Ring of Honor: 2019 Volume 2

roh2019vol2Disc One

RUSH vs. Tracy Williams
“Road to G1 Supercard, Night 4” – Baltimore, MD – 3.31.2019

Two weeks prior, RUSH defeated Bandido and Mark Haskins in singles matches on back to back nights, both of whom are Lifeblood stablemates with Tracy Williams. This match was more or less RUSH gobbling Williams up, sending him to the floor with a Superman punch, then throwing him into the guardrails several times. Williams would always throw back strikes at RUSH when he had a chance, it’s just that he didn’t get many chances. RUSH became overly confident in his control, that he wasted his time as Williams was down in the corner. Williams caught a charging RUSH with a tiger feint kick and a top rope dropkick to take control for the first time in the contest. He beautifully knocked a running boot from RUSH out of the way, carrying the momentum into a rolling lariat for a two count. RUSH however caught Williams rebounding off the ropes with a German suplex, then a brainbuster. Surprisingly, Williams was able to hit his top turnbuckle DDT and a flying DDT, but RUSH kicked out. RUSH caught Williams on the top with a superplex, but missed a Swanton Bomb. Williams missed the Mad Splash but rolled through, only to be sent into the corner with a release belly-to-belly suplex. This time, RUSH capitalized with Williams down in the corner, blasting him with the Bull’s Horns for the pin at 12:14. No issues at all keeping the momentum rising for RUSH, especially since he had a singles match against a former ROH World Champion in Dalton Castle at G1 Supercard (which RUSH won in under 2 minutes) while Williams was in the Honor Rumble. The match was definitely more interesting when it became even, and Williams got a big chance to showcase his key offense. I also like that RUSH learned from his mistakes and that’s what won him the match. A strong match between these two as you would expect, and it’s on YouTube! ***¼

The next weekend, the biggest ROH show in history took place, as with NJPW they presented the G1 Supercard at Madison Square Garden. Like the Anniversary event which took place during the time period of Volume 1, no matches from that event are on this DVD, but the event was released on DVD separately and as part of a 10 disc Best of 2019 set.

At G1 Supercard, Kenny King won the Honor Rumble to secure a future ROH World Championship opportunity, last eliminating Jushin ‘Thunder’ Liger and The Great Muta. Unfortunately, he was blinded by the Great Muta’s red mist. At “Steel City Excellence”, he came out to ring blinded, with glasses on and a walking stick, as well as Amy Rose leading him to the ring. He says he has to have surgery to see again, and won’t be competing tonight. He says even though he is number one contender, he has nothing against current champion Matt Taven, and once he is healed from his surgery, he is turning his attention to Jay Lethal who he says will “bend the knee” and call him “king” once he is done with him.

Bandido vs. Shane Taylor
“Steel City Excellence” – Pittsburgh, PA – 4.13.2019

Taylor denied Bandido the Code of Honor, spitting in his hand before the bell. Bandido’s stick and move strategy serves him well in the early going, as he puts Taylor in a position for a suicide dive and a Fosbury Flop. Taylor absorbs some shots back inside the ring and drills Bandido with a chokeslam. Taylor tosses Bandido across the ring a few times before stepping on the back of his head and turning him inside out with a clothesline. He wears down Bandido’s shoulder with some elbows. Bandido tries an attack off the middle rope, but is caught mid-air with a haymaker from Taylor for two. Bandido also kicks out from a knee strike. He fires up from a Taylor clothesline. He lays in a flurry of strikes, including a superkick, but Taylor shuts him down with another chokeslam. Despite this, Bandido kicks out from Taylor’s ripcord Complete Shot. Taylor slingshots Bandido in from the apron, bringing him down with a stunner, and the crowd goes wild when Bandido kicks out. Bandido stops a corner attack and lands a tornado crossbody. He impresses by lifting Taylor up into a knee strike. Even more impressive is that he hits the 21 Plex and gets the pin at 11:35. This was an excellently constructed match, with Taylor getting to showcase his power, and the very popular Bandido showing his resilience and impressive strength. It seemed like a mis-match on paper, but they ended up putting together a really solid bout. ***

The Bouncers (Beer City Bruiser & Brian Milonas) & Coast 2 Coast (LSG & Shaheem Ali) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe), Shane Taylor & Silas Young
“Masters of the Craft” – Columbus, OH – 4.14.2019

