This week’s episode of ROH TV marked the final appearance of Roderick Strong.
It’s hard to believe that after so many years, Strong is leaving the company. He’s a guy who has seen it all in ROH, going through all of the different bookers, the different owners, different TV deals, basically all of the different eras in ROH history. Strong has always been the one constant. Not only has he seen it all, but he has done everything in ROH. He’s held the ROH World Title, the ROH World TV Title on two occasions, and the ROH World Tag Team Titles (which he, along with Austin Aries, helped make into World Tag Team Titles). He won the 2nd Survival of the Fittest Tournament in 2005, and is ROH’s 2nd Triple Crown Champion. He’s been a babyface, he’s been a heel, he’s been part numerous different factions, such as Generation Next (his most famous stable), The No Remorse Corps and The House of Truth.
Strong has wrestled so many incredible talents in ROH throughout the years, from famous ROH names like Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, Nigel McGuinness, and so many more, to international stars like KENTA, Tanahashi, Nakamura, Okada, and (again) so many more. If they’ve passed through ROH, chances are that they’ve had at least one match with Roderick Strong. He is someone who has literally done it all in ROH.
Looking back on his illustrious career in ROH, I think it’s fair to say that he is one of the greatest competitors in the company’s history. Personally, I think his greatest accomplishment has nothing to do with championships or tournament victories. What makes Strong stand out to me, when looking back at ROH’s history, is that I don’t think there was ever someone who was so consistently great in the ring for so long. This is something that, when coming up with my own Top 50 for The Honor Roll Project (on the Voices of Wrestling Forums), helps make Strong an absolute lock for my Top 10. Whenever I sit down to watch a ROH event, if Roderick Strong is on the card, I know instantly that there will be at least one really good match. It doesn’t matter what year or what era the show is from, Strong always delivered, and rarely has a match that’s not, at a bare minimum, good. The list of bad Roderick Strong matches is very small, and that’s extremely impressive, considering how long he’s been in the company. He’s easily been one of ROH’s most consistent performers over the company’s fourteen-year history. His presence will certainly be missed on ROH shows large and small, from major PPV’s to even the smallest live events.
It’s certainly sad to see Strong exit the promotion that he’s called home for thirteen years, but as they say, “Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining.” As I mentioned earlier, Strong has done everything he could possibly do in ROH, and for a guy who’s been with one promotion for so long, a change of scenery isn’t a bad thing by any means. I think a lot of people (myself included) were very excited about Strong during his 2014-2015 run on the independent scene when he wasn’t under contract to ROH.
Now, in 2016, we once again have the opportunity to see Strong in different places, against fresh opponents. We saw this as recently as this past weekend, where Strong wrestled Matt Riddle in a first-time-ever match. The bottom line is that, no matter where Strong ends up, I’m certain that he’ll KILL IT, because he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world.
As for his final match in ROH, Strong took on Dalton Castle. In contrast to last week’s main event (which saw ACH battle Mark Briscoe in a #1 Contender’s Match), we have two men who lost their matches at the Best In The World PPV, and are looking to bounce back. Now while this was definitely a good match, it really wasn’t the best way for Strong to go out.
To put it in perspective, Strong has had a much better match with Dalton Castle before (at a ROH DVD/VOD Live Event in Nashville in June of 2015). There were some cool spots in here (such as Strong giving Castle an Angle Slam into the ring post), and again, the match was pretty solid, but not was I was expecting for Strong’s final appearance in ROH. I think what’s even more egregious is that Strong’s last match occurred with very little fanfare. Now I’m not one of those people asking for a huge farewell tour (like Bryan Danielson in 2009), but some acknowledgment on TV would have been nice. Kevin Kelly & Nigel McGuinness barely mentioned anything about it on commentary, and there was nothing special that occurred after the match. Dalton Castle just got his hand raised, and the show came to a close. An extra-large streamer reception during his entrance was the only real noticeable difference here, at least, on the TV show. However, just today, ROH put up a video on their YouTube page showing Strong saying goodbye to ROH after the match, so I’m happy that we at least got that.
ROH News & Notes
The other major story coming out of this week’s episode surrounds Jay White, who is now in the United States wrestling for ROH as part of his learning excursion from New Japan. He make his in-ring debut with ROH (complete with new, customized gear) on this episode as he took on Kamaitachi, who has been on his excursion from New Japan for a few years already. While this match had been announced a week or two prior to this weekend of shows, things escalated at the Best In The World PPV when Kamaitachi came out during the ROH World Tag Team Title Match between The Addiction & The Motor City Machine Guns, and attacked White (who was sitting in the front row), aligning himself with The Addiction in the process. To further nail home that alliance, Christopher Daniels came out with Kamaitachi for this match. In regards to the move to put Kamaitachi with The Addiction, it’s certainly not a popular move, as The Addiction have begun to overstay their welcome in ROH (as I mentioned in my review last week), but I do think that putting Kamaitachi with the current ROH World Tag Team Champions does raise his standing on the card, so there is at least one positive thing that can be taken away from it.
As far as this match goes, I thought it was good, but if you were expecting a great, classic match between these two, then you’ll be disappointed. This probably happened because both men were going to be involved in another match immediately following their singles match. White thwarted attempted interference from Daniels, and won the match with his new finisher, called The Kiwi Crusher. Kazarian ran out and attacked White after the match, which led to The Motor City Machine Guns coming out to make the save. After a quick promo from Chris Sabin (where he referenced The Addiction’s tag team name in TNA, Bad Influence, to very little reaction from the crowd), we got a Six-Man Tag with Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, & Jay White vs. Daniels, Kazarian, & Kamaitachi. This was a good Six-Man Tag, but not a match that you’ll remember. The one takeaway from this match is that White beat Daniels clean in the middle of the ring with The Kiwi Crusher.
It’s very clear that Jay White is getting a significant push in ROH. The fact that they gave him two clean victories on his ROH TV debut (one of which was over Christopher Daniels, a ROH pioneer and one-half of the ROH World Tag Team Champions) should indicate as such. The results of ROH’s two shows in Baltimore & Philadelphia that took place over the past few weeks also make it pretty clear that there are big plans for White. Now I don’t have any issues with Jay White getting a push. He’s great (as we all know). However, I do think it’s interesting that a young lion from New Japan, who’s only been in ROH for about a month at this point, has already received more of a push then certain guys who have been in ROH for years. I think it’s also important to remember that White won’t be in ROH forever. I might not be for a year, or two years, or whatever, but White will go back to New Japan at some point. Still, at this moment, it’s great to see White in ROH, and it’s awesome to see that they’re pushing someone new.
TV Debuts of Keith Lee & Shane Taylor
Speaking of seeing something new, we also saw the ROH TV debuts of Keith Lee & Shane Taylor. Now, at an initial glance, these two seem like a very weird fit for ROH. They’re both really huge guys, and commentary put them over as the biggest tag team (in terms of sheer size) in ROH history. The only stuff I’ve seen from this team were a few appearances on ROH live events over the past year, and those matches were mainly squashes. However, I’d heard good things about both Keith Lee & Shane Taylor (particularly the former, who I heard had a really good match with Donovan Dijak on a recent Beyond Wrestling show). A highlight video is shown from a live event in Columbus, Ohio back in early June, where Keith Lee & Shane Taylor cost War Machine the ROH World Tag Team Titles (which I’ll get to in a second).
Now I know last week I said that I would like more matches from the live events to be shown on TV, but I thought this was fine. They didn’t need to show the entire No DQ Match between The Addiction & War Machine. You just needed to get the idea that this new team has targeted Hanson & Ray Rowe in a big way. They defeated Victor Andrews & James Anthony here in a quick squash match, winning the match with the tag team finisher, Senmetsu (which is Japanese for “Annihilation”, as Kevin Kelly would explain). After the match, War Machine runs out and attacks Keith Lee & Shane Taylor. They brawl outside, which leads to Keith Lee hitting a HUGE running dive over the top rope onto War Machine! I thought this segment did a solid job of establishing this new team as a threat to the entire tag team division. I’ll be very interesting to see what they can do in actual matches (which will, of course, be the true test).
ROH World Title Picture
We also got a couple of backstage promos surrounding the World Title picture. The first was from Adam Cole & The Young Bucks of The Bullet Club. Cole, referencing the Jay Lethal vs. Kyle O’Reilly ROH World Title Match next week, says that he can’t believe he’s been passed up for a title match yet again (and once again, after the events of Global Wars, I’d have to agree with him). He suggest that Lethal has been dodging him, and scoffs at O’Reilly, asking how many times he has to prove that he’s better than him. Cole then says that people are assuming that they’re going to interfere next week, but adds that they promised not to interfere in the Main Event of Best In The World (which is a promise they kept), and that when he says that they’re not going to do something, they won’t. He closes by saying that he intends to keep his promise that Kyle O’Reilly will never be ROH World Champion. Conventional wrestling logic says that, based on this promo, The Bullet Club will interfere in next week’s Main Event. I think they’ll definitely be involved, but exactly how will surely be answered next week.
Then, we got a fantastic video package, which featured backstage interviews with ROH World Champion Jay Lethal & Kyle O’Reilly, hyping up their title match on next week’s episode. I absolutely loved this segment! This is exactly the kind of thing that ROH needs to be doing more often on their TV shows. They go over the past history with each other (where O’Reilly has gotten several victories over Lethal), and they did a great job at explaining their motivations, with regards to the ROH World Title. This felt like something that you might have seen out of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic Bracketology Special. This was by far the best non-wrestling thing on this show, and it might have been the best thing on this show in general. I think this worked very well, and I hope ROH does more of this.
BJ Whitmer & Kevin Sullivan
To close out the recap of this week’s TV show, the lowlight was (of course) BJ Whitmer, who is now aligned with Kevin Sullivan. This just remind me of how baffling the finish of the Steve Corino vs. BJ Whitmer Fight Without Honor at the Best In The World PPV was. A Fight Without Honor has a legacy in ROH of being the ultimate blow-off, and I fully expected Corino to win. Not only did he lose to Whitmer, but based on this promo, this feud seems to be inexplicably continuing, with Kevin Sullivan of all people (in what looks like his bathrobe) now at Whitmer’s side. Whitmer mentions that how, after his serious neck injury in 2013, Kevin Sullivan came to him and said that he was one of the two heirs of a legacy of evil, which is a strange thing for Whitmer to say, since his most notable run in ROH (before forming The Decade with Jimmy Jacobs & Roderick Strong) was probably his babyface run from 2005 to 2007. BJ Whitmer & Kevin Sullivan basically said that Corino needs to “accept the darkness”. The only reason that I could come up with for why this feud is continuing is if they’re planning to do another match between the two. The one match that I could think that would be bigger would be a War Of The Wire Match, which has strong ties to both men (Corino & Whitmer were the winners of the only two War Of The Wire Matches in ROH’s history), but honestly, do we really need to see (or does anyone really want to see) ROH do another War Of The Wire Match in 2016?
Here are my match ratings for this week’s edition of ROH TV:
- Kamaitachi (with Christopher Daniels) vs. Jay White: ***1/4
- Six-Man Tag – The Addiction & Kamaitachi vs. The Motor City Machine Guns & Jay White: ***
- Keith Lee & Shane Taylor vs. Victor Andrews & James Anthony: N/R
- Dalton Castle vs. Roderick Strong: ***1/4
Additional News & Notes
- Cody Rhodes will be making his ROH debut at Final Battle 2016 on December 2nd. This was an interesting announcement, as it seems to be the first major contradiction to the theory that has been circulating over the past few weeks regarding Rhodes and his WWE release (which has been explained in great detail by some on this site). I think the status of this theory being truth or fiction is really going to depend on whether this ROH appearance is just a one-off, or if Rhodes will be working more with ROH in 2017. Hopefully, ROH will pick a better opponent here for Rhodes than PWG did for their annual Battle of Los Angeles Tournament.
- Speaking of Final Battle 2016, which takes place in New York City at the Hammerstein Ballroom on December 2nd, it was also announced that there would also be a set of TV Tapings in Philadelphia at the 2300 Arena on December 4th. Personally, I really like this move. One of my major complaints with ROH over the last few years was the fact that ROH would PPV/TV Taping Weekends in the same venue on back-to-back nights. Now the idea of doing a TV Taping right after a PPV is great in theory, but whenever ROH has done this, the TV Taping attendance has always been poor. I’ve always been advocating running the TV Tapings after a PPV in a different city, and now, they’re finally doing it. We’ll see if this change helps the attendance at this particular TV Taping in Philadelphia.
- Finally, we got two matches announcement for shows coming up this August. The first was a Six-Man Tag between CHAOS & The Bullet Club, which was added to the Death Before Dishonor XIV PPV in Las Vegas. Specifically, the match will see Roppongi Vice & Toru Yano (representing CHAOS) vs. The Guerrillas of Destiny & Yujiro Takahashi (representing Bullet Club). I honestly can’t believe that ROH is actually running this match on PPV. Does ROH seriously expect us to pay money to see this match? The Guerrillas of Destiny are an awful tag team, and Yujiro Takahashi is just a bad wrestler (and he’s nothing without Mao, let’s be honest). Seeing Toru Yano will be pretty cool for some (especially if he brings his DVD’s to sell at these shows), but I don’t think people are clamoring to see him. Plus, this match isn’t special in any way. This is something that you could see on any New Japan “Road To…” show. I expect this to be the worst match on the PPV.
- The second match announcement (which actually came today) is a first-time ever singles encounter between Katsuyori Shibata & Kyle O’Reilly, which will take place at Field of Honor 2016 at MCU Park in Brooklyn, New York on August 27th. I am HYPED for this match!! If you’re not excited for this match, you should be. It’s easily one of the best ROH vs. New Japan crossover matches that has been booking in ROH in quite some time, and it might be one of the most anticipated ROH matches this year. Both guys are fantastic, and I’m sure they’ll deliver an incredible match