The ROHbot Report: Atlanta Preview, Manhattan Mayhem VI, Texas Return, and More
By James Guttman Jan 15, 2017 - 9:52 AM
Welcome to another edition of The ROHbot Report – the only article you need for all the Ring of Honor news you have to know. ROH is gearing up for the company’s first event of 2017 that’ll be taped for the world to witness. Lets find out what will go down in Atlanta!
“Saturday Night at Center Stage” TV Taping Preview; January 14th, 2017; Atlanta, GA
The Bullet Club (ROH World champion Adam Cole & Cody) vs. Bobby Fish & Jay Lethal “Final Battle” was a turning point in the careers of Jay Lethal, Adam Cole and Cody. The latter’s came at the expense of the former ROH World champion in Lethal as Cody disregarded honor to win his ROH debut match – further proving to Lethal that wolves exist in sheep’s clothing even in a company like Ring of Honor. Later in the show, Kyle O’Reilly battled the reigning ROH World titleholder Adam Cole in a bout where the only rules consisted of how to win via a pin fall or submission. The bloody battle felt fitting to close out an event of the magnitude of “Final Battle” as O’Reilly choked out Cole to brutally become the new ROH World champion. But sandwiching that night were two highly important moments. In November, Bobby Fish won the 2016 Survival of the Fittest tournament to earn a future ROH World Championship shot. Since “FB”, “The Son of a Son” in Cody made his decision to join the ranks of The Bullet Club alongside Adam Cole – making it all the more fitting that Cody would team alongside the man who made life terrible for Jay Lethal in 2015. Cole not only shaved Lethal’s head, he also ended the World title reign of “Wrestling’s Greatest 1st Generation Star”. To top it off, Cole and O’Reilly did battle yet again for the ROH World Championship that resulted in a shocking title change that allowed Adam Cole to become the first three-time ROH World champion. O’Reilly was pulled from the taping, being replaced by Fish – which could be looked at as both a contractual dispute and a reinforcement that the damage Cole has done to O’Reilly being more than he’s been letting on. This match has all the makings of being a phenomenal match not only because of the talent involved, but also the emotions that will be running wild from bell to bell.
ROH World Television Championship: Marty Scurll defends against Juice Robinson After shocking the ROH world by becoming the new ROH World Television champion during ROH’s return to the UK for a three-night tour, Marty Scurll ended 2016 in the most successful of manners by retaining his gold against the man he bested for the title in Will Ospreay and CMLL star Dragon Lee during “Final Battle 2016”. Coming into 2017, Scurll will be tested by a man who has grown leaps & bounds after leaving the bright lights of NXT and signing with New Japan late in 2015, going by the moniker of “Juice Robinson”. No longer a comedy figure, Robinson has impressed in New Japan time and time again including his time teaming with Hiroshi Tanahashi; earning this opportunity while only participating one time in ROH in a non-televised role thanks to the strength of his performances in New Japan alone. The stability of the ROH TV title is definitely in question thanks to the changing of the guard so many times in 2016 and the potential of Robinson actually ending the reign of Scurll before it can really get started. There’s a great chance a lot of people will be praising this bout to the utmost even though they won’t think twice about it before the show begins.
Decade of Excellence Tournament Semifinal match: Jay Lethal vs. Jay Briscoe Unlike the Top Prospect Tournament or Survival of the Fittest, this “Decade of Excellence Tournament” – which started at the Dec. 4th TV taping and will conclude here – celebrates ROH’s past that is currently a part of its present with the winner earning a shot at the World champion at ROH’s “15th Anniversary” pay-per-view in March; and there are few more appropriate competitors to be involved in this tournament than two men who have been at the pinnacle of excellence for the past four years in Jay Briscoe and Jay Lethal. Since 2014, both men have been synonymous with the ROH singles championships to the point that when they did battle at “Best in the World ‘15” it was heralded as one of the biggest matches in ROH history as the then-ROH World champion Jay Briscoe fell to then-ROH World Television champion Jay Lethal to end his three-year unbeaten streak and allow Lethal to become the first man to simultaneously hold both titles. Their rematch a year later solidified Lethal as the better man, but the champion would soon lose his title and end up in the same position as his rival as both men tried everything in their power to earn another championship opportunity. For only the third time in nearly three years these two stalwarts of Honor will be a part of a singles bout as Briscoe – who overcame BJ Whitmer in the opening round – and Lethal – who bested the legendary Jushin Liger – will fight for the right to battle not only Christopher Daniels in the finale on the same night, but also be a part of the biggest “Anniversary” event yet.
