Ring of Honor 2016 – The Year in Review, Part One


Howdy!

Back when I was getting my degree, I remember one of my professors preaching on the importance of endings to stories. “Hemingway may or may not have been a shit writer, that’s in the eye of the beholder, but he always stuck the landing” was one of his more favored opinions; I took issue with the ‘may not’ part of that statement, because I always felt that Hemingway was one of the more overrated writers in American Lit. But I took his meaning, that his stories were memorable because he knew how to bring them home, regardless of the long and sometimes meandering way he got there.

It’s been an interesting year in the Honorable Ring (tm Matt Hardy); so let’s take a look at it all. This is part one of my year in review of ROH; part 2 will follow soon. It’s long, got lots of lists, and hopefully will be edifying to you all. It is a handy month by month reference guide to ROH in 2016 for anyone interested. I reviewed every episode of ROH TV this year outside of two very notable exceptions, and I’ll be talking about that when we get there. Hope you all need some reading material for work today. Here we go!

Chapter One – January 2016 – New beginnings

ROH World Champion: Jay Lethal
ROH World TV Champion: Roderick Strong
ROH World Tag Team Champions: War Machine

So, to start off the year, we’re coming out of Final Battle 2015, in which Jay Lethal picked up one of the bigger wins of his career in defeating AJ Styles. Also on that show, War Machine picked up the tag team titles from the Kingdom as Matt Taven tore his ACL during the match and would proceed to miss most of 2016 as a result. Roderick Strong retained his TV title over Bobby Fish after tapping outside of the ref’s view, then taking advantage when Fish thought he won.

In behind the scenes news, Michael Bennett and Maria Kanellis became the first wrestlers to leave ROH in 2016 as they signed contracts with TNA and finished up at the tapings after Final Battle. Also, rumors started flying that the WWE had signed AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Karl Anderson, & Luke Gallows, all of whom had been in Ring of Honor events the previous year as part of the relationship ROH enjoyed with NJPW. Could it be true? (Yes. Yes, it could.)

ROH TV: January 6th, 2016
MATCHES: Roderick Strong defeated Stevie Richards
Caprice Coleman defeated Will Ferrara
Jonathan Gresham defeated Cedric Alexander
Michael Elgin defeated Donovan Dijak

The build of Michael Elgin, who defeated Moose at Final Battle, finished here as he was set to be Jay Lethal’s challenger for the ROH World title at Wrestle Kingdom 10; he would lose that match to Jay; of course, you only had that reference if you saw this show in syndication on the weekend…..Bobby Fish cut a promo on Strong after his match about wanting a rematch for the TV title as Strong began his Roddy vs the World tour, taking on wrestlers from all over the world…..I first began to notice that Jonathan Gresham is a pretty good wrestler. This is a theme to be revisited…..The less said about the Coleman/Ferrara/Prince Nana angle the better, as it ended up being nothing.

ROH TV: January 13th, 2016
MATCHES: The All-Night Express defeated Roppongi Vice
War Machine defeated the House of Truth
Dalton Castle defeated Jay Briscoe, Matt Sydal, & Moose

ANX was positioned to become the first challengers for War Machine after winning a #1 contenders match at Final Battle, and this was another win for them…..After War Machine defeated the House of Truth, Donovan Dijak was turfed from the group and fired by Truth Martini…..And the beginning of what should have been a strong push for Dalton Castle seemingly began, as he won the main event…..Meanwhile, the Kingdom cut a promo, in which Adam Cole accused both Matt Taven and Michael Bennett of dropping the ball in losing the ROH tag team titles, and interruptions from both reDRagon and the Young Bucks led to a street fight being signed for the main event next week.

And Kyle O’Reilly told us the story of the tree that almost shattered his family. I teared up.

ROH TV: January 20th, 2016
MATCHES: The Addiction defeated ACH & Alex Shelley
Mark Briscoe defeated Adam Page
The Young Bucks defeated reDRagon & The Kingdom

Chris Sabin was still on the side of the Addiction, despite the return to ROH of his former tag team partner Alex Shelley; notably, he did not do anything to Shelley during a post-match beatdown by Daniels and Kazarian, the results of which caused Nigel McGuinness to suspend Christopher Daniels…..Friction within the Decade continued, as BJ Whitmer helped to accidentally cost stablemate Adam Page his match against Mark Briscoe…..After that match, Whitmer cut a promo on Mr Wrestling 3, accusing him of being Steve Corino, and continuing their never-ending feud that will only get worse…..And, in what was an early candidate for TV match of the year, the Young Bucks, reDRagon, & the Kingdom put on a hell of a street fight, culminating in what would be the final televised appearance on ROH TV of one AJ Styles, who ran in to help the Bucks win.

