Ring of Honor – January 27, 2016

Howdy!

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

Before we get started, I’d like to pimp Kyle Connor’s Lucha Underground review from Wednesday. I don’t watch the show as I don’t get El Rey, but his recap made me WANT to watch it, which is just about the highest compliment I can give. I know that there’s probably a lot of crossover between those that watch ROH and LU, so you may have already read it; but good work is good work, and it’s a ferocious piece, so go check it out on the blog. Excellent stuff, Kyle, and I wanted to specifically recognize it; I know how difficult it can be to do weekly recaps, and yours was phenomenal.

Speaking of phenomenal….

Notable news from around the world of ROH this week:

–AJ Styles made his debut with the WWE on Sunday at the Rumble, obviously. ROH sent out a very nice congratulatory tweet afterwards, writing: “Last night AJ STYLES bid farewell to the ‪#‎HonorNation‬, and now everyone will find out how PHENOMENAL he really is. ‪#‎ThankYouAJ‬”

–On a related note, the entire Bullet Club (Styles, Gallows, Anderson, and the Bucks) did a curtain call after Saturday’s ROH event. Pics are up on the Bucks’ twitter account, and there’s a shirt available on prowrestlingtees with art representing it. Check it out.

As for the rest, there isn’t much news as we rocket towards the 14th Anniversary show in Vegas. So let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Ring of Honor TV – 1/27/16

We are TAPED from the Cabarrus Events Center in Charlotte, North Carolina! Your hosts are Kevin Kelly (recovered from the superkick last week) and Mr. Wrestling Corino. Opening has been slightly changed as the Kingdom has been removed, etc. Tonight, we’ve got ourselves a good ol’ fashioned rematch from Survival of the Fittest between Michael Elgin and Jay Briscoe! But we’re going to get started with Round 1 of the Top Prospect tournament for 2016!

Brian Fury vs Shaheem Ali – 2016 Top Prospect Tournament, Round 1

Kelly tells us that Fury is a 17 year (yowza) veteran and the trainer of both Sasha Banks (Yay!) and Donovan Dijak (Really?). Ali is one of the first grads of the Monster Factory. They show the brackets for the tournament, and I have to admit that I’m intrigued to actually see Colby Corino wrestle at some point.

Code of Honor is followed. Lockup goes nowhere. Standing side headlock by Fury, Ali shoots him off, Fury with a shoulderblock, Ali kips up. Again, this time Ali stays down and they cross the ropes, Ali hiptoss is blocked, Fury hiptoss is blocked, armdrag by Ali. Fury charges, Ali armdrags him again. Fury backs him into a corner and breaks with a knee to the midsection. Cross-corner whip by Fury, Ali goes over the Fury charge and works him with kneelifts. Snapmare and a seated dropkick by Ali. That gets two. Slam by Ali, off the ropes, big splash! 1,2, no. Corner clothesline by Ali, but Fury reverses the cross-corner whip, Ali catches him coming in with an elbow. Ali goes after Fury, but he cradles Ali into the bottom turnbuckle to take over. Fury takes over with a whip to the buckles on Ali. That gets two as we’re promised that Nigel will be by in a little while to talk about the 14th Anniversary show in Vegas. Good, I need something to look forward to, because this match is as dull as dishwater. There’s nothing WRONG with the match, mind you, as they’ve been executing well; I’m just not invested at all. Ali fights up and tries an Irish whip, but it’s reversed and Fury gets a very nice elbow to take him down for two. Belly to back suplex from Fury gets two. He keeps trying for the pin, which I do like. Fury whips Ali to the corner, but Ali comes out with a clothesline. Back elbow and sidekick by Ali. He kicks Fury and gets a bee-yoo-ti-ful gut wrench sitout powerbomb…for two. Ali can’t believe it, and neither can I; that was extremely well done. Crowd chants for Ali, and he fires chops and rights, with a back elbow to punctuate it. Fury reverses with a go-behind and sends Ali to the corner, Fury off the ropes with a neckbreaker. 1,2, NO! Fury tosses Ali to the floor and springboards off into a bodypress, but Ali catches him and gets an exploder on the floor! He tosses Fury back in and goes to the top, but Fury grabs the ref by the leg, so Ali jumps down to separate them. He turns around right into a headbutt by Fury, and a pop-up sitout powerbomb by Fury follows to get the 1,2,3. (Brian Fury over Shaheem Ali, pinfall, 5:54)

WORTH WATCHING? Meh. It was a well-executed match with a couple of very nice moves (that gutwrench sitout bomb from Ali was a thing of beauty), but it felt like a very good Indy match at best, and there wasn’t anything that made me think that either of these guys are going to be the next breakout star in the least. I did like the finish, as the wily veteran took advantage of the naïve rookie, but I’m still going to go with NO on this one, as it didn’t really trip my trigger. Like I said, competent but relatively dull.

