Supercard Of Honor XVI
Date: March 31, 2023
Location: Galen Center, Los Angeles, California
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman, Nigel McGuinness
It’s probably the biggest non-WWE event of the weekend and the show is pretty stacked. Ring Of Honor’s TV relaunch has made for some entertaining television and while it hasn’t exactly set this show up perfectly, we should be in for a heck of a show. The headliner is Claudio Castagnoli defending the World Title against Eddie Kingston so let’s get to it.
Zero Hour: Tracy Williams vs. Jeff Cobb
This is the first of four Zero Hour matches which were announced a few hours ago because Tony Khan. Cobb gets taken into the corner to start but snaps off the swinging belly to back suplex to send Williams down hard. A delayed running suplex gives Cobb two before he switches over to the leg. Williams strikes him back before getting two off a small package. Cobb isn’t having this and hits the Tour of the Islands for the pin at 5:10.
Rating: C. This was just a step above a squash for Cobb, who shrugged off everything Williams threw at him and hit his big finish to win. Cobb is the definition of a hoss who happens to have some incredible amateur skills. You don’t get things like that very often and Cobb seems to have settled into a rather nice niche.
We have a special surprise as NIGEL MCGUINNESS returns to do commentary for the rest of the show. If for some reason they have to have a three man booth, Nigel is a great choice to have around.
Zero Hour: Konosuke Takeshita vs. Willie Mack
Feeling out process to start with Takeshita going with the strikes. He knocks Mack to the floor but misses the big dive, only to have Mack get in a shot of his own. Back in and Takeshita snaps off a middle rope hurricanrana to send Mack outside again. This time it’s a big flip dive to take him down, only to have Mack get back up for his own dive. We hit the chinlock back inside, followed by a running clothesline to take Takeshita down again. Mack’s running kick to the chest sets up the nip up but his back is hurt. The standing moonsault gets two on Takeshita but Mack can’t quite follow up.
Takeshita blasts him with a lariat for two and has to block the Stunner. Mack hits the Pounce into a Stunner, only to have Takeshita hit a knee into his own Stunner. That’s shrugged off and Mack hits a running knee to leave them both down. The corner cannonball hits Takeshita but the frog splash hits too long. Takeshita grabs the Blue Thunder Bomb and the running knee finishes Mack at 9:40.
Rating: B-. These two working well together is hardly a surprise as they’re both incredibly talented. The good thing is that they were able to get some time and build something up rather than being all rushed. Mack continues to feel like someone who could be a thing if he was given the chance, but the wandering talented star is a nice place to be in as well.
Zero Hour: Miranda Alize vs. Willow Nightingale
Nightingale powers her down to start with Alize being sent outside. The big dive is cut off with a forearm though and a basement hurricanrana gives Alize two back inside. Nightingale isn’t having any of that and knocks her around again, setting up the running hip attack in the corner. Alize is back with a neckbreaker for two and a shot DDT gets the same. A Death Valley Driver plants Alize for two more, only for her to grab a cutter. Back up and the Drive By misses, allowing Nightingale to hit the POUNCE (Ian/Caprice: “PERIOD!” Nigel: “You’ve said that before haven’t you?”). The Doctor Bomb finishes Alize at 7:01.
Rating: C. It’s nice to see Nightingale win, even if it is in a lower level match like this. She has so much charisma and can do the power stuff rather well. I’m still not sure why she isn’t given a chance to win something that matters, but the fans keep cheering her so maybe she can get by without it.
Zero Hour: Slim J vs. Stu Grayson
Ari Daivari, Mark Sterling and Evil Uno are here too. Slim jumps him to start but Grayson knocks him down to the apron, setting up a slingshot hilo. Daivari offers a distraction though and Slim takes over, setting up a springboard reverse DDT (that was cool) for two. Grayson is back with a clothesline into a springboard twisting moonsault for two of his own.
A sleeper slows Grayson down for a bit but he’s fine enough for a pop up powerslam and another near fall. Slim grabs a twisting Sliced Bread for two and Grayson is ready to fight back. Sterling gets involved and is taken out by Uno, leaving Grayson to hit Knightfall for the pin at 6:55.
Rating: C. I’m not sure why this needed to be the final match on the show or why it needed to be there at all but at least Grayson has been treated as something important in recent weeks. In theory the idea is to get people to cheer for the Dark Order, though this isn’t really a crowd that needs to be warmed up. The match was good enough, but I’m rather tired of seeing Sterling everywhere.
Post match the Righteous (Dutch and Vincent) return to stare at the Dark Order.
Commentary welcomes us to the show proper.
AAA Mega Title: El Hijo de Vikingo vs. Komander
Vikingo is defending and we get the show of sportsmanship to start. The bell rings and that is a ROAR as the fans are way into this. They actually go with the wrist grappling to start until Komander takes him down and ties up the legs. That’s broken up so Vikingo gets him into a surfboard. Komander slips out as well and gets his legs tied up again, allowing them to slap away at each other.
With the legs still tied up, they both wind up on their heads to slap each other in the face. Back up and they both flip into a pose for another standoff. Komander gets sent to the floor where Vikingo dives on him and lands on his feet, only to send Komander back inside. This time Komander sends him outside for the running flip dive and it’s already time for the table.
Instead of putting Vikingo on it though, Komander hits a 450 off the stage. Back in and Komander has to bail out of a rope walk shooting star so Vikingo does his inverted dragon rana (again, the heck). Running knees put Komander on the floor, where he gets his own knees up to block a shooting star press. Back in and Vikingo puts him down, setting up a jump from the post to the top but right into a sitout powerbomb to give Komander two.
Komander goes up this time and gets shoved down in a big crash. Vikingo hits a springboard inverted moonsault to take Komander down again as commentary tries to figure out what to call that. Back in and a springboard corkscrew 450 gets two as the fans are very happy. They go to the apron with Komander hitting a Canadian Destroyer, followed by the rope walk (all the way across) into a VERY high flip dive. Back in and Vikingo finally hits his shooting star for two before going up top.
Komander tries to walk the ropes but gets caught in a top rope Canadian Destroyer. That sends Komander outside and onto the table for the springboard 630, which doesn’t break the table (because of course it doesn’t). Back in and Vikingo misses the 630, setting up the Hidden Ace (twisting Phoenix splash) for two. They both go up top again with Vikingo managing a swinging Rock Bottom to leave them both down. The running double knees hit Komander in the corner and the 630 can retain the title at 16:45.
Rating: A. Yeah what else are you supposed to say here? It’s a total stunt show and they aren’t trying to do anything else. There isn’t supposed to be anything with a big story or something complicated like that. Instead, this was about going out there and doing whatever insane thing they could think of to pop the crowd more and more. That’s what they were going for here and it worked incredibly well with some almost hard to believe stuff.
Six Man Tag Team Titles: The Embassy vs. AR Fox/Metalik/Blake Christian
The Embassy (Brian Cage/Gates of Agony with Prince Nana) is defending and gets knocked to the floor at the bell. Some dropkicks put them down again but we settle down to Cage powering Metalik down. Fox comes in and hits a jumping enziguri as Ian and Caprice talk about their wives. A cutter drops Cage and everything breaks down, with Fox hitting a running flip dive to the floor to take Cage down again.
Back in and Fox’s Blockbuster is pulled out of the air, allowing Cage to hit an F10. Cage takes too long though and it’s off to Christian, who hits the big Fosbury Flop on the champs. Metalik adds a top rope splash to Toa for not even a one, leaving Kaun to hit a backbreaker. Back in and Fox drops Cage but Toa plants Christian. Metalik comes back with a spinning DDT though and everyone is down. Christian hits Cage with a Canadian Destroyer and Metalik adds a sunset flip for two. Cage clotheslines Metalik into the Drill Claw to retain at 8:16.
Rating: C+. The action was there but it’s the Embassy beating a team that was thrown together for the sake of having challengers for the belts. There isn’t a division for these belts and other than giving Cage something shiny to hold, I don’t know how necessary the titles really are. The match was entertaining, but it’s not exactly easy to get invested in these belts.
We recap Athena vs. Yuka Sakazaki for Athena’s Women’s Title. Athena called her out for the title match and here she is, with Sakazaki saving Emi Sakura from a post match attack this week.
Women’s Title: Athena vs. Yuka Sakazaki
Athena is defending and stomps on a porcelain doll, as she has been calling Sakazaki recently. The fans are behind Sakazaki as they feel each other out to start. A hurricanrana takes Athena outside and Sakazaki dives through the ropes to take her down. Athena kicks her down and hammers away back inside as commentary thinks Sakazaki got messed up on that dive.
Sakazaki gets taken down in the corner to land on her head again but she’s fine enough to hit a clothesline. Athena cuts her off with a hard powerbomb and pounds away, with another near fall increasing the frustration. A dropkick sends Sakazaki outside and there’s a wheelbarrow suplex to drop her on the floor.
Athena’s running dropkick only hits barricade though and Sakazaki kind of suplex slams her on the floor. Back in and a springboard splash gives Sakazaki two but Athena blasts her with a spinning forearm. Sakazaki is back up with a spinning hammerlock slam for two more. Athena knocks her away though and hits the O Face to retain at 11:36.
Rating: B-. Athena has been on a roll lately with the new heel style and that was the case here. Sakazaki has all kinds of talent and was showing it in the match, with the neck injury slowing her down. I liked this more than I was expecting and the good thing is there are a ton of women who could come after the title.
We recap Samoa Joe defending the TV Title against Mark Briscoe. Joe won the title at last year’s show and Mark has been trying to win it for his entire career. The Briscoes could never beat Joe on their own but now Mark has to do it for himself, his family and his brother.
TV Title: Samoa Joe vs. Mark Briscoe
Joe is defending. They circle each other to start until Mark strikes away. A fireman’s carry doesn’t work so they chop it out instead. Mark gets the better of things and manages a Death Valley Driver but Joe rolls away before the Froggy Bow can launch. They head outside with Mark charging into an overhead belly to belly to cut off the momentum. Back in and Joe hits another suplex for two but the right hands seem to wake Mark up.
Mark slugs away but gets knocked outside in a heap. The suicide elbow connects but Joe spends too much time bragging, allowing Mark to hit a dropkick. There’s the step up dive off the chair and Mark pulls out a table. Joe gets in a shot and leans the table up but gets Blockbustered through it for his efforts. Back in and a top rope chop to the head staggers Joe again, setting up a chop off.
Mark’s middle rope forearm puts them both down….and Mark goes over for a tag. Since Jay isn’t there, Joe catches him with the snap powerslam for two. Joe’s Crossface sends Mark to the ropes and Mark is back up with the chops. One heck of a clothesline drops Mark for two and Joe puts him on top. That’s broken up and Mark hits the Froggy Bow….for two. Mark loads up the Cutthroat Driver but Joe reverses into the Koquina Clutch. With Mark getting close to the ropes, a sleeper suplex drops Mark again and Joe chokes him out to retain at 14:16.
Rating: B-. That ending is going to get a lot of people talking and I’m not sure how well it is going to be received. This seemed tailor made to FINALLY give Mark his big win over Joe and get the TV Title that he has chased for years, but instead Joe holds onto it as his reign hits a year. Maybe there is some long term story planned, but it’s hard to believe that it will wind up feeling better than this would have. I really don’t get the thinking here.
Respect is shown post match.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Daniel Garcia
They grapple against the rope to start and no Garcia isn’t going to let him have a clean break. The fight goes to the floor with Tanahashi hammering him around the ring but Garcia gets in a cheap shot to the knee. Garcia then mocks the air guitar and dances, leaving commentary aghast.
Some knee cranking ensues and Tanahashi screams a lot as McGuinness praises Garcia as much as he can. Garcia even mocks Shinsuke Nakamura a bit until Tanahashi fights up. A slam sets up the middle rope flip splash (don’t let Mike Bailey rub off on you man) but Garcia is back with an ax kick.
They trade shots with Garcia going to the knee to take him down. The dragon screw legwhip gives Tanahashi a breather and the high angle Texas Cloverleaf goes on. With that broken up, Tanahashi slips out of a piledriver attempt and hits the Twist and Shout. There’s the Sling Blade for two, followed by the High Fly Flow to finish Garcia at 12:04.
Rating: B-. Good match again but I never bought Tanahashi as being in any real danger. Garcia just isn’t on his level and there is no reason to believe that he will be anytime soon. This was more of a way to get Tanahashi on the show in some way with Garcia as the designated victim, kind of like his match with Adam Cole earlier this week.
We recap the ladder match for the vacant Tag Team Titles. The Briscoes are gone so the titles are on the line in a ladder match. Not much more to it than that.
Tag Team Titles: La Faccion Ingobernable vs. Lucha Bros vs. Kingdom vs. Top Flight vs. Aussie Open
Ladder match for the vacant titles. It’s chaos to start of course with La Faccion and the Kingdom being left alone, only to have the Kingdom jump them. Top Flight comes back in and gets beaten up by La Faccion, including being crushed in the ladder. The Aussies come in and quickly take La Faccion down, leaving them alone in the ring. The Lucha Bros break that up and stack La Faccion in a ladder, setting up their assisted wheelbarrow splash.
It’s too early to climb though as the Bros are sent outside, setting up big dives from La Faccion. Bennett holds up Darius Martin so Taven can hit a dive over the top for a Doomsday Device on the floor (GEEZ). It’s time to bring out the big ladder as the Aussies hit stereo Tombstones on the stage to knock the Kingdom cold.
Back at ringside the Aussies crush Dante Martin with the ladders but the Bros take them down. It’s too early for the Bros to go up though as La Faccion pulls them back down. Taven and Bennett (bleeding) are somehow back with the latter slugging it out with Rush. Dralistico suplexes Taven into a ladder in the corner before going up top with Darius. With that not working, Darius helps Dante go up top for the slugout with Dralistico going down. Dralistico breaks it up and Dante hits a step up dropkick to knock a chair into Rush’s face.
The Aussies clean house, including tossing Penta into a ladder in the corner. One ladder is stood up and another is bridged into it, allowing Taven to pull Darius down. Dante and Bennett fight up top, with Dante hitting a sunset bomb over the ladder. The Aussies are back with Coriolis on Dante and an assisted Alabama Slam drops Darius onto another ladder.
Dralistico plants Davis and hurricanranas Fletcher into (not onto) the announcers’ table, with everything being knocked over. The Kingdom puts Dralistico on the ladder and Bennett splashes him through for a huge crash. Rush suplexes Davis off the apron and onto a ladder, leaving the managers to fight.
Dante and Fenix go up with Fenix being knocked onto the bridged ladder. Penta goes up as well and kicks Dante down (leaving him alone with the titles) before hitting a Canadian Destroyer off the bridged ladder through two tables at ringside (Dante’s foot/leg looked BAD on that landing). Back in and Fenix takes out the Kingdom and gets the titles at 20:11.
Rating: B. That injury sucked the life out of me and the way it was set up (Penta being alone with the titles but going to do the move anyway) made it worse. That’s what will be remembered from the match, which is a shame as it was a bunch of great looking stunts. It did run longer than it needed to, but that injury is far worse than any timing issues.
Post match Mark Briscoe and FTR come out to celebrate with the Lucha Bros in a nice touch.
Looking at some photos, Dante’s foot was completely twisted around. He’s going to be gone for a long, long time.
We recap Wheeler Yuta vs. Katsuyori Shibata for the Pure Title. Yuta bragged about his training and wanted the head of the New Japan LA Dojo, meaning Shibata. Match made.
Pure Rules Title: Katsuyori Shibata vs. Wheeler Yuta
Yuta is defending and Jon Moxley comes out with him (but doesn’t stay). Shibata takes him down without much trouble to start and mounts him MMA style. Back up and Shibata pulls him to the mat again before working on the leg. Shibata grabs a leglock and Yuta goes for the ropes which, after a while, he does reach.
Back up and Yuta goes for the arm for a change, only to have Shibata take him down by the leg again. They get back up and Yuta’s chops have no effect, leaving Shibata to forearm the heck out of him. With nothing else working, Yuta uses the right hand to get the official warning (meaning he’s disqualified if he does it again).
Yuta’s chops still don’t work so Shibata chops him into the corner for a face wash. A running corner dropkick connects with Yuta and we hit the chinlock. Shibata chops away but Yuta spits in his face to anger the crowd. That earns him a sleeper, followed by the Penalty Kick to give Shibata the pin and the title at 12:08.
Rating: C+. I know it’s not the wisest thing to say but I’ve never gotten the appeal of Shibata’s style. It’s strong style and he’s a master of it and all that, but it’s never been something that has really held my interest. In this case though, he pretty much had to win as Yuta has done everything he can as champion and shouldn’t be going over someone as talented as Shibata. Then again, ROH’s history of having New Japan guys go over its stars isn’t a road they want to go down again, but I doubt that’s going to stop anything.
Post match Yuta won’t shake hands.
We recap the main event. Eddie Kingston wants to be World Champion but Claudio Castagnoli calls him a waste of talent. They have known each other for fifteen years and it is time for them to fight over the title.
Here’s what’s coming on Dynamite.
Ring Of Honor World Title: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Eddie Kingston
Kingston is challenging and they go right to the fight to start, with Kingston going after the knee. A suplex drops Kingston but he’s right back up with a chop. Castagnoli absorbs the shots and manages to drop him across the top rope for a needed breather. One heck of a European uppercut sends Kingston outside but he comes back in for the slugout. You don’t do that with Castagnoli, who grabs the swing but Kingston goes to the knee to break it up.
Castagnoli gets back up and takes Kingston up top, where he knocks Castagnoli back off. The fans are split as Kingston comes back with chops, setting up a clothesline to send Castagnoli to the floor. There’s the big dive to knock Castagnoli silly, followed by a bulldog for two back inside.
Kingston tries the back suplex but Castagnoli turns onto him and fires off elbows. That’s reversed into the Stretch Plum until Castagnoli falls down to break it up. The backdrop driver gives Kingston two but Castagnoli uppercuts his way out of trouble. The Riccola Bomb is countered and the spinning backfist gets two. They head outside again with Castagnoli slamming the barricade into him over and over.
Another big uppercut gives Castagnoli two back inside but Kingston catches him with another backfist. A third backfist looks to set up what looked to be a brainbuster but it’s broken up. The Neutralizer gets one so Castagnoli uppercuts him down for two more. A bunch of uppercuts, including one to the back of the head sets up the Riccola Bomb but Kingston reverses into a cradle….which is reversed into a sunset flip to retain at 20:08.
Rating: B. Let me guess: long term booking. I’m sure they have some reason to keep the booking going, but having the fan favorite lose his big shot (again) isn’t exactly the best way to keep the interest up. This was the time for Kingston to win the title, even if he lost it back a week or two later. Castagnoli is a bigger deal on AEW TV, but him losing here wouldn’t have killed him. It might have killed Kingston though, as he loses yet another big one.
Post match Wheeler Yuta comes in to surround Kingston but Katsuyori Shibata comes in to even things out and hold up his title to Castagnolie’s. Kingston gets a mic and asks if we’re still on pay per view. Kingston: “One minute? F*** s*** motherf*****, fine me, I don’t care.” He puts over the Japanese stars on the show (not the young guys, not the talent who is here ever week, not the people who risked their health in the ladder match, but just the Japanese guys) and says he’s not done with Castagnoli to wrap it up.
Overall Rating: B+. This was a weird situation as the wrestling was good throughout, but that injury took me out of the rest of the show. It was so gruesome and so horrible looking that it was hard to get into the other matches. This was also a good example of the Zero Hour doing more harm than good, as having four matches thrown in didn’t add much of anything and had me more burned out near the end. It felt like “here’s more stuff, just because we can” and that doesn’t exactly scream best of the best like this show is supposed to be.
Now that being said, this show is definitely worth seeing with as much good stuff as it had. When the weakest match is perfectly watchable, if not good, you know you’re in for something special. The opener is another eye popping stunt show and the other matches are great, but egads there are some weird choices in here. Briscoe and Kingston, the emotional challengers, both losing is hard to get my head around, as only Shibata and the Lucha Bros got feel good wins. You need something more than that to get invested in and I don’t think this had that. Great show, but I’m not sure about a few decisions.
Jeff Cobb b. Tracy Williams – Tour of the Islands
Konosuke Takeshita b. Willie Mack – Running knee
Willow Nightingale b. Miranda Alize – Doctor Bomb
Stu Grayson b. Slim J – Knightfall
El Hijo del Vikingo b. Komander – 630
The Embassy b. Blake Christian/Metalik/AR Fox – Drill Claw to Metalik
Athena b. Yuka Sakazaki – O Face
Samoa Joe b. Mark Briscoe
Hiroshi Tanahashi b. Daniel Garcia – High Fly Flow
Lucha Bros won the Reach For The Sky Ladder Match
Katsuyori Shibata b. Wheeler Yuta – Penalty Kick
Claudio Castagnoli b. Eddie Kingston – Sunset flip
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