Wrestling Night in America Reunion: PWTorch columnist Greg Parks is joined by former PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill for a full match-by-match preview of WrestleMania 36
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ROH Best in the World PPV Report
Aired live June 24, 2016 on traditional PPV
Report by Mike Metzger (@md0uble), PWTorch contributor
ROH World Champion Jay Lethal and Jay Briscoe exchanged words in the opening video package.
Ringside: Kevin Kelly and ROH matchmaker Nigel McGuinness ran down tonight’s card.
1 – KYLE O’REILLY vs. KAMAITACHI
Both men wrestled on the mat to start. It quickly broke into a slugfest and an early submission attempt from O’Reilly. Kyle followed up with some stiff strikes, as he took control for the next several moments. Kamaitachi reversed a move, causing O’Reilly to land awkwardly on his knee around the 3:45 mark. The announcers sold that the apparent injury could hurt his chances in his ROH World Title match the following night at the TV tapings. Kamaitachi seized the opportunity and worked the knee. Kamaitichi applied a couple of figure-four leglock attempts, but O’Reilly was able to get to the ropes on both occasions. Kamaitachi then charged at O’Reilly, which sent him off the apron and to the floor!Upon re-entry, O’Reilly fought back with an armbar in the ropes.
Reset at 7:45 as both men traded blows in the center. O’Reilly came out on top with a knee to the face! O’Reilly continued to sell his knee, while he kicked Kamaitachi around ringside. O’Reilly missed a kick, which allowed Kamaitachi to hit a running dropkick off the apron! Kamaitachi then followed up with a seated senton onto O’Reilly on the floor! Back in the ring, Kamaitachi continued to work O’Reilly’s knee. O’Reilly went for Ax and Smash, but Kamaitachi reversed into a German suplex! Kamaitachi hit a couple of superkicks, but O’Reilly bounced back with a rebound lariat! Another reset at the 13:30 mark. O’Reilly hit a brainbuster, and then immediately transitioned into a cross arm-breaker for the victory!
WINNER: Kyle O’Reilly via submission in 13:52. Hot opener. The traditional start quickly transitioned into some sensational high-flying offense by Kamaitachi. I thought O’Reilly sold a little bit too much considering he’s getting the title shot at the next TV taping, but it put over a new star in Kamaitachi and told the story of O’Reilly gutting it out and using his submission offense to win. (***)
Young-A.C.H. video package.
2 – SILAS YOUNG vs. A.C.H.
Young refused the Code of Honor, and instead hit A.C.H. with a cheap shot. A.C.H. tried to fight back with some high-flying offense, but Silas cut him off with a jawbreaker over the top rope. Silas dominated the early portion of the match. A.C.H. eventually fought back with an enziguri around the 6:00 mark. He followed up with a series of clotheslines that literally sent the sweat flying off the body of Young. After about a minute, Silas fought back with a clothesline. He went back to his methodical office, as a “Colt Cabana” chant broke out for some reason.
Silas hit a stiff kick to A.C.H.’s head and then reversed A.C.H.’s Get Over Here with his Killer Combo! Silas went back on the attack, and then grabbed a chair from ringside. Security tried to wrestle the chair away from him, which set him up for a beautiful Air Jordan dive from A.C.H! Both men jockeyed for position in the ring. A.C.H. hit Silas with Shotgun Knees and a brainbuster, followed by Midnight Star 450 splash for the victory!
WINNER: A.C.H. via pinfall in 11:09. Basic, yet good match with an elongated heat sequence before A.C.H. finally made a comeback. Hopefully this feud doesn’t last as long as Silas-Castle did. (**1/2)
Ringside: Recent ROH signee Jay White was at ringside. The announcers hyped his impending debut.
