Monday, March 2, 2015

ROH Makes 13 Lucky In Vegas

Ring of Honor celebrated their Thirteenth Anniversary show in Las Vegas last night. Normally the number 13 is associated with bad luck but things are looking up for ROH. The company seemed to have hit a bit of a plateau after Final Battle. It easily could have led to things going in the wrong direction. The fact that this company’s MVP was rumored to be out the door to WWE in Adam Cole. He came off a tremendous 2014 which saw him become arguably the best wrestler not in NXT system. He would suffer an injury at Final Battle and have to have shoulder surgery. He ended up sticking with Ring of Honor and based on our interviews with Michael Bennett and Matt Taven his recovery is ahead of schedule. It was good news for ROH that they can have Adam Cole for longer than they might have expected.

The entered last night without Cole but put together a compelling card that featured the Bullet Club. A.J Styles had a great match with ACH that elevated his stock even in a losing effort. The Young Bucks challenged for the ROH title and had yet another classic with ReDragon. This match offered one of the surprises of the night as Shyana Baszler one of Ronda Rousey’s Four Horsewomen was in the corner of ReDragon and played a role in the match without getting physically involved. Much like Filthy Tom Lawler had done at the “War of the World’s” show that provided the match of the year for ROH last year with these two teams.

It was expected to be Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson in a three-way tag match against The Addiction and The Kingdom. Doc Gallows had travel issues and ended up stuck in Detroit and missed the show. Karl would go it alone and all five guys in this match made it work as The Kingdom team of Matt Taven and Michael Bennett getting a key win. This was typical ROH where they are dealt a bad hand and they make the most out of it and in the end got a match that did not suffer from the challenges dealt to them.

It was also a big night for the Kingdom, as Maria would also have a match with ODB on the card. It is rare that we see a woman’s match in ROH. This showed that it could be exciting and something new for the company. Michael Bennett and Mark Briscoe pulled double duty working likely harder in this match than they did in their own individual matches. Maria started the match pretending she was pregnant and unable to have the match. It was all a set up as Bennett came out and attacked Mark as Maria corked ODB with the Title of Love and this thing was off to the races. It was a very high-energy match full of great spots involving the guys and gals. In the end, ODB won and the Title of Love was sadly destroyed.

It was also teased in the Main Event that the guys behind the red masks lurking in the crowd could in fact be The Kingdom. Could this be the angle to bring back Adam Cole? Perhaps time will tell but a strong night for the Kingdom without Adam Cole present keeping the faction very strong.

Jay Lethal got a chance to go with a former WWE and World Champion and put on a match where he did not look out of place. He obviously had to cheat to win but that is what heels do not that we see enough of that in pro wrestling today. In ROH the people who are bad do bad things, it makes sense. As far as Alberto El Patron, he has real embraced the ROH fans and given a rub to the ROH brand as a whole. It has made his coming in for a series of dates well worth it. Adding creditability to the product helps grow the base of fans for Ring of Honor and helps them shed the image of being some kind of independent show. It is still a thought while not true those casual fans not familiar with ROH think.

Jay Briscoe retained his title as many expected retained his title. It was a decent match that many complained was over-booked with the masked red men attacked Briscoe, Nigel stopped Elgin from using a chair, and Ciampa saved Nigel from getting power-bombed by Elgin. It was a lot going on but in the end, the expected outcome happened.

What was more important is that Samoa Joe returned and he cut a promo declaring he is back and wants whomever the ROH Champion would be coming out of tonight. He would come to the ring after the match on his way there locked eyes with Elgin and continued on to the ring and had a classic star down with Jay Briscoe.  I would think that for my money you make Joe vs. Briscoe the main event for Best in the World the next announced PPV in June. In the meantime, Joe can battle Elgin and Jay Briscoe can get to the bottom of which these masked men actually are. Kills some time and gives you the proper main event for next PPV.

In other news, it seems Cedric Alexander could be heading towards a heel turn. He lost to Matt Sydal in the opener, which was a good match where Alexander fell short. Kevin Steen deemed Alexander as the future of the company when he left for NXT. Seems logical to build an angle where Alexander has had enough of being a good guy and dealing with high expectations and failing to deliver. Could be a great story and change for Cedric. I am not sure what he would be like as a heel but I am willing to give it a chance to see.

Roderick Strong continues to have great matches, still stuck at the bottom of the card to his frustration.  The fact he is not under contract to the company is part of the reason for this in my view. While he tries to position himself as a contender for the title, it has to be frustrating to see Samoa Joe walk in the door and get an instant shot. However, given Joe’s history with company it is hard to argue the point of it making sense.

Moose has been someone ROH is slowly grooming to be a big star. It was an impressive win over Mark Briscoe who bumped around like a maniac for him in this match. In addition, has a slow burn that could easily flip Moose baby face as Veda Scott stopped Moose from shaking hands and using the Code of Honor. He had an impressive spot for a big man dropkicking Mark Briscoe off the top rope to the floor.

In the end, this show did a lot of good for ROH creating a positive buzz for the brand. Will it translate to Pay-Per-View success? Sadly, it might not being booked on the same weekend, as a big Ronda Rousey UFC fight but it still can be a positive. The reviews and the reactions to the show have been generally positive and the show had a buzz factor too it. In addition, ROH not rushing with PPV has been a good idea. If they can have a good few months with their Wrestlemania weekend show and the co-promoted NJPW shows in Philly with War of the Worlds and two shows making up Global Wars this year in Toronto. If they can continue to keep the ball rolling forward and get a good build to Best in the World, they should be heading in a positive direction.

It was ironic fans were chanting F-TNA during Joe’s speech. ROH may not agree given they have had A.J Styles, The Addiction and now Samoa Joe handed to them on a silver platter thanks to TNA’s failures. It has really helped add some depth to the ROH roster with quality names that can draw.

It was a good night if you’re a ROH fan. It will be an even better night if it helps draw more people to product in this competitive market for the eyes of a lot of fans that are disillusioned with WWE. ROH is on a slow and sometimes frustrating path to success. It may not move as fast as you would hope or wish, but it seems always to be moving in the right direction.

I watched a free WWE show and yet was more entertained by a show I had to pay for which speaks volumes as to where both companies are for me.