A Great Alternative: ROH TV 5-30-15

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Ring of Honor has been around for  thirteen years and I am horribly ashamed I’ve only gotten into it recently. I’m going to keep watching their show and recapping it as it’s something that every fan of professional wrestling should get behind. One of the best things about this show is you can watch it right here. I’m probably going to gush… be warned…

RING OF HONOR TELEVISION 5-30-2015

Now I’m a “fan” of Impact Wrestling but I’m really curious to see how much ROH puts them to shame with this first episode. They should certainly feel the shame right away as the Briscoes appear on screen to scare me into watching. Imagine tuning in to see Mr. Anderson do his “fun” “mic thing” (mic thing) and the first thing you see are these two monsters screaming at you. Sure some of the edge is taken off when Mark Briscoe calls The House of Truth “Scallywags,” but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the guy pacing around is probably going to murder someone before the hour is up.

Please watch our show.
Please watch our show.

Hey Dalton Castle is in the intro! I can get behind that.

We are live, then taped then replayed from Toronto. I think people are too hard on Toronto and it’s fine people. They say they’re cold and always in a rush, but you’d be in a rush too is you had to constantly run just to pay your rent. It’s all the exorbitant cost of New York with a shitty rip-off of Times Square. Cut them some slack, their hockey team sucks and not one’s cared about the Blue Jays since 1993 when Joe Carter hop scotched his way into our hearts. And no, that tower doesn’t look like a penis.

You want me to put that where???
You want me to put that where???

They’re really pumping Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal at Best In The World as the biggest match in Ring of Honor history. I’m not sure it can live up to that kind of hype but, up till this point, it’s been extremely well built up and I’m very curious to see where they go with it. It’s hard to see either guy losing, and that really always produces the best matches.

Match #1 – Will Ferrera Vs. KUSHIDA

This is the first match on the new Network???? Oh TNA is dead, dead, dead. Kevin talks up the trainers of both guys which is something simple that wrestling companies NEVER do. Obviously because it makes too much sense to do so. KUSHIDA is so smooth and though he does all the flips of a high flyer he also delivers some of the stiffest kicks this side of Nakamura. I’m having a hard time taking notes, I’m just too taken in by KUSHIDA. He stops to work the crowd with an arm wringer in the ropes and the reaction he gets is a huge middle finger to Vince Russo and his thoughts on non-American wrestlers.

Ferrara Comes back with a clothesline and nearly gets booed out of the building. Some might call this “Bizzaro Land,” but it seems to me like a crowd who respects a legitimate kick to the face. Ferrara wins some of them back with a dive between the ropes that spins seamlessly into a DDT. The match slows down a bit and Kevin Kelly gives us the rundown of the matches for next week. It takes a second and then he and Corino go back to the match at hand. It’s exactly the right way to do it. They also take the time to mention how important wins and losses are in ring of honor. You know it may be little things like this that make the product look legit, but by the same token it’s the lack of these things that make a product look like shit.

Me understand audience. Wrong Linda?
Me understand audience. Wrong Linda?

This match and show are nipping all my personal pet peeves in the butt. KUSHIDA gets an arm bar on Ferrara and instead of selling it for two minutes before moving to the ropes he panics and gets to the ropes as if his arm could break at any second. Why would you stay in pain instead of trying to move and escape the hold. That would be like the Polish soldiers standing around and looking at each other for two minutes as the German panzers crossed their borders instead of running for their fucking lives.

Striking sequence leads to KUSIHDA wanting MORE PUNCHES!!!! They trade blows until KUSHIDA just levels him with a punch that makes me pop while sitting in a coffee shop watching. I restrain my cheers again when KUSHIDA nails a sweet moonsault as I’ve already complained about being served cold toast and don’t want to be asked to leave again.

They go to the ropes and KUSHIDA rolls and smoothes Ferrara into an arm bar. Ferrara fights to not be put into it (another favorite spot of mine) but it gets cinched and he taps immediately. I love that it looks like such a non-descript arm bar yet you can see it being painful as hell. I get why you tapped Will, I was tapping in the Tim Horton’s. They shake to adhere to the code of honor and I adhere to this place’s noise pollution policy. Great match to kick things off. How could they go wrong with these two though?

ALWAYS time for Tim Horton's!
ALWAYS time for Tim Horton’s!

The flannel-clad Addiction joins us to lament reDRagon’s bitching about not getting a shot at their world tag team titles OF THE WORLD. Kids today are the worst. They expect to be given title shot after title shot. No one earns anything anymore. Instead they dress up like eyes wide shut and annoy everyone in the promotion. That’s how you become a champion! reDRagon gets their shot next week despite The Addiction’s indictment of today’s youth. Also, we have their permission to worship them now. Dude you dated Brooke Adams you already have my worship…

You've still got it! Clap clap clap clap cry...
You’ve still got it! Clap clap clap clap cry…

Match #2 – Silas Young Vs. Takaaki Watanabe

Man Silas Young is just pissed off at everyone isn’t he? We get a quick re-cap of him turning on Watanabe to set this one up and in thirty seconds we have everything we need to dig this match. Silas won’t shake this Japanese gentleman’s hand and even Steve Corino is at a loss to understand why Young is so angry. They commentators don’t even mention that he has the best moustache in wrestling, but I think that’s just pure jealousy on their parts. Watanabe tosses him into the ropes and hits the mat, but Young is too manly for that so he just stiffly stomps his back. I need to take a moment to tell you about how wise the old Japanese ref looks. Very wise.

