ROH War of the Worlds UK 2017: They Lost the War

War of the World UK 2017
Date: August 19, 2017
Location: Liverpool Olympia, Liverpool, England
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, BJ Whitmer

So this is a show that exists. I mean, you would have almost no idea about it if you just watched the regular TV show because they only mentioned it halfway through the go home show but it does in fact exist. There is such little effort being put into this show and I’m worried about how bad it’s going to be as a result. Let’s get to it.

The version I’m watching includes the announcers’ introductions (and them asking if they can hear each other in a quick sound check) and the pre-show match.

Pre-Show: The Boys vs. CCK

CCK (Chris Brookes/Travis Banks, the Commonwealth Catch Kings) are from the UK based Rev Pro promotion and their Tag Team Titles aren’t on the line. It’s a brawl to start with the Boys taking down the giant Brookes (probably a foot taller than anyone else in the match) down by the legs. It’s Banks and we’ll say Boy #1 starting things off with #1 being tossed over the corner to land on the apron.

Some double teaming drops Banks though as the announcers aren’t sure which Boy is which. Back in and Brookes puts Banks on his shoulders and launches him at #2 for a Codebreaker in a sweet spot. Brookes even drops a backsplash onto #2 for good measure as the beating begins. In what must be British humor, Chris puts #2 in a camel clutch and both members of CCK stick their fingers in Chris’ mouth and then into #2’s ears.

Some Twin Magic allows #1 to come in and grab a suplex as everything breaks down. The Boys hit stereo dives but Brookes catches #1 in a hanging swinging neckbreaker for two. #1 sends CCK into each other and brings in #2 for a Backstabber. Not that it matters as Banks grabs a fisherman’s driver for the pin on #2 at 6:36.

Rating: C-. Just a tag match here for the sake of firing up the crowd. I’m not sure how smart it is to have your champions lose to some outsiders but then again ROH has never really cared all that much about protecting its titles. I mean, why bother worrying about your own talent when you can put over someone else’s talent? The match was watchable with some nice spots but there’s a reason it was just a dark match.

Opening sequence.

Adam Page vs. Kenny King

Fallout from Page costing King his TV Title shot. They hit the ropes to start until Page misses a standing shooting star and King misses a spinwheel kick to give us a standoff. Both of them wind up on the floor with Page running him over before taking him back inside for Old School, capped off by a thumb to the eye instead of anything else. See he’s in the Bullet Club and needs to do “cute” stuff like that. A sunset flip out of the corner gives King two and it’s off to a seated abdominal stretch.

That goes nowhere so King grabs a spinebuster for two more. Since selling isn’t a thing in ROH, Page is back up with a neckbreaker over the ropes and a tabletop suplex for two. King kicks him in the head again and hits a flip dive out to the floor. The springboard Blockbuster gives King two but he gets caught with the slingshot clothesline for the same. The Rite of Passage is broken up and it’s another kick to the head to set up the Royal Flush to pin Page at 8:43.

Rating: C-. This was the Ring of Honor “style” in a nutshell: no psychology, no storytelling, no transitions between moves and little more than “I do a spot and then you do a spot”. It completely felt like getting their stuff in and leaving, which isn’t what I’m really wanting to see. Some of the spots were good but it felt like just a bunch of stuff instead of a match and that’s not good.

Ultimo Guerrero/Rey Buccanero vs. Titan/Mistico

Under lucha rules of course. I don’t know if ROH brings in these teams because they think it’s more interesting than their roster or if they don’t have enough talent to fill out a show on their own. The more I watch their stuff, the more I think it’s the latter and that’s not good. Mistico and Buccanero start things off and it’s a LUCHA LIBRE chant to spice things up a bit.

The much bigger Rey turns Mistico inside out with a shot to the mask and it’s a quick exchange of near falls. Guerrero and Titan come in with Titan hand walking away from a clothesline and headscissoring Guerrero to the floor. Titan’s flip dive is countered into a powerbomb on the floor though, leaving Buccanero to go after Mistico’s mask.

