Adhering to the Code: Ring of Honor Reactions - 'Border Wars' iPPV edition

Our semi-regular check in on the happenings in the Ring of Honor (ROH) universe, with reactions to their weekly TV/internet show and a preview of their upcoming 'Border Wars' internet pay-per-view (iPPV).

It impresses me how well Ring of Honor schedules their pre-recorded television shows to line-up with their bigger live events. The episodes from Supercard of Honor through Border Wars have created a cohesive story between the iPPVs.

I suspect that the move towards doing tapings immediately after the pay-per-view helps, and it's good that that seems to be the model going forward. I also think it's smart that they aren't worried about "spoiling" the iPPVs. If you haven't seen them a week later, then you're either not going to or you'll be getting it to see the matches regardless of whether or not you know their outcome.

But is it a good story they're telling? On with the shows...

  • The April 20th show kicks off with Blue Smock Nancy heralding the arrival of Kevin Steen. He's in-ring with a microphone, set to speak for the first time since losing his belt to Jay Briscoe at Supercard. But as has been the case for the past few months, he's interrupted by Steve Corino. Steen's break from SCUM (which stands for Suffrage for Castrated Unappreciated Macedonians, I think) is clearly and logically explained: (1) his mission was to get rid of Jim Cornette; now that that's done, he's okay with ROH and (2) he can't stand that {expletive deleted} Matt Hardy and won't be involved in any group that has him in it. This being pro wrestling, Steen's offer to just walk away is declined, and he ends up beaten down by the entire group before taking a Twist of Fate from Hardy.
  • The booking of this accomplishes a number of things. The burial of Cornette is pretty brutal, but I imagine he signed off on it (he's still with the company in some advisory capacity, no?) and it provides a sensible, in continuity reason for Steen's change of heart. The casting of Matt Hardy as Corino's new boy is really smart, and more proof that "X-Pac heat" no longer exists, if it ever did. You want to see him destroyed, I want to see him destroyed, live crowds want to see him destroyed. It doesn't matter why we hate him, just that we do. Finally, "ROH officials and security" run out to try and save Kevin - not Jay Briscoe, or any of Nigel McGuinness' pro-company locker room crew. Steen is still cast in the middle. At least in terms of character alignment - the crowd loves him, especially when he goes after Hardy.
  • If Mike Bennett returns to television, but Maria isn't with him, does it matter? The Prodigy has a decent match with Roderick Strong that's most notable for its length. Mike Mondo is on commentary, where it occurs to me that his verbal cadence is very similar to his former Spirit Squad teammate, Nicky. Roddy wins via backbreaker variation after Mondo distracts Bennett in retaliation for accidentally being speared into the barricade mid-match. All three men brawl after the bell, so I guess this will continue.
  • Tadarius Thomas is featured in singles action against journeyman Jorge Santi. Good for Ring of Honor for actually pushing more than one African-American wrestler at a time. It's not just the right thing to do, it's a sound business decision - fans, especially young ones, want to cheer for at least some people who look like they do. If WWE and TNA aren't going to provide a diverse roster...
  • SCUM is back out for more before this match can progress too far. Steve Corino is great, but man, are these segments getting old already. Rhino gores Santi, then Steve-o rants until Nigel comes out. They jaw for a looong time. Credit to the King of Old School for working in a back-handed plug for The Last of McGuinness. Otherwise, this sets up Michael Elgin & Jay Lethal versus two SCUM members at Border Wars. At stake are a title shot for the group and a seat at the announce table for Steve against Corino's exit from wrestling. I wonder how that will turn out...
  • Matt Taven retained against ACH in a main event with the Television title on the line. The Austin native earned the shot by beating the champ at the War show in North Carolina, so ROH isn't above using that idiotic device. Neither guy comes off looking very good in a stereotypical indy string-spots-together kind of match. Taven's next challenger, Mark Briscoe, is his usual insanely entertaining self on commentary, though.
  • You know what else is getting old? SCUM vs Team of Honor multi-man clusterf#(&s. The April 27th edition opens with Corino on the mic AND a multi-man match! Steve asks for three guys to face Rhett Titus, Jimmy Jacobs and Cliff Compton because...destroying the company? BJ Whitmer and C & C answer the call. This was a mess - the action was hard to follow and the crowd was as dead for it as I would have been. Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman did pull off a sweet set of synchronized tope con giros, though. Titus got the pin after hitting BJ with a steel chain. The rudos beat down their vanquished foes post-bell before Lethal and Elgin run-in to make the save.
  • Except for Mark Briscoe last week, Kevin Kelly has been on commentary alone for these shows. If I haven't ranted about this before, Kelly is awful. Sure he occasionally calls a move, and the company's schedule presents some unique challenges, but jeebus. Guy makes Mike Tenay seem subtle, and his brand of earnest babyface announcing is just a bad fit for an independent wrestling promotion. At least by himself...he needs a foil.
  • Our next match is a reminder about the iPPV contest that should provide us that foil. Lethal beats Titus via Lethal Injection in a fun match (bear in mind, I would describe 99% of the former Black Machismo's appearances as at least "fun"), then gets on the microphone to hype he and Unbreakable's tag match at Border Wars. Jay does the best job of just about anyone on these shows of selling the pay-per-view.
  • A series of WWE-like events follows. First, we have a contract signing between ROH champ Jay Briscoe and Adam Cole. The two do a mutual respect staredown, and just as I'm wondering what the point of this is, ROH booking 101 kicks in as the SCUM leader hits the ring with Hardy and Rhino. A good old-fashioned have-the-face-challengers-as-tag-partners match is made on the spot.
  • Wow, does this New York crowd hate v1. His shirt is thrown back to him twice during the intros, and a "Feed Matt Less" chant breaks out in match. It's an okay match; the heels dominate until Cole gets a quick roll-up on Rhino for the win. Towards the finish, the Panama City kid accidentally hit the champ with a superkick and soon after dodges a gore the connects on the boy from Sandy Forks, adding some tension to their upcoming tilt.
  • Overall, these shows were not ROH's best efforts. The story was maintained but not developed, the wrestling was okay but not great...bring on Border Wars!


    Poster via

    So, about that poster...a funny thing happened to Marufuji on his way to Toronto, and that means a name from the early days of the promotion returns for the first time in ten years. Paul London is back!

    The card as it now stands:

    Jay Briscoe defends against Adam Cole

    Current GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori vs "Die Hard" Eddie Edwards

    "Intrepid Traveler" Paul London vs "American Wolf" Davey Richards

    ROH World TV Championship
    Matt Taven w/ Truth Martini defends against Mark Briscoe

    I Quit Match
    BJ Whitmer vs Rhett Titus

    ROH vs S.C.U.M Match
    "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin & Jay Lethal vs 2 SCUM Members of Steve Corino's choosing

    Special Tag Team Challenge Match
    Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander vs ACH & Tadarius Thomas

    Order now!
    • This is the second time for ROH to call their Toronto iPPV "Border Wars", and I like the idea of adding some international talent for special challenge matches. Too bad Marufuji apparently injured his knee, but London is reportedly in great shape. Given how integral he was to the company in its early days, it'll be great to see the former WWE tag team champion back in the fold, even for just one weekend. And even if his pay-per-view match is against Davey Richards.
    • The biggest question concerning the world title might be whether or not Kevin Steen makes an appearance. It should be a nice contest, though. I fully expect Jay to retain, if for no other reason than that they haven't spent any time developing a character for Cole on the weekly show.
    • Speaking of Briscoes, I hope Mark wins the TV title. He deserves the rub, Taven is boring (and his manager is kind of embarrassing in his current incarnation) and #DemBoysWitBelts needs to be trending. Plus, as he says...with his looks he was born to be on television:


    • Whitmer-Titus is my sleeper pick for match of the night. BJ seems really motivated since his comeback and is headed toward a title shot at the Road Rage show in Virginia. Rhett seems glad to have a direction again after the dissolution of All Night Express. The stipulation should give them an excuse to do crazy-@$$ indy $#!+. Can't wait!
    • It'll be interesting to see if there are new surprise SCUM members for the tag match to decide Corino's future. With what's at stake, I expect the bad guys to win, but the match should be solid as it'll allow Elgin to do his thing without being over-exposed as Lethal can do work the bulk of the match and allow the Canadian to make saves and do his usual feats of strength.

    So there you have it, Cagesiders. A couple of lackluster weeks of television bring us to an iPPV that could go either way.

    Who's been watching? More importantly, who's buying Saturday night? Sound off in the comments!

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