Ring of Honor 15th Anniversary Show Preview

Howdy!

Been awhile since Final Battle, but Ring of Honor returns to PPV this Friday night with the ROH 15th Anniversary Show, with a main event of Adam Cole defending the ROH World title against Christopher Daniels! My job in the following is to convince you to part with some hard-earned cash to check out my favorite promotion on the big stage, so let’s break this thing down.

Let’s begin, shall we?


Unlike last year, the NJPW roster will not be joining the ROH roster for this one, as the card is filled with Ring of Honor talent. It will once again come to us from Las Vegas, Nevada. We’ve got 7 matches on tap, let’s stop wasting time.

Hangman Page vs. Frankie Kazarian vs. Chris Sabin vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Cheeseburger vs. Silas Young – Six-man mayhem match for the #1 contendership to the ROH World Television Championship

Who are these guys? – Hangman Page is a member of the Bullet Club, whose gimmick is that he brings a noose to the ring with him and attacks guys with it. Frankie Kazarian is the former partner of Christopher Daniels and just recently joined the Bullet Club on ROH’s last show. Chris Sabin is a member of the Motor City Machine Guns with Alex Shelley. Punishment Martinez is a giant dude that can fly, he recently competed on the ROH/NJPW show, Honor Rising, in a losing effort for the NEVER open weight title. Cheeseburger is a comedy wrestler in ROH. He blows. Silas Young is a mustachioed brawler who bills himself as wrestling’s ‘last real man’.
What’s the issue here? – The World TV title, currently held by Marty Scurll. This will determine a new challenger for him, nothing further beyond that.
Who wins? – Sabin and Cheeseburger are no-gos, at least to me. Depending on the direction of his storyline with Daniels, I’d also rule out Kazarian. That leaves Young, Page, and Martinez. Young has had title shots at the World title recently; although he did re-sign with ROH, I’d guess it’s not him. That leaves Page and Martinez. Both guys are clearly held in high regard by ROH management; Page was given a coveted spot in the Bullet Club, while Martinez was one of the select few to be flown to Japan for Honor Rising. Either one could pull it off, but my betting money would go on Page. I think they’re ready to make a big swing with him, and this is where it starts.
Your winner: Hangman Page

The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe) and Bully Ray vs. War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe) and Davey Boy Smith Jr.

Who are these guys? – The Briscoes are the 8-time ROH Tag champs, along with Jay being a 2-time ROH World champ. They’ve been in ROH since the beginning, as redneck brothers who can both brawl and wrestle. Bully Ray, formerly Bubba Ray Dudley, is a former tag champ in multiple companies as part of the Dudley Boyz. War Machine is Hanson and Rowe, two large dudes with beards who have recently been doing great stuff in NJPW, having laid down a challenge for the IWGP tag titles at Honor Rising. Davey Boy Smith is the son of the British Bulldog, and has been tagging as half of the Killer Elite Squad in NJPW with Lance Archer, who was recently injured.
What’s the issue here? – Both the Briscoes and War Machine needed something to do. With Bully Ray making an appearance at last Saturday’s New York show, Manhattan Mayhem, he got added to the card, so War Machine recruited Smith to even things up.
Who wins? – I firmly believe that the Briscoes, or at least Jay Briscoe, is heading for a heel turn sometime in 2017. He’s been reacting in odd ways, refusing Codes of Honor and becoming more aggressive in the face of losses, particularly in the Decade of Excellence tournament Final. I think they’ll pour it on here, and have War Machine pick up the duke to further frustrate Dem Boys.
Your winner: War Machine & Davey Boy Smith Jr.

The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia) (c) vs. Dalton Castle and The Boys – Six-man tag team match for the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship

Who are these guys? – The Kingdom are the first ROH 6-Man tag champs, having won the tournament final at Final Battle. Matt Taven is the veteran here, having been a part of ROH for many years and is a former TV Champ. Dalton Castle is the most popular wrestler in Ring of Honor without the last name ‘Jackson’, and has a character that stands out to match, as he portrays a flamboyant Bowie-type character with 2 scantily-clad young men he calls his ‘Boys’, who will be his tag partners in this match.
What’s the issue here? – Ever since the 6-man titles were created, it’s always been assumed that Castle and the Boys would contend for them, and now their title shot has arrived.
Who wins? – I feel like this might be the easiest match on the card to call. I don’t think that Castle and the Boys have a shot here. Unless we see Mike Bennett and Maria return to screw over their former partner Taven, I expect the Kingdom to retain. Castle has a shot at the ROH World title at Supercard of Honor during Wrestlemania weekend, and I think there’s an off-chance that he actually wins it there, while the Boys have been dominated in handicap matches against guys like Colt Cabana, so I’m not liking their chances.
Your winner: (and STILL your ROH 6-Man World tag champs) The Kingdom

Jay Lethal vs. Bobby Fish

Who are these guys? – Jay Lethal is currently one of the most decorated wrestlers in Ring of Honor. Having spent over a year as the ROH World champion before having his reign ended by Adam Cole last year, he was the ROH World TV champ for a record-setting run before that. Bobby Fish is the former partner of Kyle O’Reilly in the tag team reDRagon, a multi-time former ROH tag champ in that respect. He also won the ROH World TV title at the start of this singles run from Tomohiro Ishii, and held that title for some months; he challenged Adam Cole for the World title just this past Saturday, but came up a bit short.
What’s the issue here? – This is being billed as a top contender’s match, which is a highlight of one of ROH’s problems as a whole. Not that either Lethal and Fish aren’t deserving of a push or title shot, but Fish literally just had the shot last week, and Lethal had a shot less than 6 months ago before Final Battle on the European tour. When people complain sometimes that ROH just recycles the same 4-5 guys through the World title shots, they have a legitimate point. No personal issue, they both want another title shot.
Who wins? – I’m getting the feeling that Fish might not be long for ROH. He’s been cryptic about the future of reDRagon in his interviews, giving some the feeling that he’s going to join O’Reilly wherever he ends up. He’s also apparently working a per date contract with ROH and has turned down offers so far for a longer one. With all that in mind, plus the fact that he just had a shot at the belt, I’m going with Lethal unless there’s interference from Cody Rhodes, but I’m thinking that Jay does indeed pick up the duke here.
Your winner: Jay Lethal

The Hardys (Broken Matt and Brother Nero) (c) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) vs. Roppongi Vice (Beretta and Rocky Romero) – Las Vegas Street Fight for the ROH World Tag Team Championship

Who are these guys? – Matt and Jeff Hardy. It’s hard to believe you don’t know who they are at this point if you’re reading this site. Former WWE, TNA, and now current ROH tag team champions, they have recently signed (maybe) with ROH after laying down the challenge to the Young Bucks after Final Battle. The Young Bucks, Matt and Nick Jackson, are also brothers and wrestle a style that involves a lot of superkicks and double teams – they are the most popular wrestlers in Ring of Honor, but are also extremely polarizing as a team. Roppongi Vice is Rocky Romero and Trent Baretta, and they primarily work in Japan. Rocky has had runs in ROH before, notably as part of Forever Hooligans, while Trent used to be with the WWE and also works in PWG.
What’s the issue here? – After the Bucks retained their ROH World tag titles against the Briscoes at Final Battle, Broken Matt Hardy appeared on the screen to challenge the Bucks for their ROH World tag titles. The match was signed to headline Supercard of Honor this year, taking place on Wrestlemania weekend. With the Hardys leaving TNA just last week, ROH moved to hastily sign them to a new contract and the Hardys appeared at Manhattan Mayhem last Saturday and laid down an impromptu challenge to the Bucks, who accepted. The Hardys shocked the Bucks and won the titles, and now this will be their first defense. The Bucks were scheduled to defend the straps against Roppongi Vice, the team that defeated them at WrestleKingdom 11 to win the IWGP Junior tag titles, so now the match is a triple threat and a street fight.
Who wins? – A lot was thrown into flux when the Hardys appeared early, as the match at Supercard was supposed to be a one-off event; when the TNA situation occurred, ROH pounced. The length of the contract that the Hardys signed is an issue, because Matt is always in character when he talks about this stuff – most thoughts are, since no one is talking, that the Hardys are only signed through the Supercard event and maybe the TV tapings the next day before heading off to the WWE. As a result, one would expect the Bucks to regain the belts there, and the Hardys to retain here, and that’s what I think will happen. I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘Broken’ gimmick that the Hardys are doing, because I’m a crotchety old man who hates fun, but I just don’t see how it fits into Ring of Honor; I’ve gone on record before, especially with the Kevin Sullivan/Corino/Whitmer stuff that I wish ROH would dump that crap.
Your winner: (and STILL your ROH World Tag Team champs) Matt & Jeff Hardy

“The Villain” Marty Scurll (c) vs. Lio Rush – Singles match for the ROH World Television Championship

