ROH 16TH ANNIVERSARY
MARCH 9, 2018
LAS VEGAS, NV AT SAM’S TOWN LIVE
AIRED LIVE ON PAY-PER-VIEW & ROH HONOR CLUB
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Ian Riccaboni, Colt Cabana
Deonna Purrazzo joined the commentary team for the opening contest.
(A) SUMIE SAKAI vs. HANA KIMURA (w/Kagetsu) – WOMEN OF HONOR CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT EIGHTH-FINAL MATCH
Kimura took a cheap shot early on but Sakai came back with a headscissors and quick roll-up. Kagetsu choked Sakai early on at ringside while Kimura distracted referee Todd Sinclair. Kimura locked in a surfboard submission before transitioning into a one-legged crab. Sakai pulled off a DDT, then a drop toe-hold and a swinging neckbreaker for a close two-count. Kimura came back with a dropkick and a charging boot to the head for a two of her own. Bridging saito suplex from Sakai for another near fall. When she went to the top rope Kagetsu grabbed her leg and Kimura capitalized with a superplex. Kimura held a long vertical suplex but Sakai kicked out again. Kagetsu tried to get involved again but Sakai moved and Kimura took out Kagetsu with a boot by mistake. Sakai went up top for a big splash onto both women on the floor. Missile dropkick on Kimura back in the ring. Kimura with a helluva kick in the corner but Sakai kicked out again. Sakai with a roll-up for another believable near fall, then a CrossRhodes-like move for the win.
WINNER: Sumie Sakai in 8:01.
-Kimura offered the code of honor but slapped Sakai instead and Kagetsu dropped her with a kick.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Kimura and Kagetsu are tag partners in Japan’s Stardom. If Kagetsu can defeat Jenny Rose in their first-round tournament match she’ll face off with Sakai herself in the quarter-finals. This was easily the best of the three WOH tournament matches that we’ve seen televised so far. Kimura and Kagetsu used all the classic heel tactics and Sakai was the fighting veteran who wouldn’t stay down.)
-Mandy Rose replaced Purrazzo on commentary for the next match.
(B) BRANDI RHODES vs. TENILLE DASHWOOD – WOMEN OF HONOR CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT QUARTER-FINAL MATCH
Dashwood tried for a quick roll-up out of the gate. The commentators announced that the tournament semi-finals will take place on the Supercard Of Honor pre-show with the finals taking place later the same night on the main card. A drop toe-hold from Dashwood sent Rhodes head-first into the corner but Rhodes rolled out to avoid The Taste Of Tenille (former Emma Sandwich). Rhodes targeted Dashwood’s left arm and hand aggressively while Leon questioned if some of her husband’s influence was showing. Slingblade from Rhodes for two. Wrap-around clothesline from Dashwood left both women down. Forearms exchanged and a tarantula from Dashwood in the ropes. She nailed The Taste Of Tenille for two. Double underhook butterfly suplex for another two. Rhodes leaped over Dashwood and cried out, claiming a knee injury. Dashwood didn’t believe her but the referee did and Rhodes hit an eyepoke while he couldn’t see. Rhodes followed with CrossRhodes for a close near fall. Dashwood side-stepped a missile dropkick and nailed The Spotlight.
WINNER: Tenille Dashwood in 7:31.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Rhodes was definitely the greenest of the four women who wrestled here tonight, which is fair as she’s only been competing for less than two years. She has the psychology down. It’s just a matter of firming up the actual speed and flow in the ring. Dashwood faces either Sakai, Kagetsu, or Rose in the semi-finals.)
Commentary: Ian Riccaboni, Colt Cabana
-A video package opened the show with ROH staff and wrestlers talking about their favorite matches in ROH history while clips of those matches played over top. It ended with Dalton Castle citing him winning the world title at Final Battle as his personal favorite. The video then shifted into a setup of all of the feuds and matches here tonight with promos mixed in.
