September was a far more productive month for the ROH titles than August was. Let’s get into it.
ROH World Championship
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Ari Daivari
AEW Dark #160 – Hoffman Estates, IL – 9.6.2022
Castagnoli has been champion since 7.23.2022 and this is his third defense. I guess a couple singles wins on Dark is good enough for a Ring of Honor World title match when your booker doesn’t give a shit. Daivari doesn’t follow the Code of Honor, but Claudio makes him shake his hand after taking him down with a shoulder block. Daivari gets in Claudio’s face after, but retreats to the food when Claudio attempts the Giant Swing. Claudio bangs his knee into the guardrail when he goes for a running European Uppercut. Daivari gets momentarily control because of this back in the ring, but Claudio catches him in mid-air and delivers a backbreaker. Claudio’s knee buckles when he lifts up Daivari in a gorilla press. Daivari chop blocks the leg and dropkicks a grounded Claudio. Claudio has to let go of the Giant Swing when his knee begins to buckle. Daivari successfully lands a crossbody after kicking Claudio’s leg repeatedly. He rams Claudio’s leg into the ring post several times, but Claudio ends up kicking Daivari into the guardrails and pulling off his running European Uppercut. Claudio also catches a pescado attempt on one-leg, but ends up being sent face first into the ring post. Daivari gets two with a frog splash. Claudio escapes a spinning toe hold and nails Daivari with a clothesline. Claudio overwhelms Daivari with uppercuts before putting him away with Swiss Death and the Ricola Bomb at 9:19. Whether or not Daivari earned this title shot, they made him a fairly formidable challenger for Claudio in this bout. The story of Claudio’s leg being worked over was consistent, well executed, and kept me plenty engaged. This was definitely better than I anticipated. ***
ROH Pure Championship
Wheeler YUTA vs. Daniel Garcia
AEW Dynamite #153 – Buffalo, NY – 9.7.2022
YUTA has been champion since 4.1.2022 and this is his fourth defense. It is also a rematch from “Death Before Dishonor”, but it is noteworthy that Garcia has the home field advantage tonight. Garcia has been at odds with the Jericho Appreciation Society of late, and because of this, nobody from his group is in his corner this evening. William Regal and Caprice Coleman are on commentary. The Pure Rules are as follows:
*The competitors are to obey the “Code of Honor”, shaking one another’s hand before and after the match.
*Each wrestler has 3 rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls. After a wrestler has used all 3 of their rope breaks, submission and pin attempts on or under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal.
*Closed-fist punches to the face are not permitted. Punches to other parts of the body are permitted, excluding low blows. The first use of a closed fist results in a warning, a second will be a disqualification.
*This match has a 60 minute time limit. If the match goes past the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome. The judges for this match are ROH alumnus and former champions Jerry Lynn, BJ Whitmer, and Matt Sydal.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.
Unable to break it himself, Garcia uses his first rope break to escape a courting hold. However, he uses that opportunity to also hip toss YUTA over the top rope and to the floor. Back in the ring, Garcia ends a chop exchange by snapmaring YUTA into a back kick. YUTA comes back with a flying elbow. YUTA takes him down with a snap suplex, and Garcia retaliates with a Saito suplex and clothesline. The two of them trade German suplexes, with each of them getting in a succession before the opponent is able to switch the waistlock and continue. It ends with Garcia giving YUTA a German suplex off of the middle turnbuckle! Out of a different corner, Garcia superplexes YUTA. He then open-hand strikes YUTA until it appears he’s knocked out, and when YUTA shows life, Garcia hooks him in a sharpshooter. YUTA spends his first rope break to escape. YUTA uses a closed fist to knock down Garcia and is issued a warning. When he goes for the Pain Thriller, Garcia rolls him back into the sharpshooter and bends back. YUTA counters that into a crossface and then a seatbelt pin for two. Garcia gets the sharpshooter on again. YUTA tries using a neck crank from underneath to escape, but ends up tapping out at 16:01. This was a big step down from their Death Before Dishonor match. The wrestling felt lifeless and almost like two people demonstrating a wrestling match rather than being in the midst of a match with stakes. It was cool that Garcia got a big win in his hometown, and that Daniel Bryan strapped him up after the match, but I was very excited for this match and it let me down big time. **¾
ROH World Championship
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Dax Harwood
AEW Rampage #58 – Buffalo, NY – 9.9.2022
