ROH 14th Anniversary PPV Review

ROH 14th Anniversary PPV Review
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada inside the Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino
Hosts: Kevin Kelly and Mr. Wrestling 3

The Ring of Honor 14th Anniversary PPV has been built around the Triple Threat main event between Jay Lethal, Adam Cole (Bay Bay) and Kyle O’ Reilly. Adam Cole is firmly back in the main event scene after The Kingdom’s unofficial dissolution because of Mike Bennett and Maria going to TNA, while Matt Taven is also out with a big injury. Kyle O’ Reilly and Adam Cole are former tag team partners with a beef because Cole cost O’ Reilly a chance at winning the ROH World Title. Jay Lethal the long reigning champion is upset because they aren’t paying enough attention to him and he wants to continue to prove that he is the best World Champion out there.

This PPV is also coming off the heels of two good Honor Rising shows (which you can read my reviews for Night 1 and Night 2) that Ring of Honor did at Korakuen Hall, along with partners New Japan Pro-Wrestling. The biggest thing to come out of those shows is Roderick Strong losing the ROH Television Title to Tomohiro Ishii. ROH then changed the Strong and Bobby Fish match to include Ishii, the week of the PPV. Also present at those shows, Moose, who got not only the Japanese crowd to do his fist pump, but many of the NJPW talent as well. Moose faces his toughest test in his young career as he takes on IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. The always eccentric Dalton Castle also left an impression at Korakuen with his tremendous charisma and a style of wrestling that would fit right in with New Japan. He gets to test his mettle against the “factory of sadness” Hirooki Goto. Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks also defeated Toru Yano and The Briscoes at those shows. So, once again a NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Title match was added the week of the PPV pitting The Elite against ACH, Matt Sydal and KUSHIDA.

When you combine that with some of the other crossover matches on the show, All Night Xpress vs. Hanson and Rowe for the ROH Tag Titles, and others, it seems like this should be a killer show, especially with the sold out crowd in Las Vegas as well. However, all of those factors may have actually combined to the detriment of the ROH 14th Anniversary instead.

Match # 1: ROH World Television Championship Triple Threat Match: (Champion) Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW’s CHAOS) vs. Roderick Strong vs. Bobby Fish (ReDragon)

Winner AND STILL Champion: Tomohiro Ishii (After hitting a Brainbuster on Roderick Strong)

I will say this is my first time seeing the new ROH set and it makes the show look so much better. I was really surprised that not only did Ishii retain, but Roddy ate the pin. This was pretty fast and furious, Ishii actually wrestled here and he shows that he isn’t just a guy does stiff matches. Ishii is always great and his selling is top notch, but to me the stand out was Bobby Fish. We don’t get to see enough of him in this capacity and I thought he was given a lot in the match. I thought it would be much more about Strong and Fish, but they both equally took their turns against Ishii. Although, this match did suffer from the Triple Threat formula at times with one guy being thrown out so it could only be two in the ring at once. The Super Brainbuster by Ishii was scary because Ishii was doing the delay on it and it looked like he might drop him, but he wound up hitting it just fine. The exploder by Fish on Roddy was damn good, but there was one spot in the match that I thought hurt it a bit. Ishii had Fish down for a Powerbomb Pin and the referee screwed up and counted too fast, so he had to blatantly stop the count at 2 and Fish took a bit to kick out. So, the crowd chanted “you f***ed up” at him. Overall, the match went about 8 minutes or so and had good action all the way through. I’m going to guess they have Ishii keep the title until NJPW returns for the Global Wars PPV in May.***

Match # 2: Grudge Match: BJ Whitmer vs. Adam Page

Winner: BJ Whitmer (After a low blow and a Cradle Pin)

Oh boy, this died a death pretty quick. Whitmer beat up Page for a while, Page started to comeback, even hitting his Shooting Star move, but it became a Headbutt by accident, and then it ended doing really nothing for Page. The crowd didn’t care and I was left totally perplexed that Page wasn’t even given a sliver of a near fall or anything. Whitmer winning the way he did, after dominating most of the match as well, probably hurt Page more than anything else. 1/2 *

Match # 3: Dalton Castle w/ The Boys vs. Hirooki Goto (NJPW)

Winner: Hirooki Goto (After Hitting Shouten-Kai)

This was much more about Dalton Castle showing he could hang with a more serious and very good wrestler in Hirooki Goto. So, though Castle still did a few things, it was used to show Castle meant business, like using the Boys as step stools out of the corner. The crowd loved Castle, as you’d expect, and he took Goto to the limit here. The Standing Exploder he does that sends Goto half way across the ring was cool, but that tremendous Delayed German he does on Goto without even leaving the ground, is truly a sight to see. Goto did his usual spots, mixed in with going to the top rope to show some versatility. Castle got to kick out of the Urushi-Goroshi, but after a botch, Goto goes right back to Shouten-Kai and gets the win. I thought we might see a win for Castle here to go along with Goto’s story that he’s sort of lost right now, but that did not happen obviously. Losing would have done a lot to continue Goto’s story pretty well. Showing that Goto is in such a funk that he’s even losing to guys from another promotion. Castle could have benefited from getting a big win, but I can see Gedo feeling that Castle isn’t established enough to warrant a loss for Goto like that. I guess I should bring up that originally this was supposed to be Nakamura vs. Castle, before Nakamura signed with WWE, Castle surely would not have won that match either. *** ¼ *

