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

Howdy!

Read Part 1 here: http://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2017/01/02/ring-of-honor-2016-the-year-in-review-part-one/

When last we left our heroes in Ring of Honor, the first half of 2016 had, to put it charitably, limped to a close with the BIGGEST REMATCH IN ROH HISTORY between Jay Lethal and Jay Briscoe turning out to be a complete disappointment. Storylines were tired, and the promotion desperately needed a shot in the arm.

Luckily, there was an aptly-named group ready to make that happen…..

Chapter Seven – July 2016 – The clouds begin to dissipate

ROH World Champion: Jay Lethal
ROH World TV Champion: Bobby Fish
ROH World Tag Team Champions: The Addiction

ROH TV: July 6th, 2016
MATCHES: Bobby Fish defeated Tomohiro Ishii to win the ROH TV title
Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated the Briscoes
Dalton Castle defeated Silas Young in a Fight Without Honor
The Young Bucks defeated reDRagon & The Kingdom in a Philly Street Fight

This was a best of show, celebrating the first six months of ROH in 2016; probably didn’t need the full hour for that…..Fish/Ishii was excellent, as more and more it becomes neat to watch Fish try to knock Ishii down and figure out a way to beat him…..Tana/Elgin vs the Briscoes was an insanely fun heavyweight tag match…..Castle/Young was a good way to bring the feud to a close…..the Philly street fight remains one of the best ROH matches of the year.

Moose would take his leave of Ring of Honor here, as he made the jump to TNA after flirting with the WWE briefly; he has all the potential in the world, but I’m not really missing him right now.

ROH TV: July 13th, 2016
MATCHES: Donovan Dijak defeated Jason Kincaid
The Addiction defeated Silas Young & the Beer City Bruiser
Mark Briscoe defeated ACH

We begin the second half of the year of original content with one of the strongest ROH TV episodes of the year…..Dijak’s improvement becomes much clearer in his match against Kincaid; while some transitions are awkward, he manages to keep up with the ultra-talented Jason all the way through…..The Addiction/Young & Bruiser match was a payoff to Silas and the Bruiser winning a tag title shot at Tag Wars, paying off an angle seen at a house show on TV, something that ROH actually does relatively well…..Multiple interview segments are devoted to upcoming matches that matter, as Lethal will defend the World title against Kyle O’Reilly on TV in two weeks, while the main event tonight between ACH & Mark Briscoe will determine a #1 contender for Fish’s TV title……A live edition of the Fish Tank proceeded that, as ACH and Mark cut a promo on each other…..Mark won the match against ACH in what I considered a bad decision ROH’s part, as ACH really needed that win.

ROH TV: July 20th, 2016
MATCHES: Jay White defeated Kamaitachi
Jay White & The Motor City Machine Guns defeated Kamaitachi & The Addiction
Shane Taylor & Keith Lee defeated Victor Andrews & James Anthony
Dalton Castle defeated Roderick Strong

Jay White continued to be put over strongly at every opportunity, winning a nice opener against Kama…..Post-match, the Addiction attacked, the Guns made the save, and Nigel channeled his inner Teddy Long and made a 6-Man tag match, which was also won via Mr. White…..The Bullet Club cut a promo in which Adam Cole promised to take the ROH World title from Lethal and that Kyle would NEVER be the ROH World champion…..Shane Taylor & Keith Lee won a squash, then brawled with War Machine afterwards…..Whitmer and Corino continued, with extra suckage from Kevin Sullivan…..And it was the end of an era as Roderick Strong went out with his boots up in his last ROH match, losing to Dalton Castle.

ROH TV: July 27th, 2016
MATCHES: War Machine defeated Brutal Bob Evans & Tough Tim Hughes
The Cabinet defeated Moose, Will Ferrara & Cheeseburger
Jay Lethal defeated Kyle O’Reilly

This episode may have been the turning point for ROH in 2016…..At the beginning of the hour, we were told that we would be devoting the whole show to Lethal/O’Reilly…..Kyle came out for the World title match, but the Bullet Club interrupted and ran wild, smashing O’Reilly in the shoulder with a chair over and over again and putting the match in doubt…..The show took on a guerilla aspect as Nigel was forced to come up with matches ‘on the fly’, explaining the other matches on the card…..The other matches sucked…..The main event went on thanks to O’Reilly refusing to give up his shot at the title, as Kyle proceeded to do the selljob of the YEAR, falling to Lethal as Jay pretty much cemented his unclear face turn in the match, acting conflicted about having to beat Kyle while O’Reilly was clearly injured…..Post-match, the Bullet Club attacked O’Reilly AGAIN, this time hitting him with an Indytaker on a chair, and Nigel had enough, telling Adam Cole that he would NEVER get another shot at the ROH World title, playing on the promo that Cole cut earlier about Kyle never being the ROH World champion.

I cannot commend this episode enough in retrospect for finally making the Bullet Club into an actual threat, and laying out storylines that would take us all the way to the end of the year.

JULY IN A NUTSHELL: Ring of Honor finally started the gears turning in July, as they created a killer faction that actually seemed threatening, as the Bullet Club did what they should have been doing all along; laying waste to everything in front of them until they got what they wanted. Jay White, Keith Lee, & Shane Taylor all were introduced or pushed in a big way, while Dalton Castle looked poised to break out and away from the Silas Young feud higher up the card.

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

Chapter Eight – August 2016 – Taking their best shot

Death Before Dishonor was up next on ROH PPV; who would challenge Jay Lethal?

ROH TV: August 3rd, 2016
MATCHES: Moose defeated P-Dog
Donovan Dijak defeated Moose
Jay Lethal & The Briscoes defeated Adam Cole & The Young Bucks

Show opened with Lethal inserting himself and Adam Cole into the main event tonight, which would come back to bite him later…..Moose was put over in a squash, only to be sacrificed to Dijak immediately after; credit to Ring of Honor for realizing that Dijak was staying as they slowly continue his climb up the ladder; this was Moose’s final appearance for Ring of Honor…..The main event was really good, as you might expect…..Post-main event, the Bullet Club took out everyone again and shaved the head of Jay Lethal as Adam Cole promised that he was going to get the ROH World title one way or another.

Ring of Honor announced at this point they had procured a working agreement with CMLL wrestling, similar to the one they had with NJPW; all 3 companies agreed to work together and send talent between the companies.

ROH TV: August 10th, 2016
MATCHES: Jay White defeated Will Ferrara
Jay Lethal defeated Colt Cabana

Jay White wins again, as ROH continues to book him strongly…..The middle portion is dedicated exclusively to Fish & Mark Briscoe, as they cut promos on each other for their match at the PPV for the TV title…..Lethal defeats Cabana in a rematch from Global Wars to retain the ROH World title, then calls out Adam Cole for shaving his head last week; he demands a match against Cole for the ROH World title, and Nigel capitulates, making the match for Death Before Dishonor.

ROH TV: August 17th, 2016
MATCHES: Lio Rush defeated Donovan Dijak
The Young Bucks defeated Roppongi Vice in a #1 Contenders match

This was the go-home show for Death Before Dishonor, and it delivered, showing that ROH can do these shows when they want to…..Rush going over Dijak was fine, as Dijak was kept strong even in defeat; Jay White and Kamaitachi got involved after the match, as those 4 will face off at the PPV to establish a #1 contender for the TV title…..Adam Page and Jay Briscoe had a good brawl to set up their match at the PPV…..With both the Guns and War Machine hurt right now, the main event set up the next challengers for the tag belts…..And finally, we had a contract signing between Adam Cole and Jay Lethal, which devolved into a brawl as they normally do, with Lethal giving away that he’s taking this personally.

RING OF HONOR DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR XIV: August 19th, 2016

Donovan Dijak won the 4-way to become the #1 contender to the TV title…..Katsuyori Shibata debuted in ROH, but mercifully allowed Silas Young to live…..Adam Page defeated Jay Briscoe in a Fight Without Honor that was brutal, stiff, and should have MADE Page afterwards, but you know, Ring of Honor booking being what it is…..Castle and Okada had a fun match, and the loss didn’t hurt Dalton…..the tag title match was very good, as was the TV title match, as champs retained in both…..And the year-long+ reign of Jay Lethal finally came to an end, as Adam Cole became a 2-time ROH World champion by defeating Lethal; Cole outsmarted Lethal at every turn, as Jay gave into passion and desire for revenge and it cost him the strap…..Kyle O’Reilly made his return and laid out Cole after the match, holding up the ROH World title.

