Before I go into the review of the show itself, I have to address, once again, the issues with ROH TV not being up to date. This was the first fresh episode of since June 18. Now two weeks ago—on the weekend of the Best in the World PPV—we saw a special Women of Honor Showcase episode. Despite the fact that this episode featured matches that were taped in early February, it was still new matches that we hadn’t seen. Last weekend, we got yet another “Best of” Episode, which looked back at some of the best matches from the first half of 2016. I could somewhat see the reasoning for that on this particular weekend (as it was Fourth of July Weekend), but at the end of day, it was still pretty lazy on ROH’s part, especially after a major PPV.
There are so many other things you could do instead of showing matches from several months ago. You could have done a Best in the World recap show, going over the results of the PPV, maybe with clips of matches from the PPV, with backstage interviews with some of the talent after the fact. You could have also used that time to promote some of the matches on ROH TV that are happening over the next couple of weeks, such as Roderick Strong wrestling his last match in the company against Dalton Castle, or Kyle O’Reilly challenging Jay Lethal for the ROH World Title. The recent WWE Cruiserweight Classic Bracketology Special on the WWE Network shows that stuff like this can work, and I think ROH is definitely capable of doing something similar to help build matches for both PPV and TV.
Something that ROH has done with their TV show in the past—that they’ve seemed to get away from in last year or two—is featuring matches from live events. In the first few years of ROH on SBG, there would occasionally be shows that were labeled as “Road Rage” Episodes, which featured a selection of matches from a recent DVD/VOD live event. While they never really executed them well, the basic idea is a great one. Have an episode of TV every so often with matches from the live events, and say something along the lines of “Want to see the rest of this great ROH live event? Then order the show on VOD!”. Not only would it increase awareness of the VOD/DVD live events, but you could use it to promote upcoming stuff on your regular TV show.
Take this week, for example. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser are getting a shot at the ROH World Tag Team Titles as a result of winning Tag Wars 2016 several weeks ago. Now, they showed a brief clip of their victory before their title match, but wouldn’t it have been great if they aired the Tag Wars Finals, in full, last week? It does a better job setting up Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser as challengers for the TV viewer (especially for people who don’t watch the VOD/DVD live events), and also promotes those same live events as shows that are worth purchasing on VOD or DVD. The bottom line is that if ROH is going to do these off weeks, where they airing fresh content from their TV Tapings, then there are better ways to fill TV time.
Ring of Honor TV
July 9th, 2016
Cabarrus Arena – Concord, North Carolina
Our opening contest sees Donovan Dijak (with Prince Nana) taking on Jason Kincaid, who was part of the 2016 Top Prospect Tournament, and made some more appearances with ROH during their recent “Road To ‘Best in the World ‘16” live events in the midwest. I thought this match was a lot fun and it was a lot better than I was expecting! Of course, Dijak looked very impressive here, throwing around his much smaller opponent at various points throughout the match. Speaking of which, how awesome is Jason Kincaid? Even though he lost, Kincaid looked great in this match. He pulled off a number moves that I had never seen before. His offense was incredibly innovative, and that’s a pretty big compliment to make, considering we live in a world where people like Will Ospreay and Ricochet exist. I just had so much fun watching this match. It was really entertaining from start to finish (Some might see my star rating at the end as a little high, but I don’t care. I liked this match THAT much, and I’m sticking to my guns). When the match finally ended, it gave Dijak a much-needed victory on TV, and I came away from this match wanting to see more of Jason Kincaid. Not only do I think ROH should make him a regular ASAP, but he needs to start showing up in more places. PWG, AAW, Lucha Underground…heck, even New Japan! The list goes on-and-on. Please book Jason Kincaid!
Before I leave this match, a brief aside. It was mentioned during this match that Jason Kincaid was born on a mountaintop in West Virginia, and grew up in a home without any running water or electricity, while Donovan Dijak was a two-sport athlete in college, and actually had a job with the FBI lined up for him before he decided to become a professional wrestler. See, this is the kind of thing that we could learn more about in interviews with these guys on episodes of TV where you’re not airing fresh content from your most recent TV Tapings. Tell us more about these guys and their motivations!! I’d love to learn more about Jason Kincaid’s upbringing, and why exactly Djiak turned down a job with the FBI, as well as potential careers in sports, to pursue pro wrestling. Stuff like that could go a long way in building up guys like these, at a time when there’s been a lot of uncertainty surround the company.
It was announced after the first match that tonight’s Main Event would be ACH vs. Mark Briscoe in a match to determine the #1 Contender to the ROH World TV Title, and that both men would be joining the current champion, Bobby Fish, for a live edition of The Fish Tank. In a year where a lot of criticisms have been leveled against ROH’s bizarre booking decisions, this may have been one of the best booking moves they’ve made all year. Two guys who won separate singles matches on Best in the World are fighting for a shot at the ROH World TV Title. It’s simple booking that makes sense, and I really like that.
Speaking of the main event, before and during the next match, we get backstage promos from ACH & Mark Briscoe, hyping up their #1 Contender’s Match. In his promo, ACH says that there’s a song playing in his head, where the crowd is the instrumental (chanting “ACH!”), and everything he’s gone through in ROH has been the lyrics. The only way he could complete this song, he says, is if he wins the ROH World TV Title. He says that ACH stands for “Always Crushes Hopes” (in reference to Mark Briscoe’s hopes of becoming ROH World TV Champion). This felt like one of those promos from the original seasons of NXT in 2010/2011, where Matt Striker would give the competitors a random word, and told them to cut a promo based around that word. In this case, ACH’s promo had to deal with “music” or “songs”, and I think he made it work well here. It was, as they say, “short, sweet, and to the point”. Though part of me wonders what kind of song or lyrics we would actually get if they were truly based on ACH’s career in ROH (where his win-loss record isn’t the most impressive thing in the world). Mark Briscoe, in his promo, talks about how athletic and talented ACH is, but adds that there’s a difference between that and destiny. Mark says that while he already has gold (and shows off his half of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles), he wants singles gold, and that gold is the ROH World TV Title. Again, this was another promo that was I would describe as “short, sweet, and to the point”. I think both of these promos were pretty effective. My earlier complaints about motivations were somewhat answered here, albeit in a much shorter form. We at least understand their reasons for wanting to be the next ROH World TV Champion.
The ROH World Tag Team Titles were on the line in the second match of this week’s episode, as The Addiction defended their titles against the aforementioned winners of Tag Wars 2016, Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser. Frankie Kazarian has apparently switched his ring gear, changing from his usual long tights to black trunks. Honestly, this new look makes him look like a complete dork. While this may seem like a weird critique to make, this brings to a large overall point: I just can’t get into Frankie Kazarian anymore. In my eyes, he adds nothing to the product. He does absolutely nothing for me when he’s in singles matches. Every time I seem him on a live event in a singles match, I opening groan. Kazarian simply doesn’t impress me in the ring these days. It’s not like he’s a bad wrestler or anything, and I won’t go as far as to say that he stinks (there are far worse wrestlers out there), but I just find him to be incredibly average and boring. Seeing him in singles matches is more often than not the worst part of ROH’s VOD/DVD Live Events (at least, for me they are). He does a little better in his role as a tag team guy, but at this point, I’ve grown very tired of The Addiction in general, and I would much prefer if Christopher Daniels went back to being a singles guy. It’s honestly a little sad, because I was a huge fan of Frankie Kazarian during his run in TNA as one of the top faces of the X-Division in 2007-2008. I would’ve loved to have seen that Frankie Kazarian in ROH, but the version we’re seeing right now is not compelling or interesting in any way. Seriously, what does Frankie Kazarian add to the product right now? Absolutely nothing.
Daniels cut a promo before the match where he said that, after facing a number of “dishonorable” teams such as The Motor City Machine Guns, The Briscoes, The Young Bucks, they were finally facing a team of real men in the form of Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser, and all four guys shook hands before the match. I actually thought it was quite interesting to see the Code of Honor followed proudly between two that are definitely heels. As for the match itself, I thought it was fine. I feel like they were trying hard, but there were times where the crowd was pretty quiet, and that’s honestly not that surprising, considering that we have two heel teams facing each other here. Even in some heel vs. heel situations, you’ll still get one side that the crowd sees as the default babyface. Here, I don’t think the crowd had any idea what to think about this match. We’ve been given no reason to cheer either of these two teams, and it just seemed like the crowd didn’t care. I just think this goes back to the baffling result of the ROH World Tag Team Title match from Best in the World, where The Addiction retained over The Motor City Machine Guns. Seeing who the challengers were on this set of TV Tapings made me think Sabin & Shelley winning the titles was a sure thing. Daniels & Kazarian retaining the titles at that PPV, in my opinion, defies any reasonable logic, and it led to a title match here on TV that, while being a completely fine pro-wrestling me, was totally unnecessary. As I alluded to earlier, I think The Addiction have overstayed their welcome as a team in ROH. The fact that this title reign feels like an EXACT REPEAT of last year (screwing a babyface team out of the titles and their subsequent title defenses always ending in controversial fashion) doesn’t really help matters. Daniels & Kazarian would end up retaining the ROH World Tag Team Titles here against Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser
It was during the aforementioned title match that Kevin Kelly brought up on the role that Kamaitachi played in The Addiction’s successful title defense at Best in the World, when he caused a distraction by attacking Jay White, who was sitting in the front row. Kevin Kelly questioned whether this was a rivalry was possibly something that had been brewing from their days in the New Japan Dojo. Now if you just this comment some thought for one minute, and you’ll realize this “claim” is complete ludicrous. Kamaitachi’s last match in New Japan before going on excursion (according to cagematch.net) was in June of 2013. Jay White’s earliest reported match (again, according to cagematch.net) was in October of 2013, and he didn’t show up in New Japan until January of 2015. How these two could have had enough interactions to spawn a beef of some kind, I have no idea. I know this might be a minor complaint, but it honestly irked me so much. Now while it was only presented as a possible reason for the conflict, but the claim in general has no basis in reality. It’s simply not true.
We get a short promo from Jay Lethal promo, who hypes up his rematch with Jay Briscoe at Best in the World as “one of the hardest fought battles in his life”, adding that years from now, when people ask what was the greatest rematch in the history ROH, it’ll be Lethal/Briscoe II. As many people have already said, the fact that this match has been pushed as being the “Greatest Rematch in the History or ROH” is completely insane. Anyone with even a little bit of knowledge about the history of this company would know this to be absolutely absurd. Give credit to Lethal though, as he still managed to deliver this promo in a fiery, passionate manner.
Another short backstage promo sees Kyle O’Reilly hyping up his ROH World Title Match with Jay Lethal in two weeks. He says that Jay Lethal has been a fighting champion, who has honored all of his challenges, and has faced him like a man (I guess O’Reilly forgot that one time where Lethal refused to go five more minutes with him after they went to a 30 Minute Time Limit Draw in a ROH World TV Title Match last year) He respects Lethal for that, and says when they fight, everyone will find out who the Best in the World really is. A good promo from O’Reilly, but based on what he said, and how he said it, you’d think Lethal’s been a babyface for much longer than he’s actually been during his title reign. At least they’re promoting the TV main event two weeks from now, which is good.
It’s time for the Fish Tank, hosted by Bobby Fish, who once again proves why he’s a charisma machine. Now this has been mentioned in the various discussions surrounding The Honor Roll: ROH’s 50 Greatest Wrestlers Ever (which you can check out on the Voices of Wrestling Forums), but it still amazes me how charismatic Bobby Fish has become in the years since he joined ROH. He’s just so awesome at everything he does, from stuff that’s more serious, to the stuff that’s on the funnier side, such as in this segment, where he said that maybe God just likes him (when referring to all his success), and mentioning to ACH & Mark Briscoe that he didn’t want a potential fight between the two on The Fish Tank to ruin his good “school clothes”. How can you not like Bobby Fish?
Fish then introduces his top contenders. Mark Briscoe speaks first. He ponders what “ACH” stands for, and answers with such things as “American Child Hero”, “Acrobatic Catlike Horse-Man” and “Ass Cheeks Huge”, adding small explanations that, I guess, were meant to be subtle insults. This upsets ACH. He responds by saying that while he respects Mark Briscoe’s hopes & dreams of becoming ROH World TV Champion, the difference between them is that Mark already has a legacy, but he doesn’t. He says his legacy starts when he beats Mark Briscoe, and then goes on to beat Bobby Fish for his title. ACH then adds that his initials could stand for “Annihilating Chicken’s Hopes”. While we really just got name-calling on Mark Briscoe’s end, ACH’s motivations were explained here once again, and as I mentioned earlier, this is something we need more of.
The main event gets going right after The Fish Tank, and Bobby Fish joins Kevin Kelly & Nigel McGuinness on commentary. The winner of this match will get his shot at the ROH World TV Title on PPV at Death Before Dishonor XIV. As a whole, this was a good singles match, but it wasn’t the best singles match these two have had, and it wasn’t even the best match on this show. There isn’t really much else to say about it, other than it was enjoyable, but nothing you’ll remember a month or two from now. Mark Briscoe would eventually score the victory with the Froggy Bow, securing himself a shot at the ROH World TV Title at Death Before Dishonor XIV in Las Vegas against Bobby Fish.
Now I don’t think anyone should be surprised that they’re pushing Mark Briscoe towards a potential run with the ROH World TV Title. If you’ve been following ROH at any point over the last few years, you’ll know that a running gimmick that’s been brought up on commentary has been that Mark Briscoe has always had aspirations to become the ROH World TV Champion. This isn’t something that is coming out of nowhere, and on the surface, I’m fine with Mark Briscoe challenging Bobby Fish. However, what is concerning is that, once again, ACH has come out on the losing end. I know he did get the win over Silas Young at Best in the World, but it’s really unfortunate that he’s become known as “the guy who’s incredibly talented, but loses way too much”. Unfortunately, it’s the truth. I just hope they come to their senses and actually push ACH before it’s too late.
Before I go into my final thoughts, here are my match ratings for this week (again, sticking to my guns on that first match):
- Donovan Dijak (with Prince Nana) vs. Jason Kincaid: ***3/4
- ROH World Tag Team Titles – The Addiction vs. Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser: **3/4
- #1 Contender’s Match – ACH vs. Mark Briscoe: ***1/4
This was the first episode with truly fresh content since the Best in the World PPV, and as a whole, I thought it was fine. The only thing that’s must-see from a match-quality perspective was Donovan Dijak vs. Jason Kincaid. The innovative offense of the latter is a truly amazing sight. The Addiction continue to have a stranglehold of the ROH World Tag Team Titles, and I’m just sitting here waiting for them to lose the titles as soon as possible. The team isn’t that interesting, and I honestly would prefer if Frankie Kazarian just disappeared from the company. The main event was build up pretty well throughout the show. It had a simple, logical build, and both guys involved did a good job building up their match, which was good, despite ACH taking another loss. In a vacuum, this was a relatively solid episode of ROH TV. However, you can definitely notice some of the issues currently plaguing the company creeping through.