ROH Aftershock Tour: Hopkins
Hopkins, Minnesota 7/11/15
1.) Nuclear Casserole (Chase Brown & Peter Kaasa) vs. AR Fox & “The Outlaw” Ken Phoenix: **
This is the pre-show match from the TV Tapings that took place at Terminal 5 in NYC the day after Best In The World 2015. It’s a notable match, because it features none other than AR Fox. Of course, AR Fox parted ways with Evolve/WWN earlier that year, and he’s been floating around the independents ever since. Here, he’s teaming with Ken Phoenix to take on the unique team of “Cauliflower” Chase Brown & Peter Kaasa. This was a basic pre-show match, for the most part. The more exciting moments (obviously) involved AR Fox & Peter Kaasa. I’m a little disappointed that AR Fox hasn’t been used since, but given some of the stories I’ve heard about what he does outside of the ring, I could maybe see why ROH didn’t take him. Kaasa, on the other hand, I think is someone ROH missed on. This is a guy who would go on to Evolve later that year, and just recently (as I type this) started a run with Dragon Gate in Japan. Alas, as far as this match goes, Kaasa gets the win for his team after hitting a 630 Senton on AR Fox. I’ll gave this an extra ¼* to ½* for Kaasa busting that out on the pre-show.
1.) The Romantic Outlaws (The Romantic Touch & “The Outlaw” Ken Phoenix) vs. Danny Adams & Paco Gonzalez: **
Here we have a match that’s actually from this live event in Hopkins. Apparently The Romantic Touch & Ken Phoenix are referring to themselves as The Romantic Outlaws. I wonder how Ken Phoenix’s “Dirty Outlaws” partner “Dirty” Andy Dalton feels about this. Anyway, this was a fine pre-show match. This was the second time we’ve seen the team of Danny Adams & Paco Gonzalez, and they got to show a little more stuff here (they were squashed by The Kingdom in their first match). Eventually, The Romantic Outlaws would pick up the win.
1.) Mark Briscoe vs. Danny Duggan: ***
I find it a little weird that, despite losing to Arik Cannon on the last ROH Live Event in Hopkins almost three months prior, Danny Duggan is the one who gets another match here. For those who are wondering, yes, he still looks like Mr. Perfect. Mark Briscoe steals Duggan’s fanny back at the start in a funny moment. This was a solid opener. It was actually a little better than I would have thought coming into it. Mark Briscoe continues to show that he’s just as capable of a singles wrestler as his brother Jay Briscoe, and honestly, I think Danny Duggan actually looked solid here as well. I wouldn’t totally be against seeing him again. Briscoe would pick up the win here.
2.) War Machine vs. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser: ***1/4
Before the match, we get a pre-match promo from Silas Young, where he makes fun of War Machine, calling them hipsters, and then makes fun of Hanson & Ray Rowe individually. Here we have another match that actually turned out to be better than I thought it would be. In just this one match, I can firmly say that The Beer City Bruiser is much better fit in the tag team division with Silas Young. He does nothing for me as a singles guy, but in this tag team environment, he’s much better. Young didn’t get along with The Beer City Bruiser at first, but they really start to work well as a team in the second half in the match. War Machine, of course, were very good in here as well. A hard-hitting match, for the most part. In the end, War Machine would get the win after hitting Fallout on The Beer City Bruiser.
3.) ACH vs. Dalton Castle: ***1/2
Now this is a rally interesting match, as you have two crowd favorites going at it. Once again, Castle doesn’t have his usual “boys” with him, and in this match, I thought it was blatantly obvious that original “The Boys” are the only ones for this role. These boys just stood there stoically, barely doing anything. As far as the match goes, I really enjoyed it. These two are just so fun to watch, and they had a very good match here. Additionally, I have to say that ACH’s reactions to some of Castle’s mannerism’s were pretty hilarious. Eventually, ACH would pick up the victory after hitting the Midnight Star.
4.) “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin vs. Matt Taven: ***3/4
This is Elgin’s last appearance for ROH before he heads to New Japan to compete in the G1 Climax. Once again, we have yet another match that was honestly a little better than I was expecting. I know people like to hate on The Kingdom, but I really don’t mind Matt Taven that much at all. Once he returns from his injury (he’s still out, as I type this review), I have no issues with him sticking around. He’s a very capable singles wrestler, and he showed off some of that ability here against Michael Elgin. Of course, Elgin looked really good here as well. There was a lot of back & forth action between these two. The match was just a lot of fun to watch, in my opinion. Elgin would score the win here, after hitting the Elgin Bomb on Taven.
After the match, Elgin takes the mic, and says that over the last few months, he’s been wrong. He sees now that it doesn’t matter if the crowd cheers or boos him, because they’re both here for the same reason: because they love pro-wrestling. Elgin says he’s been lying to himself, and that, truth be told, he does love ROH. He says that the last few months for him have been rough, but says that all relationships have their rough periods. Elgin then talks about going to New Japan for the upcoming G1 Climax Tournament, and tells Jay Lethal to watch the tournament, because when he returns, he’s coming for the ROH World Title.
5.) Four-Corner Survival – Michael Bennett (with Maria Kanellis) vs. Will Ferrara vs. Cheeseburger vs. Moose (with Stokely Hathaway): ***1/4
I think it’s always interesting to see how these Four-Corner Survivals are put together, because the dynamic can change depending on who’s in the match In this case, you have one heel and three babyfaces. A pretty solid match, for the most part. They seemed to tease tension specifically between Michael Bennett & Moose, but Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara had their opportunities to shine in this match as well. Bennett would end up getting the win after hitting the piledriver on Cheeseburger (I guess the ruling for a few years ago that Bennett could no longer use the piledriver has been lifted, as Kevin Kelly made a note of that on commentary). A fine match for its spot on the card.
6.) Adam Cole vs. Bobby Fish: ***3/4
Over the past few weeks on ROH TV, they had been teasing dissension between Adam Cole & The Kingdom, and that Cole was potentially going to turn babyface. The fans loves Adam Cole almost everywhere he goes, so they honestly wouldn’t mind. Here, Cole is taking on Bobby Fish, which I think might be a first-time ever singles match between these two. I thought this was a really good match. At this point in the show, it was right up there with Elgin/Taven for Match of the Night. There was some really good action, but they also told a really good story, as both men tried to work over a limb of their opponent with the hopes of possibly getting a submission victory. We also saw some very cool exchanges, particularly towards the end of the match, when they went back & forth countering each other’s submission finishers (The Figure Four & The Heel Hook, respectively). Eventually, Cole was to able to pick up the win over Fish after hitting him with his Brainbuster onto his Knee (I’m not sure if Cole actually has a name for that move yet).
Cole shake hands with Fish after the match, further cementing his (apparent) face turn.
7.) Mixed Tag Team Match – The House of Truth – ROH World Champion/ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal & Truth Martini vs. Jay Briscoe & ODB: **
This is the perfect example of a match that sticks out like a sore thumb. Now, the idea behind this match isn’t totally crazy. Jay Briscoe & Jay Lethal have (obviously) been feuding. ODB & Truth Martini have both been part of the feud. Plus, it does continue a storyline that occurred at the last ROH Live Event in Hopkins, where ODB actually wrestled Truth Martini in a one-on-one match (I really like when ROH does that on occasion, where they have a running mini-storyline in a specific city). However, in execution, this match just wasn’t that good. It was easily the worst match on the main show. The biggest issue I had was with ODB getting too much offense (in my view) in on Jay Lethal. Now, I’m not someone who’s totally against inter-gender wrestling. In certain cases, in specific situations, and involving the right people, it can work. Also, I know that ODB’s a hometown wrestler (she’s from Minnesota). However, ODB should not be getting that much offense in (I’d argue she shouldn’t get any offense in) against your new ROH Undisputed Champion. I know it’s a house show, but it just makes Lethal look bad, in my opinion. As I said earlier, the match, as a whole, just wasn’t that good. ODB spits alcohol in Martini’s face, and rolls him up for the pin.
8.) Triple Threat Match – “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles vs. Kyle O’Reilly vs. Roderick Strong: ****1/4
There really isn’t that much story behind this Main Event. It was pretty much a Triple Threat “Dream Match” of sorts involving three of the best wrestlers in the world today. I was really looking forward to this match, and it definitely delivered. This was an awesome match!! All three guys looked great, and there was a ton of really good action from start to finish. They also avoided some of the usual tropes of Triple Threat Matches, and we got some interesting three-way exchanges. As a whole, this was just a really fun match. In the end, Strong would score the victory here after hitting O’Reilly with the Orange Crush Backbreaker.
After the match, Strong celebrates to close the show.
Aside from one match (that of course, being the Mixed Tag Team Match), I thought this was a very good show from start to finish. Of course, the Main Event, in my opinion, was fantastic, and given the competitors involved, it should be no surprise. There were a few other really good matches on the undercard, specifically Cole vs. Fish and Elgin vs. Taven. Other than that, the rest of the undercard was relatively solid, with a number of matches that ended up being better than I would have thought. As a whole, this was very solid outing from ROH.