For those of you who don’t know, I write for the Slam! Wrestling website, and one of the major perks of the job is that I get to cover events like this; sometimes, it doesn’t even feel like a job.
Rather than just go through basic results, I thought it would be best to go through some of the events of my day and just share some of my personal opinions.
So here you go…
3: 50 p.m.
Going through who you need to interview is never easy, because sometimes, you don’t even know who you’ll end up getting. So around this time, I had the top three people in mind that I needed to interview for Slam (Jay Briscoe, Paul London and Davey Richards). What I usually like to do is write a list of questions for the people that I want/need to interview, but I also write up some standard questions, in case I were to get anyone else.
It’s now time to leave, so I have to make sure that I’m not forgetting anything. Tape recorder…check; wallet…check; questions…check; cell phone, in case I get a girl’s phone number…oh who am I kidding? But it is always handy.
As I’m driving, I thought it would be a good idea to get some extra batteries for my tape recorder. So I stop by the nearest dollar store, only to be met by a rather large line-up at the check-out counter (I guess everyone had the idea that you can never have too much hard candy). So I finally get to the front of the line, which took a good five to 10 minutes, and I got my batteries.
4: 30 p.m.
My stomach really started grumbling at this point, as the only thing I had to eat all day was a banana. So I stopped by a Jamaican patty shop, as I thought it would be the most convenient thing to get, but I was very wrong about that, as there was another huge line-up. However, I didn’t have time to stop anywhere else, as I had to be at the Ted Reeve Arena at 5.
5 p.m….okay 5: 04 p.m.
I desperately tried to make every light, in order to get there on time, and in all fairness, I did actually pull into the parking lot at 4:58, but there was a minor problem. I took the old batteries out of my recorder to replace them with the new ones, but for some reason, the new batteries didn’t seem to work. I didn’t know what the problem was, because they were both the same kind of batteries (AAA), but rather than waste any more time trying to figure this out, I just put the old batteries back in, and hoped for the best. The batteries still seemed to be fully charged at the time. So I go into the building through the side entrance, as fans have already started lining up at the front. I asked one of the ROH personnel to find their PR guy (out of respect, I won’t name names), who was going to set me up with interviews. Unfortunately for me, everyone was in the ring at this time, going over the details for their individual matches. This was really cool to see, but very odd at the same time, as I had never witnessed anything like it (it was like finding out for the first time about Santa Claus or The Easter Bunny). I was just chilling in the back row, as this was going on. As time started ticking away, I started to get a little nervous that I wouldn’t get anybody for an interview. Then out of the corner of my eye, I can see someone walking towards me. So I turn around, and I am now face-to-face with ROH World Champion Jay Briscoe, who says ‘Are you the guy from Slam! Wrestling?’ So as luck would have it, the main guy I needed to talk to is the one I got. He was a hell of a nice guy, and I really appreciated that he went out of his way to give me an interview, since he was also scheduled for the autograph signing in about the next 10 minutes.
After the Briscoe interview, I decided to go back to my car and finally eat my lunch, which would have been ice cold at that point, if not for the 20 degree weather (I will get to the pay per view eventually, so have patience); unfortunately, my pop had also warmed up by then. After lunch, I checked my phone to see if I got any texts. I had to pick up my parents from the airport, so I wasn’t even sure that I could stay for the whole show. And I also wasn’t sure if their flight was arriving on Saturday or Sunday, which is why I had to check my phone to see if they called.
6: 30 p.m.
As I tried to make my way back through the side entrance, it was closed (bummer). So basically, I had to wait in line with people who were buying tickets (I could have probably gone in ahead of them, but I didn’t want to be too forward). I finally got in before show time, and made my way to the VIP section down below.
7: 30 p.m.
