April 1, 2017

Cody Rhodes . . . follows in his father’s footsteps by having a bullrope match in the state of Florida.

Rhett Titus . . . continues showing why he’s always been one of the more underappreciated talents on the ROH roster.

Dalton Castle . . . tries to send the ROH Champion to Suplex City, but learns why the champ has risen to the rank of General.

MARTY SCRULL © vs. ADAM COLE (ROH World Television Title)

Overall, this is more fun than it is good, which is fine for the opening match, although I expected more from this pairing. They have some smart moments, like Scurll’s counter into the armbar takedown, and Cole stopping to play to the crowd, and getting himself caught for Marty to break some fingers. But, this winds up being more of a comedy match, thanks to the bit like their standoff, with the title belt and umbrella, and the superkick trade off sequence. It would be nice to see a little build to the chickenwing, the armbar takedown was done rather early, and Marty never went back to it, although, it makes sense to think that Cole tapping out was just as much due to what Marty did to his fingers, as it was due to the actual hold.


As I was watching this, I was thinking it was the second match that didn’t really seem to tell a story. The Kingdom’s flying spots were nice, and Bruiser is actually surprisingly agile for a such a big guy, but, I was waiting for them to actually starting building up something, and it never seemed to come. Then, after Silas pinned Vinny it hit me, Vinny’s crazy antics basically cost them the match. At first it almost seems funny, watching him trying to get in Bruiser’s face, while he shoots off his mouth, about how he’s got a great smile, compared with Bruiser missing a few teeth. But, it stops being funny and becomes a detriment to the team. And, it comes to a head when Vinny forgoes taking advantage and pinning Silas, because he wants to grab Bruiser’s cigar and goof around, which allows Silas time to recover, and Vinny winds up getting pinned after Misery.


The connection between Bubba and the Guerrillas is interesting, but that’s just about the only interesting aspect of the match. It’s a watchable match, if nothing else, but, there’s nothing especially remarkable about the actual work to make it stand out. Bubba works largely the same match that would have worked on any episode of Raw since 2000, only with two D-Vons that he tells to get the tables. To no surprise, when the Guerrillas come face to face with their trainer, they decide to stick with their Bullet Club roots, rather than shake hands and have some happy reunion with him. And, it’s actually impressive that when Bubba starts trying to work over Loa, that he is able to hand it right back. Again, it’s not a bad match in the least, but, if not for the Bubba/Guerrillas history, there’s nothing about it that stands out.

JAY LETHAL vs. CODY RHODES (Texas Bullrope Match)

Cody’s T-shirt, and the announcers discussing Dusty’s history in the state of FL, shows that there is some respect for wrestling tradition, which is something that I can always appreciate. For the most part, this is actually worked rather smartly, with both of them finding ways to use the rope and cowbell to their advantage, like Lethal tying up Cody before lighting him up with chops, and using the cowbell to keep Cody’s cut bleeding. Cody yanking the rope to stop the Lethal Injection, and Cody using the cowbell to counter Lethal’s flying elbow is probably the smartest thing here. They even do a nice job of making the table spot come off well, they do the big tease on the apron, which goes nowhere, but, then Cody catches Lethal on the top rope, where Lethal can’t protect himself, and sends him through the table.

The only questionable thing about the match comes right after the table spot, when Cody drags Lethal in, and does the exact same thing that beat Lethal in December, a low kick and the Cross Rhodes, only for Lethal to kick out. It’d be fine if there something to explain the kick out, like Cody getting tangled in the rope, but, they just see fit to devalue Cody’s finisher, with the table bump as the set up not even being enough to keep him down. Lethal’s counter to the disaster kick is also ugly. They’re spot on right afterwards, with a great finishing sequence, in which Lethal avenges the low kick with his own foul, and finally hits the Lethal Injection. This isn’t anything amazing, but, it’s a nice example of a how a couple of good workers can overcome a limiting stipulation by smartly working around it. ***1/4


I can only imagine how this would have turned out if Titus wasn’t involved. He seemed to be the only one who cared to try to work with Burger and Ferrara, by selling and stooging for them, and also working them over to get the crowd behind them. Taylor isn’t bad, but he only showed up to work his few big man spots, and take a couple of spills to the floor. The Machine Guns were almost an afterthought, aside from their overdone bumping from Burger’s shotei, and them getting the win. Aside from the post-match scrum on the floor between the Machine Guns and the Rebellion, you wouldn’t know that the two factions were involved in a feud.


