Ring of Honor – June 22nd, 2016

Howdy!

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

Notable news from around the world of ROH this week:

–Roderick Strong is done. The ROH website announced today that Strong has told ROH officials that the TV tapings this Saturday after Best in the World will be his last in the company as he moves on to other opportunities. This appears to have been in the works for awhile, as Strong dropped the PWG Title to Zack Sabre Jr and is widely expected to sign with the WWE and work for NXT.

Obviously, this is a blow to ROH. Strong was one of the earliest stars that worked ROH and he never really went away, having been part of Ring of Honor for almost 13 years. While I had my ups and downs with him over the years, no one can deny his in-ring talent and his extensive history with the company; Strong won almost every title that ROH had to offer outside the PURE championship, and is one of only two Triple Crown (ROH World, Tag, and TV title) Champions that ROH has ever had, with Eddie Edwards being the other. His broadway matches against Bryan Danielson were excellent, along with his helping to establish two of the most enduring factions in ROH, the House of Truth and the Decade.

While his mic work was never much to write home about (hence my favorite nickname of his, Charlie Owens’ “Messiah of the Back-breakingly Boring”), he remains a great worker and a pillar of ROH for a long time, and I think that most of us who follow the promotion would be remiss not to wish him well wherever he ends up and thank him for more than a decade of effort. Good luck, Roddy!

–It looks like Moose is also a goner. Both Metzler and other sites are reporting that Moose will sign with the WWE when his ROH contract is up in August. This one isn’t exactly a shocker, as the WWE has apparently courted Moose for some time now. I’m sad that I won’t be able to see him continue to work in ROH and see his rapid improvement, but this one isn’t a big surprise. Good luck, Moose!

–Best in the World 2016 is THIS Friday! Here’s your final match lineup:
Jay Lethal vs Jay Briscoe – ROH World Title
The Addiction vs The Motor City Machine Guns – ROH World Tag Team Titles
Bobby Fish vs Dalton Castle – ROH World TV Title
BJ Whitmer vs Steve Corino – Fight Without Honor
Kyle O’Reilly vs Kamaitachi
Mark Briscoe vs Roderick Strong
Silas Young vs ACH
Moose & War Machine vs The Bullet Club (Adam Cole & The Young Bucks)
Very decent card this time out. Your PPV Preview will be coming to the finer Blog of Dooms near you THIS Thursday evening by yours truly, so check it out, won’t you?

–ROH World Champ Jay Lethal has officially passed one full year as the ROH World Champion, giving him the longest reign with the title since Nigel McGuinness in 2009 and the 4th longest reign in history. Even more impressively, since Lethal held the TV title for more than 400 days leading up to him winning the World title, that means that Lethal has had an ROH singles title around his waist for more than 800 days straight. Quite an accomplishment, Mr. Lethal.

–Cody Rhodes tweeted a photo of Dusty Rhodes facing off against Steve Corino this week, saying that he may have forgotten one match on his infamous list he tweeted out earlier. Of course, ROH would be more than welcome to bring in Cody, I’m sure. No word on whether this will lead anywhere, but Rhodes has been signing onto matches from his list at a decent rate, so who knows?

Whew. My take on all this is simple – the WWE brand split and necessity to restock NXT, along with the rise of Evolve, means that the talent in North America is getting sucked up at an alarming rate. ROH may be changing more and more over the next several months, so buckle in.

Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Ring of Honor TV – 6/22/16

We are TAPED from the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto Ontario, Canada! Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness. It’s hard sell time for the PPV, baby! This Friday, it’s Best in the World! Tonight, our main event is an 8-man tag, as the Bullet Club faces off against The Briscoes, Jay Lethal, and Roderick Strong! But we’re going to get started with some ROH/NJPW action, as we hear the music of the NJPW bookerman himself, Gedo! And his opponent will be none other than the peacock himself, Dalton Castle! Gedo’s puzzled expression as Castle enters the ring is priceless. By the by, while I don’t normally mention this stuff, ROH has footage on the website from a live event where Bobby Fish and Dalton Castle did a live Fish Tank segment, and it is really, really funny. The kind of thing that builds some interest for their match, the kind of thing that you would normally put on your television program!

