ROH A Night Of Hoopla 7/11/2013

ROH 329 – A Night Of Hoopla – 11th July 2013

Technically this isn’t an ‘authorised’ Ring Of Honor event, and has supposedly been put together entirely by Truth Martini as he looks to celebrate the House Of Truth with an entire night of pants-off Hoopla action. We’re in a smaller venue than ROH normally run, we have what promises to be a wildly different show than we normally get, we have musical performances from Jimmy Jacobs and Scarlett Bordeaux, Cheeseburger challenging for the Tag Titles, the return of Delirious and much more. In reality this is Ring Of Honor experimenting with a slightly more light-hearted, adult-orientated product than they promote regularly and…to be frank, anything that gets more of Scarlett onto my TV screen is fine with me. We’re in Merrionette Park, IL – with no commentary since this is unauthorised. Your host is Truth Martini (he’s ring announcing), and we’re basically in a bar in Chicago. The crowd isn’t big, the actual building is tiny meaning space around the ring is at a premium. This looks and feels completely different from your standard ROH event – which is a good thing.

The antics begin immediately, as the normal Ring Of Honor video credits are interrupted by Truth Martini bobble-heads and the HOT ‘Take Your Pants Off’ theme. Truth himself is in the ring encouraging people to drink (this show was taped in a bar), then presenting Scarlett to sing the ‘HOT National Anthem’ – which is just ‘America, The Beautiful’ with rewritten lyrics about massive breasts. She pulls it off musically, and pops the crowd by taking her dress off.

SIDENOTE – All the referees tonight are officiating with their pants off too. Important to remember that considering Maria Kanellis is refereeing a match later!!

Matt Taven vs Adam Cole vs Eddie Edwards
Poor Matt Taven – who can’t even get higher than the opening match on the card when his own manager is booking the show! Nonetheless, this could be an interesting contest between the current TV Champion and the previous two men who held that belt. Cole and Eddie have teamed together in the past (that relationship has been swept under the rug since Glory By Honor last year hasn’t it!?). Since this isn’t technically an ROH event wins and losses may not have the same significance – but Adam’s new ethos is to win at all costs. Will that see him leave the Night Of Hoopla with a victory?

The match starts with Cole on the outside high-fiving fans, Eddie being chastised for daring to wear pants and the Hoopla Hotties spanking the pants-less referee. Taven tries to hang out on the floor with Scarlett and Seleziya, so his opponents hit stereo baseball slides and knock him into the crowd. That’s a photo opportunity for a few fans…before Eddie chops Matt so hard that Cole sells it too! Taven literally tries to hide in the crowd! The lighting is terrible so it’s not exactly easy to tell what’s going on, but I’m sure I like it! Taven is wheeled back to ringside in a trash can as the Night Of Hoopla goes from bad to worse for him. Cole and Edwards take it in turns to punch him in the corner, much to the delight of the fans. Edwards then drop toeholds Cole into Taven’s crotch to basement dropkick the pair of them! A fan then Irish whips Eddie into a dropkick from the floor for good measure! Taven tries to do the same thing…and is whipped into the apron by the fan! Cole hits a pescado then BOOTS Edwards right in the face as he tries an elbow suicida. Figure 4 attempted on Taven…but Seleziya gets into the ring and flattens Adam with a lariat. As Taven argues with the referee Die Hard sneaks in and tricks the official into DDT-ing the TV Champion! Achilles Lock! Scarlett Bordeaux is on the apron now, and she is so hot that both Cole and Edwards are seemingly hypnotised. UNTIL EDDIE CHOPS HER IN THE ASS! SUPERKICK DUEL BETWEEN COLE AND EDDIE! HEADLOCK DRIVER from Taven to Edwards! For the second time in a few days it’s Taven over Eddie at 09:42

Rating – *** – Even with the bad lighting this was a riot. I feel slightly bad that they made Taven look like such a putz, and worse that he’s not main eventing the House Of Truth’s own show, but this certainly set the tone and got the ball rolling on what should be a tremendously entertaining night. Eddie, in particular, got to show a side to his personality that you see plenty of in other promotions (mostly PWG), but rarely have the opportunity to watch in Ring Of Honor.

