Review: Ring of Honor 01/06/2013

Welcome to Canned Heat Wrestling's inaugural review of Ring of Honor! Coming to us from Toronto, Ontario, this week's episode (assuming you're watching online for free like me!) started off with a fast paced, high impact, triple threat, tag team contest - QT Marshall & RD Evans vs ACH & Tadarius Thomas vs C&C Wrestle Factory. The winners of the match going on to challenge reDRagon for the Tag Team Championships at upcoming iPPV, Best in the World.

Before the bout began, there was a funny spot with ACH & Thomas agreeing to the Code of Honor handshake with the Wrestle Factory, yet almost completely ignoring QT & RD. This resulted in some bad blood from the word go, with the snubbed team lashing out. The match itself can be best described as a whirlwind. Frequent tags were made, members floating in and out within seconds of each other. No one man truly stood out during the bout, as each competitor strived to one up his predecessor. For any uninitiated viewer, they'd be highly impressed by the blur of action on display, but never entirely grasp who was performing at any given moment. Frankly, with the number of lettered names, it's a wonder Kevin Kelly could keep up on commentary, with every other line a mouthful. ROH would do well to get over each man individually before throwing them all in a heap together. The finish came after a beautiful top rope frogsplash from C&C Wrestle Factory, who will go on to face the Champions.

Following up on the events of the recent 'Border Wars', the commentators emphasised the dangers of concussions, the returning Paul London having sustained one during his match with American Wolf, Davey Richards. I know concussions have always been a major issue in the wrestling industry, but for some reason they've become a hot topic of late. Whether it be Dolph Ziggler and Fandango being sidelined with real ones or Triple H being forced into retirement with a fake one, concussions are everywhere at the moment. With the high-impact action of ROH, it's no surprise a concussion sustained in their ring was brought about in spectacular fashion. Cutting to footage from the iPPV, we saw London take a brutal combination of hits. Firstly, a Tombstone Piledriver on the outside of the ring and secondly, a top rope stomp to his torso. The moves were so devastating, London looked legitimately unconscious and the crowd broke out in "You Killed Paul" chants, which were hugely insensitive...and more than a little funny.

Pushing the 'Best in the World' main event of Jay Briscoe defending his World Title against brother Mark Briscoe, the pair had a wonderful series of backstage promos. First up was challenger Mark, who took the guise of a beaten down and bullied little brother, never understanding why his elders would knock him around and treat him like dirt. Following immediately after, we had World Champion Jay defending his actions over the years, justifying them with the end goal of keeping his baby brother on the straight and narrow. This family is dripping with dysfunction and there's no better time for the brothers to butt heads than for the World Heavyweight Championship. Both brothers presented events similarly, but with wildly different points of view. We'll never entirely know which side is the truth, but they both believe them to be. Such conviction is a rare thing indeed.

Next came an in-ring promo featuring Match-maker Nigel McGuinness, 'Unbreakable' Michael Elgin and the concussed Paul London. Addressing fears that London should step away from the wrestling business due to his latest injury, McGuinness was quick to defend the high-flying superstar. Knowing when to retire is something Nigel knows alot about and now is not that time. Having McGuinness address the parallels between the two was a wonderful touch. However, before London could respond, he was interrupted by the bitter pair of QT Marshall and RD Evans, complaining about their recent loss and the state of the Tag Team division. After Evans pushes London by the head, he's summarily dispatched by a pissed off Elgin. Marshall bolts from the ring and attempts to flee up the ramp, only to find a rabid  Tommaso Ciampa waiting for him. Ciampa tears into the coward and runs him head first into the barrier over and over again, most likely giving him a concussion of his own! The real highlight however was Ciampa coming face to face with Elgin, two giants of ROH staring each other down. This made for a muddled segment, never entirely settling on a subject matter. Were they pushing London's eventual return to the ring, Marshall & Evans' status in the Tag Team division or Ciampa wanting a piece of Elgin?

Finally, in the main event of the evening, we had BJ Whitmer vs Mike Bennett vs Jay Lethal, with the winner going on to challenge for the ROH Television Championship at 'Best in the World'. May I just say, it's always a treat to see Maria accompanying Mike Bennett down to the ring. If your jaw wasn't already hitting the floor from the wrestling, it sure as hell is for Maria. Unfortunately, her stunning beauty didn't do a lick of good for her man, as Bennett was quickly set upon by Whitmer and Lethal in a series of debilitating double teams. The momentum of the match switched between all three contenders with regularity, with one man typically sitting out proceedings due to fatigue or injury. Speaking of which, Jay Lethal's bandaged knee soon came to the attention of his opponents, who showed no mercy and promptly focused their offense there. But even that couldn't keep the young man down, going on to stage multiple comebacks and even landing a big elbow from the top rope. The finish came as Mike Bennett retreated to ringside to catch his breath, giving Jay Lethal the opportunity to hit the Lethal Injection on BJ Whitmer for the three count and become the number one contender to the Television Title. The show ends on Maria imagining a slight from BJ Whitmer, sparking a brawl with her man, Mike Bennett. The match was perfectly acceptable all in all, but rather average in the grand scheme of things and never came alive like a good triple threat can. The focus was repeatedly on Maria at ringside on commentary, pulling Bennett's strings from afar. Not to mention Truth Martini skulking around the ramp. The action in the ring was almost secondary.

7 out of 10

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