Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way here….
Notable news from around the world of ROH this week:
–The injury report has come back on Matt Taven, and it’s pretty rough. Torn ACL and other injuries will put him out for a minimum of 9 months, probably closer to a year. The doctor who performed his surgery claimed that it was one of the worst he’d ever seen and he has no idea how Taven was able to finish the match. With Mike Bennett and Maria leaving, one would expect that the Kingdom is probably done for the time being; we’ll talk more about that in the recap.
–The ROH PPV schedule has been clarified, in that wrestlinginc is claiming that Supercard of Honor this year will not be on PPV or iPPV, but will rather be a Video on Demand purchase.
–Christopher Daniels will return as Curry Man for a shot at Strong’s TV title at a house show this weekend. Not big news, but I’ve always been a mark for Curry Man, so check it out if you get the chance.
As to everything else mentioned last week, I want to make it clear that I think ROH will survive the talent swallow that is going on with NXT; I’m just curious to see what will happen with the landscape of independent wrestling in North America. Tomasso Ciampa, for example, is working NXT events this weekend without a contract, and WWE seems to have thrown their lot on the Indys with Evolve, as Jordan, Gable, and Regal will appear at the Evolve event the weekend of the Royal Rumble. I’m curious about where that puts Evolve’s position in the Indy hierarchy, so to speak.
It’s actually a really, really exciting time for wrestling – don’t let anyone tell you differently. The continued exposure of indys like Evolve, Lucha Underground, and ROH, along with NJPW getting more North American looks means that the type of wrestling that we all enjoy is actually on an upswing; not so much with the WWE, but there’s still a lot of wrestling to watch out there. Seek it out!
Enough of my pontificating; let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Ring of Honor TV – 1/13/16
We are TAPED from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! Your hosts this week are Kevin Kelly and Nigel Mcguinness. And we’re not wasting any time this week as we already hear the music of Roppongi Vice!
Roppongi Vice (Trent Baretta/Rocky Romero) vs The All-Night Express (Rhett Titus/Kenny King)
ANX gets more than a little heel heat as they make their way to the ring. Kelly is still spouting the idea that ‘politics’ cost ANX the titles they were never beaten for, and I suppose that narrative is what we’re going to go with at this point. I can work with it.
Code of Honor is followed. King and Baretta start, and a chain-wrestling sequence leads to a wristlock by Baretta. King spins out and gets a hiptoss. Side headlock by King, Trent shoots him off but King runs through him with a shoulder. Tag to Rhett, ANX gets the legdrop/splash combo as Titus comes in. Titus showboats while King goes out to the apron, but changes his mind and wanders back into the ring. Baretta comes up firing, though, with some nasty chops to ANX. ANX regains control and Titus whips King at Baretta in the corner, but Trent gets his boot up. Titus charges now, but gets alley-ooped all the way to the floor. King gets a Cactus clothesline to send Trent to the floor, but he turns around into Romero coming off the apron with double knees to put King down. Rocky gets a kick to King and looks to go for Sliced Bread #2 off the apron, but King shoves him off into a Rhett Titus superkick. ANX ties up King with a straitjacket and send him to the barricade, and the ref FINALLY decides to come outside and have a word with the teams. Now normally, I kind of expect that the refs allow ROH matches to essentially operate under tornado rules, or else I’d go crazy, but this one is different. You’ll see why later. Anyway, ANX goes after Baretta next, but he stuns them both with a shot and hits a corkscrew off the barricade to put both of ANX down. Baretta sends Titus into the ring, and for the record they are technically the legal men. Again, important later. Baretta gets a running knee on Titus in the corner and goes up to the 2nd rope, but Titus recovers enough to yank Trent down, with Baretta hitting his head on the top buckle. And with that, we’ll need to watch these very important ads!
We’re back with Baretta fighting out against Kenny with elbows, but King grabs Baretta by the hair and whips him back down. Tag to Titus, and now the double team begins again. Kicks from ANX, including a handstand one by King, finishing with a nice dropkick by Titus. 1,2, no! Titus goes to a surfboard. Trent fights up, but Rhett puts him back down with a knee and tags Kenny. Belly to back suplex by King, but Trent lands on his feet and gets a kick. Trent off the ropes, but Kenny catches him…exploder suplex! King jaws with the fans, who think he still sucks, and that gives Trent time to put him down with double boots when King charges in the corner. Both wrestlers crawling, King makes the tag….Baretta makes the tag! Romero comes flying in with a crossbody on Titus! Double-leg takedown (I just can’t call it a headscissors or a ‘rana in good conscience) on King! Titus on one side, King on the other, and Rocky starts with the forever clotheslines. King tries to duck one, but Romero just turns around and clotheslines both of ANX! Romero is on FIRE! “Rocky!” chant is fired up by Philly. Romero gets a variation of the Salida del Sol for two. Romero works over Rhett with kicks and knees, and tags Trent back in. Lung blower by Romero on Titus, then he holds him in position for the double stomp from Baretta. 1,2, no! Baretta puts his head down on a whip, Titus kicks him in the head, and they slug it out in the middle of the ring, Rhett gaining the advantage with forearms. He comes off the ropes, but Romero comes back in and Vice gets double knees to Rhett Titus. Romero looks to dropkick King against the ropes, but King shoves him out of the way and takes the move himself, tagging himself in as a result. The dropkick sends him to the floor, though, and Romero gets a tope that BARELY catches King. He could have completely wiped out there. Romero back in, Baretta gets Titus up, Strong Zero by Roppongi Vice! But the ref won’t count, because Kenny King is the legal man! And that legal man just swooped in behind Trent Baretta and rolled him up…1,2,3!! (The All-Night Express over Roppongi Vice, pinfall, 9:25)
WORTH WATCHING? Fine tag team matches, like vintage scotch, should be savored. And while this wasn’t the best tag match I’ve seen, the face in peril segment on Baretta was really good and the finish was as well, where a surprise roll-up actually could indeed be the end of the match. So I’ll go YEAH, you can check this out; I will say that I would have liked to see more near-falls and some enforcement of the rules that include actually applying the 5 count. If you’re going to use the tag formula, then you really shouldn’t just pick and choose certain rules to follow that are part of that formula. Still, worth checking out.
Post-match, ANX celebrates and we’re going to hear from the Kingdom for the first time since Final Battle….after these ads!
Okay, I’m going to interrupt here for a second to talk briefly about the state of tag team wrestling. Tag team wrestling has always been one of my favorite forms of the sport, and most of that is very reliant on the fact that the rules existed to be broken. In other words, the best way to tell if a team was a heel in any given match was to see how much they cheated under those rules; double teams, fake tags to switch off, these are things that are staples of the tag formula. And they work because the referee in the ring was able to be manipulated into the heel teams cheating, but the only way that cheating was evident was because of the tag rules. And one of those venerated rules revolved around the 5 count to get in and out of the ring. Even face teams were known to break those rules (the Rockers especially come to mind), but hanging over that all was the spectre of potential disqualification. But I’ve noticed that the tag formula has become much lazier over the last several years, and the biggest change has been the relative ignorance of the 5 count. Double-teams last upwards of minutes now, and frequently the other side of the team being doubled comes in and the ref takes zero control of the situation. Like I said in the recap, I’ve grown to accept the idea that most tag matches in ROH and NJPW seem to be contested under basically tornado style rules, but I think that we need a new formula. Because nowadays, some of the basic ways that teams get heat have been almost ignored in favor of popping the crowd through high spots, etc , that go far beyond what ever would have been legal in the past. And ROH has the best tag team division in the world right now; War Machine. reDRagon. ANX. Sydal/ACH. The Briscoes. The Young Bucks. The Addiction. You’ve got heavyweights, cruiserweights, spot monkeys, the whole nine. Yet I think that the lack of the rules being enforced hurts both the heels and the faces equally, because so many of the matches simply break down into schmozzes at various points in the match instead of the match building to that point, AKA the ref finally losing control after enforcing it for most of the bout.
For instance, in the previous match, you took part of the tag formula (Baretta being the face in peril) and ignored the rest (King and Titus both coming into the match without tags at various points without the ref stopping them or with Romero just hanging on the apron allowing the double team); yes, the heels cheated, but all subtlety was thrown out the window. And this is not a new thing – tag wrestling has been morphing into this for some time, and I think it’s to the relative detriment of the form.
But I want to know what you all think; do you think that the tag formula has changed very much over the last several years? If so, for the better or for the worse, or does it not really matter so long as the match works?
TL;DR – Old man charges at windmill.
