ROH Saturday Night at Center Stage 2020

ROH Saturday Night at Center Stage 2020ROH Saturday Night at Center Stage 2020

By Big Red Machine
From January 11, 2020

Dragon Lee(c) vs. Andrew Everett - 7/10

I don’t know what Everett did to earn a title shot, but apparently he’s getting one. At least he held up his end of things in the ring. This was a great athletic opener where the wrestlers managed to do various crazy athletic things without it ever feeling like they did way too much in the opener.

BULLY RAY WASTES EVERYONE’S TIME - Bad segment. The same, boring cheap-heat bullsh*t he’s been doing for years. He bullies the announcers. He hits Bobby Cruise. He yells at the fans.

He calls out Maria Manic. She shows up. He wastes more time being the tough guy with the “I dare you to get in my ring” bullsh*t. Maria participates in this wasting of everyone’s time by standing around and letting him run his mouth. She finally gets in the ring and spears him, then beats him up with a chair. She goes to get a table but the Allure come out and attack her, them Bully puts Maria Manic through the table.
Yes, theoretically this segment taught us that Maria can beat Bully one on one and all we have to do is get the Allure out of the picture, but at this point we’ve seen enough Bully Ray feuds in ROH to know that rather than what should happen- which is a cage match being booked for the next PPV to keep the Allure out, and Maria proceeding to kick Bully’s ass- what will actually happen is that we will get months and months and months of Bully causing f*ck finishes and post- match attacks and other assorted bullsh*t where his fat old ass gets a paycheck for doing minimal work while the story doesn’t actually move forward one bit, until a blowoff match is booked where Bully Ray will beat up Maria for 95% of the match before she gets to make a comeback and win. I’m sick and tired of this sh*t. Of all of the various things Marty Scurll could do as booker, the thing I most want to see him do is fire Bubba

NICOLE SAVOY & SUMIE SAKAI vs. THE ALLURE (Mandy Leon & Angelina Love) - 3.25/10

The Allure jumped the bell on the babyfaces. The babyfaces dominated a big chunk of the match but lost when Savoy accidentally kicked Sumie, allowing Mandy to roll her up. I’m actually fine with Savoy losing when she is the woman they really need to be building up the title because they don’t really have anyone else who can credibly face Maria Manic, and there are two reasons for that. The first is that so much of the match was spent with her stretching the heels that still came out of it looking dominant. The second is the…

POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Savoy tries to apologize to Sumie for accidentally kicking her. Sumie appears to accept the apology, but then attacks Savoy and lays her out with her finisher. Not only does this set up a little singles feud for Savoy so that she can have matches I have a reason to care about, but it also allows me to boo Sumie, whose prominent presence in this division despite her advanced age and total lack of charisma, has been a source of frustration to me since the 2018 “we’re going to have a title now” Women of Honor division reboot.

P.J. BLACK & BRIAN JOHNSON STORY VIDEO PACKAGE - An excellent recap of this story so far.


A very good big-man vs. little-man match.

JONATHAN GRESHAM (w/Jay Lethal) vs. JOSH WOODS (w/Silas Young) - 6.25/10

I was quite disappointed that Lethal was the first person to do something illegal rather than Silas, as I feel that muddies the waters on Lethal and Gresham’s characters and makes them (or at least Lethal) more in line with being actual heels instead of the “we only cheat against known cheaters” direction that they had seemed to be going in. It’s possible that this can still go that way and Lethal’s argument is that Silas is a known cheater so him interfering is merely a preemptive strike, but I think I like the story better if Silas interferes first, then Lethal interferes, and Woods is not only upset with Silas for interfering but also upset with Lethal/Gresham for cheating against him when he himself hadn’t broken the rules.

Speaking of breaking rules, I was ecstatic when the referee ejected Lethal and Silas from ringside for pushing their tag team partners into the ring to help them avoid a count-out. That absolutely should constitute interfering in a match, even if it doesn’t technically violate the letter of the law to touch the wrestler you are seconding.

The other story here was Gresham working over Woods’ knee, and… well, let’s just say that selling is an area where Josh Woods has some room for improvement. I did like that they tied this story into the other story for the finish, but Lethal so blatantly cheating bothers me for all of the reasons I listed above. These two teams will face off with the tag titles on the line at Bound By Honor 2020 next month, and now, instead of one interesting babyface/heel team and one interesting tweenerish team whose moral code will make their interactions with the half-heel, half babyface team interesting, we’ve got the team of a babyface who I want to see break away from his heel partner challenging two heels for the tag titles, which has me a lot less included to want the team with the babyface on it to win because I want to see them break up, not keep teaming together as champions.

SELX IS COMING - Meh. This video package was way too much of him standing around in a suit and nowhere near enough of telling me about him as a character or as a wrestler. He debuts at Free Enterprise on February 9th.

DAN MAFF & JEFF COBB vs. THE BRISCOES vs. LIFEBLOOD (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams) - 7.5/10

The Bouncers came out to do commentary. If all they’re going to do at every show is do commentary and drink beer with people, why are you wasting money bringing them to the shows?

The match itself was a great thirteen minutes of action, with a story of each team trying to wind up with a two-on-one advantage in the ring (yeah, it was one of those matches where the referee just stops caring about who is the legal man and how many people should be in the ring at a time). Maff looked MUCH better tonight than he did last month, so that’s good, because we’re stuck with him for the rest of the year.

VINCENT VIDEO PACKAGE - Good. It also functioned as an excuse for Ian Riccaboni to plug tomorrow night’s Vincent & Bateman vs. LifeBlood (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams) match, which Ian then transitioned into plugging some other matches for tomorrow’s show, complete with graphics. Hooray for building up future shows and their specific matches with plugs on the Honor Club broadcast!

Someone named “Danhausen” crashed the commentary booth between matches. He is a goof dressed in a suit and face-paint, who speaks in an odd infection and adds “hausen” onto the end of things (for example, he called this show “Saturday Night-hausen at Center Stage-hausen”). Why was this man allowed to get within fifty feet of Ring of Honor? And that’s not just me being BRM who doesn’t like goofball comedy in his wrestling. This is BRM the kayfabe fan, who couldn’t help but notice that this man’s presence was making the commentators uncomfortable to the point where they both mouthed “help me!” into the camera. Where the f*ck is security?

Ian went back to plugging tomorrow’s show, including letting us know that ROH officials are actually doing their jobs and have already booked a match between Sumie Sakai and Nicole Savoy after the incident earlier tonight.

SHAYNE TAYLOR PROMO - He says that his ROH career began “three years ago, in this very same building” when he and “a buddy” (i.e. Keith Lee) put the Briscoes through a table. Umm… I think Shane has some memory problems, as he had wrestled in ROH quite a few times before that night, including a prolonged feud with War Machine where he and his buddy were trying to get revenge on Raymond Rowe for Rowe leaving his good friend Shane Taylor in Texas to come join ROH (or something like that. They never really specified).

Anyway, Taylor calls out Joe Koff to give him a counter-offer to the contract Koff recently offered him. Taylor truthfully says that he is coming off of the best run of his career, but everything else he said was, quite frankly, laughable. He is not ROH’s best home-grown talent of the past decade (Dalton Castle and Matt Taven both come to mind, as to several others who case for being home-grown is more arguable), nor was he the baddest ROH World TV Champion of all time (Jay Lethal is. Taylor had one of the worst title reigns of anyone who has been given an extended run with the belt… although other names on that particular list that jump to mind are Bobby Fish and Marty Scurll, so I’m happy to pin that on the booking rather than on Taylor), and he was certainly not the best performer ROH had last year (Lethal, Taven, Bandido, Jay Briscoe, Gresham, and Haskins all blew him away. He goes on to tell Koff that he will only re-sign with ROH if:

1. He is put on all of the posters.

2. His buddies in Shane Taylor Promotions (who I think were the Soldiers of Savagery a few mons ago, so I don’t know who they linked up with him) are given a six-man tag title shot where Taylor gets to pick their third partner.

3. Taylor himself is given an ROH World Title match at the time and place of his choosing.

4. He gets the biggest money deal in ROH history.

If I’m Joe Koff, my response to all of this is “Well… it’s been nice working with you. Bye!”

Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll, Brody King, & Flip Gordon)(c) vs. MexiBlood (Flamita, Bandido, & Rey Horus) - 7.5/10

This was not scheduled to be a title match. Marty Scurll, the elader of the group called Villain Enterprises, volunteered to put the title son the line completely out of the blue, and despite the fact that one of the actual champions isn’t in this match, out of the goodness of his heart, and purely for the entertainment of the fans. Does he know what “villain” is? Because sometimes it really doesn’t seem like he does.

Anyway, not only are we putting the titles on the line in an impromptu manner for a team that hasn’t done anything to earn a title shot, but in order to allow them to be on the line, we’re also going to let someone who isn’t actually the champion defend them. Is there any way to cheapen them that the ROH brain trust (and I use the word “brain” VERY loosely) hasn’t found yet, short of having them change hands on a DQ or count-out?
Anyway, this was another all-action match. They had more of a focus on triple-teams and other Dragon Gate-style stuff, which made it not feel repetitive with the many spotfests I’ve seen recently in AEW, NXT, NXT UK, ROH, and many others, so that was nice. Yes, winning the belts rightg away immediately establishes MexiBlood as a force to be reckoned with, but I’d have like dit more if 1) they had done something to this shot, 2) they had beaten the real champions, and 3), their win hadn’t been a consequence of Scurll being a goof and wasting time to do his chickenwing dance, allowing bandido to roll him up.

PCO(c) vs. Rush - 5.5/10

Ian Riccaboni said something that implied that all ROH matches are relaxed rules. I don’t think he meant to say this so much as he got trapped by explaining that someone being thrown into a guardrail wasn’t a DQ because you actually have to hit someone with the guardrail (rather than hitting the guardrail with the person), only then to have Rush immediately throw the guardrail at PCO and hit him with it so Ian had to scramble to say SOMETHING to explain why this wasn’t a DQ… but the unfortunate fact remains that Ian said that all ROH matches are relaxed rules, which just isn’t true. The real blame goes to the wrestlers for not following the rules and booker for allowing them to not follow the rules, but the overall effect is that I, as a fan, feel like the rules are only enforced when the booker wants them to be, which often means that they’re only enforced to give us some kind of f*ck finish, which is made extremely annoying by the inconsistency from one match to another.

Anyway, they did stuff, and it was close to good for a while. We eventually got a spot where Rush pulled Todd Sinclair in the way of a PCO-sault for a ref bump. La Faccion Ingobernable all came out and beat PCO down, so they’re clearly the heels in this feud now. Why the f*ck anyone would ever turn Dragon Lee heel I don’t understand, but ROH’s track-record of decision-making hasn’t been very good over the past few years, so I really shouldn’t be surprised.

Villain Enterprises came out to make the sav, leaving Rush and PCO alone in the ring. Rush used a chair on PCO, then hit a tope-rope senton an went for a pin, with a referee coming out to make the count. It’s funny how the new referee always come out right after the wrestlers redone with their weapons spots. There is a way to make this feel natural, but it requires consistency, which is something most companies aren’t willing to put the effort into.

Rush beat up the second referee when he didn’t like the count. He then hit the referee with his finisher, which Todd Sinclair was awake enough to see, so Todd called for the bell and disqualified Rush here in our world title main event.

Why must we book this crap? Why is our world champion an old fart gimmick wrestler who can’t have a good match without plunder? And why is his top challenger- and the former world champion- someone who almost never goes more than twelve minutes in a singles match (this one went eleven)? This is supposed to be f*cking RING OF HONOR.

POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Bad. Rush goes to put PCO through a table but Flip Gordon makes the save. Flip is then attacked by Nick Aldis, who felt the need to disguise himself as a security guard for unknown reasons. I’m guessing by the fact that he’s attacking Flip Gordon that he and Marty Scurll now don’t like each other, even though they were friends last time we saw them?

The rest of Villain Enterprises came out to chase Aldis away, but La Faccion Ingobenable came back and beat them up with chairs, then put PCO through a table and posed.

So in the end we have two feuding stables who both feel like heels and who I have absolutely no reason to like or care which of the heel stables wins, as well as the return of the apparently also heel Nick Aldis, who hasn’t put on any exciting matches in any of his past ROH appearances, and who is surely going to be bringing yet another title belt that no one cares about to ROH with him. Forgive me if I’m not excited.

Final Thoughts
Overall, this was an okay show from ROH, but it’s one that left a bad taste in my mount. There was some very good little things like I liked and some very good matches, but the main event and ending to the show were so frustrating in so many ways. It feels like there is the potential for bright spots here, but there is also so much stuff that is suffocating any real hope I have. I’ll reserve giving my initial thoughts on Scurll’s booking until I’ve at least seen the next show (he apparently got a lot of ideas on this show, but wasn’t the head booker yet), but after watching tonight’s show, the only real indication that there had been any sort of change in the direction of anything was that they’re booking Scurll’s best buddy again.<<

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