Ring of Honor – February 10th, 2016

Howdy!

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

Notable news from around the world of ROH:

–Christopher Daniels has re-signed with Ring of Honor in an exclusive deal. This follows Jay Lethal and reDRagon, and probably indicates more and more that ROH is going to be a player for Indy talent going forward. Interestingly, Kazarian is not signed at this time.

–Kenny Omega, who hasn’t competed for ROH since 2010, is apparently set to take over AJ Styles’ schedule for ROH and NJPW, with Omega leading the Bullet Club in ROH when he appears; he will first re-appear for ROH at the 14th Anniversary show. Kenny is expected to make ROH his North American home promotion for the foreseeable future, while still keeping Japan his top priority.

Okay, so I wanted to say a few words about Bryan Danielson; I promise to be much briefer than I normally am. (And no, I’m not trying to be a jerk by using that name; I want to talk about his ROH career, and that was his name in ROH)

It’s really all his and Chris Hero’s fault that you’re even reading this.

See, back in 2008 or so, I started to actively look for other avenues of pro wrestling, primarily motivated by my desire to enjoy wrestling again after the Benoit murders. I had been less than knowledgeable (some say I still am, har har) about other forms of wrestling outside of the big 2 in North America; I had a few comp tapes from back in my tape-trading days that had some ECW and the Super J-Cup tourneys from 94 and 95, but that’s just about it. I did know the name Ring of Honor, but knew next to nothing about it except that CM Punk, a dude I kind of liked in the new ECW nonsense that WWE was putting on, came from it. So I went to one of the smark sites, I’m guessing 411 if I have to be honest, and just started reading reviews, and one of them detailed the ROH/CZW feud from 2005-06, focusing in Chris Hero and Bryan Danielson in particular. I cannot for the life of me remember much about the piece except that it made the feud sound awesome, and as such I searched out as much footage as I could find. While I dismissed CZW as violent garbage (an assertion I pretty much stand behind today), the things I saw from ROH were more exactly what I was looking for, and it made me a fan of the promotion for life.

And Bryan Danielson was at the heart of it all. From there, it was the Nigel McGuinness feud to unify the World and PURE titles, the matches with Austin Aries, the fight without Honor against Morishima, and anything else I could download or get a DVD of. (Thanks are in order to Chris Tolicka, who owned most of the DVDs that I watched in my less than great financial days) I cannot tell you how much my ROH fandom grew up with Bryan Danielson. And because of him, I found a promotion that was everything I wanted in a wrestling show, and for that, I wanted to take a brief moment to say thank you. I’ve watched a lot of great wrestling over the last 8 years, and he’s been the biggest part of it. I hope that he can at least find some solace in the fact that even though his career ended way too soon, he left behind a legacy that is probably going to be unmatched when it comes to great matches, and that he was the first face many saw when they started their journey with Ring of Honor.

Thanks, Bryan. You were the best in the world.

Alright, that’s done. Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Ring of Honor TV – 2/10/16

We are TAPED from the Cabarrus Events Center in Charlotte, North Carolina! Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness. And we’re starting off with the music of The Addiction, as Kazarian and Chris Sabin make their way to the ring! We recap Daniels hitting the referee, triggering a suspension from Nigel to explain why Kazarian is out for some singles action. And as Chris Sabin joins us on commentary, we hear the music of Alex Shelley! He’s out and coming to the ring while Kelly and Nigel remind us that tonight in our main event, the All-Night Express get their shot at the World Tag Team champions, War Machine!

Alex Shelley vs Frankie Kazarian (w/ Chris Sabin)

Code of Honor is followed barely, as Kaz slaps at Shelley’s hand in what could generously be considered a handshake, I suppose. Kaz goes over for some advice from Sabin before we begin; Sabin goes to the opposite corner and climbs to the top distracting Shelley, allowing Frankie to attack from behind. He lays in with stomps, but Shelley fights up with right hands and runs through Kaz with a shoulderblock off a whip. Armwringer by Shelley, and he tosses Frankie to the outside. Shelley looks to fly, but Kaz scoots past him back in the ring and comes off the ropes for one of his own, but gets caught with a Shelley kick to the head to stop that. Shelley comes off the top with a kick as Sabin asks the commentators if they would agree that Frankie Kazarian looks somewhat like Antonio Banderas. They both would indeed agree with that, but when asked a question about Shelley, Sabin clams up. Now that they mention it, he does look like Antonio Banderas! I never noticed that before. Shelley charges Zorro Kaz in the corner, Kaz gets a boot up, Alex catches it and drapes it on the middle rope and kicks the leg. He picks up the other leg and taps Kaz on the chest, then hits him with a dragon-screw legwhip that looked NASTY, as Kaz didn’t move. Kaz in Boots wobbles out of the corner, Shelley grabs the leg he hit with the legwhip and taunts Frankie, who goes for it and misses an enzuigiri as Alex ducked. Kick to the face of Kazarian by Shelley, but Kazarian pokes him the eye when he tries to press the advantage in the corner. Shelley charges but Kazarian ducks to the apron and grabs Shelley by the hair, ref counts to five, but can’t pull him off, finally does. Shelley looks to charge Kaz, but he grabs the ref and pulls him in front, stopping Alex short. Shelley moves the ref away, which allows Kazarian to yank Alex down by the hair behind the ref’s back. Frankie springboards in over the top rope with a DDT to put Alex down; this seems like as good a place as any to allow me to go find more Banderas references from IMDB during this ad break!

We’re back with Shelley getting a surprise rollup for 2. Kazarian stomps Alex and has words for the ref after what looked like a relatively quick count. Kaz drapes Alex on the middle rope and stands on him, Jericho style. Frankie springboards out to the floor and gets a right to Alex’s face. El Frankie Mariachi jaws with the fans as we hear the voice of Steve Corino in the headset of Kevin Kelly. Kaz slides back in and whips Alex, Shelley goes over the top with sunset flip, Kaz rolls through and tries to tie Alex up, but Shelley just punches him in the face to break. Corino apologizes for breaking in on the feed, but he’s had a week to think about what happened to his son Colby. Shelley drops Kaz by sliding out of the ring and tripping him and tries to shoot back in with a shoulder, but Frankie avoids it and drops a leg to the back of Shelley’s head. Corino says that the time for talking is over, and that next week BJ Whitmer is going to come face to face with someone who wants to take him out. Kazarian springs off the second rope with another legdrop to bring Alex back into the ring. That gets two. Slam by Miguel Kazarian Alvarez, and he goes up, taking a long time….Alabama Jam misses! Shelley now with rights, lefts, a chop. Frankie reverses a cross-corner whip, but the blind charge by Frankie hits a boot from Alex, followed by a Shelley enzuigiri. Shelley clotheslines Frankie over the top rope to the floor while Sabin continues to not acknowledge the existence of Alex Shelley. Shelley hops over the top to the apron, avoids a Kaz trip attempt, and comes off with a running knee from the apron to the floor on Kaz! Shelley tosses Kaz back in along with some streamers from underneath the ring, and he goes to the top. Crossbody by Shelley, but Kaz rolls through grabbing the tights! 1,2, NO! Kazarian with a spinning neckbreaker to Alex, Shelley tries to right back, but Kaz gets a forearm shot to counter a spinning backfist. Shelley catches him coming in with an elbow, Shelley to the second rope, Kazarian counters a mid-air dive to a Cutter. Flatliner by Frankie! 1,2, NO! For the record, Alex Shelley sells getting the shit kicked out of him better than almost everyone else, dropping his eyes and in general looking like hell. Kazarian looks for the Unprettier, but Shelley counters with a Flatliner of his own to the middle turnbuckle! Shelley goes to the top, but Kazarian was waiting on him. Kaz wants the Flux Capacitor, but Shelley headbutts him down and comes off with a splash, Kazarian got his knees up! And now Kazarian crawls over and gets the hammer from the timekeeper’s area, which Nigel notes is ‘right in front of me’; well, do something about it, Nigel! Sabin is up from the commentary table now as Frankie takes a wild swing that is countered by Alex into a high German suplex. Alex has the hammer now, but Sabin is on the apron; they lock eyes, and Shelley just tosses the hammer to Chris, while Frankie charges into an Alex Shelley superkick! He sets Kazarian up, Sliced Bread #2! Nasty one, too. That should do it for Gregario Kazarian Cortez, and indeed it does. 1,2,3. (Alex Shelley over Frankie Kazarian, pinfall, 10:26)

WORTH WATCHING? Well, YES, this one was worth the time to check out. Although I’m not sure what to make of the Sabin angle at this point, it has to be said that he had the chance to interfere with the hammer and he didn’t, and his lack of acknowledgement of Alex Shelley makes me think that we’re heading for a Motor City Machineguns reunion at some point down the road, as he keeps not physically interacting with Alex for some reason. The match itself was fine, but I’m probably biased as I really like Alex Shelley a lot, and Kazarian is perfectly adequate for matches like this. Fun match, worth watching.

