This weekend, Ring of Honor will be returning to the historic 2300 Arena in Philadelphia for the eighteenth edition of Glory By Honor. Right now, ROH is in a very interesting situation. They’re coming off last month’s Best In The World PPV in Baltimore, which was a very well-received event, as well as being their first show to take place in front of fans since the pandemic started last year.
However, unlike the other major promotions in the United States (WWE, AEW, Impact, New Japan’s US branch, and I suppose MLW as well), they haven’t fully committed to returning to touring/hosting shows with fans yet. Right now, we’re still getting episodes of ROH TV taped from the empty arena in Baltimore as part of their bubble (I believe most of what we’re seeing now was taped in the days after the PPV in July), and aside from these two shows, plus the Death Before Dishonor PPV in a few weeks (which itself was recently moved from Lakeland, Florida to Philadelphia primarily due to the absolute COVID disaster we’re witnessing in Florida at the moment), there haven’t been any other announced shows. So as far as we know, they will be continuing with these empty arena tapings as long as COVID is still a significant threat, which it very much is.
ROH deserves all the credit in the world for how they’ve handled the COVID situation. They’ve easily been the safest major promotion in the United States since the pandemic kicked off, and I don’t feel it’s craziest to suggest that they’ve been the safest major promotion in the entire world in terms of producing content during COVID (essentially doing a bubble that’s very similar to the style of bubble that the UFC used last year for many of their major shows). With all of that said, their ticket sales for their upcoming events leave a lot to be desired. The pair of shows this weekend in Philadelphia have not been selling all that well (would recommend following Lavie Margolin and WrestleTix, as they do a great job tracking those types of numbers).
Additionally, before it got moved from Lakeland to Philadelphia, Death Before Dishonor ticket sales had been pretty abysmal (for context, they were running the same building where they drew around 3500 fans for Supercard Of Honor XI in 2017 during WrestleMania Weekend….a show that was headlined by The Hardys vs. The Young Bucks in a Ladder Match). That information is on the heels of both MLW (for their Fusion Tapings in the 2300 Arena last month) and the NWA (for their two big PPVs coming up in St. Louis) selling out, or coming close to it, for shows they have already happened, or are coming up very quickly.
The idea of MLW and Billy Corgan’s revival of the NWA outdrawing ROH in any context or setting is truly astonishing (particularly in the case of MLW, since that show was in the 2300 Arena). As someone who keeps up with the ROH product regularly, I don’t think the quality of the television is such a significant issue that it’s leading to these super poor ticket sales. I’m not saying it’s the perfect wrestling show (it’s not), but in terms of the booking and the actual wrestling, it’s a solid hour (really 45ish minutes if you’re watching it online and you skip the endless amount of Ric Flair CarShield ads) of television that features good matches (for the most part), depending on the week and who’s being featured. It certainly makes more sense, and generally has better wrestling, than some of the products I mentioned earlier (*cough* NWA *cough*). The fact that the TV shows are still taking place in empty buildings, while pretty much every other major US promotion is now fully back in front of fans (to one degree or another) could definitely be a huge factor in the disconnect. I don’t mind watching the empty arena presentation, mainly because the show is so short (plus the commentary does a good job at covering the silence, in my view), but I can absolutely see why that empty arena setting is such a turnoff for some, especially now.
In general, ROH feels so….invisible right now compared to everyone else. AEW is incredibly hot right now, WWE is always newsworthy and will always take up a chunk of the discourse (for better or for worse….more often the latter), Impact has the involvement of talents from both AEW and New Japan (ROH still has that relationship with New Japan, but the bubble tapings and the need to quarantine in Baltimore really make it hard for any New Japan talents to come over, unless they’re American-based New Japan talents like Rocky Romero), while MLW and the NWA have managed to keep that products somewhat newsworthy, whether that be through upcoming big shows, new talents coming in, or (in the case of MLW) dipping into the Lucha Underground nostalgia pool. Even GCW has managed to be a more noticeable promotion at this stage, especially with the Matt Cardona storyline. You have all of that stuff going on, plus the fact that all these promotions are now regularly running in front of fans now. ROH had a pretty newsworthy item coming out of the PPV last month with Bandido winning the ROH World Title, and I firmly believe they have a better roster than almost every promotion at their level, but for a multitude of reasons (some of which I mentioned….some of which I didn’t even mention here), it’s not connecting at the box office. That much is clear.
