10 Thoughts on … Ring of Honor June 25, 2016 (Women of Honor, Mandy Leon versus Hania, Kelly Klein versus Taeler Hendrix, PLUS bonus Best in the World Thoughts!)

Thought Zero – We are back with the first week of Ring of Honor television after Best in the World. They helpfully announce that we won’t be seeing regular programming for two weeks due to that event. So this week, we get an hour of Women of Honor! I’ve never seen any of the women wrestlers in ROH, so I am quite intrigued. I will also drop a couple thoughts about Best in the World at the end here, just because. Here we go…

1) First match up is a six-woman tag match. Veda Scott, Amber Gallows, and Allysin Kay on one side and Sumie Sakai, Thunderkitty, and “Crazy” Mary Dobson on the other. I’ve never seen any of these women wrestle before. Thunderkitty has some odd gimmick where she is supposed to be 95 years old. I don’t really get it, but she does work in some old-school moves, including the IRON CLAW, so that’s fun.

2) Veda Scott, despite looking amazingly like someone I used to date, has some skills. She lands a few cool kicks and a springboard bulldog as we go to break. So far, everyone looks a little sloppy, a little nervous perhaps, but they are all giving it their all, which is more than I can say for a lot of the older WWE Diva matches.

3) Amber Gallows is playing up the Bullet Club tie-in here quite a bit. The finger-gun gesture just doesn’t sit right with me, but that’s just me. Hey, Crazy Mary Dobson just hit a Code Red which looked pretty sweet, but only got a two count. Then all six women get involved in a very contrived tower of doom spot. That spot always seems so ludicrous as it is set up but the combined impact of all the bodies hitting the mat is pretty cool.

4) Everyone hits some big moves (I don’t know if they are finishing moves or not for the competitors) like in most 6-person clusters these days. They showcase Crazy Mary some more, including her hitting a split-legged springboard moonsault, but then she gets triple-teamed and eats the pin. It makes sense that Veda Scott’s team would win, since she is the one most Ring of Honor fans are familiar with. Decent opening match, nothing super special, but watchable.

5) Oh joy, the next match involves O.D.B. I was never a fan when she was with TNA, and am still underwhelmed by her. Here she is going up against Faye Jackson, a rookie who is apparently in her first match. They do a quick little video promo with Jackson pre-match to introduce her to the TV audience, which is nice. O.D.B. takes another swig from her flask and then we get a very awkward cut which makes me think this match was not as good as they would like you to think it was.

6) Faye Jackson uses her ass a lot. That seems to be her whole gimmick actually. Oh yeah, O.D.B. won with a second rope Thesz Press. Not a very good match. There was another very awkward cut later in the match and I can only think that the rookie and the usually sloppy O.D.B. really screwed up a couple sequences. Oh well. Moving on…

7) Next match is “The Howling Huntress” Hania (that’s a lot of Hs) versus “The Exotic Goddess” Mandy Leon. Hania is wearing a bearskin cape and they are playing up her Native American roots. They had a nice little video package before the match showing a bit of an issue between these two, which is nice as it adds an emotional aspect to the battle.

8) Very good match between these two. I have to say I was very impressed. I could see both of these two going on to great success in pro wrestling. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect in this match, but even if I had high expectations, this match would have surpassed them. Mandy Leon, in particular, maybe because of her dancing background, looks very smooth in her movements and transitions. Several times I was thinking this match looks like a fight scene in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And that is a good thing. This is a match that I suggest checking out if you can. It wasn’t the best match, women’s or otherwise, that I’ve seen, but both women looked really good and this may be a match to remember when these two are doing bigger things in the future. Hania gets the hard fought victory with a Codebreaker. Very impressive match.

9) Main event time with Kelly Klein versus Taeler Hendrix. Kelly Klein is accompanied by BJ Whitmer, so there’s a strike against her. Taeler Hendrix is accompanied by Truth Martini. How long ago was this taped? We haven’t seen Martini in forever? The announcers and BJ Whitmer are hyping up Kelly Klein as a monster, Brock Lesnar-esque almost, mentioning she is undefeated over and over again.

