Ring of Honor
Date: December 30, 2015
Host: Mandy Leon
This is another Best Of show and I’m actually looking forward to seeing what Ring of Honor considers their best. I’ve had a good time watching the show since the summer and things have been getting better for months now. You can almost guarantee a lot of New Japan talent to appear on this show so let’s get to it.
As usual, the matches on this episode will be heavily clipped but I’ll be posting the full review of each match. All dates listed are when the match aired.
We’ll start with those New Japan guys in a tag match from Global Wars. From June 17.
Matt Sydal/ACH vs. Tetsuya Naito/Hiroshi Tanahashi
Sydal is formerly known as Evan Bourne, ACH is a high flier and Tanahashi is basically the John Cena of Japan. The Japanese guys won’t shake hands to start, in theory making them heels here, even though an ROH crowd isn’t going to boo a star like Tanahashi. Sydal and Tanahashi trade go behinds to start until Matt takes him down for a standing moonsault. A double tag brings in Naito and ACH with the fans being split. They take their time to start until Naito slugs him down in the corner to take over.
ACH avoids a clothesline and does some unnecessary flips before dropkicking Naito in the face. Tanahashi knees ACH in the back and throws him into the barricade as we take a break. Back with Tanahashi missing a middle rope swanton but still preventing a hot tag. We hit the chinlock from Naito as I’m struggling to find things to say here. There’s no real story here other than company vs. company and the announcers aren’t giving me any information about any of the four guys.
Naito sends him into the corner for a basement dropkick. ACH finally counters a hurricanrana and makes the hot tag to Sydal, who comes in to clean house. In a nice counter, Sydal loads up the standing moonsault but Tanahashi is waiting on him with a German suplex. ACH fires off a bunch of kicks to Tanahashi and a clothesline for two. A German suplex from ACH gets the same and he mocks Tanahashi’s air guitar. Tanahashi puts on his Texas cloverleaf but Naito tagged himself in. Granted the referee didn’t seem to notice, leaving ACH to have to grab a rope.
The New Japan guys break up Sydal’s Asai moonsault but ACH hits a big dive to take both of them down. Back in and ACH hits a kind of springboard downward spiral to Tanahashi, followed by Sydal’s shooting star for two. Now it’s ACH going up top for a 450 but Tanahashi seemingly got the knees up. A sling blade sets up the High Fly Flow (frog splash) to give Hiroshi the pin.
Rating: C+. Fun match but it got a bit messy near the end. I still don’t get why they’re trying to make all the Japanese guys heels when they’re naturally faces for the most part, especially with fans like the ROH crowd. Still though, good enough match here and it got the crowd going like it was supposed to.
From June 24.
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.
Also from June 24.
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.
We recap the main event of Best in the World with Jay Lethal vs. Jay Briscoe for the TV/ROH World Titles, winner take all. Both guys had been on a roll for over a year and this is the showdown of the best in Ring of Honor for both titles. This match will be clipped as well and I don’t have a full version so there will be clips listed.
ROH World Title/TV Title: Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal
They shake hands to start and we’re ready to go. The House of Truth tries some early interference and get thrown out to make this one on one. Well two on one as Truth Martini is still at ringside. Lethal drops to the floor twice in a row to start but the fans declare it awesome anyway. Well to be fair that was indeed some AWESOME walking around on the floor. A lockup doesn’t go anywhere so they trade wristlocks with both guys challenging, only to have Briscoe take over with a front facelock.
Both guys get back up and it’s time for the slugout with Briscoe being sent out to the floor. Lethal follows him out and drives Briscoe into the barricade to keep his control as we take a break. Back with Briscoe kicking Lethal in the head, only to be sent to the floor for a suicide dive. Lethal loads up another but Briscoe decks him with a hard clothesline and a big suicide dive of his own. Martini finally does something by grabbing Briscoe’s leg, allowing Lethal to stomp away some more.
We hit the chinlock for a bit before Briscoe fights back up and grabs a neckbreaker. Back from another break with the Lethal Combination getting a quick two. The Macho elbow is broken up for a bit, only to have Lethal shove Briscoe off to stop a superplex. Now the elbow gets two but a Koji Clutch is quickly broken up.
They head to the apron with Lethal hitting him low to save himself from a Jay Driller through the table. Well I’d hope he broke it up as it would have meant a bad case of death otherwise. Martini’s distraction earns himself an ejection and NOW the Jay Driller puts Lethal through the table as we take a third break.
Back with both guys inside and Briscoe running into a superkick, only to counter the Lethal Injection with a discus lariat. The fans are losing their minds over this stuff, though I’m still getting over the rolling out of the ring earlier. Lethal grabs the Injection out of nowhere for a very close two and Corino can barely keep going. With nothing else working, Lethal grabs a Jay Driller, followed by another Lethal Injection to finally become undisputed champion at 27:13.
Rating: B. The clipped version was good and I’m assuming the full version is even better. Lethal winning clean here, especially after going through the table like that, was a great way to make him look like the top guy in the promotion. Briscoe is pretty easily the most decorated name in the company’s history so having him lose a major match like this, especially going down fighting, isn’t going to cost him that much. This was good stuff all around and felt like a major showdown so well done all around.
Delirious of all people comes in to wish us Merry Christmas to wrap things up.
Overall Rating: B+. These shows are hard to screw up if they’re being put together by a competent company such as Ring of Honor. Giving us a pay per view main event nearly in full was a nice present though I’m not sure I’d call this a full on Best Of the year show as they really only touched on two things. Still though, it’s fun while it lasts and a really easy sit so well done.
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