After the match, Shelley poses as Kazarian seems less than pleased with Sabin. Up next, the top prospect tournament continues…but that’ll be after these ads!

We’re back with not the top prospect tournament, but rather the music of Truth Martini and the House of Truth! Truth and Joey Daddiego make their way to the ring as we recap the firing of Donovan Dijak from a few weeks ago which briefly turned Truth into the biggest babyface in Rick’s household for a scant few moments. Kelly asks Nigel if he’s surprised that Truth fired Dijak. Nigel: “Not really, he’s an idiot.” He goes on to say that anyone can tell that Donovan Dijak is going to be a top guy here, and now I’m wondering if the apple doesn’t fall far….eh, he’s not even here this week, I should cut him some slack. No more Dijak jokes. Anyway, there’s the music of the one and only Dalton Castle, and he makes his way to the ring with the Boys! Full peacock entrance! And now Truth wants a mic! “Listen, Mr. funny looking peacock man!” For months, Silas Young has been trying to turn these boys into men, but he doesn’t think that’s what these boys need; they need a daddy! And who’s your daddy? Why, it’s Joey Daddiego!

Well, that was a thing that just happened.

Dalton Castle (w/ The Boys) vs Joey ‘Diesel’ Daddiego (w/ Truth Martini)

Code of Honor is declined. They lock up and Joey pushes Dalton to the corner, clean break! Would not have guessed that. Waistlock by Castle, and he tosses Joey to the mat. Daddiego rolls to the outside as Castle runs the ropes. Daddiego tries for a sneak attack, but Castle tosses him again, and Joey can’t even go through the ropes properly, needing a second try to do it. A Castle forearm puts him on the floor. Castle goes to the second rope to pose, which allows Truth to distract the ref and have Joey shake the ropes to send Castle to the floor. Martini is proud of himself, enough so that he runs into the ring and does a spinaroonie, then moonwalks backwards, not noticing the Boys on the apron holding the ropes open and sending him tumbling to the floor. Hey, there’s still a match going on, it may suck, but it’s still there Joey gets a forearm…no, never mind, we’re back on the other side as Truth tries to trip one of the Boys off the apron but the Boy jumps out of the way. He tries to knock the other one off, but that one jumps over Truth and he runs into the announce table. Truth: “They’re making me look like an idiot!” Yeah, but you’re way more entertaining than the match at this point, which is admittedly not saying much. Back in the ring, Joey sends Dalton into the second rope and comes off with a sort of stomp/knee to the back of Castle that gets two. Straight powerslam by Daddiego gets two. Joey trying for what appears to be a Tequila Sunrise, but he can’t get it and Dalton kicks him in the face to break. Castle takes him to the corner with a forearm as both wrestlers look like they’re moving in slow motion, and then sends him to the other corner with a knee. Castle puts him on the top rope, and runs across the apron with a big knee to the head of Daddiego. Joey runs at Castle, but Dalton decides that enough is enough and ends this abortion with a Bangarang. (Dalton Castle over Joey Daddiego, pinfall, 3:33)

WORTH WATCHING? NOPE, this match sucked all kinds of suck.

Post-match, Silas Young is out with a microphone. “Brent and Brendan is what your names are.” He’s talking to the Boys! For months, Young spent time teaching them how to be men! And while he’s talking, the Beer City Bruiser is on the apron behind the Boys, and he grabs them. Castle looks to free them, but here’s Young from behind, and the beatdown is on. Young finishes off Castle with Misery, and turns to the Boys, telling them that today, they have a choice. And the Bruiser releases them, and the Boys attack! That proves to be a mistake, as Young and the Brusier decimate the Boys, tossing them both over the top rope; Castle stirs and tries an attack, but that’s quickly stopped as he’s double-teamed, culminating in a big-ass (literally) cannonball in the corner from the Bruiser. Young puts the badmouth on Castle as we’ve to watch some more ads!

We’re back with our Round 1 2016 Top Prospect Tournament match! The graphic tells me that Leo St. Giovanni is our first competitor making his way to the ring, followed by a gentleman named Action Ortiz, who may have, in fact, eaten Tito Ortiz and taken his name.

Leo St. Giovanni vs Action Ortiz – 2016 Top Prospect Tournament, Round 1 Match

Code of Honor is followed. Apparently, Ortiz was trained by Tommy Dreamer; now, I’m not the booker by any stretch of the imagination, but why not give these guys even 1-2 minutes of TV time on the mic or whatever to try to get the crowd invested in them? Let them cut even a simple promo to try to get a reaction, because the crowd gives exactly zero shits about these guys. They lock up, and Ortiz immediately knees Leo, Ortiz with a whip and a dropkick that misses after Leo hooks the top rope to stop his run. Kick by Leo and a running splash gets a one count. Ortiz rolls out and Giovanni looks like he wants to fly, but Ortiz catches him with a forearm to put a stop to that. Running clothesline gets two for Ortiz. Ortiz goes up, but the frog splash misses! They barely get to their knees and trade forearms, and both get back to their feet trading shots. Leo takes over with an uppercut and a kick. He attempts to send Ortiz into the corner, but that gets reversed and Action gets an avalanche in the corner on Leo. He tries to pull Leo up and drop him, but Leo lands on his feet. He gets a back elbow and a kick to stun Ortiz, tries to headscissors, but Ortiz tosses him to the apron. Leo springboards in, rolling thunder to Action! 1,2, no! Ortiz rolls outside again, as this match is really, really boring. Leo tries to get the crowd back into it with a corkscrew bodypress to the outside, but it’s too little, too late for me. Leo tosses Ortiz back in and goes to the top, Ortiz charges but Leo jumps over the top of him and somersaults through, spinning forearm drops Ortiz. Double-underhook by Leo, but Ortiz gets out and gets a high kick, followed by his finisher (called the Kill Screen) for the pin. (Action Ortiz over Leo St. Giovanni, pinfall, 3:55)

WORTH WATCHING? Now, how exactly am I supposed to think of any of these guys as potential top prospect of the future when I get matches under 4 minutes? NO, you can skip this one, as it was just a couple of Indy wrestlers performing moves on each other. No story, no flow, nothing here. They really, really needed to do more to give these guys some exposure to the ROH fans besides strict ringwork, because this match just died on the vine.

Post-match, Ortiz celebrates while the announcers tell us that our main event for the tag team titles is coming up next! Thank God, because this show needs a shot in the arm in the WORST way. But it also needs some more money, so let’s take a break and watch these ads!

We’re back with Kevin Kelly and Stokely Hathaway. “2016 will be the year of Moose!” Stokely is very high on the prospects of Moose next year, saying that while they had highs and lows in 2015, this year, they’re going to start at the top! He goes on to formally challenge Okada at the 14th Anniversary show on behalf of Moose! Let’s make it happen! Now see, I like this. Really! You take a guy like Moose with all the potential in the world and keep moving him up against better workers. His match against Elgin was good, and there’s no reason that he can’t have a good match against Okada. That, to me, is how you get these guys experience and make them better; put them in there against better workers and let them learn. I’ve seen that some people think this is a ‘waste’ of Okada on the big show, but I don’t agree; this is a high-risk, high-reward play. Good on them.

Kelly throws it from there to a video package from Final Battle, recapping how the All-Night Express became the #1 contenders to the Tag Team Championship. And there’s the music of the challengers! Kenny King and Rhett Titus make their way to the ring as Kevin and Nigel once again mention that they were never beaten for the Tag Team titles the first time around. And here come the champions! Hanson and Rowe make their entrance, and it’s time to save the show, guys! And we’re going to do that…after these ads!

We’re back and the gold is in the air!

War Machine (Hanson & Rowe) vs The All-Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus) – Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship match

Code of Honor is followed. Titus and Hanson are going to start us off. Rhett gets an armwringer on Hanson to start, then a side headlock. Off the ropes, and Hanson knocks Titus down with a shoulder. Titus gets back up and gets a running knee while taking a blind tag from Kenny King. Double team time, as Titus gets an inverted atomic drop followed by a King clothesline, but Hanson stays on his feet. Double clothesline puts him down, however; Hanson pops right back up and cartwheels through another double clothesline and takes both members of ANX down with a double clothesline of his own. He tosses King into the War Machine corner and tags in Rowe. Rowe tosses Kenny into a knee from Hanson, then a VICIOUS knee from Rowe, then a clothesline to the back of King’s head. King fires a weak shot from his knees, but Rowe just levels him in response with a right. Off the ropes, Rowe gets a shot to King and stays between him and the tag from Titus. Cross-corner whip by Rowe, and he tries a hiptoss, but King lands on his feet and gets a straight shot to Rowe’s face. Rowe is perturbed by this and King backs into his own corner. Rowe charges, but King bails and Rowe runs into the buckles and a kick from Rhett, followed by Kenny hanging him on the top rope. King back in, tag to Titus. Double team now from ANX, with Titus elbowing Rowe in the corner and sending him into a King spinkick. That gets one for Titus. Running kick to the head from Titus and he backs Rowe into the ANX corner, taking shots at him and stomping him down. Tag to King, who runs across the ring and takes out Hanson on the apron. They’re looking for a big double team move, but Hanson yanks King off the apron and Titus gets caught with a throw from Rowe, followed by a bee-yoo-ti-ful straight knee from Rowe off the ropes. Hanson rolls King back in, slam by Rowe. Rowe picks up Hanson and slams him on top of King. Titus charges, but War Machine catches him and just slams him down to the mat. Rowe runs at Hanson, Hanson powerbombs Rowe onto Titus! War Machine is in complete control and it’s time for our FINAL ad break of the evening!

We’re back with King fighting out of the War Machine corner. Right hands and back elbows by King! He’s doing it….until Hanson catches him in a Fireman’s Carry, dropping him onto Rowe’s knee for the backbreaker. Rowe continues the Path of Resistance, but Rhett comes back in with a dropkick to break it up! King gets a tag to Titus as Hanson charges, Rhett pulls down the top rope and Hanson goes flying to the outside. Titus goes to the other side of the ring, over the top with a flying bodypress to Rowe…and he got caught. Whoops. That ends predictably, as Rowe gets an exploder to Titus on the floor. Meanwhile, Kenny and Hanson are battling it out against the barricade on the other side of the ring, and that ends with King being tossed into the barricade by Hanson. Titus gets thrown into the other barricade by Rowe. Both sides continue to throw down on the floor as the ref’s count goes past ten. They continue on the floor, with King taking a vicious back body drop on the mats, and FINALLY Hanson and Titus slide back into the ring at the count of 19! That was close. Hanson clotheslines Titus back out and goes for a tope that pretty much misses, but Rhett sells it anyway. Rowe and King are back at it on the other side, and the timekeeper’s table is cleared off. King gets a running start…right into a knee to the face from Rowe. And now the crowd wants tables. Rowe tosses King back in the ring, and War Machine goes for Fallout, but King goes over the top of Rowe and sends Hanson off the top rope to the floor with an enzuigiri. Rowe charges with SHOTGUN KNEES~!….and hits the ref. Sigh. So the ref is out now, and King gets SHOTGUN KNEES~! of his own on Rowe. The announcers speculate on whether or not King pulled the ref in the way there, and King tells Titus to get a table. Nigel: “This isn’t a tables match!” Well, go DO SOMETHING about it! Christ, how contrived can you get, especially with Nigel sitting right there? ANX sets the table up in the corner and go for a One-Night Stand through the table, but Rowe kicks Titus away and gets King up for a HUGE slam through the table….and the bell rings? Jesus. The crowd boos the shit out of that finish, rightfully so. (The All-Night Express over War Machine, DQ, 8:34)

WORTH WATCHING? There were SO many problems with this match. First off, it was more of a squash than it looks like – War Machine basically sold almost nothing of consequence the whole match, and nothing that the ANX did made me think that they had any chance to win. Second off, Nigel has called for referees from the back before, multiple times, but this ref got knocked out and he did nothing, which is completely out of character for him. But most importantly, this match was designed to make me want to see another match between the teams….but I don’t. ANX was thoroughly dominated and didn’t look like they belonged in the same ring with War Machine, and there certainly doesn’t seem to be any doubt about the rematch being any different. And that finish; look, Raw is RIGHT THERE if I want to watch that type of nonsense. NO, you can skip this one because it wasted talented wrestlers on every level.

Post-match, the two teams continue to battle until security floods the ring to pull them apart. Security is tossed around as Titus keeps trying to fight Rowe and Hanson, and we’re told that next week, our main event will be The Young Bucks vs Matt Sydal and ACH. Alright Kyle Warne, you win; Sydal and ACH are basically a tag team at this point. You were right about that. And that’ll do it for ROH this week.

FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: This was the worst weekly show that ROH has put on in a long time. Outside of the first match, which wasn’t exactly a blow away bout in and of itself, there was nothing here to recommend. Not every show can be perfect, but this wasn’t even in the same ballpark as that. You can skip this week without losing any sleep over it.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter