By Sam Robinson, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@altaine)
Ring of Honor on HonorClub (Episode 3)
Taped February 25, 2023 in Orlando, Florida at Universal Studios
Streamed March 16, 2023 on HonorClub
Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman were on commentary, and Bobby Cruise was the ring announcer…
1. ROH Champion Claudio Castagnoli vs. Willie Mack in a Proving Ground match. Things went straight to the action in this episode. Proving Ground Matches let the challenger get a title shot if they get the win or last 10 minutes with a champion. Late in the match, the wrestlers traded forearms in the middle of the ring, and Mack got a nearfall off a Sky High powerbomb. Mack rolled through a missed frog splash and runs right into a Giant Claudio European Uppercut, which gave Claudio the pinfall.
Claudio Castangoli defeated Willie Mack by pinfall.
Robinson’s Ruminations: I like the idea of a Proving Ground match as a concept. This match was a basic TV match and sadly didn’t play into the gimmick.. The announcers talked a little bit about the clock throughout the match, but it was never shown and it never really felt like it was there.
2. Mike Bennett (w/Maria Kanellis, Matt Taven) vs. Dante Martin (w/Daruis Martin). The Code of Honor was adhered to, but Bennett was heelish about it. Late in the match, Bennett climbed to sit on the top turnbuckle but Dante fought him off. Dante climbed up but Bennett grabbed him and looked to hit a DVD but Dante reversed it into a huracanrana. Dante hit a Dribbling frog splash for a near fall. Dante was got caught in a Kimura, but he rolled through and got a nearfall before Bennett broke it all up. Dante hit a finisher to get the win.
Dante Martin defeated Mike Bennett by pinfall.
Matt Taven jumped Dante after the bell. Darius Martin rans off The Kingdom…
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was a fun match that gave both guys plenty of fun offense. I wish the piledriver on the outside would have meant more than a near count out. In fact, I wouldn’t have minded seeing it cause a count out.
3. Metalik and Blake Christian vs. “The Trustbusters” Ari Daivari and Slim J. The Code of Honor was adhered to. Late in the match, Christian got a hope spot with a handspring kick for a Metalik hot tag. Slim J hit Metalik with a dropkick for a near fall. Slim J missed a moonsault and then Metalik hit him with one of his one for nearfall. Christian hit a Fosbury Flop to keep Daviari on the outside. Metalik hit J with an airplane spin Michinoku Driver for the pinfall.
Metalik and Blake Christian defeated “The Trustbusters” Ari Daivari and Slim J by pinfall.
Robinson’s Ruminations: A fast paced lucha libre style tag match. What a fun match. Slim J showed me a lot in the match being able to keep up with all these high flyers and showed a good bit of lucha libre style offense of his own. He’s still got negative heat with me and just about everyone else, but he can go.
A video package talked about Mark Briscoe’s TV title aspirations followed by a Briscoe promo about the upcoming ROH TV Title match. Briscoe told Mark Sterling he’s going to hunt down all the wrestlers he represents, as only he can. A quick recap aired of the announcement for the Reach for the Sky ladder match…
4. Eddie Kingston vs. Jeeves Kay. The Code of Honor was adhered to. Claudio Castagnoli was shown sitting down in the crowd to watch. Eddie put Kay in a headlock while looking right at Claudio. Kay slipped to ringside and Eddie threw Kay into the barricade, causing Claudio’s coffee to spill all over him. A big staredown ensued. Eddie was blasted with a suicide dive and a frog splash back in the ring, but it only held Eddie for a one count. Eddie came back with a Saito Suplex and tapped out Kay with a Dragon Sleeper. The post match Code of Honor was adhered to by Kingston.
Eddie Kingston defeated Jeeves Kay by submission.
Robinson’s Ruminations: I had no idea there were more trustbusters. Whatever, Kay was a jobber here. This was another squash win for Eddie and a chance for the announcer to tell us the story that Eddie is the honorable face despite being brash and contrast him against the heelish Claudio.
