On the night before WWE SummerSlam 2015, Ring of Honor heads back to MCU Park for the second consecutive year, in what seems to be becoming an annual tradition. Overshadowed somewhat by running head-to-head with NXT’s largest show ever (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn) at the Barclays Center, ROH has arguably put together the best card of the weekend. Joining the already deep Ring of Honor roster is a plethora of New Japan Pro Wrestling talent including IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, IWGP Intercontinental Champion Hirooki Goto and Shinsuke Nakamura.

Almost every match on this card is exciting, something that hasn’t been able to have been said for many ROH cards recently, or even NJPW cards for that matter.  -Rob Reid

Gauntlet Match – ROH TV Title (Frankie Kazarian, Moose, Donovan Dijak, Cedric Alexander, Adam Page, Dalton Castle and Silas Young)

Aaron Bentley (@AaronBentleyVOW): It’s really hard to predict how this is going to go when I’m not totally sure what ROH is doing with the TV title. There’s a lot of buzz that Kyle O’Reilly will take the World title off of Jay Lethal at All Star Extravaganza. So does Lethal drop both titles that night? Or does he continue on with his reign as TV champion? Figuring that out goes a long way toward determining who they might want to set up as the next challenger. Will it be someone they can feed to Lethal (or a new champion)? Or will it be someone they want to give a run with the belt? Putting all that aside and focusing only on the booking of these individual wrestlers, I think the best bets to survive the gauntlet are Dalton Castle and Adam Page. I don’t see Kazarian getting in the TV title picture. I don’t think Dijak is ready to be featured and ROH seems to realize that. Alexander and Moose will probably cancel each other out. The same could be said for Castle and Young but Castle is a very hot property right now so if they’re planning on setting someone up to actually make a run, he’s a very good choice. Adam Page is apparently headed toward a program with Jay Briscoe. If so, ROH thinks highly of him and this could be a great way to elevate him. But if they do think highly of him, they likely won’t want to feed him to Lethal. So again, we come back to where all this is heading. Since I can’t yet be sure of that, I’m simply going with the guy that I think makes the most sense.

Prediction: Dalton Castle

Rob Reid (@TheRDouble): This is the one match on this card which I’m not confident will be good I’m never really a fan of gauntlet matches, they’re usually a series of illogically short and often overbooked matches that aren’t good when looked at individually and don’t combine to make much of a collective either. That said, I like everybody in this match to varying degrees, and think that this style of match will accentuate Moose’s strengths. I’m not entirely sure on a winner, Moose is probably what many will see as the favourite but I see him entering early, getting a few eliminations (Page, Dijak and/or Kazarian come to mind) before falling to Alexander to further that feud. I’ll throw my hat on Castle to pick up the win eliminating Young last. He’s got history with Lethal and would be the perfect person to steal a win on him for the TV title while Lethal was more concerned with a World title defense later in the night. Plus he’s really over, so ROH would be wise to strike while the iron is hot by giving him some wins before his new guy buzz wears off as he’s eaten a lot of losses so far.

Prediction: Dalton Castle

Warren Taylor (@TeddyNoir): What better way to set up the blow off match for Young/Castle at Final Battle than for Surely Silas to cost Castle a TV Championship match? To do that Castle needs to earn said title match.

Prediction: Dalton Castle

The Young Bucks, ACH & Matt Sydal vs. The Kingdom & RPG Vice

Aaron Bentley: Rob, below, nails the disappointment this match really highlights: ROH’s criminally poor usage of ACH and Matt Sydal. In a promotion that regularly features BJ Whitmer and The Decade, there should be a lot more room to showcase real talents like ACH and Sydal. Regardless, this feels like a match, along with the Gauntlet Match, that had to be thrown together because these performers were all signed to appear before ROH secured the New Japan talent. At least we all know what we’re getting here. The Bucks will superkick, ACH will fly, and The Kingdom will suck. You can never go wrong picking The Young Bucks to win when they show up in ROH.

