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 6-20-2015
I’ve got to be honest here. Since I began writing these things I must come off as the biggest mark/shill for ROH. It’s truly not intentional. I just really dig the show. I’ve tried to stay as objective as possible. Pointing out the few things I dislike about the product but I feel I’ve become about as impartial as Bobby Heenan calling a Ric Flair match. Before you read on and hear me gush about this one please do yourself a favour; follow the link above and watch the show. It’s an hour and if you’ve never watched ROH before I’m not sure I can think of a better episode to jump on.
We are STILL in Toronto! They have officially lasted longer in The Big Smoke than SARS in 2003. I know this because I played the Emperor in a Star Wars show and mocked them incessantly for their “deadly” disease. The crowd certainly doesn’t feel dead though, they just seem excited for what’s about to come. Fuck it, I’m excited for what’s about to come.
Match #1 – Roderick Strong Vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
I was really happy to see Strong come out. He’s probably been the most consistent in-ring guy in ROH since the new year. I’m a little embarrassed to say that when I saw who his opponent was I popped a little, which made my wife stop watching “So You Think You Can Dance,” to give me a scolding look that I truly didn’t deserve. She followed up with a,” Is this the little Japanese guy you like?” I kept my rage in check at her obvious ignorance and instead realized that I can still love her even if she doesn’t appreciate the brilliance of Nakamura.
Nakamura of course gets all the streamers in the city of Toronto and I am positively gleeful that we’re getting this match. The crowd is pretty solidly behind the King of Strong style as they actively boo Roderick Strong. Nigel McGuinness has joined Kevin and Steve on commentary and immediately ingratiates himself to me as he lauds Strong’s win/loss record for the year. One of the things I love about Nakamura is that everything about him is strange: his hair, his movements, his facial expressions; and yet he still wrestles like the smoothest wrestler on the planet. Also he’ll kick your head off. They wrestle beautifully for a bit before they botch a surfboard. No problem though, as the commentators easily cover for them and they slide into a chin lock as though that were the plan all along. Obviously I’m not a huge fan of botches, but when they happen on a small scale like this they add to the realism of the match. Of course you might miss a complicated hold in an actual wrestling match. What you don’t do is stand around looking lost in an Elimination chamber when there’s six of you and about a billion years of experience between you.
Nakamura takes over with some stiff knees and we slide into the regular boo/yay forearm sequence. Did I say regular? I meant they’re stiffing the shit out of each other. I don’t see any knaps, I don’t see any space between the forearms and the faces and I certainly don’t see how both guys are still standing. This continues for a bit until Nakamura loses patience and destroys Roddy. He stops to lick his hands which is exactly the kind of weird shit that’s made him one of my favourite guys today. I’ll say this for Roddy though; he fights back and doesn’t look a step out of place against this monster.
Strong takes control turning a rack into a gut buster on his knees for a close two count. He attempts to put Nakamura in the Strong hold, but Nakamura fights to not get put in the hold before wiggling through his legs, kicking them out from under him and applying a sleeper from behind. That’s the best I can do with that description, sorry if you hate me for all of eternity. Nakamura then hits him with a back cracker using only one knee which must hurt a million times more as the victim’s weight isn’t evenly distributed as knees are driven into his back.
I’m glossing over a ton of stiff stuff, but in fairness I asked you twice to watch the match before you read this. Nakamura gets perched on the top rope and Roddy decides to jump up and knee him in the face. If that wasn’t enough, Roderick climbs up and delivers a back breaker on the top turnbuckle. What. The. Hell? Now the fans are a little more behind him. Strong then picks him up for a suplex and gets an elbow to the fact for his troubles. Even referee Todd Sinclair has a look on his face of genuine concern for the health of both guys.
Nakamura goes for his jumping knee and is countered into the Strong hold. He uses his height advantage to quickly make his way to the ropes. Even his grab for the bottom rope though is filled with character work that would embarrass most of the WWE roster. After a series of near misses the two men start throwing forearm bombs at each other again. Nakamura goes for a big one and Roddy ducks and nails him with a “Sick Kick,” while Nakamura sells better than anyone I’ve ever seen. His body crashes to the mat and folds over on itself as if he had a broken back. You can see the urgency in his eyes now as he quickly picks up Nakamura and nails him with his “brain buster into the knees” finisher. He only gets two. And it’s the closest two I’ve ever seen. I go on and on in my Impact reports about how Kurt Angle is the king of two counts but he’s just been dethroned. The shoulder just barely got up and Roddy can’t believe it.
The crowd, of course, are losing their collective minds. Nakamura rebounds and nails Strong with his Boma Ye knee which ONLY GETS A 1 COUNT! Roddy is pumped and now the announcers are losing their minds too. The atmosphere right now is incredible. Nakamura runs into a jumping knee but charges back with a second Boma Ye for the three count. Just a fantastic match, quite possible the best match on television so far this year. Stiff as hell, full of drama and expertly worked. I was popping on my couch and smiling ear to ear when it ended. Just tremendous stuff.
I need a breather after that one. Oh. I guess that’s what we’re getting.
Match #2 – Michael Elgin Vs. Gedo
Elgin gets almost zero reaction in his hometown, which sucks, but can you blame the crowd for being tired after sitting through that war? The announcers make some strange comments about Elgin proving a bunch of stuff which leads me to believe that this may have been an audition of sorts for Elgin to get in the NJPW G1 tournament. In a stark contrast from the opening match here we get cartoony punches and misses instead of two guys trying to end the other’s life. It’s different, that’s for sure. Elgin eventually has enough and holds him in a suspended suplex for over thirty seconds. The suplex is definitely heightened by the crowd counting along, but it’s put over strong by Nigel who explains that if you were to try and fight out of it you may land on your head and die, or something of that nature. Elgin then calmly rolls though an O’Connor roll and stomps Gedo on the back before giving him the buckle bomb/ power bomb combo for the three count. Nothing offensive here, a quick little match that calmed the crowd down a bit. Oh and Elgin’s going to be in the tournament. Good for him.
SUPERKICK PARTY IS NEXT!!!
And by super kick party I mean Mandy Leon telling us all about the NJPW/ROH cards on Inside ROH. We get a quick video package which makes the shows look awesome. What a great way to try and sell your on-demand service. Sure, it’s no making your announcers stare into the camera with puppy dog eyes begging you to pay 9.99, but it’s a start.
Match # 3 – AJ Styles/Young Bucks Vs. Kazuchika Okada/Roppongi Vice
What do you want me to say here? Go watch the match. You’ve got to love that ROH is the kind of promotion that still gives Okada his special camera shot on the “Rainmaker” pose even though it makes their building look tiny. It’s a small thing but it goes a long way in telling us how much they respect the performers as a company. There’s so much good here. Okada and Styles put on a clinic to start the match, and soon the Bucks come in and look like the fastest act in wrestling. Trent Baretta then enters the match. If you remember Trent as a jobber in WWE, prepare to have your mind blown a little when you see what he can do. This whole match is a sad story of guys that companies just let go. TNA had Styles and the Bucks, hell the even had Okada, but instead of letting him wrestle they made him a servant. I truly hope all the people who let these guys go are killed. That’s a bit harsh; I hope they’re tortured within an inch of their lives but then forced to watch this match and see what a huge mistake they made.
In a fantastic spot Baretta sets up one of the Bucks near the ropes and starts playing to the crowd only to get superkicked out of nowhere. Awesome. I know it’s a dumb little thing but whoever on the announcing team is yelling “superkick” makes the match about a zillion times more fun for me. I don’t know why I mark out so much for it but I do. Baretta then hits the nicest tornado ddt on one of the Bucks but is kept from tagging Okada when Styles casually pulls him off the apron. I love that when AJ teams with the Bucks they incorporate him into all of their trademark spots. Everything is just a little modified; everything is just a little more deadly.
Rocky Romero finally gets the scorching hot tag from Baretta and goes to town on everyone. Hit hits a double rana on the Bucks and makes a running clothesline spot work. It’s all going nicely for him until he gets superkicked. That’s clearly a theme in these matches. Okada then comes in and kills Styles with some stiff offence. There’s so much going on here I can’t keep up. RPG Vice’s tag moves are incredibly crisp but the Bucks move in and out so fats that you never really know where they’re going to end up. Case and point as they jump in and out of the ring attacking everyone in one fluid motion. AJ then destroys Okada with his “Bloody Sunday” brain buster. I can’t comprehend how that move doesn’t break everyone’s neck.
Just when you think the match is winding down it NOW kicks into high gear. The Bullet Club nail a sweet triple simultaneous superkick on their three opponents. When Okada hulks up he gets three feet in his face as payment. The AJ grabs one of the Vice crew and sets up one of the sickest piledrivers you’ll ever see. That’s not enough though as the Bucks fly through the air to make it a spike piledriver. That’s also not enough as now they nail him with a Meltzer Driver before handing him off to Styles. While in Styles’ arms Romero is superkicked again and then eats a Styles Clash. He is dead, dead, dead. In fact, I have never seen someone killed so dead in wrestling. An academic three count follows and the show goes off the air with the Bullet Club basking in the Toronto cheers. This is the happiest the city has been since the Leafs last won the cup in 1967.
Best Match: Roderick Strong Vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Worst Match: None.
Best Promo/Skit: There were no promos this week.
Worst Promo/Skit: None.
MVP: Delirious and Gedo for booking these matches.
What Worked Really Well
– The two big matches were both incredible, supported by fantastic commentary.
– The show flew by.
– They even managed to make wins and losses seem important in what was basically an “exhibition” show.
What Sort Of Works
– I’m still unsure how I feel about the Elgin/Gedo match. It was so different in tone from the others that I’m not sure it fits in.
What Didn’t Work
– The AJ Styles/Young Bucks match didn’t go on forever.
So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?
Imagine you watch this show, and you love it, so you decide to keep watching Impact. I can’t imagine for a second that you wouldn’t shut that show off immediately. You can’t come back from this kind of program. I love Kurt Angle, but how can you go from Strong/Nakamura to him? You can’t. It’s not even a fair comparison. I think I’ve made my thoughts on this show pretty clear. For me it’s the best hour of wrestling television of the year so far. If you watched this show in a vacuum you’d have no comprehension of how there were any wrestling companies bigger than them. Right now there are no wrestling companies better than them. I’m such a shill, I make myself sick.
Thanks for reading! See ya next week!