By Graham "GSM" Matthews
ROH World Television Champion Tomohiro Ishii def. Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish in a Triple Threat Match
I was completely unaware that Ishii had won the TV title until he came out wearing the belt. Strong was champion as of Wednesday's edition of ROH TV, and while I realize that was taped earlier in the month, I was slightly surprised they went with the title change knowing they already had weeks of TV in the can with Strong as champ. That might have messed with my enjoyment of the bout just a bit, but the Triple Threat wasn't anything special anyway, or at least not as special as it could have been given the combatants. Perhaps they could have benefited from more time, but nothing about the match stood out to me after watching it.
BJ Whitmer def. Adam Page
It's quickly becoming clear to me that Whitmer attracts the wrong kind of heat as a heel. The crowd crapped all over this match and not in a way where they wanted to see Whitmer get his ass handed to him. They simply didn't care. They got behind Page whenever he took a risk, but that was about it. As a result, I sat on my hands for the match (watching from my laptop, of course). ROH made an effort to make casual viewers care about the feud in recent weeks, but to no avail. The real rivalry is between Whitmer and Steve Corino, but even that feels played out by this point.
Hirooki Goto def. Dalton Castle
Since Castle has been feuding with Silas Young as of late (okay, for the past eight months), it would have made more sense to have them square off on this show, or at the very least for Young to get involved here. Instead, he was nowhere to be seen, which was disappointing. On the bright side, Castle and Goto contested a good match that I liked largely because Castle is so damn entertaining to watch. I would have rather seen Castle score the victory, but it set the stage for the rest of the night with most of the New Japan Pro Wrestling talent going over.
Alex Shelley def. Christopher Daniels
Initially, I was confused by why this was a singles match between Shelley and Daniels and not a tag team match of some sort also involving Kazarian and/or Chris Sabin, but that would be explained in the end. As for the match itself, it was well-wrestled and as fun as you would expect it to be, but it can be argued that it was irrelevant compared to what happened afterward. It's cool to see The Motor City Machine Guns back together as they had a hell of a run in TNA for many years. A series of matches with The Addiction could prove to be stellar.
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin def. The Briscoes
Although The Briscoes had the experience factor as a tandem, Tanahashi and Elgin were just as much of a cohesive unit. The bout had minimal buildup, but I still found myself more invested in the action than any matchup that came before it on this show because they all worked incredibly well together. The Briscoes can always be counted on for a phenomenal performance and Elgin and Tanahashi were the perfect opponents for them. It will be interesting to see whether more comes out of the abrupt Tanahashi and Elgin partnership (i.e. a feud) or if this was a one night only deal for the pay-per-view.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Kazuchika Okada def. Moose (Non-title)
I didn't know what to make of this match on paper because I wasn't sure what kind of chemistry they would have, but the match ultimately exceeded my expectations. Then again, I should have figured it would be great going in considering Okada would be wrestling and he never disappoints. As I have said time and time again, Moose has improved immensely since he debuted two years ago and it speaks volumes that he was not only able to hold his own against Okada but scored some impressive offense of his own. Okada picking up the win was obviously the right call, but the show of respect toward Moose afterward was an awesome touch.
NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega def. ACH, Matt Sydal and Kushida
I'll preface this paragraph by saying this: If you hate The Young Bucks' non-stop style and constant superkicks, you will likely hate this match. If not, you will love the hell out of this match as much as I did. Admittedly, I wasn't (and still am not) sold on the lack of selling and psychology in their matches, but you can't help but enjoy yourself while watching them work their magic, especially against the talented likes of ACH, Sydal and Kushida. And as for Omega, the guy is a freakin' star! I got that feeling when I saw him in action for the first time at Wrestle Kingdom 9, but the reaction he received from the crowd and the charisma he showed here only solidified that fact. Hopefully we'll be seeing more of him with The Young Bucks in coming weeks on ROH TV.
ROH World Tag Team Champions War Machine def. All Night Express in a No Disqualification Match
Needless to say, having to follow-up that insane six-man didn't do this match any favors, but even if it hadn't, I still don't think the crowd would have been alive for it. The feud has been decently built over the past month, but All Night Express just aren't clicking in their current roles. Meanwhile, in a division loaded with talent, I don't feel War Machine is the right tandem to be holding the straps right now. The no disqualification stipulation definitely made it more enjoyable for this viewer and the finish was well done, but on the whole, it fell flat for me.
ROH World Champion Jay Lethal def. Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly in a Triple Threat Match
As amped as I was for this main event matchup, it wasn't given that "big fight feel" going into it, so there was no need for Lethal to lose the title. Nevertheless, the nearfalls were suspenseful and all three men put forth an exceptional effort. The focus was mostly on Cole and O'Reilly, but Lethal shined as well, so there was rarely a dull moment. I liked Lethal retaining the title, but having him pin Cole was interesting. One would think he would have pinned O'Reilly since he has already defended the belt against him in one-on-one competition, but perhaps they plan on revisiting that rivalry down the line.
I was bracing myself for a mediocre show after the first hour failed to excite me, but the subsequent two hours were extremely entertaining. The six-man tag team bout obviously stole the show, but the Briscoes tag team match and the main event were equally terrific, making this an event worth watching overall. I could have done without a few of the early matchups, but feel free to skip ahead to the multi-man matches and remember why wrestling can be so damn fun.