Ali holds his own against Silas Young and Jay Briscoe, with Mark deciding to interject when Ali wiped out Jay with a side kick. Taylor laughs at the smaller LSG, who slaps Taylor in the face, but is wiped out mid-air with a shoulder block. Milonas gives Taylor a more fair fight, slamming Taylor for his troubles. We then get a battle between former associates in Young and Bruiser, which turns into an all out brawl with the eight competitors. Coast 2 Coast do a little bit of damage to Mark, but Jay comes in to help even the odds. Milonas wipes out both Briscoes with a running crossbody. Young knees Milonas in the face and then gives him a DDT. Milonas gives Young a DDT of his own after stopping a clothesline. Taylor knees Bruiser in the face, then lands a cannonball senton on Milonas on the floor. Ali wipes out Taylor with a dive. LSG turns right into a back elbow from Jay. Mark corkscrew sentons onto Ali, and LSG rope walk somersault sentons onto the Briscoes and Taylor. Young uncharacteristically moonsaults onto the mass of humanity, and Bruiser follows that with his own dive. Milonas is about to join the party when Taylor powerbombs him off the second turnbuckle. LSG and Ali take both Taylor and Young out, but the Briscoes wipe them out with stereo boots. Ali falls victim to Redneck Boogie but Bruiser breaks up the pin. Milonas and Bruiser take out Jay with their Veg-O’Matic variation but Taylor stops their pin just in time. Bruiser drives Taylor down with a slam, but is low-bridged outside by Taylor right after. LSG wipes out Young with a diving forearm. Jay interjects long enough for Taylor to recover in the corner. He pops up a charging Ali into Greetings From 216 for the pin at 13:54. This was all action and a match the crowd had a lot of fun with. We saw some good stuff out of LSG and Ali, especially in the moments when they got to hang with the Briscoes, and a nice win to give Taylor some momentum. The little moments like Bruiser and Young facing off were a fun bonus too. In my book, this was pitch perfect eight man tag team wrestling. ***¼

Bandido vs. Caristico vs. Flip Gordon vs. PJ Black
“Masters of the Craft” – Columbus, OH – 4.14.2019

Caristico is the former Mistico and original Sin Cara, and he made his ROH debut last night teaming with El Soberano, Jr. in a losing effort against the Briscoes. Between the action was a story of Gordon and Bandido trying to prove to another who is the top high flier in ROH. Black and Caristico made sure they were not forgotten, and at times Bandido and Gordon were too focused on one another that they didn’t see the other opposition coming. Some of the action was crisp and fluid, other times it didn’t go exactly as planned, but to their credit they always managed to recover and the crowd was with them. Black had a particularly excellent performance. Gordon had the moment of the match where he did a springboard dive into the balcony where the crowd was seated onto all three of his opponents. Bandido caught Caristico with a moonsault slam off the top rope, but Black and Gordon broke up his pin. Gordon had Black up on his shoulders. Black slid out and had Gordon in a waistlock, so Gordon grabbed the ropes to prevent Black from hitting something and to try and escape. This put them in a perfect position for Bandido to capitalize with a double 21 Plex, pinning Black at 14:37. Bandido picking up two back to back wins this weekend in hard fought battles is a perfect way for him to gain momentum. The four of these competitors put together a fun match, but it did seem like Caristico was more or less tacked on to the proceedings. Either way, the high moments, including the ending, were very high and made up for some of the less positive aspects. ***¼

30 Minute Iron Man Match
Lifeblood (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams) vs. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham

“Masters of the Craft” – Columbus, OH – 4.14.2019

This is a rematch from the Tag Wars tournament where Lethal and Gresham defeated Lifeblood in the first round. The winning team faces the Guerrillas of Destiny for the tag team titles at War of the Worlds Night 1 on May 8th. A still blinded Kenny King with Amy Rose joins commentary for this match. After some very even mat wrestling from all four competitors, Haskins and Gresham introduce strikes into the match right after the first five minutes. Lifeblood introduce some tandem offense to keep Gresham in their half of the ring and focus their attack on his left arm which has a bandage covering the elbow. He gets some relief when Lethal makes a blind tag and blindsides Williams, taking him down with a cartwheel dropkick. From there, they work over Williams’ left knee. Williams’ knee buckles when he escapes a back suplex from Lethal, but takes the opportunity for a leg drop off the top to the back of Lethal’s head despite the pain. Haskins tags in and is able to get Gresham in a bridging armbar on his worn down arm. Gresham uses the ropes to break it. Williams lands a Mad Splash for two. He ascends to the second rope where he DDT’s Gresham on the top turnbuckle. Haskins rolls him into a deep sharpshooter, resulting in Gresham tapping out at 18:37 and giving Lifeblood the first fall. Lethal is forced to fight through Lifeblood’s offense on his own as Gresham recovers. In fact, Gresham’s first interjection is to break up a pinfall right before the five minute warning. Lethal ducked a rolling lariat from Williams. Gresham caught him mid-air with a German suplex while Williams was anticipating to leapfrog over Lethal. Lethal knocks Haskins off the apron, then launches Gresham into Williams for the Cornette Cutter, and Gresham pins Williams at 26:22 to tie the match at one fall a piece. They try the Cornette Cutter again. Haskins however gets rid of Lethal with the Soldier Shoulder Roll, then rolls Gresham back into the deep sharpshooter. Williams holds back Lethal, and the two of them end up tumbling over the top rope and to the floor in a vertical suplex position. In the ring, Gresham rolls forward so that all of his body weight is sitting on Haskins, and he pins Haskins shoulders in this position at 28:18. Haskins wants an Indian Death Lock but settles for a capture DDT. He fights for a figure four leg lock. Gresham reaches and tags in Lethal from the apron while still in the hold. Lethal frees Gresham with an elbow drop, and the time limit expires at exactly 30:00, making Gresham and Lethal the winners 2 falls to 1. The thirty minus flew by, as the two teams kept the match simple yet compelling from start to finish. It was a situation where the crowd was invested in both teams and came away appreciative of their efforts and did not know who would come out on top. It was a great first step in Lethal figuring out his post-World Champion trajectory, and another chance for Williams and Haskins to show how great they are as a tandem. ***¾

ROH World Six Man Tag Team Championship – Street Fight
Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll, PCO & Brody King) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia)

“Masters of the Craft” – Columbus, OH – 4.14.2019

Villain Enterprises have been champions since 3.16.2019 and this is their second defense. Villain Enterprises of course won the six man titles from The Kingdom, but just eight days prior, Taven won the ROH World Championship. Everyone brawls to start with Villain Enterprises taking control. In the ring, Scurll spears and pummels Taven. Taven sends Scurll face first into a chair, but King then throws a chair at his face. King accidentally punches a chair, and O’Ryan accidentally ricochets a chair off the ropes and back into his face. PCO surprises Taven with a Michonoku Driver. He places Taven on four propped up chairs and heads to the top turnbuckle, only for Marseglia and O’Ryan to double suplex him through the four chairs! Scurll and King clear the ring and then grab a table from underneath it. They nail Taven with a 407/cannonball senton combo. Marseglia Acid drops Scurll and introduces the table into the ring. They want the Rockstar Supernova on Scurll through the table, but PCO and King drag Marseglia and O’Ryan to the floor. King then drives Taven through the table with a running death valley driver! O’Ryan and Marseglia take the match back in the Kingdom’s favor with some chairs, then clear the table ringside. As PCO and King wipe them out around the ring, Scurll surprises Taven with his own Climax DDT for two. Scurll ends up sending O’Ryan through a table after snapping his fingers from the second turnbuckle and to the floor. Marseglia places King on the timekeeper’s table and lands a Swanton dive off the entrance stage. Taven low blows PCO and hits him with the Climax, but Scurll saves him from being pinned. Taven gets a two count on Scurll with a powerbomb and Just the Tip (of the knee). He grabs his World title, looking to clobber Scurll with it. PCO however sits up, distracting Taven, and Scurll cracks him with his umbrella. PCO hits his signature moonsault, pinning the World Champion and retaining the Six Man titles at 16:11. I appreciate that they added the street fight element, as that dynamic made for a more interesting match in general. It was a sneaky way to also build a future title match for PCO, which one could argue diminished the importance of the Six Man Titles, but that’s just fine by me. This was about as good as the title change itself. ***

ROH World Television Championship
Jeff Cobb vs. Brody King vs. Hirooki Goto vs. Shane Taylor

