Ring of Honor
Episode 185
Air Date: April 4, 2015

Last week, I complained about the lack of a build for ROH Supercard of Honor IX.  Those complaints were assuaged somewhat by the episode’s implication that matches from SCOH would be part of an upcoming ROH TV episode. Still, it felt like it was another episode with cold matches and no story advancement. Even the seemingly major KRD angle was only barely touched on. (That angle apparently paid off at the recent San Antonio TV tapings but this ROH review is a spoiler-free zone).

However, there was one big storyline moment on last week’s episode. Colby Corino, the son of ROH color commentator and former ROH wrestler, Steve Corino, joined The Decade as their newest young boy. This week’s episode opens with a video package recounting that moment.

After the video, we are ready for our first match.

Will Ferrara vs. Michael Elgin: Steve Corino and Kevin Kelly discuss Elgin attacking Nigel McGuinness at 13th Anniversary when Nigel attempted to stop Elgin from wreaking havoc. Elgin has been saying he will be a disruptive force within ROH if he is not put back in the championship mix. The match starts with Elgin on the attack.

Corino and Kelly are selling SCOH for next week. Kelly comments on “what an event it was,” so, somewhat surprisingly, ROH is not pretending the matches are new. As they get back to commenting on the match, the focus is Elgin’s visual pinfall over Briscoe. Clearly, ROH is going to start to try to build Elgin back up.

Elgin basically dominates the match but we see a little offense here and there for Ferrara. Ferrara is doing himself a favor in this match, however, as he really makes Elgin’s offense looks good. I doubt that will go unnoticed. There is a little offensive outburst from Ferrara toward the end but then we get a buckle bomb and sit out powerbomb for an Elgin win.  **1/2

For good measure, Elgin continues to pummel Ferrara after the bell. This was a good TV match. Elgin looked very strong, as intended.

Before the break, Kelly informs us that War Machine returns tonight. We can also look forward to the main event of AJ Styles vs. Mark Briscoe.

Back from break, we have War Machine coming to the ring for the return of Ray Rowe.

War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) vs. Anthony Greene & Cam Zagami: Before the match can get started, we have to hear about this week’s ROH Codeline! It’s hilarious how they try to make these seem like they’re just a part of the normal commentary but the tone of Kelly’s recorded voice gives it away. All the scuttlebutt is that someone in ROH is looking for a manager! Is it Cedric Alexander or ACH? Call the ROH Codeline to find out! Perhaps I should leave this gimmick alone but it is so bizarre in 2015.

As for the actual match, I am glad to see Ray Rowe back. He is a badass. He gets his return started with a bunch of deadlift slams and suplexes, ending with a deadlift powerbomb.  Rowe then tags Hanson in, who gets his stuff in too. Rowe is back in and War Machine sets up their finisher, the belly-to-back suplex/top rope leg drop combo. Does that have a name?  NR

This was just your normal squash match but it was a ton of fun. Rowe is a personal favorite of mine (there is a straightedge connection) and I find Hanson much more enjoyable in a tag team instead of as a singles competitor.

As War Machine celebrates, Michael Elgin comes out with a mic in his hand. He continues talking about how he’s going to disrupt ROH until he gets what he wants. This is a decent promo for Elgin. He challenges War Machine to a handicap match.

War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) vs. Michael Elgin: Hanson and Rowe have the upper hand for the vast majority of the short contest. Quickly, Row and Elgin end up outside the ring, where Elgin attacks Rowe with a chair for a disqualification.  NR

Rowe is pissed and tries to go after Elgin as we go to break. I’m not completely sure of the point of this one. We are trying to build Elgin back up but he is getting dismantled by Rowe and Hanson and has to resort to using a chair. I guess at least he was fighting two guys instead of one. Similarly, we are trying to reintroduce Rowe to the audience but we have him in a goofy match with Elgin that ends in a DQ. I don’t think anyone came out of this looking better.

Next up is a Jay Briscoe promo video. It is good, as always. He talks about his history with Samoa Joe building up to the SCOH main event.

Back from commercial, QT Marshall is on his way to the ring.

“God’s Gift” QT Marshall vs. ACH: ACH has the advantage early but Marshall takes the upper hand when ACH goes for an offensive move from the apron but is caught in a powerslam by Marshall.  Marshal then controls for a lengthy heat portion. ACH sells like a champ, even for this guy. ACH regains control for a short period before Marshall goes back on offense.  Marshall goes up top for a 450 but does not quite get the necessary rotation. He vaguely lands on his feet but looks like he broke his legs. ACH takes advantage and hits the 450 for the win.  **

This was fine. There was nothing exciting here but it’s fun to watch ACH sell.

The Decade comes out while ACH celebrates his win. BJ Whitmer confronts ACH and says ACH thinks he’s hot stuff because the fans pop for him. Whitmer:  “Let me shoot straight with you, Albert.”  Corino: “Ooo, he knows his real name.” Whitmer says ACH has heat in the back. Nobody likes him or respects him but he gets all the chances against the big guys who come in.  And every time, ACH loses. “Your mother thinks you’re a failure!” Colby Corino distracts ACH for Whitmer and Page to attack.

For the first time in quite awhile, I was actually interested in a BJ Whitmer promo. Since Whitmer is in it, this match will probably stink but it’s a good chance for ACH to get a win after losing several big matches in a row.

Leading up to the main event, we get an average Mark Briscoe promo for the AJ Styles match. He talks about the fact that usually when Mark faces AJ, it’s in tag team action. However, AJ won’t have anyone to help him here. Mark: “You walk around like a cockstrong rooster.”  Yep.

Mark Briscoe vs. AJ Styles: Corino: “A win would skyrocket Briscoe to #1 contender for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship!” OK!

The match begins with a very good chain wrestling sequence. Styles and Briscoe trade off the advantage. AJ begins to take control but Briscoe knocks him to the outside and hits a dropkick through the ropes. They tried to do a cannonball from the apron into a Styles Clash tease but botched it.  Still, the spot allows AJ to regain the advantage. We go to commercial and of course Briscoe is in control when we get back.

At this point, AJ and Briscoe begin trading control. Everything here is good. AJ hits several really cool counters throughout this part of the match, including a counter of a hip toss by Briscoe into a calf killer. The momentum of the match is unfortunately devastated as we get Briscoe’s goofy Redneck Kung-Fu spots. I guess these work if you’re a Mark Briscoe fan but I just felt like it didn’t fit here.

According to the announcers, the story of this match was supposed to be Styles doing anything and everything to keep Briscoe grounded. In light of AJ’s match last weekend with Kota Ibushi, that seems particularly silly. AJ does attempt to work the leg throughout but we never get a spot where Briscoe’s legs fail him.

After a ton of battle, there is a double clothesline to really sell the back and forth aspect.  Then, Briscoe finally gets airborne with the Cactus Jack spot for a countout tease.  Back in, AJ counters the top rope elbow by getting his knees up.  Then, he immediately hits the Bloody Sunday and Styles Clash for the win.  ***1/2

This was a good match that could have been a really good match.  AJ can apparently work an outstanding match with absolutely anyone. If they’d eliminated the Mark Briscoe shtick and really honed in on the in-match story, this could’ve easily been a four-star match. As it was, it was pretty hard to buy 2015 Mark Briscoe as someone who could go toe-to-toe with IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles. But it was still definitely worth watching.

Final Thoughts:  I would recommend this episode in full if you’re an ROH fan.  If you’re just in it for the matches on their own, I would only recommend Styles/Briscoe.  This episode was more like what I was agitating for last week.  The Elgin matches served a purpose, even if I thought it was misguided in part.  The Rowe/Hanson segments reset those guys to go forward.  The ACH match allowed them to focus on the Colby Corino story from last week and set up something between Whitmer and ACH.  And while the Styles/Briscoe match served no storyline purpose, there is obviously a place in ROH for great matches that don’t necessarily have an impact in the big picture.  For my purposes, I was also glad there was no KRD mention in this show but we do know that angle will be paying off soon.

And for our own VOW ROH TV review payoff, next week we will actually get two matches from Supercard of Honor IX:  Jay Briscoe vs. Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger.  So I guess the point of SCOH was more geared toward just being a live event plus content for ROH TV.  For now, I’ll lay off on the build to SCOH.  But we will be monitoring again ROH’s use of their TV time as we get closer to Best in the World 2015 on June 19th.