SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
ROH 16TH ANNIVERSARY PPV PRIMER
MARCH 9, 2018
AIRS ON PPV
PREVIEW BY HARLEY PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
It’s the first pay-per-view of the year, the second event available through Honor Club, and Ring Of Honor’s sweet sixteen. On Feb. 23, 2002 the era of honor began in Philadelphia with an event that saw Jay Briscoe (with Mark in his corner) losing in singles competition to The Amazing Red and Low Ki defeating Bryan Danielson and Christopher Daniels in a three-way dance in the main event. Sixteen years later, The Briscoes stand poised to begin a record-setting ninth ROH Tag Team Championship reign. Meanwhile, if SoCal Uncensored can capture the ROH Six-man Titles, Daniels will become the first grand slam champion in ROH history.
A1. Sumie Sakai vs. Hana Kimura (Women Of Honor Championship tournament, pre-show)
It was at Final Battle in December when the announcement was made that the women’s division would finally be getting their own championship. Many of us wanted to be optimistic that this meant a new dawn for women in ROH and things did start off promisingly. The first two tournament matches aired in their entirety as part of weekly TV and included promos from both competitors before each match. Since then it’s been back to square one. The next two matches in the first round were crammed into one TV segment with less than a minute of total in-ring action shown. Despite the best efforts of the wrestlers ROH continues to segregate them to YouTube or, as is the case tonight, the Facebook pre-show.
This is the final first-round tournament match to take place, though three other eighth-final matches have yet to air in any capacity. Sumie Sakai is a 21-year veteran of both pro wrestling and MMA and won the very first women’s match ever in ROH back in June 2002. In fact, Sakai was winning championships before Hana Kimura was even born. At the age of 20 Kimura’s been wrestling for almost two years, primarily for Japan’s Stardom promotion.
Prediction: The story of Sakai winning the first women’s match in ROH history is too good to cast aside so soon. Sakai wins with a top rope splash and continues to build her presence as the veteran talent in the WOH division.
A2. Tenille Dashwood vs. Brandi Rhodes (Women Of Honor Championship tournament, pre-show)
Spoiler alert, apparently, as Tenille Dashwood’s first-round match against Stacy Shadows hasn’t aired on television yet. Not that her winning there is actually a surprise. The former Emma of WWE arrived in WOH with a lot of fanfare at Honor Reigns Supreme last month and was instantly positioned as one of the top names in the division and a favorite to win the whole tournament, rightfully so. Rhodes has her own WWE background, though she never wrestled there, instead working primarily under the name Eden Stiles as the Smackdown ring announcer. Rhodes picked up a surprise victory over Karen Q in the first round but her Cinderella story ends here.
Prediction: Dashwood with the pin following The Spotlight. She seems destined to make it to the finals just as she did in the tournament to crown the first NXT Women’s Champion. Whether she can succeed here where she failed there remains to be seen.
Last year’s 15th Anniversary show featured eight matches on the main card and our television champion is notably absent from tonight’s advertised lineup so let’s add another two matches.
1. Coast 2 Coast vs. The Dawgs
These teams have been butting heads on television lately. C2C are on a roll after picking up a huge win over War Machine in the latter’s final ROH match. The Dawgs are jealous that everyone’s fawning over LSG and Shaheem Ali instead of them.
Prediction: Coast 2 Coast clear “The Big Dawg” Rhett Titus from the ring and hit a coast to coast on Little Willy.
2. Kenny King vs. Silas Young (ROH World Television Championship)
Young captured the TV title in a four corner survival match at Final Battle with an assist from Beer City Bruiser clocking King in the head with a beer bottle. When King finally got a rematch for the title two weeks ago on TV ROH enforcer Bully Ray sent Bruiser and Brian Milonas to the back. That leveled the playing field enough for King to win back his gold. Adding this match to the card unannounced feels insulting to the championship and both men but to not have the TV title defended on the first pay-per-view of the year in the champion’s hometown would be even stranger.
Prediction: Bruiser and Milonas accompany Young to ringside and get away with a trick or two before Chuckie T and Cheeseburger come out to even up the odds. King eventually hits the Royal Flush on Young for the win, ending their feud.
3. Marty Scurll vs. Punishment Martinez (winner gets a future ROH World Championship match)
Ever since Castle won the world title challengers have been coming after him left and right. Scurll and Martinez are two of those. Martinez won the 2017 Survival Of The Fittest tournament, earning him a title shot last month on TV from which Castle narrowly escaped with the victory. Scurll’s been vocal about not having received even one world title opportunity since arriving in ROH. These two were forced to team together on last week’s TV against Castle and Lethal and that encounter ended with Scurll accidentally blasting Martinez in the face with two handfuls of flour.
Prediction: Martinez has a great look and is decent in the ring but last week’s tag match showed that he’s still just not quite at the same level as your Castles and Lethals yet. He’d be better off tangling with King for the TV title. Scurll, on the other hand, has been on fire lately and might be the most popular singles act in ROH at the moment. The ovations seem to grow louder every week and this PPV’s main event shows that ROH management aren’t afraid to put Castle in the ring against someone equally as popular as he. Scurll wins with a schoolboy and a hook of the tights.
4. Flip Gordon vs. Hiromu Takahashi
While Gordon hasn’t won any ROH matches on American soil this year, he always comes out looking great in defeat and has been slowly building himself up as a result. Two weeks ago he made his Japanese debut at the ROH/NJPW co-venture Honor Rising. The first night he competed against Hiromu Takahashi and Kushida in a triple threat, pinning Takahashi off of a 450 splash. The next night Takahashi and Bushi picked up a pinfall victory over Gordon and Ryusuke Taguchi in tag action so this one is a rubber match of sorts.
Prediction: Takahashi is expected to have his stuffed cat Daryl in his corner so expect some fun and games there. I’m going to go with Daryl pouncing to the top rope only to take a Kinder Surprise from Gordon. Takahashi is so devastated that he walks into the Star-Spangled Stunner and the ROH guy picks up the victory on his home turf.
5. Cody vs. Matt Taven
This is billed as a grudge match following months of groin kick after groin kick from both men. Really, if they don’t both come out wearing a cup here it’s their own fault at this point. It all began on the January 19 TV when Cody made his first appearance since losing the world title at Final Battle. He cut a babyface promo putting over Castle as the better man, only to be interrupted by Taven. Taven’s been raving about “The Kingdom conspiracy” for ages and ROH’s supposed attempts to keep his faction down. When they met in singles action two weeks later Cody was outnumbered by The Kingdom (due to an absence of Bullet Club members amid the dissension that resulted from his attack on Kenny Omega in Sapporo). Not only did Cody take another shot “right in the ding-dings” but Taven walked off with his ring of honor on his finger as well.
Prediction: Bully Ray’s big role as enforcer lately has been mostly about removing extra bodies from ringside during singles matches so I suspect this is where he makes his appearance for the night (short of an opening night promo promising us all thrilla, no filla). Ray boots TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia to the back. Taven tries to capitalize in the moment with a loaded ring of honor punch but Cody avoids it and nails CrossRhodes.
6. The Hung Bucks vs. SoCal Uncensored (street fight for the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship)
At 201 days Hangman Page and The Young Bucks are the longest-reigning champions in ROH at the moment. Bullet Club gradually turned babyface throughout 2017 in large part due to the massive popularity of Being The Elite. The Hung Bucks seemed to cement their new status when they were attacked by The Addiction and Scorpio Sky turned heel at Final Battle. The new trio of Daniels, Kaz, and Sky rebranded themselves as SoCal Uncensored and they’ve been jumping the Bullet Club members every chance they’ve had since then. SoCal appeared to win the six-man titles three weeks ago on TV after Sky clocked Matt Jackson with a title belt behind the referee’s back but Bully Ray restarted the match and the champions retained in part two. These teams, with the addition of Marty Scurll and Shane Taylor, were supposed to meet in an ultimate mayhem match last weekend at Manhattan Mayhem but a snowstorm prevented SoCal from making the show so it all comes to a head here in a Las Vegas street fight.
