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  • Connor Ewens

Let's Review: ROH Supercard of Honor XVI

Wrestlemania weekend marches on with a show I am very excited to watch. I watched ROH a lot between 2015 and 2018 before tuning out, but I've kept them in the corner of my eye ever since Tony Khan's takeover. As much as I've disliked ROH's presence flooding AEW programming, I am glad that the company was saved from financial despair. An 8 match card, only 1 non-title match. This is a STACKED card, I am hyped for every single match-up but especially to watch Katsuyori Shibata. This will be the first time I've seen him wrestle since his career threatening injury in 2017, this his only his fifth match since his return in November '21. One weird thing, unless this show is only 2 hours long it's going to run in competition with AEW Rampage which doesn't seem smart by Tony Khan. I'll run through the storylines for each match as we go, without further ado, let's review.

March 31st 2023- Supercard of Honor XVI

-Commentary for the evening is Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman

(Pre-show) Tracy Williams vs Jeff Cobb

This match was announced hours before the show. This is the third Jeff Cobb match I've reviewed over Wrestlemania weekend, both is other outings were solid to good. Tracy Williams is a former ROH Tag champion as well as a TV champion. Cobb is also a former TV champion.

They shake hands. They lock up a couple times, jockeying for control. Williams goes for a heel hook but Cobb breaks. Williams goes for a headscissor but Cobbs shrugs it off. Williams gets a headlock, Cobb back suplexes him. Cobb hits a bodyslam, followed by some strikes and a big chop. Cobbs holds him in a vertical suplex, runs around and slams him down. He hits a clothesline but misses a standing moonsault, Williams goes for a submission. Cobb blocks, Williams finally gets some major offence with a Saito Suplex. They trade strikes, a nice DDT by Williams. Williams dodges a tour of the Islands but is caught in a German suplex. Cobb hits a clothesline then the tour of the Islands to win.

Nearly a glorified squash here. Basic pre-show match with Cobb looking dominant as hell.

Jeff Cobb wins via pinfall (5:20)


-After a hype package, they introduce Nigel McGuinness joining commentary! Thank god, he's an absolute belter on commentary. Nige is a legend in ROH, it was inevitable he would eventually return.

(Pre-show) Willie Mack vs Konosuke Takeshita

I first saw Mack in Impact Wrestling, where he is a former X-Division champion. He always impressed me. He left Impact to mainly work for AAA & MLW but he's appeared on ROH recently too. Takeshita has been taking the wrestling world by storm with phenomenal performances for AEW, PWG & DDT-Pro.

They lock-up before running the ropes shoulder blocking each other. Mack takes control after 3 blocks with some strikes. Take hits a flying clothesline, sending Mack outside. Takeshita misses a dive but lands on his feet, he takes a clothesline by Mack. In the ring, Mack hits a hurricanrana and elbows him in the corner. Takeshita hits a hurricanrana sending Mack back outside. He lands with a dive this time. Mack follows up with a dive of his own. Mack has a chin lock but Take fights out. Mack with a clothesline, Take fights back but Mack hits a shining wizard. Samoan drop by Mack, he kips up after being down for a while. I think he genuinely hurt his back after his dive, he mostly hit the floor. Mack hits a standing moonsault. Take dodges a stunner but gets pounced and then eats the stunner anyways. Take hits a running knee followed by his own stunner. Mack responds with another shining wizard. Fans are loving this one. Mack hits a t-bone suplex then a hip attack. Mack misses a frog splash, Take hits a blue thunder bomb and a running knee smash to win. They both shakes hands after the match.

This was very good, better than I expected any pre-show match to be. Takeshita has potential in tonnes whilst Mack is a consistently good performer. They crafted a good match worth seeing.

Konosuke Takeshita defeats Willie Mack via pinfall (9:36)


(Pre-show) Willow Nightingale vs Miranda Alize

Willow has been mainly on the indies, working for companies like Shimmer and GCW before appearing for AEW & ROH. She's popular and very likable. Alize has had a similar path, with appearances in Shimmer & Stardom before her recent appearances for ROH.