-ROH enforcer Bully Ray was live in the ring with a mic. “Ring Of Honor is the best frickin’ pro wrestling on the planet!” He said “all thrilla, no filla.” Drink. “This ain’t sports entertainment, this is ROH!” ROH chant from the crowd.
-Riccaboni and Cabana were also fired up on commentary and ran down tonight’s card again. Pyro went off on stage as the New Japan star made his entrance.
(1) HIROMU TAKAHASHI (w/Daryl) vs. FLIP GORDON
Gordon did his kip-up sequence and Takahashi danced along. Shoulder tackle from Takahashi and Gordon kipped back up. Gordon with a handstand into a headscissors. Standing moonsault for a one count. Diving shoulder tackle through the ropes. Takahashi dropkicked Gordon through the ropes, then ran around the ring and nailed a shotgun dropkick off the apron. Takahashi yelled at Sinclair to shut up while the referee counted them out. Clothesline in the corner and a drive-by dropkick for two. Takahashi went to ringside and traded the small Daryl to a fan for a larger Daryl. He brought the cat in the ring and Daryl nailed Gordon with paws to the face. Sinclair ordered Daryl out of the ring. Gordon came back with a tornado forearm off the ropes. Samoan pop. Running shooting star. Gordon went up top but Takahashi met him in the corner. Gordon tried a flip-over power bomb but Takahashi blocked. Kinder surprise from Gordon, superkick, twisting falcon arrow and Takahashi kicked out at two. Gordon set up Takahashi for a 450 but Takhashi moved and Gordon landed on his feet. Takahashi with a Canadian Destroyer but Gordon caught him with a superkick on the way down. Sinclair began to count with both men down on the mat. They traded blows in a kneeling position before getting to their feet and continuing to slug it out. Gordon with another superkick and a Star-Spangled Stunner but Takahashi kicked out at two and a half. Gordon immediately went up top for a 450 but Takahashi got the knees up. Inside cradle and Gordon kicked out. Death valley driver to Gordon in the corner. Enziguiri from Gordon. Takahashi countered another stunner attempt into a German suplex for two. Takahashi called for Time Bomb but Gordon avoided it. Takahashi hit it a moment later for the win.
WINNER: Hiromu Takahashi in 12:21.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Solid match with a confusing finish since Takahashi rarely appears in ROH and Gordon hasn’t won a singles match in 2018. This seemed like an easy opportunity for Gordon to get a meaningful win over someone who would not be hurt by the loss. A much more straight-forward match than expected as well with only one one comedic Daryl spot.)
(2) PUNISHMENT MARTINEZ vs. “THE VILLAIN” MARTY SCURLL – WINNER EARNS A FUTURE ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH
Scurll wore a gorgeous long purple coat with metal studs on it. They started brawling during the tale of the tape. Martinez threw him with a falcon arrow and hit a running flip over the ropes onto Scurll at ringside. Scurll with a dropkick to the knee as Martinez re-entered the ring. He kept working over the leg but Martinez planted him with a curb stomp. Body slam from Martinez and a springboard senton for two. Scurll’s right eye wound up busted open. Around the world DDT on Martinez. Big slap to Martinez, who responded with a Last Ride attempt but Scurll slipped out. Martinez had not left his feet during the first four minutes but Scurll finally put him down with a brainbuster. The referee tried to check on Scurll as blood dripped down his cheek. Scurll called for the chicken wing but Martinez escaped. Scurll kicked Martinez off the ropes on a springboard attempt. Scurll went after Martinez’s leg again. Scurll wound up ringside and pulled his bag of flour out from under the ring but referee Paul Turner saw it and stopped him. Scurll threatened to punch Turner, security swarmed between them, and Martinez hit Journey Into Darkness over the ringpost onto Scurll and all the security members. Martinez took out two more security members with kicks. Martinez hit a curb stomp on Scurll on the apron and went under the ring himself. Martinez pulled out a table and set it up at ringside. Turner checked on Scurll’s cut eye but Martinez interrupted with a big fist and lay Scurll across the table. Martinez hit the ring and ran for his flip over the rope only for Scurll to move. Martinez crashed back first through the table. Scurll managed to roll Martinez back into the ring. Piledriver but Martinez kicked out at two. Scurll tried to crack the fingers but Martinez powered out. Superkick, superkick, and Scurll jumped up and down on the back of Martinez’s head. Martinez sat up Undertaker-style. Ripcord kick but Scurll avoided a spin kick. The referee ducked to avoid Martinez’s kick and Scurll pulled his bag of flour out of his pants. He feigned throwing flour at Martinez, kicked him between the legs, and rolled him up for the victory.
