Pre-Show: Colt Cabana def. Anthony Henry
The general belief among AEW fans is that Cabana has been "banished" to Ring of Honor since we haven't seen him on any AEW programming in many months. Yes, he and CM Punk were in AEW together for a few months when Punk first returned, but it does seem strange Cabana has been completely absent as of late and I wouldn't be shocked if that was indeed the reason why. Nonetheless, it was good to see him back in action and he had a good match with Henry here. I'd like to see Henry and JD Drake become a regular team in ROH as The Workhorsemen since Drake is completely wasted in The Wingmen.
Pre-Show: The Trustbusters def. Shinobi Shadow Squad (Cheeseburger and Eli Isom)
It's nice to see Cheeseburger continuing to make appearances in ROH, he's a staple. As for Isom, he's impressive, but I doubt he gets as much of a push as he did during ROH's previous regime. Ari Daivari and Slim J, collectively known as The Trustbusters apparently, are the ones who will be pushed going forward. They're definitely a random pairing, but their had fine chemistry as partners. This was a decent match to establish Trustbusters as a tandem.
Pre-Show: The Embassy (Brian Cage and Gates of Agony) def. Blake Christian, Tony Deppen and Alex Zayne
Christian, Deppen and Zayne are a talented trio, but the only purpose they served here was being squashed by The Embassy and make them look as dominant as possible. They scored some offense, but this was largely all about The Embassy. And if you're confused why they're The Embassy and not Tully Blanchard Enterprises anymore, it's because it was revealed mere moments before this match in a backstage segment that Tully Blanchard Enterprises was bought out by Prince Nana. Tully Blanchard wasn't shown at all, so it looks like he's gone from AEW/ROH. What a bizarre turn of events.
Pre-Show: Willow Nightingale def. Allysin Kay
I say it all the time, but it'd be a crime if Nightingale wasn't under any sort of a deal to AEW or ROH. She's a terrific talent with a ton of charisma and upside. Kay is talented as well and has obviously been around the block between her time in IMPACT, the NWA and WWE's Mae Young Classic in 2018. This was a quality contest and the crowd was very much behind Nightingale throughout.
Claudio Castagnoli def. Jonathan Gresham to Win the ROH World Championship
The fact this kicked off the show definitely took me by surprise. Ring of Honor treats its top title better than that usually, but Tony Khan is in charge of the booking now and he obviously has a different vision for things. I'm not necessarily complaining, though. With the tag title match going on last, you may as well have the world title match go on first. It was good, but it had very little heat, likely due to the build being so rushed. The finish came out of nowhere, but the result was right one. Gresham did a great job as ROH World Champion during the company's hiatus, but Castagnoli is the one who will get people to pay attention to the brand moving forward.
Dalton Castle and The Boys def. The Righteous (Vincent, Bateman and Dutch) to Win the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship
The ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship were completely forgotten about after The Righteous won them at Final Battle back in December, making me think they were officially retired. Well, apparently not because they were brought back here and we have new champions in Castle and The Boys. For the time given, this was a lot of fun and they maximized their minutes. Hopefully we don't have to wait until the next ROH pay-per-view to see Castle and The Boys on television again.
ROH Pure Champion Wheeler Yuta def. Daniel Garcia in a Pure Rules Match
To think both of these guys are in their early 20s still and they're already as skilled as they are is absolutely wild. I'm not as high on Garcia as some other people are, but there can be no doubt that he can go in the ring. As for Yuta, he's risen to the occasion against all of his opponents in recent months. Their styles worked well within the pure rules and they put on a clinic. The way Yuta won makes me think we haven't seen the last of this rivalry.
Rush def. Dragon Lee
This was a last-minute addition to the card and it ended up being an excellent one as the only non-title affair of the night. For those unaware, Rush and Lee are legitimately brothers and I don't remember them ever having a match against each other in ROH. This was wonderful stuff. It was very fast-paced, the action was exciting, and the crowd was into all of it. My hope coming out of this is that Lee will join Rush and Andrade El Idolo's faction in AEW.
ROH Women's World Champion Mercedes Martinez def. Serena Deeb
Martinez and Deeb are two veterans of the game and are vastly underrated as far as I'm concerned. Thus, ROH is the perfect place for them right now. Neither of them is a full-fledged babyface, so the crowd wasn't totally cheering for one woman over the other, but this was as well-wrestled as you'd expect. This was the second straight loss for Deeb on pay-per-view and I would have preferred to see her win, but Martinez is hardly a poor choice to be holding the gold.
ROH World Television Champion Samoa Joe def. Jay Lethal
We haven't seen Joe on AEW programming since Lethal and his crew attacked him backstage on the post-Double or Nothing edition of Dynamite, and this was quite the comeback match for him. I liked that Joe wasted no time in going after Lethal at ringside before the bout and the matchup itself was very entertaining. It was probably the best bout Joe's had since coming to AEW/ROH and Lethal continues to deliver every time he steps in the ring.
ROH World Tag Team Champions FTR def. The Briscoes in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match
The tag team titles getting the main event spotlight was damn cool and well deserved. When was the last time a tag title match main-evented a pay-per-view in a major promotion? I'm sure it's happened at least once or twice in the last decade, but nothing comes to mind. Their original encounter at Supercard of Honor was one of the greatest matches of 2022, so expectations were high for this outing. Sure enough, they managed to outdo themselves here. They were given a ton of time and I was never bored, even being in the building for it. This had a strong layout and a hot closing stretch. FTR are far and away the best tag team of 2022, but The Briscoes deserve their props as well.
I was fortunate to attend this event and it was a blast to watch live. The action was exceptional, the title change started off the show on a high note, and most importantly, the main card was kept under three hours. I wish Tony Khan would follow that same formula with the AEW pay-per-views, but I understand he wants to cram as much talent onto those shows as possible. Nonetheless, this was an easy thumbs-up event. We still have no idea what the future holds for ROH, when the next pay-per-view will or when ROH TV will start up again (and where), but as a standalone show, this was a success I'd say.