In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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ROH TV Report
Aired October 9, 2016 in syndication
Aired October 12, 2016 on Comet TV
Taped August 27, 2016 in Coney Island, N.Y.
Report by Mike Metzger (@md0uble), PWTorch contributor
The ROH TV opening aired.
The crowd panned MCU Park in Coney Island before zooming in on the commentary desk. ROH TV champion Bobby Fish joined Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino at ringside, while they ran down tonight’s card.
1 – NEVER Openweight champion KATSUYORI SHIBATA vs. KYLE O’REILLY – non-title match
The announcers asked Fish about his match against Shibata during entrances. Fish said that he encouraged Shibata to throw his signature strikes during their match. Fish also admitted that he and O’Reilly had a strategy session before tonight’s match, in which he told O’Reilly the key was to not be afraid of Shibata’s strikes, but to stand right up to them. The bell rang and both men wrestled on the mat to start. There was a stalemate early, and then both men traded blows. O’Reilly was able to take Shibata down and pummel him for a moment. O’Reilly hooked on a cross arm-breaker, but Shibata quickly reversed! They jockeyed for position until there was another stalemate at the 1:55 point in the match.
Shibata took control with a chin lock. Shibata kept the pressure on by putting his knee to O’Reilly’s back several times while the hold was applied. O’Reilly tried to battle out, and eventually rolled over to the bottom rope to cause a break, as the show cut to its first break at 3:04.
Back at 5:34, Shibata had a hammerlock on O’Reilly. He took O’Reilly down and then just stomped on Kyle’s arm. O’Reilly tried to take him down into an arm-breaker, but Shibata continued to stomp away. Shibata kept up the brutality by wrenching on O’Reilly’s fingers. He applied pressure to Kyle’s arm and sat back. O’Reilly struggled while the fans tried to cheer him on. He eventually rolled over to the ropes to cause another break.
Shibata stayed on the attack with some stomps in the corner. O’Reilly stood up, got in Shibata’s face, and proceeded to throw some forearms. Despite a brief response form Shibata, O’Reilly exploded into a flurry of strikes that took Shibata to the mat! O’Reilly hit a back suplex and immediately followed up with a leg lock. Shibata kicked his way out of the hold, but Kyle was right there with a running kick to the chest. Shibata responded by sitting right up! O’Reilly hit another running kick, but Shibata sat up again! O’Reilly, frustrated, threw several more kicks, but Shibata got to his feet and no-sold them.
Shibata fought back with a sloppy kick to Kyle in the corner, followed up by a nice basement dropkick. Shibata scored a nearfall and then immediately transitioned into a cross arm-breaker, but Kyle was too close to the ropes. Shibata responded with a Judo throw and then applied a figure four around Kyle’s head, as the show cut to another break at 10:48.
Back at 13:18, Shibata nailed O’Reilly with a kick. O’Reilly dodged the PK, but Shibata nailed him with a running boot. O’Reilly responded with a kick of his own, and then both men traded boots. Shibata hooked on a Guillotine Choke, but O’Reilly was able to reverse into a head-and-arm choke! Shibata went down and O’Reilly went for the cover, but could only get two. “Shibata” chant from the crowd, while O’Reilly put his boot to Shibata on the mat. Shibata everntually got to his feet and then both men traded blows in the center. O’Reilly looked to come out on top with his Ax and Smash combo, but Shibata fought right back with an STO!
Both men go to their feet and traded blows. O’Reilly broke into another flurry of strikes and kicks that sent Shibata down to the mat. O’Reilly went for a suplex, but Shibata kicked O’Reilly in the head. Shibata followed up with a rear naked choke. He had it locked on for a good 15 seconds, until O’Reilly broke free. Both men then traded German suplexes. Shibata hit a second one, but Kyle immediately sprang to his feet and took out Shibata with a boot before collapsing to the mat, himself. O’Reilly charged at Shibata, but ran right into a kick. O’Reilly respond with a kick of his own. They jockeyed for position until O’Reilly hit a lariat, followed by a brainbuster!
O’Reilly hit a PK of his own and then another brainbuster. He went for the cover, but Shibata kicked out. O’Reilly immediately transitioned into an armbar. Shibata broke free, but O’Reilly was able to transition into another devastating hold in which he wrenched backward on Shibata’s arm. Shibata refused to give up, but NJPW referee Tiger Hattori used his discretion to call for the bell. The commentators put over Hattori’s experience in justifying his call.
WINNER: Kyle O’Reilly via referee stoppage in 18:25.
ANALYSIS: Solid match that did not disappoint. It was hard-hitting throughout, with some compelling submission sequences sprinkled in there. I thought O’Reilly was able to match Shibata in strong-style, where other ROH wrestlers have fallen short this year in bouts against both Tomohiro Ishii and Shibata. I was also happy to see O’Reilly get the clean, albeit controversial win since he seems to be Cole’s next title challenger. (***1/4)
A Field of Honor video package aired, highlighting some of the action from the show.
