Ring Of Honor
Honor United: Night 2
May 26th, 2018
Crystal Palace National Sports Centre
Jay Lethal def. ROH World Tag Team Champion Mark Briscoe
Although The Briscoes are mainly focused on the tag team division at the moment, it’s still nice to see them in singles matches every so often. Meanwhile, Jay Lethal is in the middle of a story where he’s trying to avenge losses from the past year. Mark Briscoe pinned Lethal back at Supercard Of Honor XII in New Orleans (it was The Briscoes vs. Jay Lethal & Hiroshi Tanahashi for the ROH World Tag Team Titles), so we’re getting this singles bout. This ended up being a very strong opening contest. Mark jumped Lethal before the bell rang, but the former ROH World Champion was able to fight back. From there, we got some really good back and forth action between these two. Lethal was awesome (as he always is), and the crowd in the London was firmly behind him. Meanwhile, Mark Briscoe was also pretty solid here, and proved once again that he’s a great singles wrestler in his own right. There was a cool spot in the final few minutes where Mark countered the Lethal Injection by catching Lethal in a Rear Naked Choke (which is apparently one of his new signature moves). However, that wasn’t enough to put away Lethal, who eventually got the win after successfully connecting with the Lethal Injection on his second try, just shy of the thirteen minute mark. As a whole, I enjoyed this opening contest a lot. ***3/4
Toru Yano def. Shane Taylor
Taylor is coming off a victory over Scorpio Sky on the first stop of the tour in Edinburgh, Scotland. On paper, this was a very…..interesting match, to say the least. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. This bout went about seven minutes or so, and the majority of it was dominated by Taylor, while Yano (who was, of course, very popular) did his usual comedy stuff. Ultimately, the “Sublime Master Thief” won via rollup after he nailed Taylor in the balls behind the referee’s back. I always find it hard to rate Toru Yano singles matches like this one. Was it good? Not really, but for what they were going for, it worked perfectly. Nothing much else to add to this one. Considering its position on the card, I thought it was fun for what it was. **1/4
Afterwards, Shane Taylor destroyed a bunch of security guys.
Tenille Dashwood def. Kelly Klein
This was a match that many thought would be the finals of the Women Of Honor Title Tournament at Supercard Of Honor XII in New Orleans. When that was brought up by the commentary team, it just served as a reminder of how wrong all of us were regarding the outcome of that tournament. Anyway, this was a relatively solid singles contest. Klein played her role as the heel well, as she took the occasional shortcut and worked over one of Dashwood’s legs in an attempt to prevent her from hitting the Spotlight Kick. However, this wasn’t enough to keep Dashwood down for the count, as she caught Klein in a sunset flip to score the victory. This was only Klein second pinfall loss in ROH. Again, this was a perfectly fine women’s bout that featured some decent action. **1/2
Brandi Rhodes, who was out on commentary, helped Tenille Dashwood to the back following the match.
ROH World Tag Team Champion Jay Briscoe def. Mark Haskins (with Vicky Haskins)
Vicky Haskins accompanied her husband to ringside for this contest. Earlier in this review, I mentioned how it’s always cool to see The Briscoes in singles matches every so often (especially now, since they’ve shifted their focus back to being on top of the tag team division). While we saw Mark Briscoe face a very familiar opponent in Jay Lethal in the opener, Jay Briscoe went up against Mark Haskins in a first-time ever singles encounter. I was actually pretty excited when this match first got announced, and when the dust settled, it ended up being really good. Haskins went right after Briscoe before the bell even rang (after a distraction from his wife) and from there, we got some very entertaining exchanges. This was wrestled at a pretty quick pace, which actually worked in its favor, since there wasn’t any downtime to speak of. It was basically all action for just over eleven minutes, and that’s exactly what it needed to be. The crowd was very much behind Haskins, who took the former two-time ROH World Champion to the limit, but ultimately, it only took one Jay Driller to put Haskins away. In terms of quality, this was on par with the opener. Jay Briscoe proved that he can still deliver, when it comes to singles matches, while Haskins looked impressive. I hope that we get to see him more often in ROH, because he’s such an awesome talent. ***3/4
ROH World TV Title – Four-Corner Survival – Silas Young def. Punishment Martinez, IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion SANADA, & Hiroshi Tanahashi
The fact that Silas Young was putting his ROH World TV Title on the line here meant that the outcome was pretty obvious. Predictability in wrestling isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, and I was expecting this contest to be pretty good, considering the four guys involved. While it was far from bad, it wasn’t overly exciting either. This was basically a twelve minute house show match, which featured solid, but relatively basic wrestling. All four guys had moments to shine, and the crowd seemed entertained by it (doesn’t make much when you have two popular New Japan talents in there), but there just wasn’t much substance to this one. Young tried to form alliances throughout the bout, but they crumbled pretty quickly. After Martinez and Tanahashi were both sent to the floor, Young rolled up SANADA (with his feet on the ropes) to retain his title. With that result, The “Last Real Man” was two for two on title defenses on this tour, with one more to go in Doncaster against Doug Williams. Again, this was fine, but when you look at the talents involved, it definitely could’ve been better. ***
After intermission, Bobby Cruise announced to the crowd that ROH would be returning to the UK in August for three shows (August 16th in Edinburgh, August 18th in Doncaster, and August 19th in London). The event in London will take place in York Hall.
Two-On-One Handicap Match – Bully Ray def. The Boys
I guess this was supposed to be a regular tag team match with The Boys wrestling some local talents, but Bully Ray came out instead. The crowd chanted “We Want Devon” as Bully Ray berated poor Ian Riccaboni. Then, Bully Ray demanded that this be a handicap match, and he forced Bobby Cruise to make the announcement. To the shock of absolutely nobody, there wasn’t much to this one. Bully Ray milked the crowd to chant, and then beat up The Boys for a few minutes. The Boys did make a brief comeback, but Bully Ray easily fought them off, and won after forcing the referee to count to five on his pin attempt. I think all of us are tired of this masterbatory bullshit with Bully Ray. Is he really making a difference in ROH right now? Why is this guy still here? *
All In Qualifying Match – Cody (with Brandi Rhodes) def. Kenny King
Before this match began, Kenny King took the mic, and said that he wanted to raise the stakes a little bit. King said that if he beats Cody here, then he’s All In. Cody responded by saying that it’s up to the crowd, and they chant “Yes!” He said that he’ll accept on the condition that King doesn’t give up his spot to Flip Gordon, should he win. The crowd wasn’t happy with this, so Cody decided that if King wins, then he AND Flip Gordon are All In. Unfortunately for Gordon, King came up short here when Cody hit him with the Cross Rhodes (following a distraction from Brandi). Aside from one bit early on when King tried to present Brandi with a rose, this was a good singles encounter that featured some solid action throughout. It was really a typical match from both guys. Perfectly fine, but not outstanding. There isn’t much else I can say about this one, beyond that. For it’s spot on the card, it worked. ***1/4
Afterwards, Cody took the mic, and started to talk about All In when he was interrupted by NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis. After having some mic troubles, Aldis stole a line from Cody’s recent political speeches on “Being The Elite”, and then introduces himself in a grandiose manner. Aldis said he’s been restoring prestige to the NWA World Heavyweight Title by defending it all over the globe since he won it last December. He said that Cody is indeed a worthy challenger for the title, but is upset that Cody made a challenge for the NWA World Heavyweight Title at the All In Press Conference without talking to him first. Aldis respects Cody for everything he’s done, but because he’s the champion, he holds all the cards. Cody responded by saying that his interest in the NWA World Heavyweight Title comes from the fact that he wants to hold it, not because of all of the legends (including his father) who held it in the past. Cody asked Aldis if he’s All In, and Aldis said he is, on the condition that Cody is ROH World Champion, so they can make it a double title match. Cody accepted this deal, which meant the challenge was officially set.
This was definitely one of the biggest talking points coming out of this tour. With Nick Aldis declaring that he’ll only defend the NWA World Heavyweight Title against Cody at All In if Cody is ROH World Champion, that would seem to indicate that the “American Nightmare” will soon dethrone Dalton Castle for the title. At the moment, Cody is currently scheduled to get a title shot at the Best In The World PPV at the end of June, in a Triple Threat Match with Dalton Castle and fellow Bullet Club member Marty Scurll. This segment with Nick Aldis seemed to make that direction a little too obvious, but we’ll see what happens come June 29th. Now I know the popular opinion among some at the moment is that Cody should get the title back, because he’s very hot right now for a variety of reasons. While I completely understand those sentiments, I’m not excited about Cody getting another run as ROH World Champion. Even though Cody’s work outside of the ring, from his character work to the way he carries himself, is fantastic (in that regard, I’m actually a huge fan), we all know that his in-ring work is less than stellar. Did people forget what his World Title reign last year was like? Well, it’s actually very easy to forget about it, because he didn’t have any memorable matches while he was champion. Honestly, I feel like Marty Scurll should be the next ROH World Champion (which is something that I’ve been saying for months). He’s a great in-ring wrestler, has an awesome character, and is just as popular with the ROH fanbase. Cody might be a hot hand (and again, I love the stuff he does outside of actual matches), but he just doesn’t meet the standard that is expected with a ROH World Champion, when it comes to what we see between the bells.
ROH World Title – Dalton Castle def. IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion EVIL
The buildup for this one was actually very well done, as EVIL scored several pinfalls during the War Of The Worlds Tour enroute to getting this title shot. In that regard, it’s actually a very New Japan style build. As for Dalton Castle, he came into this match still suffering from numerous injuries, as he had his left leg, right hand, and waist all wrapped up. On paper, this had the potential to be a really good title bout, but unfortunately, it never met those expectations. After the initial opening exchange, EVIL started to attack injured left leg of Dalton Castle. While the champion managed to make a few comebacks here and there, this bout was largely dominated by EVIL. Then the referee (Todd Sinclair) got taken out. Castle managed to hit the Bang-A-Rang, and appeared to have the match won, but with Sinclair still down, there was nobody to count the pin. After EVIL recovered, he used the ROH World Title belt on Castle, just before Sinclair got back in the ring. This only got a two count, and immediately after this, Castle caught EVIL in a cradle, and got the pin to retain his title. While I admire the fact that they tried to make Castle’s injuries the main story (he sold those attacks on his leg by EVIL pretty well), this match just wasn’t very compelling. The bulk of the bout felt lethargic, and lacked any real sense of drama or excitement. Then they finished off with a bit of overbooking. I’m not entirely sure if it was put together this way to work around Castle’s injuries because he couldn’t do much (it’s important to remember that this show happened only a few weeks after he was pulled off the War Of The Worlds Tour due to injuries), but either way, this came off pretty flat, which isn’t what you want in a World Title bout. **1/2
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles – The Kingdom (Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia, & TK O’Ryan) def. The Bullet Club (“The Hangman” Adam Page & The Young Bucks) & SoCal Uncensored (The Addiction & Scorpio Sky)
To be completely honest, I thought we were going to see this bout on the Best In The World PPV, based on all of the drama surrounding these titles lately (the ending of the Ladder Match at Supercard Of Honor XII in New Orleans along with the surprise title change in Lowell). Instead, we saw it here as the main event in London, and it ended up being a great match, for the most part. This was filled with incredibly entertaining action from start to finish, and it was a ton of fun to watch. All three trios had opportunities to shine, and there was never a dull moment. I went into this expecting it to be crazy, and that’s pretty much what it was. The only negative elements to speak of were the two referee bumps. First, Nick Jackson accidentally took out the original referee with a kick after Daniels pulled him out to prevent The Bullet Club from winning the match. Then, Daniels accidentally took out a second referee with an Arabian Press Moonsault after he was pulled out by Matt Taven. At that point, it looked like The Kingdom were going to win after hitting Daniels with the Rockstar Supernova, but a third referee came out, and revealed himself to be Cody when he stopped the count at two and flipped Taven off. Cody took out The Kingdom by himself, and looked poised to hand the victory to The Bullet Club, but when he tried to count the pin, but the original referee pulled Cody out and argued with him. It was during this point that Taven hit Daniels with his walking stick, and scored the victory. Yeah, that ending sounds very convoluted, but it didn’t totally hurt the match, in my eyes. It certainly took this main event down a little bit, though it didn’t impact it as much as the referee bump from the ROH World Title bout. Plus, the action we saw up to that point was so awesome that it did override how the finish played out. That particular finish wasn’t the best way the end the main event, but you can’t ignore the work put in by all nine guys in those first eighteen or nineteen minutes. Even with the shenanigans, this was still a great match to close the show with. ****
Night 2 of the Honor United Tour was a slight step up from Night 1. The main event (despite the ending) and the two singles matches involving The Briscoes are worth checking out, and are a big reason why I would put this show above the first stop of the tour in Edinburgh. The rest of this show, however, was certainly a mixed bag. Cody vs. Kenny King (featuring the angle with Nick Aldis) was probably the fourth best match, which doesn’t say much about the rest of the undercard. If you’re curious about the New Japan talents on this show, none of the bouts they were involved in were particularly noteworthy. The Four-Corner Survival for the ROH World TV Title was just a fine house show match, Dalton Castle’s title defense against EVIL was very disappointing, and Toru Yano’s encounter with Shane Taylor was alright. Then you had the women’s match, which was decent, and Bully Ray vs. The Boys, which was a complete waste of time. With some stronger matches and a better crowd, this felt less like a house show compared to Night 1, but there’s no doubt that it had some rough patches.