3 – RODERICK STRONG vs. MARK BRISCOE
“Thank you Roddy” chants before the bell, as the announcers acknowledged that Strong was leaving the company. Strong refused to shake hands with Briscoe. He grabbed Mark by the hair, but yanked an apparent wig right off of Mark’s head! Mark, sporting a freshly-shaved head, beat on Roddy around ringside. Roddy dodged the Cactus Jack elbow and then catapulted Mark face-first into the ringpost! Roddy followed up with some chops, as Strong yelled, “this is my company!” Roddy continued the beat-down in the ring. Mark fought back with an elbow and some chops of his own, but Roddy knocked him back down with a leg lariat. Slight dueling chant, as Roddy was in firm control. They did a fun spot where each man tried to hit a suplex. Mark eventually won out and scored a nearfall.
Reset at around the 6:30 mark, with Mark coming out on top with a big clothesline. Mark then hit a Pele kick and positioned Strong on the top rope. Strong tried to fight out, but Mark hit his signature cross-armed Falcon Arrow out of the corner, which was good for another two-count. Mark wouldn’t let up. He went up for Froggy Bow, but Roddy got his knees up! Strong exploded into a flurry of running forearms, which was good for a nearfall. Mark reversed a double knee gutbuster into a Boston Crab, but Strong kicked out and sent Mark to the outside. Strong set Mark up top and hit a superplex, but Mark was able to reverse the momentum and roll-up Mark for two. Strong then hit the double knee gutbuster and a Gibson Driver, which was good for another nearfall. He applied the Strong Hold, but Mark quickly made it to the ropes. Dueling chant, as both men jockeyed on the apron. Mark then hit the Cactus Jack elbow off the apron Mark went up top, but Roddy dropkicked him in mid-air.
The ref counted both men at the 13:45 mark. They went into a trading-blows sequence. Roddy hit a Sick Kick out of nowhere, but Mark kicked out of the pin attempt! Mark fought back with a Sick Kick and a pair of fisherman busters for the victory! Both men shook hands and embraced after the match.
WINNER: Mark Briscoe via pinfall in 15:38. Hard-fought match for both men. They could have just gone through the motions, but you could tell that Roddy wanted to make a statement in his swan song with ROH. There were some convincing false finishes and there were times I thought Strong was actually going to win the match. The finish wasn’t particularly strong, but this was a solid 15:00 of action, nonetheless. (***1/4)
Clips aired of Bullet Club’s epic beat-down at Global Wars.
4 – BULLET CLUB (ADAM COLE & THE YOUNG BUCKS) vs. WAR MACHINE (HANSON & ROWE) & MOOSE – six-man tag team match
Matt Taven joined the commentary desk for this match. Huge “Bullet Club” chant, further proving that the big angle at Global Wars didn’t work. Bullet Club hit a triple-superkick and then followed up with triple-dives to the outside. Moose fought back with a big dive of his own onto a sea of humanity at ringside. All six men brawled around the ring. One notable spot was War Machine tossing the Bucks at each other like darts on the stage. The Bucks fought back with a double-suplex to Hanson on the ramp, and then things settled down in the ring. Bullet Club isolated Rowe, as a “too sweet” chant broke out. Moose entered and nailed Cole with a beautiful dropkick. They broke into a fun Moose/S*ck it/Adam Cole, bay bay, trading blows sequence that Bullet Club came out on top of after a triple-superkick. Rowe reappeared and went for a double-powerslam on the Bucks at ringside, but Cole broke it up with a superkick!
Back in the ring, Moose hit a beautiful flying cross-body onto all three of his opponents. Hanson told The Bucks to “s*ck it” and then hit them with a double-powerbomb! The babyfaces dominated for the next couple of minutes, until Hanson crashed-and-burned on a huge dive to the outside. There were some slight audio issues at this point, as Nick Jackson hit a moonsault onto several wrestlers at ringside. Hanson then went up top and hit a flip dive onto the same sea of humanity! Back in the ring, War Machine hit a powerbomb/frogsplash combo on Cole, but The Bucks broke up the pin attempt. Moose went for a spear, but The Bucks cut him off with a double-superkick. They broke into a sequence where each wrestler hit some big power moves. Hanson went up top for a moonsault, but the Bucks superkicked him in mid-air! Stokely Hathaway got on the apron and ate a triple-superkick for his troubles. They hit another one on Moose and then hit a Meltzer Driver. Cole climbed on top of Moose for the victory.
WINNERS: Bullet Club via pinfall in 12:55. Fun match, despite there being no actual issue between these two teams. Your typical Young Bucks-style match. Solid, but nothing particularly memorable when it was all said and done. (***1/2)
Addiction-MCMG video package.
5 – ROH World Tag Team champions THE ADDICTION (CHRISTOPHER DANIELS & FRANKIE KAZARIAN) vs. THE MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS (CHRIS SABIN & ALEX SHELLEY) – ROH World Tag Team title match
The Addiction attacked The Machine Guns off the Code of Honor. Sabin and Shelly quickly regained control before hitting some of their signature spots. Things settled with Kaz and Sabin in the ring. A cheap shot from the apron by Daniels allowed The Addiction to seize control. They isolated Sabin with some quick tags. Sabin escaped after about a minute and tagged Shelley. A miscommunication caused Kaz to spear Daniels. The Machine Guns fought off their opponents, until Daniels made a blind tag and nailed Shelley. The Addiction isolated Shelley this time. After a few minutes, Daniels missed a springboard moonsault onto Shelley on the outside, which allowed Shelley to get to his corner and make the hot tag!
Sabin cleaned house, as The Machine Guns isolated Kaz. They nailed him with a double-superkick, which was good for a nearfall. They missed a Poetry in Motion attempt, which allowed Daniels to come in and nail The Addiction’s powerbomb/neckbreaker combo on Sabin for a nearfall. They went for Celebrity Rehab, but Shelley broke it up. All four men battled in the ring, until Kaz hit an STO. Kamaitachi suddenly ran out and attacked Jay White at ringside. Kevin Kelly stumbled over White’s name, as ROH matchmaker Nigel McGuinness ran out. Meanwhile, Kaz hit Shelley with a low blow behind the ref’s back in the ring. The Addiciton then hit Best Meltzer Ever on Sabin for the victory. After the match, The Addiction celebrated with Kamaitachi on the stage.
WINNERS: The Addiction via pinfall in 12:10 to retain the ROH World Tag Team Titles. Basic stuff until the annoying run-in at the end. At least there’s a story with Kamaitachi joining The Addiction, but I’m sure many viewers were rolling their eyes. Establishing another heel in Kamaitachi is fine, as ROH needs more heels. The crowd wasn’t into this one much, which makes sense considering the lack of hype on TV and the underwhelming match itself. (**)
Steve Corino-B.J. Whitmer video package.
6 – STEVE CORINO vs. B.J. WHITMER – non-sanctioned Fight Without Honor
Corino immediately charged at Whitmer while he made his entrance. Corino set up a table, but the brief hesitation allowed Whitmer to seize control. Kevin Kelly pointed out that Corino had lost one of his front teeth during the the scuffle at ringside. In the ring, Whitmer nailed Corino with some shots and then a spinebuster. Whitmer dominated, as the crowd watched on quietly. Whitmer teased a piledriver off the apron, but Corino reversed with an STO across the edge of the ring! Corino took control and slammed Whitmer’s knee over a chair repeatedly, before Pillmanizing Whitmer’s ankle in the chair! Corino teased a chair shot to the head, but Whitmer begged off. Whitmer then punched Corino several times in the head, which busted Corino’s forehead open.
A ringside doctor attended to Corino, while Whitmer set up a table in the ring. Referee Todd Sinclair donned the latex gloves and pleaded with Corino to stop the match. Corino refused, but Whitmer grabbed him and hit two consecutive exploder suplexes through the table in the corner. Whitmer went for the cover, but Corino kicked out at one! Slight “Steve Corino” chant, as Whitmer picked up a shard of table and nailed Corino with it. Corino fought back with a superkick and big lariat, however, but Whitmer kicked out at two. Corino was a bloody mess, as he grabbed a beer bottle from the commentary desk and smashed Whitmer in the head with it! The replay aired, while Corino carved up Whitmer’s forehead with a shard of glass! Corino grabbed a pair of scissors, but then put them down in favor of some rubbing alcohol. Corino proceeded to pour it directly onto the bloody face of Whitmer, which drew an “ECW” chant from the crowd.
Corino unlaced his boot and then stuffed a baggie of coins into his sock. He went to nail Whitmer with said sock, but B.J. hit him with a roll of quarters of his own! Reset at 13:20 as the bloodied combatants traded blows in the center. Corino came out on top with a Package Piledriver, but Whitmer kicked out at two. The lights suddenly cut out. When they returned, Kevin Sullivan, of all people, appeared in the ring! He had a golden spike in his hand, as he pondered who to use it on. He ended up nailing Corino with the spike, but almost tripped as he stepped backward. Whitmer then hit an exploder and scored the pin.
WINNER: B.J. Whitmer via pinfall in about 15:00. What a spectacle. The blood was quite the novelty after not seeing it in mainstream pro wrestling for several years. It certainly fit here, considering the Fight without Honor stip and the history between these two. It actually built up to a nice crescendo. The Kevin Sullivan run-in will certainly be polarizing, but I thought it was a nice surprise for long-time fans who haven’t seen him in almost 20 years. The worst part about this match was that it didn’t settle the feud, but that is more a critique of the booking than the match itself. (***3/4)
ROH TV Title video package.
7 – ROH TV champion BOBBY FISH vs. DALTON CASTLE – ROH TV Title match
Caslte came out with four “boys” tonight. Some mat wrestling to start. Stalemate at the 2:00 mark, before they wrestled on the mat some more. The crowd seemed more energized after the last match. Fish eventually escaped out of the corner and kicked Castle’s leg out from under him. Fish began working the knee. He hit a slingshot senton, but Castle quickly kicked out of the pin attempt. Fish stayed on Castle, but Dalton came right back with a running knee. Castle set up Fish over the top turnbuckle and nailed him with a running knee strike. Decent dueling chant, as Castle hit a gut wrench suplex. Castle was in control for a minute or so. Fish eventually fought back and charged Caslte into the corner.
Castle was fanned by “the boys” at ringside. He got to his feet and nailed Fish. Both men jockeyed for position, until Castle hit a beautiful deadlift German suplex. Castle followed up with a couple of big boots and then a clothesline. Castle worked on Fish in the corner. Fish tried to reverse, and eventually did so when he locked Castle in a knee bar. Luckily for Dalton, he was close to the ropes and forced a break. Both men traded blows on the apron. Castle knocked Fish to the floor, but Fish again swept the legs of Castle and sent him hard to the floor. Fish charged Castle into the hockey boards. “The boys” ran over and fanned Castle. Fish went for a dive, but Castle caught him and threw him overhead into the crowd! Both men regrouped. Castle charged at Fish, but Bobby caught him and hit an exploder suplex into the ringpost that showed some light. Both men crawled back into the ring at a count of 19.
Reset at 15:40, as both men traded blows in the center. Castle came out on top with a series of German suplexes, including one where he just dropped Fish on his head. Fish was stunned, but he nailed Castle with a knee. Castle reversed into a Bangarang, but Fish was able to roll him up in a leverage pin for the victory!
WINNER: Bobby Fish via pinfall in 16:47 to retain the ROH TV Title. Good match. There was a bit of a hangover from the previous match early on, but I think the Corino-Whitmer helped more than it hurt as far as re-energizing the crowd. Castle is extremely over with the crowd, as was evidenced throughout the match. Castle also had some memorable spots that showcased his unreal strength. I wish there was more of an issue between these two, but both men worked hard to put on a good match. (**3/4)
The All Night Express were out next doing their “Make Wrestling Great Again” schtick. Presidential music played, as Caprice Coleman was introduced by the announcers as “The Minister of Information.” There were some fans with them, who marched around them with signs. Coleman introduced himself and stumbled through the beginning of his promo. He spoke like a politician about ANX defeating Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin four years ago to win the ROH World Tag Team Titles that they never lost. “Boring” chants, as Coleman christened the new group, The Cabinet.
Titus took the mic and went into his “Make Wrestling Great Again” schtick from recent episodes of ROH TV. Titus promised to put a “headlock on highspots.” Titus promised to enforce workout regimens for the wrestlers in the back, and accused The Young Bucks of having to rely on superkicks because they continually miss leg day at the gym. “Chairman of Championships” King took the mic and stated that the group’s mission was to win championships. Slight “this is awesome” chant, as The Cabinet repeated their slogans to close out the promo.
[M.M. Reax: The crowd hated this at first, but that was the point. I have long been a proponent of ROH adding some interview segments to their PPVs in order to break things up, and this served as a nice buffer between the two big singles title matches. The Cabinet seemed to win fans over by the end, but I hope that was just a vocal minority, as ROH is in desperate need of heels at this point.]
8 – ROH World champion JAY LETHAL (w/Taeler Hendrix) vs. JAY BRISCOE – ROH World Title match
Both men felt each other out to start. Briscoe was the first to gain an edge. Before long, Lethal fought back with a leg lariat. He followed up with a springboard dropkick out of the corner. Lethal hit two consecutive dives to the outside. He signaled for one more as Taeler led the fans in a chant. Briscoe cut him off with a big boot that sent Lethal to the floor. Briscoe then hit two consecutive dives of his own! He went for the third, and successfully nailed Lethal with a somersault plancha. Taeler grabbed Briscoe, but was immediately ejected by referee Todd Sinclair. Taeler threw a tantrum at the commentary desk, and in response, Mandy Leon got in her face before security escorted Taeler to the back. Meanwhile, Lethal hit the Lethal Combination, but Briscoe kicked out of five consecutive pin attempts.
Both men furiously traded blows around the 7:00 mark. Briscoe came out on top, as he sent Lethal to the mat. Briscoe went for an early Jay Driller. Lethal wriggled free, but Briscoe caught him in a powerbomb. Lethal kicked out of the pin attempt, but Briscoe remained on the offensive with a Death Valley Driver. Briscoe sent Lethal to outside and crawled out after him, but Lethal reversed into an Ace Crusher on the outside! Back in the ring, Lethal missed a top-rope hurricanrana. Briscoe then went for a Jay Driller off the top rope, but Lethal reversed into a hurricanrana! Lethal immediately followed up with Hail to the King, but Briscoe kicked out at two. Lethal was relentless, as he applied the figure-four leglock. Briscoe was able to quickly roll over to the bottom rope, however.
“This is awesome” chant. Lethal hit a superkick. Both men blocked each other’s respective finishers. Briscoe then hit the Lethal Injection followed by a Jay Driller, but somehow Lethal kicked out of the pin attempt! Briscoe went for another top-rope Jay Driller, this time aiming for the commentary table on the outside. Lethal escaped, however, and reversed into an ace crusher from the top rope! Lethal followed up with the Lethal Injection for the victory! After the match, both men shook hands while the crowd chanted “both these guys” and then “best in the world.”
WINNER: Jay Lethal via pinfall in 12:53 to retain the ROH World Title. Really strong main event, although it felt like it was cut short due to time constraints. Regardless, it was an action-packed match with some wild spots throughout. A fitting conclusion to the show that the crowd was fully invested in. The lack of Bullet Club interference was a positive, although I could have done without the Taeler-Mandy stuff. (***1/4)
FINAL REAX: Solid show from start to finish. There was nothing particularly offensive, other than the lackluster tag title match and perhaps the ANX segment before the main event. I never thought I’d say this, but the Corino-Whitmer bloodbath was the match of the night. The crowd was rather quiet early on, especially during the tag title match, but they came alive during the wild Fight without Honor, and were mostly invested in the rest of the show. The lack of Bullet Club interference at the end of the show was surprising. It might have been an adjustment after the negative reaction to Global Wars, but regardless, the lack of follow-up since then has just made that whole Bullet Club angle seem like a bad dream. Not a show of the year candidate by any means, but recommended viewing if you are an ROH fan, or if you want to witness an ECW-style hardcore brawl in the year 2016.