SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
ROH TV Report
Aired June 5, 2016 in syndication
Aired June 8, 2016 on Comet TV
Taped May 11, 2016 in Toronto, Ont.
Report by Mike Metzger (@md0uble), PWTorch contributor
The ROH TV opening aired.
Video package: Several weeks ago, Donovan Dijak “broke Truth Martini’s neck” as a measure of revenge for being held back by The House of Truth during 2015. The package went back-and-forth between comments from Dijak and Prince Nana, as well as ROH World Champion Jay Lethal and Taeler Hendrix. Lethal said, “to be a great champion, you have to remove your personal affairs.” Lethal was admittedly having a hard time doing that after what Dijak did to Martini. Hendrix, speaking for the first time on ROH TV, sounded more like a spoiled brat than an evil sorceress when she screeched that Dijak’s actions “made her sick.” Prince Nana declared it was time for a new ROH World Champion, as clips aired of Dijak holding up the title belt at a house show in Warwick, Rhode Island in April.
Ringside: Kevin Kelly and ROH matchmaker Nigel McGuinness hyped tonight’s main event, as well as Bullet Club’s newest member Adam Page versus Colt Cabana!
1 – IWGP Jr. Hvt. tag champion MATT SYDAL vs. KAZUCHIKA OKADA (w/Gedo)
Kelly reminded viewers that Sydal and A.C.H. had recently dissolved their partnership amicably. Kelly then referenced Sydal feeling slighted by Will Osperay being asked to join the CHAOS faction in New Japan. Both men shook hands and the bell rang. They wrestled on the mat, while Kelly contrasted Sydal’s hard feelings about the Ospreay/CHAOS situation to his amicable split with A.C.H. Meanwhile, Sydal blocked a Rainmaker attempt and hit a hurricanrana. Okada recovered and then there was a stalemate at the the 1:30 mark.
Sydal took Okada down with a spinning heel kick. He went to follow up with a Tornado DDT, but Okada reversed by placing Sydal on the top rope and then hit a beautiful dropkick that sent Sydal to the floor. The show cut to its first break at the 2:39 point in the match.
Back at 5:09, Sydal ate a boot from Okada. Okada followed up with a slingshot senton, which was good for a nearfall. Sydal fought back with a series of kicks and chops, but Okada quickly fought back with some big strikes of his own. Okada rammed Sydal’s head into the turnbuckles a few times, but Sydal eventually reversed with an enziguri in the corner! Sydal followed up with another kick to Okada’s head, followed by a standing Shooting Star Press. Sydal hit a clothesline and then double-knees from the top rope, but Okada kicked out at two.
Sydal continued to dominate and then set up Okada for a top-rope hurricanrana. Okada rolled through, though, and then nailed an over-the-knee neckbreaker, which was good for another two-count. “Okada” chants, as the former IWGP Hvt. champ hit a scoop slam and then an elbow drop from the second rope.
Cue The Rainmaker pose. Sydal escaped The Rainmaker move itself, however. Sydal went to follow up with a Shooting Stasr Press, but Okada got his knees up! They jockeyed for position until Okada hit another beautiful dropkick. Okada quickly followed up with The Rainmaker for the victory!
After the match, both men stared each other down before shaking hands.
WINNER: Kazuchika Okada via pinfall in 10:00.
ANALYSIS: Solid opener between these two. I was really impressed with the commentators setting the stage for this match. This could have easily been another exhibition-style victory for Okada, but Kevin Kelly built up some friction between the two men. It didn’t hurt that he got to name-drop one of the pro wrestling’s fastest-rising stars in Will Ospreay, either. The match itself was solid, with an old-school build. It climaxed with a hot finishing sequence that was fun to watch. (**3/4)
Bullet Club’s logo flashed and then Adam Cole and The Young Bucks cut a promo backstage. They couldn’t believe that the Best in the World main event was going to feature Lethal defending against Jay Briscoe. Cole said that whoever won that match “was just keeping the title warm for Adam Cole, bay bay.” Cole then turned his attention to tonight’s main event between Lethal and Dijak, teasing a possible appearance by Bullet Club.
[Reax: This was “the following announcement has been paid for by the New World Order”-esque. I was honestly surprised they didn’t go all the way with the black-and-white filter with all the distortions. I’m glad they mocked the Best in the World main event, although it seems that ROH viewers are in store for more Global Wars-like non-finishes until Cole gets a title shot.]
Backstage: Silas Young recently came home and found his son coloring a picture of ROH stars. He was coloring-in a picture of A.C.H. in particular as Silas walked in the door. Silas told his son that it was fine if he wanted to “color that book,” but advised him that the way A.C.H. acted “was not the way men acted.” Silas claimed his son stopped coloring right then and there because his “seven-year-old son was more of a man than A.C.H. is.” Clips aired from last week’s show when Young attacked A.C.H. after his match with Lio Rush. Silas closed the promo by promising to teach A.C.H. lessons that his father never taught him.
2 – COLT CABANA vs. ADAM PAGE
Page came to ring donning a noose, as he is now going by the monicker of “The Hangman” Adam Page. Loud “Colt Cabana” chant to start. Both men tied up after the bell. They felt each other out, until Page threw a fist, followed by a chop. They ran the ropes, and then Cabana came out on top with a head scissors takeover. Cabana went for a couple of pin attempts early, but Page quickly powered out. Cabana bent Page’s fingers backward. They jockeyed for position. Page came out on top of the exchange by sending Cabana to the outside and then hit a Shooting Star Press off the apron, as the show cut to a break at the 3:29 mark.
Back at 5:59, both men were trading blows in the center. Page hit a clothesline and then a charging dropkick, which was good for a nearfall. Page wrenched Colt’s arms backward, but Cabana powered out with a hip attack. Page tried to stay on his opponent, but ate an elbow from Colt. Cabana threw some fists and then a Bionic Elbow. Cabana hit a hip attack in the corner. Page tried to fight back, but ate an elbow. Cabana charged, but Page was able to flip back into the ring with a slingshot lariat, which was good for another nearfall.
They jockeyed some more, this time with Cabana coming off the ropes with a moonsault and a two-count of his own. Out of nowhere, Colt jumped out of the corner and caught Page in a leverage pinning combination for the victory.
WINNER: Colt Cabana via pinfall in 9:37.
After the match, Bullet Club members The Guerrillas of Destiny ran out and attacked Cabana from behind. Page grabbed his noose and tied it around Cabana’s neck. Kevin Kelly freaked out on commentary and demanded the show cut to a break because they wouldn’t be allowed to show what Page and the Guerrillas were about to do.
ANALYSIS: So much wrong with this match. First, no promo from Cabana after being robbed of his ROH Title opportunity by Bullet Club at Global Wars. Does anyone else remember how passionate he was about wanting to win the title during his return promo in Dallas? Then the match starts and these guys break into a bland feeling-out sequence. It didn’t help that the rest of the match felt like a warm-up, either. The announcers tried to tell the story of Bullet Club costing Cabana his opportunity at the ROH World Title, but even that felt like an afterthought. By the time the post-match beat-down came around, I almost forgot there was an issue between Cabana and Bullet Club to begin with. (1/2*)
Backstage: The All Night Express were dressed in suits. They hosted a hokey “Make Wrestling Great Again” segment. They began to tout the accomplishments of Jushin “Thunder” Liger. The listed some of his great opponents over the years, but now when they thought of Liger, they could only think of Cheeseburger. Now, they compare Liger to Brett Favre and Allen Iverson- “old farts who stayed in the game way past their prime.” They claimed that they would make wrestling great again starting in Toronto.
[Reax: That was horrendous. The promo itself was disjointed and didn’t make logical sense. Add in the fact that WWE has been doing a similar type of sketch with Darren Young and Bob Backlund for weeks prior to this, and this just came across as bush league.]
Ringside: Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness were relieved that the post-match beat-down by Bullet Club had been broken up by ROH officials during the break. B.J. Whitmer then walked to the ring and grabbed a microphone. The announcers reminded viewers that Whitmer will finally face Steve Corino at the Best in the World PPV. Whitmer mockingly thanked McGuinness for booking the match. He directed his attention to Corino, and said that Steve had no one to blame but himself. Loud “boring” chant from the crowd. Whitmer paused for a moment, before invoking Corino’s son and daughter. Corino ran out and charged the ring, but Whitmer high-tailed it out of there.
Backstage: A.C.H. spoke of a lesson his father taught him as a young boy. “You do you,” which meant to focus on yourself, while not taking from another man’s plate. He related this to his issue with Silas Young. He insisted Young take a lesson from his father and not be concerned with him playing video games and watching cartoons. A.C.H. closed it out by challenging Young’s own manhood, suggesting that he wash’t man enough to hold down his household when it came to raising his son.
[Reax: Nice promo from A.C.H. Perhaps the best mic work I’ve heard from him yet in ROH.]
3 – ROH World champion JAY LETHAL (w/Taeler Hendrix) vs. DONOVAN DIJAK (w/Prince Nana) – non-title match
Kelly asked ROH matchmaker Nigel McGuinness why the match was non-title. Nigel responded by saying that Dijak simply hadn’t earned a shot yet, but would be in line if he won tonight. Lethal did his usual methodical entrance, but then charged the ring as he approached. He and Dijak began trading blows and the bell rang. They took turns pounding on each other on the mat. They got to their feet and exchanged more strikes. Dijak picked up Lethal and tossed him over the top rope with ease. Dijak followed, but Lethal fought back with some chops. Dijak responded by suplexing Lethal on the floor!
Dijak broke the count. He went to whip Lethal into the hockey boards at ringside, but Lethal reversed and sent Dijak hard into the barricade! Lethal did it again, as Taeler rooted him on. “One more time” chant from the crowd. Lethal chased Nana into the ring, instead. “This is awesome” chant, as Lethal grabbed Nana in the corner. The brief distraction allowed Dijak to attack Lethal from behind, but Lethal responded with some more blows and then a springboard dropkick out of the corner. Dijak rolled to the outside, and Lethal was right behind him with two consecutive dives. He went for a third, but Dijak side-stepped him! Dijak then ran back into the ring and hit a flipping dive of his own to the outside! Taeler attended to Lethal, as the show cut to a break at the 4:39 point.
Back at 5:39, Dijak was still in control. Clips aired from during the break when Dijak grabbed the title belt and told Lethal he was ”taking it.” Meanwhile in the ring, Lethal hit his cartwheel dropkick combo on Dijak, but hurt his knee in the process. Lethal chopped Dijak in the corner several times, despite favoring his knee. Dijak reversed with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, which was good for two. Dijak taunted Lethal, but this just enraged the champ. Lethal threw some big fists and then a trading-blows sequence broke out around the 8:00 mark.
Dijak blocked a Lethal Combination attempt, but Lethal was able to hit a German suplex. Lethal escaped a chokeslam attempt, but couldn’t dodge a big boot from Dijak. Taeler and Nana traded words on the outside, while Lethal hit the Lethal Combination on Dijak in the ring. He went for the cover slowly due to the injured knee, which allowed Dijak to kick out at two. Lethal went up top for Hail to the King. Lethal took his time, which allowed Dijak to grab Lethal by the neck on his way down! Dijak went for a chokeslam, but Lethal reversed into a roll-up. Dijak powered out and lifted Lethal for Feast Your Eyes, but Lethal broke free.
Both men went back-and-forth. Lethal went for the Lethal Injection, but Dijak somehow reversed it into a sit-out powerbomb, which was good for another nearfall! Dijak attempted a springboard moonsault out of the corner, but Lethal rolled out of the way. Lethal went for the Lethal Injection, but Nana got up on the apron. Taeler yanked Nana off the apron.
In the ring, Dijak went for Feat Your Eyes, but Kenny Omega and Matt Jackson ran to the ring. They went for a double-superkick on Lethal, but hit Dijak instead. Lethal tossed them out of the ring and hit the Lethal Injection for the victory.
WINNER: Jay Lethal via pinfall in 12:27.
ANALYSIS: The match itself was great. There was fast-paced, hard-hitting action throughout and the sequences were exciting to watch. The booking was very confusing, however. Lethal was playing a subtle babyface, despite his history with Dijak. This was magnified as Taeler played babyface to Nana’s heel actions at ringside. It sort of makes sense if ROH really is turning Lethal after Global Wars, but the Dijak factor complicates matters. The obvious path for Dijak was to be a full-blown good guy after breaking away from The House of Truth, but ROH just doesn’t seem to know what to do with Dijak. (***)
Post-match, the Guerrillas of Destiny ran into the ring and attacked Lethal, but the champ was saved by Jay Briscoe! “Man up” chants, as Briscoe cleared the ring. Taeler went to hand the title belt to Lethal, but Briscoe intercepted it. Lethal and Briscoe stared each other down to close the show.
FINAL REAX: The wrestling on this show was really good, the booking not so much. ROH booker Hunter “Delirious” Johnston is reportedly burnt-out, and that was apparent during this episode. The follow-up to the Bullet Club angle at Global Wars has been absolutely wretched so far. One week after the absence of a strong heel promo from Bullet Club, there was zero reaction from Lethal or Cabana about being brutally attacked at Global Wars. It almost feels like the big angle was a square peg that was forced into the round hole of ROH’s existing booking plans, as was evident with the confusing Lethal-Dijak situation.
Not all was bad, though. I really liked the opener between Okada and Sydal and how the announcers added something extra to that match. The promo work from both Silas Young and A.C.H. was stellar. Unfortunately, good wrestling and strong mic work only go so far in the presence of lousy booking.