Ring of Honor
Supercard Of Honor XV
April 1, 2022
7:00 PM EDT (YouTube Pre-Show) / 8:00 PM EDT (PPV)
Curtis Culwell Center
Watch: HonorClub, PPV, FITE & YouTube (Pre-Show)
Well, I have to be honest….a few months ago, I did not think that I was going to be writing this preview come the end of March. Final Battle 2021 really felt like the end for Ring Of Honor, and even though I was definitely feeling sad coming out of that show, by the time 2022 got started, I was ready to move on. It had been such an adventure watching, covering, and reviewing ROH (both the Sinclair Era of the company as well as classic ROH) over the last decade, but I had accepted that it was gone. Sure, they had advertised the Supercard Of Honor event at the end of Final Battle, and sure, they had promised that 2022 would see a brand new era of the company kick-off. However, I just decided not to believe it. If you want proof, just ask fellow Voices Of Wrestling contributor Rob Reid. He’ll tell you how adamant I was that ROH wasn’t coming back.
Then March 2, 2022 happened.
That night’s edition of All Elite Wrestling Dynamite opened up with Tony Khan in the ring, announcing that he had purchased Ring Of Honor, and would celebrate the occasion (as well as ROH’s 20th Anniversary) by booking Bryan Danielson vs. Christopher Daniels, two of the three men who were in the main event of the first ROH show, The Era Of Honor Begins. This was an announcement that was largely celebrated by the wider wrestling community. Of course, the immediate thing that came to everyone’s mind was ROH’s vast tape library, and the fact that the purchase meant all of those incredible shows from years past, with so many amazing matches, featuring so many awesome talents, would be in good hands. Outside of that, however, there was a lot of uncertainty as to what the future of ROH would be.
There’s been plenty of speculation since the original announcement earlier this month, but what we know for sure is that ROH will be continuing in some form (with a weekly show of some kind either on TV or on a streaming service), Tony Khan would be the booker, and that this Supercard Of Honor show would go on as scheduled. In interviews that have happened over the last week or two, Tony Khan confirmed that this event would serve as a transition show, before his vision of ROH officially kicks off at a later date. He also said that the date and location of this show weren’t ideal, and for many reasons, that makes a lot of sense. Not only is Supercard Of Honor going head-to-head with AEW Rampage on TNT (a conflict of interest right there), but the show itself goes against a philosophy that Tony Khan has held pretty much since AEW got started. He’s never wanted AEW to piggyback off of WWE’s biggest weekend of the year, and I totally get that sentiment, especially for the position that AEW currently occupies in the larger wrestling world. For smaller companies, like a GCW for example, or for other groups that typically run during WrestleMania Weekend, those are some of their biggest shows of the year, in terms of how much money they can make with all the wrestling fans in town. However, AEW is focusing on making their major PPV weekend into these grand events, and we’ve already seen other companies (again….like GCW) starting to run shows around AEW PPV events.
The chances are pretty strong that this will be the final Ring Of Honor event on WrestleMania Weekend, and even though the prospect of potentially seeing ROH events as part of AEW PPV weekends sounds super cool, this show in Garland, Texas looks to be another end of an era for ROH. They were the promotion that broke ground on the idea of running shows in whatever city that WrestleMania just so happened to be in, with the events that ROH ran in Chicago in 2006 being the real starting point for what has (for the last sixteen years) been the biggest weekend of the year for pro-wrestling in the United States. From ROH being the only promotion holding events, to Dragon Gate USA and EVOLVE joining the fold, to the last several years when pretty much every single promotion (major promotions that everyone knows from the US, Europe, Japan, and Mexico, as well as whatever local promotions operate in the area) is running an event at some point during the weekend. It wouldn’t shock me if Supercard Of Honor continued in some form in the future, as it hasn’t always occurred on WrestleMania Weekend. However, that show will always be associated with that weekend, and so many historic matches and moments throughout ROH’s history.
With all of that being said, it’s time to break down the actual lineup for Supercard Of Honor XV, as it’s a lineup that could give us a glimpse into what Tony Khan’s ROH will look like.
Undisputed ROH World Title
Jonathan Gresham (c) vs. Bandido
Bandido had to be one the unluckiest wrestlers during the entire pandemic. Despite being an absolute gentleman down in Mexico (entertaining older citizens by dancing while they waited for their COVID vaccine shots), the man missed ROH Final Battle two years in a row due to testing positive for COVID. Of course, Bandido missing last year’s Final Battle was the more significant absence of the two, as he was originally set to defend the ROH World Title against Jonathan Gresham. Tony Khan lent Jay Lethal (who had just signed with AEW) to ROH as a late replacement, and Gresham defeated his former Foundation stablemate to win the vacant ROH World Title. Ultimately, I’m sure Gresham was winning that match regardless of who he was facing, but Bandido’s absence did leave the door open for an obvious matchup down the line, especially with two different versions of the ROH World Title floating out there (Bandido had the most recent version of the title that he was holding, while Gresham was awarded the classic ROH World Title upon his victory). The waters were muddied a little bit earlier this year in the Terminus promotion, with Bandido defending his version of the ROH World Title with no real explanation, but regardless, we’ve finally reached the intended destination.
Jonathan Gresham has been a very busy man since winning the ROH World Title back in December. He’s already racked up fifteen title defenses (all of them outside of ROH) in four different countries. Gresham’s most recent defense also saw him pick up the PROGRESS World Title, which is quite funny given that ROH and PROGRESS were part of opposing power blocks prior to the pandemic (along with the fact that, apparently, Gresham’s PROGRESS World Title won’t be included on the Peacock version of that show). Now I’m expecting this match to be really strong, and it should be interesting to see how their styles mesh together in a big-time singles setting. Out of all the title bouts on this card, this is the one that oddly feels the most predictable, as I feel it’s pretty likely that Gresham will retain his title here.
On the surface, it really just feels like ROH tying up a loose end with the former champion who never actually lost his title in the ring. When you add in the fact that Gresham is heavily rumored to be involved with AEW (and presumably ROH) going forward, it just makes all the sense in the world that he retains here. Interestingly enough, Bandido recently stated in an interview that he hasn’t talked to Tony Khan since PWG Battle Of Los Angeles in 2019. It’s really fascinating that the same man who received the most focus during the main event of All In hasn’t shown up in AEW the second he was contractually able to. I guess we’ll see in due time if anything new comes out about Bandido’s future, but as I said earlier, this feels like a result that isn’t in much doubt, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Sometimes the result that makes the most sense is the best result. Prediction: Jonathan Gresham
ROH World Tag Team Titles
The Briscoes (c) vs. FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler)
One of the most talked-about news items coming out of Final Battle was the big angle between The Briscoes and FTR. Following an incredible match that saw The Briscoes defeat Matt Taven and Mike Bennett to win the ROH World Tag Team Titles for the 12th time in their illustrious careers, FTR made a surprise appearance, and a large brawl broke out. Since then, the two teams have been going back and forth on Twitter, both in videos and in actual written tweets. For a time, there was a lot of curiosity surrounding when this match would happen, or even if it would happen at all. The Briscoes had been announced as facing mystery opponents on this show, and everyone assumed it would be FTR, but nobody was totally sure. The chances of the bout taking place in AEW seemingly took a huge hit when it was revealed that a high-ranking official in Warner Media was against the idea of The Briscoes appearing on AEW television, given the offensive and (quite frankly) vile comments Jay Briscoe made back in 2013 (even though it was dealt with by ROH at the time, and Jay has made multiple apologies since). Eventually, as bouts for this show were being announced, The Briscoes vs. FTR was finally made official, with the ROH World Tag Team Titles on the line.
In terms of the match itself, it’s safe to say that this is easily one of the most anticipated matches of the entire weekend, and even though it likely won’t headline over Jonathan Gresham vs. Bandido, you can argue that this should be the main event (and the fact that The Briscoes are also working the Impact show the same night probably means it was never going to headline). These two teams have done a great job keeping the matchup in people’s minds with their promo battles, and on top of that, this is a bout that I would definitely qualify as a true dream match, with the greatest tag team in ROH history facing off against a team that’s had plenty of instant classics over the last several years, first in NXT, and now in AEW. I’m sure both teams are going to go all out to put on the best match they possibly can. It’s also going to be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to this one. The Briscoes will likely be super popular (as they always are), and while you would think FTR would be the clear heels, it certainly seems like they’re on the verge of a face turn in AEW, so keep an eye on that.
As far as the result goes, while FTR winning is the result I’m leaning towards right now, I feel that the outcome will really depend on whatever the future of The Briscoes is. If this is a case of Tony Khan wanting to get the titles off The Briscoes as soon as he can because of the issues I mentioned earlier with Jay Briscoe, then I would say FTR winning is a mortal lock. If The Briscoes are going to remain in ROH going forward, then I would still go with FTR to take the win, but the chances of The Briscoes retaining definitely go up. I won’t even rule out the idea that this could be a one-off match with The Briscoes keeping the titles and sending FTR back to AEW. There are a couple of different ways this one can go, but if I was a betting man (believe me, I’m not), I would say the FTR adding the ROH World Tag Team Titles to their collection seems to be the most likely outcome. Prediction: FTR
ROH Pure Title
Josh Woods (c) vs. Wheeler Yuta
It’s really cool to see that the ROH Pure Title is sticking around. It had come out in the weeks after Final Battle that, in preparation for the reboot, the only titles that would be truly focused on would be the World Title, the World Tag Team Titles, and the Women’s Title. With Tony Khan at the helm now, it does make sense that the Pure Title would continue as well, since it does have those historical ties to the classic period of ROH.
Now when you look at the entire card, it’s very easy to see the common theme that runs through all of the matches. All of them feature talents who are either signed to AEW, have appeared in AEW before, or feature wrestlers who are rumored to be on their way to AEW. Of course, this really isn’t a surprise, and while the top two matches can sort of be seen as exceptions (since they were set up prior to Tony Khan’s purchase of ROH), the rest of the undercard very much follow that philosophy. This bout is a perfect example of that, as Josh Woods is defending the ROH Pure Title against Wheeler Yuta, who has been working for AEW for some time now.
Yuta was actually a pretty good choice for this spot. He worked for ROH during their pandemic tapings in Baltimore in 2020 and 2021. In fact, his very first match during this brief ROH run was against Jonathan Gresham in the first round of the ROH Pure Title Tournament. Obviously, Yuta’s style makes him a very good fit for the Pure Division, and I’m sure he will have a very good match here with Josh Woods, who has really improved over the last few years. I feel Yuta has a very strong chance of winning, not only because he’s a regular in AEW, but also due to the fact that he’s been getting some focus on AEW television as of late (his interactions with the Blackpool Combat Club and a teased split from Best Friends). However, I wouldn’t totally rule out the possibility of Josh Woods retaining. He wrestled on a few of the Dark Tapings at the old Impact Zone in Universal Studios Orlando since Final Battle (losing to the likes of Shawn Spears and Daniel Garcia), but on recent Dark Taping (which took place the day after the ROH purchase was announced) he won a squash match and got a post-match interview with Tony Schiavone. That could be a sign that Woods has been signed to some sort of deal, as free agents like him usually don’t win matches on Dark unless they’re under some kind of deal. I would not rule out the possibility of Woods retaining at all if he was indeed signed to be part of this new ROH, though I would still go with Yuta as the favorite. Prediction: Wheeler Yuta
Interim ROH Women’s World Title
Mercedes Martinez vs. Willow
Back at Final Battle, Rok-C retained her ROH Women’s Title against Willow before being confronted by Impact Wrestling’s Deonna Purrazzo, who herself has a pretty long history with ROH (she was part of the ROH’s 2015 relaunch of the women’s division, and was a regular until she signed with WWE as part of NXT). In January, Purrazzo won the title from Rok-C on an episode of Impact Wrestling, and has been defending it in Impact along with the AAA Reina de Reinas Title as part of the Champ Champ Challenge. Rok-C has since signed with WWE as part of the NXT brand.
I’m sure many people anticipated Deonna Purrazzo working this show as the ROH Women’s World Title. However, the chaos of WrestleMania Weekend has thrown a wrench in that plan, as Purrazzo is unable to appear at Supercard Of Honor, since she’s working the Impact show that’s taking place at the same time (she is a contracted Impact wrestler, so obviously they would be her top priority). With that being the situation, it was decided that an Interim ROH Women’s World Title would be up for grabs instead, in a move that we’ve already seen in AEW this year with the TNT Title. Certainly, the idea of having interim titles in modern wrestling is something that’s up for debate, but the bottom line, in this case, is that the winner will face Deonna Purrazzo at some point in the future to determine an Undisputed ROH Women’s World Champion.
Once again, we have an instance of an AEW regular taking on somebody who has made some appearances in AEW in the past. Mercedes Martinez has been a notable figure in the AEW Women’s Division since her re-debut (she made some AEW appearances in 2019 before signing with WWE) at the tail end of 2021, as she was part of the build to the recent series of matches between Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa. Martinez also has a history with ROH, as she wrestled a couple of matches for the promotion all the way back in 2006 (just gives you an idea of how long she’s been wrestling). Meanwhile, Willow was part of the 2021 relaunch of the ROH Women’s Division, but has also made appearances with AEW over the last year or so on Dark and Dark Elevation (along with that, she was also name-dropped by Eddie Kingston during a segment with Chris Jericho on Dynamite several weeks back). I’m sure these two will have a very solid match, and much like the Pure Title bout, it seems like having the AEW regular get the victory would be the most likely scenario, though it wouldn’t shock me if Willow managed to pick up the win over the veteran. Prediction: Mercedes Martinez
Alex Zayne vs. Swerve Strickland
This was a match that was announced prior to Tony Khan’s purchase of ROH, and it was originally Alex Zayne taking on….Sw3rve The Realest. I definitely like Swerve Strickland better, but regardless, we all know who we’re talking about. There really isn’t a story to speak of with this one. It’s simply a one-on-one encounter that will see a GCW regular taking on one of AEW’s newest signees. This is Strickland’s first appearance in ROH (he’s pretty much wrestled everywhere in the US aside from ROH). As for Zayne, he actually has a history with ROH, as he wrestled for them both before and after his brief WWE tenure. This definitely has a chance to steal the show, even though I don’t see the result as being in question. Once again, Strickland is signed to AEW, and Zayne is not, so I would think Swerve will win here. Could we see Zayne again in ROH down the road? Only time will tell. Prediction: Swerve Strickland
Lee Moriarty (with Matt Sydal) vs. Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal certainly has had an adventurous saga with ROH over the last several months, hasn’t he? Once the news came out in October that ROH was going to be releasing all of its contracted talent, Lethal flew to Baltimore as soon as he could so that he could get an immediate release from his ROH contract. He made his debut with AEW a short time later, and hilariously stated in a press conference (when asked if he would still be working Final Battle) that he was a proud member of the AEW roster, and wouldn’t be working (what we thought would be) ROH’s final PPV. He then got sent back to ROH for one night only to wrestle former Foundation stablemate Jonathan Gresham in the main event of Final Battle after Bandido missed the show due to a positive COVID test. Now, just as it seems Lethal was finally separated from ROH (a company that he thought he would wrestle for until he retired), his boss at AEW buys the company and books him for the first ROH event under this new management. It’s just so funny how Lethal keeps finding his way back to ROH, regardless of how hard he tries to put his time with ROH behind him.
Anyway, Lethal is taking on Lee Moriarty on this card, and what’s unique about it is that it’s the only bout of the card between two sides that we know for a fact are signed to AEW. On paper, this certainly is a match that has all the potential in the world. Lethal has been consistently good for so many years, and Moriarty is a guy who obviously has a lot of potential (and has already shown it on AEW TV since he got signed). In terms of the result, it could go either way, but I feel like the smart move would be to have Moriarty win here. He’s definitely a guy who I could see spending a lot of time in Tony Khan’s ROH. A loss for Lethal here would also play into the current losing streak storyline he’s got going on in AEW (as I type this, he’s scheduled to face Jon Moxley on Dynamite tonight). It wouldn’t be a total surprise if Lethal won, but I feel that there’s more you can do with a Moriarty win if he is part of this new ROH. Prediction: Lee Moriarty