This Week In ROH: Will Ospreay, Alliance With CMLL & more!
I’m doing things a little different this week, as the big story this week involving ROH definitely supersedes this week’s episode of ROH TV, in terms of importance.
– It was announced by ROH earlier this week that Will Ospreay would be making his debut with ROH during their “Reach For The Sky” Tour in the UK this November. Ospreay will be working the shows in Liverpool on November 18th & London on November 20th, but he won’t be on the show in Leicester on November 19th.
– Ospreay’s future in North America has been the source of controversy over last several weeks. This included two of biggest wrestling newsletter sites, The Wrestling Observer/F4WOnline & PWTorch, seemingly jumping the gun with regards to their respective stories on Ospreay, with the latter reporting a few weeks ago that he had signed a deal with Evolve/WWNLive, while the former kept reiterating that Ospreay hadn’t signed anywhere (the former also reported that Ospreay had signed with ROH when news of his ROH appearances in the UK broke, but they later corrected the story to say that he was just appearing, but hadn’t signed).
This “jumping of the gun” was further solidified when Ospreay himself, on the first episode of Flash Morgan Webster’s new podcast (which dropped this week, and which I’ll provide a link to below) said that while he has contract offers from both Evolve as well as “another US company”, he had yet to sign a contract (as of that recording) with either promotion, but did note that he would be wrestling in America in 2017. He additionally made similar comments in an interview with The Tag Rope, saying that he has not signed a contract as of yet.
– Now I think there’s a lot to unpack here with regards to this whole situation (more than I can say here, probably). Obviously, from ROH’s perspective, it would really be the ultimate example of “having egg on your face” if they were unable to sign Ospreay, a wrestler who has a contract with ROH’s “partner”, New Japan Pro Wrestling. I don’t think anyone would deny that. Even though Ospreay will indeed be wrestling on ROH shows this year, his ultimate destination appears to still be a mystery. The fact that two of the major wrestling news sources out there really jumped the gun regarding their sides of the story, with the report from PWTorch last month about Ospreay signing with Evolve being especially egregious after what Ospreay said on Flash Morgan Webster’s podcast and The Tag Rope Interview (a report which I don’t believe has been corrected since that podcast dropped), really confirms this to be true. Now honestly, I feel like that it’s 50/50 in terms of where Ospreay will ultimately end up. As a ROH fan, of course I would be really happy if he signed with ROH, but as a fan of Evolve’s current product (and their product over the last two years in general), it would be cool to see him go to Evolve. Ospreay going to ROH would obviously be a big boost to a promotion that has not only lacked a lot of buzz in 2016, but has also been going through a fair amount of backstage turmoil. While his future in North America is still very much a mystery, I’m very excited to see that he will at least be making a few appearances in ROH, and I’ll be intrigued to see who Ospreay will end up facing on these shows in the UK this November.
– In another major announcement this week, ROH has officially formed an alliance with CMLL in Mexico, solidifying a three-promotion partnership between New Japan Pro-Wrestling (Japan), CMLL (Mexico), and ROH (United States). I had been wondering for a while if a relationship between CMLL & ROH would develop, considering both have strong ties with New Japan, so it’s pretty cool to see that something has finally developed. I’m really excited to see how this relationship develops between the two promotions. We already saw Stuka Jr. appear at the ROH TV Tapings in Philadelphia last month, while Dragon Lee will be debuting for ROH at All-Star Extravaganza VIII at the end of September. Meanwhile, Matt Taven (of all people) will actually be heading to CMLL next month, as he’ll be appearing at a show in Arena Mexico on September 9th. If he wrestles on that show, it’ll be one of his first in-ring appearances (maybe the first) since he suffered a serious knee injury at Final Battle 2015 last December. As I’ve already said, I’m very intrigued to see how this relationship develops over the coming months (hopefully we’ll see some interesting talent exchanges).
– A number of ROH talents will be involved in some important title defenses this weekend in Japan. On Sunday, August 14th, at the G1 Climax 26 Finals in Sumo Hall, Jay Lethal will be defending the ROH World Title against Satoshi Kojima, while The Briscoes will be defending their IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles against The Bullet Club duo of “The Hangman” Adam Page & Yujiro Takahashi.
– ACH, in his first tour of Japan, won NOAH’s Jr. Tag League alongside Taiji Ishimori. The duo will get their shot at NOAH’s Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles at the Super J Cup Finals on August 21st. It’s very cool to see that ACH is having success in Japan right off the bat. Hopefully this leads to ACH getting more opportunities in Japan, whether that be in NOAH or New Japan.
– Two more matches were added to Death Before Dishonor XIV in Las Vegas next weekend, which means the card is pretty much filled up. Jay Briscoe will be taking on The Bullet Club’s “Hangman”, Adam Page. Now there is some sense to this match, with the aforementioned defense of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles coming up this weekend. The bigger issue that I think most people have with this singles match is that we already saw this feud last year (when Page was still with The Decade), and Jay Briscoe won the feud pretty decisively. Even in a promo about the match, Jay Briscoe himself asked Page if he really wanted to go down this road again. I’m sure the match would be good (Page’s singles match with Jay Briscoe last fall in San Antonio was one of his best matches in ROH), but we literally saw this feud last year, and here, it just seems like they’re doing it just to give Jay Briscoe something to do, since his brother is challenging for the ROH World TV Title.
– The other match added to Death Before Dishonor XIV is much more intriguing. Donovan Dijak, Lio Rush, Kamaitachi, & Jay White will be facing off in a Four-Corner Survival Match, where the winner will receive a shot at the ROH World TV Title. This match might get lost amongst the bigger matches on this card, but I really think this has the potential to be one of the best matches of the night. All four of these guys are great, and will be especially motivated here since this is on PPV. If the match gets the right amount of time, this could really be awesome. As for who wins this match, I think the obvious choices are either Donovan Dijak & Jay White, and out of those two, I would go with White (especially considering the push he’s been getting).
– There was also two more match announcements concerning Field of Honor 2016 this week. The show will feature a Five-Team Gauntlet Match, featuring the current IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Briscoes, War Machine, The All-Night Express, Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara, and the CHAOS duo of Toru Yano & Gedo. The winners of this Gauntlet Match will receive an instant shot at the ROH World Tag Team Titles against The Addiction. However, if The Addiction were to lose the ROH World Tag Team Titles in Las Vegas at Death Before Dishonor XIV, then they’ll be entered into the Gauntlet, which will then become a simple #1 Contender’s Match. At Field of Honor 2015, ROH also ran a Gauntlet Match, where the winner received a shot at the ROH World TV Title. That match had it’s moments, but went much longer than it needed to. Hopefully, with only five teams involved (six if you count The Addiction), this won’t be much of an issue this time around. The other match will see IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion KUSHIDA go up against Dalton Castle. This is actually a rematch from the War Of The Worlds 2016 event in Dearborn, Michigan from back in May. That was a really good match, and I’m sure these two will produce once again. The only issue I have is the fact that this match did already happened, and Castle lost. KUSHIDA is still holding the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title, and even though this is non-title, KUSHIDA winning again would make me question why they would book a non-title match with the same result twice in as many months.
– News was broken on Twitter this week by Rob McCarron of Shake Them Ropes that ROH’s sole WrestleMania Weekend event for 2017 would take on Saturday, April 1st, 2017 in Lakeland, Florida. While ROH themselves haven’t announced any details as of yet, they did confirm this show as Supercard of Honor XI. Now the news of the show being in Lakeland, Florida is very important to note, as that’s over an hour away from Orlando, where all of the WrestleMania Weekend festivities will be taking place. For me, this move isn’t a total shock to me. It’s absolutely out of the way, and it’s crazy to think that they couldn’t find somewhere to run in Orlando, but it’s important to remember that Orlando is basically WWE’s second home, with the WWE Performance Center & Full Sail University (where NXT is taped) being located in Orlando. Plus, the area is a frequent stop for Evolve/WWN, who are affiliated with WWE, and who will be hosting several other promotions during this weekend (as was announced yesterday). As some have mentioned since this news broke, it’ll be very interesting to see what the ROH roster looks like by April of 2017, given all of the rumors surrounding a number of current talents on the roster.
– With regards to ROH TV, I have to give them some credit. Even though I didn’t adore the Lethal/O’Reilly ROH World Title Match from two weeks ago, like some others did (I still thought the match was very good), they’ve done a good job with the ROH vs. Bullet Club storyline over the last few weeks (even with the obvious blunder regarding Adam Cole’s title shot). This past week’s episode was the first from the TV Tapings in Philadelphia from about a month ago, and I thought this was an incredibly easy hour of television to watch. For all the criticism ROH TV gets, you’ll get a lot of episodes like this one that are just a breeze to watch. Something that really helped this week’s episode was that it was really simple. Jay White scored a win over Will Ferrara in good opener, while Bobby Fish & Mark Briscoe had an in-ring segment hyping up their match for the ROH World TV Title at Death Before Dishonor XIV. Jay Lethal defeated Colt Cabana in a very good match for the ROH World Title, and then finally (after some taunting from Adam Cole), Lethal was able to convince Nigel McGuinness to reverse his previous decree, and made Lethal vs. Cole for the ROH World Title at the aforementioned PPV in Las Vegas. The two matches that were on this episode ranged from good to very good, and you got build towards the PPV. There really wasn’t much to complain about with this episode, with very little BS.
1.) Jay White vs. Will Ferrara: ***1/4
2.) ROH World Title – Jay Lethal vs. Colt Cabana: ***3/4
– The only real complaint I have about this episode surrounds the ROH World Title Match. Firstly, Nigel McGuinness had a ton of security surrounding the ring to prevent any interference from The Bullet Club. Personally (and maybe this is just me), I thought this would have been the perfect situation for a Steel Cage Match. Despite the fact that the original intent of that stipulation has been really watered down over the years, I really think that would have been a better way to keep out The Bullet Club, especially considering that security has been completely ineffective when it comes to stopping The Bullet Club. Security can’t be used to solve every single situation, and while I’m sure some may not like this idea, I feel that a Steel Cage Match would have been more appropriate here. Secondly, I think it’s a little disappointing that Colt Cabana was basically playing second fiddle in particular episode to the larger Jay Lethal/Adam Cole angle. Sure, Cabana didn’t have a chance of winning the title here, but when you consider the fact that Colt Cabana return angle from WrestleMania Weekend in Dallas generated a fair amount of buzz (in a year where any buzz that ROH has gotten has been the wrong kind, especially in the last few months), it’s a little discouraging. I know some just don’t like Cabana that much, but I just feel like they could have done a little more with him.
– Finally, to close out on a positive note, ROH posted the famous Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness Title Unification Match from 2006, in full, on their YouTube page, to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the match, which is certainly one of the greatest and most memorable matches in ROH history.
— Daniel Bryan (@WWEDanielBryan) August 11, 2016
– With that in mind, don’t forget to check out this wonderful article from earlier this week on VOW by Kelly Harrass on this very match: