Last month, Dalton Castle and the Boys made their AEW debuts. Two weeks later, they were back on Dark: Elevation, making their first defense of the ROH Six Man Tag titles:
ROH World Six Man Tag Team Championship
Dalton Castle & The Boys (Brandon & Brent) vs. Primal Fear (Adrien Soriano, Gabriel Hodder & Matthew Omen)
AEW Dark Elevation #83 – Philadelphia, PA – 10.3.2022
Dalton and the Boys have been champions since 7.23.2022 and this is their first defense. This is Primal Fear’s AEW debut, and their second chance at the titles, last challenging Shane Taylor Promotions in May of 2021. Castle rolls Soriano around in a waistlock. Castle calls in the Boys who take Soriano down with tandem offense, and he tags out to Omen as soon as he can. Omen and Hodder throw Brent chest-first into the middle rope, and all of Primal Fear nail him with triple boots to the head. Brent ducks under a clothesline from Doriano and tags Castle who amateur throws Soriano and then Hodder and Omen. Castle throws the Boys onto all of Primal Fear onto the floor. The Boys take out Soriano with a double suicide dive, then feed him to Castle for the Bang-A-Rang and the pin at 4:07. It was nice that a trio with some ROH history got this title match, but it didn’t get much time to be anything beyond Castle and the Boys playing the hits. *½
On the September 28th episode of Dynamite, the Jericho Appreciation Society celebrated Jericho’s Ring of Honor World title victory. During the celebration, Chris Jericho reiterated his belief that a sports entertainer beats a pro wrestler every time. He then turned his attention to the ROH Pure Champion and JAS member Daniel Garcia, with whom he has been having issues. As an olive branch of sorts, Jericho gifted a purple bucket hat to match the purple suit he and the rest of the JAS wore for this celebration. A clearly upset and embarrassed Garcia tells Jericho that he’s had enough and is ready to get some thoughts off of his chest. He seems primed to quit the JAS, but Jericho tells Garcia to really think about what he is about to do, saying that if he makes the wrong decision, Jericho will have to take him out. Jericho then plainly asks Garcia if he is a sports entertainer or a professional wrestler, but before he can answer, Bryan Danielson, who Garcia has stated is his favorite professional wrestler, makes his way to the ring. Danielson urges Garcia to think for himself. Jericho tells Danielson that Garcia belongs to him and tells him what to do. Garcia gets in Jericho’s face and denies both statements. Garcia then turns his attention to “entertaining”, and tells Jericho that he thinks it would be entertaining if he and Bryan teamed up to wrestle Jericho and Sammy Guevara. That match would take place on the following week’s Dynamite.
Bryan Danielson & Daniel Garcia vs. The Jericho Appreciation Society (Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara)
AEW Dynamite #157 – Washington, D.C. – 10.5.2022
Ian Riccaboni joins commentary for this bout. Guevara trips Garcia to stop his control over Jericho in the opening moments. Garcia dropkicks Guevara’s leg out from under him and tags Danielson. Danielson throws repeated kicks to Guevara in the corner and lands a suicide dive to Jericho on the floor. Danielson also missile dropkicks Guevara and delivers chest kicks to him in the middle of the ring. Jericho knocks Garcia to the floor but gets overhead suplexed to his corner. Guevara is caught coming off the top by Danielson and suplexed across the ring. Jericho disrupts Danielson ascending the ropes and Guevara brings him down with a Spanish Fly for two. A mid-air collision occurs with both men going for running crossbodies, and they both tag out. As Garcia and Jericho stare one another down, Guevara tries to fly in with a sneak attack, and Garcia strikes him out of mid-air. Garcia stomps down Jericho in the corner and locks him in the Dragon Slayer. Guevara superkicks Garcia to break the hold and also wipes out Danielson on the outside with a Fosbury Flop. Garcia gets his knees up to block a lionsault and catches Guevara’s diving cutter and puts him in a crossface. Danielson puts Jericho in a crossface simultaneously, converting into repeated elbows to the face. Guevara flips out of a double back suplex. He takes out Danielson with a standing Spanish Fly and Garcia with a pop-up spine kick. Garcia blocks the GTH and stuffs Guevara with a piledriver. Jericho pulls Garcia off of Guevara to break the pin, and Danielson takes out Jericho with a flying knee strike off of the apron. Jericho suplexes Danielson through the timekeeper’s table. Guevara successfully takes out Garcia with the GTH. Garcia gets his knees up to block a shooting star press and reapplies the Dragon Slayer. Jericho clobbers Garcia with his ROH World Title unbeknownst to referee Aubrey Edwards, and Guevara then covers Garcia to get the pin at 14:23. Each team in this match perfectly portrayed their respective sides in this pro wrestler vs. sports entertainer battle. It also proved Jericho’s point: Garcia and Danielson being superior wrestlers who act honorably doesn’t matter when Jericho has no qualms with putting one of them through a table and clobbering the other with a title belt. It was a total “means to an end” match but an interesting one at least. ***¼
ROH World Tag Team Championship
FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) vs. The Embassy (Bishop Kaun & Toa Liona)
AEW Battle of the Belts IV – Washington, D.C. – 10.7.2022
FTR have been ROH World Tag Team Champions since 4.1.2022 and this is their sixth defense. Prince Nana is in the Embassy’s corner, and Kaun has begun using his first name again. Bobby Cruise does the ring introductions in a neck brace, still recovering from his attack last week. This is the first two versus two FTR match in AEW since May. Kaun blocks a hip toss attempt from Harwood with a clothesline. Liona jumps into the ring when Harwood drops Kaun with a neckbreaker, but Wheeler also jumps in and FTR sends an aggravated Liona to the floor. Kaun shuts down Wheeler with a clothesline as Wheeler comes off of the ropes. The Gates of Agony “isolate and destroy” Wheeler, as JR puts it, with Wheeler finding an opening after Liona crashes into the barricades. Just when Wheeler is about to tag out, however, Kaun pulls Harwood off of the ring apron. Wheeler endures the Embassy’s attack a few moments longer, and finally tags Wheeler when he sends Liona crashing into the top of the ring post and slides underneath Kaun’s legs. Liona shuts off Harwood with a Samoan Drop for two. Wheeler stops Liona’s Samoan Spike attempt on Harwood. Liona catches Harwood’s crossbody, but Wheeler assists with a dropkick. FTR ducks a running crossbody from Liona and gives him a tandem rope-assisted DDT. Kaun drops Wheeler with a gut buster for two. FTR delivers a spike piledriver to Kaun and Liona breaks their pin attempt. Liona avoids the Big Rig twice before FTR are able to hit it on their third try. Nana distracts Paul Turner when Harwood has Kaun pinned with an O’Connor Roll. Harwood throws Kaun into Nana and backslides Kaun for the pin at 13:27. Why couldn’t the Big Rig have ended the match? This was OK. I like that an actual ROH team got this title match, but there just wasn’t enough momentum behind them to make anyone believe they would beat FTR. The crowd was also dead tired, as this was the final match of a four hour taping that ended round midnight EDT. **¾
After the match Brian Cage helps the Embassy beat down FTR. Wardlow comes to their aid, but he also gets overwhelmed, so Samoa Joe interjects. FTR, Joe, and Wardlow end the show raising their arms in victory.
Earlier on “Battle of the Belts”, Jericho, along with Angelo Parker and Matt Menard, invited Garcia to “come home” to the Jericho Appreciation Society. Jericho also said he would continue to desecrate the legacy of Ring of Honor by defeating Bryan Danielson on Dynamite, once again resurrecting his “Lionheart” persona for the bout.
