AJ Styles and Young Bucks def. Matt Sydal, ACH, and Cedric Alexander
Alexander oddly switched sides and wrestled against the Bullet Club after he wrestled alongside them at ROH’s Final Battle a couple of months ago. That creative license was not enough to distract from the excitement of having three new IWGP titleholders in an American wrestling ring.
The action was outrageously fast for the first few minutes of the match. Sydal and Alexander avoided superkicks from the Young Bucks and responded with high flying offense of their own. When Styles tagged into the match, the pace slowed to a more comprehensible speed and it became a wrestling match. Sydal tagged in and responded with a rally full of dropkicks until the Bucks hit him with a double team neckbreaker/legdrop combination.
As the match progressed, the excellent Kevin Kelly-Steve Corino announce team kept things interested. Kelly told Corino, “I heard you got your wife a Bullett Club t-shirt for Valentine’s Day.” Corino responded, “I did, but she was mad that it was an extra-large.”
The Bullet Club team remained in control until Sydal ducked a running knee and a superkick and they took out one another inadvertently. Alexander and Sydal combined for a powerbomb while Sydal hit a knee strike at the top of the lift. Styles broke up the pin and hit a Pele kick that led into a superkick party by the Bucks. It only ended when Nick Jackson and ACH got their legs tangled when they tried to superkick one another.
ACH had a scary moment when he tried a hurricanrana on Styles off of the apron and slipped head-first onto the floor. On the other side of the ring, Alexander hit a tope con giro on both Young Bucks and a frog splash to Matt Jackson for a two count. Styles tagged himself in and Alexander blocked a 540 splash. ACH recovered to hit a 450 splash on Styles, but he dodged a shooting star press and the Bucks hit superkicks on him simultaneously.
That set up for an absolutely insane finishing sequence. Styles helped the Bucks hit the Indytaker on Sydal. Instead of a pin, they handed him to Styles, who held him while they each superkicked him again. Sydal was already in position for the Styles Clash, so Styles hit his finisher and got the pin. Once again, the camera panned the crowd to show the ominous pair in red masks with no explanation.
Altogether, this match was exactly what Jim Ross means when he says that many of the top ROH stars need to slow down. There was not enough time to sell, for the wrestlers to creative a narrative, or for the announcers to weave the action into a compelling storyline. Nonetheless, it was a fun and impressive athletic spectacle. Even if the match lacked some of the qualities that would make it a classic, it was highly enjoyable to watch.
Tommaso Ciampa def. Jimmy Jacobs
With Jay Briscoe on commentary for singles matches by each of his adversaries at the 13th Anniversary Show, Ciampa came out ready to fight. He brawled with Jacobs outside the ring before the match started and they barely got back into the ring for the bell to ring. Jacobs offered a bit of resistance, but Ciampa was too aggressive to let him get on track. He hit a huge running knee and a few more outside the ring to leave Jacobs unable to defend himself. The referee stopped the match with Jacobs unconscious on the floor and Ciampa glared at Briscoe.
Hanson def. Romantic Touch
Romantic Touch took advantage of the Valentine’s Day show with an extended entrance and promo. He tried to offer Hanson a piece of Valentine’s candy before the match and Hanson met him with the Spin Kick of Doom. The match ended in about ten seconds. Like Ciampa, Hanson issued a warning to Briscoe after the match.
Michael Elgin and Moose Wrestled to a No Contest
Elgin got a purely heel reaction- probably the most heat of the night- when he entered for his match. He impressively held the 300 pounder in the air for about 30 seconds for a vertical suplex, but Moose no sold the impact and bounced back to his feet. Moose almost won the match with a sit-out chokeslam when Elgin tried to go to the top rope. Moose showed how green he is with some sloppy wrestling in the middle of the match. He continued to recover as Elgin hit bit moves, but a pop-up powerbomb and a deadlift powerbomb nearly finished Moose.
Elgin started to taunt Briscoe and lured him into the ring. Elgin dodged Moose’s spear and Briscoe ate it instead. Elgin posed with Brsicoe’s title belt, but Ciampa and Hanson came to the ring to join the fray. Mark Briscoe tried to help his brother in the brawl. The segment ended with a tope by Jay and a spear by Moose on Mark Briscoe. It was the most effective work ROH has done to promote the upcoming World Title match and finally started to get me excited for the event.