A Great Alternative: ROH TV 6-6-15

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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 6-6-2015

The Wednesday Night War continues!!! And by war I mean an evening of wrestling in which I hope that everyone succeeds. Everyone except Michael Cole. He can roast in the infernos of Hell. The optimist in me says that having ROH and TNA back to back will push each show new levels of creativity and athleticism. The pessimist in me thinks that TNA may be dead within the year, a broken husk of potential whose ashes are spread over Paula Abdul’s grave. In both scenarios Paula Abdul has expired.

Straight Up!
Straight Up!

Cold open with the white hot team of the Addiction. “If you pray for the rain you have to deal with the mud.” That my friends, is the wisdom of the ages. Thank you Kazarian for smashing me in the face with your fist of truth. Christopher Daniels claims that reDragon is part of the “entitlement” generation. Bobby Fish is 38 years old! That’s like Toots Mondt calling Stu Hart a “baby boomer.” Before you can say “DISCIPLINE!” Daniels hits us with “You saw what we did to win the championships, what do you think we’ll do to keep them?” If it took re-enacting Eyes Wide Shut to win them I’m expecting a full scale production of “Cats,” to keep them.

Looking healthy Stu!
Looking healthy Stu!

OPENING! With shots of actual wrestlers wrestling instead of “superstars” posing. Weird. We are in Toronto home of crack smoking mayors, death dogs and Stanley cup droughts that last half a century. I’d like to make a crack about Wendell Clark here but I’m too floored by the fact that Bobby Fish has been attacked in the parking lot. Damn death dogs…

The Addiction is out for their re-match against reDRagon that they’ve clearly stated can happen tonight and ONLY tonight. They couldn’t have happened to have had anything to do with the aquatic one’s injury could they? COULD THEY???? Breaking news from the world tag team champions OF THE WORLD: Fish is injured. “They did it!” Screams an indignant Kevin Kelly. I love when the play by play guy is the moral compass of the entire show. Not only does it help the audience accept both faces and heels but also allows for the color guy to be the hilarious asshole he’s supposed to be.

This guy!
This guy!

Their contract states that they can only fight reDRagon tonight, so if they can’t make the match they go back in the contender’s line. Perhaps if they can get by the Conquistadores they can get another shot.

And the mole who brought them in...
And the mole who brought them in…

Kyle O’Reilly makes his way out to fight them by himself. The man has been booked as such a legitimate bad ass that I’m actually scared for the Addiction’s title reign.

Match #1 – The Addiction vs. Kyle O’Reilly

O’Reilly pleases the Toronto crowd by pulling Daniels’ shirt over his head and pummeling him in a way that would bring a mighty smile to Tie Domi’s pummeled face. O’Reilly is just killing them. It’s satisfying as they refused to pay any money to Stanley Kubrick’s estate despite using his characters for the last ten weeks. The Addiction take over and I’m shocked to see that I can follow the story of the match without the announcers screaming “NUMBERS GAME!!!” Kevin does state that there’s no limit to the amount of heart that O’Reilly has. I want to be on board with that but I’ve got to imagine that if Kyle O’Reilly’s heart grew three sizes like a Grinch epiphany he’d probably crumble to the ground a dying, blubbering mess.

They fight to the outside where O’Reilly sits them both on a chair before stomping a mud hole in them. I only steal that expression because Kazarian was so concerned about mud in the opening promo. O’Reilly then throws Kazarian in the ring and nails him with the astounding double under hook rolling suplexes. I use astonishing because the Addiction are known nerds/X-Men experts. O’Reilly then just rolls him into ARMagedddon Bub. Kazarian is about to tap the belts away until Daniels saves him by drawing the DQ by drawing a welt on Kyle’s head with the title belt.

I will cripple Uno and Dos.
I will cripple Uno and Dos.

They beat down O’Reilly and the officials keep ringing the bell in an effort to stop them. I always questioned the logic of that because unless they’re hoping the bell will induce a group seizure the heels probably aren’t going to stop kicking the face. I will say that the bell tonight has a great old school feel. It reminds me of renting old Coliseum video tapes and spending an afternoon watching random house show matches as my father accuses Hulk Hogan of using imposter Hulk Hogans at house shows. Matt Sydal and ACH run in for the save and I feel like that they’re the “go to” guys for saving guys. Like when Brutus Beefcake wore a groundhog on his face and showed the world no one taught him how to run like a human being.

Hey did you know Donovan Dijak attacked Mark Briscoe last week??? Mark Briscoe is none to pleased about this turn of events yet still finds the class to call him Mr. Donovan Dijak. Mark doesn’t know where Dijak came from but he knows where he’s going…DOWN! He’s gonna break him in and whoop his ass because at Best in the World it’s the chicken versus the ostrich! Most people would choose an ostrich in a fight over a chicken but they’re not taking into account that this is the Sussex County Chicken! I’m not sure which is better here: the pride that Mark has in being crowned the Sussex County chicken or the fact that he accused Dijak of being a fucking ostrich. Strange promo here that totally worked from me coming out of Mark Briscoe’s mouth. I’m glad they’re moving Dijak up the card. His match with Briscoe could be a sneaky great contest.

Dalton Castle and the sex slaves are here!!! Toronto has come unglued, and the sex slaves are all looks of fear and violation. The sex slaves are called his BOYS! Castle peacocks as thought he were collecting streamers and the “boys” strip him down with the most subtle tears of humiliation running down their cheeks.

Please don't tell Dad...
Please don’t tell Dad

Match #2 – Dalton Castle vs. Jushin Thunder Liger

Jesus Christ Liger is a 30 year vet? That’s a whole lot of dogs he’s had to put down. Liger has no idea how to shake Castle’s hand and quite frankly, who would? The crowd is torn here, do we cheer the flamboyant artist or do we cheer Dalton Castle? If you call the code line right now you can find out who gets to fight Silas Young next. Is it Dalton Castle or Cheeseburger? Man I hope it’s Castle otherwise Burger’s going to be as dead as all those dogs Liger euthanized.

I’m horribly angry and disappointed that my autocorrect is constantly changing Liger to Luger. Not only is it annoying to go back and correct but I’m not pining for Lex Luger to make his way to the ring and rack the shit out of Castle. There’s an awful lot of posing to this thing. And AGAIN Lex Luger would fit right in!!! Of course Liger starts wrestling and immediately rolls Castle into a couple of submissions to scare him straight… to the ropes. I don’t mind Castle’s posturing as when it comes down to brass tax he always throws out some stiff elbows and throws when challenged. Dalton hits his awesome huricanrana using the apron and bottom rope before a celebration with the Boys. This probably ends better for the Boys than any other celebration they’ve ever done together. Liger then tosses him over the ropes and poses with the slaves much to the delight of the crowd.

Of course Steve Corino is surprised and appalled that Luger wasn’t DQed for throwing Castle over the top rope. Corino having trouble grasping this rule has been my favourite running gag since I started watching ROH. Is anyone else concerned for the Boys after they posed with Luger instead of Castle? Imagine what that man is going to do to him with his peacock. Castle takes back control and does one too many poses for the crowd’s liking. He’s working it out, he’ll get it.

We get a couple of two counts and this match has slowed down quite a bit. Castle does the bird cry in the corner which always leads to him getting kicked in the face. I LOVE that that spot always ends with Dalton getting hurt. Luger nails a palm strike that makes Castle go limp to the great relief of the Boys. Castle comes back and hits a few of his spots but before he can hit the impressive dead lift German Luger nails him with the rack (brain buster) for the win. I know he’s a legend and everything but I wish they would have used someone a little more impressive than Lex Luger here. He’s still good and still in phenomenal shape but I think the ROH product could have been helped by a little Shinsuke B Badd instead. Castle though gets better with every match and continues to be one of my favourite acts in wrestling. I love how ROH now has a Peacock, the Sussex County Chicken and now an ostrich. Ring Of Birds!

Reach For The Sky Boy!
Reach for the Sky Boy!

Jushin Liger makes his first appearance on the show and wishes Cheeseburger luck for his match against Brutal Bob.

Match #3 – Cheeseburger Vs. Brutal Bob Evans

Evans is out to less of a reaction than when Eric Lindros played for the Leafs. Cheeseburger still has the dollar store hat, and still really makes the show look like a tiny Indy show. I’m sure Cheeseburger is a much, much better wrestler than I could ever be, and a million times tougher but if you’re going to wrestle and be that size I think you need to be able to do fantastic things that no one else can do. I have yet to see that from Cheeseburger.

That being said I LOVE that everyone on the card has a story. These are the lowest guys on the card and yet they’ve put time and effort into their breakup and feud. Burger nails Evans with a palm strike but them gets bulldozed with a shoulder block. Bob wants more though as he picks up Cheese at two. I can certainly buy the story they’re telling of Bob being a teacher who’s jealous of his students. I can certainly buy Evans suplexing Cheeseburger through a table out of nowhere! Wow that was a great spot! I love how they didn’t need to spend any time to set up the table but it also helps that we never see these kind of spots in Ring Of Honor. I still have reservations about Cheeseburger being a viable baby face, but the ending of the match with the ref calling it off and Kevin appalled at what he’s seen has gone a long way towards me getting invested in these two. I just hope they can build Cheeseburger up a little more, and hopefully give him something that makes him memorable that isn’t a felt hat from Dollar Tree.

reach for the sky boy...
Reach for the sky boy…

Speaking of douche hats here’s Jay Lethal. Next week we’re signing the contract for Lethal versus Briscoe at Best In The World. Apparently Briscoe is signing his own death warrant. Jesus Mr. Lethal why would you want to make that psycho angry?

Mandy Leon is back with Inside ROH. This week’s spotlight is shone on the Jay Briscoe/Jay Lethal feud. I love how this started on a glorified house show with Briscoe delivering the stiffest book shot I’ve ever seen leading to Lethal tapping out to reDRagon. It’s been well built with Lethal claiming to be the actual ROH champion and Briscoe trying to one up the TV champ at every turn. There’s a palpable hate between the two guys and it’s been booked in such a way that I can’t see either guy losing which is far and away the best way to book a wrestling match. I like the succinct re-cap of the feud and I’m curious if they added this segment at the behest of Destination America to introduce everyone to their guys and stories. Their suggestion or not it’s a great addition and Mandy will be a great host once she gets a little more confident in the role.

Ok I admit it she's prettier than Sean Mooney.
Ok I admit it she’s prettier than Sean Mooney.

Jay Briscoe is now yelling at us to watch the contract signing next week. He tells Lethal to “Go ahead and do something boy.” I’m really glad I’ve heard Briscoe call everyone boy as I’d hate to get the wrong idea about his intentions.

Match #4 – The Kingdom Vs. The Bullet Club

It’s cool to see the Kingdom here as they don’t seem to be on the TV show very often. The pop the least popular guys in the Bullet Club get dwarfs almost any other we’ve heard tonight. Ken Anderson looks grumpy as fuck and Gallows looks like a serial killer with the paint job on his face which is something I appreciate in my large bald wrestlers. There’s only seven minutes left in the show so I’m guessing we’re not getting the sprawling main events of the last few weeks here. Bennett and Taven are now “Internet Darlings!” It sounds annoying and makes no sense so it’s a perfect moniker for these jerks.

What's with the Mike Tyson shirts?
What’s with the Mike Tyson shirts?

Anderson immediately tries to go after Maria Kanelis. Again who can blame the man? Did you see those boots??? “That’s assault even in Canada!” Yells Steve with a clear misunderstanding of both assault and Canada. The Bullet Club destroys them early but eventually fall victim to the Kingdom’s smooth tag team moves. This match is quickly paced but doesn’t really go anywhere until both teams manhandle the refs to draw the double DQ. Anderson and Gallows go to attack Maria but instead settle on brutalizing Taven after the match. Bullet Club stands tall to end the show and where the Hell are Sydal and ACH for the save????

You're no furry Brutus Beefcake.
You’re no furry Brutus Beefcake.

Best Match: The Addiction Vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Worst Match: Cheeseburger Vs. Brutal Bob
Best Promo/Skit: Mark Briscoe: Chicken King.
Worst Promo/Skit: Ummm…There’s BAD promos?
MVP: Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino

What Worked Really Well

– The Addiction’s heel work has a glee to it that screams “we’re so much happier to be in ROH now!”

– Kyle O’Reilly is a stud. The type of guy I could se as ROH champion is a couple of years. I could watch him forever.

– I love the build for the Briscoe/Lethal match.

What Sort Of Works

– I enjoyed the Castle/Liger match but I kind of wish they would have put Castle in there with someone who would have taken more of his moves. Liger is certainly amazing for his age though.

– I ragged on Cheeseburger and Brutal Bob a bit but their storyline got about ten times more compelling after this match.

What Didn’t Work

– I would imagine that this episode was in the can long before the move to Destination America but if you’re going to include matches from the ROH/NJPW series why not use some of the more interesting matches. I’m all for Castle on the card but Nakamura/ACH is right there. Maybe we’ll get it next week? It’s a small complaint but ROH is presumably getting many new eyes on the product and I just want people to see how great they can be. This may have not been the show to do that with. Everything was good, but not the blow away great stuff ROH is capable of. I need America to validate my choice of getting behind ROH!

So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?

It’s still the best hour of American wrestling on television every seven days. This week was a bit of a drop-off from the last couple but still more than solid enough to sit through. I’m pretty sure if you only tuned in at the beginning and saw O’Reilly killing two guys you’d be more than happy to give ROH a passing grade this week. If you stayed on till Corino’s bafflement at the top rope rule you’re probably a fan for life.

Thanks for reading! See ya next week!

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.