ROH 15th Anniversary Show
March 10th, 2017
Sam’s Town Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada


Before I begin talking about the show itself, I need to talk about the commentary. Tonight’s announce team consisted of Kevin Kelly, Ian Riccaboni, & Colt Cabana. Something that I picked up immediately (which seemed to continue throughout the show) was that even though Kevin Kelly was back for this PPV, it seemed like Ian Riccaboni was really positioned as the primary commentator in this three-man booth. It’s very clear that even though Kevin Kelly will still be doing commentary for ROH when he’s not busy with New Japan commitments, Ian Riccaboni will become the main play-by-play commentator for ROH. What’s really noteworthy about this is that Riccaboni is a guy that has been cultivated in the ROH system for a few years now.

In the wake of all the recent uncertainty with the talent, especially with the announce team (as Steve Corino & Nigel McGuinness both left for WWE with Kevin Kelly, as previously mentioned, is more committed to New Japan), you have to give ROH credit for having a new commentator already waiting in the wings, ready to fill that role when the time came.

Of course, while they have Riccaboni to fill the play-by-play role, ROH is still lacking a more permanent color commentator. A revolving door of wrestlers have been used as a color commentator over the last few months, both on ROH TV and on the live events (Silas Young was the color commentator for Manhattan Mayhem VI last weekend).

After tonight, however, I think ROH might have found their new color commentator in Colt Cabana. He was fantastic on this show. He played his role as a heel well without going too over the top (except when Dalton Castle & The Boys were out, but that’s understandable, since Cabana has been feuding with them over the last few months), injected a fair amount of ROH history at various points, and seemed to be pretty focused as a whole. I’m not sure what Colt Cabana’s schedule is going forward, but if they can, ROH should seriously consider making him a permanent color commentator, at least for the big shows, because he did a great job. In fact, the commentary team as a whole did an awesome job tonight. Kevin Kelly & Ian Riccaboni had good chemistry together, and weren’t stepping over each other at any point. They both seemed to play off Colt Cabana pretty well, and they managed to bring up a lot of notes and nuggets from ROH history, even mentioning specific shows by name. I’m glad to see that they did that for this 15th Anniversary PPV. A criticism of ROH recently has been that, at times, they seem to ignore their rich history (especially on their 15th Anniversary), but on this night, the commentary team embraced the company’s history a lot more, and as a whole, they excelled. This was the exact opposite of the trainwreck of a commentary team we saw only a few nights ago during the reboot of Impact Wrestling.

Jay White def. Kenny King (with Caprice Coleman)

The PPV kicked off with a late addition to the card, as Kenny King (representing The Rebellion) took on Jay White. This was a pretty good opening contest. There was some solid back & forth action throughout, and at one point, White paid tribute to the injured Tomoaki Honma by hitting King with a Kokeshi. While he hasn’t really had any spectacular matches thus far, Jay White has proven to be a very consistent hand ever since he came into the promotion several months ago. You can always count on him to have a solid match. As far as Kenny King is concerned, even though he seems like a guy who’s stock has fallen in the eyes of most fans, I still enjoy him when he gets the chance to wrestle in singles matches. White would ultimately get the victory after catching King with a small package. Again, this was a very solid opener, and I’m glad that they managed to keep Caprice Coleman’s involvement to a minimum. ***1/4

#1 Contender’s Six-Man Mayhem
Frankie Kazarian def. Cheeseburger, Chris Sabin, “The Hangman” Adam Page, Punishment Martinez, & Silas Young

The winner of this match would receive a future shot at the ROH World TV Title. To be totally honest, when I first saw this match on paper, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Sure, these Six-Man Mayhem matches are historically a staple of ROH undercards, and they always managed to be (at the very least) good, but the lineup of guys involved in this match just didn’t interest me that much. Fortunately, they managed to exceed expectations, and ended up putting together one of the most entertaining matches of the night. This was so much fun to watch from start to finish. There was plenty of action, everyone got a chance to shine, the crowed seemed to be into all six guys, and they managed to get a fair amount time. It only went about ten minutes or so, but it seemed longer when I watched it live, and oddly, that helped out the match a good deal.

