Ring of Honor
Episode 196
Air Date: June 24, 2015

Ring of Honor is less than a week removed from one of the strongest pay-per-views this year, Best in the World. And one of the best built feuds of the year paid off with a brand new Ring of Honor champion, Jay Lethal. And you will hear about none of that on this week’s episode of Ring of Honor television. I understand why, on some level. That’s how their TV is recorded and airs. But if you’ve been watching Ring of Honor since it debuted on Destination America, you’re likely interested in the Jay Briscoe/Jay Lethal program. You would likely be interested to find out how that turned out. But you will not.

And yet, it’s hard to criticize this episode because if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for one hell of an hour.

Roderick Strong vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

I get the sense that the editing of this match for television siphoned a bit of juice out of it. And yet, the story Strong and Nakamura told really shined through. Roddy just could not get up to Nakamura’s level; he would be able to go back and forth with Shinsuke but when the time came to establish a real advantage, Nakamura always came out on top. Finally, Roddy got the best of an exchange and was able to put together an offensive combination, ending with a double knee gutbuster. But even that wasn’t enough to put away the King of Strong Style. At that point, it was clear Strong would not be able to overcome Nakamura. Unfortunately, the ending of the match was slightly diminished by a less than solid connection on a Boma Ye that wasted a Roddy one-count kickout. The story had been told but the ending turned out to be more denouement than climax. Still, this was great. ****

Gedo vs. Michael Elgin

This match was essentially the story of Michael Elgin’s career and not just because it was the Elgin vs. Japan battle come to life. Elgin overpowered Gedo to begin, as one would expect, but gave up his advantage when he attempted a move from the top rope. Elgin is a big, strong dude with authentic offense. Wasting his time with high spots takes away from what he does best. He’s like a basketball player with great post moves who wants to float out to the perimeter instead. Stay in your lane, big man. Elgin eventually used his power to regain control and finish off Gedo with a sitout powerbomb. **1/2

Kazuchika Okada & Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero and Beretta) vs. The Bullet Club (AJ Styles & The Young Bucks)

The discussion regarding The Young Bucks often revolves around their act and their ring psychology. Whether you like the nWo/DX tribute act and whether you enjoy their spotty style is not going to be changed by any argument. But what is discussed much less is how great these guys are at the style they wrestle. They are always in the right place and every match of theirs is always smooth. It doesn’t really even matter who is in the ring with them. This was mostly a normal Young Bucks match, which I say as a high compliment.

However, mixed in were some very interesting exchanges between Okada and AJ Styles, who are on the precipice of an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match. The Okada/Styles interactions added a different flavor to the match but both guys were able to seamlessly adapt their styles to the fast-paced, spotty affair. In many ways, they stole the show with some fantastic counter-wrestling. I’m not sure if this was better than the Young Bucks 6-man at Best in the World but it was on the high end of Bucks-style matches. ****1/4

Final Thoughts: There’s not much analysis in between matches here because these matches have nothing to do with ongoing stories in Ring of Honor. But the bouts that bookended this episode are simply outstanding. There is another conversation to have regarding the effectiveness of this episode to the extent the point of wrestling television is to draw future ratings and sell tickets and pay-per-views. But if I tuned into Ring of Honor for the first time to see this episode, I would have been glued to the television and guaranteed to check in next week.