I hope everyone enjoyed the first installment of my Honor Club Hidden Gems series! There’s certainly more where that came from, and as long as we’re without new wrestling due to the coronavirus, I’ll do my best to provide a new volume each and every week.
Roderick Strong, Christopher Daniels, & The Kings Of Wrestling (Chris Hero & Claudio Castagnoli) vs. Davey Richards, El Generico, & The Briscoes – Champions vs. All Stars
January 14th, 2011
The first ROH event of 2011 featured the start of an annual tradition that would run for a number of years. It’s a pretty self-explanatory concept, as all of the champions teamed up to fight a team made up of All Stars (basically the top contenders for the respective titles). Future versions of this match would utilize the Survivor Series style elimination format, but this first Champions vs. All Stars bout was a straight eight-man tag, with one fall to a finish. While this was by no means a contender for Match of the Year in 2011, it was still a great match from start to finish. When you consider who was involved, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Two major traits of the Champions vs. All Stars match are that it’s usually a very long bout (at around thirty-two minutes, this was one of the shorter versions), and that we tend to see babyfaces teaming with heels, primarily on the Champions team. In this particular instance, Christopher Daniels (then the ROH World TV Champion) was the lone face on a team of heels, and he actually wrestled then ROH World Champion Roderick Strong earlier in the night. It does add a bit of a unique aspect to the match, though that hasn’t necessarily happened in every Champions vs. All Stars bout. It’s on the longer side, as I already mentioned, but again, just look at the talent in this match. You can’t go wrong here.
Chicago Street Fight – The All-Night Express vs. The Briscoes – Supercard Of Honor VI
May 21st, 2011
In the first volume of this series, I talked about the bloody match that these two teams had at Center Stage during Mania Weekend in 2011 (and I also mentioned the big double turn from Manhattan Mayhem IV that kicked this whole feud off). Well, things between these two teams naturally escalated after that violent encounter in Atlanta. A few weeks before this show, The Briscoes used some chicanery to win a First Blood Match over ANX in Dearborn, Michigan. The following night in Toronto, ANX cost The Briscoes their match against Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin for the ROH World Tag Team Titles.
All of that led to this Chicago Street Fight in the Frontier Fieldhouse, which proved to be another bloody chapter in the rivalry between these two teams. I can gladly report that the ANX did show up in street clothes for this Street Fight. The Briscoes wore camo attire which, while not street clothes, was just as fitting. Various weapons were used (everything from chairs, to tables, to chains, to a ladder), and by the end of the bout, everyone but Kenny King was busted open. Even though The Briscoes ultimately got the victory here, ANX still looked very strong. Up to this point, this was my favorite match of the feud, but the issues between these two teams were far from over. A very fitting match for the rivalry.
Fire Ant vs. TJ Perkins – Showdown In The Sun: Day 2
March 31st, 2012
Much like the ANX/Briscoes Street Fight that I just talked about, this bout is also a continuation of sorts from the first volume in this series. In this instance, we’re one again revisiting the ROH vs. CHIKARA rivalry from 2012 in the form of Fire Ant vs. TJ Perkins. This took place during ROH’s Mania Weekend events from 2012 (which, in real time, were plagued by massive issues with Go Fight Live, which was streaming the events live on iPPV). The match only lasted about eight minutes or so, but it was very entertaining while it lasted. It’s crazy to look back on this match eight years later with the knowledge that both of these guys are still great in-ring wrestlers right now. There was some very solid back and forth throughout, and as a whole, it was just a really cool match to watch.
Adam Page vs. Jay Lethal – Caged Hostility
September 8th, 2012
Technically, this wasn’t Adam Page’s official ROH debut (he wrestled a dark match in 2011 and lost a relatively short match to Mike Bennett on an episode of ROH TV a few months prior), this was really his first true test. Page was many months away from becoming a regular member of the ROH roster, and at this point, he was still working mainly on the North Carolina indie scene, wrestling for promotions like PWX and CWF Mid-Atlantic. It’s still amazing to look back and remember what young Adam Page was like in his earlier years. The trucker hat, the green tights, that original theme song he had (I’m sure it’s a song that’s meant to evoke a Southern vibe, but to me, it always sounded like a surfing song). As far as this match goes, it’s wild that, in only his third match with the company (and only the second that was actually on tape), Page was given thirteen minutes with Jay Lethal. It should be noted that, at this time, Lethal was in the middle of his first push towards the main event (the “Killer Instinct” angle) so again, it says a lot that Page was put in this spot. The outcome was never in doubt, of course. However, this match was really the first time (if you weren’t someone who was actively following those North Carolina indies) that many people got to see the potential that Adam Page had. He wouldn’t wrestle again for ROH in 2012, but he would get more opportunities in 2013, and as we all know, the rest was history.
Proving Ground Match – ROH World TV Champion Adam Cole vs. Jimmy Jacobs – The Hunt For Gold
January 18th, 2013
The next match in this volume was from the first (non-TV Taping) ROH event of 2013, and it saw Jimmy Jacobs take on Adam Cole in a Proving Ground Match. Of course, this stipulation meant that, if Jacobs was able to defeat Cole (or last the time limit) then he would earn a shot at the ROH World TV Title. This was during the SCUM storyline, though before the group would greatly expand a few months later. While the first half of this bout was largely solid, it was the second half that really made it. There was some great back and forth between Cole and Jacobs in the latter portion of the bout, and it was one of the best outings from Jacobs since his return to ROH in 2011 (commentary really pushed that point when the match ended). A big part of the story was that, despite being in the top heel group at the time, Jacobs wrestled the match 100% clean, and we didn’t see any real attempts to cheat at any point. I would keep this pairing of Cole and Jacobs in the back of your mind, because I can tell you for a fact that I’ll be coming back to another match between these two in a future volume.
AJ Styles vs. Chris Hero – Flyin’ High
March 22nd, 2014
A couple of interesting little trivia notes about this encounter. First of all, we didn’t know it at the time, but this would end up being Chris Hero’s last match in ROH. Secondly, this proved to be a fascinating intersection of sorts at the time. Hero was a number of months removed from his first run with NXT, while Styles had just exited TNA (his longtime home promotion) a few months prior. Meanwhile, Hero was about a month into his reign as EVOLVE Champion (after winning it from inaugural champion AR Fox) while Styles, less than two months after this match, would be the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and the leader of The Bullet Club. So much would happen with these two in a several month period, in terms of where they were in the wrestling world, yet here they were, smack dab in the middle of that period, having a great singles bout in a classic ROH venue in Dayton, Ohio. You don’t really need me to sell you on this one. It’s AJ Styles vs. Chris Hero. Just under twenty minutes of very strong wrestling between two of the best.
Chris Dickinson vs. Michael Elgin – Winter Warriors Tour: Dayton
January 31st, 2015
I mainly picked this singles match out because (to my knowledge) it was Chis Dickinson’s only appearance in ROH. Kevin Kelly did mention on commentary that this was a return to ROH for Dickinson, but unless Cagematch.net is missing some show that he worked several years prior, I can’t recall another ROH event that Dickinson worked (and I should know!). This was by no means an amazing match, but it was still very good from start to finish. Dickinson definitely got moments to shine. However, the outcome was never really in question, as Michael Elgin would end up scoring the win. At the time, I remember seeing this match and hoping that Dickinson would get more opportunities in ROH. Unfortunately, that never came to pass.