Over the years North Caroline has been known as “Flair Country” and “Hardy Country”. Tonight it will be known as “ROH Country” as Ring of Honor returns to promote one of its final cards before launching its new TV show. With a cage match main event and another American Wolves match it’s clear Ring of Honor are going all out to demonstrate that their “B shows” are just as worthy of attention as their bigger events.
Last night’s show threw up a few surprises: the Bravados scored a frankly bizarre upset when they beat the Briscoe brothers, Mike Bennett was defeated by both members of the All Night Express in singles matches (‘The Prodigy’s’ push seems to have been halted for some reason), and a promise from Davey Richards to defend the ROH title against either Michael Elgin or Roderick Strong.
But as for this evening...
Colt Cabana v Chris Hero w/Shane Hagadorn
How incensed do you think Hero would have been had Colt Cabana won the tag title last night? My guess: very. Cabana and Hero are two of Ring of Honor’s biggest stars so this match should be well received by the audience. I’m of the opinion that Hero is the company’s best all round star right now: he’s a believable performer, can work an enjoyable match with anyone, and possesses phenomenal verbal skills. I imagine he’ll be able to overcome Cabana’s predictable comedy routine and force the Chiacgo native to produce a compelling match.
The interesting thing about this match is the rumours of both men being headed for WWE. Hero had a tryout before RAW a few weeks ago alongside his Kings of Wrestling partner Claudio Castagnoli and there’s been talk of the team receiving contract offers ever since. Meanwhile Cabana has been linked to the CM Punk contract negotiation rumours: apparently Punk has requested Cabana be signed to a contract and attached to the RAW brand so that they can travel together. So this could be the last time we see Hero v Cabana in ROH. If it is I hope they give us a match worthy of them both (and that Hero wins).
Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team v The Bravado Brothers
I’m still shocked that the Bravado Bandwagon rolled over the Briscoes last night in Richmond. I was convinced they were going to lose to the Briscoes, so the question this evening is can they beat another established team and prove they’ve been right in demanding bigger opportunities? I would say no. They gained their upset for the weekend yesterday. I think they’ll look strong in defeat tonight.
As for why they won last night I’m assuming it’s due to Ring of Honor increasing the number of shows they produce next year: they’ll want to start building up some credible new acts now. The talk of the Kings of Wrestling heading to WWE could be a factor too. I’m pleased the Bravados appear to be on their way to getting more matches. They’re an entertaining duo and deserve an upper mid-card spot.
Mark Briscoe v Kenny King
Rhett Titus and Jay Briscoe will be handcuffed to posts at ringside
This match is so strongly linked with the one below that I’ll give my thoughts there.
Jay Briscoe v Rhett Titus
Kenny King and Mark Briscoe will be handcuffed to posts at ringside
These two matches are on the card to further the feud between the Briscoes and the All Night Express. I imagine the handcuffs will be used during whichever match goes on first but not during the second. Perhaps whichever Briscoe is handcuffed will manage to free themselves and attack the cuffed ANX member. Perhaps the interlude between matches will become so wild that Cornette comes out to make a tag team match instead of trying to contain people at ringside. As far as wins and losses go, assuming there are two matches I’ll go with each team getting one win each.
As much as I like ANX this feud needs a boost. The best way to do that would be to have a gimmick match of some sort between the two teams. A cage or double dog collar match would be a good fit as it would provide scope for a suitably wild encounter and give the men something different to get stuck into. Part of the trouble I have is that I’m just not that interested in the Briscoes in the ring. I’m fine watching Jay rant about Campbell’s Chunky for five minutes but their matches never captivate me. Perhaps these singles bouts and whatever happens next in the program will change all that, but I won’t hold my breath.
Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly v The American Wolves
It’s student versus teacher in the second Wolves match of the weekend as reigning ROH world champion Davey Richards finds himself across the ring from Kyle O’Reilly, a young man he’s been mentoring on-screen for around seven or eight months now. There’s already been talk of O’Reilly being the man to end Richards’ title reign. It’s far too early to be discussing that possibility seriously: O’Reilly has a long way to go before he’s ready to challenge for the company’s top prize, and for the foreseeable future he’ll be doing his climbing alongside Adam Cole.
Both young men have come a long way in the relatively short time they’ve been tagging together, and they’ve put in impressive showings against all the company’s top teams. In many ways this is the final test for the young men: the Wolves are no longer a regular combo in the ROH tag ranks, they’re more of a special attraction with both men concentrating more on singles accolades. At the same time they have an impressive pedigree: they’re former two time tag team champions and both have held (or currently hold) the ROH world championship. They’re an impressive unit, but an impressive unit that Cole and O’Reilly need to beat to prove they belong at the top of the doubles division.
I think it would make storyline sense to have Edwards miffed that Richards has promised to grant a member of the House of Truth a title match before he’s had his rematch and there being friction between the Wolves. But I’m always predicting friction between the Wolves and it never seems to happen. The story of this match will likely be student versus teacher more than the continued fallout of Edwards and Richards. As far as a winner goes I’ll predict O’Reilly and Cole: they have to get that elusive big win soon and this would be the ideal time.
Steel Cage match
Roderick Strong v El Generico
There have been problems between El Generico and the House of Truth ever since ‘The Generic Luchadore’ challenged Roderick Strong for the ROH world title back on January 28th at SoCal Showdown II. On that night Strong gained the tainted victory after hitting Generico with the belt. Generico has faced all three HOT members at various ROH shows since then, most notably defeating Christopher Daniels for the ROH television championship at Best in the World two weeks ago.
It’s led to this match: a steel cage surrounding the ring to ensure that Strong’s various House of Truth cohorts can’t get involved in proceedings. Traditionally ROH cage matches are brutal affairs and I’m sure this match will be no different. I’ll pick Strong to win as he’ll be headed for a world title match fairly soon and should be picking up a few wins beforehand to look like a threat.
Even though this show isn’t one of the more hyped events Ring of Honor has presented this year it still has some potentially excellent matches lined up. The first meeting of Kyle O’Reilly and Davey Richards is notable, as is the cage match main event. Remember that Elgin and Bennett have been announced for the show too. Who will they be facing? And could Steen show up (personally I think he’ll appear at the TV tapings next month, but he could appear in Charlotte).
All this just goes to show that all Ring of Honor shows are worth checking out, unlike the “B shows” of certain other companies I could mention.