Ring of Honor's 17th Anniversary pay-per-view takes place at Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall in Las Vegas tonight.
In the main event, reigning ROH World Champion Jay Lethal defends his title against self-proclaimed “Real World Champion” Matt Taven. ROH TV Champion Jeff Cobb also finally defends his title in a one-on-one match against Shane Taylor.
In a match for the ROH Tag Team titles, The Briscoe Brothers (Jay & Mark) take on Villain Enterprises (PCO & Brody King). The winners will face IWGP Tag Team Champions Guerrillas of Destiny at G1 Supercard in New York City on Saturday, April 6.
Marty Scurll will challenge for the ROH World title at G1 Supercard. Tonight, Scurll faces Kenny King.
Recently-crowned Women of Honor Champion Mayu Iwatani defends her title in a rematch with Kelly Klein tonight. Also on the card: Bandido vs. Rush, LifeBlood's Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams vs. The Kingdom's Vinny Marseglia & TK O'Ryan, and Jonathan Gresham vs. Silas Young.
Our coverage begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time.
With the G1 Supercard only a few weeks away, the booking on this show was interesting to say the least. The first half was good, even great at times, though the seemingly last-minute booking of the Heavyweight Title match threw the latter half of the show through an odd loop.
The show opened with a promo of Matt Taven tweaking out over not being recognized as the ROH World Heavyweight champion. The production team used special effects on Taven’s face to amp up his mania.
Ian Riccaboni was on commentary tonight alongside Caprice Coleman and NWA World Heavyweight champion Nick Aldis (with Kamille).
Marty Scurll defeated Kenny King
This was a solid opening match, and one of the best I’ve seen Kenny King in maybe ever.
A young guy dressed like Marty Scurll followed Kenny King out to the ring during his entrance. Scurll himself came out to a very loud reaction.
Scurll dashed at King out of the gate and knocked King out of the ring. He ran over to the other side of the ring and superkicked his doppleganger. The crowd sounded to be very on board with this match.
King returned Scurll’s initial attack with an enzugiri. He got great heel heat for much of this. After a few minutes, King missed a tornillo to the floor and Scurll used a tornado DDT from the apron to the floor. It looked excellent and the crowd got really excited about it.
Nick Aldis was good on commentary here and is noticeably improving from broadcast to broadcast. He adds a nice Solie-esque legitimacy to the match and puts over the “sport” of the match in a way that never feels corny.
King used a big spinebuster on Scurll. The momentum shifted constantly in this one, very quick pace throughout. The crowd was consistently behind the match and Scurll specifically; at one point they began chanting “break his fingers.”
Scurll used a floatover superplex on King, though King reversed the floatover part of the sequence with a Royal Flush. The two were down for a few moments, though when King was able to get back up he grabbed a chair and brought it into the ring. As referee Paul Turner and King had a tug-of-war for the chair, Scurll grabbed his umbrella behind Turner’s back and was able to pop King in the face with the butt of it and score the pin.
ROH World TV Title match: Jeff Cobb (c) defeated Shane Taylor
Excellent match. The pace and athletics both showed in this one was unreal, as they pretty much wrestled like 220-pounders throughout. Crazy. These two need to wrestle each other more often.
Cobb wore a shiny new black and gold singlet for tonight’s title defense. The two went at each other hard from the bell, exchanging elbows. Cobb used a back suplex on Taylor, who no sold it. Cobb used a picture-perfect dropkick early on, though Taylor himself was able to return quickly with brutal chops.
Taylor did a somersault senton off the apron to the floor onto Cobb. It wasn’t pretty, but at his size the fact that he pulled it off was amazing in itself.
The pace these two were wrestling at was astounding, and they weren’t far behind the tempo that Marty Scurll and Kenny King were at just minutes before.
The crowd lost it when Cobb used a stalling deadlift pump-handle suplex. Later, Cobb went so hard on a lariat to Taylor that he ended up sliding face-first through the first rope to the floor.
Cobb pushed the pace nonstop in this with jumping elbows, more dropkicks, and a standing moonsault. The crowd was chanting “this is awesome” after a power sequence from Cobb.
Taylor came back with a huge spinebuster, a uranage and a splash from the second turnbuckle. As I mentioned, Taylor’s execution isn’t always pretty but he essentially went move-for-move with Cobb here, plus played heel very well.
Taylor used a Canadian Destroyer—that’s right—on Cobb, for a 2.9 count which was followed up with a “holy shit” and “both these guys” chant. Cobb came back quickly and used two Tour of the Islands on Taylor for the win. Everyone in the building seemed borderline dumbfounded by what they just saw.
Women of Honor Championship match: Mayu Iwatani (w/ Sumie Sakai) defeated Kelly Klein
These two went much harder on each other than in their match from last month. The heat was better tonight, the drama, too, though it was a tad sloppy at times, though a good match, nonetheless.
Iwatani and Klein shook hands before the match. Klein was aggressive from the get, mostly brawling, using lots of elbows and knee strikes. Iwatani fired back with two slingblades followed by a great Northern Lights suplex with a single-leg hook.
Sumie Sakai was loud in her cheerleading outside the ring; you could clearly hear her screaming “Ike! Ike!” or “Go! Go!” at Iwatani, adding a bit of extra drama to the match.
The two traded German suplexes but Klein’s German was absolutely brutal, like something you’d see from Steve Williams in the 90s, drilling Iwatani onto her neck. Iwatani seemed to be fine though and came back with a moonsault. She went for another moonsault but Klein put her knees up and started pounding on Iwatani and pulling her hair.
The match ended seemingly out of nowhere with Iwatani using an inside cradle on Klein for the win. Again, a good match that was a bit short and sometimes sloppy. Considering the booking here, it seems like the blowoff for these two might happen next month at MSG.
ROH World Heavyweight Title match: Jay Lethal (c) and Matt Taven went to a 60-minute time limit draw.
The crowd, nor myself, expected this result. It was also much hotter than I expected it to be, and it seems to have been a big turning point for Matt Taven with regard to his relationship to the ROH crowd. He was really quite popular tonight.
The in-ring work was more solid than flashy, methodical, like most of Lethal’s matches lately, giving the match a meaningful world heavyweight flavor, but the last few minutes or so were fun to watch on television as the crowd really loved it and didn’t know what to expect.
Matt Taven cut a promo in the ring and called people melvins before the match. Jay Lethal was pretty over with this crowd, as well. This match, like the three that came before it, started with action as soon as the bell rang.
We started with a bit of intense back-and-forth over the course of the first few minutes, textbook and clinical, with both wrestlers looking strong, both with obvious conviction and intent, always tethered to the contextual realism inside the ring a la Bret Hart or someone with a similar style.
There were actually a smattering of chants for Taven as this match progressed. Neither wrestler seemed to dominate for more than a few minutes, and this allowed both men to look strong, to never really lose face.
At one point Lethal went for Lethal Injection but Taven blocked it and turned Lethal inside-out with a spinning roundhouse kick. Lethal was eventually able to return the attack and began working over Taven’s back.
At around this point is where the pace slowed but the two never lost the crowd. Lethal dumped Taven, now selling his left knee, to the outside, and used his signature sequence of four tope suicidas.
It should be noted that Aldis was more in character on commentary during this match compared to the others, mostly harping on Lethal and referee Todd Sinclair throughout.
Taven slowed the pace down quite a bit after the topes with a few longer submission spots. At one point the two had a standing face-off and Lethal did a Shibata-headbutt that popped the crowd.
Lethal went for a flying elbowdrop but then a few balloons floated up toward the ceiling and Vinny Marseglia came up from under the ring. TK O’Ryan came out and distracted Todd Sinclair; Marseglia hit Lethal with a baseball bat. Jonathan Gresham came out but got beatdown by the Kingdom outside the ring until LifeBlood (Tracy Williams & Mark Haskins) evened things out.
In the ring, Taven used the Climax and got a close two-count, then a frog splash for another two. He went for another one but Lethal got his knees up, then hit a cutter, both for close twos. Lethal used a rolling torture rack slam for another close-call.
Taven later suplexed Lethal from inside the ring to the floor through a table which illicit a “holy sh*t” chant. This spot probably could have come five minutes prior, but still, the crowd was there.
The pockets of Taven supporters in the crowd either got louder at this point or they turned on Lethal, and at one point someone sitting near the hard cam shouted “YOU SUCK, LETHAL!”
After Taven kicked out of Lethal Injection the crowd was so supportive of him that even the announcers had to mention it on commentary. He DDT’d Lethal onto the apron, then later pulled out a ladder and laid it flat from the apron to the guardrail. Jay Lethal missed a flying elbowdrop from the top turnbuckle and crashed through the ladder to the floor.
They teased the match ending with some ring boys carrying Lethal to the back, but Taven did a giant plancha onto everyone, including Lethal and quickly threw him back in the ring and did about five or six Just the Tips for more very close two-counts. Taven then dove off the top rope but Lethal countered with a big cutter, again for another two. The crowd was on their feet chanting “this is awesome” at this point. The two started slapping each other really hard in the face until Lethal used three superkicks and finally hit Lethal Injection … for two. The crowd was pretty much losing their mind at this point when the bell rang: a 60-minute time limit draw.
As the crowd chanted “five more minutes,” Marty Scurll came down and picked up the ROH World Heavyweight title with him to the back.
The rapper Mega Ran came out to do a song about G1 Supercard in April. Bully Ray interrupted and cut a promo on Mr. Ran and his hype man. Ray made fun of them for liking video games. Mega Ran said he used Devon instead of Ray on the Raw/Smackdown video game, then Ray kicked them out of the ring.
Bully Ray went on to say that the crowd should kiss his ass, then threatened to slap three little kids in the face. He then challenged someone whom he didn’t name to a NY Streetfight at the Garden next month.
The promo itself was good but the placement was strange, and coming after a 60-minute heavyweight title draw it felt out of place.
Rush defeated Bandido
Dalton Castle came out for commentary for this match. He asked Ian Riccaboni if it was true that Riccaboni contributed $25 to the bidding war for Bandido last year. Riccaboni did not.
This was decent but was mainly a vehicle to get Rush over as a serious ROH star. It was mostly big moves without too much story to it, aside from Rush working hard as heel.
Rush power bombed Bandido through the timekeeper’s table under five minutes into this one. He worked hard and got good heel heat here, especially when he did the tranquillo poses. Bandido did a tornillo and Fosberry flop to the outside.
A good portion of the audience seemed to like Rush but he worked hard at staying heel throughout. He used a deadlift superplex on Bandido for two midway through. Bandido later draped Rush over the second rope and did a springboard 450, which apparently didn’t hurt all that much because a minute later Rush used a wild tope con giro to the floor onto Bandido. The crowd didn’t care about the selling because they were chanting “this is awesome” afterwards.
Rush went for a Jaydriller on the apron but Bandido blocked it and did a running hurracanrana to the outside. When he went for the 21plex, Rush countered it and hit the Bull Horn, a hard basement dropkick to a prone Bandido in the corner, for the win.
Dalton Castle came into the ring afterwards and challenged Rush to a match at MSG next month. Rush spoke both English and Spanish on the mic and accepted the challenge.
Riccaboni announced that tonight's match between Silas Young and Jonathan Gresham had been cancelled because Gresham's knee was storyline-injured during the Jay Lethal vs. Matt Taven match when the Kingdom attacked him.
Tracy Williams & Mark Haskins vs. Vinny Marseglia & TK O'Ryan has also been cancelled.
No DQ ROH World Tag Team Title match: Villain Enterprises (Brody King & PCO) defeated The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) (c)
This was a match you’ll either love or hate. If you love hardcore, borderline deathmatch wrestling, like late-90s ECW, this is for you. If not, beware. This was chaotic, bloody and was without much steady flow; it was big spot-for-big spot. And while it is, in fact, amazing, it’s hard not to worry about some of the spots PCO is taking these days.
Silas Young was on commentary during this match. Brody King wore a cast on his left hand in this. All four wrestlers had a chair battle in the ring at the beginning, like the ones Balls Mahoney and Masato Tanaka used to do. Mark Briscoe did a corkscrew plancha from the top rope to the outside early on. Brody King did a springboard turnaround crossbody to Jay Briscoe inside.
PCO did a Michinoku Driver off the apron through a table to Mark, then got back in the ring and yelled at King to chop him to get him amped up. Villain Enterprises then hit Jay in the groin with a chair. It was chaos, cursing and violence, nonstop.
King used a running Death Valley Bomb on Mark, putting him through a table in the corner of the ring. The match then spilled to the outside where PCO and King beat on Jay who did a nasty blade job.
There must have been a kendo tournament in Vegas this weekend because there were two sticks that found their way into the match.
After King screamed “PCO, do something insane!”, PCO ran down the ramp but was back body dropped onto the edge of the apron, then onto the steel ramp. He’s 51, for the record.
Mark Briscoe set two tables up outside the ring and did a diving blockbuster through both tables. Yikes. A bloody Jay Briscoe then used a gigantic Jaydriller on King inside the ring for two. The Briscoes brought the kendo sticks in the ring and double teamed King and took him out. PCO finally made his way back into the ring and no-sold like ten kendo stick shots, then broke both sticks over his knee. He was also bleeding at this point, and minutes later King’s face was covered in blood as well.
King threw Mark Briscoe off the top rope and it looked like it might have been meant to be a table spot but Mark landed flat on the ground onto a pile of chairs. He then botched a piledriver to Jay on the apron which also looked like it was supposed to be through a table. This looked really, really, dangerous. It looked like King may have slipped. You could see the bloody mark from Jay’s head on the apron.
PCO landed a moonsault onto Jay inside the ring for the pin and the win, putting an end to what Ian Riccaboni called what may have been the “craziest, goriest match in ROH history.” Your new ROH World Tag Team champions are Villain Enterprises, and they will face the Guerillas of Destiny at G1 Supercard next month at Madison Square Garden. Both the IWGP and ROH World Tag titles will be on the line.