ROH 362 – Michael Bennett’s Bachelor Party – 9th October 2014
One of the most unlikely success stories of Ring Of Honor in 2013 was the bizarre ‘ROH Unauthorized’ event, where Truth Martini presented his ‘Night Of Hoopla’. In a welcome break from the usual, serious tone of ROH’s product we had such strange spectacles as Scarlett Bordeaux singing an anthem about girls with big breasts, Davey Richards winning a ‘Pants Off Dance Off’, Jimmy Jacobs in concert, Cheeseburger’s best match by a mile, and the unforgettable Randy Savage/Ultimate Warrior recreation by Jay Lethal and Delirious. Now the ‘Unauthorized’ event is back, and returning to the same rather crummy bar in Chicago. This time Adam Cole is our host, and the event is very literally ‘Michael Bennett’s Bachelor Party’. One hopes he had an actual bachelor party with his friends in a more private setting, but as his wedding to Maria Kanellis was October 10th this legitimately is the night before Bennett’s wedding. Adam Cole and The Kingdom have plenty of surprises in store. Announced before the show was BJ Whitmer as their bouncer, Cheeseburger as a one-night-only member of The Kingdom, Truth Martini being forced into the ring to tag with Jay Lethal against reDRagon, one for the ‘internet geeks’ as Cedric Alexander faces ACH, plus Roderick Strong and Mark Briscoe battling over who can spend the rest of the night drinking. Cole has even put his hands in his wallet to pay for the ROH return of Rhino – hiring him for an evening so he and the guest of honour can watch him destroy new World Champion Jay Briscoe. Unlike Night Of Hoopla we have commentary which is good – and even better is that Kevin Kelly isn’t doing it. Steve Corino is in Merrionette Park, IL…
Adam Cole starts the show with a super-unauthorised safety message about not drinking and driving. Steve Corino is brought out for announcing duties and hilariously gives Adam a big hug rather than accepting his handshake. Matt Taven and Michael Bennett enter next, with Taven making his first on-screen appearance as part of The Kingdom (since the TV episode where he joined hasn’t aired yet). Bennett starts drinking immediately…and it’s actually touching how happy fans seem for him, despite him always being a heel in this promotion. He wears a crown and makes jokes about Jerry Lawler, instantly making this a show of the year candidate. Adam Cole then leads the crowd in booing Todd Sinclair for before the first match…
reDRagon vs Jay Lethal/Truth Martini
The Kingdom have been public in wanting to pursue any title going in Ring Of Honor. This is the perfect chance to get an up close and personal look at the TV and Tag Champions in a single match. It’s also a chance to put Truth Martini, host of the last Unauthorized event, in a position he’s not too familiar with in recent years – a rare in-ring appearance.
‘Truth looks like Juventud Guerrera’ – Corino. Jay Diesel, the HOT’s bodyguard, is on commentary too. He is lousy. The Kingdom, sitting at the timekeeping table, are twice as entertaining as the opening of the match as O’Reilly and Lethal trade a few basics. Martini begs to be tagged in, and to Fish’s delight Jay obliges. Truth thumbs through his Book Of Truth looking for an appropriate wrestling hold to beat Bobby…and settles on La Magistral for a 2-count! Credit to Martini, he busts out some pretty crisp old-school techniques and Fish actually has to wait for Lethal to come back in before he gets some time on offence. Truth, meanwhile, gets so excited he dishes out armdrags to everyone – including the ref and his own partner. Martini is ON FIRE…and scoops Lethal up for a suplex! reDRagon have fled the ring and are now hiding from Truth – behind The Kingdom. Jay Diesel’s commentary makes Michael Elgin seem like Jim Ross in comparison. The Tag champs are now terrified of Truth Martini, so set about isolating Lethal instead (with O’Reilly throwing in ‘erotic poses’ for Bennett’s benefit). They climb opposing turnbuckles…and both miss diving headbutts! Hot tag to Truth who FLATTENS Kyle with a tornado DDT. SUPERKICK CODE RED COMBO BY THE HOT! O’Reilly saves by POPPING A BALLOON on Martini’s head! He makes him tap with the Arm-ageddon, so it’s a reDRagon victory at 14:36
Rating – *** – Probably a little long, and holy hell did Jay Diesel ever suck the fun out of things, but for the most part this was constantly entertaining. The comedy aspect of Martini secretly being a killer wrestler who reDRagon were afraid of was a lot of fun.
Apparently the winners get shots tonight, so whether they like it or not Fish and O’Reilly have to down some drink with The Kingdom. They do so…and almost vomit at ringside. Matt Taven celebrating Lethal’s loss, considering their feud all year, was a nice touch.
Cheeseburger is out next as an honorary member of The Kingdom.
Veda Scott/Leah Von Dutch/Heather Patera vs Scarlett Bordeaux/Taeler Hendrix/Mary Dobson
Obviously Veda and Scarlett pop up on ROH programming pretty regularly, and I think both Von Dutch and Hendrix have appeared before. It’s debuts for Patera and Dobson, as the Women Of Honor look to make an impression during the Bachelor Party.
Romantic Touch is on commentary because he likes beautiful ladies. I’m not sure whether it’s deliberate or not, but the way he periodically forgets to use his weird ‘foreign’ accent and just talks in normal Rhett Titus voice is awesome. Veda starts out showing some sound fundamentals so is quickly isolated by the opposition team. Stratusfaction from Veda which allows her to tag in Patera…who is taken down by the impossibly crisp submission skills of Scarlett! Taven throws dollar bills at her after she legit takes Heather down with a front guillotine. Dobson lives up to her ‘Crazy’ nickname by sprinting straight into the opposition corner and trying to fight them all at once. Unsurprisingly that approach leads to her being trapped in the ring and worked over. Taven now holds up a sign that says ‘I’d rather be in China’ which cracks Corino up so much he can’t commentate. In the midst of getting her ass kicked, Dobson is still picking up the dollar bills Matt is throwing in. Scarlett and Taeler dive on top of Mary trying to save her from a beating…which Cole mistakes for something different – so he runs into the ring for a closer look. SKULLF*CK by Von Dutch! She misses a moonsault which is even uglier than Lita’s, allowing Dobson to make a hot tag to Scarlett. DIVING HEADBUTT TO VEDA’S VAGINA! DRAGON SLEEPER ON HEATHER! Leah saves with a Shining Wizard! Split-legged moonsault by Dobson! She barely gets back to her feet before Patera decimates her with a northern lariat. ‘Coochie Bomb’ – Corino as Hendrix powerbombs Bordeaux ass-first into Heather’s face for 2. Scott wins it with a bridging Saito suplex at 10:00
Rating – *** – This is a generous 3*, but some of the wrestling was really good and I felt the women deserved some leniency for agreeing to work this match even knowing full well that there were going to be subjected to some rather chauvinistic shenanigans going on outside the ring. Their desire to show their skills actually outshone the Kingdom silliness for a lot of the time, which is a testament to their skill. I knew Veda was decent, and I know Von Dutch, Dobson and Patera have been around for a while so can hold their own…but the biggest shock here was that Scarlett can WORK! Her choke takedown and dragon sleeper spots were awesome. Not as awesome as the ‘Coochie Bomb’, but awesome nonetheless.
After the match Dobson and Scarlett walk out despite The Kingdom demanding their money back. Referee Brian Gory is not so lucky. BJ Whitmer forces him to empty his pockets, as Cole lines up some shots for Cheeseburger.
Roderick Strong vs Mark Briscoe
The loser of this one isn’t allowed to drink for the rest of the night. Obviously Strong and the Briscoes have friendships and rivalries going back years in Ring Of Honor so these two are no strangers to squaring off against each other. The Kingdom doesn’t like either of them, having feuded with the Briscoes in 2014, whilst Cole had a pretty lengthy issue with Roddy in 2013.
Strong competes in a polo shirt and tiny beach shorts, and wants to know why Mark Briscoe hasn’t dressed to impress like him. Even Bobby Fish (on commentary) can’t help but admire the outfit. Mark beats his ass all over ringside in the opening minutes – into the lap of an ‘overweight viewer’ – Corino. Briscoe gets distracted trying to double stomp a balloon, and gets shoved face-first into a pillar. Strong tries it for a second time but this time Mark rebounds off the pillar into a flying forearm. Strong hits a sweet sliding lungblower for 2. HUGE Death By Roderick gets another nearfall before Briscoe scores with a flying knee strike off the top. Cole holds up a bottle of beer to motivate them…which they sell like Popeye and spinach. Strong wins with a small package at 10:11
Rating – ** – Unlike the previous matches there was no real comedy hook (aside from Roddy’s outfit), and they didn’t do much more than trade a few basic spots. I did enjoy the finish, where the sight of beer made them essentially fight to the death. Strong winning with a small package puts over his love of drinking too, since he’d rather snatch a quick win to get drinking than hit any of his finishers.
The Kingdom unload cans of silly string in Mark’s face as he sells not being able to drink like Luke Skywalker finding out Darth Vader is his father. BJ Whitmer is then sent into the crowd to check ID’s.
After some minor sexual harassment of female fans, Adam Cole brings Mike Bennett back into the ring. He brings out Bennett’s ‘second favourite pro wrestler’ – Mad Man Pondo. Cheeseburger is drunk, and apparently Pondo is a big fan of his. Cole is jealous of the attention he gets…so brings out Tommaso Ciampa to wrestle him! Since he’s drunk Cheeseburger gets in Tommaso’s face, and of course is totally murdered. Pondo gets DDT’d into a ‘STOP’ sign for good measure…before someone comes to crash the party. Delirious is here! Cole wants to see them fight…
Tommaso Ciampa vs Delirious
The idea is that these two are both insane, so we get to see them fight to see who the more mentally disturbed is. It also works on a weird, half-kayfabe/half non-kayfabe level since Ciampa is currently in trouble with the office for attacking Bobby Cruise…and we all know that Delirious is part of the aforementioned ‘office’ set-up.
Delirious tries to lick Ciampa’s face, and then irritates him by running away. Finally Tommaso gets his hands on the Lizard Man, and drills him into the ringpost spilling The Kingdom’s beer everywhere. PINATA TO THE HEAD BY DELIRIOUS! He then starts chewing up the remnants of Bennett’s piñata as he and the rest of Kingdom flee ringside. Ciampa hits Delirious with a running knee and back suplexes him onto the apron. Delirious starts biting him…and on commentary O’Reilly wants to know whether he has poisonous saliva like a komodo dragon! CIAMPA BITES DELIRIOUS’ FEET! FLYING BACK RAKE BY DELIRIOUS! Ciampa then slaps him so hard that Delirious starts to cry and hides under the ring. Tommaso goes under the ring to find him…and comes back out wearing Delirious’ mask. LIZARD LANGUAGE DEBATE! Delirious is pissed that Tommaso is copying him! The two trade lariats in the middle of the ring ‘like two rams fighting in the wild’ – O’Reilly. Ciampa gets 2 with a discus lariat, before Delirious floats over into the Cobra Stretch. Bites to the bare toe free Cimapa from that…only temporarily before Delirious grabs him for a COBRA CLUTCH-PLEX! Shadows Over Hell ducked into the Bare Knee strikes! Delirious counters to a Panic Attack! Shadows Over Hell blocked with knees! Air Raid Crash…ONE COUNT OF DISRESPECT! CIAMPA KNEES DELIRIOUS IN THE FACE! It’s over, Tommaso wins at 12:42
Rating – *** – I wasn’t a fan of the Lethal/Delirious comedy match at Night Of Hoopla. This one, on the other hand, I loved. They struck the perfect compromise between comedy and high quality wrestling. As an in-ring product this was the best match on the show so far by some distance, so the fact that it may also have been the funniest is testament to the talent of the two competitors.
The Kingdom return for the second half, looking considerably drunker than they did at the start of the show. Jimmy Jacobs is brought out so they can ask him who the biggest buzzkills in the ROH locker room are. He lists ACH for being a video game nerd, and Cedric Alexander for ‘always being on the phone to his wife’.
Cedric Alexander vs ACH
Adam Cole booked this on the card for the ‘internet nerds’. Their match at Field Of Honor got cut short when a botched spot dropped ACH on his head, so tonight they get a rematch looking to deliver the show-stealing match they didn’t get to last time. ACH is fresh off missing his TV Title rematch at All Star Extravaganza 6, so knows he needs as many wins as possible if he is to get another shot at Jay Lethal. He’ll also want revenge for being dropped on his head by Cedric in Brooklyn.
ACH actually comes out playing his Nintendo DS and doing the Carlton dance. Jimmy Jacobs is absolutely burying him on commentary, and has a few pops at Generico and Davey Richards just for fun. Alexander is the stronger of the two and uses that to boss the first few minutes. Even as ACH starts to fight back Jacobs and Corino are still ripping into him for missing All Star Extravaganza. DOUBLE springboard crossbody misses, injuring his midsection. Cedric notices that and immediately cranks on the back with a camel clutch. Slingshot flatliner blocked…so Alexander can dump ACH down onto the midsection again with a tilta-whirl gutbuster. ACH then shows awesome flexibility as he basically BRIDGES out of a sunset flip attempt to crush the pectoral region with a double stomp. Struggling to stand after all the abuse he has sustained, ACH finds his ability to capitalise restricted. Cedric misses the 540…and ACH jumps OVER him as he lands into another double stomp for 2. Hero’s Grip blocked…Lumbar Check blocked too – into a corkscrew enzi! Alexander spikes him onto his back and neck again with a Michinoku Driver. ACH clings to his ribs as he escapes Kick 2 Kill, flipping round into a tiger feint kick. BEST 450 EVER…GETS KNEES! More punishment delivered to ACH’s core, and this time it causes him to spit blood from the mouth. He retreats onto the stage, and SPRINTS INTO A SOMERSAULT PLANCHA INTO THE RING! IMPACT EXPLOSION DROPKICK BY CEDRIC! KICK 2 KILL! Alexander wins at 17:55
Rating – **** – Again this is definitely a generous rating, but it was the best match on the show and so much better than Field Of Honor I felt they deserved some leeway. Obviously the selling wasn’t great, but I loved the idea of Alexander, who has been feuding with Roderick Strong all year, adopting Roddy’s signature strategy of attacking the back and ribs. It also made perfect sense considering this was one of the few times that Alexander is the bigger, slower man in a match. ACH had a quickness edge on him, which at times threatened to lead him to victory…before Alexander was able to rattle off some of his powerful moveset on ACH’s already-injured body. Not necessarily the high-flying, athletic extravaganza you might expect from them but, as Adam Cole said, it was a ‘hell of a wrestling match’.
The crowd give it a standing ovation and a ‘that was awesome’ chant…so Cole holds up a sign that reads ‘I Booked This’ to make sure he gets the credit. Mike Bennett gives them a 5* rating. As in, literally GIVES them it by writing it on a piece of paper and handing it to them. They rip it up and leave, much to Bennett’s disappointment. Thankfully Cole has something planned to cheer him up: it’s time for the traditional bachelor party lapdance.
Participant #1 gives the worst, most uncoordinated lapdance ever and is rightly boo’d. Participant #2 is Jay Diesel, who strips down to his underpants as Bennett does his best to flee. Participant #3 is hot and breaks out some twerking…but someone in the back isn’t happy. Maria Kanellis crashes the party, yells at Bennett and Cole…then makes it TWICE AS AWESOME by giving the lapdancer a lapdance in her underwear. Bennett throws a strop since he wants a lapdance and has Whitmer eject all three lapdance participants. Maria tells him to wait for the honeymoon and walks out, leaving the Kingdom to get more drunk before the main event.
Jay Briscoe vs Rhino
The Man Beast hasn’t been in ROH for a while. Throughout his ROH run he was booked as a hired mercenary and accepted money from the likes of The Embassy and the House Of Truth to take out whomever was placed in front of him. Eventually he was brought into SCUM by his old friend Steve Corino in the memorable conclusion to the 11th Anniversary Show. In fact, an errant Rhino Gore was the reason Jay wound up with such a serious shoulder injury…so in many ways he is responsible for Jay having to vacate the World Title last year. Tonight Rhino is being paid by The Kingdom to put their great rival Jay Briscoe on the injured list again.
It’s fair to say that Rhino is in the sort of shape he was during his ECW days, rather than how he looked in WWE. Adam Cole is on the apron feeding him tactical advice, which may or may not be worth following since Cole is drunk. He decks Briscoe with his belly to belly suplex then spears him into the corner to start preparing him for the Gore. Jay Lethal has joined commentary, and starts begging Rhino to take it easy since it’s Champions vs All Stars on Saturday and he needs the World Champ still walking. Cole tries to give Rhino a chair…only for Rhino to refuse and punch him in the face. The Kingdom decide to jump in to assault both of them, bringing a stone cold sober Mark Briscoe out to make the save. Jay demands we have a 6-man tag…so I guess this is a no contest at 05:00
Rating – N/A – The commentary from Lethal and Corino repeatedly cracked me up, which is just as well because inside the ring there wasn’t much going on. It was nothing but set-up for the impromptu six man tag and, if you’re being critical, you could suggest that five full minutes was a tad excessive.
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe/Rhino vs Adam Cole/Michael Bennett/Matt Taven
The Kingdom are drunk and wrestling in street clothes. Bennett, Cole and the Briscoes have been feuding all year so emotions will be running high for this. Jay has the World Title which Adam Cole badly wants back. Michael Bennett has been parading around with the ‘Title Of Love’ that Matt Hardy gave to Maria Kanellis all night…and that is actually Jay Briscoe’s ‘Real World Title’ belt which he wants back too. Taven will want to prove himself to his new allies in The Kingdom, Rhino now wants to punch Adam Cole’s lights out for getting in his way. The only thing I don’t like is how willing Jay is to team with Rhino considering it was him that injured his shoulder last year.
The Kingdom to leave the building, quite literally…so are chased into the crowd and assaulted by Rhino and the Briscoes. Mark steals Bennett’s crown and tosses it to some fans, whilst Corino wants to book next year’s ‘Unauthorized’ event so he can book an ‘Alcohol and Cocaine Match’. Jay and Cole renew their feud in the middle of the ring before Bennett drunkenly saves his buddy. Maria implied her parents are in the crowd watching this. I bet they aren’t remotely happy seeing their son-in-law to-be getting lumps beaten out of him by Jay Briscoe the night before his wedding. Taven puts a boot into Rhino’s face. Kingdom try to isolate the Man Beast, playing up how drunk they are for maximum comedic impact. Cole takes a punch to the stomach and nearly hurls so has to leave the ring to find a trash can. Corino cracks himself up by pointing out that Rhino works harder than most ECW-alumni. Taven needs to piss, and tries to do it in the middle of the ring…so when Jay Briscoe starts punching him his pants fall down. The hot tag was made, but there’s no need for a fiery babyface comeback. The Kingdom all collapse from the drink in the middle of the ring! Mark hits the Froggy Bow on an unconscious Taven! GORE ON COLE! Jay grabs the Title Of Love…JAY DRILLER ON THE BELT! He pins Bennett on his own Bachelor Party to win at 09:18
Rating – *** – A fitting main event, perfectly suited to the type of occasion this was. The brawling was dynamic enough, I laughed hard at multiple points and, when needed, the wrestling was ok too. I have to say that Taven really fits in well as part of The Kingdom. In the House Of Truth he looked eclipsed by the antics of Truth Martini and the Hotties, and he never caught on as a babyface…but acting like a sleazy, cocky dick with Cole and Bennett seems right up his street.
Maria Kanellis sneaks up behind Jay and steals the Title Of Love, so his quest to get his property back continues. For now he is content to celebrate the win and take a few pictures of the fallen Kingdom.
Tape Rating – *** – If you’re this as a regular wrestling show then obviously this isn’t the best. But, much like Night Of Hoopla last year, the distorted, comedic take on Ring Of Honor’s product really made for an entertaining couple of hours. Night Of Hoopla had more gimmicks, but this one probably had as much (if not more) solid in-ring action and actually accomplished more in the long-term since it really helped establish and promote The Kingdom as characters and as a group. Cedric/ACH and Ciampa/Delirious were really good matches and plenty of others had legitimately funny moments. Steve Corino and his guests were solid gold on commentary all night (Jay Diesel excluded) too. This truly felt like a show where the fans and wrestlers were both on the same page – in wanting to have fun and wish Bennett and Maria well. I hope that wasn’t gimmicked, and I hope the guys performing on this show (as well as Mike and Maria themselves) had a good time and didn’t necessarily view this as ‘working’. Either way, being married myself and remembering how stressed out I was the day before my wedding, the happy couple get immense respect from me for doing this the night before their big day. My congratulations to them…
Top 3 Matches
3) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe/Rhino vs Adam Cole/Michael Bennett/Matt Taven (***)
2) Tommaso Ciampa vs Delirious (***)
1) Cedric Alexander vs ACH (****)