ROH Supercard of Honor
March 31, 2023
We’re in Los Angeles, California at the Galen Center. It’ll be nice to see a different venue. I’ve spent most of my time in GCW’s building. Hosts are Ian Riccoboni & Caprice Coleman. Oh, and Nigel McGuinness!
As the show starts, I’m stuck watching Spyder Nate Webb’s entrance! I can’t cut away from Nate’s entrance. It’s Teenage Dirtbag, baby!
Tracy Williams vs. Jeff Cobb
I don’t think Cobb has had a good weekend. Basically because his match with Moose sucked and his Bloodsport match wasn’t great. Now he’s on the pre-show with Hot Sauce. It’s not a good match either. A lot of the big counter spots don’t come off. Cobb does a few good power spots but then he’s out there looking a goober getting a powerslam countered. Tour of the Islands finishes. Mediocre. You can see why neither of them were on the show. Cobb continually confuses me. Effort optional, it seems.
Konosuke Takeshita vs. Willie Mack
This could arguably be on the card itself.
Two big dudes who hit hard. I’m in my element. These fellas are here to show off. They both do wacky dives. Mack eats shit on his. Hey, if you’re going to permanently damage your spine do it on PPV brother, where it counts. I love how violent this is. They waffle each other with big shots. There is the occasional miscommunication, which is unfortunate. It’s usually followed by some heavyweight timber. This is only the fucking pre-show lads! Running knee finishes Mack off. This was tremendous. A fine demonstration of how much effort and balls went into this compared to the last match. Maybe they were told to not go hard in the opener but I think these lads just wanted it more. ***
Miranda Alize vs. Willow Nightingale
If ROH, as a promotion historically, has a weak point it’s the women’s division. Willow is a fun wrestler but she’s not on the level of most ROH wrestlers. She telegraphs heavily and isn’t very mobile. Even when she’s doing stuff that’s hard, like cartwheels, she looks awkward. I’d rather she stuck to simple stuff where her size can make those moves effective. Maybe throw one wacky spot in every now and again. The simple flaw of this match is it doesn’t look real. Pounce sets up a massive powerbomb and Willow takes it. Both those moves looked awesome, because there was no counter and she could go all in. Willow, and Alize, need to learn how to make moves that aren’t connecting look like they should.
Stu Grayson vs. Slim J
Slim J was in Special K back in the day, when he was a goofy kid. He’s still goofy but now he’s old. I’d love to Tony to dig up all the old ROH boys from back in the day for the pre-shows. Get Tony Mamaluke vs. Quiet Storm on one of theses things. Get Fast Eddie out of retirement*. This is pretty fun, Grayson does some flips and Slim J is game for bumping like a lunatic. They have some Sportz Entertainment stuff with the seconds and Grayson finishes with Nightfall. This was good. If they’d not had the outside stuff with the heels I might even have stuck a star rating on it.
*If Fast Eddie is dead or totally blind, I apologise for bringing him up but I would love to see him.
POST MATCH: Dutch and Vincent appear and stare down Grayson & Evil Uno.
ZERO HOUR ENDS HERE
LET’S FUCKING GOOOOOOO
AAA Mega Championship
El Hijo del Vikingo (c) vs. Komander
I got to get familiar with Komander during wXw’s Carat weekend.
The crowd are AMPED for this.
The standard is immediately both very high but you can feel some crazy shit just bubbling under. Then Komander hits a 450 Splash off the stage, because of course he did. Some of their stuff is clearly pre-planned with the one guy waiting but, there’s a key difference, and that’s the difficulty level. The stuff they are attempting is so hard, I can forgive one guy standing there waiting. It helps a lot that they don’t just hit a load of spots. There are counters in between.
Vikingo insists on jumping off the ring post onto the ropes to do a wacky springboard and this guy is fucking insane. Komander’s rope running stuff is just nuts. I’ve seen him do it but not in front of this size of crowd. THEY DID A CANADIAN DESTROYER OFF THE MIDDLE OF THE ROPE. They’ve done like four spots in this that I’ve never seen in my life. Vikingo ends up taking it with the 630 Splash. Holy shit, this fucked. This fucking fucked. This was like ECW having luchadores for the first time in 1995. It’s ROH having Dragon Gate over back in 2005. Michinoku Pro in 1997. Batshit stuff. They should both be made. ****½
ROH Six Man Championship
The Embassy (Bishop Kaun, Brian Cage & Toa Liona) (c) vs. AR Fox, Blake Christian & Metalik
These poor bastards have to follow that goddamn opener. Prince Nana being back in ROH is wild too. Tony Khan, you 2003 mark. The Embassy are all big scary dudes but the challengers do a bunch of dives. It’s a close call for the winner. Brian Cage sporting lime green when the rest of the Embassy dresses in black in a choice. Considering how much crazy shit happened in the opener, they do a good job of making dives fun straight away.
Caprice Coleman breaks me with his commentary here. “I don’t owe you no money or nothing brother” when Liona strolls nearby.
Brian Cage kills Metalik with the Steiner Screwdriver to retain. This was a cracking little six man tag. Fun from start to finish. Bags of energy. It had to be tough to follow that opener but they came out there and had a blast. If this had been the opener, it might have scored higher. ***
ROH Women’s World Championship
Athena (c) vs. Yuka Sakazaki
Sakazaki is a great choice to come in for a one-off title match. Having TJPW in town for Mania weekend creates that opportunity.
This is the kind of match the ROH Women’s division needs to help it be better. The standard here is way higher than in the pre-show women’s match. They have a focus too with Sakazaki coming in with her neck taped up. Athena proceeds to target it. The multiple powerbombs are a nice touch. Athena bullying Sakazaki gives this match a totally different feel to the first two. Sakazaki’s babyface, fight from underneath, approach makes her easy to like. I’m not overly keen on the finish, where Athena messes with the ref to set up the O-Face off the ropes. Otherwise this was a good dominant champion versus underdog challenger title defence. ***¼
ROH World Television Championship
Samoa Joe (c) vs. Mark Briscoe
I’m old enough to remember Joe defending the world title against Mark Briscoe at Final Battle 2003. That was when Mark relied on his brother for tag team excellence, and vice versa. Still pretty hard to think of Jay Briscoe being gone. Joe is not the man of 20 years ago. He simply doesn’t have that mobility anymore. He can hit hard though and this match works best when they’re just smacking each other around. Crowd is desperate for Mark to win. Although Joe, surprisingly, has support too. Joe looks energised in a way I’ve not seen him for a while. He glances up to the sky and smirks. Is he absolutely ruining his body out of respect to Jay? Damn.
Mark won’t back down from Joe and they fight it out toe to toe. The normal Joe dominance allowed to slide a bit to tell a different story. Mark takes a brutal backdrop driver and pops up no selling and screaming. YES! This is hitting on a whole different level. The Froggybow doens’t get it done and someone screams “JAY DRILLER” from the crowd. Mark instead goes for the Cutthroat Driver and Joe counters into the Koquina Clutch. Damn. ****
This would have been perfect if Mark had got the win. Surely this is just a stop on route to him winning it later. Otherwise, it felt like a tap in from Tony Khan and it didn’t happen. That said, what a great match. The best work from Samoa Joe in a long time. It was like having 2003 Joe back and that guy was the fucking man.
Sidenote: I’m aware I’ve not been watching so Joe might have been lighting it up over the past 3 years and turning back time. If we’re talking the last time I saw Joe look like *that* in a match, it was a long time ago. Like, 2015.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Daniel Garcia
Tanahashi broke his false teeth on an apple and is trying very hard not to smile. That’s about the only thing of interest and they’ve definitely put the ace in a piss break match. Garcia does what every goon to challenge Tanahashi does and goes after the knee. However…he then starts doing Shinsuke Nakamura spots. Now we’re cooking. There’s no doubting Garcia is talented, and he does get creative going after the leg. The finish is dead flat as Tanahashi slowly heads up top and finishes with High Fly Flow. House Show Tanahashi strikes again. Going to have to come to terms that he’s not going to be The Man again.
Reach For the Sky Ladder Match
ROH World Tag Team Championship
Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. La Faccion Ingobernable (Dralistico & Rush) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) vs. The Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero Miedo & Rey Fenix) vs. Top Flight (Dante Martin & Darius Martin)
This is not my kind of match, but the last good ladder match I saw was in ROH. Maybe that’s a good omen.
There’s something about ladder matches that gives wrestlers free licence to do dumb shit. Like, lie under this ladder and prepare for us to do an elaborate set up where I slam my brother upon thee! The Kingdom hitting a fucking Doomsday Device on the floor is some cool shit though. I don’t care if the set up for it is silly. Speaking of silly; Davis is supposed to protect Fletcher to climb but fails to stop Fenix from walking right past him. I do enjoy Mike Bennett being so mad at Rush that he climbs down to get into a fight with him.
While they do a good job of recycling whoever is in the ring, there are constant long shots that reveal guys just lying around resting, or moving furniture to set up another spot. Aussie Open are particularly guilty of setting up a spot by moving ladders around for no reason. The match is absolute carnage. When it feels like it’s about to peak some more shit happens. The idea being that no team can effectively beat down everyone else enough to climb the ladders. Penta does the dumbest thing in the match; a Canadian Destroyer off the ladders through four tables. Fenix grabs the belts.
Well, that was nuts. It takes some crazy motherfuckers and good planning to create a ladder match that feels different and innovative but also not stupid. They were close. I had a nice time. I’ve docked it on the score because Dante Martin looks to have broken his leg/ankle on that table spot. It looked irresponsible. ****¼
POST MATCH: Mark Briscoe and FTR come out to celebrate with the new champions. A nice moment. Matt Taven has looked so upset the whole match and goes to hug Mark afterwards.
ROH Pure Championship
Wheeler Yuta (c) vs. Katsuyori Shibata
Shibata has only really had exhibition style matches since his return. While this is likely to be a mat style contest, it’s for a title.
Shibata had better not do anything daft in this. After the chaos of the ladder match, we end up doing five minutes of pure leglocks. Yuta’s whole thing is ‘I need to challenge Shibata’ and then Shibata just owns him for the entire match. Refuses to sell anything, controls on the mat throughout. Yuta’s only real offence comes from hoofing Shibs in the nutsack. Shibata takes back over, chokes Yuta out and PKs him for the win. An absolute squash. Yuta got nothing at all. Shibata looked awesome though. ***
Sidenote: Going to rationalise what appears to be a low rating here. Yuta got made to look like a complete geek. With Shibata, watching him just worries me. I can’t enjoy it. I know what happened to his brain. I was sat watching that match with Okada where it happened. I remember waxing lyrical about Shibata’s eventual NJPW title reign. Now, he’s ROH Pure Champion. Without really being on cards or anything in Japan. Very, very weird situation.
ROH World Championship
Claudio Castagnoli (c) vs. Eddie Kingston
The story of the match is an angry, fired up Kingston bringing the focused strongstyle. Can Claudio survive it? Will Kingston lose his temper and lose focus? A secondary story emerges of Claudio hurting his leg, thus limiting his movement. No Giant Swings tonight. I feel like they go into fatigue selling very early in this one. This means that they deviate away from what I want; Kingston clubbing his way into contention. The match ends up being a real grind. The best part of the match is Kingston landing a backfist out of nowhere and thinking he’s won it only for Claudio to kick out. You can see it in his eyes! He thinks he can win now. Did he think that before? Claudio’s response is to gutwrench suplex Kingston deadweight to the floor and Eddie lands in a way that makes me inhale dramatically. That looked like it really fucking hurt. The more Eddie gets fucked up, the more the crowd want him to get there. Kingston kicks out of the WWE finisher at one, which is great. I love him staggering around in a daze afterwards, like it was just instinct. The finish is so frustrating. Eddie counters the Ricolabomb into a cradle only for Claudio to counter it back for the pin. At least have him eat a brutal looking finish, after everything he kicked out of. Damn. ****
What a great fucking wrestling show this was! I went to proof read it at 4am and it wasn’t happening so, sorry for the delay. I figured people would watch this anyway, and they should have done, it was a great show. I think the biggest concern is that Tony had two easy wins here; Mark Briscoe and Eddie Kingston. I personally wouldn’t have put Eddie over. He can wait for a chance. He’s waited long enough. He’s seen enough Japanese wrestling to know the underdog guy gets more and more motivated by failure. But Mark? I don’t get that one. It actually made me sad to see him and go and hang out with his family afterwards. That just felt mean spirited. It’s the TV title for crying out loud. Anyway, the standard of wrestling was excellent. Easily the best show of the weekend so far. Not close.