This was also the final appearance of Michael Bennett and Maria Kanellis, who would head to TNA.

ROH TV: January 27th, 2016
MATCHES: Brian Fury defeated Shaheem Ali
Cedric Alexander defeated Cheeseburger
Jonathan Gresham defeated Cedric Alexander
Jay Briscoe defeated Michael Elgin & Moose

Fury over Ali was the first round of the 2016 Top Prospect tournament, which would prove to be one of the more boring ones in recent memory…..The Alexander matches were all part of a larger angle, as Alexander’s dreadful underuse continued on his heel run with Veda Scott as his manager, with him wanting to avenge his upset against Gresham, and this Gresham kid seems pretty alright at this wrestling thing…..Briscoe going over Moose and Elgin was there to help set up The Briscoes vs Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi at the 14th Anniversary PPV…..A middle of the show promo set up our main event for the PPV, a triple threat match between Jay Lethal, Kyle O’Reilly, & Adam Cole…..the seemingly never-ending Dalton Castle/Silas Young feud kept going with another promo from Silas.

JANUARY IN A NUTSHELL: Mediocre. Final Battle feuds kept going in some instances (Young/Castle, O’Reilly/Cole, Strong/Fish, Whitmer/Corino) and not enough was done to set up the coming months, with the 14th Anniversary show looming. The main event street fight on the January 20th show was incredible, though. Overall, not a strong month for Ring of Honor.

ROH TV MATCH OF THE MONTH: The Young Bucks vs reDRagon vs The Kingdom – Philly Street Fight

Chapter Two – February 2016 – Will the far East send us South?

The 14th Anniversary show loomed at the end of the month. AJ Styles had debuted for the WWE in the Royal Rumble, so it looked like the rumors were true, even more so when ROH announced that Shinsuke Nakamura would not work the 14th Anniversary show. All was not lost, as Jay Lethal, Kyle O’Reilly, & Bobby Fish signed one-year deals to stay in ROH.

ROH TV: February 3rd, 2016
MATCHES: Roderick Strong defeated Masada
Punisher Martinez defeated Colby Corino
reDRagon defeated Adam Cole & Jay Lethal

Strong went over Masada, hopefully sending him back to the barbarism of CZW for good, and was confronted after the match by Bobby Fish, who wanted his rematch for the TV title…..After Martinez squashed Corino in the Top Prospect tournament, BJ Whitmer came out and suplexed Corino over and over again in front of his father, who could do nothing about it; this would come be known as the ‘best segment in the history of this entire feud’ when all was said and done, because it was excellent…..And hope sprung eternal as Kyle got the pin on Cole in the main event.

ROH TV: February 10th, 2016
MATCHES: Alex Shelley defeated Frankie Kazarian
Dalton Castle defeated Joey Daddiego
Action Ortiz defeated Leo St. Giovanni
The All-Night Express defeated War Machine

This is in the running for worst episode of the year…..Shelley/Kazarian was good enough, but it still mostly revolved around Shelley and his interactions with Chris Sabin…..Castle is good, Daddiego sucks and the match wasn’t great, and Silas Young and the Beer City Bruiser attacked after the match to keep that feud going…..Ortiz/St. Giovanni was another Top Prospect match that went less than 5 minutes and was less than enthralling…..Moose challenged Kazuchika Okada to a match at the 14th Anniversary show as Moose’s push continued…..And ANX had their title shot against War Machine end in a DQ in a deeply unsatisfying match.

ROH TV: February 17th, 2016
MATCHES: Lio Rush defeated Jason Kincaid
Caprice Coleman & Will Ferrara defeated Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser
Mark Briscoe over Tim Hughes
Matt Sydal & ACH defeated The Young Bucks

The Top Prospect tournament basically ended as Lio Rush defeated Jason Kincaid, and their work was so much better than everyone else’s, it would have been a travesty for Rush not to have won the tournament after beating Jason…..distraction from the Boys led to the victory by Ferrara & Coleman, advancing the Nana storyline that no one cares about…..Briscoe/Hughes had no reason to be on TV…..ACH/Sydal vs the Bucks was fascinating, as I’ve never seen every wrestler in a match stop selling each move less than 10 seconds after taking it; it should be studied by professionals…..The Decade breakup became real as Adam Page finally turned on BJ Whitmer, as ROH begins the push of Adam Page; don’t worry, they’ll fuck that up.

