Tonight Ring of Honor celebrates their 14th year with a major PPV event, “Winner takes all!” It’s a very good card, especially with New Japan Pro Wrestling working so closely with ROH, as they have been doing over these last few years. Let’s take a look at the match ups that will air tonight, starting at 9pm E.S.T. only on PPV.
* Hirooki Goto vs. Dalton Castle
I’ll admit that Castle’s shtick has grown on me a little, but just a little. He plays the role well, and is a very solid performer in the ring as well, but it still doesn’t “fit” in ROH to me. “The Party Peacock” is just out of place inside the red and black ring. He will absolutely be put to the test tonight by one of New Japan’s greatest, in Goto. I expect Castle to impress, but I more fully expect Goto to beat the living hell out of the Peacock. As such, I am anxious for this match up.
* Grudge Match: Adam Page vs. BJ Whitmer
Whitmer is an amazing heel, and extremely hated by the ROH faithful. Page has been “promising” for a long, long, time now. Here’s the chance to make Page start down the road to future greatness, and if anyone can help him to do that, it’s Whitmer. I have to wonder if Page’s feud with Steve Corino is going to play into this. I am nearly certain it will, and my fear with that is Page getting saddled with Colby Corino. While I mean no offense to the rookie Colby, I don’t think teaming them up will help Page, so I hope that doesn’t happen.
* Alex Shelley vs. Christopher Daniels
I am a big fan of Daniels, and would love to see him get a serious run in ROH. I am glad he and Kazarian got the tag titles for a bit, but I’d love to see Daniels with the TV, or even World title before he hangs it up. I suspect though that he’s going to be used to get others over, and here I suspect this begins the build of getting The Motor City Machine Guns back together.
* Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin vs. Mark & Jay Briscoe
Getting into NJPW has lit a fire under Michael Elgin’s butt, and also has the ROH fans back on his side. Teaming with NJPW’s greatest star is absolutely helping him as he transitions into NJPW to fulfil a two year contract he recently signed with them. The Briscoe’s, one of the greatest tag teams in the world, can always be counted on to have terrific matches with anyone. This match will be great, you can count on that.
* Kazuchika Okada vs. Moose
Wow…I mean really…wow. Moose is on such a high level trajectory that he seems headed toward an eventual run as ROH World champion without doubt. For Moose to get a match with Okada, the IWGP champion, shows just how highly he’s thought of by the ROH front office. Don’t get me wrong, I am not arguing against Moose’s worth, but this still shocks me. Okada, one of the top 5 wrestlers in the world, will take Moose to the match of his career. If Moose keeps up, and makes this the match of his career, he will win everyone else over, and become a main event player in both ROH and New Japan.
* NEVER Openweight Six Man Title Match: Champions Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks vs. ACH, Matt Sydal & Kushida
The Bucks, and Omega, calling themselves “The Elite” are exactly that. Having kicked AJ Styles out of Bullet Club, these three have gone on to show that they are three of the best wrestlers on Earth. Watching them in a six man team is amazing. It’s as if the Young Bucks have always been a trios team. While ACH and Sydal have been a solid team in ROH, and KUSHIDA is incredible, and one of my favorites, I just don’t see that mix holding a candle to the well-oiled machine that is The Elite. Now understand, I am not saying this won’t be one of the best matches on the card, because I am sure it will, I simply don’t see “The Elite” going down. I do dream of seeing Sydal and Ricochet taking on The Bucks in a series of matches, but I’ll have to watch that in NJPW.
* ROH TV Title Match: Champion Tomohiro Ishii vs. Roderick Strong vs. Bobby Fish
I love all three of these guys, but this match still feels weird to me. Ishii winning the ROH TV title felt off. Not because he’s not worthy of it, as he certainly is, but he pretty much dominated Strong, a man that was on fire, and doing very well with his “Roddy vs The World” challenge. Fish, one of the best technical wrestlers anywhere, never seems fully pushed by ROH. I mean he gets big matches, but he never wins any of them, so I don’t see him getting the title here either. What I am concerned about it Ishii keeping the title, while Strong and Fish remain in a feud over nothing. This match will be great though, no doubt. I just hope I like the result.
* No DQ ROH Tag Team Title Match: Champions War Machine vs. Kenny King & Rhett Titus
The fans have fallen out of love with The All Night Express, so they aren’t really behind their big push, making this match awkward. War Machine have been dominate champions, and I expect them to be seriously challenged here, but since Kenny and Rhett aren’t super over, I don’t see them winning the titles here.
* ROH World Title Match: Champion Jay Lethal vs. Kyle O’Reilly vs. Adam Cole
I don’t enjoy three ways nearly as much as one on one competition, and we have a three way here for the World title….ugh. No matter how skilled and talented wrestlers are, three ways can never avoid that same old formula of someone laying somewhere for minutes at a time, so two guys can go at it, one on one. Setting that annoyance aside, this should be remarkable. I suspect Lethal retains simply because Cole and O’Reilly will not allow either one to win this. They will give the match away because both would rather see Lethal retain, than for each other to win the title. That doesn’t upset me terribly, because Cole vs. O’Reilly is amazing, and something ROH can actually build their company around for years to come, as long as neither man signs with NXT anytime soon. Lethal is also doing a great job as champion, and having recently joined Los Ingobernables de Japón, bringing a brand new element to the wrestling world.
This card is absolutely “Wrestling Done Right,” and I highly recommend it. I have been vocal as of late about wanting ROH to give us more “story” driven angles, and I stand firm on that, but their in ring product is so good, I’ll remain a big fan even if that never happens. I do wish they’d bring their Anniversary show back to Philadelphia though!