Ring Of Honor – June 29, 2023
By Thomas Hall on 30th June 2023
Ring Of Honor
Date: June 29, 2023
Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman
We’re done with Forbidden Door but like so many other things AEW does, we’ll be seeing some of the same people here this week. There are likely going to be several New Japan stars on this show and that means we could be in for a high quality week. Not so high quality that Jerry Lynn could actually say something important, but still good. Let’s get to it.
Tony Khan and Stokely Hathaway are here to talk about how there are a bunch of New Japan stars here. We hear about some of the stars, with Tony saying he’ll be at the Gorilla position and Hathaway can find him if needed. Another thing AEW does better than ROH: not having Tony Khan on the show so often. It feels like he’s using this show for practice to be on AEW TV more and no. Please goodness no.
Dralistico/Preston Vance vs. Mark Wheeler/Vikram Prashar
Dralistico knocks Wheeler down to start and strikes away to take over fast. Vance comes in with his spinebuster for two and demands the now legal Prashar to hit him. It’s back to Dralistico for a knee to the face and Vance adds the lariat for the double pin at 2:25. Well that was efficient.
Dark Order vs. The Righteous
Evil Uno is here with the Order while Stu Grayson is here with the Righteous. The Order jumps them to start fast and clears the ring, allowing Grayson to hand Uno a chair. That’s enough for an ejection, with the distraction letting Dutch run Silver over for two. Silver gets caught in the wrong corner and the beating is on until Dutch charges into a boot.
The big tag brings in Reynolds to clean house, including a hard running knee to Vincent in the corner. Everything breaks down and the Righteous is sent into various things on the floor. Back in and Silver brainbusters Vincent but Dutch makes the save. Vincent grabs a small package to finish Reynolds at 5:32.
Rating: C+. The Order did look more aggressive here and that helps, but at the end of the day, it’s another loss in a rather long string of them. The Righteous might not be great, but they’re more interesting than the Order. I could go for more of the Righteous’ mind games, though it’s almost time to move them over to some new opponents.
Post match the beatdown is on until Uno runs back out for the save. Grayson gets in the way of the chair shot though and we get the big staredown, with Grayson leaving before anything gets violent.
Leila Grey vs. Diamante
Mark Sterling is here with Grey. A headlock has Diamante in some early trouble but she slips out and works on the arm instead. Grey bails to the floor and gets sent into the steps for her efforts. Sterling offers a distraction though and Grey gets in a cheap shot to take over. The double arm crank with a knee in Diamante’s back doesn’t last long so we’ll go with a normal chinlock instead. Diamante jawbreaks her way to freedom but it’s too early for a running knee in the corner. A running corner dropkick connects instead but Sterling puts the foot on the rope. Not that it matters as Diamante hits Cross Rhodes for the pin at 6:03.
Rating: C. This was more about Diamante overcoming Sterling’s interference, as it isn’t like beating Grey is overly impressive. I still think there is something to be done with Diamante as she has a unique look and the charisma to make it work. Give her a chance already, as this feud isn’t getting her anywhere.
Claudio Castagnoli says no one wants the World Title because they’re scared of him. Cue Chuck Taylor to say he’ll challenge if Castagnoli is interested. Taylor leaves and Castagnoli says it can be a Proving Ground match, but they’ll scrap the time limit so the beating can be on.
Lucha Bros/El Hijo del Vikingo/Kommander b. Gringo Loco/Shane Taylor/Workhorsemen
Wouldn’t be Ring Of Honor without the Workhorsemen getting in their required appearance. Penta and Loco start things off and the fans are a bit split here. There’s no major contact for a minute and a half so everything breaks down with a series of strikes and flips to the floor. The spike Fear Factor is loaded up for Loco but he slips out and kicks Fenix down. Taylor’s splash gets two so it’s Kommander coming in to get crushed in the corner as well.
A springboard moonsault gives Loco two but Kommander kicks his way over to bring in Vikingo. Everything breaks down and the Bros snap off kicks. Drake breaks up the Fear Factor and it’s off to Fenix vs. Henry in a chop off. Taylor comes in and gets to wreck some people until Kommander and Vikingo do their big dives to the floor. The spike Fear Factor finishes Henry at 8:55.
Rating: B-. It was exactly the fun match that you would expect and they got a bit of time to make it work. This is where the Lucha Bros get to shine, though I’m not sure who is supposed to be their next challengers. Other than that, Vikingo and Kommander flipped, Loco did well when he could, Taylor is a monster and the Workhorsemen are here a lot.
Samoa Joe is ready to defeat Roderick Strong in the Owen Hart Foundation tournament. Stokely Hathaway comes in to say he runs things around here but Joe says he runs Hathaway, which has panic ensuing.
Big Bill/Lee Moriarty vs. Karou/Tariq
Karou slugs at Bill to start and can’t get very far, even with the heavy shots. The swinging Boss Man Slam drops Karou and it’s off to Moriarty to take over on Tariq. A hurricanrana sends Moriarty into the corner but he slips away and brings in Bill for the house cleaning. Everything breaks down and the Border City Stretch makes Tariq tap at 3:22.
Rating: C. Tariq and Karou didn’t exactly look great in there and Bill/Moriarty still don’t feel like anything important. Some of that might have to do with the fact that one of their names is “Big Bill” but it also might be that they aren’t exactly interesting. They could be fine enough as a one off challenger for the Tag Team Titles, though that could still be a ways off.
Six Man Tag Team Titles: The Embassy vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon
The Embassy is defending and has Prince Nana with them. Bushi bounces off of Cage to start so Takagi comes in to strike away. With that not working, Takahashi comes in and sends Cage into the corner for a triple team. The Gates make a save and Cage hits the apron superplex on Takahashi. Toa grabs a neck crank but Takahashi DDTs his way to freedom. Takagi comes in to clean house but gets cut off by Kaun’s Backstabber.
Kaun gets dropped as well though and it’s Bushi coming in off a missile dropkick. Everything breaks down and Kaun blasts Bushi with a clothesline. Cage World’s Strongest Slams Takagi and powerbombs Takahashi at the same time (because that’s something someone can do) but Bushi mists him. Back in and Opening The Gates finishes Bushi at 7:42.
Rating: B-. They packed a ton into this match and it’s nice to see a match where the Embassy breaks a sweat. The six man division more or less doesn’t exist but Ring Of Honor insists on having one anyway, which makes things quite annoying. The Embassy still is only so interesting, but as shown here, they can rise up against better opponents.
The United Empire want better opponents around here.
El Desperado vs. Willie Mack
Feeling out process to start until Mack hits a heck of a dropkick to take over. Desperado can’t strike his way out of the corner and gets knocked down much harder. The fall away slam into the nip up into the standing moonsault gives Mack two but Desperado starts in on the leg to take him out.
A leglock, with what looks like a Tranquilo pose thrown in, has Mack in more trouble but Mack makes the rope. Mack knocks him silly with a right hand but he has to kick Desperado away again. The double underhook faceplant is broken up but the second attempt finishes Mack at 9:05.
Rating: B-. More good stuff here, even as Mack’s losing streak continues. The guy can’t catch a break around here but it still works well as he is able to put on a nice match against anyone. At some point he needs to win, but that wasn’t going to come at the expense of one of the New Japan guest stars. Granted commentary hyping up Desperado’s upcoming match with Jon Moxley didn’t help either.
Roppongi Vice vs. Sho/Yujiro Takahashi
Vice get jumped at the bell but come back with stereo dropkicks to send them into the corner. A kick to the chest and standing moonsault get two on Takahashi as we hear about all of Romero’s partners and students (including Sho but save for Trent) turning on him. Sho gets in a cheap shot on Trent on the floor though and a backdrop gets…well nothing back inside actually.
Some kicks rock Trent but he gets a boot up on Takahashi so the hot tag can bring Romero back in. The Forever Lariats crush Sho and Takahashi but Strong Zero is broken up. Takahashi brings in the cane but gets it taken away, only to have Sho hit a backstabber for two on Trent. Everything breaks down and Vice hits a double jumping knee on Sho. Strong Zero finishes Takahashi at 8:53.
Rating: B-. Another fast paced match here between teams that know how to do that style. Vice getting the win is nice to see as they might actually be around here for a little while. Takahashi and Sho are a good team but they’re going to be back in Japan sooner than later. Let the regular AEW/ROH team get the win instead, which is exactly what they did here.
Post match Sho is back up for the beatdown but Orange Cassidy makes the save.
United Empire vs. Action Andretti/Darius Martin/Christopher Daniels
Andretti and TJP start things off and go to the mat with TJP headstanding his way out of a headscissors. A cartwheel gets TJP out of a hurricanrana but Andretti hits a dropkick (harder to block you see). Daniels comes in to take over on Fletcher but it’s Cobb coming in to muscle Daniels up.
Cobb and Fletcher do the passing suplex for two on Daniels, who manages to get over to Andretti anyway. TJP is right there to plant him with a Falcon Arrow and the Mamba Splash gets two. The Empire clears the ring as everything breaks down. Back in and Daniels sends TJP into a kind of double slam from Andretti and Martin for the pin at 8:15 (TJP kicked out at about 3.1 and things seemed a bit confused).
Rating: C+. I didn’t see that ending coming and based on how things looked, I’m not sure how many others did either. The match was what you would expect, but they did something new with having the normal powers lose. I can’t imagine Andretti and company win the titles out of this, but they are likely set up for a title shot if/when no one better comes along.
Jerry Lynn actually gets to talk! This time it’s to the Kingdom, who have been sucking up to him about what a legend he is. Mike Bennett brings up retiring Lynn and as a result, it’s the Kingdom vs. the Infantry/Trish Adora. Maria isn’t happy.
Athena vs. KC Spinelli
Non-title Proving Ground match, so if Spinelli can win or survive the ten minute time limit, she gets a future title shot. Spinelli runs her over with a shoulder to start but Athena does the same and stops to dance. A backslide gives Spinelli two so Athena hammers her down. Athena hits a right hand for the pin at 2:41.
Post match Athena crushes her against the steps.
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Chuck Taylor
Another non-title Proving Ground match but with no time limit. Taylor wastes no time in hammering away in the corner and Soul Food sends Castagnoli outside. Castagnoli knocks him over the barricade and sends Taylor face first into various things. Cue Roppongi Vice to check on him and the revived Taylor grabs the Koji Clutch back inside. Castagnoli breaks that up so a piledriver gives Taylor two and the Neutralizer is countered into a rollup for the same. Back up and Castagnoli hits the Riccola Bomb for the pin at 5:30.
Rating: C+. They were trying here but Taylor is the weakest link in a lower level group so this wasn’t the biggest challenge. That’s the problem for Castagnoli: despite having an insane amount of opponents to pick from, he hasn’t felt like he has been in any real jeopardy in a long, long time outside of Eddie Kingston. That is going to have to change, but right now there is no one on the horizon, as even Kingston has only been wanting to fight him and not go after the title.
Overall Rating: B-. Maybe it was having some fresh blood around, but I did like this show a bit better than recent efforts. It’s also a hair shorter at just under two hours, which does take away some of that “how much longer is this thing” feeling. The one issue I’d have is the same thing that happens with a lot of Tony Khan produced wrestling: there are three episodes of this show left before Death Before Dishonor and a grand total of nothing has been announced.
There are a few matches ready, likely including Eddie Kingston vs. Claudio Castagnoli (taking place pretty much solely on AEW), but it would be nice to not have most of the card dumped on us with a week or two to go. I’m not sure why this is such a common thing around here/in AEW but you can almost guarantee that is how things are going. For now though, nice show with the New Japan stars adding in some nice flavor.
Dralistico/Preston Vance b. Mark Wheeler/Vikram Prashar – Double pin
Righteous b. Dark Order – Small package to Reynolds
Diamante b. Leila Grey – Cross Rhodes
Lucha Bros/El Hijo del Vikingo/Kommander b. Gringo Loco/Shane Taylor/Workhorsemen – Spike Fear Factor to Henry
Big Bill/Lee Moriarty b. Tariq/Karou – Border City Stretch to Tariq
The Embassy b. Los Ingobernables de Japon – Opening The Gates to Bushi
El Desperado b. Willie Mack – Double underhook faceplant
Roppongi Vice b. Sho/Yujiro Takahashi – Strong Zero to Takahashi
Action Andretti/Christopher Daniels/Darius Martin b. United Empire – Double slam to TJP
Athena b. KC Spinelli – Right hand
Claudio Castagnoli b. Chuck Taylor – Riccola Bomb
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