[M.M. Reax: This was pure filler, right down to the generic instrumental rock music that played in the background. ROH would have been better-served inserting a backstage All-Star Extravaganza promo in post-production.]
2 – ROH World champion ADAM COLE vs. TETSUYA NAITO vs. JAY LETHAL vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI – four-way ROH World Title match
“All these guys” chant from the crowd to start. It looked like Naito and Lethal would begin the match, but Naito coolly tagged out. Lethal was ready to square off against Tanahashi, instead, but Cole and Naito both tagged themselves into the match. Cole and Naito felt each other out slowly at first. Adam Cole did his signature “Adam Cole, bay bay” pose and then both men jockeyed for position until there was a stalemate around the 3:00 mark.
Naito tagged Lethal. Both men stared each other down, as the announcers made vague references about their match at All-Star Extravaganza. Tanahashi tagged in and tied up with Lethal. There was a clean break, and then Tanahashi did his air guitar pose. Tanahashi tossed Lethal into Naito on the apron. It happened again, and this time the announcers suggested that perhaps Lethal was purposely directing his motion toward Naito. Lethal proceeded to hit dives on both Cole and Naito on the outside. He then hit a third dive onto Tanahashi, as the show cut to a break at 5:24.
Back at 6:24, Lethal applied a figure-four leglock to Tanahashi in the center of the ring. Tanahashi struggled for a few seconds, until Lethal was distracted by Cole on the apron. Lethal went after Cole, but then tagged him into the match. Cole and Tanhashi faced off, as Tanahashi sold his knee. Cole mocked Tanahashi’s guitar pose before applying a chinlock. Tanahshi reversed into a chin lock of his own, and then reluctantly tagged Naito.
Naito stayed in control of Cole. Cole fought back with a bicycle kick and then a neckbreaker over the knee, which was good for a two-count. Cole mockingly called for a superkick by stomping his foot on the mat, but Lethal tagged himself in. Naito immediately sent Lethal to the outside and appeared to be going for a dive, but proceeded to pose on the mat, instead. “That was awesome” chant from the crowd.
Back in the ring, Naito hit a basement dropkick on Lethal in the corner. He feigned a tag to Tanahashi, but ended up tagging Cole, instead. Cole continued to dominate Lethal. The former champ eventually reversed with a couple of back body drops. He went for a third, but Cole backed him into the corner and tagged Naito. Naito nailed Lethal with several elbows to the head and throat. Lethal tried to crawl away and tag Tanahashi, but Naito knocked him off the apron.
Lethal fought back against Naito with a step-up enziguri, but Naito immediately ran over and tagged Cole. Naito held up Lethal for a superkick. Lethal ducked, however, causing Naito to catch Cole’s leg. Lethal was right there with a superkick to Naito and then a Lethal Combination for Cole, as the show cut to its final break at the 12:30 point in the match!
Back at 13:30, Lethal made the hot tag to Tanahashi, who came in and hit a senton splash on both Cole and Naito. Tanhashi went up top, but Naito shook the ropes and crotched Tanahashi. The honeymoon was over for Cole and Naito, though, as both men began to trade blows in the center. Naito hit a back suplex, but Lethal was able to tag himself in. Lethal went after Cole, but Cole got the upper-hand and rammed Lethal’s head into the turnbuckle. He went for a Canadian Destroyer, but Lethal rolled through and hit an Ace Crusher off the ropes. He went for the cover, but Cole barely kicked out before three!
Tanahashi and Lethal then squared off. Lethal hit a bicycle kick, but Naito re-emerged and nailed Lethal with a Tornado DDT. Cole was right there with an enziguri, before he was hit by a Slingblade from Tanahashi! When the smoke cleared, Naito positioned Lethal on the top rope. Lethal fought back, but Cole ran over and superkicked Naito in the knee. Cole then climbed up top for the superplex. Lethal fought back again and chopped Cole until he fell to the mat hard. Lethal followed up with his Hail to the King elbow smash. Tanahashi was right behind them with a top-rope High Fly Flow, but Lethal moved and nailed him with a Lethal Injection. Naito re-entered and hit Lethal with the title belt while Cole had the ref distracted. Cole then knocked Naito out of the way and locked Lethal with his Last Shot over-the-knee neckbreaker for the victory!
WINNER: Adam Cole via pinfall in 19:08 to retain the ROH World Title.
ANALYSIS: Match had an old-school feel, which is a rarity in Ring of Honor where most matches involve a lot of highspots and minimal selling. This built slowly, but surely to a hot finish, with Cole weaseling his way out of the match with his title in-hand. (***)
FINAL REAX: Another solid hour of in-ring action from ROH. All-Star Extravanganza does seem like a long time ago, yet it will be another week before most ROH viewers get to watch the fall-out from that PPV play out on TV. While the in-ring product remains strong, backstage issues and an overall lack of buzz for the product have ROH limping toward the end of 2016.