Ring Of Honor – July 27, 2023
By Thomas Hall on 28th July 2023
Ring Of Honor
Date: July 27, 2023
Location: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman
We’re done with a high quality but mostly skippable pay per view with Death Before Dishonor. The biggest change from the show saw Aussie Open becoming the new Tag Team Champions while everyone else retained. That should lead to something interesting, though there is no word on when the next major show is going to be. Let’s get to it.
The show is back up to just shy of two hours, the longest in about a month. I’m sure what’s what was missing from the build towards Death Before Dishonor.
Josh Woods vs. Eli Isom
Pure Rules, with Pure Champion Katsuyori Shibata as a guest judge (alone with Jerry Lynn and Jimmy Jacobs). Mark Sterling is here with Woods (along with the rest of the Varsity Athletes), who would rather wrestle in front of real New Yorkers rather than fake ones in Newark. Woods wrestles him into the ropes to start and that’s Isom’s first break. Back up and Isom takes him down into an armbar, only to get kicked hard out of the corner.
Another running shot to the face rocks Isom and Woods sends him shoulder first into the buckle. Isom intentionally uses a rope to escape the beating before using some forearms to stagger Woods. A swinging belly to back suplex gives Isom two but Woods armbars him over to the ropes for the final rope. Woods grabs a sleeper into a PK into the Gorilla lock for the tap at 7:55.
Rating: C. This was more or less a pure rules squash as Woods would seem to be the next challenger for Shibata. That doesn’t make for the most interesting match but that is the case with a lot of the Pure Rules matches. They work well from a technical standpoint, but seeing a lot of the same people having not the most thrilling matches in the world doesn’t do a lot o good.
Post match Sterling challenges Shibata for a title match against Woods.
Trish Adora is ready to get back on track.
Trish Adora vs. Vita Vonstarr
Vita shoves her away to start so Adora grabs a headlock. The Air Raid Crash is loaded up but Adora switches into the kneeling stretch instead (that needs a name). Back up and Vita grabs a Black Widow but Adora isn’t having any of that and runs her over with ax handles for two. Vita’s Michinoku driver gets two, only to have Adora come back with the Lariat Tubman for the pin at 4:20.
Rating: C. Vonstarr got in some offense here, which isn’t a surprise as she used to be a regular for Ring Of Honor before everything changed. Adora gets some momentum back and still seems like someone who could be put into a heck of a title feud if given the chance. Granted it might be a bit with Leyla Hirsch back, but at least Adora didn’t lose again here.
Six Man Tag Team Titles: Mogul Embassy vs. Iron Savages/Jacked Jameson
The Embassy, with Prince Nana, is defending. Commentary points out that Cage has been on 17/22 episodes of ROH thus far, because I guess we just haven’t gotten the point already. Jameson and Boulder take turns being thrown at Cage in the corner but Jameson gets taken into the champs’ corner to start the chops. A fireman’s carry is escaped though and it’s Bronson coming in to clean house.
Kaun wastes no time in cutting him off though and it’s Loa coming in to elbow Braun in the face. A superplex drops Bronson for two but he’s back up with a shot to the face, allowing the tag off to Boulder. Everything breaks down and Boulder powerslams Kaun for two but Toa is back in to wreck things. Bronson chokebombs Cage for two but he’s back up to suplex Jameson. Kaun hits a Pedigree of all things to pin Jameson at 10:10.
Rating: B-. The match was the kind of mostly wild power brawl that made for an entertaining ten minutes. At the same time though, the fact that Cage has been around that often doesn’t exactly keep him feeling interesting. It feels like these titles are being defended almost every week against one thrown together team after another. It’s not like the matches are exactly great, so why put them on over and over?
Leyla Hirsch vs. B3cca
Hirsch runs her over without much trouble to start and then chokes with the boot in the corner. A gutwrench suplex sets up a waistlock on B3cca but she’s back up with a shotgun dropkick. B3cca’s running knee in the corner sets up a missed middle rope dropkick, allowing Leyla to hit a running knee for the pin at 3:37.
Rating: C. This was a rather Ring Of Honor match with Leyla mostly dominating and shrugging off almost whatever B3cca throws at her. Leyla continues to feel like one of the stars ready to break through to the other side but, much like Adora, you have to let her move up a bit. Leyla has been back in the ring for a few weeks now and her feet should be adequately watered. Let her do something other than squash people already.
Athena wants someone to step up already because she’s tired of beating “local jobbers”.
Renegades vs. Tiara James/JC
JC slugs away at Charlotte to start but makes sure to knock Robyn off the apron. Robyn is right back up for a double suplex and the double stomping is on in the corner. That’s broken up and the tag brings in James to clean house, including a bulldog to Charlotte. That doesn’t last long though and it’s a Sling Blade Hart Attack to finish James at 3:57.
Rating: C. I still like the Renegades but like many women’s tag teams, there isn’t much for them to do right now. There is no women’s tag division and while one of them can be fine on their own, it’s a little weird to see one without the other in the ring. Find something for them to do and let the talent play out, but that might be a little trickier than expected.
Athena vs. Christina Marie
Non-title Proving Ground match, meaning that if Marie either wins or survives the ten minute time limit, she gets a future title shot. Marie kicks her in the back to start and adds a Hennig necksnap for one. Athena gets up and blasts Marie with a forearm before hammering away on the mat.
As we hear about Tony Khan only giving title shots to people in the top five or top ten (like Aussie Open and the Best Friends, who hadn’t wrestled here in three months before getting a title shot last week), Athena knocks her outside and then chokes on the ropes. A bunch of forearms to the back set up a kick to the head, followed by the big right hand to finish Marie at 3:21.
Rating: C. Remember how Cage has been around for all but five Ring Of Honors? I’d be surprised if Athena didn’t have him beat. It’s getting really hard to get invested in Athena slaughtering someone else, especially after she beat her best challenger last week. It’s a good example of how leaving her off a show or two would help a lot, but for some reason she, and several others, are on almost every show. Marie’s minute or so looked good but what is she supposed to get out of that?
Post match Athena gives her the usual post match beatdown.
The Kingdom vs. Rhett Titus/Tracy Williams
Maria is here with the Kingdom. Bennett and Williams chop it out to start and it’s quickly off to Taven for a change. A quick middle rope dropkick takes Williams down but Titus comes in to pick up the pace. Titus gets caught in a backbreaker/middle rope elbow combination but he gets the knees up to block a Lionsault.
Williams comes back in and hits a reverse Death Valley Driver to slam Taven’s knees into the mat (that’s a new one). Bennett and Williams grab stereo holds and sit down on them, setting up the slap off. With those broken up, Titus comes in to knock Taven silly but picks him up instead of covering. The delay lets Taven hit Just The Tip, setting up the Proton Pack to finish for the Kingdom at 7:34.
Rating: B-. Another good match here as the Kingdom continues their roll, but why should I believe that this means anything? When you can get a title match at random, these matches lose the interest that they have. I still like the Kingdom a good bit, but for some reason they’re stuck either here or on Rampage while the tag division in both companies isn’t exactly deep.
Stokely Hathaway and Samoa Joe announced a new #1 contenders tournament for the TV Title. Like the one that ended last week?
#1 Contenders Tournament First Round: Christopher Daniels vs. JD Drake
Daniels flips him over into an armbar to start before hitting a dropkick to put Drake down. Back up and Drake hits a clothesline, setting up the chinlock with a knee in the back to keep Daniels in trouble. A swinging Boss Man Slam gives Drake two before it’s time for a chop off. Daniels kicks the knee out and hits a clothesline to the back of the head, setting up a top rope Downward Spiral for two. Drake crushes him with a cannonball in the corner for two of his own The moonsault misses though and the Best Moonsault Ever finishes for Daniels at 6:06.
Rating: C+. This was about what you would have expected from a match between these two and that means it was decent enough. What mattered here was having Daniels get a win after fighting from underneath a bit, which he can still do rather well. Him winning the whole thing isn’t out of the question and it wouldn’t surprise me at this point.
Big Bill/Lee Moriarty vs. Gabriel Hodder/Adrien Soriano
Moriarty takes over on Soriano to start but gets hit in the face for his efforts. Hodder comes in and is dropped just as quickly so it’s off to Bill for a double clothesline. The chokeslam finishes Hodder at 3:09.
Rating: C-. I’m not sure what the deal is going to be for Big Bill, as he is suddenly in two teams, both of whom are treated as a threat to win something. At the moment though, the team with Brian Cage seems to be a bigger deal and that is likely a better place for him to go. The Moriarty team is fine, but there is something about a big power team that works rather well.
#1 Contenders Tournament First Round: Tony Nese vs. Cheeseburger
Before the match, Nese does the same “you people are fat so we’re going to do group training” speech he has been doing for the last few weeks. Nese whips him into the corner to start but Cheeseburger slides away and climbs on top of him for an arm crank. With that broken up, Cheeseburger is tied in the Tree of Woe for some rapid fire kicks to the ribs. Cheeseburger knees his way out of a suplex and grabs one of his own, setting up a bulldog. The Shotei palm strike gets two on Nese, followed by a DDT for two. Mark Sterling offers a distraction though and Nese grabs a pumphandle driver for the pin at 5:53.
Rating: C. Nese will be fine as a second round villain to be vanquished and that should be enough for him in the whole thing. The health nut/mocking others’ looks is a classic way to draw heat, but Nese needs something else to back it up in the ring. For now though, a win over Cheeseburger is a good way to go for him and should set him up for a better second round match.
#1 Contenders Tournament First Round: Anthony Henry vs. Gravity
Gravity takes him down to start and then does the rapid fire nipups to escape a wristlock. Henry is back up with some forearms only to be sent outside for the big dive over the top. Back in and Henry hits a Death Valley Driver, setting up some shots to the back to keep Gravity down.
Gravity is back up with a dropkick before pulling him into kind of a reverse Koji Clutch. That’s broken up and Henry hits a PK for two, followed by a Razor’s Edge spun into a DDT for the same. Gravity shrugs it off and hits a powerslam into a top rope splash for the pin at 8:00.
Rating: C+. Gravity seems to be Tony Khan’s Flavor of the Week now as he is around on quite a few shows as of late. He’s talented enough and it’s nice to see him getting a win here and there, though I could also see him pulling a miracle run here and winning the tournament. This wasn’t exactly a classic, but as a way to give Gravity a win, it worked well enough.
#1 Contenders Tournament First Round: Shane Taylor vs. Serpentico
Serpentico strikes away to start until a forearm knocks him silly. There’s a big toss to send Serpentico flying and then Taylor does it again. A big clothesline gives Taylor two but Serpentico flips him off. Taylor gets staggered by a kick but a release Rock Bottom puts Serpentico down again. The big splash finishes for Taylor at 4:21.
Rating: C-. Another match without any serious doubt for the winner and that isn’t exactly something that gets my interest up this late into a very, very long show. There was nothing to make me believe that Serpentico was going to win here and it felt like waiting around until Taylor beat on him enough before getting the win.
Trustbusters vs. Dalton Castle/The Boys
Ari Daivari is here with the Trustbusters. A double hiptoss takes Kay down to start so Kiss comes in to choke away in the corner. It’s off to Castle to take Kiss in the corner, where castle gets slapped in the face. They both miss clotheslines until Brent comes in and backflips out of a pair of belly to back suplexes, allowing the hot tag back to Castle. The Boys are thrown outside and onto the Trustbusters (that’s always a cool spot) and the Bang A Rang finishes Kay at 5:19.
Rating: C. I could watch Dalton Castle all day and he looked good here, but I’m not exactly going to get invested in the idea of Castle and the Boys going after the Six Man Tag Team Titles again. I can get the idea of sending the fans home happy with these guys though, as they are about as entertaining of a team as you’re going to get.
Overall Rating: D. Before I’m told that “a bunch of B’s and C’s doesn’t make a D”, that’s not the point of this show. The problem here is that this was not an entertaining wrestling show. It was a bunch of stuff that you get almost every week with the first round of a not exactly interesting tournament added in. Commentary even flat out said something to the effect of “yeah Brian Cage is here A LOT”. See also Athena, Tony Nese, the Workhorsemen and more.
This show was long, not interesting, and felt like it could have come from any point in Ring Of Honor’s history with almost no changes. There were probably three shows crammed into one here for no reason, as the pay per view card shows how little this show means for important shows down the road.
Ring Of Honor’s wrestling is usually pretty solid to good, but the structure, the presentation and everything else is about as bad and boring as you can get in wrestling. I could not stand this show and if not for some talented people on the card, it would have been one of the worst shows that I have seen in a long, long time. Dreadful stuff this week.
Josh Woods b. Eli Isom – Gorilla lock
Trish Adora b. Vita Vonstarr – Lariat Tubman
Mogul Embassy b. Iron Savages/Jacked Jameson – Pedigree to James
Leyla Hirsch b. B3cca – Running knee
Renegades b. Tiana James/JC – Sling Blade hart Attack to James
Athena b. Christina Marie – Right hand
The Kingdom b. Rhett Titus/Tracy Williams – Proton Pack to Titus
Christopher Daniels b. JD Drake – Best Moonsault Ever
Big Bill/Lee Moriarty b. Gabriel Hodder/Adrien Soriano
Tony Nese b. Cheeseburger – Pumphandle driver
Gravity b. Anthony Henry – Top rope splash
Shane Taylor b. Serpentico – Big splash
Dalton Castle/The Boys b. Trustbusters – Bang A Rang to Kay
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