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ROH 13th Anniversary Show 3/1/2015

ROH 371 – 13th Anniversary Show – 1st March 2015

I’ve been a little all over the place with my 2015 Ring Of Honor reviews. I can’t say that the quality of the TV show has improved dramatically but the last two Winter Warriors Tour events in Dayton and Atlanta have been outstanding. Unfortunately I’ve also just managed to get hold of a bunch of old SHIMMER shows, and I’ve been having such a good time getting through those that I’ve only been dipping in and out of ROH. I’ve actually been sitting on this particular show for a while, purely because I watched it live at the time and didn’t think a great deal of it so have been a little reticent to check it out again. Frustratingly, it has one of the more coherent pay-per-view cards Delirious has booked so far…but it lacks a hook or a match which makes you desperate to see this. The booker has worked extremely hard to get some heat on the main event but Jay Briscoe’s ‘High Stakes Four Corner Survival’ defence against Michael Elgin, Tommaso Ciampa and Hanson still feels like a house show main event rather than something you put on a major live broadcast. The Tag Title showdown between reDRagon and the Young Bucks should be excellent – but we saw it multiple times in 2014 already. The match between AJ Styles and ACH should be great, but ROH just couldn’t secure AJ for enough dates leading into this event to really hype that one. In short, most matches here have some kind of back story, but nothing feels ready to catch fire or like a ‘can’t miss prospect’. This show does at least boast Samoa Joe’s return to ROH for the first time since 2008. Having walked out of TNA, and with rumours swirling that he was going to show up in WWE/NXT at any point, ROH created a real buzz by recruiting arguably the greatest ever ROH World Champion for a run of shows through to WrestleMania weekend. Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are in Las Vegas, NV – hopefully to call the action from a show which stands up far better on repeat viewing than it did live.

Production value seems way up right off the bat, with a fun little intro video hosted by Steve Corino, then the introduction of a new Spanish announce team (actual commentators, not the returning Maximos), and sweeping shots of the Cary-tron right over the entrance ramp. This feels far more upmarket than your run-of-the-mill Ring Of Honor show.

Cedric Alexander vs Matt Sydal
It’s been a while since I watched any of the TV building to this show, so if there is any heat between these two then I’ve forgotten what it was. They are both popular, athletic and exciting members of the roster, but both stuck in a rut and spinning their wheels as they struggle to climb the card. Alexander has stagnated since marking ROH’s first live pay-per-view with a win over Roderick Strong, whilst Sydal has continually failed in his pursuit of Jay Lethal and the TV Title. Who gets some momentum back with a morale-boosting win in Vegas?

Alexander looks deadly focused for this, getting right in Sydal’s face during the Code Of Honor. I don’t mind that at all – it makes him look like he actually cares about winning a match for once. He tries to prove that he can do anything Sydal can do only better…but gets caught out with by Matt’s cunning and ring presence to be whipped out of the ring and into the METEORA OFF THE APRON! Reborn seems intent on working Alexander’s leg but clearly doesn’t do a particularly good job since Cedric is soon popping him in the mouth with a dropkick. The crowd is either poorly mic’d or entirely silent which isn’t really helping either man here. Cedric in particular seems to be growing rather irritable and that frustration leads to him slapping his opponent in the face…only for Sydal to clock him all over the ring with knee strikes and heel kicks. Standing moonsault blocked…540 Kick then COUNTERED to the standing moonsault anyway! Quebrada Slice BLOCKED into a backslide for 2! Randy Orton neckbreaker! HERE IT IS DRIVER gets 2 for Sydal! MICHINOKU DRIVER BY CEDRIC! Again he lets the crowd frustrate him rather than going for the kill on the former WWE superstar. LUMBAR CHECK! SYDAL KICKS OUT! Kick 2 Kill blocked…Slice blocked…Kick 2 Kill COUNTERED TO ANOTHER METEORA! IED MISSES! CEDRIC LANDS ON HIS HEAD! SYDAL PRESS NAILED! Matt gets the win at 09:37

Rating – *** – It was slow going at the start, but once they started throwing spots around like lunatics this got seriously entertaining. Both men were tossing their bodies around with suck reckless abandon that they each took a pretty serious, unplanned and unprotected neck bump at varying points. It wasn’t subtle (although I did notice some slight changes in Alexander’s presentation, which I liked), but they worked hard and drew some pretty lusty pops out of an awkward crowd who sat in near silence during the opening minutes. The point of an opening match is to get the crowd going and they certainly accomplished that.

Moose vs Mark Briscoe
In Dayton Moose’s manager, Stokely Hathaway, declared that Moose was ready to challenge for the World Championship. Having officially signed last June and spent months mowing down the competition on the undercard he feels ready to step up to the big dogs in Ring Of Honor. That point was rather spectacularly emphasised when he picked a fight with both Briscoes at the end of that particular leg of the Winter Warriors Tour. With Jay Briscoe’s belt firmly on his mind, the former NFL star has a point to prove when he steps into the ring with little brother Mark.

Briscoe jumps Moose at the bell, looking to catch the giant sleeping. Moose’s inexperience may be a problem…but he has stunning athleticism to fall back on and jumps all the way to the top rope to hit an impressive dropkick on Mark as he prepares to fly. Pescado CAUGHT into a fallaway slam against the guardrails by the ex-Atlanta Falcon. He socks Briscoe again with the pop-up lariat for 2. Mark needs a big score – and gets it with the blockbuster from the apron to the floor, followed by the Cactus Elbow. Moose easily avoids the Froggy Bow though…and hits the rolling Spear for the win at 05:14

Rating – ** – I didn’t think this was an exceptional match in terms of in-ring content, but this is exactly how I would have booked this one. It didn’t go long, Moose got the rub by basically dominating the entire match, excluding a few token crowd-pleasing Briscoe comeback cameos. There was no Redneck Kung Fu tomfoolery either to distract us either. Moose has been getting better in the ring recently and now gets to back that up with an emphatic victory against a Ring Of Honor veteran on pay-per-view. I can’t say I’m particularly excited about a potential Jay Briscoe vs Moose World Title match, but I am significantly more interested in Moose’s ROH career than I was a few months ago.

Veda Scott rather forcibly orders Moose not to shake hands with Briscoe, even if Moose himself (and Stokely Hathaway) aren’t so sure about that decision.

SIDENOTE – This show looks very professional, but they are having a number of nagging, amateurish little audio problems. Nothing super distracting, but static crunches, issues cutting between video packages, hearing the arena audio rather than the sound on screen and so forth don’t make a great impression. I guess it’s probably small-fry compared to the recent TripleMania debacle though.

Michael Bennett/Matt Taven vs The Addiction vs Karl Anderson
Originally Doc Gallows was scheduled to team with the ‘Machine Gun’, but travel difficulties meant he couldn’t make the show. A suitable replacement couldn’t be found at the eleventh hour so Anderson is left to fly solo against two strong Ring Of Honor teams. The Kingdom are very much on the rise following their win in Tag Team Armageddon over the Briscoes in Atlanta. They are right on the cusp of a potential Tag Title shot and will know a win tonight could earn that opportunity once and for all. Now their stock is on the rise in New Japan too, they’ll have half an eye on making an impact at the expense of Bullet Club founding member Karl Anderson too.

The Addiction get a pop far bigger than their terrible entrance music deserves. The Kingdom jump the lone wolf Machine Gun, only to get cleared out themselves by Daniels and Kazarian. Wisely Anderson tags himself out and lets the two tag teams fight amongst themselves for a few minutes. Taven lands a few moves on Daniels’ neck and creates a weakness that Karl is only too happy to tag in and exploit. He gets distracted by The Kingdom though, opting to hit a diving knee off the apron to Taven and leaving himself vulnerable to the Fallen Angel’s Arabian press. It shakes up with Daniels still on the receiving end of punishment from Bennett and Taven…with Frankie knocked off the apron so he can’t even tag out. Ever the veteran, Daniels simply turns and tags in a willing Karl Anderson instead! Bennett inadvertently Spears his own partner, but blocks the Stun Gun and flees to save his own skin. Daniels lands a tope suicida onto The Kingdom as inside the ring Kaz slingshots Anderson into a flying cutter for 2. Karl retaliates with the TKO, feeding Kazarian to the Twist Of Fate/Swanton Bomb combo by Bennett and Taven. All five guys storm the ring dropping bombs, until Anderson hits the STUN GUN on Daniels! Box Office Smash from Bennett to Kaz! The Kingdom pick up the win with the Spike Piledriver on Anderson at 11:58

Rating – ** – This wasn’t unpleasant to watch but it did feel like a waste of everyone involved. After their strong recent performances, I’d have been far more interested in a straight-up tag showdown between The Kingdom and The Addiction…and if ROH are going to spend the money to book Karl Anderson his talent definitely deserves more than being chucked into a random spotty undercard tag. I’m not sure this would have been much better had Doc Gallows made it either.

Bennett and Taven pose with Anderson’s IWGP Tag Title belt to make the point that they are coming to Japan for that championship.

BJ Whitmer vs Roderick Strong
I would rank BJ’s mic work during this mini-feud as some of the best promo’s of his career. It’s not saying an enormous amount, but considering how little effort has really been invested into this feud his interviews have done a lot to make me interested in this one. Whitmer blames Roderick for being too selfish to commit to the Decade plan that he devised whilst recovering from the broken neck he suffered in 2013 and has been doggedly pursuing him ever since Strong left the group. He sent his protégé Adam Page to fight for him at Final Battle, but when Roddy defeated him and marched into 2015 declaring that he was going to rise back to the top of the promotion Whitmer knew the time had come to take matters into his own hands. He cost Strong the Television Championship in Dearborn and is now looking to publicly crush his championship aspirations once again.

Roderick sprints to the ring and batters Whitmer all the way to the floor. Adam Page is at ringside and starts grabbing at Strong’s leg, presenting his mentor with an opportunity to hit a spinebuster. On commentary even Jimmy Jacobs is admitting that he doesn’t necessarily like Whitmer…although he surely has to admire the way BJ is picking apart Roddy’s back here. Clearly BJ’s intention is to make a statement by winning with Strong’s own signature tactic. The continually-talked-about ‘gear changing’ of Mr ROH comes into play as he explodes from nowhere to hit a superplex, but that does as much damage to his own back as it does to his opponent. Olympic Slam nailed and again Roderick is slow to capitalise. Whitmer starts dropping him on his back and neck again with the rolling fishermans. Page tries to interfere again…only to get booted in the face! Death By Roderick/Sick Kick combo gets 2! He thinks about End Of Heartache from the second rope but Whitmer counters it into an avalanche gourdbuster! Roddy eventually does hit the EOH though, picking up the win at 10:56

Rating – ** – I was pretty disappointed by this one too. In fact, the whole first hour of this pay-per-view has been decidedly lukewarm. These two had some good ideas (I loved Whitmer working Strong’s back) but ten minutes wasn’t long enough for them and their match became a watered down exchange of heatless spots before a sudden finish which entirely no-sold the majority of the work that had come before it. Strong is having a great first quarter of 2015, and it’s clear ROH/SBG have big plans for him. He probably could have used a more impressive and imposing pay-per-view match to back up those MOTYC’s against El Patron and O’Reilly.

Maria Kanellis vs ODB
It’s not officially recognised of course, but the implication here is that Maria is defending the Title Of Love. Since The Kingdom ultimately won the war with the Briscoes in Atlanta and Jay still failed to get ‘his property’ out of the clutches of Maria and her husband it seemed they might keep hold of that belt forever more. Back in Nashville the Briscoes introduced ODB as their new accomplice, and given her superior wrestling experience the assumption is that she is the hot favourite to crush the ‘First Lady Of ROH’ tonight. However, as Maria points out, she has been in this business for more than a decade and has picked up plenty of tricks along the way. She isn’t backing down from a fight and has reportedly been training with Matt Hardy to prepare for this…

Maria says she can’t complete tonight because she’s pregnant…as a distraction whilst Mike Bennett assaults Mark Briscoe. Kanellis herself nails ODB with the Title Of Love and comes desperately close to winning the match inside a few seconds. ODB doesn’t like that at all and responds by giving her a nasty bump into the guardrails with a fallaway slam. Bam blocked into a Maria superkick for 2. Then Bennett piles in and ACCIDENTALLY SUPERKICKS HIS OWN WIFE! Surely ODB should be DQ’d for that? Instead of being disqualified she gets to press slam Kanellis over the top rope to the floor…then dive off the ropes into a rather ugly suicide dive which wipes out Bennett. Mark Briscoe and The Prodigy continue brawling, leading to another accidental shot from Michael to his poor wife. DOOMSDAY DEVICE OFF THE APRON by ODB and Mark! She hits the Bam to win at 05:19

Rating – ** – Admittedly my expectations were low, but I found this as entertaining as anything else on the show so far. I laughed, I was caught up in the action and I largely enjoyed watching four performers working extremely hard. ODB looked pumped and delivered a largely competent performance in her first ever Ring Of Honor singles match (although I’m still not sure why she is getting booked here in truth), Maria took some extremely gutsy bumps…as did Mark and Mike, who were doing as much to make this a success as the actual wrestlers. If, like me, you were expecting this to stink the place out worse than RD Evans and Moose at Final Battle this will really surprise you!

