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ROH Road to G1 Supercard
by Samoa Rowe
January 24, 2019
From Gilley's in Dallas, Texas. Our hosts are Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana. The venue is quite intimate, but the room is full.
Rhett Titus is already posing in the ring with his self-awarded Survival of the Fittest trophy. Titus is taking the "fittest" aspect literally, as he's ridiculously ripped.
Rhett Titus vs. Marty Scurll
Scurll is the actual Survival of the Fittest winner, so he's none too pleased about Rhett's antics and aggressively bats him around for a hot start. Scurll gets a quick lungblower off the turnbuckles and soaks up some fan adoration. They exchange chops and Titus begins to build some momentum with neckbreakers. Scurll takes a beating but backdrops Titus to the floor for a superkick from the apron. Scurll superkicks Titus into a slump and pulls him up for a powerbomb and Boston crab. Scurll misses a dropkick but catches Rhett with a step-up enziguri and superplex. Titus answers with a cannonball senton to the floor. Scurll hits a half-Dragon suplex and Rhett pops up to eat a knockout punch. Titus counters and hits a dangerously sloppy buckle bomb and sit-out powerbomb for a cold nearfall. Scurll blocks a Frog Splash and finishes with a Cambridge Destroyer and Graduation for the expected win at 9:25. Serviceable opener and a decent showcase for Scurll, **¼.
Winner: Rhett Titus
We are treated to unaired ROH TV footage. Bully Ray, Shane Taylor, and the Briscoes ruined an in-ring celebration. Juice Robinson responds by forming a new stable, called Life Blood, meant to "restore" Ring of Honor. He's joined by David Finlay, Tracey Williams, Bandido, Tenille Dashwood, and Mark Haskins.
Tag Wars 2019:
Alex Coughlin and Karl Fredericks vs. Life Blood (IWGP U.S. Champion Juice Robinson and David Finlay, with Tenille Dashwood)
Coughlin and Fredericks are a couple of "young boys" from New Japan's Los Angeles dojo. Robinson and Finlay are the main cogs in Life Blood, and they practice what they preach by extending handshakes. Coughlin and Juice start with some chain wrestling, in which Coughlin more than holds his own. Fredericks tags and assists in hitting a double shoulder tackle. Finlay gets a tag, but Fredericks blocks a double team and power slams Finlay! Just when it looks like the Young Lions are going to take over, Finlay hits a back senton on Coughlin, and Robinson returns with an axe handle. Life Blood control the match while the commentators put over Life Blood's wacky gimmick of "not cheating." Coughlin gets a desperation spear on Juice and Frederickson gets a hot tag and looks crisp dishing out basic punishment. Fredericks and Coughlin get stereo Liontamers but the ref breaks it up. Finlay hits Coughlin with a backbreaker and Robinson wipes Fredericks out with a dive. Finlay hits a decapitation lariat for 2. Finlay finishes Coughlin with Trust Panda (brainbuster onto his knee) at 8:52. Strong showing by the Young Lions (Finlay and Juice may have given them too much, but I digress) and I hope we see more of them in the future, ***.
Winners: Juice Robinson and David Finlay
The crowd pops for a surprise appearance by Katsuyori Shibata. He's here to support his trainee, Clark Connors.
Proving Ground Match:
ROH TV Champion Jeff Cobb vs. Clark Connors
Connor is also from the New Japan Los Angeles dojo. Cobb is rocking an undefeated streak and the TV title. Bell rings and they engage in some aggressive chain wrestling, with Cobb tossing Clark off. Cobb rolls on with headbutts and a chinlock. Clark breaks out but finds himself in an unrecommended slugfest, as Cobb knocks him over. Cobb misses a standing moonsault, allowing Clark to pop the crowd with a body slam! Cobb blocks a Boston Crab and hits Tour of the Islands for the win at 4:08. It's nice to see Cobb win a quick, decisive match. This was fine for a SQUASH.
Winner: Jeff Cobb
The Beer City Bruiser enjoys a cold one at commentary.
Shane Taylor and ROH Tag Team Champions Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. Dalton Castle and The Boys
Castle starts but Jay grabs a mic and demands a tag to The Boys. Castle hesitates, but tags in Boy #2, to crowd approval. It quickly becomes clear that the Boy is overmatched, but he defiantly slaps Jay's face. The Boys get a flurry, flustering Mark with quick attacks and counters, but Shane Taylor storms in for a side tackle. The Briscoes retake control and trap a Boy for a heat sequence. Castle gets a hot tag and gets overhead throws on both Briscoes. Castle continues to roll with a running knees on and off the apron. Castle would have gained a pinfall from a spinning flapjack, but Taylor pulls the referee out for the DQ at 9:18! The Briscoes carried this with their aggressive, credible offense, **.
Winners via DQ: Dalton Castle and The Boys
The Briscoes and Taylor have nothing left to lose, so they retaliate against the referee and beat down Castle and The Boys. This, of course, is the perfect opportunity for Juice Robinson and David Finlay to make the save. Juice says the fans came here to see honor and puts over tonight's main event of Life Blood's Tracy Williams and Mark Haskins vs. Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham.
Holidead (with Thunder Rosa) vs. Madison Rayne
They exchange open hand chops, and Rayne takes control with stiff kicks and a running dropkick. Rosa shields her partner allowing Holidead to gain control with a clothesline. Holidead's offense primarily consists of punching and kicking, and Rosa chokes Rayne on the bottom rope when the ref isn't looking. Holidead pretzels Rayne's arms and rocks her back and forth in a neat submission spot. Rayne counters with a tornado DDT. They stumble to their feet and Rayne rallies with a step-up enziguri for a cold 2 count. Rayne's Stunner gets another nearfall. Rayne hits a flying crossbody but has to knock Rosa off the apron. Holidead hits a spinebuster for a better 2 count. Rayne wiggles off Holidead's shoulders into a roll-up for the win at 8:02. Don't get me wrong, ROH should invest in a women's division, but these heatless, derivative matches are currently a drag on the product, *¾.
Winner: Madison Rayne
Holidead and Thunder Rosa beat Rayne down but Sumie Sakai runs in and steals a chair out from under a production crew member to clear the ring. Sumie dares the Twisted Sisters to come back for a fight, but they simply exchange angry finger pointing and leave.
Rocky Romero vs. Matt Taven
Taven continues to carry around a fake World title belt. Taven tells a heckling fan "You are wearing a fleece vest, you are the last person I would ever listen to." Taven picks on Romero for not doing much in his 14 year ROH career and offers to put his "World title" on the line. Bell rings and Taven misses a wild belt shot. Taven keeps trash talking and Romero winds up his fist but surprises with an eye poke. Romero is fired up and goes for an octopus stretch, but Taven viciously knocks him off in the ropes. Taven delivers a springboard Kick of the King to send Romero to the floor. They trade baseball slide attempts, but Taven's jawing at the ref allows Romero to hit a flying knee to the chest. Romeo hits a flying shoulder tackle off the entrance stage! Red balloons fly out from under the ring, and Taven uses the distraction to smash Romero around the barricade and lighting structure. Rocky isn't finished but Taven applies a hard Boston Crab. Rocky counters out for a strikefest. Rocky misses a spear into the corner, allowing Taven to apply a Boston Crab on the top rope! Taven hits a spinebuster but Rocky counters with a hurricanrana. Springboard DDT by Romero, and they exchange slaps to the face. Rocky becomes the aggressor, seemingly having an answer to all of Taven's tricks. Springboard double stomp to Taven draped on the ropes only gets 2! Taven counters Sliced Bread with a nasty backbreaker. Rocky bounces back for an inverted slam for a good 2 count. Taven catches Rocky with the Climax for the win at 15:58. This felt sluggish for long portions, though they delivered some cool moments along the way, **¾.
Winner: Matt Taven
Vinny Marseglia and TK O'Ryan waltz in to make a statement at Romero's expense. Before anything bad can happen, their Villain Enterprises arrive for their tournament match.
Tag Wars 2019:
The Kingdom (Vinny Marseglia and TK O'Ryan, with Matt Taven) vs. Villain Enterprises (Brody King and PCO, with Marty Scurll)
Scurll, weiding an umbrella, chases Taven to the back, so we can have a fair fight. PCO, the 30 year veteran, squares off against TK O'Ryan, a 4 year veteran. PCO schools O'Ryan and tags in King. PCO demands that King chop him before whipping him into O'Ryan in the corner. Marseglia tags and trades counters and chops with King. Power slam by King sets up a back senton. Some cheap shots allow The Kingdom to cut King off in their corner for a heat sequence. The Kingdom do well to appear ruthless as they beat down the intimidating looking King. PCO eventually gets the hot tag and seems to be enjoying himself as he runs wild, at least until getting knocked off the apron by O'Ryan. Marseglia puts PCO in a chinlock and ups the ante by thumbing his only good eye! The Kingdom hideously botch a double flapjack and PCO takes a disgusting bump right onto the top of his head. PCO desperately powerbombs O'Ryan and blindly stumbles into a hot tag to King, who suplexes Marseglia into O'Ryan! King's Black Hole Slam only gets 2 on TK. PCO climbs for a moonsault, but Marseglia knocks him down. Marseglia's Sliced Bread on King is good, and he drapes PCO for Marseglia's Red Rum. The Kingdom hit House of 1,000 Horses on PCO, but King breaks the cover. Vinny sets King on a table and misses a senton off the top! King catches TK with the Gonzo Bomb! PCO finishes TK with the moonsault at 14:54! I don't think this match needed that table spot, as this previously was a really strong tag team formula match. This loses points for some sloppiness, but overall provided a cool battle between factions, ***½.
