More wrestling fans need to watch and get behind ROH. It’s the kind of wrestling that makes me excited to be a fan again. It’s not perfect, but it’s consistently the best WRESTLING show on television week to week. One of the best things about this show is you can watch it right here. No excuses anymore!
RING OF HONOR TELEVISION 6-13-2015
We are still in Toronto which gives me another week of Stanley Cup drought and drug-addled Mayor jokes. So… The Leafs are terrible, Rob Ford is high (and old news), and the SARS crisis of 2003 was a desperate cry for attention from a city who’s best know for a giant penis overlooking the Skydome. All that to be said I like Toronto!
We are immediately promised sixty minutes of wall to wall action. It feels nice to believe the hyperbole as the company hasn’t lied to me yet.
Match #1 – War Machine Vs. Adam Page/ BJ Whitmer/ Colby Corino.
You can tell the night isn’t going to go well with the anointed “Young Boy” when his handlers abuse the shit out of him on the way to the ring. We get to witness a father’s pain again as ROH insists on triggering Steve Corino’s PTSD by showing the Colby mauling at the hands of Moose from a few weeks ago. I start to wonder if Colby would have been better off fighting a real moose, but then I immediately dismiss that as the moose probably wouldn’t sell for him at all.
I kind of wish Colby had a little damage on him to sell the severity of the beating. Like an arm in a sling or that neck brace that makes me suppress my laugther whenever I see someone in it. It’s right up there with the cone dogs have to wear as the greatest symbol of shame out modern society possesses. (saying that word makes me feel like a snake.) The only thing that goes through my mind when I see War Machine is, “Don’t fuck with these guys.” Just don’t fuck with them. Let them pass like a god damn ship in the night as this shit will power bomb the shit out of any iceberg.
So on to the actual match… BJ takes the mic and right away the crowd chants that he should shut up. He challenges them by saying his mic is louder and they actually collectively get louder. Some pretty sweet heel work there. Whitmer doesn’t think Corino has seen his son suffer enough so he graciously steps out of the match to allow Colby to take his place. Steve is livid, and who wouldn’t be as The Decade is consistently fighting the toughest guys in the promotion and making 145 pound Colby fight them. Thankfully Adam Page is going to start this one against Ray Rowe… Until he does a little dance and immediately tags in Colby.
Rowe, ever the gentleman, doesn’t want to hurt Colby and politely yells at him that he’s not ready. Colby proceeds to trash talk the tattooed man (who may or may not have just come out of prison) and slaps him in the face. “Who taught you this???” Screams a tortured Steve Corino as he begins to understand what’s about to happen to his son. Before I paint the picture of the slaughter we witness allow me a moment to sing the praises of how they’re booking War Machine. I love that Rowe doesn’t want to hurt Colby Corino. It’s such a nice little touch that these two monsters are actually decent guys who are here for competition. Sure they want to win but they don’t need to butcher this young boy. Rowe actually TAGS HIMSELF OUT because he’s too angry. Fantastic.
Hanson steps in as Kevin laments that Rowe has known Colby for ten years. Colby decides to try and forearm Hanson down which leads to him getting destroyed by a side suplex that would put Dino Bravo to shame. (Dino actually put all murder victims to shame by having a circle of bullets in his head but that is neither here nor there) Hanson tags in Rowe and now Corino is begging referee Gino Colucci to stop the match. Ray Rowe though shoves Colby to the corner and demands that BJ enter the match. BJ is too much of a free spirit to listen so instead Colby gets up and punches and kicks Rowe which has about as much effect as that guy trying to fight Clark Kent in that diner at the end of Superman 2.
Rowe’s patience is done though as he just grabs Colby like a rag doll and gives him a backbreaker, followed by a gut buster followed by a power bomb all in one fluid motion which causes Steve Corino to stand up and plead as though his son’s life depended on it. It does. Rowe throws Colby to the corner to tag Page; of course Page just walks away and leaves Colby to be hit with War Machine’s leg drop finisher for the three. Steve Corino places his head in his hands his spirit and his son broken. Of course DB BJ gets in Steve’s face and the place comes unglued entreating Corino to go at it with the Decade.
You know when Colby was introduced as the new “Young Boy,” I couldn’t see past the title implied humiliation and sexual domination, but this has turned into a pretty solid program. I’m curious to see where it eventually leads as BJ and Page are busy at the PPV this Friday against ACH and Sydal. The more I think about it perhaps we get Whitmer and Page versus Corino and Corino somewhere down the line. Being a father myself, it’s impossible for me to not want Steve to punch the shit out of BJ.
Cedric Alexander wants to prove to his family that this dream of being a pro wrestler is worth it. He needs to win some matches. So he’s challenging Moose… Was Cheeseburger unavailable?
As an addendum to that quick promo the triple threat scheduled for Best in The World which includes Michael Elgin, Moose and Roderick Strong is being promoted as a match between the three guys with the best records of 2015. The fact that that’s how they determine the number one contender immediately adds intrigue to every match you see under the ROH banner.
Match #2 – Moose Vs. Cedric Alexander
I haven’t enjoyed a ton of Moose matches that weren’t squashes but you’ve got to give the guy credit for improving almost every time he’s out there. Man does that dropkick he throw when an opponent is on the top rope look amazing though. We take a break mid match, which is normal, and when we come back Alexander is in control without any explanation, which is not. The announcers go on about how Moose is everyone’s friend but the evil Veda Scott doesn’t want him to have any friends. Sounds like someone grew up without friends and is now projecting her own sad childhood onto this mammal of a man.
Alexander gets a lot of decent offence here. He’s crisp and flies well through he air. He’s a little liberal with his knaps which is a pet peeve of mine but I’m glad he did it so now I don’t feel like I’m only picking on Donovan Dijak. In fact lots of guys do some pretty sloppy knaps: I remember Christopher Daniels toward the end of his TNA run just not giving a shit and slapping his leg as though the whole audience was in on the joke. Dolph Ziggler’s pretty egregious too. Maybe it’s just me but when I’m watching wrestling I don’t always want to see the mechanics of how something works. I’d just as soon have no sound on a dropkick than a sound where I can very obviously see the guy slapping his thigh.
Moose promptly throws Alexander in the air and murders him with a clothesline which makes Corino jump up and freak out. That’s the advantage of having the announcers in frame; you get to see them enjoying the match. That’s also the advantage of having good announcers but I only have so many words here in which to bury Cole, Lawler and JBL.
Very slow boo/yay punches and when Kevin tells us it’s an even split, there is no exaggeration. Moose gets a great sequence of head butts and forearms but then Alexander gives him about a thousand drop kicks in the corner to swing momentum his way. This match is starting to cook. Alexander stops fort a second though and walks into a huge spear but Moose is too hurt to cover him. Veda, at ringside, commands Stokely Hathaway to distract the ref while she slides a wrench to Moose. That escalated quickly. He did just nail him with a spear; he can probably just hit him with another on and finish the match. Moose though is everybody’s friend and doesn’t want to use the metal wrench. Cedric Alexander needs wins so he just grabs the wrench and nails Moose with it for the three count. That, my friends, is how you end a months long undefeated streak. It’s a cool moment that makes me forgive the ref for not hearing the wrench loudly hit the ground as Alexander tosses it away. Veda is pissed but feels guilty, Stokely is mad as hell. (and isn’t going to take it any more presumably) Good match with a decent little piece of business at the finish. Every segment so far has pushed a story along without it having to be the main event. That’s one of the signs of a well written show.
Inside ROH with Mandy Leon. This week we’re re-capping the Addiction/reDRagon feud which not only has been fun but also honored Stanley Kubrick’s last film. We get glimpses of the Addiction’s turn and title win followed by last week when Daniels and Kazarian attacked Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly almost won the tag titles by himself. Nice to see a tag team feud that has a little more to it than, “It’s my turn to have a title shot.” Adam Cole interrupts Mandy and sends her away. He sells us on his BITW match where he, Bennett and Taven are fighting AJ Styles and The Young Bucks. How does he sell us? He tells us it’s happening. That’s all I needed, those six guys are going to kill it.
Match #3 – Hiroshi Tanahashi/ Tetsuya Naito Vs. ACH/Matt Sydal
What on God’s Green Earth is ACH wearing??? We’re told it’s a tribute to some Anime he likes but Jesus Christ he looks like… look there’s no way for me to describe what he looks like without sounding like an awful racist… but that hat really looks like it would block out the sun for an entire afternoon. Also God’s Green Earth is a film I envisioned with Steven Segal as God and Bill Pullman as Earth. Tanahashi and Naito are guys I’m not too sure about whenever I watch NJPW. They can have tremendous matches but their booking hasn’t really allowed them to do so this year. Tanahashi has been embroiled in a feud with a drunken fool for what feels like forever, but I still get a kick every time said fool rolls him up and pins him. I’m also glad ROH lets them keep their own entrance themes instead of the “Orient Express” theme that awaits them if they ever ply their trade in WWE.
Ok. What’s with the eye thing from Naito? It weirds everyone out right?
I’m glad Matt Sydal “wasn’t good enough” for WWE as now we get to see that he can do more than just flip into an RKO. This starts out very smooth with ACH flying around in his Fabulous Rougeau color schemed tights. OUT OF NOWHERE Tanahashi gets a cheap shot in on ACH and the Japanese contingent smoothly slides into a heel role. Tanahashi and Naito actually look quite like the organized team here. Their tights sort of match and they both have the flowing hair that would make a Legends of The Fall Brad Pitt wince with jealousy.
Naito decides enough is enough and decides to obliterate ACH in the corner with Drop kicks and leg sweeps. It’s at this point that I sit back and start to enjoy this match and stop taking notes. There’s a ton of great spots here but you should do yourself the favour of checking out this match. ACH nails his sick stomp to a standing Naito, Tanahashi turns a Sydal standing moonsault into a German suplex, Sydal nails Tanahashi with a legit knee to the face. All four guys can go, and all four do. The tag formula lets them get all their stuff in without losing any of the story or flow to the match. It builds to pretty fever pitch before Tanahashi nails ACH with his “High Fly Flow,” frog splash for the win. I’m not trying to be lazy with the description here but I just can’t so this match the justice it deserves with words. It’s not the greatest match ever or anything but it’s just so well worked. That’s the thing with Tanahashi and to a lesser extent Naito: they’re so good and smooth that you forget how brutal some of their stuff is. I get why Tanahashi is Japan’s John Cena… well without the booing and driving away the audience in droves.
MAIN EVENT CONTRACT SIGNING TIME!!! BETWEEN JAY BRISCOE AND JAY LETHAL!!! THE JAYS COLLIDE!!! WELL NO JAY DIESEL BUT YOU GET THE IDEA!!!
Nigel McGuinness is obviously in the ring to oversee this affair. I really dog him as the authority figure of the promotion. They bill him as matchmaker, instead of commissioner or sheriff, and his absence from the product makes every appearance he does have mean something. He’s the modern day Jack Tunney; in fact, he’s one “furthermore” away from channelling Tunney himself. The restraint worked then and it certainly works now.
Jay Lethal hits the ring in his douche hat/suit combination that befit someone exiting a jazz club rather than a wrestling ring. There’s a great juxtaposition when Jay Briscoe makes his way to the ring: Lethal’s ROH Tron is graphics and his name with lightening bolts, Briscoe’s is just him murdering people. Very apropos. One of these guys has been TV champ for over a year; the other is ROH champion hasn’t been pinned in two and a half years. Despite that they fight this Friday and I completely trust ROH to give us a clean and decisive finish.
Nigel further endears himself to me by going over the RULES OF THE MATCH. Both titles are on the line, one fall and a sixty minute time limit. I get that I’m probably a lame stickler, but I loved that this whole thing is presented as an athletic event. It worked for years before they pulled the god damn curtain back and it will keep working until the end of time. You don’t need monster trucks or guys getting electrocuted, or television’s exploding, or guys fucking long dead cheerleaders if you have two athletes that just want to prove that they’re the best.
Jay Lethal signs all over the contract. Selfish. Why doesn’t every match have a contract signing? I probably shouldn’t think of that for too long…
Nigel: “Because of your legacy, because of your records as champions this is the biggest match in ROH history. With that in mind any last words?” Jay Lethal immediately grabs the mic to reply, “The only reason I don’t flip this table and drop you where you stand is because I need you at your best so there are no excuses when I prove I’m number one. After June 19th at Best In The World you have no business here. You’ve just made the biggest mistake of your life signing that contract, just like your parents did 31 years ago.”
So much awesome in that simplicity but it’s topped immediately when Jay Briscoe retorts: “Jay Lethal, I’m gonna keep this short and sweet for you. Friday when I’m done whooping your ass you’re gonna have to go back to being the Black Machismo.”
The table gets flipped and they get in each other’s faces but there are no blows. They yell at each other but Lethal’s voice claiming while pointing at his Television title: “This belt means everything because I have it. THAT belt made you but I made THIS.”
It’s so simple. They didn’t have to book them in a million tag matches together or have some stupid story it’s just the two best guys in the company needing to be recognized as the best. This is wrestling. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised they nailed a contract signing too.
Best Match: Tanahashi/Naito Vs. ACH/Sydal
Worst Match: None.
Best Promo/Skit: The Whole Contract signing.
Worst Promo/Skit: None.
MVP: Tanahashi all the way. Great work, better star power.
What Worked Really Well
– BJ Whitmer’s heel work. Alone with the whole Decade vs. Steve Corino stuff.
– Nice guys War Machine.
– The ending of Moose’s streak.
– The wonderful Tanahashi/Naito vs. ACH/Sydal match.
– The contract signing was intense and did everything it needed to do to get my money this Friday.
What Sort Of Works
– The beginning of the Moose/Alexander match felt a little off.
What Didn’t Work
– There was a moment where the advertisement for “The Codeline” ended and Kevin and Steve continued to talk about something we had no context for. That’s not on them, but I wish those “Codeline” alerts could be a little less intrusive.
-Damn that Adam Cole for taking Mandy Leon off my TV.
So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?
If you’ve read this far you know why. This show was excellent top to bottom and was the “wall to wall” action we were promised. Nothing on WWE TV this week is going to touch the tag match and I PITY Impact for having to follow it. I’m not sure how much Destination America cares about the actual wrestling on the show but if they keep an eye on ROH they’re eventually going to cancel Impact and just give ROH the extra two hours.
Thanks for reading! See ya next week!