Rebounding from a lackluster episode of ROH last week, and hoping to keep momentum as we move closer to Final Battle, this week we saw a focus on quality tag team wrestling, the continuation of Silas Young teaching Dalton Castle’s  Boys how to be real men, and a major announcement from Kevin Kelly’s sidekick in the commentary booth, Steve Corino.

Teaching The Boys how to be “Real Men”

The segment begins with Silas telling The Boys that they need to be men, and they’re going to help him change his tire. The Boys aren’t familiar with how to use a jack, and oddly appear to be caressing it in a back and forth motion. Silas sees this, and says “No, no, no, I said jack it up,” and then smiles and winks into the camera.

The Boys aren’t happy with getting their hands dirty, and attempt to use hand sanitizer, much to the dismay of Silas. Silas intervenes, spitting in one of The Boys hands, and calls it “manitizer.”

The segment ends with The Boys in a failed attempt to teach them how to drive a stick shift, as SIlas runs next to them, slapping the car and yelling, “use the clutch.”

This storyline is arguably the best in ROH. It’s something different, and entertaining. Silas Young has been exceptional in this role, and Dalton Castle’s Boys have done a great job as natural foils to becoming real men. I’m hoping the end game will see Dalton Castle getting his revenge, and The Boys returning to his side.

Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser vs. War Machine (Hanson & Rowe)

The Boys carried The Beer City Bruiser’s beer keg to the ring, and a “Free the boys” chant broke out before the match began.

The match began with the two behemoths, Hanson and The Beer City Bruiser, bouncing off the ropes and smashing into each other, neither able to move the other. War Machine executed a boot parade on Silas Young, both taking turns charging full speed ahead and rearranging his face in the corner of the ring. At one point Rowe performed an ugly, mistimed superman punch, but corrected that by doing much better the second time around. The 300+ pound Beer City Bruiser impressively landed a frog splash on Rowe for a two count, and Rowe hit The Beer City Bruiser with an even more impressive exploder suplex.

As the match came to a close, The Boys tried interfering to save Silas Young, and were thrown into the ring by Rowe, who then stacked all three of them on the top of the turnbuckle and hit them with clubbing blows. War Machine nailed The Beer City Bruiser with the fallout, for the pinfall victory.

This was a physical, back and forth match. Although at times it wasn’t the smoothest of transitions from move to move, it certainly accomplished the goal; highlighting a terrific throwback tag team in War Machine while letting these two teams beat the hell out of each other, while establishing War Machine as a threat to the ROH Tag Team Championships.

Nigel McGuinness calls out Steve Corino

Nigel tells Steve as a color commentator he wasn’t allowed to put his hands on contracted talent, and by doing so he could have worsened B.J. Whitmer’s injuries. Nigel mentioned that they sent him home and warned him if he touched a wrestler again he was done. Nigel tells Steve he cannot reinstate him as a color commentator, which leaves him with only one option; he can reinstate him as a wrestler, and book him in a match versus B.J. Whitmer in a fight without honor. Steve admits he enjoyed hitting B.J., but begins talking about a pain in his neck that’s gotten worse over time, and the numbness in his hand, and fingers, which has become more frequent. Steve admitted his wife forced him to go the doctor, which led to an MRI, and the realization that he needs major neck surgery to fuse at least three vertebrae together and his in-ring career is over. Steve says he’ll be a professional wrestler until his last breath, and thanks ROH and many of his current and former co-workers, as the crowd breaks out into a “Thank you Steve” chant. Steve thanks the fans and reminds them that his name is Steve Corino and he will always be an evil man. Another “Thank You Steve” chant breaks out as he leaves the ring, and hugs Kevin Kelley.

If you’re a VIP subscriber to MLW Radio, where Steve has a podcast called “World of Corino,” then his speech comes as no surprise. While Steve was booked to face B.J. Whitmer at Final Battle in an attempt to gain revenge on his son Colby’s behalf, his very real life neck injury threatened to paralyze him if he wrestled again. On his podcast, Steve talked about wanting a certain quality of life with his family, and that as difficult as it was, this was the right decision for him, and I agree. No storyline payoff is worth not being able to walk. Steve’s injuries are a sobering reminder of the abuse your body takes as a professional wrestler, and I have much respect for him sacrificing that to entertain me.

Michael Elgin vs. Kevin Lee Davidson

In the mid-1980’s we had S.D. Jones  versus King Kong Bundy, in the mid-1990’s we had Diesel versus Bob Backlund, and now in the mid-2010’s we have “Big Mike” versus Kevin Lee Davidson (umm…who?). If you blinked during this match, you probably missed it. Big, bad, bearded Mike delivered a nasty clothesline that would decapitate a giraffe and pinned poor KLD in about seven seconds flat.

After the match, “Big Mike” cut a promo on how participating in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G-1 Climax 25 made him realize why he does this and what’s most important. He calls out ROH World Heavyweight Champion Jay Lethal, and says it’s a matter of time before they meet in the ring and the gold comes back to him.

This match server its purpose by portraying ‘Big Mike’ as a legitimate threat to the ROH World Heavyweight Championship. With the Final Battle main event already scheduled, and the rumor of ‘Big Mike’ not resigning with ROH, it will be interesting to see how this evolves.

ROH Tag Team Championship
The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Michael Bennett) (c) vs. The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian)

Gimmick infringement alert. Michael Bennett wears his championship belt backwards like Dolph Ziggler did when he was actually relevant in WWE. The match itself was rather good, with both teams struggling to gain an advantage on one another. There was a couple of entertaining comedy spots in the match. Bennett and Kazarian both went to kick each other in the stomach, and both caught each other by the boot, and then tried negotiating who would put there foot back down first. During a referee distraction spot, Sabin and Kanellis both slid a tag team championship belt into the ring to Taven and Kazarian. Then when the referee began to turn around, they both dropped the belt in their hands and fell to the mat, feigning a blow from the championship belt by one another. Kevin Kelly reminds us that War Machine has the ROH Tag Team Championship match at Final Battle and awaits the winner.

The match ended with a ref bump. Kanellis interfered by kicking Daniels below the belt, and giving him a superkick. The man in the black clothes and red mask appeared, superkicked Kazarian, and Bennett connected with a spear on him for the pin.

After the match, War Machine comes out and stares down the champions.

It’s no surprise that these two teams put on a good match. This featured great athleticism and they had plenty of time to tell a good in-ring story, which many wrestling matches lack these days. The Kingdom feel like the right combination of strong but beatable, and the post-match staredown with War Machine began laying the foundation for their match at Final Battle.

Final Thoughts: Overall this was a solid show, with good matches, and reasonable storyline progression leading into Final Battle on December 18. As we advance closer to that time, it will be critical for ROH to have a clear lineup of matches in place with compelling stories that make fans want to pay to see.