After last week’s Death Before Dishonor 14 and the announcement of the new Six-Man Tag Team Championship in ROH I was pumped up to see some promos; Just pumped enough to be completely disappointed.
Promos have never been ROH’s strong point and 2 of 3 bit the dust. First we saw ‘The Cabinet” in their weird jazz-music presidential whatever gimmick that I don’t get at all. They’ll be facing Dalton Castle & the Boys next week and I’ll try to be interested.
Next we got a quick vignette with The Young Bucks backed up by a few Bullet Club members which wasn’t bad at all. A callout, some shouting and a Super Kick to the camera was all I needed to wash the all the cheese from The Cabinet from my brain. This should be an awesome match, with TYB squaring off against The Addiction for the Tag Team belts next week.
Finally, a long confusing promo was cut by Kevin Sullivan (channeling Robert Anton Wilson’s ghost), droning on about evil and revenge. Although fun, it resembled video fan-fiction for Buffy the Vampire Slayer complete with terrible special effects and PowerPoint text effects. I took the liberty of rewinding it for my 5 year old niece just to see if she was the least bit frightened by B.J. Whitmer’s ‘spiritual father’ (Spoiler alert: she wasn’t.)
While story development continues to become important to the organization, they still have a lot of catching up to do if they ever hope to get fans interested with more than the roster’s in-ring ability.
The first match was a fairly basic matchup between Hangman Adam Page and the diminutive by comparison Jonathan Gresham.
Hangman spat into his hand before the shake, and Gresham came out strong flying around the ring with impressive speed. Outside the ring the Hangman catapults Gresham hard into the ringpost. Page continues to dominate the cruiserweight for a few minutes longer. Gresham gets a second wind and starts to work Adam Page’s left arm slowing him down. More acrobatics follow and a bug german suplex and pin result in a close 2 count for Jonathan Gresham.
The journeyman technical specialist gives it one last go with a submission attempt before falling prey to a devastating clothesline. Page followed it with the Rite of Passage (a sort of backwards tombstone piledriver thing?) and pinned him for 3.
The blows were mostly soft and undersold but the match had the classic charm of big guy vs little guy that works so well. Overall I give it a 5/10.
After a commercial for a knee brace featuring Jay Lethal, the Ring of Honor welcomes two transplants, from CMLL in Mexico comes Stuka Jr. and from Japan’s NJPW Kamaitachi with his new best bud Christopher Daniels.
The match opens again without a handshake inciting loud boos from the crowd when Kamaitachi refuses. After the bell, Stuka Jr. comes out strong, showing off his penchant for big flashy moves. At this point it looks like they’ll pack 4 matches in tonight because it looks bad for the NJPW alumn. Daniels interferes while the ref is tending to Kamaitachi’s shoulder and the momentum swings in the other direction.
Stuka Jr. is then manhandled for minutes on end. With Christopher Daniels continued interference aiding him, Kamaitachi lays into and twice attempts to damask his opponent, resulting in some tense moments. Looking dizzy, the masked man struggles to stand as Kamaitachi, struts confidently around the ring. As you can imagine this quickly caught up with him and Stuka Jr. drove him out of the ring and hit him with a gravity defying moonsault worthy of a highlight reel.
Trying to keep the pressure on, Stuka Jr. is relentless in his assault. He pins twice but can’t quite hold him. They roll each other up, over and over back and forth. Stuka Jr. misses a body splash and knocks out the ref. The luchador tries to seal the deal and pins Kamaitachi with the crowd counting to three but it’s not official. Stuka Jr. tries to reason with the ref, and seizing the opportunity Kamaitachi rolls him up and nearly tears off his mask. Protecting his face cost Stuka Jr. the match but something tells me it won’t be the last time we see these two tangled up.
This was a truly good show. Neither wrestler is going to have problems getting over in Ring of Honor after tonight. Kamaitachi’s well-crafted arrogance and solid ability to work the crowd made a perfect heel for the 250 pound high flying Luchador face and I found myself marking out in sympathy, just a little. Overall 8/10.
The main event featured veteran Jay Briscoe facing off against another transplant; Jay White from New Zealand. The young Kiwi is a rising star in New Japan Pro Wrestling and Wrestling Observer’s 2015 Rookie of the Year.
The first handshake of the night occurred between the men and we were off. Both circled the ring feeling out their respective styles before locking horns. Jay Briscoe clearly the stronger of the two and begins to take control. White is smacked into a guardrail outside the ring followed by a time-bomb breaker to the back of the skull in the ring nets Briscoe merely a 2 count.
Briscoe continues to beat White like a third world wife until a setup for the Jay Driller goes wrong and White reverses shifting the momentum. From outside the ring Jay White tries to soften the 2 time Heavyweight Champion up with some fierce uppercuts. Suplexes follow and White hits the staggering Briscoe with a Flying Missle Dropkick from the top rope. With the big kick not quite finishing him off, White clinched in with a wicked crossface at center ring. Briscoe fought and eventually made it to the ropes with his brother Mark egging him on.
The Rookie White receives a cut above his eye in the scuffle and it seems to faze him if only a little. Briscoe once again begins to wear him down and eventually brings him to the top rope to deliver a massive superplex which stuns both men. The two both rise to their knees and begin to exchange blows, and just like that, the bell rings.
Bewilderment ensues for competitors and crowd before the announcer Bobby Cruise is forced to hastily explain that the match has ended for being over the television time limit.
Starting slow and building steam the matchup was a solid headliner for the program, and somewhat surprisingly the end didn’t bother me at all. Jay White still has something left that this match that we didn’t get to see. He went toe-to-toe with the veteran and survived. It seems ROH is building his story and this is a good way to start. Jay Briscoe also fares well in this conclusion, continuing his legendary 3rd heavyweight title run in ROH unimpeded by a rookie from half way across the world.
I give this match an 8/10. It furthered the story, featured stiff wrestling and ended on a cliffhanger. Who could want more than that?
I could. That’s because next week we have the matchup between The Addiction and Bullet Club darlings, The Young Bucks. This match if it goes over clean will be great, and if it goes over dirty it might be amazing.