Greetings all! Given how much wrestling was taking place this weekend, with NXT Takeover: Pheonix and The Royal Rumble really taking the core focus, I though it best to not try to compete for attention. As such, I will be rolling out my coverage of ROH Road to G1: Supercard, ROH TV and NJPW’s New Beginning Tour over the course of this week, so stay tuned! And to get us started right away…
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Ring of Honor Wrestling
ROAD TO G1 SUPERCARD: DALLAS
Aired on Honor Club 1/24/19
Ian Riccobani and Colt Cabana on commentary. We open right onto the ring, where Rhett Titus is already in the ring, with his “Survival of the FITTEST” (because he is the fittest) trophy.
RHETT TITUS vs MARTY SCURLL
Scurll is out in a shirt that says “All My Friends Are Dead”, which is a) amazing and b) the title of a published book by someone I went to college with. Marty is out without Villain Enterprises, as part of the Tag Wars tournament. “Marty” chants. Titus runs at Marty at the bell, but Marty CLOCKS him with an elbow and sends him to ringside. Marty whips Titus into the barricade before tossing him back into the ring where he is met with an elbow from Titus, but Marty counters with a corner hung backstabber to get control back.
Chops traded in the corner by Marty and Titus, they hit the ropes and Marty takes down Titus. Marty takes arm control and grounds Titus, slowing down the pace and working over the arm. Titus flips out of a suplex and snags a nice swinging neckbreaker, holds on and hits a kick and a running blockbuster on Marty for a 2 count. Titus sends Marty outside and whips him to the barricade, then sends Marty across to the other side before putting him back in the ring. “Marty” chants.
Titus stays on Marty in the corner, hits a knee lift off the ropes and a variation of the Kotaro Krusher, covers but only gets 2 before grounding Marty. Marty fights up, Titus tries to keep control but runs into a Marty uppercut and gets dumped over the top by Marty. Marty hops over the top and lands the apron superkick to a nice pop. Titus sent back inside, shots by Marty and a backslide on Titus but he rolls him through and hits a kneeling superkick and powerbomb on Titus, followed by the Cambridge Crab. The crowd chants “Tap!”
Titus fights out and flips Marty over, evades Marty in the corner and looks to climb the corner. Marty is up early and kicks Titus, climbs as well and lands a big superplex off the top rope! Cover, but Titus is out at 2. Marty looks for another apron superkick but Titus evades inside and drops Marty with a dropkick. Titus runs the ropes and hits a flipping dive to take down Marty, throws Marty back in and they trade shots and evasions. Marty lands a big half nelson suplex but eats a Titus kick, but Titus eats a big elbow from Marty. “Heavyweight” chants.
Marty sets Titus up top in the corner but Titus dumps Marty face first in a nice spot, then follows up with a buckle bomb in a much less nice spot. Pop-up sitout bomb from Titus into a cover, but Marty is out at 2! Boot from Titus in the corner, a second one, and Titus goes up top for the Big Dog Splash but eats knees from Marty! Marty hits a Destroyer on Titus, follows up with Graduation, covers and gets the WIN!
Marty Scurll defeats Rhett Titus by pinfall after Graduation
JAY’S RATING: 3 out of 5
This was a nice way to open the card, as Marty always has the crowd in the palm of his hand and Titus pulled out a GREAT effort here against Marty! Titus has been largely in the background lately, and this was a nice way of him to kick off a show and get some eyes back on him. Mine certainly are. But at the end of the day this was the right call, Marty looked great as always. If the ROH World Title isnt in his future, it will be a travesty.
SEGMENT: Ian & Colt run down the card; Video Package for the debut of Lifeblood
Ian and Colt run down the card. They hype the next match, featuring Alex Coughlin and Karl Fredericks, 2 members of the New Japan LA Dojo. Ian references the formation of Lifeblood, Juice Robinson and Tenille Dashwood’s new stable, which he acknowledges has not aired yet, and so we get a sneak peak of what went down.
THIS IS A FINE SOLUTION! Look, if you’ve been reading my stuff you know how much ROH’s story progression has been frustrating due to tapings and events not quite aligning. So if thats the case, OWN IT! Do something like this – acknowledge it, talk about how its not been on TV yet, and then give the PPV audience a sneak peek. If this is what they have to do to address the taping schedule issue, GREAT. Thank you! (Plus, the video package for this was pretty dang solid, and a stable of Juice, Tenille (THANK YOU), Finlay, Tracy Williams, Bandido and Mark Haskins? Yeah I can get on board with that talent, and its a stable that feels VERY New Japan in its makeup which I think could work well in 2019 ROH.)
Tag Wars Round 1
ALEX COUGHLIN & KARL FREDERICKS
FIN-JUICE (of Lifeblood)
Fredericks and Coughlin are out in Young Lion gear, which I LOVE. Tenille joins commentary. “Juice” chants as he touts his IWGP US Title to the camera. Code of Honor adhered to, and we get the bell. Coughlin and Juice start off grappling, lots of mat work off the bat, with Coughlin showing some strong skill. Juice takes Coughlin down with a tackle but then eats a dropkick, cover by Coughlin but only a 2 count. Tag to Fredericks for a double team on Juice, who gets dropped with a double tackle.
Fredericks stays on Juice, but Juice fires back with hard shots and tags in Finlay. Fredericks fights back and dumps Juice outside, and hits a nice slam on David followed by a boot and a cover for 2. Tag to Coughlin but Finlay drops him and lands a senton to Coughlin’s shoulder. Slam by Finlay, cover but just a 1 count. Tag to Juice who comes off the top with an axe handle to the shoulder, followed by a nice back suplex and standing senton. Cover but only 2. Tag to Finlay who hits an axe handle to the shoulder of his own, followed by a nice suplex and a cover for another 2.
Coughlin fights back but Finlay is able to stay in control and tag Juice, landing a double team bulldog and a cover but Fredericks breaks it up at 2. Juice with a big clothesline in the corner, drops Fredericks off the apron and hits a nice running cannonball in the corner but Coughlin is out at 2. Tag to Finlay but Coughlin fights back and hits Juice with a big spear, crawls over and tags Fredericks who is in hot. Hip toss to Juice which sends him outside, and he catches Finlay coming in with a beautiful dropkick. Huge spinebuster from Fredericks but Finlay is out at 2.
Tag to Coughlin who gets Finlay in a Liontamer, Fredericks catches Juice in one of his own but Finlay gets to the ropes to break the submission. Coughlin stays on Finlay as Fredericks takes Juice outside. Finlay gets behind Coughlin but Coughlin gets a rollup for 2. Another small package from Coughlin for 2. Finlay catches him coming in an Irish Curse, cover but Fredericks breaks it up before getting dumped and floored outside by Juice. Finlay runs the ropes and hits a great lariat, covers, but only gets 2! Finlay hits Trash Panda, cover and finally gets the WIN!
Fin-Juice defeats Alex Coughlin & Karl Fredericks by pinfall after Trash Panda to advance in Tag Wars 2019
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This was a fun and tightly built match, with Fin-Juice looking good but the Young Lions also coming off hot and exciting. I sort of have mixed feelings about that, as Finlay and Juice are new to a deeper ROH schedule, establishing a stable, and really struggled against Young Lions… I wonder if having a New Japan title holder and debuting stable struggle so much against rookies is the right story to tell? But none
SEGMENT: SHIBATA IS HERE!
Ian and Colt hype the next match, when all of a sudden… KATSUYORI SHIBATA’S MUSIC HITS! He’s out to corner his trainee, who is in the upcoming Proving Ground match.
Proving Ground Match (ROH Television Championship)
CLARK CONNORS vs JEFF COBB
Code of Honor is adhered to and we get the bell. Connors goes for the leg but Cobb doesnt budge, and instead grabs Connors leg and just starts stretching him before Connors escapes. They go back to the mat but Cobb has the clear advantage here. I mean, OLYMPIAN. Connors stays hungry though, gets a headlock on Cobb but Cobb pushes him off and floors him with a tackle and a forearm. Connors looks to fight back but Cobb is dominant, dropping Connors with a back elbow off the ropes for 2.
Cobb grounds Connors and hits a great Euro to the back of a seating Connors, and keeps the pressure on him. Connors fights back again, but Cobb absorbs the shots and fires back. They trade, but Cobb continues to have a clear advantage. Big slam by Cobb but Connors evades the standing moonsault, which allows Connors to fire up. Connors ducks a Cobb clothesline, gets a slam, a dropkick and a spinebuster and looks for the Boston Crab. Cobb fights Connors off, who jumps at Cobb but gets caught in the Sidewinder Suplex. Cobb follows up with Tour of the Islands, covers and gets the WIN.
Jeff Cobb defeats Clark Connors by pinfall after The Tour of the Islands
JAY’S RATING: 2 out of 5
This was what it needed to be as a champ vs Young Lion match, with Connors showing great hunger and fire but just not having enough behind him to make much a dent on Cobb, who just ALWAYS LOOKS GREAT. Loving Jeff Cobb in ROH. (Plus, AHHHH SHIBATA!!!!)
After the match, Cobb extends the hand to Connors who takes it, and bows to Shibata before receiving one from Connors.
THE BRISCOES & SHANE TAYLOR vs DALTON CASTLE & THE BOYS
Beer City Bruiser is out on commentary to scout the match. I really hope Shane Taylor continues to rise to the occasion here, because I think he’s got something special (especially in his strike game) but I dont know that he’s being taken seriously yet. Still dont like the Briscoe’s heel entrance, but its starting to grow on me more… No Code of Honor, no surprise there as we get the bell. Jay and Castle start us off talking some shit at each other. Jay gets the crowd asking for the Boys, but Castle says they will come in and pick up the scraps.
Jay grabs a mic and puts down the Boys and Castle. They think about it, and Castle tags in Boy 2 to start off against Jay. Lockup and Jay dominates. Jay plays with Boy 2, who shoves Jay back and then SLAPS HIM! Jay smiles at it, nice pop and “you fucked up” chant but The Boys take the fight to Jay landing a nice double hip toss! Jay got the blind tag as well and Mark comes in, The Boys evade and hit offense on Mark in the corner! Boy 2 evades Mark but then runs into a wall in the form of Shane Taylor.
Castle in to help but Mark dumps him as Jay brings Boy 2 outside and beats him down. Boy 2 brought back in, Mark hits a standing back suplex and then tags in Taylor. Taylor grabs the hair, picks up Boy 2 and gets a big open hand chop, then beats down a grounded Boy 2 brutally. Tag to Jay, and Boy 2 is in trouble. Boy 2 fights back but Jay is dominant, landing his hard headbutt to drop Boy 2. Euro from Jay to Boy 2 and a big splash in the corner, followed by a seated kick to the face.
Jay keeps control of Boy 2, and then tags in Mark. Big chop from Mark in the corner, brings Boy 2 out and drops him with another one before tagging Taylor back in. Boy 2 tries to mount offense, but Taylor just DROPS Boy 2 with a shot to the face. Taylor climbs the middle rope but Boy 2 evades the splash, Mark tags in but Boy 2 rattles him and gets the tag to Castle who is in hot! Short-arm clothesline, knee and short DDT on Mark, Jay in but Castle catches him and just tosses him overhead, and snaps off another suplex on Mark.
Lariat from Castle drops Jay, Mark tries to fight back but Castle keeps control with a running knee on both Briscoes and a low suicide dive on Mark who is at ringside until Castle tosses him back in. Castle evades a Mark shot which lands on Taylor, and then catches Mark in Bangarang but Taylor pulls referee Paul Turner out of the ring, which leads to a DISQUALIFICATION WIN for Castle and the Boys!
Dalton Castle & The Boys defeat The Briscoes & Shane Taylor by DQ after Taylor pulls the ref out of the ring to interrupt a count
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This was fine, but ultimately the match wasnt as much the point of this as the post-match. But everyone got a chance to get some stuff in, including The Boys, so while not the most exciting match, the story got told well.
After the match, Taylor shoves Turner before eating a suicide dive from Castle. Castle brings Taylor in but gets jumped by the Briscoes. The Boys try to help but get totally decimated. BIG KO shot from Taylor drops Castle, and the beating continues until Fin-Juice hits the ring and takes on the Briscoes. Perhaps a future ROH Tag Title match? Juice takes the mic and calls out the lack of Honor displayed by Taylor and The Briscoes. Juice asks the crowd if they want some Honor. Juice hypes the main event, with Gresham and Lethal against Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams. “Lifeblood” chants. Castle is back inside, Juice extends the hand as does Finlay, and Castle accepts as his music hits.
Ian talks up Mayu Iwatani returning to ROH next month. YES PLEASE. And that leads us to the next match…
HOLIDEAD (w/ Thunder Rosa) vs MADISON RAYNE
I have some hopes for this match, as Madison Rayne has only kept improving in this phase of her career, and I just ADORE the Twisted Sisterz and feel like they have a ton of potential here. No Code of Honor and we get the bell. Lockup, and Holidead shows a size and strength advantage at the top. Rayne goes behind but Holidead puts her in the corner, and gets an open-hand chop. Rayne reverses another, gets a drop toe hold and some chops and shots of her own, then hits a dropkick to a kneeling Holidead that sends Holidead outside.
Thunder Rosa starts firing up Holidead, but proves a distraction as Holidead drops Rayne outside with a clothesline. Holidead sends Rayne back in and keeps the fight on, landing a nice leg drop on the apron. Holidead chokes Rayne on the ropes and distracts the ref as Rosa gets in a choke as well. Rayne gets an elbow and cross body off the middle rope, whips Holidead but eats a knee, tries to escape but gets tackled down by Holidead. Cover, but Rayne is out at 2.
Holidead gets Rayne in a grounded rocking horse submission, and lands a heel kick to the back of Rayne from that position. Rosa and Holidead keep talking and I LOVE IT. Rayne fights back but gets dropped by the bigger Holidead, and then just chokes her and drives the forearm into Rayne’s face. Holidead keeps control, driving Rayne bearhug style into the corners. Nice crowd reaction for Holidead. Holidead sits Rayne on top but Rayne fights back and hits a nice tornado DDT, and both are down.
Holidead up first but Rayne ducks a clothesline and fires back with elbows and chops, and then hits a big enziguri for a 2 count. Rayne with the Rayne Check (ripcord cutter), cover but Holidead is out again at 2. Crossbody off the top by Rayne but Thunder Rosa tries to intervene, which opens Rayne up to a nice spinebuster from Rayne, cover and a CLOSE 2 count. Holidead calls for the end, picks up Rayne but Rayne counters into a sunset flip for 3 and the WIN!
Madison Rayne defeats Holidead by pinfall after a sunset flip
JAY’S RATING: 2.25 out of 5
This felt like another match that was more about the angle than the action, and as such it was fine and we get a post-match angle that keeps the Rayne/Sisterz story going. Rayne continues to look good, and I’m still up on Holidead though all thats needed now is more experience, confidence and sharpness and that will come with time. All of the pieces are there, and I’m excited to see more.
After the match, Rosa is in to beat down Rayne but Sumie Sakai is out and grabs a chair and clears the ring! Twisted Sisterz talk shit at Sumie as we get the standoff, with Sumie beckoning them into the ring for some of her. Nice, short and clear closing angle.
We get hype for Matt Taven vs Rocky Romero next. Ian tries to justify this match taking place, I mean it sounds like a fine matchup, but it did feel like trying hard to make us care about a match that we have no real reason to care about on any level other than “these are two great performers.” Taven grabs a mic and says he does what he wants in spite of what some audience member in a fleece vest might think. Taven says tonight is a special night, because they have something in common – they have held gold in NJPW, CMLL and ROH, and sharing that legacy makes him sick. But unlike Rocky, Taven says he has held a World Title, holding up his REAL ROH World Title belt. “Real World Champ” chants, which I love. Taven says he is putting his title on the line. Great, now I care, Ian didnt need his spot in my opinion. So now we have…
The REAL ROH World Championship
ROCKY ROMERO vs MATT TAVEN (c)
Taven looks for the belt shot early but Rocky evades and takes the fight to Taven, but Taven is able to take control back and talks shit on Rocky, saying he’s going to embarass him. Rocky with a shot to the head, but Taven talks shit about Rocky’s mom. Taven dares Rocky to hit him like a man, Rocky winds up and then pokes Taven in the eye! Inverted Atomic Drop and running dropkick from Rocky takes down Taven, followed by a big chop from Rocky. Rocky beats Taven down in the corner, Taven counters and they trade switches, but Rocky locks in a nice Octopus but Taven is able to get the ropes.
Big shot from Rocky to Taven, Taven sends him to the apron and hits a triangle enziguri to put Rocky down to ringside. Taven runs the ropes and looks for a baseball slide, Rocky evades and goes for one too that Taven evades, Taven gets control in the ropes but Rocky dumps Taven outside and hits a signature running knee off the apron. Taven looks to get distance, Rocky follows but Taven gets the advantage in the entrance way and looks for a suplex on the chairs. Rocky counters behind and hits a Euro, Rocky climbs the stairs up to the stage, measures Taven and hits a big dive off the stage to wipe out Taven.
Rocky puts Taven back inside as we get the red balloons, but Taven takes advantage of the distraction with a suicide dropkick, and then sends Rocky hard into the barricade a few times. Taven grabs Rocky and sends him hard into a corner post at ringside. Taven dumps Rocky back in the ring and stays on him, Rocky is dazed but starts firing up and they trade shots. Rocky looks for a running rana, but Taven catches him in a Liontamer to counter. Rocky looks for the ropes, but Taven pulls him back in. Rocky powers out into a rollup, but Taven is out at 2.
Rocky tries to stay on Taven, Taven fires back and then blows his nose at the audience. Rocky looks for a shoulder in the corner but Taven moves and Rocky posts himself, and Taven locks in a Crab with Rocky trapped in the corner! (This should be a new Taven signature.) Big backbreaker on Rocky, covers but Rocky is up at 2. Taven gets a butterfly, hoists Rocky but Rocky turns it into a rana, gets a big knee and springboard tornado DDT on Taven and both are down. “Rocky” chants now. (Looks like the nose-blow was the deciding factor there.)
Taven and Rocky trade slaps and shots, Taven gets the advantage, Rocky looks to counter, Taven tries to counter back but Rocky is able to get Taven in the corner and gets some Forever Clotheslines going. Taven lands a boot to break the momentum but Rocky hits one last one to drop Taven. Rocky tries to keep the advantage, Taven gets a nice enziguri but Rocky is able to follow by taking Taven down and hitting a sliding clothesline. Taven heads outside and drops Rocky across the top rope, looks for a move on the ropes but Rocky hangs him to dry and hits a double stomp off the top to Taven’s back! Cover, but Taven is out at 2.
Rocky looks for Sliced Bread, but Taven holds on and hits an UGLY backbreaker, strikes from Taven but Rocky gets a backslide for a close 2! Rocky with the rewind kick and hits a running Sliced Bread, cover but only gets 2! Shots from Rocky, jumping knee, but Taven catches him springing out of the corner into the Climax! Cover, and thats the WIN for Taven.
Matt Taven defeats Rocky Romero by pinfall after Climax to retain his REAL World Championship
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
A nice little outing by two strong talents here, and while it never really kicked into a final gear for me it was nonetheless an enjoyable match with decent crowd investment. The biggest thing holding this back for me was how they had to “make” us care by shoehorning a “we have the same legacy” story into it and making it a match for Taven’s belt, which, fine, but it just felt a bit tacked on in general (as did the match as a whole) and so it was hard to invest beyond the ring-work, which was decent but not the best I’ve seen from either of them. Nonetheless, it wasnt a bad showing by any means, and keeps Taven’s momentum going, which makes sense.
After the match, The Kingdom is out in full and stands over Rocky, and they look to attack… when BRODY KING’S MUSIC HITS and it looks like we are heading right into…
Tag Wars Round 1
THE KINGDOM vs VILLAIN ENTERPRISES (Brody King & PCO)
I dont know how I feel about separate entrances for VE. I mean, I love their individuality, but it makes them feel less like a team/stable with Marty. They shouldnt use Marty’s music, but I do wonder if along with their individual themes there should be a larger VE theme… Marty is out with his team to even the odds with Taven. VE surrounds ringside, boxing in The Kingdom. Taven tries for a belt shot but Marty ducks and is able to chase Taven away, and it looks like they are both leaving ringside leaving us with just the tag match.
TK and Vinny take their time getting in the ring, talking shit to the crowd and their opponents. PCO starts off with TK as we get the bell. “PCO” chants. TK tries to come in hot but PCO shoves him off twice and then just scares TK backward. PCO catches TK with a headbutt, they run the ropes and TK jumps but PCO dumps him with a powerslam. Tag to Brody, but PCO asks Brody to chop him to fire him up and then whips PCO into a running corner dropkick into TK.
TK lands a jawbreaker to stun Brody and gets a tag to Vinny, but King drops Vinny with a tackle. They run the ropes and they trade counters, Vinny hits a big knee and looks for a springboard, King catches him and they trade shots with King dropping Vinny with a chop. Slam and a senton by King, who fires up the crowd. King looks for a cannonball but misses, TK takes down PCO to get a distraction and The Kingdom double teams King in the ropes. Vinny stomps the mudhole and tags TK back in. Shots from TK, quick tag to Vinny for double team chops that puts King down.
King comes back with a chop but Vinny keeps control until King throttles Vinny. Tag to TK who is able to land a nice spinebuster, diving headbutt from Vinny but only gets 1. Chinlock from TK, King powers up but The Kingdom keeps King in their corner and keep a double team on. King fights back, looks for the tag but TK holds him, King kicks him off and PCO gets the tag and is just unstoppable. Nice back suplex spinebuster and Emerald Flowsion from PCO, “PCO chants”. PCO sits himself up top but Vinny kicks him off all the way to the floor.
TK gets a big shot on PCO from behind, then tosses him back in to Vinny. Vinny mounts PCO and keeps control as he talks shit to the crowd, and puts a headlock on PCO before blatantly thumbing the eyes (Ian references the glass eye that PCO has). Double team continues on PCO, tag to TK who rakes PCO on the top rope and chokes him on the middle as Vinny goes back to the eyes. Cover by TK, but PCO is out at 2. PCO fires back but The Kingdom keeps the numbers game on, goes for what looked like an attempted flapjack but PCO lands UGLY (HE’S NOT HUMAN!), almost on his head. Double team legdrop/senton combo follows, Vinny covers but only gets 2.
TK is back in but PCO catches him in a nice pop-up powerbomb and is able to get the tag to King, who comes in with a big pump kick, lariat and a couple of backdrops to The Kingdom. King crushes TK and Vinny in opposite corners, then catches Vinny coming in a belly to belly into TK in the corner and a cannonball on TK. Black Hole Slam by King, cover but TK kicks out at 2. Tag to PCO who looks to climb for the moonsault, but Vinny crotches and dumps him, then hits a Dudley Dog on King. TK drapes PCO over the back, opening him up for Redrum (swanton bomb) by Vinny, who tags back in and covers but only gets 2.
Tag to TK and they look for House of a Thousand Horses and they hit it! Cover by TK, but King breaks it up at 2. TK and Brody trade shots until TK dumps King, and they trade blows at ringside with TK getting a legsweep into the barricade. Vinny out now to deal with King as TK is back in with PCO, while Vinny heads under the ring to pull out a table. Vinny sets it up at ringside and lays King on top of it, then climbs the corner and looks for Redrum, but King moves and Vinny is wiped out! “Holy shit” chants.PCO and TK are in the ring, TK hits a hard shot but King is back in and hits a SICK Ganzo Driver, then tells PCO to go up top and PCO hits an INSANE moonsault for his size, covers TK and gets the WIN for Villain Enterprises!
Villian Enterprises defeats The Kingdom by pinfall after a moonsault to advance
JAY’S RATING: 3.5 out of 5
This was a fun and hard-hitting affair, with Villain Enterprises picking up a huge win following their official debut. Overall this was still a little on the slow side for me in terms of the full arc – I think they could have shave a decent few minutes off of this and it would have helped the flow feel tighter – but everyone delivered well here. The Kingdom looks good in defeat and I still feel like they are on track to take over ROH from a heel standpoint, and soon. But King and PCO looked fantastic, and PCO truly IS. NOT. HUMAN. I cant believe what this man is capable of at this point in his career. Its amazing. Welcome back PCO.
SILAS YOUNG vs BANDIDO
This was supposed to be Bandido and Flip Gordon, but Gordon’s recent injury led to this change, which has the potential to be an engaging clash of styles nonetheless. “Bandido” chants. Bandido extends the hand, but Silas dismisses it. They lock up to begin, trading holds, Silas gets wrist control but Bandido takes it, and they continue to go back and forth. Hip toss attempt by Bandido but Silas able to land on his feet. Quick sweeps and 1 counts from both including a great bridge up by Silas, but Bandido answers with a headstand evasion for a nice pop.
Silas suckers Bandido in and gets a waist lock, Bandido gets behind and they trade holds again, Bandido flips out of it and mocks Silas, but Silas bites Bandido’s fingers! Bandido looks to break free but Silas wont let up. Bandido gets a wrist lock escape, then fakes out Silas and snatches a headscissor takeover and hits a dive feint to perfection. Bandido tries for a suicide dive but Silas moves and sends him into the barricade. Slam on the outside by Silas, who keeps the pressure on at ringside.
Silas tosses Bandido back in and hits the over the top stomp to the gut, and just stands on Bandido for the ref’s 4 count. The crowd tries to fire Bandido up, but Silas hits two nice backbreakers, cover but only gets 2. Silas keeps the pace slow, talking trash and just toying with Bandido. Bandido looks to get momentum back, but Silas grabs the hair and pulls Bandido down to maintain control. Silas goes back to the hair, and keeps the pace methodical. Knee to the back by Silas, followed by stomp and hard whip into the corner. Cocky cover for a short count by Silas.
Silas keeps talking trash at Bandido, who tries to fire back but gets caught in the spinning backbreaker/lariat combo and a cover for 2. Bandido gets perched by Silas, who then tries to take the mask off which fires Bandido back up, but Silas hits a great Death Valley Bomb and a standing stomp out of the corner, covers Bandido but only gets 2. Corner clothesline from Silas, but Bandido answers with a big boot after Silas trash talks the crowd, allowing Bandido to hit a GREAT corkscrew dive off the top to take down Silas!
Bandido fires up with strikes and a superkick that takes Silas outside, Bandido climbs the corner and hits a middle rope springboard moonsault to the floor wiping out Silas! Bandido brings Silas back inside, looks to hit the ropes, Silas holds onto him but Bandido counters into a beautiful rana into a cradle pin, but only gets 2. Bandido is favoring his back, looks to hoist Silas but his back gives out. Silas looks for a suplex but Bandido flips out of it, goes for a GTS but Silas counters into a knee of his own and drapes Bandido on the top rope for an Anarchist Suplex, covers but only gets 2.
Silas tries for a full nelson, but Bandido catches a rollup for 2. Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from Bandido, and a 2nd one takes Silas down. “One more time” chants, but Bandido sweeps Silas’ leg and hits a knee and a Shining Wizard, covers but only gets 2. Bandido tries to fire up while still favoring the back, but deadlift gutwrenches Silas up but his back gives out and Silas escapes. Silas tries to rush the corner, Bandido evades and runs at Silas but Silas gets the boots up and just drives Bandido down hard.
Bandido evades a shot from Silas, Silas hits a pump kick but Bandido hits one as well, Silas hoists Bandido and lands the Plunge to perfection and covers but Bandido is able to get out at 2. Nice pop from the crowd. “ROH” chants. Silas sits Bandido up top, looks for a superplex but Bandido fights it off, Silas tries to beat down Bandido and climbs to the very top and hits a big superplex, then floats over BUT BANDIDO GETS A DEADLIFT VERTICAL SUPLEX to reverse! Nice pop for that one as well. “This is Awesome” chants.
Bandido sits Silas up top, still holding his back, climbs to the top and looks for the Avalanche Moonsault Slam but Silas fights it off. They evade knees and kicks and end up trading blows mid-ring, Silas gets a big elbow but Bandido nails a pump kick, Silas returns one but Bandido stays on him, Silas pushes him off but Bandido is able to take out Silas’ knee to bend him over, and then hits the 21-Plex (a rewind bridging German Suplex bouncing off the ropes), gets the bridging cover and Bandido picks up the WIN!
Bandido defeats Silas Young by pinfall after the 21-Plex
JAY’S RATING: 3.9 out of 5
Some may find it a bit curmudgeonly, but as good as this match was (and it was quite good), it was nonetheless slow to start as I could sort of feel them filling time with trash-talking, a long ground game, the immense amount of crowd play and more that suggested the sudden change in plans with Flip’s injury. That’s the only issue – the momentum issue at the top – that keeps me from giving it a full 4. But given the late change, this was that much more impressive a showing by two talents who just did what they needed to do to lock in with each other and deliver a match that kept the crowd riveted especially later in the match. Silas is great, though I dont know that ROH will ever see him fully as a top guy, which is a shame because he is SO VERSATILE. And Bandido showed us why he truly is one to watch in 2019, and another ROH talent that defies weight class. This was a lot of fun, and a great example of how to adapt to change effectively. Well done.
After the match, Bandido extends the hand again, Silas seems conflicted, finally shakes the hand but then kicks Bandido in the kneecap. Bandido is selling the hell out of the knee in the ring, as the refs check on him and they call for support. This only struck me as a bit much because it just didnt seem like much of a kick… so it feels oversold…
Ian then takes us to a hype video for Rush, which was fine.
Tag Wars Round 1
LIFEBLOOD (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams) vs JAY LETHAL & JONATHAN GRESHAM
Kenny King joins the commentary booth. Still think Lethal’s new music is more generic than the previous one, but c’est la vie. We get the Code of Honor and the bell. Gresham and Tracy start us off. Lockup to start and they begin with mat wrestling, trading wrist control, Tracy looks for a crucifix but Gresham out of it right away, and they back into the ropes for a break. Tracy takes Gresham down with a tackle, they look for mat work again with Gresham fighting effectively from his back, they hit the ropes fast but Tracy evades into a cover for a 2 count. Another rollup by Tracy for 2, they go fast on the mat and get to a standoff. Tracy extends the hand, Gresham accepts and both sides tag.
Haskins and Jay in now. Crowd support for both. Jay and Haskins talk and shake again, then lock up. Haskins looks to tie up Jay, they trade hold attempts and Haskins gets foot control forcing Jay to the ropes. They tease the test of strength but Jay takes down Haskins, but Haskins replies by grounding Jay, they counter each other into another standoff. They keep the action quick but Tracy gets a blind tag allowing them to get a double team on Jay in their corner. Haskins tagged back, who stays on Lethal and stomps the arm hard, covers but Jay is out at 1.
Tag to Tracy who grounds Jay and keeps on the arm, wrenching it back while keeping Jay down but Jay gets the rope break. Wrist work from Tracy, tag to Haskins who covers after a Tracy suplex but Jay is out at 2. Knee to the gut from Haskins, another cover and another 2 count. Rollup attempt from Jay but Haskins turns it into a LeBell Lock, Jay looks for the ropes but Haskins grabs the arm for a Rings of Saturn variation. Gresham in to break it up, but Haskins wont release the hold until Jay gets the ropes with his foot.
Tag to Tracy and they double team Jay’s arm, with Tracy continuing to wrench on it to follow. Jay gets Tracy’s weight over for a cover but only gets 2. The crowd fires up for Jay who tries to fight out of the arm control, Tracy with a nice chop and an attempt at a suplex but Jay drops his weight, fights back and lands a chop of his own. Tracy looks to send Jay to the ropes but Gresham gets a blind tag, Tracy jumps to try to catch Jay but Gresham grabs him in mid-air with a waist lock and dumps him with a deadlift German! Jay follows with a suicide dive taking out Tracy, then sends him back inside.
Gresham meets Tracy back inside with a shot to the knee, and starts working over Tracy’s leg. Chops from both but Gresham has the advantage and keeps working over the left leg, but Tracy gets to the ropes to break. Tag to Jay, who keeps working on the leg with stomps and then lands a big Euro. Elbow drops from Jay connect to Tracy’s leg, and Jay wrenches it on the ground. Big forearm from Jay leads to a tag to Gresham, who stays on the leg. Tracy fights back, he and Gresham trade chops but Gresham fakes him out and takes out the knee again.
Gresham grounds Tracy and switches to working the arm and shoulder, focusing on the braced one and drops his weight down hard to extend that shoulder joint. Gresham keeps the shoulder lock while wrenching the leg back, maneuvers Tracy into a pin for only 2. Tag to Jay and a GREAT double team ending in a dragon screw on Tracy, cover but only 2. Jay locks in the half crab and sits right down on Tracy, who fights Jay off but Gresham gets the tag and keeps Tracy in his corner.
Tracy is able to push Gresham off but Jay gets another quick tag and cuts off the tag to Haskins, looks for the Figure Four but Tracy escapes, same for Gresham but Gresham looks to keep the pressure on until Tracy plants him with a nice Bloody Sunday! Tags on both sides, Haskins and Jay in, Haskins gets the advantage, kicks out Jay’s knee, then his arm, then hits a PK to the chest. Haskins hits a GREAT Samoan Driver, covers for 2 but immediately goes for the bridging Fujiwara armbar! Jay fights up, Haskins evades and gets the Sharpshooter locked in! Jay reaches for the ropes as Haskins pulls back, but Jay gets the break.
