Ring of Honor
Honor Reigns Supreme 2019
January 13, 2019
Cabarrus Arena & Events Center
Concord, North Carolina

Watch: ROHWrestling.com

The show kicks off with Corey Hollis, John Skyler, & Josey Quinn already in the ring. Skyler, who has the mic, calls out all three members of the commentary team (Ian Riccaboni, Colt Cabana, & Caprice Coleman), and tells them to shut their mouths. He said that people should be talking about himself, Hollis, and Quinn, before adding that they’re the toughest three-man group in ROH. Skyler calls out any trio to face them, and the Shinobi Shadow Squad end up answering the challenge.

Shinobi Shadow Squad (Cheeseburger, Eli Isom, & Ryan Nova) def. Corey Hollis, John Skyler, & Josey Quinn

The heel team jumped 3-S before the bell to get the match started. This bout only went about five or six minutes, and for what it was, it was perfectly fine. There were a few decent exchanges in the opening moments (including some nice teamwork from 3-S), before the heels managed to isolate Ryan Nova for a bit. Eventually, he was able to make the tag to Cheeseburger, and that kicked off the comeback for 3-S. Eli Isom ultimately scored the pin on Quinn after 3-S hit their finisher, called Oyasumi (which apparently means “Good Night” in Japanese). This was a solid outing for 3-S, though Isom was clearly the standout of the trio here. It’ll be very interesting to see where he is by the end of the year. As for the heel team, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Corey Hollis and John Syler in ROH. They’re both good wrestlers, and they could add a little more depth to the undercard. **1/2

Mark Haskins def. The Beer City Bruiser

I was so happy when the news came out that Mark Haskins was signed by ROH. He’s been a really good talent for several years and is a very solid addition to the roster. Whenever Haskins has appeared on ROH’s UK events over the last few years, he was always used relatively well, so you knew that ROH officials liked him (on the most recent ROH tour of the UK, he came up short in a World Title bout against Jay Lethal after winning a #1 Contender’s Tournament where he got victories over Jonathan Gresham, Flip Gordon, and Adam Page). Now, Haskins is part of ROH’s newest stable, called Lifeblood, and he picked up a singles victory here over The Beer City Bruiser. This was another relatively short match (clocking in at just under seven minutes or so), but it ended up being a solid one. Although the crowd didn’t seem to be that into it, the action was fine throughout. The Beer City Bruiser controlled a decent chunk of the match, but Haskins managed to fight back, and he eventually got the win after hitting a double stomp from the top rope. The finish seemed to come a little out of nowhere (particularly since Ian Riccaboni noted on commentary that the Sharpshooter was his finisher), but I can’t complain too much about the result. Haskins picks up a definitive victory in singles competition, even though the match itself wasn’t anything memorable. The Beer City Bruiser shared a beer with Haskins afterward. **3/4

Lifeblood (Juice Robinson & David Finlay) def. Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T)

While the ring announcer didn’t refer to the Juice Robinson/David Finlay team as “Lifeblood”, the commentary team made a few references to the name (I presume that segment will be airing on ROH TV in the coming weeks). This is a matchup we’ve seen twice in New Japan over the last month or so. Even though Robinson and Finlay defeated Best Friends on both occasions (on Night 16 of the World Tag League in December, and again at New Year Dash), those victories weren’t clean, as Chuckie T got his team disqualified after using chairs. Fortunately, we got a clean finish this time around, as David Finlay picked up a big pinfall win over Chuckie T after hitting one of Adam Cole’s old finishers (the brainbuster onto the knee). These two teams put together a very entertaining tag team bout, with plenty of good action from start to finish. Best Friends managed to isolate Finlay early on, and seemed to be acting a little heelish at times (though the crowd still cheered for them). Once Finlay managed to make the hot tag to Juice, the pace picked up, and we got some strong action down the stretch. At one point, there was an extended exchange between Beretta and Juice, which featured signature moves being used, a number of close nearfalls, and a few finisher counters. It’s clear they’re building up to their upcoming matchup for the IWGP United States Title (which will presumably be on one of New Japan’s New Beginning USA events), and that exchange did a fine job in setting that up. Those two then tagged out to their partners, and we got the finish mentioned above. Again, this was really good, but it very much felt like a New Japan style tag team match. You get a preview of an upcoming title match (a long preview in this particular instance), while the seconds battled it out to decide the winning fall. It’s a move that’s straight out of the Gedo playbook, and as a whole, it worked out pretty well. ***1/2

