The lost talking point in the discussion of New Japan Pro Wrestling talent jumping ship to WWE is how this impacts Ring of Honor.
AJ Styles faced champion Jay Lethal in the main event of ROH’s biggest show of the year in 2015, and is now no longer on the ROH 14 Anniversary Show as originally advertised.
Shinsuke Nakamura’s exposure increased while appearing in ROH, and he’s been embraced by U.S. fans who enjoy both products. As rumors of other talent from NJPW potentially following suit, it will be interesting to see what NJPW talent ROH will use. I can only assume they must consider rebuilding their relationship with the new leader of the Bullet Club, Kenny Omega.
Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuiness are on commentary this week.
Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Barretta) vs. All Night Express
This was a back and forth contest, which was given just the right amount of time for an opening match. The two teams had pretty good chemistry in the ring, and the All Night Express is riding a lot of momentum.
Towards the end, Roppongi Vice hit strong zero on Rhett Titus, only they didn’t realize Kenny King was the legal man after a blind tag. Kenny King snuck up behind Barretta and rolled him up into a pin for the victory.
Analysis: This was a very good opening match. Trent Baretta has vastly improved from his WWE days, and every time I see Rocky Romero in a ring I am reminded of just how polished and good he is. He does all of the little things very well, and is quite underrated by your average U.S. fan. The All Night Express continues to do well since reforming and I fully expect them to have another run as tag team champions.
The Kingdom (Adam Cole, Matt Taven, Michael Bennett & Maria Kanellis) In-Ring Interview
Matt Taven came out on crutches, which will unfortunately be his friend for the foreseeable future as he was recently diagnosed with a torn ACL, a ruptured lateral meniscus, a torn medial meniscus, various sprains, and is expected to be out for nine months.
Michael Bennett and Maria Kanellis had already debuted on TNA by the time this show aired, which was interesting to see.
Security surrounds the ring, and on the microphone, Adam Cole says security is there to prevent Kyle O’Reilly from attacking them from behind. Cole runs down Bennett and Taven, telling them they dropped the ball at Final Battle. As Cole explains how they’re going to get the tag team belts back, reDRagon interrupts. Fish says they reinvented tag team wrestling and if all they have to do to get the ROH World Tag Team Championships back is beat The Kingdom, then ROH Matchmaker Nigel McGuiness needs to book a match between them. Nigel announces the match, as The Young Bucks interrupt. Matt Jackson grabs a microphone and wonders if they’re talking about The Young Bucks (if they’ve reinvented tag team wrestling, I’ve certainly missed that memo). Matt calls The Kingdom “Bullet Club marks” and says if anyone’s going to take them out, it’s The Young Bucks. Matt orders Nigel to book the match, and instead Nigel announces a triple threat tag team match next week between all three teams in a Philly Street Fight (which is sure to be the main event).
Analysis: Matt Taven’s injury was terrible news and I wish him a healthy and speedy recovery. It will be interesting to see how Michael Bennett and Maria Kanellis are written out of ROH. I wish them the best of luck in TNA (they’ll need it).
The House of Truth (Donovan Dijak & Joey “Diesel” Daddiego) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Rowe)
Dijak started out aggressively on the attack, with nice big man offense. Then he showed his diversity by landing an amazing springboard corkscrew plancha onto War Machine on the outside of the ring, which would make even the best luchadors proud.
Truth Martini slid his book into the ring and requested Dijak to use it, to finish the job. Dijak refused, kicking the book, and an annoyed Daddiego tagged himself in to the match. War Machine was able to rebound and attack from there, pinning Dijak with the fallout.
After the match, Truth Martini grabs a microphone, and says he’s beginning to realize Dijak is the weak link in The House of Truth. Martini called Dijak not being at Final Battle a slap in the face, and said he was going to show Dijak how a real man slaps somebody in the space. After a slap that appeared to be unequivocally weaker than anything I’ve seen from Stephanie McMahon on Monday nights, Dijak grabbed Martini and was attacked from behind by Daddiego. Dijak quickly rebounded, dead lifting Daddiego and landing his finisher, feast your eyes, as Martini escaped the ring. Martini tells Dijak he is out of The House of Truth, and Prince Nana walked to the ring with a pleased look, as Kevin Kelly mentions on commentary that Dijak received one of Nana’s envelopes.
Analysis: Dijak was noticeably more aggressive in the ring this week, and consistently so. It came off very good. The storytelling here was basic but well executed. I am very pleased that they went in this direction, and think this will be the key to making Dijak a star. I love the feast your eyes finisher for Dijak, but one thing that I’d like to see more of from the announce team, is them putting over the impact of Dijak’s finisher. When he hit his finisher on Daddiego, I wanted to hear the announcers tell me how high up Daddiego was in the air because of Dijak’s height, and how hard that crash landing must have been.
4 Corners Survival Match
Dalton Castle vs. Moose vs. “Reborn” Matt Sydal vs. Jay Briscoe
The match premise is that two wrestlers are in the ring at one time. Another wrestler can enter the ring by being tagged in, or if one of the two wrestlers are outside of the ring for any reason.
This was a very good match, something that isn’t always easy to pull off with four wrestlers in the mix. The crowd was really into Moose from the moment his music played. They really should do a better job of protecting him (eg: a squash match instead of this if he’s going to lose).
In a bit of a surprise, Dalton Castle hit his bang-a-rang finisher and pinned Sydal for the victory.
Analysis: This was a big win in helping establishing legitimacy for Castle, who is easily the biggest standout “character” in ROH.
Final Thoughts: This was a good show overall. I enjoyed the progression of Donovan Dijak’s story, but would still like to see more episodic storytelling in general. Next week’s assumed main event (reDRagon vs. The Kingdom vs. The Young Bucks) should be good.