A Great Alternative: ROH TV 7-18-15

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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 7-18-2015

We have arrived at the 200th episode of ROH television! And we are STILL in Terminal 5 in New York City! Tonight we have an epic eight person tag! Why am I screaming???

But first… Kevin Kelly welcomes us to the show and informs us that we’ll be reliving many of Ring Of Honor’s classic moments in celebration of the bicentennial. I never thought I’d have the privilege of using that word in a sentence. In truth I’m not even sure if I’m using is correctly. Back to yelling!!!

GET ON WITH IT!!!
GET ON WITH IT!!!

First up some tag action, and we are immediately transported back in time to a…few weeks ago. We get highlights of the reDragon/Addiction match when Daniels and Kazarian take the belts. These clips do nothing but reinforce my love affair with Kyle O’Reilly. If you think that’s weird you should experience my like affair with Bobby Fish. Also I love watching Fish wrestle in Japan so I can picture and impersonate an old Japanese man saying his name. I don’t know why but I have a sudden urge to watch “Eyes Wide Shut Again.” I remember when it came out I went to see it on the sole promise of Nicole Kidman getting naked in the movie. I mean after the gigantic tease that was “To Die For,” I think we the viewing audience were owed a little something.

Tease.
Tease.

They show a surprising amount of the match which surprises me as I was expecting some sort of montage. Which I guess was a little silly of me as I’m not watching a Rocky movie, I’m watching wrestling. Is Rocky IV the laziest film ever made? I love it, but we get three long montages including one that just recaps the first three films. Did Stallone hand in a twenty page script and the producers were like, “This just won’t do…” Was the robot unavailable to film some more scenes? I LOVE the reDRagon team but if you took both guys and mashed them together you’d have the greatest pro wrestler of all time. O’Reilly’s ring mastery mixed with Fish’s (Bubby Fissh) charisma and character work would create a wrestler so perfect that Charles from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” would step out of fantasy to do the job for him.

We get to see the double cross and the reveal that the Addiction and Chris Sabin were the KRD all along. It’s a bit of a shame that they haven’t really exploited this trio since the initial angle. You’d think we’d at least get a couple of great singles matches out of Sabin against the Dragon guys. This of course all leads to the big four way match at Death Before Dishonor between the Addiction, reDRagon, War Machine and The Kingdom. I’m quite looking forward to the match but what happened to Chris Sabin??? Did he go to the Rainbow Room with Tom Cruise (insert creepy piano music here).

Why are you STILL scary???
Why are you STILL scary???

The Briscoes, Truth Martini, Moose and Stokely Hathaway yell at us about the 200th episode. I’m fine with this.

Now we jump to some highlights from the S.C.U.M vs. ROH steel cage mayhem match. Now this is a match I’d like to see more of…so we get two minutes. We do get to see Steve Corino attempt to light Kevin Steen on fire before getting his ass beat by Nigel McGuinness. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that they’re highlighting Kevin Steen standing tall in a ROH ring. We cut back to Steve who denies all involvement in the match. Was his monitor kicking in and kicking out?

TOP PROSPECT TOURNAMENT FROM THIS YEAR!!! Were they only allowed to feature things that happened in the last six months? We get a nice montage (unfortunately not set to No Easy Way Out) of the opening rounds. I wonder in hindsight if they wish they hadn’t put Dalton Castle out in the first round. I guess he turned out all right and no harm was done. Except to the boys but that’s just common sense. The finals between Donovan Dijack and Will Ferrara are what we get to wash the palate that was The Boys obvious rape. I was lucky enough to be at this match live and not only was it a pretty sweet little encounter but you could clearly hear the whole backstage locker room give these guys an ovation when they headed to the back. I mean just look at Brutal Bob at ringside, he’s going fucking nuts for this thing. I’m surprised he didn’t put a shoulder out slamming his fists on the mat.

Once again though I can’t help but feel that we haven’t really seen too much Dijak since this happened. I don’t want to be so bold as to say they squandered anything but you’d think after that push and that match we’d get to… to… feast our eyes of more of him. Bam! The best part about that pun was that it wasn’t forced at all and in a year when I reread this I won’t want to hang myself as though I was watching Impact Wrestling.

Puns make me sneer.
Puns make me sneer.

All suicides aside though it was great to see two young guys given the chance to tear it up on a company’s TV show. If they were in WWE they’d be given two minutes on RAW then be screamed at for not grabbing the brass ring.

Matt Sydal and ACH going up against reDragon is up next in Clipfest 2015. Again this is a match I’d be into seeing more of. It certainly is nice to see Matt Sydal wearing a hairstyle resembling normal again. His bun/beard combo has haunted my dreams for the last few weeks. Well that and the dream where I’m Steve Austin and I’m “romantically” involved with John Cena. What’s happening to me?

The Champ is here.
The Champ is here.

Hanson fought AJ Styles? Man I wish I’d been watching ROH last year. I’m honestly not sure what took me so long to get here. Same with Japan. You hear for years that they’re better than WWE but you’re so addicted to watching SUPERSTARS and camera cuts every three seconds that you hold off. Hanson fighting AJ is cool on so many levels. You can only get better by fighting people who are better than you and what better opportunity for a young guy than to work with arguably the best wrestler in the world. Again such a good contrast to WWE. AJ is a big deal and is not there all the time, but instead of him fighting the same three guys over and over they spread him out and we get tons of interesting matches. Imagine Styles came in and only fought Jay Briscoe (which would be cool), Nigel McGuinness and Brutal Bob. I’ll leave it to you to piece out who each of those three would represent in WWE.

Rest IN PEACE.
Rest IN PEACE.

Ray Rowe is on commentary for the match and he sounds like the nicest guy in the world. The nicest guy who will kill you and presumable eat your bones. I think I’m going to go back and find this match as it looks quite excellent. The way AJ had to work him into the Styles Clash was great as it looked like he was fighting to even hit the move. Granted he probably was as Hanson is a living breathing Viking.

Mandy Leon is dressed as a dominatrix and is going to run down the card for Death Before Dishonor. Adam Cole takes on Dalton Castle in hopes of once and for all freeing the boys from the sexual torture that is Dalton Castle. The Briscoes take on RPG VICE in a special fuck you WWE match. Moose takes on Cedric Alexander so Stokely gets actual promo time to tell of the “Ambulance chaser” Veda Scott. Somewhere near the commentary table Kevin Kelly is pumping his fist and reminding himself to thank Hathaway later. He unfortunately forgets which will no doubt lead to years of unspoken resentment. Adam Page and ACH get their blow off match. Page is positively livid backstage as he states that he’s beaten ACH three times and it’s the end of Attitude, Charisma and Hart. When Bret Hart hears this he’s going to be livid and retort with a promo that begins with “Everybody knows…” It will be great. The main event is Jay Lethal defending his ROH title against Roderick Strong in a match I’m genuinely excited to see. The card looks pretty solid top to bottom although I am puzzled why there’s no TV title match as Nigel threatened to do a few weeks ago. Mandy was good here too, every week she gets better and better.

THIS IS WRESTLING!!!
THIS IS WRESTLING!!!

Last clip is Lance Storm getting beat by Michael Bennett in 2012. Storm is in shape but looks VERY different without any hair. I want to use the word potato here but in a complimentary way. He looks a little like a delicious potato. That’ll do it. Bennett also looks completely different with all that hair. Treacherous Bennett uses a chair to win. That asshole.

Match #1 – Jay Lethal/ Donovan Dijak/Jay Diesel/Truth Martini Vs The Briscoes/Roderick Strong/ODB

Hey a match! Jay Lethal is wearing both belts stacked on top of one another like a boss. Jay Diesel has a strange pose and Donovan Dijak should probably just change his first name to Jay and be done with it. Truth starts out the match with ODB and decides to do some break dancing instead. Just as he’s about to get his hands on ODB he calmly moonwalks back to the corner and tags Jay Lethal in. ODB then tags in Roderick Strong so Lethal tags in Jay Dijack. Is anyone going to fight in this match???

Dijak shoves Roddy and poses so Mr.ROH chops the shit out of him to put him in his place. He quickly tags in Jay Briscoe who punches his face in before tagging in Mark who does some sort of ceremonial crab walk on the second rope before dropping the ceremonial elbow into Dijak’s ceremonial hart. (Everybody knows that MY heart is ceremonial).

We come back from break to Dijak suplexing Mark across the ring. The entire house of Truth take turns pummeling the poor chicken. Man Michael Cole would be lost calling this match. If you strip away his ability to say that Mark got his teeth kicked down his throat the loop of vintages would make the Earth stop spinning. Jay Briscoe finally gets a hot tag and his punches and kicks are works of art. As is his neck breaker. I even dig the speaking in tongues he does as he wrenches the neck back and I don’t even believe in ANYTHING including myself. Jay ends up…sorry Jay Briscoe gets caught in the corner and pummeled to the mat.

I'm an artist!
I’m an artist!

Jay Diesel looks the best I’ve seen him in this match. Not that he’s in there that much but his offence has a crispness to it I haven’t seen before. Truth even tags himself in but gets punched in the tummy so hard he immediately tags out. “That’s good tag team wrestling!” Screams Steve. The big problem with all the clips all night is we lose Kevin and Steve tearing it up in the booth. Everyone fights back in forth until we finally get down to Lethal and Strong and it’s so fast. Strong hits all his killer offence including the SICK KICK which draws the entire House of Truth in the ring to break up the pin. I dig that. I like that they all care so much about Lethal that they won’t let him lose.

Big pier six brawl. NEVER DOCK AT PIER SIX!!!! Which culminates with ODB tagging herself in and jumping on Truth Martini’s back. Truth slams her off and the entire House of Truth surrounds her. Apparently they’re also untied in their violence against women. Everyone jumps in and EVERYONE starts jumping in and out of the ring onto each other. We’re left with Truth attempting to roll up ODB, who calmly spits booze into his face and rolls him up for the pin. The House is PISSED! Mark Briscoe though is quite pleased with himself in Truth’s shades. I’m pleased with him and for him too.

Just don't dock your fucking boat here.
Just don’t dock your fucking boat here.

Best Match: There was one match on the show.
Worst Match: There was one match on the show.
Best Promo/Skit: Adam Page is PISSED
Worst Promo/Skit: None
MVP: Mandy Leon… Why not?

What Worked Really Well

– The Main Event was fun in a sports entertainment kind of way.

– Death Before Dishonor looks like a really solid card on paper.

– Congratulations are in order for getting to 200 episodes.

– We got lots of reDRagon which is great and shows how important an act they are to the company.

What Sort Of Works

– I have nothing against them doing a clip show but…

What Didn’t Work

– The show (besides the main event) felt lazy. It’s not lazy to do a clip show per say but I feel like they picked a very small number of things to show instead of attempting to highlight all the great action from the previous 199 episodes. Like why not have a couple of montages consisting of more than just five matches. That’s all you want to highlight? I can’t imagine it is. It comes off like someone didn’t have the time (or didn’t want to) go through the archives and put together a proper clip show. It made the show feel unimportant as opposed to the special episode they were going for. It’s another case of the wrestling product and booking being top to bottom excellent but the production side disappointing. Surely not the end of the world but kind of defeated the point of doing an anniversary show in this format. If you don’t have the time or resources give us some great matches instead.

So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?

The main event was a lot of fun and ROH is consistently fantastic in-ring. You probably shouldn’t use this episode as a gauge to what you’re getting into with the product. Instead let’s just give them a break for wanting to do an anniversary show and trust they’ll bring the wrestling next week.

Thanks for reading! See ya next week!

In The meantime if you like my stuff please follow me on Twitter @aarondgeorge.

If you hate my stuff please come yell at me on Twitter @aarondgeorge, I promise I’ll yell back.

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.