Castagnoli has been champion since 7.23.2022 and this is his third defense. Regal is in Claudio’s corner, and Caprice Coleman is on commentary. Harwood is also one-half of the ROH World Tag Team Champions. When Harwood’s inside cradles attempts don’t go well, he boldly throws uppercuts at Claudio. That also goes poorly for him, so he pulls Claudio into a short-arm clothesline. The two of them tumble over the top rope and to the floor fighting for a suplex, and Harwood’s left knee crumples underneath him upon landing. Claudio beats Harwood down for a long time, but Harwood earns a respite when he chops Claudio off of the second rope when Claudio ascends the ropes. Harwood catches his breath before following up with a diving headbutt. Harwood also avoids the Neutralizer and drops the champion with a piledriver. Claudio uppercuts Harwood when Harwood climbs the ropes and pulls off a superplex for two. Claudio pulls up Harwood to avoid a sunset flip and tries a suplex, which Harwood turns into a brainbuster. Outside the ring, Claudio launches Harwood into the ring post. Claudio delivers hard strikes to Harwood’s face and chin back in the ring. Harwood evades Swiss Death and Swiss Chin Music, pulling up Claudio into a slingshot sit-out powerbomb. Claudio shifts his momentum in a back superplex from Harwood, and when they get back to their feet, Claudio takes over with uppercuts. Claudio applies a sharpshooter after a Giant Swing. Harwood rolls through and applies one of his own. Claudo uses the ropes to escape and kicks Harwood from the apron. He pummels Harwood with forearms to the face and elbows to the back of the head before re-applying the sharpshooter. Harwood taps out at 20:13. I like that this got time, but also think that time could have been better utilized to make Harwood seem like a real threat to the title. The crowd never really got into the match, and I have to think that’s a big reason why, and it didn’t help that Claudio was in control for a significant portion of the match. The good news is, these two are able to produce a very good match fairly effortlessly. ***½
Chris Jericho was on commentary for the above match, and he mentioned at the end he has never held the ROH World Championship. On Rampage the following week, Jericho interrupted a promo from Claudio and challenged him to an ROH World Title match at Arthur Ashe Stadium next week. Claudio accepts and tells Jericho that he will beat the hell out of him. Jericho wants “The Ocho”, his eighth World Title reign. That reference is almost 20 years old. Well he already has his t-shirt ready for when he wins the title.
Also on that episode of Rampage, Samoa Joe made his first TV Title defense since Death Before Dishonor:
ROH World Television Championship
Samoa Joe vs. Josh Woods
AEW Rampage #59 – Albany, NY – 9.16.2022
Joe has been champion since 4.13.2022 and this is his third defense. Both Tony Nese and “Smart” Mark Sterling are in Woods’ corner. Bobby Cruise is the ring announced for the bout, and Ian Riccaboni is on commentary. Woods is a former ROH Pure Champion. Sterling more or less got him this match as a thank you for Woods saving Sterling from being beat down by Wardlow on an episode of Dynamite. Woods lands the first strike, forearming Joe in the face. Joe responds in kind. Woods is able to block Joe’s headbutt and pulls him through the ropes so that Joe’s neck collides with the top rope. Sterling distracts referee Paul Turner so Nese can snap Joe’ left arm across the top rope. Woods attacks the left arm, especially Joe’s taped up elbow. Joe snapmares Woods, but when he goes for an elbow drop with his right arm, Woods catches it and tries for a cross armbreaker. Joe is able to avoid the hold and grab Woods in a rear-naked choke. Woods snaps Joe’s arm across his shoulder and takes him down with a waitlock slam. Joe comes back with a boot and a senton splash. Sterling distracts Joe so Woods can escape the Muscle Buster. Woods swings Joe from behind his back into a knee strike to the face for a nearfall. Joe halts Woods with an STJoe, and punches Nese off of the ring apron before successfully pulling off the Muscle Buster for the pin at 10:10. Another solid defense for Joe, and a very good showing from Woods. I’m glad to see Woods doing more in AEW and hope he is an integral part of the ROH roster if that ever takes shape. ***
The Six Man Tag champions popped up for the first time since winning the titles on Dark: Elevation. Sigh. Understandably, not a title match, but I wanted to check in on Dalton and the Boys anyhow since there is their AEW debut as a trio:
Dalton Castle & The Boys (Brandon Tate & Brent Tate) vs. Bougie, Omar & Ric Recon
AEW Dark Elevation #81 – Albany NY – 9.19.2022
As you would imagine this was all Castle and the Boys. Well, it was all Castle, and Castle used the Boys as projectile weapons onto their opponents. Ian Riccaboni has my love, but starting a dialogue with Shane about Ashley Remington and making references to The Wire only deepens that love. Castle pinned Bougie with the Bang-A-Rang at 3:26. A fine squash for our champs, who are oh so beloved.
ROH World Championship
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Chris Jericho
AEW Dynamite #155 – New York, NY – 9.21.2022
Castagnoli has been champion since 7.23.2022 and this is his fourth defense. Bobby Cruise is the ring announcer for this bout, Ian Riccaboni is on commentary, and Cary Silkin is ringside. Jericho refuses to obey the Code of Honor, but then begrudgingly does so and eats a flurry of uppercuts for it. Claudio then drops Jericho crotch first onto the top rope and boots him to the floor. Jericho hides behind Cary Silkin to get in a sucker punch. Back in the ring, Claudio cuts off Jericho coming off of the top rope with an uppercut. When they go to the ring apron, Jericho rakes Claudio’s eyes and suplexes Claudio to the floor! Jericho does more damage to Claudio’s back and shoulder inside the ring and snaps his throat against the bottom rope. Claudio peppers Jericho with uppercuts in one corner and gets his boot up to block an attack in another. Claudio looks for a super Ricola Bomb, and Jericho counters with a super Frankensteiner for two. Claudio then blocks the Code Breaker with Swiss Death for two. Claudio double stomps Jericho and locks in the sharpshooter. Jericho grabs the bottom rope to escape. Claudio catches a low blow attempt and pulls Jericho up into the Ricola Bomb for two. Claudio comes off the second rope with an uppercut and Jericho counters with a Code Breaker. He applies the Walls of Jericho moments later. Claudio rolls forward so that he’s on his feet and stomps Jericho’s face before giving him the Giant Swing. He catapults Jericho into the corner and nails him with a lariat after for two. Jericho sneaks in a baseball bat but Claudio blocks it when Jericho tries it. Jericho however low blows Claudio and hits him with the Molasses Elbow to win the title at 14:48. They went one too many near falls resulting in an nonoptimal reaction for the ending. With Jericho’s awful looking sucker punch and taking a corner catapult like a bag of cement, I have the lowest of expectations for his ROH World Title run. This could be Jerry Lynn Part 2, folks. Claudio was tremendous as usual. The parts of the match that worked were thanks to him, and he absolutely deserves better. ***
ROH World Championship
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Bandido
AEW Dynamite #156 – Philadelphia, PA – 9.28.2022
Jericho has been champion since 9.21.2022 and this is his first defense. Bandido is receiving this as he never got a rematch after losing the title to Jonathan Gresham at “Supercard of Honor.” I suppose that’s a good enough reason. Bobby Cruise is the ring announcer for this bout, Ian Riccaboni is on commentary. Jericho disrespects Bandido with a middle finger, which Bandido makes him pay for with a suicde dive and Fosbury Flop. Bandido lands a Tornillo back in the ring, but when they make their way back to the floor, Jericho sends Bandido into the ring steps. Bandido gets the upper hand in the ring, press slamming Jericho with one hand. Jericho comes off the top and Bandido superkicks him in the stomach coming down, muscling Jericho up into a delayed one-armed vertical suplex. He then delivers a frog splash for two. Jericho slams Bandido on his chest and boots him in the face, and even though Bandido shoves Jericho off of the top rope, Jericho catches Bandido coming down with a Code Breaker. On the apron, Jericho punches Bandido right in the nose, and Bandido uses a Frankensteiner off of the ring apron and to the floor to buy himself recovery time. An angry Bandido with blood on his mask is knocked to the apron. Bandido meets Jericho in the corner where Jericho is about to give him a springboard dropkick and instead brings him down with a sunset flip powerbomb. Jericho holds the ropes to avoid a dropkick and crushes Bandido with a lionsault for two. Bandido floats behind Jericho to escape a suplex and drops him with a crucifix driver. Jericho blocks the X-Knee and sweeps Bandido into the Walls of Jericho. The crowd cheers when Bandido finally gets the bottom rope to escape. Bandido pops Jericho with a gamengiri on the top turnbuckle. Bandido brings Jericho down with a fallaway moonsault press for two. The X-Knee connects and the 21 Plex gets Bandido a very close nearfall. As Bandido picks up Jericho, Jericho pokes his eyes and pulls down his mask. Bandido goes for a desperation small package, but Jericho kicks out and applies the Liontamer until Bandido taps out at 18:24. It’s weird to say this about a World Title match, but as it was Bandido’s AEW debut, this was a breakout performance for him. Positioning him as someone capable of getting multiple believable nearfalls against Jericho is a very good thing, and you saw it in the reaction from the crowd near the end. I still am not totally into the idea of Jericho as champion, but I can’t deny that this title match was very good. Bandido was hired by AEW after this, so that’s neat. ***¾
Jericho calls Bobby Cruise into the ring. He says the Ring of Jericho era has begun. He will desecrate ROH’s legacy by defeating every great wrestler who has held the ROH World Championship, and challenges former champion Bryan Danielson to a title match in two weeks on Dynamite. He also claims that he will destroy every ROH commentary and ring announcer. He then turns his attention to Bobby Cruise who he punches in the stomach and knocks down with the Molasses Elbow. Well, I must say, I am at least intrigued, and hopefully Daniel Garcia ultimately benefits from this story.
A very active month for the titles. Even though I think the Garcia vs. YUTA match has been overrated and I don’t love Jericho as World champion, ROH’s representation over tripled what occurred in August, and with Jericho and Garcia as champions, I don’t see that changing. Can we get FTR back on the show, though, please?