ODB and Mark rip the pink fur and stickers off the Title Of Loves so they can return it to Jay, closing the final outstanding plot hole in the Briscoe/Kingdom feud.

ACH vs AJ Styles
This is a match that ACH has been campaigning for all year. He’s worn AJ shirts, he’s stolen AJ’s moves and he even got to confront him personally during a great trios tag main event on television recently. Hungry to climb the card, he is aware that he can enormously raise his stock if he is able to inflict a rare Ring Of Honor defeat onto the Phenomenal One. Styles, a superstar both in America and Japan, has lost just once since returning in January 2014 and hasn’t backed down from a single challenger. He gladly accepted ACH’s challenge and now wants to keep his run going in what is his pay-per-view debut for ROH.

ACH starts extremely confidently and appears to relish sharing such a big stage with a performer like AJ. It nearly costs him as he is almost caught in an early Styles Clash, but he is still confident enough to work the mat with him. He then hits AJ’s signature dropkick/arms stretched posed with a big smile on his face – laying down a clear marker for his plans here. Eventually ACH performs one cocky trick and flip too many and back flips straight into Styles’ dropkick. Realising he can’t win a strike battle he tries to take flight, where AJ shows that he has done his homework as he knocks the ropes causing ACH to lose his balance during the Air Jordan dive. Sensibly AJ tries to stay right on top of his opponent with strikes and stretches and it’s only when enough distance is created for ACH to use the ropes again (with a slingshot flatliner) that he is able to retaliate. This time the power of the IWGP Champion comes to the fore, scooping ACH over his head to crush him with a neckbreaker over the knee. But Styles makes an error by trying to enter ACH’s domain with a springboard manoeuvre. ACH capitalises instantly – shoving him to the floor into position for the RUNNING MOONSAULT! The Phenomenal One is rattled so wisely ACH looks to quicken the pace. BIG BANG ATTACK gets 2! AJ goes to the floor, but has ACH’s PK Kick scouted and DUMPS him face-first on the ground. That is followed with the springboard elbow then a SNAP SUPLEX INTO THE TURNBUCKLES! It appears to be annoying AJ that ACH just keeps getting up – so he looks to make a statement with a Spiral Tap. Once again the air is ACH’s domain as he back flip kicks him off the ropes, dodges the Pele and lands the FLYING DOUBLE STOMP! 450 SPLASH MISSES! CALF KILLER! ACH COUNTERS TO A SMALL PACKAGE FOR 2! BLOODY SUNDAY! STYLES CLASH! AJ wins at 15:29

Rating – **** – This wasn’t the most spectacular of AJ Styles matches, and was fought in front of one of the more lacklustre ROH crowds, but I really dug this. Their execution was pretty strong and the finish was exciting, but my enjoyment came from the fact that I always got the logic behind everything they did. It was never a flashy move for the sake of it, or a hard strike to pop the fans. This might surprise a few but I thought this was actually a rather strategic and cerebral contest as opposed to the all-out offensive splurge you might have expected. Whether it be ACH making statements at AJ’s expense, Styles using power moves and strikes to beat his opponent down, then ACH fighting back whenever AJ got too cocky or tried something aerial where ACH normally reigns supreme…every step felt like a targeted plan to counteract what the other man was doing. My one real criticism would be that I wish ACH could have gotten a couple of believable nearfalls in. I understand Styles has to be protected and has to go over, but I think they could have done a more to give ACH something back too.

reDRagon vs Young Bucks – ROH Tag Title Match
I’m not sure there was necessarily a need to book these two teams in another major title showdown so close to their supposed deciding match at All Star Extravaganza 6, but since they are always solid gold in the ring together I doubt anyone is complaining. This rivalry has raged across both Ring Of Honor and New Japan. They have traded both the ROH Tag and the IWGP Jr. Tag belts. They contested the fan-voted 2014 ROH Match Of The Year at War Of The Worlds. One of the most popular wrestling acts on the planet right now, it eats the Jacksons up that they have to watch the arrogant champions parade around with belts they desperately want. All four had to be separated as a ‘Live Fish Tank’ segment got extremely out of hand…and you rather suspect that the issue between them won’t be settled tonight regardless of which duo leaves with the gold. Much like in Manhattan last year, reDRagon are bringing a UFC fighter to the ring with them – this time in the form of Shayna Baszler.

Rocky Romero has joined commentary, but his microphone doesn’t work. It doesn’t take long for all four to meet in the middle of the ring trading heated blows…and the double team fluidity of the Bucks gives them the advantage there. Fish retorts with a somersault pescado over the turnbuckles…before Nick hits a SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! The champs are well and truly on the defensive, until Shayna Baszler gets involved to distract them – just like Tom Lawlor did last year. It hands the champs the advantage for the first time with those two immediately slowing the pace to a standstill. Distractions start rearing their heads from all sides, with Rocky Romero revealing he is forming a team with Trent Baretta and Knights Of The Rising Dawn guys crashing the arena and hovering in the front row too. Nick is being isolated from his brother which is a great tactic as it prevents any form of patented Young Buck double teaming. Matt comes to his rescue with a standing Shiranui on O’Reilly…followed by a TOP ROPE MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! ARM-AGEDDON IN THE ROPES BY KYLE! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA OVER THEM BY NICK! SUPERKICK BREAKS THE ARM-AGEDDON! Fish gets heat by refusing to be superkicked, but as he walks away the Bucks hit a SUPERKICK/SUNSET FLIP BOMB COMBO OFF THE APRON on Kyle anyway! DIVING HEADBUTT/ARM-AGEDDON COMBO by reDRagon! MOONSAULT BY FISH! EARLY ONSET ALZHEIMER’S! MORE BANG FOR YOUR F*CK ON THE F*CKING FLOOR! O’Reilly might be dead! CHASING THE DRAGON ON FISH! HE KICKS OUT! MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! BASZLER BREAKS THE COUNT! The Bucks go after Shayna, and completely miss the MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON by O’Reilly! AVALANCHE FALCON ARROW BY FISH! CHASING THE DRAGON! MATT PULLS TODD SINCLAIR OUT OF THE RING! AXE & SMASH! LAUNCHPAD GERMAN SUPLEX! CHASING THE DRAGON AGAIN! This time reDRagon do retain in a spectacular 15:40

Rating – **** – I’ve always been partial to their Raising The Bar Night 2 match from last year as my favourite RD/YB match but they really have all been a riot. They made a brief attempt to work a standard match, which actually worked since it sold me on this being more of a ‘grudge match’ than some of their prior encounters. However, as usual the money was in the non-stop spot madness in the second half and, of course, they more than delivered on that front. Shayna Baszler’s interjections were mildly less annoying than Tom Lawlor’s last year, and she too played a critical role as her rescue gives the Bucks an instant out and route into a future rematch. This was the most exciting and most over match on this card by an enormous distance. I’ve said it before but it really is crucial that Ring Of Honor lock the Bucks into some kind of deal if they really want to thrive and cement themselves as the #2 promotion in the US. Matt and Nick Jackson are the most over act outside of the WWE right now, sell ridiculous amounts of merch and without a doubt would be a legitimate draw for this company, and a key USP versus the likes of WWE, TNA, GFW, WWNLive and Lucha Underground.

Jay Lethal vs Alberto El Patron – ROH TV Title Match
This is the match Alberto’s entire Ring Of Honor run has been building towards. He is 3-0 so far and it’s fair to say he has been seriously impressive. Two strong wins against Christopher Daniels and ACH, plus a spectacular MOTYC with Roderick Strong, mean he has legitimately earned a shot at the Television Title. Initially that wasn’t the belt he had his eye on though. He came to the company wanting to be the World Champion, which annoyed Lethal since he considers himself to be the top guy in this promotion (and his belt to be the top prize). He then refused to face El Patron until he’d earned the opportunity, but having ducked him in several heated interactions since then the centrepiece of the House Of Truth has nowhere to run tonight. Will the challenge of a man who has been a champion all over the world prove one hurdle too far for the most dominant TV title holder ever?

