By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor Wrestling TV (Episode 438)
Taped January 11-12 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia at Center Stage and Concord, North Carolina at Cabarrus Arena
Aired February 8, 2020 in syndication and on SBG regional sports networks, available Mondays on FITE.TV
The ROH Wrestling opening video kicked off the show… A highlight package focused on PCO beating Rush by DQ in their title match at Center Stage, which was followed by Rush, Dragon Lee, and Kenny King leaving PCO lying…
Show hosts Ian Riccaboni and Quinn McKay checked in while standing in front of an ROH backdrop. They set up highlights of Flip Gordon beating Flamita by submission at the Honor Reigns Supreme event in Concord, North Carolina. Gordon removed Flamita’s mask afterward… [C]
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised they didn’t open with big push for Free Enterprise since this is the go-home show for that event. I reviewed this episode earlier than I usually get to the ROH series this week due to Free Enterprise taking place on Sunday, so let’s see how they do building up what they are billing as the beginning of a new era for the company.
Backstage, Brian Johnson was working out with earbuds in while PJ Black showed up and tried to give him pointers based on some video on his phone. Johnson wasn’t interested and said he would see Black in the ring for their tag match…
The hosts hyped the Bound By Honor event for Nashville featuring Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham vs. Silas Young and Josh Woods for the ROH Tag Titles. They also plugged the St. Louis area show. Riccaboni finally pushed the Free Enterprise show and the main event featuring Rush and Nick Aldis vs. PCO and Marty Scurll…
Footage aired of Bully Ray heeling on the crowd in Atlanta and calling them all puppets. Here’s the recap of the full angle from my report of the segment from when it aired on HonorClub:
Bully said he heard all week that Maria Manic was going to show up and call him out. He said that’s not how it works. “You don’t call me out, I call you out, toots,” he said. Bully begged her to come out. Manic made her entrance through the crowd. Manic stood on the apron. Bully dared her to enter the ring. Manic entered the ring. “You people are so stupid,” Bully said before Manic speared him and then threw punches at him. Cruise handed Manic a chair, which she slammed over Bully’s back repeatedly.
Manic brought out a table and slid it inside the ring. She went to pick it up, but Bully grabbed her by the head and slammed her to the mat. Bully set up the table, then turned into a kick. Manic set up for a powerbomb, but Angelina Love and Mandy Leon attacked her from behind. Love and Leon placed Manic on a table and held her there while Bully performed a second rope splash that drove Manic through the table… [C]
Riccaboni and McKay hyped the show’s main event and merchandise. They shifted back to PJ Black attempting to mentor Brian Johnson and hyped their match against The Bouncers…
1. “The Bouncers” Beer City Bruiser and Brian Milonas vs. PJ Black and Brian Johnson. Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman were on commentary. A Bouncers pre-tape aired with them grumbling about makeshift tag teams and how being great singles wrestlers doesn’t mean you’ll make a great tag team. They added that this will be the year of the beer. Black adhered to the Code of Honor, while Johnson threw his shirt and towel at his opponents.
Black was knocked down by Milonas early in the match. Johnson tagged himself in and jawed at Milonas, who knocked him down twice before tagging in Bruiser. Black tagged back into the match and they traded chops. Bruiser got the better of it, then Johnson tagged back in and continued to squawk before Bruiser worked him over. Milonas checked in and performed a senton on Johnson going into a break. [C]
At one point, Johnson had Bruiser in a chinlock and then put his feet on the ropes for leverage. Production missed the shot, but Coleman took exception to Black informing the referee of what his tag partner was doing. Riccaboni said Black wants Johnson to do things the right away. Milonas tagged in and worked over both opponents.
A short time later, Johnson grabbed a chair and wound up to hit Bruiser with it, but Black took the chair away from his own partner. Bruiser shoved Johnson into Black, then The Bouncers hit their Closing Time finisher on Johnson, which led to Bruiser pinning him. Riccaboni called it a huge victory…
The Bouncers defeated PJ Black and Brian Johnson.
