Category Archives: Ring of Honor

(06/22) Adam Cole (c) vs. Michael Elgin

Ring of Honor
Tennessee State Fairgrounds Arena (Nashville, Tennessee)
ROH World Championship 

According to Dave Meltzer, at one point this match was under consideration to headline ROH’s Final Battle event in December (at least that was the impression he got).  With the PPV debut in June, it was bumped up to this event which created a predicament of sorts.  Elgin needed to win the title in his next shot.  He had failed too many times before and was on the verge of contracting Lex Luger syndrome.  At the same time, the promotion clearly would have liked to keep the title on Cole longer.  They obviously intended to at one point and Cole was just coming into his own as champion.  Something would have to give.

It should be noted that the build for this main event match included a well-executed old school angle at the previous week’s house show.  After a Michael Bennett versus Michael Elin match ended in a no-contest, Cole and Bennett tied up Elgin in the ropes and proceeded to cut off his ridiculous ratty mullet that he had been clinging onto for far too long.  Not satisfied with just that, Cole put a figure four on Elgin’s actual wife – indie wrestler Mischif – when she attempted to intervene.  It was the kind of simple, dastardly action that pro wrestling has long had great success utilizing to build up a match.  It definitely added a needed layer to the match.

Michael Elgin has gotten over with a certain segment of pro wrestling fans on the strength of a being a power wrestler in a promotion with few power wrestlers.  That is one take on Elgin.  Another is that he is not a very good power wrestler or a very good wrestler in general given his spotty selling ability, reliance on big move after big move, and lack of any real personality.  Relatively speaking, Elgin kept his less desirable tendencies under control here but I am not sure it was a great performance from him by any means.

The match was smartly booked with outside interference from Hardy, Bennett, and Maria near the end to add to the drama.  Elgin needed to be booked to overcome the odds and they effectively conveyed that.  War Machine ran those guys off allowing the match to continue.  There was one near fall from Elgin off of a combo turn buckle bomb/power bomb that the fans bought to the point that they threw streamers into the ring in celebration.  When they realized the match wasn’t over, they briefly chanted “We F***ked Up!”.  Chants are the lowest form of communication and generally can be done without, but I thought that was a cute play on a popular wrestling chant.

The actual finish came not long after and Elgin became the 20th champion in Ring of Honor’s 12 year history.  ROH played the title switch up big, dropping a legitimately impressive amount of confetti from the ceiling as Elgin did the emotional “I can’t believe I won!” routine mid ring.  Regardless of personal opinions on Elgin, he is over enough and the story had been built to this point so he sort of needed to win.  It also gave ROH a big moment on their first PPV event which didn’t hurt.

US Indie Singles | Common | Title Change

(06/22) reDragon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) © vs. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian

Ring of Honor
Tennessee State Fairgrounds Arena (Nashville, Tennessee)
ROH World Tag Team Championship 

The one special attraction that Ring of Honor did use to sell their first PPV event was the ROH returns of Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian after a long stint as a tag team in TNA.  Daniels in particular has a long history with ROH going back to when he was the promotion’s main heel during the promotion’s infancy.  Daniels and Kazarian jumped right into a tag team title bout versus reDragon, given that the latter’s only natural opponents for this show (War Machine of Hanson and Rowe) could easily be bumped without anyone noticing.

This was a strong match that had strange crowd reactions.  ROH shows and indie wrestling shows in general can be draining experiences when they are four hours+ of big move after big move.  This show was only three hours in length and to this point, had been paced decently well.  Still, the crowd appeared totally burnt out for the semi-main event.  Daniels and Kazarian did not get the hero’s welcome one would expect on their returns and the match itself – while technically solid – received little in the way of heat.

The work focused on Kazarian having his arm attacked.  Kazarian is “just a guy” – a role player – in many respects but wrestling needs those guys too.  He was very good selling the arm throughout the bulk of the match.  You knew what the end game was the entire time, but that’s fine because they told the story clearly and effectively.  The announcers also did a good job.  The announcing on this show was much better the minute Nigel McGuiness joined Steve Corino and Kevin Kelly.  Nigel added to this match by highlighting the fact that Kazarian’s decision to tag back in with an injured arm after just having tagged out could prove to be a foolish one.  It did indeed turn out that way as O’Reilly caught Kazarian in an arm bar moments later, forcing him to tap out.