There was a Trustbusters promo backstage with Mark Sterling, who talked up his loser group. Daviari says it’s not the time for talk and challenges Metalik and Christian to a six man tag match…
5. ROH Women’s Champion Athena vs. Hyan in a Proving Ground match. The Code of Honor was adhered to. Late in the match, Hyan came back with a cross body, clothesline, slam, and a leg drop for a one count. She climbed up top slowly, but Athena cut her off and slammed her head into the turnbuckle. Athena hit a sunset powerbomb to the outside of the ring. Athena threw Hyan into the steps, then inside for a two count and a crossface for a quick tap out. She refused to let go for quite a while.
Athena defeated Hyan by submission.
Athena drove Hyan’s head into the title belt on the canvas and threw Hyan out of the ring…
Robinson’s Ruminations: A near squash for Athena and yet again another Proving Ground match where the clock never appeared and it never mattered. I don’t like that. If they’re going to do the gimmick at least make it matter. Athena is very good as a vicious mean heel.
Metalik and Blake Christian cut a promo backstage about how happy they are to be a team. Christian says he’s got AR Fox to help them in the six-man tag. Fox entered the picture. They said they were going to keep an eye on the title match tonight.
6. Silas Young vs. Marcus Kross. Kross was already in the ring and the Code of Honor adhered to. Young grounded Kross with a hammer lock right away. Young showed some agility with a cartwheel escape from an arm bar. Young tried for a stalling suplex only to get rolled up for a two count. There were lots of back and forth roll up near falls until Young hits a huge clothesline. Kross hit a top rope crossbody block but got caught. Young hit a flipping Samoan Drop and a Pee Gee Waja Plunge for the pinfall win.
Silas Young defeated Marcus Kross.
Silas Young cut a mid-ring promo about his absence from ROH. He firmly put himself in the TV title division. He was cut off by the music of Shane Taylor, who spoke from the stage. Shane says he’s the better former ROH TV Champion and issued a challenge for next week. Silas nodded his acceptance…
Robinson’s Ruminations: That was the first time I’ve seen Silas Young and I don’t know why the old school brawler looking type throws all kinds of high flying offense, but I guess it’s ok. He’s going up against another bruiser in Taylor next week, so hopefully those tendencies will be tempered down.
Athena cuts a promo backstage. She asks where Yuka Sakazaki is, and says Yuka is afraid of her. Athena challenges Yuak for the title at Supercard of Honor.
7. “The Embassy” Brian Cage, Toa Liona, and Kaun (w/Prince Nana) vs. Dalton Castle and The Boys for the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles. The Code of Honor adhered to with strong handshakes from The Embassy. Down the stretch, The Embassy isolated Brandon Tate of The Boys. Toa performed a bodyslam and applied a nerve hold and followed up with a a popup spinebuster for a two count. Brandon hot tagged Castle, who suplexed all the big guys out of the ring. A sling blade bulldog got Castle a two count on Kaun. Castle went for Bangarang, but Nana grabbed Kaun. Cage hit an F5 on Castle and then The Boys tag team were on Cage until they were cut off by Tao and a Samoan Drop. Tao and Kaun hit high low forearms and slammed the Boys together and then Kaun pinned them both.
“The Embassy” Brian Cage, Toa Liona, and Kaun defeated Dalton Castle and The Boys to retain the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles. by pinfall.
The Embassy continue the beatdown after the match until they were run off by Metalik, Blake Christian and AR Fox…
Robinson’s Ruminations: The Embassy are some big dudes that gave The Boys some good offense but didn’t look bad in the process. The Boys have some fun high flying offense, and they take great bumps for big heels. This was a statement win for The Embassy and I’m looking forward to seeing more of these big guys and their powerful offense.
8. Madison Rayne vs. Trish Adora. The Code of Honor was adhered to. At one point, Adora performed a Northern Lights suplex for a two count. Rayne came back with a bad looking DDT. Rayne followed up with a flurry of forearms and an enzuigiri and then a ripcord cutter for a two count. Trish executed a sloppy looking bridging german suplex. Madison hit a crucifix bomb for a two count. There was some back and forth until Trish hit a lariat for the pinfall victory. The wrestlers shook hands afterward.
Trish Adora defeated Madison Rayne by pinfall.
