MARTY SCURLL vs. SLEX vs. BANDIDO - 6.75/10
Bandido was introduced as “representing MexiSquad.” So is he not a member of LifeBlood anymore? Wasn’t the idea of LifeBlood that they were all dedicated to this set of ideals about what ROH should be? How can you have someone leave a group like that with no comment? Does Bandido not believe in those ideals anymore? Do LifeBlood think they’ve accomplished their goals already (although I think it’s pretty clear the answer to that should be no)? Have they given up? Can we get some follow-up or explanation or anything? Please?
This was about eight minutes of good three-way stuff. Was it all pretty clearly choreographed? Yes. But as a nice little three-way opener, it was fine. I was absolutely shocked that Slex didn’t eat the pin here with the way he was treated in his debut at the previous show.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Decent. Shane Taylor ‘s buddies the Soldiers of Savagery came through the crowd, and while Slex was busy keeping an eye on them, Shane Taylor came out from the back to attack him. Slex fought back and held his own against Taylor until the Soldiers of Savagery jumped in and laid him out with the Snapshot, then Taylor hit him with a Package Piledriver for good measure. This is the second time Taylor has attacked Slex, so this pushes that feud. It also lets me know that Flex is a babyface, which I wasn’t really sure about before, because he has apparently come to ROH to after Villain Enterprises, who are babyfaces. At least I’m pretty sure that they’re babyfaces because LFI and the NWA Crew seem like they’re supposed to be heels, and Villain Enterprises are feuding with them.
DALTON CASTLE & JOE HENDRY vs. P.J. BLACK & BRIAN JOHNSON vs. LIFEBLOOD (Tracy Williams & Mark Haskins) vs. THE RIGHTEOUS (Vincent & Bateman) (w/Vita Von Star & Chuckles) - 7/10
Eleven minutes of action culminating in a F*CKING GREAT finishing sequence. Dalton and Hendry pick up the big win here, so hopefully they’re bouncing back and going to make this team work. Vincent jumped up onto the apron after the match to spit at Dalton.
NICOLE SAVOY vs. ANGELINA LOVE (w/Mandy Leon) - 6.25/10
Martina came to do guest commentary for this match, which means that commentary is getting muted.
This was an enjoyable eleven minutes of babyface vs. heel stuff. I liked that Mandy was actually trying to be sneaky when she cheated, doing things like squatting down so it would be harder for the referee to see her when she grabbed Savoy’s leg. The story was Mandy’s cheating from the outside and they did just enough of it to not feel like they overdid it while also doing enough of it that it set their finish of Savoy overcoming it up perfectly.
VILLAIN ENTERPRISES (Brody King & Flip Gordon) vs. LA FACCION INGOBERNABLE (Kenny King & Rush) (w/Amy Rose) - 7.5/10
Flip Gordon came out carrying the Dragon Lee mask he used to trick everyone into thinking he was Dragon Lee at the last show. That match seems inevitable now (especially with these two factions feuding) and it should be pretty damn great.
This was a great action-packed match that finally managed to get us a natural-feeling babyface vs. heel dynamic in this feud. It’s just something about the way that Rush and Kenny were cheating that felt so naturally vicious. Flip was a great babyface and the heat segment was very good, and holy crap did Brody King run wild when he got the hot tag. Unfortunately, this great match ended with a frustrating DQ when LFI, who were already in control, just decided to start using weapons right in front of Tod Sinclair. The post-match brawl was well done and intense, but I’m getting really damn tired of these DQs.
ELI ISOM vs. LEON ST. GIOVANNI - 4/10
These guys wrestled a very good five minutes and the crowd really getting behind Isom… so of course Bully Ray had to come out and put a stop to it with our second frustrating DQ in a row.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Bully Ray droned on for a good five minutes about nothing. He criticized “smart marks,” because apparently he hasn’t realized that it’s not 1999 anymore and no one gives a sh*t when you use that term. I guess we can add him to the list of people who have never learned any of the lessons of WCW and TNA.
He challenged anyone to come out and face him, but no one did, making all of the babyfaces in the locker room look bad. Bully claimed that they didn’t come out because he “had dirt on them.” Yes, really.
Eventually Eli Isom grabbed the mic and cut a fiery promo on Bully, vowing to kick his ass, leading to…
BULLY RAY vs. ELI ISOM - no rating, bad segment
Isom got a move or two in, then Bully beat him. Yes, I know that Isom already wrestled and that Bully had previously beaten him up, but he gained absolutely nothing by being involved here. There was no rub. The fans were already into him, as evidenced by their cheering for him before and booing LSG.
Bully grabbed a chair after the match to hurt Isom some more. Cheeseburger ran out to try to make the save, because someone (probably Bully Ray) thinks we need to see that again. Bully beat Cheeseburger up. What I want to know is where Burger was a few minutes ago when Bully was daring anyone in the back to come out and face him.
Caprice Coleman, the old retired announcer, finally got off his butt and chased Bully off instead of just begging for others to do so, so I guess we’re now going to get more of Bully yelling at and taunting an announcer every time he shows up, just like we got with Cabana. He just does the SAME F*CKING SH*T OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN! He’s a f*cking novel idea: Instead of having Caprice save Eli, how about having the popular up-and-comer make the save for the retired announcer?
It’s been almost three years of Bully Ray in ROH now, and I can’t remember hearing one singular, solitary fan or critic who has ever said they have enjoyed anything he has done since coming to this company. I have literally never thought this before about a wrestler, but every time Bully comes out, I find myself wishing he would suffer some sort of terrible injury and be forced to retire. And I feel ashamed of myself for having a thought like that, but that’s how he makes me feel. And I’m not talking about “Bully Ray” the wrestling character. I’m talking about Marc LoMonaco the human being, whose guts I hate for being such a f*cking leech, who has come to this company telling people that he’s looking out for the future of the business, but everything he touches seems to turn to sh*t and he does things to deliberately cut the legs off of guys who he should be putting over, so that even when the feud ends, the guy who beat him feels like he’s worse off than he was before the feud started.
SILAS YOUNG & JOSH WOODS VIDEO PACKAGE - Hey, look! A character piece that explains the relationship between these two men of completely opposite dispositions. I thought Woods was a little too over the top goofy at times, but otherwise this was great.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham(c) vs. Silas Young & Josh Woods - 7.75/10
Lethal charged down to the ring as Silas was getting into the ring and nailed him in the leg with the belt, leading to a brawl on the outside. When things eventually got to the ring they continued the story of Silas’ knee getting worked over… so, yes, they really did have Silas Young as the babyface in peril. And it phenomenally! Silas sold very well, they had some great nearfalls, and stuck to telling their story. They also had those little spots that you don’t see with anyone else which are the reason I love Jonathan Gresham so much. Silas & Woods were given the visual pinfall to keep them strong as challengers even as they took their first loss here, with the story of the injured knee playing into the finish, making Silas unable to extricate himself from his own small package after Lethal rolled it over so that Gresham was now on top.
ALEX SHELLEY vs. REY HORUS - 6.75/10
On commentary, Ian told us that he was given word that LFI and Villain Enterprises were brawling in the back again, and so both have been ejected from the building. Ian and Caprice say they hope this means we can have a nice main event with no interference. If we don’t get an interference-free main event, I’m going to be really f*cking annoyed.
A solid technical match, but it never quite got out of second year. This was also yet another match in the eleven-to-thirteen-minute range, which is making the show feel a little flat. Riccaboni did a great job of making sure the loser got over as well.
DAN MAFF & JEFF COBB vs. THE BRISCOES - 8/10
So Cobb has Jay Briscoe in a headlock but Jay fights to his knees and starts throwing punches to the stomach… and the director cuts away to show us the announcers just standing there! This should be a firing offense! Yes, Cary Silken was there, but we knew that already because he had been on commentary for several minutes.
These four had the awesome brawl you’d expect them to have. That being said, I’m still not sold on Maff. He’s not bad, but he’s not that great, either, and there are a lot of guys on the indies who fit that bill but are much younger than Maff and thus will have time to get great, whereas I doubt Maff will get any better at age 46.
Jay Briscoe pinned Jeff Cobb here. I don’t like beating Cobb & Maff right after they have beaten the tag champs, but the Briscoes are the Briscoes, and I think that Cobb’s AEW appearance has spooked them enough that they figure it’s time to start having him put people over after ROH has spent the past eighteen months letting him run roughshod over almost everyone.
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH:
PCO(c) vs. Dragon Lee - 8/10
Nick Aldis provided guest commentary for this match. He did a good job of being a heel without being overly antagonistic, and built up his upcoming matches with PCO and Marty Scurll.
The match itself exceeded my expectations. They did a great job telling the power vs. speed story, with a bit of the PCO stuff thrown in. That being said, this certainly has not changed my opinion on PCO as champion. I don’t like it because of the age, I don’t like it because of the gimmickry, and I don’t have confidence that he can go out there and deliver an ROH World Title-level match against the majority of the roster because of the limitations of both his gimmick and his ability. But after this match I am at least willing to say that if he does this every time out for the next few months, I will gladly admit that I was wrong.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine. Nick Aldis and PCO had a stare-down to build up their match at Supercard of Honor XIII.
This was a great show from ROH. Aside from the Bully Ray stuff everything was good or better, the card built well, and the top, matches definitely delivered. I found some of the booking a little annoying, but it actually feels like there are a lot of things going on now, and things with actual ideas behind them, as opposed to LifeBlood and Villain Enterprises feuding for months on end without the story actually moving forward. If I have one complaint (other than Bully Ray’s continued presence, of course), it’s not giving the undercard matches enough time. Cut some of them down to nine minutes and lengthen others to fifteen. This was a show where the vast majority of the first three quarters of the card was in the 10-13 minute range, which is enough time to have a decent to good match, but not enough time to let the up-and-comers build up reputations as guys who consistently put on the type of match that you feel like they’re ready to be moved up the card, so that when you’re actually ready to move them up, the fans are clamoring for it as opposed to being ambivalent like has often happened in ROH over the past few years.