Prediction: Shane Taylor is the wildcard. The gun for hire has been accepting a lot of paychecks from Daniels lately and the street fight stipulation means that Bully Ray has no grounds to ban anyone from ringside or restart the match following an instance of cheating. If the Jacksons are reading this I’d suggest paying Taylor enough money to ensure he stays in the back but I think it’s more likely Taylor comes to Daniels’ aid again. Page and the Bucks no longer being held together by being co-champions increases the number of potential outcomes in the Bullet Club civil war. So Matt goes through a table, Taylor takes out Page, and Nick falls prey to a triple-team. We have new six-man champions and Christopher Daniels is your first ROH Grand Slam Champion.
7. Motor City Machine Guns vs. The Briscoes (ROH World Tag Team Championship)
The Briscoes are the best heel tag team on the planet. They have clear direction, focus, authenticity, and they haven’t lost a tag match in nine months. Just one year ago they were one of the most beloved teams in ROH. Since then they have completely transformed themselves into vile, menacing assholes who tear into the fans, stalk their opponents, and ruin dream match-ups. It all started last fall when Jay blamed Bully Ray for costing them the six-man titles. A month later Mark was lured over to the dark side. They trashed the 3D Academy. They beat the hell out of Tommy Dreamer. They ended Bully Ray’s wrestling career at Final Battle. They zip-tied Alex Shelley to the ropes and made him watch as Jay gave Chris Sabin a Jay Driller on a steel chair that took him out of action for weeks. Then a week later they double-teamed Shelley and gave him a Jay Driller while flipping off the fans. And the entire time they’ve had the nerve to say that it’s nothing personal, the Machine Guns are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Prediction: Sabin takes another Jay Driller to his already-injured neck and The Briscoes become 9-time ROH world tag team champions. (This passes the Dudley Boyz’ 8 ECW tag title reigns and ties their 9 WWE tag title reigns.)
8. Dalton Castle vs. Jay Lethal (ROH World Championship)
On the first TV episode of 2018 new ROH world champion Dalton Castle opened the show only to be greeted by Jay Lethal. Lethal put it simply. If there was a line forming to challenge for the title, he wanted to be at the top of that list. Castle appreciated the challenge and was happy to accept. The last time these two met one-on-one was three years ago, March 2015, when Lethal successfully defended the Television Championship against Castle on TV. That was only Castle’s fourth match in ROH. Now Castle is your defending world champion and Jay Lethal has become the face of the company. This is being positioned as two of the top names competing for the top title but unfortunately the build never really went any deeper than that. Both men respect each other and there are no personal issues. It’s sure to be a great match and they’re certain to want to steal the show but this is clearly more about building Castle’s résumé than anything.
Prediction: Castle with the bang-a-rang. Lethal has become ROH’s John Cena. Even if he’s not holding a title, he’s always near the top of the card and treated like a big deal. Clean losses for him are rare so this night is about putting over Castle in a big way in his first pay-per-view defense. Where Lethal goes from here is where things get interesting.
Up next it’s Supercard Of Honor XII on April 7 in New Orleans featuring the showdown between Cody and Kenny Omega. The Women Of Honor Championship tournament semi-finals will also take place on that show and that should end up being Kelly Klein vs. Deonna Purrazzo and Sumie Sakai vs. Tenille Dashwood. Let’s also go with Dalton Castle defending the world title against Marty Scurll, Hangman Page vs. Kota Ibushi, and the Young Bucks vs. the Briscoes for the tag titles.
Find Harley on Twitter @talkinghonor and PWTorch VIP members can listen to Lola Bradbury and Harley discuss the 16th Anniversary PPV in its entirety this Sunday on a special edition of our PWTorch VIP podcast, “Talking Honor.”