Never in my entire life did I ever think Ronda Rousey would appear in Ring of Honor, yet here we are. Tumors started swirling that Rousey was backstage in LA for the Collision/Rampage tapings, but the crowd was in for a treat. ROH would run back the women’s tag match from PW Revolver the night before and have Rousey team up with her best friend Marina Shafir to take on Athena and Billie Starkz. Although that is the attraction match for this episode, there is still a lot to get to so let’s review it.
Athena and Billie Starkz Promo: Athena and Billie Starkz declare an open challenge to any women’s tag team in the back that thinks they can step up to them. Athena and Starkz leave as Shafir comes into the picture calling her tag team partner. This sets up our main event, the women’s tag team match.
ROH Pure Championship: Katsuyori Shibata vs Trent Baretta: Our Pure Champion has returned to TV, welcoming back Shibata. I like Baretta’s singles run he is having right now in ROH. Since Taylor is hurt it will be a while before Best Friend’s reunite, so why not have Baretta in ROH? This match showed the more technical side of Baretta which is typical in these Pure Rules matches. Shibata wins as he moves to 8-0 in Pure Rules matches as he inches closer towards Final Battle.
Winner: “And Still” Katsuyori Shibata
Trish Adora vs Diamante vs Kiera Hogan vs Willow Nightingale: It’s been quite a while since we have heard Ian and Caprice rap and sing to Nightingale’s theme song, that was fun to hear. This match proved why the ROH Women’s Division is so hot right now. There are so many viable contenders for that title that eventually when Athena loses the division will be in good hands. The crazy thing about this match is most of these women had winning streaks going into the match such as Hogan being on a six straight win streak. In the end, Nightingale pins Adora to gain a six-straight win streak.
Winner: Willow Nightingale
Tony Nese vs Ethan Page: Before the match starts, Mark Sterling tells us that they canceled group training this week because they are focused on defeating Ethan Page again, he tells Aubrey to make sure to call the match down the middle and also says that Nese’s match against Serpentico from three weeks ago he is throwing out because Page distracted Nese for Serpentico to get the win. Towards the end of the match, Sterling tries to hold off Page’s foot to help Nese get the advantage and Aubrey throws him out from ringside. This helps Page take advantage and get the win. After the match was over Page and Nese kept on fighting while Sterling called for security.
Winner: Ethan Page
*They showed a highlight video from this past weekend’s Full Gear event which showed Eddie Kingston successfully retaining the ROH World Heavyweight Championship. They also discussed Kingston putting his title on the line in the Continental Classic as well as Samoa Joe and MJF successfully defending the ROH Tag Team Championships.*
The WorkHorsemen (JD Drake and Anthony Henry) vs Iron Savages (Bronson and Boulder) vs The Infantry (Carlie Bravo and Shawn Dean) vs West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson and Royce Issacs): Multi-team tag team matches we all know my opinion on those. Iron Savages held their own in this match, and even though they did not win they are continuing to prove every week why they will one day be a top tag team within ROH. In my opinion, this match proves why we need the tag titles on TV because, for a solid month, we have had random tag team matches for no reason since the tag titles are only defended on AEW pay-per-views. The Workhorsemen are on a roll as of late as they pick up the huge win!
Winners: The WorkHorsemen (JD Drake and Anthony Henry)
Tony Nese Promo: Nese says it is not fair that Page got Sterling banned from ringside and he says he had that planned all along. Sterlings says that this match does not count because since he has a manager license and he is required to be there it should not count, He looks to talk to higher ROH management to solve the situation and says there will be a third match.
Pure Rules Match: Lee Moriarty vs Wheeler Yuta: Since all of the other members of the BCC are in the Continental Classic, why not use Yuta within the ROH brand for the rest of the year? Yuta dominated most of this match-up as he even bit Moriarty to take advantage and get the win. This match was fine as it just proved why the future is truly bright within ROH. Looks like Yuta may be gunning toward that Pure Title again.
Winner: Wheeler Yuta
Lee Johnson vs Jack Cartwheel vs Willie Mack vs Fred Rosser: So many multi-person matches on this week’s episode that is for sure. I have never seen Cartwheel before this match, but I already want to see more of him. He was the complete underdog in this match, but he brought it to the other three competitors and showed why he belonged in the match. Johnson must have learned something from all of his losses over the last couple of weeks because he defied the odds and won the four-corner survival match. Although they did not show Shane Taylor Promotions watching this match, you knew they were proud of Johnson getting the win.
Winner: Lee Johnson
Ethan Page Promo: Page does not understand why Sterling decides if this feud is over when it should be up to himself and management. He says that even though Nese cheated the first time he still shook Nese’s hand because he was the bigger person and followed the rules of the code of honor. He does not understand why Nese is trying to change the narrative to benefit him instead of showing the narrative of the truth. Page says he is going to make sure that when they are done the last thing he is going to make Nese do is shake his hand.
Ronda Rousey and Marina Shafir vs Athena and Billie Starkz: It truly amazes me that Shafir got no reaction to her entrance but Rousey got the loudest reaction of the entire episode. They did not use Bad Reputation on the episode, they used another song for Rousey instead. Every time Athena and Rousey were supposed to face off Athena quickly tagged in Starkz, is Athena scared of the Rowdy one? Ian kept mentioning on commentary that in WWE Athena was once Ronda’s partner who helped show her the ropes and how to become a wrestler, we love a full circle moment. This version of Rousey reminded me of the wrestler we saw during her first run with WWE. Someone that was enjoying what she was doing and someone that just wanted to learn. I hate to say this, but this is one of the best ROH TV main events we have seen since Tony Khan took over ROH. The crowd was into it, the commentators were into it, this is how ROH is supposed to feel! I did not know what to expect within this match but all four women exceeded my expectations. The match ends with Starkz making the blind tag after Athena hits her finisher and has Ronda for the three count. Starkz tapped to Rousey’s arm bar costing Athena yet another loss. WOW. After the match, Athena goes to hit Rousey with the belt but she misses and Rousey grabs the belt and taunts it. Athena runs out of the ring as Rousey throws Athena’s title as she clutches it harder than usual.
Winners: Ronda Rousey and Marina Shafir
Overall: I loved the way the episode was paced. There were not too many backstage interviews and there were no squash matches at all. The episode was only 90 minutes long, letting every match get a long time. Rousey getting in an ROH ring is still something I did not expect in 2023, but she showed that she not only was engaged within the match, but you can tell she was having fun which is something we did not see during her second run in WWE. The only worry that I have is that we are three weeks away from Final Battle and we have yet to announce a single match, let’s hope they start building the card next week.
ROH Episode 39 is streaming now on watchroh.com
ROH Episode 40: A Graduation for the Ages
In two weeks, ROH will put on their final pay-per-view of the year in Final Battle. Luckily in this episode, we had two matches announced and we are building to our huge six-way survival match for the TV Title which will also take place at this event. So with all that being said, let’s review ROH!
Emergency MEM: Athena does not understand how in tag matches she and Starkz keep on losing, but if Starkz is in a singles match she keeps on winning. She sends Starkz to get ready for her match as she promises Athena she will not fail her. Athena then calls out ROH World Heavyweight Champion Eddie Kingston for saying she is not pulling her weight on the show. She says that her back is so heavy from carrying ROH on her back so Kingston better watch his back especially since he is never on the programming.
ROH World Heavyweight Championship Proving Grounds Match: Eddie Kingston vs Lee Johnson: Very happy Kingson is here for the third week in a row, minor victories people. To follow up on Athena’s promo on Kingston, commentary kept on saying how much more dominant Athena has been as a champion compared to Kingston. Also adding on the details that her proving grounds matches are usually over more quickly compared to Kingston’s. Johnson had a great showing within the match, but since they are trying to build Kingston up there was no way he was going to lose this one.
Winner: “And Still” Eddie Kingston
The Infantry (Carlie Bravo and Shawn Dean) vs The Boys (Brent and Brandon Tate): At the start of this match, the commentary team said that the ROH Tag Team division is questionable at the moment because of Adam Cole and MJF’s injuries… The Infantry should be your tag team champions, they prove themselves week in and week out and the crowd loves them. This match was a great match between two tag teams that are both vying for those titles, unfortunately, it seems as if ROH does not even know what they are doing with the titles.
Winners: The Infantry (Carlie Bravo and Shawn Dean)
Rachael Ellering Promo: Ellering says that Hersch is doing great and Kanellis interrupts. Hersch and Ellering both want to know what the conversion Kanellis had last week with the Renegades was about. She says it was just business and she was just introducing herself to them. Hersch asks if Kanellis is going to be by her side during her match tonight as Ellering and Kanellis in unison answer yes.
Emi Sakura vs Trish Adora: Woah this match ruled. As I said in last week’s episode, I do want them to continue using Sakura on ROH TV weekly. It gives her the reps that she needs as well as the TV practice so she can be used more within AEW TV. Adora is someone who is underutilized within the ROH Women’s division and who I hope to see more of in 2024. Go watch this one, the future of the women’s division is looking bright.
Winner: Emi Sakura
Leyla Hersch vs Heather Reckless: Hersch went from someone who had no friends within ROH to now having everyone trying to be her friend! This was not a total squash as Reckless had some offense within the match which was nice to see. After the match Ellering and Kanellis went to celebrate with their friend as Hersch left the ring, it seems as if Hersch is going to have to make a choice eventually.
Winner: Leyla Hersch
Willie Mack vs Robert Anthony: Always nice to see Willie Mack in ROH. He dominated most of this match with Anthony getting little offense… sigh
Winner: Willie Mack
Marina Shafir vs Billie Starkz: This was Shafir’s best ROH match to date. She held her own with Starkz and she has improved in the ring since signing with AEW a couple of years ago. This match also got a lot of time which goes to show how much the women’s division is a staple within ROH. Starkz gets the win and then beats down Shafir to prove her new dominance, as this leads to the segment of the ages.
Winner: Billie Starkz
A Minion Graduation: Athena and Lexy Nair come out to approach Starkz. Nair is wearing a cap and gown and gifts Starkz with one as well. Athena welcomes the crowd to the MIT graduation ceremony and begins to talk about the valedictorian. She says that this person when she first met her sucked and is now a lot tougher and she has changed Athena’s life. The valedictorian is none other than Nair as Starkz seems disappointed. She thanks her mom and Athena for all of their support and then officially becomes Minion number bestie. The ceremony concludes as Starkz screams what about me? which Athena claims today was Nair’s moment, not hers. They exit the ring and walk up the ramp as Starkz attacks Athena and says she has done everything she has wanted and it is still not recognized. She grabs the ROH Women’s title and raises it high as Athena laughs. This is how you make a star folks, off to Final Battle we go.
TV Title Eliminator: Evil Uno vs Dalton Castle: Negative One came out with Uno in this match, this was a nice touch. I was shocked this match got a lot of time because I figured Castle would dominate most of the match, but as always I was wrong. I would not mind seeing Uno more in ROH since it seems as if AEW does not have any plans for Dark Order within AEW, Castle gets the win and punches his shot to the six-way match in Texas.
Winner: Dalton Castle
Tony Khan Announcement: Tony Khan hypes up Final Battle and congratulates Nair on graduating from MIT. Starkz interrupts and says she does not understand how she has a 4.6 GPA and did not graduate from MIT, and she calls her shot against Athena. Khan says that since Starkz is on a nine-match singles run she deserves the match and grants it at the pay-per-view as Nair looks on terrified, buckle up.
Brandon Cutler and Colt Cabana vs GPA and Trevor Outlaw: This was more of a comedic match than a serious match on the show. They kept taunting their opponents and eventually got the win.
Winners: Brandon Cutler and Colt Cabana
TV Title Eliminator: Gringo Loco vs Komander: I thought Loco deserved this win more than Komander just because he always has some of the best matches when he is on TV. This match was fine, but I thought Castle and Uno were better. Four spots remain within the six-way match and I can not wait to see who else fills the spots.
Tony Nese Promo: Sterling says that since he has a manager license he needs to be at ringside for his client’s matches. Page comes out and says that he is tired of Nese trying to sneak around and get the better hand in his matches. Jerry Lynn says that Page will get his rubber match and Sterling will be allowed at ringside, however, he will be handcuffed to the post so he does not get involved in the match.
LFI (Preston Vance and Dralisicto) vs Spanish Announce Project (Serpentico and Angelico): So many great tag teams within ROH, if only they had tag team championships to fight over. They seem to be pushing LFI on ROH and Collision so hopefully, they do something big with them soon and fix the tag team title problem.
Winners: LFI (Preston Vance and Dralisico)
Nyla Rose vs Zoey Lynn: Yay for Nyla Rose coming to ROH, boo for this being another squash match.
Winner: Nyla Rose
Iron Savages (Bronson and Boulder) vs Butcher and Blade: Funny enough it seems as if my first inside scoop just got confirmed within this match. This is the common theme within the episode, fix the tag team title picture there are so many teams that can be fighting for those titles… I am happy Butcher and Blade won, they would be perfect tag team champions.
Winners: Butcher and Blade
Brian Cage vs Action Andretti: This should not have main evented the episode, especially with the huge graduation segment for Athena and Starkz. I thought this match was extremely random and was not as good as a lot of the other matches we saw throughout the episode. Brian Cage gets the win with the help of Prince Nana.
Winner: Brian Cage
Overall: This has been the best ROH episode in such a long time. We have so many storylines! Thank you for listening to Tony Khan. Final Battle is going to be one of those events that you are not going to want to miss and this episode proved it. I can not wait for next week!
ROH Episode 40 is streaming now on watchroh.com