Ring Of Honor
Date: June 1, 2023
Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman
We’re back to what is considered a normal length show this week at just under two hours after last week’s almost three hour Super Sized show. Following last week, Athena is defending the Women’s Title against Kiera Hogan and the New Japan TV Title will be on the line as well. Just like it will be tomorrow night on Rampage. Let’s get to it.
The Infantry vs. The Kingdom
Maria Kanellis-Bennett is here with the Kingdom. The Infantry blocks the early double kicks to the ribs and it’s Taven getting caught in the wrong corner to start. Taven is right back with a springboard kick to the face to send Bravo outside and the Kingdom takes over. A brainbuster into Aurora Borealis gets two on Bravo and he’s able to get over for the tag to Dean. Maria offers a distraction though and it’s a quick Proton Pack to finish Dean at 3:45.
Rating: C. The Kingdom continues to be a team ready to move into the title scene but when you’re losing to Action Andretti/Darius Martin, a win over the Infantry isn’t going to mean much. They didn’t do badly here or anything, but beating the Infantry is hardly some big deal. I’m not sure why the Kingdom isn’t harder pushed, if nothing else to let Maria do the promos that have made her into such a great manager.
Trish Adora vs. Skye Blue
Adora goes with the power to start and runs Blue over, setting up a running kick to the face for two. Blue is right back with a spinning kick to the head but Adora backbreakers her out of the corner. The northern lights suplex gets two on Blue and Adora seems to load up an Air Raid Crash, only to stretch Blue instead. With that broken up, Blue hits a running knee and a running kick to the face for two of her own. Adora gets in a suplex and punches her down for two more. Lariat Tubman is loaded up but Blue reverses into Skyfall for the pin at 6:10.
Rating: C+. These two were working hard here and Blue gets another win. Commentary talked about how Adora was recently admitted to the New Japan USA Dojo, where she was taken down to the very basics. I would hope that doesn’t shine through in her television appearances, as Adora has so much charisma and a unique look/style that taking her down to pure basics would be quite the setback. For now though, things worked out well and these two had a nice match.
Dark Order vs. The Righteous/Stu Grayson
Uno punches Vincent down so it’s Grayson coming in….to punch Uno in the face. With Uno all upset, Silver comes in to take over on the again legal Vincent. Everything breaks down and Reynolds is shoved off the apron and into Dutch’s swinging Boss Man Slam on the floor. Back in and the Righteous/Grayson start taking turns on Reynolds, including a heck of a backdrop.
Reynolds armdrags his way to freedom though and the hot tag brings in Uno to clean house. It’s off to Silver, but Vincent sends Uno into him to take over. Silver is fine enough to suplex the rather large Dutch and it’s the Grayson vs. Uno showdown. Vincent breaks it up again and grabs a Russian legsweep. Dutch hits a big running flip dive onto Silver and Reynolds, leaving Uno to unload on Grayson. Uno fires off forearms in the corner, with Grayson telling him to finish it. Vincent makes the save though and it’s Knightfall to drop Uno, with Vincent stealing the pin on Uno at 9:16.
Rating: C+. The most important thing here is it was part of a story between the two sides. The Righteous have been after Grayson for a long time now and seem to have most of him, with the Knightfall being a big step away from the Dark Order. Now granted there are some big question marks still, such as WHY any of this is happening or why Uno wants to fight Grayson, but I’ll take this over one mostly random match after another.
Post match Uno crawls towards Grayson, who walks away but doesn’t seem happy about it.
Samoa Joe and Zack Sabre Jr. have a slightly tense discussion where they praise each other after last week’s match, but don’t seem to agree on which TV Champion is better. Maybe they’ll have to find out.
Promise Braxton vs. Diamante
Diamante backs her into the corner for an elbow to the face and a knee makes it worse. The shotgun dropkick gives Diamante two and she drives some shoulders into the ribs in the corner. Braxton gets in a few shots of her own and some running knees to the back of the head (basically a Meteora from behind) gets two. That’s enough for Diamante, who grabs an arm trap choke for the tap at 3:57.
Rating: C. I’ve heard worse ideas than pushing Diamante, who has some charisma in the ring and can back it up well enough. That choke was a nice finisher and if they give her a few more wins, she could start going somewhere. Braxton has been fine in her two appearances but they haven’t been anything noteworthy.
Brian Cage vs. Willie Mack
Prince Nana is here with Cage, who starts fast by pulling Mack away from the ropes for a crash. A Saito suplex drops Mack for two but he grabs a t-bone suplex for a breather. Mack sends him into the corner for the cannonball and it’s a Samoan drop to make it worse. The standing moonsault gets two and they trade strikes to the head. An exchange of German suplexes leave both of them down but it’s Mack up first. The Stunner into the frog splash gives Mack two but Cage blasts him with a discus lariat for the fast pin at 7:41.
Rating: C+. This was a pair of big, strong guys hitting each other really hard until one of them couldn’t get up anymore. That’s all you need on occasion and as luck would have it, that’s about as perfect of a use for Cage as you’re going to find. It was a nice showdown, though I could still go for Mack winning a bigger match every so often.
New Japan TV Title: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Rocky Romero
Sabre is defending. Feeling out process to start with Romero’s leg cranking not exactly working. Instead Romero grabs a running hurricanrana and snaps the arm across the top. The back to back dives connect but the back to back to back dive is caught in a cravate to put Romero in trouble. Back in and Sabre starts working on the arm but twists on the foot at the same time for a bonus.
With that broken up, Sabre switches to an ankle lock but Romero escapes that as well. The chops in the corner set up a springboard tornado DDT for two on the champ and Romero grabs an armbar over the ropes. Sabre reverses into a choke before slowly kicking Romero in the face. Romero’s jumping knee to the face but Sabre pulls him into a choke. They fight over various bars until Sabre switches to a cobra stretch for the tap to retain at 11:23.
Rating: B. This was the good Romero who was working the submissions and throwing in some strikes to keep Sabre on his toes. At the same time, Sabre was feeling it here with the submissions, and when he is rolling along with those, there is very little better to see in wrestling. Sabre is a machine when he is at his best and they had a rather awesome back and forth match here.
Action Andretti/Darius Martin vs. Workhorsemen
Martin takes Henry down to start until Henry scores with a kick to the face. Drake comes in to easily run Martin over but Martin is back with a dropkick. Andretti walks the corner with a wristdrag to Henry as the pace picks up. Drake comes back in and easily wins a chop off but Andretti slips over and gets the tag. Everything breaks down and a Downward Spiral/dropkick combination gets two on Andretti with Martin making the save. A missed charge in the corner sends Drake outside and a double fireman’s carry slam finishes Henry at 5:38.
Rating: C+. Another nice match here as Andretti and Martin continue to do well, though it is hard to imagine they are anything long term. Whether it is getting a title shot and likely losing or Dante coming back from his injury, the time window does not seem to be very wide. At the same time, the Workhorsemen are fine midcard heels, though them winning something would help them have some longer term value.
Post match the Workhorsemen won’t shake hands.
Kip Sabian/Butcher and the Blade vs. Shogun/Bryce Saturn/Jakob Austin Young
Penelope Ford is here with Sabin and company. It’s a brawl to start with the non-stars being thrown outside. The powerbomb/neckbreaker finishes Young at 44 seconds.
Angelico/Serpentico/Jack Cartwheel vs. Komander/Bandido/El Hijo del Vikingo
Luther is here with Angelico and company. Angelico elbows Komander down to start and is quickly headscissored out to the floor. Bandido comes in to forearm it out with Serpentico, setting up some legsweeps into a standoff. Vikingo and Cartwheel come in with Cartwheel being pulled out of the air, only to flip back to his feet.
Cartwheel takes him down and hits a slingshot spinning dive for two and everything breaks down. A big flip dive from Cartwheel takes Komander down and we settle down to Komander getting caught in the wrong corner back inside. Komander fights out though and fires off some elbows, setting up a not so smooth Code Red to Cartwheel.
The diving tag brings in Bandido to clean house and everything breaks down. Bandido and company hit a stereo triple dive, setting up a pop up dropkick for two on Cartwheel back inside. Bandido tosses Serpentico onto Luther and Komander gets to do the big rope walk dive. Vikingo’s 630 finishes Cartwheel at 9:14.
Rating: B-. This was the display of flips and dives that you knew was coming and it was certainly entertaining. Komander’s big running flip dive continues to lose its luster due to how long he spends setting it up, but Vikingo is hard to ignore with all of the insane things he can do. Then you have the rather well rounded Bandido and it made for an entertaining trio, especially with a good punching bag like Serpentico.
Pure Rules Title: Alex Coughlin vs. Katsuyori Shibata
Shibata is defending. They go to the mat for some grappling to start but the threat of a cross armbreaker sends Coughlin to the ropes. A triangle choke sends Coughlin over for his second break so Shibata cranks on both arms at once. Coughlin uses his final rope break in less than four minutes so Shibata starts working on the leg for a change.
Somehow Coughlin, sitting on the mat, manages to grab a suplex and stand up to put Shibata down. A bridging fall away slam gives Coughlin two but Shibata triangle chokes him down again. Back up and Coughlin wins a slugout but Shibata grabs a choke. The PK retains the title at 8:54.
Rating: B-. So that’s a match that happened. Shibata did his usual stuff and looked good doing so while Coughlin’s power game was insane, with that suplex being on another level. They had the teacher vs. student story here but it never felt like they had any animosity. Coughlin going with raw power and intensity vs. Shibata’s skill and experience was a more interesting way to go, but it was only so interesting.
Women’s Title: Athena vs. Kiera Hogan
Hogan is challenging and feels a bit more serious here. Athena hits her in the face to start and sends Hogan hard into the corner. A hard kick drops Hogan but she’s back up with a kick of her own. Athena twists her down by the arm to take over, meaning the bad arm can be sent into the barricade.
Back in and a hammerlock suplex keeps Hogan in trouble, setting up an armbar. A swinging backbreaker into double knees to the arm has Hogan in even more trouble and Athena grabs a Fujiwara armbar. Hogan rolls out so Athena puts her on top, only to shove Athena back down. The running hip attack in the corner sets up a tornado DDT for two on Athena but the arm gives out. Athena rolls her up and grabs the trunks for the retaining pin at 7:56.
Rating: C. Hogan got in a bit at the beginning and end but Athena mainly picked her apart without much trouble. Commentary may go overboard with a lot of stuff, but they’re absolutely right about Athena being on another level as of late. It’s not the deepest field, but Athena has long since been the best women’s wrestler in Ring Of Honor history. As commentary also said, get her some stronger competition already.
Post match Hogan goes after Athena again and grabs a chair, only to get dropkicked away. The big brawl is on as commentary says Hogan wasn’t dominated here. Were we watching the same match? Other than a few flurries at the start and finish, this was ALL Athena, with Hogan’s arm giving out after Athena worked it over. I’m sure we’ll get a rematch, but I’m not sure why we need one.
Overall Rating: C+. The show being shorter certainly helped as about two hours is a heck of a lot easier than about three hours. There wasn’t anything bad on here and the Sabre vs. Romero match was a lot of fun. I’m still not sure why we need a lot of these same people on the show so often (the Kingdom, Blue, Diamante, Cage, Martin/Andretti) as their matches aren’t exactly classics and they could be removed to let the show breathe, but why have a reasonable length show when you can have a long one I guess. Either way, nice enough show this week, but they need to have something to build towards and soon.
The Kingdom b. The Infantry – Proton Pack to Dean
Skye Blue b. Trish Adora – Skyfall
Righteous/Stu Grayson b. Dark Order – Knightfall to Evil Uno
Diamante b. Promise Braxton – Arm trap choke
Brian Cage b. Willie Mack – Discus lariat
Zack Sabre Jr. b. Rocky Romero – Cobra stretch
Darius Martin/Action Andretti b. Workhorsemen – Double fireman’s carry slam to Henry
Kip Sabian/Butcher and the Blade b. Shotgun/Bryce Saturn/Jakob Austin Young – Powerbomb/neckbreaker combination to Young
El Hijo del Vikingo/Komander/Bandido b. Serpentico/Jack Cartwheel/Angelico – 630 to Cartwheel
Katsuyori Shibata b. Alex Coughlin – PK
Athena b. Kiera Hogan – Rollup with trunks
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