WINNER: Marty Scurll in 10:43.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Another match that played out quite differently than you might have expected. Scurll didn’t play the coward at all and his cheating antics were resigned to the two moments. This was incredibly fast-paced out of the gate and lots of fun.)
(3) KENNY KING vs. SILAS YOUNG – ROH WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP
Beer City Bruiser walked out onto the ramp with Young and high-fived him before heading backstage. King’s daughter was in the front row. They exchanged pinfalls but could only get one each. King with a hip toss, a body slam, and a dropkick for two. Young with a hammerlock and he booted King to ringside. King went to springboard into the ring but Young shoved him off the ropes. Young tossed King through the ropes suddenly and King crashed into an ROH photographer, which may or may not have been intentional. King suplexed Young and himself backwards over the top rope to the floor. Referee Todd Sinclair reached 19 before both men were able to roll back in. When Young wound up at ringside again King hit a corkscrew flip over the ropes onto him. Overhead belly to belly suplex from King on the floor. Big crossbody off the top rope onto Young in the ring for two. Spinebuster for another two. Young tried for Misery, King tried to counter into Royal Flush, but Young escaped as well. With King on Young’s shoulders, Sinclair got bumped. Young hit Misery but King kicked out by the time Sinclair finally made the count. King rolled up Young but Young kicked out at two. Young with a roll-up but King was in the ropes and Young got caught with Royal Flush.
WINNER: Kenny King in 14:39 to retain the ROH TV title.
-Austin Aries suddenly walked out onto the stage with four title belts hanging over his arms including the Impact World Championship. He congratulated King on a hard-fought victory. “I’ve been traveling the globe, collecting belts, and it just so happens there’s one title in Ring Of Honor I’ve never held – the ROH Television Championship.”
(Pageot’s Perspective: Wow! I don’t think anyone saw that coming. King held onto the gold in his hometown. He and Young are always good in the ring with each other. Both men avoided and countered each other’s signature offense throughout which is great storytelling considering how many times they’ve faced each other over the past three months. Aries’ appearance seems to be setting up a TV title match for Supercard Of Honor. Riccaboni implied that Young is deserving of staying in the TV title conversation so maybe a three-way?)
(4) THE HUNG BUCKS (Hangman Page, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson) vs. SOCAL UNCENSORED (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, & Scorpio Sky) – STREET FIGHT FOR THE ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
The champions dove over the ropes onto the heels before the bell. Page with a buckle bomb on Kaz into boots from the Bucks. Nick set up a chair in the ring. The Bucks sat Sky down and hit him with stereo dropkicks. Page dropped Kaz on the folded up chair and hit a dropsault on Daniels and Kaz. Sky took a garbage can to the face and Page power bombed him on the entranced ramp. Nick with a corkscrew flip over the ropes onto Daniels. Page introduced his nail-studded belt but Sky caught him with a kendo stick from behind. Nick held Daniels while Page cracked him with the kendo. Matt held Daniels up for a running shooting star press from Page off the apron. The Bucks pulled a table out from under the ring. Kaz was busted open and bleeding badly from the forehead. Kaz was laid across the table on the floor while Matt went up top. Kaz moved and Daniels shoved Matt off and through the table. At the five-minute mark SoCal took control for the first time. They triple-teamed Nick in the ring with one move after another. Kaz leapt over the top rope and landed on Page with a hurricanrana. Kaz hit Nick with a chair while Daniels hit Matt with a garbage can. Daniels hit a leg drop on a kendo stick that see-sawed across a chair and low-blowed Nick. Sky and Kaz held Nick on a chair while Daniels told him to “suck it!” SoCal too-sweeted each other to loud boos.
