Ring of Honor 14th Anniversary (26/2/16) Review

Added by Luis Gonzalez

Preview

For the 2nd year in a row the ROH anniversary show is being held in Las Vegas, NV, but with a massive injection of talent from New Japan Pro Wrestling participating in various matches. This review will be different from my usual event reviews since I wasn’t able to take notes and it’s a day later. Instead we will be looking at my thoughts on these matches.

TRIPLE THREAT MATCH FOR THE ROH WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP: Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Roderick Strong vs. Bobby Fish

Good match to start off, but if I’m being honest I expected a bit more from this match. In retrospect it was a formulaic triple threat match where too often the action was kept to two entrants battling it out while one was on the outside of the ring. Ishii was the standout competitor here, he took every strike Fish & Roddy gave to him and dealt it back even harder. I’m a massive Bobby Fish fan, but he seemed a bit out of place in this match, ostensibly unable to keep up with Strong and Ishii in terms of their stiff strikes and sudden offense. Which is a shame since I expected his charisma and submission prowess to add another complexion to the original hard hitting match Roddy & Ishii had at Honor Rising last week. With Ishii as TV champ it will be very interesting to see how things progress with the title scene.

Winner: Tomohiro Ishii (c)

Grudge Match: BJ Whitmer vs. Adam Page

This was a case of a match suffering due to limited crowd interest. For what its worth BJ Whitmer has been apart of the best angle in ROH (aside from the Briscoe/Lethal build) for well over 2 years now with Steve Corino, and the Adam Page match was to be a semi-big payoff for the feud. But for some reason BJ Whitmer got the pin on Adam Page following a low blow, so it looks like this feud will continue as well.

Winner: BJ Whitmer

Hitooki Goto vs. Dalton Castle w/ the Boys

Dalton Castle came to the ring with an army of boys! The entrance felt all the more over the top, fitting the Vegas backdrop. Goto as always was the serious competitor, so he really did not play off Castle’s charisma. While Goto had a firm grip on the match Castle would come out of nowhere with offensive flurries where he showed off his freakish strength and underrated athleticism. At one point it looked like Castle was going to win after a Deadlift German Suplex, but Goto kicked out and was able to put him away eventually with his Shouten Kai. ROH missed a chance to give Castle a big victory. Goto was probably the worst person to pair him with since he doesn’t have the kind of personality needed to make such a match great. Good match, but could have been better.

Winner: Hirooki Goto

Alex Shelley vs. “Almighty” Christopher Daniels w/Kazarian

Another match the crowd really was not that into, and nor was I if I am being honest. Daniels had control of much of the match thanks to the constant interference of Kaz and this kept the pace slow and marauding. But it would be Alex Shelly who would pull out the win. Kaz & Daniels began a beat down on Shelly after the match when Sabin came to the ring, and instead of siding with The Addiction helped Shelly push them back. The Motor City Machine Guns are back together and ready to add to an already packed ROH tag division (meanwhile Dixie weeps)!

Winner: Alex Shelly

The Briscoes vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & ” Michael Elgin

Massive back and forth match where both teams went at it nonstop. At one point it looked as though the Briscoes would win after a DVD/Froggy Bow Combo on Tanahashi but he kicked out. Elign and Tanahashi would pick up the win after a Powerbomb/High Fly Flow Combo. Great match! Not enough can be said at how criminally underrated Mark Briscoe is, his athleticism and crazy spots are a marvel. At the same time, Tanahashi is practically working on one arm and a bad neck and still puts on show!

Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada w/ Gedo vs. Moose w/ Stokely Hathaway

There are two legitimate ways of looking at this match. On the hand, Moose has grown by such leaps and bounds and was able to stand tall with one of the best wrestlers in the world, with this match being better than it had any right to be. On the other hand, because of the growth of Moose and because Okada is one of the best wrestlers in the world the match can be seen as rather disappointing. I will say both men had the crowd very invested with their dueling arm thrust poses, and their war of dropkicks gave audiences big moments to cheer for. I did want more from the match since I considered Moose a standout performer of the Honor Rising tour, but it was still a good match. Okada picked up the victory following a Dropkick and a Rainmaker.

Winner: Kazuchika Okada

NEVER OPENWEIGHT SIX MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Young Bucks & “The Cleaner” Kenny Omega vs. Kushida, ACH & Matt Sydal

Massive reaction for the Bullet Club as Kenny Omega made his long awaited return to ROH. And what a way to start a match than by putting his broom on commentary and then nearly killing Matt Sydal with a German Suplex on the entrance ramp! All guys were moving at a nonstop high speed, the match was a pure adrenaline rush of high flying wrestling at its best! Kushida’s right hand is probably one of the best right hooks in wrestling, it always looks so impactful. The Bucks and Omega brought a good amount of Superkicks, while Sydal and ACH brought their own kicks and dives. As is the case with any Bucks match I can in no way call all of the spots performed. Matt Sydal got absolutely murdered in this match as he took the pin after getting hit with the Meltzer Driver/One-Winged Angel Combo (Fatality 2.0).

Winners: Bullet Club (The Elite)

NO DQ for the ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: War Machine (c) vs. the All Night Xpress

This match was absolutely ruined by a dead crowd. The previous match killed the live audiance, making this no DQ match seem as though it was uneventful, when in reality it was brutal! Rowe and Hanson dominated the early going, showing off their power by throwing around ANX. Weapons would be introduced and men would be thrown thru tables, ladders, and both teams kicked out of each other’s finishing maneuvers! But the crowd never reacted. War Machine would retain after hitting Rhett Titus with Fallout, continuing their powerhouse reign. At this rate War Machine may be one of the more underappreciated tandems in wrestling.

Winner(s): War Machine (c)

TRIPLE THREAT ROH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: Jay Lethal (c) w/ Truth Martini vs. Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly

As far as champions go, I can’t think of a more perfect person to represent a wrestling company than Jay Lethal. Tonight was another successful title defense for Lethal in convincing fashion, as he nailed Cole & O’Reilly with a double Lethal Injection to score the pin. At times it looked as though the match would dissipate in to a Cole/O’Reilly fight but Lethal was having none of it. Constantly injecting himself in to the fray, reminding them and the crowd who the champ was. All three worked well together, exchanging strikes and reversals so seamlessly. During one crazy moment O’Reilly had both Cole & Lethal locked in submission holds, and when Lethal’s arm was about to drop for the 3rd time from a ref check Cole kept it up to kept the match alive! Each man seemed as though they would win the match at different points, but Lethal came out on top like the dominate champ he has become.

Winner: Jay Lethal (c)

Final Thoughts

The underlying theme with this show is how underwhelming performances can put a damper on a card. I can’t say any match here was bad at all, but for the most part they were just good matches that really did nothing to generate further interest as far as feuds go. The main event was really good, and Jay Lethal appears in a class all his own in ROH. Kenny Omega & Dalton Castle may be the two most charismatic men in wrestling not named Shinsuke Nakamura, their matches will make you smile, laugh, pout, and cry tears of joy/sadness. But because this was on PPV and viewers had to shell out more money than usual the card has to be held to a higher standard. Overall I was disappointed with the show, the upcoming booking prospects for NJPW and ROH both seem rather dull in the coming months. I hope both can rebound from this show in time for their War of the Worlds tour in May.

MOTN: The Briscoes vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin

Wrestler of the Night: Jay Lethal

Personality of the Night: Dalton Castle

Final Rating: 6.5/10

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