Everyone heads to the floor with Guerrero jumping over Rey to crash onto both smaller guys at once. Back in and Buccanero moonsaults onto Titan, whose back is over Guerrero’s ribs. A slingshot dropkick in the corner has Titan in trouble but he pops back up with a double handspring elbow.

It’s off to Mistico for a hurricanrana each as everything breaks down. Guerrero superbombs Mistico but gets kicked in the head, allowing Titan to come back in. Why things settled back down isn’t clear but lucha matches aren’t exactly built on enforcing structure (not a bad thing). Titan springboards in with a dropkick to Buccanero before sending him outside for an Asai moonsault. Mistico moonsaults onto Rey as well, leaving Guerrero to hit the Guerrero Special (reverse superplex) to put Titan away at 11:34.

Rating: C+. Better match than I was expecting here though the fans cheering all four guys when Guerrero and Buccanero were trying to play heel was odd. The other problem, and I’m sure you’ve heard me say this many times (and I’ll keep at it as long as it’s a problem): I don’t know who these people are and I have no reason to care.

The background I received here: Buccanero and Guerrero were the Observer’s Tag Team of the Decade for 2000-2009. Uh, great, and what have they done in Ring of Honor? Or in the last eight years for that matter? As usual, it feels like I need to have a lot of outside knowledge coming in to get a lot of this stuff and when the show is barely advertised in the first place, that’s hardly a good way to expand your product.

The announcers talk about Sanada’s vertical leap.

Jay Lethal vs. Josh Bodom

Bodom’s British Cruiserweight Title isn’t on the line. I’ve seen Bodom’s work before and wasn’t that impressed but maybe a better opponent will help. They exchange wristlock counters to start until Lethal blocks a hiptoss and grabs a swinging neckbreaker. A springboard dropkick puts Bodom on the floor but he comes back in with a hurricanrana. There’s a dropkick to really stagger Lethal, though not enough that he can’t hit his cartwheel into a dropkick of his own.

A missile dropkick misses and Bodom knees him in the head. Bodom grabs a reverse hurricanrana to put him outside, followed by a middle rope moonsault. Back in and a top rope double stomp to the back of Jay’s head, followed by a standing shooting star, gives Josh a near fall. The Lethal Combination gets Jay out of trouble and Hail to the King gets two. We hit the Figure Four but cue Silas Young for a distraction. Not that it matters as the Lethal Injection is good enough to pin Bodom at 9:18.

Rating: C-. Ok so maybe it is Bodom. This did nothing for me, again, and that’s not a positive sign when we’re only on the third match. Lethal shrugged off the distraction and won anyway, making me think that Lethal vs. Young was the right move here. You know, a match between two people with a story and who happen to actually WORK FOR RING OF HONOR. There were some moments here but it didn’t work, again.

Young beats Lethal down post match.

Bully Ray/Briscoe Brothers vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon

Bushi/Evil/Tetsuya Naito for Los Ingobernables here. The fans are just CRAZY for Naito but he brings in Bushi to start with Mark instead. An early hurricanrana sends Mark into the corner so it’s already off to Jay for some harder hitting offense. Evil comes in to rake his eyes and shoulder Jay down, only to get kicked in the face. Bushi gets sent into the wrong corner and actually calls out Bully Ray. Well he certainly has guts.

Ray comes in and rips Bushi’s shirt open for some chops before calling in Naito. They take turns sidestepping each others’ lockup attempts as there’s no contact for over a minute. Even the lockup gets a cheer and Naito grabs a headlock with a fist going into the eye. It’s back to Jay for some stomping but Naito rips at his eye too. Bushi comes in with a missile dropkick and we finally hit a heat segment.

That lasts all of a few seconds as Jay dropkicks Evil and brings Mark back in to speed things up. Everything breaks down with Bully coming back in to clean house. Evil is in line for What’s Up but Naito dives onto the mat with his signature pose to block Mark’s dive. Ok that was clever. It’s Bully taking something like What’s Up (Ray: “OW MY BALLS!” Ian: “I didn’t know Bushi was a baller!”) but Bushi mists Evil by mistake. The 3D ends Evil at 13:35.

