Ring Of Honor
Gateway To Honor
February 29, 2020
Family Arena
St. Charles, Missouri

Watch: Honor Club

Villain Enterprises (“The Villain” Marty Scurll, Brody King, & Flip Gordon) def. The Briscoes & Slex

The show kicked off with a six-man tag that saw Villain Enterprises score a victory over the unusual trio of The Briscoes and Slex. This was a very exciting six-man tag that was better than everything on the Bound By Honor event from the night prior (this and the PCO/Dragon Lee match were pretty close, though I would give the nod to this match). There was a ton of action from start-to-finish, and all six guys had moments to shine throughout. I really enjoy how well the members of Villain Enterprises work together as a team. They have so many cool double team and triple team moves in their arsenal, and we saw a number of them in this match. The Briscoes and Slex were very good in this bout as well, though they weren’t exactly on the same page. There was no overt dissension between the three of them. The only thing of note was that Slex tagged himself in late in the match when The Briscoes seemed to be on a roll. Again, there wasn’t any dissension. Slex just decided to tag himself in, and it ended up costing his team the match, as he got pinned by Flip Gordon. Speaking of which, Slex has now had three matches since his debut, and in two of those three, he lost to Flip Gordon. Not the best way to debut a guy, if you ask me, but maybe there’s a longer term story behind it. We’ll see. ***3/4

Afterward, Slex was (once again) left alone in the ring, which led to Shane Taylor and The Soldiers Of Savagery surrounding the ring. This time, however, Slex was prepared, as he took out Taylor and escaped before The Soldiers Of Savagery could get their hands on him. It’s only a matter of time before Slex and Taylor have their singles match.

Dan Maff def. Alex Shelley

Even though Dan Maff was still around in ROH during the first year or so of Generation Next, these two never had a singles match. This was by no means a show-stealing affair, but it was exactly what it needed to be. It only went about nine minutes or so (which is great for a guy like Maff who shouldn’t be going much longer than that in singles matches), and the wrestling was perfectly solid. They actually told a nice little story where Shelley kept trying to lift Maff up for a bodyslam. It didn’t work the first couple of times, but eventually, Shelley connected with the bodyslam! Unfortunately, Maff popped back up pretty quickly, and that pretty much signaled that the end was near for Shelley. A few moments later, Maff connected with the Burning Hammer, and that was it. Again, this was perfectly fine for what it was. ***1/4

The Righteous (Vincent & Bateman with Chuckles & Vita Von Starr) def. Two Guys, One Tag (Silas Young & Josh Woods)

This one got started off straight away, as The Righteous attacked Silas Young and Josh Woods before they could even get to the ring. More specifically, Young’s knee (which had been injured at the hands of Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham the night before) was the target. Once the bell finally rang, Vincent and Bateman focused on Young’s knee for a number of minutes. This part of the bout did feel a little lackluster, but once Woods was able to get the hot tag, the action did start to pick up a bit. It was just on the verge of turning into a good match before we got a very WWE style finish. Brian Johnson came out when Two Guys, One Tag had the advantage, and started cutting a promo in the entranceway talking about how much they suck, and how much better he and PJ Black are as a team. While Woods was about to confront Johnson, Vincent nailed Young with the Sliced Bread to pick up the win. After going undefeated as a team for several months, Young and Woods have now lost two matches in one weekend. To that point, Ian Riccaboni did mention on commentary that both losses for Two Guys, One Tag came after they were attacked before the match began, so I guess the story they’re pushing is that they’ve never been beaten. Seems like they’re going into a feud with PJ Black and Brian Johnson, which I’m sure they’ll win. The interference definitely took this one down a peg for me, but it was still relatively solid. **1/2

Angelina Love (with Mandy Leon) def. Session Moth Martina

After coming up short against Nicole Savoy the night before, Angelina Love managed to get back on track with a victory over Session Moth Martina. I thought this very similar to Session Moth Martina’s debut at Free Enterprises against Sumie Sakai (though thankfully it was a few minutes shorter), in that it seemed like the goal was getting Martina’s character over (this included her dancing with the referee). We did get to see Martina show off some of her wrestling ability, but the match was plagued with a ton of interference from Mandy Leon. She was finally ejected after hopping up on the apron to stop the referee from counting a pin for Martina. As Leon was walking back up the entranceway, Martina did fire up briefly, but got hit with the Botox Injection and got pinned. This was….a match that happened. Nicest thing I can say about it. *3/4

The Bouncers came down the ring afterward to help revive Session Moth Martina with some beer. If you haven’t been following the story they’ve been telling through various video clips on social media, they’re doing this weird love triangle thing with the three of them. Brian Milonas has a crush on Martina, but Martina just happily acknowledges his existence, and doesn’t appear to have interest in him. Meanwhile, Martina “fancies” The Beer City Bruiser, but he has openly said that he wants nothing to do with here. Given her gimmick, it did make sense for Martina to get paired with The Bouncers. However, this is a rather….interesting direction, to say the least.

Four-Corner Survival
Dalton Castle (with Joe Hendry) def. Jeff Cobb, Kenny King (with Amy Rose), & Tracy Williams

This was a late addition to the card, with a bunch of guys who weren’t already booked. Kenny King refused to get in the ring early on, so the other three started fighting without him. King eventually got involved, and when the dust settled, these four ended up being a fairly solid four-way contest. All four guys got opportunities to shine, and they packed a fair amount of action in the ten minutes or so they were given. Dalton Castle eventually got the pin after hitting the Bang-A-Rang on Tracy Williams. Nothing much else to say about this one, really. There was solid wrestling throughout, and the crowd was into it. Another match that was perfect for its spot on the card. ***1/4

Before the next match, we were treated to….*sigh*….another Bully Ray promo. He ran down St. Louis and talked about his ironclad contract before Caprice Coleman left the commentary booth to confront him. They trade words back-and-forth, and then a brawl breaks out between the two of them. They have a very brief match that ends when Bully hits Caprice with the Bubba Bomb, or whatever he calls it now. Bully then goes after Coleman with a chair, while Cheeseburger tries (and fails) to make the save. Eli Isom then runs out and takes out Bully with a chair. Isom then went to get a table, but Bully caught him with a low blow, and put him through the table. It looks like this is building to a singles match at the 18th Anniversary Show between Bully Ray and Eli Isom. Hopefully Bully just puts Isom over and goes away but….time will tell.

ROH World TV Title
Dragon Lee def. Dak Draper

Dak Draper earned this title shot after winning the 2019 Top Prospect Tournament. To be completely honest, I haven’t seen much of his work ROH, since I fell way behind on watching ROH TV (and that’s the only place you would see him). My initial impression of him is that he seemed like the type of guy you would see a decade ago, who would work like….a year or so on lower-profile indies before WWE would scoop him up. Draper’s certainly got the size to fit the WWE mold (I would guess he’s one of the tallest guys on the ROH roster), and it would not shock me if he gets signed in the next two years. Anyway, he had a serviceable match here with Dragon Lee, so it looks like he’s….an ok wrestler, at least. There were a couple of cool power spots involving Draper, and he was certainly given chances to shine, but Dragon Lee ultimately won after hitting with a couple of Incinerator Knee Strikes. This will probably be Dak Draper’s peak in ROH. He’s clearly got some potential, but I just can’t see him being a star in a place like ROH. ***

Proving Ground Match
ROH World Tag Team Champions Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham def. MexiSquad (Bandido & Rey Horus)

Originally, we were supposed to get all three members of MexiSquad defending the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles against Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham, & Jeff Cobb. That seemed like an odd match to make at the time, since Lethal and Gresham are heels while Cobb is a face. With Flamita’s injury, that forced a change to the card, and as a result, Bandido and Rey Horus got the opportunity to earn a shot at the ROH World Tag Team Titles.

In an interesting move, Lethal and Gresham basically carried over the strategy that they used in their title defense the night before. They targeted the legs of one of their opponents, and did the best they could to isolate him from his partner. In this case, it was Bandido who got isolated from Rey Horus. That actually made some sense, since Bandido suffered a knee injury that kept him out of action for several weeks towards the end of last year. Horus eventually ran wild after making the hot tag, but it wasn’t long before the champions cut him off as well. The closing stretch of the match saw MexiSquad finally mount sustained offense, as we saw a number of high flying moves from Bandido and Horus. The champions managed to survive this flurry, and in the end, Lethal managed to get Bandido to tap out to the figure four leglock. First of all, I love that Lethal and Gresham are winning matches in different ways. That’s cool. As for the match itself, it wasn’t as action-packed as I was initially expecting, but they told a great story from start to finish, and the leg work on Bandido actually paid off with the finish. Really solid stuff from both teams. ***3/4

ROH World Title – Triple Threat Match
RUSH def. PCO (c) & Mark Haskins

The stipulation going into this match was that the wrestler who didn’t get pinned or submitted would get a one-on-one title shot in the main event of the 18th Anniversary PPV. On paper, it seemed like a certainty that Mark Haskins would eat the pin here to set up another PCO/RUSH match at the PPV. Nobody expected a title change here, but we shockingly got one, as RUSH pinned PCO (following interference from Nick Aldis, who leveled PCO with the NWA World Heavyweight Title) to win the ROH World Title for the 2nd time. Now there was a lot of debate surrounding this title change, mainly because they decided to do it on the same night that AEW had their big Revolution PPV in Chicago. While doing something like that does give these Honor Club live events more juice (the idea that “anything can happen”), deciding to do it on a night where the majority of wrestling fans weren’t going to be paying attention to this show was, at the least, a questionable decision.

As for the match itself, it was perfectly solid for what it was. As the main event for ROH World Title? Eh….it underperformed. Again, the wrestling was fine, but they only had about ten minutes, and the bout ended up suffering as a result. All three guys definitely put in the effort, and they each had moments to shine, but it just didn’t feel like a World Title main event. Nick Aldis getting involved does add some heat to their match for Supercard Of Honor (which is now for the NWA World Heavyweight Title), so that is one positive, I suppose. As far as ROH World Title changes go, this was definitely one of the weakest in history, in terms of the actual match quality. ***1/4

Afterward, RUSH celebrates with the rest of La Faccion Ingobernable, but gets interrupted by Mark Haskins. According to the stipulation of the main event, the fact that Haskins didn’t get pinned means that he’ll be challenging for the ROH World Title in the main event of the 18th Anniversary Show. Haskins then gets beaten up by La Faccion Ingobernable, and they continue their celebration to close the show.

Final Thoughts

Gateway To Honor was a relatively solid show as a whole, though I would say that Bound By Honor was probably the more consistent show from start to finish. While this event did have the advantage of a much better crowd (in terms of size and their liveliness), there were a few bouts in the middle of the show that weren’t exactly thrillers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the opening trios match and the Proving Ground Match were the only matches on the show that I would say are worth checking out. Of course, I would also say check out the main event, but more so for the involvement of Nick Aldis and the fact that the ROH World Title changed hands over the match quality itself. The other positive thing I would add is that the show was only two-and-a-half hours, so if skip the Bully Ray nonsense, you’re looking at a sub-two-and-a-half hour show, which is always nice.