From a long-term booking standpoint, ROH might have been better served to book Daniels and Kazarian against another team (like Adam Page and Tadarius Thomas) on this show while running reDragon versus War Machine as initially planned.  Daniels and Kazarian’s return to ROH was probably enough of a draw on its own and would have allowed them to build to a future tag title shot.  Instead, losing in their first match in to the tag champions – even though once the match was booked, it had to be done – came off flat.  Daniels promises post-match that this isn’t over which likely means this rivalry will be re-visited somewhere down the line after Daniels and Kazarian have a chance to get themselves reacquainted to ROH.

US Indie Tag Team | Worthwhile | Quality & Promotion Debut

(06/22) Kevin Steen vs. Silas Young

Ring of Honor
Tennessee State Fairgrounds Arena (Nashville, Tennessee) 

Kevin Steen is yet another in a constantly growing list of pro wrestlers that are currently in transition from one place/promotion to the next.  Steen reportedly is in the process of getting a WWE developmental deal.  However, these things are never final until they are final and are especially uncertain these days given WWE’s desire to trim expenses.  Steen has publicly acknowledged that his ROH contract is ending and he is likely to leave, but when and in what fashion is unknown.

This match was setup when Young interrupted what was played up as a goodbye speech from Steen at May’s War of the Worlds event in New York City.  The fans acknowledged the fact that this could be Steen’s last ROH match throughout the bout.  If that were indeed going to be the case, it seemed likely that Steen would put over the relative newcomer Silas Young on his way out.

The match opened with Steen knocking down Young and attempting his running cannonball splash in the corner, but Silas evaded.  I liked the quick start given this was a grudge match – it added a sense of urgency to the proceedings.

The body of the match was fine.  A trimmed down Steen is wrestling with more energy than he has recently and his offense looked crisp.  I think Young is fine – particularly from a personality standpoint – but his offense doesn’t match his personality.  Here is a guy with stringy shoulder length hair and a porn star mustache who calls himself “wrestling’s last real man”.  He also happens to be the legitimate nephew of Stan Hansen.  A guy with those qualities should be a knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out wrestler.  Instead Young’s signature move is a somewhat goofy springboard moonsault.  It just doesn’t fit, just as a lot of his offense doesn’t.  His brawling was a bit better here with a brawler like Steen opposite him but there is definitely a disconnect between Silas’ persona and the style of wrestling.

The match was fine, but really a set up for the post-match angle.

Steen won the match with the package pile driver (a sign he would be around for at least one more show) but then cut another leaving promo in which he put over Young and shook his hand (a sign that the feud was ending and Steen was leaving).  Young accepted the hand shake and left the ring, allowing Steen to continue the supposed farewell speech.  Just as he seemed to be wrapping it up, Young appeared suddenly and attack Steen.  The attack came off great on TV – the camera didn’t catch it until it was happening and nothing else gave it away – and it was an effective angle all around.

Young and Steen appear to have at least one other match in them before Kevin heads to greener pastures.  Young defeated Mark Briscoe in a strap match some months ago and began to proclaim himself as the “King of the Strap Match”.  That has been downplayed recently but it would not be a surprise if these two are heading to a strap match blow off sometime in the upcoming months.

US Indie | Common | Angle & Quality

(06/22) Matt Hardy & Michael Bennett vs. Mark & Jay Briscoe

Ring of Honor
Tennessee State Fairgrounds Arena (Nashville, Tennessee)
No Disqualification 

Ring of Honor chose to build their first live cable Pay-Per-View event around feuds and storylines that had been building for months, rather than going the special attraction aprroach.  Jay Briscoe and Matt Hardy have an issue that goes back to just after last year’s Best in the World event.  Several incidents both in 2013 and in the first half of this year occurred where Hardy was more or less responsible for Jay Briscoe not being ROH World Champion.  Meanwhile, Mark crossed paths with Mike Bennett who – along with Adam Cole and Hardy – have formed somewhat of a heel super group.  The announced tag team had all of the markings of a feud-ending blow off.

They work a relatively normal grudge tag format the first few minutes.  The Briscoes come out hot and Matt refuses to tag in unless he has the advantage – typical stuff.  Unable to get the Briscoes under control or the momentum on their side, Bennett decides to take the easy way out by intentionally getting his team disqualified with a blatant belt shot to one of the Briscoes.  This got a surprisingly good reaction.  They waited long enough into the match and did enough prior to the DQ, that some of the fans actually seemed to buy it as the ending.

Of course, Jay Briscoe got on the microphone and requested that matchmaker (which is really catching on as the new authority figure role in wrestler) Nigel McGuiness to right this wrong.  Nigel strolled out doing just that by restarting the match as a no disqualification bout.

The rest of the match was structured like your usual ladder/table/chairs brawl which was a good decision given that the announced card lack any sort of match like that.  Variety is good and three of these four guys are very adept at the style, so it was a wise move.

The layout had Hardy’s fingerprints all of it.  The bigger spots were well-timed and executed, without ever reaching the point of too dangerous.  Old Hardy Boys hardcore matches (ladder matches and table matches) hold up really well as they had a knack for laying them in a clever and well-paced manner – two qualities that this match also possessed.  I much more prefer this type of TLC match (a feud ender that relies on several key spots rather than pure violence) to the alternative.  So while not a great match or anything it more than served its purpose.

Matt Hardy is another guy whose promotional loyalties are currently a bit of a mystery.  He is scheduled to work the upcoming TNA television tapings in New York City, but whether that is a one off deal or something more permanent is unknown at the time of this match.  Hardy took a big table bump and ate the pin (delivered by nemesis Jay) in this match which certainly could be construed as the feud ender.  Maria even re-stole Jay’s vanity belt at the end which might signal a transition from Jay/Hardy to Jay/Bennett.  Regardless, this was a good ending to the feud (or possibly just to a chapter in a feud).  It is a feud that Hardy has been very good in and if he is done with ROH for the time being, his presence as a veteran heel with legit heat will be missed.

Tag Team Brawl | Worthwhile | Quality

(05/17) A.J. Styles (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada vs. Michael Elgin

Ring of Honor
Hammerstein Ballroom (New York, New York)
IWGP Heavyweight Championship 

Michael Elgin versus one of the three big names from New Japan (Okada, Tanahashi & Nakamura) was the match ROH fans were pining for when the joint cards were announced in February.  Elgin is a divisive wrestler.  For the most part, the core ROH fan base loves him.  He uses big time power moves, doesn’t sell a whole lot, and carries himself like an indestructible bad ass despite being well under six feet tall and sporting the Hulk Hogan/Randy Savage balding mullet look.

Other fans, well, they see those same things but see them as minuses rather than pluses.  Elgin uses big moves to an extreme (turn buckle power bombs are sometimes early match moves), he doesn’t sell well, and his look is not what we typically associate with big star.  He is a good example of beauty being in the eye of the beholder when it comes to wrestling.

The booking of this three way match reflects that division on Elgin even if that was not necessarily the intent.  His supporters did not get the big singles opportunity they were clamoring for, but they do get to see him wrestle for the IWGP Heavyweight title in the main event.  Those who don’t care for Elgin’s ring work have to see him in the main event, but in a much more reduced role than if it were a singles match.  Everybody wins (or maybe just nobody loses).

The match was filled with the typical issues that plague the three way match.  A wrestler would be dumped to the outside for minutes at a time while the other two battled in the ring.  It is not impossible to have a good or even great three way match, but the odds are usually against it.  The flow often ends up being so unusual as guys are forced to tailor their selling around whether they are an active participant at any given time.  In this match, the three sold like they were dead when out of the match and were back at it when needed which is par for the course in three ways.  It is a pace that is hard to get into as a viewer.

The end was well-executed and likely the main reason NJPW championed for the match.  Okada nailed Elgin with the Rainmaker, only for Styles to land a well-timed springboard lariat on the former champion.  The blow caused Okada to naturally roll out of the ring.  Styles quickly scooped up an already out-of-it Elgin, hit the Styles Clash, and “stole” the victory.

If the inherent pacing and selling issues of three-way matches don’t bother you, than you’ll find this to be pretty good I would imagine.  If not, then this was another in a long line of three-way matches that was unable to overcome the obstacles the gimmick match creates.

3-Way | Common | Intrigue