By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor Wrestling TV (Episode 536)
Taped in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
Aired December 25, 2021 in syndication and on SBG regional sports networks, available Mondays on FITE.TV
Following the ROH opening, Dalton Castle stood in front of a Christmas set and said it’s been a long year and viewers deserve a treat, so he’s prepared a big one for them. “Stick around,” Castle said…
Quinn McKay checked in from the studio that was set up with Christmas decorations. She said they were going to have some fun on the Christmas week edition of ROH. She hyped the two matches and said the winner of the Christmas Surprise Tag match would be a 12-man match and the winners would receive a Christmas bonus…
Josh Alexander drew the first name for the tag match and was excited about it. They sped up the footage as he drew the remaining names from various gift boxes. He was excited about each pick and said the other team was going down…
Brian Johnson served a the other team captain and complained about being included in the holiday tag match “with five other bozos.” Johnson opened the first gift and wasn’t happy with the name he drew. They sped up the footage for the other picks and he wasn’t happy with any of them. He said it didn’t matter, the world would find out that it’s Mecca versus everybody…
Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman checked in on commentary and were joined by Maria Kanellis-Bennett for the women’s championship match. Holidead made her entrance while a pre-taped promo aired. She said she would win the title and dark days are coming.
Rok-C made her entrance. Riccaboni said it was the end of an era and they would be thanking people throughout the show. Riccaboni and Coleman thanked Cary Silkin, Doug Gentry, Gabe Sapolsky, Adam Pearce, and Hunter “Delirious” Johnston. A Rok-C promo aired. She said Holidead has the height and strength advantage, but she doesn’t have her heart or the ROH Women’s World Championship.
Rok-C said she would do everything she could to retain the title. She said some people call her little girl, “but this little girl is not afraid of the dark side.” Riccaboni noted that Rok-C is just 20 years-old and won the title as a teenager, and then the show cut to commercial… [C]
Powell’s POV: Good mic work from Rok-C. She continues to come off as charismatic and likable. She has such a bright future.
1. Rok-C vs. Holidead for the ROH Women’s World Championship. Todd Sinclair was the referee. Kanellis thanked longtime ROH ring announcer Bobby Cruise for being her partner in putting the new women’s division together. Rok-C went for a suicide dive, but Holidead caught her and drove her back into the ring post. [C]
Highlights aired of Holidead maintaining offensive control throughout the break. Rok-C came back with with a knee to the face. Rok-C performed a Thesz Press and threw punches at Holidead. A short time later, Rok-C removed the “gauntlet” on her arm and then performed a Russian leg sweep and followed up with a standing moonsault that drove her knees into Holidead, then covered her for a two count.
Rok-C hooked Holidead into another pin and got a two count. Holidead came back with a Flatliner and slowly covered her for a near fall. Holidead showed frustration. Rok-C slipped out of a move and then performed a lung blower. She hit Holidead with a knee to the head and covered her for another near fall.
Holidead rallied with a spinebuster for a two count of her own. Holidead barked that she was tired of toying with Rok-C, who came back with a thrust kick and a Code Red for the win. The wrestlers adhered to the Code of Honor afterward…
Rok-C defeated Holidead in 13:30 to retain the ROH Women’s World Championship.
Powell’s POV: A solid match. There were some clunky moments with Rok-C performing some tilt-a-whirl type moves that looked slow and unnecessary. Again, though, she is definitely a name to watch now that she’s a free agent. She’s already been booked for MLW and Impact Wrestling events, and she took part in a tryout session at the WWE Performance Center. I’d be shocked if she’s not employed by WWE or AEW in 2022.
Dalton Castle sat backstage with his wrestling buddy doll and said he had a surprise for viewers later in the show… [C] A graphic touted Castle’s Classy Christmas Spectacular. Castle did a song and dance number that saw Dak Draper catch him and his Boys dancing behind him. One of the Boys stepped on some decorations. Castle blew a gasket. Draper barked at the Boy. Castle told him to break something, so Draper threw a fit and started smashing items on the set while the Boys cowered. “You ruined Christmas,” Castle barked…
Brian Johnson made his entrance with a mic in hand and delivered a heel promo about Christmas as he walked to the ring. Rhett Titus made his entrance as one of Johnson’s partners. He was not wearing the ROH TV Title that he captured at Final Battle, nor was it referenced by the broadcast team.
Kenny King, Rey Horus, Homicide, and Flip Gordon made separate entrances to fill out the remainder of Johnson’s team with Bobby Cruise handling the introductions. Riccaboni recalled playing a baseball game in Homicide’s neighborhood and said the unwritten rule was that they had to leave at dark regardless of whether the game was over.
Josh Woods made his entrance and was not wearing the ROH Pure Rules Championship that he retained at Final Battle. Matt Taven, Bandido, Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe, and Silas Young also made separate entrances to round out Woods’s team. None of the champions wore their title belts… [C]
Powell’s POV: This show was taped prior to the pay-per-view. I assume they didn’t have the champions wear their titles to avoid having any spoilers get out ahead of time.
2. Josh Woods, Matt Taven, Bandido, Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe, and Silas Young vs. Brian Johnson, Rhett Titus, Kenny King, Rey Horus, Homicide, and Flip Gordon in the annual Christmas Surprise tag team match. Longtime referee Todd Sinclair worked this match too, and Quinn McKay sat in on commentary. Woods and Titus had an exchange that resulted in the two of them slapping hands heading into a break. [C]
Bandido and Horus ended up in the ring together at one point and neither one of them wanted to work against the other. They both tried to tag out, but their partners dropped off the apron and some of the wrestlers chanted “lucha.” Bandido and Horus shook hands and then had a brief, but fun exchange that was even. Both men shook hands again and then tagged out.
Later, Gordon left the ring and joined the broadcast team. He shook McKay’s hand and gave her a card that read “Happy New Year 2019.” Meanwhile, Taven performed a suicide dive onto a group of wrestlers at ringside. [C]
Powell’s POV: For anyone unaware, the 2019 gag is due to the Gordon character having amnesia.
Homicide put Young down with a Cutter and had him pinned, but Taven broke it up. Taven and Homicide took turns going for various moves, but it was Taven who ended up connecting with his Just The Tip move for a near fall. Taven went up top, but Gordon greeted him with a kick and then squared off with Bandido, who hit him with a Popup Cutter. Horus ran at Bandido, who hit an X-Knee. Someone was censored with a beeping sound.
Horus performed an around the world DDT on Bandido, who rolled out of the ring. Woods checked in wearing a Briscoes shirt and and performed his finisher on Horus. Titus ran in and performed a belly to belly suplex on Woods and then dropkicked him out of the ring. Jay avoided a Titus dropkick and ended up putting him down with a Jay Driller.
Horus performed a flip dive onto Young. Gordon was still at the broadcast table and acted shocked by the move. The dives continued with Homicide and Bandido diving onto wrestlers at ringside. Gordon left the broadcast table and dove off the stage onto another group of wrestlers.
King put Jay down with a dragon suplex and a tiger driver and went for the pin, but Mark broke it up. Mark executed a rolling senton on King, then hit him with Froggy Bow, but King rolled out of the ring to avoid being pinned. Johnson rolled up Mark and held his pants for a near fall. Mark called him on grabbing his pants and told him to be a man. Mark hit a Cutthroat Driver on Johnson, and then the Briscoes hit him with the Doomsday Device. Jay covered Johnson and got the three count.
Josh Woods, Matt Taven, Bandido, Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe, and Silas Young defeated Brian Johnson, Rhett Titus, Kenny King, Rey Horus, Homicide, and Flip Gordon in the annual Christmas Surprise tag team match in 20:45.
After the match, the wrestlers adhered to the Code of Honor with hugs and handshakes. Some of the wrestlers put Jay and Mark on their shoulders. Coleman said this was not it, it’s a layoff, and they will be back stronger. Riccaboni encouraged viewers to watch the ROH social media pages heading into Supercard of Honor in April. Riccaboni wished viewers a great holiday season and closed the show with a “Happy Wrestling, everybody”…
Powell’s POV: The perfect finish in terms of the Briscoes going over on the final episode of the era. It was also satisfying that the loudmouth (and highly entertaining) Johnson character took the pin. And ROH got it right by letting Riccaboni close the show with his closing line.
This was the end of an era, as ROH will start airing classic content in the new year. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t hoping for a series of more meaningful matches on the company’s final shows. But let’s face it, ROH Final Battle was the real sendoff for this version of the promotion. All things considered, ROH produced some good television under difficult circumstances. The Christmas Surprise tag match seemed like a strange way to close things out on paper, but it actually worked in terms of getting a dozen of meaningful wrestlers in the final televised match. I will have more to say about the show in what will be the last of my weekly ROH Wrestling audio reviews for the time being.