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ROH MANHATTAN MAYHEM
JULY 20, 2019
NEW YORK, NY AT HAMMERSTEIN BALLROOM
AIRED ON ROH HONOR CLUB
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Ian Riccaboni, Colt Cabana, Caprice Coleman
We opened in the arena with the commentary trio running down the card.
(Pageot’s Perspective: For the first time ever ROH is streaming their TV tapings live on Honor Club. Six matches are on the docket tonight, being recorded for future episodes of television, but these do not technically constitute as spoilers. From what I’ve been told ROH Television will be undergoing a complete overhaul in the months to come with the end result likely being closer to the U.S. NJPW television show in terms of being a compilation of best matches and greatest hits from recent live events.)
(1) “THE OCTOPUS” JONATHAN GRESHAM vs. DRAGON LEE
Riccaboni pitched this as a rematch from NJPW’s recent Best Of Super Juniors tournament. (Lee won that one in 9:42.) Very fast paced action right out of the gate. Lee channeled his brother Rush early, calling Gresham a dog. They allowed one another to chop them and it quickly turned into a slugfest. Gresham kicked Lee low to boos from the crowd (shades of his victory over Silas Young at Best In The World) as the commentators questioned how low he hit and whether or not it should constitute a DQ. Gresham took Lee to the mat and aggressively worked him over as the crowd began to turn on him. Gresham got in the ref’s face. Hammerlock bodyslam for a two-count on Lee. Gresham worked over Lee’s arm but Lee fired up and connected with his brother’s finishing move, The Bull’s Horns. Another series of slap attacks. Lee seemed to come up on top but Gresham kipped up into an enziguiri. Tilt-a-whirl DDT from Gresham. Rolling German suplex from Lee. Inside-out lariat from Gresham. Bridging German for two! Whew. Gresham wound up hung up in the corner and took a double-stomp. Running knee from Lee for a near-fall. Lee pulled his knee pad down and nailed a second. Gresham was out.
WINNER: Dragon Lee in 10:07.
(Pageot’s Perspective: That was Ring Of Honor. That is the kind of wrestling that put ROH on the map and led to WWE coming calling every time they were looking to find their next top star of the future. Gresham’s more aggressive side shows itself again. Is it the first start of a heel turn? Is it a red herring? Is it just a new rougher babyface attitude to cope with his frequent losses? Does it have any correlation to what his best friend Jay Lethal’s been going through? Nothing is obvious yet and that’s always nice.)
-ROH World Champion Matt Taven made his entrance wearing a Boston Red Sox jersey to loud boos. Taven said the last time he was in New York City was the greatest time of his life because all the melvins got to see him to take home the world title. He bragged about throwing out the first pitch at Fenway Park earlier this week. Taven said his long feud with Lethal comes to an end tonight. Tonight he’ll prove to all the haters that he’s the ROH world champion and he’s better than Lethal.
Kenny King interrupted. He said he wanted to say what everybody was thinking. “That’s a lame ass jersey on a lame ass person.” He told the fans to shut up because the Yankees suck too. King didn’t care that Taven beat Lethal and Scurll because last time they were in NYC he beat Jushin Thunder Liger and The Great Muta (in a battle royal). He said this is the new ROH and they want to do some live and unpredictable shit. He told Taven to add him to tonight’s title match. (King is owed a world title match due to winning the Honor Rumble at G1 Supercard.) He threatened to send Taven to a hospital bed next to David Ortiz. Taven ran down the list of challengers he’s already beaten and said he’d be happy to add King to the match. King was pleased and peaced out.
Lethal stormed the ring. He got in Taven’s face about accepting the stipulation without conferring with him first. They came to blows until security and referees separated them. Taven left and Lethal paced around, frustrated at losing his singles match and being thrown into a new situation that he didn’t have time to plan for.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Kenny King is going to win the world title tonight. Wow. That’s one way to kick off this “new era” of Ring Of Honor. It’s a culmination of King’s stories from the past year and Taven is a big enough star now that he can stay over as a main event heel without the belt. Don’t be surprised if Rhett Titus gets involved to reunite The All-Night Express as the world title express.)