Bull James vs. Silas Young Silas Young and his buddy Beer City Bruiser don’t really get along with people because, in their opinions, can only associate with “real men” like themselves. With the institution of a Six-Man Tag Team Championship, the pair decided to start a search for a third “real man” to create a potential championship worthy trio. To the shock of many in Philadelphia during ROH’s most recent TV taping, Bull James (former NXT star Bull Dempsey) was chosen to be the lucky candidate. But something changed in the minds of Young & Bruiser when James entered the ring because they opted to attack him. The man who was last seen taking Adam Cole to the limit is now out for revenge as James will make his ROH TV in-ring debut against someone who has been associated with ROH longer than James was with NXT. “The Last Real Man” will want to start off this year in grand fashion and it could come at the expense of Bull if he allows vengeance to cloud his judgment, or it could fuel him like never before to begin a new chapter in the career of the “Bull-Fit” master.
War Machine vs. Damian Martinez & BJ Whitmer Though they haven’t been on ROH TV, live events, or pay-per-views as of late, the former ROH World Tag Team champions War Machine haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. New Japan Pro Wrestling invited Ray Rowe & Hanson to participate in the company’s annual World Tag League. Though not successful in winning the entire tournament, War Machine impressed as they picked up four impressive wins and almost advanced into the finals. But before they went to Japan, War Machine had a short run-in with Kevin Sullivan’s protégés and pair of men unbelievably dangerous, BJ Whitmer in “Punishment” Damian Martinez. Their first clash ended in a no contest and witnessed the former champions be obliterated by weapons and Rowe feeling his body get choke slammed through two tables. During the chaos, Whitmer struck the referee and was suspended for thirty days – allowing him and Martinez to plot their next move. War Machine is not the type of team to take what happened to them lightly and will be looking for revenge come Atlanta. But spending weeks in tournament competition will leave anyone weary, even two behemoth-like men such as Rowe & Hanson. This could be a crowning moment for Martinez & Whitmer if they can overcome the former champions, or a perfect way for War Machine to reassert them in the World Tag Team title rankings.
The Boys vs. Colt Cabana While it appears the problems between Colt Cabana and Dalton Castle are settled after “The Peacock” bested the self-proclaimed “wrestling god” in Colt. But The Boys haven’t gained what they apparently believe is a grand measure of revenge yet. Yes, those Boys – the same Boys who have been seen fanning Dalton Castle and being literal footstools for their “friend”. Why would The Boys take it upon themselves to attack Colt on their own? For those who don’t remember, before Cabana decided to turn on Castle, Colt took it upon himself to apparently attack The Boys and lock them in a room as seen on ROH TV weeks ago. Most recently on ROH TV, The Boys remind Cabana they haven’t forgotten what he did to them by cost him a match in the Decade of Excellence tournament. Now The Boys get what they want – a match with someone who has all the ability to annihilate them, yet could put himself in a bad position if he doesn’t take The Boys seriously. Yes, The Boys have been looked upon as mostly jokes during their time in ROH, but they have shown the ability to wrestle impressively in tag team bouts alongside Castle and on their own. This could produce, even in a handicap setting, a surprising upset that leave Cabana wondering where his career is going, or the near crippling of The Boys.