J. Diesel tries to interrupt before the bell even rings, but eats a kick right to the face from Alberto. The challenger is pumped up and leaves the ring to violently whip Lethal into the guardrails. Jay is rattled but manages to land a springboard dropkick – and that opens up enough of a window for Truth Martini to start interfering on his behalf. Even after that Lethal needs the help of Diesel to escape the hanging armbreaker. A team effort it may be but they have the former WWE Champion on the mat and in real trouble. Alberto lands the inverted suplex – although we quickly see just how injured he is because he has absolutely no ability to capitalise on it. He spots the KRD red mask guys in the crowd causing him to hesitate again…and Lethal pounces with a CROSS ARMBREAKER! El Patron bails, but does so in such a groggy manner that he is unable to avoid the rolling tope suicidas from the champ. Despite having a bloody mouth Lethal is dominant. It’s only his belligerence and determination to one-up his challenger that leaves him in position for the tree of woe double stomp by Alberto…but once again after hitting a big move he simply collapses through injury and fatigue. Lethal Combination gets 2. Hail To The King misses…and as Martini invades the ring Alberto puts him in the Cross Armbreaker! HAIL TO THE KING…COUNTERED TO THE ROMPE DESTINOS! The Book Of Truth is used to break it! Lethal tries for his finish, but the arm gives way on the Lethal Injection! Another Book Of Truth shot comes from Martini though, and this time Jay does manage to hit the Lethal Injection for the win at 12:33 (that felt a lot longer).

Rating – ** – It’s a shame that the pinnacle of Alberto’s ROH run (I know he has one more TV date left) was such an anticlimax. He’s produced great matches so far, and clearly wasn’t averse to working incredibly hard here either…but for whatever reason he and Lethal just never clicked. The constant interference from Martini and Diesel really didn’t help, making this more like a Matt Taven TV Title Match than one would like. It has taken Ring Of Honor more than a year to rebuild and restore the credibility of the belt after Taven’s reign, and this was the first time in a very long time that a TV Title Match had a legitimate feud and storyline behind it. I really find it such a shame this felt so tedious and flat. Delirious’ insistence that heels have to cheat and have outside interference to assist them in all their biggest matches is becoming extremely frustrating.

Nigel McGuinness joins commentary for the main event…but before we can get there a monster pop blows the roof off the place. Stepping through the curtain comes Samoa Joe, making his first Ring Of Honor appearance since 2008 and looking extremely emotional at making his comeback. Draped in streamers he cuts a heartfelt promo about what Ring Of Honor meant thirteen years ago (and still means today) and puts the four participants in the main event on notice. He wants his belt back…

Jay Briscoe vs Michael Elgin vs Tommaso Ciampa vs Hanson – ROH World Title Match
You can’t help but admire the amount of effort that has gone into promoting this match as a big event. Part of me wishes Delirious would put that energy into storylines people actually care about, but you still have to give him credit for working damn hard to try to craft a meaningful, emotional resonance to watching these four talented guys beat the crap out of each other. I still don’t think many people are buying this as an acceptable pay-per-view main event though. Back in January Elgin, Ciampa and Hanson met in a triple threat to determine a new #1 contender. Elgin was the bitter former champion, Ciampa was equally bitter following his ‘zero tolerance’ handcuffing and Hanson was the rising star. They couldn’t be separated and fought to a no contest…so Jay Briscoe offered to face them all. He was happy to fight the man he took the belt from at All Star Extravaganza 6. He was happy to fight the man who could legitimately have beaten him at PCW/ROH Supershow Of Honor in the UK. And he was happy to fight the 2014 Top Prospect Tournament winner. As much as Elgin may want his belt back, he may find himself something of a target here too. He and Ciampa were feuding up to Final Battle, and he’s had issues with Hanson since turning his back on him too. This won’t be pretty or elaborate – expect four big bad dudes ready for a real fight.

None of the challengers draw anything more than polite applause during their entrances which is a worrying sign. All three of them attack Briscoe from the bell, presumably out of jealousy that he is the only one the fans actually care about. Ciampa and Jay work a neat little counter sequence, ending with the Rude Awakening on the Sicilian Psychopath. He sets up a table at ringside that presumably become relevant at a later point in the match. Hanson drops to his knees for no reason at all, other than to get into position for a pre-rehearsed spot he and Elgin had where Michael steps off him, onto the ropes and into a double stomp. That looked sh*t but thankfully this match has no heat to kill anyway. Tommaso punishes War Beard’s stupidity with the snap German suplex and a Bare Knee which knocks him to the floor. Bronco Busters by Hanson…only for Briscoe to duck the Spin Kick and give the big man a running DVD into Ciampa’s crotch! Somehow Tommaso recovers to hit the avalanche Air Raid Crash for 2. Credit to Elgin, the guy is working damn hard to try to get people into this. He catches Ciampa trying a cannonball off the apron…AND F*CKING RAZOR’S EDGES HIM INTO THE RAILING! Briscoe tries a somersault plancha to capitalise, but basically misses. TOP ROPE SOMERSAULT DIVE BY HANSON! TODD SINCLAIR BUMPS OFF THE APRON! That’s one of the biggest bumps of his ROH career! Hanson almost murders Briscoe with a screwdriver…but with no ref to count the fall his night takes an unfortunate turn as the Knights Of The Rising Dawn run in and attack him. There are three of them – and they take turns hitting The Kingdom’s moves on the participants. Raymond Rowe makes his return to ROH (again to absolutely no response) and chases the KRD away! Elgin smirks as he pulls Briscoe to the apron FOR A JAY DRILLER THROUGH THE TABLE! Elgin has been the best thing about this match by a mile. He brings chairs into the ring looking to end Jay’s career and has to be stopped by Nigel McGuinness…then Tommaso saves Nigel from an Elgin Bomb! CIAMPA HITS ELGIN WITH A CHAIR! We finally get a replacement referee as Ciampa and Elgin battle in the corner. Project Ciampa nailed only for Jay to break the pin. PROJECT CIAMPA ON JAY! ELGIN BOMB ON TOMMASO! Then he tries to use the tights to pin Jay! SPIN KICK OF DOOM! Jay lands on Ciampa, fortuitously pinning him for 3 as Elgin and Hanson brawl. 16:20 is your time.

Rating – ** – What a strange and uncomfortable main event this was. Some of the action was really good, and Elgin’s outstanding individual performance has rather gone under the radar…but some of the booking was just horrendous. Ciampa saving Nigel was almost painfully corny. If the crowd were making any noise at all you would have been able to hear them groaning during the uninspired KRD run-in. And who booked that finish? It genuinely was one of the more foolish finishes I’ve ever seen – with no understandable logic at all since it made everyone involved look weaker. Briscoe looks lucky, Ciampa loses another big match, whilst Hanson and Elgin look like idiots for fighting each other and taking their eyes off the ball with the World Title at stake. I enjoyed the high spots, and loved Elgin…but some of this so horribly awkward I could barely watch. Definitely not something I want to see main event a pay-per-view. Sadly it should also be pointed out that Hanson looked badly exposed in the main event and looked extremely uncomfortable. He needs a lot more polish before being put in a spot like this again.

Samoa Joe walks back up the aisle to congratulate Jay Briscoe on his victory. The show goes off the air with those two old rivals squaring up to each other…

Tape Rating – ** – It is a shame that, at such a point of resurgence in ROH’s existence, they produce a disappointing pay-per-view show like this. It had too many matches meaning nothing got much time, the undercard had so much disappointing fluff, two of the main events were major letdowns (the World and TV Title Matches) and honestly it is only the part-time stars (AJ Styles and the Young Bucks) who saved the show. I have praised Delirious regularly in 2015, and to praise him again, he worked hard to give this card as much build as possible. But did we really need Moose vs Mark Briscoe on this card? Why book Karl Anderson (and Doc Gallows) if you are going to toss them into a meaningless undercard spotfest which would have been better served as being a straightforward Kingdom/Addiction match anyway? Fun as it was, I don’t think anyone was clamouring to see ODB and Maria fight on ppv. Nine matches, plus the Samoa Joe segment, is far too much for an ROH pay-per-view. Next time I’m begging to see the crap cut out and the stuff we want to see get more time – i.e. a six or seven match card at most. I can’t imagine how much different this would have been if most of the first hour wasn’t pointless, and if the likes of Lethal/Alberto and Strong/Whitmer had gotten enough time to produce something significant. I really don’t want to sit through that awkward-as-hell main event ever again. Joe’s return to inject some purpose into the World Title scene, even if only for a month, couldn’t have come soon enough…

Top 3 Matches
3) Matt Sydal vs Cedric Alexander (***)
2) AJ Styles vs ACH (****)
1) reDRagon vs Young Bucks (****)

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