Ring Of Honor
ROH 17th Anniversary Show
March 15, 2019
Sam’s Town Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada

Watch: ROH Wrestling

With Colt Cabana in Japan participating in the New Japan Cap, the commentary team for the majority of this show consisted of Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman, and current NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis. I thought the trio did a relatively good job. Obviously the traditional duo of Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana is much better, but Coleman and Aldis were decent replacements. Even though we saw a little bit of the wacky Caprice Coleman at times, he kept it serious for the majority of the show. He’s definitely improved in his role as the secondary color commentator, and is a fine fill in whenever Colt Cabana is unavailable.

“The Villain” Marty Scurll def. Kenny King

Kenny King came out with a cheap Marty Scurll imposter during his entrance (it looked like he took the black hat and white coat straight from Scurll’s entrance video). Fortunately, Scurll took that guy out shortly after the match got started. These two had a very solid opening contest that featured some good action throughout. The match did seem to slow down a bit when King was in control for a few minutes early on, but the pace soon picked back up after Scurll connected with a Tornado DDT on the floor. From there, the rest of the bout was pretty entertaining, as they went back-and-forth for several minutes. At one point, Scurll even managed to hit King with a 619 of all things.

Towards the end of the bout, the two ended up on the floor after Scurll took King’s finisher, the Royal Flush. King got frustrated, and tried to bring a chair into the ring, but this ended up costing him the match. As Paul Turner went to remove the chair from the ring, Scurll nailed King with his umbrella, and got the pin. Scurll almost screwed up the finish, as he almost forgot to toss what was left of the umbrella out of the ring before Paul Turner turned around to count the pin. I wasn’t a huge fan of the finish in the moment, but it actually makes perfect sense within the context of this story. King had cheated to beat Scurll a couple of times over the last several months, so this was Scurll finally returning the favor. This wasn’t a stellar match by any means, but I really enjoyed it. You can always count on Scurll to have a very good bout on these PPV’s, while King has proven that he can deliver solid performances when he’s in there with a strong opponent. ***1/2

ROH World TV Title
Jeff Cobb (c) def. Shane Taylor

As I mentioned in the preview I wrote for this PPV, I was very intrigued to see how Shane Taylor would do in this spot. To my knowledge, this was his first singles match on ROH PPV, so it was certainly a big opportunity for him. Well, when the dust settled, he ended up having an awesome bout with Jeff Cobb for the ROH World TV Title. This was just two big dudes being the crap out of each other for thirteen minutes. They charged at each other as soon as the bell rang, and they never slowed down. Cobb showed off his insane power on a number of occasions, as he managed to lift Taylor up for a delayed pumphandle suplex and a delayed german suplex. Even with those incredible feats of strength, putting away Shane Taylor was far from easy.

At one point, Cobb hit a lariat on Taylor with such force that he sent himself tumbling to the floor. I’m sure if that spot was intentional, but it really helped put over the fact that Cobb giving it everything he had as he tried to put Taylor away. Speaking of Taylor, he really took the fight to Cobb here, as he nailed the former olympian with some big moves of his own. By far the biggest moment of the match saw Taylor hit a running Canadian Destroyer on Cobb, which was absolutely bonkers. Shortly after that spot, Cobb managed to hit Taylor with Tour Of The Islands, but it didn’t finish Taylor off, so he had to hit a second Tour Of The Islands to finally win the match. This was a hoss fight if I’ve ever seen one. A true slobberknocker for sure. Cobb delivers another great title defense on PPV, while Taylor really stepped up to the plate with a performance that was probably the best of his career. ****

Women Of Honor Title
Mayu Iwatani (with Sumie Sakai) (c) def. Kelly Klein

Mayu Iwatani won the Women Of Honor Title from Kelly Klein at the Bound By Honor event in Miami, Florida back in February. I was looking forward to this match coming into the PPV. The previous bouts that these two have had with each other in ROH were pretty good, so I expected more of the same. Unfortunately, this was probably the weakest match in this series. That’s not to say it was bad by any means (it wasn’t), but it was a few steps down compared to their previous meetings. Klein dominated the first third of the match, to the point where it looked like a squash in some ways.

Thankfully, Mayu finally managed to fight back after hitting a slingblade, and from there, the match was more even. At one point, Klein hit a german suplex that saw Mayu land right on her head and neck. It looked really nasty, but Mayu got right back up and kept on going. The finish came when Mayu caught Klein in a small package after Klein started to get a little overconfident. To be honest, I was just happy to see Mayu retain. The fact that they were doing the rematch on PPV had me thinking that Klein might win the title back, but that didn’t happen. Hopefully this means that Mayu will get a lengthy reign with the title. As for the match itself, it was the smoothest in the world, but it was perfectly fine for it’s spot on the card. **3/4

Originally, the next match was supposed to be The Kingdom’s Vinny Marseglia and TK O’Ryan facing Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams from Lifeblood. However, when The Kingdom’s music played, Matt Taven came out instead. He said he was tired of waiting, and wanted his match with Jay Lethal right now. Lethal soon came out to answer this challenge, and with Todd Sinclair already out there, the ROH World Title bout got started a short time later.

ROH World Title
Jay Lethal (c) vs. Matt Taven – No Contest (One Hour Time Limit Draw)

In the moment, I was a little confused as to why this match, which was going to be the main event, was going on at this point in the show. Well, we soon found out why, as the match went the distance, and ended with a sixty-minute time limit draw. Interestingly enough, this was the second time that Jay Lethal went to a draw in a ROH World Title defense (the other was against Roderick Strong during Lethal’s first reign in 2015). I’m sure opinions on this particular match are going to be all over the place.

Initially, I really wasn’t sure what to think. It’s very hard to pull off these one-hour draws. The problem that I always run into with these kinds of bouts (especially in ROH) is the realization that the match (as it’s happening) is going the full hour. For instance, in both this match and the aforementioned Jay Lethal/Roderick Strong match from a few years ago, it dawned on me around the thirty-minute mark that the match was going the distance. Once I know what’s probably going to happen, it becomes a lot harder for me to get more invested in the match, because I know the one hour draw is coming.

Why go this long if you’re not doing the draw? To contrast that with another recent example, I didn’t have that same issue with the one hour draw that Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega had in 2017. Going into that bout, I knew those guys could wrestle for a long time since their first match went just shy of fifty minutes. With the ROH examples, I wasn’t expecting them to go long, so when I realized that they were, it definitely took the match down a peg.

That being said, I still thought that this was a really good match as a whole. While I wasn’t a fan of these two going sixty minutes, I can’t deny that the actual wrestling was very solid. There were times where it slowed down for sure, but I will never knock a match where the wrestling was technically sound. Lethal typically has strong singles bouts on these major shows, and Taven did a fine job as well. Not only was the actual wrestling good throughout, but they told a decent story with their limb work. While Taven decided to work over Lethal’s left shoulder, Lethal went after Taven’s previously injured knee (this was the knee that Taven injured a few years back). Both of those injuries were present throughout the match, and the commentary team did a fine job calling attention to those injuries, and how they were impacting the respective performers.

Towards the middle of the bout, the rest of The Kingdom got involved, and after Jonathan Gresham failed to make the save for Lethal, Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams were able to run them off. It’s clear that whole bit was used to give the guys in the ring a break (and to feature the guys who were in some of those previously scheduled matches), but it didn’t seem that necessary. We also saw two tables and a ladder getting involved, even though it wasn’t a No DQ match. Personally, this stuff didn’t bother me that much, because not only was it all on the floor, but neither guy physically struck each other with the weapons (it’s a weird technicality in wrestling that I honestly never had any issues with).

Something else that really stuck out to me was the crowd. You would that this is the kind of match that would die in front of a live crowd. However, they seemed to be really into this match at various points. They reacted big to some of the close nearfalls and false finishes, they were heavy invested in the closing stretch as the intensity started to pick back up again, and they even went as far as the chant “five more minutes” after the match ended in a draw. Those fans in Las Vegas clearly enjoyed this match. It’s very similar to another point I made earlier. I can’t, in good conscious, knock a match that had solid, technically sound wrestling from start to finish, and I also can’t totally put down a match if the crowd is clearly invested in it. There were plenty of reasons for me to not like this bout, but in some ways, it definitely worked. Lethal and Taven worked their asses off for an hour, and despite the fact that there were noticeable issues, the fans were into the match, for the most part. If you thought it was boring, I’m not going to disagree with you (if you’re not into ROH or either of these guys then I’m sure it’ll be a very easy match to dislike), but for me, this seemingly worked, against all odds. ***3/4

With the ROH World Title bout going a full hour, that meant a couple of matches (Jonathan Gresham vs. Silas Young and The Kingdom vs. Lifeblood) were pushed off the show. Those were relatively late additions to the PPV, so I guess those bouts were never meant to happen in the first place. While all of those guys were still featured on the show (three of them were involved in the run-in during the World Title match, while Silas Young joined commentary for the main event), they also did some backstage interviews/angles that were shared on Twitter, to keep those feuds going.

Up next we got a segment featuring a rapper Mega Ran, who was on the PPV to perform the official theme song for the MSG show. His performance was interrupted by Bully Ray (of all people) who made fun of his music and the fact that they like video games. After sending Mega Ran away, Bully Ray talked himself up, saying that he’s the only guy on the MSG show that’s performed in MSG before. After the crowd chanted for Flip Gordon, Bully Ray made fun of him, before issuing an open challenge for anyone to face him in a NYC Street Fight at the MSG show. While it was technically an open challenge, it was pretty clear (to me, at least) that the challenge was being directed towards Flip Gordon, who is set to return soon from his knee injury.

