Last night was a return to a familiar setting to see a show from a company I’ve seen every time they’ve come to San Antonio since I realized they started visiting years ago. For me, Ring Of Honor shows remind me of visiting an old friend, this being my 8th time (I think) seeing the promotion live at their home-away-from-home, the Shrine Auditorium.
The Shrine Auditorium is a nice but understated venue, holding upwards of about 1,000 people if they end up packing it. The show was set up for less than normal, but that is to be expected considering what it was. What differentiated it was it would be considered a standard house show, when normally San Antonio shows have either been TV tapings, IPPVs, or in one case an actual PPV. Even the previous tapings that were for VOD shows had higher levels of production (multi-cams, boom crane shots, etc). Tonight was, from what I could tell, predominantly single cam taped for VOD, but still a throwaway show if you will. That being said, as always ROH made sure that we all had a good time. With one exception it was as I had hoped, a great way to spend a few hours on a Saturday night.
I apparently missed a Jessica James vs Lady Luck dark match (I will survive), but I got into the venue right as the first proper match of the night was starting, Mark Briscoe vs Silas Young.
Mark Briscoe vs Silas Young
I enjoy both guys, and while I have no idea why they were squaring off, it was still a fun way to kick off the night (confession: I have been way out of the ROH loop for the last several months, so they could be in the middle of a white hot feud that I’m oblivious to). I did want to note that I was a bit surprised to see this match kick off the show because Mark is usually positioned higher on cards and also, as I’ll talk about later, there was another match that could have easily been placed at the bottom of the card instead. Like I said, this was a fun one. Just a couple of dudes wailing on each other, nothing pretty. Redneck Kung-Fu is alive and well, and Mark hit a cradle for the pin on Silas to finish the match.
After the match, I wanted to hit the bathroom real fast and check out the merch. I was happy to discover that they seemed to have a ton of Cheeseburger shirts ready for his legion of fans. Smart move. I wanted to make sure that I did a more thorough inspection after the show (more on that later). On my way to the bathroom, I spied Jay Lethal coming back in after hanging out off to the side of the building, so my night was already off to a good start.
Rhett Titus vs Will Ferrara
I’m a fan of All Night Express and think that Will Ferrara has a bright future ahead, so I was cool with this match happening and it turned out to be quite a hoot. Not only was the match in general fun, but Kenny King on the outside was top notch banter. He was great at smack talking and returning insults lobbied at him from the audience, who were going off throughout the match.
The insults continued after the match and Kenny King cut a promo on San Antonio, which ramped up the boos from the audience. Heat magnet. King called out Bobby Fish, who was happy to oblige.
Kenny King vs Bobby Fish
Fish got a massive pop from the crowd, myself included. The woman next to me asked “He’s new, right?” which made me laugh a bit. She also was NOT a fan of the match, saying “They’d get a better reaction if they just did something good.” This made me laugh very hard. Personally I loved it, especially Bobby Fish doing his grapplefrick thing. Kenny continued his smack talking throughout the match, but his mouth couldn’t save him from tapping out to Bobby as I would have hoped.
Addiction vs Motor City Machineguns
Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian of The Addiction faced off against The Motor City Machineguns of Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin next. I’ve been a fan of both teams for quite a number of years by this point and it was a good match even if I’ve seen it a number of times in TNA or ROH by this point. The Guns got a hero welcome, while Addiction played it up like heels and drew instant heat.
Kazarian yapped away at the audience most of the match and they glady hurled quips back at him. At one point he screamed out “I love my job! I bet you don’t love yours”. That one hit too close to home to be comfortable. Haha. Frankie took the fall for his team, so all was right with the world. This didn’t stay that way for long, because Addiction are some bad losers, wiping out the Guns and leaving them on the ground. Some young boys ran out to break things up and help out the Guns, while Addiction walked away triumphantly.
Side note: THIS mark has chanted “This is boring!” every match so far. The fuck you here for? Maybe wrestling isn’t for you. As Trask pointed out, he’s WEARING AN ROH SHIRT! “I love this promotion, so I shall boo it.”
At this time, it was confirmed that the rumor I heard all night was true, that the Hugh World Order had invaded ROH Wrestling.
We went to intermission, which was surprising considering we were only a bit more than an hour into the show, another difference between this show and one of the normal shows I’ve been to for ROH. Some of the TV tapings I’ve been to have gone as long as 4-1/2 hours, but I’m not complaining as long as it’s a good show in the end.
Kevin Kelly and Mr Wrestling III came back to sit down, so we’re ready to go again.
Keith Lee & Shane Taylor vs Andy Dalton & Ken Phoenix
Next up was a surprise, as I wasn’t expecting to see any local-ish talent at the show. Inspire Pro, an Austin promotion, got to represent in the form of hosses Keith Lee and Shane Taylor facing off against one of my favorites, “Dirty” Andy Dalton and his partner Ken Phoenix. I was happy to hear the reaction from the crowd who just ate up the match. The biggest pop of the night up to that point came from the exchange between Dalton and Lee. Lee and Taylor ended up pulling off the win after a hell of a battle.
Delirious & Cheeseburger vs Young Bucks
This was by far my favorite part of the night. How could you not have a huge smile plastered on your face after seeing this match? Cheeseburger had a special mask made just for the occasion, fitting in perfectly with his partner Delirious (aka “Lizard Man”). It was the kind of spot fest that I can’t hate on, just so many moves fit in without it seeming gratuitous, all the while being gratuitous in the best sense. The Bucks had special outfits with their heads in a mosaic all over the garments. Their whole gimmick of hamming it up was played up to great comic effect. Delirious slayed us by screaming out “Cheese-a-burgoo?” when the crowd began to chant for him to be tagged in. At one point, the match turned into a back raking contest, which was something I’ve never seen in 36 years of watching wrestling. Both teams did a great job of engaging everyone in the crowd. After tons of chants for the move, The Bucks hit a Meltzer Driver on Cheeseburger (onto Delirious if my eyes didn’t deceive me) to get the pin. There was nothing about this match that I did not love, and it could have easily headlined this or any show.
6 Man ROH World Championship Proving Ground Instant Reward
Jay Lethal vs ACH vs Moose vs Roderick Strong vs Jay Briscoe vs Kyle O’Reilly
This one was so confusing coming into the match and I apparently did not have a remotely tenuous grasp on what it was set up to accomplish. In a series of Tweets with @TheFrayMovement, I discovered that the match was not:
a) Jay Lethal, Moose, and Jay Briscoe vs ACH, Roddy and Kyle O’Reilly (my first assumption) or even
b) a 3 Way tag match.
According to Fray, “It had been promoted as a six man mayhem with anyone pinning Lethal getting a title shot.” Glad I had to go to Twitter to find out the stipulations of the match instead of an announcer at the show telling us this, but also glad we got that cleared up.
To add to the confusion, I thought this match was the main event and truthfully there was no reason that it or the last match before weren’t the headliner. We still had another one to go afterwards, but we’ll talk about that in a minute.
First off, ACH came out and revealed he was wearing a Spurs jersey under his normal gear. For a guy who is always wildly over in San Antonio, he did not need the cheap pop, but bless him for taking one anyway.
No shame in the reception that Roddy got either, but the crowd went nuts when the music hit for “Moose! Moose! Moose! Moose!” O’Reilly and Briscoe also got big pops and the hype level was HIGH for this one.
This was a highly entertaining match, even with an early spot being blown by Roddy that caused Jay Briscoe to get drilled on his head (pun intended) by Roddy’s knee as he was trying to leap over him and the crowd started chanting “Botchamania!”. You could tell Briscoe was not a fan of being clocked on his skull, but he was thankfully able to brush it off after a few moments.
O’Reilly and Briscoe had a good exchange full of elbows and some strong style blows. Moose was shoulder blocking fools all over the ring and it always blows me away every time I see him live because he is always improving. ACH and Moose had a cool flippy shit spot as well.
The ref got bumped in tired wrestling trope #422, leading to Jay Briscoe getting a 10 count on Roddy before Todd Sinclair could make his way into the ring from the back, but of course he couldn’t get the 3 when there was actually a ref counting.
In the end, all of the crazy, convoluted plot for the potential shot at the title were for naught, since Lethal ended up hitting a Lethal Injection on ACH to get the pin. It was an insane, action packed battle that left the audience spent and on a high. Post-match, Jay lethal cut a promo talking about how not only did he win tonight, but how he has beaten everyone there is and there is no one left on his landscape. Jay Briscoe took exception to this, coming out to try to pop his bubble, saying he never got a rematch after losing his belt and he wanted a shot. Jay decided it was time to bolt, so he got lost pronto. A great way to end the night on a high and also a great way to leave future clashes open. If only that was the finish of the show…
BJ Whitmer vs Adam Page (San Antonio Street Fight)
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, my only complaint was the sequence of the card. I enjoyed every match up to this point, but really, WHO IN THE LIVING HELL decided that BJ Whitmer vs Adam Page should headline, house show or not? Actually I already know the answer to that; it was rhetorical.
At this point, I was only sticking around because we were promised earlier that there would be a “major surprise announcement” made after the main event. Needless to say, this announcement better be pretty damn special if I’m going to sit through this. Let’s just get through this so we can get to the big reveal. Sigh.
For the majority of the “match”, it was one of those “we’re going to go in the crowd the whole time to ensure that NO ONE ACTUALLY SEES SHIT” type of debacles. Reptile Boy is smoking crack if he thinks I’m buying the VOD of the show that I already paid to see just to actually see what happened during it. I’ll be the first person to admit that I despise gimmick matches for the most part and hardcore matches like a street fight are pretty high up there. There are always exceptions to the rule, but this one actually reinforced my bias.
So since I couldn’t see the match anyway, I decided this was the perfect time to grab that merch I wanted (an ROH coloring book by @punkrockbgmouth as well as the comic I saw someone checking out when I got there), but the merch table was already packed up and there was no sign of anyone ever being there. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a pro level company that did that, so that was weird. Clearly they weren’t concerned with making that last-minute-on-the-way-out-of-the-venue money from anyone.
The crowd was so out of this match that the streamers started getting a chant instead of the wrestlers. Eventually both men remembered that there was a ring set up in the middle of the venue, so they started making their way back. What a novel concept. When they got back in, someone had thrown a sash into the ring, so a “Use the sash” chant started up. Page obliged, choking Whitmer with the sash. BJ pulled his belt off and started wailing on Page, making him his (literal) whipping boy. They broke out a table, which got the first real pop of the match, but the table wasn’t used, so why bother? They also broke out a chair, but again it fell limp because they didn’t really do anything with it.
Finally, the match mercifully ended with Page pulling out the win, but most people didn’t seem to care much by that point. I’m just glad we never have to talk about it again.
All I cared about was this super mega ultra bomb level announcement that they were going to make. Kelly picked up the mic to let us know that the big announcement was:
“Friday, November 4th, the return of ROH to San Antonio!”
Seriously? Fuck right off with that one. That was not a “major announcement”, that was a plug for a show that isn’t happening for over 6 months. I have questions. If I didn’t have to sit through a steaming pile of shite to hear the announcement it may not have been as bad, but why lie and say it is a major announcement in the first place? Just say “we’re announcing our next show at the end of this one”.
In the end, I had a good time on my Saturday night, but with a bad taste in my mouth walking out. Does this make or break someone’s fandom of the product? Of course not. But damn, such an easy thing as booking a card’s lineup to make sense and not stringing people along with false promise are a couple things are a couple of places where ROH could use some improving.
While there was some negative, I don’t want to end on that note. There was so much good on the show, especially the Keith Lee and Shane Taylor vs Andy Dalton and Ken Phoenix match, the Cheeseburger and Delirious vs Young Bucks match and that crazy 6-man. This leads to the most important question: Will I be at the show on November 4th? Of course I will.