The fans all dance along to Willow's entrance, Nigel doesn't like it. Willow starts strong with 3 suplexes. Willow slams her and follows with a crossbody. Miranda rolls up, Willow chases her but gets a hurricanrana to gain control. Miranda strikes Willow in the corner, hitting her with a face wash. Dropkick then a double hook suplex. Willow cartwheels out of an Irish whip and goes on the attack. Hip attack then a spinebuster for a 2. Alize hits a knee then a neckbreaker, then a DDT. She goes for a cross armbreaker but Willow escapes, followed by a Spicolli driver. Willow misses a cannonball, Mirand hits a cutter. She goes for a knee strike but misses. Big pounce by Willow, followed by a doctor bomb to win.

Solid match by these two. Nothing much to report except Willow is real over. I get it, she has like an OG Bayley aura to her. The commentary team went on tangents and Nigel told them off and focus, in character of course but its greatly appreciated Nige.

Willow Nightingale defeats Miranda Alize via pinfall (6:59)


(Pre-show) Stu Grayson vs Slim J

Stu Grayson briefly left AEW for nearly a year before returning a few weeks prior to this. Lack of TV seemed to be the reason, maybe he saw a possible WWE move. Glad he's back, he's a good fit in the Dark Order. Don't know much about Slim J, from what I gather he's relatively talented but his a dogshit gimmick. Upon his entrance, I agree. Stu is accompanied by Evil Uno, Slim is accompanied by Ari Diavari & Mark Sterling.

Grayson unloads of Slim with strikes, a boot and a suplex. Slim hits a few headscissors, Stu with a hurricanrana, a legs weep and a dive. Ari distracts Stu and Slim J takes advantage. Ari chokes Stu as the ref is distracted. Reverse DDT by Slim. Slim hits chops by Stu no sells them, hits him with a clothesline and a uranage. Nice asai moonsault for a 2. Slim's sleeper is reversed into a powerslam. Slim escapes a torture rack into a slick sliced bread. Slim misses a moonsault. Evil Uno takes off Sterling & Diavari so Stu can hit nightfall to win.

A decent enough contest. Slim had some nice moves but it was mainly a dominant showing from Stu Grayson. Post-match, as they celebrste music plays. Two creepy men are on stage. It's Vinny Marseglia, and another dude (Dutch apparently). Vinny was a part of Honor No More in Impact, also the Kingdom. They were part of a stable called Righteous. This should have been a bigger deal, the crowd don't respond at all to this. Ah well. Welcome back boys.

Stu Grayson wins via pinfall (6:56)


-After an hour of constant shilling by Riccaboni to buy the PPV, it's finally time for the main show. Announcer Bobby Cruise welcomes us.

El Hijo Del Vikingo (c) vs Komander for AAA Mega Championship

Pre-warning, these two perform some mental moves so my analysis is going to be difficult. Vikingo has been tearing it up in AAA, recently making a big splash in America after his highly praised match with Kenny Omega in AEW. 2 weeks after Kenny vacated the AAA Mega title, Vikingo won it. Similarly, Komander has made a name for himself with his performance on AEW in the Face of the Revolution ladder match. He has also made waves in GCW, PWG & WxW.

Everyone is very excited for this one. Ian compares it to the beginnings of major sporting rivalries, which doesn't really make sense but whatever. Komander ties Vikingo up in like a reverse surfboard pin attempt. Vikingo responds with a regular surfboard, Komander balance upright and flips out. Impressive. The exchange chops and run around each other, reversing and flipping out of each others offence. Vikingo hurricanranas Komander outside, he dives but Komander catches him. The reverse out of more offence attempts on the outside. Komander dropkicks Vikingo out and hits a big dive to applause. He sets up a table, for later. On the stage, he runs and hits a 450 splash, just slightly under-rotating but still impressive. Back in, Komander goes for a tightrope shooting star but Vikingo moves. Kicks in the corner. Vikingo hits like a 054 splash but rotates into a hurricanrana to a huge pop. I've never seen that before. Brutal looking double knees sends Komander outside. He flips out on to Komander but the knees are up. Komander attempts the tightrope shooting star but again fails to do so. Vikingo hurricanranas him, goes for a dive but Komander catches him into a slam. Vikingo is on the top rope, he then stands on the small ringpost platform, before a jumping springboard senton which is reversed into a sit-out powerbomb. That was fucking sick. Vikingo sends Komander out, he goes up to the ringpost but again, jumps for a springboard flipping hip attack. This is mental offence. Vikingo in the middle rope on the apron, hits a springboard corkscrew 450 to Komander who's in the ring. How the fuck? The exchange chops on the apron, I forgot about other moves other than flips existing. Komander reverse a powerbomb into a destroyer on the apron. Vikingo is near the ramp, Komander is on the others idea of the ring. He runs the top rope, springboard into a dive to Vikingo! Komander finally hits the springboard shooting star for a nearfall. Komander goes up ahain but Vikingo shakes the ropes. They're both on the top rope, Koma runs the ropes into a destroyer. Absolutely ridiculous these two. The crowd are eating this up. Komander is in the table, Vikingo hits a 630 senton! The table doesn't even buckle, what kind of tables did you buy Tony? Vikingo misses a second 630, Komander hits a Hidden Ace but Vikingo breaks the pin touching the ropes. Komander takes him up top, Vikingo reverses it into a slam to the mat, a meteora knee strike then a 630 senton to win.

That was blood exhausting. On in-ring skills and ability alone, this is your match of the night already. These two put on a stellar lucha libre showcase, with moves I've never seen before. I have two big issues with this though. First, I'm usually lenient on lack of selling in lucha libre but it was ridiculous here how many huge moves these guys hit and just continued on as if they were exchanging head locks. Second, my biggest gripe, is the often moments of pause where they got themselves in the correct positions for their big spots. Of course I want them to land the offence clean and without fail or injury, but it really took me out of the match. An example is the 054 somersault into the rana by Vikingo. There's like a long pause where they're just staring at each other, making sure they're ready and in position for the upcoming move. The match was fantastic, the offence was insanely creative and well executed but these blatant moments of scripting made it hard to stay in the moment. This is a marmite match, you'll either love it or hate it.

El Hijo Del Vikingo wins via pinfall (15:43)


The Embassy (c) (Brian Cage, Kaun & Toa Liona) vs AR Fox, Blake Christian & Metalik for ROH World 6-man Tag Team Championships

The Embassy was a stable existing in ROH from 2004 by Prince Nana. In 2022, Nana reestablished the stable with these 3 men and Jonathan Gresham, until Gresham requested his release from ROH. Toa was trained by Rikishi. Kaun was in ROH since 2018 but being a part of this stable is his first major gig. Brian Cage is a severely underrated talent who dominated Impact before joining AEW. After a mediocre run and apparently requesting his release, it seems he has found his calling in ROH. The Embassy beat Dalton Castle and his boys for the titles in December. AR Fox is talented veteran, most notably as Evolve's inaugural world champion. Christian is an extremely talented youngster who had a brief spell in WWE as Trey Baxter but was released. He's had good showings in Impact, ROH, AEW & GCW. Metalik most notably competed in WWE with Gran before his name. He had some good matches in WWE but was a largely mediocre run, no fault of his own. He made his name in CMLL & New Japan prior, and since has popped up on AEW & ROH.

These lads are in an unfortunate spot after the last match. A trio of handshakes ends in brawling then 3 simultaneous dives by the smaller flippy boys. Liona and Kaun use powerful offence to wear down Metalik. Cage tags in to do the same. Metalik with a handspring forearm. Fox comes in with cutters for all of the Embassy. Fox then hits 3 individual dives on them all. Metalik dives too. Fox dives onto Cage who reverses into an F-5. Toa tags in and eats an enziguiri. Christian is in with a nice spear to Kaun followed by a Fosbury flop dive to Liona outside. Very nice. Metalik hits a splash. Cage fires up and murders them with clotheslines. Metalik and Christian got backbreakers, Christian is sentoned on the apron. Cage is powerbombed then an elbow from Metalik for a nearfall. Cage powerbombs Metalik. Christian with a Spicolli driver to Cage. Strikes exchanged by all, Toa stands tall. Metalik hits him with a tornado DDT. Destroyer on Cage by Christian. Toa & Kaun decimate Fox & Christian with slams and clotheslines. Metalik hits a code red to Cage. Cage hits a clothesline then a screwdriver to win.