Match 4: Alex Shelley vs. Christopher Daniels w/ Frankie Kazarian

Winner: Alex Shelley (After some help from Chris Sabin)

I felt like this match was just there for the most part. Kazarian interfered so many times that I could really never get invested in what they were trying to do here. It was obvious due to the story that Sabin would eventually show up and he did. The crowd didn’t really care about this match either and didn’t react a whole lot until the match ended. I’m sure they wanted the fans to be clamoring for Sabin with all the interference that happened, but it wasn’t the case. At least they cared about the Motor City Machinegun reunion that happened after the match. Shelley and Sabin hugged and it looks like MCMG has returned. If they can stay healthy, (which has been a big issue for both of them) they can add a big spark to what is becoming a great ROH tag division. **

Match 5: Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. The Briscoes

Winner: Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi (After Elgin hit the Elgin Bomb and Tana hit a High Fly Flow)

They worked a very deliberate pace here and Briscoes worked sort of heel isolating Tanahashi for a large part of the middle of the match. The Briscoes are just so great at tag team wrestling and all four worked hard. Tana kicking out of the Neckbreaker and Froggy Bow was a great near fall as well. Elgin came in for the hot tag and got some “Big Mike” chants. Elgin did some double teams with Tana and got the crowd hot for the finish. Tana and Elgin win, which isn’t a surprise, but The Briscoes looked ever their equals and dominated for a large part of the match. The Briscoes have been around so long it doesn’t really hurt them to lose, though I’m sure there will be many that argue Elgin and Tanahashi should have lost for some reason. *** and ¼ *

Match 6: (IWGP Heavyweight Champion) Kazuchika Okada w/ Gedo vs. Moose w/ Stokely Hathaway

Winner: Kazuchika Okada (After Rainmaker Lariat)

While it wasn’t a star making performance for Moose, Okada gave Moose a lot, taking a bunch of his offense. Moose has improved a lot and now fits into the professional wrestling mold, instead of being the ex-football player that is trying to be a wrestler. He never once looked out of place in there with Okada. Moose did a Dropkick while Okada was perched on the top rope that almost saw him kick over Okada’s head. Okada is 6’3 folks, that’s some legit height that Moose is getting on that Dropkick. Absolutely insane. Okada hitting a DDT only for Moose to no sell and get up was great. Moose did a very good looking Buckle Bomb too. Moose’s counter of the Rainmaker with his Springboard Crossbody was nice, but then he countered the Rainmaker again, did the Rainmaker pose himself, but Okada leapfrogged the Spear and hit a Front Dropkick and then another Dropkick to finally get the Rainmaker on him. Okada helped Moose look great, you knew Moose wasn’t going to win, but he looked convincing in defeat. Okada could be like a lot of top guys and not care, but he made sure to put Moose over during the match and that’s one of the many reasons why Okada is so great. *** and ½ *

Match 7: NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship Match: (Champions) (IWGP Intercontinental Champion) Kenny Omega & Young Bucks (The Elite, Bullet Club) vs. (IWGP Jr. Champion) KUSHIDA, (IWGP Jr. Tag Team Champion) Matt Sydal, & ACH

Winners AND STILL Champions: The Elite (After Fatality 2.0, which is Meltzer Driver and One Winged Angel)

Good Lord this was fantastic. See, everyone that got upset at these Six Man Titles changing hands and then you get this spectacle right here. I don’t know how anything is going to top this. Let me see if I can even begin to describe what happened. Sydal gave Omega a Rana and a Double Rana to The Bucks. The Bucks would kick Sydal off the apron into the arms of Omega for a German Suplex on THE RAMP!!! Omega would hit his Diving Tope Con Hilo on everyone (with Terminator theme played by the Bucks) while the crowd chanted “New Day Sucks.” KUSHIDA hit his Tope Con Hilo off the top onto the Bucks. ACH would hit the through the ropes Flatliner and hit a Stunner in the ring. KUSHIDA tells Matt to SUCK IT and Baseball Punches him. Bucks would get Superkick Party happening, but Sydal would stop the Tiger Hattori with a C4 on one of the Bucks, which was RIDICULOUS! ACH and KUSHIDA hit a stereo 450 and Moonsault. Everything was rolling until Omega Tombstoned KUSHIDA on the outside, which caused Sydal to stop and Bucks Superkicked him and then the finish happened. Just insane stuff going on, it never stopped, the fans were super crazy for this, and they even chanted “The Elite” in the style of the New Day chant. Everyone in hear had a moment to shine and Kenny Omega might possibly be the most over guy that appeared on the show. Super fun match that you need to watch. **** ¼ *

Match 8: ROH World Tag Team Championship No DQ Match: (Champions) War Machine vs. All Night Xpress

Winners AND STILL Champions: War Machine (After Fallout on Rhett Titus)

This actually was a good match, although the crowd wouldn’t let you know it. They were silent for a lot of this and these four were killing each other at times. Yes, they were coming off the high from the previous match, but to get hardly any reaction for Kenny King kicking out of Fallout for the first time ever, was terrible. Then Rowe would kick out of the One Night Stand and the crowd didn’t react to that either. This was of course after King had already gone through a table early into the match and Hanson went through a table earlier as well. Rowe got a little reaction for the Uranagi of King through a Ladder Bridge, but it still wasn’t much. The crowd didn’t seem to care, the feud going in wasn’t super hot, but I feel bad for these guys going out there for basically nothing. They tried hard, but it didn’t matter. ** ½ *

Match # 9: MAIN EVENT: ROH World Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat Match: (Champion) Jay Lethal w/ Truth Martini vs. Roderick Strong vs. Kyle O’ Reilly (ReDragon)

Winner AND STILL Champion: Jay Lethal (After a Double Lethal Injection on Cole and O’ Reilly)

Cole and O’ Reilly tried teaming up early, but it didn’t work because they couldn’t get past each other. There was a bit too much of the Triple Threat formula used here, but when they were in the ring together for spots it was great. The Fisherman Buster and German Suplex combo by Future Shock on Lethal was cool. Cole would take turns going at it with Lethal, but O’ Reilly would come in and either get thrown out again, or he would throw Cole out to get something on Lethal. At one point, Cole had Lethal in the Figure Four and O’ Reilly put on an Armbar to prevent Cole from winning. Lethal later hit a Lethal Injection on O’ Reilly, which gave Cole an opening for Suplex to the Knee for a near fall. The big spot in the match was O’ Reilly putting Lethal into the Triangle Choke after a Tilt-A-Whirl DDT and Cole comes in, but gets put into an Ankle Lock. Lethal almost has his hand go down a third time, but Cole STOPS IT, a great spot in the match. All three men go at it, as O’ Reilly and Cole keep fighting, so Lethal hits the Lethal Injection on both of them.

There was a point where Cole had a big opportunity to win, but he went after O’ Reilly instead, but I can’t place it exactly. It told the story that these two can’t stop fighting with each other and weren’t focused on actually trying to win the title. All three men were terrific here and the crowd got into it big time by the end. I’m sure Cole and O’ Reilly will have another singles match down the line to determine who the true # 1 contender is. I know there are many that are tired of the Lethal title reign, but you have to think one of these two will take it off of him soon. There’s more story to tell and hopefully when it comes time for that match, it will deliver like this one did. ****

OVERALL RATING: 7.0: This is one of those times where the wrong crowd can hurt a show. This was a traveling crowd that largely didn’t care about anything not involving a NJPW crossover, except for the main event. Although, Kyle O’ Reilly appears on NJPW shows a lot and Lethal was just at the Honor Rising shows, not to mention Wrestle Kingdom 10 as well. Cole gets excused because I really don’t know how you can’t like him. The three ROH undercard matches weren’t great, but it also doesn’t help when the crowd doesn’t give a crap either. They were there to see Omega, Okada, Tanahashi, Ishii, the Young Bucks, and to a lesser extent KUSHIDA and Goto. There’s nothing wrong with that to be honest, as when NJPW comes they mainly stick to the Northeast, except for this year when they go to Chicago in May. The rest of the stuff on the card wasn’t important to them, unless it stood out like the main event. They also weren’t particularly super hot for a lot of things, even involving some of that talent they came to see.

I really think ROH shouldn’t have NJPW talent on their PPV’s, as it takes away from what they are trying to accomplish. There should have been a predominant ROH crowd that cares about the talent that’s on the show all the time. As a result, this didn’t feel like a ROH 14th Anniversary, it felt more like another Global Wars show, which isn’t to say that it was bad, just I feel like an opportunity was missed to really put a spotlight on the company. You have two great matches and all of the stuff involving the ROH vs. NJPW matches was good to very good. However, even if you buy it on the PS4 for $27 that’s still a hefty tag. On their website it is $35, but you do get to own it for one year, while through the cable company it is $45. In a vacuum, if you just look at the wrestling and you are fan of the NJPW talent, I’d say order it through their website. If you only care about ROH, It is a little harder for me to recommend. If I didn’t have two friends to split the show with, I think it would have been harder for me to plop $35 down to watch it, but everyone is different in that regard.


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