Ring of Honor – December 30th, 2015

Howdy!

Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way here….

First off, apologies for no recap last week; I was in the midst of traveling with my wife and kid to see family in St. Louis, and every time I thought I was going to get the damn thing done, something else popped up. We should be back to normal starting this week.

Second, I had the chance to meet Michael Elgin on Wednesday night while he was doing a show here in Omaha. He’s an absolute prince of a guy who was wonderful to my daughter especially, and he gave a stirring speech after his match about the importance of Indy wrestling and support for it. And he didn’t mail in his match, either! Sometimes, when we get guys through here, they tend to just do the bare minimum of work, and with Elgin working WrestleKingdom 10 in just a few days, I didn’t know what to expect, but he put on a great match for us.

While I got the chance to talk to him for a little while, I decided to take the plunge and mention that I worked for the blog and asked if he’d be willing to do a quick email interview for us (I would have tried at the show, but he was busy and I wanted him to make some money if he could), and he agreed to do so. So, if you have any questions for Big Mike, put them in the comments section and I’ll get them in there; I plan to email him on Saturday, so make sure you get them in.

Once again, he was a hell of a guy. One of the best wrestler meetups I’ve ever had.

Notable news from around the world of ROH this week:

–Michael Bennett and Maria are apparently done with the company after the last set of tapings. Matt Taven remains under contract for at least the next few months. Bennett and Maria are expected to start with TNA sometime after the new year, probably at the first live Impact.

–The saga of reDRagon continues. TNA apparently showed interest in Kyle and Bobby, as did the WWE, but now ROH has reopened negotiations with the team. While the two sides were said to be far apart on money, which caused the initial negotiations to cease, ROH has apparently reignited those talks and they’re said to be progressing much better this time around. The expiration date for reDRagon’s contracts is apparently this week.

–The Young Bucks have finished their Indy dates as of last week, and are now exclusive to ROH and NJPW, with appearances for PWG available as well.

–WrestleKingdom 10 is fast approaching. I believe that the show will air early Monday morning in the States; if you’re interested, sign up for NJPW World and watch the show. It’s a lousy 8 bucks, and Styles/Nakamura alone should be more than worth that. ROH will have an extremely strong presence on the show, highlighted by the aforementioned Lethal/Elgin World title match. Coverage on NJPW World apparently will include the English commentary team, and if you need help with that…..Dock! Where are you?!

I hope that everyone had a fantastic Christmas! Let’s watch some Ring of Honor for the last time in 2015!

Ring of Honor TV – 12/30/15

We are….in the back with Mandy Leon? Ah, I see, as Mandy tells us that the roster and officials are on a break for the holidays, but we’re going to be taking a look back at the last year in Ring of Honor with highlights of some of the great matches from 2015. Alrighty-then.

Let’s get started here with:

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tetsuya Naito vs ACH & Matt Sydal – from Global Wars 2015, Night 2

We’re joined in progress with ACH and Tanahashi exchanging go-behinds. Tanahashi finally breaks it up with a back elbow to ACH, but Sydal comes in with a jumping knee into an ACH German suplex for two. Tanahashi attempts strikes, but ACH ducks and strums some air guitar. ACH kick is caught and turned into a Dragon-Screw legwhip by Hiroshi.

*Quick aside on ACH* I really, really like the guy but if ever there’s a guy who needs to change up a bit of his personality, it’s ACH. He’s managed to get a rep as a character of a guy who never wins the big one, and I think it would be to his advantage to use that to make his character a LITTLE more serious. Not a ton, mind you, but stuff like the air guitar bit or the endless backflips make him look like an idiot when he then loses the match to the guy who just wants to beat him up. You can’t take all of that out if you want to keep what got him over, but just removing a little bit would go a long way towards pushing him higher, at least in my view. *Aside over*

