ROH 15th Anniversary Show on March 10, 2017
Sam’s Town Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada
Jay White vs. Kenny King
This exceeded expectations as the show’s opener. This was one of a few surprise additions to the show. Both worked hard and meshed well as the athletic future and (mostly past) of ROH. Caprice Coleman was ringside as the two are part of the “Rebellion” stable that’s a now toned down version of the terribly executed original idea. Hint: kneeling during ring intros. A highlight saw King hit a ridiculous dive onto White on the outside. King got into control and worked over White (plus general good work on display), as the crowd ended up being electric for the cradle roll-up finish, seeing White’s ROH record remain pristine. An effective opener that got the crowd energized, as seen with a pompous reaction to the finish.
ROH World Television Championship #1 Contender Scramble: Frankie Kazarian vs. Cheeseburger vs. Chris Sabin vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Hangman Page vs. Silas Young
Throughout the night there were loads of nods to the prior eras of Ring of Honor, putting on display what worked for the promotion over the years. This six man scramble was not only booked for that reason, but also to determine a future contender for Marty Scurll’s TV title. This was another match that rode the crowd’s momentum, going 100 miles per hour as it was meant to. Everyone looked tremendous in the process. From Punishment Martinez hitting ACH’s Air Jordan dive to Silas Young heeling it up, doing things like preventing Cheeseburger from getting his shine in to ridiculous move chains, this was a hoot. In a finish you love to hate, Kazarian pinned Cheeseburger right before anyone could break it up. The unexpected good match momentum would continue on, and this was an integral part of the card, throwing six guys together, letting them all get shine in while tearing it up.
Jay Lethal vs. Bobby Fish
Don’t judge a match by its cover seems wrong. Sometimes you see something like “Adam Rose vs. Rhett Titus” and would, on sight of match graphic, rather rake your fingers down a chalkboard. But if there was a life lesson learned via this pay-per-view, it was to not always label things as what they “will” be, before they happen. This ended up being one of the better matches of the night, with both guys meshing extremely well, smack middle in the card. It also was an unofficial #1 Contender match for the ROH World Title. They told the story of who could want it more, with counters after counters to trademark spots. Also, Fish continually managed to lock in the knee bar which caused Lethal’s in-match demise. High risk = high reward was on display when Lethal smashed into the barricade Aero Star style after missing Fish by a lot. Lethal pulled out cutter variations including an “outta nowhere” one after Bobby tensed off corner offense. The flow felt natural and elevated the match to a big match feel. Lethal finally hit Hail to the King and ultimately a final Lethal Injection for the pin. D- on paper, B+ in execution. Best Lethal match since Rush nearly a year ago.
The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) (c) vs. Dalton Castle & The Boys (Brandon & Brent)
One of the trending down matches of the night. There was a major injury, but prior to it, seeing The Boys wrestling proper was a highlight. Not being used in a bad ex-partner feud, not just hanging out ringside, actually being able to work in a tag, sell, and try to tag Dalton or another in. They even hit stereo topes! This remained fine until TK O’Ryan broke his shin on a MASSIVELY overshot moonsault. Full impact happened. Get well soon TK! That struck a black cloud over the match as it was attempted to be ended ASAP. Taven and Marseglia hit their three man finish without TK on one of The Boys to retain the titles. The match will be remembered for the injury over anything else that happened. Everyone is okay regardless, as we all got to be graced by Dalton Castle.
ROH World Television Championship: Marty Scurll (c) vs. Lio Rush
Far and away my match of the night. I have yet to watch their 2/3 Falls match from ‘The Experience’ which was dumb of me, but I am awfully behind on ROH live event matches. Still on Honor Reigns Supreme. None the less, from the get go this had THE big match feel of the night. The two stuck it to each other from the opening bell, grappling for momentum with no hesitation. It continued to spill outside with each’s hybrid wrestling on display. Scurll continually worked on Lio’s taped-up shoulder which carried over continuity to the finishing stretch of the match. Highlights included Scurll attempting nearly as many superkicks as The Bucks do during a match, Lio eating offense on the apron only to fire up, bring Scurll back into the ring, and start a hockey fight. The closing stretch was a licence to print money. Lio hit a frog splash that still wasn’t enough. Tombstone momentum was traded and it still wasn’t the craziest idea in the match. The two nearly fell into chairs on the outside from the top rope. Lio hit Rush Hour, falling backwards into an epic counter, only for a kickout. Lio attempted to lock in the chickenwing but to no avail. Scurll reversed the roll-up counter that won Lio the title shot, ripped off his shoulder tape, beat into the shoulder, then locked in a modified chickenwing for the win. Watch this match as soon as you can. Both men brought out the best in each other while keeping a high tempo. Exactly what I envision the TV Title to be in ROH.
Bully Ray & The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. & War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe)
I was much more intrigued about this match on paper than I was when it happened in living color. Not to say it was horrible, but it was the most deflating match of the night. On a super well put together card, that isn’t a big diss. This told the story of Davey Boy and War Machine having to co-exist together, as the original match on the PPV was to be War Machine vs. Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy and the injured Lance Archer). Bully Ray was out to generic everything and proceeded to cut a few sentence promo before jumping the others with Briscoes. The match itself wasn’t memorable at all, but a few things stood out. Davey Boy remains underrated, The Briscoes make the best out of any situation they’re put in, and the dynamic of them with Bully isn’t far off from what they want it to be. Them being told to get the tables seems natural. After a trio 3D on Rowe, Bully Briscoes pick up the win. Minor spoilers: They go on to challenge for the Six Man Tag Titles on ROH TV. Post-match Davey Boy nearly brawls with War Machine but is broken up by ill-mannered security. The security were destroyed, including a poor lad that was choked onto the apron.
The Hardys (Brother Nero & Matt Hardy) (c) vs. Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson)
The Hardys entrance saw them teleport to the ring in the dark. Instead of outright saying “DELETE”, they just chopped the others as the crowd did it for them. You want a spotfest? You’ve got one. Once The Hardys were added to the match that was originally set to be just Young Bucks vs. RPG Vice, the gimmick stayed the same as a Las Vegas Street Fight. The match did everything it set out to accomplish, and even more. The focus was on The Bucks and Hardys interactions leading up to their Supercard of Honor title match, but RPG Vice were not to be looked over. They were inserted into the dare-devil roles in the match. Rocky Romero pulled out a thumbtack-laden sleeve and Trent, being his usual NUTTY self, took multiple bumps including: falling on thumbtacks, being superkicked with thumbtacks in his mouth, and being swanton’d by Jeff Hardy through a faulty table. It was a ball as expected, with nothing being a letdown. Everybody played their roles down pat to create a dynamic not far off from last fall’s Ladder War or other popular TLC car-crash matches. The Hardys were protected without feeling not involved. The Young Bucks thrived like they always do. RPG Vice made the match as the workhorses. Together created a memorable match that also served as The Hardys return to ROH and leaving more to be between the two teams that’ll face at Supercard of Honor. As aforementioned, Jeff pinned Beretta after a swanton to keep the titles.
ROH World Championship: Adam Cole (c) vs. Christopher Daniels
On paper this is a mild match. When you add in the pomp and circumstance, plus production and the promos, you truly DO have a main event. I cannot articulate how well done the promos were in preparation for this. Daniels came across as a man who’s time is nearly all but ran out. He is broken to the point where he refuses to accept a loss in the case that happens. He presented this as a MUST win, weeping while miserably pondering his position in his career in correlation to the Daniels of 1993. Cole was the young cocky “best champ in ROH ever” like he always is, but it stings more in this case, as he’s partly a mirror image of Daniels, except more successful than Daniels was early on. In his ring intro, Daniels was presented as a founding father of Ring of Honor. That played into the story. The current greatest of all time (in presentation sense) had a one-up on the founding father to never win the belt nearly the entire time. Daniels was busted up a mere few minutes into the match. It was a long climb to the top, and this was the last title shot he’d ever get. His last one was six years prior. Post trash-talk work over came tremendous story telling. Cole used Angel’s Wings for a near fall, Daniels used Last Shot for a near fall, then Daniels pulled out a Styles Clash for a huge pop. Biting on the near fall, Cole kicked out at 2.9. Then shortly after came the ROH PPV main event ref bump. Sinclair was down due to contact in the corner followed by a superkick. Kazarian was out in his Bullet Club attire. The belt was in the ring and belonged to Bullet Club…in the moment. Daniels ducked an assisted shot which led to awkwardness commencing. Kazarian ripped his Bullet Club shirt off behind Cole’s back, revealing the “Destiny 3/10/17” shirt Daniels had been wearing prior to the match. The distraction made Cole so loopy that he walked into three Best Moonsaults Ever. We have a new Ring of Honor World Champion! A founding father finally gets his due to end the show.
Post-match saw the celebration continue with Cary Silkin presenting Daniels not just his new title, but the original ROH Championship in a fantastic touch. A load of the roster were ringside, eventually spilling into the ring. It was only fitting for The Briscoes to hoist Daniels on their shoulders. A new era is here, with a founding father as the foundation. Seems all too familiar to another “reborn” product. Except this one was the least promising and came through. Things are looking nice for ROH. Although cautious, I’m going to have to pay close attention in the coming while. Might as well keep reviewing, you know, for old times sake.
ROH 15TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW ON MARCH 10, 2017
Excellent - 8.5/10
I slept on ROH's 15th Anniversary Show HARD. The end product ended up being wonderful top to bottom. The only "meh" matches were the six man tags, with one being derailed due to a terrible injury, and the other still serving its role as fine-fun. We got legitimately great matches in Fish vs. Lethal and Scurll vs. Rush, with a clinic spotfest, and an impressive main event that managed to combine a lot of elements, like this show did, to provide an excellent end-game. Shoutout to Ian Riccaboni as the new full-time anchor of ROH commentary, as well as Kevin Kelly and Colt Cabana for holding the audio fort down well. Also, god bless you production people who work on the titantrons. There's potential in every area of the ROH product right now. (After all, they do still use Bull James).