RUSH def. Bandido

Dalton Castle replaced Nick Aldis on commentary for this one. Both of these luchadores came into this bout undefeated in ROH. Even though the result was never really in question (I fully expected RUSH to win this), these two still put on a very entertaining match. They certainly didn’t waste any time getting things going, as RUSH put Bandido through a table at ringside within the first three minutes of the match (it wouldn’t be the last time that someone would go through a table on this show). After that early detour on the floor, we got some exciting lucha action as both competitors battled it out for the win. Bandido busted out his signature high-flying offense, while RUSH more than held his own. This was wrestled at such a quick pace. It was definitely a breath of fresh air after sitting through a one hour match.

Bandido really took the fight to RUSH, and came close to winning on a few occasions. However, RUSH ultimately emerged victorious, as he gave Bandido his first loss in ROH after nailing his running dropkick in the corner (I believe it’s called the bull’s horns). This was a very good showcase for Bandido, but again, RUSH winning wasn’t much of a shock. Even though Bandido has a big title match coming up at MSG, I suppose they see RUSH as the bigger star of the two. Either way, this was a ton of fun to watch from start to finish. ***3/4

After the match ended, Dalton Castle got in the ring, and challenged RUSH (who he referred to as a “mountain of meat”) to a match at MSG. RUSH responded with a promo that was a mix of English and Spanish (and a little hard to understand), but he essentially seemed to accept the challenge.

At this point, they were really running up against what we thought was the end of the PPV window. However, Ian Riccaboni announced that the PPV providers had given then a little bit of extra time for the main event. That was good news, and it really seemed like they were going to have to rush through the last match.

ROH World Tag Team Titles – Las Vegas Street Fight
Villain Enterprises (Brody King & PCO) def. The Briscoes (c)

Imagine telling somebody at an ROH show in 2006 that the former Jean-Pierre Lafitte, who was once one-half of The Quebecers, would be heading an ROH PPV in 2019 against The Briscoes for the ROH World Tag Team Titles. I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted that even a year ago, yet here we are. The career renaissance of PCO has been nothing short of astonishing, and that resurgence culminated here as he and Brody King captured the ROH World Tag Team Titles from The Briscoes in what has to be considered a massive upset. Before diving more into the ramifications of the result, let’s talk about the match itself. This was a crazy and brutal Las Vegas Street Fight. These four absolutely killed themselves out there, as they broke multiple tables and utilized several steel chairs. Everyone expect Mark Briscoe got busted open, with Jay Briscoe in particular bleeding pretty heavily. It got to the point where the canvas was stained with blood by the end of the match. There were so many sick and dangerous spots, but a few definitely stood out. At one point, PCO got back body dropped onto the metal rampway, and later on, he got stabbed in the throat with a jagged edge of a broken kendo stick.

Yes, you read that right. PCO truly is not human.

While everyone else was bleeding all over the place, Mark Briscoe arguably took the most dangerous bumps. The biggest of those occurred towards the end of the bout, when Brody King tossed him off the top rope and onto a pile of chairs on the floor. That was incredibly brutal. There was one botch towards the end, as Brody King tried to give Jay Briscoe a piledriver off the apron and through a table on the floor. It didn’t exactly go as planned, but I don’t think it hurt the match that much. In fact, I’d say that the botch only added to the dangerous and chaotic nature of the bout. Villain Enterprises won shortly thereafter after PCO hit a moonsault onto Jay Briscoe, who had a chair on his chest.

The match was an extremely violent affair, but I doubt anyone thought that Villain Enterprises would walk away with the ROH World Tag Team Titles, especially after The Briscoes shot the angle with The Guerrillas of Destiny on the recent Honor Rising events. Now it’s still possible that the titles could go back to The Briscoes before the MSG show. There’s the post-PPV TV Tapings (which, as I type this, might have already gotten started), and a live event in Baltimore the week before MSG. I have no idea if they were going to change the titles back for MSG, so for now, Brody King & PCO vs. The Guerrillas of Destiny in a double title match is something that’s actually happening 2019. As far the main event of this show is concerned, it was a wild spectacle that’s well worth checking out. ****1/4

Final Thoughts

This was a really solid PPV outing from ROH. Even though there were only six matches on the card, the majority of them were really good. The main event was a wild and violent hardcore brawl that, in my view, was the match of the night. Jeff Cobb vs. Shane Taylor was a great bout as well, and I wouldn’t argue with anyone if they thought it was best match on this PPV. There were also some very solid bouts on the undercard, such as Bandido vs. RUSH and Marty Scurll vs. Kenny King.

The big talking point coming out of this show (aside from the shock title change in the main event), was the ROH World Title match between Jay Lethal and Matt Taven going to a one-hour time limit draw. Your opinion of this show might heavily depend on what you thought of that match. If you hated it, then it’ll definitely drag the show down a bit for you, but if you liked it, then it just adds to what was already a pretty strong event.