I’m not sure if I will do Running Diaries regularly for Ring Of Honor, but this is a special show, so I felt this was necessary. How will Ring Of Honor fare in the Tony Khan Era? It’s time to find out.
Are you ready?
Because I’m ready.
Well, if you’re ready, and if I’m ready, then there’s only one thing left to do. I need you to say it with me, folks…
LESS DEW EET!!!
(0:00) The crowd at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Massachusetts is rocking and rolling, ready for what should be a really good show. This is the same arena that hosted TNA Lockdown 2008, a show that was headlined by Samoa Joe defeating Kurt Angle to win the TNA World Title in an instant classic.
(0:01) Wait… what?!? We’re getting things started with the RoH World Title match?!? Whoa. Jonathan Gresham is set to defend against Claudio Castagnoli. Claudio enters to a huge ovation, and he is, of course, accompanied to the ring by William Regal, who is joining Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman on commentary. I’m still trying to get over the fact that this match is going on first.
(0:03) Longtime RoH Manager, Prince Nana, is accompanying Gresham to the ring, fresh off of “purchasing” the contracts of Tully Blanchard Enterprises.
(0:04) Helluva height difference between the 5’4″ Gresham and the 6’5″ Castagnoli. If you’re unfamiliar with Gresham and his work, though, do not let his height fool you. He is one of the best technical wrestlers on the planet today, and he brings a crazy amount of strength to the table, as well.
(0:05) Claudio Swing early!
(0:08) To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Claudio Castagnoli is pretty strong.
(0:12) Good story being told so far, with Gresham working on Claudio’s leg. Great strategy, bringing the much taller opponent down to his size.
(0:13) UFO attempt by Claudio is unsuccessful because of the damage done to his leg.
(0:14) Our first “this is awesome” chant of the night comes after a nice back-and-forth between both men, full
(0:15) What the fuck?!? A Ricola Bomb picks up the win for Claudio, and we have a brand new Ring Of Honor World Champion! That came out of NOWHERE! Even Claudio looks shocked. The title change itself wasn’t necessarily a surprise, but I think we were all expecting a match that went at least 20-30 minutes. You’ll see matches between two midcard workers go longer than that on any random episode of Raw, Smackdown, Dynamite, or Rampage. Wow. It was really entertaining while it lasted, though. I’ll give it 3.5 stars. A longer match could’ve become a Match Of The Year candidate for sure, though.
(0:21) We’re going from one title match to another. The RoH Six-Man Tag Team Titles are on the line now. The Righteous (Vincent, Dutch & Bateman) defend against Dalton Castle & The Boys.
(0:26) There’s a really big difference between the crowd reactions for the first match and the crowd reactions for this match.
(0:29) I love the unique offense from the members of The Righteous. You never know what they’re going to do, or what angle they’re going to hit you from. On commentary, Caprice Coleman says it best by saying it’s like their bodies are being controlled by someone using a joystick. That’s a dangerous group of wrestlers.
(0:32) Dutch, who is as big as a two-seater convertible, just did a dive over the top rope, squashing The Boys at ringside. Very impressive.
(0:34) Bangarang from Castle, and we’re two-for-two with crowning new champions tonight. That was interesting, as The Righteous were in control of a lot of that match. Decent enough match, but nothing special overall. Let’s go ahead and give it 2.75 stars and move on.
(0:37) Next up, we’re getting yet another title match. Wheeler Yuta defends the RoH Pure Title against Daniel Garcia. For those unaware, there are a lot of special rules for Pure Title matches. Wrestlers get three rope breaks they can use during the match to break up a submission or a pin attempt, but once those rope breaks are used up, submissions and pins against them become legal on or under the ropes. Closed-fist punches to the face are not permitted. The title can change hands due to disqualification and count-out. Outside interference is not only against the rules, but will lead to an automatic termination from the roster for the person that interferes. All of it adds to some very unique matches that can really stand out on a card.
(0:40) The crowd is already more excited for this match than they were for the last one. That’s a good sign.
(0:45) Wheeler Yuta joining the Blackpool Combat Club was such a good move. His in-ring work was really good, but he has been so much more aggressive and violent since aligning with Jon Moxley, Bryan Danielson, and William Regal. Perfect fit, and a great move for him.
(0:47) Garcia bites Yuta’s ear to break a hold, and William Regal, who is on commentary again, praises the move. He puts it over as something you have to do sometimes if you want to win matches. That’s a great touch. He loves violence so much that he praises something like that, even though it’s coming from an opponent of a BCC member.