Winners: PCO and Brody King
Silas Young vs. Bandido
Bandido gets a warm reception from the crowd, which is a positive sign for ROH's current rebuilding phase. Bell rings and they chain wrestle to a stalemate. Bandido flips backwards to avoid Young's clothesline and mocks him with a headstand. Young tries to cheap shot out of a handshake, but Bandido uses his quickness to shake him off and mocks with a finger point, prompting Silas to retaliate via biting! That's how real men fight, afterall. Bandido clears Silas from the ring, but gets smashed into the barricade and slammed on the floor. Young controls the match by picking apart Bandido's back. Silas' beatdown lasts for several minutes, past the point where it seems like he's filling time rather than trying to win a match. Bandido finally shows signs of life with a springboard twisting senton and a moonsault to the floor. Back to the ring, Bandido hits a leaping Frankensteiner with a cover for a good nearfall. Young punches the softened back, but Bandido puts him on his shoulders for the GTS, but it's blocked. I would argue that Bandido's back should have given out in that spotů so I am. Bandido is good enough to sell his back while dishing out tilt-a-whirl backbreakers. Bandido's shining wizard gets a close 2 count. Bandido dead-lifts Young and THIS TIME his back gives out, allowing Silas to escape. Silas counters with a brutal kick to Bandido's chest and almost finishes it with his patented moonsault. The fans give them a standing ovation for that last sequence. Young hits a superplex and floats over, but Bandido counters with his own suplex, but Young immediately rolls into the ropes to prevent a cover. Cue the "This is awesome" chant. Young wins a slugfest and they trade thrust kicks. Bandido dropkicks the knee and hits a rope assisted snap German suplex for the win at 20:11! Just when it looked like this would devolve into an indie-riffic spotfest, they embraced the psychology of Bandido's hurt back and provided a focused and exciting second half, ***¾.
Bandido offers Silas a handshake. Silas reluctantly accepts but then cheap shots with a hard kick to the knee. Bandido looks hurt as officials check on him.
Tag Wars 2019:
Life Blood (Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams) vs. ROH World Champion Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham
Lethal is 10 days away from tying Samoa Joe's record for most time spent as ROH Champion. Williams starts against Gresham, and William's size evenly matches against Gresham's quickness. Williams is pretty quick himself, and they reach a good stalemate. Haskins and Lethal make tags, and Haskins seems to have a chip on his shoulder and ready to already be mixing it up with the World champion. Williams and Haskins are first to score some tandem offense, making quick tags and using aggressive submission holds and strikes to make a statement. Lethal's arm is picked apart after Haskins viciously stomps it into the mat. Gresham gets a needed tag and quickly connects with a dive and dropkick to Williams' knee. Gresham and Lethal manage to cut Williams off by targeting the freshly injured knee. Gresham does this need thing where he stretches Tracy's arm around his leg and slaps the hand to get the fans to clap along. Williams absorbs a ton of punishment before hitting a desperate cradle DDT. Hot tag to Haskins, who overwhelms Lethal with a flurry of offense. Lethal fights out of a bridging armbar but Haskins transitions into a Sharpshooter! Lethal escapes and pump kicks Haskins out, but Williams returns with a superplex for 2. Lethal Combination gets 2 on Williams. Gresham returns and wipes Haskins out with a moonsault off the apron. Williams hits Lethal with a springboard dropkick but Gresham pops back for a springboard moonsault and ankle lock! Gresham's German suplex gets 2. Lethal powerbombs Williams and applies the figure four while Gresham blocks Williams, at least until getting driven into his own partner. I bought that as a possible finish. Life Blood overwhelm Lethal with tandem offense and Haskin's double stomp earns a good nearfall! Williams DDT's Lethal on the top turnbuckle, and Haskin's driver would have ended it if not for Gresham's save. The match completely breaks down and Lethal wheelbarrows Gresham into an Ace cutter to finish Williams at 23:25! Great effort here, and this told an appealing story of two newcomers stepping up to the plate and hanging in a main event, ****.
Winners: Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham
A post match show of respect is ruined when the Briscoes, Shane Taylor, and Silas Young run in for a beatdown. Juice Robinson and David Finlay make a late save and fall to the numbers game.
Final Thoughts: I'm not sure the star ratings would necessarily reflect it, but this was a much easier to watch, more enjoyable show than Honor Reigns Supreme. The newly signed talent were put in much better situations to shine and the New Japan dojo guys remind me a lot of Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly circa 2010. I'm left feeling positive about the direction ROH is heading in during this rebuilding era. Thumbs Up.
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