“War of the Worlds 2019 Night 2” – Toronto, ONT – 5.9.2019

Jeff Cobb has been champion since 9.28.2018 and this is his tenth defense. Taylor and Cobb brawled to the floor, leaving Goto and King to fight inside the ring. Goto shoulder blocks King outside, bringing in Cobb. They trade blows until knocking each other down with stereo clotheslines. Taylor clotheslines them both outside, but his dive is halted by a Frankensteiner from King. King then lands his own tope con hilo successfully onto all three opponents. When everyone ends up back inside, King also gets the better of everyone with a splash onto everyone in the corner. Cobb slams King and lands a standing moonsault for only a one count! Goto spinwheel kicks Cobb and takes him down with a Saito suplex, but Cobb rebounds with a spin-out side slam. King crashes Cobb against the middle rope with a somersault senton, and Taylor drills King with a Cleveland Destroyer for two. Goto stops Taylor from ascending the ropes and wipes him out with an ushigoroshi. Goto turns Cobb inside out with a lariat. King lariats Goto. He tries a Ganso Bomb on Cobb, but Cobb switches into a snap German suplex and Tour of the Islands. Taylor knees Cobb in the back of the head, then hits the Greetings From 216 on King for the pin and the championship at 9:06! There was solid wrestling but not a really intriguing story to keep it cohesive – lots of guys taking turns doing things more or less with Taylor stealing the victory. Cobb remaining undefeated while also losing a title brings me back to Christian Cage’s 2007 TNA run (ROH did this with PCO too!) The crowd is bewildered by the choice, but at least Taylor looked good in his title win. **½

ROH World Championship
Matt Taven vs. PCO

“War of the Worlds 2019 Night 2” – Toronto, ONT – 5.9.2019

Taven has been champion since 4.6.2019 and this is his third defense. PCO earned this opportunity by pinning Taven in the Six Man Championship match at “Masters of the Craft.” Presumably you just read my review of that match. Destro is in PCO’s corner. Taven has a hard time hurting PCO to start, and it’s even more difficult given PCO harms himself and encourages Taven to inflict damage. Taven scurries away when PCO tries the Package Piledriver after a cannonball dive to the floor. PCO is able to drop him with a Michinoku Driver. When he climbs up top for a moonsault, Vinny Marseglia and TK O’Ryan run to ringside to cause a distraction and allow Taven to bring him off the top. More distractions and interference lead to Taven sending PCO eye first onto Marseglia’s hatchet. PCO became bloodied and Taven pummeled him. PCO’s perseverance frustrated Taven, so he dropped him with three consecutive DDT’s. Despite this, PCO came back with a powerbomb, and tombstone pilederiver, and a cannonball senton on the apron. On the floor, Taven scored the Climax onto a steel chair. PCO rose before being counted out, so Taven gave him a sunset powerbomb off the apron and to the floor! Inside he landed a frog splash, and when PCO kicked out, the Toronto crowd exploded as Taven stared off in disbelief. PCO takes a knee but then hits the Package Piledriver again, and then successfully lands the moonsault. Taven gets his shoulder up right before the three count. He lands it a second time, but has to recover before pinning Taven, giving O’Ryan time to put Taven’s foot on the rope to halt the count. PCO gets in a fight with Marseglia when he gets his hands on Destro and powerbombs Marseglia onto the announcer’s table (which tips but doesn’t break.) O’Ryan hands a purple spike to Taven, and Taven drives it into PCO’s eye behind Todd Sinclair’s back and pins him at 18:04. It was such a close pinfall that the crowd thought it was close to a mess up, but in a way it worked for the story, where Taven had to think outside the box and cheat just to sneak away with a three count. The crowd was really into PCO and Taven had such great facial expressions which carried the story a long way. Honestly, I was not expecting much from this at all and was very pleasantly surprised. ***¼