Kelly Klein & Kennadi Brink vs. Sumie Sakai & Faye Jackson The ROH dubbed “Must-See Submission Machine” & “The Gatekeeper” in Kelly Klein has been choking out opponents left and right including Candice LeRae during the first Women of Honor event in Baltimore during ROH’s “Aftershock Tour” and ODB recently on ROH TV. While Klein was helping rebuild the Women of Honor division, Kennadi Brink began her own undefeated streak, but mostly in tag team competition – an avenue Klein has only mildly been associated with since the division restarted, but has too found success. On the other side of ring will be a veteran-rookie pairing – a duo that came close, but fell short in victory the last time they were together ironically enough when they did battle with a Brink-led team. Sumie Sakai has shown that age and years of abuse in the ring haven’t slowed her down in leading the charge toward victory for herself and her team – something seen when ROH returned to last March. The ROH Dojo graduate in Faye Jackson showed just how much potential she has when she took the fight to ODB in her debut match seen on ROH TV, and the tag team bout where Sakai & Jackson came together in the past. Though it might seem like this is the type of bout made for a Klein-Brink win, having two alpha females who haven’t worked with each other in the past could present the opportunity of a lifetime for their opponents as well as end the respective undefeated streaks of the division’s most fearsome collaboration. This could be the beginning of a war between Klein and Brink, or the bonding of two women looking to dominate a single division.
For the first time ever, Ring of Honor heads to Austin Highway Event Center in San Antonio on February 3rd with “Undisputed Legacy” and a big eight-man tag team main event featuring The Bullet Club’s Adam Cole, Adam Page & The Young Bucks taking on The Motor City Machine Guns, Lio Rush & Jay White!
When Adam Cole and Adam Page joined The Bullet Club during ROH’s annual inter-promotional events alongside New Japan Pro Wrestling it turned into a night of chaos for the bastions of Honor including the Motor City Machine Guns; specifically Chris Sabin who was hung with a noose courtesy of the now-dubbed “Hangman” in Page. Since that night The Machine Guns have found themselves across the ring from Bullet Club contingents including the night ROH returned to Brooklyn for “Field of Honor”, but found themselves on the losing end. To make matters worse, The Bullet Club’s Young Bucks overcame Sabin & Alex Shelley (as well as The Addiction) to win Ladder War VI and become the new ROH World Tag Team champions. Figuring that The Bullet Club was marching to a beat similar to that of other prominent factions by emphasizing the old adage “strength in numbers”, The Machine Guns put the word out – they are looking to expand their status as tag team wrestlers alongside young, hungry, and most importantly, honorable individuals who don’t want their careers hindered by the actions of The Bullet Club. It didn’t take long for Sabin & Shelley to find men who believed in their hopes as Shelley’s protégés Jay White & Lio Rush formed a partnership with not only their mentors, but also with each other while trying to becoming the first ROH World Six-Man Tag Team champions. Though Rush & White were unsuccessful in their hopes, they proved that the future of ROH is in good hands if they aren’t trampled by The Bullet Club. The Machine Guns’ retaliation against everything The Bullet Club has done in ROH over the past year begins in San Antonio as they are backed by two potential main event stars for a match that has all the makings of being an early Match of the Year candidate. It’ll be interesting to see how The Machine Guns react if The Bullet Club overcomes them yet again as it could be the defining moment in their crusade (or potential lack thereof) against The Bullet Club. On the opposite end of the spectrum this could prove to be a defining victory for Sabin & Shelley as they expose potential weaknesses in today’s most powerful wrestling faction.
The ROH World Six-Man Tag Team title will be defended by The Kingdom against War Machine & Jax Dane in San Antonio!
According to Ring of Honor’s website, The Kingdom is out for sheer dominance in the Six-Man Tag Team division by holding an open contract for any trio to come after them. In San Antonio The Kingdom will be tested by a brand new pairing with two-thirds being incredibly familiar with not just championship glory, but also ending a title reign in Matt Taven’s career. It was “Final Battle 2015” when War Machine took on The Kingdom’s Matt Taven & Michael Bennett who were then the ROH World Tag Team champions. War Machine obliterated their opponents en route to becoming the new titleholders; literally destroying Taven’s knee in the process. The Kingdom was eventually rebuilt in Taven’s image of New England region standouts and quickly attained champion status at the same event where everything apparently went to ruin for the faction a year prior. But during that time Taven hasn’t interacted with War Machine, let alone gained a measure of revenge – this could be Matt’s grand moment of retribution or the end of another reign at the hands of War Machine. The biggest variable in this match has to be Jax Dane. The former NWA Heavyweight champion has only competed twice in ROH, almost winning the 2016 Survival of the Fittest tournament in the process. He’s a product of the Texas school of wrestling in the same vein as Ray Rowe and cuts an intimidating presence just like his partners. If Dane can come together with War Machine as well as Rowe & Hanson did when Michael Elgin just threw out the idea of them being a unit they could be the new faces of the division – the most dominant team in both ROH tag divisions following a wild David vs. Goliath style battle.
“Undisputed Legacy” will feature three of the top contenders fighting as Jay Lethal, Dalton Castle and Bobby Fish fight in a Triple Threat match!
The third World title reign of Adam Cole era hasn’t just given way to a restored figurehead of Honor, but also potential match-ups not expected when 2016 began, but have a chance of occurring in 2017. So what better way to showcase the top contenders and their definitive reasons for claiming to be the next ROH World champion than having them clash in a single match? First there’s Jay Lethal – arguably the face of ROH for the past three years after reigning supreme as both the World and World Television champion. Adam Cole ended Lethal’s historic reign and almost came up short in their rematch before ending Lethal’s hopes of becoming a two-time ROH World champion. Though 0-2 in ROH title matches as of late, Lethal is a perennial contender on status alone – similar to men like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson and Samoa Joe during the early days of ROH. Former ROH World Television champion Bobby Fish earned his rite to fight the World champion by succeeding in his first Survival of the Fittest tournament in November last year. Fish almost made 2016 his year until his shocking title loss to Will Ospreay. Then there’s the dark horse in ROH’s World title contention, Dalton Castle. The eccentric “Peacock of Pro Wrestling” doesn’t have the best win-loss record coming out of 2016, but has a merit very few in 2016: he has pinned the World champion. Castle has proven time & time again that he is of main event caliber with talent destined for greatness. This could not only be a fantastic match, but also a glimpse as to who could be wearing the World title before the year’s end.
Also signed for ROH’s return to San Antonio: “The American Nightmare” Cody taking on Donovan Dijak!
The artist formerly known as “Dashing” shocked the wrestling world at “Final Battle” by cheating his way to a victory over Jay Lethal. As if that wasn’t enough, Cody aligned himself with The Bullet Club; dubbing himself “The American Nightmare”. Though it would seem joining a faction would be immediately beneficial, in the case of being a Bullet Club member in ROH it presents an immediate target on one’s back thanks to the group’s actions over the past year; especially against two men who have taken Donovan Dijak under their wings, Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin. Though Cody is used to wrestling men larger than himself thanks his time in WWE, Donovan Dijak is unlike anything in wrestling right now being 6’7” tall, yet having the agility of a cruiserweight. This could be Dijak’s breakout moment if he can pull off the victory. For Cody, this is another chance to prove what he’s about while showcasing a level of talent not seen on Mondays and Thursdays in this potential impressive clash of styles.
Keith Lee & Shane Taylor are aiming for The Briscoes in San Antonio!
The last time ROH was in Texas it was for “Survival of the Fittest” weekend where the feud between War Machine and Shane Taylor & Keith Lee came to an end. But one night before that clash of the titans, The Briscoes found themselves in the middle of this feud as Taylor & Lee interrupted Jay & Mark’s scheduled match with Hanson & Rowe to make it a Triple Threat match. The night was Dem Boys’ as they walked away victorious and left a pair of men who have brutalized their opposition in the past chomping at the bit to gain some type of revenge. The uncanny mix of size, strength, agility & speed that make up the formidable pair known simply by their names of Taylor & Lee will be a huge test for the former eight-time World Tag Team champions only one night before their upcoming shot at the gold. Where The Briscoes struggled against the likes of War Machine, Taylor & Lee thrived – making them obvious candidates to attain champion status in 2017. But The Briscoes have taken on the baddest, meanest, nastiest teams the wrestling world has to offer and walked away with smiles on their faces, including against their opponents. Expect a knockdown, drag-out type of match that could give fans a glimpse into the future as one of these teams could regain or attain the ROH World Tag Team title following a beating of their opponents in San Antonio.
Ring of Honor debuts at the legendary Gilley’s Dallas with “Honor Reigns Supreme” on Saturday, Feb. 4th. The ROH World Tag Team Championship will be on the line when The Young Bucks defend against The Briscoes in a Two Out of Three Falls match!
“Final Battle 2016” was a defining moment in the careers of both The Young Bucks and The Briscoes – a changing of the guard. On that night, for the first time in history, Matt & Nick Jackson defended the ROH World Tag Team Championship against Jay & Mark Briscoe on ROH pay-per-view. What resulted from their latest confrontation in a near decade-long rivalry was one of their best clashes to date. Unfortunately for, arguably, the greatest tag team in ROH history, The Briscoes fell to a plethora of super kicks and ended up walking away the losers. The feeling of losing to The Bucks in title scenarios was foreign territory for Dem Boys as a majority of their encounters, both for championships and non-title, have been in their favor; yet “Final Battle” changed all of that. In a somewhat shocking reveal, ROH has decided that The Briscoes will have a chance to change the new perception that The Bucks are better than them in Dallas when the company returns to the state of Texas with a huge “Final Battle” rematch for the ROH World Tag Team Championship as the bout will be contest under not only Two Out of Three Falls rules, but each fall will have a special stipulation – the first will only end in a pin, the second held under lucha rules (meaning tags aren’t necessary as a teammate can legally enter the match as long as his partner’s feet touch the ringside floor), and a potential final fall having no disqualifications. It’s been stated before and it will be stated again – The Bucks and The Briscoes can’t have an average match, let alone a bad one. This bout will not only be incredible, but could also be historic as unexpected title changes have become something of the norm for ROH as of late.
It’s fitting that there will be an ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship match at “Honor Reigns Supreme” when The Kingdom put their title on the line against The Motor City Machine Guns & Jay White!
It would only be appropriate that in the city where The Von Erichs and The Freebirds fought over the WCCW Six-Man Tag Team title that ROH’s newest championship would be defended in Dallas. Before The Young Bucks and The Briscoes battle over the ROH World Tag Team Championship, The Kingdom will find themselves standing across the ring from a trio of men who too support each others’ successes and want to be considered the very best tag team wrestling has to offer in 2017. Jay White is the most familiar with The Kingdom’s approach to this style of tag team wrestling as the New Zealand native came oh-so close to becoming one-third of the first ROH World Six-Man Tag Team champions at “Final Battle” alongside Kushida & Lio Rush. Now White has a chance to avenge that disappointing loss while attaining his first ROH championship. But doing so is a tall task if there ever was one thanks to the unity and cohesiveness Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan have showcased since forming shortly after “All-Star Extravaganza VIII” – a union born & bred on the New England circuit. The Kingdom in its current form may not have the believed star power of its previous incarnation, but it’s obvious this faction was poised for potential greatness once they arrived that eventually became reality thanks to one tournament. 2017 could be a further emphasizing that The Kingdom is the crème de la crème of six-man tag team wrestling … if they make it past another group of men who get each other and want nothing more than one & all to flourish.
Ring of Honor debuts at the legendary Gilley’s Dallas with Honor Reigns Supreme on Saturday, Feb. 4. Signed for “Honor Reigns Supreme” is a star-studded tag match pitting The Bullet Club’s ROH World champion Adam Cole and Cody against two-time former ROH World Tag Team champions The Addiction.
The Addiction has found themselves in a weird position. Though veterans and highly respected, Frankie Kazarian & Christopher Daniels have spent the better portion of their time in ROH as villains ready to break any rule possible to gain or retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship. But since their second reign ended it appears The Addiction is more apt to letting honor dictate their actions. So when Cody viciously attacked Jay Lethal after cheating the former World champion out of a win, The Addiction took a stand. Not long after, Cody announced his alignment with The Bullet Club; allowing him to team up with the likes of new ROH World champion Adam Cole. Though dastardly and willing to do anything for a victory, The Bullet Club contingent don’t have the experience level, or, potentially, the combined mean streak of their opponents returning to the state that saw them become the World Tag Team titleholders the first time nearly two years ago. Though The Bullet Club won’t come in with the advantage on paper, the sights seen every time The Addiction try to take on the faction is that of two men in over their heads against the mounting numbers. There’s a chance The Addiction can change their running problem with The Bullet Club and restore their status in the Tag Team rankings. There’s an even greater chance The Bullet Club will be too much to overcome even if it seems the chips are down.
Dalton Castle vs. Donovan Dijak is signed for “Honor Reigns Supreme”!
In 2015, Dalton Castle and Donovan Dijak entered ROH with the plan of becoming the Top Prospect Tournament winner. By the tournament’s end Dijak was not only declared the tournament victor, but also a TV title number one contender. Ironically enough, Dijak’s decision to forgo his title opportunity to join The House of Truth gave way to Dalton Castle’s first breakout moment in ROH as he took Donovan’s spot and pushed then-TV champion Jay Lethal to the limit – immediately becoming a fan favorite. Though they’ve clashed in both singles and tag team bouts in the past, neither seemed so poised to become a champion as they are now. Dijak has been testing himself as a tag team wrestler alongside the Motor City Machine Guns while Castle has staked his claim as a future World title contender after pinning former champion Adam Cole during last year’s Champions vs. All-Stars match. Castle has shown uncanny strength for a man his size while Dijak can fly through the air like a cruiserweight. This will be unlike any type of “David vs. Goliath” style match seen not only in ROH, but also in all of wrestling throughout 2017 no matter the winner.
Former ROH World Television Champion Bobby Fish will fight Lio Rush on Saturday, Feb. 4th.
This time last year both of these men were striving for the opportunity of a lifetime. “The Infamous” Bobby Fish has been cheated out of the ROH World Television Championship while Rush was gaining win after win before his inevitable arrival in the 2016 Top Prospect Tournament. While Fish eventually turned his wins early in 2016 into a title victory, Rush struggled to prove himself worthy of being called a “champion” in ROH after winning the TPT; but that didn’t stop Lio impressing in both singles competition and as a part of six-man pairings such as him, Kushida, and Jay White as they came one win within becoming the first ROH World Six-Man Tag Team champions. Rush has shown his proficiency at hitting & striking with the best and fastest wrestling has to offer in ROH, but none of his opponents have been masterful at mixing hard-hitting strikes with grappling that can end a match in a submission like the former TV champion. This could prove to be the biggest win of Rush’s ROH tenure thus far if he can outmaneuver Fish in the same way Will Ospreay did to win the TV Championship in the UK, or it could be a painful reminder that Lio has a long way to go before he can even come close to conquering a king.
One of the most popular classic events makes it triumphant return in ROH’s most popular venue: on Saturday, March 4, Manhattan Mayhem returns to the Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom! And the first match signed is one of international implications: Will Ospreay vs. Dragon Lee!
Those who witnessed “Final Battle” got a taste of what’s to come from this historic first-time singles bout when Will Ospreay and Dragon Lee unsuccessful wrested the World Television Championship from Marty Scurll. But before that night in New York, these two men had ROH fans buzzing thanks to several performances across several shows including Lee’s debut at “All-Star Extravaganza VIII” where he bested Kamaitachi in an early show stealer (only outdone by Ladder War VI later in the evening) and Ospreay winning the ROH World Television title from Bobby Fish in his first match with the company. Though Ospreay has the moniker of “The Aerial Assassin”, the masked CMLL star is just as capable flying through the air to deliver a devastating attack such as a double stomp from the top rope to the floor on an opponent hanging from the steel ring post. This match has all the makings of being the epitome of the dividing line between wrestling fans who appreciate the insanity of this new style of high flying wrestling and those who think it’s absurd because there is little to no chance it won’t have people talking about it being one of the most awe-inspiring matches (for all the right or wrong reasons depending on what side of the argument you’re on) seen in ROH in 2017 barely three months into the year.
Tough Guy Inc. vs. First Generation
Sara Del Rey & Serena Deeb vs. Ayumi Kurihara & Hiroyo Matsumoto
And there you have it. Show that love, or like, for The ROHbot Report and Honor Nation on its Facebook page. Also, if haven’t already, make sure you listen to the latest FREE “Honor Nation” as I talk about this year’s Royal Rumble and more (http://www.wewantinsanity.com/am2/publish/free_audio/34_Mins_Honor_Nation_Every_Man_For_Himself.shtml). And don’t forget to send those questions in for the next “Honor Nation either through the comments section below, on Facebook (The ROHbot Report and Honor Nation on its Facebook page), on Twitter (@fasjab), or by e-mailing me at Bullock@wewantinsanity.com. Here’s to a great week for you and yours; and as always, thanks for reading.