Nick avoided a kendo shot from Sky and Daniels took the swing. Kaz whipped a garbage can at Nick. Sky with a leaping hurricanrana took Nick off the apron to the floor. Kaz and Sky with slingshot cutters on Matt and Nick. Page returned with the garbage can lid and unloaded on all three opponents. Kaz got one of his own and they went back and forth on each other’s heads. Kaz got the better but Page grabbed his nail belt and whipped Kaz across the back. Nick unloaded with kicks on Daniels and Sky. Sky threw a chair at him. Daniels set up a chair but Matt saved his brother. Daniels gave Matt a sidewalk slam across the seat of the chair. Daniels and Sky went to ringside and rearranged the metal barricades, building a table out of three out of them. They tried to suplex Matt over the ropes but Nick caught him. Sharpshooters from the Bucks on Daniels and Sky. Kaz broke it with a kendo stick. Page with the buckshot lariat on Sky. Daniels with Best Moonsault Ever on Page. Daniels tried for Angel’s Wings but Page gave him a back drop over the ropes and onto the barricade table. Kaz ended up splayed out across a table at ringside. Nick pulled a ladder out from under the ring and scaled it but Sky tipped him off and hit a cutter on the apron. Matt with a jumping DDT to Sky on the apron. Matt superkicked Kaz back onto the table and started climbing the ladder despite his bad back. Matt balanced on the very top and hit a big diving elbow that put Kaz through the table. Nick set up Sky in the ring with a garbage can across his chest. Nick hit a 450 on the garbage can and Sky but Shane Taylor pulled Todd Sinclair out of the ring to prevent the three count.
Taylor with an apron bomb to Nick. Big knee to Page’s face. Matt with a superkick to Taylor. And another. Page with a kendo shot to Taylor and he was able to get him up for the Rite of Passage with a follow-up spike from Nick. SoCal returned and tossed Page and Matt. They zip-tied Page’s wrists around the ringpost. The Bucks with superkicks on everyone in the ring. Meltzer Driver attempt on Sky but Sky escaped and Daniels yanked Nick off the apron. Sky with a cutter on Matt. Kendo stick choke hold from Sky on Matt while Kaz locked in a leg submission. Daniels held Nick at ringside so Matt was forced to tap.
WINNERS: Socal Uncensored in 18:50 to capture the ROH six-man titles.
-SoCal took off with the titles and Vinny Marseglia and TK O’Ryan hit the ring to beat down the Bucks some more. Bully Ray ran out and chased them off.
(Pageot’s Perspective: The wild street fight covered about as much ground as you might hope for. Nearly every weapon you can think of and nonstop action. Christopher Daniels is your first ROH grand slam champion which is one more fitting addition to his long list of career highlights, a career which just might be coming to an end this December. The commentators questioned how SoCal will hang onto the titles going forward since not every match can be a street fight.)