HONOR RISING: February 19th & 20th, 2016

ROH would head over to Japan for Honor Rising, a co-promoted show with NJPW, before returning for the 14th Anniversary show. The first night produces a shocking result, as Tomohiro Ishii defeats Roderick Strong to win the ROH World TV title, throwing the match at the 14th in doubt. In other, slightly less shocking news, it also produces the single worst ROH match of the year, as Delirious and Gedo engage in a crapfest of scratching, biting, and stalling that won’t be topped. On the second night, The Bucks and Kenny Omega defeat The Briscoes and Toru Yano to win the NEVER openweight six-man tag belts, while Jay Lethal successfully defends his ROH World title against Tomoaki Honma. Overall, the shows are fine, filled with ***+ matches at many points, but lacking a blowaway ****+ match to really make them worth watching.

ROH TV: February 24th, 2016
MATCHES: Roderick Strong defeated Jonathan Gresham
War Machine defeated Brutal Bob Evans & Tough Tim Hughes
BJ Whitmer defeated Chase Brown
The Briscoes defeated ACH & Alex Shelley

Strong and Gresham put on one of the best ROH TV matches of the year, and the only fault was that it wasn’t longer…..War Machine’s match was just to setup ANX coming out and reminding us that their match at the 14th will be No-DQ…..BJ won a quick squash and brawled with Page afterwards…..The Addiction attacked after the main event, but Sabin still wouldn’t go after Shelley, leading to some internal dissension amongst the Addiction…..A promo for the main event of the 14th turned into a 3-way brawl between Lethal, Cole, & O’Reilly.

RING OF HONOR 14TH ANNIVERSARY (PPV): February 26th, 2016

The NJPW guys came over for this event, and were all over the card…..Ishii retained the ROH TV title over both Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong in a decent match…..Whitmer defeated Adam Page for some reason, none that I can identify here…..Shelley defeated Daniels after Sabin interfered on Alex’s behalf, reuniting the Motor City Machine Guns in ROH…..War Machine retained their tag team titles by defeating the All-Night Express…..Jay Lethal retained the ROH World title over O’Reilly and Cole in a triple threat after a double Lethal Injection as his title reign limped on…..The Young Bucks & Kenny Omega defeated Matt Sydal, KUSHIDA, & ACH in a show-stealer of a match that will eventually make the ROH Top 10 of the year.

Overall, the PPV was okay, with a few really good matches, but booking problems remain. Lethal’s title reign continued, but most of the heat for the main event was between Kyle and Adam, and he now had beaten most of the top names in the division. Castle lost to Goto for some reason, as the NJPW dominance over ROH continued; in fact, the only NJPW wrestler on the card to lose was KUSHIDA, and that to Omega and the Bucks, who also work NJPW. Still, the lack of strong challengers left for Lethal combined with lackluster storylines wasn’t boding well for the time being…..

FEBRUARY IN A NUTSHELL: ROH had some problems this year, and this wasn’t their best month. Gresham and Strong put on a decent match on TV, but the odd choice to put the TV title on Ishii and keep it there seemed off, and Honor Rising seemed like a good idea that didn’t execute as planned, at least to me. Having to ‘interrupt’ their booking to accommodate the NJPW matches in spots didn’t help.

ROH TV MATCH OF THE MONTH: Roderick Strong vs Jonathan Gresham

Chapter Three – March 2016 – Watching the wheels turn

ROH TV: March 2nd, 2016
MATCHES: Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser defeated The Boys
Brian Fury defeated Action Ortiz
Lio Rush defeated Punisher Martinez
Matt Sydal defeated Adam Cole

This was taped before the 14th, so there’s no fallout from the PPV here, which has been a problem for ROH TV for awhile…..The interminable feud between Silas Young and Dalton Castle continues…..Two semifinal matches in the Top Prospect tournament are next…..The first is only notable for the almost 300 lb Action Ortiz damn near killing himself on a no-hands plancha…..The second is embarrassing, as Martinez doesn’t sell almost anything from Lio Rush, making Lio look all but incompetent in victory after stealing the win with his finisher…..Matt Sydal and Adam Cole put on a fantastic match in the main event, as one might expect.

ROH TV: March 9th, 2016
MATCHES: Lio Rush defeated Brian Fury
Moose defeated Kongo
Christopher Daniels defeated Dalton Castle

Lio Rush wins the Top Prospect tournament, as he should have; he was clearly the only choice…..Moose and Kongo embarrassed themselves, no more needs to be said…..A match between Cedric Alexander and Adam Page was interrupted by a BJ Whitmer beatdown on Page…..Castle’s loss prompted him to cut a promo on Silas Young, saying that it was time to bring their issue to a close with a Fight Without Honor, and everyone said thanks to their Lord.

ROH TV: March 16th, 2016
MATCHES: Roppongi Vice won a tag team Gauntlet match.
Order of elimination – reDRagon defeated Will Ferrara & Caprice Coleman
reDRagon defeated Joey Daddiego & Chris Larusso
The Young Bucks defeated reDRagon
The Young Bucks defeated Brutal Bob Evans & Tough Tim Hughes
The Young Bucks defeated The Addiction
Roppongi Vice defeated The Young Bucks

By winning the match, Roppongi earned a tag title shot at War Machine…..the match took the whole hour of ROH TV…..to the shock of no one, the reDRagon/Bucks segment was the best part of the match.

ROH TV: March 23rd, 2016
MATCHES: Tomohiro Ishii defeated Cedric Alexander
The Briscoes defeated Reno Scum
Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated The Young Bucks

Ishii was originally slated to face off against BJ Whitmer, but Veda Scott paid off BJ to get the title match for Cedric; this would turn out to be the last appearance for Cedric on ROH TV…..The Addiction and the Motor City Machine Guns started their feud dueling in promos…..The main event was good, as you might expect.

ROH TV: March 30th, 2016
MATCHES: Roderick Strong defeated Adam Page, Matt Sydal, & Moose
Foxx Vinyer defeated Cheeseburger
Jay Lethal defeated Hirooki Goto

The opener made very little sense, as either Page or Moose would have made more sense as a winner…..Adam Cole was booted from The Kingdom by Matt Taven during a promo…..Cheeseburger lost by DQ after the All-Night Express hit the ring…..The Briscoes and War Machine made the save, with the Briscoes eyeing the belts of War Machine and kicking off that storyline…..Lethal needed interference to defeat Goto, which simply should not have been necessary…..Post-match, Donovan Dijak and Prince Nana attacked, with Dijak hitting Truth Martini with a big boot; Martini sold convulsions on the mat, and this would, in fact, be his last appearance in Ring of Honor.

MARCH IN A NUTSHELL: Wheels kept on spinning, but not much occurred. Ishii would only appear on ROH TV once to defend the TV title, while time was unknowingly growing short for both Cedric Alexander and Roderick Strong in ROH. Meanwhile, the tag title scene continued to be a bright light for ROH in many ways.

ROH TV MATCH OF THE MONTH: Matt Sydal vs Adam Cole

INTERLUDE:
My Top 10 Wrestlers of the Year:

1. AJ Styles
2. Kyle O’Reilly
3. Marty Scurll
4. KUSHIDA
5. Kenny Omega
6. Shinsuke Nakamura
7. Kazuchika Okada
8. Sami Zayn
9. Kevin Owens
10. Chris Hero

Chapter Four – April 2016 – The Coltacabana

I attended day 2 of Supercard of Honor in Dallas, with Kyle O’Reilly defeating Adam Cole in a no-holds barred match in the main event. It was awesome. Also at the event, Colt Cabana made his return to Ring of Honor to stake his claim as Jay Lethal’s next challenger for the ROH World title.

Oh, and I got called out by Donovan Dijak on Twitter for the (admittedly) cheap shots I’d been taking at him in my recaps. Subsequent tweets back and forth prove that Dijak is one of the nicest guys in all of wrestling, and I’m an asshole. So, you know, known information.

ROH TV: April 6th, 2016
MATCHES: reDRagon defeated Kazuchika Okada & Gedo
Adam Cole defeated KUSHIDA
The Motor City Machine Guns defeated The Addiction

A big part of the reDRagon match was built around Kyle O’Reilly having a cauliflower ear, one of the first times I’ve ever seen that in wrestling, thus proving that if you need to get some bitchin’ psychology over in pro wrestling, there’s only one man to call…..In a rare occurrence, ROH got a second duke as Adam Cole picked up the win over KUSHIDA…..The Guns picked up the win over The Addiction, which felt kind of early for what looked to be a longer burning feud…..Lethal promised redemption for Truth Martini and threatened Dijak, as the House of Truth begins it’s slow disintegration…..This was a GREAT episode with everything being worth watching, which gave me hope for the future.

ROH TV: April 13th, 2016
MATCHES: War Machine defeated Roppongi Vice
Kenny Omega defeated ACH
Dalton Castle defeated Silas Young

For some reason, chemistry or otherwise, War Machine and Roppongi Vice had a mediocre match at best, which was Vice’s title shot for winning the tag team gauntlet episode…..Kenny Omega and ACH was a fantastically fun spotfest…..Dijak and Prince Nana came out, with Nana referencing his previous angle with Coleman and Ferrara, which never actually found closure, but whatever; Dijak’s Truth Martini impression is pretty good and the segment ended in a brawl with Lethal…..And it looks like we finally have closure on Castle and Young, as Dalton won what should be the final blowoff for their long feud in a violent and very well-done streetfight.

ROH TV: April 20th, 2016
MATCHES: Matt Sydal & Jushin “Thunder” Liger defeated Dalton Castle & Ryusuke Taguchi
Delirious defeated Gedo
Tomohiro Ishii defeated Roderick Strong

Because we only have a few weeks to build up the Global Wars PPV, ROH decided to take two weeks and show matches from Honor Rising; this is where the downturn really starts to happen for ROH in 2016…..The tag match was fine…..Delirious and Gedo stunk up the joint as for some reason ROH decided to air the worst match of the year on their show…..Ishii winning the title from Strong was the best match on this show.

ROH TV: April 27th, 2016
MATCHES: Jay Lethal & Tetsuya Naito defeated Kazuchika Okada & Yoshi-Hashi
KUSHIDA defeated Frankie Kazarian
Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks defeated Katsuyori Shibata & reDRagon

More Honor Rising, as Lethal solidified his alliance with Naito and Los Ingobernables in a tag match that was passable…..KUSHIDA and Kaz had a decent match, but not much more than that…..The main event almost saved the show, but still, this was valuable TV time that should have been first run material.

APRIL IN A NUTSHELL: April wasn’t very good, as ROH spent two of their four hours of television time showing lame duck matches; while I could have lived with showing Ishii/Strong, since it had material value for the upcoming PPV, but more than that was a waste. The highlighting of the NJPW guys seemed like a good idea to try to sell the PPV, but most of the people buying the PPV would know who they are already, and the point could have been made without 2 weeks of Honor Rising reruns.

ROH TV MATCH OF THE MONTH: Kazuchika Okada/Gedo vs reDRagon, Dalton Castle vs Silas Young, Fight Without Honor (TIE)

Chapter Five – May 2016 – Globally Panned

Are we done with Honor Rising reruns just one week before the PPV? Do you know this company?!?

ROH TV: May 4th, 2016
MATCHES: Moose, Michael Elgin, Tomoaki Honma & Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Tama Tonga, Cody Hall, Bad Luck Fale, & Yujiro Takahashi
The Briscoes defeated Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows

Yep, more Honor Rising reruns with a PPV airing on Sunday…..The 8-man tag was boring and really exposed Moose…..A truncated video package of Colt Cabana returning at Supercard of Honor aired, as Cabana was in the MAIN EVENT of Sunday’s PPV, yet hadn’t been seen on the TV show since his return…..A bunch of ROH stars ran around Japan in some vignettes that ranged from ‘cringeworthy’ to ‘The ones that Dalton Castle was in’…..The Briscoes match was the second to last time that Anderson and Gallows would appear in NJPW.

RING OF HONOR GLOBAL WARS 2016: May 8th, 2016
Dalton Castle won a 4-way match to once again seemingly start a push; don’t worry, it won’t last…..The Addiction nearly killed Jushin Liger by dropping him on his head…..The Briscoes and War Machine had a great, great brawl as War Machine retained the tag titles…..Bobby Fish won the TV title from Ishii to bring it back to ROH in a decent match…..And the main event ended with a no-contest as Adam Cole made his return to ROH as the newest members of the Bullet Club, attacking both Cabana and Lethal…..Yes, the main event ended with a screwjob run-in like a 90s WCW PPV; the decision was widely panned, although one particular recapper on the Blog of Doom (not naming names) defended it by saying: “There is only ONE path forward for this to work out and have any resonance, and that is for Adam Cole to beat Jay Lethal for the ROH World title at Best in the World.” (Okay, it was me. And I was wrong.)

