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ROH Winter Warriors Tour 2016: Indianapolis 1/15/2016

Written by: McXal

ROH 401 – Winter Warriors Tour 2016: Indianapolis – 15th January 2016
Back on the live event tour we go with Ring Of Honor. I’ve liked the first two episodes produced for television this year, but I’m still to be convinced on how relevant watchable or relevant these house shows are going to be moving forward. One thing I praised from Episode 225 of the TV show was the focus on the tag division, and the main event will certainly continue with that. We have an eight man tag pitting four of the top teams in the division against each other as the Briscoes team with new champions War Machine to face the Young Bucks and #1 contenders All Night Express. Beneath that there’s the usual mixed bag of ‘oh, that could be good…if they don’t screw around, give it a decent time allowance and actually let them work’ matches. The first time ever encounter between Adam Cole and Alex Shelley should be enjoyable, as should reDRagon taking on Frankie Kazarian and Chris Sabin. Roddy vs The World continues here as well, as he defends the TV Title against Curry Man (making his first ROH appearance in years). Ian Riccaboni (making his main show debut I believe) and Mr Wrestling III are in Indianapolis, IN for us.

SIDENOTE – Since I’ve been asked to watch them, where ROH bother to include the Women Of Honor stuff as dark matches/bonus content I’ll review them.

Kelly Klein vs Solo DarlingRing Of Honor promised a greater focus on their Women Of Honor division, something which has been neglected for a long time. And to their credit, we saw a couple of decent women’s matches towards the end of 2015 (ODB/Takahashi in Vegas and Veda/Sakai in Lockport). Beyond that the promotion of this division would largely be limited to dark matches, pre-shows and YouTube exclusives. Klein is undefeated and a key part of the division. She is involved with The Decade’s BJ Whitmer in real life, and is introduced as representing The Decade too. Her opponent is SHIMMER and SHINE (amongst others) regular Solo Darling. 

BJ Whitmer is on commentary, calling Kelly the ‘Crown Jewel’ of The Decade. Prince Nana should f*ck him up for that. Kelly looks thoroughly nonplussed by Darling’s ‘sugar-fuelled’ antics, and literally stops to watch as she giddily frolics back and forth running the ropes by herself. Eventually Klein jerks Solo back by her tail and amateur-styles her to the deck with ease. Diving Samoan drop further incapacitates Darling, who makes a dart for her sugary juice drink in an effort to recover. She eventually hits a tornado DDT on Kelly and makes it to the juice…which apparently turns her into Ultimate Warrior! SPEAR on Klein! CANDY CRUSH (a backwards jumping bulldog out of the corner) gets 2. But she then starts to try more goofy stuff with her tail and is rightly put down emphatically with a northern lights by Klein. End Of The Match applied! Solo taps at 06:49
Rating – ** – From what I’ve seen of Klein, I’ve enjoyed her stuff. She is a rough and limited worker at this point in her career, but has a clearly defined persona and in a ‘serious’ promotion like ROH (who book to protect her gimmick) it works. To that end, Solo made a fun opponent for her. The colourful, sugary antics contrasted nicely to Klein’s straight-laced demeanour. Aside from a couple of Solo spots this never got particularly exciting, and felt like a slightly irrelevant pre-show match (which it was). Progression for the Women Of Honor is getting onto the main card and becoming an accepted, core part of the ROH experience. They have a way to go (unfortunately)…

Will Ferrara vs Dalton Castle: Who has more to gain from a victory here? Castle has been reunited with the boys and fans are now waiting to see which direction his career now travels in. On the flip side, Ferrara is coming into this on the back of a couple of mildly memorable encounters with Caprice Coleman. Is the iron hot for him to strike and bolster his reputation beyond that of an enhancement talent?

Castle is hugely popular, an eats up a minute of ring-time simply by posing and preening in front of a befuddled Ferrara. Perhaps the posturing is too much, as Will lands a flying headscissors from the second rope which leaves Dalton requiring attention from The Boys. A more serious Party Peacock returns to action, taking Ferrars to school on the canvas so hard that HE needs attention from The Boys too! When he imposes himself, Dalton’s size and grappling is too much for Will to cope with. He realises he needs to create some distance…and does so by pushing Castle out of the ring and lining up a tope suicida. He clipped his feet on the ropes on the way out though, so that looked more clumsy than impactful. Dalton drives a knee into his head and breaks out the Everest German for 2. Flying tornado DDT attempted by Will…countered to a suplex attempt by Castle…and then countered back to the swinging DDT! He dropkicks Castle into the guardrails, and gets into a scrape with one of The Boys on his way to retrieve him. Big mistake – Castle capitalises with the Bang-A-Rang for the win at 09:18
Rating – ** – Structurally I thought this was ok. Castle suffered when Ferrara could build up any speed and when he got over-confident, but for the most part dominated in a way that strongly showed off his unique skillset. It didn’t need to run as long as it did, Ferrara got a little sloppy in places and you could argue whether it’s beneficial for Dalton to have given up as much offence as he did, but a decent opener nonetheless.

ACH vs Silas Young vs Moose: Moderately remixed theme music for ACH debuts here. He was one of my favourite performers last year and doesn’t get anywhere near enough credit for the incredibly consistent 2015 that he had. He needs to convert being a reliable worker into upward mobility. All three would consider themselves potential challengers for either of the two singles championships if they were able to build a little momentum and put some wins together. According to Riccaboni and MW3, Stokely Hathaway is angling to get Moose a match with Kazuchika Okada. If that’s his goal then he definitely needs to up his game and prove himself to be even in the same league as one of NJPW’s top guys.

Grumpy Silas wants no friends and actively tries to pick a fight with both opponents at once. Moose jumps so high on a dropkick that he almost hits over the top of ACH’s head which is quite funny. He then pursues Young to the floor where he can use the guardrails to dish out serious punishment to the Last Real Man. ACH punts Moose from the apron, but gets dropped by a gourdbuster by Young immediately afterwards. Moose shows off more of his athleticism by almost going over ACH’s head on another dropkick…but this time whilst ACH is perched on the top rope! Hitstick dodged by Silas, who floats seamlessly into a rebound lariat on ACH and a Lionsault on Moose. Peegeewaja Plunge countered with a superkick by ACH…only to get massacred by Moose’s Game Breaker for 2. Killer Combo from Silas to ACH for 2 again! MIDNIGHT STAR! ACH beats Silas at 07:38
Rating – *** – This felt like a decent televised match in all the right ways. It was brief, brisk, well-paced and ended at just the right time to maximise the impact. ACH was excellent last year, which culminated in his Best Of 5 win over Sydal. Now his (and Delirious’) job is to establish himself as a viable top tier/main event act. Comfortable wins over main roster names like Silas and Moose will surely help.

Michael Elgin vs Tim Hughes: Terrible Tim is back, and this time without his equally depressing mentor Brutal Bob. Thus far his only contribution to Ring Of Honor has been as an uninteresting, uninspiring and forgettable enhancement talent. He got a bit of TV time in the wake of the Brutal Burgers split angle (which shouldn’t have got any TV time in it’s own right) and now appears to be sticking around. Elgin will know he needs to win comfortably here, with all eyes on the Unbreakable One and his mental state following defeat to Jay Lethal in his ROH World Title shot at New Japan’s annual Wrestle Kingdom event.
Terrible Tim, who now wants to be ‘Tough Tim’ (which definitely isn’t happening) refuses a handshake and trash-talks the former ROH Champion as if he was the veteran. Elgin ignores his attempted offence and F*CKS HIM UP with a single elbow smash. Hughes thinks he can shoulder tackle Elgin, to no avail, and pays for it by getting smeared all over the mat. Since it’s a house show and we have time to kill Michael holds on to his stalling vertical suplex spot for the best part of a minute with the enthusiastic crowd counting along. Unbreakable takes his opponent on a whistlestop tour of ringside, polling fans as he goes as to which barrier he should crush Brutal Bob’s protégé against. This match just seems to drag on without an end in sight even though Hughes is practically defenceless. Amusingly he does try to parody Elgin with a stalling sidewalk slam….so Big Mike socks him with a lariat. Rolling powerbombs into the Elgin Bomb deliver the win for Mike at 09:31
Rating – DUD – I’m at a loss for how to even describe this match. It failed on almost every level you could think of. It went way too long to work as a basic squash. It was far too one-sided to give Terrible Tim (who sucks) any kind of credibility. It flat out WASN’T funny so didn’t work as a comedy match either. Instead it felt like an interminable ten minute bore as Elgin plodded through spots, painfully acting like a dated babyface, with occasional, fleeting moments of having to pretend like we buy into Hughes’ offence having any kind of impact. I legitimately almost fell asleep watching this.

Frankie Kazarian/Chris Sabin vs reDRagon: The KRD/Addiction crew of Daniels, Kazarian and Sabin have been together for some time, but don’t actually make that many appearances together. Sabin hasn’t gained any real traction since his return to ROH for various reasons – something which I hope changes in 2016. Obviously they have a lot of history with reDRagon, whom they screwed out of the Tag Titles as the culmination of the whole KRD angle. Bobby Fish was just on TV this week stating that reDRagon want their ROH Tag Titles back, so major tag team wins are a must for he and O’Reilly now.

Fish rips into the smarmy Sabin right from the bell, almost trapping him into the Fish Hook Deluxe instantly. O’Reilly tags and does the exact same thing; smashing lumps out of Sabin and nearly trapping him into his submission finish too. Kaz rakes O’Reilly’s eyes…so Kyle retorts with a running slap to the face. He and Bobby start targeting Kazarian’s arm with a barrage of strikes and stretches. O’Reilly and Kazarian run a lengthy criss-cross segment, before tagging to their partners who do the same thing. Except Fish bails and leaves the ring, standing and watching as Sabin needlessly runs the ropes by himself! Double armbreakers into stereo roundhouse kicks on Kazarian whilst his partner desperately tries to catch his breath. Chris eventually does recover with a running punt from the apron which wipes O’Reilly out. The KRD start isolating Kyle, with Sabin remaining a hugely entertaining but odious presence; grinning and winding up the fans at every chance even whilst beating his opponent down. Their dominance ends when Frankie accidentally levels his own partner with a clothesline, opening the door for a hot tag to Fish. He throws Kaz into Sabin with an exploder suplex, then gives him a Samoan drop to follow. Sabin rakes his eyes like a jackass, before catapulting him into an ASSISTED SLINGSHOT FACE DROP CUTTER! That looked stupendously violent! Bobby survives but is left lying in the middle of the ring searching for a tag. O’Reilly enters to trade blows with Sabin! Two Man Smash Machine gets 2! ARM-AGEDDON! Fish tries to intercept Kazarian with a front choke, but has to watch as Sabin lunges into the ropes anyway. Chasing The Dragon countered into a Codebreaker/powerbomb combo by the KRD! Cradle Shock blocked…as Fish spears Frankie into the railings! Axe & Smash countered with a superkick…COUNTERED WITH THE NIGEL MCLARIAT! CHASING THE DRAGON! reDRagon take the win at 15:40
Rating – **** – Probably a little generous to go 4* on the rating, but after the snoozefest that was Elgin/Hughes this was very refreshing. All four of these guys are so experienced, that they pretty much worked a tag match to this level of quality with their eyes shut. Certainly it never felt like anyone really hit top gear here, but everything was just so smooth and fluent. For me Sabin was the star of the show. He was such a loathsome toad every time he was involved and did so many sneaky little heel things that I really liked. I said in the intro paragraph that I want to see more of him in 2016, and this really showed why. Fish and O’Reilly are in hot pursuit of the two singles titles in ROH, so probably won’t be teaming as much this year. This match stands as a reminder as to what a loss they are to the tag division. 

INTERMISSION – BJ Whitmer replaces Mr Wrestling III on commentary for the second half

Adam Page vs Ken Phoenix: 2016 is a big year for Page. He’s been around the company for a long time in a largely similar spot, delivering strong performances when called upon but then dropping back into the ranks without any progression. He seemed destined to make the step up after a memorable televised no rules match with Jay Briscoe, but then promptly saw his stock fall so far he wasn’t even booked for Final Battle. He needs to be despatching enhancement guys like ‘The Outlaw’ Ken Phoenix (who, by the way, is far from the worst of the job guys ROH uses regularly) with ease.
Page is still introduced as representing The Decade but doesn’t come out wearing their colours, using their music or throwing the usual Decade hand-gestures. He slaps Phoenix across the face and mauls him into the corner as Whitmer, on commentary, accuses him of being in a ‘slump’. The Outlaw runs for the hills as Adam lines up his SSP off the apron, luring Page back in to ambush him with a few strikes. He lands a bulldog over the knee too, before Page has seen enough and reassumes control with his big powerslam. I think they’ve edited out a botch there as the camera work on that sequence felt exceptionally jumpy. Page gets with a dragon suplex, but wastes time gesturing to Whitmer and sees his attempt at Rite Of Passage countered to a lungblower. TORPEDO SSP HEADBUTT OFF THE APRON! Buckshot Lariat into the Rite Of Passage gives Page the win at 05:01
Rating – ** – The in-ring action was only of limited value, but this had real merit as a means of progressing Adam Page’s character and presence in Ring Of Honor, so I enjoyed it on that front. He looked mean, angry, focused and keen on severing ties with The Decade in front of the self-serving ‘mentor’ figure BJ Whitmer on commentary. His execution looked crisp and violent, and Phoenix worked hard to put him over. 

BJ Whitmer grabs the microphone and enters the ring with Page. The fans boo so he can’t talk, albeit in a manner that BJ (who’s never been the best actor) very obviously choreographs and plays up so it looks like he’s getting heat. It means this segment takes an eternity. Eventually he talks about events at the TV tapings the previous week (which haven’t aired yet), specifically Page punching him in the face. Adam refuses to shake hands and starts to brawl with his mentor, and the ring soon fills with jobbers and referees to separate them. Steve Corino, now healed from his neck surgery, enters the ring causing BJ to walk out. 
SIDENOTE – Bobby Fish replaces BJ Whitmer to become our forth commentator of the night. As an aside, this is my first prolonged exposure to Ian Riccaboni and apart from a few glaring errors (i.e. Elgin as a two-time World Champion) he has done a very decent job. Even those errors come off as legitimate mistakes – which is fine for someone so new into his ROH broadcasting career – rather than Kevin Kelly belligerently re-writing ROH history to suit whatever clichéd, out-dated and generic point he is trying to make. I’m already counting down to when dear old Kevin heads to New Japan.

Roderick Strong vs Curry Man – ROH TV Title Match: This is, of course, a continuation in the Roddy vs The World gimmick, where he happily defends the Television Title against challengers from all over the globe. This instalment sees the mysterious Curry Man make his first appearance in ROH for more than a decade…coincidentally at the same time that Christopher Daniels is ‘suspended’ (again following events at TV tapings that have yet to make air).
Roddy grabs the mic and starts running down Bobby Fish, then vows to beat Curry Man in less than five minutes. Instantly Curry kills a minute by conning Strong into doing a hot and spicy dance with him. Another minute ticks by with Strong trying to dominate the challenger on the ground but finding the masked veteran more than a match for him. He has Roddy repeatedly leaving the ring in frustration, which leaves Curry plenty of time to hang out in the ring dancing. Amusingly, the crowd count down the five minute mark – which Strong marks by attempting a flurry of pinning combinations. Curry Man kicks out of all…which again prompts Mr ROH to leave the ring in a strop. More wristlocks and dancing next as Curry does his best to force the TV Champ to have a nervous breakdown. Even Todd Sinclair gets involved in the dancing! Hot and Spicy dancing stomps land in the corner, and that’s enough for Strong. He takes the fight to the floor and unloads on the challenger – smashing him spine-first into the apron, the ringpost and the guardrails. BACK SUPLEX ON THE RAILING! The King Of Spice avoids a count-out loss but that trip to the outside has left him carrying injuries to his back and ribs…which Strong is obviously poised to exploit. The Olympic Slam gets 2 and leaves CM a crumpled mess, so it’s almost a surprise when he battles back to his feet to trade strikes with his opponent. He nails a flying crossbody for 2 and looks to set up the Spicy Drop. Roddy blocks with kicks to the neck then dumps him on his bad ribs with first a gourdbuster, then the Muso. Blue Thunder backbreaker by Curry Man! SPICY HEADBUTT gets 2! Curry looks to head to the top rope again but is slowed by his wounds and captured up there with Roderick’s epic superplex! Jumping Knee dodged by the challenger…who then counters the Stronghold and asks for a time out! Todd Sinclair hands him some water as Roderick watches on in bewilderment. SICK KICK! CURRY MAN KICKS OUT! JUMPING KNEE! Strong finally retains the TV Title at 17:41
Rating – *** – Definitely worthy of an extra half star if you rate on such a scale. This is exactly the kind of match I’d like to see more of on Ring Of Honor house shows. It got plenty of time, packed in some decent wrestling, but above all else gave us something fun and different that the usual TV/PPV schedule doesn’t necessarily allow for. Long-time fans will, of course, have gotten a kick out of Curry Man’s appearance (although modern day, crystal clear cameras don’t do much to disguise Curry’s true identity) and some of the comedy they worked in here was genuinely very funny. ROH loves to labour on the ‘switching gears’ stuff with Strong, but it really is appropriate here. He did a hell of a job switching from the frustrated ‘straight man’ in the comedy skits to busting out the aggression and tearing into Curry’s back. All in all, a well-judged and smart continuation of the Roddy vs The World gimmick, with Bobby Fish on commentary to constantly remind you that the Strong/Fish rivalry is far from done either.

Adam Cole vs Alex Shelley: This is supposedly a ‘first time ever’ match, and it has the potential to be great. Both of these two are so talented, that you just hope they’re allowed to deliver something special. Cole is recovering from the disintegration of The Kingdom, with Bennett and Maria leaving the company and Matt Taven out injured. He now stands alone and coiled to strike at the ROH World Title scene. His presence also brings Mr Wrestling III back to the announce table, along with our fifth commentator of the night in Chris Sabin. He is an interesting spectator as we still don’t know about the status of the Motor City Machine Guns following Shelley’s return in late 2015.

Cole tries to work the mat with Shelley, which is a mistake as he is an extremely talented chain-wrestler. Alex makes him look foolish then chops him so hard he has to leave the ring. As he recovers, Sabin has me in hysterics trying to cover for his mistake in calling Mr Wrestling ‘Steve’. Bow and arrow applied as Shelley continues to dominate and make Cole look silly. Shelley deviates from his ground-based strategy to attempt a slingshot splash, which gives Cole an opportunity; one he takes by driving knees into the abdomen. But then Cole tries to do his silly overblown chinlock spot, and gets INSTANTLY countered to the Border City Stretch! Cole barely makes the ropes to survive that. Skullf*ck nailed, with Sabin enquiring as to whether they are able to name the move on commentary (they aren’t)…and Shelley is so comfortable he pauses to get a drink of water. Cole actually tries to flee into the front row, kick-starting a brawl all around ringside. But again Alex strays from using his technical prowess to maintain control, this time by attempting mounted punches in the corner. Just like Shelley did earlier when Cole made an error, Adam capitalises immediately by sliding free and superkicking the knee out from under his foe. He wastes no time in working the leg, which obviously sets up for his Figure 4 finisher. Indeed, he attempts the Figure 4 around the ringpost which Shelley fights hard to counter only to get the bad leg chop-blocked from under him instead. Back inside when he counters the Figure 4 a second time Cole absolutely flattens him with the Shining Wizard for 2. SHELLSHOCK TO THE TURNBUCKLES! Big move for Alex, but he’s so injured he can’t stand to capitalise. Somehow he limps to the top rope…and nails a super gourdbuster! FLYING DOUBLE STOMP! Obviously that hurts his bad knee, and he has to noticeably pause before covering. Cole kicks at the knee again…so Shelley throws him outside! Limping tope suicida COUNTERED WITH A JUMPING ENZI! SUPERKICK ON THE APRON BY SHELLEY! DIVING KNEE TO THE FLOOR! He again comes up clutching his knee in pain, but somehow re-enters the ring with a slingshot DDT for 2. DVD over the knee by Cole, followed by the BARE KNEE WIZARD for 2! Panama Sunrise blocked…GERMAN SUPLEX INSTEAD! NO SOLD! SUPERKICK TO THE KNEE! FIGURE 4 LEGLOCK! Shelley gets the ropes! SUPERKICK ON COLE! NECK DROP DRAGON SUPLEX! COLE NO SELLS! SUPERKICK! WA4! COLE KICKS OUT! Frankie Kazarian has apparently seen enough and runs to the ring looking to get at Shelley, a man he views as a proponent in the ‘conspiracy’ against The Addiction. It distracts the ref, allowing Cole to hit a low blow, then the Last Shot. Cole wins at 20:50
Rating – **** – This was everything I hoped it would be. Alex Shelley is so talented, and if ROH really have locked him down to become a full-time performer (the first time they’ve ever been able to do that) then he will become a real asset. This was a prime example of why, as he effortlessly stepped up to the level of their established ‘franchise player’ in a gripping main event level match. It was so smartly worked, with Shelley able to establish himself as a dangerous technical wrestler (to those who weren’t aware of his skills) in the first ten minutes, before Cole used his big game experience to open up an injury. The finish was cheap (albeit well-intentioned as it both protected Shelley and allowed him to further his issues with the KRD), and I didn’t quite understand Shelley’s selling of the leg and choice of moves at times, but those are reasons why I didn’t rate this even higher, not anything that stopped it being the first truly must-see ROH match of the 2016. 

On commentary Chris Sabin looks annoyed and denies all knowledge of Kazarian’s actions. Frankie calls him into the ring and encourages him to strike Shelley, but Sabin seems hesitant to do so. Before that situation can develop ACH runs in to make the save…

