By Drew Ortman
For the past few weeks now I have been giving ROH a lot of credit for giving us new and fresh in ring action every week and keeping that momentum going. You may have noticed though that I have yet to give any of these episodes an outstanding review. Now that they have passed the initial level, it is time to shoot higher and produce some episodes that will have people talking, pop some fans and get the wrestling world interested in ROH again. Well, this episode of ROH Wrestling may very well be the beginning. While the card is only two matches deep, these are matches that could easily be on a pay per view. First, you have a six man tag from last week’s fallout consisting of The Bullet Club taking on Jay Lethal, Tetsuya Naito, and Evil. This is a main event tag match anywhere you go. If that wasn’t enough, in the same hour show you get Bobby Fish defending his ROH World Television Championship against NJPW’s Never Openweight Champion, Katsuyori Shibata. So impressive on paper, let’s see if it lives up to the hype. From Las Vegas, Nevada, let’s get to this week’s action!
Jay Lethal, Michael Elgin & Kyle O’Reilly (I know, I’ll explain) def Adam Cole, Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi. **1/4
Bobby Fish (c) def. Katsuyori Shibata ***3/4
This episode of ROH Wrestling kicked off with a big six-man tag that was put together after the events of last week. The relationship between Lethal and Los Ingobernables started a few months back in Japan and is the perfect combination to do battle with The Bullet Club. Evil and Takahashi kick things off with some standard early back and forth action. Takahashi tags in Cole, but when Evil immediately tags in Lethal, Cole tags right back out. This happens a couple of times in the early goings of the match. Cole finally sees action after Naito tags in and he Cole attacks him from behind. Lethal and Naito have some problems with Lethal wants the tag in and Naito keeps pulling his hand away laughing. Later as Lethal is getting beaten on by Cole, he goes for the tag to Naito, but Naito again pulls his hand away, but this time he and Evil jump down of the apron and surprising leave Lethal to fend for himself. On his way out, Naito looks a Lethal and says “Audios.”
Back after the break as Lethal is having it taken to him, Michael Elgin comes out and stands in the corner for a tag. It is handy that the matchmaker is on commentary and can immediately okay these decisions. Elgin tags in and runs wild on everyone including a double power slam. As the numbers game evens out, The Bullet Club again solidify the upper hand, but then Kyle O’Reilly makes his way out and follows Elgin’s lead standing in the corner and getting a tag. Again, McGuinness is okay with this. Cole and O’Reilly immediately begin trading blows intensely. After another break, it is an official six-man tag once again. After a back and forth battle, O’Reilly tags in Lethal and Cole tags in Takahashi. A short time later, Lethal hits The Lethal Injection on Takahashi to pick up the victory for his team…all of them. Decent action, but nothing too exciting except for the team shifting surprises.
Jay Lethal comes back out to comment of the happenings of earlier. He uses this time to call out Naito for his actions and says “we are going to settle this sooner than later.” McGuinness immediately gets up and sets the match for All Star Extravaganza. This pay per view is shaping up very well.
Our second and main event match of the night was one I was looking forward to. Two solid champions representing their organizations very well. The fighting television champion Bobby Fish defends his title against New Japan’s NEVER Openweight Champion, Katsuyori Shibata. These two are known for their hard-hitting style without holding anything back, so is was easy to predict this match would get intense at some point. Shibata slapped away Fish’s hand for the code of honor showing he is all business. They slowly feel each other out early with Shibata taking control on offense first and locking on an early figure four. They fight back and forth turning over the hold and back. Shortly after a break, Fish is able to take control and slowly work on the challenger. Fish methodically focuses on Shibata’s knee keeping him on the mat. In the middle of the match, Prince Nana comes out and joins the commentary team representing the next television title contender, Donovan Dijak.
The match turns when Fish begins to lay in kicks and Shibata takes them asking for more. At this point, the pace picks up substantially with hard strikes and dropkicks in the corner from Shibata. Shibata locks in a setup rear naked choke, but Fish gets to the ropes, avoids a kick and locks on a Fish Hook. Shibata locks on an ankle lock also so they are both wrenching on each other and screaming. This is a awesome spot before they both get to the ropes to break the holds.
Back from a break, it is a high impact battle with trading German suplexes leaving both men laying. They trade blows as they get to their feet followed by a leg speed/spine buster from Shibata for a one and then a butterfly suplex for a two count. They trade back and forth arm bars with reversals. Shibata locks on a triangle choke, but Fish is able to roll over and pin Shibata for the three. Very awesome finish to this title match leaving both men looking good in the end. I would definitely be up for seeing these two battle again. Dijak is in the aisle representing him being next for the title shot. They will fight for the title at All-Star Extravaganza.
Nigel McGuinness also announces Steve Corino will be back on commentary next week after his one-year “suspension.”
Overall this was a fun show with some excellent action and build to the next ROH pay per view. I have to say we are still a little ways out, and I am already excited for All-Star Extravaganza on Sept. 30th. I’ve not been able to say that about an ROH pay per view in a while which means the path they are on now is working. Like I’ve said for months now in my weekly reviews, find the formula that works well, don’t push too hard and everything will fall into place. Maybe ROH personnel are fans of Kayfabe Today because my advice is being taken well. Be on the lookout for my All-Star Extravaganza preview later this month along with a review of the recent Field of Honor Show and a look the progress of ROH in a “State of ROH” column.