Post-match, Fury grabs the hand of Ali and forces the handshake. And now we’re going to be forced to watch these ads!

We’re back to the music of Cedric Alexander, who makes his way to the ring with Veda Scott. Veda, you are WEARING those boots, girl. Damn. Cedric gets a nice pop in his hometown, and Veda grabs the mic. “For months, Cedric Alexander was the victim!” She goes on to talk about the ‘lawsuit’ and how it was ‘friggin sweet’ because now, they can buy and sell every single person in the arena several times over! She talks about Alexander getting upset by Gresham a few weeks ago dismissively, and says that Alexander is the best in the world, and he wants Lethal, he wants Cole, he wants Elgin, he wants the biggest and baddest in Ring of Honor, so send him out! Oh man, who could it be? I can’t wait to see who answers the challenge from Cedric….oh, it’s Cheeseburger. Okay.

Cedric Alexander (w/ Veda Scott) vs Cheeseburger (w/ Chris Jericho’s undying affection)

“Cheeseburger!” chants from the crowd as Cedric declines the Code of Honor. Alexander attacks, but Cheeseburger rolls him up for one. Cheeseburger with chops and right hands, but Cedric isn’t selling or buying them today. He whips Cheeseburger off the ropes, but he goes over Cedric for a sunset flip; he can’t get Cedric over and Alexander tosses him in the air like a rag doll, but Cheeseburger comes down into a rollup for 2! And Cedric has had just about ENOUGH of this shit and fires a knee into the midsection of Cheeseburger. He gets him up in a fireman’s carry, but Cheeseburger wiggles out and sends him to the ropes; Alexander hooks the top rope, but he turns around into a ‘rana rollup! 1,2, NO! Damnit, they almost had me there. Cheeseburger charges, but Cedric just demolishes him with a straight right hand. Cedric takes his time and charges, but Cheeseburger avoids the charge and Alexander hits the buckles. ‘Burger with a springboard knee to Cedric and he signals for the palm strike….but he runs right into the LUMBAR CHECK~! We’re done here. 1,2,3. (Cedric Alexander over Cheeseburger, pinfall, 1:42)

WORTH WATCHING? Sorry, but NOPE. Squash city with a bunch of hope spots for ‘Burger, but sub-2 minute matches will never get a thumbs up from me unless the circumstances are pretty special. Also, I’m going to once again rant that Cedric Alexander is a very, very talented professional wrestler who is sorely under-utilized by ROH.

Post match, Cedric lays in the boots to Cheeseburger, but Jonathan Gresham runs in for the save. “Hold on, little guy!” Veda Scott is awesome when she wants to be. She offers Gresham another shot at Cedric if he wants it, and it appears that Gresham would, indeed, enjoy that. Will it happen? We’ll find out after these ads!

We’re back with the bell about to ring, so I guess this is happening!

Cedric Alexander (w/ Veda Scott) vs Jonathan Gresham

They chain wrestle to a draw, then trade go-behinds six times before Gresham sends Alexander through the ropes to the floor. Alexander kicks the barricade in frustration as Kelly puts over the wrestling ability of Gresham. You know, the commentators on ROH don’t get enough credit, and I’m the first to take Corino to task for yelling ‘SUPERKICK’ all the time, but when they just talk about the wrestlers’ pedigree/ability and the matches, they’re really top-notch. Cedric confers with Veda on the outside, and slides back in to take Gresham down with a shoulderblock. Gresham ducks a Cedric clothesline and gets a wristlock, Alexander tries a reversal but Gresham doesn’t bite on it. Cedric tries again, but Gresham maintains the hold, stopping Alexander for a 3rd time. Alexander tries to reach under and grab the leg to break, but Gresham boots him out of the ring. Alexander charges back into the ring, Gresham tries for an abdominal stretch, Cedric avoids that, but Gresham calmly reverses to an Octopus, which draws Veda into the ring for the DQ. (Jonathan Gresham over Cedric Alexander, DQ, 1:39)

WORTH WATCHING? See above for my stance on sub-2 minute matches. That would be a NO. However, if we just take this as angle advancement, I’ll relent and say that it furthers the story and makes Gresham look like he belongs in the ring with Alexander. Unlike Cheeseburger, I like Gresham and think he’s got potential, so more exposure probably isn’t a bad thing and I’d like to see these guys go for 10+ to settle this thing. It worked from a story-telling perspective, not as a match, so I’ll stand by the ‘no’ as a match, but the angle is progressing well.

Post-match, Veda slaps Jonathan and Cedric boots him in the face from behind. Dropkick in the corner by Alexander! Scott grabs Gresham by the hair and holds him up so Cedric can dropkick him again, third time! LUMBAR CHECK~! by Cedric and Gresham BOUNCES in the air! Man, I love that move, and Gresham took it well. Vicious running kick to the face by Cedric and he drops down and starts firing rights at the head of Gresham until the refs come in to break it up. You know, perhaps I’m wrong about this whole thing, because being more vicious in the ring as a character is exactly where I want Alexander to be; maybe this will work out okay. I’ll ponder that more during these ads!

We’re back with the music of the House of Truth! Jay Lethal, Truth Martini, and Taeler Hendrix are making their way to the ring, which is already occupied by one Nigel Mcguinness. The commentators speculate about who Nigel will name as Lethal’s challenger for the 14th Anniversary show as Lethal has the mic. “Hold on one second, I know what you’re out here for.” And whenever Nigel is in the ring, his business better be about Jay Lethal! Nigel says that everyone wants to know who is going to challenge Lethal for the World title. Nigel has to be honest; Lethal has been on a hell of tear recently; he beat Styles at Final Battle, he beat Elgin at WrestleKingdom! That belt proves that Jay Lethal is the best in the world; but Lethal needs Nigel to tell Jay who is next in line to challenge him. Now, when Nigel thinks of a credible contender, he thinks of Kyle O’Reilly! I am 100% in agreement with Nigel on this point. At All-Star Extravaganza, he took Lethal to the limit, and were it not for Adam Cole, he might be wearing Lethal’s belt right now! Lethal says that he’s beaten Kyle before, and if Nigel decides to put him up against Kyle O’Reilly, it’ll just be a night off for him! But he didn’t let Nigel finish; as Nigel points out, O’Reilly was beaten at Final Battle by Adam Cole! That dirty, rotten, stinking, no-good cheater Adam Cole!

Sorry, my inner mark was showing. Apologies.

Anyway, in Nigel’s mind, that makes Adam Cole the #1 contender! Kenny Reigns is ecstatic! And there’s the music for Adam Cole, bay-bay! He makes his way to the ring and takes the mic. “Who’s ready for storytime with Adam Cole, Bay-Bay?” I once again marvel that a wrestler with Cole’s look and natural ease and charisma on the mic hasn’t been plucked up by Vince, but if my disbelief means that I need to continue to watch Cole work main events in ROH, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. Forever. Now, as everyone knows, he beat Kyle at Final Battle, which ends his battles with O’Reilly and makes sure that he never challenges for the ROH World title again. And that leads him to “you, champ!” Although his list of victims while defending that belt is impressive, he’s never beaten Adam Cole while defending that belt! And since it bores him to be out here, he’s just going to say that at the 14th Anniversary, there will be a new champion crowned, and his name is Adam Cole, Bay-Bay! But Nigel isn’t done; even though Cole is the #1 contender, Kyle O’Reilly is a credible contender in his own right! Yeah, if the contender is for most awesome wrestler in the universe. Duh. And Kyle came to Nigel and said that he wanted to get his hands on Cole in the worst way, so unless Cole is scared of him, he suspects that Cole wants to get his hands on Kyle as well; therefore, for Vegas, he’s doubling down! It will be Jay Lethal defending his title against Adam Cole…..and Kyle O’Reilly in a triple threat match!

Gotta make a quick call to check on some plane tickets to Vegas. Your recap will resume momentarily.

Okay, we’re back. And there’s the music of Kyle O’Reilly, as Jay Lethal is displeased by this turn of events to say the least. Kyle walks the aisle and takes the mic from Nigel. As he enters the ring, Cole bails like a chickenshit, which I say in the most affectionate way possible; he’s been KILLING it in this angle to get his former partner over. Kyle: “Now Nigel, that’s all well and great for the 14th Anniversary, but I just can’t wait until Las Vegas!” He’s been screwed over too many times, and he wants to get his hands on Adam Cole, he wants to get his hands on Jay Lethal, and he wants to do it in Charlotte, North Carolina! Crowd is extremely receptive to this idea! Nigel asks if Charlotte can wait, and they don’t seem to want to, so Nigel makes Adam Cole and Jay Lethal vs reDRagon! Not sure if that’s next week or not, but I don’t particularly care – I’m so excited right now, I can’t stand it. What I can stand, though, are some ads, so let’s watch them!

We’re back as we see footage from the Young/Castle match at Final Battle. Silas wins the match, but Castle tells him that the Boys were never his as the Boys turn on Young with chairs. Let’s go to Young in the back! “For the better part of three months, three months, I took those boys and I taught them how to be men!” He taught them how to be men, but along came Dalton Castle, and he manipulated them into coming back. So Young is giving the Boys one shot to come back and make it right, continue to learn how to be men, continue to get the opportunities that were given to them! And if they don’t well, they’re going to be sorry.

Now, I’m on record as saying that this feud should be toe-tagged, dead, whatever. But I have to admit, the idea that Young is actually hurt by the loss of the boys is interesting and could be a springboard for his character to get some depth it didn’t have before. I could dig this.

The music of Michael Elgin hits and it’s time for our main event! Elgin makes his way to the ring and poses on the top buckle as the fans chant for “Big Mike!” “Reach for the sky, boy!” Jay Briscoe and his brother Mark make their way to the ring. And Mark Briscoe is going to join us on commentary, which is always a win! The announcers make note that Briscoe has only been pinned by two men in the last 3 years; Jay Lethal and Michael Elgin, so he’s itching for revenge on Big Mike. We’re set to go….but there’s the music of Moose! Interesting. Stokely Hathaway has a mic, so let’s see what’s up! “Cut the music, cut the music!” It’s 2016, and they have new goals for the year! And as Nigel made the main event for the 14th Anniversary, Stokely decided to ask him to make one more! At Final Battle, Michael Elgin beat Moose, but he wants his rematch! And Jay Briscoe doesn’t back down from a fight; so tonight, we’re going to have ourselves a triple-threat match in the main event tonight! Wow! I’m in a state of shock, so I’ll try to calm myself during these ads!

We’re back and this match is just about to start!

Jay Briscoe vs Michael Elgin vs Moose (w/ Stokely Hathaway)

Ding! Moose avoids a Briscoe kick to start and fires at Jay, but Elgin comes up from behind and they trade go-behinds, with Moose ending up against the ropes. Briscoe charges and Elgin moves, Jay with a cactus clothesline to take both himself and Moose over the top and to the floor. Kelly congratulates Mark on becoming the Never tag champs as Elgin goes over the top with a somersault to take out both Briscoe and Moose on the floor. Elgin tosses Briscoe back into the ring and fires at him with forearms, but the discus is blocked by Jay with a headbutt. He whips Elgin to the buckles, but Elgin avoids a Briscoe running splash in the corner. Elgin gets Jay up for a suplex, but Moose comes in with a kick….but Elgin keeps Briscoe in the air. Moose does it again, but Elgin keeps him the air again. Marvel at the strength of Elgin! Actually you should, that was pretty damn cool. Moose comes after him again, so Mike hands Briscoe off to Moose in a powerslam position and gets a Flatliner on Moose, taking both of them down. That was ultra-cool. “Innovative!” is the succinct comment from Mark Briscoe as Elgin covers Jay for two. After Jay kicks out, Elgin covers Moose for one. Front facelock by Elgin on Moose, but Moose takes him to the corner with a shoulder. Elgin gets his foot up as Moose comes in, but Moose catches it. The commentators tell us that the main event for next week will indeed be reDRagon vs Cole/Lethal, and my love for this company knows no bounds. Moose spins Elgin around and gets a bicycle kick on Big Mike, but he charges and eats an elbow from Mike. Elgin goes up, but Moose does a standing dropkick on Elgin to send him off the top to the floor. I’m trying not to get too attached to Moose, because I know that the instant that Vince or HHH sees him, he’s off to NXT, but he has SO much raw talent and potential, it’s frightening how good he might end up. Briscoe is on the top and dives at Moose, but Moose catches him coming down and starts firing rights at Jay. Moose winds up, taking forever, and comes off the ropes and eats a Jay Briscoe boot to the face. Another one from Jay, but Moose doesn’t go down. 3rd one sends him to one knee and Jay whips him to the corner and follows with a splash in said corner. Briscoe snapmares him out and kicks him in the head off the ropes for two. And it’s now time….for our final ad break of the evening!

We’re back with Jay doing the 10 punch spot in the corner on Moose, but Elgin is stalking Briscoe. Forearm sends Briscoe to the apron. Elgin puts Moose down with forearm and goes to the second rope, looking for the deadlift suplex on Briscoe from the apron. He gets him up, but Moose stops it and Briscoe lands on the top with Elgin landing on the apron. Moose up and looking for the superplex on Jay, but Elgin comes in from the apron via the 2nd rope and powerbombs Moose as he suplexes Briscoe! Nice Tower of Doom spot there. Everyone is down. Elgin and Moose are back up, and Elgin gets a couple of running forearms to Moose and a slam. Elgin to the apron, springboard splash to Moose! Fireman’s carry by Elgin, Moose elbows out, Moose with the carry now, but Elgin floats over into a sunset flip for two. He locks the hands, and just powers Moose up for a powerbomb. They’ve done a great job in this match of getting over how strong Elgin is. That gets two before Briscoe breaks it up. Briscoe goes for the neckbreaker, but Elgin sends him to the corner. Briscoe avoids the Elgin charge, but Mike gets an enzuigiri and goes up, but Jay brings him down with a Death Valley Driver. 1,2, NO! Jay in control and he goes for the neckbreaker again, but Elgin shoves him right into a spear by Moose! Briscoe rolls out and Moose looks to go after Elgin, but Elgin gets a jumping enzuigiri. Mike looks for the powerbomb, Moose reverses into a short-arm clothesline that Elgin no-sells. Moose comes off the ropes and they clothesline each other, no one goes down. Elgin with a clothesline, Moose doesn’t go down. Elgin comes off the ropes, but Moose pops him up and hits him with a huge lariat that turns Elgin inside-out. 1,2, NO! Moose sets up and charges Elgin for the spear, but Elgin leapfrogs him and Moose hits the buckle. Briscoe back in with a superkick on Elgin, but Elgin bounces off the ropes and hits Jay with a lariat. Elgin with forearms to both guys, including a VICIOUS spinning one to Moose. He loads up one for Jay, but Briscoe ducks and gets a backslide! 1,2,3! (Jay Briscoe over Michael Elgin and Moose, pinfall, 8:07)

WORTH WATCHING? You better believe it, YES, this one was just great fun to watch. And Briscoe getting the pin off the backslide after these guys just fired big power moves at each other was really a nice surprise; I like it when a match ends out of nowhere as opposed to after a big finisher. Keeps the illusion up that the match could indeed end at any time. I was totally down with this one, as they played to the strengths of each wrestler and had Jay pick up the win while still paying heed to the idea that anyone of them could have won it. This was a really nice little triple threat.

Post-match, Elgin is less than pleased and he wants a mic. Fact is, it took Moose and Jay to beat him. Mark Briscoe may not have helped him physically, but he helped him out mentally, because that’s what brothers do. So in Las Vegas, they should team up, because at 14th Anniversary, it’s going to be The Briscoes vs Michael Elgin….and Hiroshi Tanahashi! The Briscoes are down with this plan, and handshakes are exchanged to seal the deal! Now, Tanahashi is currently injured, so I’m not sure that match will happen, but we’ll see if Elgin gets a replacement for him if Hiroshi can’t go. Regardless, that’ll do it for this week of ROH TV.

FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: I’m torn here, because the show was breezy as hell and flew right by, and the main event was some quality wrestling. But the rest of the show was pretty much strictly angle advancement with Cedric and with Lethal/Cole/O’Reilly. As such, it’s skippable from a strict workrate perspective, but these types of shows do need to exist to further the storylines, and it accomplished that very well. I would say that it’s worth a watch, but if you watch the show for great wrestling, you might want to just skip to the main. For those who enjoy the characters and the stories, there’s some meat on the bone. As always, your mileage may vary.

On the other hand….Cole/O’Reilly/Lethal at the 14th Anniversary show! Woo-hoo!

Thanks for reading this thing that I wrote,
Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter