By Sam Robinson, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@altaine)
Ring of Honor on HonorClub (Episode 20)
Taped in July 8, 2023 in Regina, Saskatchewan at Brandt Centre
Streamed July 13, 2023 on HonorClub
Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman were on commentary, and Bobby Cruise was the ring announcer…
*Unless otherwise noted, all matches started and ended with the Code of Honor handshake.
We started in the back with a promo from Matt Sydal saying he’s got a problem with Brian Cage, which led to Cage and Prince Nana coming into frame. Cage said that Sydal can’t be him, and that if he wants to fight him, he’s got to find two partners. Sydal agreed to do so…
1. Serpentico vs. Big Bill. Bill started off with a swinging biel toss. Serpentico got thrown out of the ring, but came right back in. Serpentico teed off on Bill but got afraid and ran around the ring and caught Bill with a suicide dive that drove Bill into the barricade. Back in the ring, Bill caught Serpentico on a cross body attempt and hit a fall away slam. Bill tried a chokeslam but Serpentico slid out and used a head scissors to put Bill in the corner. Bill fought right out and hit a big boot that knocked Seprentico to the outside. Bill threw him back in the ring and hit a chokeslam to get the pinfall.
Big Bill defeated Serpentico by pinfall in 4:30.
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was long squash. There were no questions about anything in the match.
We got a graphic about the makeshift four-man tournament that’s going to start tonight for a shot at the ROH TV Title. It feels very obvious who’s going to win the matches – Dalton Castle vs Tony Neese, and Shane Taylor vs. Capt Sean Dean.
2. ROH Women’s Champion Athena vs. Ava Lawless. No entrance for Lawless, who started off with a big right hand that rocked Athena and then another one knocked her down. Lawless hit a standing sling blade clothesline but Athena kipped right up and blasted Lawless back with a forearm. The ref tried to stop Athena’s onslaught and got backed into a corner for his trouble. Athena hit a big boot and locked in a crossface for the win.
ROH Women’s Champion Athena defeated Ava Lawless by submission in 1:30.
After the match, Athena made Lawless kiss the belt by smashing her face into it…
Robinson’s Ruminations: No story progression for Athena, so there will be no build for her match at Death Before Dishonor. Disappointing.
3. Stu Grayson and “The Righteous” Vincent and Dutch vs. Levi Night, Michael Allen Richard Clark and Evan Rivers. No entrance for the jobbers. Grayson started off with quick strikes and a big belly to belly that brought in another jobber. Dutch got tagged in and turned the jobber inside out with a clothesline. Grayson tagged back in and Evil Uno walked down to ringside with a chair. Uno sat down at the bottom of the ramp to watch.
Grayson hit a big Uranage and looked down at Uno as he tagged in Vincent. Grayson tagged back in and he and Vincent hit some tandem offense while Uno clapped. Dutch tagged in and the last jobber tagged in and fought off Dutch and Grayson for a moment until he was cut off by a knee strike from Grayson, powerbomb from Dutch and a Swanton from Vincent. The other two jobbers came in and got hit by finishers of Dutch and Vincent, then they hit the Prayer Circle finisher on the last jobber for the pinfall.
Stu Grayson and “The Righteous” Vincent and Dutch beat Levi Night, Michael Allen Richard Clark and Evan Rivers in 3:00.
Uno clapped at ringside, and The Righteous beckoned him into the ring. Instead he hit one of the jobbers across the back with the chair and said that Stu knows where he belongs as he walked up the ramp.
Robinson’s Ruminations: The only reason this took three minutes was because of the shenanigans with Uno. I still hate everything about this story.
Backstage, Matt Sydal was asked if he found partners yet. He said that he’s been on a spirit quest and found two partners in Christopher Daniels and Darius Martin…
4. Leyla Hirsch vs. Bambi Hall. No entrance for Hall. The announcer talked about how hard it is to bring Hall off her feet and then Hirsch did it in less than a minute with an arm twist. Hirsch worked over Hall with some strikes. A back elbow got Hirsch a two count. Hall fought out and hit an avalanche splash in the corner. Hall tried for a backpack move and got hit with a german suplex. Hirsch locked in a cross arm breaker for the tap out.
Leyla Hirsch defeated Bambi Hall by submission in 3:30.
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was another squash, though the announcers were talking about Hirsch perhaps being a challenger for Athena down the line.
5. Tony Nese (w/Ari Divari, Mark Sterling) vs. Dalton Castle (w/The Boys) in semifinal tournament match for a shot at the ROH TV Title. Nese did his personal trainer bit and got the crowd to do some stretches. Castle’s entrance interrupted pretty quickly. Castle went for a very early Bangarang but Nese fought out. Castle caught Nese off the middle rope and suplexed him over his head. Castle went to the middle rope but Sterling got up on the apron for the distraction and Nese got a clothesline off. They went to the outside and traded suplex attempts but Castle got ran into the ring post and the barricade.
Back in the ring, Nese worked over the arm. Nese hit a spin kick and got a two count. Nese tried an outside in triangle moonsault but Castle rolled out of the way. Castle hit a series of suplexes. Sterling popped up on the apron but The Boys took care of him. Nese snuck in a roll up for a two count but Castle hit a Bangarang right after for the pinfall.