As the show was about to start, I had a great chat with my friend from Live Audio Wrestling, Dan “The Mouth” Lovranski. Mouth is always a great guy to talk to, as he’s very knowledgeable about the wrestling business, and I always like to pick his brain a little and ask for his opinions on certain things; he’s certainly one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met in my life. The show then got underway (finally, right?) with a tag team match, featuring C&C (Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander) taking on the team of ACH and Tadarius Thomas. Standing out in this match was very hard to do; these are four of the greatest athletes in the world. I think if I had to choose a standout, it would probably be ACH, who was doing all kinds of crazy moves that I had never seen before, including one where he delivered a reverse slingshot suplex into a stunner, which got a lot of ‘Ooooh’s’ and ‘Ahhhh’s.’ Tadarius Thomas is one of my current favourites in ROH. When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of 2 Cold Scorpio, because of his amazing athleticism. And based on athleticism alone, Thomas reminds me a lot of Scorpio. As far as C&C goes, I think Alexander is slightly better in the ring, but Coleman is just untouchable on the microphone. If you’ve never heard a Caprice Coleman promo, I urge you to go find one. Being an ordained minister, he certainly has the gift of gab, and just listening his promos, it amazes me that he isn’t a major star already. He just speaks with so much confidence and has such natural charisma, and his promo style reminds me a lot of Slick, for all those older fans. C&C got the victory after a hurricanrana/frog splash combination, but all four of them were cheered afterwards and rightfully so.
From this point on, I can’t recall the specific times of certain events, but I invite you all to please keep reading to stay informed. By the time the second match started, there were quite a few people passing me by, saying ‘Excuse me,’ which I thought was kind of odd, since I wasn’t really blocking anything, and there was a whole bunch of space in front of me and behind me. Then it occurred to me that I was standing in the middle of a beer line, which is a big faux pas at wrestling events. The next match featured Mike Bennett against Roderick Strong. I’ve interviewed both guys in the past, and it kind of surprised me that two heels were facing each other on an ROH card, unless I missed something on television recently. It was an okay match, but kind of paled in comparison to everything else on the card. It also surprised me that Strong didn’t really utilize any of his famous backbreakers in this match. Despite Maria’s efforts, Strong still won the match with a big kick, after a distraction by Cheeseburger.
After the match, I chatted a bit with my friend Wai Ting from Fight Network. I don’t think there’s ever been a topic of conversation that’s been ‘Off limits,’ with me and Wai. I’ve known him personally for about five or six years, and we’ve basically talked about everything.
The next match was an I Quit match between BJ Whitmer and SCUM’s Rhett Titus. This match was kind of hard to follow, as I was in the back of the arena and unable to see a lot of the action. The match was alright, but I didn’t care for the finish. Basically, Titus pulled out some flex cuffs and was going to use them, but Whitmer grabbed them and ended up cuffing Titus to the top rope instead. As Whitmer was about to go to town with a foreign object (I couldn’t really see what he had, but I think it was a kendo stick), Steve Corino jumps into the ring and kneels down with his back to Whitmer, basically sacrificing himself for Titus. Before Whitmer could attack, Titus yelled for the microphone and said the two magic words. After the match, the rest of SCUM came out to attack Whitmer, but Whitmer was saved by Jay Lethal and Michael Elgin, as we were apparently getting the next match right away.
The tag match featured Lethal and Elgin against Cliff Compton and Jimmy Jacobs, representing SCUM. At this point, I was greeted by Fight Network Host and Live Audio Wrestling Producer John Pollock. We exchanged pleasantries and chatted for a while, before both turning our attention back to the match. Elgin pretty much stole the show here. He was doing power move after power move that really put the WWE’s Antonio Cesaro to shame. At one point, Jacobs went for a spear, but Elgin side-stepped him and caught him in his arms to deliver a gutwrench suplex. He followed that up by carrying Compton on his shoulders, while tossing Jacobs with a fallaway slam, so Compton basically took a Samoan drop. Lethal went for a dive on the outside and tweaked his knee in the process. He was carried to the back, so Kevin Steen made it to the ring and got on the apron for the tag, which received the loudest pop of the night. Elgin reluctantly tagged Steen in, and Steen cleaned house of SCUM. But as he was about to put Compton away with the package piledriver, Jacobs rolled Steen up from behind for the win. I still don’t know how this would have been legal, since Steen wasn’t an advertised participant in the match. Perhaps it’ll be addressed on the next ROH TV. But this means that not only does one member of SCUM get a title shot, but Steve Corrino also gets to join Kevin Kelly on commentary.
At intermission, I was trying to find a washroom. The problem was that the washroom was on the upper level and I was all the way down in the VIP section. I wasn’t going to squeeze through that long line just to get out of the VIP section, so I decided to hold it in, which I would not recommend.
After intermission, Wai introduced me to his friend Gordon, and we kind of chatted a way for a while about bugs…that’s right, bugs (and I don’t mean that cwazy wabbit). The ROH PR guy then walked by and told me that Paul London has agreed to an interview after his match. I was thrilled to hear that, because I wasn’t expecting London. What happened was that I was told that London and Jay Briscoe would be my two priorities for interviews. But when I got to the place, I was informed that London was not on the list of people to be interviewed. My first thought was ‘What list?’ And then I remembered being CC’d in an e-mail, listing the top three people that we wanted to interview. I can’t recall if London was or wasn’t on that list, so I’m not blaming anybody. However, the list I saw only had three people on it, and as the PR guy read me the names that we requested, that number was more than three. This didn’t really bother me, as I would have taken anybody I could get. What I think happened is that the list was probably sent out before it was announced that London would be replacing Naomichi Marufuji. Despite the misunderstanding, I thought the PR guy was very helpful and I appreciated him trying to get me the interview anyway.
QT Marshall and his manager/agent/tag team partner RD Evans came out next. They complained about not having their Tag Team Title match tonight (I don’t even remember it being advertised). The fans then started chanting the Fandango theme, to which Evans responded “What is that? The Canadian National Anthem?” which got a few laughs. As Evans continued to insult the crowd, he was interrupted by the new music of the returning Tommaso Ciampa, who cleaned house of both Evans and Marshall.
Eddie Edwards took on Taiji Ishimori up next, and it was probably match of the night. These two pulled out all stops. There were quite a lot of exchanges of holds and counter-holds, and I didn’t even realize how long the match was, because it was so good. Ishimori delivered a reverse hurricanrana, which looked amazing. Edwards responded with a few super kicks and powerbombs, before finally finishing Ishimori off with the Die Hard Driver (John McClane would have been proud).
The Television Title match between Matt Taven and Mark Briscoe didn’t do a lot for me. It was quite good, but it was pretty hard to follow Edwards and Ishimori. The spot that really brought the fans to their feet was when the Hooplah Hotties got on the apron and started making out with each other, to distract Briscoe. Briscoe scared them off, but Taven was able to capitalize on the slight distraction with a roll up to secure the victory and keep his title.
I didn’t know what to expect from Davey Richards and Paul London, but since London is one of my all-time favourite tag team competitors, I was really excited for this match. They went at it tooth and nail and I was a little surprised that Davey played kind of a heel here. The fans seemed more connected to London with chants of ‘Welcome Back!’ There was a neat spot where London tried to skin the cat and headscissor Richards to the floor, but Richards landed on his feet and pulled London down with him to deliver a tombstone on the outside, which I don’t think anybody but Richards could have done safely. The end came where London went for a shooting star press, only to land on Richards’ knees. Richards then utilized a jackknife cover to pick up the win. The fans applauded both guys afterwards and Richards actually grabbed the microphone to put London over as well. This was definitely the second best match of the night. It might have been the best if I had a clearer view. Unfortunately, I decided to go grab a seat at ringside with Wai and Gordon, but everyone in front of me was standing, so I couldn’t really see a lot.
The Paul London interview never happened, but I was able to get one with Davey Richards. Unfortunately, my recorder wouldn’t turn on (oh no!). I kept checking on it every hour, and it always seemed fine, so this was just very bad timing. It was kind of embarrassing to be struggling with this recorder, while Richards was standing right there. I thought it was because the batteries were dead, so I had no choice but to tell Richards that I couldn’t do the interview. He seemed to understand and even told me that he’d be there for the taping the next day.
I went back into the arena to enjoy the final match for the ROH Title between Jay Briscoe and Adam Cole. It was a good match, with kind of a confusing finish. They worked very hard, but the finish came where Steve Corino came out with a SCUM t-shirt, that he wanted to give to Cole, as Briscoe was down in the ring. It looked like Cole thought about it for a minute, but then Nigel McGuinness came out and drilled Corino with the Tower of London, which got a nice pop. This distraction allowed Briscoe to recover and hit the Jay Driller on Cole to retain his title.
After the match, it looked like Cole wanted to sneak attack Briscoe, but he ended up rethinking it and just exiting the ring. For some reason, Adam Cole reminds me a lot of Shawn Michaels, because he’s kind of a pretty boy on the outside, but he also seems really tough. In other words, he seems like the kind of guy who would act cocky, but can also back up his words.
Other than the tape recorder mishap, I thought this was a really good experience and at least I now know to have a pen and note pad just in case.
I look forward to next year’s Border Wars.