Cole and Eddie ‘Eiffel Tower’ with each other after the match…and there’s a hysterical tip of the cap to current storylines as Adam tries to walk out when the crowd ask for one more – but this isn’t a night for heels and he eventually gives them what they want!

Jimmy Jacobs is brought out next. Remember, this isn’t a sanctioned event by Ring Of Honor, and Martini has booked who he wants. That’s why Jacobs is here for the show even though SCUM were removed from ROH at the June 23rd TV tapings. Jimmy is here to sing his new single ‘Gypsy Soul’, but surprises the crowd with a popular rendition of ‘The Ballad Of Lacey’ too. More good fun…

Maria is then brought out to be the special referee for the next match. She looks stunning as always, and as a wrestling fan I can’t help but admire her desire to perform. I can’t imagine she’s so hard up for money that she needs to be performing in a bar with no more than a couple of hundred drunk indy wrestling fans – so clearly is doing this because she wants to have some fun.

Jay Lethal vs Delirious
For the first time in ROH, Lethal has dusted off the Black Machismo gear and is in full on Randy Savage tribute mode tonight, including bringing along ‘Sister Sensational Sherri’. Delirious doesn’t appear too often these days – in fact his last scheduled appearance was unceremoniously cancelled when it turned out his contract with Sinclair as part of the creative team actually didn’t permit him to work as a wrestler. He was brought out of his mysterious leave of absence by Truth Martini, who is looking to pull out all the stops for his Night Of Hoopla. Judging from the pre-match shenanigans, and Delirious’ rope-shaking entrance, this is going to be a Savage/Warrior tribute.

Even parodying the Ultimate Warrior, it seems the ring bell still sends Delirious (who is wrestling barefoot) nuts. Deliri-Warrior easily overpowers Lethal, breaking out lots of Warrior power spots as Jay struggles to get into the match. He even tosses Machismo at ‘Sherri’ for good measure! The Double Axehandle misses for Lethal…and he tries to walk out after Delirious slaps him right in the face! After more distractions from Sister Sherri, Machismo manages to get Delirious out of the ring. He comes up eating FLOOR PIZZA! DOUBLE AXEHANDLE SMASH nailed as Delirious continues to shake off the persistent interventions of Jay’s valet. Does Delirious still wrestle anywhere by the way? He looks f*cking GASSED at the five minute mark. Somehow he gets the energy in the tank to do Warrior’s mega-run up shoulder tackle…except Lethal simply steps out of the way and watches him crash face-first into the mat like an idiot. Delirious has it won with a small package, but misses out on the win as Maria is now the one preoccupied by Sherri. Lethal knees Deli…and knocks him into poor Maria! Sherri dives for an UGLY ass axehandle…and gets Black Machismo rather than Delirious. The Lizard Man is so knackered he can barely run around the ring to chase her though. Macho Elbow nailed. And just as we saw in Savage/Warrior, Lethal keeps going upstairs to hit it again and again. Delirious kicks out! HE’S SHAKING THE ROPES! HE’S NO SELLING! HE CAN’T LIFT LETHAL FOR A PRESS SLAM! WARRIOR SPLASH! FOR 2! And he takes so long talking to his hand that it gives Jay enough time to recover and throw him out. Sister Sherri tries to hold Delirious down for another Axe Handle…only for him to fight free and smash Machismo in the stomach on the way down. Mega-run-up tackle nailed three times! Finally Lethal pins Delirious with the tights at 17:03

Rating – ** – There was some funny stuff in there, but at seventeen minutes this was far too long and self-indulgent for what was, in essence, one joke. It was great to see Delirious back, but he looked in no shape to be working this long, and with the equally awkward ‘Sister Sherri’ at ringside Lethal was really struggling to carry everything on his shoulders. The Warrior/Savage match was also a tough one to parody as the crowd really wanted to cheer Lethal – who of course was playing the heel in that situation. Definitely not a waste of time, but I think cutting five minutes or so from the length of the match would have made it a whole lot better.

Jay recreates the Savage/Elizabeth proposal with Maria…who calls him crazy and reminds him she’s engaged to Mike Bennett. Sister Sherri doesn’t like that, but is attacked by Maria as she tries to take her frustrations out on Jay. Maria then accepts Jay’s proposal…and is then carried out by Mike Bennett! That segment was more fun than the whole match!

It’s now time for the ‘Pants Off Dance Off’ – featuring the Hoopla Hotties (including an unidentified third hottie) and judged by ECW’s ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones (who gets no reaction because I’m not sure how many people even remember him). Before Jeff can declare a winner, Davey Richards comes out looking totally confused. He heels out on everyone by demanding that ROH is about wrestling, not ‘Pants Off Dance Offs’. But wait…HE WANTS IN ON THE DANCE OFF! His middle rope grinding, turnbuckle humping dance is completely surreal…and he even finds time to dole out a spanking to the Hoopla Hotties! Davey wins the Pants Off Dance Off – without even removing his pants!

Silas Young arrives with the all-time classic line of ‘what in the f*ck sh*t is this??’, and is utterly disgusted with Davey’s actions.

Davey Richards vs Silas Young
‘I’ve already smacked some ass…now it’s time to KICK some ass’ – Richards. Even at an ‘ROH Unauthorised’ event, this represents a real opportunity for Young to show what he’s made of. He won lots of fans with his fantastic battle against Michael Elgin last summer. Perhaps a similar effort against Davey will finally secure that illusive contract…

Silas tries to work Richards’ wrist but gets too cocky, and doesn’t see the blindingly obvious, trademark Davey counter of bridging into a violent kick. It’s delivered with such force that the ‘Last Real Man’ has to leave the ring to recover. The same thing happens again seconds later when he delivers a shoulder tackle with such force that Young crumples to his knees on the floor. Truth Martini comes out and declares that, since Silas is spending too much time on the floor, he’s making this a Lumberjill Match – and brings out a load of drag queens to serve as the Lumberjills. Unsurprisingly Young is in the ring before they make it to the ring! He really isn’t enjoying all the jokes and Hoopla, and tries to toss Richards out of the ring. Davey catches himself on the apron, and lures Young in so he TOPE SUICIDA’S INTO THE LUMBERJILLS! Once again it’s a desperate scramble for Silas to get back into the ring, where Richards is waiting to deliver a flurry of kicks. He misses the double stomp though, allowing Young to counter with the scoop backbreaker/lariat combo. Headstand Arabian Press misses…and the pants-less ref is bumped as Young kicks Richards into him blocking the Anklelock. One of the drag queens pinches Silas ass…then plants a kiss on his lips! He staggers back, straight into the Alarm Clock…then the double stomp. Anklelock applied…and Silas taps at 10:04

Rating – *** – Not quite as funny as the opener, but, as with Eddie then, it was nice to see Davey show a different side to his personality. He’s not as instantly likeable and personable as some previous ROH greats like Joe, Danielson or Homicide. That’s not his fault, it’s just his way. But this was a welcome change of pace for him, and it even helped with ROH’s current direction as I thought this allowed Silas to show off his character. Plus (not to give it the hard sell or anything) how often are you going to see Richards wrestle a guy with a killer moustache, a referee wearing baby blue tartan boxer shorts…in a ring surrounded by horrific drag queens.

Davey’s comedy hour isn’t done. He finds time to sing the Chicago fans a song too!

Scarlett Bordeaux circles the ring and selects a member of the crowd for a lapdance with the Hoopla Hotties. Sadly for him, once he’s blindfolded Truth brings out some considerably less ‘hot’ hotties than Scarlett and Seleziya to actually do the deed. This show is utterly bizarre!

reDRagon vs Roderick Strong/Cheeseburger – ROH Tag Title Match
I was going to call shenanigans on the whole ‘ROH Unauthorised’ concept if they’ve sanctioned a title match on the show, but, to be fair, the DVD listings actually lists this as an ‘ROH Tag Title Match???’ suggesting maybe it wasn’t ‘authorised’ so to speak. This is actually the only show of the triple shot this weekend that Roddy is booked on, as he leaves for Japan this weekend. He teams with Cheeseburger, in what, I believe, is his first match on a main show. Truth is rewarding him for admitting he got a boner when he kissed Maria at Border Wars.

Cheeseburger appears to be wrestling in a vest which makes him look like he actually works at a fast food joint. Sensibly it’s Roderick that starts the match for their team, and it’s a pretty evenly matched mat battle between he and Bobby Fish in the opening minute. Strong actually starts getting heel heat for not tagging Cheeseburger in – then gets a huge pop when the tag finally happens. O’Reilly’s look of annoyance as Cheese tries to put him in a wristlock is brilliant. It’s even funnier when he actually does manage to work the hold with enough leverage to take Kyle off his feet a few moments later. He finds the mark with a jawbreaker, and a multi-revolution satellite headscissors too as things continue to go wrong for the champions. Such is his success that reDRagon have to switch tactics, with O’Reilly luring Strong around the ring into an unseen big boot from Fish…then both of them go into the ring to work a 2-on-1 advantage on Burger. CB isn’t done! He tries a pescado…but is caught! Strong thinks fast and dives through the ropes with a dropkick which knocks reDRagon off their feet instead! Atomic drop/neckbreaker combo from the challengers gets 2! Fish doesn’t like this at all and delivers a fierce running kick across Cheeseburger’s sternum that instantly puts his team in charge. reDRagon cut the ring in half and completely isolate the youngster from his Triple Crown winning partner. O’Reilly works a nice surfboard…in fact it’s so nice that he pauses to celebrate and misses Strong running into the ring for a HUGE chop! His chest looks messed up from that, but it doesn’t stop him landing a backbreaker/flying knee combo on the hapless Cheeseburger. Fish keeps trying to do a high spot from the top rope – except Cheese keeps rolling away! Kyle tries to cut him off, only for Burger to move and BOTH champs miss diving headbutts! At last the ROH Dojo trainee gets a hot tag to Strong…who simply picks Cheeseburger up and SUPLEXES HIM INTO A SOMERSAULT SPLASH ON FISH! He’s not done, and PRESS SLAMS him into a cannonball senton too! Stronghold on Bobby! HANGING ARMBREAKER BY CHEESEBURGER! O’Reilly USES Cheeseburger as a weapon to beat Roddy with to break the Stronghold though. Fish then mercilessly kills him with a big boot right to the face. Total Elimination on Strong for 2! DEATH BY RODERICK! CODE CHEESEBURGER! O’REILLY MAKES THE SAVE! He stops Strong hitting the Orange Crush Backbreaker, then joins with Fish to hit a POP-UP DOUBLE KNEE STRIKE on Cheeseburger. CHASING THE DRAGON NAILED! reDRagon retain at 20:58

Rating – *** – Definite MOTN so far, and in all seriousness, this was so much better than I thought. I was expecting this to be a 5-10 minute joke match – but these guys actually pulled off a halfway credible 20+ minute encounter that never once felt boring. A lot of credit has to go to young Cheeseburger. I’ll confess that I’ve not been a big fan. I’ve never been one for these ‘cult hero’ types. I was never a huge Grizzly Redwood fan, and before that I hated Pelle Primeau whilst there were people who got into him. I just don’t find myself being able to suspend my disbelief and take these guys seriously. Which is why I say Cheeseburger deserves credit. It wasn’t that he went 20-minutes without botching anything in his first major ROH match (which in itself is a massive and commendable accomplishment), but the fact that he actually wrestled a believable style. He wasn’t out here slamming reDRagon, or throwing them around. When he tried a wristlock, O’Reilly just stood there and laugh at him. When he was on offence he was either striking (without much success), jumping off something, or he had to gain some serious momentum (such as somersaulting into a wristlock) before it got any kind of success. Roderick actually did very little in the middle of the match, nor did he need to. The established guys did fine, and Fish produced some very witty one liners before and during the match, but this was Cheeseburgers show and I’ll be damned if he didn’t produce a hell of a performance.

