VILLAIN ENTERPRISES PROMO - Okay. This started off with Marty Scurll doing some bad stand-up comedy, which I guess someone thought was necessary to warm the crowd up for the WORLD CHAMPION. Just let the world champion speak. Marty’s job is not to set the stage for the new champions’ speech. That’s the announcers’ job, and they did a perfectly fine job of it.
At the end of this Marty said that the fans “finally got something right” when they chanted “YOU DESERVE IT!” at PCO. Ah. So based on that line, Villain Enterprises are the heels, right?
Then PCO cuts a complete and total babyface promo thanking the fans for supporting him. Then Rush, who is a babyface, appears on the CaryTron and cuts a promo telling us that he has formed a new factions to go after Villain Enterprise, and that faction consists of himself, his brother Dragon Lee (also a babyface)… and Kenny King, who is a heel. Who the hell am I supposed to root for in this feud? Having clear babyfaces and heels should not be this hard (especially for a booker who spent so much time in CHIKARA)!
The new faction is called La Faccion Ingobernable. Their promo probably went on a bit too long, but these three guys (especially Kenny King and Rush) just ooze charisma. Also, Amy Rose was there. They all did the Shield Fist at the end, which was something they really shouldn’t have done.
PCO said he wouldn’t give the belt back because he has worked for two lives to get it. Both PCO and Marty called the belt the “ROH World Heavyweight Title,” which is not the correct name for the belt. There is no “heavyweight.” The segment as a whole was okay. The real strikes against it are the babyface/heel issues I described above, and how random Kenny King’s alliance feels with Dragon Lee and Rush feels. I can see why they put Kenny King with these two (his attitude and Rush’s fit well together, and he can be an English mouthpiece for them), but I don’t think we’re ever seen Kenny interact with Rush or Dragon Lee before, and when you combine that with the babyface/heel issues it makes it feel like Kenny King is part of their faction because the booker decided to put him in, rather than it feeling like a decision that any of the characters involved would come to naturally.
HALLOWICKED vs. MARK HASKINS (w/Vicky Haskins) - 7.25/10
A great eleven minutes of technical wrestling. Hallowicked worked over the back while Haskins worked over the arm but then shifted to the midsection at the end to set up the win with Overkill.
FLAMITA VIDEO PACKAGE - Good.
SUMIE SAKAI vs. NICOLE SAVOY - 6.5/10
It turns out that when you give these women’s matches enough time to develop and actually feel like they’re building up to a crescendo, the matches are better. Who knew?
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Uch… Savoy shows Sumie respect after the match, but both are jumped by the Allure. The Allure then call out Maria Mani by calling her an “ugly bitch.” They attacked her two on one but she beats them up. She grabs a mic and tells Angelina “you want to talk about ugly? Let’s see your face after I smash it though a G-d damn table” (or something to that effect). She then ordered security to get her a table, and security, who normally run out and try to restrain her when she shows up to attack people, are now setting up a table for her to put another ROH employee through.
So Maria lifts Angelina up for a powerbomb… but out comes f*cking Bully Ray to make the save and chokeslam Maria through a table. All of the fans, who had popped for everything Maria said and were so excited to see her put Angelina through the table, respond to this hated heel foiling the thing they wanted to see by… chanting “ECW!”
I have several thoughts about this segment. The first is that until Bully Ray showed up, I was actually enjoying it. The heels acted logically but arrogantly, and Maria cutting a promo made me actually care about her and understand her personality. Compare this to her first five months in the company, where all she did was magically teleport into the ring and beat up security for no reason. It’s amazing how cutting one little two-sentence promo does more for someone than doing a generic segment full of things designed to get a bunch of cheap pops over and over and over and over again for months at a time.
Intergender wrestling is controversial to some people. I have no problem with intergender wrestling, so long as both sides are being respected as competitors. The problem is that way too often the woman is portrayed as being a strong tough woman standing up to the man when she is on offense, but the minute the man does something to her the commentary shifts to “how dare he hit this delicate little flower.” This attitude completely disrespects the women as competitors, and creates a situation where it’s hard to get heat on a heal for “beating a woman” if that woman running at him and trying to fight him. What is he supposed to do? Just stand there? Unfortunately, I don’t trust ROH’s commentators not to fall into this trap.
Then there is Bully f*cking Ray. He is terrible and everything he has been involved in has sucked. That is not an opinion. That is, at this point, fact. I’m sure you’ll find someone somewhere who thinks that dog sh*t is yummy, but that person is nutjob. So it is with Bully Ray. Unfortunately, the nutjob in question is Bully himself, and he seems have pretty much free reign. More Bully is bad for ROH, and now he will be tying up the time of the person who should be the Women of Honor World Champion, preventing that belt from getting off the ground, when what it really needs is a good, long, dominant run with a champion facing strong contenders and then finally being beaten once the cache of beating that champion has been built up as much as possible (think Samoa Joe as ROH World Champion).
