Ring of Honor Review (8/11/12): Kyle O'Reilly Returns, Team SCUM Falls
Last week’s episode of Ring of Honor Wrestling found itself with a familiar problem. How do you deal with continuity when you tape months in advance, then air an episode the same day you have a live pay-per-view?
This week’s answer wasn’t always pretty, but it was the best Ring of Honor could do given their current limitations.
Airing the same evening as their disappointing Boiling Point iPPV, Ring of Honor made up for their continuity issues with an enjoyable hour of wrestling and storytelling.
Thumbs Up: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Matt Taven
Kyle O’Reilly dominated most of the opening match, fending off several of Matt Taven’s comeback attempts. After Taven’s frog splash met with O’Reilly’s knees, Taven quickly tapped to a Fujiwara Armbar.
This was a well-executed match that helped both guys. Taven looked tough and resilient while O’Reilly looked vicious and dominant.
Don’t worry, Matt. My arm doesn’t bend like that either.
Thumbs Up: Kyle O’Reilly
If you would have told me in January that I’d be missing Kyle O’Reilly, I would have called you insane.
However, his character won me over with a tidal wave of irrepressible entitlement and whiny excuses. It’s impossible to like him, which is what makes him one of the most effective heels in wrestling today.
Here we see him explaining that he didn’t tap out to Adam Cole at Best in the World. He was actually just trying to get more blood circulating to his hands.
Thumbs Down: ROH’s Jim Johnston
Jim Johnston, WWE’s composer and music director, is probably the most underrated WWE employee today. He creates most of the entrance music used by WWE talent today and most of the music for WWE’s incredible video packages.
It’s easy to name the missteps (Wade Barrett’s punk theme, Ryback’s awful new one) but his iconic themes for Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Undertaker and more have become synonymous with their legacies.
Heck, whenever I catch TNA, I substitute “Medal” for whatever generic theme Kurt Angle is using these days.
I’m sure ROH can’t afford a composer, but Kyle O’Reilly’s bad Danzig knockoff theme followed by Matt Taven’s bad Skid Row wannabe theme leads me to believe that anything would lead to an improvement.
Thumbs Up: Hahaha, Height Advantage…
Kevin Kelly: “Will Matt Taven’s height advantage come into play?”
No. No it won’t.
I like the Tale of the Tape. It helps bring a big fight feel to Ring of Honor matches.
However, I do not understand the height advantage. I can’t think of one situation in a standard match where height alone would be an advantage.
Of course, if they stopped talking about it, we wouldn’t be treated to the hilarious silence after someone brings it up.
Thumbs Down: Nigel McGuinness Isn’t Racist, But…
There are some phrases that you just know are going to end poorly. If someone says, “This isn’t racist, but…,” something racist is going to be said. Guaranteed. No exceptions.
“Not to make too big a deal of it, but…” can be added to the list. You know some Grade-A hyperbole is on the way.
For example, losing the world championship, “Not to make too big a deal of it, it’s almost like losing a child.”
I hope Nigel either doesn’t have children or cannot differentiate between his children and championships. He just throws his son around his shoulder and drills his opponents with his daughter when the referee is distracted.
Thumbs Down: No. 1 Contender Continues Impressive Streak Against Nobodies
Remember when Ryback started simul-murdering jobbers and it was awesome? Then he kept doing it and it wasn’t impressive anymore?
Rhino continued his reign of terror against no one who matters when he took on something named Todd Sople, who was sporting the WORST RING GEAR IN HUMAN HISTORY.
If you made a black and gold singlet out of the animated Two-Face’s suit, and then threw some random dollar signs on it, you’d get Todd Sople’s ring gear.
Did Sople score the upset of the century? Or did Rhino gore him in several seconds?
I’ll give you a hint. It rhymes with “s’more.”
Thumbs Up: House of Truth vs. the Bravado Brothers
This was another short match that did exactly what it needed to do. In the past, Ring of Honor struggled with shorter matches. They could showcase wrestling clinics, but seemed adrift when they had only five minutes to tell a story.
This match was wonderful. Michael Elgin and Roderick Strong began by tagging themselves in, much to each other’s chagrin.
Everyone got involved for a short period of time. Finally, a dazed Roderick Strong went to tag in Elgin, only to find him taking a short stroll, nursing a fictional cramp, leading to an O’Connor Roll and a victory for the Bravados.
The House of Truth continues their descent into full-fledged civil war.
The Bravados get a win and immediately establish some credibility.
Everyone is happy.
Thumbs Up: Just Wow, Michael Elgin
I have mentioned in the past that no one in wrestling leaves me in awe quite like Michael Elgin. He does things in the ring that I don’t see anywhere else. Elgin left me awestruck twice this week.
First, he caught and halted an arm drag in the middle of the move, something I had never seen before.
Then, he caught one Bravado while carrying the other in the fireman’s carry position. After walking around a bit, he hit a simultaneous Samoan Drop and Fallaway Slam on his opponents.
Yes, I hit rewind and watched it again.
Thumbs Up: The Bravados!
It was good to see Lancelot and Harlem Bravado return to Ring of Honor after some time in Japan’s Pro Wrestling NOAH.
With the dissolution of the All Night Express, the upcoming collapse of the House of Truth and the absence of Shelton Benjamin, the ROH tag team division could use a shot in the arm.
Hopefully, a new and improved Bravado Brothers can make some noise in the upcoming tag team tournament.
Thumbs Down: Lose the Chaw, Jay
I hate the “What?” chant, but it was all I could say as the Briscoes trash-talked the Guardians of Truth. I could barely understand a word Jay was saying.
I can appreciate chewing tobacco because I don’t have to breathe it while people around me get their nicotine fix, but it doesn’t make for a good promo.
Thumbs Up: The Code of Honor Is Awesome, Part 17
The Code of Honor is the most useful convention in all of wrestling.
Here, Kevin Steen offered his hand to Kenny King. King hesitantly accepted.
Steen didn’t attack, but rather carried on like he and King had the most elaborate secret handshake in the history of secret handshakes.
Kenny King responded with a fist to Steen’s face.
In 10 seconds, we established good guys and bad guys, that Kevin Steen is disrespectful and doesn’t take his opponents seriously, and that Kenny King isn’t going to take crap from anyone.
Try doing all of that in 10 seconds using any other method.
Thumbs Up: Jay Lethal & All Night Express vs. Team SCUM
In the episode’s main event, Jay Lethal and the All Night Express (Kenny King and Rhett Titus) took on Kevin Steen, Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino, now collectively known as Team SCUM.
After their Code of Honor scuffle, Lethal and ANX took it straight to SCUM, dominating the match until SCUM isolated Kenny King.
The match broke down after King made it to his partner. A signature move orgy followed, leaving Lethal alone to defeat Jacobs with a Lethal Injection.
Team SCUM attacked the winners after the match, holding all three titles in the air as the show ended.
I liked the tease at the end and I would expect Team SCUM to reach the finals of the Tag Team Title Tournament, increasing the pressure on Jim Cornette to deal with Steen and his crew.
Hopefully, Jay Lethal will get an ROH Championship match out of this. His recent victories over Tommaso Ciampa make him the perfect opponent for Kevin Steen at Death Before Dishonor. Unfortunately, we get Rhino instead.
This was a fun, fast-paced main event. Too bad nothing will come from it because…
Thumbs Down: Awwwwwkward…
At Boiling Point, Truth Martini mentioned that there would be a tournament for the freshly vacated Tag Team Championships. In this week’s episode, the All Night Express came out for the main event with their Tag Team Titles in tow.
By the way, this episode aired an hour or two after Boiling Point ended.
When you tape this far in advance, it’s impossible to adjust for things like, say, one half of your tag team champions bolting for a rival promotion.
It’s even more difficult to coordinate shows when you tape that far in advance, then have an episode air the same night as a live pay-per-view.
You can’t use the episode to promote the pay-per-view, but you can’t really move on to the next event either. You just continue simmering angles and introduce a couple new things.
As awkward as it was, it was the best ROH could do, all things considered.
Despite the show being a major tease, showing us glimpses of what could have been if Kenny King had stuck around, it was excellent in spite of its limitations.
Kyle O’Reilly’s return will eventually lead to a match with Davey Richards. The House of Truth will soon crumble. Several new wrinkles were added to ROH’s tournament to crown new Tag Team Champions.
That’s pretty good for an hour’s work.
All photos courtesy of rohwrestling.com