The month of October has been a relatively busy one for ROH, as they’ve been running a number of shows over the past several weeks, including Glory By Honor and Champions vs. All-Stars in the Midwest (Chicago Ridge & Dearborn, specifically), and some Road To “Final Battle” events in Florida. I won’t go over the results from all four shows in full (because you can view those at places like PWPonderings, and other sites that report ROH results), but I will touch on some of the bigger takeaways from the results.
In the Midwest, reDRagon defeated The Bullet Club’s Adam Cole & Adam Page in the main event of the show in Chicago Ridge, Kamaitachi went 2-0 on the weekend, and The Young Bucks had two impromptu title defenses, one of which occurred in the middle of the annual Champions vs. All-Stars Match, where they retained over Colt Cabana & Dalton Castle. On the shows that took place in Florida, Adam Cole successfully retained the ROH World Title over Silas Young, and Adam Page earned some key victories before he gets his shot at the ROH World TV Title. Bull James was also there, but let’s just leave it at that, because I don’t know why he’s getting booked in ROH.
One of the most interesting notes to come out of these shows was the attendance figures. As a whole, they were relatively low for all four shows. The attendance in Chicago Ridge was lower compared to ROH events there in the past few years (especially when compared to the PPV held there earlier this year). The shows in Florida also had noticeably lower attendance numbers, with the show in Ft. Lauderdale drawing in the 300 range.
Why are these numbers on the lower side?
I would say that it’s a combination of things. Obviously, the interest in the product this year is just not there compared to the past year or two years. Also, the fact that they’ve featured New Japan talents frequently on so many shows this year can definitely lead to fans seeing shows that don’t feature New Japan talent as being less important (and I’m not the first person to point this out). Another factor is ROH themselves aren’t doing a good job with setting up and promoting these shows. Sure, they did a solid job recently with building up Silas Young to challenge Adam Cole, but usually, some of these house shows have very little buzz, regardless of whether the cards are actually good or not (and for the most part, ROH has actually been putting together some really interesting house show lineups this year). If you combine all of those things together, you’re going to get lower attendance numbers.
Another annoying factor is announcing matches and cards very late in the game. It’s been an issue that has plagued ROH for the last few years, but has been significantly more noticeable this year. Now I won’t complain if matches aren’t announced for a house show two or three months out, but if you’re a month out from a show, you should at least have a few of the top matches announced for the card.
There have been a number of instances this year where ROH has waited until only two weeks or so prior to the show to announced matches for shows (the fact that they really don’t update the cards on their own website doesn’t help). The most glaring example of this actually just occurred this week.
ROH is running their annual Survival of the Fittest tournament next week (on a Thursday and a Friday, interestingly enough). The first night is in Arlington, Texas on November 3, and as of this past Thursday night, ROH had announced exactly zero matches for that show.
Continuing the theme of ROH having a busy October, they have a TV taping scheduled for this weekend in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to taping regular episodes of TV, they will also be taping another Women of Honor Special that will air on ROH TV sometime in the future (hopefully not several months later like the first one). Here’s what the card looks like as of now:
- ROH World TV Title – Bobby Fish vs. “The Hangman” Adam Page
- ROH Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament – First Round – The Addiction & Kamaitachi vs. Team CMLL (Ultimo Guerrero, Shigeo Okumura, & Hechicero)
- Kyle O’Reilly vs. Silas Young
- Colt Cabana & Dalton Castle vs. Keith Lee & Shane Taylor
- Lio Rush vs. Jonathan Gresham
- War Machine vs. BJ Whitmer & “Punishment” Damien Martinez
- Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara vs. The Tempura Boyz
- ODB vs. Kelly Klein
- Candice LeRae vs. Deonna Purrazzo
- Mandy Leon vs. Jessicka Havok
- Amber O’Neil, Veda Scott, & Kennadi Brink vs. Sumie Sakai, Solo Darling, & Faye Jackson
Also signed to appear include ROH World Champion Adam Cole, The Briscoes, Jay Lethal, The Motor City Machine Guns, Jay White, The Kingdom, Donovan Dijak, The Cabinet & Joey Daddiego (yep, he’s still around).
