Fourteen matches. FOURTEEN MATCHES! Ring of Honor does not make this shit easy, does it? What wrestling card, needs fourteen fucking matches? That’s an insane number, and while, thankfully, none of them is an hour-long Iron Man, it does speak to this period’s obsession with the idea that more is better. I’m here to tell you that it’s not, but sadly, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re watching this damn show. Fingers crossed it at least means they’re all short.
Low Ki kicked us off with one of his serious promos, talking about how he gave his all to win that belt and was going to keep doing so. He also dropped the titbit that he dropped ten pounds during the aforementioned Iron Man. That’s too much, man. Can’t be healthy.
We then cut to Special K being weird in the parking lot. I’ve not idea what was going on with this bollocks, but Elax was in a bin with a bottle of water. Why? Ask Gabe.
Amazing Red defeated Quiet Storm
Storm’s perhaps the first wrestler we’ve been able to watch improve and while he lost here, it was another strong performance. It was very spotty with Storm embracing 2020 by pulling out a Canadian Destroyer for a two count, but there’s nowt wrong with a spotfest to kick off the show.
Plus, if you’re going to wrestle that style, having Amazing Red involved is not a bad idea. The kid is incredible and hit an Infrared Leg Drop thing that was probably misaimed, but looked cool all the same.
There isn’t much more to say about this. It was a fun opener that didn’t try to be anything more than it needed to be.
Special K and Elax attacked Red and Storm as they shook hands. That brought out SAT and Chris Devine to make the save, leading to an impromptu match while Donnie B and Corino expressed their disgust that Special K were going to a Boston rave after the show.
SAT (Joel and Jose Maximo) and Chris Devine defeated Special K (Brian XL, Dixie and Izzy)
What followed was the kind of sloppy and wild six-man spotfest that has become a staple of American indie wrestling. They worked under lucha rules, but even those were only loosely followed as they were more interested in hitting cool dives to the outside.
It’s a match-style that is awesome the first time you see it and loses a bit of its shine every time after that. Sure, if you’re in the venue with a beer in your hand, you’ll probably have a great time, but watching at home, it very quickly gets boring.
All of which isn’t to say this was awful, it was fine. Joel and Jose were a step above everyone else, so it’s worth watching for that alone. If you’re in the mood for some movez delivered in a way that suggests someone could be dropped on their head any minute now, shove it on and you’ll have a laugh.
For reasons known to no-one apart from him, Chris Devine chose this moment to challenge Low Ki. Generally not a good idea to shoot that shot seconds after you’ve had a match.
Low Ki defeated Chris Devine in a non-title match
Low Ki kicked his head off, and I don’t get this at all. Devine has just had a fun performance in a match where he was a victorious babyface and seconds later you have your champ squash him? Why? What did this achieve? If anything, you’ve just taken a bit of the shine off Styles vs Low Ki as the fans have already seen Low Ki do a murder.
I guess it does make the champ look like a badass, but I don’t think Low Ki needed help doing that. He’s a badass because he’s Low Ki and murdering a tired Devine doesn’t add much to that.
Chris Daniels is in Japan and cut a promo in front of a poster with Curry Man on it. He said that while he wasn’t there, members of The Prophecy were, so don’t get comfy (I’m paraphrasing).
The Christopher Street Connection (Buff-E and Mase) defeated Dunn and Marcos
As the Christopher Street Connection made their entrance, a fan was screaming at them, telling them they were going to hell. So, yea, that was unpleasant. They did get a good reaction from some people, though.
Those good reactions seem to have changed the way ROH is treating the team, which is a relief. Donnie B and Corino weren’t disgustingly homophobic, instead choosing to just be horribly so instead. They even acknowledged that people find them entertaining and praised them for working stiff.
CSC were also given a pretty emphatic victory, beating down Marcos and Dunn in a one-sided match. They hit The Gay Basher (a Seated Senton version of the Hart Attack) for the win and are CSC in for a push? God, I hope so, that would be awesome.
Verdict: It Was An Improvement
Scoot Andrews defeated Mike Tobin
Having beaten Xavier on the last show, Scoot was given a nice squash victory over Tobin. Andrews isn’t particularly great, but big boys throwing people around the ring is always fun, so there was some pleasure in this. Not enough to make it worth seeking out, though.
Xavier defeated Scoot Andrews
Scoot might be done with Xavier, but Xavier isn’t done with Scoot. He came out and challenged Andrews, continuing the theme of impromptu matches.
It was also another quicky as Xavier got the win in around four minutes. Despite that, it wasn’t structured as a squash with Scoot getting some offence, but it being made clear that Xavier was the better man. He also pulled out an awesome Split-Leg Asai Moonsault thing (technical name) which felt like something Rey Fenix would do.
In the end, Xavier hit a 450 Splash for the win, putting this feud to bed and, according to Donnie B, putting him in contention for a title shot. I wouldn’t have gone that far, but I also know my ROH history well enough to be aware that it wasn’t a throwaway comment. Xavier’s climbing the card.
Michael Shane was bragging to Bio-Hazard that now he has a contract he gets flown in. He then asked Bio-Hazard to grab his bags, perplexing his pal.
Michael Shane defeated Paul London
Damn, there was a lot of stupid in this match.
The biggest stupid is the decision to push Shane over London. I’m sure that’s got nothing to do with his famous relative and everything to do with his talent, except it’s shockingly obvious that London is the better of these two. Shane is fine, but Paul is leaps above him and worked his arse off to try and drag Shane to his level. The pinnacle of that was the bump he took from the top rope, through the barricade. I watched it back multiple times, and it only got worse with each viewing.
Then there was the finish, which saw London hit something close to a Springboard Phoenix Splash to the outside. This was, for those who remember, playing off his match on the very first ROH show, where Chris Marvel, unfortunately, broke his leg. Now, I don’t have a problem with that, the problem I have was that we were supposed to believe that the same thing happened to Shane. London barely touches him, and when the commentators acted shocked after the move, I assumed they were worried about Paul because he’s the one who ends up crashing into the barricade… again!
Of course, the injury was a ruse, and Shane used the distraction to roll Paul up for the win. The action in-between the dumb shit was fine, but not good enough to make up for some very weird decisions. Does ROH ever figure out how good London is? Fingers crossed.
Verdict: Too Much Dumb
Simply Luscious turned up post-match and invited Shane to join The Prophecy. Rudy Boy tried to convince him that it was a bad idea, although I have no idea what he said because ROH can’t do sound. Shane responded by Superkicking them both and then working with Bio-Hazard to give London a bit of a beating. Sadly, the Michael Shane experiment continues.
American Dragon and Donovan Morgan fought to a time-limit draw
There are still seven matches on this show. SEVEN! Anyway, I enjoyed Morgan’s bout with Daniels, so I was looking forward to this one.
Apparently not everyone agreed, as there was a moment where Corino decided to run through the Code of Honor because we all know how important that is. Strangely, he started it by dismissing Dragon and calling his grappling boring, so that’s where Michael Cole got that gimmick from. Even heel commentators probably shouldn’t suggest the wrestling is bad, guys.
Away from the shite commentary, these two had the match you’d expect them to have. It was technical and hard-hitting with Dragon going after Morgan’s arm. I would complain that said arm work was forgotten in the second half, but that stuff doesn’t bother me too much. If you asked me to pick between getting to watch Morgan toss Dragon across the ring or have him sell the arm, I’d take the throws.
Honestly, it was just a good solid wrestling match from two talented dudes. Morgan got busted open off an elbow, which always adds that little bit of extra spice to proceedings, but he managed to survive Cattle Mutilation and make it to the bell. It’s nothing that I can rave about or that you have to go out of your way to see, but I enjoyed it all the same.
Verdict: Good Stuff
The fans chanted for five more minutes before Dragon told the ref it was in his hands. Sadly, the ref said no, so that was a waste of time. It’s a very American thing to decide that a draw means you have to keep going, but it was a weird decision to put the heat on the ref for it not happening (Dragon encouraged the fans to do so).
Once they got past that, Dragon told Morgan he was too good for The Prophecy and Daniels. Morgan seemingly disagreed, hitting Angel’s Wings in retaliation. Oh well, he tried.
We got a brief promo from Da Hit Squad before watching the Carnage Crew beat up ring-crew. That’s an excellent way to get sued.
Da Hit Squad (Monsta Mac and Mafia) defeated Carnage Crew (Loc and DeVito) in a Boston Massacre
Unsurprisingly, a Boston Massacre is no different from a Bunkhouse match which is no different from the countless other No-DQ stipulations wrestling companies have concocted over the years.
Anyway, the match was everything you’d expect from these two teams. They beat each other bloody, keeping it simple with barbed wire and steel chairs. You’ve seen this, or a slight variation of it, a million times, so you’ll probably know whether you’re a fan or not. I like watching big boys beat people up, but I have to be honest, they didn’t do much to retain my attention.
The big spot was Da Hit Squad heading backstage only to return with barbed wire boards. They did an alright job of building the final moments of the match around them, but seeing as they’d already stabbed each other with barbed wire, I don’t think it was quite as dramatic as they thought it was. Still, the match was alright, and if you’re a fan of this stuff, you’ll probably have a decent enough time.
Verdict: It Is What It Is
Bio-Hazard defeated Don Juan
Don Juan moves around the ring nicely for a big guy, but they had two minutes, so you can’t say much more than that.
My opinion wasn’t improved by my inability to look at Bio-Hazard and not laugh. He’s so nu-metal. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of nu-metal, I ain’t going to pretend that’s not true, but did people actually think that was cool? The boy looks like an idiot.
You could tell these guys came through the same school as the match was fluid and they’d obviously practised it beforehand. Sadly, that also ripped the personality from it, so it was very hard to love.
Alex Airon defeated Maverick Wild in a NECW Special Attraction Match
Maverick Wild seems to have stopped wrestling in 2015 and had an indie-centric career. Alex Arion made it to 2016, but (one job appearance on Jakked aside) had a similar time of it.
