JEFF COBB vs. BRODY KING - 5.75/10
This one didn’t really click with me. It was one of those matches where it felt like they were trying to earn snowflakes rather than tell a story. It was a disconnected bunch of spots with an emphasis on big guys flips and strong-style stuff. That fighting spirit German Suplexes right before the finish were particularly egregious.
BRIAN ZANE INTERVIEWS THE BOUNCERS - Didn’t like it. “We’re all going to the ER tonight” is nowhere near as good a message as “we’re going to kick your asses but not get our asses kicked by you.”
QUINN MCKAY INTERVIEWS DALTON CASTLE - Very bad. Quinn McKay has nowhere near enough charisma to play the “hostess” role they stuck her in here, trying to hype up the main event before interviewing Dalton. Her attempt to interview Dalton was atrocious, as she wound up as his awkward sidekick while both of them did nothing for several minutes. Mercifully, Joe Hendry came out to interrupt them. Dalton has a thing under a cover, which Hendry prompts him to reveal. It’s a mimosa.
Hendry is wearing a shirt that says “2nd Best Dalton Castle” on it. He says he still believes in their tag team (they have teamed twice and are 1-1). Hendry says they’re going to do karaoke. He has a song about how he is better than Dalton and making fun of Dalton. Dalton threw his drink on him and left. Hendry then beat up the Boys. As a TV segment this might have been passable, but putting THIS on the pre-show to get people to buy the PPV was terrible. At least when AEW does something extremely dumb on the pre-show it’s clear that there is some sort of inside joke there. This just came across as a boring pro wrestling segment. To compare with AEW, AEW’s leave you feeling that they can do good pro wrestling for their little inside group, while this was a segment that made you think that ROH has no idea how to do an entertaining pro wrestling segment.
FINAL BATTLE #1 CONTENDERSHIP TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL MATCH:
Marty Scurll vs. Colt Cabana - 7/10
A solid beginning to this tournament. A key to this match was structuring it so that, just for a moment or two, I though there was a snowball’s chance in hell of Colt winning, and they managed to do that towards the end.
FINAL BATTLE #1 CONTENDERSHIP TOURNAMENT QUARTERFINAL NO DISQUALIFICATIONS MATCH:
PCO vs. Kenny King (w/Amy Rose and his new entourage) - 4.25/10
Out of nowhere, this was made a no DQs match. I’m sorry, but if you don’t have faith in PCO to deliver in anything that isn’t a gimmick match singles match then just don’t book him in them. Either that or take the time to come up with a reason for these matches to be no DQs matches.
This “PCO short-circuits” spot really kills his gimmick for me, as it takes a guy who is supposed to be a sort of scary monster with freaky recuperative powers and turns him into a joke in the middle of a match, just for the sake of doing this goofy spot (and a spot where this poor old man dives out of the ring and onto the floor while adding absolutely nothing to the match).
Anyway, they used some weapons on each other and took bumps to the floor. Kenny King almost died when an attempted Arabian Powerbomb resulted in PCO’s full bodyweight nearly landing on Kenny’s head. The finish was Kenny King douse PCO with water. Then PCO reversed whatever Kenny tried to do a went for a chokeslam but Amy Rose shocked PCO with a cattle-prod, which PCO no-sold and beat Kenny King with a chokeslam, then kept choking him, because I am supposed to believe that PCO is a robot or something.
And don’t try to tell me “he’s the French-Canadian Frakenstein!” because that doesn’t make any sense here. Electricity was used to provide the required immense amount of power to bring the monster to life, but the monster does not run on electricity like a f*cking Prius! This whole thing was moronic, and resulted in a match where the babyface got cut off because he “short-circuited” and jumped out the wrong side of the ring, making him look like an idiot and making the heel look lucky, and then the babyface won because the heel’s plan accidentally made the babyface stronger, so no one comes out of this looking good. This whole “Frankenstein” sh*t has been taken WAY too literally, in exactly the sort of way that WWE ruins things like King of the Ring by taking the “king” part too literally.
ROH WOMEN OF HONOR WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Kelly Klein(c) vs. Angelina Love (w/Mandy Leon) - 4/10
They had a match that was back and forth in a way that felt like it got in the way of the intended story of Mandy’s attempts to interfere rather than enhancing it. Eventually Angelina won, so now we’ve got yet another f*ck finish heel stable with a top title, and to make things worse, they took the title off of the top female worker in the company to put in on a third-rate rehash of a TNA gimmick from ten years ago.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Didn’t like it. The Allure go to humiliate Kelly Klein by drawing on her face with eye-liner or whatever that was, but then the lights go out for a long time and when they come on again, Maria Manic has teleported into the ring because G-d forbid she actually run out to the ring like a normal person. But no. We’ve got to give her magical powers that apparently only work during post-match segments.
She pulls Angelina off of Kelly and puts her in the Torture Rack. Security come down to break it up and she beats the crap out of them. It’s clear (especially with Ian’s commentary) that they’re trying to get her over a woman who is tougher than average because she can beat up men, but this fails for me for two reasons. First, they’re f*cking security guards. EVERYONE on a wrestling show can beat up security guards. Secondly, these guys are just doing their jobs, and there is no blood feud here so her spending so much time beating the security guards up afterwards makes her look like a jerk after a while. Anyway, your next title program is going to be a sad rehash of a gimmick that worked ten years ago against a woman whose entire personality is “me are strong silent monster,” and all we know about her is that she magically teleports. Oh goody.
