10 Thoughts On… Ring of Honor January 30, 2016 (Roderick Strong versus Masada, Colby Corino, Jay Lethal/Adam Cole versus reDRagon)

Thought Zero – Another hour of Ring of Honor wrestling is coming your way through my ten thoughts. Will Roderick Strong keep the Television title? Will Mr. Wrestling 3 announce he is Steve Corino? Will Mandy Leon return to fill us in on the storylines we can’t keep up with in one hour of television a week? Will referee Todd Sinclair turn heel and powerbomb Nigel McGuinness through a table covered with snakes on fire? Probably not the last one, but let’s see what else is in store…

1. The show starts right up with Roderick Strong defending his ROH Television title against Masada. Honestly, I have never seen this Masada fellow before, but he is pretty good. (A quick internet search shows he was trained by someone named Shawn Michaels in Texas. I head this Michaels fellow also trained Daniel Bryan, Paul London, and Brian Kendrick. Dude must have known a thing or two about wrestling.) Kevin Kelly puts over Masada’s experience in Japanese deathmatches, but this doesn’t come into play until close to the end of the match. For the most part, this was a pretty good little match with some interesting offense and pinfall attempts. Long story short, Masada falls, which just sounds weird to type in this context. I guess that makes Roddy Strong the Roman Empire, lending a very odd layer to this Roddy versus the world storyline.

2. However, if Roderick Strong is symbolically the Roman Empire, perhaps he will fall into an insane emperor stage. It would make Strong a little more interesting to me, I must say. To me, Strong is similar to Adam Cole. They are both good to great wrestlers, but they just bore me. Yes, I loved the trio of matches Strong had against Jay Lethal last year, but I credit Lethal with that. Every other time I see Strong wrestle, I just think, “eh, he’s okay,” but I never think, “Wow, a Roderick Strong match! I can’t wait!” Maybe he’ll grow on me, but for now, I think they are wasting the Television title after Jay Lethal built it up.

3. Two moves in this match which made me sit up a little straighter. First, Strong dropped Masada onto the edge of the ring apron with a back suplex which looked rough. Couldn’t tell if Strong dropped him or slipped off the apron himself, but it just looked really stiff. Strong did grab his ankle once he hit the floor to sell an earlier move, so bonus points for Roddy on that. Second, Masada hit a nice Death Valley Driver on Strong which only got a two count. It sort of bothers me that the DVD is not treated as a serious finisher when so many variants/similar moves are treated so. The DVD looks even more painful than most of its cousins, due to the positioning of the neck hitting the mat and the body weight crumpling on top of it. It’s just something that irks me. #savethedeathvalleydriver

4. After the match, Bobby Fish comes out to, as Kevin Kelly states, continue to troll Roderick Strong. Very good line at the beginning of the exchange though by Fish, “Roddy, Roddy, Roddy versus the world. Now, if that is, in fact, what we’re going with, my man, you better hope that I decide to take up residence on another planet.” Good threat, good ego declaration, and good little snide remark about the Roddy versus the world storyline. Well done, Mr. Fish. Well done.

5. Still no announcement of Strong vs. Fish II for the 14th anniversary show, but Nigel did tease it later. They might as well just make the match official since O’Reilly is going to be busy that night anyway. Plus, Fish is just crushing Strong on the microphone week in and week out.

6. The Top Prospect Tournament continues with Punisher Martinez versus Colby Corino. Martinez wins pretty handily, but Corino gets a couple hope spots mid-match. Punisher looked like a monster in the match, which is a positive, I Guess. But, much like Cheeseburger, I can’t really take Corino very seriously when he is so much smaller than his opponent. Case in point, Martinez hits Corino with a Last Ride type powerbomb from the outside of the ring into the edge of the ring, and Corino looked like he could have snapped about four vertebrae at least. It looked vicious, and I don’t want to feel like I am watching a gladiator slaughter in the Colosseum every time Corino and Cheeseburger show up on my screen. (Damn you, Emperor Roderick!) (Hey, maybe I can get Strong over in my head if I keep this up.)

7. Post-match, more boring BJ Whitmer/Mr.Wrestling 3/Steve Corino garbage. I’d say this is the slowest build ever, which will result in a match between Steve Corino and BJ Whitmer somewhere down the line. But who knows if it will ever happen with the health of both guys. Whitmer hits Colby with three suplexes, and that is the most physical action I have seen out of Whitmer in years. Ring of Honor, here is my issue. You are spending loads and loads of television time building up a feud between an announcer and a manager. Neither man is a full-time wrestler any more, so this whole thing just feels like a waste of time. The WWE wastes tons of time each week, but it has at least 5 hours of time to fill. You have one hour, ROH. Don’t waste it on junk I will never see get paid off. And even if I do, by this point, I don’t care about it. Slow build to something worth paying off and deliver, that’s the way to go, not this stuff.

8. Main event time – reDRagon versus Adam Cole and Jay Lethal. I liked the entrances. In my mind, ROH got them somewhat right – reDRagon coming out first, then Adam Cole, then Jay Lethal coming out last, as he should as the World Champion. I think I would prefer each team to come out as a team, but having Cole and Lethal enter separately works for the storyline. (I’ll expand on this thought in my upcoming Fantasy Book on Thursday.) Also, I don’t think I have mentioned this before, but I do like the streamer treatment ROH fans give the wrestlers. It’s unique and fun. And it is always amusing to watch the ring crew try desperately to get the streamers cleaned up before the match begins.

8.A. I like the fact that the Ring of Honor announcers, Kevin Kelly and whomever is sitting with him (in this case it was Nigel McGuinness), always do a very good job at building up and promoting the talent. They almost always do it during the match, but the effort they put into it during the entrances lends an important air to the upcoming matches and that is a very good thing. And they never bury or ignore the talent like I hear too often, especially on some unnamed promotion with TV shows on the USA Network.

9. It’s Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, Adam Cole, and Jay Lethal in the ring, so of course the match was awesome. Cole and Lethal did a good job at showing disdain for each other even as they teamed up. O’Reilly stayed on target with the emotional story of trying to destroy Cole. Cole played scared of O’Reilly with some funny teases and fake-outs until they finally squared off. Fish didn’t look or feel out of place (which I was a little worried about since he is the odd man out from the build to the 14th Anniversary Main Event). And the finish not only helped set up the pay-per-view main event (with Lethal accidentally hitting Cole with a Lethal Injection) but the correct team (reDRagon) won. (Again, more thought on this in Thursday’s Fantasy Book column. Blatant plug!)

10. Want to know why I think Jay Lethal is the best thing going right now? Ring of Honor turns him heel. They put him with the most hated manager they have in Truth Martini. They have Lethal insult and challenge fan favorites like Jay Briscoe, AJ Styles, Michael Elgin, etc. They have Lethal basically give the finger to the fans when they chant for him. They had him hold both the World Title and the Television Title for months and make him defend both, risking overexposing him and doubling his work. And yet, in the middle of a match which includes a former world champion, former tag team champions, and his two opponents at the next PPV, Lethal pauses after a move and a quiet moment from the crowd and yells out, “I am the greatest wrestler in the world!” He’s a heel. That egotistical declaration in the middle of a match should cause the crowd to boo him out of the building. But what happens? He gets one of the biggest cheers of the night. Why? Because he is that good. What’s that saying, it’s not bragging if you can back it up? Lethal does and the fans, even though they know they are supposed to boo him, know it. They can’t help but respect and cheer the greatness they are witnessing. And that is why Jay Lethal is the best thing going right now.

 

I’ll be back Thursday with a Fantasy Book column which I hope you enjoy. And next week a main event with War Machine defending the ROH World Tag Team Titles against the All Night Express. Until then…

 

 

 

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