Ring Of Honor
Date: September 7, 2023
Location: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman
We’re back to the usual schedule and as expected, the show is the longest it has been in a few weeks. That’s how Ring Of Honor works when things are set up as Tony Khan wants them to be and I’m still not sure why. The big stories continue to be Athena and Maria Kanellis-Bennett’s glacially paced building up of her new army to protect the Kingdom. Let’s get to it.
Athena and Billie Starkz aren’t on the same page about Athena losing on the All Out Zero Hour. Allysin Kay comes in and challenges Athena for tonight. Athena yells a lot and a title match is set.
Women’s Title: Allysin Kay vs. Athena
Athena, with Billie Starkz is defending and poses/waves to the crowd a lot to start. Kay armdrags her down for one and Athena needs a breather on the floor. Back in and Starkz seems conflicted about whether to cheat, only to have Athena take over in the corner instead. The forearms in the rope and a running knee rock Kay again, followed by a spinebuster for two.
Athena grabs the chinlock but mocks Kay’s pinkies up thing and gets forearmed in the face. The AK-47 into the ankle lock has Athena in trouble but she kicks her way to freedom. One heck of a forearm drops Kay, who is fine enough to break up the O Face. Not that it matters as the O Face finishes Kay at 9:18.
Rating: B-. That’s a Ring Of Honor match and story if I’ve ever seen one. They set this up and paid it off in less than fifteen minutes. For the life of me I do not get why Ring Of Honor insists on going through things this fast but here we are again. Athena gets to vanquish someone else while Starkz isn’t sure what to do and odds are we’ll see it again in the near future.
Post match Athena wants Starkz to take out Kay but Athena has to do it herself.
We look at MJF and Samoa Joe getting in a fight on Dynamite.
Silas Young vs. Tony Nese
Mark Sterling is here with Nese, who does the exact same thing he does before every match he has these days. Nese tries to jump him to start but Young hammers away. Young sends him to the apron for the springboard clothesline and the fight goes out to the floor. A posting cuts Young off and they head back inside so Nese can kick away at the arm. Nese’s middle rope dropkick gets two and we hit the armbar. Nese misses a spinning kick though and gets blasted by a clothesline. Young stomps at the chest but Nese slips out of a fireman’s carry. The running Nese finishes Young at 5:24.
Rating: C. This was a nice way to get Nese a win over someone with some name value and the arm work went well enough. Nese is someone who is going to be around pretty regularly and at some point he needs to have some success. Nice match, though I could go with Young actually doing something other than jobbing for a change.
Post match Nese gives him a sweaty handshake.
Dalton Castle is bamboozled with all of the problems in front of him, including having to take care of his Boys. He needs to eat (yes eat) these problems, and yes he knows his new shirt is awesome.
Spanish Announce Project vs. Adam Priest/Schaff
Luther is here with the Project. Priest and Angelico start things off and the Project seems to have some fans here. They fight over wrist control with Serpentico coming in for some wrist cranking of his own. The much bigger Schaff comes in and stomps Serpentico down in the corner. A toss suplex makes it worse for Serpentico but he avoids a charge in the corner. The tag brings Angelico back in to pick up the pace, including a dancing kick to Schaff. A leglock makes Schaff tap at 3:35.
Rating: C. This was just a step above a squash for the Project as they are starting to actually do something for a change. I’m not exactly buying them as a serious threat going forward but at least they’re getting a few wins. The tag division can need some fresh blood and the fans like the team so go with it for the time being.
Kiera Hogan is ready for Leila Grey tonight and she’ll fight anyone else too.
Renegades vs. Willow Nightingale/Skye Blue
Blue again has the Chicago flag gear. Charlette’s headlock doesn’t do much to Blue to start as she hits a dropkick for two. A swinging neckbreaker lets Willow come in for a backsplash but Robyn comes in with a kick to Blue’s head. Robyn grabs a fisherman’s suplex for two and stereo kicks to the face put Blue down again. Blue manages to roll away and gets the diving tag to Willow for the house cleaning. The Pounce to Robyn and a spinebuster to Charlette gets two as everything breaks down. A Death Valley Driver into Code Blue finishes Robyn at 5:26.
Rating: C+. Nice fast paced match here, but Blue in the same Chicago style gear winning matches on three shows with the same rollup finisher isn’t having quite the impact. I get the idea but it’s the problem with having AEW run so many shows in a row and presenting the same people so many times. And hey the Renegades lose again because that’s what they do these days.
Mogul Embassy vs. Griff Garrison/Gravity/Metalik
Non-title Proving Ground match, meaning if Garrison and company win or last the ten minute time limit, they get a future title shot. Kaun runs Garrison over to start and it’s already off to Toa, who teams up with Cage for a double faceplant. Garrison slips out of a suplex though and it’s Gravity coming in for a rollup. A superkick staggers Cage and it’s Metalik coming in with a springboard high crossbody. The reverse Sling Blade drops Cage and there’s the rope walk dropkick The rope walk Swanton gets two more and everything breaks down. A powerbomb/middle rope splash combination finishes Metalik at 5:44.
Rating: C. You know, it would be rather interesting if the challengers won, or just survived the time limit, for a Proving Ground match for once. They’ve been doing them for months now and no one has actually survived. The challengers weren’t anything special in this case but the Embassy has been so dominant that someone even making it to ten minutes with them would be a big shakeup. That new finisher was nice too so they are at least doing something new.
Leila Grey vs. Kiera Hogan
It’s the battle of the Baddies. They argue over a pull of the tights to start before missing an elbow each. Hogan knocks her down and hits a springboard legdrop for two. Grey is back up with a knee to the ribs and Baddies themed trash talk. A powerslam gives Grey two more but Hogan is back up with a dropkick into the corner. The running hip attack in the corner gets two but Grey hits a fast spear for the same. Grey loads up her fan, which is quickly taken away. That’s enough for Hogan to hit Face The Music for the pin at 5:35.
Rating: C. I’m not sure how many people were thinking about the Baddies, but other than a few off the cuff mentions, that wasn’t the focus here. Hogan is someone AEW/ROH always seems ready to push but they just won’t go with it. There are worse options though, as Hogan has some tools to become a player in the division. Grey is decent too, but they both need a lot more seasoning.
Maria Kanellis-Bennett thinks Griff Garrison (as brought up by Cole Karter) has potential and tells him to think about it.
Infantry/Willie Mack vs. Davey Bang/August Matthews/Jah-C
Jah and Bravo start things off with the latter taking over on the arm. Dean comes in and stays on said arm before handing it off to Mack to face Matthews. Mack dances a bit and hits a running kick to the chest, meaning Bang gets to come in. The Infantry takes turns beating up Bang and Mack gets two off a Sky High. Everything breaks down and Mack and company hit a triple superkick. Boot Camp finishes Bang at 3:06.
Rating: C. Another squash here but it’s nice to see a team forming in the six man division. That’s more than a lot of teams seem to get and it’s always a good idea to have Mack doing something. The Infantry has gone from nobodies to a team who can do some nice things in the ring, so this is another example of bringing some people up in a good way.
Lee Johnson is ready for Claudio Castagnoli tonight.
Lady Frost vs. Leyla Hirsch
They fight over a lockup to start, even going to the mat a few times. With that not working for either of them, Hirsch kicks Frost’s elbow out during a handspring to take over. Cue Maria Kanellis-Bennett and Cole Karter to watch as Hirsch grabs a Fujiwara armbar. Back up and Frost scores with a kick to the head before a handspring elbow gets two. Hirsch sends her into the corner though and the cross armbreaker makes Frost tap at 4:04.
Rating: C. Hirsch has been the best thing about Maria’s search for an army but even then it’s only so good. Maria has said that these people are there to protect the Kingdom, even though they have yet to actually do anything with the Kingdom. That doesn’t make for the best story, though Hirsch mauling people was fun to see as usual.
Post match Maria comes in for the handshake but Hirsch walks off, saying she’s doing fine on her own.
Eddie Kingston/Katsuyori Shibata vs. Gringo Loco/Blake Christian
Shibata and Christian go with the grappling to start with Shibata getting the better of things (shocking I know). Kingston comes in for the rapid fire chops in the corner and there’s a t-bone suplex for two. It’s off to Loco for the chop off with Kingston before leg lariating Kingston down. Kingston gets taken into the wrong corner but Christian’s frog splash hits raised knees. Shibata comes back in and gets to clean house, including a suplex for two on Christian. There’s the spinning backfist to Loco but Christian sends Kingston outside for a flip dive. Back in and Shibata sleepers Christian into the PK for the pin at 6:12.
