Opening video: Odd Eurobeat plays, but it's more competent video package than other intros.
The SAT (Jose & Joel Maximo) vs Da Hit Squad (Mafia & Monsta Mack) vs Divine Storm (Chris Divine & Quiet Storm w/Trinity) vs Special K (Dixie & Joey Matthews)(w/Izzy)
Everyone gets a fisheye lens effect for their entrance which I don't like. A plot point of this match is "why is Joey Matthews with the ravers" and they allude to him being an old man hanging out with young adults and doing drugs, which is super uncomfortable in hindsight, but I do like it when things happen off camera and the announcers have to speculate.
Gabe plugs Scramble matches as a place for guys to show off. I like that the tag team undercard is basically given the X-Division spot, as it's not a spot you see tag teams in often.The guys do moves, which includes Monsta Mack having to bump for Dixieand we get the world's wackest tower of doom with everyone. A top rope Greetings from Asbury Park isn't the finish. Monsta Mack can't sell. We get a fun series of double team germans by the Maximos, and Jeff gets a "No Good Very Bad Day" reference in which pops me. We also get a super cool finishing sequence to lead to the SAT winning it. Dixie might be injured. All the babyface teams follow the code
This was a fun match that was hindered greatly by Da Hit Squad being there
The Prophecy promo: AWESOME. I bitched about "The Power of the Belts" before, but I can see how in Christopher Daniels' super villain brain, belts=power. Joe's annoyance in the background is hilarious. Also Daniels is visibly thrown when Luscious brings up boyfriend Steve Corino. I know I praised the interweaving, interlocking storylines, but sometimes that means we introduce plot points and don't pick them back up until four months later. Luscious is starting shit with everyone, and Joe makes clear he's a gun for hire and not with the Prophecy.
CM Punk vs Michael Shane vs Amazing Red vs American Dragon vs Paul London
First two guys are the debuting Punk and Shane. It's amazing that Punk had been doing "It's clobbering time" for all of his career.
Punk works Shane's arm until he counters. Shane has the momentum and has an answer when Punk fights back. Shane hits a spear which hurts his previously hurt arm, so Punk goes back to working the arm. He shows the injured arm to Punk during a running move, and Shane manages to hit a bicycle kick out of nowhere. This was cool. We get a fuckton of false finishes. Shane uses the ropes to pin Punk. AMAZING showing for Punk.
Next is London. The guys brawl until Shane whips London into the guard rail, knocking it down. London gets worked over a bunch, and while he has some hope spots, Shane fights back. London gets a DDT outta nowhere after Shane takes his time after a gutbuster was a GREAT callback to Honor Invades Boston. Michael is the consummate hypocritical heel on the mic, and denies the code of honor.
Tommy Dreamer inexplicably appears dressed like a PE teacher and demands Shane follow the code. He cuts a promo saying same, while bringing it ECW, but not naming it. Tommy puts over ROH and Tommy alludes to WWE doing a talent raid of ROH years from now (wow Tommy can see the future). Dreamer shakes hands with everyone, and Michael shakes with Paul but attacks him. Dreamer gets the DDT in and the crowd is happy. A promo segment like this mid gauntlet gives Paul a chance to rest
Next it's Paul London vs Red. The guys do crazy flips and moves. then London gets momentum and gets to do power wrestler spots with Red, but Red fights back. Paul kicks out of Red's finish. Crazy top rope huricanrana b Red but London kicks out. London pins Red via shooting Star Press
Out next is Dragon. Dragon dominates with mat wrestling. Standoff. More basic-yet-gnarly submissions by Dragon. We learn that whoever wins this match will wrestle AJ Styles later tonight. After some submissions, now they're doing strong style strikes. London gets back into it, but Dragon fires back with basic stuff which all looks impactful. Dragon makes the mistake of going up top, which gives Paul the opening, but Paul is too tired to follow through. Dragon hits a Superplex. London fires back again, getting some rollups, but eventually falling to the Dragon Suplex/Cattle Mutilation for the submission win.
This is probably the cleanest gauntlet match I've ever seen. Everyone in it got over or looked good in same way shape or form. CM Punk got a good first showing, Paul picked up some much needed wins, and Dragon looked the best he's looked since Road to the Title. Even though Michael Shane had his most lackluster showing since his big push, he still got to be the best heel he could be. My only complaint is that I wish they would've explained the delayed final sooner
The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels, Donovan Morgan & Samoa Joe) (w/ Simply Luscious) vs. Low Ki, Doug Williams & ROH Tag Team Championship
The Prophecy making the tag titles a Trios championship because of a lack of belts is COOL, and SUCH a good way for Ring of Honor to deflect from the fact they don't have belts.
They tease Joe vs Ki again, but Daniels blind tags. I don't like this. It goes against the idea of Daniels having to hire a hitman to take out Ki. Gabe also tries to sell this as a Japanese cross-promotional match, but that of course means that Daniels is outed as M-Pro's Curry Man. I didn't like this either.
Ki and Morgan have a fun pro wrestling/MMA exchange, as well as Joe and Williams. The heels have the heat, and then the babyfaces do, which works given the style of the guys involved. An underlying theme of the match is Joe running interference, which works. Joe breaks up a wacky double submission which allows him to tag in and kick ass, which the commentary team uses to explain why Daniels puts up with Joe's anti-Prophecy BS. The heels work over Williams. Williams gets some counter holds, but Joe interferes. They get over the bad blood between Ki and Joe. They do the goofy "Your partner flips the small package" spot. Williams fires back after a false finish and tags in Homicide who runs wild. We get a crazy dive parade spot, They tease finishers, and Daniels fucks up a top rope poisonrana. More finishers teased, and more double teams for two counts. Joe gets some time to shine, and the Powerbomb into single leg into STF seems to shock the crowd. Joe wins by choking out Homicide. I don't think the Coquina was his finish, as it's treated by the commentators as a sudden finish.
This match was GREAT. A great subversion on the usual tag team wrestling formula which only could've worked with these guys, and a big spot fest which, again, could only work with these guys.
Post match: AWESOME. Joe shakes hands with the babyface team, and Daniels is mad. I like how this is usually the "Heel berates heel and the berated heel turns babyface" moment, but it's not treated as such. The heels just skitter away while Joe skulks after them. I love the realistic, slow burn here.
I swear Alexis hasn't aged since 2002.
Gabe trying to be Lawler/Corino on commentary is unsettling
Allison plays the classic dirty heel whereas Alexis plays the firey female babyface, even going as far as to forearm Mace and dive onto them both. Danger gets the heat and actually shows some wrestling skill. There's some weird non-consensual sensuality going on. Alexis fires back. Alexis hits a Reverse DDT for the quick win.
I liked this much more than I've liked any other presentation of women in ROH so far. Alexis especially got to showoff what she was capable of, and Danger got to allude to her skill while getting her character over.
Post match: Liked it. Mace attacks Alexa. I'm glad the CSC finally turned and I'm glad they're given something serious to hang their hat on.
The Carnage Crew (HC Loc & Tony DeVito) vs The Ring Crew Express (Dunn, Marcos and the ring crew)
This is a good snapshot of what makes The Carnage Crew entertaining, as they indiscriminately beat the shit out of like eight jobbers. However, as I said if the opponent can't bump or take big moves, the mystique is lost. Seeing as their next match includes nearly sixty-two year old ABDULLAH THE BUTCHER, I'm not hopeful for their next outing.
JT Smith segment:: Entirely too much going on. Special K come out to beat him up during a special interview. Two other unidentified jobbers make the save, but Special K's big bodyguard shows up, and kills the jobber, but leaves JT.
Xavier (c) (w/ Simply Luscious) vs Jay Briscoe
This is because Jay beat Xavier at Glory by Honor. They also explain why Mark isn't there, because he concocted some family emergency which made his parents leave as well. Good way to keep the Briscoe feud in our hearts.
This match has a lot of technical wrestling, lots of kicks. Xavier powders out, and we go back to technical wrestling. Xavier tries to slow it down but Jay hits firey babyface moves. Cactus clothesline and apron suplex. Xavier gets to be a heel, and Luscious gets to be a heel manager. Luscious interferes when Briscoe fires back. Xavier uses a combination of high flying and cheating to really get the heat. They tease the Jay Driller but to no avail. Jay fights back eventually . I like the realism of Luscious sliding a chair into the ring, it distracting the ref, and it not leading to anything. The next time it does. Xavier hits a top rope X-Breaker for the win.
While this had less going on than some of the other big matches on the card, its real strength was hitting a ton of plot beats that were relevant to both wrestlers (Xavier being a paranoid heel against someone who beat him before, Jay being a firey babyface) which actually puts that match close to some of the other big ones tonight.
AJ Styles vs American Dragon
Crazy mat wrestling to start. Some more mat wrestling. AJ looks better on the mat than I expected. This is a war. Only Styles and Dragon could make stereo dropkicks and drop toeholds look cool. These guy do crazy outside the ring spots and combo moves. They even do some things that I would say technical wrestling and lucha the best way I've ever seen it blended. Laying down kick to the arm leads to Dragon working Styles' arm. AJ sticks with the mat wrestling, and Dragon has counters for all of AJ's big moves. AJ bumps like a boss for Dragon's strikes. These goes hell for leather for a half hour by AJ eventually wins with his second Styles Clash.
The reason why I kept quiet on this match is that it absolutely defies verbal description. I implore you to see this match.
The Prophecy jump American Dragon and go after AJ: AWESOME. It really shows off how ruthless the Prophecy are, and it hypes the next show. Briscoe and Dragon make the save and the babyfaces stand tall.
Some guy named Mr.Nakamura (who I'm assuming is the head of Zero-1) gets a name key and next is...
Konnan is announced for Final Battle which is surprising
The story at first is that Ki is good, but the Zero-1 Guys are more experienced. Japanese guys work over Low Ki. Then they work over Corino. Ki gets some offense but not a ton. Ki finally fires back. and now the Americans have the memntum. Corino gets Facewashed by Otani. Gabe compares it to The Rock's People's Elbow. Corino fights back by cheating. Otani makes his own comeback on Ki and tags to Tanaka, and Low Ki just murders Tanaka with kicks and the Tidal Crush. Tanaka makes his own comeback on the Americans, and Ki gets Kawada kicked by Ki. and then suplexed by Corino. A miscue allows the Japanese guys to pick up the win.
This was one of those weird supercard matches where the novelty was seeing the wrestlers as opposed to any long term story. And it took a very long time to get out of first gear, but when it did, it was good.
Homicide stabs Corino with a fork: A landmark moment for Homicide, also of note is one of the Hit Squad describing Homicide as "in retard mode"
A GREAT show by ROH, one of the best so far, and a positive look into the cohesive, independent promotion it will become. Scramble Madness looks like ass, so I'll be back with "Night of the Butcher"