Zero Hour: Jeff Cobb def. "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams
It was the battle of former ROH World Television Champions. Cobb has had a hell of a week between this bout, challenging Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship on Wednesday's Dynamite, and beating Moose at IMPACT/NJPW Multiverse United on Thursday night. More of Cobb is always a positive. This was well wrestled, but it was a pretty average outing. Then again, I wouldn't expect them to go all out on the pre-show.
Zero Hour: Konosuke Takeshita def. Willie Mack
Mack's contract status is still unclear as far as I know, but if I was Tony Khan, I'd be locking Mack down to a ROH deal (unless Mack just isn't interested). I'll also never complain about getting Takeshita in action, regardless of whether it's ROH or AEW. This was much more competitive than Cobb vs. Williams and the crowd rallied behind both men. They had a damn good match in the time they were allotted.
Zero Hour: Willow Nightingale def. Miranda Alize
Nightingale is consistently a treat. I'm stoked that she continues to appear regularly for both AEW and ROH. She's been booked strong in the new ROH with her only loss coming at the hands of the undefeated Athena for the ROH Women's World Championship, so fingers crossed that's revisited down the road. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary here, but it was a nice match and both women had solid showings.
Zero Hour: Stu Grayson def. Slim J
What a random match to do on the pre-show. That isn't to say I would've done it on the main card, I'm saying I wouldn't have booked it at all. I understand it set up the post-match return of The Righteous (only Vincent and Dutch, no Bateman), but the match itself was a waste of time. I would've rather they devoted more time to the other matches. This was fine, though. Grayson's talented and I'd be all for him getting more singles opportunities, but I don't care about him and The Dark Order feuding with The Trustbusters beyond this.
AAA Mega Champion El Hijo del Vikingo def. Komander
You had to know this wasn't going to be anything but a wild spot-fest given who was involved, so while there was no sense of a story, the action and their athleticism was obviously incredibly impressive. The crowd was into everything they did and it definitely opened the event on a high note. Both guys getting exposure on AEW TV recently helped as well, and I'm sure we haven't seen the last of either of them in AEW or ROH.
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions The Embassy (Brian Cage and The Gates of Agony) def. AR Fox, Blake Christian and Metalik
This was probably the flattest match on the show because no one cares about the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship, but I applaud their effort. Unfortunately, it just felt like a bunch of high-flying moves thrown together and that resulted in several poorly-timed spots, specifically from Cage. Speaking of whom, it was heavily rumored that his contract was up here and thus I figured he'd lose, but apparently he'll be sticking around based on the outcome.
ROH Women's World Champion Athena def. Yuka Sakazaki
This feud has been primarily been furthered on Dark in the last few months. I guess Sakazaki wasn't available to appear on ROH TV prior to this pay-per-view to build it up more. She's likable, but this crowd certainly did not see her as a threat to the title. It was a nice match albeit predictable. Athena continues to excel in the heel role, but she'll need more credible competition in order for her run to remain interesting.
ROH World Television Champion Samoa Joe def. Mark Briscoe
It really felt like it was Briscoe's night, but maybe it would have been too rushed for him to become champ so soon after the passing of his brother. Either way, this was a terrific match. Joe is a brilliant heel and Briscoe was an awesome babyface foil for him. They had the crowd invested and had wonderful chemistry together. The post-match focus on Briscoe selling the loss was very well done.
Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Daniel Garcia
I've lost a lot of interest in Garcia due to his involvement in Jericho Appreciation Society this past year, but the guy can go and was the perfect opponent for Tanahashi on this show. This had no story and was announced out of nowhere, but it was an enjoyable affair and Tanahashi is a pleasure to watch wrestle, so I can't complain too much. This reminded me of when ROH used to use top names from New Japan Pro-Wrestling for some of their big shows and I'd love to see that trend continue.
The Lucha Brothers def. The Kingdom, Top Flight, Aussie Open, and La Faccion Ingobernable (Rush and Dralistico) in a Reach for the Sky Ladder Match to Win the Vacant ROH World Tag Team Championship
This managed to be as crazy as the opener and I expected nothing less. I have Ladder match fatigue at this point, but at least the people in them never cease to deliver. All five teams had time to shine and some of the spots were just insane. I'd argue too insane because Dante Martin suffered a scary injury from one of them. Otherwise, this was a blast. It helped that any team could have realistically won, but Lucha Brothers were the best choice to go over. They had a nice moment afterward celebrating with Briscoe and FTR.
Katsuyori Shibata def. Wheeler Yuta in a Pure Rules Match to Win the ROH Pure Championship
I don't follow NJPW too closely, but I believe Shibata still hasn't wrestled over there and only in AEW. Now that he's ROH Pure Champion, I assume he'll be wrestling at least a few matches for ROH and that's pretty cool. The Pure Rules matches aren't the most exciting and the crowd was quiet for a majority of it, but it worked well with the in-ring styles of both of these guys and there was a big pop for the title change.
ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli def. Eddie Kingston
This was similar to Joe vs. Briscoe in that the fans desperately wanted to Kingston to win because he's such a fan favorite. Ultimately, it wasn't to be, and that really surprised me, but I get the feeling that this isn't the end of the line for this feud. Castagnoli's new aggressive edge now that he's a heel is appreciated, so I have no issue with him holding the title for however much longer. This was a strong main event and the crowd was super into the nearfalls down the stretch.
Nigel McGuinness joined the broadcast team during Zero Hour and he did an excellent job, as only he could. Here's hoping he's back in ROH full-time if not AEW in some role. I was bummed I didn't attend Supercard of Honor last year despite being in the area for WrestleMaina weekend, so I made it a point to attend this year and I'm happy I did because this was an excellent event. It was a roller coaster of emotions with a few unexpected finishes, but I mean that as a compliment. We'll see if ROH TV gets any more eyes on it going forward or the brand will fly under the radar until these quarterly pay-peer-views come around.