This same week, ROH announced they had signed “The Villain” Marty Scurll, and he would appearing on the UK tour along with other new signee Will Ospreay. This is good news for anyone who wants ROH to have great talent.

ROH TV: August 24th, 2016
MATCHES: Adam Page defeated Jonathan Gresham
Kamaitachi defeated Stuka Jr
Jay Briscoe and Jay White went to a time-limit draw

This was not a good episode of ROH TV…..Gresham did what he could with Page, but Adam gave him nothing in return…..Promos hype up The Addiction vs The Young Bucks for the tag titles next week…..Kamaitachi defeated Stuka Jr in what I genuinely think was one of the most boring matches that aired on ROH TV this year, as I didn’t think they fit well together at all…..I get what they were trying to do with White and Briscoe, but unlike White’s other matches, he really got nothing from Briscoe and didn’t look like he could win at any point, which kind of destroyed the point of showing that he could hang with Briscoe. Not a good episode here.

Ring of Honor announced that they would be holding a tournament to crown the very first ROH 6-man tag team champions, with the event culminating at this year’s Final Battle show.

ROH TV: August 31, 2016
MATCHES: Keith Lee & Shane Taylor defeated War Machine
“Tough” Tim Hughes vs David Starr vs Cheeseburger vs Joey Daddiego went to a no-contest
The Cabinet defeated Dalton Castle & The Boys
The Addiction defeated The Young Bucks

Keith Lee is something special, and Shane Taylor isn’t half-bad, neither is War Machine; match itself wasn’t much to write home about, though…..The 4-Way was broken up by Punisher Martinez, who is now a disciple of BJ Whitmer and Kevin Sullivan…..Minor win for the Cabinet was fine with the 6-man tournament looming…..The main had a ton of interference, since no one is going over the Bucks clean at this point.

AUGUST IN A NUTSHELL: While the build to Death Before Dishonor was slightly rushed, the Bullet Club was finally installed as the big bad of ROH, with Adam Cole winning his second World title and the Bucks remembering that the tag team titles existed and that they wanted them. Meanwhile, ROH TV tried, with mixed results, to push new talent on TV, as Jay White, Donovan Dijak, Keith Lee & Shane Taylor, and Lio Rush all got wins and TV time.

ROH TV MATCH OF THE MONTH: Adam Cole & The Young Bucks vs Jay Lethal & The Briscoes

Chapter 9 – September 2016 – Climbing the ladder

ROH TV: September 7th, 2016
MATCHES: Dalton Castle defeated Caprice Coleman
Donovan Dijak defeated Manny Lemons
The Briscoes defeated Lio Rush & Jay White

The Bullet Club began the show, as Cole bragged about winning the title, only to be interrupted by Jay Lethal and Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & EVIL), reminding Cole that Lethal has some buddies out there too…..There was a Whitmer/Corino/Sullivan segment, less said, the better…..Dalton Castle beat Coleman in what was a perfectly acceptable wrestling match…..The Addiction came out with a ladder and said that is was a metaphor for their success in ROH, that they were on the top rung, which caused Nigel McGuinness to think about something…..Dijak squashed a jobber…..And the Briscoes won the match, yes, but Rush and White had some good hope spots; considering what was upcoming, Jay and Mark pretty much had to win here…..After the match, Nigel announced that the Addiction will defend the tag team titles against the Young Bucks and the Motor City Machine Guns at All-Star Extravaganza in Ladder War 6!

ROH TV: September 14th, 2016
MATCHES: Michael Elgin, Kyle O’Reilly, & Jay Lethal defeated Adam Cole, Adam Page, & Yujiro Takahashi
Bobby Fish defeated Katsuyori Shibata

The six-man tag was more of an 8-man tag, in that it started with Lethal, Naito, & EVIL on the same side, but Los Ingobernables walked out on Lethal mid-match, and they were replaced by Elgin and O’Reilly, as Elgin was next in line for a title shot against Cole…..After the match, Lethal asked Nigel to give him Naito at ASE, and that request was granted, as ROH continues to use their weekly show to build to matches people want to see on PPV to the shock of almost everyone…..Fish barely managed to be Shibata via pinfall, and they would have a rematch in Japan for Shibata’s NEVER openweight title…..We’re told at the end of the night that Steve Corino would be returning to ROH TV next week; yay?

ROH TV: September 21st, 2016
MATCHES: The Guerillas of Destiny defeated The All-Night Express
Shane Taylor & Keith Lee defeated Keith Phoenix & Ricardo Rojas
Shane Taylor & Keith Lee vs War Machine ended in a double-DQ
The Addiction & Kamaitachi defeated Kazuchika Okada & Roppongi Vice

The Guerillas and ANX had a snoozer of an opener…..Lee and Taylor won a squash, then had a big ol’ brawl to sell the hatred between themselves and War Machine, and it worked for that purpose…..The main was tremendous fun, with the Addiction picked up a win as Ladder War loomed.

ROH TV: September 28th, 2016
MATCHES: Silas Young defeated Toru Yano
Punisher Martinez defeated Cheeseburger
Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Adam Cole & Adam Page

I’m a mark for Yano, and I enjoyed him and Young, even though the match was only average at best…..Up next, Christopher Daniels cuts the promo of the year, quietly reflecting on his career and how it may be coming to an end soon, but promising to do whatever it took to keep the grim reaper away from his wrestling career, and that meant keeping the ROH Tag team titles; this one interview was better than any promo in any company in 2016…..More Corino/Whitmer/Sullivan stuff followed in the Martinez/Cheeseburger match, so you should forget it happened as soon as possible…..The main event gave a taste of Cole/Elgin before the PPV, as Cole also cut a promo in the middle of the show when Kelly ran down the card; the match itself was pretty good, too.

RING OF HONOR ALL-STAR EXTRAVAGANZA VIII – September 30th, 2016

Fish and Dijak had a decent match for the TV title, with Bobby retaining…..Wacky team Colt Cabana & Dalton Castle won a 4-way match to become the #1 Contenders for the ROH Tag team titles…..Dragon Lee from CMLL made his debut and tore down the house with Kamaitachi in a great match…..ACH, KUSHIDA, & Jay White became the first to advance in the 6-man tournament, defeating Yano & the Briscoes…..Jay Lethal defeated Tetsuya Naito in a match that has grown on me more and more as I’ve seen it a few times since…..Cole retained over Elgin in an anti-climactic match…..And the best spotfest of the year followed, as the Young Bucks won the ROH Tag team titles in a brutal 3-way Ladder War over the Addiction & the Motor City Machine Guns; the match ranked up with the best that the Hardys, Edge & Christian, & the Dudleys ever did in the WWE.

SEPTEMBER IN A NUTSHELL: ROH turned the heat all the way up in September, as they culminated in a fantastic PPV with All-Star Extravaganza. The coronation of the Bucks as more titles made their way to the Bullet Club was absolutely the correct booking, while wrestlers like Dragon Lee made their debut and ROH started to get some traction against NJPW, especially with Lethal’s victory over Naito. The World title took a backseat this month, but that was okay this time out.

ROH TV MATCH OF THE MONTH: Bobby Fish vs Katsuyori Shibata

Interlude:
Question: Who should Ring of Honor sign in 2017 and push to the moon?

Answer: Jonathan Gresham. Over the course of the year on Ring of Honor TV, Gresham consistently put on some of the best matches in the company, albeit ones under 10 minutes. That got me seeking out his other work (he’s got a good match up on youtube against Tommy End, for example), and he’s just as good in the matches that go over 10 minutes as well. Gresham is a special talent that can work pretty much any style needed; his strikes are good, his submissions look painful and are built to well in his matches, and he has a smoothness in the ring that can very rarely be taught. Just watching his matches against Lio Rush, for example, showcase how incredible his work in the ring is, especially his transition work to make the match flow. Does he have a size problem? Well, he’s admittedly not the biggest dude in the world, I’ll grant you. But that has nothing to do with his ability in the ring, where he can go with anyone, and that in-ring work is what sold me and will sell you if you watch his matches.

Ring of Honor should sign Jonathan Gresham and give him a good shove, working him up to TV title contention. Guys like him and Scurll and Ospreay and Rush and Jay White are the guys that should be feuding for that belt, and there’s a good chance that Gresham might, in fact, be the best worker of the bunch.

He’s awesome.

Chapter 10 – October 2016 – Laying the groundwork for battle

ROH TV: October 5th, 2016
MATCHES: Bobby Fish defeated EVIL
Michael Elgin defeated Donovan Dijak
The Young Bucks, Yujiro Takahashi, & Adam Page defeated The Motor City Machine Guns, ACH, & Lio Rush

This was the beginning of two weeks of coverage from the Field of Honor event…..Bobby going over EVIL continued the surprising trend of ROH wrestlers suddenly defeating NJPW wrestlers cleanly, which was most welcome…..Elgin and Dijak had a passable match, as ROH continues to put more time behind Dijak…..The main was a trainwreck, but what else could it have been after seeing who was in it?

ROH TV: October 12th, 2016
MATCHES: Kyle O’Reilly defeated Katsuyori Shibata
Adam Cole defeated Jay Lethal, Tetsuya Naito, & Hiroshi Tanahashi

This was a two-match show, and they were a tremendous 2 matches…..O’Reilly/Shibata instantly became a candidate for ROH TV match of the year, except that it wasn’t taped for TV, but I’m not really sure that matters in the end…..The match itself was absolutely fantastic, and the rematch at King of Pro Wrestling in Japan was even better…..The 4-Way for the title was a fine main event, although it certainly started slow, but picked up later on.

ROH TV: October 19th, 2016
MATCHES: War Machine defeated Keith Lee & Shane Taylor
The Cabinet defeated Jason Kincaid, Leon St. Giovanni, & Shaheem Ali
Jay Lethal defeated Silas Young

The Bullet Club again opened the show as Cole ran down the PPV, pointing out that both he and the Bucks now had gold, and that soon Adam Page would when he challenged Bobby Fish for the TV title…..The opening tag was a mess of excess that we frequently see in ROH, as the tag rules were thrown out the window; that would have been fine, had it been a No-DQ match…..Back to the 6-Man tournament, as the Cabinet picked up the win over the Top Prospect All-Stars…..Cole’s next 3 challengers were revealed, as Silas Young had won a title shot on a house show, Lethal would get his rematch on the UK tour, & Kyle O’Reilly would face off against the champ at Final Battle…..The main event was actually pretty good with a terrible finish, but they can’t all be winners.

ROH TV: October 26th, 2016
MATCHES: Dalton Castle & Colt Cabana defeated The Tempura Boyz
Kyle O’Reilly defeated Jonathan Gresham
BJ Whitmer & Punisher Martinez defeated Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara
Tetsuya Naito & EVIL defeated The Motor City Machine Guns

Opener was a complete squash for Castle and Cabana, as they remained the top contenders for the tag titles…..The Briscoes laid down the challenge for Final Battle against the Young Bucks…..I wasn’t as over the moon about O’Reilly/Gresham as I wanted to be, as it was basically a straight-up showcase for O’Reilly, who dominated and got the tapout…..Yeah, more Whitmer/Corino stuff, whatever…..The main event was more angle than anything else, as the Guns were still selling injuries from All-Star Extravaganza and were easy prey for Los Ingobernables de Japon.

OCTOBER IN A NUTSHELL: Movement began towards Final Battle here in a big way, as ROH put down their storylines a month in advance, with explanations for all the stories and title shots, including Lethal getting his rematch to spike business on the UK tour, and the Briscoes and Bucks all but promising a dream match. Yes, there were two weeks of Field of Honor shows, but they went out of their way to showcase wins for guys that would be in main events going forward, with Fish, O’Reilly, Cole, & the Bucks all picking up wins on ROH TV, so at least the time was used well.

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

Chapter 11 – November 2016 – Final Preparations

ROH TV: November 2nd, 2016
MATCHES: Donovan Dijak defeated Danny Miles
The Briscoes defeated Adam Cole & Adam Page
KUSHIDA, ACH, & Jay White defeated The Cabinet

Dijak won a squash, as he’s become the Braun Strowman of ROH (in advance of Braun becoming the Braun of the WWE)…..The Briscoes were set to face off against the Addiction, but Kaz and Daniels passed due to injuries, so the Briscoes challenged the Bucks to do their Final Battle match right there…..The challenge was answered by the Bucks’ Bullet Club stablemates, and the Briscoes went over by beating Page…..Jay Lethal cut a promo for the UK tour, which would end up having some implications later this month…..KUSHIDA, ACH, & Jay White advanced to the Finals of the 6-Man tournament at Final Battle.

