ROH was in Buffalo, New York on Wednesday for the first show of this year's War of the Worlds tour. Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana were the announce team for the night.
PJ Black defeated Alex Coughlin
Good opener. ROH is in the middle of pushing Black now. He scored a win on this week’s TV over Eli Isom, and the narrative they’re pushing is that he has changed his devious ways and is more honorable now. Coughlin is one of the NJPW LA Dojo trainees under Katsuyori Shibata.
The two shook hands before the match. The crowd quietly studied the two as they traded submissions in the beginning. Black used a number of more lucha-infused subs, while Coughlin’s offense echoed what we often see in NJPW’s Young Lions matches these days.
The audience began to heat up when Coughlin and Black started exchanging hard chops. Coughlin used a deadlift gut wrench suplex. More hard chops and strikes after this. Coughlin’s chest looked pretty bloodied up by the end.
Black landed Wildness, a brutal-looking moonsault stomp from the top rope, to win the match. It wasn’t a mat classic or anything, but it was a solid opener.
Women of Honor World Champion Kelly Klein defeated Kate Carney to retain her title
Carney is from Buffalo and nicknamed “ The Sparkle Hunter.” Klein got some pyro during her entrance.
Once the match started, the lights went out and the Allure faction came out. As their music played, they all showed off and did poses on the stage, shaking their rear ends and such, then walked over to join Riccaboni and Cabana on commentary. This was all after the bell had rung.
The crowd would sometimes get into the match when Carney, the hometown heroine, showed some offense. Angelina Love and Velvet Sky took over commentary and plugged their Instagram a bunch. Cabana explained to the ladies that his mother wants him to marry a nice Jewish woman someday. If you haven’t noticed yet, not much happened in the match. A few moments later, Klein hit K-Power for the win. Love called it boring. Gee, I wonder why?
Klein challenged Allure after the match and they had a 30-second posedown, with Klein holding her belt in the air and the Allure not doing much on the apron. It was all very WWE/TNA.
Rhett Titus came out to flex and pose before joining the announce team for the next match. If Titus wrestled in the 1940s, he’d be disqualified on the spot for being too greased up.
The Kingdom (TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) defeated Karl Fredericks & Clark Connors
Fredericks and Connors are two other NJPW LA dojo trainees. They’re built like football players.
O’Ryan put Connors in a headlock early on and yelled “Yeah, wrestle that!” to the crowd. No one reacted. O’Ryan chopped Connors a few times and Connors no-sold it. Fredericks tagged in and worked over Marseglia with submissions and hard strikes for a while. The Kingdom made a comeback midway through and used some neat double-team combos, like a senton plus leg drop deal onto Connors.
Marseglia talked trash to Connors as he sat in the corner. I’m not sure if Marseglia was really loud or the crowd was just really quiet. Fredericks got a hot tag in later on in the match and landed a huge dropkick on Marseglia.
The Kingdom did House of a Thousand Horses (not “Corpses,” like the movie) to both Lions and picked up the win.
The main takeaway from this match is that Fredericks and Connors are already really, really good, like scary good. The crowd almost bought into them winning at one point when Fredericks locked on a Boston crab and kept no-selling Marseglia’s slaps to the face. It was almost strange to watch them in the ring with the Kingdom since they wrestle such a lighter-looking style.
Shane Taylor defeated Hikuleo
Short but not bad at all. Hikuleo offered a handshake beforehand but Taylor spit in his hand, so Hikuleo went after Taylor with a barrage of kicks and back elbows.
Early on, when Taylor was on the top rope, Hikuleo used a running yakuza kick to Taylor’s face, which seemed to land flush. His foot had to be at least 9 or 10 feet in the air. The crowd started slamming their hands against the barricade after this.
Taylor is a great heel. His jaw-jacking in the ring sounds natural, never forced or awkward. He bullied Hikuleo for a bit until Hikuleo landed a huge Samoan drop (Tongan drop?). Just a few moments later, after a big Hikuleo lariat, Taylor used a running Greetings from 216 (a riff on Bam Bam Bigelow’s Greetings from Asbury Park, a fire-thunder driver) for the win.
Hikuleo must have trained his ass off when he was injured last year because he’s improved greatly, and in a short amount of time.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) defeated LifeBlood (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams)
Very good match. There were loud EVIL chants before the bell and during the match. Like, really loud ones. Williams still has his shoulder brace on. They exchanged forearms at the start.
SANADA might have gotten even louder chants when he got into the ring -- total star treatment tonight from the Buffalo crowd. He and Haskins were in next and had a killer forearm exchange. SANADA then put both LifeBlood members in the Paradise Lock and literally dropkicked their asses. The crowd absolutely loved this.
Haskins and Williams recovered quickly. They wore EVIL down with double-team attacks. LIJ were treated like the faces here even though LifeBlood have been positioned as primo ROH babyfaces. That’s more on the booking than on those two, who were very good in this. Both are underrated at the moment, particularly Haskins.
SANADA and Williams got in a few moments later and exchanged stinging chops. Williams hulked up and ripped off his shoulder brace, but SANADA got the better of the exchange. EVIL continued the chopping, but Williams was able to land a diving Rocker Dropper from the second rope. He tagged Haskins in and tore things up, topping off an offensive sequence with a couple of tope suicidas to the floor. The crowd was way into this.
Williams landed a D-Lo Brown style frog splash for two on SANADA. EVIL found his way back in, and after a few more of his moves, got even more chants. He even mean-mugged the ringside camera: “Everything is EVIL,” the Big Purple Machine said.
Haskins landed a sit-out Death Valley Driver for two. Williams and SANADA were in next and exchanged hard forearms. The last few minutes were hot after this. Haskins used a running, flying knee off the apron onto EVIL, then Williams put SANADA in an ankle lock. SANADA fought back and whipped himself out of the lock and Williams into the ropes, where Williams’ head met a chair, courtesy of EVIL on the outside. This was booed loudly -- there were loud sighs of disappointment in the context of the match. Haskins broke up the pin, but then LIJ used two Magic Killers on both Haskins and later Williams for the win.
Riccaboni announced that regardless of the outcome of their title match with Jonathan Gresham & Jay Lethal tonight, Guerrillas of Destiny will face the Briscoe Brothers this weekend at the War of the Worlds TV tapings in Villa Park, Illinois.
Rush defeated Silas Young
Dalton Castle came out beforehand and sat at the timekeeper’s table for this. Young trash talked pretty much every fan in the front rows before the match. He looked like he was about to challenge Rush to a test of strength, but Rush shoved him into the ropes and gave him a shoulder block, then did a shotgun dropkick that launched Young to the floor.
The two brawled around the ring for a bit, with Young later getting the better of the fisticuffs. He then beat on Rush for a few minutes longer, both inside and outside the ring. Young hung a folding chair around Rush’s neck and slammed him into the ring post.
Rush was out for a short bit but then fired up, apparently totally fine after having his neck Pillmanized, and went on to beat the crap out of Young outside the ring. He even took a trash can and threw it at Young.
Rush hit a really hard corner dropkick, the Bull’s Horns, for the win. Castle got on the apron and he and Rush stared each other down. They seem to be continuing the program between these two guys into the near future.
ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll, Brody King & PCO) defeated Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Jeff Cobb to retain their titles
Matt Taven joined Riccaboni and Cabana on commentary. PCO and Scurll received the loudest chants before the match, though the audience seemed to love everyone.
King and Cobb had a pretty insane exchange at the beginning. They were moving like junior heavyweights -- drop down, leapfrog, do it again, all of that business. King used a frankensteiner to cap the sequence, which led to a giant “holy sh*t” chants from the crowd.
PCO and Kojima had a nice exchange that lit up the crowd. People love PCO. He did a tope suicida through the ropes early on.
Nagata and Kojima worked over PCO’s arm for a long portion of the match, mainly using arm breakers and armlock submissions. PCO was finally able to make a comeback and used his good arm to chokeslam Cobb and tag out to Scurll.
Scurll, who looks to be wearing new custom white wrestling boots, briefly cleaned house. King did a big tope con giro to the floor, then Scurll helped launch PCO onto the opposite team with a back body drop to the floor.
Villain Enterprises went on a tear next and did tons of innovative power moves. Cobb returned the attack with a massive *double* back suplex to Scurll and King. Nagata put the boots to Scurll next, then locked him into a the shiro-me ("white eyes") sitting armbreaker submission until King and PCO came to the ring to break things up.
Nagata later used an exploder from the top rope for a close two count. Scurll attempted a chicken wing but ate an enzuigiri from Nagata. There were more chants for PCO with “this is awesome” chants peppered in. Kojima and PCO exchanged machine gun chops.
The match ended hot after a monstrous moonsault from PCO. This was a really good fan-service match. Taven was pretty funny on commentary. He’ll face PCO for the ROH World title on Thursday night in Toronto.
Vinny Marseglia and TK O’Ryan came out and attacked Villain Enterprises afterwards. Taven came down from the announce booth and hit PCO with his belt, but PCO sat up like the Undertaker, which scared Taven out of the ring.
ROH Tag Team Champions Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) defeated Jonathan Gresham & Jay Lethal to retain their titles
Kenny King came out with sunglasses and a walking stick. He was pretending to be blind still from getting misted by the Great Muta at the MSG show, after the Honor Rumble.
GOD jumped Gresham and Lethal before the bell. Who are they, Suzuki-gun? Gresham and Lethal quickly returned the attack with simultaneous suicide dives through the ropes. Gresham then hit a big crossbody block onto Tonga for two. Gresham and Lethal wrestled like they’ve been tagging for years in this. They did a very cool enzuigiri-dragon screw leg whip double-team spot to Tonga later on.
Tonga wrestled most of the bout for his team. He cursed kind of a lot during the match -- a couple F-bombs spewed over a somewhat silent crowd. Riccaboni’s response: “That’s a fine.”
The crowd would almost always heat up when either Lethal or Gresham were on the offensive in the ring. When Lethal landed a diving elbow drop, the still “blind” King asked, “Was that a shooting star press?”
This had a nice finish: when Loa distracted the refs when he tried bringing the tag titles into the ring, he tossed one of the belts to Tonga, who then cracked Lethal in the back of the head with it as he went for the Lethal Injection. When Tonga went for a cutter on Gresham, Gresham reversed it into a German suplex for a very close two. Tonga then finally landed the cutter, spiking Gresham onto his face and neck for the clean-ish pin.
The Briscoes came out afterwards and Jay Briscoe cut a promo on GOD, saying this was their first and last successful ROH Tag Team title defense. The teams did a good pull apart with the NJPW Young Lions breaking things up in the ring.
Jay got hardway blood over his right eyebrow during the pull apart and got on the mic again, swore a lot more, and claimed that they were going to run circles around GOD this Sunday.
Flip Gordon defeated Bandido
Williams and Haskins came out with fellow LifeBlood member Bandido for this match.
They started out slow, building the match with quicker and quicker exchanges and spot sequences. The crowd chanted “this is wrestling.” They were pretty split between both wrestlers, with a slight majority chanting for Bandido at first. Gordon skinned the cat but also turned it into a basement dropkick into the corner, if that makes sense.
The two went out of their way to move methodically, deliberately. Bandido later did a tornillo in the ring, then a tope con giro to the floor. Later on, Bandido hit a basement dropkick to Gordon’s knee while it was draped over the ropes.
It’s easy to forget how strong Bandido is. He did a one-handed press slam to Gordon at one point, which looked very impressive. No wonder Gordon has 20 abs now. For the record, Bandido didn’t actually slam Gordon, he just held him in the air for a while until Gordon escaped.
The match moved back down to the floor a little later. Gordon was selling his knee hard at this point. Bandido was able to muster up the strength to pull off a reverse frankensteiner on the floor. After this they teased a double countout until the count of 19, something I’ve seen too much of these days, mostly abused in NJPW matches. It worked for these two tonight, though.
After trading chops and a few other strikes, Gordon put Bandido into a sleeper hold for a few minutes. The crowd didn’t really respond to this, though they did respond to Bandido’s fallaway slam moonsault from the top rope, which got a quick two count. Gordon used the Star Spangled Stunner, a springboard spinning stunner, for a another close two.
Bandido hit the X Knee, but Gordon connected with a superkick. Gordon picked up Bandido and hit the Flip 5, an F5 turned into a cutter, for the win.
Haskins got in the ring and told Gordon that he had a hell of a match. He put him over huge and offered him a spot in LifeBlood. He told Gordon to think about it and get back to them while he’s at the Best of the Super Juniors tournament next month. The crowd was kind of mixed on this but mostly sounded to be into it.
I’m shocked to say this but this wasn’t all that good. I’m not saying it was bad, since on paper you’d think it’d be wild, and at times it was, but I don’t think the crowd expected these two to rein it in so much tonight. The crowd must have had higher hopes. I’m not sure what happened here. The highlight was Bandido’s crazy one-armed press slam spot.
Final thoughts --
I’m glad this felt like more than a house show, which some of the Honor Club events often feel like. It feels like the beginning of a new ROH season, with new faces, new pushes, and more story development. The best match was easily LifeBlood vs. LIJ, while the worst was the dud of a WOH Championship match that was mostly ruined on commentary.
The War of the Worlds Tour continues tomorrow night on HonorClub from Toronto, Ontario, Canada with ROH World Champion Matt Taven putting his title on the line versus the “Not Human” PCO.