It’s ROH’s turn to pop up into the New Year frenzy of professional wrestling. It’s never taken my this long to get ‘behind’ on the grappling, but it sure did this year; taking me less than a week in to catch up on all shows. If you get the idea, hence the catch up, I’m doing a two for one review for this week’s coverage and last week’s missed coverage of ROH TV. The plus side is: you didn’t have to click two links to see two separate reviews. The negative side is: I failed to provide weekly coverage to start the year, which as a reviewer, is quite awkward to have to admit. None the less, I hope ROH provides some great TV to kickoff the year, which they’ve proven they can in 2015 consistently. It’s time for the ROH TV episodes that aired on January 2 and January 9. Let’s get to the matches.
ROH TV Review (Episode 224)
It’s the first episode of the new year, from the 2300 Arena in Philly. Mr. Wrestling III joins Kevin Kelly yet again. The main event tonight is Elgin/Dijak, as it serves as the lead-in to the WK 10 match between Elgin and Lethal for the ROH World Championship. Plus, Caprice Coleman and Will Ferrara meet one last time in a No DQ environment.
“Roddy vs. The World” opens up the show. The question is: who will he face this week? Since he’s still the champion, he wants to defend it yet again, and lets ROH bring out whoever they have.
There are some takeaways from this. Commentary got off to its best start yet; as I thoroughly enjoyed Kelly and Mr. Wrestling breaking down all things Roddy, giving me a gateway into his mind and his psychology.
The methodical style complimented what they were going for, as when it was combined with Roddy’s shock-and-awe offense it offered some better than average kickout scenarios. The crowd slowly got more behind Stevie as the match went on, as after all, he is a well-known name to the smarter ROH fans as well as the hometown crowd. Along with the other dynamics, this match emitted a little bit of the “anything you can do, I can do better” shtick. That came near the end of the match, where Stevie had Roddy in a Boston Crab, but after Roddy got out, Stevie slid out of the ring and came back in; only to be locked into a Stronghold (which is essentially almost the same move). After back and forth offense, as well as methodical advancement in terms of Roddy’s sequential finisher damage, all the backdrops and knees paid off; with a final knee being smashed into Stevie’s face for the keeping of the title. I like the fact that it didn’t take everything to keep Stevie down, and rightfully so. It didn’t stank of the ‘epic’ ROH feel that the company tries to bring out in the silliest of matches.
Before Roddy can do much, Bobby Fish enters. It’s a live ‘Fish Tank’, along with employees behind Fish ready to set-up the set. At least there’s continuity there. Roddy refuses to sit down on this episode of Fish Tank. 2015 was a banner year for the TV title, as Bobby puts the lineage over (of course without mentioning Roddy until last in a more ‘making fun of you’ tone). There has never been more buzz surrounding the name of Roderick Strong according to Fish. Fish took it upon himself to prepare some material, that would be a little bit of a recap for the year of Strong. What shows up is the pic of Roddy tapping out at Final Battle (behind Sinclair’s back). Fish shoves the question down his throat.
“Did you, or did you NOT tap out at Final Battle?!”
What ironically helped the segment is the fact that Roddy’s mic died for a few moments whilst he was trying to respond to Fish’s comments. He refuses to admit that he tapped out. He calls Fish a sore loser and leaves. The crowd echos YOU TAPPED OUT as the coward champ goes to hide. Interesting storyline development.
Coleman on the mic for the 3/3 time before the finale of the mini-feud. He puts over the arena as the setting for the hardcore-ish match. Coleman’s going to prove to Will and the rest of the world, that, even though he got a visit from the mailman [Nana], he’s nuthin’ but a jive turkey! Not only is Coleman going to beat him, but he’s going to beat him whilst looking pretty from every angle. Why? Because he has the body of a God, and a face of an angel. Trigger alert for Ferrara as he attacks to set the tone.
This is a smart “Best of 3” finale, with the No DQ stipulation strapped on because of not only their past matches, but their attitude in them being more rebellious than ever before because of Nana’s involvement with the envelopes.
It didn’t live up to its potential, nor was it any longer than their past matches, but it was still real solid. Will brought out the most intensity yet, but still had to work the underdog role as Coleman was just too dominant. Throughout various means, Coleman always got the better hand and there was dwindling hope for Ferrara as the match grew less legs than it seemed to have as a No DQ fair bout. Ferrara took tons of damage yet again, as the brawling element seems up his alley but hazardous as he’s a mini-Foley with all the bumps he takes and how he continually gets up from the damage he takes. Something he didn’t get up from, however, was the finish of the match as Nana laughed on. A Sky Splitta through a table seemingly crosses off Will’s name from the envelope ridden future star list for Nana, as Coleman destroys a man based on a mysterious message premise that may, or may not, contain Nana’s led path to Ring of Honor stardom. This storyline only continues to get better.
Don’t tease my like this ROH. And they did, but it ended up being one of the best short matches I’ve seen in a long time, and a match I will point to when I tell people that extremely short matches can tell stories as well. The theme of this match was “a walk in the park” for a 2016 newly revived Cedric, coming off of a winning lawsuit against ROH and shocking wins against Moose and the like. Gresham is shooting up my favorite wrestlers list very quickly, and even with a performance in 6 minutes, reassures me why he is one of the most sound technicians and smarty wrestlers in the world. Gresham’s little nuances meshed perfectly with Cedric’s high impact moves (selling, impact, kickouts). Whether Gresham bridged up for a kickout, kept his legs active whilst under pressure in a hold to try and gain advantage, or was until peril; the man did it right for this short stint of time. The ending was poetry in motion. Veda inserted herself into the match, but Cedric nearly bumped into her, and Gresham rolled-up Cedric yet only got an awkward 1 count because of the bridge positioning. This leads to Cedric taking back control and hitting his concussion kicks and the rest of his deadly arsenal of impact moves including, lastly, the Lumbar Check which almost sent Gresham as far as it did to Candice LeRae. However, upon waiting a good 15 seconds, taunting around and sealing the deal in his mind; Gresham rolled-up Gresham as a counter to him laying on top of him ever so cockily for the 3 COUNT! The kid did it. Such a fantastic little match, and one that I hope will expose Gresham in an all positive way. We’ve already got Upset of the Year, and Best Short Match~! This also ties into the storyline in the sense that Veda can’t declare unsafe working conditions, because she hand picked Gresham; and never expected this to happen. So, so perfect. Wrestling done 100% right.
Before the match happened, Jerry Lynn came out and let Lethal know that he was wrong, and that he was the better man at Final Battle. Credibility continued.
It’s the lead-in to the Wrestle Kingdom 10 ROH title match, and although that point has passed at this point, it could be the match itself that makes me believe it was worth it to watch; even if it past the point it was building to.
The match that kept building and building upon itself delivered. It was a nice lead-in to WK 10, where all you have to do is sit back, relax, and watch two big men do unremarkable things to each other. It was built in a non-obnoxious way, aka no ridiculous strong style spots. It was a regularly built match with near-falls and constant action between them in various ways that showcased their talent. It really was just a standard match with a wonder balls to the walls type of finish. Dijak at one point even hit a moonsault to no avail as Elgin powered through. Elgin slapped the shit out of Dijak to finish him, and as Dijak was on his knees, begging for no more strikes; he managed to get Elgin on his shoulders for Feast Your Eyes; but Elgin got out of that, delivered a powerbomb as well as an Elgin Bomb for the win.
Lethal talks trash to Elgin as Elgin smiles at him confidently to end the show.
The first ROH TV of 2016 was one that proved why I enjoy watching these TVs. Everything delivered in its own right, and we got fantastic storyline advancement everywhere you look, complete with further evidence that ROH is one of the most well-rounded wrestling promotions in the world.
ROH TV Review (Episode 225)
After an awesome first show of the year, it’s time to follow that up with another taping from the 2300 Arena in Philly. Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness are on commentary tonight.
The show literally kicks RIGHT off with this, which is always great especially in this scenario. ANX are next in line to battle War Machine (which will be their first defense) for the tag belts.
This match was a unique watch to say the least. It was a hybrid spot fest/methodical match, with ANX pulling out their ‘tricks’ whilst RPG Vice struggled whilst still pulling out their ‘tricks’ which was more “exciting moves” oriented. It morphed from a mini-technical showdown at the beginning, to barricade leaping spots, to Trent being worked over, to sneaky heel tricks confusing the crowd. It was all over the place like other ROH tags, but a more of a better all over the place; with more methodical organized chaos then per say a wacky spotfest. It was still a shorter match as all tags are usually, but it came across as a pretty easy to watch match where it had a chaotic beginning, good tag worked middle, and ending where all hell broke loose but a plan was revealed on the fly. There was hardly any RPG Vice fight back, but when there was, it was either tired Trent or hot tag/FIRED UP Romero. The finish saw Strong Zero being hit on Rhett, but Kenny came back in to roll-up Trent for the win, as the ref didn’t count Strong Zero because Kenny was the actual legal man (who was hit by a Romero dive before he came back in because he pushed Titus out of the way). Not a problem with the opener except for the fact that it could have been better.
The Kingdom are out for a promo, which is sort of awkward since Bennett & Maria are now gone from the company and are simulcasted on both TNA and ROH programs for now, until the run from these tapings dissipates. This is being labelled as the first time they’ve spoken since Final Battle. Security surrounds the ring as Adam Cole preps for storytime bay bay. The “coward” Kyle O’Reilly is being blocked off tonight. Everybody knows that The Kingdom went to war at Final Battle, while some won and some lost, Cole did exactly what he was going to do. He will never beat Cole, and he will never be ROH World Champion. But, the tag section of the stable dropped the ball. He questions how The Kingdom is going to hold all the gold in 2016 when they don’t have the tag titles around their waist. Before Cole explains the strategy to tag gold, Kyle interrupts and Bobby is on the mic.
Bobby puts reDRagon over as the team that reinvented tag team wrestling in the company. It’s long overdue that they take back their tag titles, and if all they gotta do is run through The Kingdom to get their shot, they want Nigel to make the match. Nigel pops the crowd with the stated fact that they came here to see some wrasslin~! and not chatter. Next week, for one last time in Philly, The Kingdom vs. reDRagon. But wait! The Young Bucks are out. NJPW multi-man parallels, bay bay. The Bucks retort with the fact that they’re the ones that have reinvented tag wrestling and are BITW.
“If anybody is going to take out these Bullet Club marks, it’s going to be us!”
Nigel is asked to book The Bucks vs. The Kingdom, but of course, it’s morphed into what it’s going to be. Next week, in a Philly Street Fight, it’s The Kingdom vs. reDRagon vs. The Young Bucks.
The new tag champs in action against H.O.T.? Not bad I say. I swear we’ve seen this before. *Wink*.
War Machine continue to be the most dominant force in Ring of Honor, even if faced with the task of taking out big man Dijak. No one is getting in the way of the champs, and this match solidified that fact. For the little time it got, it was quite fun, with Daddiego taking the brute of the offense from the start, and teases of dissension between H.O.T. and Dijak. Those teases being Dijak tagging out for Joey to be in, as well as kicking away the ‘Book of Truth’ that was to be used as a cheat. War Machine simply ran through the unit, with a flurry of offense to end Joey, and lastly, Fallout being delivered on Dijak for the easy win. No harm done (except to H.O.T.).
Time for (no pun intended) fallout from the match. Truth is on the mic as Dijak is grounded before Joey and the leader. When Truth thinks of the H.O.T., they think of Joey, Taeler, and Lethal; as well as Truth himself. He’s starting to realize that Dijak is the weak link of the group. If Dijak loses, that means Truth loses. In the main event of Final Battle, Dijak was nowhere to be found. However, Lethal didn’t any help. When Dijak didn’t do what he was supposed to do at Final Battle, Truth took it as a slap in the face. *THIS* is how REAL men slap people’s faces. Dijak then took the force of a mini cute Truth slap. “That was weak” chants echo throughout the 2300 as Dijak puts his hands on Truth. Daddiego beats down weak link Dijak as Truth scolds him for putting his hands on him. Dijak swoops up and delivers Feast Your Eyes to Joey. The crowd is going nuts of Dijak! He’s officially fired from the House of Truth. Nana claps ringside and looks on as Dijak’s “free”. A very good turn that elevates Dijak to the higher position I’ve wanted him in for a long time now.
reDRagon promo about the Philly Street Fight next week. Good stuff which got a huge pop from me as Kyle explains growing up in the mean streets of Delta, British Columbia; as one day a tree went through his house, and he then compares the tree to Michael Bennett. He’s going to chop that tree down.
A little sloppy at times, not the best match, and it didn’t get a lot of time; but it was still a fun watch in which Dalton Castle was ironically the star of the match, as well as the winner. It’s not too memorable, but there were some good comedy bits such as Stokely trying to fan-up Moose with The Boys’ fans after a (yes it’s ROH but unneeded) Sydal moonsault on everyone which had a terrible setup. The Dalton and Jay parts were the best, as they have the best chemistry within this match. They had a flow in which was a spectacle to behold as part of the match, and their styles mesh extremely well together (sans the…uh…personal opinions of one Jay Briscoe as well as Dalton’s gimmick in comparison to that). Moose and Sydal felt just…there, with Moose seemingly playing a bigger role in the match than Sydal, even though Sydal came up ‘big’ for those spots as well as ring time. Point being? Sydal felt out of place, and this probably would have worked better as a triple threat but I’ll take what I can get. Dalton top rope dropkicked Moose to get him out of the equation. Bang-a-rang was teased but Sydal hit the reverse ‘rana. However, Sydal missed the SSP as The Boys fanned by his side, and Dalton caught him with Bang-a-rang for the abrupt win.
This episode doesn’t even touch last week’s, but still had some solid matches overshadowed by even more intriguing storyline progression in the tag division, the Nana stuff, as well as that going hand in hand with Dijak now officially being a freelancer in the company without the guidance of the House of Truth. However, that might not last too long with Nana onlooking.