ROH: 13th Anniversary Show Review
Live on PPV from Las Vegas, Nevada on March 1st, 2015.
1) Cedric Alexander vs. Matt Sydal
What an opener! This was everything an opening match should be and much, much more. The crowd was super hot and Alexander & Sydal matched their hype by delivering a balls to the wall encounter that brought everyone in the place to their feet. It wasn't just a fast paced opener as it didn't feel rushed, these two got close to 10 minutes I'd say and they certainly made the most of it. When I saw that this match was going on first, I was kinda disappointed because I felt they wouldn't get the chance to show what they could truly do in this spot on the card, but I was dead wrong because this was awesome. I hope we see these two lock up with even more time again soon. I'd love to see what they could do when given the time to tell a story. This was great for what it was.
Match rating - ***1/2
2) Mark Briscoe vs. Moose
I've been meh on Mark Briscoe for some time although I'm always entertained by his matches. This match was the perfect example. It's not something worth going out of your way to see, but he and Moose delivered a very fun encounter. There were several crazy dives & maneuvers from Mark and Moose looked like an absolute beast, just how he should. After the match, Mark offered to shake Moose's hand however Veda didn't allow him to do so. I think we are on the verge of a Moose face turn or something. Big win for him here even though I didn't realize it at the time.
Match rating - **3/4
3) Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian vs. Matt Taven & Michael Bennett vs. Karl Anderson
No, there's not a typo in that match listing. Karl Anderson went it alone here as his Bullet Club partner Doc Gallows was unable to make the flight due to weather. It sucked because this match was still really good and I can only imagine how it would've been with all the participants. However, the key part in my previous sentence as that this was still a highly entertaining match despite Doc's absence. Great tag team wrestling all around and an intriguing case of possible foreshadowing as Taven & Bennett pinned Karl Anderson with an assisted piledriver move similar to The Young Buck's. Another group of young stars get a big win here. Good match.
Match rating - ***1/4
4) Roderick Strong vs. BJ Whitmer
This is a match that had a significant amount of backstory, however I just couldn't get fully invested. Roddy has been at his best recently, but a match with Whitmer just seems like nothing more than ROH prolonging his eventual rise back to near the top of the card. Atleast I hope so. None the less, this was a nice throwback of sorts considering how long both guys have been in Ring of Honor. With that being said, I didn't mind this bout at all despite not being interested in it. Whitmer dominated the middle portion of the match and Roddy came back fast & furious to pick up the win. Simple story, solid match.
Match rating - **1/2
5) ODB (w/ Mark Briscoe) vs. Maria Kanellis (w/ Michael Bennett)
This may as well have been a mixed tag match because Briscoe and Bennett played big parts in this encounter. First things first though, Maria has been brilliant in this entire angle. Her promo skills were really impressive, pre-match and even right at the start of the match itself as she said she was pregnant as a way of distracting ODB allowing Mike Bennett to superkick her. Mark Briscoe soon runs down for the save and that was the start of pure chaos. ODB slamming Maria into the railing, Bennett accidentally kicking Maria, ODB & Mark doing the doomsday device move on Bennett. It was just a ton of fun and I enjoyed WAY more than I expected.
Match rating - **1/2
6) AJ Styles vs. ACH
My biggest draw in ordering this PPV was this match and ReDragon/Bucks so I was pretty hyped for this one to finally go down. Admittedly, this was not the match I expected these two to have. It wasn't spotty, there weren't a ton of false finishes, it didn't have a repetitive format. It was unique and told a great story while also delivering the one of a kind action that you can only get from The Phenomenal One and the most underrated guy in ROH. The aforementioned story was that of the newcomer trying to outshow the veteran and use that to defeat him. This was displayed by ACH mocking AJ in the early going and repeatedly going for flashy moves during the course of the match only for Styles to find a way to shut him down. ACH would hit one big move, look at the crowd, go for another - Styles counters. It just seemed ACH could never fully string enough momentum together to put Styles away despite putting in a valiant effort. I loved this match and the show of respect afterwards with both guys hugging it out was awesome.
Match rating - ****
7) ReDragon (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) - ROH World Tag Team Title Match
Pardon me while I catch my breath and try to figure out where to start. This match was absolutely amazing. In one statement - it blew my mind. After having three classic matches, one of which was the unanimous vote for ROH Match of the Year in 2014, these two teams collided again here and somehow managed to top themselves. I honestly believe this may have been their best match yet. At the least, it's every bit as good as their previous encounters. I just love how they never have the same bout. They always come up with new spots, new counters, new ways to format things, etc. I could try and list all the insane action that took place here, but I would likely fail and forget a ton of stuff so I'll just name some moments that stood out - O'Reilly locking Matt in a triangle choke on the ropes whilst Nick dove over him onto Fish on the outside and proceeded to superkick O'Reilly in the head to break up the hold, The Bucks hitting the tandem tombstone piledriver on O'Reilly on the OUTSIDE of the ring, Matt going for a splash off the ropes and getting caught in the triangle choke by Kyle, and of course, a ton of superkicks. As said before, I'm sure I forgot a ton of stuff, but it shouldn't matter because this is a match you should go out of your way to see! I could have done without the ref shenanigans, but that's a MINOR gripe. This was awesome, check it out if you missed it. Another classic between the two best tag teams in the world today.
Match rating - ****1/2
8) Jay Lethal vs. Alberto El Patron - ROH World TV Title Match
Jay Lethal is one of my favorites right now. This whole "Greatest First Generation Wrestler" and "The True Face of Ring of Honor" thing works greatly for him. Surprisingly, he, the heel, got a really good reaction. Alberto did too though, there was a smidgeon of boos for both. This match wasn't quite as good as I expected it to be although they did deliver a solid encounter. I think what took away from it for me was the slight overbooking with Truth Martini interfering. The match was beginning to reach it's climax when Truth jumped in and El Patron locked him in the cross arm breaker. As soon as he jumped in, it's look my interest for this one sunk. These two are too good for that kind of stuff. Let them tell the story. I understand Jay's a heel, but that's the point, HE is the heel and he's a damn good heel, let him put that on display. Other than that, all the little things that these two men do so well were put on display such as Lethal selling his arm until the very end of the bout by going for the Lethal Injection and collapsing. This was a good match if you can overlook the interference from Truth near the end.
Match rating - ***1/4
Samoa Joe returns to Ring of Honor
Talk about a mark out moment! I legitimately jumped out of my seat when I saw Joe's name and face appear on the screen. He has been floundering in TNA for quite some time and when he entered the ring here, he had a whole new vibe to him. It's crazy. The crowd was going nuts and Joe proceeded to deliver an intense promo that got me hyped on the future he has in his ROH return. This was a phenomenal moment and one that I'm sure will be looked back on for years to come. Welcome home, Joe!
9) Jay Briscoe vs. Michael Elgin vs. Tomasso Ciampa vs. Hanson - ROH World Title Match
The negative trend of this evening's PPV became overbooking when this match featured a lot of it. Let's start with the positives though because this match was very entertaining. You had hard hitting, brutal action and even a wild spot or two in the form of Briscoe getting a piledriver through a table off the apron by Elgin. Speaking of Elgin, he went crazy here and even delivered a chairshot to the head, but before he could go for another one, Nigel McGuinness stopped him. This led to a Ciampa/Nigel confrontation which was cool however it led to a crappy finish with Briscoe simply landing on a fallen Ciampa for the three count. Bad finish to a match that was entertaining, but had a ton of interference. The KRD made it's first big presence here which was really cool and I actually think it was the one bit of interference that should have happened. They did moves that belong to the likes of Matt Hardy, Taven & Bennett, and The Young Bucks which leaves everyone asking questions so kudos to them for that. I just feel like all that stuff took away from this match because things were going very well and much like the Lethal/Patron match, this could have been much better had the interference been saved for a different part of the match. Hell, keep the interference, just don't have that dumb finish. Jay Briscoe is seemingly going into a feud with Samoa Joe, don't make him look weak! He's been undefeated for two years and in kayfabe, this may be the weakest he's looked since then and now is ironically when he needs to look strongest. So, in conclusion, there's a good bit to complain about in this main event, but in the end, I was entertained by everything so that counts for something too, right?
Match rating - ***1/2
Overall thoughts: I was going to say that this was the best PPV that ROH has done since returning to PPV however the reoccurring trend of overbooking almost makes me want to take that back. I don't want to beat a dead horse so I'll sum everything up like I did in my review of the main event, there were a lot of questionable booking choices that may have held a few matches back from being as good as they could have, but this was easily the most entertained I've been by any of the three PPV's Ring of Honor has done. It was the most consistent as well. There was never a dull moment. The opening match was HOT, the bout that followed continued that trend, triple threat tag was filled with action, Roddy & Whitmer settled their differences, ODB & Maria had a crazy encounter that also involved their counterparts, ACH & AJ Styles provided us with a great piece of fantastic wrestling storytelling, ReDragon & The Young Bucks had another insane MOTY candidate bout for the tag team titles, Lethal & El Patron put the little things in pro wrestling on display (despite the interference), and the main event was wild & hard hitting. There weren't any complete duds and I feel like my money was well spent, even with this PPV being $10 more than the last one. With that being said, this is a show I'd recommend checking out. Sure, some things could have been done better and I feel like this could've went down as one of the best ROH shows in recent memory if the TV & World Title matches hadn't been riddled with overbooking & a weak finish. But as mentioned several times before, the bottom line is that this was an extremely entertaining show with two must-see matches so I'd say it was a success.
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