Bye, Bye, ACH
One of the biggest stories involving Ring of Honor in the past few weeks is that ACH appears to be done with the company.
Of course, there has been a lot of speculation surrounding departures and backstage turmoil going back to late spring/early summer, but ACH in particular came to the forefront after an appearance and a controversial promo at AAW’s Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament last month. With the recent announcement that he’ll be a regular in AAW once again—he had been a regular there before he signed an exclusive deal with ROH—it appears that he’s pretty much done with ROH.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his departure, it has to be said that his four year run in ROH has been a huge disappointment, and for the most part, it’s not really his fault.
His in-ring work has never really been an issue, as he’s had a plethora of great matches throughout his run. Unfortunately, he never received a significant push of any kind. He’s been involved with small feuds here and there, but I can’t remember the last time he was involved in a significant program, if at all.
Not only that, but his win-loss record was never good. It’s a real indictment against ROH booking when ACH’s own compilation DVD features matches that he’s mostly lost. It’s impossible to talk about ACH without bringing up issues that we of his own doing including not making it to a major ROH iPPV, and thus missing a major title match with Jay Lethal, because he missed a flight, losing his ring gear before a big match with Shinsuke Nakamura, and the general discussions that have been going on regarding his “immaturity”.
At the end of the day, it sucks to see him leave, but obviously he still has a bright future ahead of him, now that he seems to have a gig with New Japan & NOAH, along with returning to places like AAW. When looking back at the history of ROH, especially the Sinclair Years, ACH will definitely be seen as a guy that the company failed to fully utilize. They simply dropped the ball with him.
Texas Tour / Survival of the Fittest Tournament
This past weekend, ROH travelled to Texas—specifically Arlington & San Antonio—for their annual Survival Of The Fittest Tournament.
After the conclusion of Night 1 in Arlington (a show which had noticeably low attendance which, if you saw my last article on ROH, shouldn’t be a surprise), we were left with, quite possibly, the wackiest finals in the history of the tournament, as Panther (from CMLL), former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jax Dane, ROH World TV Champion Bobby Fish, Dalton Castle, Lio Rush, and “Punishment” Damien Martinez (who was inserted into a qualifying match with Cheeseburger & Colt Cabana after Alex Shelley was “attacked” backstage) all made it though.
This led to the six-way finals in San Antonio, and in the end, Bobby Fish last eliminated Lio Rush to win the 2016 Survival Of The Fittest Tournament.
The 2016 SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST winner… pic.twitter.com/mbkaxgAp8j
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) November 5, 2016
Fish wasn’t my first pick to win—I would have gone with Dalton Castle—but the result is certainly an interesting one.
My immediate reaction is that there’s a chance that we could be heading to Kyle O’Reilly vs. Bobby Fish for the ROH World Title at some point (basically the feud that Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards had over the ROH World Title several years ago).
Of course, whether that actually happens or not is still to be determined, as the futures of both members of reDRagon is very much in question. The only thing we saw for certain is that Bobby Fish will be getting a shot at the ROH World Title at some point in the future. What’s also interesting to note on the finals itself is that Lio Rush scored some pretty significant falls in this match, eliminating both Jax Dane & Damien Martinez. It’s nice to see Lio Rush have a nice run in the tournament. I would like to hope that his future in ROH is bright, but again, he’s another person who might not be with the company a few months from the now, which would be a real shame. In other news from the weekend, the war between Keith Lee & Shane Taylor and War Machine seemingly reach an apex, first with a three-way tag team match on Night 1 in Arlington that also involved The Briscoes (which saw Mark Briscoe diving off a ring truck, which wouldn’t be the first time he’s done that at a ROH show), and a Anything Goes Match on Night 2. There were also some interesting non-tournament singles matches involving The Addiction, as Christopher Daniels lost to Kyle O’Reilly & Jay Briscoe on Nights 1 & 2 (respectively), while Frankie Kazarian lost to O’Reilly on Night 2.
Back to the UK
We’re a week away from ROH’s return the UK, as they have three big shows in Liverpool, Leicester, and London on November 18, 19 and 20, respectively. The biggest news to develop in the last week is that ROH have been forced to make a venue change for their show in London. They will now be running their third and final show of this tour in York Hall, which has become a major venue for pro-wrestling in the UK, as it’s been the host of some of RevPro’s biggest shows over the past few years. I’ll include the cards with the announced matches here (the show in London only has half a card, as of now), but I won’t go into much detail, as I’ve talked about some of these other matches in previous columns.
Reach For The Sky Tour: Night 1
Liverpool, England 11/18/16
- Six-Man Tag – The Bullet Club (Adam Cole & The Young Bucks) vs. Kyle O’Reilly & The Briscoes
- Proving Ground Match – ROH World TV Champion Bobby Fish vs. Will Ospreay
- Jay Lethal vs. Chris Sabin
- Dalton Castle vs. Marty Scurll
- Christopher Daniels vs. Jay White
- Lio Rush vs. Frankie Kazarian
- Donovan Dijak vs. Joe Hendry
Reach For The Sky Tour: Night 2
Leicester, England 11/19/16
- Will Ospreay & Marty Scurll vs. The Young Bucks
- Adam Cole vs. Chris Sabin
- Alex Shelley vs. Jay Lethal
- The Briscoes vs. reDRagon
- Joe Hendry vs. Jay White
- The Addiction vs. Dalton Castle & Delirious
- Donovan Dijak vs. Lio Rush
Reach For The Sky Tour: Night 3
London, England 11/20/16
- ROH World Title – Adam Cole vs. Jay Lethal
- Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll
- Jay Briscoe vs. Matt Jackson
- Mark Briscoe vs. Nick Jackson
Also signed to appear include reDRagon, The Addiction, The Motor City Machine Guns, Dalton Castle, & Jay White.
Ring of Honor Television Recap
The past two weeks of ROH TV featured the second-half of the TV Tapings that occurred the day after the All-Star Extravaganza VIII PPV. I thought that, as a whole, both episodes were relatively weaker compared to what we saw on the episodes from 10/15 and 10/22. There really weren’t any bad matches, but there weren’t really any standout matches either. While these episodes did feature some key developments, they were pretty average.
The episode of ROH TV from 10/29 kicked off with a quick Donovan Dijak squash match, which saw Dijak his his finisher, Feast Your Eyes, three straight times on his opponent, before finally pinning him. This was followed by a promo from Prince Nana (who always has entertaing promos), who reiterated that Dijak wasn’t beaten in his match with Bobby Fish for the ROH World TV Title at All-Star Extravaganza VIII. He talks about how great Dijak is, and says that what happened at the PPV will never happen again.
Up next, we were originally scheduled to get The Addiction vs. The Briscoes, but the former came out in street clothes, and were visibly showing off the scars from Ladder War VI. This led to a promo from Frankie Kazarian, who talked about the legacy of The Briscoes in ROH. He then used the word legacy to talk about his partner, Christopher Daniels, and all of the sacrifices he’s made in his career. Kazarian says that The Addiction won’t be fighting tonight, but added that he was going to make sure that The Addiction would go down in history as one of the best tag teams in ROH. This was a rather interesting promo from The Addiction. It sort of seemed like they might be heading towards being babyfaces (Daniels in particular). Anyway, after The Addiction left, The Briscoes still wanted a match, and called out The Young Bucks. Instead, their challenge was answered by some other members of The Bullet Club in the form of ROH World Champion Adam Cole & “The Hangman” Adam Page. This led to a tag team match that lasted about seven minutes or so, and ended when Cole attacked The Briscoes with the ROH World Title. Cole & Page beat up The Briscoes for a bit until reDRagon ran out with chairs to make the save.
Kevin Kelly conducted a quick interview with Jay Lethal on the entrance stage, where Lethal basically talked about his upcoming rematch against Adam Cole for the ROH World Title in London, England on November 20th. The episode concluded with the first match of the second round of the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament. ACH, KUSHIDA, & Jay White managed to defeat The Cabinet to advance to the Finals, though I don’t exactly know where things stand with that trio, considering the current situation with ACH. The match was solid, but I was expecting it to be a little better than it turned out to be, considering who was involved. To be honest, I thought the opening round match with The Cabinet vs. ROH Prospects from a few weeks ago was better than this trios match.
- 1.) Donovan Dijak (with Prince Nana) vs. Danny Miles: N/R
- 2.) The Briscoes vs. The Bullet Club (Adam Cole & “The Hangman” Adam Page): **½
- 3.) ROH Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament – Semi-Finals – ACH, KUSHIDA, & Jay White vs. The Cabinet: ***
The episode from 11/5 was a little bit better compared to the week prior, but not by much. The first match was actually a rematch from the G1 Climax, as Michael Elgin took on Toru Yano. Kevin Kelly & Steve Corino did bring up the fact that Elgin actually lost to Yano in G1, and is looking to avenge that loss here. I thought this was an ok match, but it had absolutely no business going close to ten minutes. It was much longer than it had any right to be. Still, like I said, the match wasn’t terrible, and eventually, Elgin did get the win. We then got a Proving Ground Match, with CMLL’s Dragon Lee taking on ROH World TV Champion Bobby Fish, who was still selling the attack from Adam Page two weeks prior. The match was good, but I was expecting a little better, considering who was involved. They were really playing up Fish’s “injured” ribs, so maybe that had something to do with it. Regardless, Dragon Lee got the win on a flash pin to earn himself a future title shot, which will take place at Final Battle 2016. Hopefully their second match ends up being better than their first.
The main event was another first-round match in the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament, as The Bullet Club of Adam Cole & The Young Bucks took on The Kingdom. After months of speculation, Matt Taven finally revealed his new version of The Kingdom, which consists of himself, Vinny Marseglia, and TK O’Ryan. In one of my first ROH TV reviews here on Voices of Wrestling back in March/April, I speculated that Matt Taven’s new version of The Kingdom was probably was going to consist of a bunch of guys from New England, and that’s exactly what we got (it’s been my leading prediction for months). That really shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. As for who they ended up going with, it’s a mixed bag. Vinny Marseglia has been making sporadic appearances in ROH since 2012, and honestly, I’ve always enjoyed what I’ve seen from him. He was someone that, I thought, would’ve made a nice addition to ROH’s midcard. I’m happy to see him get an opportunity like this. As for TK O’Ryan, I’ve heard his name before, but this was really my first time seeing him in action. I thought their debut match against The Bullet Club was good, but I think it had the potential to be a little bit better. There were a few sloppy moments in this match, plus the finish, with some low blows leading to a victory for The Kingdom, didn’t help either. Still, with that being said, I thought The Kingdom looked solid here, and I’m (for the moment) optimistic to see where they go. I know there’s this stigma surrounding The Kingdom (especially after their run in New Japan), but as far as Matt Taven goes, I’ve never had any issues with him in ROH. I don’t think he’s a contender for the ROH World Title, but he’s always been a solid hand in the midcard. Plus, regardless of what you think of him, you have to agree that’s it awesome to see that he was able to make a full recovery from a knee that kept him out for almost a year.
- 1.) “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin vs. Toru Yano: **½
- 2.) Proving Ground Match – ROH World TV Champion Bobby Fish vs. Dragon Lee: ***
- 3.) ROH Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament – First Round – The Bullet Club (Adam Cole & The Young Bucks) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia, & TK O’Ryan): ***1/4