“Thy Kingdom come.” We’re back with the Kingdom coming out to the main stage! Adam Cole has his arm taped up while Matt Taven is on a crutch and can barely walk, being supported by Maria and Mike. Cole is noticeably walking in front of his Kingdom mates here as they make their way to the ring. ‘Taven!’ chant as Matt smiles briefly, but he looks like he’s in absolute agony out there. Security has surrounded the ring as Cole has the stick: “Who’s ready for storytime with the Kingdom, Bay-Bay?” Cole tells us that security is out there so that coward Kyle O’Reilly doesn’t try to jump him from behind. Second off, everyone knows that the Kingdom went to war at Final Battle and some of them walked away as winners, and some of them walked away as losers! Cole proved that Kyle will NEVER beat him OR be ROH world champ! But as for the two of you (indicating Bennett and Taven), the two of them dropped the ball! At the beginning of 2016, they talked about the Kingdom holding all the ROH gold; now how can they do that if they lost the tag belts? But never fear, Adam Cole is going to tell both of them how to regain the tag team titles….but before that can happen, security needs to intercept Kyle O’Reilly, who’s charging the ring! Bobby Fish strolls down the aisle, mic in hand. “Adam Cole, I don’t know who it is that you think you are to dictate anything to anyone, because right now, if this pit bull (indicating Kyle) gets loose man, you don’t live to see tomorrow!” You’re looking at the two guys that reinvented tag team wrestling when it comes to Ring of Honor! “reDRagon!” chant from the crowd. It’s long overdue, sayeth Fish, that reDRagon take back their tag team belts! And if they need to go through the Kingdom to get to that goal, then Nigel McGuinness, let’s make the match! “Make the match!” is the crowd chant now. Nigel says that these guys didn’t come here to hear talk, they came here to see wrestling – but the show tonight is booked. But next week, we need a main event, so next week in the main event, the Kingdom will take on reDRagon….but I hear the music of the Young Bucks in the background. This may get interesting. And yes, Matt and Nick Jackson are out to offer their thoughts. Matt thinks that when there was talk about the best tag team, or reinventing tag team wrestling, they must have been talking about the Bucks, right? Matt calls the Kingdom ‘Bullet Club marks’ and tells Nigel that he should book the Bucks/Kingdom instead. Nigel wants to give the fans what they want – do the fans want to see the Bucks wrestle next week? The crowd seems in favor of this plan. Well, says Nigel, since he already made the match, he’s got a solution – next week, it’ll be the Bucks, reDRagon, and the Kingdom in a Philly Street Fight! Bennett drops to his knees and seems less than pleased with this plan; as does Adam Cole, who slowly drops down in the corner. And with that last look at a stricken Adam Cole’s face, we’ll take a break for these ads!
We’re back with the music of the House of Truth! Time for another tag team match!
The House of Truth (Donovan Dijak/Joey Daddiego) vs War Machine (Hanson/Rowe)
Okay, out of respect for Dijak’s not at all bad effort against Elgin last week and in deference to Kenny and Charlie pointing out that the big lug has improved, I promise not to make fun of Dijak this week. Don’t squander this, Donovan! Kevin and Nigel confirm that our main event next week will be a 3-way street fight between the Bucks, reDRagon, and the Kingdom; the Kingdom has Cole and Bennett pictured instead of Taven and Bennett. And here come our NEW tag team champions of the world!
Dijak and Rowe look to start us out, but Joey comes in with a shot to Rowe’s back. Rowe seems amused almost as he turns around and slugs Joey in the face. Dijak is waiting and gets a spinning boot on Rowe when he turns around and a shot to Hanson to send him to the floor from the apron. Dijak with a suplex throw on Rowe as the announcers are putting over Dijak already. Hanson back up and he comes in, but Donovan clotheslines him to the floor. Dijak springs to the top and hits a twisting….er, something onto both members of War Machine onto the floor. “Dijak!” chant from the crowd. Truth Martini tosses Dijak the book of Truth to hit Rowe with, but Dijak kicks it away, so Joey tags himself in. He fires shots at Rowe, but Rowe just calmly gets a front judo throw and a running knee to the face. Both teams tag now, and Hanson catches a charging Dijak with a powerslam. And now Joey is still in the ring (sigh) and he charges, but Hanson gets a sideslam to put him down. He stacks Dijak up in the corner on the top, Joey tries to stop it but Hanson avoids the shot and stacks Joey on top of Donovan in the corner. 1,2,3….10 forearm shots to the House of Truth, and they both slump in the corner. Broncobuster by Hanson hits Joey right in the chest! He charges again and Dijak tries another big boot, but Hanson cartwheels past and murders Dijak with a lariat. Rowe comes in now and Joey charges, but that results in a slam to the mat and a slam by Rowe of Hanson on top of Joey, who is jelly at this point. Hanson gets a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Dijak, followed by a Superman punch by Rowe. Rowe picks Dijak up for the deadlift German, which is just awesome. Joey tries to make another go of it, attacking both members of War Machine, but they shrug him off and get a double chokeslam on Joey. Dijak is back up now, and he gets a big boot to Rowe and a shot to Hanson, but misses a charge in the corner when Rowe moves. Running splash by Hanson in the corner on Dijak. SHOTGUN KNEES~! by Rowe leave Donovan slumped in said corner, and this time, the Hanson broncobuster hits. Rowe picks Dijak up, Hanson to the top….Fallout! That’ll be more than enough, I would think. Indeed. 1,2,3. (War Machine over The House of Truth, pinfall, 3:34)
WORTH WATCHING? NOPE, this one is eminently skippable, as it’s basically a straight squash; Dijak and Daddiego didn’t even get any hope spots. War Machine just straight killed them. You don’t need more than that, and you don’t need to waste 4 minutes of your life with this one.
Post-match, War Machine walks out with the belts, and we fade out…into an ad break!
We’re back with The House of Truth still in the ring. Did someone get word to them about my promise not make fun of Dijak this week? Because two segments in a row might be pushing it. Truth has himself a mic, and he’s got something to say. When people think of the House of Truth, they think of ‘Who’s you daddy?’ Joey Daddiego. They think of the lovely Taeler Hendrix. They think of the ROH World champion, Jay Lethal! And, of course, yours truly, Truth Martini. But he’s starting to realize that Dijak is the weak link of the group! When Dijak loses, he loses, and no one wants Dijak to win more than Truth! And where was he during the main event of Final Battle? He didn’t do what he was supposed to, and that was a slap in the face! Truth slaps Dijak! “That was weak!” the crowd wants us to know, and Donovan grabs Truth by the lapels of his coat! But here’s Joey from behind, and he pounds Dijak with forearms. He puts Dijak in a half-nelson and Truth gets in Dijak’s face. How dare he put his hands on Truth! But Dijak apparently doesn’t want to listen, because he hoists Joey up, Feast your Eyes on Joey! Truth bails as the crowd chants for Dijak! “You’re fired! No more House of Truth for you!” says Truth, but now Prince Nana is at ringside. We’re reminded that he gave Dijak one of the infamous envelopes. Dijak poses, as he’s now a free agent!
Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly have something to say! Kyle: “It’s reDRagon. It’s the Kingdom and it’s the Young Bucks and you know what? It’s a Philadelphia street fight, and I couldn’t be more excited! Because I feel right at home on the streets where I grew up, the mean streets of Delta British Columbia! I came from a broken home; my mom, my dad, they were fine. But one winter a tree smashed right through my garage and I want revenge on that sweet tree! Mike Bennett, you are that tree and we’re going to chop you down!” I LOVE THIS MAN. GIVE HIM ALL THE BELTS. Fish chimes in, saying that his boy has educated you people, and last time he checked, there were no mean streets in Camelot or Rancho Cucamongo for that matter. You boys have no idea what’s coming! And with that, let’s take an ad break and reflect on the tree that turned Kyle O’Reilly into a revenge-driven monster.
We’re back with footage from Final Battle, as Dalton Castle tells Silas Young that he may be a man, but those boys have always been his boys. We see the boys turn on Young with chairs and rejoin Dalton!
And it’s time for our main event! Dalton Castle makes his full ring entrance, complete with the boys! We’ve got a 4 corners survival match to end the night! Dalton has his jumpsuit back, and there’s the peacock in all its glory! And our next competitor is Moose, pumping his fist down to the ring, accompanied by Stokely Hathaway. Matt Sydal is out next, sliding into the ring. “Reach for the sky, boy!” is the command, and here’s Jay Briscoe to round out our four!
Dalton Castle (w/ The Boys) vs Moose (w/ Stokely Hathaway) vs Matt Sydal vs Jay Briscoe
Code of Honor is followed, although Castle almost freaks Briscoe out with his handshake to the point where I was thinking Jay was going to have to apologize again. Nigel clarifies we’re under Lucha tag rules – basically, two guys are in the ring at a given time, but can tag in or out. If someone gets tossed outside the ring, another guy can take his place. There is a better than even chance that this match could, in fact, rule the earth, or at least a small country. Sydal and Moose are going to start us off. Sydal refuses the lockup, scooting around the ring, then he challenges Moose to a test of strength. Moose is more than happy to oblige this, but Sydal was goldbricking and fires kicks instead. Moose stops that with a knee and whips Sydal off the ropes, Sydal attempts a headscissors takeover but Moose has him. Sydal wiggles free and Moose tries a bicycle kick that Sydal catches on his shoulder; Sydal tries a jumping enzuigiri, but Moose ducks it. Now Moose wants a test of strength, which the crowd goads Matt into; it does not go well for him, as Moose literally tosses him from the ring with one hand over the top rope. And here comes Jay Briscoe. He and Moose look like they’re going to battle, but Moose backs up too close to Castle’s corner, and Dalton tags himself in. Dueling ‘Fan Up/Man Up’ chants from the crowd as Briscoe and Castle circle, and I bet this would be a hell of a one on one match. They miss with a kick and clothesline respectively, but Briscoe gets a kick and looks for the Jaydriller early! Castle blocks and now he’s looking for the Bangarang, but Jay gets a sunset flip out of that. Castle tries with the kick, but Jay moves and blocks a Briscoe hiptoss. Crowd chants for Castle as he poses, and Briscoe cheapshots him to take over. Crowd no likey that, and we’re going to take our final ad break of the evening!
We’re back with Jay and Moose double-teaming Castle, Briscoe with shoulders in the corner. Big headbutt by Jay puts Dalton down, but he gets too close to the corner and Moose tags himself in, much to Briscoe’s chagrin. Castle tries to fight back, but Moose puts him down with headbutts. Moose hoists Castle up for a suplex, but Dalton gets a small package. 1,2, Sydal makes the save. And now Briscoe is in, firing uppercuts at Matt and sending him to the outside. He turns around into Moose, and they decide they also require some anger management, so they slug it out, Jay getting the advantage. Moose ducks a Jay kick, though, and now it’s his turn to tee off on Jay with jabs of his own. All the while, Sydal is climbing to the top rope and he jumps off, so Moose turns and punches Matt in the face, then goes back to punching Briscoe. Heh. He tees off on Jay and Matt, then winds up; but he takes too much time and Jay catches him coming off the ropes, followed by Sydal kicking him in the face, and Dalton getting a deadlift German for two as Sydal makes the save. Jay comes over but Sydal gets an enzuigiri. Dalton comes over for Matt, but he gets caught by Sydal and also takes a clothesline from Briscoe to send him outside. Jay fires a shot at Sydal on the apron and comes off with a double axehandle to Castle on the floor. Moose charges Sydal, but he pulls down the top rope and Moose gets sent outside with the rest of them, then Sydal goes up and moonsaults everyone on the floor. The Boys go to fan off Castle, but Stokely takes away two of their fans and starts to fan off Moose. Ha! Moose must be revitalized, though, because he and Sydal are back in the ring. Sydal with leg kicks, big kick to Moose’s head! Moose tries to no-sell it, so Sydal just hits him in the face with a jumping knee, and you WILL sell that one, Moose. Sydal off the ropes, snaps off a ‘rana and rolls Moose up, 1,2, Jay Briscoe makes the save. Briscoe in control with shots on Sydal, machine gun neckbreaker by Jay. That gets two. Jay gets a fireman’s carry on Matt, but Moose is back and spears them both down. Moose poses, but he doesn’t see Dalton Castle, who’s on the top rope, missile dropkick by Castle! Beaut, too. And now it’s Sydal and Castle. Castle looks for the Bangarang, but Sydal escapes. Reverse ‘rana by Sydal! Holy shit, he SPIKED Castle’s head on the mat there. Sydal goes up to the top, but the Boys are on the apron fanning away at Sydal; shooting star press misses! Sydal lands on his feet, but right into the Bangarang by Dalton, and that’ll end a very, VERY good match. (Dalton Castle over Matt Sydal, Jay Briscoe, and Moose, pinfall, 8:28)
WORTH WATCHING? Oh, hell YES. It wasn’t a great match, but it was action-packed with almost literally no resting. And the right guy went over here – Castle needs wins like this over top guys, and while he pinned Sydal, he can also claim victory over Briscoe and Moose. Castle should be Roderick Strong’s challenger for the TV title RIGHT NOW; look, I love Bobby Fish as much as the next guy, but Castle is a guy they clearly have big things planned for and the TV title was made for a guy like him. He’s ready to move up to that next level, and I hope that matches like this are the start of something great for him. He’s just awesome.
Post-match, Castle celebrates as Kelly wraps it up by reminding us that next week‘s main event is a Philly street fight!
FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: This was a better episode than last week, at least on the in-ring side of things. The main event is worth checking out, and while I was a little meh on the rest, the opener is worth your time as well. As usual, ROH continues to deliver a solid show week in and week out.
Thanks for reading,
@MrSoze on Twitter