Martinez’s agility is impressive for sure, but, I’d have been more impressed if he’d made it mean something during the match rather than just showing off what he’s able to do. Some people won’t care for the kickout at one, with Martinez Hulking Up for a second, but, it actually worked in its own way, with Martinez telling Frankie that he needs to do a hell of a lot more than what he’d been doing if he hopes to win. The Adam Page distraction leading to the finish is better suited for TV than it is here, although Martinez’s chokeslam is a great finisher. He’d be better served by jettisoning some of the flying spots that don’t really mean anything, like the Stinger splash, for something more high impact, to better accompany his finisher.


A two minute impromptu match that ends on a disqualification when the ref gets shoved. What’s the point? This is another thing that could have been done on TV. The only neat thing here was the first ref bump, when Fish misfires and kicks the ref in the knees. The brawl afterwards had some nice intensity to it, until Fish blew off the spinebuster on the chair.


If your goal is to see state-of-the-art high-flying spots, then this is hard to steer clear from. But, it’s lacking in pretty much any other aspect. There’s no sense of story or build to anything, they just seem to go out there and pull out as many dives and spots as they can, without any regard for making their work matter. The one nice moment came when Jay managed to catch Ospreay’s dive and slam him into the apron, followed by Jay and Lee rolling him into the ring and trying to finish him off. But, after two near falls, it was back to the status quo, and Ospreay couldn’t even be bothered to continue selling his back. Lord only knows why Volador’s botched rana was able to get the pin on White, since they’d all done things that looked far better and weren’t even worth the attempt.


This isn’t bad or anything, but it doesn’t seem to come together as well as it should have. Dalton’s strategy of working over the body to set up for the Bang-A-Rang is a smart idea, and he generally implements it well, with his array of suplexes, as well as the grounded body scissors. The big failing is actually from Daniels, when he doesn’t take the selling far enough. It would seem like Daniels taking so many suplexes would have some cumulative effect, but, he doesn’t show it. His best sell job was when Castle countered him into the rana on the floor, and he’d likely have sold that the same way if the body was never touched, just because the bump was on the floor. One of the openings for Dalton to hit the German suplex is him avoiding the BME, and when Daniels lands on his feet, he does the suplex. But, it’d have worked better if Daniels had wiped out on the moonsault, or if his landing on his feet had aggravated his midsection. And, just to top things off, the Bang-A-Rang winds up being a meaningless near fall. Castle’s reaction to Daniels kicking out is great, but Daniels takes him right down into the Koji clutch as though he’s fine. Overall, it just never feels like Daniels is truly in danger of losing the title, which would be fine, if Castle wasn’t the one controlling the bulk of the match.

The selling issues aside, they do have some really nice moments here, like Daniels taking out the boys with the moonsault, and Castle getting revenge with a dive of his own. The finishing stretch is also really nice, with the constant counters and blocks. Daniels taking out Castle’s leg to halt the momentum on the Germans suplex, and get the flash cradle shows why the ‘Ring General’ nickname suits him very well. It’s obvious that the idea here was to make Castle look stronger in defeat, which the finish certainly does a good job of, but it’s too bad that the body of the match wasn’t able to follow suit.


Technically, it’s supposed to be the “The Hardy Boyz” defending the titles in order to appease TNA. But, it’s obvious they’re being as Broken as they can get away with. This is just like the other tag match, only instead of fancy flying spots, it’s a demonstration of how truly insane the four of them must be, with the abuse that they take. If nothing else, nobody can claim that the Hardys took it easy the night before WrestleMania. But, like the Volador/Ospreay tag match, the problem is that none of what happens seems to matter all that much. Despite all of the table and ladder abuse they both suffered, the finish features all four of them making the climb until a pair of superkicks gives the Young Bucks their third title reign, and frees up the Hardys to win the Raw Tag Titles.

Even if the match is a bit mindless, there are still some smart moments and clever spots that can be appreciated. An example of this is when Jeff sets up the two ladders to give Nick the Mercury buster. Nick frantically scrambles to get away, and after the Bucks turn the tide, it’s Jeff who winds up getting hit with it. There’s also a nice throwback to the No Mercy ‘99 Ladder Match, with Jeff’s ladder getting tipped over, and him simply stepping over to the other ladder. And, there’s a similar spot with Nick being on a ladder that gets tipped, so he moves to the top rope and does a springboard senton to put Jeff through a table, making Matt’s idea to push over the ladder work against them rather than for them. Moments such as those show that this clearly isn’t a bad match, but, this is nowhere close to the level of Steen Wolf.

Conclusion: The main event actually sums up the show as whole rather well. The only big negative was the Bobby Fish/Silas Young debacle. The rest of it was inoffensive, if nothing else, but still below par for ROH.