(2) THE BOUNCERS (Beer City Bruiser & Brawler Milonas) vs. SOLDIERS OF SAVAGERY (Moses & Kaun) vs. COAST 2 COAST (LSG & Shaheem Ali)
This was the debut match for Soldiers Of Savagery. They only appeared three times in ROH prior to this, attacking Lifeblood and possibly working in cahoots with Shane Taylor. Bruiser and LSG started. After a couple seconds Ali and Kaun tagged themselves in. Kaun with a side suplex. Milonas and Moses tagged in. The big men faced off. Milonas humorously called him “fat boy.” They ran into each other and bounced back and forth. S.O.S. worked over LSG. Tag to Ali but S.O.S. took over on him too. Things broke down. Milonas into a ring post by Moses. Bruiser whipped into a clothesline from S.O.S. Double powerbomb to Bruiser through the timekeeper’s table. The referee threw them out of the match. S.O.S. were officially disqualified but the match continued (which hardly seemed fair to Bruiser).
C2C went to work on Milonas. LSG was thrown over the ring post to the floor. Closing Time to Ali.
WINNERS: The Bouncers in 7:42.
-The red balloons appeared and TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia hit the ring, wailing away on The Bouncers with steel chairs. Marseglia sat down and lit a cigar. He smoked a few puffs. Marseglia reminded us that The Bouncers have a tag title match tomorrow night (due to winning a gauntlet match at State Of The Art on June 2). He said The Kingdom should have been given a tag title match a long time ago. He put out the cigar on Bruiser’s chest while Bruiser screamed. The Kingdom sipped some whisky. Marseglia left and O’Ryan called out Rush for their scheduled match.
(Pageot’s Perspective: That was a very busy segment. S.O.S. looked fine in their debut. Moses’ gear gave me Shield vibes on their initial debut and hitting a team-up powerbomb through a table certainly doesn’t shake those associations. I like the call of having them DQ’ed and tossed from the match rather than shrugging it off as “anything goes in a triple threat” like WWE would. The Bouncers pick up a win ahead of their title match tomorrow but the Kingdom involvement would seem to foreshadow they’re not getting the belts. Stabbing the cigar out on Bruiser was something more aggressive than we’re used to seeing in ROH. Is a bit of an AEW influence beginning to creep in?)
(3) RUSH vs. TK O’RYAN
O’Ryan requested this one, a rematch from Rush’s ROH debut back on January 20 TV. Rush dominated until O’Ryan managed to land a lucky punch at ringside. He took over and hit a Three Amigos trio of suplexes on the luchador before emulating Eddie Guerrero’s shimmy dance to boos. Rush went nuts at 6:00 and ran O’Ryan around the ringside area, hurling him into the guardrails and security guards. The commentators sold the energy and Coleman predicted this match would be over in the next two minutes. The Bull’s Horns came 90 seconds later.
WINNER: Rush in 7:45.
-Rush fist-bumped fans in the front row, including one in a Rush mask. The “fan” jumped the guardrail and pummeled away at him, throwing him into the guardrail and ring post before hitting The Bull’s Horns on Rush in the ring. Dalton Castle unmasked.
(Pageot’s Perspective: I was conditioned to tune out when O’Ryan was introduced for a singles match but Rush’s star power ensured all eyes were on the ring. I guess he’s a babyface again? He was positioned that way upon his debut by feuding with The Kingdom. Then he started feuding with Lifeblood and Dalton Castle and acting like an asshole. But now he’s back to wrestling heels and fist-bumping fans.)
-A Jay Lethal vignette aired on his experience wrestling in Madison Square Garden at G1 Supercard. He spoke like his usual self but said heelish things like that he doesn’t care what the ROH title means to other people, he knows what it means to him, and that he cannot leave NYC without the world title.
-Alex Shelley joined commentary for the next match, which is the world title. Cabana complimented him on his new look. Shelley looked and talked with a shade of Keanu Reeves to him. He will challenge the winner for the world title at Summer Supercard on August 9 in Toronto.
(4) MATT TAVEN vs. JAY LETHAL vs. KENNY KING – ROH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Taven powdered to ringside to let Lethal and King go at it. Taven pulled Lethal out and they went at each other until a corkscrew tornado from King took out both of them. King went to work on Lethal in the ring. Taven returned and took over control on Lethal. Taven and King wrestled for a bit while Lethal sold at ringside. Lethal Combination to King. Enziguiri to Taven. Lethal tossed King to the floor and set Taven up for a Lethal Injection. King returned to thwart things, though. All three men threw hands. All three were down on the mat at 10:00.
Taven with a suicide dive to both men at once. He jumped and dove over the ropes onto King but turned around into a suicide dive from Lethal. A second to King. A third to King. Hail To The King elbow drop blocked by King’s boot. Lethal with the figure four instead. Taven with a frog-splash to break it up. Taven with the figure four to King. Lethal with the elbow drop. Taven rolled over to avoid it but reversed the pressure, putting himself in figure four peril instead. Lethal locked on a crossface. King broke it up. Chinchecker from King to Lethal and a springboard kick from Taven. Springboard double blockbuster from King to both men. Taven countered the Royal Flush into a small package. Just The Tip (of the knee) to King. Lethal Injection to Taven at 15:00! The fans came to their feet but Taven kicked out.
Dueling “Let’s go Lethal! / Let’s go Taven!” chants. Lethal Injection from King to Lethal! Royal Flush! Climax from Taven to King. Taven steals the pin on Lethal.
WINNER: Matt Taven in 16:04 to retain the world title.
-Time keeper Amy Rose checked on King, who was incensed. Taven bragged to Lethal’s face about winning. Lethal begrudgingly shook Taven’s hand. Taven smiled, then kicked him between the legs. He’s still our top heel, folks.
(Pageot’s Perspective: I was wrong and I’m perfectly okay with that. Taven’s title reign is starting to gain some real steam, especially with the shenanigan-free victories. Taven-Shelley main eventing in Toronto might seem a bit weak on paper but maybe they’ll surprise us. This match was a blast from the ten-minute mark on. Lethal is officially out of the title picture now. Time for him and Gresham to make a serious foray toward the tag belts? I suspect King’s not far from the title picture, though. He can once again argue about having the match won before Taven stole the pin and you know he won’t rest until he gets another shot at the belt.)
(5) VILLAIN ENTERPRISES (Flip Gordon & ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions Marty Scurll, PCO, & Brody King) vs. PJ BLACK & LIFEBLOOD (PJ Black, Mark Haskins, Tracy Williams, & Bandido)
Scurll and Williams started. A shoving match broke out and both teams jumped in and went nose to nose. Bandido tagged in and ran circles around Scurll. Tag to Gordon. Gordon turned down the test of strength and gave Bandido the middle finger instead. (What a jerk.) Tag out to King. Springboard armdrag from the big man to the luchador. The Brits, Scurll and Haskins, in. Black in as Lifeblood isolated Scurll. Frequent tags from the faces. Time for the formula ROH multi-man segment with everybody jumping in and out and people flipping over the ropes onto groups of opponents at ringside. When the dust settled Williams was being isolated by Villain Enterprises. PCO with a cannonball off the top rope. Gordon tagged back in at 10:00.
Gordon got physical for the first time with some chops to Williams. He stalked him slowly and looked like a big ol’ meanie before tagging out again. Hot tag to Bandido. He cleared Scurll and King and caught a crossbody from PCO. Bandido walked with him before hitting a powerslam. Corkscrew plancha onto the three men on the floor. Gordon slid a steel chair into the ring. Williams grabbed it and chased Gordon away and up the aisle. Williams returned alone. Haskins tagged in against the NWA tag champions. Suicide dives to PCO, then King. Everything broke down again.
Williams and King battled at 15:00. Six men brawled at ringside until PCO moonsaulted off the top rope onto the pile. King with a sit-out powerbomb to Haskins for a near-fall. Haskins avoided a Gonzo Bomb and tagged Black. 21plex from Bandido to King. Springboard 450 from Black to King for the pin!
WINNERS: Black & Lifeblood in 17:39.