They trade suplexes and clotheslines before hitting the floor. Holy shit the floor is covered with mats!!! How am I supposed to make Bill Watts jokes when the arena is set up to cater to the athletes safety??? As I’m typing the word safety they tease a German suplex on the floor. I breathe a sigh of relief when Silas counters but then let out a cry of fear as they just go ahead and hit it anyways. The crowd chants for Watanabe but it was Silas who took that bump you ingrates. AKNOWLEDGE HIS MANHOOD!!!

According to Kevin there are more Silas Young posters in the crowd than anyone else. Of course! That’s gimmick is gold, and not blue gold like Dalton, but solid tough as nails gold that beats the shit out of you while telling you how weak you are. I’ve never seen a two guys fighting over a backslide lead to an Aryan asshole kicking a guy square in the face. It works though as it leads to Young hitting an airplane spin cutter for the win. Another solid match that will surely act as the proverbial dirt on TNA’s grave. Young was impressive, I had no idea he was as agile as he was. “He’s a MAN!” Yells Steve Corino, I hope he’s ok, he’s still yelling at the audience. Silas, if you need to talk I’m here for you.

Stop looking at my moustache.
Stop looking at my moustache.

My favorite wrestler is out: BJ Whitmer! Hooray! He smugly struts to the ring with Adam Page and Colby Corino flanking him on both sides. He’s awfully confident for someone fighting a Moose. He couldn’t have something up his sleeve could he? Could he??? Moose joins us with Veda Scott, who’s doing her best to not get groped by the Torontonians, and Stokely Hathaway who’s wearing a shirt from the Vince McMahon summer collection.

BJ on the mic. He COULD wrestle Moose tonight, he WOULD kick the big goofy bastard’s butt, but instead he wants to give an opportunity for “the future of the company,” to shine. He says all this while staring at Page, but of course he’s talking about sending Colby Corino to get slaughtered by Moose. That was well done BJ, I’m sorry I used to make fun of your name. “Are you ready to show the world that you’re more of a man than your father has ever been?” Tremendous. Kevin is outraged, screaming “He’s just a kid,” and this segment is clicking on all cylinders.

Match #3 – Moose Vs. Colby Corino.

Corino slaps Moose. Moose get mad. Moose absolutely obliterates Colby. He gets tossed outside the ring and then is launched into the barricade. He takes the spot on his head/ neck which doesn’t seem like the safest way to take it but hey, I’m not a wrestler. He’s slammed repeatedly into the barricade and then is power bombed on the apron and then into the ropes. As quickly as Kevin can yell “He’s decimating your son!” Moose sickly power bombs Colby on the floor. Page tosses Colby back in and Moose pins him with one foot.

Side note. I just listened to The Kevin Kelly show from this past week where he interviews Steve Corino who outside the commentary shtick seems like genuinely the nicest guy in the world. He talked about being a little mad at the booker for this segment (as a father, obviously he’s a total pro). To be honest I wasn’t sure if he was kayfabing or actually angry. Either way hearing that podcast first made this segment hard to watch. Moose isn’t the most experienced worker in the world so I get how Steve could be worried about his son’s health as this guy is just tossing him around the ring. It was also excellent how Corino was silent for the majority of the match selling the emotion of the whole thing. I guess the bleeding of the line between Corino the father and the performer is what really makes this work. I’m not sure if this match helps Moose as a face going forward, as in my eyes he was just as much of a dick as BJ and Adam Page. Like I said, hard to watch, but I’m not exactly sure if that’s a bad thing. Corino took some sick bumps and I’m a little ashamed by how much I was drawn in with the plight of the father watching his son get beat up.

I need something to make me feel better. Silas?
I need something to make me feel better. Silas?

Truth Martini is chilling in the parking lot leaning on the back of a red Chevy Impala. Ballin’. He’s reading his own book, and before I can scream “who does that?” Jay Lethal runs up and says, “Enough with the Book.” Amen brother. Lethal is outraged that they want him to wrestle the Briscoes and give a free preview of the upcoming PPV. Truth tells him not to worry because, ” You walk it like you talk, I talk it like you walk.” No wonder so many guys are flocking to this leader of men.

Inside ROH with exotic goddess Mandy Leon is a new segment that harkens back to the old days of Sean Mooney and Gene Okerlund sitting at the “update” desk every Saturday morning. She recaps the Adam Page/ACH feud which is built on the simplest of premises: Page is mad that ACH gets opportunities that he doesn’t, on top of which he doesn’t even win said opportunities. Simple, wrestling storyline that you can never go wrong with. It’s leading to a tag match between ACH/ Matt Sydal and BJ Whitmer/Adam Page, which is weird as I would have thought we’d get another singles match.

Prettier than Gene, almost as pretty as Sean.
Prettier than Gene, almost as pretty as Sean.

Match #4 – The Briscoes Vs. Donovan Dijak and (YAY!) Jay Diesel

I get why Jay Lethal is not wrestling but Diesel is a little bit of a step down. Holy shit Diesel is tiny next to Jay Lethal and absolutely miniscule next to Dijak. Jay Diesel is dead. Dijak starts with Mark Briscoe and my sympathy for the big guy grows with each of Briscoes chops to his chest. Briscoe gets his foot caught by Dijak and back flips to safety. Dijak gets his foot caught by Briscoe and… back flips to safety. Jesus Christ this guy is a beast.

When was he a horseman?
When was he a horseman?

Diesel gets tagged in and throws some pretty swank punches. Jay Briscoe goes all Sheamus 2011 and yells “I’ll fight him!” Maybe he didn’t yell that but that’s the picture in my head. Actually now it’s Jay Briscoe punching the shit out of Sheamus in my mind. Man that’d be a pretty intense brawl.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Jay Lethal on commentary. He’s excellent. Especially when he screams ” He’s challenging me!” when Kevin has the gall to suggest Jay Lethal wants to win the world title. He then conjures Ric Flair with a wonderful “compare the two,” while looking at his belt next to Briscoe’s. Lethal then holds up the world title which distracts Briscoe long enough for Dijak to toss him like a rag doll.

Lethal laughs and then gets indignant because his parents are going to be in attendance at the pay per view. This of course leads to Corino asking Lethal if his dad could beat up Papa Briscoe. This enrages Lethal who goes on a rant about his father’s carpentry and gym skills while all Briscoe’s dad did was build a chicken house. This is the best commentary segment since the glory days of Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon.

Thanks for everything Dad!
Thanks for everything Dad!

Mark Briscoe gets kicked off the top rope by Dijak. Sure the knap was still visible but it was a great kick. Mark gets the hot tag to Jay and he comes in and just kicks everyone. It occurs to me in this moment how much this show looks and sounds like the wrestling I grew up loving. It’s dark, the ring booms with each step. It’s great. The Briscoes are in full kill mode now as they doomsday device Jay Diesel for the win. Of course Jay Briscoe is the king so he stares down Lethal as he pins Little Daddy Cool. The stare down continues as Dijak destroys Mark Briscoe on the outside. See I don’t even need to call the code line to know what the match is going to be. Dijak is about to be Jay drilled until Lethal jumps Briscoe from behind. Briscoe just destroys him with a driller which Lethal sells like a champ. The champ is standing tall and hypocrite Truth thinks Briscoe has no right to touch Lethal.

Fun main event to close the show and I love that that Dijak and Diesel got the shot to shine on one of ROH’s biggest shows to date. Very, very solid show to kick off this new era for ROH.

Best Match: KUSHIDA vs. Will Ferrera
Worst Match: Moose Vs. Colby Corino
Best Promo/Skit: BJ Whitmer: colossal asshole/mentor
Worst Promo/Skit: Ummm…There’s BAD promos?
MVP: KUSHIDA

What Worked Really Well

– All the matches were good with a the opener bordering on great.

– So, so smart to kick off the first Destination America era with one of the matches from the NJPW week end. Of course it’s going to stand out.

– The Colby Corino stuff, as uncomfortable as it made me, was extremely well played by everyone.

– The Briscoes teaming is always a good thing.

– Truth Martini is killing me with his poetry and his Chevy Impala. I drive an Uplander Truth, let’s hang out!!!

– I harp on this every week, but Steve Corino and Kevin Kelly are the best commentators in the business today. I’m not just saying that because Kevin hosts his podcast here. I mean it. I’ve always been on the mind that the commentators are the only characters you are with for the whole show so if they suck the show will suck. Consequently if they’re excellent the show will be excellent. This show was excellent.

What Sort Of Works

– I liked Mandy Leon and the Inside ROH, but it could stand with a bit of tweaking to make it tighter.

What Didn’t Work

– It doesn’t work for me that I get that sucked into anything involving fathers and sons. What’s happening to me????

So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?

TNA is dead. They had better up their game if they don’t want to look like complete garbage following this show. I hope they see a show like this and allow the challenge to help them become the company they CAN be. I’m down for two strong alternatives to WWE. I want TNA to succeed but I really want ROH to succeed more. It’s such a fun throwback show that satiates almost every part of my wrestling fandom. I hope this bigger stage let’s this awesome company grow. Ugh, I’ve become such a shill. What’s happening to me? Damn you ROH for making me excited to be a fan again.

Author: Aaron George

Aaron is a classically trained Shakespearean actor by day who fulfils his culture quotient by watching wrestling by night. He has two sons a great wife and once explored the sewers in his hometown.