Young Bucks/All Night Express vs War Machine/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe: reDRagon would probably disagree, but these four teams (all of whom have held ROH Tag gold) are arguably the four positioned at the very top of the tag division rankings right now. At Final Battle All Night Express became #1 contenders by defeating the Briscoes and the Bucks – but those two teams remain in hot pursuit as well. War Machine stand tall having crushed The Kingdom so emphatically at Final Battle that now neither of the former champions are around. Interestingly, the two ‘teams’ in this eight-man tag have all had issues in the past. The Bucks and ANX had a lengthy feud (albeit during Jim Cornette’s era when he didn’t care about any of them), whilst the Briscoes and War Machine have engaged in some violent fights in the past too. Can any of them put their personal feelings and Tag Title aspirations to one side in order to deliver victory in our main event?
The Bucks take turns doing their usual brash, cocky routine with Hanson…who looks like he wants to murder them. Jay Briscoe does the job for him, beating them so badly that Matt opts out and leaves Titus to fight on their behalf. On the apron Nick tries to throw a Superkick at Mark…who catches it and diverts it so Nick kicks his own partner (Kenny King) to the floor. Cactus Elbow COUNTERED WITH A SUPERKICK BY NICK! He returns Mark to the ring where he and ANX hit a triple dive combo. More fun triple team sequences from the Bucks and ANX follow, and it’s only the intervention of his partners that keeps Mark alive in the match. Jay comes to his brother’s aid and in doing so captures Rhett so their team can isolate him. The champs and the Briscoes are intense personalities, and tensions simmer between them as they take turns beating the hell out of Titus. Each tag provokes an intense stare-off, and each entrant appears to be trying to hit harder than their predecessor in the ring. It eventually causes them to take their eyes off their victim, allowing him to tag Kenny in. Capo kick ON THE APRON to Hanson, then a springboard blockbuster back in on Briscoe! STEREO TOPES BY THE JACKSONS! MOONSAULT OFF THE APRON BY NICK! Cannonball from Matt to Mark, who then holds him open for the somersault senton by Nick for 2. SUPERKICK PARTY DROPKICK ROYAL FLUSH COMBO gets 2 before Jay and War Machine pile in to save. This is anarchy now, with more referees running down the aisle trying to restore order. DOUBLE RUDE AWAKENING from Jay to the All Nights! ELBOW SUICIDA TAKES OUT BOTH BUCKS! BRONCO BUSTER BY HANSON! FROGGY BOW! The Young Bucks break the pin! Kenny saves his partner from the Doomsday Device…SUPERKICK PARTY ON HANSON! HE NO SELLS AND TELLS THEM TO SUCK IT! DOUBLE CARTWHEEL LARIAT! King clocks Hanson in the head with a jumping enzi as he attempts a dive…and gets destroyed by Rowe’s Cement Mixer as punishment. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY RHETT! CORKSCREW MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR BY NICK! Titus counters the Jay Driller with a lariat only to walk into the reverse powerslam from Hanson. KUNG FU DUEL between King and Mark! DOUBLE SUPERKICK BY THE BUCKS! SUPERMAN PUNCH BY ROWE! Dropkick by Titus! DOOMSDAY DEVICE BY THE BRISCOES! Jay pins Rhett to pick up the win at 15:53
Rating – **** – This was crazy, frenetic and cutting edge stuff. The question here was never over whether these eight guys could deliver something spectacular, it was only on whether they’d be permitted to let loose by ROH management. Thankfully (on what has been a well-booked show overall) they got plenty of leash and tore the house down. The scenes in the last five to seven minutes were utterly chaotic, with bodies flying everywhere and almost everyone in the building on their feet. You weren’t watching this for psychology or story-telling (although for what it’s worth, I liked the tense dynamic between the Briscoes and War Machine – something that becomes especially relevant after the Briscoes won it for their team); these four teams closed the show with an all-action spot-fest which really delivered.

On the post-show the Young Bucks walk out belittling the Briscoes victory, claiming it doesn’t matter as it was on a ‘little house show’ and that they ‘deliver when it counts’. They leave, and Ian Riccaboni has the unenviable task of trying to interview the Briscoes and War Machine (who have to be held apart). The Briscoes point out they’ve never lost to Hanson and Rowe…

Tape Rating – *** – I began reviewing 2016 ROH with real hesitation. 2015 left me jaded, and I had all manner of criticisms to level at the product. Plenty of those are still there, but it is only right to praise this as an extremely solid, well-constructed, well-booked house show. They kept storylines ticking along, and most importantly utilised the non-televised environment to give key matches on the card more time. Giving Cole/Shelley twenty minutes was spot on, as was letting KRD/reDRagon go more than fifteen on the undercard. Using the Daniels suspension angle to break out the Curry Man gimmick and develop the ‘Roddy vs The World’ in a nice, safe, but undeniably entertaining TV Title Match was smart booking too. Not everything worked (Elgin/Hughes was absolutely atrocious), but all the key selling points of the show delivered (or, more tellingly, were ALLOWED to deliver). This one is on Honor Club and is an easy one to recommend.

Top 3 Matches

3) reDRagon vs Frankie Kazarian/Chris Sabin (****)

2) War Machine/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Young Bucks/All Night Express (****)

1) Adam Cole vs Alex Shelley (****)

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