THE BOUNCERS vs. COAST 2 COAST vs. OKAMURA & FELINO - 6.5/10
They cut away from the action to show us one of the Boys poking his head around the curtain, then retreating, as if he did not want the camera to catch him watching this match. That weirdness aside, this was a fine ten-minute opener.
PCO WANDERS DOWN TO RINGSIDE - He’s not cleared to wrestle tonight so security tries to get him out of the ring but he beats them up. Flip Gordon comes out and uses their Villain Enterprises comradery to get him to come to the back. This came off as very odd, but I guess it does allow the fans to see PCO do at least some of his stuff so they don’t feel cheated out of not getting to see one of the wrestlers they came to see.
DALTON CASTLE & JOE HENDRY SEGMENT - FANTASTIC! The following match was originally scheduled to be a singles match between Dalton and Isom but Dalton called Hendry out to have him sit at ringside and see first hand what Dalton can do. Hendry came out and he and Dalton had the most entertaining back-and-forth I’ve seen on a wrestling show in a very long time. Eventually Isom got annoyed with them arguing over which of them would get to beat him up so he suggested that instead of Dalton Castle vs. Eli Isom or Joe Hendry vs. Eli Isom we have…
JOE HENDRY & DALTON CASTLE vs. SHINOBI SHADOW SQUAD (Eli Isom & Cheeseburger) - 4.5/10
Great character stuff for Dalton and Hendry.
FOUR CORNER SURVIVAL MATCH:
Damaris Dawkins vs. Jenny Rose vs. Sumie Sakai vs. Angelina Love (w/Mandy Leon) - 4/10
Why is Women of Honor Champion Kelly Klein on commentary instead of wrestling all weekend? Angelina cut a promo pushing her “I should already be the #1 contender” bit and tried to walk out on the match, only for Jenny Rose and Damaris Dawkins to stop her and Mandy from leaving.
Stuff happened, and Angelina got the win.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. The lights went out and Maria Manic magicked herself into the ring. That’s the one part of this I didn’t like. She beat up Rose and Dawkins and scared off The Allure. Kelly Klein got in her face and dropped her title belt so it would be a real fight… but then Angelina crapped the title and nailed her in the back of the head with it, knocking her out. Maria Manic then growled and scared Angelina off. This did a good job of building up several matches.
P.J. BLACK vs. SILAS YOUNG (w/Josh Woods) - 6/10
This was a great little storytelling match where the story was Silas setting up for Woods to cheat for him but Woods being reluctant to do so. Between this match and Woods’ performance on commentary at the PPV, I have really gotten behind Woods as this sort of “aw shucks” babyface who just happened to take on the wrong mentor.
One thing that I rarely get to talk about in a positive way that I need to shower with praise here was the camerawork. In order for the story to really work, they had to be able to show us exactly what Silas was doing to distract the referee in a way that made clear it was premeditated, then pan over to Woods being hesitant about interfering, which is different from what usually happens in pro wrestling, which is more of a jump-cut from the distraction to the interference. Doing this this way required the cameras to be in just the right spot to capture both things rather than being able to rely on two cameras, and the camera crew executed this perfectly.
The finish saw Silas hoisted on his own petard, as his yelling at Woods for not interfering bought P.J. enough time to recover and catch Silas with a roll-up for the win.
VINNY MARSEGLIA vs. RUSH - 5.25/10
Beer City Bruiser came out to do commentary (and Brian Milonas stood there next to him). He did nothing all match. The match started with a sequence that ended in each guy fighting spirit-ing off a German Suplex, followed by simultaneous dropkick attempts, resulting in an indy stand-off. This immediately took me out of the match by making it feel like such a performance. They then wrestled it like it was a no DQs match even though it wasn’t. Rush picked up the predictable win. I’m not sure why they have had him go through the Kingdom a second time.
ROH WORLD TV TITLE MATCH:
Shane Taylor(c) vs. Chase Owens - 4/10
A meh match where no one thought the title would change hands and where they were inconsistent on who was the babyface and who was the heel.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Briscoes(c) vs. the Rock N’ Roll Express - 6.25/10
The crowd REALLY loves the Rock N’ Roll Express, but Ricky and Robert are ancient at this point. I think this is the best this could have possibly gone, and the fact that it managed to be this good felt like a minor miracle.
WINNERS GET AN ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE SHOT AT DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR 2019:
LifeBlood (Mark Haskins & Bandido) vs. Villain Enterprises (Brody King & Marty Scurll) - 7/10
Continuing the utter schizophrenia that VE’s babyface/heel alignment has shown over the past few days, Marty Scull now refuses to shake Bandido’s hand even after putting him over huge on the mic last night. Caprice Coleman tried to tell us that these were “mental games,” but really it’s just either bad character-work from Marty, or bad booking by Delirious for having Marty put Bandido over like that while the two stables are in the middle of a feud.
Scurll was also back to being a full cartoon character in this match. His chicken wing dance took at least thirty seconds tonight. It was a nice nine months or so of him being an actual person I could take seriously, but now he’s back to being the guy whose biggest spot is when he dances around before locking on his signature submission, which ninety person of the time results it getting reversed and him looking like an idiot.
The match itself was like the bare-bones version of a really great match. Things also didn’t quite click in the beginning, but they just managed to get there by the end. Of all of the 7/10s I’ve given since the end of “I’ve just discovered the indies” mark-out phase), this is one of the lowest.
After the match the announcers declared that the winners would advance to Death Before Dishonor 2019, where they had earned a “championship opportunity.” WWE’s obsession with their odd, stupid, unnatural, almost cult-like language is one of the things fans complain about the most when you ask them why they don’t enjoy watching WWE, so why the f*ck would a company go out of their way to copy it?!
DEFY OR DENY MATCH:
ROH World Champion Matt Taven vs. Jay Lethal vs. Jeff Cobb vs. Kenny King (w/Amy Rose) - 7.5/10
Rhett Titus joined the commentary team for this match and immediately bungled the stipulation, claiming that the ROH World Title was on the line in this match. The way it actually works is that it’s a four-way elimination match in which if the champion wins, whoever he/she eliminates last cannot challenge for the title again so long as he/she is the champion, but if one of the challengers wins, that person earns a title shot.
You might remember that the last time we had one of these (State of the Art: Portland, I buried the use of the concept because all three potential challengers in that match were people Taven needed help to beat and thus all three were already deserving of a world title match and by booking this match ROH management was creating a situation with the following three possible outcomes:
1. If one of the challengers won, he would earn a title shot, but because all three were already deserving of a title match, that doesn’t actually change anything
2. If Taven via interference then a worthy challenger would be barred from getting a title shot (which is not a desirable outcome for ROH because management’s job is to ensure that the worthiest person is champion, and worth in kayfabe is proven through winning matches cleanly).
3. If Taven wins clean then one of our previously-worthy challengers has been proven unworthy… which is exactly what would have happened if ROH had given that person the rematch he already deserved, and so all ROH did here was screw themselves out of the gate for a big title match while risking the possibility of outcome #2.
This time, however, those problems do not exist. Cobb lost title match cleanly to Taven back at Best in the World 2019 and lost a four-way at the TV tapings the night afterwards, but since returning from the G1 (in which he actually picked up wins on the final three days of the tour), he was one of the two survivors of last night’s main event Champions vs. All-Stars match. In other words, he’s a guy with some cache as a star and who has picked up a recent win the feels important, but really needs something drastic to earn him another world title shot. Additionally, Cobb’s loss to Taven in their first title match was his first ROH loss by pinfall or submission, so the idea of losing to Taven once again really does feel like something that should knock him down a level (which barring him from competing for the world title would do).
King and Lethal (and particularly Lethal) have both bene thorns in Taven’s side during his reign so far, and both did lose their most recent title match (Manhattan Mayhem 2019) cleanly, although with the caveat that the finish saw Taven steal King’s pin on Lethal, meaning that Kenny has the argument that he didn’t get pinned, while Lethal has the admittedly weaker argument that Taven has never proven an ability to put Lethal down on his own (he stole King’s pin there, and was only able to win the title from Lethal in a ladder match), combine with his status as a constant thorn in Taven’s side for a good year now as well as the cache he has earned with his body of work in ROH, so they, too, both make sense as people who are worthy of being given the chance to earn a shot, but for whom the possibility of being pinned by Taven would also create closure in a storyline where the “barred from challenging for the title again” stip makes sense. So good on Delirious for using this gimmick in a way that actually makes sense for once, which I’m not sure he’s really done since the very first one back in 2011 when all three of the four babyfaces who had been chasing Roddy for most of his run but had all been defeated by him were given one last chance to earn a title shot against him.
Anyway, they had a great match that both told some nice little stories of its own as well as pushing the Lethal vs. King feud and telling the ultimate story of who would win the match. I was fine with Taven getting DQed here as a way to avoid him getting pinned because of the way it was set up as both a result of something that was done to push Lethal vs. King and because the guy Taven wound up nailing with the title is now a top challenger, so it didn’t feel like they were just having the champ get DQed so that the champ didn’t have to do a job, but at the same time, the fact that they did something similar last night in Champions vs. All-Stars (Taven got DQed for attacking his top challenger, Rush, with a chair as a way of building to their upcoming title match) did make them doing this here feel a little grating. That being said, the action was great, the story-telling was good, and the match was booked and paced well, making it a worthy main event… though the underwhelming quality of this show did need something more than this to save it from mediocrity.
This show was quite the mixed bag. The storyline stuff was generally good, but a large chunk of the show felt like filler and most of the matches didn’t deliver to the expected level in the ring. If you’re into (or looking to get into) ROH’s storylines then give this show a watch, but otherwise it’s not really worth your time. If you’re looking for something that feels different from the norm, though, I’d strongly recommend the P.J. Black vs. Silas Young match for the reasons I mentioned in my review.