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ROH State of the Art
by Samoa Rowe
June 2, 2019
From Portland, Oregon, in the Viking Pavilion, an arena that is way too big for the crowd (lower bowl looks to be about 70% full, entire upper section is completely empty, which just looks bad on camera). Our hosts are Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana.
Bully Ray comes out to pick arguments with the fans (and later confront a disruptive fan backstage for rude comments made toward Velvet Sky). He is in his usual bad mood and wants to dish out an ass kicking so he can get back to New York City. Tracey Williams accepts Ray's open challenge but only if it's Anything Goes. Ray cheap shots with a knee to the groin and gladly accepts.
Anything Goes: Bully Ray vs. Tracey Williams
Ray enjoys an early advantage due to the previous cheap shot and throws Williams into a trash can full of plunder. Ray delivers a vertical suplex and yells at the referee for a perceived slow count. Ray throws a German and proclaims himself the originator of Suplex City. Williams appears dead until countering with a draping armbar over the ropes. Williams springboards into Bully Ray's headbutt. Ray is huffing and puffing and seems eager to be finished as he gets a table. Ray takes a moment to say "screw you" to "all the marks on Honor Club" and places Williams on the table for kendo stick shots. Tracey saves himself with a testicular claw (which Ray sells hilariously), Ray blocks a top rope rana, but misses the senton and Williams pins him out of nowhere at 8:07. Match was slow and one sided, only salvaged by Ray's antics, *½.
Winner: Tracey Williams
Bully Ray is a sore loser and looks for some revenge. Mark Haskins runs in for the save but ends up taking a powerbomb through the table.
Mazzerati vs. Danika Della Rouge
Mazzerati appears to be too cool for the room while Della Rouge is all smiles and pink hair. Mazzerati denies the code of honor, in case we didn't figure out she's the heel yet. They lock up but Mazzerati soon removes her glove for a slap to the face. Everything Mazzerati has done has been a dirty heel move as she frequently goes for the hair and eyes. Della Rouge tries to return the favor but Mazzerati knocks her down and declares that you "don't touch a black woman's hair." Della Rouge hits a suplex and heads to the top, only to get knocked down. Della Rouge (barely) connects with some jabs and delivers an ugly German suplex. Mazzerati totally no-sells and comes right back with a superkick to the face for the win at 4:58. This was pretty sloppy and basic, but I like the potential of both women, *¼.
The Allure runs in to beat Della Rouge up because... reasons. They mark their logo on her forehead with lipstick. There are some jeers, but the fans largely don't care.
Josh Woods vs. Mark Briscoe
Woods is a bearded, tattooed young guy, and is being presented as a top prospect. They quickly throw grappling out the window and engage in a back and forth brawl. Wood attempts a bear hug but Mark fishhooks the eyes to escape. Woods settles for a bear hug suplex and then drives Mark into the barricade, followed by an overhead suplex on the floor. Back to the ring, Woods hits a pair of gut wrench suplexes. Mark retreats and lures Woods into a trap, driving him into the guard rail. Mark delivers a flying elbow off the top rope to the floor, just for the hell of it! Woods takes a beating before hitting a desperation suple. Woods ties Mark's leg in the ropes for a springboard lariat! They battle on the apron until Woods hits a German to the floor! Woods hits the Seismic Knee (Go To Sleep variation) but Mark saves the match via rope break. Mark has his referee taken away by the ref and hits a blind low blow, allowing the Froggy Elbow Drop for the win at 11:14. This was a great showing from both guys, but that finish is the sort of tired trope that many fans are fed up with, ***½.
Winner: Mark Briscoe
Mark celebrates and gets a babyface reaction from the fans. It's time to just let the Briscoes be faces until they retire.
PJ Black vs. Jeff Cobb
It's face vs. face as they adhere to the Code of Honor and engage in a sportsmanlike grappling exchange. Black gets some seperation with elbow shots off the turnbuckles. Black hits a double stomp but Cobb rebounds with a drop-kick. Irish whip (with authority!) by Cobb but Black answers with a roundhouse kick. Cobb rolls through Black's springboard crossbody but Black counters the vertical suplex into a cradle, but Cobb powers out to hit the suplex afterall! Cobb nails a powerslam and... my VOD stream dies. It comes back, but with a mad lag, so I'm going to pause it for a few moments. Technology is great when it works, folks. We're back and Black escapes a guillotine choke and it's gone again. Can't tell if this is ROH's problem or mine. As far as I can tell, Black hits a top rope double stomp for a nearfall, followed by a Spanish Fly Trap, and there is no sound but the fans look really into it. The picture then speeds up, with the audio not matching, but Cobb manages Aloha Means Goodbye and gets the pin at 12:05. Technical issues diminished what appears to have been a great match, ***½.
Winner: Jeff Cobb
Riccaboni and Cabana announce that Haskins is out of tonight's main event. Because he went through a table? Come on now, guys like Roman Reigns can take 45 minute naps during Royal Rumbles and still win, but Haskins goes through one measly table and that's that? In fact, Mark Briscoe took arguably more punishment when he got suplexed off the apron, and he's pulling double duty in the following tag team gauntlet match, with much lower stakes! If I may cut to the chase, this booking makes Haskins look soft.
Tag Team Gauntlet Match:
Featuring Shane Taylor and Silas Young, The Voros Twins, Dalton Castle and Rush, Coast to Coast, The Bouncers, and The Kingdom
The Winning team gets a shot at the ROH Tag Team Championship. The action begins with Silas Young and ROH Television Champion Shane Taylor vs. The Voros Twins. The Twins are a couple of skinny guys with bleach blond hair and goofy mannerisms. Young puts on a technical clinic against a Twin (sending a message to his arch-enemy, Jonathan Greshem). Twins make a tag and Young continues the assault as the video stream randomly cuts to the ROH logo flashing on the screen. We're back after 15 seconds or so and the Voros chin pretends to pull something out of his oversized pocket, only to chop Young. The screen blacks out again, but we return to Young answering with a chop of his own. Taylor enters the match and absorbs a string of ineffective offense from a fired up Twin before hitting a nasy shoulder block. Twins make a timely tag and are quick enough to... cut back to the ROH logo. I'm sorry, I know this makes for an awful review, but this is the product that ROH, a company backed by the big evil Sinclair Broadcasting Company, puts out there for paying Honor Club members, so if it's going to keep cutting out, I'm going to keep harping on it. A full minute goes by and then the video returns in fast-forward mode. Taylor has both Twins locked in an abdominal stretch and Taylor lights him a cigarette. That's so funny and awesome, I am almost not pissed about the technical issues. The Twins are gone at 9:00 or whatever.
Dalton Castle, now without The Boys, is teaming with Rush, the man who beat him in seconds at G1 Supercard. The commentators explain that Rush is Castle's wildcard partner, and that is a phrase wrestling companies may want to avoid now that WWE has made a farce out of the term with their brand split shenanigans. Castle and Rush are wacky tag partners who hate each other and can't agree on who the legal man should be, but it might not matter as the brawl heads to ringside. The good news is that the stream seems to have stabilized, even if it feels a bit like WWE 2k18 playing on a Nintendo Switch. The match settles into Castle as the, um, heel in peril, with Taylor and Young working him over. Rush gets a hot tag and runs wild, at least until Castle tags himself in. Rush tags himself back in as well, and they momentarily show teamwork in hitting Young with double drop-kicks. Taylor makes the save, but Rush knees him into Castle's German suplex. Rush finishes Young with the Bulls Horns at 17:20.
Coast to Coast is next and they attempt to steal a fall with an ambush. Rush and Castle are on the same page now and fend off the young guys. LSG gains some control over Castle and Coast to Coast settle into the driver's seat with quick tags. Castle makes a comeback on Ali, but Rush just flips his partner off rather than offer a tag. Castle gives Rush a thumbs down, but Ali drop-kicks him into a tag. Rush runs wild through Coast to Coast and poses, which angers Castle, who trips Rush up when he goes for another Bulls Horns. Castle and Rush brawl up the ramp and get counted out at 22:48.
The Beer City Bruiser and Brian Milonis party their way to the ring to face Coast to Coast next. The Bruiser falls on his ass climbing over the guard rails, but it's no big deal because he's totally drunk. Coast to Coast catch them off guard with dives, but the Bouncers have the size to shake it off and control a brawl. Back to the ring, Ali hits Bruiser with a blockbuster, but Milonas makes the save. Bruiser jabs LSG and either bites or kisses him. The ref admonishes him, but Bruiser complains he can't bite because he has no teeth. That's adorable. Match continues with Ali finding himself under a Milonas senton. The Closing Time leg drop finishes Coast to Coast at 28:10.
I guess the Briscoes aren't in the match afterall (they were on the graphic) as The Kingdom are announced as the final team and they sneak out from under the ring to assault the Bouncers. The video quality dips again, as the picture periodically blacks out and the audio drops, followed by rapid speed ups. Anyhoo, the Kingdom instantly isolate Bruiser via nasty heel tactics. The fans get behind Bruiser with "BEER!" chants and he eventually manages to slam Marseglia onto O'Ryan and makes the hot tag. Milonas plows through the Kingdom, hitting a double clothesline and... the video drop back to the logo. We're back, and Milonas superplexes O'Ryan into place for Bruiser's frog splash to end it at 35:38. I tend to hate tag team gauntlet matches because they tend to bury the division, and to their credit, most of the teams here got enough in to look credible and good. Unfortunately, this still just dragged on for ages, and technical issues have soured my mood, **.
Winners; The Bouncers
Kenny King, who is finished pretending to be blind, joins commentary.
Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal
These two have a long history of squaring off for the World title, but now they're presented as two guys who are clawing their way back into the main event (which shouldn't be hard for Lethal, as is the second most recent champion). Bell rings and they kick things off with good old fashioned chain wrestling, until Jay retreats for a breather. Jay considers bring a chair in but resists the urge... for now. Match restarts with Jay working a headlock. Lethal gets a break and prepares to fly, but Jay shields himself with the chair. Lethal takes the mic and calls Jay out for not being the same guy who went undefeated for 2 years. Lethal challenges Briscoe to put the chair down, man up, and show the fans what happens when two of the best are put together. Aaaaaand, the video drops back to the logo. Can't blame this on my Roku. About 60 seconds later, the video is back and Briscoe is in control, but bleeding from the eye. Guess we'll never know how that happened. Lethal takes a long beating but manages to drop-kick Briscoe to ringside, followed by a trio of dives. Both men are sweating buckets as they stumble into the ring for a slugfest. Lethal Combination is good, but Briscoe cuts Lethal off on the top rope for a superplex! Lethal recovers for a Figure Four but Briscoe gets a quick rope break. Lethal perches for the elbow drop but is distracted by Kenny King at ringside, allowing Briscoe to counter with an inside cradle for 2. Briscoe finds his second wind and nails the J-Driller for 2! I'm finally into the match and we're back to the ROH logo. We're back after 20 seconds, and King is urging Briscoe to use a chair. And the video is gone again. The picture is back with no audio, and then suddenly 45 seconds of video speeds through in 10 seconds, and Jay's uncertainty about using the chair cost him as Lethal rallies and hits the Lethal Injection for the win at 25:00 or so. I guess this was a good match to put out there for a market that has never had ROH before, but this felt like a drawn out greatest hits match, ***¼.
Winner: Jay Lethal
I am so frustrated with the technical issues on the VOD stream. The only problem is now I'm committed to finishing this review, so if the main event turns out to be 30 minutes of the ROH logo flashing on the screen, I'm going to recap and complain about that, dammit.
Defy or Deny:
ROH World Champion Matt Taven vs. PCO vs. Flip Gordon vs. Mark Haskins
This is elimination rules. There's a goofy stipulation that says that if Taven wins the match, the last guy eliminated cannot challenge for the ROH title again as long as he is champion. If anyone besides Taven wins, they get a future title shot. Mark Haskins was supposedly too injured to compete, but he joins the match anyway. Bell rings and Taven tells everyone that they don't deserve to be in the ring with him and he takes a seat at ringside. Taven stalls for time and sits on some fans, while amazingly the other three decide to fight without him. If I were booking this, they'd triple team Taven and drag him back in, but what do I know? Taven sneaks back to attempt to steal a pinfall but then runs away. The other three resume fighting, and I swear, ROH babyfaces are only marginally more intelligent than WWE babyfaces at this point. Taven tries to ambush PCO and FINALLY the challengers decide to corner him. Taven orders them to stop chopping him, which predictably backfires as they bust his chest open with more chops. Gordon hits Taven with a dive, but Haskins accidentally catches Gordon with a kick off the apron, but PCO wipes Taven out with a dive (to a big crowd reaction). Taven targets PCO's good eye but cannot hit the Climax. Haskins and Gordon work together to German suplex PCO off the apron and Taven then wipes them out with a dive. Gordon answers with a springboard, followed by PCO's top rope moonsault! PCO hits the Pop-Up Powerbomb on Taven, and Gordon and Haskins prevent a package piledriver before assisting in a Tombstone Piledriver. The Kingdom sneak out and pass Taven a chair, who foolishly cracks it on a no-selling PCO. PCO uses the chair himself and is disqualified at 14:50. The crowd hates that and you can just sense the air being sucked out of the building. Taven dukes it out with Haskins and targets his injury from the Bully Ray table spot. Haskins lights Taven up with stiff offense but gets inadvertently knocked out by Gordon, who outmaneuvers Taven but decides to drop Haskins with a dive. Haskins returns the favor on Gordon and double stomps Taven. Haskins almost pins Gordon with a Michinoku Driver, followed by a double stomp. Taven sneakily rolls Haskins up and pulls the tights to eliminate him at 19:20. Crowd has no emotion for that outcome. Gordon and Taven sell desperation and exhaustion as they chop each other up the stage. Gordon runs and hits a blockbuster off the stage onto the floor! After teasing a double countout, Gordon's 450 is no good, and then Taven counters a rana with a powerbomb through the timekeeper's table! Taven follows with a frog splash, but Gordon kicks out! Gordon blocks the Climax and hits Sling Blade. Gordon's Unprettier and Falcon Arrow can't end it, and Taven counters into Climax for the win at 25:45. Overall, this was a really good match with some great spots and sequences. I disagreed with several booking decisions, but it ended on a strong note, ***½.
Winner: Matt Taven
Final Thoughts: The VOD version of this event is simply brutal to sit through and is completely inexcusable in 2019. I could forgive ROH in 2009 when a live I-PPV stream would freeze, but when the Honor Club's subscription service feature is this unreliable, it's disheartening. I guess you could say that the Honor Club service isn't exactly "State of the Art." The show itself contained a bunch of enjoyable ***+ matches that while good are probably not worth going out of your busy schedule to see.
Mild thumb in the middle.
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