Last week, Kevin Steen defended his ROH Championship, Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team had some harsh words for the All Night Express, and Sara Del Rey challenged Maria for the title of First Lady of ROH.
In order to top last week’s episode, ROH needed to develop stories, feature some good matches, and be completely devoid of Steve Corino.
This week’s Ring of Honor Wrestling delivered on all three counts.
SLIDE 8 SPOILER ALERT
As a warning, there is an ROH/TNA spoiler on slide No. 8, entitled “The Negatives of Taping in Advance.” I think that’s vague enough to warn people off, but specific enough that anyone who watches or keeps up with TNA will know what I'm talking about.
Last week, Eddie Kingston made the save as Kevin Steen and his cronies attacked Mike Mondo after their match.
Embarrassingly, I failed to mention this in last week’s review. My excuse is that my brain shut off to protect itself from Steve Corino.
I’ve been interested enough in Chikara to get my hands on a few of their shows, so the thought of a match between the ROH Champion and the Chikara Grand Champion at Boiling Point is potentially exciting.
I say “potentially” because I doubt there will be a clean finish. Neither promotion wants to allow their most important singles champion to lose a match with implicit promotional supremacy on the line.
It’s happened once already. When Steen and Kingston clashed in Chikara, Steen lost by disqualification.
This week, we were reminded of Eddie Kingston’s story, in which he apparently sacrificed his marriage and children for his promotion.
I hope that’s not legit, because it seems like a tragically misplaced priority.
Recent interactions between the House of Truth and the Embassy have been utterly fascinating.
Kevin Kelly hasn’t been particularly subtle hinting at collusion. However, the pieces still don’t fit.
Rhino goes from the Embassy to the House of Truth. Roderick Strong and his Television Championship are protected from Tommaso Ciampa.
How does this benefit the Embassy? Even if they get money from renting out Rhino, this seems to be a very poor trade.
Something is missing here and I’m dying to discover what it is.
I love Tommaso Ciampa’s slow descent into madness.
I’ve already explained the various misfortunes that have befallen Ciampa, but they are not just making him angry, they’re driving him mad.
It’s like he can feel the universe conspiring against him, but can’t comprehend or explain it, so he is lashing out at anything that moves.
Evan Bourne’s little brother, Mike Sydal, didn’t stand a chance this week. He put up a good fight, but there was never any doubt that Ciampa was going to win.
I’m interested to see where this goes, especially after Ciampa laid out Prince Nana. All I know is that the “Sicilian Psychopath” has never been a more fitting description.
I think my favorite part of the show was when Tommaso Ciampa stormed the ring to find out the truth from R.D. Evans, Prince Nana, and Truth Martini.
Martini immediately picked up a microphone, as if to sweet talk his way out, before immediately throwing Nana and Evans under the bus.
All week long I’ve been reading about why WWE should not punish AW for his rape joke, and then Truth Martini shows that a heel manager can be contemptible without making light of one of society’s most brutal crimes.
Good for him.
Good for all of us.
I’ll take all the Lance Storm I can get, but I do not need to see any more Rhino or Finlay.
While they both look as tough as nails I don't want to watch another 20 minutes of Finlay’s single-leg takedowns or Rhino losing to everyone who matters.
Rhino has a place in Ring of Honor but he needs to stay relevant.
I wish I could frame the shot of Shelton Benjamin staring down Kenny King. It was as if Shelton passed the torch to the next prototypical athlete.
King’s pure athleticism, unseen outside of your John Morrisons and Tyson Kidds, is reminiscent of Benjamin’s most jaw-dropping moments from his Money in the Bank ladder matches.
I dare you to watch the highlights without muttering, “Oh my god.”
If Shelton could form a coherent sentence, he might have been a WWE world champ.
Although Kenny King’s athleticism draws the inevitable comparison to Shelton Benjamin, Rhett Titus unfortunately inherited Shelton’s speaking abilities.
Congratulations, Rhett! You win the coveted “Least Convincing 'Dawg' at the End of a Sentence” Award! Your prize is a Bryan Danielson DVD and never being allowed to handle microphone again.
His awkward stumbling and metaphor mixing reminded me of Emmitt Smith, whose well-known gaffes inspired my own pseudonym.
I was excited to see the All Night Express win the ROH Tag Team Championships. Kenny King is one of the most exciting athletes in wrestling and Rhett Titus is the perfect foil.
Best yet, it meant that someone other than the Briscoes and Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team would take over the ROH Tag Title for the first time in a year.
Then I saw a clip of Kenny King competing for TNA’s X Division Championship.
I’m not going to look into it so I can save myself from spoilers, but I can’t imagine ANX were allowed to keep their titles.
This is the trouble wrestling companies have in the Internet age.
Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team’s brutal assault on ANX made me eager for a rivalry that now probably won’t happen. Worse yet, I need to pretend that I don’t know this in order to enjoy the next couple of weeks.
When you tape this far in advance, awkward things can happen.
The ungodly and annoying “What?” chant is the worst thing to come out of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s career.
It was great for his turn as a heel, but it took on a life of its own once crowds got into it.
It seemed as though ROH crowds were exempt from such stupidity until this episode. Somehow, it was Shelton Benjamin who put them in their place.
It’s not good when Shelton Benjamin shoots you down.
Outside of what looked like a botched Roderick Strong finisher, this match was perfect. Both the action and the advantage shifted back and forth effortlessly.
The match ended with Michael Elgin looking on, refusing to help as Adam Cole pinned Strong with a Florida Key.
Cole is a superstar in the making and he absolutely deserves the Television Championship after his Best in the World bloodbath with Kyle O’Reilly.
Last week, I said Roderick Strong was not going to hold the title for much longer. However, I imagined him losing it to Michael Elgin.
I think this is for the best. Things are so personal between Strong and Elgin that a championship is probably unnecessary. Plus, Cole gets to continue his impressive streak.
The imminent House of Truth implosion is what makes Ring of Honor’s storytelling a cut above that of WWE.
Roderick Strong is the crown jewel of House of Truth. He is a former ROH Champion and one of two Triple Crown winners in the history of the company. He is used to being the center of attention, in ROH and in Truth Martini’s stable.
However, he's too vain to see the writing on the wall. Strong has been surpassed by Michael Elgin, the House of Truth’s enforcer.
Despite Truth Martini’s peacemaking attempts, Strong’s refusal to face facts is setting him on a collision course with Michael Elgin.
See? That’s a very basic story, but a good one for professional wrestling. Ring of Honor executes them. WWE does not.
Hopefully, this is used to propel Michael Elgin into the World Championship picture. If there is one guy who can credibly take down Kevin Steen, it’s Elgin.
Overall, this was yet another strong episode for Ring of Honor Wrestling. The build for Boiling Point continues as several more matches take shape.
So far, Kevin Steen will defend the ROH Championship against Eddie Kingston and Eddie Edwards and Sara Del Rey will take on Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis in a mixed tag match.
Boiling Point could be an excellent show. Hopefully, the remaining episodes of Ring of Honor Wrestling do a proper job of setting the stage.
Next week, Mike Bennett and Lance Storm clash for the third and final time.
Photos courtesy of rohwrestling.com