(Pageot’s Perspective: A classic 2018 ROH Bullet Club match. The faces picking up the win ahead of their title shot tomorrow is booking 101. If Lifeblood doesn’t let Black into their club now they’re just being unreasonable. Gordon being a mean-mugging cowardly heel while the rest of Villain Enterprises are lovable scamps is a weird fit right now, perhaps on purpose. This could definitely lead to Gordon usurping leadership from Scurll and driving him out of ROH later this year before turning VE full heel. I still have my doubts PCO would ever be booed but 2019 appears to be the year of turning babyfaces heel.)
(6) GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. THE BRISCOES (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) – STREET FIGHT FOR THE ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
This marked the first appearance of the ROH tag champions in an ROH ring in over two months and only their fourth match since winning the titles on April 6.
The Briscoes attacked with kendo sticks. G.O.D. quickly took over thanks to the guardrails and kendo sticks. Loa cracked a steel chair over Mark’s back. Mark with a step-up cannonball over the ropes through Loa through a table. Jay with a chair to Tonga. Loa bodyslammed Mark through a table. Jay hurled some chairs into the ring. Loa with a death valley driver to Mark from off the apron onto a pile of chairs. Tonga with a kendo stick shot flush to the center of Jay’s head. Loa with a suplex to Mark on the mats at ringside. Jay saved Mark from a Magic Killer with a chair. Redneck Boogie to Tonga onto a chair. Another kendo stick shot to Mark, then some to Tonga. Mark powerbombed off the apron through Jay laying on a table. Magic Killer to Mark on a pile of chairs. He kicked out. Gun Stun to Jay from Tonga.
Mark introduced a ladder at 14:40. More chair shots. Another table into the ring. Jay was bleeding as he and Loa threw hands at ringside. Tonga onto the table in the ring. Mark to the top of the ladder. Loa cut him off and… the Honor Club feed went down. It came back to Mark and Tonga jockeying at the top of the ladder. Tonga onto Jay’s shoulders. Mark with a froggy-bow elbow off the very top of the ladder to Tonga, on Jay’s shoulders, and through the table. That was finally enough.
WINNERS: The Briscoes in 17:53 to become 11-time ROH tag team champions.
(Pageot’s Perspective: If you wanted a story, good luck. If you wanted people getting hit with weapons, enjoy! As street fights go, yes, undoubtedly, one of the best I’ve seen in wrestling in a long time. They went above and beyond any no DQ, no holds barred match that ROH, NXT, NJPW, or WWE has done in recent memory. Both teams busted their asses in that regard. But it’s also riddled with long-term issues. One month from now somebody will get put through a table and be treated as if they’re dead to the world. Here these guys got put through multiple tables and took kendo sticks to the head and chairs to the back and were back on their feet twenty seconds later. I’m supposed to buy the Bouncers, the Kingdom, and Shinobi Shadow Squad as threats to these guys? They’ve been built up to god level (no pun intended).
Also how exciting, really, is the Briscoes as tag champions for the eleventh time? What more can we do or say? They’ve beaten everybody. They’ve done everything. Are they faces again? They were certainly treated that way here, fighting champions of ROH, day-one veterans defending the company’s honor against lazy part-timers who took off for two months without defending the belts. But they’re heels in their war with the NWA, right? And as excited as I was when G.O.D. first won the titles, that all amounted to nothing. This two match series with the Briscoes was it. Nobody else in the division was elevated or got any rub from working with them (even in defeat). They never appeared on a single episode of ROH television. And no interesting stories were truly told with non-contracted wrestlers holding the titles. They never even defended them once in Japan. Mayu Iwatani did more to elevate the Women Of Honor title and she held it for a much shorter period.
Yes, this match was a fun 18 minutes. This whole show was, overall, more entertaining than most Honor Club events and some pay-per-views due to the mix of storytelling and quality wrestling. But I just don’t know if any of the results from tonight truly create excitement or buzz about where we go from here or what comes next. That’s been a big problem this year and it needs to be addressed quickly.)
Find Harley on Twitter @yrechoheart and listen to he and Emily Fear talk all things ROH every Wednesday on the PWTorch Dailycast “Talking Honor.”