Catch up on the previous two volumes of ROH Honor Club Hidden Gems:

ROH World Tag Team Titles – The Kings Of Wrestling vs. The American Wolves – Tag Title Classic II
December 17, 2010

This matchup took place the night before Final Battle 2010, and it featured two of the best tag teams in ROH history clashing for the first time. Once Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli got back together at the end of 2009, Shane Hagadorn (who had been the manager for The American Wolves throughout their first run) started focusing more of his attention on the reunited Kings Of Wrestling (he was already associated with Hero and The American Wolves, who had all been part of Sweet ‘n’ Sour Inc.) while Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards began to focus more on their efforts as singles wrestlers. They both turned face over the course of 2010, and that allowed for this bout to….eventually….be possible. Now it wasn’t the super-stellar tag team bout that one might expect, given who was involved, but for a B-Show the night before the biggest event on the ROH calendar, it was a very strong main event. These two teams would go on to have a rematch in May of 2011, but that show isn’t on Honor Club at the moment. So for now, this is the only KOW/Wolves match on the streaming service.

Ladder War III – The All-Night Express vs. The Briscoes – Death Before Dishonor IX
September 17, 2011

Every great pro-wrestling feud needs a great blowoff match, and when it came time for the All-Night Express and The Briscoes to finally end their months-long rivalry in 2011, they did it in the most violent way possible. Their rivalry had become so heated and so intense that Ladder War was the only way these two teams would settle their differences.

For a number of years (at least when I was growing up as a young wrestling fan), the Four-Way TLC Match that took place on SmackDown in May of 2001 was known as the forgotten TLC Match. In many ways, Ladder War III has become the forgotten Ladder War. When people bring up Ladder War, you really don’t hear people talk about this match that much (certainly when compared with the others), which is a real shame, because it was an absolutely awesome bout. Is it incredibly gory and violent? Absolutely. Jay, Mark, and Rhett Titus were all bleeding buckets by the end of it (Jay was a full freaking ten on the Muta scale as blood was just pouring out of his head like a faucet). Kenny King had chairs repeatedly thrown at his head as The Briscoes tried to grant the wishes of the bloodthirsty crowd, who (at that point) were begging to see King get busted open.

Given the amount of violence, it’s certainly not a match for everyone. That being said, given how the feud had unfolded up to that point, it was the only way it could end. There were plenty of crazy spots throughout, but part of what made this Ladder War so great was the way it was worked. This went about twenty-eight minutes, and neither team even attempted to climb a ladder to grab the #1 Contender’s Contract until about seventeen or eighteen minutes in. Yes, this did feature some big spots, but it was far from a stuntfest Ladder Match. In many ways, the title shot that was on the line was secondary, as it was more about these two teams trying to destroy each other (it was much like the Chris Jericho/Shawn Michaels Ladder Match from 2008, in that regard). All four competitors involved absolutely worked their asses off, but ultimately, Kenny King and Rhett Titus emerged victoriously. The failure on the part of ROH to follow up on their momentum is a discussion for another time, but on this night in New York City, The All-Night Express felt like made men, having won a bloody feud against the top tag team in ROH history.

The Colony (Fire Ant, Green Ant & Soldier Ant) vs. Adam Cole, Jay Lethal, & TJ Perkins – Unity
April 28, 2012

In the first two volumes of this series, I touched on some of the matches from the friendly rivalry between ROH and CHIKARA in 2012, while noting that the two promotions would eventually come together for a big doubleheader in the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge. On the ROH portion of that day, we were treated to a special six-man tag that saw The Colony take on a trio of ROH representatives in the form of Adam Cole, & Jay Lethal, & TJ Perkins. Even though this wasn’t a super great match, it was still a very entertaining trios contest from start to finish. While it certainly could’ve been a tad better, considering who was involved, there was no way that this would underperform either. The Colony worked together like a well-oiled machine, while the three ROH stars all held their end of things as well. There were a few shenanigans with the referee that did play a part in the finish (a CHIKARA referee worked this match after a coin toss, and there were moments late where the ROH team caught some bad breaks via this referee from CHIKARA), but the wrestling throughout was so solid that it overshadowed those one or two weird moments.

The American Wolves vs. Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly – Final Battle 2012: Doomsday
December 16, 2012

Final Battle 2012 will probably be remembered mainly for the incredible Ladder War in the main event for the ROH World Title between Kevin Steen and El Generico. However, there was also a significant event on the undercard, as we got the first major outing by the team that would later become known as reDRagon. Technically speaking, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly (who at this point, weren’t even known as reDRagon yet) actually made their debut as a team on ROH TV in the leadup to Final Battle, but that was a relatively short match against The Bravado Brothers. This was their true debut on a big stage as a duo, and it was part of the ongoing rivalry between O’Reilly and his former mentor, Davey Richards (which Bobby Fish helped instigate). As part of the story going in, it was unknown whether Eddie Edwards was going to team with Richards, given their falling out over the ROH World Title that occured in 2011. They actually did a segment before the match where they teased Edwards helping Fish and O’Reilly (playing into the fact that Edwards and Fish teamed together pretty regularly in NOAH), but of course, he sided with Richards, and the American Wolves ultimately emerged victorious in their reunion. This wasn’t the best match in the ensuing American Wolves/reDRagon feud, but it was a great way to get it started, and this feud with Edwards and Richards would go a long way in establishing Fish and O’Reilly as the tag team that we all would come to adore in the ensuing years.

Eddie Edwards vs. Taiji Ishimori – Border Wars 2013
May 4, 2013

While some of you may know that Taiji Ishimori did make an appearance on one of ROH’s shows in Japan in 2008 (The Tokyo Summit, to be precise), you may not know that Ishimori actually came over to Canada for some ROH events in 2013. Ishimori was brought in for a pair of events at the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto, and on the first of those two shows (Border Wars, which was the predecessor of sorts to Global Wars) he went up against Eddie Edwards. Of course, this was far from a first-time affair, as these two had squared off against each other a number of times in NOAH. When the dust settled, we ended up getting an awesome fifteen-minute affair that was packed with action from start to finish. If you just want to sit back, relax, and watch a great pro-wrestling match, you really can’t go wrong with this one. A true hidden gem if there ever was one.

ROH World Title – Adam Cole vs. Jimmy Jacobs – Pursuit: Night 1
November 15, 2013

One of the things that I loved about classic ROH (and it some ways, EVOLVE from 2015 through 2017/2018) was that you would get these instances where a certain feud or a particular storyline was associated with a city and/or whatever building they were running. I’ve just always enjoyed that fun little bit of continuity that would pop up, as it essentially made the city and venue part of these stories. We saw an instance of this in 2013 with Adam Cole and Jimmy Jacobs.

In Volume 2, I went over the World TV Title bout that these two had in Dearborn, Michigan in January of 2013, where Cole was the babyface champion taking on Jacobs (a member of the heel stable SCUM) in a Proving Ground Match. Eleven months later, ROH held another event in Dearborn, and not only was a different title involved, but the roles were completely reversed as well. This time, Adam Cole was the cocky, arrogant World Champion, defending his title against the hometown underdog, who had gone through a grueling trial series to get his spot in ROH back as well as a shot at the ROH World Title. The first encounter between these two was very strong, and I thought this rematch was just as good, if not better. Cole, Jacobs, and BJ Whitmer (who was cornering Jacobs here) all played their roles well, and they had another awesome closing stretch that saw Jacobs nearly capture the ROH World Title. Alas, Cole retained, and this loss helped plant the seeds for the formation of The Decade, which took place just a month after this. I don’t know what it was, but Cole and Jacobs worked extremely well together, and that chemistry led to two really solid matches that were a notable part of ROH in 2013.

2014 Top Prospect Tournament – Finals – Hanson vs. Raymond Rowe – Wrestling’s Finest
January 25, 2014

So the main reason why I decided to include this bout was that it eventually led to the formation of War Machine, the team that would later go on to wrestle in WWE under a variety of different names (thanks to several stupid name changes). Originally, they were both singles wrestlers, and they both entered the 2014 Top Prospect Tournament. The two men reached the finals, and they had a relatively short, but very entertaining bout that was ultimately won by Hanson. Michael Elgin (who had come out to ringside to watch the Finals) congratulated both men on their efforts, and later on, suggested that Hanson and Raymond Rowe form a tag team. I can’t recall exactly whether Elgin’s suggestion occurred on this show, or in a backstage promo, but that’s pretty much how War Machine came to be. Elgin thought they would make a good tag team, and they were like “Sure, that sounds like a good idea!”. I just find it funny that this duo, who would go on to win tag team titles in ROH, New Japan, and WWE, basically formed (in ROH canon) after a random recommendation by another wrestler. That weird fact aside, this is still a nice little match to check out, if you ever wanted to see Hanson and Rowe as they were just starting to emerge in higher-profile places.