Ring of Honor has been around for damn near 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 3-21-2015
We are still in Baltimore! Thank you for sticking with my ill advised lauding of The Wire last week. Since I know nothing about Baltimore short of said TV show and Cal Ripkin…. well expect something to do with Cal Ripkin..
Bobby Fish is making his way down to the ring. I’ve never seen a Bobby Fish solo match before, and I’m a little excited at the prospect. Fish has all the tools man. He’s got the performance and presence aspects of his presentation down. He screams superstar. HIPSTER SUPERSTAR. Actually he probably wouldn’t scream he’d just tell you off in a laid back way or slam you with some poetry.
Kevin and Steve describe how ReDRagon has never courted the fans favor but yet are extremely popular. It’s a good point and there’s a lesson in there for companies like the WWE. If someone is extremely talented you sit back and let them do their thing. Sure you can offer suggestions on how they could be better, but high end talent rarely thrives under micro-management. Of course the fans like ReDRagon, they’re fantastic.
Speaking of fantastic, I am thrilled to see that Fish is fighting Roderick Strong. Strong is exactly the kind of guy I’m shocked the WWE hasn’t gone after. He’s a pretty good looking guy with a full head of hair and a great worker to boot. Notice how I added the part about him being a worker last? That’s because I understand the WWE’s priorities. Anyways, I’m sure at some point in this report I’ll go off about how the WWE is trying to build their own independent promotion to put guys like ROH out of business, in an attempt to control everything on Earth. I’m sure it’s coming. I just need to not villainize them too much despite the fact that at this point I see no difference between them and COBRA.
Match #1 Roderick Strong Vs. Bobby Fish
Did I mention I like this pairing? Kevin Kelly starts talking about how they were behaving at the weigh in for the Maryland athletic commission. Which is useful and absurd all in the same sentence. Before they even start the crowd chants “This is wrestling!” Of course Corino acknowledges it, ROH actually enjoys their fans. Plus Corino doesn’t have to cover for the fact that people are chanting for dead wrestlers while two of the company’s top stars are in the ring. Anyways, these two are great. They know how to work the mat and are both stiff as hell with all their strikes. There’s a wonderful intensity in the way that Strong ties moves together. He takes two spots, a suplex and a gut buster and amplifies the damage tenfold by stinging them together back to back. Fish is so smooth and his moonsault would surely give Christopher Daniels a run for his money.
The match eventually crescendos with a fantastic slugfest which leads to a sick kick, which leads to Strong hitting that suplex where he drops you onto his knees, which leads Bobby Fish to spinal fusion surgery. It also leads to a three count. Great match made greater by the respect shown at the end. I’m sure some would argue that wrestlers wouldn’t shake hands at the end of every match, but I feel the “code of honor” goes a long way into making these guys look like professional athletes instead of cartoon characters. Of course athletes would shake hands at the end. Have you not seen the Olympics or American Gladiators?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the subtle little moment of the commentators putting Strong over strongly (ugh) as a viable world title contender. Why it works so well is the Main Event is Jay Briscoe vs. Jimmy Jacobs for the title. I would say that most wrestling fans will buy into someone like Jimmy Jacobs winning more if he has a logical challenger lined up. With all their recent history Roderick Strong is that logical challenger.
Donovan Dijak is out and boy does he need a little work on his stage presence. That being said, so far he’s come off as a phenomenal athlete and I’m sure WWE will scoop him up in their quest to ruin wrestling. He’s here to cash in his title shot against Jay Lethal he won by taking the top prospect tournament. Lethal makes his way to ringside but stops to take time to mock a fan dressed as Liger. He proceeds to tell him his belt is pathetic. It’s the little things that make me love him. We’re all geared up for the match when Truth Martini takes the microphone.
Truth says there are good, wrestlers, great wrestlers and special wrestlers. He says that if Dijak faces Lethal tonight he will surely lose, but he can join the House of Truth instead. Dijak mulls it over and quickly takes Truth’s hand. I like this move a lot and not only because Donovan Dijak’s sneer makes him an instant villain as soon as you see his picture. The House of Truth needed a bit more credibility than Jay Diesel, shit they need someone else in the stable not named Jay! He’ll make great muscle and a strong tag team partner for Lethal. Everyone in the ring is happy. And then it happens.
The thing I’ve been waiting for for weeks….
The thing that made me cheer and wake my son up from his nap.
I have a black eye now, I’ll let you figure out who gave it to me…
DALTON CASTLE IS IN THE BUILDING!!!!!!
The fact that he takes the stage and cries like a bird convinces me right away that I have a new favorite wrestler. THE SEX SLAVES ARE WITH HIM!!! He makes his way to the ring informing us he’s a fire starter and this place is going to light up real quick! He’s here to make the world colorful! My god what does he do to those poor young men?
The look on Jay Lethal’s is possibly the most perfect reaction to a wrestling character since the crowd was enraged by the Gobledy Gooker. Corino is pun-tacular stating that Dalton is one strange bird. Phenomenal.
“Salutations!” says the strange man after spreading his winds and posturing like a mighty peacock. He says he’s Dalton Castle and these are his boys. Jesus Christ. He then describes how they were all “stretching out his hammies” in the back when they heard this was going on and had to step in. He refers to Donovan Dijak as “Banana Hands” before telling Lethal he wants his TV title. He then proceeds to lounge on his sex slaves as though he were a fancy Roman eating grapes fed to him by his non-sex slaves. “Be a man Jay Lethal, put your title on the line against me, ” he says with a face full of glitter. When Lethal walks away, Castle states he’ll have to challenge Jay Briscoe for his title since he’s a real champion. That’s just enough provocation for Lethal to attack him and put his title on the line.
This character is amazing. The weird entrance, the bird calls, the strange homosexual overtones it all clicks. Pair it with the most ridiculous facial expressions I’ve ever seen and this guy has a shot to be OVER. I believe Santino Marella is the yardstick for humor in wrestling. He was never fake and always funny. Man, I’ve never been as giddy to see a gimmick out of the gate as I am with Dalton Castle.
Match #2 Jay Lethal Vs. Dalton Castle
Kevin declares that “this is craziness” and there’s absolutely no hyperbole, I honestly have no other words to describe what is happening here. Turns out Dalton can work too. Between the Greco-Roman tosses and the strange hurricanrana he hits Lethal with on the outside, he’s shown there may be substance underneath all that style. Lethal takes back control of the match but still find the time to tell off Jushin Liger again. I love that they’re building to a match with Lethal berating a fan dressed as his future opponent. I also love that both times I’ve seen Dalton Castle stand in the corner and scream like a bird he’s immediately been kicked in the face or hurt in some way. He quickly hits a weird spinning thing that lands Lethal on his chest and follows up with a dead lift German suplex for two. Put this guy on the show every week please. It’s all for naught as he’s caught by Dijak on the outside and hit with the “Feast Your Eyes” before being rolled into the ring where Jay Lethal Mortal Kombats him and nails him with the Lethal Injection for the win. Really solid match, and I wasn’t expecting Castle to be as good as he was. The House of Truth leaves him lying, and I’m filled with hope for this stable. My only wish for them is to have some sort of cohesion in their outfits going forward. They looked a lot like a group of misfits out there. And no not the band, or the stupid WCW stable, or the toys… you get the idea.
We’re going to break and ReDRagon very politely ask us to stay tuned for some words for Super Beta Prostate. What nice young gentlemen do Kyle O’Reilley and Bobby Fish seem to be.
And we’re right back with ReDRagon cutting a promo wearing shades where they look and sound like the biggest douches on God’s Green Earth. And not that’s not a movie starring Bill Pullman as God and Steven Segal as Earth. Their promo is hacked by the Eyes Wide Shut guy. I guess ReDRagon doesn’t know that the power of their collective knowledge cannot be stopped. I wish I could take the time to figure out what that means, but instead I’m now back in my nineteen year old body going to see a movie because Nicole Kidman is naked in it.
Main Event Time!!!
Match #3 Jay Briscoe Vs. Jimmy Jacobs
This is for the world title and all stems from last week when Jacobs was so upset that Briscoe gifted a title shot to Samoa Joe that he demanded one himself. The booking is brilliant in its simplicity. Old guard feels disrespected and needs to win the title. Fighting champion agrees. All the stakes are high and the motivations clear. Good solid writing. Both guys are clearly up for this as their focus and selling of the moment are fabulous. Speaking of fabulous, the ROH code line wants us to tell them who’s the future of ROH: Will Ferrara or frowning Donovan Dijak? It’s Dalton Castle by a country mile. I said that not even knowing how long that actually is. That’s how convinced I am!!!
Fantastic slug fest to start. The camera work is wonderful and doesn’t make me feel like I’m going to vomit all over my shoes like when I’m watching Raw. You don’t need to shake the camera with every punch, just let the action speak for itself. If the action is chaotic, it will come off chaotic. They brawl everywhere and Jacobs is matching Briscoe’s intensity. Which in itself is a feat that should nab him a People’s choice award. It’s just a stiff fight, with every punch, forearm or head butt looking legit. It’s a very nice contrast to the first match. Where Strong and Fish were more focused on mat work and suplexes this one makes the show feel different by appearing more like a street fight. It’s god to have more than one style of match on a show. Why the biggest company seems to have a ban on that I’ll never understand.
A Jay Briscoe overhead press/DVD combo leads quickly into a segment where Jay unloads on Jimmy, but Jacobs keeps on taking it and coming back for more. Finally a spinning forearm followed by the best neck breaker in the business seems to put Jimmy down for a bit. They climb to the top where Jay Briscoe is going to attempt murder by Jay drilling him off the top. A move which Jacobs turns into a top rope sliced bread. Jacobs on gets two though and he’s starting to doubt himself while the crowd chants “Man Up!!!” Jimmy asks the Warriors of old for guidance before getting back in the ring and hitting Jay Briscoe with literally everything in his arsenal. Diamond Cutter. Sliced Bread number 2. Spear. He then slaps on a choke hold and in a great bit of framing we can see Steve Corino cheering for him in the background. Jay Briscoe gets up though and tosses him aside. Jacobs tries a schoolboy. Two. He then goes for a back slide which is countered into a sick Jay Driller to give the champ the win. Someone is busted open. Can’t quite make out who.
Post match Jacobs is emotional. Is this his last match in the promotion? They sell the moment for a bit and they shake hands. You can clearly see Jacobs say “Thanks Jay.” The emotion is real. Wait why am I getting emotional. I didn’t sign up for this. This is as bad as when I went to see the film “Up” thinking it was a fun romp about an old asshole with balloons, only to have my soul torn out of my body. I don’t want to feel this way! Actually it’s awesome. I love when wrestling makes you feel. What a great show.
Best Match: Jay Briscoe Vs. Jimmy Jacobs
Worst Match: None.
Best Promo/Skit: Jimmy NEEDS to win the title.
Worst Promo/Skit: None
MVP: Jimmy Jacobs
What Worked Really Well
Jimmy Jacobs gave a fantastic performance in the ring and on the emotional level.
I say this every week but all the matches were very good and fun to watch.
I say this every week but the commentary was great and added a lot to the show.
All the booking makes sense and they get their stories from the matches instead of having to get matches from their stories.
What Sort Of Works
The bi-polar ReDRagon promos were a bit unsettling. WHO ARE THESE GUYS???
Stop putting me in the mood to watch Eyes Wide Shut. It’s three hours!
What Didn’t Work
Not a damn thing didn’t work.
So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?
Because like I say every week, it’s a great wrestling, that’s right wrestling, which feels both old school and modern at the same time. Roderick Strong, Bobby Fish, Jay Lethal, Dalton Castle, Jay Briscoe and Jimmy Jacobs all went out there and proved why ROH is the best wrestling company in North America. Plus that main event, while being a great little match, was filled with genuine emotion. That’s it: ROH is just genuine. Go watch this show, it’s on their site. DALTON CASTLE