Hoopla Uncut

This is Truth Martini’s talk show, so it’s natural he’d include it on his own event. His guest is Satan. As in, a guy in red face paint, plastic costume horns pretending to be Satan. This segment is utter trash, and ends with Satan ‘turning heel’ by refusing to take his pants off. He calls the show ‘too debauched’ before the Hoopla Hotties beat him up. I’m curious as to who thought this wouldn’t be terrible and actually signed off on it being included in the show.

Tadarius Thomas/ACH/Athena vs Michael Elgin/BJ Whitmer/MsChif
I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve seen women in the main event of an ROH show since 2010 (and only the second time ever)…unless since this is an unauthorised event it doesn’t count? Anyway, Athena has been positioned as the young pretender in the Women Of Honor division currently dominated by MsChif – whilst Adrenaline RUSH (TD & ACH) have been making the same kind of waves in the tag division. I believe Elgin and MsChif are in a real-life relationship so it should be fun to watch their chemistry here in the main event.

Pop of the night goes to ACH’s entrance. Athena will start the match with her team, and as the fans heckle her they are delighted to see Elgin step up to meet her. He locks up…then has to deal with MsChif berating him for copping a feel! Tadarius tries to tie up with MsChif, and of course, Elgin is straight in and shoving TD around for touching up his woman! Thomas shows off his skills though. First he blocks the stalling suplex, then counters the dead-lift German…before converting a Buckle Bomb attempt into a hanging armbar! To round it off he cartwheels away from Elgin’s attempt at a back fist. ELGIN VS TADARIUS DANCE-OFF! ELGIN WINS WITH THE WORM! ACH wants a piece of the action…and gives it some of his finest Carlton stylings. Athena tries to chip in with a dance, so Elgin viciously body slams her! The crowd want MsChif to dance…but all they get is a scream. Whitmer tags in with Athena, and they work a standard, straight-faced back and forth wrestling exchange which, in the context of the match, also draws a laugh. MsChif and ACH are next, with poor ACH unwilling to hit a woman it seems. He puts a hand over her mouth to stop a scream (that sounds worse than it was) then revels in getting to toss her around and show some power. MsChif screams again – and down goes ACH! Athena has to come to her partner’s aid, countering the Desecrator but succumbing to a 3-on-1 assault from her opponents. MsChif stops Elgin from giving her a body avalanche as the domestics continue though! He tries a dead-lift German…then a Spiral Bomb, and can’t find a single spot which doesn’t put him in a compromising position it seems. He lets Athena slip through his fingers and make the hot tag to Tadarius and his onslaught of capoeira kicks. YAKUZA KICK from Athena to Whitmer! She does her best to cave his throat in with a handspring elbow smash for 2. ACH piles on the misery by hitting his diving lariat then a flying crossbody. Whitmer rallies with a belly to belly suplex and we get tags all round so the ladies can go at it again. MsChif scores an immediate 2-count with a vicious sit-out powerbomb. Adrenaline RUSH try to team up on his girlfriend so Unbreakable scoops them both up for that impressive Samoan drop/fallaway slam combo. Thomas hits BJ with kicks from all angles, leaving him in position for ACH’s slingshot stunner. Athena misses a frog splash on the Buzzsaw…WHO SUPLEXES HER INTO THE BUCKLES! He seriously thinks about an Awesome Bomb to the floor until she COUNTERS with a reverse rana! DESECRATOR from MsChif! Elgin wants to hit a superplex on Athena but has his back turned and doesn’t see Tadarius coming with an avalanche Russian legsweep. O-FACE NAILED ON BJ! MsChif and Athena collide in the centre of the ring to leave all six down at 24-minutes. Elgin is the first up, dodging all of Thomas’ strikes before clobbering him with a lariat. ACH sneaks up on Unbreakable to hit Last Rites. He tries the Big Bang DDT on MsChif…ELGIN SAVES WITH A BACK FIST! ACH IS DEAD! MsChif admires the chivalry and gives Elgin a big kiss. No she didn’t – it was a plan! ELGIN WITH GREEN MIST ON TD! BUCKLE BOMB! SPIRAL BOMB! Elgin wins at 25:53