Dalton Castle (w/ The Boys) vs Gedo

Code of Honor is followed. They trade go-behinds to start, and Castle takes Gedo to the mat. Deadlift by Castle and Gedo escapes, Castle grabs him from behind and Gedo goes to the ropes to break it. Castle pops up and does his lean back, with Gedo keeping eye contact doing the same; Castle hits the mat and Gedo charges right into a drop toehold by Dalton. Castle goes for the deadlift again, and gets a suplex this time with it, causing Gedo to roll outside. Gedo ends up between the Boys, and Castle gives them the sign to fan Gedo off! Gedo is delighted with this show of respect….until he pokes one of the Boys in the eye and kicks the other one in the gut. Beatdown of the Boys continues until Castle jumps from the ring to put a stop to that, so Gedo runs around the ring and slides back in. Castle follows, but gets kicked in the midsection as soon as he re-enters. Behold the genius that is Gedo! And behold the following great ads!

We’re back with Gedo applying the chinlock to Castle while the latter tries to fight out of it. He fires shots at Gedo’s ribs, but a straight right from Gedo puts Castle back down. More rights from Gedo, but he winds up another shot and Dalton blocks it, catching Gedo with a back elbow and a forearm to send him to the mat. Castle grabs Gedo and sets him against the buckles, and hits a running kneelift! Another one! Exploder throw out of the corner by Dalton! Castle goes for the Bangarang, but Gedo turns it into a sunset flip for two. Castle misses a clothesline and Gedo gets a kick and a jawbreaker, followed by a superkick to a kneeling Castle for two. Gedo tells Castle to get up, but while the ref is checking on him, the Boys get their vengeance as one of them pokes Gedo in the eye, and that’s followed by him stumbling towards Castle right into the Bangarang! 1,2,3. (Dalton Castle over Gedo, pinfall, 4:27)

WORTH WATCHING? Not feeling particularly grumpy this week, I suppose, because I enjoyed this for what it was. YES, it’s worth a quick look as a comedy match. They kept it short, it was funny, and the right guy went over. Nothing that’s going to set the world on fire, but there’s a place in wrestling for this type of thing, and this was exactly it.

Post-match, Castle celebrates as Kelly promos his upcoming TV title match at Best in the World against Bobby Fish.

Kevin segues from that into a video package that covers the BJ Whitmer/Steve Corino feud, showing Corino knocking Whitmer out with a roll of quarters, followed by BJ suplexing Corino’s son all over the ring in front of Steve while Corino was in his Mr. Wrestling 3 mask, thereby him being unable to do anything about it. By the way, that was easily the best part of this whole angle, as it gave some real dimension to the characters and what they were doing out there. And THEN, we finally get some of the infamous You Tube footage, as we see Whitmer filming Corino and his wife through the windows of their home….they’re sleeping, by the way! You all have some dirty, dirty minds. Anyway, it all ends with an unsanctioned Fight Without Honor at Best in the World!

You know what would make this angle even BETTER? Sara Undertaker!

And now, let’s go to one Adam Cole! Yes, let’s do that. Adam Cole on my screen makes me happy. “One week. We’re one week away from the Best in the World main event between Jay Lethal and Jay Briscoe for the ROH World Championship!” And there’s only one question that everyone keeps asking Adam Cole, and that’s ‘will he get involved in that match?’ Well, the answer is NO; because he’s going to be picking up the scraps after they beat the hell out of each other, because Adam Cole is YOUR next ROH World Champion! GOD, I hope so. He’s deserved it for a long, long time. And there’s something that we deserve; this ad break!

We’re back with highlights from last year’s Best in the World main event as Jay Lethal hits the Jaydriller and the Lethal Injection to win the World title. Then, we see footage from the Conquest tour as Briscoe hits the driller on Lethal, but there’s no ref to count the fall; Lethal would later go on to win that match and retain his title. Briscoe comes out afterwards and points out that he not only had Lethal pinned in the match, but that it had been almost a year and he hadn’t gotten his one on one rematch for the title yet! Lethal says goodbye and leaves the ring at that, but as we all know, that wouldn’t be the end.

Kelly pimps tonight’s main again, and now we hear the music of one Will Ferrara! I like Will quite a bit, but then the music of his opponent, Tomohiro Ishii hits, and I go from liking him to fearing for his life as Ishii looks to be in his usual foul mood. I say a silent prayer for Will before the shitkicking begins.

Will Ferrara vs Tomohiro Ishii

Code of Honor is declined by Ishii. Will fires a chop and forearms at Ishii, who looks almost annoyed. Will off the ropes and Ishii levels him with a shoulderblock. Apparently, that shoulder somehow made Will stupid in a single instant, because he comes back at Ishii and tries to trade forearms. That goes better than expected for Ferrara, because he manages to stagger Ishii with a few running shoulders and drop him with a dropkick! Will follows that up with a neckbreaker for one. Maybe Ishii underestimated this young buck, Will Ferrara! Maybe not, as Ishii blocks a slam and slams Will for two. He tries again, two again. Ishii kicks Will lightly across the face, just toying with him. Will fights up and stuns Ishii with an elbow, then comes off the ropes with a clothesline that doesn’t move the big guy. He ducks an Ishii clothesline and comes off the ropes with a clothesline that does put Ishii down! Will charges in the corner with an elbow, then picks Ishii up and gets a Samoan Drop! 1,2, no! Will tries for a suplex, but it appears that Ishii has had ENOUGH of this s---, and he gets it instead. Chops and shots by Ishii, he whips Will to the corner and follows with a clothesline to the buckles, then another one to the other corner, followed by Ishii just tossing Will to the mat like a sack of garbage. 1,2, and Will kicks out! Brave or foolish? Well, it’s a thin line. Will fights out of the corner and SLAPS Ishii!

Funeral arrangements for Will can be sent care of Ring of Honor.

Small package by Will gets two, but Ferrara gets up and tries to run the ropes and gets clobbered by a lariat from Ishii. Brainbuster by Ishii, and that’ll do it. (Tomohiro Ishii over Will Ferrara, pinfall, 4:07)

WORTH WATCHING? Ishii gave Will a bunch of hope spots here, but the outcome was never in doubt. I’m going with a NO on this one, as it was one step above a squash for Ishii and I have absolutely NO idea why it was on the go-home show in a PPV week.

Post-match, Ishii has some words for Kevin Kelly before he walks to the back while Will recovers in the ring. Tonight, we’ve got an 8-man tag as our main event! But right now, we’ve got some main event ads to watch!

We’re back with the Briscoes, with Mark telling us that the Bullet Club is trying to take over the world! They hype the main event tonight, with Jay mocking the Guerillas of Destiny, saying that you can just call the Briscoes the ‘Monkeys of Sandy Fork’, and these monkeys are going to eat their faces off! I’m not sure that Jay has the right spelling of ‘Guerilla’ there, but his simian comparison is nonetheless apt.

We’re back with the music of one Steve Corino! He makes his way to the ring as Kevin Kelly recounts the road of Steve Corino to the match at Best in the World, with Nigel talking about Corino’s neck injury. Steve’s got a mic! Let’s hear what he has to say! “My name is Steve Corino, and I am an evil man!” He believes in destiny, but he sometimes doesn’t until it’s in the mirror. Years ago, he took barbed wire to Terry Funk, and he liked it! He accused Dusty Rhodes of cutting the brakelines of Magnum TA! But he’s never apologized, because he is who he is. A few years ago, he decided to try to be different, to not be an evil man anymore, but he couldn’t do it. BJ Whitmer is the biggest piece of trash to ever set foot in the ring, and he’s going to pay for bringing Corino’s family into this thing! BJ has claimed for months that Corino wears a mask, and he’s right; but it’s not the mask of Mr. Wrestling III, it’s a mask of someone who wears a suit to appease Kevin Kelly, who wears glasses to hide his eyes! At Best in the World, it doesn’t matter what the match is called; he’s already in Hell, and he’s going to take BJ Whitmer with him, and he’s going to do things that he’ll never apologize for! Because at the end of the day, he’s Steve Corino, and he’s an evil man, and after Best in the World, there will be no more BJ Whitmer in Ring of Honor!

Decent promo, I just wish I was looking more forward to the match. I just don’t know how wise it is to run Steve out there this soon after neck surgery, but I’m sure the match will be booked in a way to protect him as much as possible. And now, these ads!

We’re back with Jay Lethal and Taeler Hendrix! “Bullet Club! How ya doing guys, I understand your rules!” They have the strength in numbers; well, let’s see what happens when the numbers are taken away! He’s teaming with three men that he knows can go, so let’s see if they can stand up!

Let’s go to Roderick Strong, shall we? “Now Bullet Club, I don’t have a problem with what you’re doing in professional wrestling; but what I do have a problem with is you attacking Ring of Honor!” Because when you attack Ring of Honor, you attack Mr. ROH himself, Roderick Strong! Well, considering today’s news, this could be seen as slightly ironic, wouldn’t you say? He doesn’t care about his partners, it doesn’t matter if he likes them or dislikes them, it only matters that when their hands are raised, it’s gonna be too sweet!

Yeah, Roddy better work on his promos just a touch over in Vince-land, there.

“Bullet Club!” Main event time, baby! And on the ramp, we have Matt Jackson, the Guerillas of Destiny….and Kenny Omega? The announcers feign confusion over why Omega is out here in place of Nick Jackson, but this was of course the taping where Nick broke his ribs, hence why Omega is taking his place. “Reach for the sky, boy!” I always mark out for that, I can’t lie. The Briscoes are out now, with Roderick Strong following and Jay Lethal bringing up the rear. We’ve got a little time for this one, so let’s hope it’s awesome! I also hope these ads are awesome!

We’re back!

Jay Lethal, Roderick Strong, & The Briscoes vs The Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)

The bell rings and we’re underway! Mark Briscoe and Matt Jackson are going to start us off. Test of strength is countered by Matt with the old ‘Too Sweet’ to the eyes of Briscoe, and he goes a-pounding on Mark. Crotch chops to Mark, then to the rest of the face corner; but while his back is turned, Mark is back up. Chop to the throat by Briscoe and he grabs a headlock. Shoulder by Mark knocks Matt down, they run the ropes and Mark goes for some Crane style, with a flip and big boot to Jackson. That gets two, and Briscoe tags in Strong. Roddy with chops in the corner to Matt, cross-corner whip is reversed but Strong goes over the top of a charging Jackson. They run the ropes and Roddy gets caught with a back elbow from Matt, and there’s a tag to Omega. Strong tags in Lethal and the crowd is READY for this one. Crowd chants for Kenny, who responds….by tagging in Loa. Lethal goes after Kenny on the apron, but Loa attacks from behind with forearms and a belly to back suplex as Omega tags himself back in while Jay is up in the air. Kenny stomps Lethal against the ropes but Jay gets back up and fires rights to turn the tide. Whip to the buckles by Jay, but Omega catches him coming in with the boot. Kenny flips away from a charging Lethal, but Jay counters a hiptoss with one of his own, followed by a cartwheel dropkick. Tag to Briscoe, and he nails Kenny with a headbutt. Briscoe stomps Kenny and chokes him with the boot in the corner. Omega to the buckles in the corner, tag to Mark. Jay holds Kenny in place and Mark splashes him. Chops by Mark, tag to Jay, who hits Kenny with a back elbow as Mark takes out the rest of the Bullet Club in their corner. Omega goes to the eyes and calls for the Bullet Club, and we’ve got ourselves a pier 8 brawl as everyone is in the ring now. The ROH guys clear the ring until only Jay Lethal remains, and he gets a tope to Tama Tonga on the outside, then one for Loa. He goes for another one, but Kenny pulls him out and sends him to the barricade. Kenny slides back in, in his Terminator pose as the fight continues on the floor. Omega rises and runs the ropes, but Strong is back in and hits a dropkick to put Omega down. Strong stomps away as we go away for some ads!

We’re back with Strong sending Omega’s head to the buckle. Kenny fights out with forearms and a back elbow, then a leaping bulldog. Tag to Matt Jackson, and he slides in, avoiding Strong and tossing him to the floor. Superkicks to all of the ROH team on the apron by Matt, and he slides out to deliver one to Roddy as well. He tosses Strong back in and goes up, but when Roddy starts to stir Matt just jumps down and superkicks him for two. Roddy backdrops out of a piledriver attempt and catches a superkick to land an overhead throw on Jackson. Tags on both sides to Mark and Tama, respectively. Running clothesline by Mark Briscoe on Tonga, but Tama blocks a Fisherman’s suplex attempt with right hands. Briscoe sends Tama off the ropes, but Tonga dodges Mark and hits him with a dropkick. Suplex attempt, but Mark floats over and hits strikes to the chest, followed by a big palm strike to Tama. Bodyslam attempt, but Tonga floats over and gets Roll the Dice. This has been non-stop action thus far. Tag to Kenny from Tonga, tag to Lethal from Mark, and here we go! They slug it out in the middle of the ring and the crowd LOVES it. Lethal gets a kick and runs the ropes, but Kenny catches him with a knee to the face; Omega runs the ropes, but Lethal catches him with a superkick! Jay calls for the Lethal Injection, but Omega catches him. Matt Jackson comes in with a superkick attempt on Jay, but Jay ducks and Omega takes it instead. Second attempt now, Jay ducks again and Loa takes it on the apron. Lethal goes for a superkick on Matt, who shows how much he’s learned by ducking, so Tama eats it instead. Lethal goes for the Lethal Injection again on Kenny, who blocks it and looks for the One-Winged Angel. Lethal gets out of that and they jockey for position, Lethal gets the first part of the Lethal Combination, but Kenny stops the second and gets his SICK snap Dragon Suplex. I love that move. They both make tags, to Loa and Jay Briscoe respectively, and Briscoe comes in booting Tonga down. Jackson tries a superkick, but Briscoe ducks and unloads right hands onto Matt’s face. I approve. Headbutt by Jay, but Jackson ducks underneath another shot and spears Briscoe. Mark comes flying in from the top, which Matt avoids, but he does get caught with an overhead belly-to-belly. Tonga comes in with an elbow to Mark, but he gets caught with a Sick Kick from Strong. Loa spinebusters Strong and holds Jay Briscoe up in a full-nelson as Omega and Jackson are back in the ring now, double superkick attempt….but Jay Lethal walks right into the path of it and takes it instead! Strong and Mark pull Kenny and Matt to the floor on the second attempt, sending them to the barricade, and that leaves Jay Briscoe alone in the ring with Loa. One Jaydriller later, and we’re done here. 1,2,3. (Jay Lethal, Roderick Strong, & the Briscoes over the Bullet Club, pinfall, 10:37)

WORTH WATCHING? Fast-paced action all the way through here. The story of the ROH guys reluctantly working together because they wanted to stop the Bullet Club was actually really well-told, without resorting to them not being able to get along or the usual clichés with this type of match. YES, you should check this one out, it was fun.

Post-match, Mark and Roddy take a powder relatively quickly and we’ve got the two Jays going nose to nose in the ring; words are exchanged, but no fisticuffs.

We close out with some Pulp Fiction style dueling interviews for Best in the World, from Dalton Castle, Bobby Fish, Roderick Strong, Mark Briscoe, the Motor City Machine Guns, the Addiction, Jay Lethal, and Jay Briscoe. And we’re out.

FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: This was a pretty underwhelming go-home show, to be perfectly honest. Showcasing Castle in the opener was a good start, and the final tag match was really fun. But there was the Will/Ishii match that had no business on this, along with a lot of video packages that were decent but not great and a long Corino interview that could have probably been a lot shorter. Best in the World has a lot of thrown together matches without a lot of build, and I’m not sure that they did enough here.

To put it another way, the last several weeks of ROH TV haven’t been doing much to really sell this PPV outside of ‘hey, you should buy this because the main event is gonna be awesome.’ That’s all well and good, but you can’t make the case that it’s been presented with the same importance as has been given to the Bullet Club, for example. There seems to be a disconnect with selling the PPV and getting more TV time for NJPW guys, and I don’t understand it. They did a decent hard sell this week, and I’m looking forward to it, but still. We’ll have to see what happens.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter