ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli def. Willie Mack in an ROH World Championship Proving Ground Match
I'm all for Mack being featured in Ring of Honor as he's a terrific talent and it's the perfect platform for him at this point in time. The outcome was never in doubt with Castagnoli virtually guaranteed to be defending against Eddie Kingston at Supercard of honor, but Mack was thankfully made to look credible in defeat and they had an entertaining affair. On a side note, I love that Castagnoli won with an uppercut and that he can win with a number of different moves in his arsenal.
Dante Martin def. Mike Bennett
Top Flight beat The Kingdom on the Final Battle Zero Hour pre-show back in December. Top Flight have had a great year in AEW so far, but I'm totally fine with them pulling double duty in ROH as well. Bennett hasn't worked many singles matches in AEW, but this served as a nice reminder of what he could do on his own and Dante's obviously super skilled in his own right. This was a fun sprint. The Kingdom attacking Dante afterward indicates their feud isn't over yet.
Metalik and Blake Christian def. The Trustbusters (Ari Daivari and Slim J)
This is the third straight episode with Trustbusters. It's been a simple feud between them and the duo of Christian and Metalik, but that's still too much exposure for a group that isn't very good. That said, this was a well-worked match with an energetic pace. Even though they aren't a regular team (or at least I don't think they are), Metalik and Christian winning was the right result. They and AR Fox will fight Trustbusters in a six-man tag team match next week.
Eddie Kingston def. Jeeves Kay
They followed up a Trustbusters match with... another Trustbusters match. Seriously? I've seen Kay have some quality matches in IMPACT and the NWA, but he's jobber fodder in AEW and now ROH. This was a simple squash for the frustrated Kingston, who wants his opportunity at the ROH World Championship. Keeping this short and sweet would've been the way to go, but instead it went a little longer than it needed to, likely to drag out Castagnoli's presence at ringside.
ROH Women's World Champion Athena def. Hyan in an ROH Women's World Championship Proving Ground Match
Hyan was a part of ROH's women's division when it relaunched in 2021, but apparently this crowd wasn't familiar with her at all based on how quiet they were for her during her entrance and whenever she was on offense. This was decent, but like Kingston vs. Kay, it would have been better off being shorter because I don't know much Hyan actually gained from this. During a backstage interview later in the show, Athena challenge Yuka Sakazaki to a title match at Supercard of Honor, which is logical seeing as how they were feuding on Dark/Elevation for weeks prior to the premiere of ROH TV on HonorClub.
Silas Young def. Marcus Kross
Young made a few appearances on AEW TV last year, but he hasn't wrestled under the ROH banner since late 2021. I've always been a big fan of his and am glad he's going to be a part of the new ROH as well. This was a straightforward showcase for Young, but considering Kingston vs. Kay and Athena vs. Hyan were the exact same thing, I wouldn't have done them back-to-back-to-back. He was interrupted by fellow former ROH World Television Champion Shane Taylor during his post-match promo. Again, I'm happy these guys are being kept in the mix.
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions The Embassy def. Dalton Castle and The Boys
This was a rematch from Final Battle where The Embassy won the tag titles. The only buildup this got was Castle and The Boys winning a match on last week's episode and announcing they wanted a rematch. I thought it'd be saved for Supercard of Honor, but we found out why. This was good stuff with Castle and The Boys putting up a fight before losing. Metalik, Christian and Fox coming out afterward means they'll be getting the next title shot.
Trish Adora def. Madison Rayne
Adora just beat Billie Starkz on last week's episode, so I'm glad she was able to build momentum here with a second straight win, this one against an established name. Unfortunately, the crowd sat on their hands for this. Rayne hasn't been over since joining AEW/returning to ROH and there wasn't anything overly interesting about this match. I enjoy Adora's hard-hitting style, but I think she'd benefit from some mic time or at least a video package to get fans familiar with her.
Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal def. The Outrunners
The Outrunners have made several appearances for AEW in recent months and were a fine team for Daniels and Sydal to beat in their re-debut as a team. Speaking of whom, I legitimately had no idea that Daniels and Sydal previously held the ROH World Tag Team Championship together over 15 years ago. They have wonderful chemistry together and they're a quality addition to ROH's deep tag team division. This was serviceable and reestablished their alliance. I'm looking forward to them against Aussie Open.
ROH Pure Champion Wheeler Yuta def. Clark Conners in a Pure Rules Match
I liked that we got to hear from Conners in a pre-match video package because if you don't watch New Japan Pro-Wrestling, you probably don't know much about him (I certainly don't). He's an impressive prospect and I thought he had a solid showing here. Post-match, Yuta called out the head trainer of the LA Dojo, Katsuyori Shibata. That should be a hell of a match and Shibata's an excellent get for Supercard of Honor.
We're three episodes into ROH TV and I can safely say that the show being two hours is too damn long. This was the weakest episode yet in that it started strong and gradually died down as it progressed. There were too many squash matches and you can tell by the second half of the episode that the crowd was exhausted. I know ROH has a loaded roster from what we've seen so far (and I'm excited for Supercard of Honor), but it's not necessary to squeeze everyone into every show and do so many squashes. You definitely don't want it to become Dark 2.0 (or 3.0 if you count Elevation).
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