April 27, 2018
Ricky Morton . . . has obviously slowed down in recent years, but, shows that he’s still got it!
Willie Mack . . . shows incredible athleticism and agility for a man of his size.
Nick Aldis . . . shows that he won’t let a crimson mask get in the way of defending the NWA Title.
WILD CARD BATTLE ROYAL
This is kept short, and has most of the occurrences that one would expect to see in a battle royal. Several guys are eliminated in short order, leading to an elimination where someone gets tossed onto the pile. The biggest threat, in this case the Dawson bros, get eliminated due to a mis-communication for one, and then the others teaming up to take out the other one. The biggest underdogs, in this case The Boys (who are apparently delineated as Number One and Number Two) apparently win, but then Isaacs and Lattimer (who everyone thought were eliminated) come back in and eliminate them to win the match for real.
Crockett Cup: BANDIDO/FLIP GORDON vs. GUERRERO MAYA Jr./STUKA Jr.
It’s fun to watch as an exhibition, but there isn’t anything here that’s especially deep. I suppose it’s notable that Gordon’s errant superkick early on doesn’t cause their team to break down, although it does make me question the wisdom of doing the Tower of Doom spot, and I was wondering if Gordon had an ulterior motive like softening up Bandido for their upcoming match, since he’d have taken the hardest fall. The work is mostly smooth, although there is some hesitation early on, especially with the two monkey flips given to Bandido. The only really questionable spot was the Destroyer from Stuka, after he failed to give Bandido a regular piledriver. The match lets all four show off their flying and agility (which is especially impressive from Stuka), it shows that Gordon’s knee has healed up nicely, and that he and Bandido aren’t distracted by having an upcoming match against each other, and then mostly gets out of the way.
Crockett Cup: ROY ISAACS/THOMAS LATTIMER vs. JAX DANE/CRIMSON
It’s a bit surprising to me that Isaacs and Lattimer are the heels, seeing as they’re the ones with their backs to the wall, having already worked the battle royal. They do a decent enough job of working over Crimson to build some heat for Dane’s hot tag, they show that they’re getting somewhere when the crowd gets noticeably riled up when they bait in Dane to distract the ref and then double team Crimson behind his back. Of course, Crimson isn’t exactly Ricky Morton, Marty Jannetty, or Tommy Rogers for taking a beating. Crimson gets the lucky break and makes the hot tag, the match breaks down, and the heels cheat to win. All things considered, Isaacs didn’t need to use the ropes for the pin. He’d already hurt Crimson’s knee by using the post, so the cradle by itself should have been enough.
Crockett Cup: JAY BRISCOE/MARK BRISCOE vs. RICKY MORTON/ROBERT GIBSON
It’s not just a catchphrase, Rock and Roll really is here to stay! Being in their sixties, they obviously aren’t as fast or as smooth as they were in their heyday, but they still pull off their signature stuff like the rana, double dropkick, and the rocket launcher. Ricky’s selling isn’t the same as it was when Dennis Condrey was cranking an armbar in the Irish McNeil Boys Club, but, when the Briscoes bust him open and work the cut over, he still shows flashes of the old days. This is hardly a competitive match, and it doesn’t need to be. The Briscoes are the top seed for a reason, and after they give fans a few minutes to reminisce, they get down to business and advance in a relatively easy fashion. Winning with the DVD/Froggy Elbow combo is smart for two reasons. First, they shouldn’t need to bust out the big guns to beat this team, and they’re also two safe bumps for Ricky to take, as opposed to the Jay driller or Doomsday Device.
Crockett Cup: BRODY KING/PIERRE CARL OUELLET vs. YUJI NAGATA/SATOSHI KOJIMA
The best way to sum up this match is that they create a few memorable moments, but, this never feels like a cohesive match. Nagata countering Brody into an armbar is probably the best moment of the match, but, aside from a little bit of selling afterwards, Brody forgets all about it. Hell, Brody surprises Kojima with a lariat before doing the Cradle Shock for the win. So, there was a chance to put the arm into focus, even momentarily. PCO’s dive, and Kojima’s chop flurry in the corner both get good crowd reactions, but, neither of them truly means anything as far the match or the result goes. It probably gives Brody and PCO some rub to beat the two legends, but, unlike the previous match where the legends showed their stuff and got out of there, this tries to be competitive and comes up short as a result.
SANTANA GARRETT vs. ALLYSIN KAY (Decision Match for the NWA Women’s Title)
The work here is more ugly than it is bad. Most of the complex sequences, especially early in the match, look like they’re being done in slow motion. It also doesn’t help that they seem to want to rely on strikes, despite most of their strikes not looking very good. There are a few good things here from AK, such as the mean streak she tries to show when she’s working holds on Santana, and she adds a smart touch after they both connect with kicks, and AK wiggles her jaw to make sure nothing is broken or dislocated.
Overall, the match feels like they’re just taking turns doing their stuff, rather than telling a story or making their spots matter. At one point Santana gets some momentum going and hits a handspring elbow and attempts the bulldog, only for AK to block it. But, the next sequence is Santana countering AK and giving her a Muta lock. They could have gotten to the same place by just letting Santana stay in control and do the bulldog. The finish is AK hitting her discus lariat after Santana misses her moonsault. It’s a decent finish, but they could have made it better by having the earlier work mean more.
Crockett Cup: ROY ISAACS/THOMAS LATTIMER VS. FLIP GORDON/BANDIDO
When Isaacs and Lattimer were being complete jerks and working over Flip’s knee, this was a fun match that should have gone on for fifteen minutes rather than half of that. It feels like they were laying the groundwork for a traditional southern tag match, and then had to wrap things up early. Flip and Bandido get more chances to show their speed and athleticism, and Bandido manages to get both Isaacs and Lattimer up for suplexes, and it works because Bandido shows the strain and effort it takes to pull it off, rather than them going up for him effortlessly.
Just after Gordon and Bandido hit a pair of dives, Flip hurts his knee doing a 450 and the heels start to shark on it. Isaacs and Lattimer don’t do anything especially flashy, it’s a lot of kicking, stomping, and using the ropes, but Flip’s selling makes up for it. But, just after Isaacs cuts off a hot tag to Bandido, Lattimer rolls him up and holds the tights for the win. Once again, the cheating is completely unnecessary. If they needed to end the match without the hot tag, then go all the way and have Lattimer crank a half crab or something and force the ref to call it off. Winning in this manner doesn’t do anything to make them look good, which is the exact opposite of how they ought to be looking considering they’re now headed for the finals.
Crockett Cup: MARK BRISCOE/JAY BRISCOE vs. BRODY KING/PIERRE CARL OUELLET
The disqualification finish is beyond awful, but the match itself was another fun affair. The work wasn’t anything special, but, the intensity and the hate that both teams showed was off the charts. In a way, it’s reminiscent of the Steen Wolf ladder match. Everything that they do is simply meant to hurt each other, the idea of winning match is secondary. They lay in the strikes, which is particularly nice to see after the women’s match, and aren’t shy about taking bumps on the apron and the floor. The coolest moment is probably Brody eating some strikes from Jay and taking a bump to the floor. It doesn’t sound like anything special, but, Brody pulled it off flawlessly. The finish is a total copout, with all four having chairs and being ready to go to war, the ref just happens to see Jay hit Brody first and calls it off. If ROH had some kind of issue with the Briscoes jobbing (despite them having put over Brody and PCO the previous month), there were a number of ways they could have gotten the same result that would have come off much better than this.
WILLIE MACK © vs. COLT CABANA (NWA National Title)
The execution is better, and there aren’t nearly as many loose strikes and slow sequences, but, this isn’t fundamentally that different from the Women’s Title match. Mack and Cabana both have plenty of things that they do, but, very little of what they do seems to have any notable impact on the match. Willie’s bad fall to the floor gave them the chance to be the first match to genuinely try to tell a story, but, it’s wasted. Willie seems hurt and Cabana hurriedly gets him into the ring and starts cranking a chinlock. But, then Cabana clearly lets him up to ‘power out’ of the hold. Willie takes one of Cabana’s elbow and puts it over like it rings his bell. But, once Mack does the kip-up, it’s like the bump to the floor never happened.
There’s another chance to take the match somewhere when Mack hits his meteora, and Cabana puts over the wind getting knocked out of him. But, rather than showing that he’s trying to win the match by running Cabana out of gas, Mack seems to be more concerned with showing off what kind of spots he can do. As impressive as it looks to see Mack do a KO-style cannonball in the corner and land on his feet, it’s a wasted effort because the spot doesn’t mean anything. Cabana’s double jump splash is the only time this ventures into comedy, and it’s not nearly as annoying as Ibushi’s moonsault variant of the same sequence. Cabana’s winning with a cradle is a good finish, but it would have worked better if it hadn’t come on the heels of him getting clocked with an elbow. They’d just done a sequence where Mack misses a splash and Cabana misses a moonsault. It would have been just as easy for Mack to miss the splash and have Cabana take advantage with the cradle. They get to do the finish they want, and Cabana doesn’t have to blow off, what ought to be, a major strike.
BRODY KING/PIERRE CARL OUELLET vs. ROY ISAACS/THOMAS LATTIMER (Crockett Cup Finals - Decision Match for the NWA World Tag Team Titles)
I guess it’s fitting that a tournament full of short matches with lousy finishes ends with a short match that has a lousy finish. Isaacs and Lattimer work over Brody for a bit, PCO gets the hot tags and gets his bad arm adjusted, and the ROH team easily gets the win in under seven minutes. They could have easily gone double that, or even longer. Wouldn’t it make more sense for PCO, the one who’s injured from the previous match, to take the heat? We saw how Isaacs and Lattimer took advantage of Flip Gordon’s injured knee to win their semi final match. There’s no reason they couldn’t have done the same thing with his shoulder, and then had the big man take the hot tag and knock them around and lead to the finish.
NICK ALDIS © vs. MARTY SCURLL (NWA World Heavyweight Title)
As far as work goes, this is easily the best match of the night. However, that’s more due to the mediocre field of matches surrounding it, rather than its own merits. There are certainly things to like about this match, such as the early chain wrestling between Aldis and Scurll, and their familiarity with each other is on display when Scurll uses some deception to get Aldis’ valet sent to the back. It makes Aldis lose his cool, and lets Scurll take control of the match. Aldis does a nice job selling the blood loss, especially that top rope segment when he kicked Scurll down, but was too woozy to take immediate advantage, which allowed Scurll to recover and do the superplex. The bit after the ref bump muddies the waters, in a good way, as far as the babyface/heel dynamic. The fans were solidly behind Scurll, but, when the ref went down ad Aldis’ valet came back out to take a shot at him, Aldis stopped her from doing it, which shows that he takes his role as champion seriously. Unfortunately, Marty takes his identity as “The Villain” seriously too, and when Aldis sends her to the back, he turns around and gets fouled by Marty.
It’s also nice to see them not use their finishers multiple times. Scurll gets the chickenwing once, and Aldis does a nice job putting it over, before finding an escape. Aldis does the Cloverleaf once, and remembers what Scurll did with his fingers when he tried it earlier, resulting in him having trouble getting it applied all the way, but, when he eventually does, Scurll holds out a bit and then gives it up. Besides being his finisher, Aldis also worked over the back throughout the match, with the table bump and several big spots, so it’s not a huge surprise that Scurll taps out.
While it’s easy to see that there are good things about this match, it’s not a great match by any means. Aldis getting busted open isn’t much different from what happened to Cody at All In. Aldis gets hit with the dive, and camera follows Scurll while he’s playing to the crowd, before coming back to Aldis to show that he’s opened up. The figure four spot is completely wasted, after some nice teasing about Aldis possibly not being able to hold out in the hold, before he gets the ropes, the next sequence is Aldis catching Scurll with a tombstone and then doing an elbow off the top, with zero selling of the knee. Despite the great moment of Aldis putting over the blood loss while he was on the ropes, which led to the superplex, he was back in control a minute later and looking all but refreshed. The other failing was the lack of real drama, other than the foul, it never seemed like Aldis was in danger of losing the title. Even the chickenwing shows that Marty didn’t have the fingers locked, and can you see him let go of the grapevine so that Aldis can escape. There’s enough good here to make it match of the night, and it’s certainly a step up from Aldis vs. Cody, but, I expected a much better performance from the man who is supposedly working to return the NWA Title to its past glory. ***
Conclusion: This is something that sounded a lot better in theory than it wound up being in practice. The return of the tournament, crowning new tag champions, the legends cameos, and the throwback to the old ring mat are all great ideas. But, the actual wrestling comes up short.