By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor 17th Anniversary
Aired live on pay-per-view, FITE TV, HonorClub
Las Vegas, Nevada at Sam’s Town Live
A video package opened with an anniversary themed video package on “honored heroes and legendary rivalries.” The narrator also noted that Jay Lethal has reigned as ROH Champion longer than anyone else. Matt Taven interrupted and claimed to be the real ROH Champion. Taven said they have no choice and they must crown the king. “Now you can start the show, you Melvins,” Taven said…
Ian Riccaboni, Nick Aldis, and Caprice Coleman were on commentary and checked in from ringside and ran through some of the top matches. Bobby Cruise was the ring announcer…
1. Marty Scurll vs. Kenny King. A bad Marty Scurll imposter accompanied Lethal during his entrance. There was a loud “Marty” chant once Scurll was in the ring. Scurll punched King to start the match. King tumbled to the floor and then Scurll caught him with a superkick from the apron. Scurll also kicked Lethal’s sidekick from the apron. King came back with a nice springboard blockbuster for a two count.
At 5:20, Scurll performed a DDT from the apron and then threw King back inside the ring. Scurll performed a sequence that included a half dragon suplex and a powerbomb for a near fall. King came back with a blockbuster for a two count at 9:10. Scurll teased the finger break spot at 10:30, but King kicked him to avoid it.
King was caught going up top by Scurl, who superplexed him. King came right back with his Royal Flush finisher, but Scurll rolled to ringside. King followed and grabbed a chair and brought it inside the ring. Referee Paul Turner took the chair away. Scurll hit King with his umbrella and pinned him…
Marty Scurll defeated Kenny King in 12:50.
Powell’s POV: A good opening match. The finish was never really in question in my mind given that Scurll is scheduled to challenge for the ROH Championship at the G1 Supercard at Madison Square Garden in a few weeks. I’m actually surprised that he didn’t go over stronger for that reason. It didn’t seem to be an issue with the live crowd, as they were into the match from bell to bell. By the way, Colt Cabana is off this show due to taking part in the New Japan Pro Wresting New Japan Cup events. Aldis and Coleman do nice work, but Cabana is always missed.
A video package set up the ROH TV Title match…
2. Jeff Cobb vs. Shane Taylor for the ROH TV Title. Taylor blew off the Code of Honor. At 5:20, Cobb performed an impressive pump-handle suplex for a two count. Taylor came back with a nice running knee to Cobb’s face for a two count of his own. At 6:50, Cobb threw a clothesline that knocked Taylor down, and Cobb sold it as if he threw it so hard that his own momentum caused him to tumble forward to ringside. The wrestlers traded forearm shots.
At 8:50, the wrestlers fought on the ropes. Cobb eventually slammed Taylor from the ropes and followed up with a standing moonsault for a two count. A “this is awesome” chant broke out. Taylor performed a nice spinebuster for a near fall. Taylor performed a uranage and then performed a second rope splash for another near fall.
Cobb came back with a suplex into a pin for a near fall. Taylor turned Cobb inside out with a clothesline and then performed a Canadian Destroyer for a very good near fall. Cobb performed a Tour of the Islands. Taylor sat up, so Cobb performed the move a second time and pinned him…
Jeff Cobb defeated Shane Taylor in 13:30 to retain the ROH TV Title.
Powell’s POV: A terrific match. Cobb went over, but Taylor really gained something in defeat. This was even better than their strong television encounter. Here’s hoping the creative team saw this coming and has a plan in place to attempt to build on the momentum that Taylor generated despite taking the pin.
The broadcast team spoke at ringside. Riccaboni said he hopes that we get to see Cobb vs. Taylor III. They shifted the focus and set up a video package on the Women of Honor Championship match…
3. Mayu Iwatani (w/Sumie Sakai) vs. Kelly Klein (w/Camp Klein) for the WOH Championship. Riccaboni noted that Klein has a 2-1 record against Iwatani, but added that unfortunately the loss is when the WOH Championship was on the line. Klein controlled the early offense. Iwatani performed a nice northern lights suplex into a bridge for a two count at 3:35. Iwatani performed a double stomp and a running kick for a two count. Klein dumped Iwatani to the floor and the color commentators questioned her strategy.
