Sunday, July 24, 2016
ROH TV Review - July 24th, 2016: A Must See Show
I say all this to say that today, I think that has changed and Kyle O'Reilly, Jay Lethal, and everyone involved in the final half of this week's ROH TV are to thank for that, if so.
I walked into the house a few hours ago and ROH TV was in the middle of it's airing for the week. In recent months, I would sit down and try to watch it only to get up to do something else or play with my phone the whole time. At first, I did the same. I pulled out my computer and was browsing then I heard Kevin Kelly explaining the story at hand. Kyle O'Reilly had a shoulder/arm injury that was given to him at the hands of the Bullet Club. He was supposed to face Jay Lethal in the main event tonight for the ROH World Title, but he's clearly too hurt to do so. Nigel McGuinness went to check on him and despite the injury, O'Reilly still vows to fight. This immediately peaked my interest. ROH has been known for a lot of dumb overbooking lately, though, so my hopes didn't get completely up however with O'Reilly & Lethal being two of my favorite wrestlers in recent years, I planned to stick around to see what happened because it was honestly pretty unpredictable although I had my doubts on whether the outcome would be logical or not.
The bell rings and the match gets going. I'm giving it 50/50 attention. A few minutes into it, a few seconds away, and so on. Soon, however, I was reeled in completely unbeknownst to me. The first thing that drew me in was the storytelling. With the amount of wrestling I've binged on in the past few years, I've grew tired of move fests and only certain wrestlers have the drawing power to keep me invested for an entire match. It probably helps that I love the style of O'Reilly and the characterization of Lethal, but both men stepped it up a notch here and truly displayed themselves as world class professional wrestlers.
For the first time in years, Jay Lethal began showing signs of remorse, almost baby face like as he tried to convince Kyle, Nigel, & Todd Sinclair to cancel the match because he didn't want to risk injuring Kyle further. At first, I was like, NO! Lethal is a phenomenal heel champion similar to an old school character like Ric Flair, but by the end of this match, I was entirely sold on the brilliance of what I just witnessed. Lethal's facial expressions and ring presence made this so fucking good. Seeing someone who's been built as the cocky champion who will take the easy way out actually show some emotion and regret was unreal.
O'Reilly delivered in this same department as well, though. Just on an entirely different level. Lethal displayed the character shift which will be looked upon as a huge moment in his career, whereas O'Reilly played the victim. He was hurt, but resilient. He garnered sympathy and got a crowd who was already largely into him, even more fired up than they normally are. Lethal threw shot after shot at O'Reilly, but the challenger fought like hell from underneath playing the perfect underdog. He came back from everything and would not quit. The final few minutes were the nail in the coffin to this being a fantastic match. Lethal has O'Reilly set up for the Lethal Injection yet again however Kyle can hardly stand. Lethal looks back and shows so much regret and disgust with himself for being a part of this. This gives O'Reilly time to stand up as Lethal is trying to convince the ref to stop the match. O'Reilly tells the ref not to and ags Lethal on. SLUGFEST ENSUES and it is fucking electric in that place. O'Reilly's final shot at glory and he's firing away only to catch the short end of the stick and LETHAL INJECTION puts him down for the three count after an epic battle. Lethal scats out of the ring still displaying signs of shame for fighting an injured man.
Now, on it's own, this match was perfect. The in-ring work was flawless, from the action to the storytelling, and there was no outside interference which is rare for ROH and both men involved recently so it felt even more special. So, yeah, I left this saying, damn, Ring of Honor may be back on track, that ruled, and will probably go down as one of my favorite matches this year. THEN, post match stuff happened and it combined with that match totally made me fall back for pro wrestling once again.
The Young Bucks & Adam Cole hit the ring and begin assaulting O'Reilly. On it's own, this would be looked at as a good assault by a heel supergroup. But with Kevin Kelly shouting like crazy on commentary, this became a monumental moment. Now, that probably sounds weird coming from me considering I've never been a fan of Kevin Kelly, but I'll be damned if he can't deliver when he needs to and when he does it's absolutely awesome. He made this feel so huge. His call with the crowd's reaction and the delivery of the Meltzer Driver on O'Reilly on a steel chair gave me chills. Jay Lethal hit the ring followed by O'Reilly's partner Bobby Fish to make the save. Nigel McGuiness is pissed and raising hell and declares that Cole will never get a World Title shot again because of Bullet Club's actions tonight. Everyone is showing so much emotion. This is pro wrestling.
If you missed this show, please watch it, because it very well may have made me fall back in love with wrasslin all over again. It was brilliant and easily one of my favorite moments & matches in wrestling this year.