Afterward, Beretta grabbed the IWGP United States Title belt and had an intense face-off with Juice Robinson.

Tracy Williams def. Flip Gordon by referee stoppage

Kenny King took Caprice Coleman’s spot on commentary for this one. Unfortunately, this match ended prematurely after Flip Gordon suffered a knee injury. About a minute or so into the bout, Gordon went for a running dropkick in the corner on Williams, and after connecting with the move, he came up limping. Gordon tried to carry on for another minute, but the pain was too much, and Todd Sinclair called for the bell. The most recent update from ROH is that Gordon tore his MCL. However, the injury won’t require any surgery, and Gordon is expected to return back to action in time for the big MSG show at the beginning of April. Obviously, there’s no need to rate this one, since it only lasted two minutes.

Proving Ground Match
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions The Kingdom (Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia, & TK O’Ryan) def. Delirious, Hurricane Helms, & Luchasaurus

It’s been a while since I’ve seen so much of the color green in a wrestling ring at once. If the team of Delirious, Hurricane Helms, & Luchasaurus were able to pick up the win here, they would earn a future shot at the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles. Unfortunately for the Green Team, they came up short here, as The Kingdom got the win after Vinny Marseglia and TK O’Ryan hit House Of A Thousand Horses on Delirious. I really don’t have a ton to say about this bout, as it was incredibly average. We got a few comedy spots, and the action was ok, but there wasn’t much to it. Luchasaurus got some time to show off some of his offense, which was nice to see. The biggest reaction from the crowd came when Team Green (that’s just a name I made up on the fly) hit simultaneous chokeslams on The Kingdom. This was by no means terrible, but it was the definition of a house show match. **1/2

Bandido def. PJ Black

Coming into this match, I had no idea what to expect. Obviously, I’ve heard a lot of good things about Bandido (I’ve only seen him one or twice prior to this), but I do know that he also has his fair share of detractors. As for PJ Black, I wasn’t thrilled to see him back in ROH. While I enjoyed his work (for the most part) in WWE and Lucha Underground, I thought he was just awful during his appearance in last year’s Survival Of The Fittest Tournament. Black had a much better outing this time around, however, as he had a really good singles contest with Bandido. It wasn’t without problems, as there were a couple of botched spots (some more noticeable than others). I wouldn’t blame them on one person over the other in this case, as I felt both were equally responsible. While those botches certainly hurt the match, I didn’t impact it that much, in my eyes. There were still a lot of cool exchanges, with both men showing off their high-flying skills. The crowd seemed to be really into Bandido when he came out, and despite the botches, they were still wowed by some of the things he was able to do. After botching the initial attempt at the finish (where Bandido fell to the floor after trying to run up to the top rope), Bandido was able to connect with a crazy Fallaway Slam Moonsault for the win. Much like Mark Haskins earlier in the night, it was great to see Bandido get a solid victory in singles competition. It could’ve gone better, for sure, but they still managed to have a very good match, despite the botches. ***1/2

Triple Threat Instant Reward Proving Ground Match
ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb def. Rhett Titus & Jonathan Gresham

If anyone other than Jeff Cobb won this bout, then they would receive an immediate shot at the ROH World TV Title. This was originally scheduled to be a Four-Corner Survival Match also involving Shane Taylor. However, before the match began, Taylor took the mic and proclaimed that he was backing out, citing that he’s got nothing to prove to the fans or the other competitors in the match. This was such a strange matchup on paper because it involved two great wrestlers, plus Rhett Titus (who is now doing a bodybuilding gimmick). The bout only went about eight or nine minutes, and it was a tale of two halves. The first few minutes featured some decent action, but there wasn’t anything noteworthy. They played off the big size difference between Cobb and Gresham, while Titus got his shots in. Then the match really kicked into another gear in the final few minutes. Gresham managed to weaken Cobb after going after one of his large legs, and from there, we got a flurry of offense from all three wrestlers. Gresham and Titus both went on their own separate spurts towards the end, but ultimately, Cobb picked up the victory after hitting a Piledriver, followed by Tour Of The Islands, on Titus. It’s not a match that you’ll remember, but for what this was, it was fun while it lasted. ***1/4

After the match was over, Silas Young came out to seemingly confront Jeff Cobb, but his appearance was merely a distraction. Shane Taylor then appeared from behind and attacked Cobb. It looks like we’re getting singles bouts with Cobb going up against both Taylor and Young (though I’m not sure which one will come first).

Women Of Honor Title Street Fight
Kelly Klein (c) def. Jenny Rose

Kelly Klein apparently has an entourage now, called “Camp Klein”. They paid dividends for Klein immediately in this particular match, as they all hopped up on the apron as soon as the bell rang to distract Jenny Rose. This gave Klein the chance to attack, and we were off from there. I wasn’t too sure what we were going to get here, but for a Women Of Honor match, this was actually pretty solid (again, not a very high bar with this division). This had a good sense of intensity to it, and these two were definitely trying hard to put on the best Street Fight they possibly could. I’ll always appreciate effort, and they did a relatively fine job. The second half of the bout featured some pretty big spots. At one point, both went crashing hard through a table on the floor. Shortly thereafter, Rose managed to give Kelly a superplex onto a pile of chairs. Rose then tried to follow up by using the ring bell, but she wasn’t able to connect, and Klein retained her title after hitting K-Power onto the aforementioned pile of chairs. This won’t be a match you’ll remember (though most Women Of Honor bouts aren’t that memorable), but again, I have to give both Kelly Klein and Jenny Rose credit for putting forth a lot of effort here. This was probably one of the better Women Of Honor matches in recent months (though that’s not saying much). ***

Villain Enterprises (“The Villain” Marty Scurll, Brody King, & PCO) def. Silas Young & ROH World Tag Team Champions The Briscoes

No offense to the Shinobi Shadow Squad, but this was the true debut of Villain Enterprises in a trios environment. I heard a lot of good things about this match coming into it, and when the dust settled, it certainly lived up to those expectations. This was an awesome six-man tag team bout that featured crazy action from start to finish. There were some fun exchanges in the opening minutes, with Jay Briscoe and Brody King going at it, while Mark Briscoe had a chop battle with PCO. From there, it didn’t take long for things to break down. Of course, we got a ton of insane spots from PCO. First, he got tossed off the top rope, onto the apron, by Mark Briscoe. Then, he got launched over the top rope by Brody King. Finally, Silas Young gave him an insane Canadian Destroyer on the apron. That bump was particularly nasty because they didn’t even really land on the apron. They appeared to just crash on the floor. I have no idea how PCO is able to do this stuff at fifty-one years old. Brody King also got plenty of opportunities to shine as well. He was able to connect with a crazy springboard double armdrag on The Briscoes, before connecting with a big running dive to the floor. It’s crazy how quickly Brody King has risen over the last year or so. At this point last year, he was a relative unknown wrestling in EVOLVE prelim matches. Then he worked all across the US independent scene, and now he’s signed with Ring Of Honor. The finish saw The Briscoes get absolutely annihilated. While Mark Briscoe took a big fall off the top rope through the table on the floor, Jay Briscoe got hit with a big Brody King piledriver before getting pinned with a PCO moonsault. Yes, you read that right. PCO pinned Jay Briscoe, who’s historically been one of the most protected guys on the ROH roster, when it comes to eating pinfalls. That just shows you how serious ROH is about getting this brand new faction over. As for Marty Scurll, he didn’t do a lot of memorable things here. He had some nice double-team moves with Brody King, but besides that, he served as the babyface in peril during the middle portion of the bout. I didn’t necessarily mind that in this case, as the goal was to really put over Brody King and PCO. As a whole, this was a great match. ****1/4

