Quite a bit has gone down since we last checked in with the biggest independent/smallest major promotion in the United States. Let's start with a championship roll call:
Ring of Honor World Champion: Jay Briscoe, champ since 4/5/13, no title defenses
Ring of Honor Tag Team Champions: reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle OReilly), champs since 3/2/12, three successful title defenses
Ring of Honor Television Champion: Matt Taven, champ since 3/2/12, one successful title defenses
- Yes, ladies and germs, in case you missed it, one half of #DemBoys and ROH original Jay Briscoe knocked Kevin Steen from the championship perch he has sat in for almost a year.
- Everything about this was beautifully done. Nigel McGuiness freaking out on commentary (especially the giddy cackle when Jay kicks out of the package piledriver). Brother Mark and the entire ROH locker room - down to Veda Scott - doing whatever was necessary to let Briscoe "man up" and win or lose on his own. That defense eventually failing, and furthering Steen's face-ish turn when he kills Matt Hardy. The celebration, including Papa and the baby Briscoes. The handshake with Mr. Wrestling.
- Seriously, my pick for this spot would have been Jay Lethal. But this Jay is the better choice. The Delaware natives never left the promotion, and have been close but no cigar to the top belt many times before. Congrats, you crazy redneck. Can't wait to see where you, Steen and the SCUM story goes now.
- The other champs retained at Supercard of Honor VII, which is probably the right call. Although it will be interesting to see where their challengers (the American Wolves of Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards for the tag belts; Adam Cole and especially Matt Hardy for the Television title) go next. The World title shots that Nigel made in his matchmaker role still stand with the new champ, so Cole will get a match from that, as will Michael Elgin who defeated Lethal at the internet pay-per-view (iPPV) event. Hardy seems to be the big-dog in SCUM now that Steen is as close to officially done with the group as can be. Like I said, lots of strands in the old duder's head right now for ROH booker Hunter "Delirious" Johnson.
- The April 6th television show was largely a placeholder, having been taped before Supercard yet airing the night after. It did allow the promotion to showcase some roster members that I think they are really excited about, for good reason. reDRagon successfully defended their titles against the veteran team of Forever Hooligans (Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov) in the main event, but it was two undercard matches that impressed me the most.
- ACH and Tadarius Thomas are really clicking as a team. ROH looks to be striking while the iron is hot with the former. The tag scene is a good place for him to make his initial splash, but if he keeps improving - he's already massively over with the crowd - he should probably be in a feud for a singles belt by the end of the year. If you're interested in seeing a different style, check out Thomas' work. His moves are based on Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art heavily influenced by dance that I was previously only familiar with because my five year old nephew takes classes in it. It looks like it should lead to the kind of spotty, too long to set-up moves that critics of American indies always bring up, but he works it into the flow of his matches pretty seamlessly. These fellas bear watching.
- The breakout star of the show (and one of the breakout stars of 'Mania weekend, according to our own Rex Ivanovic) was Athena. This pint-sized package of awesomeness (also ® R. Ivanovic and OTR Podcast Enterprises) was the focus of a too short "Women of Honor" fourway, as she got to do several springboard/handstand maneuvers, a superplex and her O Face finisher all in about four minutes. The woman she pinned, Cherry Bomb, took most of the offense, while Truth Martini's "Hoopla Hottie" Scarlett (who you may recognize from the AAW show Curtain Jerker reported in from) played the comedy novice.
- Main "Woman of Honor", which the announce team talks about like it's a title, MsChif didn't get to do much in the match, but she did hit Veda with the green mist when she tried to ask her about the loss afterwards. That is rumored to be the big women's feud for the company going forward. I like them both, but would rather see more of the Wrestling Goddess
- The new champ opened the April 13th show - filmed the day after the iPPV - with a solid but unspectacular in-ring promo. He hit all the points you'd expect him to, and this was a nice call-back to Nigel's rallying the troops against SCUM from a little while back with the company-aligned roster surrounding Briscoe in the ring. It ends with Adam Cole coming face-to-face with Jay to set-up their showdown at Border Wars next month.
- Cole's status with WWE is giving most of the suspense to this match-up. If he's leaving, this is his farewell showcase match. If he's staying, Briscoe could very well be a transitional champ. I think he's gone, and a win here pads the new king's resume while Steen feuds with SCUM.
- Speaking of Steve Corino's faction, they're surprisingly absent from the show despite their victory in the ten man war at Supercard. They have no entrants in the show's main event, a five way battle for the #1 contendership for the TV title. That match is pretty fun, and is won by the master of redneck kung fu himself, Mark Briscoe, setting up the intriguing possibility of the brothers each holding individual gold.
- Bobby Fish defeated Eddie Edwards in singles action. I like both of these guys, and see in Fish someone who TNA should make a run at. He's probably too old and not distinct enough for WWE, but he's as solid in the ring as someone like Edwards or Roderick Strong, but he's also a really good interview. I'd love to see him working with guys like Austin Aries and Christopher Daniels. ROH-wise, I guess the tag champs will continue to have issues with the American Wolves, even as they keep coming out on top, albeit not cleanly or definitively.
- The other contest on the card brings great joy to my heart, as it seems that RD Evans time as an in-ring performer was more than just the proverbial "one shot deal" for Supercard. He and his partner/client QT Marshall defeated the young team of Alabama Attitude (Corey Hollis and Mike Posey). Marshall shows some promise, but he's a little too generic at this point. Pairing him with the man also known as (among other things) Chikara's Archibald Peck is a great idea, as Evans has charisma to spare in all of guises.
And there you have it, Cagesiders. ROH continues to crank out good-to-very-good product that earns a (pours out a sip for our homie, Rogie E) thumbs up from this writer.
Who's watching? If not, why not? It's easy to sign-up to get the shows free on Thursdays at roh.com. Man up and do it for the new champ, and let us know what you think in the comments below.