The ROHbot Report: 15th Anniversary Review, Vegas Tapings, and More
By James Bullock Mar 12, 2017 - 9:36 AM
Welcome to another edition of The ROHbot Report – the only article you need for all the Ring of Honor news you have to know. ROH is celebrating its fifteen years of existence by returning to Las Vegas for its “15th Anniversary” pay-per-view and subsequent TV taping. Lets find out what has and will happen in “Sin City”.
15th Anniversary Results; March 10th, 2017; Las Vegas, NV - Jay White def. Kenny King - Frankie Kazarian def. Cheeseburger in a Six-Man Mayhem match that also included Chris Sabin, Silas Young, Damien Martinez and Hangman Page to become the ROH World Television Championship #1 contender - ROH World Top Contender match: Jay Lethal def. Bobby Fish - ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship: The Kingdom def. Dalton Castle & The Boys to retain - ROH World Television Championship: Marty Scurll def. Lio Rush to retain - The Briscoes & Bully Ray def. War Machine & Davey Boy Smith Jr. - ROH World Tag Team Championship (Last Vegas Street Fight): The Hardys def. The Young Bucks and Roppongi Vice to retain - ROH World Championship: Christopher Daniels defeated Adam Cole to become the NEW CHAMPION
The event kicked off with one of two late additions to the show as The Rebellion’s on-going feud with Search & Destroy headed by The Motor City Machine Guns as Jay White took on Kenny King. The action initially was back & forth until White started showcasing his rather simplistic, yet always-effective offense (great fundamentals) that was topped by him executing a dive that saw Caprice Coleman took one for the team. With White having lost his target, King was able to take control; though not fully as White’s fighting through each pin with offense was enough to soften the former Tag Team champion when his offense picked up after blocking a cradle suplex. Instead of a high impact finish, White used leverage to surprise King and turn a cross body block into a pinning combination for another victory to kick off the show in a very good manner as this on-going story between White’s crew & The Rebellion got another showcase on PPV while two of the company’s most underrated talents were given the chance to showcase their talents in the same vein as many a future ROH great did years ago. Following a video recap of Frankie Kazarian joining The Bullet Club, the show’s second late addition began as Kazarian, fellow Bullet Club member Hangman Page, Chris Sabin, Silas Young, Damien Martinez, and Cheeseburger (Cheeseburger?) did battle in Six-Man Mayhem with the winner getting a future shot at the ROH World Television Championship. The Bullet Club looked to overcome their opponents quickly, but the end result was Cheeseburger taking advantage early on and unleashing his unique brand of high-impact, Liger-like strikes to put people in position for dives. Of course Cheeseburger’s physical shortcomings worked against him as he was caught on the floor when attempting a plancha before Martinez finished what the burgerman tried to begin. For the next few minutes it was Cheeseburger getting picked apart by the vilest men involved in this one. Thankfully for Cheeseburger, Sabin didn’t take pride in beating down someone smaller than him; saving him and actually putting everyone’s focus on the biggest man in the match in Martinez. Sabin and Kazarian re-ignited their rivalry that stemmed from Sabin turning on The Addiction last year to reform the Machine Guns leading to the homestretch where Young took advantage of the damage “The Heavy Metal Rebel” accomplished against Sabin. The final moments saw Cheeseburger fall to Kaz after he took the Ace of Spades when Cheeseburger’s Shotei Palm Strike rattled “The Last Real Man” to make Kazarian the new number one contender to complete an exhilarating match that, once again, was another grand showcase for the mostly young stars and confirmation for Kazarian that his decision to join The Bullet Club was the best decision for his career right now. In a battle of the top contenders, Jay Lethal took on Bobby Fish less than a week after “The Infamous” failed to become the new ROH World champion. This was also a PPV rematch from a year & a half ago when Lethal held both the World & World Television titles that produced a good bout. The early going was a feeling out process based on grappling and strike exchanges. Lethal shockingly stayed close to his opponent, luring him into attacks such as suplexes to avoid those heavy strikes and, potentially, match-ending submissions. Sadly for Lethal, one of his patented maneuvers in the tope was so scouted by his opponent he hit nothing but the steel barricades. Lethal took all the punishment Fish had to offer. Bobby’s planning allowed for him to halt almost all of Lethal’s comebacks including Hail to the King. But gamy was the former World champ through & through as he worked himself out of the Heel Hook to hit the Lethal Injection practically out of nowhere to knockout his opponent for those precious three seconds. Just like it was stated in the preview for this show in last week’s Report, the chance for a great match between these two was just waiting to happen; and this could be the show where everything clicks. That’s exactly what happened as Lethal and Fish stole the show up to this point with a match that mixed all the best aspects of their respective styles – be it submission based grappling to high impact striking. The first title match of the evening proved to be the weakest match of the card as The Kingdom defended the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship against Dalton Castle & The Boys – a trio that hasn’t won a single match together, yet have talked their way into a title match. Though they don’t have a great win-loss record, The Boys & their man were able to take control early with Castle using The Boys as weapons. The champions took control by utilizing The Boys’ offense against themselves and Castle was left to play distraction-maker so his Boys could pull off a little twin magic so “The Peacock” could finally tag in and becoming the proverbial house of fire that saw him utilizing suplex after suplex until Taven felt the Bang-a-Rang. The champs made the save leading to a crazy, unfortunate moment as TK O’Ryan’s attempt at a moonsault to the floor saw his shins crash against the barricades. Though O’Ryan was able to help execute Resolution on one of The Boys and pick up the three count, it was obvious something was wrong and he may have even broken his leg. There was definitely a lack of heat going into this event and it resulted in a bout the fans weren’t really into outside of Castle’s offense. Add that to the fact TK O’Ryan could’ve been seriously injured just trying to showcase his obvious talents is a bigger disappointment than a solid, yet forgettable encounter. Following his besting the Television champ during a live event, Lio Rush came into this one with the knowledge as to how “The Villain” can be stopped. Scurll tried to grapple and trick Rush early on in an attempt to wear out his latest challenger early; and the plan worked mostly as it seemed like Rush was going to be early prey for the Crossface Chicken Wing. Escaping the finger dislocation, Rush began an offensive front that allowed him to rock the champ. But Scurll isn’t the type of wrestler anyone can beat with one arm tied behind your back as, and Rush proved just that as the work done by the champ on Rush’s left arm caused the challenger to either pause or not effectively land his strikes if they didn’t involve kicks. This unwilling hesitation his body caused allowed Rush to be put in precarious positions including the Tower of London when his double stomp failed. No matter the effort, the damage had been done and Rush couldn’t stop his shoulder from being elbowed into oblivion for a submission in “The Villain’s” favor to produce another fantastic match for this show. Scurll and Rush proved just how talented they are not only as singles stars, but also against each other. Hopefully this is the continuation of bigger & brighter things for each man going forward as they almost stole the show (being just as, if not better than Lethal-Fish thus far). The Briscoes’ open challenge that was originally answered by The Killer Elite Squad transformed into a six-man tag team bout featuring not only the ROH return of Davey Boy Smith Jr., but also the ROH in-ring debut of Bully Ray. Things were relatively simple in the early going as Dem Boys & Bully dominating in the brawling department. Though Mark stumbled when it came to retaining his team’s momentum, he tried his best to save the match for this first-time pairing until he made it to his corner for the tag to his big brother. Thankfully for Team Dem Bullies, War Machine’s problems with Smith Jr. and Lance Archer (DBS’ partner who fought with War Machine both in ROH and Pro Wrestling NOAH) came up and started causing their downfall as Bully got his chance to shine and set up the Jay Driller-Froggy Bow combo onto Hanson. When Ray Rowe tried to make the save he took a triple team 3D and felt the pin in a match that worked incredibly well to showcase the strengths of all six men and even set the stage for The Briscoes finding their real third Briscoe who could help them go after the Six-Man Tag Team gold. Not to be outdone was the ROH World Tag Team Championship match that turned into a Triple Threat Las Vegas Street Fight after The Hardys arrived and won the championship from The Young Bucks last Saturday. The insanity that came from this match was too much to fully recap as it didn’t take long before the plunder came into play. Matt allowed Jeff to be a “spot monkey” as he brought a ladder into the match following trashcan shots and super kicks. Slowly but surely bodies started flying to the floor courtesy of both the top rope and even the ladder. Things ramped up (no pun intended to moment earlier in the match were “Crazy” Beretta got power bombed on the ramp) to unexpected levels as instruments of destruction like thumbtacks were introduced during the match’s halfway point. What was intended for anyone else but a member Roppongi Vice, Beretta felt the piercing steel courtesy of The Young Bucks that was topped when they super kicked the tacks into his mouth. After disposing of The Bucks, Jeff & Matt took advantage of the damage done to Beretta by utilizing the Swanton Bomb through a table to retain the gold (and steal The Bucks’ Super Kick title). As much as The Bucks and The Hardys should be commended for their contributions to this one, Beretta stole the match by being the literal crash test dummy for mostly everything big in this match. Just a fantastic match that is hard to imagine won’t make a ROH Match of the Year candidate list. It was time for the big one as Christopher Daniels, over fifteen years after main eventing the first ROH show looked to become the Ring of Honor World champion for the first time. The action was relatively slow & steady in the early going until Daniels decided he wanted to pick up the pace and pull off some of his patented maneuvers such as the Arabian press. Ironically enough, just like Fish against Lethal, Cole was ready for his challenger’s offense that saw him super kick “The General’s” head into the steel ring post; splitting his forehead in the process. Daniels found himself fighting from behind in grand fashion, getting shut down any time he tried to fight his way off the mat courtesy of everything from a simple chin lock to the shining wizard. Between it all was Cole mocking his challenger in the most disrespectful ways as he stated he’d end Daniels’ career and even have sex with Mrs. Daniels. Firing himself up like never before, Daniels went on the offense while blocking Cole’s biggest maneuvers until the champ was able to catch him clean courtesy of the Last Shot. It seemed Daniels was on the verge of title failure yet again as Cole started performing a figurative checklist of patented match-enders including Daniels’ own Angel’s Wings, yet the challenger refused to stay down. The match’s final minutes saw shenanigans begin after the referee got knocked down and Frankie Kazarian ran out to obviously help his new running buddies. In a somewhat surprising twist, Kazarian used Cole’s (and essentially the rest of The Bullet Club’s) confidence in Frankie’s alliance to cause a distraction that allowed Daniels to hit a trio of Best Moonsaults Ever to finally become the new ROH World champion! The non-Bullet Club members of the ROH roster entered the ring to celebrate with the new champ parading around with both the current and original versions of the ROH Championship belts as the show came to an end following an excellent main event. For the first time in a quite a while, The Bullet Club got tricked and their own tactics were used against them – something that was predicted by a few people including yours truly – where Kazarian proved to be one of “the smartest guys in the room” alongside Daniels. Add that to the fact with Kenny Omega potentially making more ROH appearances this could mean the difference between Cole staying or being kicked out of The Bullet Club. When it comes to the World title you have Castle wrestling for the gold at “Supercard of Honor XI”, Lethal as a top contender, and Cole most likely getting a rematch. So much could happen between now and the next few months, but for now it’s the era of “The Almighty”. From mostly top to bottom this was a fantastic offering from ROH. On paper this looked to be one of best PPVs ROH has constructed in quite some time, and it delivered in spades. The production was very good, the announce team gelled incredibly well, and the action was top notch. This is, right now, the best wrestling pay-per-view of the year from any North American promotion (and rivals New Japan’s “WrestleKingdom XI”).
15th Anniversary TV Taping Preview; March 11th, 2017; Las Vegas, NV
ROH World Tag Team Championship: The Hardys defend against The Briscoes Following a barrage of super kicks, The Briscoes suffered one of their more crushing losses at “Final Battle 2016” when The Young Bucks successfully defended the gold against the brothers looking to becoming nine-time ROH World Tag Team champions. But the defeat was outmatched by the unexpected appearance of Matt Hardy via satellite. What people ignore is on that night Hardy put out the challenge not just to “The Bucks of Youth”, but also “Dem Boys” as he & his brother Jeff were on a deity-ordained mission to secure ever Tag Team Championship possible while becoming the greatest tag team in all the universe. To everyone’s surprise, The Hardys got one step closer to their goal at “Manhattan Mayhem VI” when they made a surprise appearance that turned into a golden victory over The Young Bucks. In the current landscape of Honor, there’s hard to come up with a better first-time singles match for the ROH World Tag Team Championship than this battle of two great duos from two revolutionary generations. The big question coming into this one is how banged up are the champs coming into this bout. Matt & Jeff won the title by practically picking the bones left courtesy of Lio Rush & Jay White. It would incredibly ironic that The Hardys would lose their title to a relatively fresh tandem thanks to the actions of their prior opponents. This is truly a dream match come true and could witness a historic title change in the process.
Damien Martinez vs. Hanson Though they haven’t been on ROH TV, live events, or pay-per-views as of late, the former ROH World Tag Team champions War Machine haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. New Japan Pro Wrestling invited Ray Rowe & Hanson to participate in the company’s annual World Tag League. Though not successful in winning the entire tournament, War Machine impressed as they picked up four impressive wins and almost advanced into the finals. But before they went to Japan, War Machine had a short run-in with Kevin Sullivan’s protégés and pair of men unbelievably dangerous, BJ Whitmer and “Punishment” Damian Martinez. Their first clash ended in a no contest and witnessed the former champions be obliterated by weapons and Rowe feeling his body get choke slammed through two tables. During the chaos, Whitmer struck the referee and was suspended for thirty days – allowing him and Martinez to plot their next move. Things escalated during the ROH TV taping in Atlanta; resulting in another uncontrollable battle. As if that wasn’t enough, Martinez & Whitmer bested War Machine in Pittsburgh when the only rules were the winner was declared by pin fall or submission. Now, for the first time it’ll be a singles bout featuring two of ROH’s most intimidating athletes doing battle in a match that will be nothing short of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. This should be an old school style slobber knocker that potentially continues this feud and sets up another tag team clash.
Ray Rowe vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. While his partner will be fighting a monster to hopefully settling a problem that recently started, the problems between War Machine and The Killer Elite Squad date back almost two years. Then-GHC Heavyweight Tag team champions Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer made their ROH debuts in hopes of proving their superiority early against some of the best ROH had to offering, starting with War Machine. The plan didn’t work out and a rivalry was born as both teams tried to accomplish success at the other’s expense in their home promotions. When The K.E.S. couldn’t best War Machine in ROH, Rowe & Hanson failed to follow up in Japan. Since then War Machine have found themselves making a big splash in New Japan – a promotion Smith Jr. & Archer recently made waves in thanks to their allegiance to the Suzuki-Gun faction before Archer’s injury. Now Smith carry’s The Squad’s banner alone against a man who will be looking to not only help his team reclaim their spot as the best tag team in ROH, but also gain New Japan Heavyweight Tag Team gold. This has all the makings if being a new age big man clash where technique is used to help high impact maneuvers and strikes that could produce a sleeper hit for Match of the Night. And there you have it. Show that love, or like, for The ROHbot Report and Honor Nation on its Facebook page. Also, if haven’t already, make sure you listen to the latest FREE “Honor Nation” as I talk about the ROH arrivals of The Broken Hardys and Bully Ray and more (http://www.wewantinsanity.com/am2/publish/free_audio/27_Mins_Honor_Nation_Unbroken_Bully.shtml). And don’t forget to send those questions in for the next “Honor Nation either through the comments section below, on Facebook (The ROHbot Report and Honor Nation on its Facebook page), on Twitter (@fasjab), or by e-mailing me at Bullock@wewantinsanity.com. Here’s to a great week for you and yours; and as always, thanks for reading.