Before the main event, we got a promo from NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis (who was flanked by his “insurance policy” Kamille). He mentioned the Carolinas as a place that was rich with NWA history, and proclaimed that the Ten Pounds Of Gold make him the real World Champion (he took the opportunity to take a shot at Matt Taven’s fake World Title during that bit). He promoted the Crockett Cup, which ROH and the NWA will be putting together on April 27th, and closed by saying that he would like to challenge for the ROH World Title at some point.

ROH World Title
Jay Lethal (c) def. Dalton Castle

This was billed as Dalton Castle’s official rematch for the ROH World Title, as he hadn’t gotten the opportunity to get a one-on-one title shot since losing the belt back in June. These two had what I considered to be ROH’s best match of 2018, and while I was looking forward to this rematch, I wasn’t sure about how good it could be, given Castle’s injury issues over the last several months. In the end, this didn’t equal that incredible first encounter back at the 16th Anniversary Show, but I thought it was still a great main event. There were certainly issues in terms of crowd engagement (they were loud at points, but pretty quiet at other points), but I felt the action more than made up for that. This only lasted sixteen minutes, but they still managed to pack in a lot of stuff. Castle didn’t waste any time, and went right after Lethal as soon as the bell rang. He delivered a variety of suplexes and throws to the champion, both inside and outside of the ring. Lethal managed to fight back with an early Lethal Injection, but he was so beat up by that early offensive onslaught from Castle that he was unable to make the cover. From there, we got more back and forth action, and the intensity really picked up in the closing minutes. After some strong exchanges between the two, Lethal managed to hit a second Lethal Injection to put Castle away. I might be the high-man on this one, but I really enjoyed it. Of course, Lethal had another very solid outing (as we’ve come to expect). As for Dalton Castle, I thought this was the best he’s looked since suffering that major back injury last April. We’ll see how he does in other matches going forward, but he really stepped up here. It’s clear these two have great chemistry, and honestly, I feel like this match would be getting more buzz if the crowd reactions for it were better. It was probably due to a combination of factions, but the bottom line is that the fans didn’t seem to be that engaged for decent chucks of this main event. I certainly would’ve gone higher in my rating if the crowd was more lively, but alas, not much you can do after the fact. The show closed with Castle shaking Lethal’s hand. ****

Final Thoughts

This was the first live event of the post-Elite era of ROH, and while we don’t know the full picture of what this new ROH will look like (we need to wait for Rush, Dragon Lee, and potentially Mistico to show up and see how they settle in), this live event gave us a pretty good look at what we can expect in the immediate future. The 2019 edition of Honor Reigns Supreme was certainly a mixed bag, with the match quality being all over the map. The show closed out with two great matches that I would say are well worth checking out. As for the rest of the card, the bouts ranged from really good, to good, to very average. Nothing on the undercard was truly memorable, but nothing was downright bad either. Pretty much all of the risings stars/new faces got victories on this show, which is exactly what they needed to do. Again, we’ll need to see more shows to really establish what ROH’s new identity is, but the one thing you could take away from this show is that the company feels fresh. The Elite and SCU are all great, and they did tremendous things for ROH over the last fews years. While ROH’s future without them is still uncertain in some ways, their departures have given the company the chance to go in a fresh direction, and time will tell whether this new direction can continue the success that ROH has seen in recent years.