(5) MATT TAVEN vs. CODY (w/Brandi Rhodes & Bury The Drug-Free Bear)
Taven wore the ring of honor to the ring. The rest of The Kingdom were not with him due to what just happened moments ago. Taven bailed to ringside immediately. He stuffed the ring in ring announcer Bobby Cruise’s vest for safe keeping. Cody went for CrossRhodes quickly but Taven escaped. Bury distracted Taven at ringside and Cody took Taven out with a dive. Cody asked Cruise for the ring so Taven jumped him from behind. Flatliner from Cody for two. Hip toss and American death lock but Taven made it to the ropes. Taven did a cartwheel and the old Stardust hand parting. Cody with a DDT. They traded chops in the ropes. Taven slid to the floor and wound up between Bury and Brandi. Taven avoided a splash from Cody and hit a suicide dive of his own that took out Cody. Double underhook backbreaker from Taven. The commentators questioned if Cody’s been spreading himself too thin with Bullet Club, All In, Bury, Kenny Omega, and the ring of honor. Taven avoided a power slam attempt and locked in a bow and arrow. Beautiful Disaster avoided and Taven with a Boston crab. Cody kicked out but took a knee to the face. Taven tried for a springboard moonsault but Cody got the knees up. Cody with the power slam for two. Alabama slam for another two. Brandi went under the ring and pulled out a steel chair, which she handed to Bury. Cody with a missile dropkick on Taven. Bury slid the chair into the ring. As the referee tossed it, Taven cracked Cody across the back with his walking stick and hit CrossRhodes on Cody for two. Both men went for springboard kicks simultaneously and collided in the air. Taven up top for a frog splash but Cody rolled out of the way. Beautiful Disaster connected. Climax from Taven for another close two count. Cody went for a splash from the second rope but Taven ducked and referee Paul Turner went down. With all three men down in the ring O’Ryan and Marseglia jumped the guard rail. They held up Cody for another running low blow from Taven but Cody pulled a cup out of his pants as they celebrated. (He read my preview column!) Bully Ray chased off the Kingdom stooges again as Taven realized Cody was fine. CrossRhodes sealed it.
WINNER: Cody in 14:14.
-Cody posed with the ring of honor back on his hand and his wife and his bear at his side. Taven slunk off only for Bury to shove Cody down to the mat. Bury slowly lifted off his head to reveal… Kenny Omega! Omega took out Cody with the V-Trigger. Brandi got hot and slapped Omega. She asked if Omega was going to hit her and he insisted he wouldn’t so she grabbed him and kissed him instead in a call back to Cody kissing Kota Ibushi during their tag match at Honor Rising. Omega looked confused and disgusted. Once Brandi and the others left Omega played to the crowd on the turnbuckle while still dressed as a bear from the neck down.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Cody continues to come across as the biggest star in the company. The Omega appearance was somewhat unexpected and a great use of Bury here tonight. Now that the Cody/Taven feud is over I suspect we see Cody go back into full heel mode for the build to Supercard Of Honor. That show already feels huge based on the main event alone.)
(6) MOTOR CITY MACHINE GUNS (Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley) vs. THE BRISCOES (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) – ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Both teams went after each other immediately before the bell at ringside. Mark and Sabin started things off in the ring. Mark and Jay worked over Sabin in their corner with repeated tags. The Briscoes are 8-time ROH tag team champions but haven’t held the titles since dropping the belts to reDRagon at the 11th Anniversary. The champions took control temporarily but Mark hit a blockbuster on Shelley on the floor. Sabin shoved Jay into the ring post and Shelley did the same to Mark. Mark came up wearing the crimson mask. Shelley punched him and wiped Mark’s blood on his cheek. Jay came in angry and unloaded on both Guns. Mark went for a dropkick through the ropes but Shelley moved and Mark took out Jay. Sabin followed by taking out both men. Assisted sliced bread to Mark in the ring. Cradle shot but Jay broke up the pin. Dream Sequence on Jay. A neckbreaker and froggy-bow combination got the Briscoes a two count. Some crowd members started a “man up” chant but Mark told them to shut up. Mark and Shelley went down at ringside and Jay hit the Jay Driller on Sabin but he kicked out at two. Riccaboni and Cabana questioned how many people have ever done that. The Briscoes followed up with a Doomsday Device on Sabin and Mark held Shelley down at ringside while Jay made the pin.
WINNERS: The Briscoes in 13:41 to capture the ROH tag team titles.
(Pageot’s Perspective: The Briscoes have been on a tear and built up incredibly strong the past five months but the same cannot be said of the Machine Guns. That became evident the longer the match went on. Sabin and Shelley just have no personalities. This is partly on them but also largely due to the fact that they never get promo time. What do we really know about Chris and Alex? The #1 area where ROH could learn a thing or two from NXT is in terms of character development and establishing who these people are besides just being great wrestlers. Overall this match just felt disappointing considering I thought there was a chance they could steal the show going in. Maybe it was the lack of heat behind the now-former champions or maybe it was the crowd coming down following the Cody match and Omega appearance.)
(7) DALTON CASTLE (w/The Boys) vs. JAY LETHAL – ROH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Castle caught Lethal in Bang-A-Rang position early on but Lethal quickly escaped. The went after each other slowly in the opening minutes. Castle took Lethal down with an around the world hurricanrana at ringside. Lethal caught him with his patented suicide dive and followed with number two but Castle prevented a third with a bear hug into a German suplex on the floor. They fought around the ringside area and Lethal drove Castle head-first into the timekeeper’s bell. Lethal cleared their table and tried for a suplex. Castle fired back and shoved Lethal into the side of the table. One boy fanned Castle but Lethal hit him with a springboard dropkick. The Boy was knocked off the apron into the arms of ring announcer Bobby Cruise who then took an accidental suicide dive from Lethal. Cabana left the commentary table to check on Cruise. He said Cruise has never taken a bump like that before. The wrestlers finally returned to the ring.
Lethal Combination for two. Torture rack from Lethal into a reverse Samoan drop. Dead-lift German suplex from Castle for two. Lethal hit a cutter and looked for Lethal Injection but Castle hit a forearm to the back. Lethal countered Bang-A-Rang into a figure four but Castle made it to the ropes. When Lethal went for the hold again Castle rolled him up. Kick out. Lethal Injection. Kick out! Both men wound up on the apron. Lethal seemed to want a cutter but Castle fell to the floor and Lethal hit a baseball slide. Lethal threw Castle knee-first onto the apron and tried for a cutter on the apron again. Castle countered with a German suplex that sent them both flying and Lethal flipping in mid-air, landing on his head and shoulder on the ringside mats.
Back in the ring Lethal pulled off his wrist tape and they traded punches. Castle’s injured knee gave out and he fell but recovered. Lethal with an enziguiri and a superkick. Castle side-stepped Lethal Injection, tried for a Bang-A-Rang, Lethal rolled through, but Castle lifted him up and finally hit Bang-A-Rang successfully.
WINNER: Dalton Castle in 26:04 to retain the ROH world title.
-Lethal got into Castle’s face during the post-match celebration and the music cut out. A disappointed Lethal obeyed the code of honor before leaving. Marty Scurll quickly walked down to the ring. He pointed at Castle’s belt and Castle held it in the air while grinning.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Some have said that Castle doesn’t feel like a main eventer yet so wins like this will definitely help point him in that direction. I wonder how much of that perception is due to the fact that he didn’t have a long, multi-title run in another company before climbing to the top here like Lethal and Daniels in TNA and Cody in WWE. Castle never held the TV title as a stepping stone either like so many have in ROH history. Castle’s definitely one of the most fully-formed characters and assured personalities in ROH, though, so a heated feud with a top heel would do wonders for his title reign now much as how his feud with Silas Young helped build him up to his current level. Despite its length this match never quite reached “instant classic” status but maybe I’ll feel different on a second viewing. We went off the air at 11:58 PM E.S.T.
Overall a very enjoyable show if a bit of a quieter affair compared to the year-ending Final Battle that preceded it and the Wrestlemania -weekend Supercard Of Honor that’s coming up next. No big surprises in any of the match outcomes but the Aries appearance definitely qualifies and the fans loved seeing Kenny Omega unadvertised. This is the second live event I’ve watched through Honor Club now and again I had absolutely zero problems loading or watching the show. Great quality and $10/month to watch every single ROH live event going forward is a steal even if some people are understandably disappointed at the current lack of 2002-2010 footage in the video vault .)