Ring of Honor – June 24, 2015: Quality Meets Entertainment

Ring of Honor
Date: June 24, 2015
Location: Ted Reeve Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Attendance: 1,500
Commentators: Kevin Kelly, King Corino, Nigel McGuinness

It’s the final week of the Global Wars cycle, meaning next week it’s back to the full on Ring of Honor crew for the first time in this series. Tonight we’re getting appearances from some major New Japan stars, which should lead to some interesting pairings with the Ring of Honor guys. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Roderick Strong vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Strong is on a roll at the moment and is known as Mr. ROH. Nakamura is a huge star in New Japan and has amazing charisma. I’ve always been a Strong fan and Nakamura is one of the few New Japan guys who lives up to the hype he receives. Nakamura takes him down by the arm to start but Strong reverses into a key lock of his own. Back up and Strong nails some dropkicks but can’t put on a bow and arrow hold.

An Angle Slam gets two on Nakamura but he kicks Strong in the head and starts with his signature knee strikes. Another knee puts Strong over the barricade and we take a break. Back with Strong winning a slugout but falling to the mat. Strong is back up with a torture rack into a backbreaker though (he’s been called the Messiah of the Backbreaker), sending Nakamura to the ropes before the Strong Hold (Boston crab) can be locked in.

Instead it’s Nakamura slamming him down but missing the running knee (Bryan took it from him) and taking a jumping knee to the face. A backbreaker onto the top turnbuckle gets two as I’m digging the psychology in this one. His move is a back hold so work on the back. Why is that so complicated? A big forearm drops Strong and a jumping knee from the middle rope knocks him silly.

Strong is up first and grabs the Strong Hold, sending Nakamura into the ropes for a break. They slug it out again with Strong taking Nakamura’s head off with a running boot (Sick Kick) but a suplex backbreaker (I told you he knew a lot of them) only gets two. The running knee gets one on Strong and Nakamura can’t believe it. Granted he usually gyrates around like that so it’s hard to tell how mad he is. Strong hits another knee but Nakamura just blasts him with a knee/kick to the face for the pin at 17:05.

Rating: B+. This was a hard hitting wrestling match here and that’s the kind of stuff that Ring of Honor is shooting for. Strong is a big star in ROH but Nakamura comes off like a natural performer, which makes him stand out anywhere he performs. This was a fun match that again lived up to its hype, which is what Nakamura does best.

Michael Elgin vs. Gedo

Gedo is a smaller guy who also books New Japan. Elgin is a big power guy who can do other things to back it up. Gedo goes to the eyes to start but walks into a fall away slam for two. Things are going slowly due to Elgin’s eye but he’s still easily able to suplex him back in, complete with a count of thirty from the fans. They weren’t second of course but wrestling fans aren’t the most patient people in the world.

Elgin’s spinning Swanton misses and Gedo kicks him in the face for two. There’s always something to be said about keeping it simple. Elgin gets tired of this defense stuff though and buckle bombs Gedo, followed by a helicopter bomb (Elgin Bomb, one of my favorites) for the pin at 4:48.

Rating: D+. Yeah this wasn’t clicking. Elgin needs someone with more speed to get a decent match out of him and Gedo is more of a cheater than anything else. It doesn’t help that Gedo is pushing 50 and is really there more for his name than anything else. Not horrible, but it’s good that they kept this short.

Roppongi Vice/Kazuchika Okada vs. AJ Styles/Young Bucks

This is Chaos vs. Bullet Club with Vice being a tag team of (Trent) Baretta (with its 19,000 spellings) and Rocky Romero. The Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson) are the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions and Styles is IWGP Heavyweight Champion, making this champions vs. challengers. Styles and Okada get things going with AJ snapping off some armdrags before they trade victory rolls for two each. An early attempt at both finishers fails as well and it’s a standoff after a very fast start.

Off to Baretta vs. Nick for some missed superkicks before Matt and Rocky come in. The Bullet Club gets tired of waiting and cleans house with a single superkick. Yeah the Bucks REALLY like throwing superkicks. Baretta gets triple teamed but Romero comes in to break up a cover. The Bucks start their pretty slick double teaming before it’s off to Styles for a suplex into the corner. I like it when wrestlers do normal moves into different places. It’s simple yet still seems fresh, which is hard to do these days.

Back from a break with AJ taking Romero and Okada off the apron to prevent a tag, so Trent whips out a tornado DDT for the tag to Romero. Rocky cleans house by dropkicking AJ off the apron and hurricanranaing both Bucks at the same time. Matt nails a superkick to slow him down but Rocky pops off the ropes and hits a clothesline to put both guys down. Okada and Styles come in off another double tag with Okada taking over in a hurry. AJ comes back with his moonsault into a reverse DDT but Okada reverses into something like White Noise into a backbreaker.

Nick gets double teamed by Vice as everything breaks down. A Doomsday Device but with a running knee and on the floor, plants Nick but AJ plants Okada with Sunday Bloody Sunday (Prince Devitt’s old move, basically a one arm DDT brainbuster). Like so many Japanese stars, Okada isn’t interested in selling though and pops up with a tombstone. The Rainmaker (maybe the most overrated finisher I’ve ever seen. It’s a standing clothesline with theatrics) misses and Nick takes Okada to the floor with a tornado DDT which clearly didn’t connect.

Romero gets hung over the ropes for a swanton and More Bang For Your Buck (a quick series of dives) is broken up and Okada drops a top rope elbow on Nick. AJ’s springboard forearm (I love that move) takes Okada out again but Matt starts firing off even more superkicks, only to have Okada dropkick Styles down to break up the Clash on Romero.

All six slug it out and a triple superkick staggers Chaos. Okada again pops up and a double superkick/Pele combo and a spike piledriver into a flipping spike tombstone (the Meltzer Driver. Yes that Meltzer) puts him right back down, followed by a double superkick into a Styles Clash on Baretta for the pin at 17:25.

Rating: B. Here’s the thing: this match was not a very well done match. It was sloppy at times, the “fighting spirit” thing still comes off as a way to not have to sell, the flips are borderline meta, the move is actually called the Meltzer Driver, Kelly has to shout SUPERKICK every single time one connects, the tagging part was forgotten halfway through (and no that’s not an ROH thing. It annoys me when every company does it) and the fans cheering for the heels is always annoying because they’re cool heels instead of trying to do, like, heel stuff.

However, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an incredibly entertaining match. This was fun throughout with everyone moving all over the place and having a great time out there. Yeah it’s a spot fest, but that normally means it’s entertaining. Styles continues to be on another planet since going to Japan and this was no exception. Really fun main event here, albeit with issues I’ll likely be insulted for pointing out.

Overall Rating: A-. This show was a really good example of balancing good wrestling and entertainment, but again, they have the problem of New Japan leaving next week. However, this was a good way to get the fans in the tent, which is going to keep them coming back later. In theory at least. This was definitely the best show they’ve put on so far, which is a very good sign after just a few weeks. Really fun hour here with all wrestling and no story, which can work every now and then.

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1 comment

  1. Thriller says:

    I’m pretty sure no one has ever called Roderick Strong Mr. TNA 😉