ROH came to Grand Rapids, Michigan on Saturday night for the next of their War of the Worlds events live on the HonorClub streaming service. Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana were the announce team for the night.
Coast 2 Coast (LSG & Shaheem Ali) defeated Karl Fredericks & Alex Coughlin
Good opener. Almost all grappling at the top of this one, all pretty good. Riccaboni mentioned Ali has been training in BJJ recently, implying he may attempt some jiu-jitsu tonight. He and LSG did some cool double-team work early on. Ali did a mini-2 Cold Scorpio splash on Coughlin.
Fredericks has been the hot-tag guy in all of his tag matches on War of the Worlds this week. He’s very good already, but sometimes his limbs flail when he does dropkicks or power moves.
Coast to Coast won after a double-team pop-up swing-out slam.
Women of Honor World Champion Kelly Klein defeated Stacy Shadows to retain her title
Klein offered a handshake before the match, but Shadows shoved her. Shadows is a lot bigger than Klein. They brawled outside the ring early. Klein’s matches feel a lot easier to watch when she’s able to have a more physical match, like she did tonight with Shadows.
Shadows got great heat midway through this. She talked a lot of trash as she stomped and wailed on Klein. Klein returned the attack with a lariat. Riccaboni mentioned that Klein recently threw out the first pitch at a Cincinnati Reds game.
Shadows completely biffed on a spot with Klein: when Klein went for a shoulder block, Shadows took a bump before they even touched. Klein was still near the ropes and Shadows was in the middle of the ring. It was really bad, but they moved right through it. The crowd didn’t totally give up on the match yet.
Klein landed a big German suplex on Shadows. Shadows later went for a Vader Bomb but missed, so Klein used a running double knee strike to win the match. Shadows shook Klein’s hand afterwards. This could have been Klein’s best match in a long time, sans that glaring miscued botch Shadows made.
The Allure attacked Shadows after the match and branded their logo on Shadows' head with lipstick. Klein made the save and went after Angelina Love. Those two had a good pull-apart and the crowd started chanting “let them fight.” ROH Dojo students came out to break things up.
This was hands down the best Allure segment so far. It’s not saying much but it feels like an improvement even from a few days ago.
- Riccaboni announced that PCO would not be competing tonight. He was initially scheduled to wrestle Mark Haskins of LifeBlood but wasn’t medically cleared in storyline.
Riccaboni gave a good kayfabe explanation about why The Kingdom aren’t allowed at ringside anymore. He explained that in the past, The Kingdom could always “legally” be at ringside because they had their licenses and did their paperwork, but ROH rescinded that right, which resulted in them not being allowed at ringside for the time being.
Dalton Castle defeated Cheeseburger and Clark Connors in a triple threat match
Heel Dalton Castle came out before Cheeseburger and Connors' match. He said he was eating tiramisu in the back watching the show and he didn’t like what he saw in the ring. He said Connors looked like “half eaten vanilla fro-yo.” Castle said the audience deserve better and ordered the two to leave.
People started chanting for Cheeseburger. He offered Castle a chance to wrestle both of them in a three-way match. Castle said he couldn’t because he had a deviated septum and was now upset that Cheeseburger brought it up. He said they both didn’t deserve to be in the ring with him.
Cheeseburger then brought up Castle getting beat by Rush in 16 seconds at MSG last month. I guess that was all it took for Castle to agree to the match.
Castle manhandled Cheeseburger, but he and Connors were destined to mix it up. They traded really hard chops and forearms. Castle then blasted Connors in the face with a yakuza kick outside the ring, all in slacks and slip-on shoes. Castle is going out of his way to wrestle a meaner style, a little bit more intense and with less bells, whistles, and Boys.
Connors is scary strong. He looks like he’s been wrestling for a long while. At one point, he did rolling gutwrench suplexes to Cheeseburger until Castle German suplexed both of them at the same time, similar to what Daisuke Sekimoto has been doing in Japan.
Castle back body dropped Cheeseburger onto Connors on the floor. Connors later made a serious comeback and landed a stiff spear on Castle, then put him in the Boston crab. Cheeseburger tried chopping Connors while he sat in the submission hold, but Connors no sold it. He was eventually able to break up the attempt, but Castle made a comeback and eventually gave Cheeseburger a Bang-A-Rang to win his first match back since Madison Square Garden.
This turned out to be pretty good. Castle looked very good in the ring, more aggressive than usual. Connors will be a superstar in a few years, that’s a no-brainer. Cheeseburger played the babyface role to a T here and added a nice high-flying flavor to the match.
The Kingdom (Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan) defeated Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Hikuleo
Both teams talked trash in the middle of the ring before the bell. Cabana warned families watching at home to turn the volume down if the Guerrillas of Destiny are on, as they tend to curse a lot.
No one locked up for the first few minutes. They all talked trash and tagged in and out, both leaned hard into the heel vs. heel vibe. Both teams kept cheating. Hikuleo looked to be a foot taller than everyone in the ring. The crowd loved his chops and went nuts when he went after O’Ryan in his corner.
The Kingdom came back and triple-teamed Tonga for while. Tonga used a spinning neckbreaker and was able to tag Hikuleo back in. I think Hikuleo is soon going to supersede Loa as the second best of the brothers.
When Loa and Tonga hit the Doomsday Device on O’Ryan, The Briscoes came out and walked to the ring. While Loa and Tonga got into it with The Briscoes at ringside, Marseglia passed the ROH title belt to Taven and he clocked Hikuleo with it. Marseglia scored the pin while GOD and The Briscoes brawled their way back to the dressing rooms.
The lights went out and Mark Haskins came down. He called Taven out, basically explaining how he’s upset that he couldn’t wrestle PCO for the ROH World title tonight and it’s because Taven cheated his way out of his title defense against PCO this past Thursday in Toronto.
Taven initially said no until Haskins said that when Michael Bennett and Maria Kanellis left him was when Taven lost his balls. Taven got angry and agreed to the match. This was actually an excellent segment.
Flip Gordon defeated Rhett Titus
This match was not originally slated for tonight, but since Gordon will not be competing in the NJPW Best of the Super Juniors tournament starting next week, he appeared for ROH tonight.
Riccaboni and Cabana talked about how Titus is going to enter the upcoming CMLL bodybuilding tournament in Mexico. He might as well, huh? Titus got in the ring and on the mic explained that he was going to show the crowd his three best poses. The lights went out before his third pose and Gordon’s music hit.
People went pretty wild for Gordon when he came out. At one point, he skinned the cat through the middle of the ropes, then did a springboard dropkick where he somehow slipped on the top rope but still stuck the move perfectly, pretty much. Titus tapped as soon as Gordon locked on the FTF. This was fine.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & EVIL) defeated The Bouncers (Brawler Milonas & Beer City Bruiser)
To give you an idea of how over LIJ are in the United States, Colt Cabana acknowledged how the crowd was into -- of all things -- an arm wringer that EVIL used early on. You’re doing a good job when people “ooh” and “aah” when you do an arm wringer.
The Bouncers offered LIJ some beers before the match. EVIL and SANADA took sips and spit beer into the big guys' faces and the bell rang.
The Bouncers did comedy spots early on. Milonas rubbed his butt in SANADA’s face in the corner, and later Bruiser did his “I can’t bite, I ain’t got no teeth!” spot.
SANADA locked Bruiser in an upside down Paradise Lock with some assistance from the bottom rope, then SANADA dropkicked him. LIJ hit a big double suplex onto Milonas, then used a Magic Killer on Bruiser for three.
Tracy Williams defeated Rush, Eli Isom, and PJ Black in a four corner survival match
This was an excellent “bang-bang-bang” type of match, sequences upon sequences within sequences. The stip here was that the winner would win a future ROH World title shot.
Everyone in this match went out of their way to make this really good. Isom and Rush were really impressive together, as were Williams and Black.
Isom is crazy good for how short a time he’s been wrestling. Rush’s rhythm in the ring is more natural when there are extra guys in the ring.
Rush did a tope con giro onto everyone on the floor and Cabana called it as: “This is what it sounds like when bulls cry.” Rush was booed when he did his Tranquilo pose, but within 20 seconds they were chanting his name.
PJ Black did a top rope quebrada and a springboard 450 into the ring. Williams did a jumping piledriver to Black and the crowd started chanting “this is awesome.” Rush did the Hiromu Takahashi running dropkick from the apron to the floor onto Black.
Williams and Isom had a heated exchange in the ring. Isom did a modified DDT at one time and got an extremely close two count. Williams used another piledriver for the win.
They explained on commentary that Rush sacrificed his body on the dropkick to the floor, which was why he couldn’t make it into the ring to break up Williams’ pin attempt.
- Riccaboni and Cabana announced the very unfortunate news about legendary luchadore, Silver King, who passed away on Saturday.
ROH World Champion Matt Taven defeated Mark Haskins to retain his title
What a match. Taven tried to jump Haskins before the bell, but Haskins kicked him to the outside and dove onto him with a tope suicida. Haskins landed a stiff Penalty Kick off the apron early on.
It’s easy to forget how acrobatic Taven is. From the get-go, this was an entirely different match than the one he had with PCO on Thursday.
Haskins dominated much of the first part of this match. Taven used rope breaks to break up a few pin attempts. Taven turned the tide and began going after Haskins’ arm. Haskins did a terrific job selling it. If you’re looking for a younger wrestler in the world that pretty closely resembles Dynamite Kid in the ring, Haskins might be that guy.
Taven seems to always have at least a cluster of diehard fans at ROH shows. He got good heat during this match, but he also went out of his way to acknowledge his non-Melvin fans.
Taven continued going after Haskins’ arm. He through him onto the ring entrance stage and tried to steal a countout victory, but Haskins made it in at 19.
Taven used a tight Fujiwara armbar on Haskins until Haskins inched over to the bottom rope for a break. Haskins fought back and eventually landed a high jumping leg lariat to knock Taven into the corner. Haskins later used a bridging armbar in the center of the ring, but Taven was able to make it to the ropes. Taven did a great job of wrestling in such a way where you actually bought into an ROH newcomer like Haskins winning the title.
Taven missed a frog splash and Haskins went back to the bridging armbar, but Taven countered into a cradle pin. They traded cradles until Haskins landed a sit-out Death Valley Driver for another close two. Whenever Taven was in trouble, he’d gouge at Haskins’ eyes or do something morally questionable in the ring.
Haskins hulked up and landed a big diving double stomp on Taven for a 2.5 count this time. When Haskins went for a Death Valley Driver on the apron, Taven somehow used a crazy looking Climax on the edge of the apron, then did Just the Tip and hit a frog splash for 2 and nine-tenths. People lost it for this fall and started chanting “R-O-H” and slamming their hands on the barricade.
Haskins was finally able to lock in the Sharpshooter on Taven, but Bully Ray walked out and started yelling at him. He said something about Haskins’ wife, which distracted Haskins and allowed Taven to low blow him, then hit another Climax for the pin. The crowd groaned and sighed. It sucked the excitement out of the room.
I really hope the future storylines pay off. It looks like they’re going with a Kingdom vs. LifeBlood program, with Tracy Williams getting a title shot soon after his win tonight. If there’s no payoff, or if it’s a flop, ROH may have just let lightning in a bottle slip through their fingers.
Taven got on the mic after the match and cut a promo, saying that if the crowd thinks he sucks so much, then what do they think about all the people he beat? He jaw-jacked for another minute until PCO came out and destroyed Taven with a rebound tombstone piledriver and a “PCO-sault.”
Aside from the schmozzy finish, this was quite possibly one of the better matches of the year so far. Haskins was spectacular. Even more impressive is that Taven worked a tag match earlier and had a wild brawl of a bout with PCO days before, then had this match. If ROH gives out awards to their employees at the end of the year, I think Taven might be up for company MVP.
- Kenny King came out with ring announcer Amy Rose, who has been his handler this week. He did his blind gimmick again. He said he has super-senses now ever since Great Muta misted him at MSG, and tonight he could sense that Bobby Cruise was wearing blue underwear. Yeah. King joined the commentary team when he finished.
Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata, Hirooki Goto, Jay Lethal & Jeff Cobb defeated Bully Ray, Shane Taylor, Silas Young & The Briscoes
This was a good fan-service match, like something you’d see on NJPW World, not HonorClub. It had the same feel and followed a similar layout.
Fans threw streamers into the crowd during the entrances. Lethal and Jay Briscoe were in first and had a solid opening exchange. Goto and Mark Briscoe were in next.
Lots of people chanted for Kojima when he tagged in. Bully Ray screamed at him for a while until Kojima screamed “SHUT UP!” back at Ray. Ray has the loudest voice in pro wrestling, maybe. It’s a blessing.
Nagata tagged in and Ray tagged out to Young. It was pretty similar to how they worked a few nights earlier on the tour.
The action in this was hard-hitting, slow and steady. Seeing Taylor in the ring next to Bully Ray makes it easy to see that, in many ways, Taylor is like a modern version of Bully Ray. Both are aggressive and loud, they’re roughly the same size, and they seem to be able to work with anyone in a variety of styles.
Kojima and Ray got into it again later on in the match. Ray never seems lost when he’s in the ring with foreigners, which might be Goto’s big issue, always good but always a bit hesitant in the ring out of his comfort zone.
The heels cornered Cobb and worked him over. After a couple of minutes, Cobb was able to deadlift Taylor with a German suplex. He tagged out to house-of-fire Kojima, who landed a massive Koji Cutter on Ray for two.
Nagata took out Young with an exploder suplex. Nagata was then taken out by Jay Briscoe with a dropkick, and Jay was taken out by Cobb with a spinning back suplex. Ray snuck in the ring and landed a big back suplex of his own on Cobb.
Mark Haskins ran out to the ring at this point and stole Ray’s chain. Cobb then did a big tope con giro to the floor, and Kojima landed a lariat on Ray to win the match.
This was good and all, though it’s a shame that the World title match didn’t go on last instead.
Final thoughts --
This was a very watchable show, but the shining star match was Taven vs. Haskins, for sure. The finish was what it was, and it might have done more harm than good to both Haskins and Taven. That’s something we can only judge when ROH is given a fair chance to tell the rest of their story.
The other standout from tonight was the four corner survival match. Rush shined, PJ Black has been on a roll since last month pretty much, and both Williams and Isom looked better than ever.