ROH World Tag Team Champion Mark Briscoe def. Slim J
I believe Jay Briscoe was involved in the very first match on the very first Ring of Honor show back in 2002, so it was only fitting that Mark Briscoe wrestled in the first match in the new era of ROH. Trustbusters are terrible, but Slim J is an ROH original, so he was a logical opponent for Briscoe here and they had a quality opener. On a side note, there's been no update on what will happen with Briscoe's ROH World Tag Team Championship, but they can figure that out as Supercard of Honor gets closer.
The Kingdom def. The Infantry
The Infantry consists of Carlie Bravo (who has worked many matches on AEW's Dark shows as an enhancement talent) and Shawn Dean. The Kingdom (specifically Matt Taven) have been regulars in ROH for years, so making them a prominent part of the tag team division again makes total sense. This looked like a squash on paper, and it was, but The Infantry scored more offense than I thought they would and it turned into a fun sprint before Kingdom ultimately went over.
NJPW World Television Champion Zack Sabre Jr. def. Blake Christian
This had a 15-minute time limit, which must be the norm for TV title matches in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Sabre was a great get for the first ROH show under new management, though I'm not sure if this was a one-off or if he'll be appearing regularly going forward. He did call out Bryan Danielson at one point during this match, so hopefully we will eventually get that after it had to be bumped from Forbidden Door due to Danielson getting injured. As for Christian, I've always been critical of how he's never shown much personality, which is why I appreciated we heard from him before this bout via a pre-taped promo. Christian gave it a valiant effort, so he looked credible in defeat. This was a blast.
Christopher Daniels def. Rohit Raju
Raju was accompanied by Jora Johl. That alliance was established recently on Dark. It's a random pairing and feels like an excuse to get Johl on the show. Nonetheless, this essentially served as a showcase for Daniels, who has been with ROH (on and off, of course) since Day 1. I'm happy he'll have a role on the new ROH as he can clearly still go. Raju has always been an impressive prospect, but he didn't gain much from this at all.
Konosuke Takeshita def. Josh Woods
Woods was gradually building momentum before ROH closed its doors. He was even ROH Pure Champion at one point, but his booking as a jobber in ROH has hurt my perception of him. He's still super talented, as seen in this outing with Takeshita. Speaking of Takeshita, he's a perfect fit for ROH, though I'd prefer to see him do some more meaningful in AEW. This was well wrestled and gave Takeshita a win following his loss in the Face of the Revolution Ladder match on Wednesday's Dynamite.
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions The Embassy (Brian Cage and The Gates of Agony) def. Joe Keys, Rex Lawless and LSG (Non-Title)
There's been no word on Cage's status after it was reported a month or so ago that his AEW contract is expiring soon. My guess is that he'll stick around, especially now that ROH TV has launched and he's currently a champion. This was complete dominance from The Embassy as it should have been. I don't know who steps up to them first to challenge for the six-man tag titles, but fingers crossed it won't be the damn Trustbusters because I couldn't possibly have less interest in seeing that.
Ari Daivari def. Metalik
Metalik is back to using that name (without Gran) after previously going by Mascara Dorado following his departure from WWE. He hasn't done anything on AEW TV to my knowledge (I'm still hoping we can see him wrestle Bryan Danielson eventually because Danielson told me in an interview two years ago that he wants that match), but I like him in ROH. Losing to Daivari isn't ideal, though. I don't see the point of building up Daivari, who is mediocre at best and always has been. Metalik shined here, but that was about it.
Skye Blue and Madison Rayne def. The Renegades
Blue and Rayne have had a few reps as a team on AEW programming as well as on the Dark shows. I'm fine with them taking their team to ROH as Blue can continue to gain more experience from the seasoned Rayne. As for The Renegades, they're fresh off losing their NWA World Women's Tag Team Championship, making me think they'll soon be signed to ROH if they haven't been already. This wasn't overly interested, but it was decent for what it was.
Timothy Thatcher Accepted Wheeler Yuta's ROH Pure Championship Open Challenge
Blackpool Combat Club seems to be headed toward a heel turn based on what we've seen from them recently in AEW and how Yuta came across in his promo here. That extra edge isn't necessarily a bad thing. This was kept short and sweet with Thatcher emerging and formally accepting the open challenge for next week. Similar to Sabre, I don't know if Thatcher is here to stay or not, but he's tailor-made for ROH and that should be a hell of a match.
Willow Nightingale def. Lady Frost
Although she's apparently signed to an AEW deal, I expect Nightingale to be a big part of ROH's women's division, as she was supposed to be before ROH closed in 2021. This was designed to give Nightingale a win and it didn't need to last long as a result, but I thought Frost (formerly of IMPACT) looked good here, too. Nightingale told Ian Riccaboni afterward that she has her sights set on the ROH Women's World Championship, which Athena immediately accepted. That match will take place next week. I'm disappointed they're rushing into that so quickly instead of holding off on it until down the road so Nightingale can be the one to dethrone her.
ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli def. AR Fox
Fox has some momentum coming off his AEW World Trios Championship matches with The Elite on AEW TV, and although I didn't think he stood a chance of becoming ROH World Champion here, he still came close and had a strong showing. They were given an ample amount of time and Castagnoli had the excellent main event he's capable of. Eddie Kingston "quit" AEW during a backstage segment on Dynamite that aired on social media, and now he's made his way to ROH to challenge Castagnoli for the title. That's going to be a wonderful main event at Supercard of Honor.
I was skeptical when I saw how many matches were taped for ROH TV last weekend and the two-hour runtime for this first episode on HonorClub, but I was thoroughly entertained by what we got. It looked like a Dark-esque lineup on paper and I don't know if it needs to be two hours long every week, but as a first show, this was terrific stuff. Even the production was well done with plenty of video packages, profiles and promos. The matches announced for next week give viewers an incentive to continue tuning in. If ROH TV can maintain this level of quality consistently, it will be well worth the 10 dollar price tag for HonorClub.
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