The ROHbot Report: Undisputed Legacy, 2300 Arena Exclusivity, and More
By James Bullock Jan 29, 2017 - 7:40 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 return to Texas following its first TV taping of 2017. Lets find out what will go down in San Antonio!
“Undisputed Legacy” Preview; February 3rd, 2017; San Antonio, TX
The Bullet Club (ROH World champion Adam Cole, ROH World Tag Team champions The Young Bucks & Adam Page vs. 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 The Bullet Club doesn’t trample them. The Machine Guns’ retaliation against everything The Bullet Club has done in ROH over the past year begins in San Antonio as two potential main event stars back them 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.
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship: The Kingdom defends against War Machine & Jax Dane 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.
Jay Lethal vs. Dalton Castle vs. Bobby Fish 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.
Cody vs. 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.
The Briscoes vs. Keith Lee & Shane Taylor 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.
The Addiction vs. The Tempura Boyz The Tempura Boyz debuted in ROH during the tail-end of the summer last year, slowly but surely making waves by testing the best of the best ROH’s Tag Team division has to offer even if it they come up short on the wins. Now, for the first time, Sho & Yo will step into the ring with The Addiction; the former two-time ROH World Tag Team champions. Like all of their previous ROH matches, this will be a huge opportunity for The Tempura Boyz. While Christopher Daniels has been focusing on his singles career, The Addiction still want to regain the Tag title for a third time. This could be the beginning of best year of The Addiction’s tenure in ROH as Daniels could become the ROH World champion and one-half of the Tag Team champion’s before the year’s end. This could also be the year The Tempura Boyz breakthrough and make it to the top of the division sooner than later starting with a great match against The Addiction in Pittsburgh.
Ring of Honor returns to Pittsburgh for Steel City Excellence on Saturday, Feb. 11. The international TV taping will feature all of the top stars in ROH as well as the start of the 2017 Top Prospect Tournament featuring participants Sean Carr, Brian Milonas, John Skyler, Josh Woods, Preston Quinn & Chris LeRusso.
Like several Top Prospect Tournament entries in the past, “Hybrid” Sean Carr isn’t unfamiliar with ROH competition as the Binghamton, NY native not only impressed in a ROH tryout camp according to the ROH website, he also was involved in last year’s Honor Rumble. Carr’s time in the match was enough to prove he was more than just a body ready to be thrown out by one of the bigger names in ROH; actually gaining a few near eliminations in his own right. Carr, though just making his potential mark in ROH, has been wrestling for eight years thus far in companies such as ECWA, MCW and CZW; picking up victories courtesy of the tombstone piledriver and the frog splash and wrestling the likes of Johnny Gargano in memorable encounters. ROH has put it out there Carr is a heavy favorite to win the whole thing and it’ll be interesting to see if he can live up to that hype. The most physically imposing entrant announced thus far is none other than Brian Milonas. At 6’4” and close to 400 pounds, Milonas will tower over a majority of his opponents in the tournament if he can make it past the first round like his fellow “monsters” in previous TPTs including Donovan Dijak, Beer City Bruiser, and Damian Martinez . Known as “Kingpin” around his home promotions in the New England area, Milonas possesses an uncanny ability to move in a quick, unsuspecting fashion that’ll level any opponent. He’s been involved in wars with some of the biggest and baddest ROH has to offer currently including, ironically enough, “War Beard” Hanson – who has gone on record as to declaring Milonas a future ROH star. Milonas might just prove Hanson right and become one of the few big men to go all the way in this year’s TPT. Hailing from Columbia, SC, John Skyler has wrestled a who’s who of former and current ROH stars including former ROH World champions Kevin Steen, Michael Elgin, Kyle O’Reilly, and even the current ROH World Television champion Marty Scurll. As noted on the ROH website, “The Southern Savior” had all of these matches outside of ROH that just added to an impressive eight years of grinding for an opportunity to make it to a bigger platform. Skyler’s style is more reminiscent of an era gone by, but greatly appreciated thanks to the successes of his former