ROH Masters of the Craft (4/29/2017)- Hopkins, MN
JAY LETHAL vs. BEER CITY BRUISER- 6/10
Jay Lethal is apparently now “The Franchise of Ring of Honor.” Sure. Whatever. He doesn’t come off that way in a company whose history has included the likes of Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, CM Punk, and Nigel McGuinness as the stars it has been built around. Lethal doesn’t even feel like he’s as big as Steen or Aries or Roddy or Richards or Daniels or even Adam Cole. This is the sort of thing that you can’t force. Let the fans talk about Lethal being an all-time ROH great before you try to push him as one.
This was good for nine minutes against the Beer City Bruiser, but if you want to push him as “The Franchise of ROH” he’s got to be putting on at least 8/10s every show.
WAR MACHINE vs. THE REBELLION (Rhett Titus & Shayne Taylor)- 6.25/10
I’m liking Taylor more and more in his role in the Rebellion (it’s definitely the best place for him at the moment) but to the same time it didn’t quite work for me in this match. That being said, the match itself managed to exceed expectations, so that was nice.
ADAM COLE vs. MATT TAVEN- 7.5/10
Well… here’s a match that would have felt like a MUCH bigger deal if it had happened six months ago. Have these two even mentioned each other’s names in the past six months?
The story of this match was both men working over the others most recently surgically repaired body part before they just started trading haymakers. The match was great and the finish did feel like a big moment for Taven, but it’s still frustrating in that it builds to a rematch that we’re almost certainly never going to see.
ROH TV TITLE MATCH: Marty Scurll(c) vs. Ken Anderson- 5/10
Anderson’s pre-match antics were quite amusing, aside from the part where he almost said “Kennedy” instead of “Anderson.”
This match was going along fine with Marty working Anderson’s arm and they were doing a good job of making this match feel quite intense considering the fact that there was absolutely no build of any sort going into this… and then they just turned left and drove straight off a cliff and exploded in a gigantic fireball of sh*t.
First we got a ref bump. Anderson then hit the Mic Check and got a visual pinfall on Scurll… and all the crowd does is chant “TEN! TEN! TEN!” because even though they have just seen the TV Champion’s claim to be being the rightful holder of his championship upended, all they care about doing is chanting for a mediocre, glorified jobber who works for a completely different company. Wrestling fans in 2017 SUCK! If you’re going to react to this situation like that then you don’t deserve the match in front of you.
Anyway, the reason they did this ref bump was so they could set up a f*cking comedy spot by both trying to do the Eddie Guerrero fake chair shot spot. This dragged on until we got yet another ref bump, at which point Scurll kicked Anderson in the gonads and rolled him up with a small package. WHY CAN’T THE F*CKING CHAMPION JUST GO OVER CLEAN?!
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- EVEN STUPIDER!
As you’ll recall, Anderson had the belt won but the ref had been bumped so he couldn’t count the pin. Then Scurll tried to cheat to get Anderson DQed, then he eventually had to kick him in the nuts to beat him. And I’m supposed to believe that Ken Anderson is going to f*cking forgive this and they’ll make nice and put each other over on the mic? F*CK OFF! I believe there is a rather famous clip of CM Punk burying Justice Pain for wanting to do exactly this sort of sh*t. Yeah, I said it. I just compared Marty Scurll to Justice Pain, and Marty f*cking deserves it.
WILL FERRARA & CHEESEBURGER vs. THE CARNIES (Nick Iggy & Kerry Awful)- 4.5/10
The Carnies are two more weirdos with idiotic names. Remember when wrestlers in ROH all had normal names and no one aside from Delirious had stupid gimmicks? I want those days back.
The match was decent for the time it got, but I cannot bring myself to care about anyone involved here.
PUNISHMENT MARTINEZ vs. JAY WHITE- 6.5/10
They had a good match with White playing his usual role of underdog babyface while Martinez showed a lot more personality than I ever remember seeing him show. White won with a roll-up, and I had an extremely odd reaction to the finish. It very much felt like they were heading for a great match but the roll-up victory cut it short, which was disappointing to me, but then it occurred to me that, if this were not a worked spot, that is exactly the reaction I would have been having. It was quite odd. Martin attacked White after the match. No one came out to stop him, which is especially problematic because the Motor City Machine Guns specifically recruited Jay White into their group to watch their backs and you’d think that would go both ways, but apparently not.
THE BRISCOES vs. THE MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS- 7/10
A little necessary background here, if I may:
This is actually one of the most anticipated rematches in ROH history. It is the rubber match between two of the best teams in the world. It has been a decade and a day since their first match, and just over nine years since their second match. It was actually scheduled to take place almost a year ago as the main event of War of the Worlds Tour: Dearborn but got changed to these two teams teaming up with Adam Page to face Bullet Club in a ten man tag where Page turned on them… and the more that I think about it, the more hard-pressed I am to find a more perfect metaphor for my feelings towards ROH right now.
But anyway, this should be one of the biggest matches in ROH history… and yet here it is, not in the main event like it should be, and not even in the semi-main event, but third from the top- THIRD FROM THE TOP- with no build going into it of any sort. The mere fact that they waited ELEVEN MONTHS- THIRTY-TWO SHOWS- to reschedule the match (despite having booked countless shows with completely pointless main events with no repercussions whatsoever- including, for example, TONIGHT’S SHOW) makes this match look like a complete and total afterthought. After all, if they waited so long to reschedule it then how important could it possibly be? To take a rubber match nine years in the making between two top-notch teams and turn it into a complete and total afterthought like this is the sign of a completely incompetent booker. One who either doesn’t know the value of the resources he has in front of him or is completely incapable of utilizing them in a productive manner. Either way, such a person needs to be removed from that all-important position as soon as possible, for the good of the promotion.
So yeah, this match had a lot of history going into it for me, and so despite the above complaints it did still retain some air of importance to me as a long-time fan, but the match left me disappointed. I understand that both of these teams are almost a decade older and a lot more banged up (especially MCMG) than they were in their first two matches against either other, which are both absolute classics, but the Briscoes are still great and the Guns have definitely shown the ability to still be a world-class tag team, and as a result, I left this match feeling that it just wasn’t what it needed to be. This didn’t feel like a rematch a long time in the making; it felt like TNA booking Sting vs. Flair in 2010: an idea that can capture your imagination in the beginning, but just clearly isn’t what it needs to be to feel worthy. It was still a “great” match by most standards (as I have reflected in my rating), but it wasn’t MCMG vs Briscoes.
The other big problem I had with this match was that most of it was spend outside the ring in a wild brawl. Don’t get me wrong: brawling is fine… but the problem comes when you’re having a wild brawl for what feels like no reason, and the referee is just letting it go. Not only did Tod Sinclair (ROH’s Senior Referee, might I add) not even try to count them out, but he did not disqualify Mark Briscoe for hitting Alex Shelley with a trashcan, nor did he disqualify Alex Shelley for trying to CHOKE MARK BRISCOE WITH A WIRE. If you want to do this sort of thing in your match but you’re booked in a regular match, just do what Undertaker and Triple H did at WrestleMania X-Seven and do a ref bump! It’s not that hard! And more importantly, it saves the credibility of your referee!
So yeah, the brawling in this match was good brawling, but it was just completely out of place given the situation, and when it was all said and done it led me to a feeling that I’ve been having unfortunately often with ROH recently, which is that as good as a lot of these matches are, there always seems to come a point where they take these shortcuts and it just turns into a wild brawl with weapons or they start doing comedy or overbooking things to get the cheap pops and I can’t help but wonder how much better most of these matches would have been if instead of taking this big turn left they just spent that time focusing on building up the story of the match.
BULLY RAY & SILAS YOUNG CUT PROMOS ON EACH OTHER- No one said anything that was actively bad, but there was nothing particularly good here, either. The end result of this (other Bully saying he has been working as hard in ROH as he ever has in his career which I sure hope isn’t true) is that Bully challenges Silas to make their match for tonight a No Disqualifications Match.
NO DISQUALIFICATIONS MATCH: Bully Ray vs. Silas Young- DUD!
Bully Ray isn’t feuding with anyone in ROH side from maybe Bullet Club. He has not faced any members of Bullet Club this weekend, and yet this is his second weapons match in two shows. Look… I love the Dudley Boyz. More than most people do, in fact. But if Bubba can’t put on a main event-level singles match without resorting to plunder then he doesn’t belong in ROH.
Silas beats Bully Ray up with some weapons. Silas gets angry at the referee for no reason so he distracts himself with the ref, allowing Bully Ray to hit a spear and start his comeback. Said referee eventually HELPED BULLY RAY SET UP FOR THE WHAZZUP! This should be the absolute last we ever see of Paul Turner in ROH. Bully then went to get the tables but thankfully Beer City Bruiser ran in to even things up because- and I can’t stress this enough- THE REFEREE IS BLATANTLY AIDING THE BABYFACE. Jay Lethal runs in to take out BCB, the Bully Ray hits Silas with the Bubba Bomb and pins him, completely undoing the supposed biggest win of his career that Silas got when he beat Lethal last night because he can’t beat a fat old man.
This match was my very worst fears about what would happen when Bully Ray signed with ROH coming to life. He has a match that is a gimmick match with no hype and for no reason, the match is both lazy and terrible, sh*ts on all logic just so he can get his stupid f*cking spot in, and ends with him beating a guy who ROH has been trying to elevate to the main event scene. F*ck Delirious for brining him in and booking this, f*ck Bully Ray for taking advantage of Delirious’ stupidity and trying to use the ROH name to keep his own career relevant at the expense of the guys who are supposed to be the future of the business, f*ck Joe Koff for not firing everyone involved the next day.
BULLET CLUB (Adam Page & the Young Bucks) vs. DALTON CASTLE & THE ADDICTION (w/the Boys)- 6.75/10
Geez. There’s a difference between shining the babyface and making the heels look like incompetent buffoons. And now the babyfaces are poking the heels in the eye for no reason. Great.
The first five minutes of this match were completely wasted on stupid antics and comedy. What’s that? “But the crowd was into it,” you say? Well do you know what the crowd would also be into? WRESTLING. And if they’re not then they shouldn’t be there, and something has gone horribly wrong if ROH is the place where people are buying tickets to see antics instead of wrestling.
Anyway, after the antics it was fifteen minutes of guys just kind of doing spots, but in no sort of order that in any way resembled a story, and it’s not like it was particularly fast-paced, either. It was just guys doing spots at a normal pace without much rhyme or reason other than trying to hit the other team. Kazarian pinned Adam Page to finally get his revenge on him two weeks before they want me to order a PPV to see Kazarian get his revenge on Adam Page.
The camerawork during this match was utterly stupid. Why would you ever cut away from the ring to just zoom in on a random dude in the crowd who is just sitting there? Or even worse, turn the camera away from the ring and towards the crowd as someone is kicking out. I just don’t understand how this started to happen that the camera crew is making mistakes so basic that they’re not really even “mistakes” so much as they are deliberate decisions to do something that there is no logical reason to do.
This show was just… I hate to say it, but this is almost what I expect from ROH at this point. A show with a generic name that roughly translates to “we’re the best” full of matches that are, at best, very good, with maybe one or two rising a bit above that, while over the course of the show we get a match that becomes a weapons match for no reason, a title match given to a guy who has done nothing to earn it, way too much time wasted on antics, a pointless tag match in the main event, and horrific, depressing knowledge that I’m just wasting my time because absolutely nothing that happens will matter to any storyline in any way. Sure, the announcers will tell me that beating Adam Cole on this show was a “signature win” for Matt Taven, but nothing is going to change for him after it so what does it matter? If you’re not going to book the matches so that they mean something to the storylines then the only thing you have left on which to sell the show is the work-rate, and if you don’t give your matches the time to excel and instruct the wrestlers to focus on work-rate then you have nothing to sell. This needs to change.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Colt Cabana (during the MCMG vs. Briscoes match)- “Let’s give referee Tod Sinclair credit for not letting this match end on a count-out.”
NO! He deserves no credit because HE’S NOT DOING HIS JOB! He is supposed to be enforcing the rules, which are, in this case, standard tag team rules with one fall to a finish and a thirty minute time limit. If you are hired to teach math to schoolchildren but instead you let them play dodgeball all day, they don’t give you a commendation, they give you a pink slip!
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