For the final Ring of Honor TV show of the year, we get a 2015 Year End recap. Essentially, we’re just joining a few matches already in progress from Global Wars Night 2 and Best in the World, along with a handful of wacky backstage segments wishing us a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays (which I won’t be wasting your time to mention).
This will probably be my shortest review to date, as there isn’t much to cover. I hope each of you enjoyed spending time with your loved ones over the holidays, whether celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, something else, or nothing at all. I really enjoy doing this, and I sincerely appreciate you taking time out of your day each week to read my ROH reviews.
I’ve always believed that one of the biggest upsides of professional wrestling being a work is that it makes it completely subjective. You and I don’t have to agree on everything, or even anything, and that’s perfectly okay. It doesn’t make either person right or wrong, it just makes the opinion different, and different is often times good.
Speaking of different, being just that is something ROH must accomplish to be successful in 2016. They have to stand out, separate themselves from WWE (I’m looking at you Delirious, with those Final Battle finishes), and work on the three key areas I mentioned in my last review (which you can read here).
One way to separate themselves from the rest of the pack is the ROH Top Prospect Tournament, an annual showcasing of young and up coming talent, which begins in January. I’m very excited about this tournament, and to see who stands out. Thus far Action Ortiz, Lio Rush, Punisher Martinez, and Colby Corino have all been announced as participants.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Lio Rush, who admittedly I’m a fan of. Punisher Martinez is a stand out from the “World Famous” Monster Factory in New Jersey, a highly respected training facility. Colby Corino is the wiry son of ROH and ECW legend Steve Corino, who no doubt will be looking to prove himself, and establish his own identity. Action Ortiz was the first graduate from Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore wrestling school, and has a shoot fighting background in Muai Thai.
As the show begins, “The Exotic Goddess” Mandy Leon welcomes everyone to a special year end recap of ROH Wrestling, highlighting the matches between ROH and NJPW wrestlers.
ACH & Matt Sydal vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tetsuya Naito (from Global Wars Night 2)
All but one of this show’s matches are from Global Wars 2015 Night 2, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This was an action packed tag team match, which reminded me how much I enjoy everyone in this match. Sydal’s had a breakout year, ACH is super athletic (albeit underutilized), and Naito and Tanahashi are great. I’m a big fan of Tanahashi, who is essentially NJPW’s version of John Cena. He’s entering Wrestle Kingdom 10 on January 4th, 2016 as the challenger, where I expect Kazuchika Okada, my favorite wrestler in NJPW, to win in a torch passing type of match. I really love the working relationship between ROH and NJPW, and I hope that continued through 2016.
Tanahashi nailed his signature splash on ACH for the win for his team.
Analysis: Great match. Global Wars 2015 Night 2 was a great show that I’d recommend you check out if you weren’t able to watch it.
Roderick Strong vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (from Global Wars Night 2)
This was an action packed, physical match between two great workers. Nakamura is one of my favorite wrestlers in NJPW, and is arguably the talent most likely to successfully cross over into WWE due to his talent, love for American culture, and English speaking ability.
Strong had a great year, and continues to be the backbone of ROH.
Nakamura hit a jumping knee for the win.
Analysis: Another great match from Global Wars 2015 Night 2.
The Bullet Club (AJ Styles & The Young Bucks) vs. ACH, Matt Sydal & Cedric Alexander (from ROH TV)
This match was from ROH TV in February. It was a fast paced, typical Young Bucks match. There was a plethora of athleticism and numerous great spots. It contained a few too many superkicks for my taste, but overall a very good match, especially for free TV.
The Bullet Club win with an Indytaker.
Analysis: I hope to see a bigger spotlight on ACH and Matt Sydal in 2016.
Battle of the Belts: ROH World Champion Jay Briscoe vs. World TV Champion Jay Lethal (from Best in the World)
This is where Jay Lethal’s current ROH World Championship reign began. Lethal and Briscoe had an absolute battle with Lethal picking up the win after a lethal injection.
Analysis: Jay Lethal’s reign as ROH World Champion has been legitimately good, and he’s really had a breakout year. Going forward it will be important for ROH to strongly build a couple of contenders as legitimate threats to Lethal’s title. It looks like they may have one in Big Mike, though I can’t possibly see them giving him the title unless he signs a new deal with them.
Final Thoughts: 2016 should be an exciting year for ROH. 2015 was a very good year, though I thought this show in particular was forgettable, and thrown together just to have something for TV. Showing us matches from 2015 is fine, but pick a couple of major ones and show us the entire match, rather than several matches joined in progress. It’s sometimes hard to emotionally invest in matches you’ve seen, especially if you begin watching mid-match. I would have liked to see a segment at the end hooking us into the exciting things coming up in 2016. The backstage segments wishing the fans a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays were wacky and pointless time fillers.