Rating – **** – I’ve seen this match get some mediocre reviews, but I found this to be well-wrestled, well-laid out and thoroughly entertaining. Seeing performers like Elgin, Whitmer and MsChif goof off felt completely unique in a Ring Of Honor environment, whilst ACH showed his versatility by looking every bit as comfortable working comedy spots as he does high spots. Even Athena, who started off drawing heat from the fans (who by this point were most likely very drunk, and picking on her as an easy target), put in a terrific showing and EARNED the pop she got at the end when she landed the O-Face on Whitmer. I loved how the action slowly picked up, and the comedy fell away as the match progressed – leading to a truly awesome and memorable finish with Elgin using the mist. On most Sinclair-led ROH shows a match like this would struggle to get a ten-minute time allowance, so these six looked like they were having a blast with over 25 minutes to play with in a main event. Finding a way to pair Athena with Adrenaline RUSH permanently might actually be a neat way to get her more exposure. I could definitely see that trio producing some entertaining intergender spotfests on the SBG TV show.

Tape Rating – *** – I’m not saying this theory is 100% accurate (so don’t send me snotty emails!), but I’ve found that this show really separates the hardcore, buys every show ROH fan from the more casual, selective viewer. Those that really do follow every show they do have welcomed this event as an entertaining change of pace and a really zany little house show to be enjoyed. Others have criticised the lack of quality matches, the lack of serious in-ring action, some of the comedy etc. Speaking for myself – I thought that Sinclair threw a LOT of mud at the wall with this show, and whilst not all of it stuck, what was left smeared all over the wall was pretty damn entertaining. I didn’t like everything. I really feel like Taven should have been in the main event. I don’t know how you’d rebook that scenario, but on Truth Martini’s show I think that ‘his’ wrestler should be in the main event. The Lethal/Delirious match was excruciatingly drawn out and a real slog to watch with it’s bloated time allowance, limited comedy appeal, Delirious looking absolutely gassed in his return to ROH…and the Lethal/Bennett/Maria pay-off wasn’t compensation enough for having to sit through that. By the end of the night Truth Martini’s voice and his silly little interludes (Hoopla Uncut w/ Satan in particular) became rather grating. And the whole show had an air of Sinclair desperately trying to be cool. They were playing to drunk, hardcore independent wrestling fans. These guys don’t consider Scarlett stripping down to what was effectively her wrestling gear, a few guys in drag, and Satan to be ‘edgy’. Satan in the ring proclaiming the show to be ‘too debauched’ was completely cringe-worthy.

BUT, for everything that didn’t work, there was also lots to enjoy. The Cole/Edwards/Taven opener produced some real laughs. Maria and Lethal’s ‘moment’ was a hoot. I loved Jimmy Jacobs’ musical segment (‘The Ballad Of Lacey’ is always a winner in my book), Davey Richards nearly stole the show with his antics, and the top two matches were actually really good wresting matches in amongst all the shenanigans. The pants-off refs were a funny little joke which I felt was still fresh by the time Todd Sinclair came out in his boxers, and it’s hard to be too disappointed in a DVD which has Scarlett Bordeaux in pretty much every other chapter. I just wish they would have forked out to put Kevin Kelly in the building for live commentary, as he could really have sold the goofy nature of the comedy with his straight-laced, hyperactive, ‘traditional’ approach to commentary.

Top 3 Matches
3) Matt Taven vs Eddie Edwards vs Adam Cole (***)
2) reDRagon vs Roderick Strong/Cheeseburger (***)
1) Michael Elgin/BJ Whitmer/MsChif vs Tadarius Thomas/ACH/Athena (****)

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