Cubed Circle Newsletter 192 – Jay Lethal’s Big Win, PWG From Out of Nowhere & More!
In this week’s newsletter we return to discuss not only this week’s WWE television programming, RAW and NXT, but also a Ring of Honor pay-per-view from a few weeks ago, a PWG show from the beginning of the year, and Mid-South TV from 1981!
– Ryan Clingman, Cubed Circle Newsletter Editor
Playing Catch-up – Part I: PWG ‘From Out of Nowhere’ and ROH ‘Best in the World’
As some readers may know, the first semester holidays began but a couple of weeks ago, meaning that I have approximately two more weeks to catch up on all of the pro-wres I missed both before and during exams. What I hope to do over the following two weeks is publish opinions in each week’s newsletter covering, briefly and in general, what I watched that week in terms of newer material. Originally, this was a project meant to get underway last week, but the Tsuruta/Misawa piece that I had a lot of fun writing got in the way of that. This week we will be taking a look at Ring of Honor’s ‘Best in the World’ internet-pay-per-view, as well as PWG’s ‘From Out of Nowhere’.
Ring of Honor: Best in the World June 19th 2015, Terminal 5, New York, New York
Terms such as “biggest match in the history of [insert company name]” are popular on two platforms, the first being the forever-home of hyperbole, the internet and its forums, and the other WWE’s television, which continuously pushes the latest forgettable match as supposedly the “biggest” or “most important” in company history. What people in both of these two sets lack is a sense of long-term context, through which to view a particular match or show – or, in the case of the WWE, an inability to effectively sell a story outside of the repeated use of now diluted terms, such as “greatest match ever” or “biggest rematch in WWE history”.
Whilst such terms may be misused more often than not, there are occasions when the conservative use of such phrases for a long time, followed by build to a specific show or match can pull off – as was the case with Mayweather/Pacquiao but a few months ago. Ring of Honor, on its many orders of magnitude smaller stage, attempted to create a similar atmosphere when building to Jay Lethal versus Jay Briscoe at their 2015 ‘Best in the World’ event in New York.
The show itself was an entertaining and easy to sit through three or so hours. With a single exception, none of the pre-mainevent content was blow-away by any means, however. Roderick Strong carried Michael Elgin and Moose to a respectable three-way, reDragon and The Addiction had what would have sounded like an outstanding ladder match in theory, but one that was inevitably disjointed in practice, and War Machine defeated C&C Wrestle Factory. The aforementioned exception was the Bullet Club versus Kingdom trios match with AJ Styles & The Young Bucks placed opposite Adam Cole, Mike Bennett & Matt Taven. Comprising much of the match was the standard Young Back fair, albeit entertaining as always. But, the addition of AJ Styles, coupled with a crowd highly anticipating the Bullet Club, this trios match was inevitably very good.
Regardless of the undercard, it was the main event that decided whether ‘Best in the World’ was worth the valuable words spent on it. The answer as to whether it was worth such strong build is, however, not as well defined as one would think – the answer will depend on your status as a viewer. For someone who follows and enjoys the current product, watching it on a weekly basis for a prolonged period, Jay versus Jay, with Lethal finally crowned World Champion would have meant a great deal. For those that came for the work and aren’t incredibly into the current product, then perhaps Lethal/Briscoe was somewhat of a let down. Understanding what the champion versus champion match was heading in, ultimately placed me on neutral ground. The show was good, and so was the main event, in fact the main event was great on a wrestling front, more over they put everything they could have into the match making it the best it could be. None the less, the resultant match lacked a degree of intensity that would have endeared it to me as either a match of the year candidate or, better yet, one of the best matches in Ring of Honor history.
The scene of Lethal standing tall with both titles, coupled with what was at the very least a good match, one that went close to half an hour and featured most of what I could have personally expected, ignoring any “biggest match in Ring of Honor history” promotion, Lethal/Briscoe was very good. Not only this, but Lethal, at least in my mind, is a far better champion and representative for the company than Briscoe, who I haven’t understood the appeal of since 2012. Was it a match as good as the main event of the first ‘Best in the World’ show, Davey Richards versus Eddie Edwards for the World Title? No. But, it was an entertaining main event outing, one that didn’t feel cheap or forced, and for those that are emotionally invested in the product, perhaps it was worthy of its promotional title – the majority of those in the arena most seemed to think so. That is, at least how it came across on video.
Pro-Wrestling Guerrila: From Out of Nowhere, February 27th, 2015, Reseda California
Southern California’s darling, Pro-Wrestling Guerrilla, in its first show of 2015, ‘From Out of Nowhere’, housed one of the better openers of the year thus far in the PWG debut of “Speed Ball” Mike Bailey, opposite Biff Busick. Bailey doesn’t have a very unique look or physical attributes, at least on first site. Aesthetically he wouldn’t look out of place as a double for Player Dos, or as an additional member of 3.0. He wrestles barefoot and walked out in a gi looking indie-rific and out of place amongst the pedigree of American indies in PWG. However, as a performer he is far from average, and with all due respect to 3.0 and the Smash Brothers, he possesses a working style far more dynamic and versatile.
He worked with Busick, who is one of the better workers on the indies, but even so he impressed with unique offence, big bumps, strong fire, and believable selling when needed. Bailey consequently submitted to Busick via rear-naked choke, but not before putting on not only one of the better PWG or pro-wrestling openers of the year, but what may finish as a top 15 level match in match of the year polls, at least pre-G1 Climax.
Elsewhere on the card Chris Hero and Drew Gulak worked an expectedly good mat battle, one that a couple of fans attempted to heckle before being swiftly reprimanded by the majority of the fans in Reseda. There did exist a strange slow count, which the crowd did not take kindly too, and this unfortunately deflated the match somewhat. Gulak’s offence, in comparison with Hero’s, also looked far less crisp and defined, which is okay given Gulak’s slick mat work and the nature of style battles of this sort. I would, regardless, like to see Gulak improve in that regard, as he is otherwise fairly close to the model of a complete worker in the 2015 indies.
Matt Sydal and Ricochet followed in what was obviously a match of a completely different sort to what preceeded it. Due to what can be less than optimal Reseda audio, the words of a heckler were muffled and near unintelligible. Still, it was quite clearly audible in the building, as both men stopped their early work, and a large portion of the audience showered the ill-fated heckler with expletives, insults, and general ridicule. The fans later broke out in an “Ayahuasca” chant in reference to Sydal speaking of the brew in an interview with Colt Cabana on ‘The Art of Wrestling’ podcast. Ricochet pinned Sydal, but not before Sydal landed a meteora to the outside, which for the sake of his knees, I hope was a unique occurrence. Whilst by no means spectacular, the frantic work, crowd interplay, and playful attitude of both men made this a fun outing.
What was a little too playful for my tastes was the Young Bucks versus Ethan Page & Josh Alexander tag that followed, however. The Bucks pointed out Dave Meltzer sitting in the front row, and proclaimed that they were his favourite tag team and the best in the world. Sadly, we didn’t get a Dave Meltzer run-in. What followed was a wacky spotfest that I didn’t, for the most part, find all too entertaining. The fans chanting for the Meltzer Driver whilst Dave himself was in attendance, which resulted in the Bucks signalling to Meltzer before landing the spectacular move for the win.
Finally, in the main event, Roderick Strong defended his PWG title against the impressive rookie, Trevor Lee. They attempted to work a big-match style championship bout, and it worked. The match was far from Strong’s best performance of the year thus far, and given the already impressive talents of Trevor Lee, I wouldn’t expect it to be his best either. Regardless, both men worked hard and presented a very good main event, and most probably the second best match on the show behind the opener. Perhaps even more importantly, Strong challenged Zack Sabre Jr. in the post-match for ‘Don’t Swat the Technique’ in what should be a great match – one that we will most probably cover next week.
ROH June 19th 2015:
Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal **** ¼
The Addiction vs. reDragon *** ½
The Young Bucks & AJ Styles vs. Adam Cole, Matt Taven & Mike Bennett *** ¾
Roderick Strong vs. Michael Elgin vs. Moose ** ¾
C&C Wrestle Factory vs. War Machine ** ½
PWG February 27th 2015:
Mike Bailey vs. Biff Busick **** ½
Drew Gulak vs. Chris Hero *** ¾
Ricochet vs. Matt Sydal *** ½
Young Bucks vs. Ethan Page & Josh Alexander: ** ¼
Roderick Strong vs. Trevor Lee *** ¾
Next week we will be looking at New Japan’s Dominion Show, PWG’s ‘Don’t Sweat the Technique’, and some 1990 FMW.
Bits & Pieces
In what is very much a “I can’t believe this exists” internet deal, there now exists two fantastic twitter accounts, @ShinAsBeaches and @OkadaAsIceCream. They juxtapose pictures of Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchika with beaches and ice-cream respectfully based on the colour-scheme of the photo.
Next Week’s Issue
We have a big issue planned for next week covering New Japan’s Dominion show, WWE’s Japanese house show, PWG’s critically acclaimed ‘Don’t Sweat the Technique’, RAW, NXT, the ratings, and more!
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Ryan Clingman’s Twitter : @RyanClingman