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ROH Gateway to Honor
by Samoa Rowe
February 29, 2020
From St. Louis, Missouri. Our hosts are Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman. There's probably 600 - 800 fans spread out in an arena that's far too big for ROH.
Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll, Flip Gordon, and Brody King) vs. The Briscoes and Slex
Slex is a well dressed city slicker, so he makes an odd partner for the chicken farming Briscoes. Slex starts strong but eats a tandem German suplex from King and Scurll. The crowd gets behind Villain Enterprises. Gordon is the heel in peril as the Briscoes work him over. Gordon kips up to avoid a lariat and nails an enziguri. Hot tag to Brody King, who plows through the Briscoes. Villain Enterprises set up a Tower of Doom superplex, and King's senton gets 2. Mark comes back with a uranage and redneck kung fu. Slex helps with a dive on King. Mark sets up a chair to launch himself to ringside with a somersault senton! Redneck Boogie but Gordon kicks out! Slex tags himself as Jay is about to finish it, and Gordon catches Jay with a half nelson suplex. King plants mark with a sidewalk slam, and Slex catches him with a DDT, but misses a moonsault. Villain Enterprise triple team Slex with a 619 variation. King and Mark have a chopfest, hit dives, and Mark takes King down with a blockbuster off the apron. Meanwhile, Slex hits the Business Bomb on Gordon for a great nearfall (aside from killing Slex's finisher right out of the gate). Gordon's springboard spear and Flip 5 finish Slex at 10:51. Great opener with the right kind of energy, ***¼.
Winners: Villain Enterprises
Shane Taylor tries to ambush Slex but ends up eating a running boot. Soldiers of Savagery arrive, but Slex escapes them too. I'm not sure how Taylor and SOS are supposed to get over if they can't beat up somebody who just ate a pinfall.
Dan Maff vs. Alex Shelley
Maff turns his back on Shelley before the bell and pays for it as Shelley unloads quick shots. Maff backs Shelley into a corner and hits a headbutt to escape a hammerlock. Shelley avoids disaster when his crossbody is countered, but Maff answers with an amateur throw with a bad landing. Shelley dropkicks Maff to ringside and hits flying knees off the apron. Maff's toughness allows him to regain control. Shelley's Satellite DDT only gets 1. Maff defiantly hits a POUNCE and follows with a running cannonball for 2. Maff hits a cutter and senton for a good nearfall. Shelley rallies and needs multiple attempts before hitting a scoop slam, but Maff stands right back up. Shelley's standing Sliced Bread only gets 2! Shelley's double stomp misses, and Maff pulls him into a BURNING HAMMER for the win at 9:22. Solid showcase between two indie vets, **¾.
Winner: Dan Maff
PJ Black trains with his new partner, Brian Johnson, in the ROH dojo. Johnson has no finishing move, so Black wants to fix that. Black puts him down with a neckbreaker and says that will be his finisher for now on. A training montage shows Johnson losing his temper when Black keeps knocking him down, but controlling his emotions and being able to hit his new neckbreaker on some red shirt guy. When it's over, Black gives Johnson a white belt.
2 Guys 1 Tag (Silas Young and Josh Woods) vs. The Righteous (VINCENT and Bateman, with Vita and Chuckles the Clown)
The Righteous sneak attack Young and Woods on the stage. Vincent hauls Young into the ring and relentlessly attacks his knee. Young still wants to compete, so the bell rings, and the Righteous automatically have him isolated. Young no-sells the bad knee to counter VINCENT's hanging front facelock with a suplex. Woods is MIA for a tag, so VINCENT wraps Young's knee around the post. Woods returns and gets the allegedly hot tag and runs wild through the Righteous. Young tags in to assist in a tandem elbow drop and hits a lungblower, to set up Woods' powerbomb onto his knees. Young finally sells his knee injury, and VINCENT rolls a concerned Woods into the buckles and nails a Side Effect for 2. Young's blind tag leads to a tandem pop-up knee to VINCENT. Young hits the Finlay Roll and Head stand splash for 2. It looks like 2 Guys 1 Tag have it in the bag when they're interrupted by Brian Johnson on the mic, mocking them for never winning championships. VINCENT takes advantage with an Acid Drop on Young for the win at 9:08. Match was a complete mess from a narrative standpoint, **.
Winners: The Righteous
The Bouncers and a cooler full of adult beverages join commentary. It's the "Year of the Beer." They're here to watch the women's match, because Milonas is smitten with Angelina Love after she stole his beer.
Angelina Love (with Mandy Leon) vs. Session Moth Martina
Martina seems more like the Bouncers' type than Love as she parties to the ring with a mystery beverage in a thermos. She's almost too drunk to get out of her leopard print pajamas. Love refuses a drink, so Martina grinds with the referee. Love turns babyface in my mind as she spears Martina and then tosses her into the barricade. Leon helps Love remain in control as Bruiser talks Milonas out of trying to help Martina. Both women go down after double clothesline. Martina is up first and puts together a string of offense, but Love cuts her off with a DDT into the Koji Clutch. Martina gets a rope break and hits springboard knees to the face, but Mandy distracts the ref from the cover. Ref tosses Mandy! Martina hits a tight headbutt and DDT for 2. Martina chugs some beer but misses the spray, and Love hits the Botox Injection to win at 7:48. This was okay, Martina still needs to workshop her gimmick a bit before we see much more of her, **.
Winner: Angelina Love
The Bouncers check on Martina and revive her with a beer. She comes to life and leaps into Bruiser's arms. Milonas is totally jealous, but enjoys a beer toast anyway. I like this budding stable of friendly alcoholics.
Jeff Cobb vs. Tracy Williams vs. Kenny King (with Amy Rose) vs. Dalton Castle (with The Boys and Joe Hendry)
Match starts on a chaotic note, as King plays the sneaky opportunist role, while the others are aiming to dominate. King catches Williams with a chincheck and Castle with a spinebuster. Castle answers with a basement DDT and suplex on King. Cobb returns to go on a suplexing spree. Honolulu Stampede on King! Cobb sets up all three opponents for a standing moonsault for a collective 2 count. Cobb cleans house but eats King's blockbuster for 2. King hits an Arabian press onto Williams and Castle. Cobb follows with a running senton on everyone, including Hendry! Castle head scissors Cobb into a spear of sorts onto a table. Williams and Castle trade counters. They no sell power moves in a sick exchange. Williams counters with a pendulum DDT for 2. Castle counters with Bangarang for the win at 10:09. Fun and action filled spotfest, ***.
Winner: Dalton Castle
Bully Ray is here to entertain us. He runs down the fans, the city, and refuses to leave. This goes on for a short lifetime before Caprice Coleman eloquently offers to get rid of him.
Caprice Coleman vs. Bully Ray
The bell rings and there's a ref, so I guess we have a match. Coleman unloads on Ray and dishes out a spear. Ray comes back with the Bubba Bomb and it's over at 1:05. Nice try, Caprice.
Winner: Bully Ray
Ray isn't satisfied and attacks Coleman with a chair. Cheeseburger's run-in fails, but Eli Isom has better luck with an ambush spear. Isom sets up a table, but Ray hits a low blow and powerbombs him through it instead. Total waste of time, Ray has nothing left to offer ROH.
Brian Zane, from Wrestling with Wregret, replaces Colemaon on commentary! Neat!
ROH Television Championship:
Dragon Lee © vs. Dak Draper
Draper asks for the Code of Honor, but makes fun of Lee's height instead. Lee's shoulder block backfires and his rana is blocked. Draper has better luck with a suicide dive, followed by a flying double stomp for 2. An embarrassed Draper take a time out, and blocks Lee's rana and hits a dangerous looking powerbomb. Draper takes control with Methodical Heel Offense. Draper goes for the mask, which sparks a comeback by Lee. Draper bites the ropes to escape Lee's backpack submission and hits a Doctor Bomb. A top rope fight leads to Lee headbutting Draper into a Tree of Woe for a double stomp! I like that kind of violence. They trade Tombstone positions until Draper delivers a press slam for 2. Lee counters Draper's springboard with a knee to the spine. Lee drapes Draper on the ropes for a double stomp, followed by a knee to the face, but Draper survives. Lee blocks a Magnum Drop and nails Incineration for the win at 9:22. Good showcase for Lee, who totally outclassed a larger competitor, **¾.
Winner and still ROH TV Champion: Dragon Lee
Proving Ground Match:
ROH Tag Team Champions Jonathan Gresham and Jay Lethal vs. Mexisquad (Bandido and Rey Horus)
The champs have not been doing well in their Proving Ground matches, so they attack, ugh, "Mexisquad" before the bell. They quickly cut Bandido off and target his legs. Horus gets a hot tag with only 3 minutes gone and runs wild with the type of flippy offense that might send Jim Cornette into a rage. Horus foils numerous double team attempts and dives over Gresham to wipe out Lethal at ringside. Gresham distracts Horus for Lethal's baseball slide dropkick. Gresham then puts Bandido into a Figure Four outside the ring. With Bandido seemingly out of commission, Gresham relentlessly attacks the arm of Horus. Desperation Fly Trap by Horus! Hot tag to the hobbled Bandido, who still manages a pop-up cutter and then powerbombs Gresham onto Lethal. Mexisquad hit stereo superkicks on Lethal followed by an assisted splash for 2. Bandido delivers a modified GTS despite his bad knee. Bandido slips on a sunset bomb attempt and settles for a normal buckle bomb. Horus hits a 630 on Lethal and dives onto Gresham. That leaves Bandido free to hit the Shooting Star Press on Lethal, but his bad knee leads to a slow cover for 2. Lethal fails to use the title as a weapon, can't hit the Lethal Injection, but locks on a Figure Four to submit Bandido at 12:06. Good resume building win for the champions. It's refreshing to see an injury angle pay off this well too, ***½.
Winners: Jonathan Gresham and Jay Lethal
ROH World Championship:
PCO © vs. Mark Haskins vs. Rush
Wild start as everyone wants to fight everyone. The ring gets cleared out and PCO hits the first dive onto Rush. Haskins' dive is countered by PCO with a chokeslam on the apron. PCO's somersault senton misses when Rush pulls Haskins out of the way. Rush smashes PCO onto a table and sends Haskins into the guard rail. Rush applies a hanging triangle choke over the ropes and fakes out Haksins with a Bull's Horns tease. Haskins wakes up and kics PCO on his way to diving onto Rush. Haskins rapidly dives onto PCO and double stomps Rush for 2. PCO catches Haskins with a pop-up powerbomb but then Rush hits a snap German. All three guys go down, which where you'd expect an ovation from the fans, but not this time. Rush barely manages to suplex PCO into the buckles and spits on him. PCO blocks Bull Horns with a spear, Haskins' double stomp breaks the cover. Haskins rolls Rush into a Falcon Arrow. The fans could care less about all of this. PCO chokeslams Haskins and the fans actually applaud. PCO's moonsault on Haskins is good, but Rush pulls the referee out. Nick Aldis runs in and smashes the 10 Pounds of Gold into PCO's head. Rush finishes with Bulls Horns at 10:21. Crowd pops for the title change. This was a whole lot of noise with a dead crowd, **.
Winner and new ROH World Champion: Rush
Haskins has a lot on his mind, and it earns him a triple team beatdown by the hands of Rush, Kenny King, and Dragon Lee.
Final Thoughts: Just about every match was about 3-5 minutes shorter than I would have guessed, and the show was all the better for it. This is an easy watch that catches you up on most ongoing ROH angles pretty effectively. Only the Bully Ray segment overstayed it's welcome, and the main event was strangely cold.
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