Pre-Show Thoughts: Ring of Honor hits national television. To this writer, it’s a phrase I never thought I’d ever hear. I was one of the original members of the ROH fan base. I saw them in the Murphy Rec Center in South Philadelphia, the Rex Plex in Elizabeth, the Inman Sports Club in Edison, Convention Hall in Asbury Park, and the Philadelphia Armory. I saw Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Hideo Itami, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Low Ki, Cesaro (with hair!), Brian Kendrick, AJ Styles, Austin Aries, Colt Cabana and Mickie James all before they were even remotely stars, laying it all on the line in an ROH ring. Now, 13 years after their first show ever, they are here on Destination America. For me, I’m so excited to finally see the show, which only airs for those lucky enough to have the Sinclair Network, on my television. ROH has always been one of the top wrestling promotions out there that actually emphasizes the sport of wrestling. For me, it’s a little slice of heaven. And for those of you wondering, yes this is Sinclair show repackaged for Destination America.
Opening Promo – The Briscoe Brothers: #DemBoys aka the two men who have been with the company since Day 1, open the show. While this was probably done for the Sinclair Show, it’s an interesting opening for the Destination America series. This is on a network known for shows like Hillbilly Blood, and other redneck-style shows about Big Foot, fishing and BBQ. So to present two characters who are legit rednecks is a smart move. The Briscoes are two of the most wildly different wrestlers on television right now. They’re wild, wooly, inked up, and rough around the edges. They’re larger than life, despite basically playing themselves. As for the promo itself, it was a nice, intense set-up for the main event of the show and the promotions’ Best in the World show in NYC.
Match #1: Will Ferrara vs. Kushida: This match comes from ROH & New Japan Pro Wrestling’s War of the Worlds Weekend. Kushida is one-half of NJPW’s junior heavyweight tag team, The Time Splitters along with former ROH & TNA wrestler Alex Shelley. Kushida comes to the ring dressed like Marty McFly (orange vest and all) and is crazy over with the crowd. Ferrara is new to me, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does. It’s very obvious Kushida is going over in this match, and deservedly so. He’s so crisp in the ring and his moonsault is near perfect. Ferrara is a good worker, selling like a mad dog for Kushida. One day, Ferrara could be something special for ROH, but for now, this is his spot. This was a nice little match with Kushida winning with an impressive leaping key lock. Winner: Kushida
In a Way Too Serious Promo: The Addiction (Kazarian & Daniels) come out and run down reDragon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly). It’s interesting that two former TNA mainstays are featured on this episode, especially since TNA airs right after ROH. I wish this had been a little more fun because Kaz and Daniels can really work magic on the mic.
Match #2: ‘The Last Real Man’ Silas Young vs. Watanabe: This match was set-up from a previous week when Young turned on Watanabe after they lost a tag match. I’ve never been a big Young fan, but tonight he won me over. He really brought a nice, old school heel intensity to the match, and he really stands out from the rest of the ROH locker room. This is my first time watching Watanabe, and I must say he throws a great suplex. There was a few sick Germans, including a release full rotation German on the concrete which was jaw dropping. Young ends up turning the tides with some really athletic counters, a roll through, and an airplane spin into a TKO. I like this win for Young as it shows, once again, that ROH has seem very different types of wrestlers. Winner: Silas Young
BJ Whitmer w/Adam Page & Colby Corino vs. Moose w/Vesa Scott, Stokley Hathaway: My God, Moose comes like a huge star. In less than a year this guy went from a hot prospect to legit star. Longtime ROH grappler and leader of The Decade, BJ Whitmer took the mic and cut one of the best promos he’s ever cut. He runs down Moose and totally heels out and ‘allows’ Colby Cornio, the ‘young boy’ of The Decade to fight Moose. Corin, Steve Corino’s actual son, is very slight and lean compared to Moose.
Match #3: Moose vs. Colby Corino: Moose makes like a tree and beats the living crap out of Colby. He slams Colby like a rag dolls into the rails as Steve Corino watches on in pain. Moose power bombs the crap out Corino on the ring apron and then tosses him into the ropes. He then breaks Corino in half with a vicious power bomb on the floor. Winner: Moose
Outside Promo: Jersey’s own Jay Lethal, in full heel mode, tells his manager Truth Martini, he does not want any part of the Briscoes. Truth assures him that he won’t.
The Main Event – Jay Diesel (subbing for Jay Lethal) & Donovan Dijak w/Truth Martini & Jay Lethal vs. The Briscoe Brothers: I honestly thought this would be a complete squash, but surprising it wasn’t. The Briscoes are the superior team here, they’re probably one of the best tag teams in the world right now (and have been for nearly 10 years). However, they gave the lanky Dijak and tiny Diesel a lot. Dijak is still pretty raw but he’s got some nice moves (his best came after the match0. Diesel, on the other hand, is more of a rough and rugged wrestler, who uses his boxing skills. He reminds me of a slighter version of Taz. These two have a solid future in ROH, but they’re not Briscoes. Mark played the Ricky Morton here, but the wild-eyed, wooly master of ‘Redneck Kung Fu’ has some brilliant moves, and he has so much agility for such a burly wrestler. It still surprises me that Jay Briscoe is so over in ROH, and has become a legit bad ass. When the company first started he was more of a young, up and comer, that was used to put over talent (his run with Samoa Joe was awesome). Jay gets a hot tag and brutalizes Diesel and Dijak. Big boots to everyone, and then he sets up the Doomsday Device. Mark demolishes him with a clothesline. Winner: The Briscoe Brothers
Post-Match: Dijak DESTROYS Mark on the outside. He puts Mark in a torture rack, flips him like a Burning Hammer and then BOOTS him in the jaw. That was crazy awesome. Jay Briscoe clears the ring. Jay Lethal runs in, and Briscoe kills him with a Jay Driller, double underhook piledriver.
Thoughts on the First Episode: Ring of Honor did almost everything right here. They did not show a clip show, which was refreshing. The audience was thrown into the matches and the feuds, but promos and clip packages helped fill in some gaps. The promotion really emphasized how their wrestlers are different. There’s no ex-WWE retreads, no tired wrestlers, nothing. The wrestlers came off as fresh, intense, unique, and must-see attractions. Moose and The Briscoes look like bona fide stars. I can’t wait until other wrestlers like Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, The Young Bucks, ACH, and Michael Elgin make their Destination America debut. The crowds were red hot which is a stark difference from Impact where the crowds sound deader than dead. The lighting, production, the original music — everything is super crisp and tight. It looked like a major promotion. My only gripe was seeing two heels weasel their way out of their matches on the same show.
Ring of Honor airs every Wednesday at 8pm on Destination America.
Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be six years old in 2015 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He can be read every Monday for the Happy Mondays Interview Series as well as his weekly reviews on Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men and Hannibal. His goal, once again, is to write 500 stories this year (a goal he accomplished in 2014). He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom