The Takeaways --
- ROH CEO Joe Koff “fired” Bully Ray.
- Kaitlyn Diamond vs. Karen Q was announced for the Global Wars: Toronto show. It will be a Women of Honor qualifying match for a chance to participate in Final Battle.
- The NJPW wrestlers and SCU were the obvious stars. The loudest reactions were for Tetsuya Naito and The Young Bucks.
- This card was all over the place in terms of quality. There were three or four top-notch matches mixed in with around 90 minutes of mediocre to not-so-good wrestling.
- The announce team hammered home Twitter hashtags all night, more so than they have recently.
Show Recap --
The venue was filled for Friday night's Global Wars: Buffalo show; standing-room only. Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman, and Colt Cabana were on commentary.
Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian came down to the ring while people chanted “SCU.” Daniels was accidentally hit in the face with a streamer roll.
Kazarian grabbed the microphone and explained that Scorpio Sky wasn’t in tonight because he was at a wedding. Kazarian read a text from Sky that read “This is the worst town I’ve ever been in” and it got a good reaction.
Daniels continued on and spoke about the Thousand Oaks tragedy this week. He had the crowd scream “SCU” in support of the city. It was very classy.
The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia) went to a no contest with The Boys
Taven is claiming he’s the “real” ROH World Champion these days and has a replica belt with him. Taven stared the Boys down for a long while and then jumped them, all before the bell.
Taven is going through an interesting character transformation ever since he had his head shaved at the CMLL 85th Anniversario. His ring gear is different, all black, he has the mohawk, and even his facial expressions are more nuanced and serious. He really only punched and stomped the Boys repeatedly, plus whipped them with his own belt.
The Kingdom threw the Boys to the floor and continued to beat on them. Marseglia suplexed a Boy onto the concrete. The match still hadn’t officially started yet and the announcers put it over as despicable.
Taven lawndart’d a Boy into a chair in the corner of the ring. Taven grabbed the mic and said they wouldn’t stop beating on the Boys until Dalton Castle came out. He called the crowd a bunch of “melvins.”
Castle finally came out. He stood at the top of the ramp and screamed at the Kingdom. Taven said he wanted the respect he deserved, and that Castle has disrespected the ROH title. This elicited boos. He challenged Castle to a title match even though he’s not the ROH Champion.
TK O’Ryan blindsided Castle on the stage. Marseglia joined in and they beat down Castle until security got involved.
Dalton Castle defeated TK O’Ryan
The opening segment just before dragged for more than 20 minutes, so the crowd sounded ready for action. They chanted for Castle, who wrestled in a sweater. Castle is still wrapped up around his left thigh and back.
On commentary, Coleman compared TK O’Ryan to a young Barry Windham. Yeah, that caught me off guard too.
The crowd died a few minutes into this match. They realized this and politely began chanting for Castle.
Castle tried a Bang-a-Rang but sold it like his back wasn’t strong enough to pull it off. He later used a nice looking back suplex on O’Ryan, which is often Castle’s strong suit.
Castle finally used a Bang-a-Rang for the win. Ryan got a bit of heel heat throughout this one, but it sounded like it was more because the New York crowd wanted to get behind the local guy.
Castle cut a promo on how he broke his back and nothing but the tape on his body is holding him together. He claimed Taven lit a fire in him and he accepted Taven’s challenge for the fake belt.
Castle is effective on serious promos and probably doesn’t need to be tuned up all the time, using all the silly facials. While the match itself was nothing -- the entire segment with the Kingdom and this match lasted 30 minutes -- but I think Castle and Taven could have a good match at Final Battle.
Kenny King defeated Cheeseburger
King trashed the Buffalo Sabres hockey team and said that this was going to be his warmup match for Jay Lethal at Final Battle. Cheeseburger came out with Eli Isom and Ryan Nova. The crowd threw streamers in the ring for him and chanted his name.
King made fun of the Buffalo Bills and Cheeseburger’s “stick,” or “shtick” as I think he meant. Cabana corrected him on commentary.
They brawled a bit on the outside. The crowd chanted a lot for Cheeseburger as King mostly dominated. Cheeseburger used a cool diving knee strike off the second rope.
King finished Cheeseburger with the Royal Flush. This was better than the opening segment, but not that good either. King shouted “Where’s Jay Lethal?!” as the crowd booed him to the back.
Madison Rayne defeated Kelly Klein
Rayne got a mild reaction on her way to the ring. Riccaboni announced that this Sunday in Toronto there’ll be another Women of Honor qualifying match for the Final Battle four corner survival title match; Kaitlyn Diamond from Stardom will wrestle Karen Q.
The two chain-wrestled in the opening of the match. There were a handful of nice exchanges here at the start, all fast, even to a point where referee Paul Turner was late on some calls to break holds.
