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ROH State of the Art results: Defy or Deny match

Quick results --

  • The Allure (Mandy Leon & Angelina Love) w/ Velvet Sky defeated Notorious Nattie & Mazzerati in a dark match
  • Tracy Williams defeated Bully Ray in a no DQ match
  • Mazzerati defeated Danika Della Rouge
  • Mark Briscoe defeated Josh Woods
  • Jeff Cobb defeated PJ Black
  • The Bouncers (Beer City Bruiser & Brawler Milonas) defeated The Kingdom (Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan), Rush & Dalton Castle, Coast 2 Coast (LSG & Shaheem Ali), Silas Young & Shane Taylor, and the Voros Twins in a tag team gauntlet match
  • Jay Lethal defeated Jay Briscoe
  • ROH World Champion Matt Taven defeated Flip Gordon, Mark Haskins, and PCO in a Defy or Deny match

Ring of Honor's State of the Art mini-tour came to Portland, Oregon on Sunday night, marking the company’s first-ever appearance in the city. I had the privilege of covering the show in person from PSU’s Viking Pavilion.

I was told by event staff that the approximate gate was 600. Viking Pavilion’s max capacity is 3,000.

The Allure (Mandy Leon & Angelina Love) defeated Mazzerati & Notorious Nattie in a dark match

Fine match before the live stream began. Despite there only being a few hundred people in the building, the crowd was loud and sound carried extremely well in the venue.

The Allure had new ring gear tonight. They scored the win after Angelina Love landed a Botox Injection kick (yakuza kick) on Mazzerati after Velvet Sky sprayed perfume in Mazzerati’s face.

- The live broadcast kicked off after this. Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana were on commentary. The crowd was pretty wild for Cabana and chanted his name when he came out. Referee Todd Sinclair also got a surprisingly boisterous reaction. Someone even made a sign of support for him.

- Bully Ray came out before the show could properly kick off. He cut a promo on people in the crowd, said one guy looked homeless and insulted his wife, then explained that he wanted a match now because he wanted to get out of Portland as soon as possible.

Tracy Williams then came out with a trash can filled with wrestling weapons (e.g. a kendo stick, a lid, possibly another kendo stick, etc.). He challenged Ray to a no DQ match to the delight of the crowd. Before he gave Sinclair the go ahead to ring the bell, Ray low blowed Williams.

Tracy Williams defeated Bully Ray in a no DQ match

Ray abused Williams for a few minutes. He bashed Williams with a garbage can, then did a couple of suplexes and screamed “I invented Suplex City, [expletive]!” The crowd loved when Ray said that.

Williams made a comeback and put Bully Ray into a rope-assisted triangle choke/armbar. Ray came back soon, though, and laid into Williams with the kendo stick. Williams turned the tide by locking an iron claw onto Ray’s, uh, crotchal region.

When Ray missed a diving senton from the top rope, Williams slid Ray into a crucifix pin and won. Sinclair counted quickly because earlier on in the match Ray gave Sinclair a hard time for not counting fast enough.

Ray attacked both Williams and Todd Sinclair after the bell. Mark Haskins of Lifeblood came out to make the save but was put through a table for his efforts. The crowd seemed to love Haskins, but also chanted for Bully Ray after he used the table.

There wasn’t much to this. The crowd liked the violence and enjoyed screaming at Bully Ray, and he sure was in full effect. This wasn’t Heatwave ’98 levels of brutality, but the sentiment was harsh and heel-appropriate.

Mazzerati defeated Danika Della Rouge

This was short. Mazzerati was trained by Kenny King and has wrestled in China. Della Rouge has flame-pink hair and has trained at the NJPW Dojo in LA. She also took part in a WWE tryout in Orlando earlier this year and has only been wrestling for a year. Mazzerati won with a hard low roundhouse kick.

The Allure came out after the match and ambushed both wrestlers. They marked Della Rouge’s forehead in lipstick with their Allure logo.

After the match, Mandy Leon and Velvet Sky got into it with a fan in a cutoff shirt in the front row. From my perspective, it looked as though Leon threw a pulled punch or slap to intimidate the fan. A portion of the crowd went “Oooh.” Leon didn’t look happy. Velvet Sky then began pointing in the direction beyond the bleachers while jawjacking with the same fan, challenging him to get in the ring.

The fan went on social media after the show and explained that Leon spit on him. I didn’t see this, though a few other fans who attended have corroborated the aforementioned spitting.

Mark Briscoe defeated Josh Woods

Hard-hitting brawl with lots of stiff strikes. Woods, a BJJ black belt, won ROH’s 2017 Top Prospect Tournament. He was great here. Mark Briscoe was loudly over with the Portland crowd. Instead of shaking hands, Briscoe face-mushed Woods and the match was underway.

Woods used a number of Greco-Roman style suplexes, both in the ring and on the floor. He has a great knack for taking what looks good in real combat -- strikes, takedowns, suplexes, functional submissions -- and blends it into his in-ring work without it ever feeling forced or unnatural.

Briscoe relished the styles clash and went hard at Woods with equally stiff chops and elbows. The two brawled around the ring for a bit in the middle of this. Briscoe at one point did a diving elbow drop to the floor from the second turnbuckle.

At one point Woods even gave Briscoe a German suplex to the floor from the apron and both landed with a loud thud. The crowd ate that one up.

In the end, Briscoe teased using a chair in the ring. When referee Benjamin Roberts took the chair from Briscoe, he turned his back, which allowed for Briscoe to sneak in a low blow on Woods. Briscoe then landed a Froggy Bow from the top for the win. Good match.

Jeff Cobb defeated PJ Black

Cobb had a solid following in Portland. He’s been wrestling in the Pacific Northwest for a few years now, making appearances for both Seattle’s Defy and Vancouver, Canada's ECCW.

The match had an even tempo from the bell, lots of chess-wrestling early. Cobb later landed a beautiful dropkick, like almost Okada-level grace without the height, but still, what the hell? It’s amazing to see in person.

At one point when Black sprung off the top rope, Cobb caught him in mid-air, almost fell, then saved the spot, deadlifting Black from a powerslam hold to a vertical suplex hold. Big reaction from the crowd on that one. Black reversed the suplex into an inside cradle for two.

Later, when Cobb went for a standing moonsault, Black switched into a perpendicular position and caught Cobb in a Koji clutch submission. This was a really cool spot. Cobb inched his way to the bottom rope to break the hold.

Black later landed a nice flying double stomp and a springboard quebrada into the ring on Cobb for a count of two. It was here I noticed that the live stream started cutting in and out and it ended up missing good portions of this match. I assure you it was good.

The finish saw Cobb use a super German suplex from the top and followed with a regular German and then the Tour of the Islands swinging powerslam for the win. This was great live, but the streaming issues were disastrous.

The Bouncers won a tag team gauntlet match

The teams involved were: Silas Young & Shane Taylor, the Voros Twins, Rush & Dalton Castle, Coast 2 Coast, and The Kingdom (Vinny Marseglia & TK O'Ryan)

The Voros Twins and Taylor & Young were in first. The Voros Twins are skinny blonde kids from Canada by way of Hungary. The crowd wasn’t familiar with them but were supportive by the end of their time in the match. After Taylor landed his Greetings From 216 fire-thunder driver on one Voros, Young put both of them into an abdominal stretch at the same time and they tapped.

Taylor then brought a cigarette into the ring and lit it for Young, who took a few drags off it while still holding that double-ab stretch. Very nice touch.

There were more issues with the live stream early on in the match.

Next team in was the “wild card” team of Rush and Dalton Castle. Castle was very popular and got a loud reaction when he arrived. Rush’s charisma is somehow even more intense and striking live than it is on television, he and wrestled like there were 10,000 people in the audience.

Rush and Castle argued with each other before they started wrestling. The two worked well together even though I don’t think they’ve ever tagged before. They did quite a bit of smooth double-team work which I don’t think anyone expected. Castle’s suplexes looked great and his new aggressive heel character looks to be working well. The two did a nice knee-strike to German suplex combo at one point. Rush landed a wicked Bull’s Horn basement dropkick to Young to eliminate him and Taylor.

Coast 2 Coast (Shaheem Ali & LSG) were in next and wrestled with a lot of energy. When Rush had another chance to use the Bull’s Horns, Castle tripped Rush. Rush then attacked Castle and they brawled to the floor, then to the stage. Rush choked Castle with some lighting equipment near commentary. The two were then counted out and eliminated.

The Bouncers were in next. Riccaboni referred to Milonas as a “walking strip mall.” Some of the stuff he does, the way he moves, it makes you forget how huge he is. He’s really agile. Bruiser, too. The crowd was pretty into the team and chanted “beer” a lot. The Bouncers hit Closing Time (aka the Sidewinder used by the Smokin' Guns) on LSG to eliminate C2C.

Before this match, ROH staff carried Vinny Marseglia to the ring covered in what looked to be an old blanket. He waited under the ring and came out when The Kingdom’s music hit when TK O’Ryan walked to the ring. They had a short mini-match together, but the Bouncers won after Milonas hit a second rope superplex and Bruiser did a diving splash.

The Bouncers will get a future shot at the ROH Tag Team titles as a stipulation of winning here.

- Kenny King joined Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana on commentary for the next match.

Jay Lethal defeated Jay Briscoe

This was really good. It was a rematch from Final Battle 2015. Both received loud reactions, but Lethal got a superstar pop. Tons of streamers in the ring for him.

The two shook hands before the bell and the opening sequence saw some smooth and seamless counter-wrestling. Nothing at all felt rehearsed. These two have a unique chemistry together, and it now makes me want a best-of-three series between them instead of Lethal and Kenny King.

Briscoe got frustrated and teased using a chair. Lethal stopped the match and got on the mic to explain that Briscoe had changed since their match in 2015. He talked about the “real revolution” in wrestling and how ROH needed to get back on track and that instead of using a chair he needed to “man-up” and wrestle. The crowd was on board and so was Jay Briscoe after a moment.

Briscoe went back in the ring and they started with the fisticuffs, which I didn’t happen to see on the live stream because it kept cutting in and out again. If I didn’t happen to be in attendance I’d be here writing about the spinning ROH tribal logo.

Things heated up in and outside the ring after a few more minutes. Briscoe was bleeding above his eye but looked to be all right. Towards the end, just before Lethal would attempt a flying elbow drop from the top rope, Kenny King came to ringside to watch the match more closely and talk a bit of trash to Lethal, whom he beat on ROH TV this week in the first match of their best-of-three series.

Lethal was distracted and wasn’t able to land the elbow drop; Briscoe got his boot up, then hit a frankensteiner and a Jay Driller for a very close two. King then slid his folding chair in the ring for Briscoe to use. Briscoe considered using it but didn’t, but this cost him as he was caught with the Lethal Injection and then pinned for three.

King talked a lot of trash, but the sound on the stream cut out so I didn’t hear anything he said. Briscoe and Lethal shook hands after the match and it got a gigantic pop that you couldn’t hear on the live stream because the sound kept cutting out at key points.

ROH World Champion Matt Taven defeated Flip Gordon, Mark Haskins, and PCO in a Defy or Deny match

This was an elimination match. If Taven lost, the winner would receive a future shot at the ROH World Championship. If Taven won, the person he eliminated last would be unable to challenge for the World title for as long as Taven is champion.

ROH showed a Matt Taven promo beforehand. Ring announcer Bobby Cruise announced that due to injury Mark Haskins would not be competing because of an injury earlier in the night.

Everyone loved Gordon. People were stomping and banging the barricades for PCO when he came out. Taven got good heel heat.

After all three were in the ring, Haskins made his way out anyway, his arm in a sling, and grabbed the mic to say that he didn’t care that he wasn’t medically cleared because he desperately wanted Taven’s title. Riccaboni explained that Haskins had “signed a waiver” so that he could compete tonight. Riccaboni has been excellent at ad-libbing logical explanations on broadcasts, threading any of the bookers’ loose ends with a quick fix.

Taven was stellar in this match. He took “chickensh*t heel” to another level here, giving referee Todd Sinclair dozens of excuses on why he thought he didn’t have to get in the ring before the match was underway. Taven’s MO early on was to sneak a pin in on someone and roll out of the ring after a two count. He did this with both Gordon and Haskins. He jawjacked with the crowd a ton and even sat on a guy’s lap in the front row at one point.

PCO, Gordon, and Haskins all decided to triple-team Taven when they got him in the ring. They chopped him in the corner for a few minutes. Things then spilled to the floor and got crazy. Gordon powerbombed PCO to the floor from the apron, then Haskins did a tope suicida, followed by a huge Taven tope. The proverbial cherry on top was PCO moonsaulting himself onto the floor from the top, which garnered a massive reaction.

PCO did a double chokeslam and tombstone to all three wrestlers at one point. The Kingdom came out soon after and threw Taven a chair, but PCO grabbed it and used it on Taven instead, thus eliminating PCO from the match.

Before Taven pinned him a few minutes later, Haskins went on a last-minute tear and used a ton of power moves. He got a great reaction from the crowd.

Taven and Gordon had an exciting back and forth before Taven powerbombed Gordon through the announce table, which elicited a “holy sh*t” chant. Taven was later able to spike Gordon on his head with the Climax for the clean win. This was fantastic despite the sometimes convoluted rules of a Defy or Deny match.

After the broadcast finished, Taven got on the mic and called everyone virgins and said the next time he’s in Portland people can boo or cheer but it didn’t matter because he’s still Matt Taven.

Final thoughts --

This was a solid in-ring show with an enthusiastic crowd despite the embarrassing turnout.

Aside from a TV spot the day before, I saw zero advertisement for this card in town or on PSU’s campus. Some people even asked me what was happening at the venue before the show and had no idea it was happening, not even some of the lower echelon staff. This, plus the supposed menacing of a fan backstage by Bully Ray, could turn out to be the beginning of a very bad professional look for ROH in the coming months.