A Decade of Honor.
That's how Ring of Honor (ROH) has been hyping their 10th Anniversary Show. It's a very different company today than it was when it first opened its doors in Philadelphia in 2002. To drive that point home, a video montage of important and historic matches from the company's history played during the show's intermission. Almost no one featured is still with the company in a full-time wrestling capacity.
CM Punk and Bryan Danielson -- aka Daniel Bryan -- are champions of their respective brands in WWE. Samoa Joe has been wrestling under the TNA banner for over half a decade now. Kenta Kobashi returned to Japan after a weekend, injuries caught up to Nigel McGuinness and forced him to retire.
It seems The Briscoes -- Mark and Jay -- are the last men standing.
Despite having a rotating roster thanks to their talent constantly getting called up to the big leagues, ROH still managed to present an entertaining show more often than not. Tonight was another example.
The 40 minute main event saw Adam Cole get the pinfall over ROH World Champion Davey Richards in a tag match fueled by betrayal and bad blood. It was a thrilling display of professional wrestling that seems long gone in this era of instant gratification, last minute script rewrites and a predilection towards social media over what goes on inside the ring.
The live running blog can be found here if you want blow by blow action.
More thoughts after the jump.
- The opener, a tag match between The All Night Xpress and the recently turned rulebreaker Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team, was surprisingly good considering how bland Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin have been during their ROH tenure. They're really digging their new bad guy personas, it seems. These two teams faced off at Glory by Honor X but this meeting was much better and a great first match. Rule number one about a wrestling event: open hot.
- The next match only served to get one of the only former ROH champions not currently under contract with a rival company, Homicide, some face time. It was great seeing the "Notorious 187" but going into the match, I knew he was there to put Bennett over. And he did, as "The Prodigy" stole a win away from the former champion. Bennett is getting better and better but I would drop "Brutal" Bob Evans from his entourage. He doesn't add much.
- CHIKARA Grand Champion Eddie Kingston then came out and looked to be ready to challenge Davey Richards in a champion versus champion bout. He was interrupted by his longtime friend Kevin Steen who implored "War King" to aid him in his own war against ROH. He asked Kingston to help him destroy both companies and rebuild them in their vision. Kingston took umbrage at the thought of destroying CHIKARA and turned Steen down. One insult against CHIKARA later and the two friends were brawling back and forth. When Steen threatened to urinate on the Grand Championship, a bevy of CHIKARA stalwarts including members of The Colony came out to stop him. Interesting things are definitely afoot.
- Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin representing The House of Truth took on the returning Amazing Red and TJ Perkins. I didn't have high hopes for the match but I was impressed by the end. I thought the contrast in styles would be too much for the performers to overcome but it provided an excellent power versus speed dynamic. Elgin, once again, dazzled with his feats of strength. Like I said in the running blog, "Unbreakable" is stupid strong.
- The low point of the event was the TV title match. A 15-minute draw between champ Jay Lethal and challenger Tommaso Ciampa which culminated in "The Dominant Male" absconding with the title after an Embassy-led beatdown. What I'm wondering is why they didn't just allow Ciampa to win the title through nefarious means if they were going to allow him to walk out with the belt? The match was a bit too slow paced considering the time limit.
- If the House of Truth/Perks and Red match surprised me with how good it was, the tag team title match between The Briscoe Brothers' match with The Young Bucks disappointed me since it wasn't nearly as good as I was hoping it would be. It was a good match, don't get me wrong, but Nick and Matt Jackson set the indie wrestling world on fire last year and I couldn't wait to see them tangle with the ROH stalwarts. Perhaps my expectations got the better of me this time around and a second viewing should be in order.
- The grudge match between Kevin Steen and Jimmy Jacobs came next. In an excellent nod to the company's past, Jacobs started the match off wearing his infamous white coat from The Age of the Fall's debut and even busted out the railroad spike from his bloody feud with former partner BJ Whitmer. It was a wild, bloody, brutal brawl that ended after Steen nailed Jacobs with an F5 across the backs of two chairs. Insane stuff from both men which left "The Anti-Christ of Professional Wrestling" a bloody mess.
- Finally, the main event. There is a sentiment amongst some fans -- including my Cageside colleague Thomas Holzerman -- that Richards' "American Strong Style" is boring and a bit self-indulgent. After his match against Kyle O'Reilly on ROH TV and his main event against Eddie Edwards at Final Battle 2011, both matches which should have wowed but fell flat -- I found myself agreeing with that point of view more and more. This match squashed all of that. Nearly 40 minutes of incredible action, innovative spots, brutal chops, devastating kicks and countless near-falls got the NYC crowd hyped beyond belief. Cole got the shocking pinfall over the champion to end the match.
- The post-match proceedings -- which included Richards giving Cole his due but O'Reilly telling both Edwards and his former partner he didn't respect them -- were interrupted by Steen who promised Richards he would make the champion's life a living hell until he was granted a title shot. Steen is a polarizing figure to say the least but it certainly appears as if he's here to stay.