ROH hosted their most attended show in its history over Mania weekend with their annual Supercard of Honor show. The event was dual headlined by the multi-company multi-platform Cody vs. Kenny Omega feud and Dalton Castle defending his Ring of Honor Championship against Marty Scurll.
Ring of Honor
Supercard Of Honor XII
April 7, 2018
UNO Lakefront Arena
New Orleans, Louisiana
Watch: Honor Club
Women Of Honor Semi-Finals
Kelly Klein def. Mayu Iwatani
Both semi-final matches took place on the Facebook Live pre-show. I heard a lot of great things about Mayu Iwatani ever since she was announced for this tournament, but I was still a little unsure of what to expect here, since this was my first time seeing her. Ultimately, she didn’t disappoint, as she had a really good match here with Kelly Klein. There was a lot of solid action throughout, with no dull moments to speak of. I became a fan of Mayu almost immediately, and I’m sure this was far from her best work. She took some crazy inside out bumps here off of Klein’s offense, and managed to turn a botched reverse-rana attempt into a nice O’Connor roll style pin. As for Kelly Klein, I thought this was one of her better matches in ROH. She played her role perfectly, and ultimately got the win after making Mayu pass out in a guillotine choke. This exceeded my expectations. ***1/2
Women Of Honor Semi-Finals
Sumie Sakai def. Tenille Dashwood
Out of all the matches on Supercard Of Honor XII, this one seemed like a mortal lock, in terms of the result. Everyone had Tenille Dashwood easily making her way to the finals. Coming in it just seemed so obvious. Well we were all proven wrong here, as Sumie Sakai managed to score the huge upset victory after catching Tenille in a crucifix pin. Up until that finish this was on pace to match the previous bout in terms of quality. There was good action from start to finish, and it never really slowed down. Tenille looked very good and Sakai was solid, as she always is. The ending seemed to come out of nowhere, so that’s why I would put this a slight notch below Kelly Klein/Mayu Iwatani. A fine contest which set up a finals that nobody saw coming. ***1/4
Afterwards, Ian Riccaboni and Kelly Klein came out for a group photo with the title before the finals, but Klein used this opportunity to attack Sumie Sakai.
Chuckie T def. Jonathan Gresham
This was a relatively late addition to the card but, when the dust settled, it ended up being a really strong opener to the main card. We saw some great technical exchanges between these two early on, but the pace soon picked up, and the second half of the bout featured very solid back and forth action. At one point, Gresham nearly killed himself on a dive to the outside when he appeared to overshoot Chuckie T (if he hadn’t rolled through as he was coming down it would’ve been much worse). It was pretty cool to see Gresham perform on such a big show. He’s an awesome technical wrestler who has been criminally underrated for a long time. Despite Gresham’s best efforts however, Chuckie T picked up the win after catching Gresham in a small package. This was a great way to kick off the show. ***1/2
Punishment Martinez def. Tomohiro Ishii
Ishii came out with the RPW British Heavyweight Championship, which he won from Zack Sabre Jr. the day before in the main event of the RPW event at WrestleCon. This match only went about eight or nine minutes, but it was absolutely awesome!! These two just went right after each other as soon as the bell rang, and they never slowed down. Obviously this was a big opportunity for Martinez, and he certainly didn’t waste any time. He nearly killed himself when he hit his dive over the ring post to the floor, and immediately got up so he could hit his ACH-style springboard dive. Ishii took a ton of offense from Martinez throughout this one and, even though he managed to mount a comeback late (including a massive stalling superplex), Martinez ultimately emerged victorious after hitting Ishii with his South Of Heaven chokeslam. This was so much fun to watch, and obviously it was a huge moment for Martinez. I’m sure we’ll get a rematch down the road. It doesn’t matter where it’ll end up taking place (ROH, New Japan, or maybe even RPW now that Ishii holds their top title), because it will be awesome. ****
Kota Ibushi def. Hangman Page
This was the first time we’ve seen Kota Ibushi in ROH since 2008. Coming in, I thought this had a strong chance of being the best match in Adam Page’s career. It ended up being just that; these two had an absolutely incredible bout! Of course, it’s always a treat to see Ibushi in singles competition (because he rarely fails to deliver), but Adam Page definitely stepped up his game here. Much like Punishment Martinez, this was a huge opportunity for Page, as he took on one of New Japan’s top names (the fact that the match was also a “proxy war” in the larger Cody/Kenny Omega story certainly added to it from a storytelling perspective). There was great action from start to finish, with plenty of incredible moments. The biggest spot of the match occurred on the outside, when Ibushi hit Page with an insane German suplex off the top of the barricade and onto the floor. That meant this was the third bout in a row that featured a spot where someone nearly died. The intensity just picked up from there, as both men nailed their respective moonsaults to the outside. After a fantastic closing stretch, Ibushi finally put Page away after connecting with his Kamigoye knee strike. This was one of the best matches of the entire weekend, and if you haven’t seen it already, you need to. ****1/2
Women Of Honor Championship Final
Sumie Sakai def. Kelly Klein
In an unexpected surprise, Daffney (yes, that Daffney, from WCW & TNA) was brought out as a special guest to observe this one. During my preview of this show, I mentioned that whoever won the semi-final match between Kelly Klein and Mayu Iwatani would be my pick to win to become the first Women Of Honor Champion. Well, after Sumie Sakai upset Tenille Dashwood earlier in the night in the other semi-final bout, I felt like Klein winning the title was an absolute lock, especially since she’s been undefeated since her debut in 2015. That didn’t happen either, as Sumie Sakai won the match, and ended Klein’s undefeated streak, to before the first Women Of Honor Champion. This was decent, for the most part, but it was easily the worst of the three women’s bouts on this card. After the rest of the women’s roster came out to support the two competitors, the match slowly started to fall apart. The last minute or so was very clunky, and Sakai won after hitting a strange DDT which nobody in the building bought as the finish. Sakai looked incredibly confused in the immediate aftermath, so much so that I got the impression initially that she wasn’t supposed to win. In hindsight, her late moonsault attempt might’ve been the actual finish, but evidently, something got screwed up. I’m not sure how I feel about Sumie Sakai being the first WOH Champion. I can’t see her reign lasting that long, but then again, I didn’t think she’d get out of the second round. It’ll be interesting to see how the division develops from here. **1/2
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship Ladder Match
SoCal Uncensored def. Young Bucks & Flip Gordon
Now this was the match that I was looking forward to the most coming into WrestleMania Weekend in New Orleans. The last two times the Young Bucks were involved in a ladder match in ROH, they created magic. I was expecting this to be nothing short of phenomenal, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. This was a fantastic car crash that was a thrill to watch from start to finish.
There’s always been a real element of danger whenever ROH puts on a ladder match, and this particular bout was no different. Some of the crazy stunts included Kazarian hitting Gordon with a TKO off the top of a ladder, the Young Bucks back body dropping Flip Gordon into a 450 Splash, Flip Gordon nearly dying on a few occasions, Nick Jackson hopscotching across multiple ladders to hit a dive, and many more. The only real negative about this was that the Kingdom interfered about halfway through. They were banned from Supercard Of Honor XII after their initially pegged to get this title shot against SoCal Uncensored. While their involvement was technically legal, since there aren’t any disqualifications in a ladder match, it still took the match down slightly. Ultimately, it seemed like they were just out there so that the Young Bucks & Flip Gordon could put them through tables in the final few minutes. The true intentions of The Kingdom were revealed shortly after the match ended, however, as they stole the title belts after SoCal Uncensored retained, seemingly setting up a three-way feud for those titles. Even with the interference, this absolutely delivered. While it didn’t quite top the previous two Ladder Matches we’ve seen in ROH, it wasn’t that far of, especially when you consider the level of violence, and some of the dangerous stunts they managed to pull off. ****1/2
Beer City Bruiser & Brian Milonas def. Motor City Machine Guns + Luke Hawx & PJ Hawx
This bout was taped on the pre-show, but was aired during intermission for those of us watching on Honor Club. ROH actually did something similar at Supercard Of Honor XI last year and, funnily enough, that match also featured the Motor City Machine Guns. This time around Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley took on Silas Young’s henchmen, along with the team of Luke Hawx and PJ Hawx, who I guess is Luke’s son? Anyway, this only went about five or six minutes, and it mainly served as a showcase for the Beer City Bruiser and Brian Milonas (and PJ Hawx to a lesser extent), who won after hitting a superplex/top rope splash combo on PJ Hawx. This was decent for what it was. **1/2
ROH World Tag Team Titles
The Briscoes def. Jay Lethal & Hiroshi Tanahashi