Robinson’s Ruminations: A sloppy, quick match. Madison seems a step too slow and Trish seemed just green enough to get tripped up by it. Trish did maintain her composure and close out the match strong.
Top Flight delivered a backstage promo about their feud with The Kingdom and the match next week between Darius and Taven…
9. Matt Sydal and Christopher Daniels vs. The Outrunners. The Code of Honor adhered to. The Outrunners did some dirty cheating to get a quick advantage on Daniels. Sydal tagged in and threw kicks and performed huracanranas on Truth. A big suplex leads to a near fall that was broken up. Daniels hits Angel’s Wings suplex and then Sydal hits an SOS clone for the pinfall victory.
Matt Sydal and Christopher Daniels defeated The Outrunners.
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was a quick match to reestablish the veteran tag team. The Outrunners are a fun throwback gimmick and they can get some decent heat, but I don’t know how much staying power that kind of gimmick has. I’m not opposed to seeing more of them, but I don’t know how much more it’ll be before the joke is over.
Aussie Open came out to the stage to congratulate Daniels and Sydal on their victory and then took digs at how old they are. They challenged Daniels and Sydal for a match down the road. The fans chanted “Now!” Aussie Open say they are good guys and won’t make the veterans work twice in a row. After Aussie Open left, Daniels cuts a promo about how they have aged well and accepted the challenge…
A Video package spotlighted the main event. This match is about which training method are better – the NJPW dojo or Blackpool Combat Club…
10. Wheeler Yuta vs. Clark Connors for the ROH Pure Championship. Clark shook the hands of the judges on his way to the ring. Yuta also shook the hands of the judges on his way to the ring. The Code of Honor was adhered to. Yuta rolled Clark into a submission hold and forced Clark to use rope break number one.
Yuta reversed Clark’s spear attempt with a kick and locked in an octopus hold, which made Clark use rope break number two. Yuta tricked the ref to look away to threw a closed fist punch and a fisherman’s suplex for a two count. Yuta worked over Clark’s arm with stomps and hammerlocks. Clark hit his Trophy Kill Pounce and some spears in the corner. Clark called for another spear but Yuta dropped him into the corner and Yuta hit a top rope forearm.
Yuta hit a Deadlift German but Clark pops right up and hits a spear. Wrestlers traded forearms until Yuta threw a dropkick and went back to work on the arm. Connors broke the joint manipulation with his one closed fist punch. Yuta used his closed fist punch to put Clark down. Clark got a quick roll up and locked in an ankle lock, which forced Yuta to use rope break number one.
Clark hit a two suplexes before Clark’s arm gave out and Yuta locked him in a crossface. Clark almost broke free with the ropes, but Yuta rolled up in a trap pin for the three count. The post match Code of Honor was adhered to.
Wheeler Yuta defeated Clark Connors to retain the ROH Pure Championship.
Yuta cut a promo mid-ring about how good BCC training is, and he challenged Katsuyori Shibata to a Pure Rules match. Claudio came out and celebrated with Yuta to close the show.
Robinson’s Ruminations: God help me, I love a pure rules match, and Yuta is doing a great job of being a smarmy heel about the rules of these matches. ROH does a good job of making the rules of a Pure match matter, and the crowd in attendance at these shows knew how to follow along. Yuta got good heat from this crowd by cheating on the Pure Rules and it’s working.
ROH on the whole is a fun, quick intensity wrestling show. There’s no breaks save for some promos (I don’t know that any promos have gone over three minutes). Because they tape a whole bunch of stuff in advance, they are able to hype you up for things upcoming, including their pay-per-view, which is a few weeks away. They are doing a good job of building up the people they want you to care about and giving them nice showcase and squash wins all while building up the next group of challengers underneath that level. It’s all quick effective pro wrestling 101 booking.
Is the depth of talent going to be able to sell pay-per-views? That I don’t know, though I suspect it won’t be as many as they hope. Eddie Kingston is over and that will help sell some buys if they can convince people that he has a chance of winning. Bringing in Shibata as a ringer to help sell with buys might help. We’ll see how this card continues to shape up, but I’m optimistic it’ll be a good show.