Everyone had some standout moments (as I just mentioned), but the guy who really made an impression was Punishment Martinez. He’s just coming off a surprisingly good match with Hirooki Goto during Night 2 of Honor Rising (easily the best singles match in his career), and he managed to steal the spotlight here with some incredible moments, including a massive chokeslam to Adam Page on the apron, and an insane dive to the outside that was right out of ACH’s playoff (he basically did ACH’s Air Jordan dive). In the matter of a few weeks, he’s gone from a relative unknown, especially to those who don’t regularly follow the ROH project, to a guy that has seemingly won a lot of people over. Despite that performance, he didn’t emerge victorious here, as Kazarian snuck in after a fun series of exchanges between Silas Young & Cheeseburger, scoring the pin on the latter to win the match. I was really close to calling this a great match, but Kazarian winning was a real wet fart, and even though I could understand why he won here, it definitely hurt the match a bit in my eyes. ***3/4

Jay Lethal def. Bobby Fish

While this wasn’t a #1 Contender’s Match outright, it was heavily implied that the winner of this match would receive a future shot at the ROH World Title. Considering who was involved, you knew this would be good, but when the dust settled they really managed to exceed expectations. This was an awesome contest that featured a lot of great action throughout. Fish appeared to have the upper hand on Lethal at numerous points, whether it was avoiding a big dive by Lethal (sending the former World Champion headfirst into the barricade), or going after the legs of Lethal with various kicks and submissions. The second half of this match was particularly strong, as both men went back & forth, and there were a couple of false finishes that were really well done (Lethal getting caught in a kneebar and nearly tapping out as he scrambled for the ropes is one that sticks out). At one point, Fish appeared to nearly drop Lethal on his head with a nasty back suplex.

Eventually, Lethal managed to successfully hit the Lethal Injection to score the win over Fish. As I said, the action was very good throughout, but the intensity really picked up in the closing stretch, to the point where this felt like a big-time main event, even though it was only the third bout on the card. You got the sense that a win here would mean the world to both guys, and they fought very hard to try to move back into title contention. Winning this match had meaning, and that always helps, especially in a PPV situation like this. A fantastic outing from both guys here. ****1/4

ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles
The Kingdom (Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia, & TK O’Ryan) def. Dalton Castle & The Boys

Even with the lack of buzz this PPV had, it didn’t take a genius to figure out that, of the announced matches, this was probably the weakest of the bunch. Dalton Castle & The Boys hadn’t exactly done much to deserve a title shot, and the only real beef here only came about after The Boys took down The Kingdom in a cartoonish backstage segment. Despite the weird shenanigans that led to this title match, it ended being pretty solid. As you would’ve guessed, Castle got another extravagant PPV entrance, but the big takeaway from this involves The Boys. Yes, they’re mainly known for being part of Castle’s overall character, but it’s easy to forget that these two are good wrestlers in their own right. They had a number of good moments in this one, from busting out “twin magic” to an awesome pair of dives at the beginning of the contest.

The Kingdom were good, but (once again) they were nothing more than that, which pretty much describes their run thus far. They haven’t been fantastic by any means, but I wouldn’t consider them to be average either. Their matches always manage to be in that *** to ***¼ range, and the quality really doesn’t change either way. Unfortunately, the status of their title reign seems to be in doubt after TK O’Ryan appeared to break one of his legs (or at least broke his shin) when he went for a moonsault to the outside. His legs landed right on top of the guardrails, and it looked pretty nasty. The match ended shortly thereafter, as The Kingdom retained their titles. I’m not exactly sure what you do with these titles, if TK O’Ryan is going to miss a significant amount of time. Do they become vacant, or do The Kingdom just find another guy to fill in the open spot? Either way, it really sucks for TK O’Ryan, and I hope he makes a full recovery. ***1/4

ROH World TV Title
“The Villain” Marty Scurll def. Lio Rush

Lio Rush earned this title opportunity after defeating Marty Scrull in a Proving Ground 2/3 Falls Match in Columbus, Ohio last month. I mentioned in my preview how Scurll has quietly had a very strong title reign, and this match continued that trend. While I don’t think it was as amazing as Scurll’s title defense against Donovan Dijak on ROH TV recently, this was still a pretty awesome match!! Marty Scurll is just so good at everything he does. He’s an incredible performer who not only excels in the ring, but plays his “Villain” character to perfection. At the same time, however, I thought Lio Rush was just as great. This was easily the biggest match he’s had thus far in ROH (aside from when he challenged Jay Lethal for the ROH World Title last year in Dallas during WrestleMania Weekend), and he really delivered in a big way. There was some incredible action throughout the match, but in certain cases, there were smaller moments that were just at noteworthy. One particular spot that I LOVED occurred about midway through when Scurll tried to go for his signature finger break spot. The crowd got quiet (as they always do during that spot), but Rush broke the silence with a big slap to the face, that was really amplified by the crowd getting quiet. Again, a small spot in the grand scheme of things, but it came off incredibly well.

Towards the end of the match, after a great nearfall, Rush went outside the ring and contemplated using the ROH World TV Title as a weapon on Scurll, but ultimately decided against it. Initially, I didn’t like this, as it seemed to kill the momentum of the match for no reason. A few minutes later, Lio Rush set up some chairs on the outside, and seemed to take inspiration from Jimmy Jacobs & BJ Whitmer (which the commentary team brought up) when he tried to kill Scurll with some crazy move from the top rope to the floor. It was at that point where the story they were trying to tell with Rush became clear. He was throwing everything weapon in his arsenal at “The Villain”, but he wasn’t able to secure victory. Thus, he decided to take some more extreme measures in an attempt to win the match. It was a little weird in the moment, but looking back on it now, I get what they were trying to go for. Rush’s attempt to kill Scurll backfired, and it led to Scurll hitting a Tower of London, in a cool ode to Nigel McGuinness. Shortly thereafter, Scurll got Rush to tap out to the Crossface Chicken Wing with added elbow strikes to retain his title. A fantastic performance for both men. There was some incredible back & forth action from start to finish, and they managed to work in a nice little story with Lio Rush doing whatever it took to come out on top. This was another great match in Marty Scurll’s reign as ROH World TV Champion, as well as Lio Rush’s best outing on ROH PPV to date. ****1/4

The Briscoes & Bully Ray def. Davey Boy Smith Jr. & War Machine

This had to be the strangest matchup on the entire card. Of course, as I mentioned in my preview of the PPV, The Briscoes were originally scheduled to take on The Killer Elite Squad, but that changed when Lance Archer suffered an injury. As a whole, it was actually pretty good, but beyond that, I honestly don’t have a lot of strong thoughts about this match. The Briscoes & War Machine were both very solid, and Davey Boy Smith Jr. easily managed to hold his own. What I actually thought was pretty cool was the dissension between Davey Boy Smith Jr. & War Machine. There was already a natural distrust there, since War Machine & KES had a feud in 2015 that spanned both ROH & NOAH. Eventually, that dissension cost them this match, and they got into a brawl after the fact. I’m not sure where they go from here (since Archer is on the shelf), but I wouldn’t mind seeing either DBS Jr. vs. Hanson or Ray Rowe in a singles match.

The big thing to look out for in this one was to see how Bully Ray did. He was….relatively fine. It was a nice call to put him in a wild six-man tag team brawl to play to his strengths. Of course, he had to get in some of his signature Dudley Boyz spots (included a 3D at the end with The Briscoes), and even cut a short promo to kick off the match, which was a tad unnecessary. One thing that I know for sure is that, based on his performance here, I really hope they don’t do a lot of singles matches with Bully Ray. That’s something I don’t want to see. The Briscoes & Bully Ray would get the win here, and it was implied that they could be in line for a shot at the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Titles. Given the current status of the titles after TK O’Ryan’s injury, these three could be a perfect team to fill the void in that division, and it would be a good spot for Bully Ray as well, if ROH intends to use him going forward. ***1/2

ROH World Tag Team Titles – Triple Threat Las Vegas Street Fight
The Hardys def. Roppongi Vice & The Young Bucks

Earlier in the days, the word had come out that TNA (or Impact Wrestling, or whatever they’re calling themselves now) sent a cease and desist letter to The Hardys, claiming that they owned pretty much everything associated with their “Broken Universe”, and which subsequently led to long tirade on Twitter by Reby Hardy (Matt Hardy’s wife).

