Credit is given where credit is due. Despite being owned by a multi-billion dollar entity, Sinclair Broadcasting, Ring of Honor is run in a very similar manner to a lot of small market sports teams. Its best talent is inevitably swallowed up by bigger fish which prompts the necessity of hitting that good old reset button. This is the focus come 18th Anniversary.
The talent that has come and gone over the years includes the likes of Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, the Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, etc. We could list a dozen other names but you definitely get the point.
Notwithstanding the loss of so many marquee performers, R.O.H. has not only weathered the storm, it will be marking its 18th anniversary at a Las Vegas gala slated for the 13th of March. One can say without a doubt that in the crowded house of 2020, Ring of Honor features the soundest technical wrestling anywhere in North America.
Moreover, if you enjoy the storytelling aspect of the art form and acrobatic lay it on the line moves, you will not be disappointed.
Jeff Cobb vs. Slex
Australian newcomer Slex nicknamed the Business will have some risky business at the 18th-Anniversary show when he faces off against Jeff Cobb.
Cobb is an exceptional talent and one of the hottest commodities in the industry today. He defies logic by moving like a Cheetah notwithstanding his imposing and burly physique. The build of a weightlifter, the agility of a gymnast. Those who are wrestling historians will see many similarities to Kokina who fought thirty-some years ago. Kokina after literally doubling his body weight had a highly successful run as Yokozuna.
Slex for his part is no slouch. While new to North America, he has been dominant in the Australian scene for a while. He also combines a pristine physique with technical savoir-faire and a fine move set. Imagine if you will, a more muscular Kip Sabian.
Considerable cardio edge to the Melbourne native. His best chance is exhaust Cobb with his speed and endurance and hopes to take the former Television champ out thusly.
While being an eternal optimist, Jeff Cobb can basically crush any opponent beyond recognition. Look for Slex to accumulate some Air Miles as JeffCobb takes him on a tour or two of the islands.
Bully Ray vs. Eli Isom
W hope not many of you have had to work in a toxic work environment. Sadly, and not to worry, we are talking storyline here, this is the case in Ring of Honor.
The culprit is none other than the dreaded Bully Ray. The Hall of Famer has brought on suffering and humiliation to the likes of Flip Gordon, Hot Sauce Tracy Williams, and a few other young competitors.
Brought in about 4 years ago to serve as a mentor to young talent, the native of Hell s Kitchen quickly concluded that the younger and rising stars came to the dance with a sense of entitlement and no real sense of paying one’s dues. Bully Ray is all about steel chains and brass knuckles, zero tolerance for silver spoons. He took it on himself to teach this new generation a lesson in humility through a good beatdown or two.
Eli Isom is but one performer to feel the wrath of Bully Ray. Last month in St Charles Mo. he was driven through a table by the tag team immortal.
Isom is in tremendous condition with Baryshnikov like agility and the ability to strike with buzzsaw like kicks.
A lot at stake in this bout, more than just pride. Bully Ray has vowed that as soon as he loses a match, he will immediately take his ball and chains and go home. Sami Zayn may no longer be able to lay sole claim to the title The Great Liberator.
Session Moth Martina vs. Nicole Savoy
A promising start to the show as the Women of Honor are showcased. The high flying Irish neophyte, Session Moth Martina is scheduled to face Nicole Savoy. While the latter might not garner a lot of name recognition, Savoy has been wrestling on the West Coast Indie circuit for years and over that time has faced formidable foes like Thunder Rosa, Candace LeRae, Tenille Dashwood and Shotzi Blackheart. Lots on the line for both participants, high stakes bring out top rank performances.
Dann Maff vs. Kenny King vs. Shane Taylor vs. Bateman
We follow up with a four-way dance, this will be a Dealer s Choice match, very fitting for Oy Vegas. At stake, a chance to compete for the championship of one’s choice. The participants, able, hard-hitting and very evenly matched. The foursome is comprised of Bateman who is under the tutelage of Horror King, Vincent, Kenny K-I-N-G= King, Dan Maff and last but definitely not least Shane Taylor.
Taylor is a mountain of a man yet he moves like a Puma. The former TV champ has a devastating knockout punch as well. Dan Maff tips the toledos at 285 lbs and has recently returned to ROH after a 15-year hiatus. The one-time tag team specialist has the perfect opportunity to make up for the lost time by excelling here.
Bateman has lightning-like striking power and is adept at putting opponents away with a move he calls Death from Above. His edge comes from being new to ROH, ergo the least scouted of the foursome.
Kenny King is extremely versatile and even more opportunistic. He is a two time former TV champion and also held tag team gold with Rhett Titus. King has an interesting past as a member of the Rebellion stable along with Shane Taylor.
No matter what the circumstances, Kenny King always seems to find a way to come out on top. This war of attrition may open doors aplenty for the Las Vegas resident. All hail the King.
The Briscoes vs. Dalton Castle and Joe Hendry
The ROH tag team division is loaded with talent. That being said, it is almost odd to see the Briscoes NOT in the immediate picture for yet another title run. They will have their hands full at the 18th Anniversary show when they take on the odd couple pairing of Joe Hendry and Dalton Castle.
Joe Hendry is not only a fine singer, but he has also traveled the globe and has found a home in R.O.H. Amazing mat skills, Hendry has even recently participated in the Commonwealth games in amateur wrestling making it into the final 16.
Dalton Castle has an excellent pedigree as a singles competitor. The accomplishments are almost as impressive as his ring entrance. His theme music sounds like it belongs on the Queen album Innuendo. He has even brought back The Boys but not the original version thereof. Kind of like the fake Razor and Diesel part two, not impressed at all.
Jay and Mark Briscoe are eight-time ROH tag team champions and are chomping at the bit for another run. A win over Hendry and Castle would be a nice step back towards the promised land. However, a loss would take them towards the back of the line. Dem Boys would not take much pleasure in locking horns with Eli Isom and Cheeseburger.
I anticipate a win for the symbiotic siblings with the distinct possibility of the Castle/Hendry tag team imploding before our eyes. Tensions exist already and Dalton has a fuse as short as a sneeze. This could set up a nice feud between the two and firmly establish the Scotsman as a spotlight face.
Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship
Marty Scrull and Flip Gordon vs. Jay Lethal and Jonathan Grisham (c)
Villain Enterprises is another faction looking for championship gold. Marty Scurll and the Mercenary, Flip Gordon will get their shot against Jonathon Gresham and Jay Lethal. While the latter duo is literally among the most gifted technicians on the planet a change of philosophy has seen them adapt, and successfully so, a win at all costs mentality. They will have no qualms over bending and breaking the rules to achieve their goals and hang on to their titles.
PCO and Brody King vs. Alex Zayne and Rey Horus
Villain Enterprise members duly note this and are by no means choir boys. Brody King is much larger than Lethal and Gresham and can use his size and power advantage to do a variety of damage. King and Scurll are very accustomed to enjoying the champion status and come March 13th in Las Vegas, the table could be very nicely set for another rendezvous with destiny.
Bandido vs. Dragon Lee
While we all wish Simone Johnson the best of luck in her future training endeavors, there is a fourth-generation talent already on the scene, highly successful and acclaimed internationally. We are talking of course about the Mexican sensation Bandido who has close to ten years of experience.
Bandido is the archetypical 21st-century luchador. While high flying and well versed in the catch as catch can style of the art form, he can strike you down like a bad case of the flu.
The same can be said for Dragon Lee, a second-generation star from South of the Border, well, actually 2 borders. Lee is the brother of Rush and the reigning ROH Television champion having beaten the powerhouse Shane Taylor a few short months ago.
More than National pride will be up for grabs when Bandido challenges Dragon Lee on the 18th Anniversary card. The coveted TV title will be at stake as well. Expect nothing but Fuego in this encounter. Hotter than the blazing Nevada sun.
I expect to witness a spectacular confrontation with more spots than a leopard with chickenpox. Dragon Lee will most likely retain but the issues here will be far from settled.
Ring of Honor World Championship
Rush (c) vs. Mark Haskins
At the very least, Rush of La Faccion Ingobernable owes Nick Aldis a nice dinner invitation. Could it happen after 18th Anniversary? No shortage of fine restaurants in Las Vegas from what I hear. The National Treasure likes his steak burnt to a crisp.
It was in St Charles, Missouri at the Gateway to Honor show a couple of weeks ago that during a three-way match for the ROH championship featuring PCO, Rush and Mark Haskins that Nick Aldis took out PCO with the 10lbs of gold unbeknownst to Todd Sinclair allowing Rush to apply the Bull s Horns on PCO and procure himself a victory.
While Aldis and Rush have teamed together, this was a classic case of a friend s enemy being your friend. Tensions run rocky mountain high between Strictly Business and Villain Enterprises.
British star Mark Haskins benefits from the Aldis coup immeasurably. The 3-way dance in St.Louis had as a stipulation that the wrestler who was NOT pinned would earn a main event spot at the 18th Anniversary gala. An amazing opportunity for Mark Haskins.
The thirteen-year veteran and member of the Lifeblood faction has R.A.F. like flying skills and is known to use a very effective finishing move known as the Cradle to the Grave, a variation of the Pumphandle Piledriver.
Should the Oxford Outlaw fight a perfect fight against Rush, we could witness a monumental upset that will be the buzz of the wrestling world. In my view, Haskins day will come but not now and not against Rush. The latter s star is taking off like Apollo 11 and it would be astonishing for him to lose his belt at this juncture. Still, stranger things have happened and maybe Villain Enterprises is planning yet another measure of revenge against Strictly Business.
We will find out soon enough from Sin City at the 18th Anniversary show of shows.