Oh my goodness. So you’re telling me Ring of Honor put up a VOD of a massive event a few days after it finished? Now that’s what I love to hear. And my confession is the fact that I bought it nearly immediately, well, because I’m a reviewer and this is my job; but the card that’ll be taking place from the 2300 Arena looks absolutely stacked and one of the best in a long time. The 2016 Conquest Tour kicks off in Philadelphia, with matches such as Adam Page & Jonathan Gresham vs. Cedric Alexander & BJ Whitmer, KUSHIDA vs. ACH with the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship on the line, Cheeseburger moving up to the heavyweight division to tag with the Briscoes, multi-man mayhem, and the main event in which Jay Lethal will defend his ROH World Championship vs. Matt Sydal! Without further ado, let’s get into the show. You can order the show here.
How fitting that ROH released the ‘dark match’ for the show on YouTube for free. That means I get to literally review the entire card except one other match. This was nothing offensive, although it was just mostly a bore. Kyoko Kimura’s gimmick is out of the box, and is silly, so basically inoffensive like the match. At one point Veda Scott ran away from the match to call it because her team was in control. The match focused a lot on Jenny Rose and Taeler Hendrix, but also let Leon get her spots in like the Koji Clutch and put over Sakai as she seems to be the strongest booked Women of Honor wrestler. The finish was fun in which everybody got their spots in at once, which led to Mandy Leon diving on Kimura and Scott whilst Sakai and Hendrix were the only ones left in the ring. Sakai hit a missile dropkick on Hendrix but missed the moonsault. Hendrix went for a tombstone but Sakai rolled her up for the win.
Dalton Castle kicked off the show and explained Kenny Omega ducked him (Kenny was supposed to be here but Visa issues prevented him from working the show, and would have faced Dalton). Dalton explains this is the first run of an animal show or something, and the crowd all gets a puppy each…but All Night Express interrupt before hundreds of puppies would theoretically handed out. Rhett roasts a guy in a Bullet Club shirt, explaining the only puppies that are in Philly belong to [said guy in Bullet Club shirt]. All Night Express continue to run down the crowd as well as Dalton, and we all know this is going to turn into a match~! Dalton bantered All Night Express into submission, saying he promised this crowd puppies, not pussies. A handicap stipulation was agreed to.
A simple solid and short match. That was all. This was also light-hearted as most Dalton Castle matches are. It was fun to see the handicap numbers game with Dalton summoning The Boys to do extra offense in stereo, and at one point even doing dives and double clotheslines. When Dalton wasn’t in the ring The Boys were being worked over as All Night Express continue to switch gears from forced faces to ultra dickbag heels. Dalton threw a lot of suplexes in the match which were insane, including one where he simply did the arch but just dropped Rhett on the follow through like he was nothing. Dalton had Rhett in position for Bang-a-rang, but Rhett saved him, and it was up to The Boys to try and sneak out with a win. The Boys rolled-up All Night Express in stereo for a near fall, only to be finished off with an Argentine backbreaker driver and a DDT. After the match, Dalton saved The Boys from an extra beat down, hitting King with the Bang-a-rang he was never able to hit during the match.
This was a really good tag. It started out, and ended up halfway as a brawl on the outside before the bell even rang. Gresham was the Jeff Hardy, or insert unselfish bumper here of the match. He nearly went into the crowd on his dive spot, he got thrown into a barricade upside down with his legs flinging onto the front row people, and was used as the risk taker in the match which was a huge differentiation from grapplefuck Jonathan. What I also enjoyed about this, aside from the brawl and Gresham being fearless, was the fact that we hardly got any double teaming. It was all about the cross-opposing grudges and the 1 vs. 1 situations. The finish saw Mr. Wrestling 3 give Page a chair when Whitmer got his, and they collided chairs with Whitmer dropping his and scrambling out of the ring. Cedric tried to take advantage with a turnbuckle enzuiguri but Page caught him in the Rite of Passage and won the match for Gresham and himself! If this went a little longer it would have gotten to ***1/2, but it was what it was, still a match that lived up to its ‘Grudge Match’ moniker.
Briscoe Brothers vs. Team Hoss was already a win in itself. Matt Taven was on commentary for this one, because he figured no one knew these teams better than he did. This was ridiculous amounts of fun, and Cheeseburger was the star of the match as expected. The amount of pain he went through just for entertainment purposes needs to be respected. Boots to the face, being played catch with, getting dropped on his neck, getting speared, and more heavyweight division shell shocks! The Briscoes and War Machine always work well together and provided transitional offense between Moose being in the ring and Cheeseburger trying his best to help the team. Matt Taven’s commentary was legitimately some of the best wrestler commentary I’ve heard in a long time, and set the bar for ‘Wrestler Commentary of the Year’s’ fake award for 2016. He was so witty and funny, making fun of Cheeseburger for being a child, framing Rowe for being a criminal, roasting tattoos, and a lot more. The hope spots Cheeseburger got including a splash false finish was exactly what was needed; and the guys didn’t even make the match too goofy except for when someone sold the Shotei as flipping amounts of damage. None the less, the fun continued until poor Cheeseburger was isolated. After Cheeseburger shotei’d Hanson, he got speared into oblivion by Moose as Team Hoss picked up the win.
During the match, Kevin Kelly announced that he alongside the returning Steve Corino will be calling Invasion Attack on April 10 in English live on NJPWWorld.com. Check out our cards and information post for the event.
An epic title defense for KUSHIDA, and the best ACH has ever looked from a wrestling standpoint. It was so relieving to see a more matured, less goofy ACH try to wrestle, and in turn also has progressed into a solid salesman. These two were given a ton of time that was well deserved — it’d be a shame if they didn’t. This match gave the viewer a bit of everything but kept to one main theme which was the work over of ACH’s arm and the Hoverboard Lock being the main factor in the match. We got highspots, with ACH leaping off of a barricade, KUSHIDA doing a senton off of the top turnbuckle to the floor, and a Midnight Starr that caused ACH to land on said worked over arm! Also, we got some brawling, with back and forth punches, and constant athleticism along with still some goofiness with playoffs from both guys of the “You Can’t See Me” taunt. The Hoverboard Lock popped into the match many times, but couldn’t quite finish the match until after ACH finally hit everything he could, landed on his arm for the climax Midnight Star. KUSHIDA then utilized a tilt-a-whirl to lock in the Hoverboard Lock, where ACH barely grabbed the ropes but was brought back into the center of the ring as he tapped. Well done booked finish, along with tons of exciting action with constant selling and movement of ACH’s left arm.
Taeler Hendrix got on the mic before the next match, explaining a spoiler that will happen on ROH TV. This is referencing the Dijak attack angle on Truth Martini, and Taeler isn’t happy about Truth being sidelined. She explains that Joey Daddiego is going to set the same example that Jay Lethal will be setting tonight. “Who’s your daddy now?”
This was a one-sided match for the most part until the disqualification came. It was alright and a little bit of fun for how long it lasted. Daddiego absolutely pummeled Ferrara in ways such as a fallway slam, a dumping in the corner, a World’s Strongest Slam, and even a massive powerbomb, yet Ferrara still stayed in the match. It riled up Daddiego to the point where he grabbed a chair and smashed it over Ferrara. Just when House of Truth thought this was over, out came the reveal. And by that I mean Donovan Dijak with Prince Nana! The entrance was hype as hell and Dijak looks so good as a babyface with Nana.
There’s a pull apart brawl that Hendrix and Daddiego retreat from. Dijak gave security guards Feast Your Eyes. Also this had continuity as Ferrara being a member of the Nana stable, was saved from further danger by one of his compatriots!
