The High Spot: ROH Wrestling’s Finest Preview, Daniel Bryan, and the Top Stories of the Week

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Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille (@SteveWille34) will take you through the biggest story of the week in the world of wrestling, adding in a unique view to help put the story in perspective. Glenn Butler (@glenniebun) then takes a quick look at other important stories of the week. If you have any tips or story ideas, please contact us at info@placetobenation.com!

This week, before getting into some tidbits about the huge week in wrestling, we celebrate the debut of The Kevin Kelly Show, as well as Place to Be Nation sending around fifteen of its dedicated staff and fanbase to Royal Rumble weekend, by previewing Ring of Honor’s event, “Wrestling’s Finest,” this Saturday, January 25th. Also, be sure to check out our weekly Ring of Honor TV coverage!

(Lineup courtesy of rohwrestling.com)

3 Way Tag Team Elimination Match

ROH World Champion Adam Cole & Matt Hardy vs. Chris Hero & Michael Elgin vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe

At first look, you’d think that the Briscoes would easily win based upon their tag team acumen, but, over the past few years, these elimination matches have a tendency to be long, hard-hitting, crowd-pleasing, and a bit wacky. Hero and Elgin, both looking to assert their claim as top contender for Adam Cole’s title, form an unlikely duo in this match. Since embracing the hate of the ROH faithful, Hardy has adapted nicely to his role as a mega-heel, a character not generally seen historically in the promotion. He mentors the champ (and first guest of the Kevin Kelly show), Adam Cole, arguably one of the top all-around performers in the States right now. I’m intrigued over how the Briscoes will interact with each other, as their temperaments have slightly diverged since Jay’s return from injury. With the loss of Roderick Strong, this match stands out as the best on paper, and I hope it can exceed those lofty expectations.

Paul London vs. Cedric Alexander

Minutes before I was about to write this paragraph, Ring of Honor sent out word that Roderick Strong will be unable to compete at Wrestling’s Finest due to his injuries sustained against AJ Styles, previously written about in the High Spot. Obviously, Strong’s health is of the utmost concern, but this is a huge blow to the strength of the card, which was already lacking the depth of “big time” matchups originally anticipated for Royal Rumble weekend.

Paul London proved his wares at the Champions vs. All-Stars event against Strong, in one of ROH’s (and North America’s) best matches of the year. He now steps in the ring with a man looking to jump start his singles career, Cedric Alexander, a wrestler with tremendous upside potential. I assume that London gets the nod here, though I’m uncertain how the two combatants’ styles will mesh this Saturday.

3 Way Match for the ROH World TV Championship

ROH World TV Champion Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jay Lethal vs. Matt Taven

Ciampa has had an interesting last few months. His semifinal match with Adam Cole in the World Heavyweight Championship tournament and his destruction of the House of Truth at Final Battle served as two of the most exciting bouts in Ring of Honor during 2013. He’s clearly positioned as a top star right now, and he’s been branching out to other promotions, such as PWG, and will be heading overseas to defend the Television Championship this year. As Kevin Kelly recently stated on the Place to Be Podcast, the question remains whether he can continue to bring the same intensity that he had at the aforementioned matches. Jay Lethal has been a solid worker over the past year, yet he seems stagnant in his position. He’s a guy who needs to up his game in 2014 to remain in the title hunt. And, of course, how will Matt Taven adapt in his first match after losing the belt to Ciampa? Will the H.O.T. even be around anymore, or were they a casualty of the Sicilian Psychopath?

The Finals of the 2014 Top Prospect Tournament

We here at the High Spot, and Place to be Nation in general, like to avoid spoilers. As of press time, the first round matchups for the Top Prospect Tournament are in the books, and Andrew Everett advanced over Romantic Touch, much to the delight of Veda Scott and, well, just about the entire Chicago crowd where RT debuted late last year. Everett, the former Chiva Kid, is my personal hope to win the whole thing, although he has a tough challenge ahead in the semifinals against the thick Hanson, who decimated Cheeseburger in his opener. I would have preferred this to be the final spot, as I always get a kick out of seeing a high flyer take on a hoss. In the other semifinal, Raymond Rowe, who impressed me in his bout, will take on one-half of Alabama Attitude, Corey Hollis, fresh off a win over his tag team partner. The winners of the semifinals will meet in Pittsburgh. Last year, Matt Taven parlayed his victory in the tournament to television gold, so the stakes are high this Saturday.

Special Challenge Match

Kevin Steen vs. ROH World Tag Team Champion, Kyle O’Reilly

With his tag-team partner, Bobby Fish, in Japan, one-half of the ROH Tag Team Champions Kyle O’Reilly gets a shot at one of the top contenders for the World Title, Kevin Steen. This is a huge singles’ opportunity for O’Reilly, whose character work has been fantastic since joining up with Fish. The wild card here is Cliff Compton, who jumped Kevin Steen on the 1/11 edition of ROH television, choking him out with a chain. The ex-champ has called out Compton, who claims to be coming to Pittsburgh, likely to interfere in this matchup. Because of this, I’m thinking Steen is victorious via disqualification, although O’Reilly might be able to sneak a pinfall if Compton gets involved.

Tag Team Match

Decade (Jimmy Jacobs & BJ Whitmer) vs. Adrenaline RUSH (ACH & Tadarius Thomas)

As one Ring of Honor legend exited at Final Battle, a new stable emerged in his place. Jimmy Jacobs, Roderick Strong and BJ Whitmer brutally attacked Eddie Edwards after Edwards’ last scheduled match in Ring of Honor. Dismayed by the attention that those who leave Ring of Honor receive, the three veterans joined forces, seeking respect. The big surprise here is the return of Whitmer to competitive action after what was thought to be a career-ending injury. Expect the Place to Be Nation dance party to be in full effect for our boy ACH, as Assistant to the Editor Chad Campbell has (allegedly) promised to break out some sweet Southern style moves. Expect Decade to win, but the team of Adrenaline RUSH always excites.

Also announced at press time, Rhett Titus The Romantic Touch takes on Michael Bennett in singles’ action.

Here is the rest of the news for this week!

  • George Scott, instrumental in the WWF’s national expansion in the 1980s but often unheralded today, passed away earlier this week. Following a decades-long career as an active wrestler (during which he overcame a severe back injury reminiscent of Ric Flair’s comeback from his plane crash), he spent much of the 70s booking for the Crocketts before arriving in the WWF in 1983. During his time working for Vince McMahon, Scott was involved in many significant deals including the “Black Saturday” incident when the WWF bought Georgia Championship Wrestling’s timeslot on TBS, negotiations to buy Stampede Wrestling from the Hart family, approaching Mr. T to arrange his involvement in 1985-86, and hammering out the details of Saturday Night’s Main Event with Dick Ebersol. He also handled booking duties during this time, including the first two WrestleManias. Scott died this past Monday of lung cancer.
  • WWE presents the 27th annual Royal Rumble this Sunday. Twenty-one participants in the Royal Rumble match have been announced thus far, yet in that group Batista – making his return after nearly four years to promote his upcoming dramatic theatrical extravaganza Guardians of the Galaxy – stands out as the only probable winner. The other former world champions in the currently-announced field (The Miz, CM Punk, Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio) seem unlikely choices to win the match, and indeed all but CM Punk seem to be longshots. Among people who have not yet held a world title and are still in need of a bump into the main event (Wade Barrett, Dean Ambrose, Cody Rhodes, Jey Uso), none seems quite positioned to get the win. Unless the eventual winner resides in the blank slots Batista is currently not only the most obvious winner, he’s the only obvious winner.
  • But! But! But! – One man who has most emphatically NOT been announced as taking part in the Royal Rumble match is Daniel Bryan, who thus far is in a one-on-one match with Bray Wyatt and nothing else. The general consensus of the IWC hive-mind appears to be that if WWE does not take advantage of Bryan’s popularity with a Rumble win, it will be a massive waste of time and a stain on the Rumble-to-WrestleMania energy that the company needs to gather each year, particularly important this year because they are selling the WWE Network partially on the back of WrestleMania XXX.
  • Hulkamania Lives Forever – One more rumor swirling in one constellation in the starry night that is our wide wonderful internet is that, to once again celebrate a WrestleMania anniversary one year too early, WWE has asked Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper if they can be in shape for a match rekindling their rivalry from WrestleMania I; thankfully, Hogan has finished saving TNA and is once again available for such a booking. Such news may elicit groans from some quarters; I invite all such cynics, doubters and scoffers to let the scales fall from their eyes, look upon one more backrake and one more eyepoke, and think of the promos. Also, a Hulk Hogan entrance using the humongous screens of modern WrestleManias may indeed be the best ever. (Note: none of this may actually be worth doing at all if Hulk’s many many surgeries preclude one more legdrop.) Consider also that this would be definitive evidence that wars do not, in fact, settle scores.

Author: Steve Wille

Steve knows neither where he is going, nor where he's been. But he likes talking about pop culture and wrestling with like-minded individuals. He might even analyze you for a reasonable fee. Send Steve an email