At the start of a packed WrestleMania weekend, Ring of Honor had the task of competing with AEW and WWE programmes during its Supercard of Honor show. For any criticisms aimed at Tony Khan’s weekly wrestling shows, most would agree that he always delivers on PPVs. With many flattering to deceive over the next few days, how would this entry perform?
What should be noted, that during the course of a couple of days, performers showed up in multiple events. More than once, it was necessary to double-check on Twitter that an event being watched via Fite+ was actually live. Wrestlers must have had quick Uber drivers and super powers of recovery.
A couple who have enjoyed increased exposure lately kicked off the PPV (excluding Zero Hour). El Hijo Vikingo defended his AAA Mega Championship against Komander. It was a further example of the high-intensity lucha libre style. Dare it be said: Vikingo looked more at ease here than he did against Kenny Omega. Also, when he performed the 630 senton over the top rope, he avoided contact with the edge of the apron. On AEW Dynamite, he clipped the back of his head. This was a relief, and hopefully a sign the last incident was a one-off. The adjustment meant less direct force hit the centre of the table, alas, it didn’t break.
I’d rather have slightly damaged tables if it means unbroken wrestlers.
The champion retained in a solid start to the event.
Other notable mentions go to Athena and Yuka Sakazaki. Athena has found her groove under Khan’s banner now. Sakazaki always delivers a strong performance so Athena getting the victory adds more legitimacy to the title reign. Both women are set for good futures based on what we saw here.
There was also the emotional showdown as Mark Briscoe attempted to dethrone Samoa Joe as the ROH TV Champion. It was played up well, and the commentary team added to this, to the point, it became a 50/50 as to who would win. On a normal day, in a singles match, the bookies would back Joe. But here, with so much emotion built in, and Mark drawing on the memory of his brother, there was every chance the title would change hands
The fact it didn’t, doesn’t knock Briscoe in any way. It was slightly annoying when commentary alluded to this belt being his aim, as opposed to the world title. Why put a ceiling on the man? I can quite conceivably see Mark Briscoe as a ROH World Champion one day. Reach for the sky, brother.
Daniel Garcia lost to Hiroshi Tanahashi in what he’ll be hoping (and be coached backstage) is detrimental but development. But he seems to take the L on too many occasions. He’s a great professional wrestler, not a bad sports entertainer, but risks becoming a strong mid-carder.
The Reach for the Sky Tag Title Ladder Match, up to a certain point, was everything a good ladder match should be. It’s on the cusp of looking unsafe and makes you wince. The issue is, it became unsafe. Wrestlers at Khan’s promotions are constantly pushing the boundaries to make that one big spot which makes people gasp.
There was more than a gasp when Dante Martin went through four tables from the ladder, landed, and pivoted around, immediately pointing officials to his leg. There was a remarkable air of composure for a man whose foot was facing the wrong way.
We all pray for a speedy and full recovery.
Next up was Wheeler Yuta defending his Pure Championship against Katsuyori Shibata. Simply put:
It wasn’t even the best Pure match you’ll see this year. But it is a great concept when done with talented wrestlers and these two pulled it off. Wheeler losing was a genuine surprise. Maybe it’s so they can lean fully into the current Blackpool Combat Club heel rage angle. It’s hard to do that when one member is defending the title furthest away from running roughshod over rules.
Can you imagine WrestleMania weekend having a finish to a main event the audience didn’t like? I know, hard to picture, isn’t it. That’s what happened when Claudio Castagnoli kept his title by beating Eddie Kingston. In the end (after a testing physical battle), it wasn’t even a big move, just a simple reversal that sealed Eddie’s fate.
The crowd (probably) didn’t boo because Claudio and the BCC are in full heel mode, it was the adoration for straight talking Eddie. This is a man who is always that next match away from cracking restraints on his main event level status. Not even the programme with Jericho alleviated the issue. Maybe backstage antics and politics plays a part? Maybe he’s very good at being in this exact place to garner the strong reaction from the fans?
When all said and done, if I was booking the match, the result would have been the same. Claudio dropping the belt again would harm his credentials. Eddie will still be adored and will get another crack at some point.