By Jason Powell
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ROH 14th Anniversary
Aired live on pay-per-view
Las Vegas, Nevada at Sam’s Town Live
A video package focussed on the main event. Truth Martini was heavily featured and he spoke about winning, losing, and how some people think the odds are against them. He said it doesn’t matter. The house always wins… Kevin Kelly and Mr. Wrestling III (a/k/a Steve Corino) were on commentary. Corino wore an Elvis-like jumpsuit. They hyped the title matches…
1. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Roderick Strong vs. Bobby Fish for the ROH TV Title. Still shot of Ishii winning the title in Tokyo were shown during the ring entrances. Bobby Cruise delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match. Strong attacked Ishii before the bell. Ishii and Fish double teamed Strong briefly and then the match settled into a typical three-way.
Ishii powerbombed Fish and had him pinned for three. Apparently, Fish didn’t kick out when he was supposed to. Referee Paul Turner didn’t make the three count and instead waited for Fish to kick out. The fans responded with “You f—ed up” chants. Ouch. Fish performed a gut buster and a sick kick on Ishii for a two count at 7:30. At 8:00, Ishii blocked a knee from Strong and followed up with his running kick. Ishii followed up with a brainbuster and pinned Strong clean. Afterward, Fish got in Ishii’s face and implied that he wanted a singles match with him, which was blown off by Ishii and the broadcast team…
Tomohiro Ishii beat Roderick Strong and Bobby Fish in 8:30 to retain the ROH TV Title.
Powell’s POV: A forgettable opening math. There was nothing really wrong with the match aside from Fish being pinned and not kicking out, but it wasn’t nearly as good as we’ve seen from Strong and Fish in a singles match. I’m not blaming Ishii. Rather, I’m just saying it was underwhelming considering the talent involved.
A video package set up the BJ Whitmer vs. Adam Page match.
2. BJ Whitmer vs. Adam Page. Corino said Page is headed for superstardom. Page attacked Whitmer to start the match. Later, the wrestler traded shots on the apron and the fans gave them the “yay/boo” treatment. Page got the better of it and performed a shooting star press off the apron. A short time later, Page ducked a chair swing by Whitmer. He picked up the chair and tried to use it, but the referee stepped in. With the referee distracted, Whitmer low-blowed Page and then pinned him. Afterward, Whitmer escaped Page’s post-match attack. Security ran in and “Stone Cold” Page attacked them and performed his finisher on them as Whitmer watched from the ramp…
BJ Whitmer pinned Adam Page in 9:15.
Powell’s POV: Because why wouldn’t this match get slightly more time than the ROH TV Title match? The live crowd didn’t seem to care and it’s hard to blame them. Page has real potential, but this Whitmer thing doesn’t click unless Steve Corino is directly involved and even then it’s overstayed its welcome.
A pre-taped Dalton Castle promo aired. The Boys stood at Castle’s side as he wished ROH a happy birthday and spoke about his match with Hirooki Goto. He said Goto might be confusing his confidence or weakness. He asked if he and his Boys don’t look dangerous. Castle scolded one of The Boys for smiling and said they were fierce and strong…
3. Hirooki Goto vs. Dalton Castle (w/The Boys). New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Tiger Hattori was the referee. The Boys fanned Castle in the corner early, then formed human steps for him to walk down. Nice. Castle threw a nice suplex. Goto came back with a good clothesline. Later, Castle turned Goto inside out with a clothesline, which drew “Dalton” chants from the crowd. Goto came back with a kick in the corner followed by a suplex for a two count. Rather than play into the drama of the match, Corino decided this was the time to talk about ROH’s birthday and Pete Rose.
Castle got the better of an exchange at ringside and then threw a missile dropkick for a good near fall with Goto kicking out at the last possible moment. Well, unless Paul Turner is the referee. The fans chanted “this is awesome.” A short time later, Goto no-sold some Castle blows. Castle charged him and goto put him down and got a two count. Goto threw a kick at Castle and then followed up with a move that he slipped. He performed the move a second time and put Castle away…
Hirooki Goto beat Dalton Castle in 10:10.
Powell’s POV: I’m the first to admit that I don’t follow NJPW closely enough, but their English speaking play-by-play guy had no idea what Goto’s finisher was called either. Instead, Kelly refereed to it as “that move right there” on the replay. I really thought we would see Silas Young and Beer City Bruiser play a part in Castle losing this match. Does this mean they didn’t make the pay-per-view card? If so, that’s a shame. Does this mean all of the NJPW wrestlers will win tonight? I suppose Tanahashi could lose the tag match without being pinned.
Footage aired of Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin drama from recent ROH television shows…
4. Christopher Daniels (w/Frankie Kazarian) vs. Alex Shelley. Brian Kendrick sat in on commentary and Kelly noted that he was on the first ROH show. Kendrick said he’s beaten both men and lost to both men. He said the match is a tossup. He spoke during the match about how the ROH wrestlers and fans pour their hearts into the promotion.
Around 7:00, Kazarian performed a leg drop on Shelley while Daniels distracted the referee. Shelley recovered quickly and took offensive control until Kazarian stood on the apron. Shelley went after him and Kazarian dropped to the floor. Daniels charged Shelley, who drove Daniels face first into the second turnbuckle pad.
A short time later, Daniels clotheslined the back of Shelley’s head and got a two count. Shelley came back with a superkick and set up for what appeared to be Kendrick’s finisher, but Kazarian distracted him. With the ref tied up with Kazarian, Daniels set up to use a weapon, but Chris Sabin ran out and stopped him, which led to Shelley getting the win. Sabin and Shelley cleared Daniels and Kazarian from the ring. The fans chanted “Motor City” and then Sabin and Shelley hugged while Daniels flipped off a guy in a Hulk Hogan t-shirt at ringside…
Alex Shelley beat Christopher Daniels in 9:45.
Powell’s POV: It was a nice touch to have Kendrick sit in on commentary given that he worked the first show. In fact, I thought they could have given him a bit more fanfare by giving him a televised introduction. Meanwhile, Shelley and Daniels worked a nice match, but nothing seemed to matter until Sabin showed up given the storyline. I want to be excited by the Motor City Machine Guns reuniting. And I guess I am, but it has nothing to do with the clunky story that was told by ROH.
Video footage set up the Michael Elgin challenging The Briscoes to face him and Hiroshi Tanahashi… A Jay and Mark Briscoe promo aired. Jay said he sees Elgin and Tanahashi as two of the best singles wrestlers in the world, but he believes he and his brother are “top five, dead or alive” as tag wrestlers…
Powell’s POV: The Brisoces promo was great with their usual charm combined with a logical approach by Jay pointing out that he and his brothers are tag wrestlers, which gives them the advantage over two singles wrestlers…
5. Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin. Tanahashi received the streamer treatment when he entered the ring. Elgin and The Briscoes shook hands. There was a loud chant for Tanahashi, who did not take part in the handshakes. There was also a “Big Mike” chant. Mark performed a nice blockbuster off the apron on Elgin at ringside, leaving Jay and Tanahashi in the ring. Jay performed a roaring elbow for a two count.
The Briscoes isolated Tanahashi and Jay went for another cover that Elgin broke up. Tanahashi eventually made the hot tag to Elgin, who ate some chips from Mark shortly after entering. However, Elgin knocked Jay off the apron and then had a flurry on Mark that included a German suplex. Jay ran in to help his brother, but Elgin gave him a German suplex as well. Mark went for a cross body block off the top rope, but Elgin caught him and slammed him for a two count.
Later, the Briscoes roughed up Elgin while Tanahashi sold at ringside. Elgin back dropped Mark to ringside. Mark came up clutching his knee, but he returned to the ring after Elgin tagged in Tanahashi. Jay took a leg whip, but then cut off Tanahashi. Jay performed a neckbreaker on Tanahashi. Mark performed Froggy Bow and covered Tanahashi for a very good near fall.
The Briscoes set up for the Doomsday Device on Tanahashi, but Elgin broke it up. Elgin manhandled both Briscoes and then slammed his own partner onto Mark. Tanahashi hit a sling blade clothesline on Mark. Elgin powerbombed Mark, then Tanahashi followed up with the High Fly Flow for the win. Kelly delivered a quick plug for the NJPW show on AXS and a small graphic touted Jim Ross’s debut a week from tonight…
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin beat The Briscoes in 15:00.
Powell’s POV: The best match of the night thus far. The broadcast team spoke about what a big win it was for Elgin and Tanahashi and how they will move up the tag team rankings in Japan.
The broadcast team spoke about the Moose vs. Okada match…
6. IWGP Heavyweight Championship Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) vs. Moose (w/Stokely Hathaway) in a non-title match. The fans chanted for Moose and then went crazy when Okada made his entrance. Early in the match, Moose set Okada on the top rope and teased dropkicking him. Instead, Moose pointed to his head. Okada returned the favor a short time later.
Moose took the fight to ringside and had the advantage. He stopped to bump fists with Hathaway. Moose charged at Okada, who moved, causing Moose to crash and burn over the guardrail. Okada then performed a running cross body block over the guardrail, leading to another “Okada” chant. Moose came back by swinging Okada into the guardrail.
Back inside the ring, Moose blasted Okada with a clothesline and covered him for two. Okada came back by hoisting up Moose in powerbomb position and instead dropped him neck first onto his leg. Okada followed up with a top rope elbow drop. Okada went for the Rainmaker Clothesline, but Moose ducked it and followed up by running up the ropes and performed a cross body clock. Okada threw a couple of beautiful dropkicks and then performed the Rainmaker and got the clean pin. After the match, Okada pointed to Moose and then pumped his fist to get the crowd chanting for his opponent. Okada shook Moose’s hand, and then then both pumped their fists for the “Moose” chant…
Kazuchika Okada beat Moose in 10:30.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match with really good action down the stretch. I was really curious to see how Moose would perform against Okada, and they came through with a good match. The announcers were quick to say there’s no shame in Moose losing to Okada, and the IWGP Heavyweight Champion showing respect afterward was a really nice touch. Okada is as good as it gets. Those dropkicks are just sensational.
A shot aired from outside Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall… The broadcast team spoke about the six-man tag match…
7. The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega vs. ACH, Matt Sydal, and Kushida for the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Titles. Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, and Kushida got nice pops, but the fans went bonkers for Omega. The Bucks and Omega wore “The Elite” t-shirts. Omega brought a broom out with him and set it next to the broadcast team for safekeeping. The fans chanted for all six men individually and then chanted “All These Guys.” Funny.
ACH went Steve Austin early on with a Thesz Press followed by the staggering arm drop. Omega checked in and the fans chanted “The Elite.” The Bucks kicked Sydal off the apron and into the arms of Omega on the floor, leading to Omega performed a German suplex onto the entrance ramp. The fans chanted “holy shit” over that one and for good reason. The Bucks and Omega worked over Sydal to cheers and got a two count.
Later, Kushida performed a flip off the top rope onto both Bucks on the floor. Back inside the ring, he performed a moonsault onto Omega, then applied an arm bar. Omega powered out and performed a buckle bomb on Kushida with the Bucks kicking him as he landed in the corner. Later, ACH checked in and popped the crowd with his innovative offense.
Matt Jackson did the “suck it” routine until Kushida tagged him with a punch. It was superkick party time. Omega threw a wicked suplex on Sydal, then he and the Bucks performed a triple superkick on him. ACH broke up Omega’s pin attempt. Sydal had a flurry of high spots, then ACH and Kushida performed simultaneous flips. The Elite came back and performed the Meltzer Driver on Sydal, then Omega followed up with a move of his own on Sydal for the win…
The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega beat ACH, Matt Sydal, and Kushida in 17:15 to retain the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: No psychology… Just a bunch of high spots and stunts… All the usual complaints… And totally entertaining from start to finish. Damn! My coverage didn’t even come close to documenting how many insane spots these guys worked in. The style is for everyone, but it was truly awesome for everyone else. Good luck to the guys who have to follow that insanity!
A video package set up the tag title match…
8. War Machine vs. Kenny King and Rhett Titus in a No DQ match for the ROH Tag Titles. Hanson and Rowe wore face paint and brawled with King and Titus at ringside to start the match. They fought at ringside early on and they missed the move that led to King going through a table. They had a replay moments later to show him backdropped through the table. War Machine took Titus to the ring and hit several running kicks on Titus in the corner while King sold at ringside.
Hanson and Rowe threw several chairs inside the ring as Kelly reminded viewers that the match is No DQ. Titus came back by running both opponents into chairs that were wedged between the ropes. King returned to the ring and joined his partner in working over Rowe. Corino said ANX lost the tag titles in the boardroom. Kelly said you don’t deserve to keep the titles when you sign with another company.
ANX put a trash can over the head of Rowe. Titus threw a silly looking punch to the can, but King followed up with a kick. Hanson eventually performed his usual cartwheel and clothesline comeback. Moments later, War Machine hit Fallout on King, who kicked out. Kelly said it was the first time that anyone kicked out of Fallout. The live crowd didn’t care.
The live crowd woke up when Hanson was shoved off the top rope and through a table. Rowe fought King on the ropes and then ANX hit One Night Stand, but Rowe kicked out of their finisher. The crowd was flat. King yelled to Titus, who went to ringside and pulled a ladder out from underneath the ring and set it up over the ring and guardrail.
Hanson returned to action with a suicide dive on Titus. Rowe performed a uranage off the apron that drove King through the ladder. In the ring, War Machine hit Fallout on Titus for the win…
War Machine beat All Night Express to in 11:15 in a no DQ match to retain the ROH Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: I don’t blame the insanity of the previous match for the crowd’s lukewarm reaction to this match. Granted, it didn’t help the cause, but this feud just hasn’t clicked. The reintroduction of ANX was poor and the fans haven’t been given any reason to take them seriously. Meanwhile, War Machine rarely speak and they’ve lost momentum since winning the tag titles. The effort was there from both teams and ROH could take a page out of the WWE playbook by producing a video package to make the match seem hot, but it just wasn’t well received by the live crowd.
A video set up the main event…
9. Jay Lethal (w/Truth Martini, Taeler Hendrix) vs. Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly in a Triple Threat for the ROH Title. Nigel McGuinness joined the broadcast team for the main event. The broadcast team set the tone for the main event by clowning around about Pete Rose again. Ugh. Cruise delivered in-ring introductions for the main event. The match got underway 20 minutes before the top of the hour. Poor Lethal took a streamer roll to the head as he was raising the title belt at the end of his introduction.
There was some cool rope running that involved all three men and resulted in Lethal taking a kick to the head from Cole and rolling to ringside. O’Reilly worked over Cole briefly, but Lethal pulled Cole to the floor where they traded shots. O’Reilly tried to dive on both men, but the both moved and he crashed to the floor. Ouch!
Lethal and Cole fought inside the ring while the fans delivered dueling chants for them. O’Reilly returned to the ring and performed a German suplex on Cole, who performed a fisherman’s buster suplex on Lethal simultaneously at 3:05. Cool spot. Lethal ended up at ringside, and Cole got a two count on O’Reilly. Cole performed a neckbreaker that drove O’Reilly onto his knee.
Lethal returned to the ring and knocked Cole to the floor. Cole got back on the ring apron and took a springboard dropkick from Lethal that knocked him to the floor. At 5:30, Lethal chopped O’Reilly in the corner. The fans chanted “one more time.” Lethal teased it, stopped, and taunted them.
Cole returned and fought Lethal, which led to O’Reilly performed a missile dropkick on both opponents. O’Reilly threw a couple of kicks and then a wicked looking spinning punch on Lethal. O’Reilly followed up with a suplex on Cole for a near fall. Lethal went for his finisher, but O’Reilly applied a sleeper. Cole knocked O’Reilly to the floor and then performed a shining wizard on Lethal.
Cole applied the figure four on Lethal in mid-ring with O’Reilly down at ringside. O’Reilly returned and kicked Cole, then applied an arm bar on Cole, who gave up the figure four and reached the ropes to break the hold at 7:55.
The wrestlers went to ringside where O’Reilly had Lethal seated on Cole. O’Reilly threw a dropkick off the apron that Lethal dodged and Cole ate. O’Reilly went for another apron move on Lethal, who caught O’Reilly with a superkick on the way down. Lethal performed three suicide dives that took out both opponents. Truth entered the ring and performed a spinaroonie.
A short time later, Lethal performed a Lethal Combination on Cole for a two count. Nigel noted that O’Reilly was still down at ringside. O’Reilly returned to the ring and Cole shoved him into a Lethal Injection. Cole threw O’Reilly back to the floor and then hit his neckbreaker on Lethal for a two count at 11:10.
O’Reilly came back with a pair of brainbusters on Lethal for two, then applied the triangle. Cole ran in and O’Reilly caught him in an ankle lock. The referee raised and dropped Lethal’s hand twice and it was about to drop for a third time, but Cole reached out and stopped it from falling to keep the match alive.
O’Reilly threw a kick to Cole and then several at Lethal. O’Reilly threw his mouthguard at Cole and went after him. Lethal ended up hitting a double Lethal Injection on both opponents and pinned Cole to retain the title…
Jay Lethal defeated Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly in a Triple Threat in 13:50 to retain the ROH Title.
A video package recapped the show to close the pay-per-view…
Powell’s POV: My favorite match of the night with the right man going over. I like that Lethal pinned Cole, as it keeps the need for a Lethal vs. O’Reilly singles match alive. I also like the way Kelly was there to heap praise on Lethal and to call him the greatest wrestler in the world. I didn’t buy into Lethal dropping the title here because they just didn’t create enough momentum for this to be either challenger’s night. It would not surprise me if O’Reilly is next in line to win the title. By the way, I hope they replay the footage of Cole preventing Lethal’s arm from falling for the third time along with Cole’s claim on the go-home show that he would never allow O’Reilly to become ROH Champion.
Overall, the pace picked up nicely after the forgettable first hour of the show. The event was paced nicely and it’s insane that they were able to squeeze nine matches in without any quick matches. That said, I wish they would have left one match off the show (Whitmer vs. Page) in favor of giving the main event more time and doing more throughout the evening to make the main event feel like the most important match in the ROH universe. I complain often that they just throw television main events out there without doing anything to make them seem special.
This match at least had television time dedicated to making it feel big, but I still think they should make some effort during the show to make the main event standout. TNA did a great job on Tuesday’s Impact of showing the champion and challenger arriving at the building and then backstage, and finally showing Matt Hardy make his backstage walk to the entrance area. I would love to see ROH emulate that since it’s common in the combat sports world, so it’s not like they would be ripping off TNA. Rather, they would make their main events feel bigger than they do. Overall, though, the last two hours and the strong main event made this a good overall pay-per-view.