ROH TV: November 9th, 2016
MATCHES: Michael Elgin defeated Toru Yano
Dragon Lee defeated Bobby Fish
The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan, & Vinny Marseglia) defeated Adam Cole, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson

Elgin and Yano had a rematch from the G-1 Climax, which Elgin won this time…..Fish took on Lee after having been attacked by the Bullet Club with a chair, sustaining multiple chairshots to the ribs; Lee won the match, which gave him a future title shot at Bobby…..The Kingdom won their first-round match in the 6-man tournament over the Bullet Club.

ROH TV: November 16th, 2016
MATCHES: Ultimo Guerrero, Shigeo Okumura, & Hechicero defeated Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, & Kamaitachi
Keith Lee & Shane Taylor defeated Dalton Castle & Colt Cabana
Bobby Fish defeated Adam Page

The 6-Man tag tournament continues, with team CMLL defeating the Addiction; our first sign of dissension between Kamaitachi and Daniels started here…..The Cabinet threw down their gimmick and threatened all of Ring of Honor; Ring of Honor was less than concerned, to be frank…..Dissension also between Cabana and Castle, as they lost their tag title shot at the Bucks the previous weekend…..Fish fought through injured ribs to retain the title against Adam Page, which I questioned; put the guy over Jay Briscoe, you might as well go all the way with him.

The UK tour commenced at this point; while Jay Lethal failed to win back the ROH World title, the ROH TV title changed hands twice, as Will Ospreay defeated Bobby Fish to win the title on the first night and then dropped it to “The Villain” Marty Scurll on the last night of the tour. Jay Lethal was announced as Cody Rhodes’ opponent for Final Battle.

In less than great news, ACH requested his release from ROH, and it was granted. Much like Cedric Alexander, ACH was criminally underused by Ring of Honor. Also leaving would be Steve Corino, who will be heading to the WWE.

ROH TV: November 23rd, 2016
MATCHES: Kyle O’Reilly defeated Silas Young
Dalton Castle & Colt Cabana defeated Preston Quinn & Ken Dixon
The Kingdom defeated Team CMLL

Kyle gets a decent showcase match to start off the show, and Young cut a promo after the match challenging Jushin Liger to a match at Final Battle…..Cabana and Castle won a quick match; afterwards, Cabana told Castle that he wanted to split up the team…..Castle
offered a hug as a parting gift, and Colt responded with a knee to the balls, ostensibly turning heel in the process…..The Kingdom advanced to the Finals of the 6-Man tournament with their win, and were the clear favorites for Final Battle.

ROH TV: November 30th, 2016
MATCHES: Lio Rush defeated Jonathan Gresham
The Briscoes defeated The Addiction

Lio Rush and Jonathan Gresham put on a HELL of a match to start us off; they are the future of this company…..Kyle O’Reilly cut the best promo he has, well, ever, to build up his main event at Final Battle against Cole…..The Briscoes and the Addiction put on a great tag match, as Christopher Daniels continues to absolutely knock every aspect of his character out of the park…..Adam Cole finishes off the last show before Final Battle with a great promo for the main event of Final Battle.

NOVEMBER IN A NUTSHELL: This has been an entirely different company in the back half of 2016, with the stories making sense and being built well, along with efficient use of the TV time. Christopher Daniels in particular has been superb, as his character continues to evolve both in character and action. And the biggest feud in ROH gets settled at Final Battle, as Kyle faces off against Cole, along with the Briscoes taking on the Bucks. Ever since All-Star Extravaganza, the company hasn’t missed.

ROH TV MATCH OF THE MONTH: Lio Rush vs Jonathan Gresham

Chapter 12 – December 2016 – Let’s stick this landing!

RING OF HONOR FINAL BATTLE 2016 – December 2nd, 2016

Ring of Honor saved their best for last, putting on one of the best shows of the year in any company…..Dalton Castle entered his match on a chariot and had a decent match; he needs a big ol’ push this year, ROH…..Cody Rhodes turned heel on ROH after defeating Lethal, setting up any number of storylines for the next year…..The Kingdom won the 6-man tag tournament and are the new 6-man tag champs…..Marty Scurll successfully defended the ROH TV title against Will Ospreay and Dragon Lee in a triple threat match that would go down as one of the best ROH matches of the year…..The Briscoes and Bucks followed that with a **** match for the tag titles, in which the Briscoes went out defiant to the end under a barrage of Bucks’ superkicks…..After the match, Matt Hardy appeared on the video board and challenged the Bucks to a match in the future…..And finally, FINALLY, Kyle O’Reilly defeated Adam Cole to become the new Ring of Honor World champion; surely after such a long chase, he wouldn’t end up the shortest reigning champion in Ring of Honor history!

ROH TV: December 7th, 2016
MATCHES: The Tempura Boyz defeated Will Ferrara & Cheeseburger
Donovan Dijak defeated Joey Daddiego
War Machine vs Punishment Martinez & BJ Whitmer ended in a double DQ
The Motor City Machine Guns, Jay White, & Lio Rush defeated Jay Lethal, Silas Young, & The Briscoes

Well, we had to pay for Final Battle pretty quickly, didn’t we?…..First half of the show was useless…..It didn’t get much better with the Corino/Whitmer/Sullivan bullshit in the middle…..The main event was all that was worth watching here.

ROH TV: December 14th, 2016
MATCHES: Deonna Purrazzo defeated Candice Lerae
Veda Scott & Kennadi Brink defeated Sumie Sakai & Faye Jackson
Mandy Leon defeated Jessicka Havok
Kelly Klein defeated ODB

More Women of Honor this week…..Candice Lerae made her debut for Ring of Honor on this show in a losing effort against Deonna…..This would turn out to be the swan song for Veda Scott in ROH…..Mandy did not have quite the same great match that she did her previous time out…..I still don’t get what the big deal is with Klein.

ROH TV: December 21st, 2016
MATCHES: Christopher Daniels defeated Mark Briscoe
Lio Rush defeated Caprice Coleman
Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, & Dalton Castle defeated Adam Cole & The Young Bucks

The first show in the O’Reilly era started right here…..A show-opening promo from Kyle was interrupted by Adam Cole, then Dalton Castle, then Bobby Fish, as each man laid out their challenge to the ROH World title, so we ended up with a 6-man tag match in the main event as a result…..The Decade of Excellence tournament was announced, as 8 men who made their first appearance in Ring of Honor at least 10 years would battle it out for a title shot at the 15th Anniversary show…..In the first round, Christopher Daniels defeated Mark Briscoe…..Lio Rush got a nothing win over Coleman in less than 30 seconds…..The main event was a fun 6-Man tag, and seeing Castle in the main event gave me hope they’re going to give him a shove this year.

ROH TV: December 28th, 2016
MATCHES: Will Ospreay defeated Bobby Fish
The Young Bucks defeated Will Ospreay & Marty Scurll
Marty Scurll defeated Will Ospreay

This show was matches from the UK tour; it could also have been called “Hey ROH; Meet Will and Marty!”…..Ospreay and Fish had a good match, but the uncut version was very much superior…..The Bucks match was decent but largely forgettable until the insane-o ending, with a ‘rana turning into an Indytaker…..And finally, the TV title ended up around the waist of the Villain, where I hope it remains for a long time to come.

DECEMBER IN A NUTSHELL: Ring of Honor brought this thing home in December in a big way. Final Battle was a GREAT show, with only one match below *** and multiple **** matches. The rest of the month on TV was a mixed bag of recap shows as the holiday approached, but at least it was used wisely, as a way to introduce Scurll and Ospreay to the ROH crowd on TV. Overall, Final Battle gave us new directions and seemingly looked to elevate guys like Fish and Castle post PPV.

ROH TV MATCH OF THE MONTH: Marty Scurll vs Will Ospreay

2016 in Ring of Honor was an interesting ride to say the least. At the start of the year, the company was clearly in a rut creatively, and they really didn’t dig out of it until near the end of July. With the meandering of the Bullet Club angle to start after Global Wars, I freely admit that I wasn’t as optimistic as I like to be. But ROH turned it around at the end of the year, as they refocused around Cole winning the World title and built to Kyle’s challenge at Final Battle, while putting over the Bucks strongly in a violent encounter and then put them over the Briscoes at the end of the year.

More to the point, even with the departures from ROH this year, ROH built a new talent pool in the signings of Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay, along with having guys like Dragon Lee, Kamaitachi, Lio Rush, and Jay White come in for runs in the company. All of those guys are young and could be part of a bright future for ROH.

I expect more departures over the next year for sure, but that’s the nature of the beast in Ring of Honor – folks visit, but they don’t make it their home, at least in most cases. My hope for the next year is that we continue to see those young workers come in and work with guys like Jay Briscoe, like Jay Lethal, like Bobby Fish, like Christopher Daniels, so the talent pool in North America can continue to reconstitute itself.

Independent wrestling has never been as hot as it is right now, and we’re heading for the 15th year of Ring of Honor, and I’m pumped up for it. And that’s the best thing that I can say about how ROH made me feel at the end of 2016; I was ready for 2017 to bring it on.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter

Epilogue:
My Top 10 Ring of Honor Matches in 2016

1. Adam Cole vs Jay Lethal – Death Before Dishonor XIV – regardless of anything else, this was the most important match in Ring of Honor this year.
2. The Young Bucks vs The Motor City Machine Guns vs The Addiction – All-Star Extravaganza VIII – one giant spotfest, but what a spotfest! There can be art in these trainwrecks, and while I don’t love them most of the time, well-done ones are an exception to that rule.
3. Adam Cole vs Kyle O’Reilly – Final Battle – my single favorite moment as a fan of pro wrestling in 2016.
4. Marty Scurll vs Will Ospreay vs Dragon Lee – Final Battle – Dave Meltzer said that he would have hated to be the guys who had to follow this match. I agree.
5. Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks vs Matt Sydal, KUSHIDA, & ACH – ROH 14th Anniversary – One of the best non-gimmick spotfests I’ve ever seen.
6. The Kingdom vs reDRagon vs The Young Bucks, Philly street fight – Ring of Honor TV – a complete garbage brawl that was just beyond fun to watch.
7. Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi – All-Star Extravaganza VIII – Dragon Lee’s first match in ROH against his rival from CMLL, these two tore the house all the way down. A fantastic ROH debut for Lee.
8. War Machine vs The Briscoes – Global Wars – A brutal, hard-hitting tag title match that more than lived up to its billing, as these guys let it all hang out.
9. Lio Rush vs Jonathan Gresham – Ring of Honor TV – these guys are the absolute future of Ring of Honor, assuming that Delirious has his head screwed on straight. Both are tremendous talents.
10. Marty Scurll vs Will Ospreay – Reach for the Sky tour, UK – only so low on the list because I’ve seen better from them against each other, but the uncut version of this match is absolutely tremendous and worth watching.

2nd Epilogue:
The following sentence is presented without any further comment:

I would very much like to see Christopher Daniels win the Ring of Honor World title sometime in 2017.

  • Ioan Morris

    Good work, Rick. I’ve heard Gresham’s name mentioned a bit lately, will have to check him out.

    Feels like the company’s been in a constant state of flux lately, and that might be the case again with the O’Reilly situation. I don’t see any reason for them to delay pushing new talent hard and fast. Worst that can happen is that they leave, and let’s be honest, they tend to leave eventually whether you push them or not. Better, for example, to give someone like Marty Scurll a year with the world title and be able to say he was a former ROH champion, I say.

    • zahidf

      In ROH terms, the ROH Tv title is almost as prestigious as the world one isn’t it?
      I got a chance to touch the tv title last Sunday, Scull bought it to the ring in Rev Pro. Was smaller than I expected!
      Signing Osperay and Scull for 2 year contracts was a good choice. Since he seems on the outs with WWE, signing up Zack Sabre Jr would be a good call as well.

    • Andy PG

      Saw Gresham live in Fairfax against Donovan Dijak; he’s an incredible wrestler who would not have been out of place in the CWC.

  • DNice

    Great recap. I too would love to see Daniels win the title.

  • Mark Kohn

    Great yearly review. Much appreciate this type of thorough, historical review.

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