5. ROH World Tag Team Champions The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) Vs. The Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley): Or let’s call it what it really is: four guys whom TNA foolishly let walk away in favor of ex-WWE rejects and have decided to show Dixie Carter the error of her ways. However, that would only work if she didn’t have an unidentified material for a brain. The match was going fine, with the in-ring work being up to the usual high standard of these two teams until the trainwreck of a finish. Guns had the match won when Kamaitachi came to ringside and picked a fight with NJPW talent Jay White. He yanked White over the guardrail and the two began brawling. They took their brawl into the ring, inadvertently breaking the pin attempt before resuming their brawl out of the ring. All this distracted ref Paul Turner, who tried to stop the brawl. With the ref distracted, Daniels gave Shelley a shot to the balls, incapacitating him. Shelley rolled out of the ring in pain. Without his partner, Sabin was easy prey for Daniels and Kazarian, who finished him off with the Best Meltzer Ever for the pin. The Wrestling Observer compared this finish by stating it was if he had become the booker and possessed twice the ego of Dusty Rhodes at his worst when booking NWA/WCW. I agree. This was the kind of convoluted, idiotic finish better found in WWE and TNA. I know ROH wants to be a Big Three player, but their strengths are in not imitating WWE and TNA. This finish marred what was a strong match. ***3/4
6. Unsanctioned Fight Without Honor: Steve Corino Vs. BJ Whitmer: I admit that I was apprehensive about this match. Corino hasn’t wrestled in years, largely retiring to a color commentary role with ROH and doing a great job with it. I was also wondering just how far would ROH take this match given that it was an unsanctioned Fight Without Honor. I’ve seen so-called Unsanctioned matches that had all the daring and danger of an episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (namely a snoozefest of a match between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels at Unforgiven 2008, which was anything but exciting). This was one of the sickest, goriest and wildest bloodbaths I’ve seen on a US PPV since old school ECW’s heyday. Either you love this kind of match or you don’t. When done well, like this match, I love it. Also a major plus is that this match is just about never done on a major wrestling PPV from one of the Big Three promotions, so it had the feeling of freshness and novelty instead of Just Another Brawl. YoCorino sported his classic bleached blond buzzcut look of old, signaling that the brawler was back. I did carp at one moment when Corino was busted open hardway over the eye and they stopped the match so the doctor could take a look. For a moment, I wondered if Vince McMahon had taken over. To my relief, this was just scripted as part of the match and used for psychology to get over the fact that Corino was vulnerable against a sociopathic opponent. It was brilliant booking that helped the match instead of hindering it. Corino bled an incredible sickening amount as his blond hair soon turned deep red. Corino returned the favor for the hardway eye shot by smashing a beer bottle over Whitmer’s head and rubbing the jagged bottleneck into the gaping wound, causing Whitmer to bleed a sickening amount of his own. Tables were brought out, ending with Whitmer driving Corino through one and both using the jagged pieces of the now broken table to gouge each other’s wounds even further. Corino seemed to be on the verge of gaining the upper hand when the image turned black. At first, I thought it was another technical issue, but it soon turned out to be a planned spot since when the lights returned, the legendary Kevin Sullivan, clad in his classic hooded purple robe, was in the ring. The crowd went nuts upon seeing a bona fide legend inside an ROH ring. Sullivan laid out Corino with the Golden Spike, allowing Whitmer to make the cover for the 1-2-3. At first, I admit that I carped over the interference finish. But upon further reflection, I realized that unlike the previous match, the interference and cheating made complete sense. Plus it leaves the window open for another sick Corino/Whitmer match on a future PPV, perhaps at Final Battle 2016 in December. Either way, I’m sold on a rematch. The best match of the show and one of the best matches of the year thus far. ******+++
7. ROH TV Champion Bobby Fish Vs. Dalton Castle: It was a big mistake to stage this match after one of the most exciting bloodbaths on a US PPV in a long time. Fish and Castle tried, but they had no chance at following Corino/Whitmer. Like AJ Styles/John Cena at Money in the Bank Sunday, this match wound up being a victim of my own expectations as I was expecting nothing short of great from these two. What we got was very good and the wrestling was solid, but something was missing. The live crowd wasn’t into it either, as they were still hopped up from the previous match and clearly didn’t want to see a purely technical bout. Not to mention that everyone watching wanted Castle to win the title and when he didn’t, it was disappointing. Fish played subtle heel since Castle always gets a thunderous babyface reaction whenever he enters the ring. It did seem as if Castle was going to pull off the win when he leveled Fish with a killer suplex. He signaled for the Bang A Rang, but Fish wrapped him up with a cradle to score the pin. It was kind of an anti-climatic finish. ***1/2
8. The Cabinet Approves Of This Message: The US presidential theme music rang out inside the Cabarrus Arena. No, President Obama didn’t make an appearance since he wouldn’t be caught dead appearing at a mere wrestling PPV. Nor was it a campaign stop for the odious likes of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. No, it was the debut of a new faction in ROH: the Cabinet. Headed up by Caprice Coleman, Rhett Titus and Kenny King, they declared war on the champions of ROH. They spoofed Trump by stating that they were going to make wrestling great again. Coleman stressed that Titus and King never lost the tag team titles and that they were going to bring back wrestling to ROH and do away with the endless flipping around and superkicks that have dominated the company as of late. It was an effective debut for a fresh new stable in a company that sure use one.
9. ROH World Heavyweight Champion Jay Lethal Vs. Jay Briscoe: This was a rematch one year in the making. At last year’s Best in the World event, then-TV champ Lethal defeated then-World champion Briscoe to win the World title in a phenomenal ******+++ match. So one year later, they faced off yet again. Since the show was running long at this point, this was a shorter than usual World title match, clocking in at roughly 16 minutes instead of the usual 30+ minutes. Yet it was just as awe-inspiringly great as their first PPV match. To their credit, they didn’t merely rehash last year’s match. It was a different match: faster paced, with a touch of hardcore thrown in at times. ROH finally decided to fix the mic issues and we at home at last got to hear the rabid live crowd in this PPV. Since they had limited time, both men just got right to it and went to work. Lethal hauled out the Black Machismo flying elbow drop to a huge pop. Briscoe used Lethal’s own Lethal Injection finisher for a near fall. Lethal used Briscoe’s own Jay Driller for a near fall of his own. Both traded wild topes through and off the ropes with the skill and precision of a luchador. Taeler Hendrix attempted to interfere early on, but was quickly sent to the back by the ref, ensuring that her interference would NOT play a role in the outcome of this match. If this was a WWE or TNA match, Hendrix would have returned and played a role in the finish. To ROH’s credit, they chose not to have her return, which was a major plus. After 16 minutes of killer action, Lethal finally scored the pin with the Lethal Injection. In what was a surprise, Lethal abode by the Code of Honor and shook Briscoe’s hand in a gesture of respect. Lethal has completed the babyface turn teased last month at Global Wars. Last Sunday, WWE finally booked a pair of World title matches to achieve maximum impact to begin the week. Now ROH has booked a World title match to achieve maximum impact to close the week. Kind of an interesting symmetry, isn’t it? ******+++