Anyway, this was a try-out match, so I’ve no idea why it made tape. ROH should have thrown it out for everyone who got to the building early and left it off the DVDs. I guess you could argue that they’re giving these guys a chance, but this card is so bloated, and giving them a chance is hurting their show.
None of which is to say the match was particularly bad. In fact, it was pretty good. They’re two athletic blokes who, like the previous match, seem to have worked together a lot. The problem is that I don’t care. It’s just a random match between two guys I don’t know and who I’ll probably never see again. In a week I won’t be able to name them.
Natural Born Sinners (Homicide and Boogalou) defeated James Maritato and Tony Mamaluke
I fucking hated this.
What are Natural Born Sinners? They’re two fucking madmen who brawl and fight. In contrast, Maritato and Mamaluke have come into ROH as serious wrestlers. So, you’d think this match would dance around the contrast in styles, Boogalou and Homicide trying to make it a fight while the former FBI wants to take it to the mat.
Except, that’s not what happened. Instead, the Sinners went out and matched Maritato and Mamaluke, grappling with them and proving their equals before getting the win which is fucking dumb because it suggests that all wrestlers are good at all things.
And I don’t want all wrestlers to be good at all things. I want some wrestlers to be brawlers, other to be technicians and then a bunch to be high-flyers. The reason I want that is that it allows them to play off each other’s weaknesses. It gives your matches natural storylines and pushes people into spots that suit them.
Instead, I’m now lead to believe that Natural Born Sinners are just as good at the grappling side of their game as they are the brawling. So, they’re perfect. What’s interesting about perfection? Fucking nothing.
I was so busy ranting I forgot to mention that Mamaluke and Maritato’s relationship was creaking thanks to Mamaluke’s desire to return to the FBI gimmick. That meant that post-match Maritato headed to the back, leaving his downed partner by himself. Said partner then seemed unimpressed at the Sinners attempting to help him up.
Mark Briscoe defeated Jay Briscoe
To give ROH credit, they’ve been building to this match since day one as Mark has repeatedly expressed disgust at his brother’s performances. Sadly, Mark wasn’t legally allowed to wrestle in Pennsylvania because of his age, but we’re in Boston, so he can finally make his debut.
Right, let’s start with the one negative I have with this match. I got pumped up by the two of them exchanging slaps during the handshake, the sibling rivalry unable to wait a few more seconds. Sadly, they then followed that up by chain wrestling, dancing through their pretty combinations. It felt at odds with this feud and took some of the heat out of the opening,
Thankfully, that was my one negative because they got it back. I was expecting these two to wrestle all guns blazing, blasting through the shit they’d been doing to each other all their lives. Instead, we got a measured, well-paced war between the two of them. Mark, in particular, was hella impressive, busting Jay open and focusing in on that cut, driving his fist into his big brother’s head again and again.
In reply, his brother went after his leg, giving Mark a chance to prove he could sell too. Some of it was a bit over the top, but there was also a moment where he sold mid-move, grabbing the injured limb during a springboard, but pushing through to hit a Dropkick. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen that before, as it was a fantastic piece of wrestling and athleticism.
Towards the end, they did descend into the style I was expecting from them, but by then they’d earned it, dropping each other on their heads as the crowd went with them. There was one last shock to come, though, as wee brother proved the better man, hitting a Burning Hammer for the three. That match exceeded every expectation I had for it.
Low Ki defeated AJ Styles to retain the ROH Title
Low Ki is so fucking good. It’s such a shame that he has a tendency to piss off the people in charge because the guy is on a different level at this point. He turned this into a physical match-up, trading blows with Styles and busting him open with a series of Kawada Kicks.
Unfortunately, it suffered from being at the end of a very long show. I was exhausted watching this at home, finding it hard to give it my full attention, so I can’t imagine what it was like for those in attendance. After how hot they were for the Briscoes match, this felt like things had been turned down a notch or two.
Still, towards the end, they did manage to grab people, their talent shining through the exhaustion. It’s AJ Styles vs Low Ki, and while this might not be the AJ Styles that was held up as the greatest wrestler on the planet, he’s still fucking good. As first title defences go, it was a strong old showing.
Verdict: Impressive Stuff
As Low Ki went backstage Xavier was standing there waiting for him, so I reckon Donnie B was right. We also got a generic Michael Shane promo that did nothing for me. It was setting up a match with Spanky, which is another chance for Shane to be outclassed.
There was a whole load of shite to get through before we hit the great there. Cut half the undercard and then finish up with those final two matches and this is a fantastic wrestling show. As it was, it was exhausting, and that hurt it when it got good. Still, that Briscoe match was brilliant and Low Ki vs Styles wasn’t too far behind it, so there is stuff worth tuning in for.
Top Three Matches In ROH History So Far
1. American Dragon vs Low Ki, Round Robin Challenge
2. Low Ki vs Amazing Red, Road To The Title
3. Mark Briscoe vs Jay Briscoe, Honor Invades Boston