10) Taeler Hendrix’s facial expressions are just as awesome when she is wrestling as when she is accompanying Jay Lethal to the ring. They must be really ready to push Kelly Klein because they had her kick out of a Tombstone and win with a guillotine choke. The match was pretty good. It made Hendrix seem strong, although the kickout after the Tombstone didn’t do much for her character. It made Klein look like she is strong and tough, but still able to get her ass kicked for long periods of time. I was expecting a bit more of a back and forth match, or more of a dominant performance by Klein, but it was still pretty good.

Overall, I liked this hour of Women of Honor. I know Ring of Honor only has an hour of television per week, but I wouldn’t mind seeing these women wrestle on a more regular basis. I think they made the wrong choice for what the main event should be, but it is obvious they are pushing Kelly Klein, so it makes sense. But definitely check out that Mandy Leon versus Hania match if you can.

And, just for the heck of it, here are a couple bonus thoughts on Ring of Honor’s Best in the World event which happened on Friday, June 24. I only saw the last half of the show, but here is what I thought:

A) The matches I did not see included Kyle O’Reilly over Kamaitachi (with the announcement that O’Reilly would get a World title shot the next night), ACH defeating Silas Young, Mark Briscoe defeating Roderick Strong (with the acknowledgement that Strong is leaving ROH after this weekend), and Bullet Club (Adam Cole and the Young Bucks) defeating Moose and War Machine.

B) The tag titles remained with The Addiction after Daniels and Kazarian used a distraction caused by Kamaitachi and Jay Wright fighting at ringside to cheat their way to victory. After the match, The Addiction and Kamaitachi appeared to be working together, leading to another alliance. While I am okay with The Addiction holding on to the tag belts for a while, do they absolutely need a third person (like Chris Sabin was before)? Just let them win, even cheat to win, but there is no need to pull other people into their stories.

C) The Fight Without Honor. Steve Corino versus BJ Whitmer. This type of garbage wrestling/bloodbath is not everyone’s favorite thing in wrestling. It definitely isn’t mine. I don’t mind the blood per se, but I just didn’t care about this match, their issue with each other, etc. This thing has been going on forever and my only happiness about this match happening was that maybe it would finally end this feud. However, after BJ Whitmer won, Kevin Kelly stated that he feels like this isn’t over yet. Forgive me a second …. AAAAAAAUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! … This was supposed to be the match that ends feuds! It shouldn’t go on any further. You’re killing me, ROH!!!!

D) Oh yeah, I forgot to mention this, but ROH made me care even LESS about this feud than before. You see, towards the end of this match, the lights went out for what seemed to be 30 minutes. When they came back on, Kevin Freaking Sullivan of all people was in the ring. He hit Corino with his golden spike and that is what won the match for Whitmer. Now, even though I am positive that, at best, maybe 10% of the crowd knows who Kevin Sullivan is, even for those fans, I am positive less than 1% of those would have said they wanted to see Kevin Sullivan in a wrestling ring again. Especially not in 2016. Or on the anniversary of the Benoit murder of his ex-wife. Or ever, really. Seriously, Sullivan made his living as a fake Satanist/mental manipulating/dark lord/crazy spooky guy. Even if he could still pull that off now, who gives a shit? It’s BJ Whitmer and Steve Corino, for fucks sake. My ONLY thought is that someone signed Sullivan when drunk and got fired immediately. Then Delirious had to say, “Shit, I have to use him somewhere… Maybe if I throw all of this suck onto the garbage fire that is Corino and Whitmer, everything will collapse in on itself to create a black hole that I can dive into and be free of this existence.”

E) Yes, Kevin Sullivan was involved in a “major” storyline on one of the biggest events for a national wrestling company in 2016. Take a moment and let that sink in.

F) I am guessing the lights were off for so long because Sullivan had to inch his way to the ring from backstage, find a place to hide his walker, put on his robe of doom, pull his golden spike out of his ass, and attempt to stand upright instead of hunched over like he is used to doing under his bridge.

G) After that shitshow, Bobby Fish defeated Dalton Castle with a nice reversal of the Bangarang into a rollup. Both men gave it their all, but there was no real defined issue between these two. I’m okay with the motivation just to be winning. I’m okay with the motivation to be an attempt to win a title or defend said title. But it feels like we see Dalton Castle lose an awful lot. And it feels like we haven’t seen Bobby Fish a whole lot in singles competition recently. But it was a pretty good match all things considered. Both men were dropped on their head at one point in the match, so that is a bit concerning. I hope they either set up a feud for Bobby Fish soon, or get him on TV defending that belt night in and night out.

H) At this point, there were about 25 minutes left in the show. I’m thinking to myself that I wish it were more, I wish it were a sixty minute bout for the World title I was about to watch, but I trust Jay Lethal and Jay Briscoe to bring a match of the year candidate in 25 minutes. But wait, Ring of Honor isn’t done dicking with you yet. They bring out the All Night Express and Caprice Coleman. Apparently the three of them are called The Cabinet now. I guess that stupid and unexplained angle with Coleman and Prince Nana should just be erased from memory. They had a podium and a bunch of fools around them to play off the whole “Make Wrestling Great Again” angle that ANX is running. (Side point, but this angle and the Make Darren Young Great Again angle in WWE should just stop. I would hate to think that some slack-jawed yokel will go vote in November, remember either of these angles, and accidentally vote for Donald Trump.)

I) This stupid, stupid, stupid promo (did I mention it was stupid?) took up 10 minutes at least. Why, ROH, why?

J) Now we have a main event that only has 15 minutes to work with. Even with all the confidence in the world in Jay Lethal and Jay Briscoe, this match just won’t be long enough to come close to MOTY honors.

K) Briscoe and Lethal show respect for each other initially and play a little one-upsmanship, including some nice dives from Lethal and Briscoe to the outside. This is actually a good story to tell in this match, but would work better with more time to establish it. Now I’m done harping about the time given.

L) Taeler Hendrix gets tossed from ringside after trying to attack Briscoe. On her way out, she tangles with Mandy Leon and the two of them jaw and swipe at each other on the way back to the dressing room. I don’t think a main event already short on time needed to waste any setting up that Women of Honor battle. But after watching the Women of Honor special on ROH TV today, I must say I am pretty interested in seeing those two wrestle each other.

M) Very cool little sequence with Briscoe in control and knocking Lethal outside the ring. Briscoe went after him, and Lethal just grabs Briscoe and drags him under the bottom rope to the floor with a cutter. The coolest thing about this was it happened on the side with the hard camera, so we couldn’t see the impact of the move on the floor right away. All we could see was Lethal grab Briscoe’s head and basically drag him down to hell. Trust me, it looked cool.

N) Oh, I know I don’t need to mention it, but … Jay Lethal is THE man in all of professional wrestling right now. Don’t believe me? He reversed a top-rope Jay Driller into a hurricanrana on the way down to the mat. And he did it seamlessly. It is stuff like that which makes Lethal look like the smartest as well as the most athletic wrestler out there.

O) There was a great sequence late in the match where Lethal went for a Lethal Injection, but Briscoe blocked it, then thwarted it again, and then hit his own Lethal Injection. He popped right up and hit a Jay Driller and went for the pin. The crowd went nuts, Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness went nuts, and Jay Lethal kicked out. Everyone in the arena thought that was the match.

P) Where do you go after a sequence like that? To the top rope of course. Briscoe and Lethal fought on the top rope, Lethal fought off Briscoe’s attempt to put him through the announce table, then Lethal hit a SuperCutter off the top rope on Briscoe. Lethal then nailed the Lethal Injection to retain the belt.

Q) Nice visual after the match with both men exhausted and on their knees in the ring with the championship belt between them. Briscoe looked up, offered a hand to Lethal out of respect and Lethal accepted it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we expect from Ring of Honor, and it is nice when we get to see it come to fruition.

Overall, all the champions retained, which makes the PPV seem sort of anti-climatic. The main event got way too little time, although Briscoe and Lethal did the best they could with their time allotted. A few other things happened, but nothing seemed to be earth-shattering. Unless, of course, you have a very weird fetish for Kevin Sullivan.

ROH celebrates 250 episodes next week and will be showing some of the best matches of 2016. Why can’t we see the best matches of the first 249 episodes? Anyway… Until next week…

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