Ring of Honor TV
Aired on Fite 12/3/18
Stage AE, Pittsburgh PA
We open with a video package recapping the double DQ for the Tag Title #1 Contender spot, between The Briscoes and The Young Bucks, which led to the Triple Threat Ladder War challenge being made. Straightforward, no frills, fine.
KENNY KING vs CHRISTOPHER DANIELS
We come back from opening credits to Kenny King’s entrance, with Ian Riccobani and Colt Cabana on commentary alongside 2018 Survival of the Fittest winner Marty Scurll. Marty talks about his Final Battle plans, and brings up Christopher Daniels, who then makes his way down to the ring. “Fallen Angel” chants. King takes the mic and calls Daniels a “timeless talent”, because no one knows how old he actually is. King vaguely references the contract rumors as he offers to boot him out of the door, and later says he’s gonna put Daniels in the hospital.
King drops the mic and Daniels is in hot with shots as the bell rings, staggering King and flooring him with a signature calf kick off the ropes. Daniels with a chops to King, but King fights back before eating a standing Asai Moonsault from Daniels, who covers for 2. Daniels stays on King who rolls outside, Daniels runs the ropes and hits a baseball slide that takes King down. King gets sent hard into the barricade by Daniels, who keeps control as he rolls King back in. King tries to fight back and finally hits a leg sweep that drops Daniels onto the apron and out to ringside, as we go to BREAK.
We’re back and King has maintained the advantage, hitting Daniels with a backbreaker and lariat to take him off his feet. King mocks Daniels age and puts the boots to him. Daniels gets run over with a shoulder tackle, King taunts and covers but gets only 2 before locking in a chinlock. Daniels fights out but gets hit with a Chin-Checker and Eddie Gordo, and gets throated over the top rope. Springboard from King but Daniels moves and hits a big Blue Thunder Bomb, and both are down.
Daniels up first and takes King down with shots, hits a big STO on King followed by a big wheelbarrow facebuster, covers but only gets 2. Daniels looks for the uranage but King reverses and hits a big spinebuster and covers, Daniels out at 2 but the ref catches King looking to use the ropes for help. King hoists Daniels, but Daniels gets out of it, lands the uranage and looks for BME. Daniels gets kicked off by King and into the ref who staggers back, allowing King to hit a low blow and the Royal Flush, covers Daniels and gets the 3 and the WIN.
Kenny King defeats Christopher Daniels by pinfall after a low blow and the Royal Flush
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This match was fine, with solid work from both Daniels and King but pretty much zero urgency, which sapped a necessary energy from what could have been a good little showcase. King continues to descend down the heel path while Daniels still is left figuring out whats next beyond a match with Marty Scurll. So all in all, the stories… progressed, I guess? Eh, didnt do much for me but served its purposes well enough.
VIDEO PACKAGE: Dalton Castle & The Boys
Dalton speaks, flanked by the boys. He says he was out for 3 months with an injury with only regaining the ROH World Title in mind. He didnt spend this much time with doctors and injections to be distracted by Matt Taven. He says Taven’s belt is nothing but a fake, but the rage he has ignited in Castle is very real. Castle had a little mic rust here, but was able to recover just fine, and he is just so charismatic that its all ok. Welcome back, Dalton. Stay healthy please.
JOSH WOODS vs JEFF COBB
As Cobb comes down to the ring we get some hype for Final Battle and Cobb’s TV Title defense against Hangman Page. We get the Code of Honor and the bell, and the match starts with some amateur style grappling. Suddenly Hangman Page comes out with a chair and sets himself up to watch the show on the entrance stage. The grappling continues, with respect shown from the crowd for the wrestling work.
Woods looks for the armbar, but Cobb is able to get to the ropes as Woods continues to work Cobb on the ground. Woods maintains control by keeping things slow and working a ground and submission game, looks for a belly to belly but that gives Cobb the opportunity he needs to power out. Cobb catches the leg and just tosses Woods with an exploder suplex and looks for the corner charge, but Woods moves and looks for the armbar again. Cobb keeps the hands locked and tries to roll Woods into a cover, but Woods maintains his grip until Cobb deadlifts him up and (sort of) puts him face first (sort of) into the corner.
Cobb is favoring the arm as Woods continues the assault. Woods looks for a springboard crossbody but Cobb catches him and hits Tour Of The Islands, and thats all she wrote with a 3 count and a WIN for Cobb.
Jeff Cobb defeats Josh Woods by pinfall after the Tour of the Islands
JAY’S RATING: 2 out of 5
This struck me as a bit odd, having Woods be so dominant for so long over Cobb who has been utterly MONSTROUS since showing up, especially since Page is lined up next and watching. I feel it would make more sense to at least have Cobb be equal and get some quality spots in, so the real challenge to Cobb can be made by Page. Instead, we got a slow and at times sloppy match that showed that yes, Cobb can win at any time it seems with Tour of the Islands, but that also showed that someone like Woods is capable of dominating him for most of the match… and that storytelling gets confusing to me.
After the match, Page comes to the ring and tells Cobb that he’s gonna show him how its done, and yells at the back to send his guy down.
HANGMAN PAGE vs FACADE
Facade gets a nice pop from his local crowd in Pittsburgh. The entrance takes us to BREAK, and when we get back Page is stomping the midhole into Facade and dumps him over the top before hitting the shooting star shoulder block off of the apron. Page throws Facade back in and taunts Cobb, hoists up Facade and hits that bridging fallaway suplex, covers but only gets 2. Facade fights back and he and Page trade shots, Facade tries to use his speed and evades Page to the point where he can land a unique kick to the head on Page.
Facade climbs up top and looks to walk the ropes but eats Page’s boot when springing down. Page rolls Facade to the apron, climbs to the middle rope with him and hits an avalanche fallaway slam. The action has slowed down as Page taunts Cobb and dominates Facade, Facade tries to strike and chop back but Page absorbs all of it and puts Facade back down. Page hits the ropes but Facade counters with a disaster kick, Page bails to ringside and Facade hits a double jump 450 plancha taking down Page. Facade rolls Page back in and looks for a springboard, but Page evades and hits the Buckshot Lariat, picks Facade up and plants him with Rite of Passage. Cover by Page, the 3 count and the WIN.
Hangman Page defeats Facade by pinfall after Rite of Passage
JAY’S RATING: 2 out of 5
Not dissimilar from the previous match, felt like Facade got more in than he should have prior to the big Cobb/Page showdown (which has the potential to be a show-stealer), with a bit of sloppiness to boot and an overall lack fire. This match was a device, nothing more, and felt like it hard. There are more interesting ways to build.
After the match, Cobb brings his belt to the ring and gets nose to nose with Page as we go to BREAK.
SEGMENT: Scurl/Daniels post-Survival of the Fittest
We’re back and we get video of Marty’s win at Survival of the Fittest, followed by a backstage segment of Marty and Daniels having words after the match, with Daniels saying that Marty didnt beat him, Bullet Club beat him. Marty says that when it came down to 2, he beat Daniels, period. Daniels says if Marty things he can beat him one on one, why not put the title shot on the line? Marty hesitates, and Daniels goads. And with that, we are official, Marty Scurll/Christopher Daniels at Final Battle with an ROH Title shot on the line. A nice spot between two great performers who have the acting side down as well, and we have another potentially hugely entertaining match set for Final Battle.
VIDEO PACKAGE: Jay Lethal speaks
Jay talks about his first match with Cody Rhodes, when Cody was looking to prove that he could hang, and Cody had to cheat to win. Jay asks when it was that Cody realized he didnt belong here. He says Cody is a great wrestler, whether he agrees with or likes Cody, but he has learned all of Cody’s shortcuts, and at Final Battle he will have to pull out all of the stops because he will not leave NYC without the ROH Title. He won’t allow Cody to be the face of ROH. Jay Lethal is just reliable. Plain and simple.
VIDEO PACKAGE: The Kingdom
Taven is backstage with the Kingdom and talks about how Castle crumbled under the pressure the last time he was on top. And Taven has had to work harder than anyone to get the spotlight he is now taking. Castle’s reign was short-lived, but Taven is building a legacy, and Castle is just Chapter 1. At Final Battle, Taven says Castle will remember that he is the REAL ROH World Champion, because (quietly this time) heeeeeeee’s Matt Taven.
Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship
STUKA JR. & GUERRERO MAYA JR. vs SO-CAL UNCENSORED (c)
SCU are out in robes – Kobra Kai from Kaz, Apollo Creed from Sky. Can someone please explain their shtick to me? I cant deny that something about it works… I just want to understand it better. We get the Code of Honor at the top, the bell and Maya and Sky start us off. They lock up, trading wrist control and the ground advantage. Maya gets a quick rollup but only 2 as they break. Sky and Maya lock up again, Sky gets the headlock but Maya fights out into a wristlock. Sky with a rope assisted flip to counter, but Maya catches Sky off the ropes with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and tags in Stuka.
Stuka stays on Sky and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker of his own, and lays in shots to Sky’s head. Sky fights back and sets Stuka up to eat a spinning kick from Kaz, who I guess tagged in? Cover on Stuka but only 2. Stuka eats a single leg dropkick from Kaz, Kaz covers but gets only 2. Sky back in and SCU hit that rolling leg-trapped flip, Sky covers but gets 2 as we go to BREAK.
We’re back and Stuka and Maya hit a Hart Attack-style bulldog facebuster, following up with an assisted tilt a whirl splash from Stuka onto Sky for a 2 count. Maya and Stuka tie up Sky and get him into a unique double-team Romero Special, which I have genuinely never seen before. Kaz “tags himself in” (Kaz was in the wrong corner, WTF is Todd Sinclair doing?) And slides UNDER Sky since Maya and Stuka are both on their backs, Sinclair counts but Kaz only gets 2 because that non-tag I guess counts?
Kaz looks to fight off a double team but gets caught in a full nelson stretch before Sky breaks it up. Kaz is able to get the tag to Sky who comes in hot taking down both Maya and Stuka, hitting a great headscissors on Maya and a jumping double stomp to the back on Stuka. This allows Sky and Kaz to double team Maya in the corner with Kaz hitting a nice dropkick. Stuka looks to intervene and gets Kaz to miss a corner shot and hit the ringpost, gets Sky with a spinebuster and follows with a middle rope moonsault to Kaz who is on the floor.
Maya in with Sky and hits a running rana sending Sky outside, hits the ropes and hits a cannonball suicide dive on Sky. Maya and Stuka celebrate in the ring as Kaz comes back in catching Maya in an over the top DDT, Sky in too for the double team on Stuka and they land a uranage/backstabber combo (sort of), Sky covers and thats the 3 count on the WIN.
SCU defeats Stuka Jr. & Guerrero Maya Jr. by pinfall to retain the ROH Tag Team Titles after a uranage/backstabber combo
JAY’S RATING: 3 out of 5
This was a fine title match in spite of the lack of real fire or sense that the CMLL guys could win, they certainly didnt seem to have a whole lot of championship urgency or drive in the match as it ended up being more of a showcase then a title match. It was enjoyable enough in the end, but I question the choice to put this match so close before Ladder War. Why create an opportunity for that match to change? Not that it would, but ostensibly a title match means that Stuka and Maya COULD have replaced SCU at Final Battle. Which, OF COURSE they wont. So this match a) doesnt make sense with a build to a huge title match thats closing in soon, and b) the audience has negative reasons to think that a title change will happen, which robs the match of stakes. The choice to put this match here in the taping schedule is yet another way ROH scheduling and booking is hurting its storytelling. And it doesnt have to be that hard. They just need someone overseeing this side of things, STAT.
After the match, Christopher Daniels is out with a mic. He puts over SCU walking out of their title match as the ROH Tag Team Championships. And the first thing they did was negotiate new contracts… for Kaz and Sky. But Daniels still doesnt have a contract. And all he has is one match left, at Final Battle, with Marty Scurll. Daniels says that his match is his chance at a new lease on life. So if he has to go through Marty to stay at the company he helped build, he will. Marty comes down to the ring, Marty grabs the mic and says yes, Daniels did help build this company. But how does Daniels want to be remembered? As a legend? Or as the person responsible for a 3-letter catchphrase? Marty says it would be his pleasure to give Daniels the match of his career, but he warns him – this will be Daniels’ “final battle.” Marty extends the hand, Daniels accepts and the shake nose to nose. A nice closing spot with Daniels and Marty to close the show – the chemistry here should bode well for their match.
Oh, Ring of Honor. Once again, you prove how much potential you have, how you have a chance to reform the roster in some exciting ways, how you are getting back to your roots in terms of in-ring style but also allowing for some 2018-2019 evolution… but they just don’t seem to have anyone thinking about big picture storytelling and how it all unfolds. When I write about “dramaturgy”, this is essentially what I’m talking about – they need a “dramaturg”, someone who can help plot out the domino-by-domino story strategy and help make sure that the audience experience is maintained with each choice that gets made. And right now, more than anything it seems like there simply isnt anyone specifically on that. I dont think its that they dont care – the investment in Gresham, Cobb, Page, King, Scurll and the burgeoning women’s division show that. So the only thing I’m left with is, its an oversight. And one that could be easily rectified. And if they do, ROH could really grab that next rung on the ladder. Because there was good work here. And while this episode was indeed largely functional, Final Battle is shaping up to be a pretty exciting card, especially with the likes of ZSJ on it. Overall, an average, work-person-like episode that did its job but further showed where ROH needs the most help.