The Briscoes captured the ROH World Tag Team Titles for an unprecedented ninth time at the 16th Anniversary Show, and this was their first title defense. While the outcome of this one was never really in question, it was still a really good tag team encounter. There was solid back and forth action throughout, and the intensity slowly picked up as the match progressed. The final few minutes were particularly strong, and featured a fantastic Lethal Injection nearfall that everyone in the building thought was the finish. It’s always cool to see those kinds of moments in matches with a predictable outcome. In a situation like this, if you can make the audience believe that the result is in doubt, even if it’s just for one or two spots, then you know the wrestlers involved did a great job. The Briscoes eventually retained after hitting the Doomsday Device on Lethal. This didn’t set the world on fire by any means, and it didn’t top some of the highs in the first half, but these two teams still put on a very solid tag team title bout. ***1/2
Before the next match, Austin Aries came out on the stage with his multiple title belts (since his appearance at the 16th Anniversary Show he’s added the Impact Wrestling Grand Championship to his collection). He brought up his desire to add the ROH World TV Title to his collection, and mentioned that his challenge from last month hadn’t been answered yet. Aries made it clear that he wanted a shot at whoever won the Last Man Standing match, before he joined Ian Riccaboni & Colt Cabana for commentary.
ROH World TV Championship Last Man Standing Match
Silas Young def. Kenny King
This title has really turned into a hot potato over the last few months. Silas Young first won the title from Kenny King at Final Battle 2017, but King won the title back at a TV Taping in February. Unfortunately, this trend continued here, as Young recaptured the ROH World TV Title for the second time, and he did it in his signature match. I honestly don’t know what to make of these two trading the title back and forth. While I was happy to see Young regain the title, I’m not quite sure why he lost it in the first place. This second Kenny King title reign seemed totally pointless. I guess the idea behind it might be that they’re setting up a triple threat match with Kenny King, Silas Young and Austin Aries, but you didn’t need all of these short title reigns to set that up. This booking has actually devalued the title a little bit in my eyes, but the prospect of a potential Aries title run does have the chance to fix that. Anyway, this was actually a pretty solid match that was definitely one of the better singles bouts between these two. There were some good moments throughout, though it was hurt by a crowd that didn’t care too much, the fact that there was a much more exciting match involving weapons earlier in the night, and by the finish. After King put Young through a table on the floor via an amazing shooting star press off the top rope, which was easily one of the best things King’s ever done, the Beer City Bruiser (who hid under the ring after King took him out a minute earlier when he tried to interfere) tied King’s legs together with zip ties. Thus, King was unable to answer the ten count, and Silas Young won back the title. ***1/4
Austin Aries ran down to the ring to save Kenny King from double team attack by Silas Young and Beer City Bruiser afterwards, seemingly setting up a tag team match which will help lead to that aforementioned triple threat match.
Before getting to the two main events, we (for some reason) got a Bully Ray segment. It started out as Cheeseburger & Eli Isom taking on the Dawgs (Rhett Titus & Will Ferrara). Before the match could begin, The Dawgs attacked both men, and Isom was left injured. Bully Ray came out to chastise Rhett Titus & Will Ferrara, but then Cheeseburger asked if he would be his tag team partner. Bully Ray eventually accepted, and they had a two minute match that ended in a no contest when Cheeseburger got chokeslammed by Bully Ray. Evidently, this was a heel turn for the new WWE Hall Of Famer, who was not happy about Cheeseburger putting him on the spot like that. Bully Ray said that the generation Cheeseburger comes from (including him with Flip Gordon and, for some reason, the likes of Ricochet and Will Ospreay) is ruining the wrestling industry. Joe Koff and Flip Gordon tried to calm Bully Ray down, but then he threatened to hit Cheeseburger with a piledriver, which would lead to the show getting shut down (they kept mentioning the piledriver ban all night despite the fact that ROH was clearly exempt from it beforehand). Bully Ray hit Cheeseburger with a powerbomb instead, and left. Look, Bully Ray is a great heel, but do we really need to see MORE of him in ROH….in 2018? You got your Hall of Fame ring, can’t you just retire for good already? If he does return to the ring as a heel, that what was the point of doing that feud with The Briscoes that essentially put him into retirement? I wouldn’t be shocked if he just wants to do more retirement speeches. This whole segment was useless. I was willing to accept Bully Ray in that general manager role (as “the Enforcer”), but this was just….pointless.
Cody def. Kenny Omega
I was shocked to see this placed in the semi-main event slot. I understand that you want to keep your world title important (there’s nothing wrong with that), but in this situation, Cody/Kenny Omega was clearly the biggest match on the entire card. Plus, it played a huge factor in this show drawing as many people as it did (there was a big spike in ticket sales when this bout was first announced). Anyway, Cody came out with a police escort, and a new mascot named Bernard The Business Bear. Omega was insanely over, as you would expect, and in general both men came off like superstars. The crowd was going crazy before they even locked up. Now, as far as the match itself is concerned, I came into this expecting it to be pretty close to great. Despite Cody’s in-ring limitations, Omega is so brilliant that I was certain he’d be able to follow in the footsteps of Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi, in terms of what they were able to get out of Cody in a singles encounter.
When the dust settled, this didn’t end up being the great match that some of us were expecting, but I would still say that it was really good. Omega was (of course) excellent at everything he did, and even though this wasn’t his best singles bout ever, Cody was fantastic as well. He played his role as the heel perfectly, and he definitely worked hard (even busting out a vertebreaker, which is a move I’ve never seen him do before). There were also a number of storyline elements at play throughout this one. Some of those moments included Omega accidentally sending Brandi through a table, Cody using his wife’s misfortune to gain an advantage (showing that he didn’t care about the well-being of Brandi at all), Flip Gordon coming out to help Brandi to the back, and of course, the finish. When the referee got taken down, the Young Bucks ran down to the ring. They didn’t seem sure about who they would go after, but they eventually settled on Cody (the Young Bucks had expressed doubts about Cody’s true intentions on recent episodes of Being The Elite). They went to hit a double superkick on Cody, but he moved, and they accidentally nailed Omega (Ian Riccaboni & Colt Cabana made it clear that they Cody was indeed their intended target). This allowed Cody to hit the Cross Rhodes on Omega to secure the victory. In hindsight, we probably should’ve seen something like this coming. The fact that the Young Bucks are on Cody’s team in a big Bullet Club vs. Bullet Club ten-man tag on one of the upcoming Wrestling Dontaku events (It’s Cody, the Young Bucks, Scurll, & Page vs. Omega, Ibushi, Bad Luck Fale, & G.O.D.) was a major giveaway.
While there was very solid wrestling from start to finish, along with good storytelling that advanced the larger “Bullet Club Civil War” plot, the bout failed to reach that really high gear which you would expect in a big grudge match like this. A big issue for me was the length. I get that this singles encounter was huge (again, easily one of the most anticipated bouts of the weekend), and I don’t have an issue with it being on the longer side, but this didn’t need to go thirty-seven minutes. You could’ve shaved ten minutes off of it, while still accomplishing all of the important points that they wanted to hit. A very good grudge match, and even though the crowd was certainly invested (it was the match they paid to see), this will be remembered more for the memorable moments that advanced the overall story as opposed to the actual quality of the bout itself. This definitely felt like a first chapter, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we got a rematch. ***1/2
ROH World Championship
Dalton Castle def. Marty Scurll
Scurll came out wearing a gold trench coat, with a gold hat and a gold umbrella. Meanwhile, Dalton Castle has usual big show entrance, complete with confetti and the usual cavalcade of Boys. Coming in, I wasn’t expecting this to be the best match on the card but I figured that, at the very least, it would come pretty close. That’s not what happened however as this main event, while relatively good as a whole, ended up being a disappointment. It’s a shame, because this could’ve been so much more.