Dalton Castle defeated Tony Nese by pinfall in 8:15 to advance to the finals of the ROH TV Title tournament.
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was a match where Nese made Castle work from underneath a bit, but there was no question about this outcome. They played up some injuries, so maybe that’ll be his excuse for losing to the winner of the next match.
6. Shane Taylor vs. Capt. Sean Dean in semifinal tournament match for a shot at the ROH TV Title. Dean ducked a few quick strike attempts and chopped Taylor and hit a dropkick that didn’t take Taylor down. Taylor caught Dean with a right hand that put Dean down. Taylor worked over Dean with some punches and knee lifts.
Dean locked in a bear hug, and Dean fought out with ear claps. Taylor hit a uranage and went up to the top turnbuckle for a splash and missed. Dean hit a DDT and went up to the top turnbuckle where he tried for a splash but Taylor got the knees up. Taylor trash talked Dean but Dean valiantly fought back until he was cut off by a head butt. Taylor hit a huge forearm strike for the pinfall.
Shane Taylor defeated Sean Dean by pinfall in 7:00 to advance to the finals of the ROH TV Title tournament.
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was a dominant win for Taylor, but Dean looked pretty good in defeat. Next week we have Castle vs Taylor for a shot at Samoa Joe the next night at Death Before Dishonor. I’m not quite sure where that goes, but both match possibilities are intriguing for different reasons.
7. “The Boys” Brent Tate and Brandon Tate vs. “The Kingdom” Mike Bennett and Matt Taven. Traven blasted Brent with a dropkick near the top. Then, Taven hit a float over vertical suplex for a two count. Taven hit a spinning heel kick and tagged in Bennett. Brandon tagged in too. Bennett begged Brandon to chop him to almost nothing and then blasted Brandon with some of his own. Bennett hit a sit out uranage for a two count. The Kingdom hit Brandon with some tandem offense and Taven used a weak cover and got a two count.
Bennett worked on Brandon’s arm and got a two count off an arm wring drop. Bennett locked in a double wrist lock but Brandon got to the ropes for a break. Brent got tagged in and went house of fire with some clotheslines and an inverted code red on Bennett. The Boy hit some tandem offense on Taven and then on Bennett. Brent got a two count off a dosy-do straight jacket. Bennett came right back with a DVD but they had the wrong Tate twin for a pinfall. The Kingdom came right back with Rockstar Supernova for the pinfall.
“The Kingdom” Mike Bennett and Matt Taven defeated The Boys by pinfall in 9:15.
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was The Kingdom playing with their food. Basically a nine minute squash.
8. “The Mogul Embassy” Brian Cage, Toa Liona, and Bishop Kaun (w/ Prince Nana) vs. Matt Sydal, Darius Martin, and Christopher Daniels for the ROH Six-Man World Tag Team Titles. At the top of this match Ian Riccaboni ran down all the upcoming matches for all the upcoming shows, but couldn’t give us any matches for the Death Before Dishonor show, because there are none at the moment.
Daniels was able to get Kaun trapped in the face corner early and tagged into Sydal who worked over Kaun and tagged in Martin. They hit a double dropkick and only got a one count. Toa got tagged in and so did Daniels. Some tandem offense with Martin got Daniels another one count. Cage got tagged in and curled Daniels before tossing him over his head. Gates hit some tandem offense and got a two count. Embassy worked over Daniels with quick tags. While Kaun distracted the ref, Daniels got a visual pinfall on Toa.
Cage tagged in and hit a big belly to back suplex for a two count. Daniels hit a german suplex on Kaun and got the hot tag to Martin who took on all three men. Martin hit a reverse DDT on Gates and a top rope crossbody on Kaun that Cage had to break up. Sydal tagged in and hit meteora off the top on Cage. Sydal got a two count off a series of kicks.
The Gates of Agony duo came in to make the save and they fed Sydal into Cage’s F5 but they only got a two count. Sydal reversed a drill claw attempt with a huracanrana and got a two count. Sydal hit a seated meteora that Gates had to break up. Sydal tried to dive on Cage who caught him in suplex position but Sydal rolled him up for two. Cage hit Drill Claw for the three count.
“The Mogul Embassy” Brian Cage, Toa Liona, and Bishop Kaun defeated Matt Sydal, Daruis Martin and Christopher Daniels by pinfall in 12:45 to retain the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Titles.
Robinson’s Ruminations: Fun action in a match that had no question regarding the outcome. It wasn’t a sprint like some Mogul Embassy matches, so it was nice to see them slow down just a bit. The overall show was completely missable. It was a bunch of squashes and absolutely zero storyline developments aside from the four-man tournament matches. They couldn’t even tell us here on the show that the Briscoe vs. Claudio match for the PPV is off because of an injury. We had to find that one out on Twitter instead. It’s really feeling like there is less and less attention being paid to ROH and it’s starting to bum me out. I was hoping that a Briscoe win at the PPV would usher us into a new era where we could have more focus on the ROH roster and cement the champions, but I’m really feeling like that’s a pipe dream now.