By Jason Powell
ROH Global Wars Hits
War Machine vs. The Briscoes: A good outing, yet not a particularly memorable one. I had admittedly high hopes for this match and I can’t say that they met them. However, I am hopeful that the feud will continue and get better with each match. The last thing I want to see is ROH cycle the Briscoes out of the tag title picture just to insert one of the many teams with no momentum into the challengers slot. ROH has a loaded tag division on paper. Unfortunately, the Briscoes are the only team that really survives the parity booking that plagues the division, and that’s attributable to Jay and Mark’s legacy and charisma. War Machine have cooled off since winning the tag titles. A feud with the Briscoes may turn them heel, but that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Bobby Fish: I enjoyed the finish of the match more than most. I like the way Fish applied the hold, had it broken, and then threw elbows so that he could reapply the hold. It had a realistic, sports-like feel. The live crowd failing to pop for the finish didn’t strike me as a case of the fans not recognizing that it was the finish as much as that they were given no reason to be excited about Fish winning the title. Fish didn’t enter the match with momentum. He’s come up short in his past attempts to win the title, and they never did anything on the ROH television show to sell the match let alone sell us on the idea that this could be Fish’s night. It also doesn’t help that Fish and Strong both had moments where they came off heelish during their feud. Therefore, it was hard to know whether we were supposed to feel good about Fish winning.
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin vs. Kazuchika Okada and Moose: The Hit goes to match quality and the star power of the New Japan duo. It was very cool to see the live crowd pop when Tanahashi and Okada started the match together. I just couldn’t help but feel like the match didn’t really matter. I thought they were trying to establish Tanahashi and Elgin as a tag team given that they beat The Briscoes on the 14th Anniversary show in February (by the way, why were the Briscoes the No. 1 contenders after losing that match?). Instead, they put over Okada and Moose, and I’m not really sure what purpose it served.
Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Matt Sydal, and Kushida vs. The Young Bucks, Tama Tonga, and Tanga Roa: A minor hit for an inconsequential eight-man tag match. Mr. Wrestling III (Steve Corino) made it fun with his superkick counter gimmick that was stuck on zero because the Bucks saved their superkicks for the big angle at the end of the night. The Guerrillas of Destiny came off well, and the babyfaces had crowd pleasing moments.
Roderick Strong vs. Adam Page vs. ACH vs. Dalton Castle: ROH always seems to have four-way or six-way matches to get everyone on the show. At least this one had the hook of being for a future ROH TV Title shot. Strong’s frustration about losing was an interesting development, though I’m really not sure whether we’re supposed to like or dislike him these days. Castle going over was cool because his character needs to be elevated and he needs a new program now that his awesome run with Silas Young is complete. By the way, what’s next for Silas? Is he back to having meaningless matches? I hope there’s a real program in mind for him. By the way, what did Page’s character do to earn a spot in a No. 1 contenders match?
ROH Global Wars Misses
The Bullet Club ruins the main event: The Jay Lethal vs. Colt Cabana match was a lot of fun until the wannabe NWO finish. I understand the temptation. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows are appearing on WWE television doing some type of Bullet Club inspired gimmick. ROH has access to the real thing. It also gives Adam Cole a high profile spot, and gives the Young Bucks a real direction for the first time since they signed with ROH in late 2015. Unfortunately, this was about as campy as it gets. The superkicks and the too sweeting may have put Bullet Club on the map, but it’s time for the Young Bucks to start being as innovative with the gimmick as they are in the ring. There’s no real sense of danger in watching a bunch of guys do a tongue in cheek emulation of what was cool in 1998 while a graphic counts the ridiculous number of superkicks that were thrown. At the very least, I want to see these guys work as true heels. I don’t want to hear Cole use his “baby” line in a way that encourages the fans to say it along with him. I don’t want to watch the Bucks “too sweet” with fans. And don’t give me the argument that interrupting the main event made them heels. In 2016, the fans blame the company, not the heel faction. This all made for a terrible conclusion to the pay-per-view, but I believe it can work on some level if the heel faction actually seeks heat rather than t-shirt sales, laughs, and “this is awesome” chants. Modern day ROH has a lousy track record with heel stables. I really hope this time is different.
Overall show: Don’t let the Hit count fool you. This Miss isn’t just about the main event. Most of the Hits were of the “minor Hit” variety. This show didn’t have any dream matches on paper or in execution, which is something the past ROH/NJPW events were known for. Joe Koff states in nearly every interview that ROH booker Hunter “Delirious” Johnston is a creative genius. I don’t expect Koff to criticize Johnston publicly, yet I also come away from Koff’s interviews feeling like he believes every word he says about his booker. Johnston has his strengths, but it’s frightening to think that the man running the show in ROH is completely oblivious to his booker’s shortcomings. The weekly television show is infuriating. I could go on and on about it, but I’ll simply refer you to my weekly ROH TV reviews. Koff also comes off downright giddy about working with NJPW. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a real coup for ROH to have access to the stars of NJPW, but they are running the novelty into the ground by featuring the NJPW talent so frequently. It felt like a huge deal when Okada, Tanahashi, and Shinsuke Nakamura appeared in ROH in the past. It’s quickly becoming the norm to see Okada and Tanahashi on ROH TV and pay-per-view. The live crowds are thrilled to see the NJPW stars in person, but the thrill is wearing off for television viewers who have too overexposed to the NJPW at this point. ROH is limited in terms of how they can use the NJPW stars, so their matches end up feeling inconsequential and/or predictable. I don’t want to see these guys in throwaway tag matches. I want to see them booked in real programs or at least in unique singles matches. Really, most of this show felt inconsequential or, in the case of the main event angle, just plain misguided. The in-ring action was good more often than not, but nothing wowed me the way that past ROH and NJPW joint shows have. Nothing from a storyline perspective left me anxious to see the next chapter. And even if I was excited to see what comes next, the ridiculously long wait time between the pay-per-view and the next first-run television show would completely damper my enthusiasm anyway.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Kyle O’Reilly: Naito came out of the match looking good. The broadcast team did a nice job of getting over his character and explaining his acts of defiance. I think we all expected O’Reilly to lose to the IWGP Heavyweight Champion even though it was a non-title match. Still, it felt like he should have looked stronger against the champion than he did. The post match angle made O’Reilly look like a dope. The broadcast team told us all about Naito’s heel antics, yet O’Reilly was naive enough to accept a handshake only to then be kicked in the balls. That’s right, one of ROH’s brightest young stars was pinned clean and then kicked in the balls. Think about that for a moment.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Kenny Herzog discussing his journalism career, his new Outside Interference podcast, doing a feature story on CM Punk, pro wrestling in the pandemic, WWE talk on Retribution, The Hurt Business, Roman Reigns as a heel, and much more...