Sunday, July 21, 2024

RVD & Sabu vs. Lucha Brothers

Rob Van Dam & Sabu vs. Lucha Brothers (Fenix & Pentagón Jr.) - Impact Wrestling United We Stand 4/4/19 – 5

I was in attendance at ECW Heat Wave ’98 when Sabu & RVD faced off against Hayabusa and Jinsei Shinzaki. Then again, I was also in attendance (in the same city, conversely) for WWE vs. ECW Head To Head an all but forgotten TV special that aired live on 6/7/06 and saw RVD work the opener versus Rey Mysterio, and Sabu headline against John Cena. Needless to say, I have a vested interest in their extreme pairing, and seeing them trotted back out in 2019, nearly 20 years after I saw them live light the wrestling world aflame against the invading FMW team, caught my attention. Lucha Brothers were all the buzz in 2019 having been two of the biggest stars to materialize out of (sorely missed) Lucha Underground. They took their act across the globe showing up in PWG, AAA, AEW, APW, IWRG, AIW, AAW, MLW, wXw, and dozens of smaller lucha organizations. And now they were set to main event against the scarred, stoned, and semi-retired duo of RVD & Sabu. Cero Miedo, indeed!

Awesome ring gear by the Lucha Brothers. Kind of new age shiny samurai outfits. Pentagón’s was dark and purple like if Ivan Ooze and Super Shredder melded. Fenix was resplendent in gold and would have fit in snuggly with Chikara during the How to Hatch a Dinosaur era. I got worried when I looked at the remaining duration of the show and saw we only had about 8 min. left. 

Melee to begin. I forgot that I dig Sabu’s punches. Sabu tossing chairs like his ringside valet Super Genie does salads. Spot where Sabu on his knees waits ever so patiently for the Lucha Bros. to simultaneously kick him – looked like he was sitting in a dentist office waiting room thumbing through an issue of Highlights. Wonder if RVD ever smoked out with Jeff Hardy and classified himself as obsolete? You absolutely had to get the dual flying leg drops from opposite corners by Sabu & RVD through a table both Lucha Bros. were splayed on and they delivered with zeal. 

Finish saw Pentagón hit his Fear Factor package pildriver on Sabu with an assist from Fenix spiking it with a flying stomp off the top. Look I’m giving this a “5” on the famed NHO scale but with some caveats. In terms of its actual “worth” it’s no great shakes. But a “4” was the ceiling for a lot of those 4 min. 2005 Raw matches I’d jot notes on in the infancy of NHO. Didn’t feel right going that low. But couldn’t go any higher and it earned its score almost exclusively on vibes.  This was a compelling match on paper and the super abbreviated version we got of it was gleeful and stupid in equal, loving measure. Didn’t love Sabu taking a clean pinfall in a < 9 min. main event match; kind of like seeing Third Eye Blind live and shrugging after, “at least they played Semi-Charmed Life” and driving home thinking about where you were going to go on lunch breaks that week at work and all that Mid-Atlantic you still need to watch on Peacock.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Kiana James vs. Dana Brooke

Kiana James vs. Dana Brooke (WWE Main Event 10/27/22) – 2

Kiana rocking the business casual attire with the pinstripes and briefcase. Hope she’s clocked in because it’s time to work! James targets the arm early. Dana Brooke action figures are in abundance at my local Target. Nobody racing out for those. Brook hits a flipping neckbreaker for the victory with all of the panache and grace of a drunk fan falling down the stadium stairs at a football game.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Ring of Impact #8 - Epilogue

Are you ready for some more Ring of Impact? I don’t need a Gom jabber test (for you Dune fans out there) to surmise the answer.
Folks, it’s been real, and it’s been fun, and dare I say it, it’s been real fun? But just like Khabib Nurmagomedov and Jonathan Majors I’m getting out while I’m ahead. I’m guilty of the accusation of long-windedness (just revisit this projects’ own prelude mission statement) but I’ll try not to overindulge here. In short, I’m closing down the Ring of Impact project, in so far as an ongoing chronicling done via blog. I will be continuing to watch all of (I haven’t done the math but quick estimate I just tabulated is over 1500+ hours) TNA and Ring of Honor’s shows from 2017 to present in my own free time. In fact, I’ve already plowed through a dozen or so more shows.
Here's some notes on stuff I’d typed up for future editions – get them while they’re hawt:
TNA Xplosion #650 3/4/17
Robbie E vs. Marshe Rockett – 2
“Khaki suits, locs, chokes the grokest sacs / Got your drug cause you sprung on the gangsta mac” – from U Couldn't Deal Wit Dis by South Central Cartel
TNA Xplosion #652 3/18/17
ODB vs. Lauren Van Ness – 2
Another episode of Xplosion mysteriously missing from TNA+. Had to play Sherlock too as listings online made it a task to figure out what actually aired on this particular date. Watched this one outside my kids’ school because I’m a pro wres fiend. Didn’t know ODB still popped up on occasion. Laurel was still wearing smeared lipstick and chugging a bottle of bubbly after Braxton Sutter stood her up at the alter on Impact a while ago. Ugly finish as Van Ness appeared to land awkwardly on an ODB Samoan Drop that almost broke her arm.
TNA Xplosion #716 6/9/18
Fallah Bahh vs. Caleb Konley – 3
Only 2018 episode of Xplosion that is mysteriously missing from TNA+. Found it on the interwebz. Billed at 425 lbs. and wearing a pair of Yokozuna’s hand me down trunks nice to watch the big guy roll all over Konley. Caleb is accompanied by Trevor Lee who interferes liberally. Lee also holds a leg from outside to allow Konley the tainted victory.
TNA & WrestlePro Brace for Impact 2018 (Twitch) 2/9/18
1. Chris Avery Queling, Delroy & Habib from the Car Wash vs. Reality Check (Chris Steeler, KM & Talon) – 1
2. Colby Covington vs. Tyquil Woodley – 0
3. Chris Payne & Matt Sydal vs. Heavenly Bodies (Desirable Dustin & Gigolo Justin) – 2
4. Shawn Donovan vs. Moose – 2
5 Allie & Braxton Sutter vs. Nikki Adams & Nikos Rikos – 3
6. Teddy Hart vs. Bobby Wayward – 5
7. Eli Drake vs. Matt Macintosh vs. Anthony Bowens – 3
8. Alberto El Patron vs. Fallah Bahh – 5
9. Dan Maff vs. Johnny Impact – 6
Average Score: 3
(Editor’s Note: I'd jumped ahead and started working on this, the first Twitch special from 2018, because I was under the impression the only way I could watch it was on the Twitch mobile app on my phone. Then partway through I noticed TNA+ had added a section containing all the Twitch specials.)
We’re coming from what I always think of as the home of JAPW none other than the Rahway Recreation Center in Jersey. Opener is just the drizzling indie shits. CAQ is rocking a modern Norman the Lunatic gimmick and riding a two-year unbeaten streak. Habib the Car Wash Attendant is just … why? What are we even doing here? KM we know from his TNA appearances and does loud-mouthed heel shtick adequately. But this certainly wasn’t a good first look at WrestlePro. I’m actually a big follower of UFC but I did not need this “segment”. Colby’s MAGA shtick has lost any modicum of cultural cache, him stooging on Tyrone (or “Tyquil”) would be fine for a bit on a UFC pre-show or weigh-in special, but eating up time on a wrestling show was dispiriting. Dustin and Justin are about one-tenth the talent Jimmy Del Ray ever was. Sydal was kept on the apron. Real bad. Actively worst match I’ve seen of Moose’s and I’m a fan legit.
Nikki & Nikos working Grecian gimmick and all I could think about was Rikos’ outrageous attire looked like a Greece flag themed version of Super Mario Bros. 2 enemy character Phanto. Surprised to see featured TNA act Allie & Braxton take the loss here. Wayward was supposed to work Eddie Edwards who came out in street clothes and handpicked his replacement Teddy Hart. If Hollywood ever wants to make a movie about Hart’s exploits, they’ve got to hire Colin Farrell to play him. The resemblance is uncanny. Ironic Wayward is in pink and black gear. Bobby didn’t look bad, and Hart hit a few gross moves I liked. Weird seeing Drake who’s prominently in the TNA World title picture in a bland three-way. Weirder still that he didn’t win the match. Hadn’t seen Patron work in a while. Usually when people do those mounted punches, where you’ve got your opponent against the turnbuckles and you’re standing on the 2nd rope firing them down, they’re as weak as an Applebee’s $1 cocktail – but I like how Alberto really snapped them off and made simple strikes look nasty. I think Maff is still underrated to this day and is legit a top 20 2000’s indie guy, just has a harder resume to flaunt since a lot of it was on East coast indies and not the big spotlight feds.
Who won?
We all did. I hope you were entertained if you took the time and followed along the journey. Brief as it ended up being. Or if you discovered it long after and read it for the first time. In closing, I’m paying for Honor Club and TNA+ out of my own pocket, so my endorsement is mine alone, but if you have any interest in either (or both) I strongly recommend them. For mere shekels a month you can have access to HUGE back catalogues of footage accessible with a single click on a remote. And while I’ll no longer be writing about my journey I’m beyond stoked to continue watching along. I’ve done the research and can’t wait to see the various eras ahead: the pandemic no-fans events, the “end of an era” short-lived demise of ROH, then it’s rebirth at the hands and bankroll of Tony Khan, etc. I’m in for quite a treat. Thanks for looking and I encourage you to fully enjoy your own journeys, wherever they might take you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Ring of Impact #7

Back with some more of that RoI and we don’t mean Return on Investment … we’re talking Ring of Impact, BAY BAY~!
TNA Impact Wrestling #657 2/16/17
1. Brandi Rhodes & Moose vs. The Decay (Crazzy Steve & Rosemary) - 3
2. Kingston vs. Jessie Godderz - 3
3. Brooke vs. Sienna (w/Maria) - 2
4. Davey Richards vs. Eddie Edwards - Street Fight - 6
Average score: 3.5
Not a great show. Tons of pre-taped, backstage, and in-ring segments. There were several bits at Braxton Sutter’s bachelor’s party put on my Mike Bennett with a bunch of schlubs in a small apartment .. looked like those Nitro Parties that WCW would highlight sending Lee Marshall to college campuses where sausage fests were occurring with Nitro airing in the background on an old CRT set. Then there were several bits on the Broken Hardyz invading Tijuana and beating Psicosis and Super Crazy, Eli Drake and Tyrus’ friendship dissolving, lengthy in-ring interview where former Strikeforce and UFC vet Josh Barnett interrupted Lashley and challenged him, etc.
In-ring we didn’t get much. Brandi looked silly doing the “Moose” arm pump bit he and the crowd regularly do while she rifled off some of the worst punches in da biz, Kingston current ROH champ and recent champ in NJPW and AEW, losing clean as a sheet back then to a horrendous “flying forearm” the announcers called it, but looked the furthest thing from AJ Styles’ by talentless Godderz. Main event was payoff to last week’s major angle of Davey breaking up The Wolves and he and wife Angelina Love humiliating Edwards and his wife Alisha. Glad they gave it the Street Fight stip as this was a plain clothes brawl. Props to Eddie for taking page out of Richards’ old book and doing a suicide dive with such velocity he blew right over him and recklessly crashed into the first row of fans.
TNA Xplosion #648 2/18/17
Mahabali Shera vs. Eli Drake – 2
One of these guys would be main eventing major WWE shows within six years … and it wasn’t Mahabali.
Ring of Honor ROH TV #283 2/18/17
1. Silas Young (w/The Beer City Bruiser) vs. Bull James - 2
2. Colt Cabana vs. The Boys (Boy 1 & Boy 2) - Two On One Handicap Match - 1
3. Christopher Daniels (w/Frankie Kazarian) vs. Jay Briscoe (w/Mark Briscoe) - Decade of Excellence Final Match - 6
Average score: 3.0
Sometimes mood plays into how we interact with a piece of art. In a great mood and stumble upon Monet’s “Women in the Garden” (1866) at the museum you may be extra bewildered by its beauty. In an awful mood and stumble into a matinee of Scorsese’s The Irishman and you may be scornful and nonplussed. I was exhausted after a stressful evening at home, demanding puppy, dinner woes, kids sick, etc. and the “comedy” the first two-thirds of this show offered up were met with a leaden sigh by yours truly. Main event was good but not great, which is really only an issue because it was the finals of the Decade of Excellence tournament, so hopes were higher. Both guys had better matches in the semi-finals (Daniels with Sabin, Briscoe with Lethal) and this win is what secured Daniels a shot at the ROH World title at the upcoming 15th Anniversary Show which has been the company’s major storyline. The finish being an Angel’s Wings off of the top was pretty tight though.
Who won?
Doesn’t bring me pleasure to say this was a weak sauce week. I’ll give TNA the slight nod, tying us back up at (4-4), if only because the Edwards vs. Richards street fight was the best thing that aired.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Ring of Impact #6

We’re back with those fat stacks and White Castle ten sacks.
ROH Future of Honor – 1/20/17
Mike Orlando vs. Sonny Kiss – 4
Is this a rib? Slotting it in here in Feb. because I just stumbled upon this listing in what appears to be a one and done ROH trainees show airing on YouTube. It’s held inside a tiny gym with the only bystanders being other wrestlers who are all wearing their ring gear which is giving a very Beyond Wrestling vibe to the affair. Kiss is pronounced as “Wrestling’s Cheerleader” and from her Twitter account identifies as genderfluid and uses she/her pronouns. Mike Orlando looks like a long lost member of High Velocity the WCW team with neon green and black gear. This wasn’t bad! Arguably better than most of what I’ve seen on TNA Xplosion thus far. One unreal release German suplex by Orlando had the wrestlers at rindside go gonzo like they were just transplanted to Budokan Hall for an All Japan show.
TNA Impact Wrestling #656 2/9/17

1. Eli Drake & Tyrus vs. The Death Crew Council (Bram, James Storm & Kingston) - Three on Two Handicap Match - 3
2. Aron Rex (w/Rockstar Spud) vs. Robbie E - 2
3. Drew Galloway (c) vs. Mahabali Shera - IMPACT Grand Title Match - 3
4. Lashley (c) vs. Eddie Edwards - TNA World Heavyweight Title Match - 6
Average Score: 3.5
Wasn’t real keen on the opener which is heel versus heel already then Eli & Tyrus worked it at a handicap disadvantage? Are we supposed to be pulling for these two who’ve been booked perennially as bad guys? Who’s the agent that staged this wet diaper? I’m not sure what this Rex character is. There’s a history of a few guys who’s talent I’ve found supersedes their outrageously bad gimmicks and I’ve quietly championed such as WCW’s The Maestro or WWE’s Simon Dean. And part of me wants to think Aron is up for this task but this gimmick is just the bottom of the barrel. Is he supposed to be Adrian Street for the YouTube makeup tutorial generation? And the lipstick and eyeliner make him look more like a ventriloquist dummy than anything. Still loving heel Galloway. Main event was good action but memorable for major storyline explosion. Ringside was Eddie’s wife Alisha and his tag team partner Davey Richards’ wife longtime TNA Knockout Angelina Love. Ending saw Davey run out and drill Eddie splintering The Wolves and their long-running friendship. Then we cut to Angelina just blasting Alisha in the face with a hard shot in the first row. Davey and Love humiliate the Edwards’ in the center of the ring for the show close. Really well done.
TNA Xplosion #647 2/11/17
Laurel Van Ness vs. Deonna Purrazzo – 2
This is one of a few episodes of Xplosion mysteriously missing from TNA+ So I watched it in my car on Dailymotion in the parking lot at work because I’m clearly a deviant. I learned that Deonna has a degree to teach schoolchildren.
ROH TV #282 2/11/17

1. Matt Sells vs. Hangman Page - 1
2. Bobby Fish & Jay Lethal vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole & Cody) - 6
3. Mark Briscoe vs. Sal Rinauro - 3
4. Dalton Castle & The Boys (Boy 1 & Boy 2) vs. The Rebellion (Caprice Coleman, Kenny King & Rhett Titus) - 4
Average Score: 3.5
Real quick Page squash (74 seconds to be exact). BULLET CLUB vs. Lethal & Fish was the advertised main event but it spilled from the Hangman post-match into the next segment instead. Good stuff and nice to see Lethal finally getting a victory over the CLUB. I had no idea Sal Rinuaro was still around then and popped to see him. While he was never the bumping madman that Tony Mamaluke was, he was still always fun to watch. Got obliterated here. Main event was insignificant but not without some surface pleasures.
ROH The Experience 2017 – 2/12/17

1. The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) vs. The Tempura Boyz (Sho & Yohei) - 2
2. The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) vs. The Rebellion (Caprice Coleman & Kenny King) (w/Shane Taylor) - 4
3. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) - 7
4. Cody vs. Dalton Castle - 4
5. Bobby Fish & Jay Lethal vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole & Hangman Page) - Falls Count Anywhere Tag Team Match - 7
6. Kelly Klein vs. Scarlett Bordeaux - Grudge Match - X
7. Shane Taylor vs. The Beer City Bruiser vs. Jonathan Gresham vs. David Starr vs. Will Ferrara vs. Damian Martinez - Six Man Mayhem Match - 4
8. Marty Scurll vs. Lio Rush - Proving Ground Best Two Out Of Three Falls Match - 5
9. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) (c) vs. Cheeseburger, Chris Sabin & Jay Briscoe - ROH World Six Man Tag Team Title Match - 4
Average score: 4.6
This took place in Columbus, OH which had me curious as I’d been to approx. 20 ROH shows in nearby Dayton, and one in Cincinnati. The venue Express Live! (it’s since changed names again) upon research was formerly PromoWest Pavilion which I had been to once for a Tenacious D concert of all things.  The other note was this show “The Experience” was kind of like ROH’s answer to WWE’s Cyber Sunday (or Taboo Tuesday) where fans got to vote on certain aspects of the show, be it choosing opponents or match stipulations, etc. based upon polls. The other interactive element was in-between every few matches they’d bring out a wrestler and take live questions from selected audience members. Some of this was cringe but a little girl named Skyler almost stole the show with a great curt promo on the Rebellion. Somebody offer her a developmental contract.
First couple bouts were definitely on house show mode, but Bucks vs. War Machine stepped it up. I don’t know if I’d ever seen that pairing before and it’s a nice contrast with the fast-paced flying and tandem offense of the Bucks versus the brute strength, size and power of War Machine. Fun angle I’m surprised they sort of wasted here instead of for TV or a PPV where Dalton was doing his trademark entrance with The Boys worshipping him adorned in their Eyes Wide Shut masks etc. when Castle senses something if off with one of the Boys. One of these boys is noticeably taller and bigger than the other. He quizzically lifts off the larger of the Boys’ weird Mardi Gras mask to reveal none other than … CODY! Fun stuff and Rhodes used the surprise to almost score a quick pinfall but then Castle fought back, and we got a good singles here with Cody wrestling bare foot and in Boys’ attire.
The Falls Count Anywhere gimmick really elevated the BULLET CLUB tag. The made use of every nook and cranny of this venue. Felt more like a traditional ECW Arena wandering brawl than anything I’d seen in a long time. The Klein match was mysteriously absent from the Honor Club version of this show. Klein is from Fairfield a town I’ve lived either right near or in for most of my life and got to meet her briefly at an outdoor concert at a nearby park because her mom took my mom’s Yoga class and made the introduction. Would have liked to have been able to see that match. It brings me no great pleasure to say Starr who I was familiar with from wXw, CZW, etc. shined here, including an impressive delayed German suplex on the massive Beer City Bruiser, but he’s a pariah after the #SpeakingOut movement so I’ll say no more.
The fans voted on 2 Out of 3 Falls for the co-main event. If Rush wins, he gets a future shot at Scrull’s TV title. Here’s what I don’t like: they re-used the same bit from a show prior here. Scrull got himself disqualified intentionally by hitting Rush with his umbrella, betting on the odds that a bludgeoned Lio Rush would be easier to defeat as a result in the proceeding falls. At their last live event Honor Reigns Supreme (which we covered last time) Jay Briscoe did something similar in a 2 of 3 Falls match blasting the Young Bucks with a chair and sacrificing a fall as a result. Otherwise, good match, and cool to see Rush booked strong, going over and even getting a further leg up on Marty post-match by dodging an attack and hitting Scrull in the face with his own championship belt. I think the fans participating in the voting were ribbing us as Cheeseburger got the most votes of the ten or so guys in the poll. Then Sabin and Jay Briscoe had to do double-duty. I noticed Romantic Touch nearly made it into the 3rd slot. Nothing match save for a couple nice Kingdom combos on offense and Jay bleeding from the head.
Who won?
A strong episode of Impact could have really stolen this edition of Ring of Impact for TNA. But that didn’t materialize. ROH had a weaker than usual episode of TV, the add-on of that wonky YouTube trainee bout I discovered, and then an unfortunately mixed bag of a live event with my experiencing of The Experience. But besides the thrill of the implosion of The Wolves there was nothing on TNA’s side that could touch the highest highs of ROH’s best output from the week. Ring of Honor now takes the shaky lead at (4-3).

Friday, February 16, 2024

Ring of Impact #5

We enter into the 2nd month of the Ring of Impact project. This month sees the start of ROH premiere live shows into the mix. In the before times, we’d have to shuffle over to the merch table and plunk down $20 per disc for ROH live DVDs. Now they’re all streaming on Honor Club with a quick click. Will this be what ROH needs to pull ahead of TNA in the rankings once and for all?
TNA Impact Wrestling #655 Open Fight Night 2/2/2017
1. Lashley (c) vs. Brother Nero - TNA World Heavyweight Title Match - 7
2. Brooke vs. Sienna (w/Maria) - 3
3. Decay (Abyss & Crazzy Steve) (w/Rosemary) vs. The Death Crew Council (Bram, James Storm & Kingston) - Three on Two Handicap Falls Count Anywhere Match - 7
4. Drew Galloway (c) vs. Rob Ryzin - IMPACT Grand Title Match - IMPACT Grand Title Match - 2
5. DJ Z (c) vs. Trevor Lee (w/Gregory Shane Helms) -TNA X-Division Title Ladder Match - 4
6. Eli Drake (w/Tyrus) vs. Ethan Carter III - 2
Average Score: 4.2
Open Fight Night implies that some of those who won briefcases in the Race for the Case match a couple weeks back will be cashing in on their opportunities. Brother Nero is the first and wants Lashley’s TNA World title. Another in a series of really good Lashley matches. While Hardy is good in tag settings he really shines here as a solo guy.  Hardy is a great sympathetic babyface as he’s not afraid to kill himself out there. There were several big bumps in this one most notably Hardy taking a powerbomb on the steel ring steps. Sienna continuing to be dominant force in Knockouts division. Crazy Falls Count Anywhere bout between DCC and Decay. Love that stip. And similar to the Monster’s Ball match from last week’s episode involving Decay member Rosemary, this one had thumbtacks (Kingston got about 60+ embedded into his back), a barbwire board (Abyss took the bump on it), a dive from the 2nd tier of the stands, and a match-ending piledriver through a table that was bridged between the ring apron and guardrail that almost killed Crazzy Steve. 

Drew sarcastically challenges “this guy!” he proclaims as out walks generic Ryzin who gets squashed in the 1st round. DJ Z worked an injured wheel gimmick so held this back a bit but cool to see one of my personal faves Trevor Lee get the title. Main event, maybe it’s a me problem, but I fell asleep, rewound it, repeat multiple times, then even watched it again fresh the next morning and whatever they were going for just didn’t work. I didn’t fully understand the machinations of the plot but I think Tyrus wasted Eli's briefcase cash-in to beat up a street clothes wearing Ethan Carter? EC3 had this horrendously bad purple bruise painted on his hip that my daughter who was walking by even laughed at the preposterousness of.
ROH Undisputed Legacy 2/3/2017
1. Jonathan Gresham vs. Will Ferrara - 3
2. The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) vs. The Tempura Boyz (Sho & Yohei) - 3
3. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) (c) vs. Jax Dane & War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) - ROH World Six Man Tag Team Title Match - 5
4. Jay Lethal vs. Bobby Fish vs. Dalton Castle - 5
5. Romantic Touch vs. BJ Whitmer - 3
6. Keith Lee & Shane Taylor vs. The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) - 6
7. Cody vs. Donovan Dijak - 7
8. Jay White, Lio Rush & The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole, Hangman Page, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) - 7
Average Score: 4.9
Full length live shows! I think part of my investment in getting Honor Club and TNA+ was to catch up on all these ROH live events, honestly, and in TNA’s case their marquee pay-per-views, but really felt it’d be doing a disservice to not get fully immersed in the ongoing storylines etc. by following all the TV too thus here we are. I noticed afterwards I grade a bit on a curve. For TV comparatively I grade a bit higher. Live shows allow stuff to breathe and again, are really what I’m most excited to delve into, but since they have a bigger canvas I’m going to need to see stuff bypass basic to get higher, recommendable marks.
I think with these premiere live events it’s also noteworthy how they are as a whole. Because this isn’t dropping a choice single on Spotify or Bandcamp, this is releasing a whole record album and the expected way of experiencing it is playing it in full. I’ve often thought of wrestling shows in that manner like a music album or movie. They have ebbs and flows, but they are booked to give a fan a cohesive enjoyable singular experience. And this gives me a taste of where Ring of Honor was in that realm. Starts in a lower gear, gradually picks up, then ends with a full throttle drag down Main St.
Let’s look at some highlights. War Machine and Jax Dane who I was unfamiliar with but fits right in with those hoss’ and the Kingdom was good. Lots of high-impact offense and Kingdom bumping around well for the big brutes. Three-way held intrigue but wasn’t in slot to blow doors off and was surprised to see Lethal take the clean pinfall. The Romantic Touch match isn’t even listed on cagematch which is a rarity as I’ve never seen them get a listing wrong before. I really wanted to score Briscoes vs. Lee/Taylor even higher but the non-finish kind of popped that balloon. Great, physical stuff though and no surprise Keith Lee would break out in a big way in NXT in the near future. Dijak and Cody were the match/segment of the San Antonio show. I need to mention my two favorite moments. Late in the match Donovan powerbombed Rhodes over the guardrail into the first row of chairs. These were the hardest looking plastic chairs imaginable, like built for max stability and had zero give to them. I also loved the post-match sooooo much. Cody sat Dijak in a chair in the center of the ring, then got a running start, and swung a steel chair directly into his face Barry Bonds homerun style! This was so ’99 Rock/Mankind level and unnecessary and thus amazing.  Main event I may be slightly overrating. And I’m grappling with that. I’m going to be seeing a TONS of these big multi-men BULLET CLUB bouts in the next couple years. So, this style of bout may lose its luster but as a standalone match this is a hyperdrive hustle; Lio Rush actually stole the show with his blinding speed and reckless dives.
TNA Xplosion #646 2/4/2017
Andrew Everett vs. Davey Richards – 4
I liked this slightly more than the Richards vs. Kingston bout from Xplosion a couple weeks prior, but not enough here to push its score any higher.
Ring of Honor ROH TV #281 2/4/2017

1. BJ Whitmer & Damian Martinez vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) - 4
2. Joseph A'Gau & The Bruiserweights (Corey Hollis & John Skyler) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) - 3
3. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) (c) vs. The Tempura Boyz (Sho & Yohei) - ROH World Tag Team Title Match - 4
4. Chris Sabin vs. Alex Shelley vs. Jonathan Gresham vs. Donovan Dijak vs. Jay White vs. Lio Rush - ROH World Television Title #1 Contendership Six Man Mayhem Match - 5
Average Score: 4
For the sake of my sanity (only a few thousand shows to go – no big deal, right? Right?) going to trim some write-ups to more capsule reviews. Call me the Jonathan Rosenbaum of the wrestling cognoscenti. War Machine on my TV reminds me of seeing Steiners squashes back in the day. You know people about to get tossed around. Bucks and Boyz was nice appetizer – surpassing pretzel bites but not quite spinach artichoke dip. Main was constructed the week prior to give mean ol’ Marty Scrull a proper contender and Dijak came out the clear winner, but everyone got a chance to SHINE and we’re not talking that ’96 mental breakdown pianist flick.
ROH Honor Reigns Supreme 2017 2/4/2017
1. Dalton Castle vs. Donovan Dijak - 5
2. Andy Dalton & Rhett Titus vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) - 4
3. The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) vs. BULLET CLUB (Adam Cole & Cody)
4. Jay Lethal vs. Hangman Page - 4
5. Jonathan Gresham vs. Sho vs. Jax Dane vs. Will Ferrara - Four Corner Survival Match - 3
6. Bobby Fish vs. Lio Rush - 5
7. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) (c) vs. Jay White & The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) - ROH World Six Man Tag Team Title Match - 5
8. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) (c) vs. The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) - ROH World Tag Team Title Best Two Out Of Three Falls Match - 8
Average Score: 4.9
Good opener. Dawned on me ROH really embodies the puro style without parading it. Like in that opener you’ve got sick release Saito suplexes and stiff forearms exchanges. But its built organically into their overall in-ring presentation. It’s not ostentatious. Makes me think many took ROH for granted over the years because the in-ring work was so uniformly good over such a long span of time. First-time I’ve seen Dalton who works an angry small guy persona whose lack of fear may overpower his smarts, so think Crash Holly characterization but Pete Dunne in appearance. And sure enough, his bravado booked him and an unsuspecting Rhett Titus into a match with the massive War Machine.
Bit disappointed with the BULLET CLUB/Addiction tag. Cody was on absolute house show mode stopping proceedings dead in their tracks to do some heel 101 mic work crowd play. They’re building to main event of upcoming 15th Anniversary show being Christopher Daniels finally going for his 1st ROH World championship against Cole, yet Daniels goes down here clean to a random superkick? I thought that was more of a transitional move in the Club’s repertoire. Lethal and Page was better. Jay started the match out with six (!) consecutive suicide dives! Post-match Cody, Cole and Page are run off by the returning Addiction. Daniels cuts a weak go home promo basically calling the Bullet Club “poopy heads” or some such nonsense.
Sashaying through the back-half of this show to focus on the main event. They had an extra stip on the 2 out of 3 Falls bout where each individual fall had its own stipulation/rules. I liked how they played that out. Briscoes got the first fall then the announcer said over the PA, “The 2nd Fall will be contested under Lucha rules”. Jay was like “What’s lucha rules?” and bashed the Bucks with a steel chair to cause the immediate disqualification. Yes, that evened the score to 1-1 but the 3rd fall if needed was scheduled to be a No DQ match which led to the Briscoes’ advantage. This had all the stunts and superkicks you’d associate with the Bucks’ act, but the combined effort of both teams pushed this into something worthy of a main event slot.
Who won?
Looking at statistical data the average score per show was only marginally higher for Ring of Honor. But their tour through Texas with San Antonio and Dallas live events added a little more oomph to their offering this week. And even with a much bigger sample size, nothing on ROH was as bad as the worst aspects of Impact this week. So ROH ties it up at (3-3) on the overall scorecard. “Oh, radio, tell me everything you know” ;)

Monday, February 12, 2024

Ring of Impact #4

We’re closing out the first month of this head-to-head battle and I’m as amped as James Franco would be getting a “Welcome Back to Acting” Cameo recorded by Ric Flair after an all-night bender in Gary, Indiana.
Impact #654 Genesis 2017 1/26/2017

1. The Broken Hardys (Brother Nero & Matt Hardy) (c) vs. Decay (Abyss & Crazzy Steve) (w/Rosemary) vs. The Death Crew Council (Bram & Kingston) (w/James Storm) - TNA World Tag Team Title Three Corners Match - 5
2. Drew Galloway (c) vs. Moose - IMPACT Grand Title Match - 5
3. Rosemary (c) vs. Jade - TNA Women's Knockout Title Monster's Ball Match - 6
4. DJ Z (c) vs. Caleb Konley vs. Marshe Rockett vs. Andrew Everett vs. Trevor Lee (w/Gregory Shane Helms) - TNA X-Division Title Five Way Match - 4
5. Eddie Edwards (c) vs. Lashley - TNA World Heavyweight Title 30 Minute Iron Man Match - 8
Average score: 5.6
Genesis and several of the other original TNA pay-per-view spectaculars get demoted at some point to televisions specials. Liked Broken Hardyz getting entangled into the ongoing Decay and DCC feud. Something has really clicked on these Grand Championship bouts. Instead of utilizing the round system to stretch things out what we have gotten instead are these short 3 min. (rounds) bursts of hard-hitting offense. Moose has exceeded my expectations stringing together great combos and even seen here popping off a second buckle moonsault! Really liking vile Drew too. Jade and Rosemary are arguably my picks for top two in the Knockouts division at that time. So I was into this, and it being a Monster’s Ball with thumbtacks, tables, and a few sick barbed wire board spots made it even more delectable. If surprised by my lower score on the X-Division bout, which is sort of my jam, know it’s because it barely hit 4 minutes. Still got some sick dives ‘natch.
I wouldn’t have pegged myself for being a mark for the heavyweight title scene when I jumped into this project but this first month of 2017 they’ve been delivering the goods. It may be hard to believe with what we see today of Lashley in tepid mentor role with Street Profits in WWE, but he was in amazing shape here, still as muscular as ever, but much more slim, and seemingly always down to work his butt off. And you may want to grab your lunch pail because these boys went to work! 30 min. bomb fest I won’t detail blow-by-blow but so much good stuff. The biggest highlight being perhaps my favorite moment in all of January ’17 when Lashley unearthed a scorching powerbomb on the entrance ramp! He lifted him so high like a Razor’s Edge almost then just dropped him dead weight and Edwards’ carcass bounced disturbingly. Real cool finish, Lashley was pretty much passing out unconscious in a submission when the bell rang, so despite him being a dead man walking he still won the Iron Man by one fall and reclaimed the TNA World title. Awesome stuff.
TNA Xplosion
1. Bobby Lashley vs. Mahabali Shera (Ep. #642 1/7/17) – 3
2. Jessie Godderz vs. Bad Bones (Ep. #643 1/14/17) – 5
3. Davey Richards vs. Kingston (Ep. #644 1/21/17) – 4
4. Spud vs. Mahabali Shera (Ep. #645 1/28/17) – 3
Average Score: 3.8
So little shake up of sorts here. My goal was to review all available TNA and ROH footage from 2017 until present day, lo and behold around February 1st an Xplosion section appeared on the TNA+ service. I’m like 90% sure it wasn’t there a few days prior as I’d been on there pretty much daily since I launched this project unless I miraculously missed it. Anyway, I’m adding Xplosion, their weekly show into the festivities here. Xplosion usually only features one original match (we’ll see a brief period later in ’17 when they’d feature two bouts). In the future I’ll have it chronologically placed with the other shows, but since this was a late last min. add I’m dumping all of January’s Xplosion stuff into this edition of Ring of Impact.
Shera, an Xplosion regular if ever there were to be one, featured twice. Lashley walked him around the ring leading him through a forgettable bout, but the Spud encounter at least had the bonus morsel of Shera stealing away Spud’s ridiculous Sgt. Pepper’s hat and wearing it. I’ve got to recommend this Bad Bones match. Never heard of this guy. He looks like an overstuffed sausage version of Perry Saturn fresh from a biker bar. And he kicked the ever-loving crap out of Godderz! This was presumably a Godderz squash yet Bones took easily 85-90% of the offense and he laid his stuff in. Just blistering Jessie with stiff forearms and errant kicks to the stomach. On paper this match meant the least to me of any all month yet I have a feeling it’ll be one of the ones I remember most clearly into the future. Richards vs. Kingston at one point would have been kind of an Indy dream match, no? ROH vs. Chikara? PWG vs. CZW? But this wasn’t it. Enjoyed watching Kingston selling (as I always do), less so Richards barely clearing Eddie on a leapfrog.
Ring of Honor ROH TV #280 1/28/2017

1. Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara vs. The Tempura Boyz (Sho & Yohei) vs. Coast 2 Coast (Leon St. Giovanni & Shaheem Ali) - ROH World Tag Team Title #1 Contendership Three Way Match - 4
2. Marty Scurll (c) vs. Juice Robinson - ROH World Television Title Match - 5
3. Jay Lethal vs. Jay Briscoe - Decade Of Excellence Semi Final Match - 7
Average Score: 5.3
Honor Club was down for a day and I was having withdrawals. Glad to be back. Opening tag three-way was all go all the time which can usually be fun. Young Bucks came to ringside to join on commentary. I know their shtick isn’t for everybody. But they were very good here doing some of the old Two Dudes with Attitude (HBK & Diesel) nonchalance. Post-match they enter the ring and say “we were just over there doing some sweet color with Kevin Kelly” which got a chuckle from me, then let those Tempura Boyz know they’d deemed that victory title-shot worthy and would see them next week. Juice is known for his New Japan tenure, and I think he’s really absorbed that style and implements it well wherever he performs. You’d think it’d be power and explosiveness from Robinson against cunning and deviousness from Scrull, which while true, Marty was laying in stuff too. Love how recklessly Juice flies into the metal barriers around ringside. Jay and Jay have a lot of history. I was literally just watching a month or so ago at random Best in the World ’15 I believe it was? And they were in the main event and both of their sets of parents were there in the crowd. Very cool main event program they had. So, while this is a compact version of the hits, they still sound pretty groovy like some CCR popping up on the Waffle House jukebox at 2:13A when you’re chowing down on those smothered, covered, diced, chunked hashbrowns.
Who won?
It’s not a real wide margin, but I’ll say TNA nudged out the victory this week, bringing us to a (2-2) tie in weekly rankings. The Xplosion stuff didn’t really harm or help TNA’s cause much on this entry. But the strength of their Genesis edition of Impact cemented the victory.
Who won the month?
I’d thought about making this its own post every time I finish a calendar month but think I can be succinct in my summary. It’s surprisingly, to my eyes, really quite neck and neck, so to speak. As predicted, ROH’s in-ring constituency is unparalleled, as even the “minor” matches were good. They had that great Cody promo on 1/14 and the 1/21 episode was the single best episode of TV all month with an average match score of 7. But I’m going to give the slight lean to TNA making it (3-2) as move into February 2017. My memories of this era of them on Pop TV was faint and not entirely favorable. While the shows could rightfully be called zany (tons of “Broken” Matt Hardy’s eccentric promos, Laurel Van Ness on awkward date with Braxton Sutter, etc.) and not everything sticks, they’ve been entertaining as hell and the big deciding factor were those big heavyweight showcases like the Last Man Standing and Iron Man matches we got. Genuinely surprised at how good that stuff was. I’m only a month into this years-long project and absolutely loving it! I hope you all are too.