Ring of Honor returns for its second episode on Destination America with a Tag team Title match as the scheduled main event, Dalton Castle vs Jushin "Thunder" Liger, and the Bullet Club continuing their feud with the Kingdom. Last week was something of an underwhelming premiere so here's hoping this week is an improvement.
Before we dive into our opening contest however, some fun facts you may or may not know about reDRagon's dominating the tag scene in ROH for the last 2+ years.
-On March 2nd, 2013 Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly became the ROH tag team champions for the first time by defeating the Briscoe Brothers.
-They lost these titles 147 days later to the Forever Hooligans. They would regain the gold just 14 days later by defeating the American Wolves.
-Their Second Reign lasted 203 days until reDRagon were defeated by the Young Bucks on March 8th 2014. This match was voted by fans as the best ROH match of 2014
-The Bucks lost the titles in their first defense back to reDRagon on May 17th of 2014
-reDRagon's third reign lasted an astounding 322 days.
-All together, These three reigns add up to 633 days with a combined 28 defenses, second all time to the Briscoes in all categories (8 reigns, 807 days, 36 defenses).
-Between March 8th 2013 and April 4th 2015 no team successfully defended ROH tag gold except for reDRagon. Fish and O'Reilly were champions for all but 84 days in that same time period.
-Then the Addiction beat them with the help of a returning Chris Sabin, leaving O'Reilly a bloody mess
With that history lesson concluded, let's get to it!
-The show opens with a pretaped message from The Addiction telling reDRagon to be careful what they wish for. They got a rematch, "but when you pray for the rain, you have to deal with the mud". Daniels asks reDRagon "you saw what we'd do to win these titles--what do you think we'll do to keep them.
-We go "live" to the arena where Kevin Kelly informs us that Bobby Fish has been attacked outside the Arena. The Addiction hits the Ring and they have breaking news, Bobby Fish hasn't been medically cleared to compete tonight (Kelly vehemently believes the Addiction had something to do with that). The Addiction is signed to defend their title against O'Reilly and Fish, not O'Reilly and a suitable replacement--So reDRagon can come out and fight right now, or they can forfeit and go to the back of the line and wrestle teams like the Mulkeys and the Conquistadors until they're contenders again. O'Reilly has heard enough, and we go straight to...
ROH Tag Team Titles: The Addiction vs Kyle O'Reilly
-O'Reilly takes Kazarian down with a leg sweep then pulls Daniels shirt over his head and punches him in the corner for the cheap Canadian hockey pop. O'Reilly ducks a clothesline and Kazarian wipes out Daniels. O'Reilly manages to get Kazarian in the Cross-Arm Breaker for a moment but Daniels breaks it up. The champs take control with a Total Elimination and Daniels takes his place on the apron. Gutwrench suplex by Kazarian, who then asks O'Reilly why he's not making the tag. Tag to Daniels and Kyle gets worked over in the heel corner. O'Reilly manages to dump Daniels and get two with an O'Conner roll on Kazarian, but he's shoved into a right hand from Daniels on kickout. O'Reilly ducks a clothesline from Kazarian and hits Daniels with a baseball slide. Both members of the Addiction take hard bumps into the barricade and O'Reilly is in control. Kyle throws some kicks and sits Daniels on a chair. Drop toe hold puts Kaz in Daniels lap, and O'Reilly takes them both out with a sprinting missile dropkick off the apron. Kaz is thrown in and he gets hooked up for rolling butterfly suplexes into the Cross-Arm Breaker. The Fallen Angle has seen enough, and he drills O'Reilly with a title belt for the intentional DQ loss and some massive heat from the audience. The Addiction knocks out the referee and hits Celebrity Rehab on the belt after the match before ACH and Matt Sydal (Better known to most as Evan Bourne) make the save.
-Rating: **1/4 Definitely more about the angle than the match, but O'Reilly looked really good and the crowd was eating up everything he did. This pretty firmly establishes The Addiction as reDRagon's opposite--cowardly, undeserving champions. They had to get DQ'd to save their titles in a handicap match! Bonus points to Corino for stressing that attacking the Ref cost Daniels some money. I like the attention to detail with guys getting fines when they trigger ref bumps.
-Recap video of Donovan Dijak taking out Mark Briscoe last week leads to a promo from Mark, who is clearly off his meds. (Do rednecks believe in meds, or are they only for city slickers like gays and education?) Mark is 30 years old and been wrestling for 15 years. He's the Susix county chicken, and at Best in The World, he's gonna whoop That Ostrich's ass. I guess Dijack is an Ostrich because...he's tall? Fuck it; coming soon to Destination America, Briscoe Brothers: Bird Dynasty
"The Party Peacock" Dalton Castle vs Jushin "Thunder" Liger
-Speaking of Birds and things the Briscoes don't like, Dalton Castle is here! Complete with Queen knockoff entrance music and masked half naked man servants, he's ridiculously over for a guy who's had so few matches in ROH you can count them on one hand. Liger is out next and receives a heroes welcome. We have dueling chants before the bell and a feeling out process after it. Fans think this is awesome, making this the hypest collar and elbow tie up in history. Liger gets the advantage and stretches out Castle with a bow and arrow. Liger gives him to much space on release and Castle is able to throw him to the floor. Liger ducks out of the way from an incoming suicide dive so Castle hits the breaks and poses centre of the ring instead. Liger comes back and Castle escapes a palm strike by jumping out to the apron. Liger chops Castle down to the floor before missing a baseball slide. on the floor, Liger Irish whips Castle at the apron but he leaps up and does a 619 under the bottom rope INTO A HURRICANRANA. Insane. Castle soaks in the applause as we fade to...
-Back with Castle getting back body dropped to the outside. This time Liger scores with the Baseball slide and follows up with a running senton off the apron. Liger calls Dalton's boys into the ring. They pose together, much to the crowd's delight and Dalton's chagrin. Crowd boos Dalton scolding his boys. This whole exchange is just another example of how well Liger has settled into being a comedy wrestler, this was great. Shoving match ends in a mildly botched dead lift German that turned into more of a slam. This was REALLY well covered up by Kelly bringing up Castles "Grecco Roman background". Three splashes get two for Castle. Vaderbomb gets another two for count for Castle. A corner charge from Castle gets boots and both guys are down following a double clothesline. Liger is up first and he nails the Palm strike then perches Castle on the top rope for a super hurricanranna that gets two. A splash from the top gets knees and Castle tries for the deadlift German. Liger elbows out but gets caught with a great spinning flapjack. Castle has a lot of cool movez that don't really on dangerous head drops. A+. They trade reversals until Liger gets the Liger bomb for a very, VERY near fall. Liger signals for the Brainbuster and hits it to pick up his first (and only) win on the ROH/New Japan tour. Both wrestlers (and Castle's boys) celebrate together after the match.
-Rating ***1/2 Castle is the most intriguing new comer in ROH by far, and losing here doesn't hurt him at all. Liger definitely looks his age out there, but he and Castle played up their charismatic strengths to deliver a really, really fun wrestling match.
-Backstage we have a scene where Liger practices the Palm strike with Cheeseburger, whom he taught the move to at last years NJPW/ROH crossover. Liger allegedly called Cheeseburger his favorite North American wrestler, with the two having some kind of friendship. I don't get it either.
-We get a recap of Brutal Burgers breaking up. An angle so memorable I'd forgotten that the team ever existed, let alone was now feuding.
BRUTAL BURGERS EXPLODE: Cheeseburger VS "Brutal" Bob Evans
-Well, he's certainly Brutal to look at. This match is just like when Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage faced off at Wrestlemania V--except instead of Hogan and Savage, it's the Brooklyn Brawler and 123-Kid. Cheeseburger, for those unaware, got his awe-inspiring ring name from a throwaway comment in a promo Charlie Hass cut a few years ago. He's also about a 100 pounds. Which is actually about 400 cheeseburgers. Cheeseburger controls the early match with his speed and dropkicks Evans to the floor. Cheeseburger dives to the floor with a thesz press. Evans misses a shoulder tackle and slams into the barricade. Cheeseburger hits a senton off the barricade. Evans is palm-strike'd back into the ring, but he gets right up and shoulder tackles right through Cheeseburger and apparently THAT'S HIS FINISH because he has to pick up Cheeseburger's shoulders at two. Incredible, absolutely incredible. Bob beats on Cheeseburger until he counters into a tornado hotshot. Springboard knee puts Evans on the apron. Cheesburger charges into a side walk slam THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPER'S TABLE. Crowd chants holy shit, and yeah, actually--WHAT THE SHIT? Match is waved off because Cheesburger has been killed. That may legitimately be the most shocking table spot I've ever seen. Crowd chants "Rest in Peace" as we fade to commercial
-Rating ** I mean, the table spot was cool so this gets a bump but why in the blue hell did any of this happen? I still can't make sense of it. I didn't even know these two were still employed! Crowd was somewhat into Cheesburger but why does Brutal Bob have a job. His finisher is a SHOULDER TACKLE. The only conceivable justification for his continued employment is so that the statement "BJ Whitmer is the most worthless wrestler in ROH" is categorically false.
-Lethal and Truth Martini hypes next weeks contract signing. "Next week, you sign your own death certificate Jay Briscoe"
-Inside ROH recaps the Jay Briscoe/Jay Lethal feud
-Now Briscoe hypes next weeks contract signing daring Lethal to try something stupid
-It's announced that due to the Addiction's reprehensible behavior, reDRagon will get a rematch at Best in the World, and it will be a no DQ match. Awesome.
Main Event: Bullet Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson) VS The Internet Darlings (Mike Bennett and Matt Taven) W/Maria Kanellis
-Bennett and Taven are representing Adam Cole's faction "The Kingdom", who have been feuding with the Bullet Club for the last few months in both ROH and New Japan. The Internet Darlings (named such to poke at their "WWE style" and smark distaste for them) recently beat Anderson and Gallows in Japan to win the IWGP Heavyweight tag team championships. This match is non-title. The bell rings and Anderson immediately goes after Maria. Bennett gives chase and the three of them are doing a lap around the ring while Gallows tosses Taven around. Gallows misses a boot and gets dumped by Taven. Taven takes out both Bullet Club members with a plancha.Bennett pulls a page out of Liger's book that we saw earlier and hits a running senton on Anderson. Taven climbs up top and Bennett sets up for them to preform a spike piledriver on the outside. Taven's dive is cut off with a Gun-Stun (cutter) by Anderson! The arms race for new ways to counter dives into cutters continues! Bennett gets dropped on the apron by Gallows and the Bullet Club is in control as we fade to...
-Back with Bennett getting double teamed in the ring. Taven is still unconscious on the floor. No one is even pretending they care about tags and the beating continues with Gallows and Anderson taking turns unloading their best strikes. A back-suplex/inverted cutter combo puts Bennett down but Taven comes leaping in from off screen with a frog splash on Anderson! Gallows is disaster kicked to the floor and now it's the Kingdom's turn to have the number advantage. Still no tags. Taven hits a superkick into a spear by Bennett and they call for the spike piledriver. Taven aborts and moonsaults out to Gallows on the floor instead. It was (slightly) less obvious on TV, but Gallows missed the catch completely and it's a miracle Taven doesn't have a concussion from face planting. Anderson and Bennett brawl while the ref tries to establish some kind of order. Anderson shoves him when he tries to get them out of the corner. Bennett takes control and now he shoves the ref. our courageous ref tries one more time to scold the wrestlers and this time they both shove him. With no more choice he calls for the bell and the match is thrown out. The bell doesn't stop anything and Gallows comes in and set up a pair of chairs. They set Bennett up to drive him through the chairs but Maria begs them not to...so they set Maria up for it instead. Bennett saves his wife but eats a Gun-Stun for his trouble. Taven's crossbody is caught by Gallows and he and Anderson give him a Mattitude adjutment by drilling him through the chairs. The Bullet Club celebrates their moral victory as the show goes off the air
-Rating ***1/2 There were no pin attempts and no tags so this wasn't really a match so much as a brawl, but it was a really good brawl. This was the opposite of guys being in a blood feud and starting off with chain wrestling. This brings any American fans who didn't know up to speed on the personal issue between the Bullet Club and the Kingdom, and builds nicely for the 6-man tag at Best in The World.
-Final Verdict: This was definitely an angle heavy show for ROH, which can be trouble, after all, on a show with four matches there were three fuck finishes. Nine times out of ten that's a thumbs down show but this really was the exception. Every match was entertaining (even if only in WTF factor for the third) and all the stories heading into Best in the World are building in a way that makes the PPV a more highly anticipated event. ROH still hasn't had a homerun episode on Destination America, but this is an improvement over last week because of Liger vs Castle alone.
-See you all next Week for ACH and Matt Sydal vs Hiroshi Tanahashi and "Stardust Genius" Tetsuya Naito.