3/1/15 ROH 13th Anniversary Show Review: Briscoe Prevails in Messy Main Event

Jay Briscoe def. Hanson, Tommaso Ciampa, and Michael Elgin to Remain ROH World Champion

Grade: C-

The three challengers quickly ganged up on Briscoe, but he stayed on his feet and extracted a table from under the ring. Elgin displayed his immense power when he lifted both Briscoe and Ciampa for a slam on both at the same time. Ciampa recovered and cleaned house with a high knee on Hanson and a side slam on Briscoe. Hanson then got a chance to shine as he stacked Ciampa and Briscoe in one corner and splashed Elgin in the other.

 

After Briscoe drove Hanson out of the ring, he was isolated with his old rival, Elgin. Ciampa made it back into the ring and hit a backbreaker from the second rope on Briscoe for a two count. The action moved outside, where Elgin hit a crucifix slam on Ciampa into the barricade. Both Elgin and Briscoe hit a tope con giro of their own, then Briscoe inadvertently knocked the referee to the floor.

 

Hanson missed a chance at a pin with the referee knocked out, but the Knights of the Red Dawn- the red masked wrestlers occasionally seen at ringside- attacked Hanson and Briscoe with the Kingdom’s moves and mannerisms. Ray Rhodes made a surprise return and chased the KRD away from the ring to presumably reignite the War Machine-Kingdom feud.

 

Elgin took advantage of the run-ins and hit a Jay Driller off of the apron, through a table on the floor. He tried to hit Briscoe with a one man concerto, but Nigel McGuinness left the commentary table to save Briscoe from a serious injury. Elgin turned his attention to McGuinness and Nigel’s rival Ciampa saved him to the confusion of both of them.

 

Back in the ring, Ciampa hit Project Ciampa on both Elgin and Briscoe, but could not get the pin. Elgin hit a powerbomb on Ciampa, which also earned him only a two count. Hanson hit a Spin Kick of Doom on Briscoe, which made him fall into a cover on Ciampa to somehow earn the win.

 

At best, the main event served to set up storylines for the coming months, but it does not stand on its own. The Kingdom-War Machine program is worthwhile, even though it is a disappointing conclusion to the months of KRD intrigue. Elgin has more reason than ever to be disgruntled, and it seems like he might have a real reason to feud with Ciampa and McGuinness, if that story develops. Most importantly, Briscoe has been the torch-bearer for ROH for a couple of years and deserves the first match with Samoa Joe, whenever that arrives.

 

Those storyline machinations are worth something, but it was not worth the sacrifice of a major PPV main event- especially for a company that only has about four per year. There was so much outside interference that it was impossible for the wrestlers to create a narrative in the ring. Additionally, if we are to believe that Briscoe is the toughest, most resilient man in wrestling, then a lucky win like this is unnecessary and does not help him. Above all, the main event at one of ROH’s biggest shows of the year simply did not deliver to the company’s high standard.

 

Jay Lethal def. Alberto El Patron to Remain ROH TV Champion

Grade: B+

After an inverted suplex, El Patron quickly went for his cross-armbreaker finisher, only for Lethal to counter by applying the move first. Three suicide dives later, Lethal was squarely in control and El Patron was in the crowd. He slowly recovered and stomped Lethal to the mat from the top rope.

 

El Patron went for another inverted superplex. Truth Martini intervened and got put in the cross-amrbreaker for his trouble. El Patron put Lethal in the cross-armbreaker, but while the referee tried to get Martini out of the ring, Lethal hit El Patron with the Book of Truth. El Patron kicked out. They went back and forth with an O’Connor Roll and a failed Lethal Injection. As El Patron came off the ropes, Martini hit him with the Book of Truth a second time. Lethal hit the Lethal Injection and got a tainted victory.

 

The match was very good, but it was quite a bit shorter than I would have expected given how much time the match received in the build. In fact, the quick start made it feel like they skipped the entire segment of the match meant to build anticipation.

 

Redragon def. the Young Bucks to Remain ROH Tag Team Champions

Grade: A-

Kyle O’Reilly went for an armbar and Nick Jackson went for a superkick in the opening seconds of the most recent chapter in their rivalry. The action almost immediately spilled outside and the Bucks hit simultaneous suicide dives. O’Reilly slowed the match to his pace with a body scissors and some chained pinned attempts. At the same time, the masked “Knights of the Rising Dawn” appeared in the audience.

 

Nick finally reached Matt Jackson for a hot tag and he initiated a superkick party. He climbed to the top rope and hit a moonsault to the floor. O’Reilly caught him in the ropes with Armageddon, but Nick broke it up with a superkick from the floor. Matt hit a senton on Bobby Fish for a two count and Fish rolled outside. O’Reilly ate another superkick and Nick powerbombed him into Fish. Matt followed with a running knee to Fish to get a two count. Fish finally hit a Samoan Drop to get some space and tag O’Reilly. He fought through both Bucks and caught Matt in an armbar. Nick broke it up with an elbow from the top rope.

 

O’Reilly stayed in control briefly in the ring, but Nick caught him on the floor and Matt spiked him for the Indytaker. They lifted Fish for a suplex and hit him with Chasing the Dragon, but Fish kicked out of his own finisher. They followed it with More Bang for Your Buck to take Fish out. When they went for a pin, the female MMA fighter who accompanied Redragon to the ring pulled the referee out of the ring. Redragon recovered to hit Chasing the Dragon on Matt, but Nick returned the favor and pulled the referee out of the ring. They fought him off and hit Chasing the Dragon again to retain their titles.

 

As usual, it was extremely fun match to watch. It is hard for the Young Bucks to wrestle classic matches because they don’t leave enough time to tell a memorable story. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that their version of sensory overload is fun in the moment.

 

Samoa Joe Returns to ROH

In his first appearance back in ROH, Joe spent more time putting over the company than himself. He said that ROH represents a revolution in pro wrestling and that it is stronger than ever after growing for 13 years. At the end of the promo, he succinctly said that whoever wins the ROH Title match will have to take him on and he vowed to become the next ROH World Champion. If Joe indeed wrestles regularly in ROH, he represents a huge injection of star power in ROH.

 

AJ Styles def. ACH

Grade: A-

Styles and ACH went move for move early until ACH slapped Styles and increased the intensity. Styles nearly hit him with the Styles Clash until ACH wriggled himself free. ACH came off of the ropes with a handspring and Styles caught him with a huge kick. After a run of offense by ACH, Styles answered with a fireman’s carry neckbreaker over his knee. ACH threw Styles to the floor and nailed him with his reverse tope con giro.

 

Back in the ring, ACH lifted Styles into a position similar to a muscle buster and slammed him for a two count. Styles turned things around when he pulled ACH off of the apron. When ACH charged Styles in the corner, Styles caught him and suplexed him into the turnbuckle. ACH dodged a Pele kick and delivered a double-foot stomp. He went for a 450 splash, but Styles got out of the way. He hit a lifting DDT and finished it with a Styles Clash. As usual, Styles did a wonderful job of building gradually to a hot finish.

 

I wondered going into the match if this matchup was a way to get Styles on the card without forcing him to work too hard. That was not the case. Styles turned in one of the most complete performances on the show. Meanwhile, it’s clear that ROH his high on ACH based on the wrestlers with whom he has worked recently.

 

Roderick Strong def. BJ Whitmer

Grade: B

Strong appeared to be in the best shape he has been in recently and jumped out to a quick start with an attack before the opening bell. In response, Whitmer had some success by using his size advantage to beat Strong to the map. While Whitmer tried to wear Strong down, Strong responded with an enzuigiri and a superplex on his bigger opponent. Whitmer responded with a near fall on the second of back-to-back fisherman’s suplexes. Strong knocked Adam Page off of the apron and hit Whitmer with a gutbuster and Sick Kick for a two count.

 

As both wrestlers dialed up the physicality, Jimmy Jacobs put over their abilities as a guest commentator. He also took part in Steve Corino’s running joke about his room service bottle of wine. Whitmer countered Strong’s second attempt at a superplex with a sit-out suplex. Strong kicked out and answered with a double-knee backbreaker to get the win. Interestingly, Jacobs said that Whitmer should move on after the loss. Strong shook hands with the fans while they chanted him back toward the main event.

 

The Kingdom def. The Addiction and Bullet Club

Grade: B-

The three-way tag match was a crazy spot fest from the very beginning. Matt Taven and Michael Bennett were on the receiving end of a lot of the double-team offense early on. The referee finally restored some order and The Kingdom were able to wear down Christopher Daniels little by little. Karl “Machine Gun” Anderson, half of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, blindly tagged himself in and plowed through everyone in the ring until Taven hit him with a Superkick. Anderson had to do double the work because his partner, Doc Gallows did not make it to the show and he wrestled alone. Both teams took turns wearing him down until The Kingdom took out The Addiction. Taven hit a piledriver on Anderson to get the pin and a win over the IWGP champions, albeit with only half of the team present.

 

Matt Sydal def. Cedric Alexander

Grade: B

Sydal and Alexander got the opportunity to open the show and the fans were hot to see them come to the ring. It did not take long for them to start flying. Sydal came out of the ring with a splash to the floor in the opening minutes. Alexander repeatedly came close to wins with a backslide, a Michinoku Driver, and a double-knee backbreaker. After he missed a dropkick, Sydal nailed his Shooting Star Press to get the win. Alexander’s look of disappointment after the loss, combined with how he cultivated some boos throughout, made me wonder if Alexander might work as a heel in the near future.

 

ODB def. Maria Kanellis

Grade: C+

After a stunningly good pre-match promo about her manipulative abilities, Maria got me to care about a match about which I was previously indifferent. When both women entered the ring, Maria found a completely new way to get heel heat by begging out of the match by saying she was pregnant. She used the announcement as a distraction for Michael Bnnnett to hit Mark Briscoe with a superkick and for her to hit ODB with the Title of Love.

 

The belt-shot was not enough to pin ODB. She responded with a fallaway slam into the barricade. Maria recovered and hit a superkick, but when she tried hold ODB, her husband inadvertently superkicked her. ODB lifted Maria and threw her onto Briscoe and Bennett on the floor. ODB followed with a splash to all three on the floor. Briscoe dove out of the way of a spear and he hit Maria again. Briscoe then lifted Bennett onto his shoulders and ODB clotheslined him to the floor for a Doomsday Device. Back in the ring, ODB hit a fireman’s carry slam to get the pin. ODB and Briscoe tore the pink fur off of the Title of Love to restore it to its original state. Using all four wrestlers was a smart way to cover for Maria in the ring.

 

Moose def. Mark Briscoe

Grade: C

Moose never loses and Briscoe never wins, so it was not hard to guess which way this match was going. Briscoe came out very aggressive and managed some good offense. Eventually, Moose hit him with a dropkick and a spear to get the clean win. Moose once again showed that he has the athleticism to become an impressive wrestler, even if he has a lot of refining still to do. Briscoe, meanwhile, is pushing how far his past accomplishments will carry him before the losses are too many to ignore.