There were a lot of factors that were working against this one, with the most evident being the match placement. I can respect wanting to put your title bout in the main event slot (nine times out of ten, it absolutely should be), but in this particular case, having this in the main event spot over Cody vs. Kenny Omega was a huge mistake. That was the match people wanted to see, and with the show already running long, I’m sure a number of those in attendance were just waiting to leave as soon as that match ended (and based on live reports, a decent amount of people did exactly that as soon as Cody/Omega ended). Then there was the issue of the match length. As I already mentioned, the show was running long by this point (by the time Castle/Scurll started, the show had already surpassed the four hour mark, and if you watched the pre-show matches, it was well past five hours), and Castle/Scurll was coming off a bout that clocked in just shy of forty minutes. In that scenario, you can’t have your main event go just over thirty minutes. At that point, they needed to call an audible, and run a much shorter match. However, they stuck to their original plan of having an “epic”, and that decision ended up really detracting from it.
Finally, there were elements within the main event itself that ended up hurting it to varying degrees. The wrestling throughout was actually pretty solid, but it never felt like they got to that next gear. There were certainly moments when the crowd reacted strongly (such as when Scurll locked in the chicken wing in the final few minutes), but for the most part they didn’t seem that invested in this one, especially compared to some of the other matches. We also had Scurll trying a number of heel shenanigans that either came off as bad, or just didn’t make sense. At one point, NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis (yes, that Nick Aldis) was randomly shown sitting at ringside. What role did he play? He just gave Scurll pliers so he could take off one of the turnbuckle pads. Later on, Scurll spent nearly two minutes looking for that stupid powder he uses. That scene just came off as very bad, though to be fair, the powder did lead to one of the best spots of the match. Essentially, Castle kicked the powder in Scurll’s face, and Scurll broke Todd Sinclair’s fingers, thinking he was Castle. When Castle hit the Bang-A-Rang shortly thereafter, Sinclair couldn’t complete the three count because his fingers were broken. That moment got one of the loudest reactions in the entire bout. Eventually, after just over thirty minutes, Castle finally put Scurll away with the Bang-a-Rang. The finish seemed to come out of nowhere, especially since it came only a few minutes after Scurll hit Castle with six or seven umbrella shots. They still did enough for me to still call this good, but this was definitely one of the most disappointing matches of the entire weekend. ***1/4
There were plenty of positive elements to Supercard Of Honor XII, but there were also a lot of negatives. Aside from the Women Of Honor Title Tournament Finals, the first half of this show was nothing short of fantastic. The opener was really good, while Ishii/Martinez, Page/Ibushi, and the Ladder Match all delivered in spectacular fashion. The latter two were so awesome that they could easily be thrown into the “match of the weekend” conversation. You’ll rarely find a better first half than this one.
Then the second half happened. I think it’d be unfair to say the show fell off a cliff, because that would imply that everything on that portion of the show was bad. Aside from… whatever the Bully Ray segment was supposed to be… everything on the second half was good. The Briscoes vs. Lethal/Tanahashi was about what I was expecting, and the Last Man Standing Match, given it’s position on the card, was perfectly fine. As for the two main events, I thought Cody/Kenny Omega was very good, and accomplished what it set out to do, though I can totally see some people being either underwhelmed by it, or just not liking it in general. The decision to put Castle/Scurll in the main event slot was a terrible decision by ROH management, and the bout suffered greatly because of it.
The main issue with this show was that it was just way too long. I understand that this was your biggest event in company history (with close to 6000 in attendance), but that’s doesn’t mean you needed to run a show that’s nearly five hours long (six if you watched the pre-show), especially on a weekend that already has a ton of other wrestling shows going on. On WrestleMania Weekend, you shouldn’t be running a show that’s as long as the WrestleMania main card. If you cut five minutes from the ROH World Tag Team Title bout, took ten to twelve minutes off the two main events (both of which were entirely too long), and completely cut out the Bully Ray segment, you could’ve easily shaved off forty to forty-five minutes off of this show, and it would been a drastic improvement. Ultimately, Supercard Of Honor XII was record-breaking event for ROH that had a mostly brilliant first half and a relatively good (but very shaky) second half.