There are intriguing storylines that intertwine in this blockbuster tag. Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly’s feud and Bobby Fish chasing Roderick Strong. Another fairly short match, but a well produced tag that at most times felt very old school. Cole and Strong made for a great team together, and with that being said, the fans felt so too, with “2.0” chants echoing a lot in reference to them in the Mount Rushmore 2.0 stable in PWG. A lot of the match was either brawling or the two working over *insert reDRagon person*. There was a funny moment in the match where the two were working over O’Reilly’s arm, so it got so mechanical that Strong just let the arm go over him so he could tug on it, but it ended up being Cole’s. Little stuff like that with inexperienced tag teams goes a long way in how a match winds up. Tons of submissions too with O’Reilly constantly putting Cole in the sleeper, Figure 4 and Stronghold in stereo but that was turned into stereo Ankle Locks from reDRagon! After another epic O’Reilly and Cole sequence, Cole prevented Chasing the Dragon from being hit on Roderick and Gutwrench Suplex Fish on the apron. Roderick then kneed O’Reilly who had Cole in the sleeper to pick up the win. Really cool finish and a good all around match.
It was the first match back for the Motor City Machine Guns in a Ring of Honor ring. Young Bucks brought out ‘Broom Omega’ because he couldn’t be here as aforementioned at the start of the show. This match was tons of fun, and a lot of it was focused around Bro(Omega) and it running wild over specifically The Addiction, much like how The Young Bucks and Motor City Machine guns teamed up during the match, even giving a QUADRUPLE superkick to Daniels. The match dished out fun in many ways, with the broom, all the superkicks, The Bucks and Motor City causing mayhem with and against each other, and The Addiction heeling it up in their best tag team effort in a long time. Everything clicked and was fluid. The finish was ELECTRIC and my favorite finish so far this year. The Bucks called for the Meltzer Driver but Daniels pushed Nick off the ropes and Nick turned it into a moonsault onto Motor City. Daniels and Kazarian then hit A BEST MOONSAULT EVER MELTZER DRIVER for the win. This was one of my favorite innovative finishes to a match ever. Unreal.
So many ***1/2 matches on this show, which proves that it was consistent, but other than KUSHIDA vs. ACH, nothing was absolutely blow away on the card. This was methodically worked, with a few twists and turns, and Matt Sydal continuing to pop up with shock and awe offense that nearly won him the match tons of times. Lethal as the ‘top’ on offense, continuing to press on a challenger with advantages throughout the match never fails to be a bad thing, as it worked here with smaller Sydal being athletic and agile in his attempts to fool Lethal. Little things like faking a low kick and going high popped me. The turning point of the match was when Taeler Hendrix distracted Sydal on the outside…then motorboated him which led to a Lethal dive that started the domino effect of back work over that existed for most of the rest of the time. The finishing stretch was excellent as that was the point of the match building to such. Sydal spin kicked Lethal in mid-air for Hail to the King. Sydal snap hurricanrana’d Lethal off the top rope and went for the Shooting Star Press but was pushed off the top rope through a table that I didn’t know was there! I was really shocked at that point, as Sydal gave a convincing 18-19 count desperation moment. After a superkick, Sydal still countered the Lethal Injection, but Lethal still got his knees up for Sydal’s Shooting Star Press. Then we got the finale Lethal Injection as Jay Lethal retained his championship.
This was by far and large the best ROH show so far this year, and will most likely remain that way unless another high quality show comes out of the product like this one. Women of Honor produced a solid effort, which wasn’t even on the actual VOD, Dalton and The Boys still reigned supreme even though they lost to ANX, a great Grudge Match tag saw differences not quite settled yet, Cheeseburger moved up to the heavyweight division to team with The Briscoes against Moose and War Machine, and it was a hoot! KUSHIDA and ACH receive Match of the Night honors for their epic clash of the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship, ultra unstoppable babyface Dijak officially debuted with Prince Nana, another Grudge Match tag saw Adam Cole and Roderick Strong pin Kyle O’Reilly and fend off Bobby Fish, a ridiculously fun tag occurred that even included BroOmega; and lastly, a simply good main event capped off the night where Matt Sydal came up short because of his bad luck with tits and tables. That is all, and I look forward to covering one of the most fun promotions in the planet for the rest of the year. There are guaranteed twists and turns to come, with NJPW vs. ROH television starting off this week, and with all the Supercard of Honor announcements — plus Hiroshi Tanahashi claiming he wants Jay Lethal’s title. Not if Lio Rush gets it first. Until next time.