(0:50) Regal says that he won’t be happy if Yuta even tries to use one of his rope breaks, saying that the entire BCC have been training Yuta to fight and wrestle his way out of things. Another great touch. Regal has already added so much to this show on commentary.
(0:51) Crazy slap fight between both men. The side of Yuta’s neck looks like Bryan Danielson’s chest when he gets chopped a bunch of times.
(0:53) 13 minutes into the match, and neither man has used a rope break.
(0:54) Garcia locks a Sharpshooter in, then tries to lean back to dig it in, but he leans back too far, moving into a choke by Yuta.
(0:54) Our first rope break of the match, as Garcia reaches the bottom rope to break up a Boston Crab.
(0:56) The Blackpool Combat Club is having themselves a big night. Wheeler Yuta gets the pin and the win. That was a lot of fun. 4 stars.
(0:58) Tony Khan is definitely behind the pacing of this show. It’s already time for our next match. This is the first one we’ve seen that doesn’t have a title on the line, but it is Brother vs Brother, as Rush takes on Dragon Lee. Not only is this a match between siblings, but it is a match between siblings that have never faced each other in singles competition before. They’ve been on opposing eight-man teams before, but that’s it.
(1:02) We’re barely into the infancy of this match, and there has already been 73 counters or reversals.
(1:05) All the brotherly love is already out the window, as Rush is throwing his little brother all around ringside, launching him into barricade after barricade.
(1:07) HOLY SHIT! Dragon Lee places his brother on a table at ringside, then gets in the ring so that he can perform a RUNNING LAWN DART that destroyed the table. He damn near spiked himself on that. Wow. That looked crazy.
(1:09) The insane amount of bacne on Rush is like from an era gone by. Jesus.
(1:12) Some of my favorite matches through the years have involved siblings facing each other. This has the potential to join that. These two are going all out against each other. Good shit.
(1:15) Holy shit part deux! Dragon Lee kicks out of Bull’s Horns! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone kick out of that.
(1:17) A second attempt of Bull’s Horns picks up the win for Rush. He was on the receiving end of some offense, and it looked like Dragon Lee was getting close to winning, but Rush took advantage of his brother and lured him in. Dragon Lee showed love for his fallen brother, and it cost him the match. So much fun. 4.25 stars.
(1:19) Our next match is for the RoH Women’s Title, as Mercedes Martinez defends against Serena Deeb.
(1:22) The crowd is back to being quiet for this one.
(1:22) Are Mercedes Martinez and The Bunny the only wrestlers who still have tongue rings these days? It sure seems like it. I’m sure I’m forgetting some people, but those are the only two that come to mind at the moment.
(1:27) This is like watching a match in Japan. The crowd is quiet, then they give polite applause for something, only to go right back to being quiet.
(1:29) With Mercedes tied in the Tree Of Woe, Serena hits her with a stiff dropkick to the gut. You could damn near hear the air leave Mercedes’ body.
(1:31) Painful looking submission, followed by another painful looking submission, followed by yet another painful looking submission. Now these two are kicking the shit out of each other.
(1:34) SICK looking Spider German Suplex by the champion sends Deeb crashing down on the back of her head and neck.
(1:38) Mercedes Martinez retains the title by submission. That was a war. Very hard-hitting, tons of submission attempts, and two women busting their asses. 3.5 stars.
(1:40) As Mercedes and Serena embrace after the match, the cokehead pace of this show continues, as we immediately move into a video package for our next match. Jesus Christ, Tony, chill the fuck out, would you?
(1:41) Next up, Samoa Joe defends the RoH Television Title against Jay Lethal.
(1:42) Joe is losing more and more of his hair, which is making him look almost… old. These two can’t even wait for the match to begin, and they start brawling in the aisle before the bell even has a chance to ring.
(1:45) They’re still fighting on the outside. The match has yet to officially begin.
(1:46) Satnam Singh comes out to attack Joe right when the champion went to put the challenger through a table at ringside. They put Joe’s arm in a chair and slam it into the ring post. Singh gets ejected from ringside, but hey, the match has finally gotten underway.
(1:49) Joe hasn’t quite been the same over the last couple years. Call it age, injuries, or both, but he doesn’t seem to be the same competitor that he was when he was beefing with Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman. He’s not terrible by any means, but he just doesn’t move the way he used to.
(1:54) Joe just slapped the shit out of Lethal, buckling him at the knees. Lethal is bleeding inside his mouth.
(1:58) Joe kicks out of a Lethal Injection. That’s another move that you don’t see people kick out of very often. Wow.
(1:59) Sonjay Dutt runs out and distracts the Referee, allowing Lethal to hit Joe with the title belt… for a two-count. That popped the crowd.
(2:00) Joe locks his choke in and makes Lethal tap out to retain the title. That was fun. Not a classic or anything, but I’d still give it 3 stars.
(2:01) It is announced that Bryan Danielson is returning to the ring on Dynamite this week, taking on Daniel Garcia. The match graphic got a big pop from the crowd.
(2:04) Main event time. FTR defend the RoH Tag Team Titles against The Briscoe Brothers in a Two-Out-Of-Three Falls Match. This is a rematch from Supercard Of Honor on April 1st. That match was one of the best tag team matches I’ve ever seen, so needless to say, there is a TON of hype surrounding this one.
(2:08) There’s the bell. PLENTY of time left in the show, so this could very well be epic in length.
(2:13) Redneck Kung Fu from the Sussex County Chicken!
(2:14) I like the pace so far. Slow, feeling out process, followed by a burst of energy, and then another feeling out process. They sure as hell seem like they’re preparing for a long match.
(2:17) Interesting to note that Doc Sampson has gotten involved in the match twice now, checking in on both teams to make sure competitors aren’t injured.
(2:20) PICK UP THE PACE!!! *Slipknot music intensifies* Fun misheard lyrics there, before anyone decides to correct me.
(2:25) Doomsday Device picks up the first fall for The Briscoes. This has already been a lot of fun.
(2:27) Dax Harwood is bleeding from the chest, and of course, his chest is being targeted with some vicious chops.
(2:30) Harwood with a high angle Super Back Suplex from the top rope, spiking Jay Briscoe to the mat. That was gorgeous.
(2:33) Dax and Mark are chopping the ever-loving fuck out of each other!
(2:33) Hot tag to Cash Wheeler!
(2:35) Brawl time! Mark and Cash are brawling at ringside, where they’re trying to use a table. As they do that, Jay and Dax fight out into the crowd.
(2:36) Behind the Referee’s back, Jay Briscoe hits Cash with the ring bell, but it only gets a two-count. Cash is now bleeding from the forehead.
(2:38) Big Rig gets the pin for FTR, and we’re tied up at one fall each. Mark Briscoe is bleeding from the forehead, too, after taking a Flapjack into the ring steps a couple minutes ago. Now there’s a “fight forever” chant from the crowd.
(2:39) Mark Briscoe is a bloody mess.
(2:40) Dax and Mark have a strike battle on the ring apron, and with each strike, the blood and sweat are flying. Good Lord.
(2:43) Ref Bump! That’s the type of shit this match didn’t need.
(2:44) Jay kicks out of a Big Rig! Has anyone ever kicked out of that?!? Referee Paul Turner is bleeding from the mouth. When he first went down, cameras cut to him either grabbing something from under the ring or putting something back under the ring. Blood packs for the Referees? That’s crazy.
(2:47) It is announced that 40 minutes have gone by, and there are 20 minutes of time remaining in the limit. Will we go the full 60 here?
(2:49) HOLY SHIT! Cash takes Mark from the top rope and slams him through a ringside table with a Side Suplex!
(2:50) Jay Driller gets 2.99999! The match continues!
(2:51) HOLY SHIT AGAIN! Dax Harwood hits Jay Briscoe with a Piledriver from the middle rope and gets the win! FTR retain the titles. What a fucking match. What. A. Fucking. Match. Because of everything that goes into me doing a Running Diary, I don’t think I can give a match a perfect score on first viewing. With that said, I think this is going to have a really good chance of reaching that once I watch it again without having to focus on writing a column. As it is, I’m going to give it 4.75 stars. Wonderful, wonderful stuff there.
(2:55) The champions are in the ring, and they have microphones. Cash asks for Jay and Mark to get back into the ring so that the crowd can show them the appreciation they deserve.
(2:56) “Motherfucker, I love professional wrestling!” – Dax Harwood
(2:56) “Call me a fucking mark if you want to. We love this shit.” – Dax Harwood
(2:57) As the champions celebrate in the ring, we see Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler Yuta, and William Regal walking out onto the stage. Is it a challenge? Is it a show of respect? We’re out of time, Nitro fans!
I can’t complain at all if the “worst” match on the show got 2.75 stars from me. Great night for pro wrestling. I’ll see you all again on Wednesday in my usual spot. Have a good one, folks.