Ring Of Honor
Date: March 9, 2023
Location: Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman
We’re still on the first taping of this new show so things are likely to look like they did last week. The wrestling itself was pretty good, but the length of the show was quite the drag. They did offer something big at the end with Eddie Kingston showing up to challenge Claudio Castagnoli, so there is at least a path forward in the main event. Let’s get to it.
TV Title: Samoa Joe vs. Tony Deppen
Joe is defending and works on the wrist to start. For some reason Deppen strikes away, earning himself a beating in the corner. Deppen fights back though and hits a running corner dropkick. A knee gives Deppen two more but Joe Rock Bottoms him out of the corner. Joe blasts him with a clothesline though and the MuscleBuster retains the title at 5:26.
Rating: C+. Deppen was trying and they had the action going, but Joe isn’t about to lose to someone who has only made infrequent appearances in his first defense on this show. Joe doesn’t really need to get built up in Ring of Honor again but breaking a bit of a sweat against a former champion is a good thing. Now just get Joe a more serious challenger and we could be getting somewhere.
Post match Joe says that he always runs this place no matter what happens around here. If anyone wants a title shot, come see the champ. Cue Mark Briscoe (good call) to say that title is his destiny, with Joe saying bring it.
Dalton Castle and the Boys want the Six Man Tag Team Titles back. They’ve been moving furniture all weekend and want to face the Embassy. Castle: “Show them your teeth boys!” I have no idea why the Six Man Titles need to exist.
Dalton Castle/The Boys vs. Marcus Kross/Cody Chhun/Guillermo Rosas
Chhun and Rosas are collectively known as C4. Castle and Cross poke each other in the chest to start, with Castle actually being knocked to the floor. The Boys fan him up before one…puts him in a full nelson and the other hits him in the stomach? I guess that is training of some sort as Castle goes back inside to wrestle Rosas down.
Brent comes in for a dropkick (the fans approve) and it’s time to go after Rosas’ knee. Rosas drives him into the corner though and it’s Chhun coming in for a dropkick into a suplex. Brent enziguris Kross though and Castle comes back in to start the house cleaning. Everything breaks down and the Boys are thrown outside for the crashes (that’s always cool). Back in and the Bang A Rang finishes Rosas at 5:30.
Rating: C. Just a squash here with Castle and the Boys proving that they are ready for the Six Man Tag Team Title shot. I’m not sure who else would get the shot, but the idea of throwing three people with little in common together would not be out of the question. Castle and the Boys are a fun team and crowd favorites, so this was a smart addition to the show.
Maria Kanellis introduces the OGK (Matt Taven/Mike Bennett) who say they’re coming for the Tag Team Titles. Maria: “We are the OGK but you can call us the Kingdom.” Or you could just pick one, preferably the Kingdom.
Angelico/Serpentico vs. Rush/Dralistico
Luther is here with Angelico/Serpentico, collectively known as the Spanish Announce Project and Jose the Assistant is with Rush/Dralistico. Rush isn’t interested in a handshake with Angelico as we are officially ready to go. They trade legsweeps into covers for no counts and it’s an early standoff.
Serpentico comes in to chop away at Rush for no avail before Dralistico comes in to take him down. Rush’s running splash in the corner sets up a pair of basement dropkicks to send Serpentico outside as the beating is on. The means a big flip dive from Dralistico and the Tranquilo pose from Rush. Angelico gets whipped with an electrical cord on the floor and Serpentico is draped over the top rope for a legdrop in a painful looking crash.
The double teaming continues until Rush accidentally knocks Dralistico off the apron. Serpentico gets knocked out of the air but Angelico breaks up the Bull’s Horns. With Angelico knocked outside, Dralistico hits a springboard spinning Canadian Destroyer to finish Serpentico at 9:16.
Rating: C. That was a pretty long squash as Dralistico and Rush were never in any real danger. They could wind up being a solid team around here as Rush has the World Title credentials and Dralistico looked good in a bit of a showcase here. Angelico and Serpentico did well as cannon fodder, but that’s all they were.
Post match Dralistico and Rush take Serpentico’s mask.
Trish Adora vs. Billie Starkz
Starkz is an 18 year old prodigy. Adora works on the arm to start and powers Starkz down without much trouble. Starkz gets knocked outside and dropped onto the apron before Adora la majistrals her for two back inside. A delayed bridging German suplex gets two and Adora grabs Cattle Mutilation, with Starkz having to go to the ropes. Starkz gets in a kick to the face but walks into a pump kick for two. They trade running shots to the face and then the big forearms until Starkz lands another kick. That doesn’t seem to matter as the Lariat Tubman (what a great name) finishes for Adora at 5:41.
Rating: C+. This was another near squash as Starkz only got in a few shots while Adora was running her over for the most part. Adora is someone who felt like she was ready to become a breakout star in the original Ring Of Honor, but the women’s division wasn’t nearly strong enough to make that work. The dominance was on strong here and it was already better than most of what Ring Of Honor’s women did in the past.
Christopher Daniels talks about his success around here and wants to win the Tag Team Titles with his new partner….Matt Sydal. Cue Sydal, who is willing to die flying or die trying. That feels like a “we have nothing else for these two to do” and that isn’t a bad thing.
Jake Crist/Jake Manning vs. Trustbusters
Yes the Trustbusters (with Mark Sterling) are back and no I don’t get it either. Manning is the Man Scout, which is like a Boy Scout but….I think you get the idea. Daivari throws Manning’s scout manual (which he reads during matches) outside and brings Manning into the corner for the tag off to Slim J. The Trustbusters start the alternating beatdowns but it’s off to Crist for a springboard forearm. Manning comes back in to hammer on Daivari but J gets in a cheap shot from the apron. The STF makes Manning tap at 2:55. At least it was short.
Post match Ari Daivari brags about beating Metalik on his own last week but Metalik runs in. That earns him a beatdown of his own but Blake Christian makes the save.
Pure Title: Wheeler Yuta vs. Timothy Thatcher
Yuta is defending and has to use a rope break to escape the Fujiwara armbar less than ten seconds in. They fight over arm control on the mat with Thatcher taking over and slamming the fingers into the mat for two. Yuta reverses into an Octopus and Thatcher has to use his first rope break as well. The armbar keeps Thatcher down and a middle rope flying armbar makes it worse.
Back up and Thatcher manages a belly to belly but Yuta is right back with another armbar. Thatcher’s second rope break gets him out of trouble so they trade uppercuts for a change. Thatcher uppercuts him into the corner but gets punched off the ropes, earning an official warning (one more punch and he’s disqualified).
Another armbar sends Thatcher to the rope again and this time he pulls Yuta into the keylock, sending him to the ropes as well. A belly to back gives Thatcher two and he knees away at Yuta’s back, sending him to the ropes for the final break. So now holds and pins in the ropes are legal so Thatcher stomps him to the floor. With the referee holding Thatcher back, Yuta hits him in the face again and slaps on an armbar in the ropes to retain at 12:40.
Rating: B-. This match stood out as it had the talent, the intensity and the different feeling from everything else on the show. Thatcher was doing more stuff here but Yuta cheated just enough to retain the title. The Pure Title isn’t the best thing going in Ring Of Honor but Yuta does well enough to make it work. Giving him an opponent like Thatcher was a guaranteed hit and they delivered.
Post match Yuta complains about the LA Dojo so here is Clark Connors to say the Blackpool Combat Club wished they trained under Katsuyori Shibata (the Dojo’s head trainer). Connors issues the challenge for a title match next week and Yuta is in.
Aussie Open vs. Tracy Williams/Rhett Titus
Titus wrestles Fletcher to the mat to start and it’s Williams coming in to scare Fletcher over for the tag to Davis. A few shots to Davis’ arm seem to wake him up enough to kick Titus in the face and the Aussies take over. Fletcher comes in for a rather delayed suplex, which he passes over to Davis for the actual drop on Titus. A missed charge lets Titus roll over Davis and bring in Williams to clean house.
The piledriver is blocked but everything breaks down, with the Aussies being sent outside. That’s fine with them, as they pick up Titus and Williams for a hard ram together. Back in and Williams gets planted to give Fletcher two but Williams is fine enough to pull Davis into a Crossface.
Titus adds a half crab on Fletcher at the same time but the Aussies go to the ropes to escape. There’s a belly to belly to drop Fletcher and a lariat gets two, with Davis having to make the save. Williams adds a top rope splash for two on Fletcher but he’s back with a spinning Tombstone. Davis pulls Titus from the mat up into a piledriver (that was awesome) and the Coriolis finishes Williams at 10:22.
Rating: B. Now this was a fun one as they cranked up the intensity here with one hot sequence after another. The Aussies needed a win and putting them over some former Ring Of Honor champions worked well. Williams always felt like someone who could move up to the next level and Titus seems to get better every time he’s out there. Very energized match and I had a lot of fun with it.
Respect is shown post match, but the Aussies don’t seem to mean it.
Eddie Kingston vs. Ben Dejo
Suplex and spinning Backfist To The Future finish for Kingston at 40 seconds.
Post match Kingston calls out Claudio Castagnoli to answer his challenge. Cue Castagnoli to say a man without honor will never be champion. Castagnoli leaves and we see Kingston giving chase backstage.
Willow Nightingale isn’t just here to be happy because she wants Athena’s Women’s Title.
Athena isn’t worried about Nightingale and the title isn’t going anywhere.
Women’s Title: Athena vs. Willow Nightingale
Nightingale is challenging and I would have bet on this one taking place at Supercard Of Honor. They fight over wrist control to start with Athena throwing her down and posing. Nightingale is back with a running crossbody for two and Two Amigos into a fisherman’s suplex. Athena gets sent to the apron, where she snaps the arm over the ropes, allowing her to kick Nightingale down.
More kicks let Athena pose again and we hit the seated armbar. They trade rollups for two each until Athena hammers her down. The running baseball slide sends Willow outside, where Athena sends her face first into the steps. Willow’s arm gets crushed in the steps but she still beats the count back in. the running hurricanrana is countered into an apron bomb though and a Death Valley Driver plants Athena on the floor.
Both of them make it back in at 18 (out of 20) and a spinebuster gives Nightingale two. The arm gives out on the doctor bomb though and Athena grabs a crossface. Make that the Fujiwara armbar, which Willow reverses into a rollup for two. Athena plants her for two more and the kickout leaves her panicking. The Pounce sends Athena flying and the doctor bomb gets two more. Athena bails up the ramp, where she grabs a Wasteland to knock Willow silly. Back in and the O Face retains the title at 14:47.
Rating: B. This was a heck of a match and the fans were way into it rather quickly, as Willow is as likable as you can get and Athena is starting to feel it as a villain. They had me thinking they might change the title here and maybe that is what they should have done. I’m not sure why Willow got the shot here and lost, as she could be built up as a potential new star in the division, including as the champion. Also, why not wait to do this at Supercard? Unless they’re running this back, I don’t know how much sense it made here, even as a rather good main event.
Post match Athena sends her arm first into the steps.
Overall Rating: B. Much better show this week as it was a bit shorter (about 15 minutes) and they kept things moving. The action was better as well, with a mixture of different kinds of things up and down the card. Three title matches is a bit much, but the TV Title defense was hardly a big deal.
The show is still too long though and that is going to get them in trouble when the matches aren’t as good. It’s ok to spread this stuff out a bit, but that has long, long since been one of the major problems with Tony Khan’s booking style. For now though, it’s an upgrade over last week, but I’m curious about how the second taping will go.
Samoa Joe b. Tony Deppen – MuscleBuster
Dalton Castle/The Boys b. Marcus Kross/Cody Chhun/Guillermo Rosas – Bang A Rang to Rosas
Rush/Dralistico b. Angelico/Serpentico – Springboard spinning Canadian Destroyer to Serpentico
Trish Adora b. Billie Starkz – Lariat Tubman
Trustbusters b. Jake Manning/Jake Crist – STF to Manning
Wheeler Yuta b. Timothy Thatcher – Armbar in the ropes
Aussie Open b. Tracy Williams/Rhett Titus – Coriolis to Williams
Eddie Kingston b. Ben Dejo – Spinning Backfist To The Future
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