This writer has never been a big fan of Ring of Honor, and hasn’t watched an ROH event on TV or PPV for several months. But, with SLAM! Wrestling’s regular ROH PPV recapper Nolan Howell unavailable, I figured I’d use tonight’s “War of the Worlds” pay-per-view event to give the company another try. And while there are still a few things about ROH that don’t float my boat, for the most part, the PPV was solid, with matches ranging from good to really good to one that was simply stellar.
The first sign that I would like the show more than I have in the past came during the pre-show. During the recaps of the build-up of some of the high-profile matches on the PPV, including the ROH World Championship three-way match, in which “The Almighty” Christopher Daniels would be defending his title against “The Franchise| Jay Lethal and Cody “The American Nightmare” (formerly, Rhodes), I saw a huge increase in the production values than what I remembered. In particular, the crisp picture and audio, a huge improvement from the darkened arena view, and the muffled ring announcements that sounded like it was taken from the ambient scene, as opposed to being wired directly to the TV soundboard. And the video packages and promos were solid and helped explain things even if you hadn’t been watching week over week.
In terms of the matches themselves, while the ROH World Title match was the main event, the absolute show-stealer was early on in the show, and saw indy /internet darling WIll Ospreay take on Jay Smith. The commentators billed this as the first ever singles match between the international stars, with Ospreay coming from England and White hailing from New Zealand. After some acrobatics, Ospreay went for an aerial assault, but White caught him in a flying dive attempt and powerslammed him hard into the ringside barrier fence. This looked awesome, and really painful. The two exchanged the advantage several times during the match, including during a mid-match forearm duel. An extended sequence with suplexes and reversals leading into a Spanish Fly excited the crowd, and a big Brain Buster type move that saw White drop Ospreay onto the back of his neck on the apron added even more drama. White tried for a stoppage with a series of elbows, and then hit a double-arm facebuster suplex – Ospreay kicked out at two, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Shortly thereafter, Ospreay hit a shooting star press off the top to the floor, threw White into the ring, and quickly followed that up for an Os-Cutter (super reverse stunner) to get the win.
The main event saw “The Almighty” Christopher Daniels defend his ROH World Championship in a three-way match against Cody “The American Nightmare” (formerly WWE’s Cody Rhodes) and Jay Lethal. Cody tried to escape from the situation early on, grabbing a chair with the intent to sit ringside and watch. But that didn’t last long, as soon he got dove on by both guys. Though, Lethal appeared to get the worst of it, possibly injuring his leg after landing awkwardly – he was noticeably limping for a bit and it affected his speed and mobility throughout the match. After that, the match fell into the typical three-way formula, with two men fighting while the other stayed on the floor, seeking an opening to come back in. Some nice sequences, including one where everyone went for their signature finisher, but the third broke it up. After Daniels got dispatched to the floor, Cody went for an in-ring moonsault on Lethal, who side-stepped it. Lethal then went to the top, but got caught and crotched by Daniels. Cody then hit Daniels with really weak Cross-Rhodes, and would have got the win, but he had to roll off of Daniels to avoid a Macho Man elbow from a now-covered Lethal, who ended up crunching Daniels instead. As Cody and Lethal continue to battle it out, Daniels rolled outside. He was standing on the apron, ready to rejoin the fray, but was sent flying off ofthe apron and through a table that had been set up ringside, taking him out of the match for a bit. Cody tried to end things with a Cross-Rhodes on Lethal, but Lethal was able to narrowly kick out. Cody then locked him into the Figure Four Leglock. Lethal was on the verge of tapping out, but before he did, Daniels scrambled to the top rope, hit the Best Moonsault Ever on Rhodes, who still had the move clamped on Lethal and so couldn’t get the leverage needed to kick out. The show ended with Daniels celebrating his successful title defense.
For the ROH faithful, I’m sure they loved this show. But even for newbies to ROH – or people like me who haven’t watched in some time – the show was worth the money.
Match 1: Kushida vs. “The Infamous” Bobby Fish vs. “The Last Real Man” Silas Young w/ Beer City Bruiser vs. Dalton Castle w/ The Boys
Silas started off trash-talking Kushida for wearing a New York Yankees jersey, accusing him of pandering to the Hammerstein Ballroom hometown crowd, and then attacking him. Interesting story to this match, with the villian Young having to face off against three fan favourites. Fish was the first to impress with a springboard somersault to the floor, but then got one-upped by Kushida, who hit a flying front roll dive from the top turnbuckle to all of the others who were on the floor. The match saw lots of quick action throughout, though there was some sloppiness at times. Kind of out of nowhere, with Kushida and Young separately dispatched, Castle hit Fish with a Bang-a-rang and got the pin.
Winner: Dalton Castle Match Rating: 7/10
Match 2: Frankie Kazarian vs. Hangman Page
Kazarian started this one on fire, hitting Page with a flying somersault dive while the Hangman was making his way to the ring. The two fought on the floor, with a hapless security guard getting the worst of it, as Kaz back-body-dropped Page onto him with authority. After getting back in the ring, Page took over, thanks to a running shooting star press off of the apron that looked stupidly dangerous. But Frankie was able to come back and hit a couple of big backbreaker moves. The two got into a gross hock-a-loogie battle (a literal slobber-knocker), and then after that respite, got back to beating each other up. Somewhat anti-climactically, Cole blocked a sunset flip attempt in the corner, sat down and illegally grabbed the ropes to help leverage Kaz down for the three-count.
Winner: Hangman Page Match Rating: 6/10
Match 3: EVIL & SANADA vs. Chris Sabin & Jonathan Gresham w/ Alex Shelley vs. War Machine (Hanson and Rowe)
This one saw the smaller Sabin and Gresham trying to compete against their larger Japanese opponents and the behemoths, the IWGP Tag Team Champions in War Machine. The crowd started off kind of dead for this one, but things picked up huge when Hanson impressed with a series of running splashes. Equally impressive was Rowe picking up Sabin and Gresham each in one arm and hitting a double overhead suplex. Things got even crazier with a flying dive to the floor by SANADA who flattened everybody. After that, War Machine ended things, hitting Sabin with a pop-up powerslam combination for the pin. Not having seen these guys before, I’ve got to say, War Machine was pretty impressive.
Winners: War Machine Match Rating: 8/10
Match 4: “Aerial Assassin” Will Ospreay vs. Jay White
Winner: Will Ospreay Match Rating: 9/10
After the match, Punishment Martinez rushed the ring, attacked and laid out both of them.
Match 5: Roppingi Vice (Rocky Romero and Beretta) & Hirooki Goto vs. The Briscoes & Bully Ray (c) – ROH Six-Man Tag Team Championship match
Bully Ray made his entrance by coming through the crowd, and after hyping them up, announced that the match would be a No Disqualification affair. This led to the Briscoes attacking their opponents to start the fight. A Briscoe irresponsibly threw a chair at Beretta’s head. And then he took the brunt of a Bully Ray flying dive which flattened all three of his opponents. More flying chairs to the head happened – seriously? The brawl continued both in and out of the ring, leading up to a sequence that saw Goto going toe to toe with Bully Ray in the centre of the ring, culminating in a powerful Death Valley Driver by Goto on the big man. Later, the Briscoes and Bully hit a double Doomsday Device on Vice, and Goto got the Whazzap! headbutt treatment. This led to the introduction of a table into the ring. Bully and “dem boys” put Beretta through the table and then hit Rocky with 3-D to get the pin and keep their belts.
Winners and still ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions: The Briscoes & Bully Ray Match Rating: 6/10
Match 6: Matt Sydal vs. “The Villain” Marty Scurll (c) – for the ROH Television Championship
The match started off with some traditional chain wrestling, with Sydal looking good, despite a long layoff from the ring. Scurll went to basics, though, working on Sydal’s arm whenever he got the chance. A slower pace to this one, with Scurll able to ground Sydal for the most part. A neat moment in this one, with Scurll seemingly breaking Sydal’s fingers. After some time, Sydal was able to fight back, and went for a big Shooting Star Press, but Scurll got his knees up. This hurt Sydal, and when Scurll locked in the Chicken Wing, he was forced to immediately tap out.
Winner and still ROH Television Champion: Marty Scurll Match Rating: 7/10
They announced Jay Lethal as the first entrant in an upcoming U.S. Title Tournament, with Hangman Page as the likely second.
Match 7: Bushi & Tetsuya Naito vs. Los Ingobernables vs. The Young Bucks (c) – for the ROH Tag Team Championship
This ones started off hot and fast like Domino’s home delivery. Flips a-pllenty early on, as is customary for the Bucks, while the Japanese used quickness and some humour to try to win over the crowd, who were rabid for their opponents. Too much going on in this one to try to keep track. But there were lots of spots, fancy choreography, and even some D-X crotch chops. The Bucks had Naito set up for the IndyTaker, but Bushi capitalized on a distracted referee and blew some green mist into one of their eyes to break it up. The blind Buck superkicked everything that touched him out of sheer instinct, including accidentally his partner and the referee. Then, more flips. And even more flips. Until the Bucks hit a Meltzer Driver to get the win. Far too spotty for my liking. I’ve never been a fan of the Bucks, and this match only reinforced that. But I can’t deny they’re extremely popular.
Winners, and still ROH Tag Team Champions: The Young Bucks Match Rating: 7/10
Match 8: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Adam Cole
The commentators touted this one as a modern classic, comparing these two to legends like Jerry Lawler and “Superstar” Billy Graham, and clearly forgetting that this match features Adam Cole who’s all right, but let’s be serious. Still, the match was decent. A much slower pace than anything else on the show, with them exchanging moves and trading the advantage. Things picked up later on, with the two hitting big moves on each other. Tanahashi went for a High Fly Flow, but Cole got his legs up. Then Cole hit his own High Fly Flow, but Tanahashi kicked out. Cole then hit a big Shining Wizard, but only got the 2-count again. Tanahashi hit a slingblade-like move, and followed that up with the High Fly Flow for the win.
Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi Match Rating: 7/10
After the match, the Young Bucks hit the ring. They teased a Superkick on Cole, but instead they hugged their Bullet Club partner, and the commentators referred to the infamous “curtain call”. Then, Kenny Omega appeared on the big screen, telling the Bucks that he was disappointed in them, because they’re lauding Adam Cole, who tried to fire them recently. Kenny told Cole that his tenure in ROH and the Bullet Club was great, but in every story, there has to be a villain. The screen pulled back and it was revealed that Marty Scurll was with Omega. Back in the arena, the lights turned back on, and Scurll was in the ring. He opened up his umbrella which had the Bullet Club logo on it, and then the Bucks hit Cole with stereo Superkicks. After, Scurll blasted Cole with an umbrella shot to the head. Apparently, this was Cole’s last match under this ROH contract – hence the “curtain call” comparison – and there are rumours that he’ll be heading to WWE soon.
Match 9: Cody “The American Nightmare” vs. Jay Lethal vs. “The Almighty” Christopher Daniels (c) – for the ROH World Championship
Winner, and still ROH World Champion: Christopher Daniels Match Rating: 7/10
Overall Show Rating: 7/10
Bob Kapur has never attended a Superkick Party. Send him an e-vite at firstname.lastname@example.org.