Women of Honor World Champion Sumie Sakai came out to watch the match on the stage. Her dour expression and the poorly lit shot made it all quite awkward.
Klein was fine but didn’t wrestle with confidence or conviction. Whenever she was in control of the match she’d sometimes look lost, like when she just stood in the ring for forever as Rayne sold outside, nothing moved forward in the match. She just stood there.
There was a bit more back and forth between the two with Klein mostly dominating. Rayne made a comeback, which included a “medium crossbody” block according to Cabana. Klein stole the pin by using an O’Connor roll with a bridge.
This was mediocre. Klein came off as green and Rayne had to carry this, which hindered the quality. The crowd was desperately polite throughout.
KUSHIDA defeated BUSHI, Jonathan Gresham, and Flip Gordon in a four corner survival match
Rhett Titus came out and flexed in his speedos, but referee Todd Sinclair ran out and covered Titus with a towel. Cabana called Sinclair a hero.
BUSHI got a good reaction with streamers. KUSHIDA got a bigger reaction here than he seems to get in Japan. I don’t know why, but it feels strange that KUSHIDA is IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion again.
BUSHI reneged on the four-way handshake before the bell. It was tornado-style rules for this match, so all four went at it as the match started. There was a rapid pace between all four.
Gresham is so good and has paced himself in every match on this short tour. BUSHI did a BUSH-a-roonie and got lots of cheers for this. He, too, seems to be more popular here than he is on NJPW house shows.
BUSHI used a lot of heel offense in the middle of this match: rear chinlocks, stomps, and T-shirt strangulations.
KUSHIDA got into the zone and almost accidentally hip-tossed Todd Sinclair. He quickly apologized for the kayfabe gaffe.
Gordon got loud reactions for a dive and some of his signature flipping. Gresham did a double bulldog dropkick spot and flexed.
BUSHI did that killer variation of the backslide he does, where he extends it into a leaf bridge.
KUSHIDA landed Back to the Future on BUSHI for the win. This was by far the best match to this point where, ironically, KUSHIDA was the weak link despite his crowd reaction. Gresham shined again, and Gordon has been on fire recently. Even BUSHI was tolerable.
ROH TV Champion Jeff Cobb defeated EVIL in a non-title match
Riccaboni mentioned that EVIL was a successful amateur wrestler in Japan in his school days, which I didn’t know.
The crowd was surprisingly not split and fully behind EVIL for much of this. Cobb’s light flying (leapfrogs, dropkicks, and bumps into the guardrail) looked great and made it hard not to cheer for him. The two had a great chop battle that ended with EVIL gouging Cobb’s eyes and then pancaking him with a standing senton.
Cobb used a tremendous delayed superplex onto EVIL and got a huge reaction. The ring turned into a trampoline for a split second when EVIL used Darkness Falls on Cobb. The crowd finally came on for Cobb and cheered him.
There was an extremely close two-count after Cobb used a standing moonsault. EVIL used referee Paul Turner for an assisted Magic Killer and an equally close two-count.
After a few tries, Cobb used Tour of the Islands to win the match. Riccaboni really wanted to say “Aloha means goodbye!” but had, like, four false starts. It was charming.
Excellent match. It’d be in both ROH and NJPW’s best interest to put these guys on the Tokyo Dome or MSG show, because tonight they delivered a really fresh take on the hoss match style. Go out of your way to watch this one if you haven’t already.
Juice Robinson defeated Silas Young by DQ
“The Flamboyant” Juice Robinson wore his Macho Man Glam Jesus outfit to the ring. Young made fun of a guy in the front row for a while. Robinson shook a number of hands in the front row before the bell. This had a unique chemistry between the two from the beginning.
They did more comedy before starting the actual wrestling part of this match. Robinson missed a pescado to the floor and bellyflopped hard on the mats.
The announce team put over that they sold the venue out and that it was standing-room only. I heard a few chants of “Boring” during the middle of this match; Young spent much of the middle slowly working over Robinson’s back and saying “easy-peasy.”
I’m not sure when it happened, but during Young’s assault Robinson must have slammed into the guardrail really hard once because he had a large red welt on his back.
Robinson got beat up for much of this match, but later led a comeback with a nice spinebuster. He used a pretty high crossbody block for two.
Young later used a backbreaker on Robinson that looked so cartoonish in how floppily Robinson folded over Young’s knee. GIF-worthy, you might say.
Bully Ray walked out and kicked Robinson in the groin, so Robinson won by DQ. The crowd chanted “ECW.” Bully Ray started yelling at Young for pushing him away in Lowell. Flip Gordon came out with a chair but Young low-blowed Gordon.
Joe Koff came out and told Bully Ray off. He said he hated Ray and that all the fans hate Ray so he’s "fired." Koff slammed the mic into Ray’s chest and stormed off.
This was as good as it could have been, which means it was just slightly above average, toeing the "Good Zone" waters. The finish sucked, and the angle following was decent, and short, if anything.
The Young Bucks defeated Tetsuya Naito & SANADA
The pop for Naito upon his entrance was huge. Women screamed and the announcers claimed the floor was shaking. This was the biggest reaction of the night so far. The Bucks came out to an equal pop, but not much bigger than Naito’s. There were tons of streamers inside the ring before the match.
Naito and Matt Jackson started it off. They talked trash and had an intense lucha-style exchange of moves. Naito made fun of Jackson by doing the Young Bucks flex pose.
Nick Jackson and SANADA were in next and were even faster somehow. The crowd woke up for this one the more the teams wrestled.
Things slowed in the middle of the match, but only by a hair. Matt Jackson was stuck in SANADA’s Paradise Lock. He locked Nick up and dropkicked them both in the posterior.
Nick Jackson went on a tear and shined with a billion moves crammed into a minute of the match. Naito and Nick have scary good chemistry together and could be a serious singles program to consider for the future. The Bucks locked on double sharpshooters and the crowd screamed for LIJ to tap.
LIJ thought they were robbed of a three-count on Matt from referee Paul Turner -- and it got a big reaction. The two teams exchanged even crazier spots both in and out of the ring. The Bucks wrestle like water. They used the 5-Star Meltzer Driver for a close two-count and the crowd was on fire. Matt eventually caught SANADA in a victory roll for a surprise win.
This was excellent. It was like what you’d see on an NJPW card, just here with more grit based on the setting. Both teams delivered, and I’m sure if LIJ won that the crowd would have been just as satisfied.
ROH World Champion Jay Lethal went to a 15-minute draw with Chris Sabin in a Proving Ground match
There were some great chain wrestling and rope-running sequences between the two at the beginning of this match. They stalled a lot to run the clock out.
The crowd decided that they were behind Lethal after a few minutes. He did the Jericho springboard dropkick to Sabin, knocking him off the apron.
Coleman mentioned that Sabin wrestled “night in and night out,” which confused me since I thought that’s what most wrestlers do.
They did a lot of submissions and stretched out a count-out spot.
There was a point in the match where Lethal obviously whiffed on a chop and a fan clearly shouted “weak!” at them.
Sabin used a diving swinging DDT on Lethal and got a two-count. Lethal did a Savage flying elbow drop and then a Flair figure-four leg lock as the 15-minute time limit expired. The crowd chanted for five more minutes. Lethal got on the mic and said he felt good and that he’d do 10 minutes, and that it’d be for the ROH title. The crowd went nuts and the bell rang.
The two did a Frye-Takayama punching spot -- but Kenny King did a quick run-in. This received a loud wave of boos. King gave Lethal a spinebuster. He was upset that Sabin was getting the title shot before himself.
This was a good match but was probably better in person. If the two went another 10 minutes I think they may have been able to put on something special, but the angle was fine nonetheless.
Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T) defeated The Briscoes and Hangman Page & Cody Rhodes in a three-way tag match
I’d argue that Cody received the highest volume of streamers into the ring at once. The weird thing is that following Cody getting covered in streamers, the crowd started chanting “Best Friends.”
Best Friends and Elite Club shook hands as the Briscoe Brothers stayed aloof beforehand. People are crazy for Cody, really. He threw his T-shirt to a happy little kid. On Twitter, Cody noted that he will have to miss his match at Global Wars: Toronto and will undergo an MRI after hearing a loud pop in his knee when "going from one side of the crowd to the other last night, teasing a t-shirt toss of all things."
The Briscoes broke up a hug between Chuckie T and Beretta. Best Friends later did a super four-way hug that got a loud reaction. Best Friends double-crossed the Elite and pinned them for two.
Brandi Rhodes tried to distract Beretta. The Briscoes then yelled something vulgar at Brandi and requested to the ref that she leave the match. Lots of boos for this.
This was nonstop action. Hangman Page almost killed himself using a shooting star shoulder block. Cody used Cross Rhodes on Jay -- but Mark broke up the pin with a Froggy Bow.
Beretta and Cody traded moves until Beretta accidentally took out ref Paul Turner with a Claymore Kick. Mark Briscoe stepped in and smashed Cody in the face with Cody's IWGP US title. Beretta considered hitting Cody with the belt, too, but Jay Briscoe hit him with a chair.
Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels came out and beat on the Briscoes, then Beretta and Chuckie T used an assisted Dudebuster for the logical win. Cody and Beretta talked trash ahead of what was supposed to be an IWGP US title match between them in Toronto.
Again, this was all action, all exciting in-ring. Each wrestler brought their best to the table tonight.