ROH TV: May 11th, 2016
MATCHES: None, as it was a PPV Preview show.

I didn’t review this show, because it aired on Wednesday as a PPV preview; unfortunately, the PPV had happened two days earlier. So, if you didn’t watch the show in syndication in your area over the weekend, you were screwed. If you watched the show on Comet, you got nothing from it. If you watched it when it was uploaded to the website, you got nothing from it. This was not a good move by ROH.

In further not-great news, Cedric Alexander made official that he was leaving Ring of Honor; Alexander would go down as one of the most misused talents in Ring of Honor history. During Kevin Steen’s farewell speech in ROH, he named Cedric Alexander as one of the most talented wrestlers in the company; it ended up that he was talking about the WWE, apparently.

ROH TV: May 18th, 2016
MATCHES: Jay Lethal defeated Alberto El Patron

This was a Jay Lethal clip show, as the spotlight was put on the ROH World champ…..Most of the matches were not aired in full, but there were highlights from Lethal/Briscoe, Lethal/Strong, and finally, the last 7 minutes of Lethal/Styles…..Lethal vs El Patron was the only match to get significant time on the show…..Jay’s reign has been petering out recently and needs a shot in the arm, which hopefully should be provided by Adam Cole and the Bullet Club, right?……Right?

ROH TV: May 25th, 2016
MATCHES: None

This was a Bullet Club clip show, with no full matches shown…..I did not review it, because my copy didn’t record.

MAY IN A NUTSHELL: Yikes. The ending of Global Wars was one of the more polarizing things that Ring of Honor has done in awhile, as a screwjob ending in the main event of a PPV is something that they don’t do, well, pretty much ever. The buildup to Cabana/Lethal was less than stellar, and the ending certainly didn’t help. 2 clip shows this month weren’t great either; with only 4 hours a month of TV time, first-run content should be ruling the day. In short, May was pretty much the bottom for ROH, right? It was time to start digging out, surely.

Uh…..right?

ROH TV MATCH OF THE MONTH: Tomohiro Ishii vs Roderick Strong

Chapter Six – June 2016 – Falling on Delirious ears

During the ROH Tour of Texas, The Addiction won the World Tag Team titles of the World from War Machine. Also in Texas, Adam Page turned on ROH and joined the Bullet Club by destroying team ROH with a chair.

ROH TV: June 1st, 2016
MATCHES: ACH defeated Lio Rush
The Motor City Machine Guns defeated Roppongi Vice & The Addiction
Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks defeated Michael Elgin, Yoshi-Tatsu, & Hiroshi Tanahashi

Lio Rush and ACH got less than 5 minutes, and the match suffered greatly as a result; Silas Young attacked ACH after the match to set up a feud…..The Guns answered an open challenge from the new tag champs, as did Roppongi Vice, and won a title shot at Best in the World by winning…..Footage from Texas aired of Adam Page’s turn…..And, in another completely unwanted turn of events, the Corino/BJ rivalry continued, as Nigel made a Fight Without Honor for Best in the World between the two…..We’re two weeks away from Best in the World, with no promotion outside of a casual mention that Jay Briscoe would challenge Jay Lethal in rematch from one year ago.

ROH TV: June 8th, 2016
MATCHES: Kazuchika Okada defeated Matt Sydal
Colt Cabana defeated Adam Page
Jay Lethal defeated Donovan Dijak

Okada and Sydal had a great match that was clipped all to hell…..Cabana going over Page, right after he had turned, made about as much sense as anything else ROH had done recently…..Silas Young and ACH cut dueling promos on each other to try to ramp up their lame feud…..Whitmer and Corino’s feud continued, unfortunately…..The genesis of the Cabinet gimmick started here; historic, I know…..Lethal saved the show by having a great match with Dijak, which is something I never thought I’d say.