Tanahashi immediately applies a Texas Cloverleaf to ACH after the legwhip. He cranks on it while Naito and Sydal battle on the outside, Sydal taking advantage. He gets back in the ring and gets a high knee to Tanahashi to break the cloverleaf. Naito in now after Sydal, but Sydal gets a double leg scissors (on the 2nd attempt) to send Naito out with Tanahashi. Sydal attempts the 2nd rope springboard moonsault, but the New Japan guys shove him off on the 2nd rope and celebrate, allowing ACH to hit Air Jordan! See, now that move pops the crowd and is awesome. Keep that type of stuff, ACH. Tanahashi gets sent back into the ring and ACH with the Get Over Here; he drags Hiroshi to the corner where Sydal is waiting. Shooting Star Press by Matt! 1,2, Naito with the save! Sydal charges Naito, but Tetsuya counters and gets a beautiful tornado DDT. He turns around and ducks two kicks from ACH, but can’t duck the third, and ACH goes up with both NJPW guys on the mat. Midnight Star from ACH gets knees from Tanahashi! Tanahashi comes off the ropes with a Sling Blade and goes up…High Fly Flow! We’re done here, folks. (Tanahashi/Naito over Sydal/ACH, pinfall, time unknown)

I’ll skip the worth watching segment since we didn’t see the whole match, but this looked like it was probably a pretty fun spotfest to watch. I have not seen the match in full, so if anyone has and can recommend, do so in the comments. It sure looked pretty, though.

I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t mention Tanahashi doing a little air guitar stroke after the pinfall and Naito getting an AWESOME “We won?” look on his face after the match. Little things like that make me happy.
The Young Bucks want to wish you Happy Holidays. They even get a superkick in there! Let’s take a break for some ads, shall we?

We’re back from commercial…into a match!

Roderick Strong vs Shinsuke Nakamura (from Global Wars 2015, Night 2)

Looks like we’re going to be getting fragments tonight. Oh well, not complaining. Nakamura gets a lung blower on Strong, followed by an overhead throw. Strong avoids the charge, Nakamura gets boots up on Roddy’s charge and goes up, but Strong gets a jumping knee right to Shinsuke’s chin to knock him silly. Strong goes up, backbreaker on the top turnbuckle to Nakamura! Awesome. That gets two. Suplex attempt by Strong is blocked with a knee to the head from Nakamura, followed by a forearm to Roddy’s face. Second rope for Nakamura, knee strike from the second rope to Strong. Both guys down, Nakamura gets back to his feet first, but a running knee is dodged by Strong, who picks Nakamura up, double knee gutbuster from Strong! Strong looks for the running knee, Nakamura dodges, Strong shoves him down, Stronghold! Nakamura stretches, stretches, and barely grabs the bottom rope with his fingertips. Nakamura is so damned great. His facial expressions are just better than pretty much everyone else in wrestling. Strong slams the mat and they both get to their feet, exchanging forearms in the center, which Nakamura wins. Strong comes back and they do it again, just laying into each other with shots, and Nakamura gets a knee to the gut, but Strong ducks another forearm and comes off the ropes, Sick Kick by Strong! Nakamura’s mouth guard went flying! Roddy gets him up, brainbuster into the double knee backbreaker!! 1,2, NO! Damn, I totally bought that as the finish. The crowd thinks this is awesome, and from what I’ve seen, I am willing to concede that point. Strong gets Shinsuke to his feet and starts pummeling him with forearms, brainbuster….Nakamura goes over the top of Strong. Boma Ye from Nakamura! Strong kicks out at 1! And Nakamura just FREAKS out. That man is a star. Nakamura loads up and charges, Strong gets a jumping knee to Shinsuke’s face! Strong off the ropes, and Nakamura almost TAKES HIS HEAD OFF with a straight kick to the dome! 1,2,3. (Shinsuke Nakamura over Roderick Strong, pinfall, time unknown)

Every time I see Nakamura wrestle, he just blows me away, seriously. I’d say more, but I’m typing my credit card information in so I can watch Global Wars Night 2, because damn. I want to see that whole match now.

Adam Cole wants all the ladies on the ‘naughty’ list this Christmas to know that they’re going to get a little ‘Cole’ in their stockings. Happy Holidays, Bay-Bay! And while the female ROH watchers take a breath, we’ll take a break….for some ads!

We’re back, and ACH really wants you to buy some merch! Hey, at least pick up the ROH water bottle! Or the coloring book!

Mandy voiceover tells us we’re watching a six-man tag!

Bullet Club (The Young Bucks & AJ Styles) vs Matt Sydal, ACH, and Cedric Alexander – from Global Wars 2015, night 2

Sydal welcomes us back with a double ‘rana on both Jacksons. Sydal dives for the tag to ACH, who comes in firing at everyone. The Bucks each take a shot on the apron and he goes to work on Styles with forearms. Cross-corner whip is reversed by Styles, ACH goes over the top, then Styles goes over the top, Styles eats a boot on a corner charge. ACH sends Styles to the outside with a headscissors takeover and jumps over the top rope, down the line kick to Styles. He leaps back in and tags Cedric, catches the leg of Matt Jackson and sets him up for an Alexander crossbody. Nick comes in and eats two clotheslines, then Cedric with a suplex. He pivots the hips, 2nd suplex, pivots the hips, but Nick blocks it and gets a back elbow. Nick goes over the top rope in the corner and superkicks ACH on the floor, shoulders a charging Cedric, and gets a springboard facebuster on Alexander. He flips back to the apron and gets a tornado DDT to ACH on the floor. Well-executed sequence there. He goes up to the top rope, swanton hits the knees of Cedric! Cedric springboards off the second turnbuckle, 540 by Alexander to Nick. He flips Nick up for a powerbomb, Sydal assists off the top rope with the double knees! 1,2, Styles makes the save. Now it’s Sydal and Styles, and they exchange shots with Sydal getting a jumping knee and a spinning kick to Styles face, but he lands in perfect position for a superkick from Matt Jackson, followed by a Pele from Styles to send him to the floor. Alexander back up and he charges, but he gets welcomed to the superkick club by Matt. ACH back in now, but he’s having none of this shit and blocks the superkick, misses the first two roundhouses but hits the third on Jackson. He turns as Nick Jackson is back in, and they both attempt superkicks at the same time, resulting in their legs getting tangled together. Okay, fine. I laughed. Alexander gets a 540 on Nick at the same time as Styles gets an enzuigiri on ACH to put everyone down. Styles avoids an Alexander charge in the corner by going to the apron, but gets stungunned on the top rope by Cedric when he attempts to spring in. ACH then attempts a running ‘rana on Styles from the apron to the outside which goes HORRIBLY wrong, to the point where it pretty much ended up with AJ powerbombing him awkwardly. That looked like it was dangerous as hell. Can’t imagine how Styles ended up with that back injury taking such safe moves. The ref and Sydal both go over to check and make sure that the two are still alive, which it appears they are. Alexander works Nick with chops in the ring, but Matt pulls him to the outside and holds him, Nick off the ropes, Cedric moves and Nick takes out Matt on the floor with the high cross. Alexander hits a GORGEOUS swandive over the top onto both the Bucks; the air he got on the layout was awesome. He tosses Nick back in and gets the Overtime frog splash for two! AJ and ACH are moving again now, and Cedric charges at Nick in the corner; if you think that doesn’t end with Steve Corino yelling SUPERKICK as Nick puts Cedric down, well, you’ve never seen a Young Bucks match before. AJ tags himself back into the match and goes up, 450 splash hits the knees of Alexander! He dropkicks AJ in the corner and tags in Sydal. ACH goes up first, Midnight Star! And now Sydal is in position for the Shooting Star Press, but AJ moves and Sydal lands on his feet…right into a double superkick from the Bucks! Alexander and ACH both take superkicks on the apron, and now Sydal is all alone with the Bullet Club. That will probably does not bode well for Mr. Sydal. AJ hands him off and the Bucks get the Indytaker, followed by Styles setting up for the Clash as the Bucks superkick Sydal twice for good measure while he’s upside down. Styles Clash! We’re done here. (Bullet Club over Sydal, ACH, & Cedric Alexander, pinfall, time unknown)

From what we saw, this was about as typical a Young Bucks involved 6-man you’re ever going to see. If you dig the Bucks, you’ll probably dig the match, if not, you’re going to put a foot through your television.

So, do you want to order Global Wars 2015 Night 2 yet? Still to come tonight, the ROH match of the year! At least, according to the chyron. In the meantime, reDRagon wants to wish you a Happy Holiday! While you fervently wish the same to them, let’s wish for these ads to be brief!

We’re back as Adam Cole wants us to donate a toy to Toys for Tots! Merry Christmas, Bay-Bay!

Mandy welcomes us back to one of the most historic matches in Ring of Honor history, or so she claims, from Best in the World! I wonder what match that could be….

They play the hype video for Lethal/Briscoe, which is one of the best ones they’ve EVER done. Seriously, they lay out the whole reason that both of them want to win, why they NEED to win. It’s awesome, especially the visual of Lethal in Truth’s sunglasses.

And it looks like we’re going to watch the whole thing! Woo-hoo!

Battle of the Belts: Jay Briscoe (ROH World Champion) vs Jay Lethal (ROH World Television Champion) – from Best in the World 2015

We start with the Code of Honor being followed. The fans are torn, with dueling ‘Let’s go Lethal/Let’s go Briscoe’ chants as the bell rings. This match is 100% where I turned the corner on Jay Lethal being more than just an upper-midcard guy; this is the match where I felt like he belonged in the main event. Dijak attempts to grab Briscoe before they even lock up, causing the ref to toss the entire House of Truth from ringside. Man, Dijak even sucks at interference. Lethal is PISSED. Truth apparently gets to stay. Lethal goes to the outside to calm himself down, then climbs back in. Crowd starts to chant ‘Let’s go Jay’ so they don’t have to decide who to root for, and that makes me giggle a bit. Lethal jumps to the outside again, pissing Briscoe and the crowd off. Lethal looks to lockup, then backs off and jumps out again. The crowd chants ‘This is awesome’; one would hope that particular chant is an ironic one. Lethal back in, and here we go. Lethal controls, Briscoe shoots him off, leapfrog, drop-down, Briscoe off the far rope with a shoulder to put Lethal outside again. They show Papa and Mama Briscoe in the crowd, and yep, that’s pretty much how I’d expect them to look. Lethal back, lockup again. They fight against the ropes, Briscoe with a go-behind, Lethal turns it into a wristlock, Jay reverses. Lethal reverses again as Corino goes over Lethal being the TV champ for over a year and Briscoe not having been pinned for more than two years. Briscoe drops and gets a drop toehold on Lethal from the wristlock, followed by a front facelock by Jay. Lethal gets back to his feet and gets a wristlock on Briscoe. Briscoe reverses into a fireman’s carry into an armbar. Lethal gets back to his feet and reverses into an armbar of his own. Briscoe backs him into the corner and we get a relatively clean break. They lockup again, back to the ropes, this time the break is not so clean, as we get a shoving match. And now the fists start flying in the center of the ring, Briscoe gets a European uppercut, but Lethal comes off the ropes with a kick and tosses Briscoe. He follows him out and they slug it out on the floor. Headbutt by Briscoe puts Lethal down, and Lethal gets sent to the barricade. Briscoe sets him up, but Lethal gets his turn at sending Briscoe to the barricade. He breaks the count and rolls back out, grabbing Briscoe and sending him headfirst to the barricade. This match will continue!

Dalton Castle is being wheeled in by the Boys, shirtless and in Christmas towels. On behalf of ROH, the boys, and himself, Happy Holidays everyone! Now then, let’s check out some ads!

We’re back with Lethal rolling back into the ring as he’s being stalked by Briscoe. Briscoe with a boot and headbutt to put Lethal down, then a choke against the bottom rope. Briscoe continues to control with a European uppercut and another headbutt, but Lethal knees him and tosses him to the outside, Lethal runs the ropes, tope to Briscoe! Another one! Lethal looks for a third, but he turns his back and gets clobbered by a Briscoe clothesline to send Lethal over the top to the floor. Briscoe runs the ropes now and gets a tope of his own, sending Lethal to the barricade. He looks to take advantage with a European uppercut, so Lethal rolls back to the safety of the ring. Briscoe headbutts Lethal against the ropes, whip is reversed by Lethal and Martini grabs Briscoe’s leg to stop him, which allows Lethal to get an enzuigiri to take control. Stomps by Lethal in the corner, then he stands on Briscoe with a choke. Cross-corner whip, but Lethal runs right into a boot by Briscoe. Briscoe goes up, but the double stomp misses and Lethal gets a belly-to-back suplex. That gets two for Lethal. He picks Briscoe up and we’re back to trading uppercuts in the middle of the ring as they just tee off on each other, ending with a Lethal clothesline to put Briscoe down. 1 count for Lethal, and he goes to the chinlock. Briscoe gets back to his feet and fights out, and they fire forearms at each other, with Briscoe finally getting consecutive rights and after Lethal looks to rally, catching Lethal with a neckbreaker. 1,2, no! This match will continue when we return from these great ads!

We’re back with Briscoe in control. Briscoe tries for the Jaydriller, but Lethal escapes, Briscoe tries again, Lethal escapes again, catches Briscoe, Lethal Combination! That gets two. Slam by Lethal, and he’s going up. Lethal takes a ton of time to get the top rope and Briscoe crotches him on the top rope. Briscoe looking for a superplex, Lethal blocks it with shots to the midsection of Briscoe, Briscoe comes back with a dropkick to Lethal. Briscoe goes back up, but Lethal counters again with right hands, and he wants to fly, Hail to the King elbow by Lethal! 1,2, no! But Lethal just rolls him right over into the Koji clutch, Briscoe stretching, his foot makes the bottom rope to break the hold. Briscoe rolls to the apron and Lethal follows. Timekeeper moves away from the table, they trade reversals as Lethal looks for the Injection off the apron, Jay shoves him off and kicks him in the midsection, looking for the Jaydriller off the apron! Truth Martini gets up on ring to distract the ref and Lethal goes low on Briscoe to stop that nonsense. But Nigel has had ENOUGH of Truth’s shit and he tosses Martini himself, escorting him to the back as Martini tosses Nigel’s chair. And now there’s no one left to help Lethal. He goes to Briscoe on the apron, but Briscoe kicks him, loads him up, Jaydriller through the table on the outside! And while they clean up the wreckage, we should take what should be our final ad break of the evening!

We’re back with Briscoe standing over Lethal in the ring. He starts to tee off on Lethal with rights, but Lethal fights back, which to me is part of why this match is so great. It’s booked in a way that keeps Lethal a heel but strips away all his help throughout the course of the match, which means that he has only himself in the end. It’s a great story. Briscoe comes off the ropes, superkick by Lethal stops him in his tracks. Lethal signals for the Lethal Injection, but Briscoe avoids Lethal coming off the ropes and gets a big discus punch! 1,2, NO! Briscoe tries to load up the Jaydriller again, Lethal ducks out but Briscoe turns him inside out with a HUGE lariat. That only gets two as Briscoe can’t believe it. Cut to Lethal’s parents in the crowd, who are understandably going nuts. Briscoe is pissed and approaches Lethal in the corner, but Lethal gets a kick to shove him off, Briscoe comes in again, this time Lethal gets an elbow to send him back, Lethal springs to the top rope, springboard cutter to Briscoe! Lethal is feeling it! Off the ropes, Lethal Injection! 1,2, NO! No one can believe it! The anguish on Jay Lethal’s face is awesome. Lethal picks Briscoe up…he’s going for his own version of the Jaydriller! Briscoe drops to his knee to block. He flips Lethal over his back, Lethal counters to a sunset flip, Briscoe with a rollup, Lethal rolls through, Briscoe looking for the Jaydriller, Lethal reverses, kick by Lethal, and he gets Briscoe up…..Jaydriller by Jay Lethal on Jay Briscoe! Lethal off the ropes….Lethal Injection #2 on Briscoe! Cover by Lethal…..1,2,3!! (Jay Lethal over Jay Briscoe, pinfall, 24:16)

WORTH WATCHING? Even clipped, I dug the hell out of this match. The big table spot was done in a way that it didn’t impact the match too much, and more to the point, this match told a story. Now, I’m partially talking about the full, unclipped match, but watching Jay Lethal realize that he had to do this on his own and succeeding in finally being the one to pin Jay Briscoe, (in part with Briscoe’s own move!) is the type of thing that I wish they’d do more often in wrestling. Sometimes, it’s okay to have the heel win the match without blatantly cheating to do so, and this was a good example. It’s not the match of the year, at least to me, but it’s a very, very good match (I think that I had the full version at **** – ****1/4, I honestly can’t remember), and YES, it’s well worth your time to watch.

We head back to Mandy to wrap up, and Delirious comes in with his usual gibberish wishing us a Happy Holiday.

We finish with Silas Young in an elf hat just staring at a present in his hands, then at the camera, and we’re done for the week.

FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: I don’t know what to say, really. The first half of the show was pretty much just 5 minute excerpts from Global Wars, so if you dug those, then you should probably check that show out. Obviously, the entire second half of the show was Lethal/Briscoe, so it was basically a one-match show this week. I thought it was well-worth the time, but if you’ve already seen Lethal/Briscoe and don’t want to watch it again, there probably isn’t much for you here this week.

On another note, I hope everyone who reads has a safe and happy New Year, and I’m looking forward to continue recapping ROH in 2016; I love doing it, and I genuinely love this company. Thanks to everyone who reads on a weekly basis, it is very much appreciated! Remember to post your questions for Michael Elgin!

Thanks for reading,
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter