Ring of Honor – January 6th, 2016

Howdy!

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

Notable news from around the world of ROH this week:

–Well, the big news is the same news that everyone is talking about – the WWE has apparently signed Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows. This has direct effects on ROH, in that ROH has a talent-sharing agreement with NJPW, and that takes those talents out of play for them; it is assumed that any WWE deal would end their availability to either ROH or NJPW. Nakamura is still scheduled for the 14th Anniversary show in February, and most accounts seem to indicate that everyone will finish up their existing commitments before coming into Vince-land. That having been said, this could have strong reverberations for the future, especially if NXT keeps expanding and signing talent across North America.

–Moving right along, Mike Bennett and Maria did indeed debut on TNA’s first live episode on Pop TV. He’s being billed as ‘Miracle’ Mike Bennett, and is expected to get a pretty big push. TNA has also lured James Storm back, so they seem to have some money to burn with the new TV deal.

My take on all this is not exactly chicken little – in many ways, Ring of Honor’s name sells quite a bit of the product. The reputation of the company over the last 14 years is pretty well-known amongst the wrestling community, and that name will continue to do so. That having been said, the gaping maw of NXT is continuing to swallow up a lot of talent both in North America and now internationally, and it’s going to interesting to see what the state of independent wrestling is going to look like if things continue on this road for the next couple of years. The length of time that TNA is able to survive will certainly factor into that, but ROH has never seemingly had the same aspirations to become the ‘#2’ promotion in the country or anything; they occupy a particular niche and seem happy to do so. I think they’ll be fine in the long run, but the available talent level is going to become an issue at some point if all this continues, even for ROH.

Oh well, no sense in worrying about what we can’t control.

Speaking of things we can’t control, I apologize for the lateness of the recap this week – the show didn’t record for me, and when I went to the ROH website to get the show, they still haven’t put it up yet. Took forever to find a torrent. Anyway, let’s move on to the ONLY review of ROH that Charlie Owens ever reads….

Oh, sorry. That sentence should read ‘Let’s move on to the review of ROH that ONLY Charlie Owens reads!’ Let’s watch some wrestling; it’s our first ROH of the new year!

Ring of Honor TV – 1/6/16

We are TAPED from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, PA! Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Steve Cor- FINE, Mr. Wrestling the 3rd. Tonight, our main event will be Michael Elgin against Donovan Dijak! Half of that sentence makes me happy. Oh, before you notice, this episode aired in syndication BEFORE WrestleKingdom 10. So, the House of Truth is trying to soften Elgin up first. But we’re going to get started with the World TV Champ!

Roderick Strong makes his way to the ring as the announcers speculate over his disputed win over Bobby Fish at Final Battle, while the crowd doesn’t exactly speculate, chanting ‘You tapped out!’ at Roddy. Strong cuts his basic promo, announcing the Roddy vs the World challenge for the week and asking for his competition. Generic rock music plays, who could it be….and it’s….Stevie Richards! The Philly crowd goes batshit for obvious reasons.

Roderick Strong vs Stevie Richards (World TV Title match)

Code of Honor is followed. They circle, lockup, and Strong gets a wristlock. Richards reverses, cranks on it, and steps over. Strong reverses out with an overhead suplex, but Richards chains that into a headscissors. Stalemate. Test of strength, but Strong comes in with a kick. They trade wristlocks again, Strong with a chop, Richards with a snapmare and a kick to Strong’s back. Strong catches Richards coming into the corner with a knee and a chop, Richards reverses an Irish Whip and gets a slam for one. Richards takes Strong to the corner with a chop, Strong floats over on a Richards charge to the corner, and a reversal sequence ends with a beautiful Strong dropkick. Strong lays into Richards, and gets a high belly to back suplex. That gets one and Strong goes to a seated abdominal stretch. Richards tries to fight out, but Roddy puts him right back down. Angle slam by Strong. That gets one and Strong goes to a very loose camel clutch. Stevie fights out with a belly to back of his own, but Strong gets a jumping kick to put Richards back down again. And with that, we’ll take our first ad break of the show!

We’re back with Richards firing rights at Strong. Two kicks to the face from Roddy put a stop to that impudence on Stevie’s behalf. Strong shoots the half for two. Strong goes to the top, but Richards gets a Steviekick to bring him down. They exchange rights in the middle of the ring, Strong comes off the ropes but Stevie gets a kick and a jumping DDT for two. Cross-corner whip by Stevie, reversal by Strong, jumping knee to Richards in the corner by Strong! Nice one, too. Forearm in the corner by Strong, who looks for the backbreaker, but Stevie wiggles out and tries a Steviekick; that does not work out, to say the least. Strong catches him in an exploder position and gets a backbreaker. 1,2, no! Strong is frustrated and just starts firing forearms and elbows at Stevie against the ropes. Strong picks Stevie up in a fireman’s carry; double-knee gutbuster! Strong comes off for the Sick Kick, but Stevie gets a desperation Steviekick! Good one, too. 1,2, NO! I damn near bought that as a finish. Stevie puts Strong in a Boston Crab, but Strong powers out and sends Stevie to the floor. Stevie comes back in and charges, but Strong catches him in a Uranage position, backbreaker by Strong! Strong gets Stevie over, Stronghold by Roddy. Stevie manages to wiggle his way to the ropes to break, but he’s got nothing left and Roddy just ends the carnage with a jumping knee to the face. (Roderick Strong over Stevie Richards, pinfall, 8:53)

WORTH WATCHING? Sure, if you enjoy Strong’s work, since it was basically the Roderick Strong show. Richards looked great for a guy in his 40s in there and got a few hope spots, but this was really just Strong showing off, which is fine. I’ll go with YES, check it out, as it’s perfectly acceptable wrestling, but nothing you’d miss if you never saw it either. It’s on the fence.

Post-match, however, that’s the music of reDRagon, and there’s Bobby Fish, resplendent in a 3-piece suit! This could be interesting. “You are in for a treat!” sayeth Bobby, with others carrying a table behind him. It’s time for a LIVE edition of the Fish Tank! And that’s happening….after these ads!

We’re back with Bobby sitting at his table in the ring, but Strong tosses his chair aside! “Guess we’re standing then!” Fish goes over how great 2015 was for the TV championship, including Jay Lethal taking it to new heights as a dual-title holder! Fish even invokes the name of Eddie Edwards, the first ROH TV champ. Corino then makes me almost snort out my Pepsi by just innocently wondering “Whatever happened to him?” But that brings Fish to Mr. ROH. It’s been a banner 2015 for Roddy! In fact, there’s never been more buzz around the name Roderick Strong! In fact, Bobby has prepared a video package highlighting Strong’s great 2015….oh, whoops. That’s just a pic of Roddy tapping out at Final Battle! Well, that is embarrassing, isn’t it? Strong mouths to the camera that he wasn’t tapping out, he was escaping! But Fish isn’t one to avoid the pink elephant in the room, so he just puts it on front street; Roderick Strong, did you tap out to me at Final Battle? Roddy immediately says no, while the crowd does, in fact, believe that Strong tapped out. Strong gets a mic and doubles down, not only telling Bobby that he did not tap out, but that Fish is, in fact, a sore loser! And with that, Strong tosses down his mic and exits the ring! Fish cuts the whole promo except for the last two lines = BEST RODERICK STRONG PROMO EVER. Now then, let’s recover from that with some ads!

We’re back to the music of Will Ferrara! Hey, I like Will!

Will Ferrara vs Caprice Coleman (No-DQ match)

Coleman’s robe is a thing of beauty. We recap the last match between the two men, which ended in a no-contest; both men have received envelopes from Prince Nana over the last several weeks, which might account for the sudden vicious streak that both wrestlers seemed to have developed towards each other. Coleman has the stick! “Willie! The last time we met, things got out of hand!” He goes on to say that while they may have this no-DQ match tonight, he’s going to show that Will is just a ‘jive turkey’, and Coleman is going to beat him while looking pretty from all the angles, and he keeps on talking until Will just punches him in the face. I knew there was something I liked about this young whippersnapper!

So, that would be a ‘nope’ on the Code of Honor if you’re keeping track. Coleman rolls to the outside, and Will immediately follows with a tope. Ferrara sends Coleman to the barricade, and I know it’s goofy as hell, but I do love Coleman’s bug-eyed selling. Will picks Coleman up and sends him to the other barricade. Coleman finally stops Will’s onslaught by sending him stomach-first to the side of the ring, then he drapes him across the bottom apron and wears him out with rights and lefts. Big roundhouse kick misses for Coleman, but the back kick doesn’t and Ferrara goes down. Caprice takes the belt off of one of the ringside workers and rolls Will back in. Coleman tees off on Will with the belt, whipping him like a dog in the middle of the ring. On the last one, Will grabs the other end of the belt and pulls Coleman into a German suplex. Will and Coleman both roll out to get chairs, CLANG! as they slam against each other in the middle of the ring. Same swing, same result. Finally, Coleman just ducks Will’s shot and goes to the midsection with his own chair. And then across Will’s back with the chair. Caprice stomps Will back down and sets the chair up in the corner. He charges Will, who gets a boot up to stun Coleman. Will attempts to come off the ropes, but Caprice catches him, rolling Northern Lights suplexes across the ring! The last one slams Ferrara into the chair in the corner! Coleman just smashes the chair into Will’s back, but Will is FERRARA-ING UP! Another shot, and Will still gets to his feet! Coleman winds up for a 3rd, but Will catches the chair! Coleman takes a wild swing, but Will dodges and DDTs Caprice on the chair. 1,2, no! Will goes out for a table and tosses it in. He sets it up and puts Coleman on the top rope, superplex attempt…..blocked! Coleman rakes the eyes of Ferrara, who falls off right in front of the table. I suspect that will not go well for him, and it doesn’t, as Coleman gets the Skysplitta through the table for the 1,2,3. (Caprice Coleman over Will Ferrara, pinfall, 5:45)

WORTH WATCHING? This felt like it was there because they were in Philly and it was expected they would do a hardcore match. There was no psychology, it was just a bunch of spots, and they weren’t all that great, either. It felt like a very basic hardcore Indy match, and I sort of expect more from ROH than that, so I’ll say NO, your life will be just as complete if you skip this as if you watch it.

Post-match, Prince Nana comes out and applauds at ringside, while the announcers speculate that he’s gotten exactly what he wanted. Which was….? I would like to see the Embassy come back in some form, especially since The Kingdom looks like it might be breaking up, but I’d like to see something happen with this whole Nana handing out envelopes thing. I’ll try to figure out what that thing is while I watch these ads!

We’re back with Cedric Alexander and Veda Scott making their way to the ring. He’s in action now!

Cedric Alexander vs Jonathan Gresham

Gresham hails from the ever-popular ‘currently in the ring’, a hometown that has produced few champions but many, many workers over the years. He offers the handshake, but Cedric declines, so there will be no Code of Honor. Ring the bell! Lockup, they take it to the corner, and Cedric takes a cheap shot to take over. European uppercut as the announcers are talking about Veda getting a ‘settlement’ from Ring of Honor, which I hope means that we can drop this soon and never speak of it again. Meanwhile, Cedric kicks Gresham in the head. He covers for two, but Gresham bridges out. Jon tries to fight back, but Cedric uses his size to take over again, and gets a jumping suplex. He pops the hips and does it again, one more time? Nope, Gresham blocks and gets a small package for two. Cedric pops up with a big forearm, but Gresham is cooking now and springs back to his feet and gets a dropkick on Alexander. Cedric is staggered and Gresham gets a running forearm in the corner. He charges the other corner, blocks the Alexander kick, and gets another one. Cedric reverses another whip and charges, but Gresham gets the boot up. Gresham goes up, big cross-body on Cedric! 1,2, no! Gresham kicks the arm of Alexander and ties him up, Octopus! Will he tap? And now Veda is up on the apron, Gresham lets go of the hold (just ONCE I’d like to see a babyface just keep the heel in the hold until they pass out or something, instead of being a moron and breaking the hold) and goes over to try to get her down. Cedric charges, but Gresham avoids it and gets an O’Connor roll for one. He overrotated the bridge, though, and Cedric rolls out and gets a 540 that grazes Jon. Running dropkick in the corner! Again! Sets Gresham up…..LUMBAR CHECK~! Cedric takes his sweet time going for the cover….which backfires when Gresham rolls him over into a crucifix pin! 1,2,3 for the big upset! (Jonathan Gresham over Cedric Alexander, pinfall, 3:34)

WORTH WATCHING? All angle and very little match makes me no likey. It’s the same story you’ve seen a million times, the cocky heel gets beat because he doesn’t take the plucky challenger seriously. Done well, these are fine, but sub-4 minutes is not where I wanted this to be. And I really LIKE Cedric Alexander and think he’s criminally underused by ROH, but this isn’t what I’d like him to be doing – he’s got talent and I wish they’d let him use it. So that’d be a NO, you can skip this one.

Post-match, Cedric and Veda are beside themselves, while Gresham celebrates. Kelly reminds us that in 2016, we celebrate 14 years of ROH!
That’s the music of The House of Truth, and that can only mean that our main event is up next! Indeed, there’s Truth Martini, Donovan Dijak (was going to make an El Gigante joke here, but I’m not funny enough and not even Dijak deserves that) and the ROH World Champ, Jay Lethal! Looks like Lethal is going to be offering some commentary on this main event, but before he can sit down, here’s Jerry Lynn! He wants to tell Lethal that he was wrong about him beating AJ, and to shake his hand like a man! “This proves it! I’m the greatest wrestler in the world, and now I’m getting respect from legends like I should be!” Man, love him or hate him, Lethal has been GREAT on the mic during this run. Our main event is next….after these ads!

We’re back! And there’s the music of Michael Elgin!

“Unbreakable” Michael Elgin vs Donovan Dijak (w/ Truth Martini)

More daunting task for Elgin – facing Jay Lethal in a match or carrying Donovan Dijak in one? Meh, call it a coin flip. Code of Honor is followed. Lockup, Elgin gives a clean break, but Dijak hits him with a forearm, so Elgin gives as good as he gets. Whip by Elgin is reversed into an elbow by Dijak. Shoulderblock, no one moves. Second attempt sends Elgin off the ropes, and Dijak gets a big boot to stun Big Mike. Dijak poses, then comes off the ropes, right into a shoulderblock from Elgin. Elgin with forearms, then a press into a slam. Running clothesline into the turnbuckles by Elgin, and he holds him up for the delayed suplex for a 30 count from the crowd. That gets one. Elgin charges, but Dijak sends him over the top rope to the apron, and Dijak gets a spinning big boot to send Elgin to the floor. Truth runs into the ring and does a spinaroonie, immediately making him approximately 97.38% more entertaining than Dijak. I don’t make this stuff up, it’s science. Anyway, with the crowd chanting “Truth Martini!” it seems as good a time as any to take a break for some ads!

We’re back with Dijak getting a one count off Elgin after a stomp, and then he expands his dazzling offense by incorporating shoves to compliment said stomps. Dijak with a suplex throw on Elgin. That gets two. Dijak puts on a reverse chinlock. Elgin throws elbows and sends Dijak to the corner to break. Dijak tries to go back to the chinlock, but Elgin just tosses him over his back. Dijak charges, but Elgin catches him and gets a suplex. Forearm by Elgin and a slam. Elgin goes the ring apron and springs in over the top with a splash on Donovan. Elgin sets Dijak on the top rope, but Dijak fights out. He avoids and Elgin charge and catches Elgin’s boot, but Elgin gets an enzuigiri to keep control. Deadlift German by Elgin gets two. Dijak fights up and looks for a chokeslam, Elgin catches the hand but Dijak takes advantage and pounds on Elgin with forearms. Jumping kick from Elgin and he looks for the Elgin Bomb, but Dijak gets a kick and a chokeslam into a backbreaker! Dijak springs to the top rope, moonsault! 1,2, NO! Dijak hoists him up, but Elgin fires elbows to break. Wild shot by Dijak misses, big right by Elgin! Again! Spinning forearm puts Dijak on his knees! He goes for another one, but Dijak dodges, gets him up for Feast Your Eyes, but Elgin rolls through into a sunset flip. He clasps the hands and turns him around, lifts him up, powerbomb! Loads Dijak up again, this time for the Elgin Bomb! And that, as we say, is that. 1,2,3. (Michael Elgin over Donovan Dijak, pinfall, 8:18)

WORTH WATCHING? Lord, it’s a MIRACLE, because this was a perfectly acceptable big man match that involved Donovan Dijak as one of the participants. I guess he CAN be carried; who knew? Anyway, the whole point of the match was to put a big guy against Mike before he faced off against Lethal, and that’s what happened. And, despite all the crap that I give Dijak, he did play his part perfectly in this match as the big guy in question. YES, you can watch this one if you like Elgin and you like big power wrestling.

Post-match, Lethal gets in the ring and goes nose to nose with Elgin while Kelly implores us to order WrestleKingdom 10 to see Lethal and Elgin face off. Kelly thinks that Elgin can win. (Spoiler alert: no he can’t.)

FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: This was an average at best episode of ROH TV. There wasn’t much that stood out from the in-ring standpoint, but there was a lot of said in-ring work that was at least pretty decent. It’s a perfectly cromulent way to spend an hour watching some wrestling, but nothing you’ll remember the next week, as they were kind of getting ready for Wrestle Kingdom and that took up most of this week’s show.

As always, I appreciate you reading,
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter