FOUR CORNER SURVIVAL MATCH:
Bobby Fish vs. KUSHIDA vs. Silas Young (w/Beer City Bruiser) vs. Dalton Castle (w/the Boys) - 5.75/10
Before the match Silas Young grabbed a mic and started to cut a promo on KUSHIDA for coming out in a Yankees jersey to get a cheap pop. Yes, really. On a f*cking PPV. I don't care that it was only thirty seconds! You cannot be wasting time with stupid house-show bullsh*t on a G-d damned PPV (and especially one that has nine matches in three hours).
KUSHIDA goes up for a spring board and... the camera cuts Dalton Castle down and selling. The incompetence is staggering. And not just with the camera crew, as it turns out that instead of doing, say, a springboard dropkick or knee-strike or whatever, KUSHIDA- a babyface- just landed in the ring so he could run up to Silas Young and give him a back-rake like Silas had just done to Dalton. They had a choice between "cool high-flying move" or "stupid cutesy bullsh*t comedy spot with the babyface cheating," and they chose the latter. Wrestling in 2017 needs to get a lot better. They did stuff for a while with a bit of a story of someone always coming in to break up the pin. It was fine.
ADAM PAGE vs. FRANKIE KAZARIAN - 6/10
The video package for this match was quite good. Unfortunately, the booking hasn't been, as I just watch ROH's show from two weekends ago where I saw Kazarian pin Page clean to already get his revenge. The match was very intense and very fast-paced. If the program is going to continue I guess Page winning via illegal leverage is a fine finish, but to be honest: it's Frankie Kazarian. I'd rather Page just win clean and move on to someone else.
WAR MACHINE vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (Sanada & EVIL) vs. JONATHAN GRESHAM & CHRIS SABIN (w/Alex Shelley) - 5/10
This right here is an example of a match that should not have been on this PPV. You can't do nine ROH-quality matches on a three-hour PPV you just can't. I understand wanting to get War Machine on the show because they're former ROH World Tag Team Champions and also IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, but the rest of these guys, god as they are, do not need to be on this PPV. They should have stuck War Machine in the ROH World Tag Team Title match (they never got a rematch without any interference, after losing the belts a whole year ago), and you stick LIJ vs. Sabin & Gresham on the pre-show (and if that means you have leave dorks like Ferrara, Cheeseburger, the Kingdom and The Rebellion off of tonight's card entirely, then so be it). I'd even say you should mush White vs. Ospreay into the opener to make it a Six-Man Scramble to save time on this show so that all of the matches can deliver. This is a f*cking PAY-PER-VIEW. This is a match that no one is going to pay to see, either from an action standpoint or from a storyline standpoint (because there is no storyline to it) so it doesn't belong on the f*cking PPV.
Anyway, having had their badass factor completely destroyed two weeks ago at ROH Unauthorized by being Dalton Castle's Boys for the night, War Machine went out and got themselves some new entrance gear- in this case, warriors' helmets- to make themselves look more badass. The match was short and predictably pointless. It also apparently needed to have a really lame chairshot spot in it that didn't matter one bit. LIJ need to stop that spot because it almost never looks good.
JAY WHITE vs. WILL OSPREAY - 8.5/10
Well. F*ck. That was kind of insane now wasn't it? I could go into a bit more detail the big spots but that would spoil them for you and this is one match you definitely want to go into knowing as little as possible.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Punishment Martinez attacks and steals their moment.
NO DISQUALIFICATIONS MATCH FOR THE ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Brisoces & Bully Ray(c) vs. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Roppongi Vice) - 6.25/10
So the challengers come out like normal and the Briscoes come out like normal but Bully Ray has to start all the way up in the balcony (again, a waste of time on a PPV) and come through the crowd, and of course they're all chanting "ECW! ECW!" which is exactly why any promotion that wants to look big league and look like it's growing and look like the promotion of the future shouldn't be bringing Bully Ray into your promotion in 2017. Even if he's working these shows for free (which I can guarantee you he isn't) he's still not worth having because of the damage it does to the brand.
Then Bully starts talking, wasting even more time. Yes, we all know that we're in New York City and we all know that you're Bully Ray. Now shut the f*ck up, get your fat ass down to the ring and start WRESTLING. Bully announces that this match is no No DQs because apparently that's what people want to see. Well if they wanted to see no DQs matches for no reason why did they buy tickets to ROH as opposed to, say, CZW? This is, like, the fourth time that Bully has done this sort of thing in ROH, and he's only been in the company for about eight shows. And if, for some reason, you HAVE to do a No DQs match, why not ANNOUNCE IT IN ADVANCE, SO YOU CAN SELL MORE TICKETS/PPV BUYS? If garbage matches are truly what people want to see as Bully claims, why not ADVERTISE THEM?
And once again, please look at the whole set up of this thing. Bully Ray is the one who gets the special entrance where he is among the people, gets the spotlight all on him (literally) and is the one who gets to cut the promo for all of the cheap pops, which makes the fans chant for a promotion that he alone of the ROH roster is identified with, and allows him to have a match where he can get big pops by doing very little, whereas the other five men in the match would be perfectly at home in a regular old wrestling match. So someone please explain to me how any of this helps anyone other than Bully Ray.
Anyway, we've got yet another six-man tag title match with no build and where the challengers have done nothing to earn their shot, and yet another Bully Ray match that is a No DQs match for no reason. And yes, somehow, the saddest part is that I can totally see CHAOS winning here not because it would mean anything (these belts don't mean sh*t) or because it would help any sort of storyline in any way (it wouldn't) but simply because Delirious has proven himself to be such a mark for getting ROH Titles somehow involved in New Japan (O'Reilly being planned to drop the belt right back to Cole at the Tokyo Dome, Ishii's title win derailing the Roddy vs. Fish feud over the TV Title, wasting PPV tag title matches on New Japan teams no one thinks has a chance in hell of winning, Lethal needing to join LIJ in order to beat a jobber like Honma) that he'd put the belts on CHAOS just for the sake of doing it.
These five brave men tried to have Bully Ray's match while having to work around Bully Ray's inadequacies. Bully did almost nothing, but he did get to do all of his big spots at finish, basically turning the Briscoes into a pair of redneck Devon's.
ROH TV TITLE MATCH:
Marty Scurll(c) vs. Matt Sydal - 7.75/10
A fun match brought down by the fact that absolutely no one thought that Sydal had a chance of walking out with the belt, which has been an issue with all of Scurll's title defenses due to Delirious' ridiculous decision to only book him against guys who either aren't under ROH contract or who are on their way out the door. Scurll worked the arm and shoulder and tried to win with the cross-face chicken wing while Sydal used his athleticism to do athletic stuff to try to win.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Young Bucks(c) vs.Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) - 7/10
This is a match between two teams of heels that get cheered like babyfaces for being heels. What has wrestling come to? Anyway, we've got a tag title match on PPV where absolutely no one thinks the belts have a snowball's chance in hell of changing hands because the challengers are fly-ins from New Japan. You know, just like the last time the New Japan crew was in town for a PPV (and as was the original plan at the last PPV as well before the Hardys got freed up earlier than expected). It's nice to see that no one is learning anything.
The match was great, as we all knew it would be with the talent involved, but it didn't feel very exciting because it never once felt like LIJ had a snowballs chance in hell of walking out with the belts. Naito continues to impress, busting out new stuff all the time. There was one spot in this match that I really hated, which involved a blinded Jackson brother nailing people with superkicks: first Naito and BUSHI, and then he hit his brother when his brother tried to come over and Too Sweet him, and then referee Paul Turner, with neither of the latter two having ever even touched him. Firstly, I just can't buy that his superkicks at THAT accurate that he can nail four people in a row while blinded, and without having any frame of reference of where the second two were other than their voices in a large, noisy room. The idea of him kicking both his brother and the referee was also stupid because he had just kicked two people! Who else did he think was there? And especially- and this is key- neither of those two actually touched him, so all he was going on was sound... and the sounds in question would have been men speaking perfect English in a match where he knows that both of his opponents to not come close to it. Thirdly, and, in a way, worst of all, it felt like a spot that was done for the sake of doing it rather than something that made sense in the story. It didn't add anything to the match or really even effect much of anything. It was just a pointless ref bump and a pointless "whoops, I kicked my own partner" spot done for the combination of shock value and to get in more f*cking superkicks.
ADAM COLE vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI- 6.25/10
This is almost certainly Adam Cole's last high-profile ROH match (I think he's scheduled for the TV tapings on Sunday, but that's it), and he received not only a pathetically small amount of streamers, but the fans completely failed to all throw them at anything close to the same time, so it didn't look anywhere near as cool. He also had an extremely disappointing match with Tanahashi. In large part that is because they didn't even get fourteen minutes (but that stupid three-way tag definitely had to be on the show. Right.) This felt like first ten minutes of a really great forty-minute match and then the final three minutes of that same match with none of the in between.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - The Young Bucks show up and tease superkicking Cole but then he turns around and they celebrate with him instead. Then the lights go out and we get a video from Kenny Omega on the SinclairTron and did an excellent job with a promo that felt like it was live even though we all know it wasn't. I'll get into some details on why I thought Kenny was excellent here in a moment, but I really dislike the direction this is all going in, which is as follows: Marty Scurll has joined the Bullet Club and Kenny is sending him after Cole. Marty appeared with Kenny on the Tron. Then the lights went off and took absolutely f*cking forever to go back on. When they did, Scurll was standing in the ring and reveals himself to be the newest member of the n.W.o. The Bucks appear shocked by this but then they superkick Cole, Marty hits Cole with umbrella and he and the Bucks pose over Cole's dead body.
First the good:
-Kenny Omega. His delivery and verbiage were both excellent, and if he hadn't made a comment about being disappointed in the Bucks this would have had a lot more of an obnoxious Russo-swerve vibe.
Now the bad:
- Whoever came up with the idea of having Marty Scurll appear in the video with Kenny is a f*cking idiot. It both created the logic hole of requiring him to have magical powers of teleportation to get from Omega's secret lair (you know he has one) to the ring, and it completely spoiled the surprise of what was about to happen, which made the whole lights off/teleportation thing pointless. It would have been much better to have Kenny's verbiage serve as the hint for what was about to happen so that those that did figure it out would be able to feel smart by figuring it out right before it happened and that those who didn't figure it out would actually be surprised when Scurll showed up to attack Cole. It also made Marty's whole "I'm in Bullet Club" reveal spot with the umbrella before he hit Cole completely anti-climactic. It would have been A LOT better to have Marty not appear in the video and not do the second lights off thing, either. Have the lights come back on and then have Scurll quickly pop out from the crowd, run in, and hit Cole with the umbrella FROM BEHIND (all stopping right in front of him did here was give Cole time to defend himself. If the Bucks hadn't been loyal- as Kenny's promo hinted that he didn't think they were being- Cole would have had ample time to either escape or attack Marty while Marty was pointlessly standing in front of Cole basically saying "I am about to attack you and kick you out of Bullet Club). THEN you can have Marty open his umbrella to reveal the Bullet Club logo. Then I would have the Bucks tease superkicking Marty before decided to remain in Bullet Club and instead join in on giving Cole a beat-down before they all posed over his corpse.
-Scurll just successfully defended his title against Cole last month, so sticking them in a feud will just tie up the TV Title rather than give us good, built-up title defenses where people think there is a snowball's chance of the title changing hands.
-I really dislike the general concept of just throwing Scurll into Bullet Club, from both an ROH and New Japan perspective. In New Japan it's really just kind of annoying at this point. They basically did this same thing with Zack Sabre Jr. two months ago when he joined Suzuki-Gun and they just had Cody join Bullet Club in December even though he really doesn't fit as part of the group. They are now up to ELEVEN members, and that's after they just lost Cody Hall and nobody even noticed! I didn't even notice. I had literally typed "twelve if Cody Hall ever comes back from his injury" and then Googled him to find out his condition and it was only then that I learned that he has started working for NOAH and thus isn't with New Japan anymore. And this eleven-member heel faction is already on top of the nine-member heel Suzuki-Gun and the five-member heel LIJ. They don't need any more guys!
From an ROH perspective, I'm quite sick of Bullet Club on an entirely different axis. For the past year ROH has felt like they've thrown everything all in on Bullet Club. One year ago they threw an entire PPV main event under the bus to kick this thing off- killing Colt Cabana's big return dead and destroying whatever interest was left for the Lethal-Briscoe so-called "biggest rematch in ROH history" that they ran for the following PPV. I had no problem with them putting the ROH World Title on Adam Cole, since it made natural sense for O'Reilly to win from Cole to finally pay off the feud they had started the previous fall, but I really disliked the way that the Young Bucks were inserted into the tag title picture in the middle of what felt like it should have been a very personal feud between The Addiction and the Motor City Machine Guns. I'm not saying that the results of that (specifically the Ladder War) weren't great, but it felt like they stuffed the Bucks in there just so they could make Bullet Club the champions rather than letting The Addiction and MCMG finish their feud and then have the Bucks win the belts at the next show.
Then they had Kyle lose the belt right back to Cole in his first defense just so Cole could lose it to Daniels in an angle that involved Kazarian joining Bullet Club as a ruse. Other than that angle and three other feuds- Cody vs. Lethal, Cody vs. Daniels, and the short Hardys vs. Bucks feud- all of which involve Bullet Club, the entire promotion has been spinning its wheels. TV Champion Marty Scurll in particular has been a source of disappointment to many, having won the TV Title on his first weekend in the company, has gone the intervening six month until now defending in random matches against a series of challengers who all had little to no build and all clearly got the title shot because they either weren't on the ROH roster or were about to leave the company. And now, after six months, he finally has an angle... and it involves him joining Bullet Club. It feels like Bullet Club is inadvertently sucking the life out of ROH, and at this point I just want it to go away.
-The other thing I didn't like about this angle (and about Bullet Club in ROH in general) is best summed up by the following fact. Despite being a member of the heel Bullet Club, Adam Cole has been a very popular character in ROH, always getting cheered. The Young Buck just turned on Cole and he was kicked out of Bullet Club... and everybody cheered. Just like they have done every single time Bullet Club has done something dastardly. HEEL BULLET CLUB DOES NOT WORK IN ROH! So why does Delirious keep booking it?!
But at least this all means that Adam Cole is sticking around for a bit, so that's good.
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Christopher Daniels(c) vs. Jay Lethal vs. Cody Rhodes - 7.5/10
They did a good job of telling the standard story of the third man always coming in at the last second to break things up, and they used this to great effect to make the false finishes that came after Daniels had seemingly been taken out via table bump seem more exciting, then paid it off well by having Daniels pin Cody while Cody himself was neutralizing Lethal via American Nightmare. That being said, while the match was certainly exciting at many points and the story was well-told, it just didn't reach that ROH main event level. Probably because Delirious ONCE AGAIN shortchanged a main event because he booked WAY too many matches on a PPV. I think at this point the verdict on Cody is that while he is a very good personality he just doesn't have the ability to be a main event singles star in a theoretically work-rate heavy promotion like ROH.
This was yet another disappointing PPV from ROH. The only matches that delivered to or exceeded the level they needed to be at were White vs. Ospreay, which was a totally random match between two babyfaces that had zero build to it, and the TV Title match, which had very little build and featured a man not even on the roster. The completely pointless three-way tag match I ranted about above? That got nine minutes. The SIX matches on the card above it- which includes FOUR title matches and a first and almost certainly only time ever match between Cole and Tanahashi- all got between thirteen and fourteen. Aside from the main event and Kaz vs. Page (which are really part of the same feud) the only match that received any sort of build at all was Scurll vs. Sydal which got one angle, and the main event was the only one of the four title matches where the outcome ever seemed in doubt. This show was not only a waste of a PPV, but was itself hurt by being forced into the three-hour PPV time window. Meanwhile, coming out of this, the only direction anyone seem to have is Page vs. Kaz and Cole vs. Bullet Club. There is lots of talent in this company, but everyone is getting dragged down because none of it belongs to the guy with the pencil.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
1. Ian Riccaboni referred to both EVIL & Sanada and Gresham & Sabin, neither of whom have ever teamed before in ROH as "top teams," the same descriptor he used for former ROH World Tag Team Champions and current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions War Machine.
2. Kevin Kelly tries to tell us that CHAOS' feud against Suzuki-Gun has helped prepare them for this No DQs match.
You mean the feud that has had a grant total of ZERO gimmick matches and where the babyfaces are never the ones using the weapons? How, exactly?