ROH TV: June 15th, 2016
MATCHES: Tetsuya Naito defeated Moose
The All-Night Express defeated Cheeseburger & Jushin “Thunder” Liger
Kyle O’Reilly defeated KUSHIDA

Naito got the best match out of Moose ever, even moreso than Okada…..The less said about the tag match, the better…..Silas Young continued his promos against ACH to try to prop that feud up…..Another Bullet Club promo aired, yet there still is no match for Adam Cole or the Bucks at the PPV…..The main event was awesome, full stop.

Roderick Strong announced his departure from Ring of Honor at this point, saying that the next set of tapings would be his last. He’s one I never thought would leave, to be honest.

ROH TV: June 22nd, 2016
MATCHES: Dalton Castle defeated Gedo
Tomohiro Ishii defeated Will Ferrara
Jay Lethal, Roderick Strong, & The Briscoes defeated Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa

One of the worst go-home shows in recent memory for ROH…..Castle/Gedo was fine for what it was…..Ishii and Ferrara was never in doubt and had no drama…..Video packages galore on this one, even a promo from Adam Cole who wasn’t schedule for the PPV…..The main event was okay for what it was, but there were better 8-mans on almost every NJPW show this year.

RING OF HONOR BEST IN THE WORLD 2016: June 24th, 2016

Kyle O’Reilly had a good opener with Kamaitachi, shock of all shocks…..Mark Briscoe and Roderick Strong had a great match to end Roddy’s PPV time with the company…..Whitmer and Corino had a bloody garbage brawl that featured the return of Kevin Sullivan as the feud must continue (unfortunately)…..The Addiction retained the tag titles over the Guns in a decent bout…..Fish went over Dalton Castle to retain the TV title in what I would classify in retrospect as a missed opportunity for ROH to elevate Dalton, at least to me…..Lethal and Briscoe went less than 15 minutes in what was being promoted as the biggest rematch in the history of ROH; had to get that Cabinet skit in there, didn’t they?

ROH TV: June 29th, 2016
MATCHES: Veda Scott, Amber Gallows, & Allysin Kay defeated Sumie Sakai, Thunderkitty, & Crazy Mary Dobson
ODB defeated Faye Jackson
Hania defeated Mandy Leon
Kelly Klein defeated Taeler Hendrix

This was a Women of Honor show, to highlight the non-existent women’s division on Ring of Honor…..The opener was really decent…..ODB and Jackson had one of the worst women’s matches I’ve seen in a long time…..On the other hand, Mandy Leon impressed the hell out of me by having a GREAT match with Hania…..Kelly Klein continued her undefeated streak in ROH by defeating Hendrix…..It would be nice to see ROH either commit to a women’s division or cut it out, one of the two.

JUNE IN A NUTSHELL: To me, this was the rock bottom of Ring of Honor in 2016. After sacrificing the ending of Global Wars to get over the Bullet Club as a huge threat and elevate Adam Cole as a top challenger again, the new hot top heel faction was relegated to idly sitting on the sidelines for the next PPV and waiting their turn, instead of going in and taking what they want. Silly feuds abounded, as ACH and Silas Young basically fought over ACH playing video games in the locker room and liking anime, for example. And, after under-promoting the PPV in which they promised the biggest rematch in ROH history between Lethal and Briscoe, the match got less than 15 minutes and was nowhere near their classic from the year before.

ROH TV MATCH OF THE MONTH: Kyle O’Reilly vs KUSHIDA

Halfway through the year, Ring of Honor was having real problems if we’re being honest with ourselves. Could they turn it around?

Find out in Part 2, coming later this week……

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter

EPILOGUE:
My Top 10 Non-Ring of Honor Matches of 2016:

1. Kyle O’Reilly vs KUSHIDA – Best of the Super Juniors
2. Chris Hero/Tommy End vs Fenix/Pentagon Jr – Battle of Los Angeles 2016, Night 2
3. Kazuchika Okada vs Tomohiro Ishii – G-1 Climax 2016
4. AJ Styles vs John Cena – Summerslam 2016
5. Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakamura – NXT Takeover: Dallas
6. Michael Elgin vs Kenny Omega: Ladder Match – NJPW Dominion
7. AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura – Wrestle Kingdom 10
8. The Revival vs Ciampa/Gargano – NXT Takeover: Toronto
9. Johnny Gargano vs Tomasso Ciampa – WWE Cruiserweight Classic
10. William Ospreay vs KUSHIDA – NJPW Invasion Attack


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