Jay Briscoe def. Jimmy Jacobs to Retain the World Title
I have been critical of ROH’s mini-slump starting with its 13th Anniversary Show, but this week’s episode was a major step in the right direction. The show featured a very good opening match between Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish. There were strong storyline elements in Donovan Dijak’s alignment with the House of Truth and a potential star-making segment for Dalton Castle. Lastly, there was this very fun main event that was entertaining as a match and a sentimental farewell to Jacobs.
Jacobs put his body on the line from the very start of the match. He hit a suicide dive to the floor and a diamond cutter on the floor that injured both wrestlers. Briscoe change the momentum back in the ring with a falling fireman’s carry slam. Despite a series of big boots from Briscoe, Jacobs refused to go down. Finally, Briscoe dropped him with a big neckbreaker for a two count.
When Briscoe tried to go for a vertical suplex, Jacobs countered with a dragon sleeper. Briscoe freed himself, only for Jacobs to hit a spear for a near fall. Jacobs blocked a Jay Driller from the top rope and countered with a version of a shiranui. When he couldn’t get a pin, the frustrated Jacobs started to walk away from the ring. He looked longingly at the ROH Title belt, which refocused him on the match. He hit another diamond cutter, shiranui, and spear to set up for a guillotine choke. When Briscoe was about to escape, Jacobs turned the move into a sunset flip for a two count. Briscoe made it back to his feet and hit a Jay Driller to win the match.
The way the match went down made Jacobs look tough and strong on his way out the door. He made the match extremely difficult for Briscoe, who only won with a single big move at the end. The legitimate color from a bad cut above Jacobs’s eye added to the drama and emotion of the match. At the end of the show, Jacobs swallowed his pride and shook Briscoe’s hand to a standing ovation from all in the house. It would have been hard to put together a better send-off to Jacobs or any other wrestler.
Jay Lethal def. Dalton Castle to Retain the TV Title
Friend of the Going Over Podcast and 2015 ROH Top Prospect got his chance at the TV Title in the middle of a stacked card. Before the match started, Truth Martini warned Dijak that he stands no chance against Lethal, the greatest pro wrestler alive. Instead, he offered Dijak a spot in the House of Truth and Dijak took his time before shaking Truth’s hand and joining the group.
The flamboyant Top Prospect loser Dalton Castle came to the ring with the House of Truth still there. Castle posed and preened with his scantily clad male escorts as he baited Lethal into defending his belt by saying only Jay Briscoe is a real champion.
Castle found some success at the start of the match with a hurricanrana on the floor and a handful of Greco-Roman style throws. J Diesel distracted Castle and Lethal hit a trio of suicide dives on the floor. Castle fought back with an overhead suplex and they proceded to trade punches. Castle hit a spinning flapjack and a bridging German to get a very near fall. While Lethal corralled the referee, Dijak hit Feast Your Eyes on Castle outside the ring. Lethal followed it with a Lethal Injection to get the win.
While it might seem as if Dijak takes a back seat by passing up his TV Title shot, I think this story makes a great deal of sense. ROH is making a bet that Dijak does not need the title at the center of his story to get over. It is also (correctly, in my opinion) betting that he is a more natural heel at this point. With Castle getting the spot in this match, a second young wrestler gets the rub from Lethal. ROH needs to develop more young stars who can become main eventers, so doubling its chances is a good move.
Roderick Strong def. Bobby Fish
This is how you push a babyface wrestler. Since Strong fully separated himself from The Decade at the end of 2014, he has been on a slow, steady singles run that has rebuilt him into a serious contender. Matches like this one- against an established, impressive wrestler with whom he does not need a prolonged feud- continue to thrust Strong toward what feels like an inevitable title. Shot.
The one knock on Strong has always been his size, but that aspect did not stand out against the similarly sized Fish. The two Japanese-influenced wrestlers traded stiff shots back and forth until Strong started to target Fish’s back with a backbreaker and a variety of knees to the lower back.
Fish finally slowed the attack on his back with a Falcon Arrow for a near fall. He even one-upped Strong with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a moonsault for a two count. Fish went back to the top rope, but Strong met him with a superplex and a double-knee gutbuster. They traded forearms and kicks in the middle of the ring until Strong came off the ropes with a Sick Kick. He polished off Fish with his double-knee backbreaker to get the pin.