After that news broke, the big question was what ROH was going to do with The Hardys. When the time came for the match, what ROH ended up doing to get around it was actually very clever. Matt Hardy still looked like “Broken Matt”, and Jeff Hardy still looked like his usual self (the only thing that really differentiates regular Jeff Hardy from “Brother Nero” is an entrance jacket and wacky contact lenses), but they were simply referred to by their normal names, and the names “Broken Matt” & “Brother Nero” were never used on commentary. They even managed to find a way around doing the “Delete” motion by chopping Roppongi Vice in a similar motion. It’s certainly a bad situation, (especially for The Hardys), but give them and ROH credit for managing to work around it, at least for this show.

As far as the match itself is concerned, to say it was wild and crazy would be an understatement. There are some people that aren’t into these kinds of matches, and that’s understandable, but I thought this was fantastic. I don’t know why, but ROH has always managed to do these insane hardcore brawls so well throughout their history, and this was just another example of that. To a certain extent, this felt very much like a Guerrilla Warfare Match from PWG, and that shouldn’t be a surprise, since The Young Bucks were involved. They, of course, busted out a ton of crazy stuff throughout this one. While they seemed to be considered afterthoughts by the other two teams at the beginning, Roppongi Vice really made their presence known in a big way. In what has to be a first, Rocky Romero actually brought out a sleeve that was covered in thumbtacks, and they proceeded to do the forever clotheslines to The Hardys & The Young Bucks. Not to be outdone, Trent Beretta brought out a bag of thumbtacks, and both members of Roppongi Vice ended up taking a couple of nasty bumps onto them. This included Beretta being dropped chest-first onto the pile of tacks from the top rope and getting his mouth stuffed with tacks before taking a superkick, while Romero took a Meltzer Driver onto the tacks. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, Beretta took several other nasty bumps during this match. He was an absolute madman, and much like his other tag team partner DUSTIN aka Chuck Taylor, he appears to be an incredibly underrated hardcore wrestler.

As for The Hardys, they seemed to work well in this environment. Of course, it wouldn’t be The Hardys in a big hardcore match without Jeff Hardy jumping off a tall ladder to put someone through a table, and he managed to do this to Trent Beretta (another crazy bump that he took in this one) for the victory. Again, this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely loved it. The Hardys got the win, and The Young Bucks shined, but Roppongi Vice (particularly Beretta) were the MVP’s of this match. ****1/2

In an interesting little side note, The Hardys stole The Superkick Party Tag Team Titles after the match, meaning that the PWG World Tag Team Titles are the only titles that The Young Bucks have left. Obviously this is going to help build up their big match coming up in Lakeland, Florida on April 1st.

ROH World Title
Christopher Daniels def. Adam Cole (c)

Daniels decided to switch up his entrance attire a little bit, and came out dressed in an outfit that doubled as a general from the American Revolution and as a Founding Father, which was very appropriate, given that he was in the main event of the first ROH event in 2002.