Tag to Tracy but Tracy is still hurting, Jay takes advantage with a pump kick to Haskins, Tracy tries to keep control and sits Jay in the corner and hits a big throw off the top, covers but only gets 2. Tracy with a kick to Jay’s back, knee drop and a leg drop follows and Tracy covers but Jay is out at 2. Chop from Tracy against the ropes, but Jay catches Tracy in the Lethal Combination, cover but only 2. Jay stays on Tracy’s left leg and looks for the Figure Four, Tracy fights out again and Gresham tags in and takes out Haskins at ringside.
In the ring Tracy catches Jay coming and hits a middle rope missile dropkick that sends Jay outside, Gresham back in and he and Tracy trade waistlocks and Tracy catches Gresham with an elbow. Tracy looks to run but the knee gives out allowing Gresham to hit a nice in-ring standing Asai Moonsault and then rolls through into an ankle lock on the left leg! Tracy looks for the ropes but Gresham pulls him back into a leg trap bridging German Suplex, but only gets 2.
Tag to Jay, Gresham works the knee and Jay gets a powerbomb and transitions it right into the Figure Four leglock. Haskins tries to interrupt, Gresham holds him back but Haskins shoves Gresham into Jay to break the hold. Gresham gets dumped by Haskins, who fires up on Jay with kicks. Tracy and Haskins look for the double team suplex, but Tracy’s leg gives out again allowing Jay to come back, but Haskins and Tracy end up getting a nice double team sequence. Tracy hits a DVD as Haskins climbs up top and lands the double stomp, Tracy covers but Jay barely kicks out at 2! “This is Awesome” chants.
Tracy climbs and Haskins looks to set up a double team but Jay fires back and looks for a middle rope superplex, but Tracy reverses into a DDT onto the top turnbuckle and Haskins follows with a Pentagon Driver, Tracy over for the cover but Gresham breaks it up at 2. Haskins fires back at Gresham in the corner, Haskins calls for the finish and they look for a double team but Gresham interrupts and Jay rolls through into a rana style cover for 2 before EATING HASKINS’ KNEE! Gresham hits Haskins with an enziguri, Tracy takes out Gresham with a lariat and rips the brace off, Gresham and Jay get back to their corner and Gresham tags in and he and Jay hit an INSANE LAUNCHING CUTTER COMBO on Tracy! Cover by Gresham, and thats the WIN and Jay and Gresham advance!
Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham defeat Lifeblood by pinfall after a double team launching cutter to advance in Tag Wars 2019
JAY’S RATING: 4 out of 5
This was a great main event to cap off the first night of the tour. I like the potential of Haskins and Williams as a tag team, given their similarity in both style and personal presentation – I think there’s something to be cultivated there with potential tag title implications. (I would LOVE to see this team challenge for the straps!) I understand why Lethal and Gresham went over here, but in a way I would have like to see the upset, because I’m not sure Lethal or Gresham need the Tag Wars thing right now, and bringing up a new hot team feels like it could have greater long-term potential. But regardless of that, everyone showed great stuff here, Haskins and Williams gave us more reasons to be excited by their presence in ROH, Lethal and Gresham are JUST THE FUCKING BEST, plus we get a post-match angle to carry us into Houston. Great work and great storytelling by all 4 competitors here!
After the match, we get the Code of Honor. “ROH” chants. Silas Young and Shane Taylor come out on the entrance ramp, drawing focus as The Briscoes jump everyone from behind. A brawl breaks out, a preview of the next night’s main event. Silas posts Tracy hard shoulder-first, and they just decimate everyone. Lifeblood is out to fight the heels, but they get dominated as well as Taylor knocks out Juice, and Jay Briscoe hits him with a Jay Driller. I love the heels standing tall here to close the show, building for two more shows to go.
This was a very enjoyable, if a little static at times, first card on the Road to G1 tour of Texas. The show opened strong, and then focused a bit on story at the expense of the ring work which is where it got a little long for me (I think a better balance might have been struck), but from Taven through the end we had a REALLY solid series of matches that built on top of each other through the end. So from a pure “build” perspective, I sort of can’t fault the booking logic here, and the main event delivered quite strongly to close out the show. The crowd was also SUPER happy to be there, which fed a great energy into the room for everyone to feed off of, which is always great to see. Lastly, I LOVE how Ian was given permission to reference the TV tapings. I realize as well that I like this because it fully acknowledges the world we live in today in 2019. The internet, spoilers, etc – its just so easy to find out about stuff that hasnt been broadcast yet. Don’t deny it. Embrace it. Own it. Hype it. Make it so people are like “WHAT? Well I cant wait to see THAT!” The issue with pretending it didnt happen (i.e. pretending the tapings didnt already happen before this event) is that I always find it super condescending to the audience watching, because at this point we’ve likely already read/heard about it so who are you trying to fool really? By instead building it into the narrative through Ian or whomever, ROH now actually has control of all aspects of the narrative, doesnt come off as trying to pretend we dont know what we already know, and allows a much more aligned and consistent storytelling across the board. Ian referencing stuff yet to be seen is one of the bigger successes of this show to me, and between that and an opener and home stretch of a card that really delivered for me, Road to G1: Dallas felt pretty dang successful in my book. Well done.