KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
(Search "wade keller" to subscribe in podcast app)
ROH TV Report
Aired June 19, 2016 in syndication
Aired June 22, 2016 on Comet TV
Taped May 11, 2016 in Toronto, Ont.
Report by Mike Metzger (@md0uble), PWTorch contributor
The ROH TV opening aired.
The camera panned the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto, as Kevin Kelly hyped that Best in the World will take place this Friday on PPV. Kelly and ROH matchmaker Nigel McGuinness ran down the Best in the World card, while Gedo and Dalton Castle made their way to the ring for tonight’s opening contest.
1 – DALTON CASTLE (w/ “the boys”) vs. GEDO
Both men shook hands and then the bell rang. Slow start, as the announcers talked exclusively about the implications of the ROH World Title match at Best in the World. Stalemate at 0:50. The announcers shifted to an A.C.H.-Silas Young discussion. Meanwhile, Castle did his signature lean-back pose, until his back was all the way on the mat. Gedo tried to take advantage, but Castle caught him in an amateur-style suplex. Gedo rolled to the outside, where he was fanned by “the boys.” Gedo took exception, though, and raked them both in the eyes. Gedo re-entered the ring and kicked Castle in the gut, as the show cut to its first break at the 2:23 point in the match.
Back at 4:53, Gedo had Castle in a chin lock. Castle fought out, but Gedo immediately cut him off with a shot to the ribs. Castle battled back with an elbow and a forearm. He charged at Gedo in the corner and then delivered a couple of running knee strikes. Castle hit a suplex and went for the Bangarang, but Gedo countered into a sunset flip for two. Gedo hit a jawbreaker and then a kick, which was good for another two-count. One of “the boys” got on the apron and raked Gedo in the eyes, which allowed Castle to hit the Bangarang for the victory!
WINNER: Dalton Castle via pinfall in 6:58.
After the match, the announcers hyped the ROH TV Title match between champion Bobby Fish and Dalton Castle at Best in the World.
ANALYSIS: The most basic of matches. More of an opportunity for the announcers to hard-sell other matches on this Friday’s PPV than anything else. (*1/2)
Video package: Late last year, B.J. Whitmer attempted to get Steve Corino suspended after he was specifically warned not to put his hands on the wrestlers. Corino resisted at first, but eventually gave in after Whitmer “touched on Corino’s family.” A Kevin Kelly narration talked of Corino “passing his legacy” to Mr. Wrestling III. Kelly transitioned to Whitmer “brainwashing” Corino’s son Colby, which pushed Corino’s buttons even further. Kelly then segued into Whitmer stalking Corino’s wife and child. Kelly closed the segment by declaring that, “it ends in an unsanctioned Fight without Honor.”
Backstage: Adam Cole talked about Best in the World being one week away. Cole promised not to interfere in the ROH World Title match between Jay Lethal and Jay Briscoe because he would rather just “pick up the scraps” after their match.
Clips aired from Best in the World 2015 when Jay Lethal defeated Jay Briscoe to capture the ROH World Title. Clips then aired from the Conquest Tour in San Antonio, Texas, when Briscoe had a visual pin on Lethal in a multi-man match after a ref bump. Lethal cut a promo after the match, declaring that there was “nobody left.” Briscoe interjected and claimed he would have beaten him if that ref wasn’t knocked out. Lethal responded by simply walking away from Briscoe.
[Reax: There was actual hype for this match, apparently. Too bad none of this aired during those endless weeks of dated programming during April and May. These clips helped make sense of why Briscoe was receiving the title shot at Best in the World, but unfortunately it just felt too little, too late.]
2 – TOMOHIRO ISHII vs. WILL FERRARA
Before the bell, Ishii refused to shake Ferrara’s hand. Ferrara threw some forearms, but Ishii shoulder-tackled him hard to the mat. Ferrara threw some more forearms that staggered Ishii a little. Ferrara quickly followed up with a dropkick that took Ishii off his feet! Ferrara hit a neckbreaker and scored a one-count. Ishii fought back with a scoop slam and a couple of nearfalls. Ishii taunted Ferrara on the mat and then kicked him in the gut. Ferrara fought back with a couple of clotheslines. He charged at Ishii with an elbow in the corner and then followed up with a Samoan Drop, which was good for another nearfall.
Ferrara appeared frustrated. He went for a suplex, but Ishii reversed into one of his own. Ishii followed up with some chops and strikes in the corner. He hit a couple of Irish whip/corner clothesline combinations, which was good for another two-count. Ferrara attempted to fight out of the corner and then slapped Ishii right in the face! Ferrara went for a small package, but Ishii kicked out at two. Ishii nailed him with a stiff clothesline and then hit a brainbuster for the victory.
WINNER: Tomohiro Ishii via pinfall in 4:08.
ANALYSIS: Shorter than the opener, but it felt like a lot more happened during this match. Ferrara played the scrappy underdog well, but it was obvious Ishii would be going over strong here. (**)
Backstage: Jay and Mark hyped tonight’s eight-man tag team main event, in which they will team with ROH World Champion Jay Lethal and Roderick Strong to face Bullet Club. Jay specifically called out The Guerrillas of Destiny, referring to him and Mark as “The Monkeys of Sandy Fork, some bad-*ss monkeys who are gonna eat your face off!”
Steve Corino promo
Steve Corino was out next. The announcers talked up the back-story between him and B.J. Whitmer, while Corino made his methodical entrance. He grabbed the mic and declared himself “an evil man.” Corino claimed to believe in destiny. He talked up his “extreme” days when he “took barbed wire to Terry Funk… and enjoyed it.” He also talked of convincing Dusty Rhodes’ to cut Magnum T.A.’s brake lines because he was jealous of him. Corino said that he did those things for his own selfish gain and that at the end of day, he was who he was.
Corino transitioned into talking about how he didn’t want to be that way anymore after he met his wife. “But let’s face it, that’s just a fairy tale and I am who I am,” Corino remarked. Corino turned his attention onto Whitmer, calling him “the biggest piece of trash to ever step in this ring.” Corino said that Whitmer went too far when he stalked his wife and child. Corino then admitted to wearing a mask. But, it wasn’t the mask of Mr. Wrestling III- it was the mask of wearing a three-piece suit to appease Kevin Kelly and the mask of dying his hair black “just to fit in.”
Corino told Whitmer that he was already in hell, but promised to take Whitmer there with him. Corino got emotional and looked into the camera. He demanded Whitmer look into his eyes and promised that B.J. wouldn’t be in ROH after he “takes out the trash” at Best in the World.
[Reax: Solid promo from Corino, although there’s really no way to salvage anything that B.J. Whitmer is involved with at this point. Hopefully, their feud finally ends at Best in the World and Corino makes good on his promise to rid ROH of Whitmer once and for all.]
Backstage: ROH World Champion Jay Lethal was with Taler Hendrix. He called out Bullet Club for taking advantage of the numbers game. Lethal was curious to find what will happen tonight when the numbers were even. Lethal spoke of his partners Roderick Strong and The Briscoes, and said that he knew “they can go,” but wondered if Bullet Club would be up for the challenge.
The show then cut to backstage comments from Roderick Strong. Strong considered Bullet Club’s attack on Ring of Honor as an attack against Mr. ROH, himself. Strong promised that his team would have their hands raised tonight and that would be “too sweet.”
3 – BULLET CLUB (KENNY OMEGA & MATT JACKSON & TAMA TONGA & TANGA LOA) vs. ROH World champion JAY LETHAL (w/Taeler Hendrix) & RODERICK STRONG & THE BRISCOES (MARK & JAY BRISCOE) – eight-man tag team match
The announcers were surprised that Omega was subbing for Nick Jackson and acted as if they were unaware of his injury at the time this was taped. Matt Jackson and Mark Briscoe started the match. Jackson nailed Briscoe with a thumb to the eyes and then did the “s*ck it” routine. Mark fought back with a Red Neck Kung Fu chop. Brief stalemate at the 0:50 mark, before Mark nailed Jackson with a big boot that was good for a nearfall. Strong tagged in and ran the ropes. Jackson knocked him to the mat with an elbow and tagged Omega.
Lethal tagged in and then both men stared each other down in the center. Huge “Bullet Club” chant, but Omega walked over and tagged Loa, instead. Lethal charged at Omega on the apron, but Loa attacked him from behind. Omega then tagged back in and stomped on Lethal in the corner. Lethal fought back with some right hands, but then ran into Omega’s boot in the corner. They jockeyed for position, until Lethal hit a cartwheel dropkick and tagged in Jay Briscoe. Jay stomped on Omega in the corner and quickly tagged his brother. The Briscoes double-teamed Omega a bit. Omega eventually raked Jay in the eyes, and then all eight men entered the ring and brawled.
When the smoke cleared, Lethal sent Omega to the floor and then dove onto Tonga on the outside. Jay then held Loa for Lethal, who hit another big dive! Lethal then went for yet another dive, but Omega yanked him out of the ring and threw him into the hockey boards at ringside. The fans clapped along to the Terminator theme, but Strong cut him off with a beautiful dropkick, as the show cut to its final break at the 5:54 mark.
Back at 6:54, Strong was still in control of Omega. Kenny fought back and tagged Jackson. Matt came in and superkicked all of his opponents off the apron! He then went to the outside and nailed Strong with a superkick as well. Jackson went up top. He feigned a splash, but then just nailed Strong with another superkick, instead. He went for the cover, but Strong kicked out at two. Matt went for another one, but Strong caught him in a suplex and tagged Mark! Tonga also tagged in. They jockeyed until Tonga hit a beautiful dropkick of his own. Mark fought back with some Red Neck Kung Fu, but Tonga was able to reverse into a rolling cutter
Lethal and Omega then tagged in at the same time and a slugfest ensured mid-ring! They traded superkicks. Lethal went for the Lethal Injection, but got caught by Omega. Jackson superkicked Omega by accident, and then several men ran into the ring. When the smoke cleared, Omega nailed Lethal with a Dragon suplex, but Lethal landed in his own corner and tagged Jay. Briscoe came in and cleaned house. A sequence began where each guy got in some big spots. It climaxed with Loa holding up Jay for a double-superkick from Omega and Jackson. Lethal jumped in the way and took the superkick in place of Briscoe, which allowed Jay to break free and nail Loa with the Jay Driller for the victory!
WINNERS: Jay Lethal & Roderick Strong & The Briscoes via pinfall in 11:42.
After the match, Strong chose not to shake hands with The Briscoes and walked to the back. Lethal and Briscoe did the obligatory pre-PPV stare-down in the ring.
ANALYSIS: Great main event. The cute spots early on quickly built up to an action-packed finish. I was a little surprised that one-half of the IWGP Hvt. tag champs took the pinfall here, but this taping has featured more give-and-take between the ROH and NJPW talent overall. Lethal sacrificing himself for Briscoe at the end was a nice touch, but it felt about as forced as this whole “Biggest Rematch in ROH History” hype that viewers have been force-fed since the match was announced last month. (***)
The show ended with several wrestlers cutting brief promos on their Best in the World opponents.
[Reax: This was better than just airing the match graphics, but the comments were pretty generic and it reminded me how little TV time was actually spent building a majority of these matches.]
FINAL REAX: This show felt more like a victory lap than a race to the finish when it came to selling the PPV. Kudos to the announcers for hard-selling the show throughout, but the hype became overbearing by the end of the episode. The wrestlers in the main event played their parts well, but it felt like they were just going through the motions. The same can be said about the booking, which is still in need of a major overhaul. There was zero reason to feature Ishii-Ferrara, yet TV champ Bobby Fish and tag champs The Addiction are relegated to cutting 30-second promos at the very end of the show.
Ring of Honor is back to its usual position of being a non-factor in the current pro wrestling landscape, and my only hope is that they don’t attempt something controversial merely for the sake of generating a buzz this Friday on PPV. What ROH needs to do is take a deep breath and re-evaluate their long-term booking strategy, and not further alienate its fans who already feel pushed to the brink.