This should have went on first, or later. Having that AAA match with the flippiest of moves, followed by this match with similar but no where near as impressive. It damaged the impact of the dives in this match. Still this was a good outing, they worked hard in the hardest possible position on the card. Glad to see the Embassy retain. They need to bolster the 6-man division though. The 3 faces were a thrown together team. I'll say the same as I did for the Women's Tag division; if you don't give a fuck, then why should we?

The Embassy win via pinfall (8:22)


Athena vs Yuka Sakazaki for ROH Women's Championship

Looking forward to seeing Athena wrestle. I loved her run as Ember Moon. Shame it didn't go to plan. Her NXT run was great but her main roster stint didn't work out for her. She debuted in both AEW & ROH in 2022, winning the ROH Women's Championship at Final Battle in December. Yuka Sakazaki made her name in Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling, where she is the current Princess Tag Champion with Mizuki. She appeared on AEW's inaugural PPV Double or Nothing and has been competing for them sporadically since. These two have been feuding since January when Yuka returned to save Zeda Zhang from an attack by Athena. She holds a victory over Athena in a tag match. Athena called her out and Yuka accepted.

Athena's entrance has her stomp on a doll, in a reference that's lost on me. It was funny. They exchange arm drags as well as kip-ups. Athena dances because she's enjoying herself. Yuka hits a few dropkicks before a hurricanrana sends Athena outside. Springboard cannonball to the outside. Yuka landed HARD and does look in pain, commentary big this up. Athena tries to leave but Yuka brings her back over the guardrail. Yuka misses a dropkick, Athena pummels her with fists. Athena targets the head of Yuka before dancing some more. Some good moves to be fair. Yuka breaks out of a submission with a kick. She hits a basement lariat to Athena. Yuka cartwheels off the top to avoid her charging. Athena plants her with 3 powerbombs. Athena taunts the crowd before a powerbomb into a knee strike. Athena kicks Yuka outside, then sends her into the steps. Yuka's kick is blocked, she's wheelbarrow suplexed on the floor. Ouch. Athena misses a dropkick. Yuka sends Athena into the steps. Yuka hits a running stage dive on Athena. A top rope splash for a nearfall. They trade strikes and reverse moves, they meet on the top rope. Yuka suplexes her into a faceplant. Yuka goes up but Athena uses the ref to distract her, Athena hits her with the O Face to retain.

This was a good match. Athena looked awesome especially and her heel character suits her perfectly. I think Yuka did injure herself from the dive, she seemed a bit slower than we expect but she finished the match and she performed well. I wish Athena a nice lengthy reign on top of the Ring of Honor women's division

Athena retains via pinfall (11:38)


-hype package for the next match. Samoa Joe won the TV Championship nearly a year ago after beating Minoru Suzuki on AEW Dynamite. Mark has been trying to win the title for his entire career. The Briscoes have never been able to defeat Samoa Joe on their own, but now Mark as no choice than to do it alone for his family and late brother.

Samoa Joe (c) vs Mark Briscoe for ROH Television Championship

Samoa Joe is having a mini resurgence in AEW & ROH after being released for a second time by WWE. I can't believe they let Joe go. Joe even won the AEW TNT Championship while he was TV champion, dubbing himself the King of Television. He's a legend of ROH, but maybe not as much as the Briscoes. The Briscoe Brothers were a tag team for over 20 years, they've appeared for PWG, Impact, New Japan, NWA but they wrestled for ROH for nearly 20 years total. They held tag gold in ROH 13 times, and the 6-man tags once. Jay Briscoe even won the world championship twice. Tragically, Jay Briscoe died in January in a car accident, which sent seismic shock waves in the wrestling community. They were the current tag Champions, relinquished by Mark at this show as he looks to win his first singles championship.

Mark's family are ringside, obviously the crowd are very much behind Mark Briscoe in this one. Joe stays stoic and emotionless. Joe takes him to the corner. Mark strikes him and Joe strikes back. They exchange, a boot by Mark, they throw chops at each other. Mark does some redneck kung-fu then a Spicolli driver. Joe rolls out avoiding a diving attack. Mark runs at him but eats an overhead suplex. Joe grinds Mark down with punches and kicks and a snap suplex. Mark tries to mount a comeback, but Joe slams him down. Mark rolls out, Joe hits a diving forearm. Joe grabs a chair as Mark gets back in. Mark takes the chair and knocks Joe down, he uses it as a platform for a dive. Mark sets up a table. Joe throws Mark into the ringpost, he looks at the table but Mark blockbusters him through it. The guys chop the skin off each other. Joe sends Mark into the corner, Mark hits him with a forearm. Mark goes for a tag, not seeing his brother fires him up and he hits a uranage to Joe. Joe escapes a Jaydriller attempt into a powerslam. Joe hits a powerbomb into a stack pin, Mark kicks out but Joe transitions into an STF, better than John Cena could ever do. Mark gets to the ropes. Mark fires chops, Joe drops him with a lariat. Mark fights out of a Muscle Buster. Big boot by Mark, then a Froggy Bow from the top for a nearfall. Joe escapes Jaydriller again, and locks in a choke. He overhead suplexes him, it looked grim. He locks in a choke and Mark passes out! Joe wins to absolutely no crowd reaction. No boos, no cheers, just silence. Joe shakes his hand and leaves. The crowd eventually give him an ovation while he embraces his family.

Boy, that was the wrong call. The announcers insist this isn't the end for Mark, which I believe, but wrestling is about striking while the iron is hot, not letting it cool down first. Mark Briscoe has always been over and respected, but never so much as he has been since right here and now. The story was already there that he has failed to be Joe before, you don't need to give him another loss. I know we all begged for more long-term story telling in wrestling and Tony has been able to do that, but sometimes the short story is better. This should have been Mark's moment. Outside of the bad booking, this was a real good match. Joe looked as good as ever. Mark was great and really drew emotion out of the crowd. Just, what a sucky ending.

Samoa Joe retains via TKO (14:26)


Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Daniel Garcia

Not much build here, except that Garcia is a part of the Jericho Appreciation Society. Jericho feuded with Tanahashi previously, so Garcia wants to get one over for his boss. Garcia only debuted 6 years ago and he's already been a part of some great matchs against the likes of Eddie Kingston & Bryan Danielson. I think he's currently being weighed down by the J.A.S. Jericho is a legend but this current sports entertainer thing is a bit lame. It's like a joke that keeps getting told every week by your unfunny dad. What else is there to say about Tanahashi except he's one of the greatest Japanese wrestlers of all time.

Garcia cheap shots Tana, before bragging he's a sports entertainer. He pulls at Tana's hair, again because he's a sports entertainer. Tana fights back as Garcia rolls out, air guitar solo by Tana who throws it into the crowd. Call the EMT's! Garcia drop toeholds Tana into the steps. Garcia does a little dance, because he's a sports entertainer, and works the knees in the ring. Surfboard by Garcia, the fans chant "you're a wrestler" which riles him up. Garcia poses like Shinsuke Nakamura, a former rival of Tanahashi's, a nice little homage. Tana comes back with punches and a cannonball, Garcia regains control attacking the knee then a running head kick. Knee kicks are exchanged, Garcia goes for a sharpshooter, Tana reverses into a dragon screw legwhip. Texas Cloverleaf but Garcia gets to the ropes. Garcia with a German suplex and a Busiaku knee for 2. Tana blocks piledriver into a neckbreaker, followed by a slingblade and High Fly Flow to win.

Honestly, disappointing. Too much of thr match was dedicated to Garcia working the knee or working the crowd being a sports entertainer. Tanahashi got the easiest payday ever, he hit like 5 moves. The quicker Garcia leaves the J.A.S to just be a proficient technical wrestler, the better.

Hiroshi Tanahashi wins via pinfall (11:59)


Reach for the Sky Ladder match: Top Flight (Dante & Darius Martin) vs The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) vs Lucha Bros (Pentagon Jr & Rey Fenix) vs Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs La Faccion Ingobernable (Rush & Dralistico) for the vacant ROH Tag Team Championships

As I mentioned earlier, the Briscoes were the tag champions before Jay's tragic passing. The titles are vacated tonight with new titles to grab. Top Flight are young brothers who have gained popularity in AEW over the past couple years, but struggled to gain momentum as Darius got injured a couple times. The Kingdom was actually a stable created by Adam Cole until he turned to join Bullet Club. They disbanded in 2019 but reformed last year. Taven has had success in ROH, winning all available championships except the Pure one. Bennett had an unsuccessful spell in WWE as Mike Kanellis, he's back where he belongs in ROH. The Lucha Bros may be the best tag team the emerge from Mexico. The brothers have had great success as a tag team but also as individuals, winning tag and solo championships across AAA, Lucha Underground, AEW, Impact and many more. Aussie Open impressed me in their performance at Multiverse United, looking forward to seeing them in action again. Los Ingobernables was a faction that began in 2014, though Rush would create a new stable in 2019. Rush is one of the best wrestlers in Mexico today, and is a former ROH World Champion. Dralistico was famous as Mistico in CMLL, before joining WWE as Sin Cara. Remember him? Mr Botchy himself. He is a very talented wrestler, but WWE was not his style. He changed his name after leaving CMLL to join AAA.

Alex Abrahantes is ringside supporting Lucha Bros, Maria Kanellis is outside supporting the Kingdom and Jose the assistant is supporting Los Faccion Ingobernables. The action breaks down almost immediately. Dralistico kicks Top Flight followed by a codebreaker. The young brothers are in the corner behind a ladder and are crushed behind it. Aussie square off with Faccion. Dralistico is knocked off the top, Rush eats a DDT, then hit with a ladder. Lucha Bros are in for kicks and strikes. They sandwich Aussie in a ladder for a splash. Fenix runs the rope and hits a PK. Penta dives to the outside. Faccion hit some dives too. Kingdom doomsday device to Darius. Rush targets Penta's mask. Tables are stacked ringside, oh no. Ladders are set up in the ring. Aussie hit piledrivers to Kingdom on the stage. Each team takes turns trying to climb but get knocked off. Bennett and Rush climb the ladder, then climb down to fight. Taven takes Rush down, Dralistico suplxes him into the ladder. Lucha bros fight with Aussies. A ladder is bridged between the middle rope and the ladder in the ring. Taven is C4d off the ladder. Dante sunset flip powerbombs Bennett off the ladder! Aussie double team Dante. A ladder is bridged between the apron and the guardrail, Darius is spinebustered on it. Dralistico hurricanranas Fletcher off the apron into the announce table, painful bump. Bennett powerbombs Dralistico on the ladder bridge. Taven splashes through it. Rush suplexes Fletcher through it breaking the bridge completely. Jose & Alex Abrahantes get into a scrap. Fenix & Dante on the ladder, Fenix fails a German suplex attempt. Penta hits a destroyer onto Dante through the table stack! It looked like it hurt, oh wait it did because it broke Dante's FUCKING LEG. Ugly stuff. Fenix knocks the Kingdom off the ladder and claims the belts.

I probably missed a lot of spots so much happened it was hard to call. I nearly rated this higher up until the finish. The match was an exciting, creative spot fest for the most of it. All participants got a good showing. But the finish man fucking hell. Penta is all alone atop the ladder, he could have just grabbed the belts to win. Instead, he goes after Dante for the big spot which ends up breaking the poor lads leg. The injury isn't anyones fault, although I bring up the question again, Tony where did you get these bloody tables from? The spot ended in disaster and it made Penta look stupid and reckless for doing it instead of just winning the match. Outside of that, still an excellently brutal contest.

Lucha Bros win the ROH Tag Championships (20:14)


-Mark Briscoe and FTR are out to celebrate with Lucha Bros in a nice moment.

-hype promo for the next match. Wheeler Yuta is bragging about his training and meteoric rise recently. He wants to face and defeat the wrestler, Katsuyori Shibata to prove he is the best

Wheeler Yuta (c) vs Katsuyori Shibata for ROH Pure Championship

AEW has made a star out of Yuta. After 6 years of touring the indie circuit AEW elevated Yuta as a part of the Best Friends, eventually joining the prolific Blackpool Combat Club. He won the Pure Championship from Josh Woods at Supercard of Honor XV last year, successfully defending against the likes of Tony Nese, Daniel Garcia & Timothy Thatcher. Shibata is a true Japanese legend, and legitimate tough guy. He was a dominant force in New Japan, winning the Tag straps and the Openweight Championship. In 2017, Shibata unsuccessfully challenged Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and collapsed afterwards. He suffered a subdural hematoma due to dehydration and repeated headbutts, he was expected to never wrestle again. He became a trainer for the LA Dojo, then had his first match back against Zack Sabre Jr at the G1 Climax in 2021 under UWF rules. His first proper match was against Ren Narita at Wrestle Kingdom 16.

Pure Championship rules are as follows; each wrestler as 3 rope breaks to break submissions or pinfalls, after they're exhausted submissions or pins whilst on the ropes are considered legal. No closed-fist punches to the face, but open-handed slaps and chops are. Punches are allowed to the rest of the body except a low blow. A use of a closed fist to the face warrants a warning, a second one is a disqualification. The title can change hands via DQ or count out. Any outside interference results in termination from the roster for that person. If its a time limit draw, the judged decide a victor.

Wheeler Yuta is accompanied by Jon Moxley to the ring but he leaves before the match starts. The judges for this match are Christopher Daniels, Madison Rayne & Pat Buck. Shibata controls Yuta on the mat in various wrestling holds. Yuta manages a headscissor but Shibata takes him into a figure four. Yuta uses a rope break. Shibats continues to dominate elbows in mount position. Yuta breaks a pin attempt and gets a wristlock. Shibata fights him back into the corner, Yuta's suplex attempt is blocked so he uses a low blow and a closed fist! What a bastard. The referee only saw the fist and gives him a warning. Suplex by Yuta. They exchange chops, Shibata wins and stomps him in the corner, followed by a running basement dropkick. Yuta uses a second rope break to stop a pinfall. Back suplex by Shibata, Yuta rakes the eyes without the referee seeing. Dropkick by Yuta for a two. Huge slap by Shibata, into a sleeper, then a PK! 1-2-3! Shibata wins! Shibata offers a handshake but Yuta walks off.

This match was mainly holds, submissions and technical wrestling as expected but it was never dull for a second. Personally this match might be the one I enjoyed the most. Yuta held his own but Shibata was primarily dominant. Love to see Shibata win a championship, great work.

Katsuyori Shibata wins via pinfall (13:15)


-Riccaboni hypes up upcoming episodes of AEW Dynamite and ROH on TV.

-Hype package for our main event. This is 15 years in the making. Eddie wants to be a world champion more than anything. Claudio calls Kingston the biggest waste of talent and potential he has ever seen. They both say they're going to hurt each other badly.

Claudio Castagnoli (c) vs Eddie Kingston for ROH World Championship

Two absolutely brilliant and for the longest time under-appreciated wrestling talents. Claudio has been on a tear since leaving his Cesaro days in WWE behind, joining the Blackpool Combat Club and winning the ROH title from Chris Jericho. This is a true Cody Rhodes-esque story for Kingston. He's having the best run of his career, with some of the best wrestling promos I've ever seen. A 20+ year veteran who's been a reliable force for Chikara, CZW, IWA, WxW, ROH, PWG, TNA, NWA and finally AEW. His promo on Cody Rhodes then his feud with Moxley put him on the map as a main event talent. It's finally time to make a world champion out of the Mad King.

Eddie is obviously the crowd favourite. Eddie fires at Claudio immediately with chops. Claudio fires back and knocks him out the ring. Eddie heads back in for a headlock, he gets suplexed but is back up again for the headlock, suplexed again but back up AGAIN with a chop and a headlock. He won't be deterred. Eddie targets the knee. Claudio goes outside, Eddie runs for a dive straight into an uppercut. Claudio suplexes him from the apron to the floor. Back inside, Claudio stomps him. Flying headbutt for a 2. Claudio fires chops, Eddie gets mad. Claudio tries a swing but his leg buckles. Eddie keeps fighting off offence by Claudio like a rabid dog. Dropkick by Claudio. Superplex from the top, double stomp for a nearfall, broken by an eye rake. Eddie clotheslines him outside and hits a suicide dive. T-bone suplex on the floor. Back in, Eddie hits a bulldog. Claudio reverses a back suplex and fires strikes. Eddie gets a stretch plum, Claudio gets to the ropes. Eddie hits a backdrop driver. Claudio hits a German suplex. They exchange stiff strikes. Backfist is blocked, lariat by Claudio. Ricola bomb blocked, backfist by Eddie! Nearfall. On the apron, gutwrench suplex to the floor. Claudio uses the barricade, slamming it into Eddie. Running uppercut in the ring, 2 backfists in response by Eddie. Claudio blocks a suplex into a choke swing. Neutraliser! 1-NO! Kick out at 1! The fans are fired up. Claudio with uppercuts. Ricola bomb, reversed into a pin! 1-2-NO! Reversed into a roll-up by Claudio, 1-2-3! He retains, via roll-up. After, Wheeler Yuta comes out it looks like a 2-1 beatdown but Shibata is back to even the odds. The champions raise their titles, the BCC take their leave. The show closes with a passionate Eddie Kingston promo who puts over Shibata, Tanahashi then promises to kick Claudio's ass.

Man, it's like the TV Championship match all over again. I could forgive this not being given to Eddie if Mark won, but I assumed Mark lost so that we'd have a feel good finish. But no, another fairytale ending wasted, which seems like the theme for Wrestlemania weekend. This was an excellent match, both guys are phenomenal talents so I'm not surprised. Yet again, Tony Khan and his fetish for long term booking. Like I said, it's good were getting it but sometimes it doesn't always have to be long stories. Eddie being a deserving world champion was a story already being told when he failed to win the AEW title. I'm sorry but this was Eddie's moment, he loses another big match and it risks damaging his credibility.

Claudio Castagnoli retains via pinfall (20:07)


Overall- 64.6%

Is there something in the water in the wrestling world? Why have the two major American wrestling companies both made major booking errors in one weekend? The percentage doesn't reflect the match quality so well, the pre-show matches were serviceable except Takeshita-Mack which was good. All of the main card matches were good to great except Tanahashi-Garcia which was disappointing. I hope Dante recovers well, poor Top Flight, destined to never stick around for too long. Questionable booking decisions here. The Embassy match, filled with high risk spots, shouldn't have followed a match with significantly more advanced and impressive high risk spots. Lucha Bros winning the titles is fine but it's another primarly AEW talent being ROH champions and honestly I'd prefer they just keep them as separate entities at this point. Eddie Kingston should have won the world title realistically, but it would have been forgivable if Mark Briscoe won and TK didn't do that either. A terrible call in my eyes, I'm sure it'll happen down the line, but it should have been here.

MOTN: Claudio Castagnoli vs Eddie Kingston

I have reviews for GCW shows lined up before finally, my Wrestlemania weekend coverage is complete, ahead of NWA 312 & Sakura Genesis this weekend. I'm going to watch Sakura Genesis for sure, I'll probably wait to hear reviews before I invest my time into the NWA show. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed Mania season. Until next time, see ya!


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