ROH 14th Anniversary Show (PPV)
Las Vegas, Nevada 2/26/16
1.) Four-Corner Survival – Cheeseburger vs. Gedo vs. Silas Young vs. Will Ferrara: **1/2
It seems odd to have a guy like Silas Young in a match after having several matches on PPV with Dalton Castle, as part of their long rivalry, but realistically, there was no room on the PPV for any of these guys. At least they got something, so that’s good. As a whole, this was a very simple match. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad either. It was completely average and totally inoffensive. Young pinned Cheeseburger after hitting Misery.
1.) ROH World TV Title – Triple Threat Match – Tomohiro Ishii vs. Roderick Strong vs. Bobby Fish: ***1/2
Originally, this was scheduled to be a singles match for the ROH World TV Title between Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish, but a week prior to this PPV, Tomohiro Ishii defeated Strong in the main event of Honor Rising 2016: Night 1 in Korakuen Hall. Thus, we now have a second Triple Threat Match on this card. I thought it was a pretty good opening match. There was some very solid action throughout, though I do feel that the match could have been even better if it got more time (as it only went eight or nine minutes). With nine matches booked for the show, certain matches were going to get shortchanged, and this was one of those. There was a notable botch during the match. Ishii hit a powerbomb on Fish, and went for the pin. Then, I guess Fish forgot to kick out, because the referee stopped his count before he got to three, and Fish kicked out a second or two later. Something was definitely mistimed there, and it looked really bad. Other than that botch, I found this to be a very enjoyable opening contest. Ishii would retain his title after pinning Strong.
2.) Adam Page vs. BJ Whitmer: *1/2
During the month of January, Adam Page (with partial influenced by Steve Corino) turned on BJ Whitmer, seemingly signaling the end of The Decade in ROH. Coming in, I figured this had the potential to be pretty decent, but when the dust settled, it ended up being worse that I was expecting. This was not very good at all. It wasn’t necessarily the fact that the wrestling itself was bad, because there were a few good moments here and there (almost all of them from Page). There were three main factors that really hurt this and made it worthy of the rating I gave it. Firstly, this crowd in Las Vegas just didn’t give a shit about either guy. They were silent for most of this match.
Secondly, the finish was just atrocious for multiple reasons. Page brought some chairs into the ring towards the end of the match, though they weren’t you’re traditional folding chairs. Instead they were normal convention hall chairs that had solid backs and couldn’t be folded. Referee Todd Sinclair took them away, which allowed Whitmer to roll up Page for the win. It was just a terrible finish because it was incredibly clunky, and having Whitmer go over was the wrong decision. If you’re going to put this on PPV, shouldn’t you put the younger star over?
Finally, to put it bluntly, this match went waaaay too long. I get that you wanted to do this match, and it makes sense to do it (given the breakup of The Decade) but given how many matches were on this card, this clearly didn’t need to be here, and it didn’t need to go as long as it did. If you insisted on doing this PPV match, it should’ve been a quick squash with Page getting the win. If you took this off the PPV, you could’ve given that time to a match (or matches) that really needed it.
After the match, Page tried to hit Right of Passage on Whitmer, but he escaped. Page then beat up a bunch of security guys. If you did all of this on TV, it would’ve been passable, but on PPV? It was completely unnecessary.
3.) Dalton Castle vs. Hirooki Goto: ***1/4
I honestly didn’t have that many expectations for this one going in. It was a last-minute addition to the card (Goto had originally been scheduled to face Ishii in a singles match before Ishii won the ROH World TV Title), and with nine matches on the card, I didn’t know how much time this would end up getting. This ended up being a pretty solid undercard match. They got just under ten minutes, and similar to other matches on this card, it would’ve benefited if it got a little bit more time. The action was fine throughout, but the match itself wasn’t spectacular by any means. We had another noticeable botch on this show at the end of this match, though it wasn’t as bad as the one we saw in the opener. Goto attempted to hit the Shouten Kai didn’t turn out well. It sort of looked like an awkward attempt to block the move by Castle, but in reality, I think Goto didn’t fully realize Castle’s size when he went to lift him up. His second attempt was more successful, and Goto scored the victory. The two shook hands after the match. Again, this was perfectly solid.
4.) Alex Shelley vs. Christopher Daniels (with Frankie Kazarian): **3/4
Brian Kendrick made a random appearance here on commentary. He has a history with ROH for sure, but to bring him out here unannounced, when he hadn’t wrestled in ROH for a few years was rather odd. The story behind this one is that in the Fall of 2015, someone wearing the red mask of the KRD (which The Addiction & Chris Sabin had used to steal the ROH World Tag Team Titles) had been costing the heel contingent a number of big matches. Eventually, Chris Sabin confronted this masked man, and it turned out to be Alex Shelley. In the ensuing months, when The Addiction went after Shelley, Sabin would show restraint, and never really attacked his former tag team partner.
As for the match itself, it was fine, but this felt like a TV match as opposed to a PPV match. The action was fine, but Kazarian got involved at a number of points during the match. Towards the end of the match, Kazarian was able to distract the referee, Todd Sinclair, which allowed Daniels to go for his “bullet belt” (which is part of his entrance gear). He was going to use it on Shelley, but Chris Sabin came out and attacked Daniels! This allowed Shelley to roll up Daniels for the win! A brawl breaks out almost immediately after the match, and Sabin & Shelley send Daniels & Kazarian packing. The Motor City Machine Guns are reunited. I guess they felt that having Sabin & Shelley reunite was a PPV worthy moment, and to an extent, it was, but as I mentioned earlier, this match felt more like a TV match.
5.) The Briscoes vs. “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi: ***1/2
Back in January, Jay Briscoe scored a pinfall victory over Michael Elgin in a Triple Threat Match that also involved Moose. In response to this loss, Elgin challenged The Briscoes to a tag team match, and announced that his partner would be Hiroshi Tanahashi. Of course, Elgin knows Tanahashi very well, as they teamed together in New Japan’s World Tag Team League at the end of 2015. As far as this match goes, I thought it was really good. It got a fair amount of time (lasting around fifteen minutes or so), and it featured some entertaining action from start to finish. All four guys are awesome, so there was no way this wouldn’t be good. Honestly, I don’t have much to say other than that. It was simply a very good tag team match, and one of the better bouts on the undercard. In the end, and Elgin Bomb followed by a High Fly Flow would secure the victory for Elgin & Tanahashi.
6.) IWGP Heavyweight Champion “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada (with Gedo) vs. Moose (with Stokely Hathaway): ***1/2
I think it’s fair to say that this was one of the most anticipated matches on the entire card, just to see how Moose would do against Okada. He ended up doing pretty well, as this was a very good match. Of course, we did get a battle of the dropkicks here, as both guys hit their signature dropkicks at some point during the match. There was some nice brawling on the outside and really solid action inside the ring. Moose definitely worked hard here, while Okada was his usual great self. Ultimately, Okada got the win with the Rainmaker, but it was still a strong performance from Moose against one of the best wrestlers in the world.
The two men shook hands after the match.
7.) NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles – The Elite (IWGP Intercontinental Champion Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) vs. ACH, IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Matt Sydal & KUSHIDA: ****1/2
In a rare sight, a New Japan title is being defended on a ROH PPV. In this case, the newly created NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles are on the line, as The Elite (who just won the titles a week prior during the Honor Rising events) are defending against the makeshift trio of ACH, Matt Sydal and KUSHIDA. It’s actually a big deal that Omega is on this show, as it’s his first appearance in ROH since (I think) 2010. As far as the match is concerned, it thought it was fantastic!! It was easily the match of the night by a significant margin. There was insane action in this one from start to finish. The Elite are so awesome as a trio, while ACH, Matt Sydal, and KUSHIDA each had their own moments of glory. This match featured so many crazy moves that it’s impossible to talk about them all. Eventually, The Elite managed to get the victory after an incredible series of moves. The Young Bucks hit Sydal with a Meltzer Driver, and then Omega hit his One Winged Angel. Again, this was simply an awesome match that needs to be seen, if you haven’t seen it already.
8.) ROH World Tag Team Titles – No DQ Match – War Machine vs. The All-Night Express: ***
The storyline here is that ANX viewed themselves as the uncrowned champions, since they only lost the titles when Kenny King jumped to TNA in the summer of 2012 after the team had just won the titles. Since they officially became the #1 Contenders at Final Battle 2015, they’ve slowly done a heel turn, and after an initial title match ended in a DQ/No Contest, it’s led us to a No DQ Match. This was good, but at the same time, underwhelming. I think this particular match was a victim of poor match placement. There’s no way it was going to follow that Six-Man Tag. That match was so awesome that it burned out the crowd for this match, which is a real shame, because all four guys busted their asses (figuratively and probably literally) in this one. There was nothing wrong with the action, but again, the crowd was tired. All sorts of weapons were used (including Chairs, Tables, Trash Cans, and a Ladder) and both teams kicked out of the other team’s finisher, but the crowd was mostly quiet. This match would’ve been better if it was either the opener or the second match of the PPV. In the end, War Machine hit Fallout for a second time to score the win, retaining their ROH World Tag Team Titles in the process. Again, the match was good, but there was no energy from the crowd.
9.) ROH World Title – Triple Threat Match – Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini & Taeler Hendrix) vs. Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly: ***3/4
At the last PPV, Final Battle 2015, Jay Lethal successfully retained the ROH World Title against AJ Styles. Meanwhile, Adam Cole got a controversial win over Kyle O’Reilly, though O’Reilly would get the last laugh. Their paths have now converged, and we’re now getting a Triple Threat Match in the main event of this PPV. This was a match that, like so many others on this show, got shortchanged on time (It started with only twenty minutes or so left on the PPV, and it ended up going around thirteen minutes). Despite that issue, this was still a really good match, to the point where I can confidently call it the second best match of the night. There managed to pack a lot of exciting action (including a number of entertaining spots) in the time they were given, and they told a nice story with all three guys involved. There really wasn’t any down time, which I think helped the match a great deal as well. At the time this match took place, I had a feeling that there could’ve been a title change here, but in the end, that didn’t come to pass. Cole & O’Reilly were too obsessed over the each, to the point where it led to them taking their eyes off the prize at stake, and that led to Lethal hitting a double Lethal Injection on both guys. He pinned Cole to retain his title, and celebrated with the rest of The House of Truth as the show went off the air.
This was a very fascinating PPV from ROH. If it weren’t for the Six-Man Tag for the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles, which was one of the best ROH matches of 2016, this would’ve been only a decent to (maybe) good PPV. The Elite vs. ACH, Matt Sydal, & KUSHIDA really lifted this show up. That’s not to say there weren’t really good matches on this PPV, because there were, but there wasn’t anything great besides that one match. I think the big problem with this PPV was the fact that nine matches was just too much. If you took Adam Page vs. BJ Whitmer off the PPV, it would’ve given all of the matches more room to breathe. Instead, we got shorter matches tightly packed into a three hour PPV, and while shorter sprints are far from a bad thing, I think it really hurt this show, because a lot of these matches could’ve been a little bit better had they gotten a few extra minutes. Still, this match was good enough that it warrants a slight thumb’s up. ROH could’ve done a better job with the timing and how they structured the amount of time these matches got, but despite those issues, it was still a good show.