By Sam Robinson, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@altaine)
Ring of Honor on HonorClub (Episode 23)
Taped in July 29, 2023 in Hartford, Connecticut at XL Center
Streamed August 3, 2023 on HonorClub
Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman were on commentary, and Bobby Cruise was the ring announcer… Ian and Caprice broke down tonight’s card with some graphics…
*Unless otherwise noted, all matches started and ended with the Code of Honor handshake…
1. Shane Taylor vs. Christopher Daniels in a ROH TV Title Eliminator Tournament match. The crowd started hot, chanting “Fallen Angel”. Daniels tried a few moves that Taylor no-sold including a drop toe hold. Daniels eventually got some offense going until Taylor cut him off with one right hand. Taylor worked Daniels over with some chops and clotheslines. Taylor got a two count with a cocky cover after an elbow drop. Daniels made a comeback with a neckbreaker.
Daniels tried to chop Taylor down with some clotheslines and then hit a middle rope huracanrana to take Taylor off his feet and get a two count. Taylor hit a uranage and a splash to get a two count. Taylor went to the middle turnbuckle and hit a crossbody block. Taylor then hit a package piledriver to get the pinfall.
Shane Taylor defeated Christopher Daniels by pinfall.
Robinson’s Ruminations: The right man won here, and I’m really hoping he wins it all.
Backstage, the Iron Savages cut a promo about how they are challenging Aussie Open for the tag titles. There were a lot of words in there, and not a lot of them were understandable. This had a lot of Ultimate Warrior energy, and not in a good way.
2. “Aussie Open” Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis vs. “Iron Savages” Bronson and Boulder for the ROH Tag Team Titles. The crowd was still not really behind the “Who are we?” bit from Jameson and the Savages. Aussie Open cut a promo on their way through the backstage area about how this won’t take long. Fletcher and Bronson traded arm work and forearms in the middle to start until Bronson tried to press slam Fletcher. Fletcher wiggled out and hit a scoop slam of his own. Davis and Boulder got tagged in. They traded shoulder blocks that they both stuffed until Boulder ran through Davis.
Bronson tagged back in and worked over both of Aussie Open and posed in the center. Open sent the Savages to the floor and ran Bronson into Boulder into the barricade. Back in the ring, Open worked some double team offense on Bronson and got a two count. Bronson made a comeback with a crossbody off the middle and hit the hot tag to Boulder who ran through both Open and slammed them. Boulder caught both men and hit a fall away slam, samoan drop combo.
Boulder hit an around the world power slam on Fletcher and got a two count. Boulder did a springboard moonsault in the corner but nobody home. Bronson came in and hit a sitout michinoku driver sit down combo. Savages hit a double team slam on Davis and got a two count.Savages went for a tower splash but got caught in a doomsday device of their own making. Open hit a double team kick move for a two count. Open hit coriolis effect for the pinfall.
Aussie Open defeated Iron Savages by pinfall to retain the ROH Tag Team Titles.
Robinson’s Ruminations: Nice match. Jameson was a weak link last week, but Boulder and Bronson can go and kept up nicely with Aussie Open. This match made Open look tough and strong because that’s just what you have to be to look good moving around the Savages.
Backstage, Aussie Open grabbed their title belts from Tony Khan, who just clapped…
Backstage Stokely Hathaway was saying that he’s received a bunch of nice feedback about the TV title tournament. Dalton Castle came in and told Stokely that he helped Joe cheat him out of the title. Castle said he’s seething like a raging fire. Samoa Joe came into frame and said that in two weeks its going to be The Boys vs. Joe and Stokely and walked off, with Stokely chasing him trying to get out of it…
3. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Josh Woods (w/Mark Sterling) for the ROH Pure Championship. The men started with some non-standard chain wrestling that was fun to watch. Eventually they traded cross arm breaker attempts and then knee bars. They held the dueling knee bars as they rolled out of the ring. The men locked up on the outside of the ring and jockeyed for position for a while. They broke the attempt at the refs count of 16 and slid back into the ring and locked up again. Woods got the better of it and got a single leg into a headlock. Woods fought out of a waistlock by using the rope butt bump thing.
The ref thought about calling a rope break, but Sterling got on the apron and talked him out of it. With the distraction Woods used a closed fist punch to put Shibata down. Woods sent Shibata outside and worked him into the barricades a bunch. Back in the ring the men traded arm bars until Woods used a run around a ring post to take advantage. Woods locked in a double wrist lock but Shibata rolled him up for a one count to break the hold. Woods hit a hammerlock suplex that got him a two count. Woods hit a gutwrench powerbomb for a two count. Woods then hit Shibata’s PK but Shibata just hulked up and went nuts with strikes.
Shibata hit a stalling corner dropkick and a half and half suplex for a two count. Shibata locked in a sleeper hold but Woods used rope break number one to get out. The men traded German suplexes and then stood in the center and traded forearms. They traded dueling pump kicks to the face for a double down. The men traded clotheslines until Woods got the advantage with his for a knockdown. Shibata slid out of a fireman’s carry and locked in a sleeper. Shibata hit the PK for the win.
Katsuyori Shibata defeated Josh Woods by pinfall in 11:13 to retain the ROH Pure Championship.
Afterward, Shibata helped pull Woods to his feet and gave him some encouragement. As Woods walked away, Sterling was scolding Woods…
Robinson’s Ruminations: That was a fun Pure Rules match. There was a lot of work to make the men look even. They created some fun spots that this mentality led to, including the lock up spot, which was compelling even though it was just some lock up jockeying. I enjoyed this one a bunch.
4. Zack Clayton vs. Dalton Castle (w/The Boys). Castle on the way to the ring said “Joe and Stokely you’ll rue the day you acted like a silly goose”. The crowd really into Castle at the start. The men traded advantages with some strikes until Clayton hit an exploder suplex and really took control. Castle eventually got a pair of his signature suplexes to really take control back. Castle hit a big knee lift in the corner and then hit the Bangarang for the pinfall. He stared into the camera on the pinfall.
Dalton Castle defeated Zack Clayton by pinfall.
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was a quick one, but Clayton looked good in defeat.
Backstage, Josh Woods got a post match interview. He talked about all his recent losses and he said that something has to change…
5. Nick Comoroto and Jora Johl vs. “The Infantry” Capt. Sean Dean and Carlie Bravo. Trish Adora made an entrance with The Infantry but went right back to the back. Comoroto and Johl didn’t seem to be on quite the same page right from the start, debating who would start the match. Bravo hit Johl with a lucha arm drag and spinning back elbow. Bravo hit a big right hand for a two count. Comoroto got the knee in the back to help Johl get the advantage.
Comoroto tagged in and hit a big running clothesline in the corner. Comoroto hit a nice stalling press slam and tagged in Johl. A double elbow got Johl a two count on Bravo. A scoop slam got Johl another two count. Bravo got the hot tag to Dean who came in and worked over Johl with all kinds of quick offense including a nice dropkick. A rope hanging neckbreaker got Dean a two count. The Infantry hit a side kick Russian leg sweep combo for the pinfall.
“The Infantry” Capt. Sean Dean and Carlie Bravo defeated Nick Comoroto and Jora Johl by pinfall.
Robinson’s Ruminations: A nice quick win for The Infantry. Give me more of this. High energy, flashy, fun babyfaces will always get my vote.
6. Leyla Hirsch vs. Miranda Vionette. No televised entrance for Vionette. Hirsch immediately took Vionette down with a waist lock slam and worked her over with a headlock. Vionette got a couple of quick roll ups that didn’t even get counts. Maria Kanellis-Bennett came out onto the stage quietly to watch. Hirsch hit a suplex and mounted forearms. The ref told her to get off but Hirsch got in her face. Hirsch hit a suplex by just pulling Vionette off the ground by her arm. Hirsch locked in a cross arm breaker for the tap out.
Leyla Hirsch defeated Miranad Vionette by submission.
Robinson’s Ruminations: A showcase win for Hirsch. Maria watching the match was interesting, but there was no pay off for it today.
7. Tony Nese (w/Mark Sterling) vs. Gravity in a ROH TV Title Eliminator tournament match. Nese made a Hartford Whaler dig that didn’t land and then did his personal trainer schtick. Nese took a quick advantage with a waistlock slam and posed. Gravity made a comeback with some quick lucha arm drags and then a press slam. Gravity sent Nese to the outside, but Sterling saved Nese from the dive. Nese took advantage with a clothesline and got a one count.
Nese tossed Gravity to the outside and distracted the ref so Sterling could get in a couple of kicks. Back in the ring, the men traded overhand chops until Nese hit a shot to the throat. Gravity tossed Nese to ringside and dove onto him from the top rope with a stalling senton. Back in the ring, Gravity hit a rope hanging spaceman splash and got a two count. Nese hit a nice looking spin kick to the jaw for a two count. Gravity hit a lifting powerbomb and then hit a spaceman splash from the top for the pinfall.
Gravity defeated Tony Nese by pinfall.
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was a fine match with the outcome feeling pretty predictable because of the Taylor win earlier in the night. Tony Khan seems to be really high on Gravity, so there might be an outside chance they let him beat Taylor, but I doubt it. Gravity is looking better and better with each outing. Perhaps I was too quick to judge him.
8. Athena vs. Diamante in an ROH Women’s Championship match. Athena flipped out of an armbar and hit an arm drag and kip up to show off her agility. Athena then cartwheeled out of a move attempt to continue to show off. The crowd chanted for Athena. Athena kipped out of an arm bar attempt too. Athena cartwheeled out of a monkey flip attempt but Diamante hit two big dropkicks and a suplex that sent Athena out of the ring. Diamante dove out onto Athena who caught her and slammed her. Athena threw Diamante into the barricade and milked the out of ring count.
Back in the ring, Athena hit a cartwheel knee drop and then locked in a bow and arrow submission. Athena did some leg presses with Diamante and then tossed her over her head. The women jockeyed on the apron and Athea ran Diamante’s head into the ring post and slammed her on the apron, slid her back in the ring and got a two count. Diamante ducked some strike attempts and hit some clotheslines and a flying head scissors.
Diamante hit the monkey flip this time and got a two count after a basement clothesline. Athena hit a slow looking tilt a whirl backbreaker for a two count. Athena went to the top turnbuckle and tried O-face but Diamante blocked and hit the chaos theory German for a two count. Diamante went for a middle rope move but got blasted by a boot to the face and Athena locked in the crossface. Diamante rolled through and got a two count. Athena rolled through a German attempt and got the pinfall.
Athena defeated Diamante to retain the ROH Women’s Championship by pinfall.
After the match Athena thought about making Diamante kiss the title but decided against it. The announcers said maybe it was begrudged respect.
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was more of a showcase for Athena than I was hoping it would be. Diamante got some good offense at the end though. Athena maybe starting to show some respect for her competition is an interesting development.
9. “The Boys” Brendon Tate and Brent Tate vs. “Gates of Agony” Toa Liona and Bishop Kaun (w/ Prince Nana). The crowd was really behind The Boys and chanted for them. Brent tried to keep away from Kaun for a bit but ate a huge clothesline that got a two count. Prince Nana got a few cheap shots in on Brent. Kaun hit a running senton and used a cocky cover for a two count. Brent escaped a few moves and made the hot tag to Brandon. Brandon evaded Toa and dove onto Kaun at ringside. The Boys tried to double team Toa but they got cut off by Kaun and then Gates hit Open the Gates for the pinfall.
Gates of Agony defeated The Boys by pinfall.
Robinson’s Ruminations: Nice quick squash for Gates. The Boys got a few spots to show off their speed and agility, but we all knew what the outcome would be.
Backstage, Diamante was asked by Lexi Nair about her loss. Athena quickly came into frame and cut off the answer. Lexi asked Athena why she didn’t attack Diamante. Athena said Diamante reminded her of herself and that she was missing something.
10. Cole Karter vs. LSG. Karter immediately took LSG down with a beautiful dropkick. LSG came right back with a shoulder tackle. Karter ran LSG’s throat into the ropes and hit an elbow drop for a two count. Karter hit another dropkick and posed. Karter hit snap suplex for a two count. Maria Bennett came back out on stage to watch again. The announcers concluded she might be scouting for recruitment into The Kingdom. LSG made a comeback with a middle rope elbow strike. Karter hit a powerslam DDT type of move for the pinfall.
Cole Karter defeated LSG by pinfall.
Robinson’s Ruminations: This was a showcase for Karter and he’s a good looking prospect. Maria scouting is continuing to be interesting. This is the small storytelling I’ve been looking for.
A post match interview from The Righteous at the PPV was interrupted by Dark Order. Evil Uno gave Stu Greyson a handshake and said “Thank You.” Greyson responded with “Finally” and that was that…
11. Robyn Renegade (w/Charlette Renegade) vs. Christina Marie. No televised entrance for Marie. Renegade worked a headlock and got rolled over for a one count. Marie came back with a scoop slam for a two count. Renegade rolled out of the ring and used a distraction on the ref to let her sister run Marie into the post. Back in the ring Renegade hit a bulldog for a two count. Renegade posed and got rolled up for a two count. Marie got on a roll with some offense including a nice dropkick. Marie tried for a fireman’s carry move but Renegade reversed into an abdominal stretch that she fell to the ground with and got the tap out.
Robyn Renegade defeated Christina Marie by submission.
Robinson’s Ruminations: A showcase for Robyn, but Marie got in some nice offense and looked good too. This was one of those short “Let’s see what you’ve got” matches and it was just fine for that.
12. “The Workhorsemen” Anthony Henry and JD Drake vs. El Hijo del Vikingo and Komander (w/ Alex Abrahantes). The Workhorsemen waved off the Code of Honor handshake. Komander got the early offense with some arm drags and drop kicks on Henry. Drake tagged in and got chopped down by some dropkicks by Komander. Vikingo tagged in and hit a huge air dropkick off the top onto Drake. The Workhorsemen got dumped to the outside and the luchadors hit stereo suicide dives.
Back in the ring, Vikingo hit a frog splash on Drake and got a two count. Vikingo hit a corkscrew flying head scissors (?) on Drake! The Workhorsemen took over soon after and worked over Vikingo in their corner. The Horsemen hit a Russian leg sweep big boot combo for a two count. Henry hit a backstabber and Drake hit a shining wizard for a two count. Vikingo hit a crazy code red on Drake and got the hot tag. Komander came in and took Henry down and then chopped down Drake with a dropkick and got a two count.
Vikingo tried a top rope move on Drake who caught him and hit a crazy DDT thing and Henry hit a stomp off the top for a two count that was broken up by Komander. The luchadors chopped Drake down with some crazy dropkick offense. Then they went to the top and walke the ropes toward each other and hit moonsaults on the Horsemen who were both outside. The Luchadors stood on the same turnbuckle and hit stereo 450s on Drake and got the pinfall.
El Hijo del Vikingo and Komander defeated The Workhorsemen by pinfall.
Robinson’s Ruminations: A fun, exciting way to close the show. I’m probably going to have to go back and watch this one again later, because I felt like I missed half the match trying to cover it. I love the Workhorsemen, and I love how many styles they can work and how many different types of opponents they can have good matches with. I just hope we get more of them in more prominent spots down the line.
As for the overall show, this was a pretty good edition of ROH on HonorClub. The match order stuck out to me as a little odd, but I kind of understood why once I saw the matches play out. Another week without hearing from or seeing ROH Champion Claudio Castagnoli feels awful to me, and I really hope that changes. I will be by with my weekly ROH on HonorClub audio review for Dot Net Members (including our Patreon patrons).