Shore's ROH Border Wars Hitlist: Eddie Edwards vs. Taiji Ishimori impresses, Adam Cole teases a heel turn, SCUM puts Steve Corino on the mic, Tomasso Ciampa returns for a split second, and Paul London almost dies twice
By Chris Shore
ROH Border Wars Hits
Eddie Edwards vs. Taiji Ishimori: Yes, I was critical of matches with no background story and this is one of those matches. Had this match had a story behind it, we might have died watching it because this match was over-the-top good. There was one silly spot early where Edwards had to stand there forever just to take standing moonsault, but after that it was crisp, and logical, and breathtaking at times. As I said in my report, if you have ever thought about trying indy wrestling, this is the match to cut your teeth on.
Adam Cole vs. Jay Briscoe: A very good match that started well, dragged a little in the middle, and then had a great (if somewhat overbooked) finish sequence. Several people have asked what I meant by a possible Briscoe heel turn. It's just a hunch that ROH will take the "they'll never see it coming, brother" mentality and have Corino's actions be helping Jay on the sly while looking like he's trying to recruit Jay's opponents. Cole had that moment where he could have turned heel, and he does work heel just about everywhere else in the indies, so they may go with the obvious story. Whatever happens, even with the ref bump and the run-in from non-wrestling personalities, this match was still a Hit.
SCUM wins tag match: Even though this match started in a way that killed the match before it, and even though this match was also chock full of shenanigans, SCUM winning the match is still a hit because it puts Steve Corino in the color commentator role. ROH has been searching for the guy to join Kevin Kelly since the show started on Sinclair and now they have him. Corino will bring credibility to the spot, but I worry about him being the faction leader. That's going to give him plenty of opportunities to heel it up, but it's also going to make putting guys over a little tougher. Still, Corino is a hell of a talker, and if anyone can make the act work, it’s him. Bonus points for the Kevin Steen run-in, even if it did add to the already convoluted nature of the match.
Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman vs. ACH and TaDarius Thomas: When you put a card together, picking the opening match is critical. You need the guys in it to go out and get the crowd super-hot, but they can't go so far that it blows the crowd out. The four men in this match had the perfect opener. It was a little sloppy at times, with guys flying all over the ring, but it set a nice pace and endeared both teams to the crowd. That's definitely a Hit.
Overall Show: Yes, I have several misses listed, but none of them killed the momentum of the show. This show looked a mess on paper, and in some ways it was a mess, but I thoroughly enjoyed the show and felt like the time flew by. If you haven't seen the show, I recommend the replay. It's worth the money. Just turn your head toward the end of the Davey Richards vs. Paul London match. I'm hurting just thinking about it.
ROH Border Wars Misses
Paul London continues match: Paul London and Davey Richards had a very good match, but it was all swept to the side when London climbed on the top rope for the shooting star press after getting knocked out by a botched top rope double stomp by Richards. I freely admit I do not know for a fact that London was legit knocked out, but I've seen a lot of guys get knocked out and finish matches and this sure as hell looked like those times. When you add in how rough London took the knee to the chest on the SSP, it all leads to a very dangerous situation that should have been avoided.
I realize that guys get hurt and the show must go on. Tomasso Ciampa tore his ACL in the first minute of a match last year and wrestled another 15 or so to finish the match. That's dumb, but not near as dumb as climbing to the top rope after being knocked silly, where you could, quite literally, fall to your death. Davey Richards and/or referee Paul Turner should have called an audible in the ring and absolutely refused to go with the planned finish (which I'm assuming is what we got.) Safety must come first. If I ran ROH, both Richards and Turner would have some serious explaining to do today.
Rhett Titus vs. BJ Whitmer in an I Quit match: While the match itself wasn't bad, it felt like the feud hadn't quite reached "I quit" levels yet, and the weird ass finish, coupled with the immediate transition to the tag match, makes this a miss. The biggest miss stems from the finish. Why did Steve Corino offer himself up as a sacrifice? Why didn't Whitmer hit him with the chair anyway? We don't know because the show just moved on to the tag match, sweeping this whole match under the rug in the process.
Tomasso Ciampa's return: Do not misunderstand, Ciampa returning is not a miss. Nor was the way in which he actually returned. What was a miss is that he made an appearance, ran off RD Evans and QT Marshall and then left. No match, no promo, no nothing. Just, "Hey, I'm back,"' and then we were off to the Eddie Edwards match. With the TV show still about a week behind because of how they tape TV, there's no chance to follow up immediately and reestablish Ciampa. They will have to wait two weeks, and by then the events of the show will seem like ancient history. I'm happy to have Ciampa back, but they should have done a little more here to make sure everyone is happy he's back.
Mark Briscoe vs. Matt Taven: While I thought the match was pretty good, the finish and post-match silliness made this a miss. Truth Martini's "hoopla" gimmick is terrible, not cutting edge. Scarlett is hot, waaaaaaay hot, but the sexual innuendo is just blah. I know all the "THE ATTITUDE ERA WAS THE GREATEST THING EVAH!!!!!!!!" folks thinks this will put asses in the seats, but it won't. Taven is a good worker, and Martini is a better than average talker, but the act feels forced and uncomfortable, not hip and radical.
Mike Bennett vs. Roderick Strong: This match was a mess, but it wasn't because of what happened in the ring. The triple threat match that was scheduled didn't have a lot of story behind it, and then when Mike Mondo got hurt, the dynamic of two heels meant this was starting in a whole too big to climb out of. They tried though, God bless them. Bennett and Strong had great chemistry in the ring, and Cheeseburger's run-in was hilarious, but the crowd was flat for most of the match because they just weren't sure who to cheer for, so it's a miss. Also a miss? Bennett's new haircut. Now he looks like every other regular Joe. I didn't like the super scraggly look he had for a while either, but he went too short on this cut.
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