Ring of Honor
July 8, 2015
Are you still dying to know what happened at Best in the World on June 19? Then, boy, do I have a show for you! ROH has now run out of matches from the NJPW/ROH supershows and is now forced to show us matches and angles that relate to their ongoing business.
Takaaki Watanabe vs. Dalton Castle
Here’s our first Best in the World participant, as Castle got the best of Silas Young at that show after a low blow. Here, he and Watanabe got somewhat stuck in between trying to do an opener-style comedy match and a main event-style knock-down, drag-out fight. For his part, Watanabe really seems to be coming into his own. He’s got some personality, some charisma, and I’m starting to consider how he would freshen up NJPW. Castle did his normal stuff but these guys didn’t really find their groove. Castle eventually finished off Watanabe in a solid, if not spectacular, match. **
Castle then grabbed the mic to remind everyone that, at Best in the World, he proved he was the only real man in ROH. That, of course, brought out Silas Young. So that program continues, as it should. And I look forward to their next encounter. However, my problems with Castle were perfectly exemplified by the promo he cut after that match. As a performer, Castle is so clearly aware of himself, so in on the joke, that there is too much separation from Castle the character. The best wrestling characters (and in movies and television shows) make us believe they *are* the character they are playing. Instead, Castle screams at us, “isn’t this hilarious!?”
As if to make my point for me, Jay Lethal and the House of Truth made their way to the ring. Lethal’s character work is fantastic. He’s not Briscoe on the mic but I believe the words he says. Nigel McGuinness joined Lethal to ask him whether he intended to vacate the World title or the Television title. Lethal declined to vacate either title, which led Nigel to advise him that he would then be required to defend both titles, perhaps on the same show. To that end, Nigel made official that Lethal will defend the World title against Roderick Strong at Death Before Dishonor on July 24. He will also defend the TV title against Mark Briscoe next week on ROH TV. To begin the iPPV sell, Roderick Strong came to the ring for a short segment to confront Lethal.
But, folks, we also have a television show that needs ratings. Adam Page got some pre-taped promo time to talk about his match next week with Matt Sydal. Unfortunately, as we learned at Best in the World, the Page/ACH program is continuing. This wasn’t that great but I’m always excited to see a Matt Sydal match.
The Kingdom made their way to the ring but, before our main event could start, Maria Kanellis had something to say: As the leader of The Kingdom, she took full responsibility for their loss at Best in the World. I suppose ROH is setting up a split here, which is the best thing that could happen for Cole. He badly needs to get away from Bennett & Taven. His shtick works best as a heel but he is an otherwise natural contender for Jay Lethal’s World title.
The Kingdom (Adam Cole, Michael Bennett & Matt Taven) vs. reDRagon & Michael Elgin
ROH seems poised to again go down the road of Michael Elgin as a face. He was the main focus of 90% of this match, the announcers continually put him over, and he got to demonstrate all his high spots to try to get the crowd behind him. Unfortunately, the ROH crowd doesn’t seem to be ready to acquiesce to the company’s apparent plans. Overall, this was a fun match. It was different than the normal ROH/Young Bucks 6-mans because it was based around Elgin’s strength with flippy spots thrown in for color. But it still involved The Kingdom. The end of the match saw the Elgin story abandoned and reDRagon hit Adam Cole with Chasing the Dragon for the victory. ***1/4
Though none of the match really focused on dissension within The Kingdom, Cole used his loss to shake Kyle O’Reilly’s hand and exit the ring without the rest of his crew. Getting Adam Cole away from Taven & Bennett would be a boon for Cole and also for the audience as that would probably mean The Kingdom would not factor as much into the main event.
Final Thoughts: Two weeks ago, this would have been a very good episode. Had ROH followed up Best in the World with this show, I would have been salivating to order Death Before Dishonor. Regardless, we are starting to see a build to that show and we are starting to see the seeds of change within the main event picture now that Lethal is champion. There were no great matches on this episode, though the main event is certainly worth watching, but I definitely want to tune in next week to see what’s going on with Elgin and Cole and how, if at all, they factor in with Lethal.