Powell’s POV: I really enjoy Ian Riccaboni’s work, but he should be more mindful of his own credibility. He labeled this a “huge victory” for The Bouncers, which is obviously overstating it. There is some undercard comedy appeal to what Black and Johnson are doing, but we’re simply seeing too much of it from week to week and it’s already starting to feel repetitive. ROH’s weekly television show needs more star power. There’s a place for everyone, but they seem to be dedicating more television time to the undercard storylines at the expense of the main players, who are most likely to hook viewers on the product.
A graphic listed the six-man tag main event… [C]
Backstage, Black asked Johnson what happened. Johnson said he was about to win another match. Johnson started to rant, but Black stopped him by putting his hand up. Black recalled telling Johnson to connect his mind with his body. He said you have to beat your opponent with your mind first. Johnson tried to blow him off. Black tried to lead him in a breathing exercise, but Johnson walked away. Black said this was going to be harder than he thought…
A teaser video hyped Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham, Dan Maff, and Jeff Cobb vs. Silas Young, Josh Woods, and The Bouncers in an eight-man tag match from Honor Reigns Supreme for next week’s show…
Ring entrances for the main event took place with La Faccion Ingobernable coming out first. Riccaboni said Amy Rose was credited with putting the faction together. Villain Enterprises was out next…
Powell’s POV: That was the only justification we’ve really heard for Rose’s involvement in this act. They never did a good job of explaining why she was paired with King in the first place and I’m still not sure what she actually brings to the table. I have no problem with Rose, I just feel like there should be a good storyline explanation introduction to who she is and why she’s involved, and it speaks volumes about the state of ROH creative that I’m still begging for this after all this time.
2. Rush, Dragon Lee, and Kenny King (w/Amy Rose) vs. Marty Scurll, PCO, and Brody King. Multiple commercial breaks aired. Here’s my review from when this event aired on HonorClub: Late in the match, Scurll applied a chicken wing on King, who managed to roll out of it before Scurll could lock it in completely. Rush and Lee returned to the ring while Scurl’s partners were down at ringside. Rush and King held up Scurll while Lee came off the top rope with a double stomp. King covered Scurll and scored the pin.
Rush, Dragon Lee, and Kenny King defeated Marty Scurll, PCO, and Brody King.
Rush, Lee, and King mugged for the cameras to close the show…
Powell’s POV: As noted when this match aired on HonorClub, it was logical to put the new faction over and for Scurll to take the pin to send the right message on the day that he was introduced as the new booker. It was a quality television main event with plenty of star power and good in-ring action.
Beyond the main event, the rest of the show was primarily dedicated to the lower level story of Black and Johnson. We’ve already seen Johnson blow off Black’s advice, and we’ve also seen Black stop Johnson from cheating before, so it’s not like there were even any new developments. I’m not hating on Black or Johnson. This really isn’t about them as much as it is the company’s oddball decision to spotlight them when they could have spent that time building up the television main event and focusing on the six wrestlers involved since they are in high level positions and are the most likely to draw fan interest and money.
Worse yet, this episode failed miserably when it came to making Free Enterprise feel like a meaningful event. It was mentioned along with other upcoming shows and they only spent a moment discussing its main event while ignoring the rest of the lineup. They have positioned Free Enterprise as a showcase for the new era of ROH, yet only HonorClub subscribers can watch it live (which still baffles me) and they didn’t even try to make it seem like a must see show. So ROH could have dedicated this episode of their television series to focusing on the main event players and/or hyping up the Free Enterprise event, but they opted to showcase the Black and Johnson storyline. Strange.
ROH officials should have real goals in mind each week for this television series, but it continues to feel like the primary objective is simply to fill the television time and get through the week. This show desperately needs an overhaul, a real sense of purpose, and some true creative passion. I sincerely hope there are significant changes to come along with the creative shakeup. I will have more to say in my weekly Ring of Honor Wrestling audio review, which is available exclusively to Dot Net Members.