The show has some interesting matches, but it also had some stuff that isn’t quite as interesting (and that’s an understatement). I’m intrigued to see what happens in the World TV Title, and I’m excited to see Team CMLL, whenever that episode airs. O’Reilly/Young & Rush/Gresham also has the potential to be really good.
As far as the Women of Honor Special is concerned, Candice LeRae vs. Deonna Purrazzo is the most interesting match they’ve booked for the Women of Honor division in quite some time.
Before I go into the last few weeks of ROH TV, I’m just going to run off some recent news & notes regarding upcoming shows.
Former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jax Dane, along with CMLL stars The Panther & Misterioso Jr. will be competing in the Survival of the Fittest Tournament next weekend in Texas, giving a bit of a different flavor to the tournament this year.
Dragon Lee will be challenging for the ROH World TV Title at Final Battle 2016, as announced on a recent ROH Update on YouTube. He’ll be challenging either Bobby Fish or Adam Page at that PPV (I would guess the former). Finally, ROH officially announced that they’ll be returning to Center Stage in Atlanta for a TV Taping on January 14th, 2017. The last time they ran that venue in Atlanta was during WrestleMania Weekend in 2011.
The past two weeks of ROH TV featured the first half of the TV tapings that occurred the day after the All-Star Extravaganza VIII PPV. As a whole, I would say that both episodes were relatively solid, with the episode from 10/15 being a little bit better than the episode from 10/22. Despite the overall downturn in the product, I still find ROH TV to be a pretty easy watch, most of the time. It flies by quickly, and there’s usually at least one of two good wrestling matches on it. In these past two episodes, for instance, none of the match were amazing by any stretch, but the majority of them were very good, and that just makes the show that much easier to watch.
The October 15 episode of ROH TV kicked off with a in-ring promo from The Bullet Club, talking about how they accomplished everything they set out to do at All-Star Extravaganza VIII. Their next objectives, they said, were to win the new ROH Six-Man Tag Team Titles, and the ROH World TV Title (which Adam Page will be pursuing) so that The Bullet Club could hold all of the gold in ROH. This was a fine opening to the show. I know most of us have a fatigue of opening show promos because of RAW, but they managed to keep this short and simple. The first match on the show was another match in the ongoing Keith Lee & Shane Taylor vs. War Machine feud.
Once again, these two teams delivered another super-entertaining hoss fight, with Hanson getting busted open at one point. They just work so well together, and it’s so much fun watching them match up against each other. The finish was nothing short of spectacular, as Keith Lee missed a moonsault, and then Ray Rowe capitalized by hitting a freaking Canadian Destroyer on Keith Lee to give War Machine for the win. Honestly, my star rating went up a little bit just for that finish alone. Shane Taylor attacked Hanson & Ray Rowe with a chair after the match, signaling that the feud would continue.
We then got our second match in the tournament to crown the first ever ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions, as The Cabinet (who are still doing the “kneeling ala Colin Kaepernick” gimmick during the Code of Honor) picked up the victory over Jason Kincaid, Shaheem Ali, & Leon St. Giovanni, who were all in this year’s Top Prospect Tournament. I thought this was actually a pretty solid trios match. The Kincaid/Ali/LSG team got in a lot more offense than I was expecting, and honestly looked more impressive here than The Cabinet.
Kincaid got to hit some of his incredibly unique offense, and we got to see some nice double teams from Ali & LSG. Those two actually impressed me the most, because I know what to expect from Kincaid, but I’ve really never seen these guys that much before. They seemed to really work well together, and I wouldn’t mind seeing them more often. The highlight of the match was an amazing triple team spot. Titus was placed upside down in the Tree of Woe, and then Ali hit a running dropkick while Kincaid & LSG hit simultaneous coast-to-coast dropkicks from opposite ends of the ring. It was absolutely insane. Despite that awesome display, The Cabinet would come back to win the match after a failed Phoenix Splash attempt by LSG to move on to the next round.
The show finished off with a “Clash of the Contenders”, as Jay Lethal took on Silas Young. They did go over some of their recent history on commentary, particularly at the show last month in Lockport, where they had a singles match earlier in the night, and then entered as the first two in the Honor Rumble, which was won by Silas Young after he eliminated Jay Lethal. For the most part, this was actually a pretty solid wrestling match. There were some cool exchanges between the two, and I think it had the potential to be better, but unfortunately, shenanigans ruined the finished. Adam Cole (who had been on commentary) and Kyle O’Reilly started brawling at ringside, and this distracted Young, which allowed Lethal to roll him up for the win. All four men brawled after the fact, and it ended with O’Reilly laying out Cole, and Young posing with the ROH World Title. Despite the issue with the finish of the match, I think the final segment did a decent job in showing off all of Cole’s contenders. I really like the fact that they pushed Silas Young into this mix as well. It’s nice to see him finally doing something of note after his feud with Dalton Castle.
- Keith Lee & Shane Taylor vs. War Machine: ***¾
- ROH Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament – First Round – The Cabinet vs. Jason Kincaid, Shaheem Ali, & Leon St. Giovanni: ***¼
- Jay Lethal vs. Silas Young: ***¼
The October 22 episode of ROH TV wasn’t as consistent as the episode from the week before, but it still had some fine stuff on it. First up was Colt Cabana & Dalton Castle vs. The Tempura Boyz, aka Yohei Komatsu & Sho Tanaka from New Japan. They left for their excursion back in January, and have been spending most of their time in CMLL. Komatsu doesn’t look much different compared to when I last saw him in New Japan, other than new, colorful attire and a slightly different haircut.
However, Tanaka looks incredibly different. Not only does he have new attire, but he’s grown his hair out, and looks a lot thicker (significantly thicker) compared to his last appearance in New Japan. It makes me wonder if he might be a heavyweight whenever he returns to New Japan, but that’s a long way off. As for this match, it was pretty much an extended squash for Cabana & Castle, but I still found it to be relatively entertaining for what it was.
What I thought was weird, however, was that commentary mentioned that Cabana & Castle have a shot at the ROH World Tag Team Titles coming up in Baltimore, but in real time, that shot occurred (in an impromptu manner) at a show in Dearborn the week prior. ROH never seems to escape some form of continuity issues. After the match, Cabana & Castle had a confrontation with The Briscoes, who made it known that they intend to challenge for the ROH World Tag Team Titles at Final Battle.
We then got a nice little treat of a match in the form of Kyle O’Reilly vs. Jonathan Gresham. This was the kind of match that you could put on an Evolve show, and it wouldn’t feel out of place. It wasn’t spectacular by any means, but it was a fine display of technical wrestling. Gresham managed to hold his own against O’Reilly, which was nice to see. The only negative aspect of the match, for me, was the finish, where O’Reilly locked Gresham into a hard front facelock that led to a brainbuster. There were post-match shenanigans, as Adam Page attacked Kyle O’Reilly. Bobby Fish attempted to make the save, but Adam Cole then ran down, and the segment ended with Bullet Club standing tall over reDRagon.
This was followed by Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara calling out BJ Whitmer & “Punishment” Damien Martinez, while led to a match that Whitmer & Martinez won in relatively quick fashion. Kevin Sullivan, once again, attempted to court Steve Corino on commentary, and this led to Corino almost joining them in a post-match beatdown of Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara, but Corino ultimately refused to do so. This whole storyline post-Best In The World has been very strange. It seems like that this is ROH’s answer to the whole “Broken” Matt Hardy stuff in TNA, in a sense that it’s something that completely different and separate from everything else on the show (though it’s nowhere close to being as interesting as “Broken” Matt Hardy). I’m honestly not sure what the ultimate goal of this whole thing is.
The show concluded with The Motor City Machine Guns taking on Tetsuya Naito & EVIL, representing Los Ingobernables de Japon. Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley were all taped up after Ladder War VI (which is odd, considering they didn’t go through nearly as much punishment as The Addiction or The Young Bucks), and cut a pre-match promo talking about Ladder War VI, saying that they put their bodies on the line for the fans, and that despite being hurt, they would wrestle this match for the fans. The match itself only went six or seven minutes, but it still managed to have a lot of solid action in it. Sabin & Shelley actually were on offense for most of the match. Naito didn’t take his T-Shirt off for the entire match, and eventually got the win for his team after hitting Destino.
- Colt Cabana & Dalton Castle vs. The Tempura Boyz: **½
- Kyle O’Reilly vs. Jonathan Gresham: ***¼
- BJ Whitmer & “Punishment” Damien Martinez vs. Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara: *
- The Motor City Machine Guns vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon: ***1/4