Obviously, these two were put in a tough position, as they not only had to follow the wild hardcore brawl that we just saw, but also two other fantastic matches that had occurred earlier in the night (Fish vs. Lethal & Scurll vs. Rush). While this wasn’t a great match, I would still say that it was very good. I thought it was a nice touch that the commentary team brought up that Daniels had a 0-8-1 record when challenging for the ROH World Title, sort of making him the Hirooki Goto of ROH. They told a really solid story throughout, as the young and cocky heel champion was overconfident, and never took the veteran challenger seriously, taunting him at every turn. Despite getting busted open early on, Daniels managed to keep going, and took the fight to Cole. I didn’t mind the usage of blood here. Certainly, it’s not something that should be used often, but once in a blue moon, when it makes sense in the context of a certain situation or a particular storyline, it can really enhance a match, and that was the case here. I particularly liked some of the things these do did in the second half, as both men stole each other’s finishing move in an attempt to win the match. At one point, Daniels even busted out a Styles Clash, in an ode to his longtime friend AJ Styles.

Even though these two did some really good things here, there was a lot of controversy regarding the end of the match. After Todd Sinclair got taken out, Frankie Kazarian (who had turned on Daniels and joined The Bullet Club on the final episode of ROH TV before the PPV) came out to help Cole, but it was a ruse all along, as Kazarian revealed that he was loyal to Daniels. This caught Cole off guard, and it allowed Daniels to take advantage, as he hit a series of BME’s to finally capture the ROH World Title!

Coming into this show, I had a feeling that this might end up with Kazarian revealing that this stint with The Bullet Club was done to trick Cole, and that’s what ended up happening. Many people who saw that episode of ROH TV pointed out that Kazarian never actually attacked Daniels during his turn. Plus, this whole plan makes sense when you consider that Daniels has been calling himself “The Smartest Man In The Room” for the last few years. While I certainly didn’t like the finish, I don’t think I hated it as much as others did. Yes, the referee bump did cause a collective groan from everyone watching, but to be fair, Kazarian never attacked anyone during this whole scene. Were there better ways to do this reveal? Absolutely, but at the end of the day, what they did here had some sense to it, and I understand what they were trying to do. On the bright side, this was far from the worst piece of booking ROH has done in a PPV main event. At least it made sense. Regardless, this was still very good, despite the shenanigans. ***3/4

Christopher Daniels celebrated with the locker room as the PPV came to a close, and in a really cool moment, someone brought out the original ROH World Title, and Daniels celebrated with both as he finally reached the top of the mountain in ROH.

Final Thoughts:

To say that ROH’s 15th Anniversary Show exceeded expectations would be a massive understatement. In hindsight, the fact that this PPV had practically no buzz at all going into it probably worked in its favor. Everything on the card had the chance to be good, but nobody really knew what to expect. When the dust settled, we ended up with a fantastic night of wrestling from ROH. There really weren’t any matches that stood out as a potential MOTYC, but there was a lot of great on this card. Fish vs. Lethal, Scurll vs. Rush, and the Las Vegas Street Fight are all viable contenders for Match of the Night, depending on what you like in your wrestling. The Six-Man Mayhem was easily the surprise of the night, as all six guys worked very hard to put together a thoroughly entertaining match. Nothing on this show was bad, and even the worst match on the show was still pretty good.

Obviously, Christopher Daniels finally capturing the ROH World Title is an awesome moment, especially for longtime ROH fans. It’s a very cool move in the short term, but in the long term? I’m not so sure, especially with the company’s inability to retain talent in the last year. It should also be noted that this is the most active the ROH World Title has been in its history, as we’ve seen four title changes in the last seven months. Granted, it’s nowhere close to what WWE has done with their World Titles in the last twenty years, but still, I don’t like the fact that ROH World Title has become a hot potato. Hopefully that changes in the future, but time will ultimately tell.

Even with a number of valid critiques, this was still an excellent PPV outing from ROH, and it was one of the best major wrestling shows in 2017, up to this point. I said last year that All-Star Extravaganza VIII (which featured Ladder War VI) was probably the best traditional PPV that ROH had produced in the Sinclair Era, but this show certainly gives it a run for its money, and in the view of some, it might even be better. ROH has gone through a lot of turmoil in the last year (a lot of that criticism has been, and continues to be, deserved and totally justified), but on this night, they still proved that they can deliver when it comes to major shows. The wrestling was great up and down the card, the new commentary team delivered in a big way, and as a whole, ROH really knocked it out of the park with this PPV.