Prediction: The Young Bucks, ACH & Matt Sydal

Rob Reid: Well at the very least this should be fun. In some ways this does feel like somewhat of a waste of many of these talents but looking at the card it’s pretty full anyway so you can’t really be too mad. Going in everybody knows what this’ll be, it’ll be a fun spotfest. Seven of the guys in this match are good at that style, so I can’t imagine this’ll be anything less than enjoyable and serve it’s purpose of firing up the crowd. It’ll likely either be the opener, or second match in where it could be vital in getting the crowd on side after the gauntlet which does has a fair chance of not being too good. Winner wise, I have no clue really. What I’d like to happen would be for ACH or Sydal to pick up a win, I think both guys are super-underutilised and could really shine if ROH gave them a push as a team together.

Prediction: Young Bucks, ACH & Matt Sydal

Warren Taylor: Listen, we all know what we are getting with this match. It is going to be a car crash in the best possible way. Unlike Rob and Aaron I think The Kingdom will do just fine here. Bennett & Taven have been working their asses off on ROH house shows and without out any Mariaference the two’s matches are solid. They will more than hold their own in this match.

Prediction: Young Bucks and ACH & Matt Sydal

Adam Cole vs. Christopher Daniels

Aaron Bentley: If this is just a normal match meant to get Adam Cole some momentum, it will probably turn out to be a more-than-fine three-star affair. The wrinkle will be whether The Kingdom finds a way to get involved. Cole is eventually going to have to blow off the feud with Bennett and Taven, which you would expect to end with Cole scoring a singles victory over one of them. Perhaps one of them gets particularly involved in this contest to get us moving in that direction.

Prediction: Adam Cole

Rob Reid: While Daniels is clearly getting up there in years, and as such is better suited to the tag scene where he generally resides these days, he can still very much go when put in there with the right opponent to a level that should really beyond a 45-year-old. Adam Cole definitely fits into the “right opponent” category, so this should be yet another great addition to what should be a great show. With Daniels focusing almost entirely on tag endeavors, this presents the perfect opportunity for post face-turn Cole to pick up a still sizable win without doing any damage to the veteran Daniels.

Prediction: Adam Cole

Warren Taylor: This will be a lot of fun and could be a good match if there is no outside distractions which I think all three of us agree there will be. Regardless, Adam Cole picks up the win.

Prediction: Adam Cole

Hirooki Goto vs. Michael Elgin

Aaron Bentley: This may not be the best match of the night, though it definitely has a chance to be, but it is certainly the most intriguing match on this card. Michael Elgin is fresh off of a truly career-changing performance in the G1 Climax. Almost immediately after it became clear that Elgin was operating on another level in Japan, people started to question whether he could do the same when he came back stateside. He will have the advantage of working with Goto, with whom he had a fantastic match on Night 16 of the G1. But the intrigue stems from how the ROH audience reacts to Elgin. Big Mike was one of the most over acts toward the end of his tour in Japan but those audiences were reacting wildly to spots Elgin has done for some time in ROH, with diminishing returns. I’m rooting for Big Mike and if the ROH fans give him a chance, I think he’ll win them over again. Goto did get the win in Korakuen Hall and I expect Elgin to get the win back.

Prediction: Michael Elgin

Rob Reid: As somebody who watches all of the smaller shows ROH puts out on VOD I’ve been championing how good of an under-the-radar year Michael Elgin has been having, weirdly enough often putting out better performances on the lower profile shows. Well with the G1 in the books everybody has gotten to see just how great he is currently, exceeding even my high expectations. The #BigMike train is running full force and he seems to have a newfound confidence in his work that had previously been lacking for a good while. He’s also benefitted from stripping down a lot of his offense, playing more to his strengths as a power wrestler, where he had been getting a little too cutesy with some of his US work. I just hope he doesn’t revert back and sticks what worked so well for him over in Japan when coming back home to the US. Goto is one of my guys, and the exact sort of “bashi-bashi” opponent Elgin really flourished against on the recent tour. If you can’t tell I’m super-excited at the mere thought of this match; it’s my most anticipated match of the entire SummerSlam weekend and that’s saying something as there’s a lot of great wrestling that’s going to occur. As Goto was only added for this weekend after Elgin proved to be a success in the G1, considerably after all the other NJPW guys, my thinking is perhaps that this match is here to set up an Intercontinental title match for #BigMike at some point down the road. It’s somewhat of a bold claim to predict that a New Japan champion will lose on one of these shows, but #BigMike-mania has taken over me.

Prediction: Michael “#BigMike” Elgin

Warren Taylor: I think of the all the New Japan wrestlers coming stateside this weekend Goto is the most likely to deliver a great match. The man is the quintessential mid-card work horse and has been on fire the last few months. At this point we all have witnessed the resurrection of Michael Elgin. He is going to bust his ass to prove that the G1 was not a fluke. The big question is whether the Brooklyn crowd will continue to be apathetic to the big Canadian or will they give him the hero’s welcome he deserves? Elgin deserves the win here but I just don’t Gedo letting one of his champions job during this tour.  

Prediction: Hirooki Goto

Killer Elite Squad vs. War Machine

Aaron Bentley: Since their relative banishment to NOAH, Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith, Jr. have suffered from a lack of exposure. While that has been unfortunate, it makes this match even better because it feels so fresh. These teams are set up perfectly for a confrontation, if anyone besides Rob Reid and I remembers their non-finish on ROH TV. As I’ve discussed the last couple of weeks in my ROH TV reviews, War Machine needs to be matched with teams that can keep up with their pace and their physicality. Killer Elite Squad will obviously have no trouble doing both. New Japan champions are terribly well protected on these shows but we haven’t seen how NOAH champions will be treated. My guess is they get the same protection and K.E.S comes out on top.

Prediction: Killer Elite Squad

Rob Reid: Yet another match I’m hyped for, the until recently criminally underused on the US indy scene Killer Elite Squad make their second foray into ROH competition. It’s great to see K.E.S. go up against some fresh opponents, and I fully expect it to yield great results. These are four big guys who can all really go, and I’m expecting a physical war the like of which I love watching. I just hope Hanson doesn’t decide to continue his recent trend of kicking out of too much which he’s been starting to make a habit recently. This is a rematch from a match a few months ago in ROH which ended in a double DQ but gave just enough of a taste of what these two teams could do together that I’m chomping at the bit for this rematch. Not too long ago there were rumblings of War Machine getting a tour with NOAH, so I’m going to say Hanson or Rowe pick up the win here to set themselves up for a title challenge over in Japan.

Prediction: War Machine

Warren Taylor: This is my most anticipated match of the night because it is going to be two teams of huge dudes just beating the ever loving hell out of each other. War Machine is on a collision course with The Addiction that should come to a head around Final Battle. They pick up the win to build momentum.

Prediction: War Machine

Kazuchika Okada vs. Roderick Strong

Aaron Bentley: I highly doubt it’s a coincidence that Roddy got such great dance partners at War of the Worlds and Global Wars and is getting another here. It could just be that ROH trusts Strong to work well with the top NJPW stars and deliver great matches. But it could also mean that Gedo wants to see Strong against his best guys because he’s considering giving Roddy a chance. As great a year as Strong is having, I would love to see the fresh matchups a New Japan run would offer. But regardless of all that, the IWGP Heavyweight Champion is not losing this match.

Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

Rob Reid: Before #BigMike-mania took over the world (well, at least twitter) there were many disgruntled people who were disappointed at Roddy Strong’s lack of inclusion in the G1 off the back of his War of the Worlds and Global Wars performances. While it was probably due to the G1 participants already being booked by that point, I can understand the disappointment: Strong has had one hell of a year. Consider this match a consolation, and a bloody good one at that. At the very least I’m expecting the finishing sequence to this one to be stellar, these two both shine in producing out of your seat closing stretches, and this one very well could steal the show or even the entire weekend. Oh, and you never know, another good showing for Roddy here and you could see Strong working over in New Japan sooner rather than later. Theoretically this could be ROH Champion vs. IWGP champion as Strong has a title match the previous night at the Philly TV taping against Lethal, although I can’t see that happening. What I do see happening though is the IWGP Champion hitting a Rainmaker on the PWG Champion to obtain victory.

Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

Warren Taylor: I’ve made no secret that I think Roderick Strong is the leading candidate for Most Outstanding Wrestler of 2015. Roddy is going to give this match his all that is for sure. Will Okada meet him half-way? The IWGP Heavyweight Champion just went through a grueling G1 so he may not feel up to matching Strong’s intensity. If he does this match will be damn good. If doesn’t I have faith in Strong to carry the “Rainmaker” to a decent outing. Either way the result is already set in stone…

Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

The Briscoes vs. The Time Splitters

Aaron Bentley: The Briscoes are being built up for another shot at the ROH World Tag Team Championships. At Death Before Dishonor, Jay and Mark beat RPG Vice in a great match. In what I’m sure will be another great match, they’ll also get another win here over KUSHIDA and Alex Shelley, with Shelley taking the fall to protect KUSHIDA’s Junior Heavyweight Championship reign.

Prediction: The Briscoes

Rob Reid: Making their first appearance of the year, the Time Splitters return to Ring of Honor to take on the company’s most decorated team in what I’m sure will be a very strong match on a stacked card. As Aaron above me mentioned it appears that Dem Boys are being built up to be the challengers for the Addiction at the All Star Extravaganza PPV, likely to give the champions a strong win so when they drop the straps to a younger team (likely War Machine at Final Battle) it’ll mean all the more. I’m really enjoying Mark and Jay back together as a team; working together as a unit has really helped Jay hide some of his post-injury weaknesses that were getting showcased far too often having to work long main event singles matches. There’s been an abundance of fresh matches too which never hurts.

Prediction: The Briscoes

Warren Taylor: Aaron and Rob have already covered why The Briscoes are going to win this match so I guess I fall into the hype man role by default. This match is the most decorated tag team in ROH history vs. one of the top five tag teams in the world. How could anyone not be excited for it? Give this one fifteen to eighteen minutes and it just might steal the show.

Prediction: The Briscoes

Jay Lethal & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. reDRagon

Aaron Bentley: With Jay Lethal set to likely defend his TV title and World title in separate matches against Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly at Ring of Honor’s next pay-per-view, All Star Extravaganza, this match should continue a subtle but strong build to that card. O’Reilly holds a pinfall victory over Jay Lethal in a tag match and a time limit draw with Lethal in a TV title match on a recent ROH TV episode. Another victory over Lethal would make O’Reilly look particularly strong going into San Antonio. However, the presence of the King of Strong Style is a substantial roadblock. The top New Japan stars are generally booked very strongly on these supershows. I expect that to continue here with Nakamura scoring the pinfall on Bobby Fish so that Lethal and O’Reilly are strong for their championship match.

Prediction: Jay Lethal & Shinsuke Nakamura

Rob Reid: This is what I’ll assume will end up being the main event, featuring the dual champion, his next challengers for each two belts and to complete the puzzle a guest appearance from New Japan’s King of Strong Style. While I like all four participants in this match, it’s not one I’m particularly looking forward to which is a shame on top of a card I’m generally super into. I’d love to be wrong, but this has all the markings of a Nakamura phoning it in special. That said, these four are all so good that even if that does occur it’ll still be at least good, especially as I imagine Lethal and reDRagon will be working extra hard to compensate. As for who is winning, this one is tough to predict. Logic might dictate that the challenger would get the upper hand on the champion going into the PPV, but O’Reilly already scored a victory over Lethal in a tag match last month in Las Vegas. Throw Nakamura into the mix who definitely won’t be eating a pin, and it really could go either way. I’m going to plump for reDRagon getting the win through superior teamwork, perhaps after some misunderstanding between Lethal and Shinsuke.

Prediction: reDRagon

Warren Taylor: Even if Nakamura pulls an E.T. and phones home I think that Lethal and both members of reDRagon will work hard enough to put the main event into ***½ range. The real question is who is going to take the pin in this match? There is no way that Nak is taking the pin. O’Reilly pinning Lethal makes sense and would give him momentum heading into their title match. I’m keen on the scenario of Lethal pinning Bobby Fish because I have a feeling Mr. Fish is going to become ROH World Television Champion very soon. Lethal beating his challenger ahead of the title match will build his characters ego and make Fish’s title win that much sweeter.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura & Jay Lethal