ROH Supercard of Honor XI
April 1 2017
We’re in Lakeland, Florida, which is nearer to Tampa than Orlando. A bit of a strange decision from ROH, unless they were run out of town by WWE and Gabe booking all the good venues. I had some major issues trying to stream this live, which might have been the fault of my laptop (although it had no issues streaming EVOLVE 81). So I’m watching this on Sunday. Also on a brand new PC, after having major technical issues of my own this ‘Mania weekend. Hosts are Ian Riccaboni, Kevin Kelly and Colt Cabana. When I was attempting to watch live you could hear them talking before the show started. Colt has further issues with the commentary position not facing the ring! How many technical strikes are they going for before the show has even started?
ROH TV Championship
Marty Scurll (c) vs. Adam Cole
My second major issue, after the total failure of the live stream, is the poor quality of the embedded player. It’s tiny and there’s no way to re-size it. You only have one other option; to go full screen, which means I can’t type and watch at the same time, which is not an ideal situation. If you do choose to go full-screen it’s not a particularly good picture so it’s an all-round failure from a technical POV. Not to mention the archaic pricing system (this show was $35, or over three months of WWE Network subscription). For that kind of money, you expect the technical end to hold up and it doesn’t, at all. Luckily the in-ring is fine and both these guys wrestle like a-holes so the crowd’s divisive nature is perfectly acceptable. Especially as ‘Mania weekend crowds have been generally quiet, especially at WWN events. They play off each other’s tropes quite nicely (“chickenwing”, “Bay Bay” etc) and both guys cheat extensively while the crowd cheer them on. From the comedy tropes they switch up to big spots and it’s a perfect opener. Unfortunately they fuck up on a Tombstone reversal and then Adam goes to double down by repeating the spot and trying to do multiple Tombstones and fucks that up too! Scurll wins with the Chickenwing. This was going along fine, even if the switch from jokey to big moves was a little jarring, until the Tombstone. That double botch was painful.
Final Rating: ***1/2
The Kingdom vs. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser
The Kingdom stink. Beer City Bruiser stinks. Silas can’t hold all this together by himself. They opt to do some brawling. They power through with a fast pace and keep intensity going, although the crowd are somewhat disinterested. ROH undercard matches are hit and miss. Silas ends up getting the pin after some shenanigans with a cigar. This was a total pass, despite effort being involved.
Final Rating: **
ROH Six-Man Tag Team Championship
The Briscoe Brothers & Bully Ray (c) vs. The Bullet Club (Hangman Page & GOD)
I have trouble caring about this as none of these wrestlers strike me as being anything special. Bubba used to be a great promo, when he was allowed to swear and try to fight ECW fans. Tama is good at what he does and Page is ok. The Briscoes haven’t captured my imagination in some considerable time and I think their comments away from the ring have hurt their persona. Bubba trained the Samoans, to a degree, so that’s the angle, storyline-wise. The Briscoes play the part of D-Von in a Dudley Boyz/ECW tribute. They up the ante with a few dives, Mark doing the Froggybow to the floor and Page the SSP shoulderblock. There’s a degree of innovation and wackiness in there and it’s easy to forget how the match started out. They hit that high rhythm and I’m caught up in it. 3D puts Tanga down for the three count and the champs retain. This was a lot of fun and picked up significantly.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Bull Rope Match
Jay Lethal vs. Cody Rhodes
This is a direct follow on from Cody turning heel on his ROH debut.
Cody almost steals the show by walking in with a “Lethal Sucks Eggs” t-shirt on, a tribute to his old egg-sucking Dad.
The crowd helpfully chant “you suck eggs” at Jay. The Bull Rope match is an old Texas territories staple and generally involves two surly dudes in jeans making each other bleed in the name of pride. Cody slides under the ring to blade, an old school trick. He puts plenty of effort into the concept of the match, knowing his old man wouldn’t have it any other way. Dusty bled buckets in the name of the Bull Rope. The match has some genuinely stunning moments like Jay going for the Lethal Injection, and Cody yanking his arm away with the Bull Rope. This is not a match for fancy flips. The match does slow up more than it needs to, which is down to Lethal rather than Cody. More often than not it’s to set up the next major spot though, like Jay getting pushed off the ropes through a table after spending a minute or so setting up the Savage Elbow. Cody takes his boot off and uses it as a weapon, in another throwback but he goes after the Beautiful Disaster and Jay pulls the rope, like Cody did earlier to stop it. Lethal goes low, as Cody did on the turn, and hits the Lethal Injection for the win. This was fantastic. It all made sense and the rope spots and violence all came together nicely. Cody bladejob wasn’t the most effective but the fact they had claret was important.
Final Rating: ****
Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara vs. Shane Taylor & Rhett Titus vs. The Motor City Machine Guns
Taylor & Titus are protesting the lack of push in ROH. Motor City Machine Guns were credited with changing tag team wrestling and while that’s partly true it’s arguably as to whether it’s for the better. One thing that always bugged me about them is they couldn’t do all their shit within the rules. Which is fine for a tornado tag but less good for a straight-up tag match. Get those double teams tighter. Watch some Rockers tapes. Make it fit within the rules. This match runs just a shade under ten minutes and is non-stop action. Despite this it feels like a little filler match, designed to cool everything down after the big feud blow-off of Cody-Lethal. If they ran this match ten years ago it’d be considered quite the achievement but that just shows how far we’ve come in pro-wrestling. Machine Guns take this, by pinning ‘Burger obviously. This was just a match. Decent action but nothing to write home about.
Final Rating: **3/4
Post Match: Punishment Martinez cleans everyone out while the crowd chant “Nakamura” at his shiny red pants.
Punishment Martinez vs. Kazarian
They have a good dynamic from the get-go. Kaz is the veteran who Martinez wants to mash on his way up the card. Kaz sees himself as a gatekeeper, aiming to put a young punk in his place. You could argue Kazarian’s time has come and gone and Martinez is doing his crazy spots, only better because he’s also huge. The match goes like clockwork for Martinez, who bosses the majority and gets the win. Kaz almost ruins the match by overselling, taking exaggerated bumps, but the bout doesn’t last long enough for that to be an issue. Punishment Martinez is one to watch and he took enough bumps in this to prove he can work a competitive match. Kaz ends up with an ‘out’ after Hangman Page runs in, although Martinez was sufficiently dominant before the finish to make everyone think he’d have gotten the job done eventually.
Final Rating: **1/2
Bobby Fish vs. Silas Young
Fish wasn’t booked and indeed is supposed to be leaving Ring of Honor so it’s a surprise to see him. He claims he’s going nowhere and Silas comes out to trigger an impromptu match. Despite it’s relatively short run-time they still manage to get in a ref bump on poor Paul Turner. Silas tries for a chair shot but Todd Sinclair stops him and it’s a DQ. Post match they take a horrific bump to the floor with them both heading dome first into the concrete. Luckily no one dies.
Final Rating: ½*
Dragon Lee & Jay White vs. Will Ospreay & Volador Jr.
When I saw this on the docket for ROH I was suitably fired up. It’s an interesting mix of talent and it’s great to see Jay White mixing it up with two top luchadores and Big Willy. Ospreay has come a long way, personality wise, since I first saw him in 2014. His in-ring has always been exciting but expressing himself has given his character depth. You might not like his personality, but at least he has one. The luchadores do fluid lucha spots and naturally that includes an insane Dragon Lee dive. Lee is just a kid but he’s already looking at early retirement. He might be the craziest motherfucker in wrestling right now. This gets Will all fired up because he doesn’t want to be out-done in ROH, which is now his home promotion (well, in North America anyway). Lee vs. Ospreay is a battle of wits with both men refusing to let themselves by outshone. It’s the kind of situation where someone will end up in hospital. Jay looks like an old hand by comparison, nailing his ring position at all times and even running the show when it settles to formula, of sorts, on Ospreay. Volador, the least showy of the four, is happy to hit his spots and get out of the way. It’s not a total blow-away match although Ospreay and Lee will it to be with their wacky bumps. Both of them manage to backflip onto their necks for no apparent reason. Whenever either of them contemplate something nuts the crowd moves onto the edge of their seat. There are some breathtaking high spots. Volador ends up stealing the pin by hitting the super rana on Jay, in a very loose looking spot. This felt like it needed to build to something more insane than the earlier spots but it didn’t. Although Will’s pre-finish SSP to the floor was pretty staggering.
Final Rating: ****
ROH World Championship
Christopher Daniels (c) vs. Dalton Castle
It looks as if Dalton is finally getting a significant push. It’s easy to forget how talented he is. Mainly because he’s cornered by a bunch of ‘boys’. This is the first of two prestigious main events. I’ve seen Castle wrestle many times and yet I still don’t really understand what his gimmick is. It doesn’t make much sense to me. He’s all wacky but that doesn’t permeate throughout his spots. His character feels half finished. He’s the kind of guy that would benefit from some time in the Performance Center, developing his character into something more complete. The show had been doing an excellent job of pulling me back in after the early technical snafus but this match doesn’t do a lot for me. The problem they have is that Daniels is an underdog veteran babyface and Castle is an underdog weirdo babyface. The crowd never knows who to cheer for and end up opting for neither. Daniels gives Dalton a lot of the match, to make him look like a valid challenger, but nobody wants to buy into the idea that Castle might actually win the strap. Considering the big 3500 crowd it’s somewhat of a disappointment that we have this as the ROH title match. It’ll be forgotten soon and it’s probably for the best that it doesn’t go on last. At least the stretch is good, with lots of counters and Daniels pulls a win out of his ass with a roll up clutch.
Final Rating: **1/2
Post Match: Cody Rhodes runs in and wipes out both guys before holding the belt aloft. Hey, you fucking lost, pal. Get to the back of the line.
ROH World Tag Team Championship Match
The Broken Hardyz (c) vs. The Young Bucks
The play by play for this is unnecessary. You know exactly what this match is. It’s ladder mayhem. Just sit back and enjoy. The crowd do, spiritedly chanting “fuck that owl” first, naturally. Even before the ladders come into play it’s a good match. The superkicks and assorted spots around them are fun and they can spam away to their hearts content because there are no pinfalls. The ladder match rules might actually play into the psychology of the Bucks wrestling style. One of the few downsides to the match is Jeff building stuff when both Bucks were out of the ring. Surely you’d want to win the match? I do like that it backfires and Jeff eats ladder for taking the time to set up a seesaw effect.
When the match is operating at it’s very best it’s utterly insane. Nick Jackson walking across falling ladders before springboarding off the ropes and sentoning Jeff through a table is just incredible stuff. It’s all about the Bucks taking the Hardyz crazy innovative spots from 15 years ago and upgrading them in sensational fashion. It’s not limited to the ladders though and there are several times when Jeff Hardy is in mid-air and he eats a superkick while upside down. It’s stunning. The whole match feels like a car crash but it’s wonderfully well-constructed.
The big spots mean something and the odd slow-climbing spots aside it all makes reasonable sense, for a ladder match. All four men find themselves atop ladders at the conclusion where the Bucks land stereo superkicks and the Hardyz fall to their doom. The Bucks pull the belts down and reclaim their gold. This was wonderful from start to finish. It wasn’t perfect but it was on a par with the crazy TLC matches from WWE. Maybe a little better with less Dudley Boyz-style setting up of spots. Probably the best match of ‘Mania weekend (so far).
Final Rating: ****3/4
I may have moaned and complained about ROH’s technical issues and there’s no way the show is worth $35 in the modern economy but ROH put on one hell of a show in front of a big crowd. It doesn’t totally redeem them but my word that main event was entertaining.