Disc Two

ROH World Championship
Matt Taven vs. Mark Haskins

“War of the Worlds 2019 Night 3” – Grand Rapids, MI – 5.11.2019

Taven has been champion since 4.6.2019 and this is his fourth defense. This was Taven’s second of the match of the night, as he and the Kingdom defeated the Guerrillas of Destiny and HIKULEO in trios action. Taven tried to attack Haskins with the title belt before the bell, but Haskins ducked, sending Taven outside and following with a dive. Haskins quickness allowed him to stay on top of Taven, where he ultimately settled into a pattern of attacking Taven’s left knee, notoriously repaired after injury in Final Battle 2015. Taven jammed Haskins’ left arm over the top rope and sent Haskins shoulder first into the ring post. This allows Taven to turn the match in his favor, focusing his attack on Haskins’ left arm and shoulder. He tries to win by countout by throwing a hurt Haskins onto the entrance stage, but Haskins made it back inside the ring just before the twenty count. He even tries Haskins’ own bridging armbar against him, but Haskins grabbed the ropes to escape. Haskins musters up the energy for a flurry of strikes. Taven halts his momentum with an enzuigiri to the floor, but Haskins rebounds with a suicide dive. Back in the ring Taven tries the Climax, which Haskins rolls into the bridging armbar! Taven’s foot on the ropes forces Haskins to escape, but Haskins is able to get on a Rings of Saturn. Taven uses his foot to break that, so Haskins kicks at Taven’s leg and gives him a dragonscrew legwhip, going back to what worked to start. Taven got Haskins back on the proverbial ropes with the “just the tip” knee strike and Blue Thunder Bomb. He missed a frog splash, allowing Haskins to get him up into the Soldier Shoulder Roll for two. Haskins recovers first from a double boot, enzuigiri’s Taven and lands a top rope double stomp for two. On the ring apron Taven sneaks in a Climax, which leads to a successful frog splash, but once again Haskins kicked out! He locks on the Sharpshooter, applying extra pressure to the injured leg. Bully Ray comes out on a microphone to trash talk Haskins’ wife and distract him. Haskins releases the hold to get in his face. Taven low blows Haskins behind Todd Sinclair’s back and hits the Climax for the pin at 25:51. The wrestling and story was awesome, but that ending was like a combination of cat barf and diarrhea washing over me. Bully Ray has the reverse Midas Touch and the fact nobody could see that blows my mind. The ending made me feel like myself, the audience, and both Taven and Haskins wasted our time. What a shame that the majority of this match ruled and was utterly ruined. ***

ROH World Tag Team Championship
The Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)

“War of the Worlds 2019 Night 4” – Villa Park, IL – 5.12.2019

The Guerrillas of Destiny have been champions since 4.6.2019 and this is their second defense. This means they defeated Lethal and Gresham (four nights prior, actually), who as you read earlier in this review were the previous number one contenders. The Briscoes are ten team ROH tag team champions. A melee starts out the match, ending with the Briscoes in control and Tonga trapped in their half of the ring. They almost had Tonga pinned with the Redneck Boogie, but Loa slid in to break up the pin just in time. Tonga sends a charging Jay outside. Loa football tackles Mark into the corner, with Tonga following him in with a Stinger Splash. The champions beat down Mark until Jay interjects with a running back elbow to Loa. However, Loa stops a spicy legdrop from Mark and powerbombs him on the ring apron. Tonga throws Jay back first into the guardrails. G.O.D. has too much fun beating up Jay that they don’t even notice Mark climbing the ropes. He comes off with a somersault senton onto both of them. Inside the ring, twice we get both teams fighting to the point where all four men are laid out. G.O.D. deliver the Magic Killer to Mark for two. Mark also kicks out of a diving headbutt and Superfly Splash combo. Mark counters a super powerbomb from Loa with a mid-air Frankensteiner. Both Briscoes block the Gun Stun from Tonga. Jay gives him a neckbreaker and Mark lands the Froggy Bow for two. Loa shoves Mark onto the top rope to stop them from giving Tonga the Doomsday Device. As referee Todd Sinclair is checking on Mark, Loa clobbers Jay with one of the tag titles. Tonga rolls him up and holds his shorts to get the pin at 17:11. I don’t love two screwy title finishes back-to-back on this compilation, but this was much more palatable as it fit the tone of the match and you knew that this was the start of a feud between the two teams. I really enjoyed the level of the intensity they brought to one another and that they made the Briscoes the fan favorites. It played well as a chapter in their story, and makes me very interested in seeing more matches between Jay and Tama especially. ***½

Jeff Cobb vs. Mark Haskins
“State of the Art Night 1” – Kent, WA – 6.1.2019

Haskins’ speed was on full display to start the match, almost getting a bridging armbar on fairly early, but was thwarted by a suplex. When Haskins tries an armbar again, Cobb muscles up Haskins by his one arm and throws him face first into the turnbuckles! Cobb peppers Haskins with strikes, but Haskins rebounds with a suicide dive and gets a two coun after a top rope double stomp. Cobb elbows Haskins in the side of the head and gutwrenches him into a spinning piledriver for two. Haskins holds onto Cobb’s arm as Cobb is throwing strikes. He stomps on the arm and rolls Cobb into a cross armbreaker. Cobb uses the ropes to break and goes to the floor for a respite. Instead, he gets a hand kick and a PK. Cobb catches Haskins’ second PK and side suplexes him onto the floor! Back inside Haskins gets in a kick to the hand and fakes out Cobb with a kick in order to land a punch. Cobb suplexes Haskins, and Haskins blocks Tour of the Islands with a pump kick. Cobb pops up Haskins and lands a standing moonsault onto his back, leaving both men laying. Haskins blocks Tour of the Islands a second time and gets Cobb up for the Soldier Shoulder Roll. Haskins is blown away when Cobb gets his shoulder up from the pin. They fight up to the top turnbuckle where Haskins tries a standing kimura lock. He settles to headbutt Cobb down to the mat when that doesn’t work out. Cobb avoids a super double stomp and hits the Tour of the Islands for the pin at 18:17. This match aired the same weekend as the Best in the World PPV where Cobb challenged Taven for the World title, and from that perspective you’d think Cobb would get a pretty decisive win, but by and large Haskins smoked him. It still made for a solid match, but the timing was strange, as it felt like Cobb won by luck and not skill. Regardless, I enjoyed the match. ***¼

Anything Goes
Tracy Williams vs. Bully Ray

“State of the Art Night 2” – Portland, OR – 6.2.2019

Williams answers an open challenge from Ray and makes it an anything goes bout. Bully Ray kicks Williams in the dick and throws him into the trashcan full of weapons Williams brought to the ring. He throws Williams around and trash talks the crowd. Williams gets an armbar on Ray in the ropes. Ray headbutts Williams in the stomach in mid-air to stop his double jump dropkick. After slamming Williams onto a trash can he pulls a table out from under the ring. Williams punches Ray in the balls and gives them a claw. Williams brings him to the top turnbuckle, and Ray shoves him over the table instead of through it(?) Ray misses a second rope senton and Williams hooks him in a crucifix pin to get the victory at 8:08. Mark Haskins runs out to stop Ray’s post match attack on Williams and gets put through the table for his troubles. I love Williams but I would rather watch him against literally anybody else on the roster. The fact that Ray has had steady work with ROH since 2017 confounds me greatly. ½*

Mark Briscoe vs. Josh Woods
“State of the Art Night 2” – Portland, OR – 6.2.2019

The two men trade blows, with Woods scoring a running knee strike in the corner. Mark fish hooks Woods’ eye socket and gets belly-to-belly suplexed for it. Woods then throws Mark into the guardrails and delivers a second belly-to-belly suplex on the floor. After taking a few gutwrench suplexes from Woods, Mark is able to bait Woods outside and throw him into the guardrails. He suplexes Woods on the floor and then hits an elbow drop off the second turnbuckle! In the ring Mark applies a sleeper hold. Woods suplexes his way free. He knocks Mark to the apron with an elbow and attempts to German suplex Mark to the floor. Woods has to fight for it, but eventually is able to pull it off! Mark rolls back to the floor when Woods spins him out into a knee strike. Mark uses a chair to distract the referee. While the referee is putting it away, he low blows Woods. A Spicolli driver and the Froggy Bow gets Mark the pin at 11:18. This has a nice pace going to it, with Woods truly looking like he had the better of an ROH stalwart. Sucks he had to lose for whatever reason in a cheap way, as it feels like this could’ve been a nice momentum builder for “The Goods.” Oh well. **¾

Jay Lethal vs. Jay Briscoe
“State of the Art Night 2” – Portland, OR – 6.2.2019

This is the fifth singles match these two have had in ROH, splitting wins down the middle. Lethal, however, defeated Briscoe to win the World Championship and then successfully defended it against him a year later, so I give the advantage to him. Kenny King, who can now see again, is on commentary, studying Lethal amidst their current Best of 3 Series. Briscoe threatens a chairshot after coming up short in the opening exchange but thinks better of it. He does it again when Lethal wins another exchange and looks to dive. Lethal gets on the mic and tells him to “Man Up” (stop using the chair and just wrestle), and he obliges. Briscoe even blocks a Lethal Injection with a neckbreaker. On the floor Briscoe gets his eyelid split open, but he keeps up the aggression in his offense. Lethal escapes a Jay Driller and hits a cartwheel dropkick to take over. Briscoe stops an attack in the corner with a boot and then lands a back elbow off the second rope. Neither man can win a suplex battle, so Lethal instead releases and springboard dropkicks Briscoe to the floor, following with a pair of suicide dives. In the ring, Lethal halts a strike exchange with the Lethal Combination. Briscoe is able to stop “Hail to the King” and bring Lethal down with a superplex. Briscoe goes for the neckbreaker. Lethal rolls away and applies the figure four, which Briscoe breaks immediately by grabbing the bottom rope. Lethal takes Bricoes down and goes for Hail to the King again. At this time, King leaves the commentary position to distract Lethal. Lethal jumps down and is met with a small package from Briscoe. He kicks out, but Briscoe strings together a Frankensteiner, lariat, and Jay Driller right after! King takes a seat ringside as Briscoe pins Lethal, but Lethal kicks out. King offers his chair to Briscoe, placing it in the ring. Briscoe thinks about it, but at the urging of the crowd throws the chair down outside the ring. Lethal surprises Briscoe with an Ace Crusher. A superkick and the Lethal Injection follow, giving Lethal the win at 23:56. The King stuff was a bit silly but it allowed Jay Briscoe to show some character, as he still respects Lethal as a career rival. It was a battle of wits and endurance, and in their fifth encounter, Lethal took the “series” but not without controversy. These two have great chemistry, and even without championship stakes can put together a very fun and fulfilling contest. ***¾

“Defy or Deny” Elimination Match
Matt Taven vs. Flip Gordon vs. Mark Haskins vs. PCO

“State of the Art Night 2” – Portland, OR – 6.2.2019

If Matt Taven wins, whomever is the last wrestler eliminated cannot challenge him for the ROH World Championship as long as he is the champion. If Gordon, Haskins, or PCO are victorious, they will have earned a future ROH World Championship Match. Taven has already defeated all three of these men in previous title matches, albeit not without controversy. Haskins is still recovering from being put through a table by Bully Ray earlier in the event. Taven wisely stays ringside as the other three participants fight it out. Taven snuck in twice to try some schoolboy pins and bailed when they didn’t work. When he attacked PCO from behind, he found himself caught and felt the wrath of Haskins’, Gordon’s, and especially PCO’s chops. Taven attacks PCO’s eye, hitting him with a springboard gamengiri. Haskins knee strikes PCO into a sunset powerbomb to the floor on PCO. Haskins dives onto Gordon and Taven dives onto both of them. PCO dives onto everyone and pop-up powerbombs Taven back inside the ring. PCO impressively tombstones Taven while chokeslamming Gordon and Haskins, which brings Taven’s Kingdom partners TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia ringside. Taven hits PCO with a chair behind the referee’s back as he’s distracted by the Kingdom, but he does witness PCO using the chair in retaliation on Taven, which gets PCO disqualified at 14:49.

Haskins successfully takes down Taven. He fights off Gordon, landing a suicide dive, and has him positioned for the top rope double stomp when Taven cuts him off. Gordon kicks Taven down and Haskins nails his double stomp. Haskins then brings down Gordon and delivers the Soldier Shoulder Roll for two. After he gives Gordon the top rope double stomp, Taven schoolboys Haskins and holds his trunks, eliminating him at 19:22. Taven and Gordon fight their way up to the entrance stage. Gordon superkicks Taven, and Taven crawls down the stairs, where Gordon meets him with a flying Blockbuster! Once in the ring, Gordon goes for a 450 splash. Taven rolls outside and Gordon attempts a flying Frankesnsteiner. Instead, Taven catches Gordon and powerbombs him through the timekeeper’s table. Taven doesn’t risk a countout, instead throwing Gordon back in and landing a frog splash. Unfortunately for Taven, Gordon kicked out. Gordon also blocked the Climax with a Slingblade. Taven kicked out of both the Nightmare from Helms Street and a Falcon Arrow. Taven countered a TKO with the Climax, pinning Gordon at 26:51, temporarily dashing Gordon’s World Championship aspirations. In general I really like the concept of the match, giving three challengers who previously failed to win the World Title from the current champion one Hail Mary with a big risk attached just to challenge again. I liked that the Kingdom could technically interfere, as a ruling was made that they could not interfere in title matches, which this was not. I liked that Taven played into the rules better than the challengers, simply because he could afford to. I also appreciate that both PCO and Gordon’s losses had the crowd genuinely upset. There was a lot of extracurriculars to make this match more enjoyable, but when it boil it down, the wrestling and story were both very good and it helped to end this compilation on a positive note. ****

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