Rating: B-. This was starting to look really good but they spent a bit too much time with the goofiness instead of the actual match. Los Ingobernables are growing on me every time I see them and Naito is clearly one of the top stars in New Japan. Giving the Briscoes and Bully the win was a nice surprise as I would have bet on them going with the New Japan guys in one of the bigger matches so it was a nice twist.

Post match, Bully and Naito have a pose off for some reason. I’m not sure if Ring of Honor thinks Bully is on Naito’s level but that’s not quite the case….I don’t think.

Intermission eats up about twenty minutes.

The announcers talk about what’s left on the card.

Silas Young vs. Mark Haskins

Mark is a British high flier and the referee is taller than both guys in a weird visual. A drop toehold just annoys Silas (like it’s so hard) and they slug it out with Haskins actually getting the better of it off a kick to the face. Young bails to the floor and gets faked out off a dive, setting up the regular version on the adjacent side of the ring. Nice little sequence there.

Silas is right back with an apron powerbomb to take over for the first time but we slow down for the trash talk. A middle rope jumping back rake (that’s a new one) sets up a lariat (that’s an old one) for two. Haskins gets sick of being slapped in the face and comes back with some rapid fire forearms before rolling into a modified Fujiwara armbar.

It’s off to a Sharpshooter instead but Silas is way too close to the ropes. An electric chair faceplant and a short DDT give Young two and the short lariat is good for the same. Misery is loaded up but here’s Lethal for a distraction, allowing Haskins to roll into a Samoan driver for the pin at 10:14.

Rating: C+. The ending was fine as it helps to play up the Lethal vs. Young feud, which has been one of the better things in Ring of Honor as of late. Haskins was a fan favorite though he didn’t really show me anything that I haven’t seen from a lot of other wrestlers. Still though, good match as the show continues to pick up a bit.

Referees break up Silas vs. Jay.

TV Title: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dalton Castle vs. Marty Scurll vs. Kushida

Kushida is defending and it’s one fall to a finish. Scurll is of course beloved in his home country. Kushida and Scurll head outside, leaving Takahashi and Castle to play with the former’s doll Daryl (who is apparently a big thing). Takahashi gets caught between the peacock pose and the bird pose, allowing Kushida to springboard in with an elbow to the head. Now Daryl is on commentary and the announcers ask him questions because the idea of being serious around here is just not happening.

Takahashi comes back in to take out Kushida’s knee, only to stop to meow at Castle. Dalton stops for his strut but gets superkicked by Scurll. Kushida grabs the cross armbreaker to make Takahashi tap on the floor but gets suplexed into the corner back inside. With Kushida down, Takahashi tries a sunset bomb to send Castle to the floor but the Boys make a save.

Back inside and Scurll hits a modified piledriver and a running knee for two on Takahashi. Castle breaks up the chickenwing attempt with a German suplex before Kushida comes back in for a pinfall reversal sequence with Scurll. It’s Castle suplexing everyone in sight but getting sent to the floor.

Scurll misses a moonsault and takes one from Kushida for two. Kushida flips into the chickenwing but slips out into the Hoverboard Lock. Castle and Takahashi grab stereo German suplexes for the save and everyone is down. Cue Adam Page for a distraction so Scurll can hit Castle with the umbrella, only to have Kushida punch him down. Back to the Future on Castle retains the title at 11:28.

Rating: B-. Fun match if you ignore all the nonsense with Daryl (which to be fair wasn’t all that much). Castle losing via shenanigans helps a bit though he needs to actually win something at some point. Scurll continues to grow on me a lot, even if his in-ring stuff isn’t anything great. Takahashi is just kind of there, though maybe he’s just one of those characters that I don’t get.

Kushida shakes Castle’s hand. You know, just after dropping him on his head to beat him.

Tag Team Titles: Addiction vs. Young Bucks

The Bucks are defending because Heaven forbid they’re not holding titles. Addiction jumps them during the Big Match Intros to Ian’s annoyance, which I guess means the Bucks are faces tonight. The Bucks easily fight them off with dropkicks so we hit the Rise of the Terminator pose. Matt gets sent to the apron where Daniels pulls him face first down as the champs are in some trouble. Eh I give it thirty seconds.

Back in and Matt gets stomped down in the corner, followed by a low bridge to the floor. The beating continues with a face to the knee and an STO to give Daniels two. Daniels’ Lionsault hits knees though and it’s off to Nick off the hot tag. The Bucks speed things up with the double kicks to Daniels in the corner and a Backstabber for no cover. It’s off to the Sharpshooter because the Bucks needed another finisher.

Everything breaks down and it’s an Unprettier to Nick but Matt hurricanranas his way out of Angel’s Wings. Kazarian breaks up a Sharpshooter on Daniels and it’s time for everyone to punch everyone. The Bucks get the better of it but More Bang For Your Buck is broken up. Daniels hits the BME for two on Nick, followed by a sitout powerbomb/neckbreaker combo for the same. Back up and Daniels goes up top, only to get caught in the Tree of Woe. That leaves Kazarian in trouble, meaning it’s the Meltzer Driver to retain the titles at 13:30.

Rating: B. As is almost always the case, whenever the Bucks don’t just spam superkicks, they’re far more competitive. The problem though continues to be that there’s no reason to believe they’ll win. Even if they drop the titles, you know full well that they’ll be getting them back anytime because that’s just how Ring of Honor and New Japan roll. I’m starting to like their work better, but then they’ll just do thirty five superkicks in a match again to mess that up.

ROH World Title: Sanada vs. Cody

Cody is defending and won’t shake hands to start. Jerk. We hit the long form stall to start as Cody isn’t cool with the fans being behind Sanada. No contact in the first two minutes. A nice little technical sequence really gets us going with both guys trying headlock takeovers but getting reversed into a headscissors before they try dropkicks at the same time for a standoff.

Now it’s Sanada who won’t shake hands as they’re mirroring each other so far. The Beautiful Disaster is countered with a dropkick and Cody takes another breather on the floor. Cue Naito to cut off an escape attempt so Cody throws Ian into Sanada. Did England not get the notice about Cody turning face? Back in and Cody flips off the fans before getting two off a delayed gordbuster.

An armdrag pulls Sanada off the top but Cody would rather channel his inner Scott Steiner with some push-ups. After more stalling (WAY too much of that so far), Cody grabs a quickly broken half crab. Instead it’s that modified Indian Deathlock to send Sanada slowly crawling to the ropes and then the floor. Cody switches places with him but gets knocked off the apron and into the announcers.

Back in and Sanada ties him up for the dropkick to the hip, only to get caught with the Beautiful Disaster. Cody misses the moonsault press though and la majistral gives Sanada two. A TKO gives him the same but Cody spits at him. That just earns the champ some right hands to the jaw and we have a ref bump.

Cross Rhodes gets no count but Sanada’s rollup gets two, only to be countered into a LeBell Lock. With that broken up, Cody shouts that he’s waiting on Brian Danielson. Cody loads up a superplex but gets countered into a powerbomb for two. Back up and Sanada grabs the dragon sleeper, only to have Cody flip over into Cross Rhodes to retain at 20:02.

Rating: D+. This was WAY too long and felt like a televised midcard title match instead of a pay per view World Title defense. The ref bump didn’t need to be there and Cody looked like he was more interested in wasting time than defending the title. Not a good match at all, even with Sanada doing whatever he could to make it work.

Post match Cody grabs the mic and insults the Liverpool fans for being so poor. He’ll defend the title against anyone so here’s Dalton Castle (thankfully with his title) to interrupt. Dalton doesn’t understand why Cody doesn’t like these people because he loves them. Castle is no silly goose and the only reason he’s not the TV Champion is Cody sending Page out during their match. If Cody wants to know who’s left, Dalton Castle is left. Cody bails and Castle thanks the fans for coming out to end the show.

Overall Rating: D+. This did not need to be a pay per view and it was clear that there wasn’t a ton of effort put into it (into the build, not the wrestlers/wrestling). There was almost nothing in the way of story advancement outside of the ending with the wrestling not being enough to carry things. Things got better in the second half but I really wasn’t feeling most of the show. The fact that I didn’t know about the pay per view until less than a week before the show tells you almost everything you need to know about the card and that’s really not a good thing. There are worse shows, but few more lifeless ones, which is a lot worse.

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