ALEX SHELLEY vs. JONATHAN GRESHAM (w/Jay Lethal) - 6.75/10
A solid twelve-minute wrestling match where they took things slow to make sure everyone realized that Gresham was wrestling cleanly. There was a story of Shelley working the neck and Gresham working the knee, but the real news here is that Gresham won clean and there was respect all around after the match. This was, quite frankly, a necessary moment for Lethal and Gresham’s characters, as it showed that they are willing to practice what they preach and not wrestle dirty against people who haven’t wrestled dirty against them. Way too many of ROH’s babyfaces will ignore the rules on a regular basis (and that includes the Briscoes), so while I think Gresham and Lethal are still heels for the way they turned, I can at least respect them and see a built-in path for them to redeem themselves over time while maintaining this same attitude. This is a welcome breath of fresh air from what I was worried we were going to get, which was them just turning into generic heels the same way that LifeBlood, despite all of their talk about having a specific set of beliefs, just wound up being generic babyfaces.
SLEX VIDEO PACKAGE - Very well done. He has signed with ROH.
TRACY WILLIAMS vs. BATEMAN - 6.25/10
They were having a good grudge match but then it slowed down way too much. Then, just as Williams was about to win, the stupid Vinny Marseglia balloons came out from under the ring. Then a nameless woman emerged from under the ring and tried to distract Tracy by showing him her crotch. He ignored her. When the referee went to tell her to get off the apron, some fat slob in a mask came in and pulled Bateman out of Williams’ attempted piledriver. The ref clearly saw the fat slob in the ring and trying to attack Tracy but there was no DQ because Tracy ducked everything and tossed him out. This did, however, buy enough time for Bateman to recover and get the win. The announcers had no idea who these two were, which makes me wonder why the hell security wasn’t rushing to get them out of the ring.
This is not only not what I want in my ROH, but even more so, it feels like a very worrying step backwards for a Vinny Marseglia character who had just gotten interesting. You want to put him wit Bateman? Fine. They both give off a creepy vibe. But the balloons coming out from under the ring are infuriatingly stupid (what sort of moron hides under the ring all day just so he can do something that forfeits the element of surprise before attacking his enemies?) and HE DOES NOT NEED A F*CKING GOOF SQUAD!
STOP BOOKING THESE F*CKING GOOF SQUADS!
You spent a while building a goof squad for Silas Young, and now, three years later, the end result is that you had a lukewarm break-up feud, having them around didn’t do anything for Silas, and they are now meandering around as an undercard tag team whose role on most shows has become to show up and drink beer with someone after a match.
You gave Matt Taven a goof squad, and in the ensuing three years it took one of them about a year to find a personality, and then another two years to turn that personality into something that wasn’t cringeworthy, while the other STILL doesn’t have a personality, and hasn’t shown any potential in the ring above that of the average indy worker.
You gave Marty Scurll a goof squad, and being part of the group has basically been irrelevant to PCO getting over, Flip Gordon has felt less important since he has joined the group, and even Marty himself hasn’t really done anything since the group got going. The only person who has arguably benefitted from being in the group is Brody King, and that’s really only because HE HAS BEEN IN THE COMPANY FOR A WHOLE YEAR AND HASN’T SHOWN ANY SORT OF PERSONALITY, and thus having Marty’s logo on his shirt gives him some sort of rub.
Both Kelly Klein and Shane Taylor had groups of dorks following them to the ring this year, and the existence of those people ALMOST NEVER MATTERED. The Rebellion got thrown together and DIDN’T DO SH*T. The Motor City Machine Guns had a whole bunch of newcomers with a lot of promise following them around and DIDN’T DO SH*T. Knock it off with the f*cking goof squads and concentrate and SHOWING US WHO THE MEMBERS OF YOUR ROSTER ACTUALLY ARE! What are their personalities and personal philosophies, and how do those things affect their actions in their quest to become champions? THAT is what makes someone a star, not having a bunch of goofs following them around!
VINNY MARSEGLIA PROMO - Oh G-d. Now he’s speaking like a f*cking hippy. This wasn’t bad, but the only way it really fits his new character is if we’re going in some sort of goofy backwoods cult direction, which pro wrestling REALLY doesn’t need right now. He took forever to say that he’s done carrying Matt Taven and that the Kingdom is dead.
They announced that Rush is using his “contractually-obligated rematch” at Saturday Night at Center Stage 2020 to challenge PCO on January 11th. That right there is proof that I have been right all of this time and the contractually-obligated rematch is a real thing in ROH.
#1 CONTENDERSHIP MATCH: Silas Young & Josh Woods vs. the Briscoes - 7/10
Fifteen great minutes of tag team wrestling. Woods getting the pin here felt like a big step for him.
REY HORUS vs. FLIP GORDON - 7.5/10
A strong debut for Horus, and Flip’s best match in a while.
DAN MAFF & JEFF COBB vs. VILLAIN ENTERPRISES (Marty Scurll & PCO) - 5.75/10
This was not very good. Yes, Cobb did some cool stuff and you got to se big guys diving, but just about everything else Maff did was boring as well. He looked like he had no business in an ROH ring. PCO, our new champion, wasn’t that great, either, which is not a good sign. The story here was Maff and Cobb bumping into each other several times, so I guess those two are headed for a rematch.
This was a very good show from ROH, brought down by a disappointing main event. Considering the large number of extremely talented wrestlers who didn’t wrestle on this show (Rush, Dragon Lee, Jay Lethal, Bandido, Flamita, Taven, Dalton, Hendry, Brody King, Kenny King), that they were able to put on a show this good speaks to how deep the ROH roster actually is. But for the second straight show, a main event featuring our new world champion has me very worried for the future. All of that great undercard talent isn’t worth anything if you’re giving their time to guys like PCO and Maff to do the same stuff over and over again.