Hey everyone! Drew Koscelek here, looking forward to a great episode of Ring of Honor Wrestling. Our main event for the show is AJ Styles squaring off against Jay Lethal. I haven’t seen the match yet, but I already know it’s going to be a classic. Let’s check it out, shall we?
We are in Philadelphia, PA this evening. Michael Elgin comes out to the ring. He was scheduled to face Matt Hardy, but due to weather, Hardy’s plane was cancelled. Elgin grabs the mic. He says there’s been two things he’s been looking forward to. One is becoming the Ring of Honor champion, and the other is sending Matt Hardy out of Philadelphia on a stretcher. He found out Hardy’s flight got cancelled. He says he thought for a long time he thought Matt Hardy was stupid, but now he realizes how smart he actually is because he stayed in North Carolina. He says it’s ok, because they’re celebrating 12 years of the greatest wrestling company, Ring of Honor. He says ROH brings in the virtually unknown, and turns them into stars. He says without opportunity he wouldn’t be standing there himself. He calls out Raymond Rowe, and says tonight he gets an opportunity to prove that he belongs, or that he doesn’t.
Michael Elgin vs. Raymond Rowe
Before the Bell: Rowe comes out to the ring. I thought he was more deserving of the Top Prospect, personally. Both men are about the same height. They follow the code of honor.
The Match: Rowe immediately rushes Elgin with a knee. He tries for a quick finish, but Elgin’s strength gets him up for a suplex. Rowe knees his way out. They both tease vertical suplexes. Despite more knees, Elgin hoists him up for at least 30 seconds, and nails the suplex.
After a break, they’re jockeying for position. Nice sequence running the ropes, but Rowe gets the better and hits a suplex. Elgin pops up immediately and hits his own. The big men trade clotheslines. Hard lariat and Rowe kicks out at one. Elgin hits a second one. Near fall. Belly to belly sends Elgin out of the ring. Rowe goes for the Ring of Honor spot, leaping out of the ring. He misses and crashes hard. Elgin sets Rowe up and powerbombs him into the barricade. Back in the ring, another one. Elgin pins Rowe for the win.
Winner: Michael Elgin
After the Bell: The streamers fly, and Elgin makes it to his feet. He extends a hand to Rowe, and Rowe takes it. They have a quality shake. Out of nowhere, Adam Cole heads into the ring and is about to knock Elgin out with the belt. Rowe actually stops him. Elgin sets Cole up for a powerbomb, but Michael Bennett runs in and low-blows Rowe (that rhymes). He low-blows Elgin too. Jay Briscoe runs in, takes out Cole, then Bennett. Cole runs off.
What Worked: Rowe lost, but he looked good in defeat. No shame losing to Elgin, who is one of the top guys in the company right now.
What Didn’t: A little too much no-selling from both men for my liking.
The Summary: Good opening match, not quite a squash. Rowe looked good. Nice set up for a tag match down the line.
Back from break, Jay Briscoe is in the ring with a mic. He asks Nigel McGuinness to make a title match where he defends his ROH World Championship against Bennett. McGuinness agrees and it’s on.
Jay Briscoe (c) vs. Michael Bennett for Briscoe’s version of the ROH Championship
Before the Bell: Well... not much happens. The bell rings and it’s on.
The Match: Plain and simple, this is a brawl. They’re fighting outside, and it’s a rough one. Briscoe lands a suplex onto the apron. Dangerous, but well done. Bennett starts to crawl backstage. Briscoe follows him. Bennett gets the upper hand and slams Briscoe into the barricades. He tries to suplex Briscoe onto the concrete. Briscoe reverses it and slams Bennett onto the ramp instead.
They’re back n the ring, and Maria is on commentary. She says she didn’t even have her shoes on and had no idea this was going to happen. She plays dumb. Back in the ring, and it’s back and forth. Bennett heels it up and says something to Maria, and Jay takes advantage. They trade punches back and forth, and Bennett nails a nice spinebuster for a two-count as we break.
Bennett nails a superkick, but Briscoe counters with an elbow. Briscoe goes up top and Bennett cuts him off. Bennett goes for a suplex up top, but Briscoe headbutts his way out. Jay goes up and hits a nice frogsplash for a near fall. Bennett hits a side effect for a near fall. Maria calls for Bennett to use his new submission, but Briscoe hits a falcon arrow for another near fall. Briscoe sets Bennett up for the Jay Driller, but Adam Cole comes back to the apron to distract Briscoe. Bennett sneaks in and hits a low-blow, rolls Briscoe up, but can’t get the pin. The ref argues with Maria and Cole, and Briscoe hits a low-blow of his own, nails the Jay Driller, and gets the pin.
Winner: Jay Briscoe
After the Bell: Maria screeches at ringside. Cole is pissed.
What Worked: An enjoyable match. Maria on commentary added a nice touch.
What Didn’t: The finish was a little strange. Usually a low-blow will take someone out, but apparently, Briscoe has balls of steel.
The Summary: Started out as a brawl and had good pacing into an actual match. Worth checking out.
Backstage, Jay Lethal cuts a promo about his match against AJ Styles. This match is up next!
Jay Lethal vs. AJ Styles
Before the Bell: Lethal comes out to the ring first, and gets quite the ovation. There’s even a “Black Machismo” chant. AJ Styles comes out next. He makes the rounds before entering the ring. Styles gets some serious streamers. Huge AJ Styles chant. There’s a handshake, they share some words, and it’s on.
The Match: Test of strength to start it out. Clean break. The fans are torn between both men and chant for both. Lethal locks on a solid headlock and won’t let go. Lethal moves to a wristlock, and when AJ rolls, he rolls too. They run the ropes, and AJ lands on the apron, only to eat a dropkick right in the face. Lethal teases a leap out of the ring, and AJ cuts him off, sending him out of the ring. AJ misses a moonsault and Lethal hits him with a dive. Nice sequence.
Back from a break. Lethal counters a hurricarana attempt, and locks in a very unique leg submission. He raises AJ up, but Lethal’s shoulders are on the mat and he gets a few two-counts. Impressive move. They tease suplexes on the apron. AJ manages to get Lethal up, and hits a suplex on the apron. Ouch! Back in the ring, suplex into the turnbuckles, and Styles gets a near fall. Styles plants his signature dropkick onto Lethal. He locks in a bridged submission hold, but Lethal grabs the rope. AJ did not break the hold immediately. Lethal sells the leg.
Both men trade chops. Lethal stares Styles down. They trade hits. Lethal is getting pissed. He lands the Lethal Combination. Near fall. Lethal sets AJ up for a superplex, but Styles slips through and yanks him off the rope. Springboard superman punch for a two-count. He teases a Styles Clash, and Lethal cuts him off. He tries to clothesline him over the top rope. Lethal is on top of things. The fans chant “This is awesome.” They’re right.
AJ gets some offense and tries for a Styles Clash again. Lethal fights out, gets onto the turnbuckle and hits a flying kick. Both men are down. They fight back and forth. Lethal heads up top for the Randy Savage Elbow Drop, and he lands it. Near fall, and AJ is struggling to get up. Lethal measures AJ up for the Lethal Injection. He goes for it, but AJ counters, then hits a powerbomb, then the Styles Clash for the hard-fought win.
Winner: AJ Styles
After the Bell: AJ celebrates, then walks over to Lethal. Lethal is out on his feet, but they shake hands.
What Worked: Everything. Everything about this match worked. The spots, the psychology, the pacing. Everything. This is one of those matches that has you entertained from beginning to end.
What Didn’t: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. This was awesome.
The Summary: A truly fantastic match between two of my favorite wrestlers. Easily one of the best matches I’ve seen in months. It had a great build, great pacing, and the spots all made sense. This is a must see. Must. See. Seek out this match. Watch it, and experience what great wrestling is and can be.
Overall, a really good episode of Ring of Honor. From the opening match to the close, we had some great wrestling, and some solid storyline advancements. Easily the best hour of wrestling on TV this week.
Next week, Adam Cole defends the Ring of Honor World Championship against Chris Hero. This should also be a fantastic match!
Thanks for joining me, and I’ll see you next week!