Iwatani performed a German suplex, then Klein returned the favor and dropped Iwatani on her head at 6:20. Damn. Iwatani popped up seconds later. Double damn. Iwatani went for a top rope moonsault, but Klein avoided it. Klein went on the offensive, but Iwatani caught her in an inside cradle and scored the pin…
Mayu Iwatani defeated Kelly Klein in 8:20 to retain the WOH Championship.
Powell’s POV: A solid match and I wonder if we’ll see a rematch at MSG. I’d like to see Klein work for more heat. She’s a natural heel and a good wrestler, but she doesn’t seem to spend much time working the crowd. A little would go a long way in that regard.
A video package focused on Lifeblood forming and helping Jay Lethal when he destroyed Matt Taven’s “real” world title belt…
The Kingdom music played. Matt Taven came out rather than TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia, who were scheduled to face Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams. Taven said he couldn’t sit backstage another minute. He called for Lethal to start their match…
4. Jay Lethal vs. Matt Taven for the ROH Title. Cruise delivered the in-ring introductions for the championship match. After some slower paced work, Taven avoided a Lethal Injection and threw a nice kick at Lethal for a two count. Riccaboni announced that Jeff Cobb had challenged Will Ospreay to a title vs. title match for the G1 Supercard.
Powell’s POV: Riccaboni said the Cobb vs. Ospreay match hinged on what happens in the New Japan Cup tournament. That said, anyone who had Ospreay winning the tournament has to be second guessing their prognosticating skills.
At 15:50, Lethal performed a suicide dive. Lethal stopped and pointed at a Chucky doll that a fan had at ringside for some reason. Lethal performed two more suicide dives. Taven came back and targeted the left shoulder of Lethal and worked it over at 21:00. The wrestlers jawed at one another at 24:50. Taven said something about Lethal’s mother, which Lethal responded to with a headbutt. Taven went at Lethal’s shoulder again to regain offensive control.
Red balloons floated up from under the ring. Vinny Marseglia hit the ring and attacked Lethal while TK O’Ryan came out and distracted referee Todd Sinclair. Jonathan Gresham came out to help, but Marseglia crotched him on the barricade and then O’Ryan slammed a chair onto his knee. O’Ryan and Marseglia set up a table at ringside. Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams came out and chased O’Ryan and Marseglia to the back.
Taven performed a low blow on Lethal while Sinclair was distracted. Taven performed his Climax finisher and got a near fall around 31:30. Taven performed a frogsplash for another near fall. Taven went for another frogsplash, but Lethal put his knees up. Lethal got a two count, then caught Taven with a cutter for another two count.
There were dueling chants for the wrestlers, who traded punches in the ring. Lethal caught Taven on the middle rope and put him in a Torture Rack and then performed a rolling senton for a two count. Lethal applied a figure four at 36:45. Taven rolled it over. Lethal spun him of and then Taven reached the ropes to break the hold. The wrestlers fought for position near the ropes. Taven won the battle and ended up slamming Lethal from the apron through the table at ringside at 40:10.
At 44:40, Taven flipped off Lethal after selling a lot of his offense. Lethal performed a Lethal Injection for a near fall. Lethal and the broadcast team acted shocked by Taven kicking out. A short time later, Taven jawed at Lethal, who responded by giving him a cutter on the apron. Lethal pulled a table out from underneath the ring and set it up at ringside. Aldis took issue with Lethal for using a table. Lethal placed Taven on the table and went to the ropes, but Taven recovered and puled Lethal down so that his bad shoulder landed on the apron at 49:40. Taven pulled a ladder out from under the ring.
Taven set the ladder up over the barricade and ring apron, then mouthed off to Lethal about being the real world champion. Lethal dropkicked Taven, who ended up lying on the ladder. Lethal went up top and went for an elbow drop. Taven rolled off the ladder, and Lethal crashed onto it. Two men came out and tried to help Lethal to the back. Lethal said no. Taven did a big dive over the top rope onto Lethal and both men. Taven brought Lethal back inside the ring and had a good sequence that led to a strong near fall at 55:10.
Taven hit Lethal with a few running knees. Taven grabbed Lethal by the head, jawed at him, then spat in his face. Taven performed another running knee and covered Lethal for another two count. Taven went up top and went for a frogsplash, but Lethal caught him on the way down with a cutter for another good near fall. A “this is awesome” chant broke out.
Both wrestlers were on their knees in the middle of the ring. Taven told Lethal that he hates him, then the wrestlers traded punches and slaps. Lethal knocked Taven down with a kick, then hit him with two superkicks. “F— you,” Lethal said before hitting a third superkick. Lethal performed a Lethal Injection for another near fall. Bobby Cruise spoke with referee Todd Sinclair, then announced the time limit expired.
Jay Lethal fought Matt Taven to a 60-minute draw to retain the ROH Title.
After the match, fans chanted for five more minutes. The broadcast team quickly noted that it’s not in the ROH rulebook. A “let them fight” chant broke out. Marty Scurll walked to the ring and looked at both men, who were still down selling their injuries. Scurll picked up the ROH Title belt and put it over his shoulder. Taven tried to get up to stop him, but then acted like his knee gave out. Scurll took the title belt to the back…
Powell’s POV: The live crowd loved this. They came to life about 20 minutes in and were with the wrestlers until the end of the match despite their disappointment over not getting a winner. It felt like the draw was a strong possibility early on because of the pace they worked and it felt like a questionable call, but this worked better than I ever would have expected it to. They made the Lethal vs. Taven feud feel personal going into the match and this intensified things. Obviously, we’re getting a three-way match between Lethal, Taven, and Scurll at the G1 Supercard event at MSG.
An ad aired for HonorClub, then an ad aired for the G1 Supercard…
Ian Riccaboni stood on the stage and hyped the G1 Supercard for April 6. Riccaboni introduced Mega Ran, who came out with a buddy of his. He told the crowd to make some noise for what they’d seen so far. He said he decided to write a song about ROH going to MSG. First, the two men threw out some free merchandise. Mega Ran had the fans clap, entered the ring with his buddy, and then performed his song.
Bully Ray came out and threw a chair into the ring. Ran asked him what was happening. Ray complained about Ran wasting time on his pay-per-view and said he hates rap. He got in Ran’s buddy’s face and told him to wipe the smile off his face. Bully mocked Ran for getting his name from a video game. Ray said Ran is probably one of those marks who played as him in the WWE video games. “Well, actually, I chose D-Von,” Ran said. “Testify.” Ray shoved both men down and barked at them to leave the ring.
Bully Ray cut a promo about how no one in ROH or NJPW has ever performed at MSG. Ray said he sold out MSG, wrestled at WrestleMania at MSG, and main evented MSG. Ray barked at a couple of kids and said he’d slap them both in the face. Ray said no one is worthy in ROH or NJPW to step foot in the ring with him at MSG. The fans chanted for Flip Gordon. Ray asked if they meant the guy with the busted knee. Ray looked into the camera and issued an open challenge to anyone in the entire wrestling business to meet him in a street fight at MSG. “I’ll see you in the Garden, punk,” Ray closed…
A video package set up the next match…
Powell’s POV: So all signs point to the Silas Young vs. Jonathan Gresham, and Haskins and Williams vs. O’Ryan and Marseglia matches being pulled from the show due to the ROH Title match going sixty minutes. Those are the right two matches to save for television, but now we’re left with 30 minutes for Rush vs. Bandido at the ROH Tag Title match. This is show is on pay-per-view television so they do have a firm finish time.
5. Rush vs. Bandido. Dalton Castle replaced Aldis on commentary and had The Boys at his side. Rush caught Bandido going for a huracnrana at ringside and then slammed him through a table on the floor. Rush brought Bandido back inside the ring and ended up doing his pose by lying down in the ring. Rush went after Bandido’s mask briefly. Meanwhile, Castle conceded that he hasn’t been at his best lately, so he came out to see two of ROH’s finest in hopes that it would bring something out of him.
Bandido came back and performed a suicide dive and followed up with a dive over the top rope onto Rush at ringside. Back inside the ring, Rush performed a Canadian Destroyer. Bandido ended up on his feet and followed up with a move of his own that left both men down. The crowd counted along with referee Paul Turner’s count in Spanish until both men got back to their feet. Nice. Rush and Bandido fought for position on the ropes. Rush powered up Bandido for a deadlift superplex for a near fall. Bandido came right back with a suplex of his own.
Bandido positioned Rush so that he was hanging on the middle rope, then performed a springboard 450 splash. Bandido went for a springboard move and Rush caught him with a dropkick that sent Bandido to the floor. Rush performed a flip dive onto Bandido. Rush came right back with a huracanrana from the apron that left both men down at ringside. Back inside the ring, Bandido charged at Rush, who suplexed him into the corner. Castle gushed over the match and the wrestlers. Rush performed a running dropkick on Bandido, who was seated in the corner. Rush pinned Bandido.
Rush defeated Bandido in 15:05.
After the match, Castle said it’s just what he needed and it gave him a big idea. Castle entered the ring with a mic. Castle said Rush is like a mountain of meat. Rush laid over the top rope for a moment. Castle said he looks at Rush and sees a challenge, someone he wants to smash heads with. Castle challenged Rush to face him at the G1 Supercard at MSG. Rush took the mic and asked Castle who he was. Rush said that if Castle wanted to face him one on one then he didn’t care. Rush spoke to him in Spanish and called him a perro. Riccaboni said the challenge had been accepted…
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised we saw a clean finish to that match. I thought they might put over Rush with some heel tactics or have Castle interfere, but they went with a clean and decisive finish. The match was entertaining and yet it just didn’t feel as big as it should have. They had a tough act to follow coming off the 60-minute draw. And it became tough to take some of the big moves seriously once they no-sold so many of them. I hope ROH goes back to this match soon and does it right with a better build and a rematch under different circumstances.
The broadcast team spoke about the canceled matches. Riccaboni said Gresham suffered a knee injury (storyline injury) so his match was off, and he said The Kingdom were so frustrated that they left the building. Riccaboni said satellite providers were letting them get the main event in. Silas Young came out and joined Riccaboni and Coleman on commentary for the main event… A video package set up the ROH Tag Title match.
6. Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe vs. PCO and Brody King in a Las Vegas Street Fight for the ROH Tag Titles. King wore a mask to the ring prior to the match and then threw it out to the crowd. Cruise delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. The match started just over a minute before the pay-per-view’s scheduled end time. The wrestlers threw chairs into the ring once the bell rang. The Briscoes won an early chair duel.
PCO slammed Mark from the apron through a table on the floor. King threw chops at PCO to fire him up, then whipped him into Jay in the corner. King followed with his own move on Jay. King slammed a chair into the groin of Jay. Mark hit PCO with a kendo stick from the floor. PCO no-sold it and went after him, but Mark dumped him onto the barricade. The Briscoes isolated King and set up a chair in one corner and a table in another. King ran Jay into the chair, then put Mark through the table. Jay bled from the forehead as the teams fought at ringside.
At 10:00, the Briscoes backdropped PCO onto the edge of the apron. Damn. Jay had an old school crimson mask as he worked over King inside the ring. A pair of tables were set up next to one another on the floor. Jay tried unsuccessfully to suplex King onto them, but Mark ended up performing a blockbuster from the top rope and both he and King fell through the tables. Jay got a near fall on King inside the ring.
PCO was also bleeding when he returned to the ring. PCO broke kendo sticks over his knee. The Briscoes picked up the pieces of the broken sticks and used them as weapons. Mark stabbed PCO in the throat with the broken edge of the stick. At 17:50, King, who was also bleeding, threw Mark from the ropes over a table on the floor and onto some chairs just past the table. Damn. King and Jay fought on the apron. King appeared to be going for a piledriver, but he and Jay both tumbled sideways from the apron onto a table that collapsed on the floor. King placed Jay in the ring and put a chair over him, then PCO performed a moonsault from the top rope and scored the pin…
PCO and Brody King defeated The Briscoes in 19:10 in a Las Vegas Street Fight to win the ROH Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: Who would have guessed that ROH would close its 17th Anniversary pay-per-view with an ECW style hardcore brawl? This was every bit as insane as it looked like it would be on paper. All four guys worked really hard and did some crazy stunts.
The last two matches paid a price for the ROH Title match going an hour and stealing the show in the slot that it was in. That said, ROH officials played it right, because if they had put the main event on last then everyone would have figured it it was at least going to be a lengthy match. It was a risky move to go with a 60-minute draw because there were no guarantees the match would have be received as well as it was, and there’s no telling how viewers would have reacted to the show closing the show with a draw. Overall, this event exceeded my expectations. I will have more to say in my members’ exclusive audio review momentarily.
Check below for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Ian Riccaboni discussing his decision to re-sign with Ring of Honor, getting emotionally invested in matches, the G1 Supercard at MSG, and much more.
The Best of The Boom features Eric Bischoff joining Jason Powell in this March 20, 2019 discussion on whether there are similarities between Verne Gagne's booking during the AWA's dying days and Vince McMahon's WWE booking today, AEW, a Turner network shakeup, and more...