Rating: C+. This got a hair more time and it helped a bit, though Shibata still doesn’t exactly feel like the most impressive star at the moment. He had some serious medical issues that slowed him down, but he hasn’t been the most interesting star since his return. I’m sure it was a thrill for Kingston to team with him though and they gave us a good enough match to make it work. Now just get Kingston on to Castagnoli already.
Respect is shown post match.
Mark Sterling and Josh Woods want better competition so the open challenge is on.
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Lee Johnson
Non-title Proving Ground match with Wheeler Yuta in Castagnoli’s corner. Castagnoli wastes no time in taking him into the corner (not the one with Yuta) and Johnson is in trouble early. A belly to back suplex gives Castagnoli two but Johnson gets in some kicks to the head. Johnson slips out of a fall away slam and gets two off a DDT. The uppercut gives Castagnoli two and a heck of a lariat gets the same. Castagnoli unloads with the elbows but won’t let the referee stop it. Instead it’s Swiss Death to finish Johnson at 3:35.
Rating: C. Johnson got in some offense here but ultimately there is only so much you can do against a monster like Castagnoli. That being said, Castagnoli could really use some kid of a story. He rarely defends the title and it would be nice to have someone come after it. I’d still assume that’s going to be Eddie Kingston, but there could be something to bridge what has already been a long gap.
Iron Savages vs. Caleb Konley/Ren Jones
Jacked Jameson is here with the Savages and handles their introductions. Bronson shoves Konley down to start and grabs a powerslam. Konley has to slip out of Boulder’s slam so Jones comes in and gets slammed. The assisted splash finishes Jones at 1:23. Well that worked.
Athena yells at Billie Starkz for leaving her hanging earlier so Athena says it’s time for minion training.
Best Friends/Action Andretti/Darius Martin vs. Outrunners/Workhorsemen
The villains jump them from behind to start and it’s a brawl on the floor to get things going. Back in and Henry DDT’s Beretta for two, followed by a powerslam/DDT combination to give Floyd two. A top rope double stomp gets two on Beretta but Floyd steals the tag from Drake. Beretta sends the Outrunners into each other and it’s Martin coming in to pick up the pace. A double DDT drops the Outrunners as everything breaks down. Taylor saves Martin from a double suplex and it’s Soul Food into a half dragon suplex to drop Magnum. Strong Zero finishes Magnum at 4:48.
Rating: C+. At least they finished with a fast paced match that didn’t bother with much in the way of tagging. This was about getting a bunch of people in there for a hot match and that’s what they did well enough. It was all about energy rather than the quality of the match and in some situations, like this one, that is absolutely the best move.
Overall Rating: C. On one hand, I liked that it came off as if some people are getting some new pushes. That has been lacking in ROH for a long time now and it felt a bit different here. At the same time though, my goodness did this show feel long. It was right back to the same problems for ROH, of what felt like a month of shows crammed into one episode. I have no idea why they insist on setting something up and blowing it off literally in the same show, but that has been the case since ROH returned. This show can be good, but the way it is presented gets in its own way far too often, with the problems on full display here.
Athena b. Allysin Kay – O Face
Tony Nese b. Silas Young – Running Nese
Spanish Announce Project b. Adam Priest/Schaff – Leglock to Schaff
Willow Nightingale/Skye Blue b. Renegades – Code Blue to Robyn
Mogul Embassy b. Griff Garrison/Gravity/Metalik – Powerbomb/middle rope splash combination to Metalik
Kiera Hogan b. Leila Grey – Face The Music
The Infantry/Willie Mack b. Jah-C/August Matthews/Davey Bang – Boot Camp to bang
Leyla Hirsch b. Lady Frost – Cross armbreaker
Eddie Kingston/Katsuyori Shibata b. Blake Christian/Gringo Loco – PK to Christian
Claudio Castagnoli b. Lee Johnson – Swiss Death
Iron Savages b. Caleb Konley/Ren Jones – Electric chair splash to Jones
Best Friends/Action Andretti/Darius Martin b. Outrunners/Workhorsemen – Strong Zero to Magnum
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