Ring Of Honor
August 9, 2019
Mattamy Athletic Centre
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Before the opening match, the entire roster came out for a ten bell salute to Harley Race, who passed away recently. It’s nice to see so many promotions across the globe paying tribute an absolute legend.
Villain Enterprises (Brody King & PCO) def. The Kingdom (TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia)
The show kicked off with two-thirds of the current ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions picking up a win over the former ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions. This went about ten minutes or so, and proved to be a solid opening contest. Villain Enterprises had the early edge before The Kingdom isolated PCO. The hot tag was eventually made to Brody King, and we got a fine closing stretch before TK O’Ryan got pinned following a Gonzo Bomb and a PCO moonsault. Nothing much else to say about the match itself. Ten-minute tag team openers are actually the perfect spot for guys like TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia. They never deliver great matches, but if they’re in there with a good team, they tend to have solid bouts on a consistent basis. This is exactly where they belong. ***
The Bouncers were watching this match in the crowd. There was an angle recently on TV where they were attacked by The Kingdom. Marseglia and O’Ryan got in the face of The Beer City Bruiser and Brian Milonas, which led to a brief brawl where The Bouncers appeared to get the upper hand as the two teams were separated by security. If this feud keeps the Marseglia and O’Ryan on the lower end of ROH cards, then I have zero complaints.
Up next, we were supposed to get Silas Young vs. PJ Black, which was going to be a rematch from the recent Mass Hysteria show in July. However, Young came out in street clothes instead, and cut a long promo before eventually saying that he wasn’t going to face PJ Black, because he already beat Black at Mass Hysteria (via nefarious means). Unfortunately, that final part was the only section of the promo I heard, because the rest of it was unintelligible. After Young departed, Black took the mic and issues an open challenge, which was answered by Marty Scurll. I guess this was a way to get Scurll on the card, but I have no idea why he wasn’t already on the card to begin. He’s unquestionably one of the only stars this company has right now, and he was one of the most over talents on this entire show. Why didn’t they have him announced for a match a couple of weeks ago? I don’t understand it.
“The Villain” Marty Scurll def. PJ Black
While I was disappointed with the way they handled fitting Scurll onto this card, the match itself was actually pretty good! It was a little shorter than the opener (clocking in at eight minutes or so), but they managed to pack a lot of good back-and-forth action in the time that they had. We got to see Scurll hit his usual array of offense, and Black looked very solid as well, as he busted out top rope hurricanrana’s and a couple of moonsaults. I don’t think this was Black’s best match in ROH (he had two matches with Bandido that were both really good), but this might’ve been the best he’s looked since coming in. Scurll ultimately got the win with the Black Plague, and while that was a very predictable result, this was still very good. I wouldn’t call this a must-see match, but if you want to watch an enjoyable eight minute match with some entertaining action, you can’t go wrong with this one. ***1/2
Women Of Honor Title – Kelly Klein (c) def. Tasha Steelz
I know the Women Of Honor division is a very easy thing to crap on (because it’s not good), but ROH deserves a little bit of credit here when it comes to the booking. They actually did a decent job building up Tasha Steelz for this title match. She won a Four-Corner Survival Match on ROH TV to become the #1 Contender, and then went on to successfully defend that #1 Contender’s spot in a Triple Threat Match at Mass Hysteria (in an interesting note, both matches involved Angelina Love, who wasn’t pinned in either case). I’ll certainly give them credit for the buildup to this show. As for the match itself, it was….ok, I suppose. Some of action was decent, but this could’ve been a few minutes shorter (and when you realize the match only went eight minutes, that speaks volumes). Klein connected with K Power to put Steelz away. This was the worst match on the show, but I didn’t think it was a bad match or anything. It’s totally skippable. **1/4
Afterward, Angelina Love attacked both women and posed with the Women Of Honor Title. It looks like we’re getting a Kelly Klein vs. Angelina Love match at some point in the near future, which is a bout that nobody is looking forward to.
Lifeblood (Bandido & Mark Haskins) def. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham
Mark Haskins normally teams with Tracy Williams in two-on-two tag team matches, but since Williams was preoccupied with a ROH World TV Title challenge, the Lifeblood duo in this bout consisted of Bandido and Mark Haskins. This had a ton of potential on paper, and when the dust settled, it definitely delivered. These two teams had a great tag team encounter that proved to be one of the best matches on the show. There was really good action throughout, and all four men involved had moments to shine. Not only did this match feature strong wrestling, but it also told an interesting story with Jonathan Gresham. Though his initial technical exchange with Haskins, Gresham (who appears to have bulked up a bit) was actually cockier than usual. This built up to a scene midway through the match where Gresham shoved down Jay Lethal after he stopped Gresham from using a chair on Bandido. It seems like they’re clearly teasing a Gresham heel turn, which would result in a Lethal/Gresham feud. I wouldn’t have any issues with that, but I thought the placement of that spot in the match was odd. Lethal and Gresham have an argument, then they’re back to working together moments later. I guess it wasn’t fully mended after that spot (Lethal did tag himself in after being shoved on the floor, and they did lose in the end), but still, I feel like that would be something you’d do at the end of the match.
Regardless, we got a hot closing stretch, and after Bandido took out Gresham with a dive to the floor, Haskins made Lethal tap out to the Sharpshooter. It was awesome to see Lifeblood actually win a match (the group has lost a little too much in recent months for my liking), but Haskins getting a clean submission win over the former two-time ROH World Champion was a great moment. Hopefully, this leads to bigger things for Haskins, and Lifeblood as a whole. I actually wouldn’t mind if Bandido and Haskins became the regular tag team for Lifeblood. They work very well together as a team. ****
Up next, we were scheduled to get Shane Taylor vs. Tracy Williams for the ROH World TV Title Flip Gordon attacked Williams with a black Singapore cane. This seems to be setting up a future match between those two, but why wasn’t Flip booked anywhere on this card? Another decision that was pretty confusing.
No DQ Match – RUSH def. Dalton Castle
After losing in mere seconds to RUSH at the MSG show back in April, Dalton Castle turned heel by attacking The Boys, and vowed to get revenge on RUSH for that embarrassing defeat. While Castle did get a very decisive victory over RUSH’s brother Dragon Lee at Best In The World in June, Castle (who came out with two unknown boys wearing cow masks) lost to RUSH yet again in this No DQ Match that appeared to be the blowoff to their feud. There wasn’t much here in terms of plunder, aside for a few weapons that came into play later in the match. It was basically a walk and brawl with Castle and RUSH fighting around ringside, and in the entranceway. There were some good moments throughout (particularly in the second half), but this seemed like it was longer than it actually was (fifteen minutes that felt like over twenty minutes), and the fans didn’t seem to be that into it at points. A couple of chairs and a plastic trash can were used, and RUSH finally put Castle away with the Bull’s Horns. Again, the second half was good, and it was a relatively solid match as a whole. It’s always a nice change of pace when you get a feud which establishes one wrestler as being clearly above another. RUSH beat Castle twice, and now he’s moving on to bigger and better things. Can’t complain much about that result. ***1/4
ROH World TV Title – Shane Taylor (c) def. Tracy Williams
Against the orders of doctors, Tracy Williams came out and demanded that his match with Shane Taylor take place anyway. Taylor came out, and the two ended up having a solid midcard match that saw Taylor retain his title after hitting Greetings From 216. Williams took the fight to Taylor at points, despite that aforementioned attack by Flip Gordon, but it was just too much for him to overcome. I really don’t have much else to say about this one. It was a perfectly fine undercard title bout, and that’s pretty much it. I’m not entirely sure where Taylor goes from here, in terms of a new potential challenger. We’ll probably find out in the next few weeks. ***
Before the next match, we get a video hyping up Joe Hendry, who was recently announced as signing with ROH. Hendry had a run with Impact Wrestling recently, but he’s best known for his work with ICW in Scotland. He also isn’t totally unknown to ROH, as he appeared on some of their UK shows last year. On one hand, Hendry’s a good pick up. He’s someone who people know, he’s got a lot of charisma, and is (in general) and entertaining personality. I haven’t seen much of his in-ring work, aside from the occasional match here and there, so I can’t comment on that fully. The only concern I would have is that he’s not exactly someone who fits in the typical ROH mold (he closer to the sports-entertainment side of things). Maybe he’ll surprise us, but we’ll see how he does when he makes his debut.
CMLL Showcase – Caristico, Soberano Jr., & Stuka Jr. def. Barbaro Cavernario, Hechicero, & Templario
It was recently announced that the upcoming Global Wars Tour in September would change over from being a New Japan-focused tour to a CMLL focused tour. This trios match served as a bit of a preview of that entire tour, and it ended up being a really entertaining affair. The action was incredibly fast, and the fans in Toronto were very much into this one. Soberano Jr. came off as one of the standouts, which was great to see, since his only previous ROH appearance was that disaster of a match with Punishment Martinez at Manhattan Mayhem last year (Soberano Jr. arrived at the venue only a few minutes before his match with Martinez after having issues getting through the airport). Caristico and Stuka Jr. had some good moments in here as well, and it was cool to finally see Barbaro Cavernario in ROH. That’s a guy who’s finally started to get some American bookings in recent months, and it’s well-deserved. Sadly, Cavernario was the one who took the loss here, as he quickly tapped out to Caristico’s La Mistica submission. They just gave these guy thirteen minutes, and let them do their thing. You can’t ask for much more than that. It’ll be interesting to see which CMLL talents to come over, and if anyone of them catch on with the ROH audience. ****
ROH World Title – Matt Taven (c) def. Alex Shelley
Alex Shelley recently made his surprise return to ROH, and set his sights on the ROH World Title after declaring he was going to playing his “veteran’s card”. Even though Matt Taven as ROH World Champion clearly isn’t working (attendance has plummeted on his watch), I wasn’t expecting a title change here. That being said, I was very curious to see how Alex Shelley would do in this spot, after being away for some time. In a vacuum, this was a perfectly good match that had a pretty solid closing stretch that featured a couple of cool spots.
However, the crowd just wasn’t into it. Part of that had to do with something that happened in the front row. Early on, an entire section of the crowd was paying attention to something happening on their side. As it turns out, someone in the front row was so drunk that they passed out. The fans counted him out a couple of times, and when Shelley eventually made his way over there, he brought attention to it by taking one of this guy’s shoes and throwing it at Taven (sadly, this got one of the biggest pops of the match). It seems like he was asked to leave a short time later, but this didn’t look good from an optics standpoint. I feel like Taven and Shelley were in a tough spot regardless of what they did or didn’t do. Either they bring attention to it (like Shelley did), or they ignore it, which means the fans will continue to be distracted for the rest of the match. It was a lose-lose situation, but then again, the match didn’t do much to bring the crowd back into it either. The wrestling itself was technically fine, and both guys were really trying to have the best match they could put on. Unfortunately, Taven is not an interesting champion and his reign is coming at a time when ROH attendance is dropping fast. The crowd didn’t seem to be that interesting to begin with (should note that there was a “Let’s Go Cena, Taven Sucks!” chant at the start of the match), and the commotion in the crowd made matters worse. ***1/4
Afterward, Taven cut a promo saying there were no challengers left (which was a laughable statement), but fortunately, RUSH interrupted Taven, and it looks like we’re finally getting the Taven vs. RUSH match for the ROH World Title. I presume this is happening at the next PPV in September (Death Before Dishonor), and hopefully RUSH will put an end to Taven’s title reign.
ROH World Tag Team Titles – Ladder War VIII – The Briscoes (c) def. IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Guerrillas Of Destiny
Back in May, The Briscoes came up short in their bid to reclaim the ROH World Tag Team Titles after The Guerrillas Of Destiny used heelish tactics to win. This led to a New York City Street Fight at Manhattan Mayhem in July, and The Briscoes defeated G.O.D. to win the ROH World Tag Team Titles for an unprecedented eleventh time. G.O.D. responded by viciously attacking The Briscoes the next night at Mass Hysteria, and that led us to Ladder War VIII. I was really excited to see this match. Ladder War always delivers, to varying degrees (even the worst Ladder Wars are still great). While I would say this was probably on the lower end of Ladder Wars, this was still an awesome main event. It was one of those ladder matches that less of a stunt show and more of a brutal fight. These two teams beat the crap out of each other for over twenty minutes, and it was exciting to watch. The titles were on the line, but they didn’t care about climbing the ladder to retrieve the titles. I don’t even think we saw anyone try to grab the titles until the final few minutes. They wanted to destroy each other, and that hatred came off very well. The crowd wasn’t as into it as they could’ve been, though they did seem more interested when it came to the bigger spots. For me, the crowd didn’t impact the match that much, but I can understand if others disagree with that point. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Ladder War without The Briscoes bleeding a lot and some crazy spots (Mark Briscoe jumping off a giant ladder to put Tanga Loa through a table, Jay Briscoe putting Tama Tonga through a table with a Jay Driller, Tama Tonga doing a Super Gun Stun after running up a leaning ladder ala Shelton Benjamin). The Briscoes managed to retain their titles, signaling the end of the feud between these two teams. This was a violent spectacle, and if you’re someone who enjoys that kind of match, then I would definitely recommend checking this match out. ****1/4
While Summer Supercard once again displayed the attendance woes that ROH is going through right now, the show itself was actually very good, in terms of match quality. There were three great matches (Ladder War VIII, the CMLL trios match, and Lethal/Gresham vs. Lifeblood) and one pretty good match (Black vs. Scurll). There were a couple other undercard bouts that were solid for what they were, but didn’t really stand out that much. The only two notable blemishes were the women’s match (the worst bout of the night) and Matt Taven vs. Alex Shelley, which had a variety of issues despite being technically fine. Even though this was a generally positive show from an in-ring standpoint, ROH still has a long way to go if they want to solve their attendance issues.