Only one week into the triumphant return of the Honor Roll, a wrench has been thrown into my plans. That wrench being the announcement of the WWE Network. The capability of getting every Pay Per View, including Wrestlemania, for $10 a month is too good to pass up. Unfortunately, I’m not made of money, so I had to drop my ROH Ringside Membership. Currently I pay $80 ($20 every three months) for the service, with the option of paying $60 for the entire year. While that is half of what WWE would charge for the WWE Network per year, the amount of content on the WWE Network is exponentially better than what’s available on an ROH Ringside Membership, making it a much better value.
Now, if I’m Ring of Honor, I would strongly consider taking steps to enhance the Ringside Membership, perhaps making every show before 2010 available on their website for Ringside Members (though I’m not sure ROH has the server bandwidth to be able to handle this). As it stands now, ROH hasn’t updated their Ringside Membership content in months. There are a handful of shows available: most of 2012, about half the 2010 and 2011 shows, and a smattering of shows from 2002 - 2009.
How does losing my Ringside Membership affect this column? Because I will no longer be able to get early Monday access to the Ring of Honor Television episode and, like the rest of you peons, will now have to wait until Thursday to watch episodes that aired the previous Saturday. So these reviews will be quite late. I hope you still plan on reading them though!
Match 1 - Top Prospect Tournament: Raymond Rowe vs. Kongo
Rowe is a 10-year veteran but is finally getting an opportunity in ROH. Kongo is 350 pounds and is basically treated like a white Umaga. I saw Kongo wrestle live on an ROH preshow last year and came away unimpressed, probably because it was a preshow match and the goal isn’t to blow the crowd away. With the benefit of a televised match, Kongo put in a better effort, but Rowe was really the impressive one, german suplexing the 350-pounder and winning with a dragon suplex after a short match. ½*
Winner: Raymond Rowe
After the match, Michael Elgin came to the ring and met Kongo. Elgin then proceeded to hit an impressive gut wrench suplex on the big man. Say what you want about Kongo, but he does a good job at making other people look better by taking big bumps.
Elgin then proceeded to cut a rushed promo about still being involved in the World Title picture despite the returns of Chris Hero and AJ Styles. This prompted Hero to come out and say that even though he’s in the title picture, the two of them have to get along, because in Pittsburgh on 1/25, they’re teaming up to face the Briscoes and the team of Adam Cole and Matt Hardy in the main event. After that, they can go back to beating each other up. This brings out Kevin Steen, who reminds both of them that he never received a rematch for the World Title. He then tells Hero that in their match tonight, after he beats him, he’ll be yelling “Oh no!” (A little wink at Hero’s former life as Kassius Ohno). All three promos were subpar, with each man flubbing their lines briefly. Thankfully the Nashville crowd was feeling generous and responding positively to all three. Quite a nice change of pace from New York, who will destroy you on the first flub.
Match 2 - Top Prospect Tournament: Corey Hollis vs. “Benchmark” Bill Daly Mike Posey
Corey Hollis is one half of the tag team Alabama Attitude with Mike Posey. They’re young, and remind me a bit of the Future Shock tag team (Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly) back when they were green in 2010. Considering where both are now, that’s high praise for AA. Hollis was supposed to take on “Benchmark” Bill Daly, but Daly came out in a suit with a hype man (and sponsorships?), and stated that due to a high ankle sprain, he will be dropping out of the tournament, but already declared himself the Top Prospect for 2014. Without any previous introduction to the man, I got all I needed to know about Daly from that promo, and despite flubbing a line (what’s going on with this?), he looks like he good be a big deal if pushed correctly. Posey then grabs the mic and says that since Hollis doesn’t have an opponent, and Posey wasn’t even invited to the tournament, he challenges Hollis to a match. The promo was a little wooden (Night of the Bad Promos), but the only way you can get better is through practice. Hollis stares blankly and doesn’t utter a word, but agrees to the match.
The match itself was short and to the point. Interestingly, Posey was extremely aggressive toward his tag team partner, and this was picked up on commentary by Kevin Kelly. Unfortunately, Prince Nana, who was also on commentary, kept confusing Hollis with Posey. As a guy who is supposed to be the talent scout, shouldn’t he know who is who? I personally don’t blame Nana because there was nothing that made one stand out from the other. Hollis ended up winning with a spinning back elbow. *
Winner: Corey Hollis
Match 3 - Jay Lethal vs. Caprice Coleman
Before the match, they aired clips from Pursuit: Night 2, where Caprice Coleman split up C&C Wrestle Factory after their loss to reDRagon for the Tag Team Titles. Although he never actually used the words “split up.” He just said “It’s time for us to shine.”
This match was pretty good for the short time it was given. It was very fast-paced, and Coleman got an opportunity to get his stuff in for this match, so it wasn’t a complete squash. Lethal won with a really sick superkick followed by a Lethal Injection (handspring into an ace crusher) that Coleman sold magnificently. *1/2
Winner: Jay Lethal
After the match, Lethal grabbed the microphone and put over Coleman, albeit with a backhanded compliment (“I made a huge mistake of underestimating you”) before turning his attention to the new World Television Champion Tomasso Ciampa, who issued a challenge to Lethal for the title. The announcers played up how unusually refreshing it is to see the champion lay out challenges, and it makes sense with continuity. Lethal is the man who broke Ciampa’s undefeated streak, and it was in a match with Lethal that Ciampa suffered his ACL tear. Ciampa will defend the TV Title next week on TV against Silas Young.
Main Event - Kevin Steen vs. Chris Hero
This match was shorter than I expected it to be, but to their credit, Hero and Steen went balls out for the entire duration. A really cool spot had Steen setting up for the corner cannonball, but Hero popped immediately up and hit a rolling elbow. At the conclusion of the match, the new heel stable known as The Decade (made up of Roderick Strong, Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer) stormed the ring. Their shtick is that they’ve been consistently with ROH for the past 10 years and don’t take kindly to people who leave, or leave and come back, like Hero and AJ Styles. Hero took Whitmer out with a diving kick through the ropes, but it allowed Kevin Steen to hit the Sleeper Suplex (dumping Hero on his head) and get the win. **3/4
Winner: Kevin Steen
As The Decade celebrated their contributions to Hero’s loss and went to the back, Steen was attacked by Cliff Compton and choked out as the show went off the air.
We had four short matches this week, which is a bit different than the usual format of two short matches and a long main event. I didn’t mind it too much, because they had to showcase the Top Prospects while still finding time to show the regular guys. The pacing of this episode actually worked really well, and I enjoyed how fast-paced Lethal/Coleman and Hero/Steen were. The wrestling in the latter two matches was top notch. What brought this episode down for me was the missed execution on seemingly every promo, which is not good for a promo-heavy show. It was like everybody was still hungover from New Year’s Eve. I’ve read the spoilers from this TV taping, and the next three weeks of shows will also be promo heavy, so hopefully they pick up the slack.