wrestling was all very good and things ramped up well as the night went on. The finishes were almost all clean, with the one dirty one immediately becoming relevant in an angle, storylines were progress, and the commentary tonight... WOW!
Like Brody King, Ian Riccaboni missed this show because his wife was giving birth, so the commentary team tonight was Caprice Coleman and Nick Aldis... and they were TREMENDOUS! Two color commentary guys without a play-by-play guy is not something I like, but Aldis actually managed to play both rolls at once, with Caprice facilitating his transition from role to role by simply having an intelligent and reasonable conversation about the action with him.
I want to throw some particular props in Caprice's direction for the way he dealt with the issues of a DQ finish. Whereas most announcers (Kevin Kelly in particular gets my ire up for doing this) say things like "we wouldn't want a disqualification here" when someone is doing something like using a weapon right in front of the referee's face, Caprice handled an angry Rush picking up a chair by saying "I would be kind of mad at" the referee if he called for a DQ had Rush used the chair. Caprice got across the same sentiment that we don't want to see a match end via DQ, but while still getting over the idea that following the rules for the integrity of the competition and the safety of the competitors is more important than not disappointing the fans with a "bad" finish.
This is definitely a show that you should check out.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. Nick Aldis tried to tell me that Colt Cabana's stock was "currently at an all-time high."
He's a former multi-time ROH World Tag Team Champion, multi-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a former RPW British Heavyweight Champion, a former IWA-MS Heavyweight Champion when that belt actually meant something, and has held many other titles around the world. Currently he holds ZERO championships... and you want to tell me that his stock is at an "all-time high" NOW?