TENILLE DASHWOOD vs. THUNDER ROSA - 5.25/10
Thunder Rosa jumped the bell on Tenille, which got great heat (a hell of a lot more than it does in New Japan when Suzuki-Gun do it in every single match). Tenille's back got worked over but she made a comeback and pinned Thunder Rosa after hitting her with a running dropkick that looked like a lame version of Roderick Strong's Sick Kick.
Women of Honor Champion Sumie Sakai joined Colt Cabana and Ian Riccaboni on commentary for this match. She said absolutely nothing of any note or anything that offered any insight into anything or anything that built anything up (although in that last case that's because there isn't anything to build up, which is a separate problem). The announcers knew this was not going well so they tried to get her talking but she didn't. After the match the announcers emphasized to us that English is not Sumie's native language and speaking it is difficult for her... which just makes you wonder they the hell Delirious had her do guest commentary? And it's not like this is the first time this happened, either!
THE YOUNG BUCKS vs. THE BOYS - 4.25/10
The Bucks spent the early part of this match f*cking around with The Boys and making them look like idiots. Colt Cabana mentioned that the Bucks had referred to this as an "enhancement match," which caused Ian Riccaboni to get all indignant and say things like "the Boys are in Ring of Honor for a reason!" and "they have a great six-man tag team record" and claim that they're "recently coming into their own as a tag team." Unfortunately, basically everything Ian- the lead babyface announcer- said, was total bullsh*t. The only reason they're in ROH is that they're Dalton's manservants. Their six-man tag team record currently stands at 6-9, meaning they three out of every five matches, the best their six-man tag team record has EVER been was .500, so they haven't had anything that can be called even merely a good six-man tag team record, never mind a "great" one, and the claim they are "coming into their own as a tag team" is so nebulous as not mean anything, but even if they are "coming into their own as a tag team" they're sure not winning because their record as a duo in 2018 is 1-4, including a loss in a Handicap Match to Bully Ray, and their only win was over the comedy duo of Toru Yano and Delirious.
The reason I'm spending so much time ranting on this is because sh*t like this totally obliterates your announcers' credibility. Announcers with no credibility who try to tell you that everything and everyone in the company is a huge deal when they so clearly aren't is one of the most universally despised things about WWE, so if you are trying to compete with WWE- or even just prove yourself to be any sort of alternative- why the hell would you emulate this?
They had a very house-show match. You still got your flips and the finish (which I wouldn't spoil) looked cool, but this very much felt like a throwaway match. And I'm not saying that the Bucks don't deserve a night off every once in a while, but don't give it to me on a card that looks so dull on paper and after putting out a similar offering the night before.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Pointless and annoying. Cody, Brandi, and Bernard the Business Bear come out. Cody says the Bucks deserve a round of applause as the "ambassadors of All In" and asks the fans if he should book Flip Gordon. The Bucks and the fans want him to and he teases doing it (which all of the idiots in the crowd actually fell for) before saying that he won't. Throughout all of this Cabana is insistent that Cody is slighting the Bucks by referring to them simply as "ambassadors" for All In instead of "owners" and that Cody was not showing the Bucks respect as co-owners by saying that he was going to book Flip during his tease of doing so rather than saying that they (meaning the three of them) will book Flip, and that these are signs that Bullet Club is not fine.
WHO COULD POSSIBLY GIVE A SH*T AT THIS POINT?! It has been five and a half months of this crap and all that has actually happened is that Omega and Ibushi are back together, and that happened less than a month into the angle! Since that time, NOTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED IN THIS ANGLE HAS MATTERED. Sure, there were some intra-Bullet Club matches but now Cody and Page are still in Bullet Club and Omega is still in Bullet Club and the Bucks are still friends with everyone even though Cody obviously knows that they were aiming for him at Supercard of Honor, not Kenny. All of that random melodrama between Marty and Kenny over the first weekend of intra-Bullet Club matches meant absolutely nothing once that weekend was over, the stuff with the Bucks and Omega in hindsight comes across like the Bucks being total drama queens, absolutely none of the sh*t involving ANYONE else mattered beyond the moment the match it happened in was over (for example, Chase & Yujiro randomly attacking the Bucks from behind at Sakura: Genesis and Cody doing so to the Guerrillas of Destiny the previous week at Strong Style Evolved, plus all of the sh*t after that ten-man tag at Dontaku). This whole storyline has been an overrated piece of nonsensical bullsh*t in which it is completely impossible to lay all of the events out in chronological order and explain how A led to B and B led to C... so why the f*ck would anyone expect me to care if Bullet Club is fine or not? It's not even like this internal strife (or even the ROH-exclusive strife between Marty and Cody over the world title) is even causing them to lose matches! They just keep on winning and all doing their shticks just like they were doing in December, except now Omega sometimes team with Ibushi, too.
CODY, BRANDI & SHANE TAYLOR SEGMENT - ONE OF THE WORST IN ROH HISTORY! Cody got the Bucks one last round of applause, then sent them to the back. He then announced that he was running for Senate in Texas in 2020. He then said that Brandi was going to talk to us all about "safety," and in doing so, he referred to her as "the future First Lady of Texas." Is he running for governor, too, or does he not realize that a senator's spouse is not the first anything?
Brandi then announced that, in the interests of safety, she was using her "authority as campaign manager" to cancel tonight's scheduled Cody Rhodes vs. Shane Taylor match. This sh*t is f*cking moronic and if this was done on WWE or TNA TV everyone would be sh*tting all over it. And didn't Cody say that wanting to do serious wrestling instead of stupid comedy was the reason he quit WWE? Well what the f*ck do you call this if not stupid comedy, Mr. Space Clown?
Ian Riccaboni is 100% believing this bullsh*t, as when Shane Taylor came out Ian said that Taylor won't be happy about this cancellation because he was looking forward to wrestling here in front of his friends and family. Meanwhile, I- for the first time ever- was saying "thank G-d Shane Taylor is here!" because I naively assumed he would put an end to this stupid bullsh*t. Instead Taylor called out the fact that when Brandi said the match was cancelled for his safety, it was really for Cody's safety... so he still thinks the f*cking match is cancelled? How f*cking dumb is he!?
And now it gets worse, as we've devolved into Vince Russo territory. Taylor reveals that "the office" is dictating what the wrestlers "can and can't say [about Cody] during promos" and says that "the decision-makers can't wait to line up and kiss [Cody's] ring."
Then Taylor revealed that HE USED TO MURDER PEOPLE FOR A LIVING but gave that all up to become a wrestler for ROH. It has been a full year since The Rebellion disbanded, and in that time, Taylor's "story" (if I deign to be so generous as to call it that, because it's really just the announcers repeating one idea at us over and over again) has been that he is a mercenary for hire in ROH because he wants to make money to give his child a better life than he had growing up. This right here marks the first time that Taylor himself has said ANYTHING that even HINTS at that.
Brandi then grabbed a mic and called Taylor "low class" and says she's so glad that she and Cody moved out of the dump that is Texas. Ian Riccaboni reacted with shock and said that this was bad for Cody's campaign... which is actually an understatement considering that you need to live in a state before you can run for senate in it. So the Rhodes are stupid for not knowing this, Brandi is even dumber for making an obvious gaffe, and Ian Riccaboni looks like a clown, too, for going along with all of it.
More sh*t was said until Cody was goaded into announcing that the match was back on.
Cody offered Taylor a handshake, which Taylor accepted. Cody then kicked him in the gut. The bear grabbed Taylor to hold him in place for a clothesline but Taylor got out of the way and Cody hit the bear. Taylor then pitched Cody to the outside. You'd think this might have led into the match starting, but no. Taylor let Cody, Brandi, and the bear escape and they went on their way.
This had to be one of the single worst segments in ROH history. They wasted ten minutes for a segment that accomplished nothing while making Cody- the #1 contender to the ROH World Title!- Brandi, Shane Taylor, who we're apparently trying to push, and lead announced Ian Riccaboni all look like clowns, and making the company look like they don't give a sh*t. Can you imagine if a UFC fighter came out and claimed that his cornerman who is also his accountant used his position as his accountant to get the fight he was supposed to have tonight cancelled, and his opponent came out and said that his reason for getting the match cancelled weren't the real reasons that the cornerman cancelled the match (when no one from UFC had ever said that the match was cancelled)? Dana White would run into the octagon screaming "WHAT THE F*CK ARE YOU DOING?!" at the top of his lungs. But here, not one f*cking person from ROH management ever came out and said anything to indicate to us that this cancellation based on a clearly ridiculous source of authority was anything but authentic! They didn't even send word through the announcers!
Ian Riccaboni rambled on about Taylor goading Cody into un-cancelling the match by saying something along the lines of the following (the words are correct, but the order of the phrases might have been different) so Taylor that in the past "he wouldn't have been past accepting money for his services but now he wants to do things the right way and we're seeing that internal conflict playing out."
No! We're not seeing this conflict at all! If Cody had come out here and offered him a ton of money to not show up to the match or just lie down for him or something like that then that would be one thing, but that's not what happened! What happened was that Cody just claimed that the match was cancelled- presumably meaning Taylor would get no money at all because he wouldn't be having a match- and Taylor then goaded him into cancelling it so that he can have a chance win the winner's purse. There is no internal conflict there (or at least certainly not one of the nature the Riccaboni described).
ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Kingdom(c) vs. Stuka Jr. Guerrero Maya Jr., & Atlantis - 6.5/10
The Kingdom jumped the bell on the luchadores. The match was only about ten minutes, which is disappointing for a title match, but if this wasn't a title match I would have thought it was fine for its spot on the card. The luchadores did some cool stuff and The Kingdom kept up with them just fine.
FLIP GORDON vs. JAY LETHAL vs. MARTY SCURLL- 7.5/10
A great three-way, with Scurll picking up the win over Flip. Flip really does need to stop losing but I guess they can have Cody use Flip's poor record as an excuse for not wanting to book him on All In. The reason him losing here makes some sense, though, is because it make him weaker, setting up for the...
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Dumb and boring. Bully Ray comes out to attack Flip Gordon with a chair, but Flip superkicks him. Flip then got the chair and tried to hit Bully with it but Bully hit him with a low blow. Was that really necessary? Was just hitting the injured man in the back with a weapon not heelish enough? Does he have to do the "I clearly stole it from Nakamura" low blow on every damn show? You'd think someone whose gimmick is grumpy old veteran who doesn't like how the kids these days do their wrestling would understand that "less is more." On a related note of something that needs to stop, can someone tell Ian Riccaboni to just call it a "low blow" or a "shot to the groin" or "going below the belt" or something normal instead of calling it a "Belvedere?" Not only is that a term from the 1980s that makes ROH sound horrendously uncool, but "Belvedering" is the specific act of sitting on your own nuts by accidents, which is nothing like hitting someone else in the nuts on purpose.
Bully then cut a promo telling Flip that "if you weren't so concerned about being All In, you would have won your match tonight" and "seen me coming." Neither of those things makes any sense, especially the first one (unless you think Flip is a moron who thinks that losing matches will get him booked at All In... but that can't be the case or else why would he have been trying to win). Bully started to choke and torment Flip while droning on with his promo. He said Flip was a "nobody" while he was a big star in wrestling who had won many championships. Then, a few seconds later, he told Flip at Best in the World he was going to (among other things) "shoot on" him. You know... like beat him up for real, because usually pro wrestling is fake. Meaning that all of those championships he just bragged about winning to make himself seem impressive were fake. What a f*cking idiot. If you're a wrestler and you are talking about "shooting on" someone in your promo, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
Bully continued to choke Flip, then went to hit him with a chair... but then stopped a kicked him instead, because he's a heel and he knows that hitting Flip with a chair will get him a pop so he doesn't want to do it. Okay... then why did you pick the chair up in the first place? Picking it up just to throw it down and kick the guy makes no kayfabe sense. Meanwhile, no one came out to help underdog favorite babyface army hero Flip Gordon. Not Jay Lethal, who just showed him respect after their match, not his pals the Young Bucks, not Colt Cabana, who keeps shouting about how "someone needs to do something about Bully Ray" and not any of the other babyfaces. No one.
SHANE HELMS & DELIRIOUS vs. THE ADDICTION (w/Scorpio Sky) - 2.5/10
Rhett Titus showed up to do commentary, continuing his completely pointless, go-nowhere gimmick that he shows up uninvited and drunk to do commentary. Even while drunk he can tell that doing a gimmick match where Cheeseburger- a complete and total jobber- can earn a title match with just one win that isn't even a pin on the champion is a stupid idea. The Addiction cut their usual pre-match promo burying the city the show is in. This time the fans mostly just cheered.
They did some decent comedy early on, although Kazarian's ridiculous overselling annoyed me. He made some of the stuff Ember Moon does look reasonable. The comedy continued with Daniels and Delirious going under the ring and a Deliriousito emerging, and everyone just pretended that it was Delirious. You'd think this would lead to your standard Little Person comedy spots but instead they wrestled. The little guy looked really good, so anyone looking to book one should get this guy's info from ROH... but if you weren't going to do comedy with him in this comedy match then what was the point?
Deliriousito then went back under the ring and Delirious emerged, and they went back to just having a regular match. The Addiction got the heat on Hurricane until he made the Hulk Hogan comeback. The Hurricane then pinned Christopher Daniels cleanly in an ROH ring. After the match, Deliriousito came out from under the ring and celebrated with Delirious and Helms. If they had just done straight up comedy or straight up wrestling this would have been better, but the mix didn't work. Also, the fact that this got less than a minute less than K.E.S. vs. Briscoes for the ROH World Tag Team Titles is infuriating.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Briscoes(c) vs. The Killer Elite Squad - 8.25/10
Despite having just supposedly taken a shot, Rhett was much more sober on commentary during this match, and while he didn't contribute much that was interesting, he at least wasn't offensive as the third man in the booth. The match itself was awesome, with these two teams just being what they do best: beating the sh*t out of people and slamming them down hard. This was awesome. Show-savingly awesome.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Very good. Jay Briscoe cut a promo saying that they were going to kill Bullet Club at Best in the World... and he made sure that we all knew that he meant that literally. Then the Young Bucks came out of the crowd with chairs and slipped into the ring behind The Briscoes, and waited for them to turn around (like good babyfaces, which I guess the Bucks are?) before hitting them with the chairs. This was good build for BITW.
SHANE TAYLOR vs. CODY RHODES (w/Brandi Rhodes & Bernard the Business Bear) - 4.75/10
Rhett Titus left commentary, only to be replaced by J-Rock. Ian Riccaboni claimed the earlier segment had "raised the stakes" for this match. HOW? There was no stipulation beforehand and no still stipulation after it!
Taylor said he would become the Pretty Boy Killer again and destroy pretty boy Cody. They actually started to have a decent match with Taylor using his size well and Cody trying to chop down the tree by working over Taylor's knee... and then they ruined it with this stupid dog and pony show ref bump bullsh*t, because Cody might be challenging for the ROH World Title on one of the three biggest shows of the year the very next show, but it's apparently more important in Delirious' mind to protect undercard go-nowhere dork Shane Taylor than to just give Cody a clean win in the promotion whose entire mantra has been that dirty finishes should be avoided whenever possible. The bear was stuck in the ring after the match so Taylor beat up.
PROVING GROUND INSTANT REWARD SIX-MAN MAYHEM MATCH:
ROH TV Champion Silas Young vs. Cheeseburger vs. Adam Page vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Jonathan Gresham vs. Scorpio Sky - 7/10
Colt and Ian interrupted their coverage of the Delirious & Hurricane vs. Addiction match to clarify the rules of this match for us because "there has been some confusion." Apparently in this match the winning wrestler gets a title shot right away no matter who he gets the fall on, unless Silas is the one who gets the win, in which case the wrestler who takes the fall isn't allowed to challenge for the title until Silas loses the belt. This is quite the change from the way these things used to work, which was that you had to beat the champion to get the title shot, without any sort of "Defy or Deny" type of stip at all. Maybe I'm being ridiculous here, but I bet there would be a lot less confusion if they could keep the rules for this sh*t consistent. If you want to change the rules of a match you already have then GIVE IT A DIFFERENT NAME!
Anyway, Cheeseburger is such a joke that Colt Cabana was advocating a strategy for Silas of letting Cheeseburger beat him and then just obliterating Burger in the ensuing title match, as Silas undoubtedly would do.
The match was great, with Silas in particular having a great showing. This match made me really want to see Silas vs. Gresham but instead the finish we got was Page hitting the Rite of Passage on Cheeseburger but Martinez curb-stomped Page before he could go for the pin, then hitting Burger with the South of Heaven Chokeslam and getting the pin, thus earning an...
ROH TV TITLE MATCH:
Silas Young(c) vs. Punishment Martinez - 4.75/10
Before the match really started, Martinez spent a long time staring Page down and making sure Page left the ringside area before engaging with Silas. I thought that was good little touch. These guys proceeded to have an excellent match for the five minutes or so it got, with Martinez winning the title, setting up for it to be on the line in his match with Page at Best in the World.
I really liked the fact that the title changed hands here because not only have Silas' title reigns felt drab and pointless, while Page and Martinez feel like guys who can carry the company in the future and are at the level where they should be TV champion, but if we are to ever believe that the belt is going to change hands in one of these stupid totally random matches Delirious loves to book then a title does actually have to change hands in one of them, and this finally gave us that.
That being said, I have got to question the logic of booking this thing to close the show with. Even if I were to rate these two matches as one whole (which I chose not both to acknowledge how well Young and Martinez did in the time they were given and also because they didn't really feel like there were any connecting themes or stories between the two matches) I would probably have only given it about a 7.75, which is fine for a main event but it still wouldn't have really felt like one because pretty much no one in the match feels like a main event singles wrestler. Silas, Martinez, and especially Page can when you put them in there with the right build or with the right guy, but Gresham, Scorpio, and especially Burger don't feel like anything close to main events. This felt like it was a bunch of third match guys in a main event.
Secondly, I think it was pretty clear on paper that Briscoes vs. K.E.S. for the tag titles was the most likely match to be the Match of the Night as well as having the least chance to turn out being bad, so that feels like the safest main event. Yes, this title change is the biggest news coming out of the show, but I actually think you lose something by having this go on after K.E.S. vs. Briscoes. Yes, the Briscoes vs. K.E.S. would have had a more predictable result, but doing this surprising TV Title change earlier in the show would put a speck of doubt in people's minds that that the Briscoes vs. K.E.S. finish was a forgone conclusion. Plus, having the result be forgone conclusion has never stopped Delirious from booking these random title shots as main events in the past, so why start now?
This was a frustrating and very annoying show from ROH, but one that had several bright points as well. In addition to the matches that did deliver and the various reason I really liked the title change, I think this match has done a much better job than most of the Honor Club shows have done at building up the PPV, and of actually feeling relevant to the storylines. Hopefully the PPV delivers.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Ian Riccaboni kept talking about how we would have "three title matches here tonight" as part of a "triple main event."
The problem with this is that there is absolutely no guarantee that we'll have three title matches tonight. If Silas wins the Proving Ground match then there is no TV Title match! (And while I'm at it, don't call it a "triple main event" if it's not the final three matches on the show. The third match on the card with five more set to follow it cannot possibly be a "main event." This is something WCW was ridiculed for doing and even they only did it because they were forced to by the licensing contract for the Kiss Demon. ROH here is doing it on purpose.
2. When Cheeseburger got pinned by Martinez in the Instant Reward match, Ian Riccaboni essentially said "AHA! He pinned Cheeseburger! Targeting Cheeseburger must have been the game plan the whole time!"
We had seen absolutely zero evidence that ANYONE- never mind Martinez in particular- was specifically going after Cheeseburger.