by Pat McNeill, PWTorch Columnist
Wake the pets and call the neighbors. It’s time for our semi-monthly ROH pay-per-view preview column!
DISCLAIMER: Projections are made by myself and for myself with absolutely no assistance from Joe Koff, Greg Gilleland or The Man With The Lizard Face. Projections are not predictions, because this is the column where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. This preview has been sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnall’s porch since noon today. Some of our departing contestants will receive a year’s supply of La Choy brand beef chow mein. La Choy makes Chinese food swing American. Closed captioning for this column is provided by America Online. Remember, this is only an exhibition. This is not a competition. Please, please, no wagering. This lineup is based on the best available information as of this writing. These predictions are based on what the columnist would do if he had creative control over ROH, unless a better one-liner comes along.
Ring of Honor has changed over the past fifteen years. As a rule, the company does not put the prestigious ROH World Heavyweight Title on former WWE wrestlers. There are two exceptions.
1) In August 2005, Jamie Noble (James Gibson) won the ROH World Title in a four-way match. Noble had worked in New Japan for six months before arriving in Ring of Honor. He held the championship for a month, as a way to transition the strap from the departing C.M. Punk to Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson. After that, he was immediately hired back for a second run in WWE, where the former ROH champion feuded with Hornswoggle.
2) In 2009, Jerry Lynn won the ROH Title from Nigel McGuinness at Supercard of Honor IV. You may have forgotten that Lynn spent ten months in the WWF, where he briefly held the WWF Light Heavyweight Title. That’s understandable, since the McMahons forgot about Lynn while he was holding that title. Mister JL held the ROH championship for two months before losing it to Austin Aries.
But times change. Matt & Jeff Hardy held the ROH World Tag Team Titles earlier this year. The Artist Formerly Known as Bubba Ray Dudley is one-third of the ROH Six Man Tag Team Champions. And Cody is a member of the Bullet Club Elite who performed at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom XI earlier this year. The question isn’t if Cody will become Ring Of Honor World Champion, but when?
Before we look at tonight’s show, let’s roll right into this month’s Wrestling History Lesson. Twenty years ago, on May 12, 1997, World Championship Wrestling aired WCW Monday Nitro live from Baltimore, Maryland. On that show, WCW Television Champion Ultimo Dragon took on Juventud Guerrera. That segment also had a promo from someone we all know and love. Tony Schiavone, Bobby Heenan & Larry Zbyszko had the call.
And, as your free gift for viewing this column, let’s take you back to May 11, 2007 for Ring of Honor’s “Reborn Again” event from Hartford, Connecticut. We had tag team action, with Kevin Steen & El Generico teaming up against Eddie Edwards & Jason Blade. Yes, this actually happened. Lenny Leonard & Dave Prazak had the call. Enjoy.
More recently, here’s what the Women of Honor have been up to. On April 8th, at the “ROH Charm City Excellence” event, it was Faye Jackson vs. Mandy Leon vs. Deonna Purrazzo vs. Jenny Rose in a four corner survival match. Former PWTorch Livecast guests Ian Riccaboni & “Brutal” Bob Evans have the call.
I have no idea who will be in the dark match, but I hope Kelly Klein is involved.
On with the projections!
Bobby Fish vs. Dalton Castle vs. Kushida vs. Silas Young: Hooray, another Four Corner Survival match! Projection? If I had to guess (and I do), I say Castle gets the drop on Silas and wins with the Bangarang.
Frankie Kazarian vs. “Hangman” Adam Page: Frankie Kazarian double crossed the Bullet Club to help Christopher Daniels capture the ROH World Title, and the Hangman has been after him ever since, costing Kaz the ROH Television Title. This should settle the issue. Projection? Kazarian survives all sorts of skullduggery, and the Heavy Metal Rebel wins with the Ace of Spades.
War Machine vs. Los Ingobernables (“EVIL” Takaaki Watanabe & Seiya Sanada) vs. Search & Destroy (Jonathan Gresham & Chris Sabin) – Non Title: Rowe & Hanson are your IWGP World Tag Team Champions, and that works well for the current New Japan product. It’s great to see Jonathan Gresham in the number two promotion. Projection? The champs hit Fallout and Rowe pins Gresham. Gotta protect the New Japan guys here.
Will Ospreay vs. Jay White: The battle between Ospreay and White is one of those added touches that make this show feel like a supercard. Both wrestlers are very busy elsewhere, so seeing them in New York City is a treat. Projection? This could go either way, but I say Ospreay wins with the 630 senton.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Adam Cole Bay Bay: One of wrestling’s big stories over the past year is how ROH’s culture is seeping into World Wrestling Entertainment, with Adam Pearce, Sara Del Rey, Steve Corino, Jimmy Jacobs, Nigel McGuinness & Barrister R.D. Evans all working backstage for Titan. It bodes well for Cole when he finally arrives in WWE. Projection? Tanahashi gets Cole to tap to the Texas Cloverleaf in a match that probably won’t get as much as time as it should.
Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe & Bully Ray Briscoe vs. Hirooki Goto & Trent Baretta & Rocky Romero (ROH Six Man Tag Team Titles): Yes, Bully Ray has been a good fit for ROH, playing the older stepbrother of the iconic Briscoe Brothers as they become the Von Erichs of the Ring of Honor six-man scene. Their opponents tonight are the perfect foils for some homespun violence Projection? Mark Briscoe pins Baretta after the champs hit the Doomsday Device.
Marty Scurll vs. Matt Sydal (ROH Television Title): The New School Leader is living proof of how hard it is to be a hated heel in 2017. Even the umbrella is starting to backfire as a heel trope. Jack Gallagher is using the same prop on WWE television to turn himself into a mustachioed Mary Poppins. Projection Scurll blocks a Sydal splash with his knees and wins with the crossface chickenwing. Sydal continues his run over on Impact Wrestling.
The Young Bucks vs. Tetsuya Naito & Tetsuya Bushi (ROH World Tag Team Titles): Okay, is there anyone reading who thinks the LIJ are going to leave New York with the ROH World Tag Team Titles? Anyone at all? No? Projection? Superkick party. Bucks win. Bucks win.
Christopher Daniels vs. Cody Runnels vs. Jay Lethal (ROH World Title): Sure, Daniels can keep the championship here and lose to Commander Cody in Massachusetts, but doesn’t that seem a little anticlimactic? Projection? Page distracts the referee, Cody clocks Daniels with the title belt, and the Dashing Era begins in Ring of Honor.
Aftermath: Ring of Honor has its TV taping Sunday in Philadelphia, where Cody successfully defends his crown against Frankie Kazarian. Daniels gets his rematch June 23rd at “Best In The World 2017”. See you there!
Pat McNeill of Greenville, South Carolina has been a Torch columnist since February 2001. He’d take the Washington Wizards to beat the Boston Celtics in tonight’s big pro basketball game. You know, if gambling were legal.