JAY LETHAL vs. JONATHAN GRESHAM - 8.5/10
An absolute MASTERPIECE of storytelling. The limb-work, the selling, the emotion, the integration of the themes of storyline into the match… this was absolutely beautiful, and Ian and Caprice’s commentary enhanced the story even more. This is one of those matches was only about a 7.75/10 in terms of the action, but the story was 10/10. Make sure you watch this match!
BAR ROOM BRAWL:
The Bouncers vs. Vinny Marseglia & Silas Young - 7.5/10
They had an excellent video package before this match to bring us up to speed on why this match was happening. This was important because this way, when the Beer City Bruiser attacked Vinny Marseglia from behind during Vinny’s entrance, I had no problem with it even though the Bouncers are the babyfaces, because Vinny has been doing that to them all feud.
Silas’ protégé Josh Woods was on commentary, and he does not have a voice cut out for promos. He also looked extremely nervous the few times the camera cut to him. It turns out that this nervousness was part of the storyline, though, as he was clearly not a fan of all of these weapons, didn’t think Silas needed to resort to them to win, and even more so was not comfortable with Silas allying himself with this psychopath Vinny Marseglia… and this match sure proved was a sick son of a bitch Vinny Marseglia is.
This match is not for the squeamish. There was a lot of blood, a lot of weapon use and one absolutely sickening spot that I’m not going to spoil, but I will note that as sickening as I found the spot, I also couldn’t help but admire the artistic notion behind it. In addition to the violence they did an excellent job of incorporating elements from the storyline into the match, and had the crowd solidly behind the babyfaces. A GREAT match. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but between this match and the promo he cut in the video package, I’m actually starting to see value in Vinny Marseglia.
ROH WORLD TV TITLE MATCH:
Shane Taylor(c) vs. Tracy Williams vs. Flip Gordon vs. Dragon Lee - 6.25/10
P.J. Black provided guest commentary for this match. Shane Taylor came out with an entourage. He has also apparently “bought out his own contract” and is now fighting under the banner of “Shane Taylor Promotions” because he wasn’t happy with the promotion (or rather the lack thereof) that ROH was giving him.
Can we PLEASE not do stupid sh*t like the spot where the Dragon Lee runs PAST the pin in order to distract the ref so the ref stops counting and then break up the pin with a kick for a laugh? It makes the ref look dumb for not continuing the count and makes Dragon Lee look dumb for running past the pin to take the risk that the referee will buy into his shenanigans rather than doing the sure thing and just breaking up the pin. YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH DOES NOT NEED A LAUGH IN IT!
Props to Riccaboni for at least realizing how dumb this was and blaming it on the referee being a rookie rather than laughing and going along with it like Caprice did, which makes it feel like this is all a performance, but even Ian’s method opens us up to the question of why a rookie referee is officiating such a huge match. That makes ROH look dumb to use him when the Senior Referee is available… or at the very least, it will make ROH look dumb the next time Joe Mandak referees a title match.
This was a decent eight-and-a-half-minute four-way. It did a decent job of keeping the LifeBlood vs. VE (and specifically Flip Gordon) issue fresh in our minds and the tease of Dragon Lee vs. Taylor does have me interested, but on the whole this felt like the sort of match you book to build to the two singles matches on the big show rather than the kind of match you book on the big show itself.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Briscoes(c) vs. LifeBlood (Mark Haskins & Bandido) - 7.25/10
And of course they sent out the same referee who just ha a moronic screw-up in the previous match. This was a great match, but still felt disappointing considering the absurd amount of talent involved.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - EXTREMELY disheartening. F*cking Bully Ray is back and he beats up LifeBlood. Tracy Williams came out to make the save but Flip Gordon attacked him from behind, then left. Bully beat up LifeBlood some more, including dragging Mark Haskins in front of Vicky’s seat and daring her to do something about it. She slapped him, so he powerbombed Mark through a table. When Vicky jumped the guardrail to check on him, he had security eject her from ringside. They spent WAY too much time, on a f*cking PPV a man NO ONE WANTS TO SEE. LifeBlood is involved in a feud with Villain Enterprises that people actually care about and has given us great matches every time… but now it’s going to have to share time with f*cking Bully Ray. Yes, I realize that Bully and Flip teaming with each other could make an interesting story, but that is for no more than one match, and certainly doesn’t outweigh the negatives of Bully Ray stinking up the product as he has done since the moment he set foot in this company two and a half years ago.
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Matt Taven(c) vs. Rush - 7.75/10
They fought on the outside forever without getting counted out, and Rush throwing the guardrail at Taven absolutely should have been a DQ. Other than those two issues, they did a great job of building a world title match around each guy trying to hit his big move, and a finishing sequence that was set up beautifully.
This was a great PPV outing for ROH, with most of the matches coming through and a very good number of clean finishes. There were definitely some decisions made that I found frustrating for several reasons (mostly involving the use of Bully Ray girlfriend’s BFF), but the good far outweighed the bad, and the Lethal vs. Gresham match is one I will remember for a very long time. Definitely give this show a look if you’ve got the time.