Who are these guys? – These guys? They’re both AWESOME, that’s who they are. Lio Rush is the winner of the 2016 Top Prospect tournament, and there was no other possible choice. He’s a fast, agile wrestler that strikes quickly, can fly, and in general is a truly special talent. If he can overcome his size issues, he’s going to be a huge star. Marty Scurll is rapidly becoming my favorite wrestler to watch not just in ROH, but almost anywhere. His character is the ‘Villain’, a dastardly rogue who cheats with aplomb while showing off to the crowd at almost every opportunity. He won the title from Will Ospreay on the Reach for the Sky tour of UK and has held it since. His natural charisma combined with a superior sense of workrate means that we may as well enjoy him while he’s here, because he’s clearly going to make a mark on this business on the biggest stage of them all someday.
What’s the issue here? – Scurll recently insulted the ROH locker room, saying that there was no real competition for his belt. Rush took exception – while Lio was unable to win the resulting top contender match, he later won a 2 out of 3 falls match against Scurll in February to earn his title shot here. The result should be a great match, as both guys can really go.
Who wins? – This was the hardest one to predict, to be honest. While I initially thought Scurll for sure, there’s a feeling in my head that Rush might actually win this. He’s been at the cusp of it for awhile, but now may be the time to pull the trigger, especially if they decide to move Scurll up. But that having been said, I can’t talk myself into it; Scurll is on a great roll as the champ, and it seems like it’s premature to end it here. While I think Lio gives him a hell of a challenge, I think that Marty comes out with the strap.
Your winner: Marty Scurll

Adam Cole (c) vs. Christopher Daniels – Singles match for the ROH World Championship

Who are these guys? – Adam Cole is the leader of the Bullet Club in North America, and the only man in history to win the ROH World title 3 times, having set the record at Wrestle Kingdom 11 by winning the title back from Kyle O’Reilly. Christopher Daniels is one of the most decorated wrestlers in the history of the indies; he was on the very first ROH show in the main event back in 2002. ‘The Fallen Angel’ had a long run in TNA after that before returning to ROH after.
What’s the issue here? – Last year, while the Addiction were the ROH World tag team champions, Daniels cut an impassioned promo, easily the best one I saw all year, talking about seeing the end of his wrestling career coming and how he would do anything to hold onto it. He and his partner, Frankie Kazarian, lost the belts to the Young Bucks at Ladder War, and it seemed to bring about a change in Chris, as he seemingly began to lose his confidence in himself. His slow character erosion has simply been outstanding to watch. Then came the Decade of Excellence tournament, 8 wrestlers who debuted in ROH at least 10 years ago. As Chris won the quarters, the semis, and the Finals, more and more he slowly began to regain his faith in himself. Seriously, this whole storyline has been great. In the meantime, his partner, Frankie Kazarian, kept up the pressure in pointing out how his fate was tied to Daniels’ in many ways, and after they lost a match to Cole and partner Adam Page, in which Cole pinned Daniels, Frankie lost it, saying that Chris needed to understand that what happened to him happened to Frankie as well, shattering Chris again. Daniels went after Cole on the next show, threatening to cut his hair (a tactic used by Cole on Jay Lethal before Cole won the World title from Jay) and Kazarian came out to hold Cole in place….and revealed a Bullet Club shirt. The beatdown was on, and the Bullet Club left Daniels laying in the middle of the ring, with Cole standing tall.
Who wins? – So, here’s my thinking – Frankie joining the Bullet Club was all a swerve. Notice that during the beatdown of Daniels, he never touched him. As such, I expect that Kaz will be interfering on behalf of Daniels, or stopping the Bullet Club from interfering on behalf of Cole. With that out of the way, there is also Cole’s situation to consider. Meltzer is reporting that his contract is up in April, and it’s no secret that the WWE has told him he has a spot in NXT when he wants it. With him approaching 30 years old, one would think that he’s going to go at some point. That having been said, he’s also just started in NJPW recently and is a high-profile leader in the Bullet Club, so there is some consideration to him staying as well. Also, even if he is going, there has to be at least some thought to having him break Daniels’ heart here and dropping it to Dalton Castle at Supercard of Honor to really put Castle over. STILL…..this should be Daniels’ time. He’s never won the ROH World title, but more to the point, the story has been so well done, and they’ve managed to position Chris against the world here, especially with Kaz seemingly turning on him. I cannot say enough about the fact that despite anything else, the contract and backstage shit, whatever, they’ve managed to turn me into a mark that wants to see Daniels walk out with the title.
Your winner: (and NEW Ring of Honor World Champion) “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels

That should do it! 7 matches, some really good workers and pairings, and a really well-built feud in the main event is enough to get me excited. I hope that it’s enough for you all as well. Look for my review of the show sometime on Sunday.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter