ROH TOP PROSPECT TOURNAMENT SEMIFINAL MATCH:
Dak Draper vs. Haitian Sensation - 4/10
This “Haitian Sensation” character is just another dancing goof. There are WAY too many of those in pro wrestling. If you want dance, at least do it like Sonny Kiss does where there is an actual personality underneath other than “look at me! I’m dancing! Isn’t that fun?”
THE BOUNCERS vs. JOSH WOODS & SILAS YOUNG - 5.75/10
So if Beer City Bruiser is to be believed (and he should be because he is a babyface) and isn’t actually biting his opponent because he “ain’t got no teeth,” what is he doing when he does that spot? Gumming the opponent’s forehead? To what end?
The match was fine, with one big spot off the apron which was pretty damn cool. The Kingdom (minus Taven) came out to distract the Bouncers, allowing Woods to get the roll-up victory, which Silas approved of. Even though they got a relatively cheep win, the Bouncers wanted to share a beer with Silas and Woods after the match. Woods was happy to drink with them, but Silas took his beer and then left.
RUSH vs. TRITON - 0.5/10
You’ve got this big lucha star and you’ve finally got another luchador in to wrestle him… and you have him basically squash the guy without doing any lucha at all? Really? What does another quick Rush victory do for anyone at this point? It’s been eight months of this at this point!
MARK HASKINS & RHETT TITUS SEGMENT - Bad. Haskins comes out and tells us that he wasn’t booked tonight, but he wants a match because he loves competition. He then tells us that LifeBlood was formed for the sake of competition. Really, Mark? Because I’m pretty sure it was formed to “restore the honor” in Ring of Honor.
Rhett Titus comes out to back me up. He thanks LifeBlood for “restoring the honor, discipline, and respect in Ring of Honor.” Mind showing your work on that one, Rhett? The amount of cheating in this company has remained pretty constant since LifeBlood came onto the scene, and we have seen zero evidence that any decrease in cheating that there may have been has had anything to do with any action LifeBlood has taken. In the previous match I saw the guy who is supposed to be our new big babyface hero grab a chair FOR NO REASON WHATSOVER and look annoyed when the referee took it away from him, and that was in a match that didn’t even last four minutes and in which his foe did absolutely nothing to provoke him.
Rhett cuts a promo telling us all that he’s a babyface now because his son being born in July has given him a new perspective on life. This marks YET ANOTHER Delirious-booked random babyface turn because someone of someone wanting to be a better role-model for their kid or realizing that family is important and wanting to spend more time with their kid. Kenny King did it in 2017, Shane Taylor did it last year, and now Rhett is doing it… and that’s just in the past two years. And, by the way, both of those guys turned back heel within the year. On the bright side for Rhett, if the pattern holds, he’ll get a completely mishandled TV Title run out of this, which is more than he has gotten from ROH in the past SIX AND A HALF YEARS. Yes really. Rhett has been on the ROH roster continuously since before WWE started pushing Roman Reigns down our throats, and HAS NOT DONE A SINGLE THING OF CONSEQUENCE IN THAT ENTIRE SPAN OF TIME.
Anyway, neither man was actually booked for tonight, but ROH flew them both here and they both have their gear. This is SOOOO F*CKING CLUMSY! Why not just eliminate the plot-hole and book this match from the beginning. Rhett can cut his promo before the match, telling us about his son and how he is going to wrestle like a good person from now on for his son’s sake, and Haskins can cut a promo after he wins telling us about the #1 contendership tournament and how much he wants to win it. You get the same net effect that this segment here, but minus the plot-hole.
MARK HASKINS vs. RHETT TITUS - 6/10
Haskins wins a solid match cleanly, but Rhett once again feels like he’s not going anywhere, which is a shame because he’s never really been given a chance to have a good, long singles match with anyone.
BRISCOES PROMO - GREAT! These two are so great. Jay cut a promo on Bandido and Mark translated it into Spanish. Just hearing Mark Briscoe speak Spanish in his Delaware redneck accent was fantastic.
WOMEN OF HONOR SEGMENT - Terrible! The Allure came out and insulted the crowd, then Angelina complained about not getting a title shot despite having pinned the champion at the PPV. Angelina, the heel, is really not wrong about deserving this title shot.
Eventually Kelly Klein came out and offered to put the title on the line right now, but Angelina said no because *INSERT NAME OF CITY HERE* is smelly and full of stupid ugly people. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because they did this exact same thing with these two four months ago in Toronto. Since then, the only thing that has happened in this feud is that the heel has done even more to earn herself a title shot, but management is too lazy to book it.
Angelina goes to leave and Kelly calls her a coward, so Angelina offers to shake Kelly’s hand to show that she’s not a coward. All she wound up proving was that Kelly- our babyface champion- is an idiot for not seeing the most obvious trap in the world coming, as the moment Kelly takes Angelina’s hand, Mandy Leon punches her right in the face. Kelly gets beaten down. Sumie Sakai tries to make the save but gets beaten down as well. Jenny Rose comes out and finally makes the save. Why are we still using Generic Jenny instead of Tasha Steelz and Kris Statlander? Jenny Rose has gotten more screen time than anyone in the women’s division other than Kelly, Sumie, and now the Allure, and yet she still has zero personality and we still know nothing about her.
So yeah. This was a boring segment that was a repeat of a previous boring segment and also made our top babyface look like a moron. Good job, Lizard-man. The only good thing about this was Mandy Leon being an excellent background heel during Angelina’s promo, parroting her talking points and making a puke face when Angelina mentioned Kelly Klein.
JEFF COBB vs. TRACY WILLIAMS vs. KENNY KING (w/Amy Rose) - 6.75/10
TV champion Shane Taylor was on commentary for this match. He made some rather prescient points about the booking giving handouts to the likes of Colt Cabana. He made some even more prescient points about the company not kayfabe promoting him since he has become the ROH World TV Champion. If the angle here is supposed to be Shane Taylor’s ego mis out of control then you should be having him complaining about not being front and center on the posters and ont getting flown to Mexico first class. If he just plain isn’t on the posters at all and wasn’t taken to Mexico when all of the other champions were, he’s got a solid point and the company looks dumb for not promoting one of their champions.
Also, while doing some work to update my ROH Show Renaming thread I came across a comment I made last fall that Taylor’s angle was whining about not getting treated like a big deal by the promotion, and that I found this annoying because this was essentially the same thing Taylor had been doing the previous year as part The Rebellion. For those of you keeping track at home, in the two and a half years since he split from Keith Lee in ROH, Shane Taylor has had THREE SEPARATE RUNS WHERE HIS GIMMICK WAS THAT HE WAS WHINING ABOUT NOT GETTING PUSHED. Delirious is so painfully out of ideas and has no idea how to properly execute the few he has. He needs to be replaced ASAP.
The match itself was a fine eleven and a half minutes that did a good job getting the point across that Jeff Cobb was a threat, first by having King focus on keeping Cobb out of the ring so that he could work Tracy over, and later by having King and Tracy decide to work together to take Cobb out. The finish saw Tracy have Cobb beat after a guillotine choke and a piledriver, but Flip Gordon snuck down to ringside and pulled him off. Kenny King then used this distraction to roll Tracy up and pin him.
Then Kenny ring rolled out of the ring and pumped his head on a camera. That was funny.
Kenny and Taylor jawed with each other a bit, and Taylor had spent a lot of the match talking about how Kenny was a mentor to him. You’d think this was intended to build up a title match between them but no such title match ever happened, as Kenny moved into a feud with Rhett Titus. When I was checking to make sure that no title match ever came of this, it also occurred to me that the Jay Lethal vs. Kenny King feud, which started last November, hasn’t had a blow-off yet, either (and still hasn’t done so as I type this at the end of 2019, and it never will be Lethal is now a heel in the tag team division). Way to go, lizard-brain.
Ian told us that Quinn McKay has been interviewing the wrestles on Twitter. He’s a radical idea: How about we put the promos on the actual show, SO THAT THOSE OF US DOING WHAT YOU WANT US TO BE DOING AND PAYOING ATTENTION TO THE SHOW CAN ACTUALLY SEE THEM?
DALTON CASTLE & JOE HENDRY vs. JAY LETHAL & JONATHAN GRESHAM - 7.25/10
Hendry had an entrance that was highly entertaining and got under Dalton’s skin. While Gresham was making his entrance, the announcers reminded us that these two are having problems, too, so we’ve got the battle of the dysfunctional tag teams here. Or, as Ian more poetically put it, “the odd couple and the couple at odds.” AS you would expect, they played off of this dynamic throughout the match, and the team that was able to stay on the same page picked up the win.
VILLAIN ENTERPRISES vs. BARBARO CAVERNARIO, HECHICERO, OKAMURA, & REY BUCANERO - 6/10
People did moves and had faceoffs and a bunch of dives happened, but none of it really meant anything or did anything for any kind of story. This is the epitome of the pointless ROH midcard tag where they throw guys who should feel like bigger deals together in a way that means nothing.
VOLADOR JR. & STUKA JR. vs. THE KINGDOM (Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia) - 7/10
A very good action match and some good post-match stuff to get you in the mood for the Matt Taven vs. Volador Jr. ROH World Title match tomorrow night.
ALEX SHELLEY SHOWS UP IN A LUCHA MASK - I’m not sure why the Lucha mask was necessary. He cut a good hometown babyface promo. He did his best to reframe his loss to Matt Taven in Toronto as something positive and talked about everyone he wanted to wrestle in ROH. Jonathan Gresham interrupted him and took a dig at him for “dropping the ball” and not being able to take the title from Taven. Shelley cut a promo back at him and challenged him to a match at Glory By Honor: NOLA. This was a good segment.
JAY BRISCOE (w/Mark Briscoe) vs. BANDIDO (w/Mark Haskins) - 8/10
Other than fighting on the outside for too long, this was awesome. This is the type of match that ROH needs to be constantly putting guys like Haskins, Bandido, Tracy Williams, Jonathan Gresham, Joe Hendry, Flip Gordon, Brodie King, etc. in: a match with an established ROH star where they are given the chance to prove that they can put on an awesome match, over and over again. Build them up as stars by getting me excited to see their matches. Teach me that even a random match-up for one of these guys- just like this one was- is a match I cannot afford to miss.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Briscoe showed Bandido respect after the match. Taven came out and attacked both of them (the Jay Briscoe vs. Matt Taven singles match this should lead to could be a lot of fun). Rush came out to make the save and sent Taven scampering, then posed with Taven’s ROH World Title.
This was a good show from ROH, although the second half is FAR better than the first. Storyline-wise we had a mix of good and bad, but on the balance, there was more good than bad (although the worst of the bad was better than the best of the good). Tomorrow night is Matt Taven vs. Volador Jr. which is the only title defense of Taven’s that I haven’t seen yet.