ROH’s ticket sales, and how they handle their future events as we get closer to the end of the year, will be an interesting story to follow, but I’m going to cut myself off so I can focus on these upcoming cards this weekend. Instead of breaking down each individual match, I’ll just list off the cards in full and give more general thoughts.
ROH Glory By Honor XVIII: Night 1
August 20th, 2021
7:00 PM EDT
- ROH World Title – Bandido (c) vs. Flip Gordon
- ROH Pure Title – Jonathan Gresham (with Jay Lethal) (c) vs. Rhett Titus (with Tracy Williams)
- Eight-Man Tag – LFI (RUSH, ROH World TV Champion Dragon Lee, Kenny King, & La Bestia del Ring) vs. Violence Unlimited (Brody King, Tony Deppen, & ROH World Tag Team Champions Chris Dickinson and Homicide)
- The Briscoes vs. The Righteous (Bateman & Dutch)
- Six-Man Mayhem – Winner Gets A Spot In The World Title Rankings – Dak Draper vs. Danhausen vs. Demonic Flamita vs. Eli Isom vs. Mike Bennett vs. PJ Black
- Rey Horus vs. Silas Young
- Brian Johnson vs. EC3
- The Allure (Angelina Love & Mandy Leon) vs. Vita VonStarr & A Mystery Partner
When I look at Night 1, the match that immediately jumps out to me is the main event, which sees Bandido defending the ROH World Title against Flip Gordon. It definitely has the potential to be a great match, even though there hasn’t been much in terms of the build. You do have the fact that Bandido has never beating Flip in prior singles bouts in ROH (Bandido is 0-2 against him), and that Flip is finally cashing in the title shot he earned back in February of last year (when he won a Battle Royal….and I’m not making this next part up….disguised as Dragon Lee). Aside from those things, there’s nothing much else to it. Again, it has the potential to be a great match, although the result really isn’t in much doubt, as I fully expect Bandido to retain.
Outside of the main event, there really isn’t much else on this card that really jumps out. The eight-man tag between LFI and Violent Unlimited should be very entertaining, if you want to see an all-out brawl (a side note: Brody King did reveal recently that he contracted COVID last week even though he did get vaccinated, so we’ll wait and see if his status for these shows changes), and I’m sure Jonathan Gresham vs. Rhett Titus for the ROH Pure Title will be a very solid bout if you enjoy the Pure Rules matches.
Beyond those, nothing else really jumps out as particularly noteworthy. The Briscoes vs. Bateman and Dutch has some potential. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out of the Six-Man Mayhem with the win, given the stipulation (I’m guessing it’ll either be Demonic Flamita or Mike Bennett), but it’s certainly a strange collection of guys. Rey Horus vs. Silas Young could be solid, and I don’t think Brian Johnson vs. EC3 will be any good (aside from Johnson running down EC3 verbally). As for the women’s match, if The Allure were facing a babyface, I feel like the mystery partner would be a lot more open in terms of possibilities. With Vita VonStarr from The Righteous being on the other side, it only makes sense that the mystery partner ends up being Max The Impaler, who is scheduled to face Angelina Love in the 2nd Round of the Women’s Title Tournament.
As a whole, I think the top three matches all have the potential to be good to really good matches (with Bandido/Flip Gordon having the highest ceiling), but on paper, Night 1 is easily the weaker of the two cards.
ROH Glory By Honor XVIII: Night 2
August 21st, 2021
7:00 PM EDT
- Steel Cage Match for Matt Taven’s World Title Shot – Matt Taven vs. Vincent
- ROH World Champion Bandido & Rey Horus vs. LFI (RUSH & Dragon Lee)
- Eight-Man Tag – The Foundation (ROH Pure Champion Jonathan Gresham, Jay Lethal, Tracy Williams, & Rhett Titus) vs. Violence Unlimited (Brody King, Tony Deppen, & ROH World Tag Team Champions Chris Dickinson and Homicide)
- ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles – Shane Taylor Promotions (Shane Taylor & The Soldiers of Savagery) vs. Incoherence (Delirious, Hallowicked, & Frightmare)
- The Briscoes vs. Demonic Flamita & Flip Gordon
- Pure Rules Match – LSG vs. World Famous CB
- Dalton Castle vs. Danhausen
- Chelsea Green & Willow Nightingale vs. Miranda Alize & Rok-C
When looking at both cards side-by-side, it’s VERY obvious which one has the better on-paper lineup. Night 2 not only has the biggest match across the two shows, but it has a much deeper and more interesting lineup as a whole.
The main event will see Matt Taven put a shot at the ROH World Title on the line against Vincent inside a Steel Cage, in a bout that’s being billed as the final encounter between the two former partners. In some fun trivia notes, not only is this the first Steel Cage Match in ROH since 2014, but that match from 2014 featured Matt Taven, who unsuccessfully challenged Jay Lethal for the ROH World TV Title on the very first Field Of Honor card (remember when that was a thing for a few years?). Given that this is the end of a very long feud, I expect this to be a pretty violent affair, and hopefully, the Steel Cage actually does what it’s meant to do in keeping the rest of The Righteous from getting involved. The fact that ROH hasn’t done a Steel Cage Match in seven years shows that they’ve done (and continue to do) a good job with protecting their various gimmick matches. With a babyface currently holding the ROH World Title, I could see Vincent potentially getting the win here, though I believe Taven is the odds-on favorite.
The remainder of the card is filled out with various forms of tag team matches, but pretty much all of them either have the potential to be really good, or (at the very least) they have intriguing elements to them. Bandido and Rey Horus vs. RUSH and Dragon Lee has the potential to steal the show, while I could easily see The Foundation vs. Violence Unlimited being the better of the two eight-man tags this weekend. The Briscoes taking on Demonic Flamita and Flip Gordon should be pretty solid as well. Flamita and Gordon are a makeshift team, but I’m sure they’ll deliver in this spot against The Briscoes.
Then we have the match that really sticks out the most on this show, mainly because of who’s involved. Shane Taylor Promotions will be defending the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles against Incoherence. Yes, you read that right. Delirious, Hallowicked, and Frightmare are coming together for the first time in over a decade, and honestly, it’s super cool. While Frightmare hasn’t wrestled in ROH before, Hallowicked has appeared in ROH many times over the years. He was a semi-regular on the roster back in 2007, along with other CHIKARA names like Jigsaw (who went on to become a regular roster member with The Vulture Squad), Gran Akuma, and Mike Quackenbush. He then returned to ROH briefly in 2012 to team with Jigsaw during the several month period where ROH and CHIKARA were working together. I’m not sure what we’ll see in terms of match quality, and while the result is really not in question, it’s still a very awesome little treat for this show.
The rest of the card is filled out with LSG vs. World Famous CB (the former Cheeseburger) in a Pure Rules Match, Dalton Castle vs. Danhausen, and a women’s tag team bout with Chelsea Green making her ROH debut teaming with Willow Nightingale against the team of Miranda Alize & Rok-C. LSG/World Famous CB should be a fun undercard bout, Castle and Danhausen will probably be a harmless comedy match, and the women’s tag should be better than the women’s tag with The Allure from the night before.
That’s pretty much everything that’s been announced for both of these events. As I have listed in the show information, both of these shows will be available to watch on HonorClub, and both start at 7:00 PM Eastern. I do think it’s an interesting move by ROH to put what is easily the more interesting card of the two up against SummerSlam.
They will certainly be overshadowed on both nights by various other things going on in the wrestling world (Friday with SmackDown and Rampage, followed by SummerSlam on Saturday), but there should still be plenty of good matches coming from both of these shows.