ROH 17th Anniversary Show
By Big Red Machine
From March 15, 2019
KENNY KING vs. MARTY SCURLL - 7/10
Good stuff all around, and excellently paced for an opener without being a spotfest. Kenny tries to cheat but when the referee takes his chair away, Marty hits Kenny with his umbrella for the pin, paying Kenny back for Kenny's victories over Marty through similar tactics in recent months. After the match, Scurll dropped by the commentary table to say hello to his good buddy Nick Aldis, whose NWA World Heavyweight Title he will be challenging for at this year's Crockett Cup.
ROH TV TITLE MATCH:
Jeff Cobb(c) vs. Shane Taylor - 7.5/10
This was one hell of a hoss fight! It looked stiff as hell and was full of big dudes impressively throwing each other around. Both guys showed tremendous emotion and the last two minutes or so were excellent. Easily Taylor's best singles performance to date.
ROH WOMEN OF HONOR WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Mayu Iwatani(c) (w/Sumie Sakai) vs. Kelly Klein (w/Camp Klein) - 6.5/10
This was an... interesting match. Kelly utterly dominated most of it, and in a rather vicious way. Much of the opening few minutes had a very realistic feel to it the desperation of the way Kelly was throwing her strikes and the general messiness of it. Occasionally Iwatani would get in burst of offense but Klein would always cut her off. One of these times came after Kelly hit a German Suplex that I was certain had broken Iwatani's neck but she appeared to be perfectly fine. Kelly hit her finish but Iwatani kicked out, so Kelly went for it again and got rolled up. Kelly took this loss a lot better than I was expecting. The idea here is obvious that Kelly dominated the whole match but made one mistake, which sets up nicely for a rematch once Kelly has gotten some wins to earn it. Also setting up nicely for a rematch is the fact that this loss for Kelly evens them up at 2-2.
MATT TAVEN PROMO - He's pissed off at the clips they showed of his title belt being destroyed in the video package they were airing for the scheduled Kingdom vs. LifeBlood match, so he wants to have his match with Lethal right now. Jay Lethal comes out to accept, so we get the...
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Jay Lethal(c) vs. Matt Taven- 9.25/10
The announcers claimed that Taven was already sweating, which was proof that he had already warmed up and thus his outrage in his promo was disingenuous and this was all part of a diabolical plan to get this match- our scheduled main event- switched to a moment when he would be ready and Lethal would not.
We got some excellent working over of body parts in the first half of the match or so (basically everything until the interference spots), with Lethal working over Taven's knee and Taven working over Lethal's shoulder, but as the match moved into its second half that faded into the background a bit and merely became a component of the larger story being told, which was that these two men so badly wanted to prove that their claim to being ROH World Champion was the valid one and each so despised the other that they were able to find the strength within themselves to keep fighting and for an entire hour. Lethal even began resorting to questionable tactics to try to get a win, which was quite shocking, although Caprice Coleman argued convincingly that in Lethal's mind his actions were justified due to him being hit with a baseball bat by Vinny Marseglia earlier in the match.
I figured out where they were going a little over half way through, and while this can often lead to certain spots feeling like stalling out the clock, these guys did an excellent job of keeping it consistent and not pushing it too far so it felt like them selling real exhaustion rather than stalling. Also, my correct assumption about they were going did not in any way hurt any of the false finishes for me, although that might me due more to me loathing the thought of Matt Taven being ROH World Champion than due to anything they did structurally here.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good, on the balance. #1 contender Marty Scurll came out to ringside, grabbed the ROH World Title, posed with it, and then just turned around and walked off with it, with absolutely no one trying to stop him. While I understand the artistic reasons for wanting to have Scurll walk off with the title (we had two guy with competing world title belts, and after tonight there is only one belt, but a third party absconded with it, both symbolizing that neither Lethal nor Taven proved himself to definitively be the champion, and making Lethal destroying Taven's title but then not putting him away as a challenger awkward), no one trying to stop Marty from waltzing off with stolen property was more than a little ridiculous.
When Lethal and Taven finally both made it back to their feet and were able to stand under their own power, they had a wonderful little moment where you were waiting for one of them to offer the other a handshake and it looked like it was right on the verge of happening, but then Taven disrespectfully threw a piece of streamer at Lethal and walked off. It was a great little cap to reinforce the idea that tonight Matt Taven proved himself capable of earning our respect, and yet isn't quite deserving of it.
TIME IS WASTED BULLY RAY BEING MEAN TO SOME EIGHTH-RATE CELEBRITY - A waste a time. And no, this was not necessary to set up Bully's promo. You could have just aired the damn promo on its own.
BULLY RAY PROMO - A good promo, but the working was weird. He is making an open challenge to a New York City Street Fight at MSG "to anyone in any wrestling company" but also said he was talking to one specific person who he claims is bothered by the fact that this persons knows that Bully would get the best of him. If it's directed at one particular person then why did you make it an open challenge? Why not just challenge that person by name?
BANDIDO vs. RUSH - 8/10
Dalton Castle replaced Nick Aldis on commentary for this match. He greatly enjoyed this well-paced, extremely athletic spotfest, then challenged the win to a match at MSG.
STREET FIGHT FOR THE ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Briscoes(c) vs. Villain Enterprises (Brody King & PCO) - 9/10
Silas Young was the third man in the booth for this match, saying that he wanted to be on commentary because it wasn't fair that he should lose his chance to be on PPV in some capacity simply because his scheduled opponent for tonight, Jonathan Gresham, was injured by The Kingdom during the ROH World Title match.
When Silas came out I was worried it meant we were going to get interference in this main event title match, but thankfully he stayed in his seat and just watched the carnage... and CARNAGE is exactly what this was. Weapon shots by the plenty, lots of blood tons of broken tables... even broken Kendo sticks. This was exactly what you'd expect when you hear the term "STREET FIGHT" and especially with these for guys involved.
A FANTASTIC show from ROH. Probably the single best ROH show in several years. This is the sort of show we'd say is a Show of the Year Candidate if not for New Japan putting on a blow-away show four days into the year every single year. They basically copied TakeOver's formula of limiting the number of matches on the show in order to ensure that everything gets the time it needs (which was actually something Gabe had been doing with early ROH PPVs almost a decade earlier), and just like it does for TakeOver, it worked spectacularly for ROH here. Hopefully they shift all of their PPVs to this format.