Ring of Honor
Episode 197
Air Date: July 1, 2015

Last week, I complained that Ring of Honor failed to follow up on their Best in the World pay-per-view, which I believe was one of the best of the year so far. I know this isn’t the pre-internet age when you had to check in on the promotion’s television to find out who won the title at the PPV but ROH was just recently granted access to a new national audience. Especially when you led up to your PPV with a program as hot as Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal, you have to capitalize on that by covering the aftermath.

Instead, this week’s episode is billed as highlights from the ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds shows. Those shows have great matches that could certainly hook some viewers but I believe the way to create more than casual viewers is to make them care about characters and feuds. And importantly, there are only three episodes of ROH TV left before their Death Before Dishonor iPPV. Okada and Nakamura aren’t going to sell that iPPV. Amazingly, during this episode, we learn that, next week, ROH is going to let us know who won the title match at Best in the World! That’s really an amazing thing to suggest. Acting like your audience is made up of total idiots is probably not the best strategy.

All that being said, there is some very good wrestling on this week’s episode. Unfortunately, I’ve seen all the matches previously. I watched the matches again anyway and tried to blend my opinion from my first viewing with my opinion from this second viewing.

The Addiction vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gedo: The Addiction were able to compete with Gedo but were clearly outmatched when Gedo gave the hot tag to Okada, which necessitated both Kazarian and Daniels getting involved to push Okada back to the ring apron. With Gedo back in, The Addiction was able to hit Celebrity Rehab on Gedo and earn the win. ***

This was a fine match, if nothing special. The best spot involved Daniels pushing Red Shoes, who responded by taking his best boxing stance. This was from the first night of the War of the Worlds shows so the crowd needed to be thrown a bone, despite the fact that The Addiction couldn’t afford a loss as tag team champs. To that end, Okada hit a Rainmaker after the match and the 2300 Arena erupted.

Adam Page vs. Takaaki Watanabe: I like Watanabe more every chance I get to watch him.  His charisma seems to improve with each performance and he is clearly learning the kind of offense he needs to use with his body. He suplexed Adam Page (and Colby Corino) all over the place. In the end, however, Corino’s participation would prove too much as Page used Corino’s help to finish off Watanabe. **1/2

As much as I like Watanabe more and more, I don’t feel quite the same about Page. I occasionally find myself warming to him but it doesn’t always carry over to his next match. His standing shooting star press off the ring apron always looks good until it’s time to make contact with his opponent. As for things I’m not warming to at all, Steve Corino has no idea how to sell this Colby Corino angle. It’s super cringeworthy hearing him trying and failing to act like he is concerned with his son’s life choices.

Adam Cole vs. AJ Styles: Did Adam Cole’s injury stop him from doing cardio? Cole’s body has never looked like AJ Styles’, for example, but he looked really bad at these shows. Regardless, this was a great match. This was Cole’s second match back after his shoulder injury, and his first singles match. There was a lot of talk that this seemed like odd booking, having Cole lose his first big singles match. But they figured out the best way around that. Cole battled move for move with AJ Styles until his shoulder just couldn’t take it anymore. At that point, Styles was able to put away Cole for good. ****

Final Thoughts:  If you’ve watched the War of the Worlds shows already, there is literally nothing new here to see. If you haven’t, here’s your chance to watch this great Adam Cole vs. AJ Styles match for free. I highly recommend it. While the wrestling wasn’t nearly as good on this show as it was on last week’s episode, this is another example of an hour of great wrestling that suffers from its complete lack of connection to the universe in which ROH’s storylines exist. Two weeks ago, Jay Lethal won the promotion’s world title and ended Jay Briscoe’s nearly three-year winning streak and we haven’t so much as heard from him on television since. That’s professional malpractice. I understand the draw of using these ROH/NJPW matches but some video packages/pre-taped promos would not hurt. Oh well. This appears to be the last of that batch of contests. Hopefully ROH will use next week to start an appropriate build toward their Death Before Dishonor iPPV.