ROH World Championship
Chris Jericho vs. Bryan Danielson
AEW Dynamite #158 – Toronto, ONT – 10.12.2022
Jericho has been champion since 9.21.2022 and this is his second defense. Bobby Cruise does the ring introductions, fully recovered from Jericho’s attack. Ian Riccaboni and William Regal join commentary for the bout. JAS members Angelo Parker and Matt Menard are in Jericho’s corner. Jericho facetiously offers a handshake and Danielson kicks Jericho’s hand away. He slingshots Jericho to the floor and follows with a suicide dive. Danielson punches Jericho in the corner, but Jericho chops Danielson across the ring and delivers his own. He also takes Danielson off of the top turnbuckle with a Frankensteiner. Danielson comes back with a headbutt and kidney shot before lighting Jericho up with chest and back kicks. Jericho cuts off Danielson with a headbutt, ending Danielson’s attack on his lower back, and dropkicking him off of the apron before diving from the inside of the ring out onto him. Danielson however cuts off Jericho on the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a butterfly suplex. Danielson elbows Jericho’s abdomen before applying the LeBell Block. Jericho turns that into the Walls of Jericho, and Danielson reverses into his own Boston Crab. Jericho hoists up Danielson into a fireman’s carry to stop the elbows to the side of his head and dumps him with an FU for two. Danielson avoids a lionsault. Two leaping knees off of the top turnbuckle connect, but Jericho blocks the third with a Code Breaker for two. Danielson avoids the Molasses Elbow but gets shoved into referee Paul Turner. While he’s out, Menard slips the World Title to Jericho. Daniel Garcia runs out to stop him. Garcia shoves Jericho, and Danielson blasts him with a Busaiku Knee. Garcia then clobbers Danielson with the World Title! Parker pushes Turner back in the ring, and Jericho pins Danielson to get the win at 14:39. This was a very good match, but I am really disappointed in Garcia staying with JAS. Him abandoning Jericho and going after the ROH World Title is a far more interesting story, and it would allow for Garcia to break out of Jericho’s shadow. Hopefully it still leads to something fulfilling for Garcia. Blackpool Combat Club members Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler YUTA and William Regal check on Danielson after the match. ***½
On that Friday’s Rampage, Daniel Garcia said Bryan Danielson is his hero, and that he taught him about heart, guts, and fighting spirit. But Chris Jericho taught him how to win. When Jericho hit him in the head with the ROH World Title, he realized Sports Entertainers beat Pro Wrestlers every single time. I like that he used the exact verbiage Jericho did in his ROH World Title celebration. Garcia then looked into the camera and said he is a sports entertainer. Jericho then said he will continue to prove that he is the best ROH World Champion by beating every past champion. This bought out our current ROH World Six Man Tag Champions Dalton Castle and The Boys. Castle says seeing the ROH World Title around Jericho’s waist makes him sick. He broke his back for that title, and he’s willing to break Jericho’s so the fans can once again have a champion they’re proud of. He pledged to beat Jericho on next week’s Dynamite.
At the end of Rampage, after FTR and Shawn Spears defeated The Embassy of Brian Cage, Bishop Kaun and Toa Liona, The Kingdom of Matt Taven, Michael Bennett and Maria Kanellis-Bennett showed up on the entrance stage. Kanellis says FTR call themselves top guys, but they’ve never faced the Kingdom. They were ROH and IWGP Tag Team Champions first. Everything AEW is built on was on their backs, and they never get the credit they deserve. Kanellis says The Kingdom are the real Top Guys. The Embassy then attacks FTR and Spears, and the Kingdom lends a helping hand. ROH TV Champion Samoa Joe and AEW TNT Champion Wardlow even the odds, sending both The Kingdom and The Embassy running. Maybe we get a 10 man tag down the line?
ROH World Championship
Chris Jericho vs. Dalton Castle
AEW Dynamite #159 – Cincinnati, OH – 10.18.2022
Jericho has been champion since 9.21.2022 and this is his third defense. Ian Riccaboni joins commentary for the bout. Jake Hager is in Jericho’s corner and four Boys are in Dalton Castle’s corner. Castle presents Jericho with a middle finger instead of accepting his half-hearted handshake. Castle gains some steam with the Boys around ringside, using that energy to give Jericho three separate slams and a gutwrench suplex. Jake Hager tries interfering, so three boys get tossed on the former All American-American. Jericho rakes Castle’s eyes to turn things around. Castle however is able to throw Jericho off the top turnbuckle to prevent being superplexed. When Castle comes off the top, Jericho dropkicks him out of mid-air. Castle clobbers Jericho to stop him from jumping to the floor, and Castle knee strikes Jericho off the top turnbuckle and to the floor. Castle follows up with a suicide dive and a headscissor onto the floor. Hager is swarmed by the Boys when he tries to get involved. Jericho and Castle collide in-ring when they both go for a running crossbody at the same time. Castle looks for the Julie Newmar submission (a half straightjacket choke with a bodyscissors), but Jericho fights free and locks in the Walls of Jericho. Castle uses the ropes to break and takes down Jericho with a clothesline. Castle then German suplexes Jericho to block a German suplex. Castle also blocks the Code Breaker with the Bang-A-Rang for two. As Castle tries to maneuver Jericho in position, Jericho surprises him with the Molasses Elbow for the pin at 12:28. The Hager and Boy stuff was superfluous, but the match itself was quite good. Castle’s reversals led to some believable nearfalls and the crowd was very receptive to it all. That ending was a bit too abrupt, but this was another solid defense for Jericho. ***¼
Chris Jericho sicks Matt Menard and Angelo Parker after the match onto Ian Riccaboni, but Jerry Lynn interrupts. Jericho then kicks Lynn in the stomach and gives him a tombstone onto the ROH World Title. The Jericho Appreciation Society all laugh at Lynn as he is being checked on. Perhaps Lynn will face Jericho after all.
Speaking of the Jericho Appreciation Society, the ROH World Champion and Pure Champion would team-up the following week on Dynamite to face the two men they defeated for those titles:
The Jericho Appreciation Society (Chris Jericho & Daniel Garcia) vs. The Blackpool Combat Club (Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler YUTA)
AEW Dynamite #160 – Norfolk, VA – 10.26.2022
Jake Hager, Angelo Parker, and Matt Menard are in the JAS’ corner while the BCC’s William Regal joins commentary. Garcia headbutts YUTA to shut down his offensive stride. YUTA leapfrogs over Garcia in the corner and lands a senton for a two count. The JAS pull Jericho and Garcia to safety when Claudio and YUTA come down on both of them with repeated elbows to the side of the head. The BCC maintains control outside and when they bring the JAS back inside the ring. Hager yanking Claudio’s foot distracts the Swiss Superman long enough for Jericho to dropkick him to the floor. The JAS beat down Claudio during the commercial break. Claudio powers out of a sleeper hold from Garcia, converting him into a vertical suplex. Claudio also thwarts the Code Breaker and Walls of Jericho and drops the World champion with Swiss Death. YUTA is tagged and immediately lands a top rope splash on Jericho. He clotheslines YUTA to the floor before taking Jericho back down with the Painthriller. Claudio assists YUTA with a tornado DDT on Jericho. Jericho counters a diving European uppercut from Claudio with the Code Breaker and YUTA breaks his pin attempt. YUTA wipes out Garcia, Menard, and Parker with a tope suicida. Hager feeds Jericho his baseball bat. Claudio powerbombs a charging Jericho who drops the bat upon impact. Claudio grabs a charging Garcia and places him on his shoulders and gives Jericho a Giant Swing while airplane spinning Garcia at the same time. Claudio boots Hager off the apron and wipes him out with a suicide dive on the floor. He also wipes out Menard, Parker, and Garcia before coming back in with an uppercut to Jericho. The Neutralizer then pins Jericho at 11:40. Claudio’s run at the end there made this entire match worthwhile. Presumably that pinfall earns him a ROH World Title rematch as well. This was a fun, hot way to start the episode. ***
This month emphasized for me that when it comes to ROH being presented on AEW television, it’s all about who is involved. Chris Jericho is someone who is prominently featured on Dynamite every week, and thus, because he is the ROH World champion, that title was also featured on Dynamite every week. Of course, that is a good thing. However, seeing that the other titles were either not featured at all (Women’s title gets a pass as Martinez is injured) or only on shows nobody watches, it’s clear that it’s less about promoting the Ring of Honor brand than it is about the person who holds the title belts. Heck, just look at how the title was presented when Claudio and Gresham held it versus when Jericho did and that tells you everything you need to know.
Final Battle 2022 was announced for Saturday, December 10th, and we have two title matches set for the first Dynamite of November, so perhaps we’re ready to see things pick up for all titles. But ROH either needs to be a thing or not be a thing – this half-hearted incorporation into AEW TV isn’t doing it for me.