Milwaukee, WI – 4.20.2023
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.
Darius Martin & Action Andretti vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett)
Andretti and Martin formed a bond last week, and challenged the Kingdom to this tag match after Taven attacked Martin during his singles match with Mike Bennett. Maria Kanellis-Bennett is in the Kingdom’s corner. The Kingdom smother Martin in their corner until Andretti finds an opening to surprise Taven with an Arabian Press on the floor. Bennett throws Martin into the barricades as Andretti wipes out Taven with a flying forearm smash. Bennett helps Taven take down Andretti, but Martin interjects just in time to save him from the Hail Mary. Taven places Bennett’s foot on the bottom rope when Andretti has him pinned with a split-legged twisting moonsault. Maria’s distraction allows Taven to enzuigiri Andretti to the outside. The Kingdom drop Martin with the Proton Pack for the pin at 6:16. Andretti and Martin were an impressive duo given it was their first match together. Maria having to run interference for the four time ROH Tag Champions to beat them also speaks to their abilities. A good effort from both duos, and a solid chapter in this rivalry. **½
Athena says she will continue to break everybody who enters the ring with her. She is the alpha, the gatekeeper, and the Joshi killer, and offers an Open Challenge to all.
Willow Nightingale vs. Robyn Renegade
This is Robyn’s singles debut, last seen teaming with her sister Charlette on Episode 1. Robyn takes over by tripping Willow face first onto the ring apron. Robyn awakens Willow with an open hand strike in the corner. Willow lays in a series of her own strikes before delivering a boot to the face and a spinebuster. Willow pounces Robyn to the outside. Charlotte appears and tries to do Twin Magic, despite them being twins. The referee catches them, and Robyn slips in with a superkick. She attempts a Mouse Trap pin, but Willow reverses into a cradle for the pin at 4:53. Charlotte attacks Willow after the match, and the Renegades take her down with a modified Hart Attack. I’m glad to see them change up the usual Willow formula, and I’m curious to where this issue with the Renegades takes us. **
Dasha Gonzalez welcomes back Colt Cabana to Ring of Honor. She asks how he is feeling about challenging Joe for the TV title. Cabana mentions to her that he has the distinction of challenging Joe for the ROH World, Pure, and now Television titles. I was going to mention this later, and I’m glad he did so on the actual broadcast. He is going to make the most of his opportunity by winning the TV title and becoming a staple in ROH once again.
Lance Archer vs. Jah-C
Archer actually brings Jah-C out with him and throws him down the entrance ramp en route to the ring. Jah-C gets in a few shots, but Archer is unfazed. A reverse DDT and lariat give Archer the pin at 1:59. Archer cuts a promo on April 11th about wanting something he can chew on, and his next match is against more fodder. Strange. He could be a solid fit in ROH, if they choose to go that direction.
Brian Cage vs. Joey Jett
Prince Nana is in Cage’s corner. Two weeks ago I asked why Ortiz and Cage had a singles match, as it seemed pointless. I ask the same question here, but let’s ask some questions more while we’re at it. Is Cage having these matches because he has singles aspirations? If he does, how does that affect his partners with whom he is Six Man Tag Team Champions? Speaking of, where’s the rest of the Embassy? And why did it take him five minutes for him to defeat a local competitor? Indeed, Cage pinned Jett at 5:09. Can we at least space out the enhancement matches?
ROH Women’s World Championship Proving Ground Match
Athena vs. Heather Reckless
If Reckless is victorious, she will earn a future ROH Women’s World title match. Reckless had a close nearfall attempt after a standing Shiranui. After that, Athena violently throws her into the barricades thrice. Three powerbombs back in the ring lead to the crossface and a submission victory for Athena at 2:48. It may be the third enhancement match in a row, but it was much more vicious and entertaining than the two that preceded it. Athena throws Reckless’ face into the title belt after the match.
The Dark Order (Alex Reynolds & John Silver) vs. Cole Karter & Lee Johnson
This is the ROH debuts of Karter and Johnson, and the first match for Reynolds and Silver of this era, having lost to the C&C Wrestle Factory in 2013 and Silas Young & The Beer City Bruiser in 2016. A distraction from Johnson enables Karter to knock Reynolds off of the ring apron and into the barricades. Johnson clotheslines Reynolds on the floor before putting him back in the ring. Reynolds knocks Karter off of the apron and throws Johnson to the floor. As he is crawling over for a tag, Johnson runs around the ring and gets in ahead of him. Reynolds backdrops Johnson as he charges and tags Silver who runs amok on the former Factory members. Johnson escapes the Spin Doctor and drops Silver with a rolling Death Valley Driver for two. Reynolds comes back in and gives Johnson a lung blower. Silver then powerbombs Johnson onto Reynolds’ knees. Reynolds and Silver pepper Karter with strikers, ending with Silver German suplexing Karter into a jackknife pin from Reynolds for the pin at 6:08. A totally solid, competitive tag team match, and I think Reynolds and Silver would be a great fit for the ROH tag division. Commentary mentioned it in passing, but it will be interesting to see if they get roped into Stu and Uno’s business with the Righteous. **½
Penta El Zero Miedo vs. Nick Comoroto
Alex Abrahantes is in Penta’s corner. So Comoroto went from a beast to looking like an early 90s jobber that decided to ape Tony D’Angelo’s act, but not make it too obvious. What a choice. Again, why is someone who is a tag team champion having a singles match with no purpose behind it? And why did Comoroto get in so much offense? Penta snapped his left shoulder and then snapped his right shoulder later, and that apparently had Comorto’s shoulders so hurt that Penta pinned him at 5:37. That’s all. No Package Piledriver or anything else. Weird match. Oh, and the answer as to why Penta and Cage are in pointless extended squashes is because nobody gave either match a single thought beyond “these are ROH guys who aren’t on Dynamite or Rampage this week, so let’s have them wrestle on the ROH show.”
Konosuke Takeshita vs. Lee Moriarty
Takeshita takes down Moriarty with a leg lariat. When Moriarty throws chops, Takeshita shuts him down with a forearm smash to the face. Moriarty uses a single arm DDT to block Takeshita’s Blue Thunder Bomb attempt. Moriarty dances with glee after sending Takeshita into the barricades with a running knee strike. He continues attacking Takeshita’s shoulder after Takeshita rolls back into the ring. Takeshita clutches his injured arm close to his body as comes off of the ropes with a flying clothesline. He follows that up with a brainbuster to buy some recovery time. Even though Moriarty is able to pull off a superplex, Takeshita uses Moriarty’s momentum after countering a DDT to pull off a German suplex and Blue Thunder Bomb. Moriarty evades a pumping knee and waitlock suplexes Takeshita into a crossface. Takeshita rolls Moriarty onto his shoulders to escape. Takeshita also counters a backslide. Moriarty holds onto Takeshita’s wrist and tries trapping him in a European Clutch. Takeshita however rolls him up into Cradle to the Grave (s/o Brad Garoon). Moriarty blocks a Chaos Theory with a hammerlock clothesline. He tries a second, but Takeshita ducks and German suplexes Moriarty. He holds on with his good arm for a half waistlock. He ripcords Moriarty into a forearm smash and hits the pumping knee for the pin at 12:42. Finally, some good fkn food. These two got a tired crowd going with the high octane offense and momentum swings and brought life back to the show as a whole. Give these two the moon. ***½
El Hijo del Vikingo vs. Gringo Loco
No YOU yelled at the TV when Vikingo crashed and burned on a somersault senton onto the entrance ramp. Loco does his best to take out Vikingo’s arm, including a really cool looking inside out Angle slam with his arm captured. He also takes out Vikingo with a Spanish Fly off of the top rope and an inside out facebuster as Vikingo back handsprings off of the ropes. Vikingo’s misdirection from bouncing off the ropes allows him to dropkick Loco to the floor, and follow that up with a springboard inside out headscissors. A springboard 450 splash back in the ring follows up for two. Vikingo then walks the top rope and takes out Loco on the floor with a twisting press. Loco blocks a cascade by sending Loco face first into the top turnbuckle. Loco gives Vikingo an incredible avalanche press slam into Falcon Arrow. It takes Loco a few moments to go for a cover, and it gives Vikingo the breathing room to get his shoulder up when Loco does go for the pin.Vikingo leaps to the second rope when Gringo comes charging. Gringo crashes into the turnbuckles, and Vikingo sends him across the ring a twisting reverse Frankensteiner. Vikingo crushes him with double knees in the corner and lands a 630 splash for the pin at 12:19. This match was 100% for the Vikingo’s AAA Mega title originally, and I wonder why they changed that, especially when Vikingo won. The show had worn me down, and even though the last match brought me back a little, I was in such a state that I just enjoyed this in a purely primal manner. The offense was amazing and they had just enough of a story to keep it cohesive. One of the most enjoyable matches of ROH TV since its return. ***¾
Iron Savages (Boulder & Bronson) vs. Logan Lynch & Ren Jones
Jameson Ryan is in the Savages corner, and this is their ROH debut. I like the Savages a lot, but I think Bear Country was a far superior name. Putting them with a dude in Zubaz and portraying them as meatheads doesn’t give the Savages enough credit for how good they are. Anyways, the beat the tar out of Lynch and Jones. Boulder slammed them at the same time, and then the Elevator Drop pinned both Lynch and Jones at 2:19. That was much more palatable after two matches of significance. Kind of interesting that the tag team and women’s divisions are the two most intriguing in ROH right now.
Gringo Loco says he’s been zig-zagging across the World for two years trying to get Tony Khan’s attention. He smashed it out of the park tonight, and while he may not be victorious, Tony personally invited him back after the match. Cool?
ROH World Television Championship
Samoa Joe vs. Colt Cabana
Joe has been champion since 4.13.2022 and this is his eighth defense. Cabana playfully outmaneuvers Joe, but Joe cuts him off with a back elbow. He repeatedly jabs Cabana until he is in a seated position in the corner, and gets a two count with an enzuigiri. Cabana fights out of a Muscle Buster attempt and sunset flips Joe for two. The Flying Apple and a splash off of the middle turnbuckle also yield a two count. Cabana goes for a moonsault, but Joe gets his knees up to block. Joe locks on the Coquina Clutch and Cabana taps at 5:41. With Cabana not being much of a threat these days, I’m all about Joe making short work of him. That said, Cabana wrestled a smart match against the champion and was more or less caught in a submission while he was on offense. I understand and appreciate a title match being the main event of the show, but man, Vikingo and Gringo Loco really should have been put in this spot. **¾
This show best exemplifies the criticism of “AEW Dark that they expect us to pay $10 to watch.” There needs to be much more forethought put into these shows if they want to have people continue spending $10 each week. We should be expecting better, more substantial matches and week-to-week stories out of a paywalled show. As I watched this, I was begging for them to return to the Universal Studio tapings, as those shows, albeit too long, offered much more in the way of a week-to-week broadcast. Thankfully, they announced two Universal Studios tapings the next day. Long story short, if you already have Honor Club, watch Vikingo vs Loco and Takeshita vs Moriarty, and consider the opening tag and main event as well.