KELLER & MARTIN FLAGSHIP (12/19)
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ROH TV REPORT (ep. 434)
JANUARY 10, 2020
AIRED ON SINCLAIR SYNDICATED TV & ROHWRESTLING.COM
REPORT BY RYAN SULLIVAN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hosts: Ian Riccaboni and Quinn McKay
-The opening theme aired.
-They opened with a video package showing highlights of the first Alex Shelley and Jonathan Gresham match.
-Ian and Quinn appear on-screen and discuss the influx of new talent that has arrived recently, noting Bateman, Flamita, Dan Maff and Ray Horus. This allows Quinn to segue into Horus vs. Flip Gordon from Final Battle Fallout.
-A lengthy video package was shown of large portions of the match between Flip and Horus. After showing nearly three minutes of action, Flip won with a submission victory, using a variation of John Cena’s STF.
(Ryan’s Reaction: Why only show three minutes of this tremendous 15 minute matchup? I was in the building live for this match, and it was amazing. ROH made a mistake showing so little of this outstanding bout.) [c]
-Back from commercial, Brian Johnson is shown leaving the locker room in a terrible mood. P.J. Black is coincidently sitting on a bench as Johnson passes, and again says to Johnson, “I want to mentor you”. “No!” replied Johnson, frustrated at having to repeat a previous conversation. Black replied with “You want to get booked on TV, or not”? Johnson left without responding, but obviously conflicted with this decision.
(1) CROWBAR (w/Mrs. Crowbar) & MASKED MAN vs. ELI ISOM
As Crowbar approached the ring, a fan could be seen hilariously mimicking Bret Hart’s infamous WCW written gesture in tribute to Crowbar’s time in the promotion. Crowbar cut a decent, but difficult to describe promo pre-match. Isom also did a pre-taped promo before the match, talking about returning legends like PCO, Dan Maff and tonight’s opponent Crowbar coming back to Ring of Honor, but as a representative of the new generation in ROH, he will NOT be defeated.
Crowbar opened the match working as a heel, and controlled most of the action. When Isom would try to forge a comeback, Crowbar’s managers would serve as a helpful distraction. (c)
Returning “live”, Crowbar was punishing Isom outside the ring and continued on the offensive for a couple moments. The finish saw Isom hit a devastating running lariat on Crowbar, before delivering a Brain Buster for the 1-2-3.
WINNER: Eli Isom at 8:22
(Ryan’s Reaction: This match was fine, and credit to Isom for getting such a good match out of the veteran Crowbar. But, I have to question why ROH decided to show the entirety of this slow, plodding contest, rather than the clearly superior Gordon vs Horus match earlier. The company showed the match conclusion and Horus taking the loss, the only two reasons to feature Isom vs. Crowbar over Flip vs. Horus. Bad decision ROH.)
-Abruptly after the match they shifted to a video package showing Maria Manic attempting to power slam Angelina Love through a table at Final Battle Fallout. Of course, Bully Ray interrupts the action, and choke slammed Manic through a table.
-Next, Brian Zane was heard off-camera trying to interview Bully Ray about why he attacked Maria Manic. Bully bullies Zane for a bit, asking him where they were (ECW Arena) and what was Maria trying to do (use a table). Bully said “If you pull out a table in his house, you should expect repercussions.” Then he repeated the word “disrespect” several times. (c)
-Back from commercial, all of Shinobi Shadow Squad (Cheeseburger, Eli Isom and Ryan Nova) was in the ring. Cheeseburger said that 2020 will be their year, and then challenged any tag-team in the back to face him and Nova. Without a second of hesitation, the Soldiers of Savagery’s music hit.
(2) SHINOBI SHADOW SQUAD (Cheeseburger & Ryan Nova w/ Eli Isom) vs. THE SOLDIERS OF SAVAGERY (Moses & Kaun)
S3 got out to a quick advantage, before SoS’s size advantage helped them gain control. SoS dominated the action, beating on Cheeseburger before he got the “hot tag” to Nova. The finish occurred when Moses hit a bowling ball style somersault on both Cheeseburger and Nova on the outside, followed by their Coin Till finisher on Nova for the victory.
WINNERS: Soldiers of Savagery at 5:02
(Ryan’s Reaction: This match went far too long, and needed to be a 90 second squash by SoS. If we are going to believe they are a menacing tag-team and the new version of War Machine, they should be destroying enhancement talents like Nova and Cheeseburger. Not to mention, they decide to air this match and Isom vs. Crowbar both in their entirety, but can only show three minutes of Flip and Horus? Flip those around, pun intended, and the first half of this show is a home run. Instead, it feels like a C.)
-Ian and Quinn are back on-screen, promoting the upcoming shows in Atlanta and Concord, North Carolina. Then, graphics are shown for each individual match on the card, before we go to commercial. (c)
-Back “live” we head straight to the ring for the main event.
(3) JONATHAN GRESHAM (w/Jay Lethal) vs. ALEX SHELLEY
The announcers were putting over Gresham’s new championship on his way to the ring. Shelley was playing the face in this contest, but it felt like most of the crowd was rooting for Gresham. The match started slowly early, with each man trying to establish himself as the superior mat wrestler. [c]
Shelley gained control after the break, consistently staying one move ahead of Gresham. Mid-match, Gresham reversed the momentum and put Shelley in a variation of the figure-four leg lock, which Shelley sold for the duration of the match. (c)
Shelley tried to mount several comebacks, but Gresham stifled these attempts by attacking the injured left knee. The finish saw them trade at least a dozen pinning attempts before Gresham caught Shelley in a part half-nelson, part one-arm leg cradle for the 1-2-3.
WINNER: Jonathan Gresham at 11:08
(Ryan’s Reaction: Terrific match, and reminiscent of the matches Ring of Honor build its legacy on many years ago. I liked Gresham getting his victory back, and they left enough in their story to have another matchup on a PPV, or make this a Best of Series in 2020. Certainly Alex Shelley’s upcoming appearance in the Dusty Rhodes Classic complicates this, but I hope to see this match again in ROH this year.)
-After the match, Gresham acted elated and thrilled with his accomplishment. Shelley, on the other hand, was clearly frustrated, but showed proper respect to Gresham after the match, extending his hand. They both kept their eyes intently locked on each other, but shook each other’s hand for the Code of Honor before Shelley left the ring.
-Gresham and Lethal were shown celebrating as the cameras go off the air.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The first half of the show was mediocre and the decision to not air the entire Flip Gordon and Ray Horus match feels inexcusable. The second half of the show was tremendous. I feel like ROH has had a couple consecutive good months, and I feel the tide is slowly turning in a positive direction for the company.