tag team partner Dash Wilder in NXT. Now, alongside Corey Hollis (another former TPT competitor), Skyler is one-half The Bruiserweights and looking to not only attain singles dominance, but potentially bring his current partnership to ROH in hopes of holding tag gold as well. While ROH has dubbed other names announced thus far is as heavy favorites, longtime ROH fans are looking at Skyler to take this entire tournament. Preston Quinn is the tournament’s dark horse due to the simple fact it would be hard to consider him a prospect. Hailing from Gloucester, VA, “The Pain Train” has spent the better part of his life chasing a dream of becoming a top tier grappler in the world of pro wrestling. But family life caused him to scale back his hopes – causing a goal to extend itself in years to the point that now he’s just getting his shot in ROH at the age of forty. Though it would seem being older than not only the entire TPT field, but also a majority of the current ROH roster, Quinn has made a name for himself by being an excellent wrestler – sticking to an older, Southern style focusing on hard-hitting strikes including his Derailer spinning lariat. Every dog has its day; especially when that dog is one of the biggest on the yard with a level of experience second to none when compared to its competitors. Unlike his contemporaries in this year’s Tournament, Josh Woods enters not with a list of accolades in the world of pro wrestling, but copious amounts of potential that could turn into promise when he steps into a ROH ring with the lights on bright. Before becoming a potential ROH star, “The Goods” made his name on the amateur mats where he became a four-time All American and SEC champion. In the world of pro wrestling, Woods has already been tested in his short time lacing up the boots; getting pushed to the limit by the likes of Hideo Itami and current ROH stars including one-third of the World Six-Man Tag Team champions TK O’Ryan.
Out of all the names announced thus far, no one has more experience competing in ROH than Chris LeRusso. The self-proclaimed “Heir Apparent” to the throne of Honor that was once occupied by the likes of Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Nigel McGuinness, Austin Aries, Jay Lethal and now Adam Cole, LeRusso has spent a majority of his ROH appearances as a part of a tag team featuring a revolving door of partners and attempts to jumpstart his ROH career by unsuccessfully aligning himself with factions such as The House of Truth. Outside of ROH, LeRusso has found continued success in, interestingly enough, Pittsburgh based promotions that has made him fans who will most likely vocalize their support for a man who has been trying for over three years to prove himself as a potential ROH star. Courtesy of one tournament, LeRusso might finally accomplish his goal.
Signed for Steel City Excellence is a no-disqualification tag team match pitting “Punishment” Damien Martinez and BJ Whitmer against War Machine!
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 and “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. Things escalated during the ROH TV taping in Atlanta; resulting in another uncontrollable battle. War Machine is not the type of team to take what happened to them lightly and will be looking for revenge come Pittsburgh. While Hanson & Rowe thrive in conditions where the rules are lax, their opponents have proven they enjoy chaotic environments – environments just made for memorable battles between two barbaric duos.
The Motor City Machine Guns will take on The Tempura Boyz on the February 11th!
The Motor City Machine Guns have been on a mission as of late. Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley, though as good as they’ve ever been, haven’t found the same level of success in ROH’s Tag division due to what they believe is a lack of support in this growing game of numbers being taken advantage of by the likes of The Bullet Club. The Machine Guns have been trying to recruit guys who they feel exemplify what the future of ROH could and can be such as Lio Rush and Jay White. Interestingly enough, The Tempura Boyz could find themselves on that list of potential main event ROH stars The Machine Guns hope to groom into becoming future faces of the company if this match turns out as good as it looks on paper even if The Motor City Machine Guns predictably win.
Ring of Honor has always been extremely fan-friendly, and now the company is giving its audience an opportunity to be directly involved in a live event unlike any other in ROH history. At The Experience on Sunday, Feb. 12th will be an exciting six-man tag match pitting Jay White & The Motor City Machine Guns against The Rebellion!
October 2016 was a turning point in the faction then known as The Cabinet as Caprice Coleman, Kenny King & Rhett Titus transformed into The Rebellion. Ironically enough, shortly before that career-changing night for the trio, The Motor City Machine Guns & Jay White had the opportunity to fight with The Cabinet and won. From that moment on it seems The Rebellion has put their sights on The Machine Guns and the men who currently run with them – look no further than “Final Battle” where The Rebellion bested The Guns & Donovan Dijak. Between and after that, The Rebellion have attacked the likes of Jay White, Lio Rush, Dijak, and of course The Machine Guns. The last time these six men were in the ring together it was a great encounter, but back then it was solely based on competition. The Machine Guns & White are gunning for revenge while The Rebellion want to use every match and every win as a way to get their message across that opportunities are not given, they are taken.
A first-time tag team bout has been signed for The Experience: The Briscoes vs. The Tempura Boyz!
This will be another huge test for The Tempura Boyz as they come toe to toe with, arguably, the greatest tag team in ROH history following their recent successes against the likes of Coast 2 Coast and Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara and tests against the ROH World Tag Team champions. Depending on what happens the week prior, this could or couldn’t be for the ROH World Tag Team Championship. In this hypothetical, yet potential reality, The Briscoes could be weakened and prone for one of the most shocking upsets in ROH history. Even without the title on the line, The Tempura Boyz winning would be huge not only for their careers, but also in ROH history. The Briscoes have stood across the ring from relatively new talents and helped them breakthrough to the next level win, loss or draw.
The Women of Honor will be in action in Columbus as a grudge match featuring Kelly Klein vs. Scarlett Bordeaux has been signed!
September 2015 witnessed the unexpected happen in the restoration of ROH’s Women of Honor division as an unknown entity supported by BJ Whitmer made her debut in quick fashion as she choked out her first ROH opponent. This growing force known as Kelly Klein spent the next year choking out opponent after opponent – demanding respect from competitors and detractors alike. In her mind, the grandeur of Klein’s appearances in ROH weren’t properly presented by ring announcer Scarlett Bordeaux and caused several run-ins between the two focusing on Klein’s physical presence causing moments of obvious intimidation and bullying. Things got incredibly physical between the two during ROH’s “Glory By Honor XV” weekend when Klein, using her stature to somewhat frighten Scarlett yet again, demanded Bordeaux to reintroduce her during a segment that didn’t even involve the Women of Honor. When Scarlett finally stood up for herself, Klein knocked her out. Officials and security had to stop what was sure to be a thrashing that could’ve ended Scarlett’s time in ROH as both a ring announcer and potential Woman of Honor. While this might seem like a sure victory for Klein like so many of her matches in the past, Scarlett isn’t just some announcer with no prior in-ring experience. Scarlett has competed in ROH and other promotions over the last few years, slowly but surely improving her craft. Klein, potentially looking past her opponent, could put herself in prime position for the upset of a lifetime if Scarlett can pull off the practically impossible in a match where the rules will be a little lax and made for someone fueled on revenge fighting for unexpected success.
Ring of Honor and House of Hardcore have signed exclusive deals with Philadelphia’s 2300 Arena, formerly known as ECW Arena; they will now be the only promotions to host pro wrestling events in the venue.
This is fantastic news. Beyond the wrestling history connected with the Arena (be it ECW or ROH) is a building usually filled with enthusiastic fans that make even the most average show better. There was a time when ROH fans were wondering why the company was ignoring its birthplace in its quest for expansion. Now it seems Philadelphia will get a lot more ROH action in the future in the city’s most famous wrestling arena.
Jay Lethal on his Undisputed Legacy Match
The Bullet Club vs. The Addiction in Dallas
The Kingdom is Ready For San Antonio
Bobby Fish is Focused
Kelly Klein & Kennadi Brink vs. Sumie Sakai & Faye Jackson
Tim Donst vs. Ken Phoenix
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 the war between ROH & WWN and more (http://www.wewantinsanity.com/am2/publish/free_audio/27_Mins_Honor_Nation_War_Against_Evolving.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.