Wednesday 2 January 2013

Ring of Honor: A Year in Review By Stephen J. Sutton

(Left) Here we have Adam Cole who had a stellar year not only in ROH but all over the indies

It’s time for the first ever Honor Review a look back at 2012; the year saw forty five championship matches, forty two successful championship defences, seven championships changing hands and nine proving ground challenges. The year also saw an wrestler attempt to hold the company to ransom , a young tag team split up, the return of some former ROH Champions, a few wrestlers from other promotions, wrestlers leaving the promotion, upcoming talent making their name in the promotion and the return home for the promotion.

The year kicked off with the tapings for Ring Of Honor on Sinclair Broadcasting Group in Baltimore Maryland in which we saw the announcement that Kevin Steen’s package piledriver or any version of the piledriver had been banned by Ring Of Honor officials, Cornette fined Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team not once but twice for unnecessary chair shots (one being at Final Battle 2011) and in response Shelton said “It was worth it, I’ve got a lot of money.” However, Benjamin didn’t pay his half of the $5,000 dollar fine so was suspended by Ring Of Honor Officials. The first championship of the year was defend when Mike Bennett challenged Jay Lethal for his Television Championship in which there was no fifteen time limit unlike usual Television Championship defences (which are fifteen time limit). Also from the television tapings Future Shock spilt up by “mutual” consent as Kyle O’Reilly teamed up with his trainer Davey Richards to form Team Richards with their first match as a tag team was against Caprice Coleman and Cederic Alexander. After a match with Kyle, Eddie Edwards offered Adam Cole a chance to tag with him against Team Richards; and the offer was accepted and challenged Team Richards to a match anytime anywhere.

Ring Of Honor returned home to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (for the first time since the HD Net Television Tapings) and the return to the National Guard Armory (for the first time since Respect Is Earned II) . Kevin Steen made his Ring Of Honor in ring return officially against Kenny King and debuted the F Cinq (aka the F Five) after attempting the banned Package Piledriver on the ring apron. The show saw the final Ring Of Honor match of Chris Hero (who is now Kassius Ohno in WWE on nXt) against “unbreakable” Michael Elgin and knock out his personal adviser Shane Hagadorn after being called an bum who nobody wants; while Hero was leaving the company Jigsaw and Hallowicked (both returning to the company after a four year absences) returned to the company to take on the Briscoe Brothers in a proving ground challenge; Davey Richards defended his ROH Championship against the winner of the Honor Rumble back from Southern Defiance Ring Of Honor’s Television Champion Jay Lethal and was successful. The next night Ring Of Honor made their debut in Norfolk, Virginia at the legendry Scope Arena (the same place where Randy Savage captured the WCW Championship at World War III and where The Undertaker beat the Dudley Boyz in a handicap match but still buried his manager Paul Bearer in a concrete crypt at WWE’s Great American Bash 2004); the show saw Team Richards earn a opportunity against the Briscoe Brothers after beating House Of Truth, the winning streak of Tommaso Ciampa continued and earned himself a shot at his very first Ring Of Honor Championship after beating Jay Lethal in a proving ground challenge and Adam Cole started presenting The Adam Cole Diaries on TWS in the UK.

Another set of TV tapings kicked off the month with the conformation of the tenth anniversary main event being Adam Cole and Eddie Edwards taking on Team Richards in New York City in March, also the shape of the promotions Wrestlemania weekend for night one that the ROH Championship will be defended in a triple threat match and night two the championship will be defended in a single match but the challengers will be decided in the shape of the Blind Destiny challenge in Fort Lauderdale. Kevin Steen made his television debut and after his match attempted a package piledriver of Andy Ridge but Jimmy Jacobs came out and attacked professional wrestling’s worst nightmare and challenged him to a match at the tenth anniversary show. The team of Adam Cole and Eddie Edwards had their warm up match against Matt Tarven and “Giant Killer” Mike Mondo before they faced Team Richards at the tenth anniversary show. Charlie Hass paid an $10,000 dollar fine ($5,000 dollars for a chair shot to Mark Briscoe during their match and another $5,000 dollars for the fine of Shelton Benjamin from Final Battle). Plus it was announced the former ECW Tag Team Champion, WCW Cruiserweight, Hardcore and United State Champion and WWE Intercontinental champion and Tag Team Champion Lance Storm was returning to the promotion at Wrestlemania Weekend to take on Mike Bennett.

The promotion debuted in Cincinnati with Rise & Prove where four tag teams would face off in a tournament and whoever won the tournament would have earned a proving ground challenge against whoever where the Tag Team Champions at night one of Wrestlemania weekend . The show also saw the return of former ROH Tag Team Champion BJ Whitmer(after a four year absence from promotion) having a proving ground challenge against Jay Lethal and Davey Richards had an opportunity to become a double champion when he and Kyle O’Reilly went for the Tag Team championship against the Briscoe Brothers.

Another month and another set of television tapings eight men fought for the right to have an opportunity to win $24,000. Also at the tapings Wrestlemania weekend was still being build; Kyle O’Reilly challenged Adam Cole to a match for the second night in Fort Lauderdale and the anti Christ of professional wrestling Kevin Steen will once again go head to head with his former partner and the man who banished him from the promotion El Generico in a La Revencha Last man Standing match.

The promotion celebrated its tenth anniversary in New York City in the Hammerstein Ballroom. It saw the return to the company of former ROH Tag Team Champion Amazing Red (making his return appearance in the company in nine years) teaming up with TJ Perkins taking on The House Of Truth. Also Eddie Kingston returned to the company as the Chikara Grand Champion to confront the ROH Champion Davey Richards but ended up facing up with Kevin Steen who tried and convinced Kingston to form an alliance and destroy both Chikara and Ring Of Honor which lead to both men to brawl and to bring out Chikara’s Jigsaw and The Colony. In the main event of the tenth anniversary Adam Cole pinned the ROH Champion Davey Richards.

At the end of March Ring Of Honor made its debut in the sunshine state when Showdown In The Sun kicked off Wrestlemania weekend where ECW used to run the War Memorial Auditorium. Night one saw the return of NWA Champion Adam Pearce (first appearance for the Scarp Daddy since 18th December 2010 ) who took on up and comer Adam Cole (who beat Cole the night before in NWA Ring Warriors); also on the show Jimmy Jacobs turned on his former allay El Generico to join up with Kevin Steen. The second night saw Roderick Strong became the new Television champion and becoming the second ever Ring Of Honor Triple crown champion. Over the weekend it company put on five championship matches with only one title changing hands; also the show marked the in ring debut of Fire Ant. Night two also saw a protential match of a year candidate as Davey Richards defended his ROH Championship against House Of Truth member Michael Elgin.

However, this year’s Wrestlemania show were over shadowed by Internet Pay Per View problems, on night one was subject to some horrendous technical difficulties that it the stream was near enough unwatchable and on night two the stream went completely dead just before the battle of former partner’s Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly; thinking the problem was easy to fix both Cole and O’Reilly cut impromptu promo’s but the feed couldn’t be fix so the match had to start for fans in attendance and then the full match was posted up on the ROH Youtube channel; and after this mix up the promotion left Go Fight Live and started to stream Internet Pay Per Views through the ROH website.

This month’s set of television taping saw Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander earn an opportunity against the Briscoe Brothers after beating the Tag Team Champions in a Proving Ground Challenge thanks to interference of Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, it was confirmed that Kevin Steen’s only opportunity will happen on 12th May in Toronto with the package piledriver would be allowed in the match. Also at the tapings Chikara wrestlers Los Ice Creams, Ophidian debuted taking on The Colony {Fire, Green and Solider Ant (Green and Solider Ant debuting)} in trios action exhibiting what the promotion can happen at the Chikara/ROH Synergy event on 28th April in Chicago.

At Chikara’s Hot Off The Griddle event (this event was before ROH’s Unity event) in Chicago; Eddie Kingston defend his Chikara’s Grand Championship against Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare Kevin Steen , Steen who had threatened that if he captured the championship he would put a transformer mask over the championship belt and give the title to his son. On the ROH Unity event The Bravado Brothers returned to the promotion after spending time in Japan working in the NOAH promotion and at their dojo, the show saw an Interpromotional trios match when the colony took on Adam Cole, Jay Lethal and TJ Perkins; in the main event of the evening the Briscoe Brothers went to defend not just their ROH Tag Team Championships but the pride of Ring Of Honor was also on the line as well against the team of Hallowicked and Jigsaw. The next night ROH where in Dayton , Ohio where the Briscoe’s and Wrestling’s Greatest Time squared off once again for the ROH Tag Team Championship and Adam Cole take on Davey Richards for the ROH Championship after ROH officials felt that Cole earned the opportunity after pinning Richards at the tenth anniversary.

Ring Of Honor presented their first Internet Pay Per View stream through the ROH Website after the mess at Wrestlemania weekend. That night saw the end of Tommaso Ciampa undefeated streak when Jay Lethal finally pinned the embassy’s monster, Canadian legend Lance Storm got retribution from Showdown in the Sun pinning Mike Bennett. That night saw two championships changed hands that night; Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team re captured the ROH Tag Team Championship by using ether in a Fight Without Honor; also, Kevin Steen’s dream came true but Jim Cornette’s and the promotions worst nightmare has he captured the Ring Of Honor from Davey Richards, but that not is the only shock out the night when Steve Corino who had been against Kevin Steen for most of the year embraced Kevin Steen and Jimmy Jacobs.

At this month’s television tapings it was announced that Eddie Edwards would complete in the Die Hard Trials series where he’ll challenge former Ring Of Honor Champions to stay intention of the ROH Championship, Finlay was announced that he will debut at Best In The World, Richard asked for his one and only rematch against wrestling’s worst nightmare, Eddie Edwards finally beat Davey Richards as one of his Die Hard Trial Series and Mike Bennett’s personal trainer Brutal Bob Evans made his in ring debut against Eddie Edwards. There was also a #1 Contenders Four Corner Survival match to decide who would face the winner of Steen Richards after Best In The World

Ring Of Honor returned to the Richmond Virginia were the feud between the Briscoe Brothers and WGTT in the form of Charlie Haas and Jay Briscoe fight in a lights out match which saw cups of beer, the top ring rope, steel wrench and their respective partners interfere in the match; Davey Richards took his frustrations on losing the ROH Championship on the zombie princess Jimmy Jacobs with Kevin Steen watching on at ringside (Steen was meant to be teaming with Jimmy to take on O’Reilly and Richards but Steen suffered an concussion at the television taping and wasn’t cleared to wrestle).

The promotion debuted in the Charleston, West Virginia. Adam Cole earned an opportunity at Roderick Strong’s Television Championship in pinning the champion in a proving ground four corner survival challenge, Davey Richards and Mike Mondo put on an wrestling classic going to a time limit draw, Kevin Steen turned away his first challenger away in Eddie Edwards for the ROH Championship and in their final encounter in a Texas Death match Jay Briscoe and Charlie Haas.

A week later it was time for Best In The World: Hostile Crisis coming once again for the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The Briscoe Brothers kicked off the show against the mysterious tag team known as the guardians of truth who looked like the executioners (old school WWF Tag Team), Kyle O’Reilly took on his former partner Adam Cole in a Hybrid Fighting which got bloody very early, the All Night Express realised their dream and captured the ROH Tag Team Championship, Kyle O’Reilly turned on his trainer and friend Davey Richards minutes before Davey’s one and only opportunity at Kevin Steen’s ROH Championship saying that he wasn’t Davey’s lackey and there is no more team Richards, Steen retained his ROH Title over Davey Richards after receiving a low blow with a railway spike and the package piledriver.

At this month’s television tapings the queen of wrestling Sara Del Ray returned to the promotion evening the odds when Brutal Bob Evans, Maria and Mike Bennett tripled teamed Eddie Edwards and Adam Cole, Eddie Kingston returned to the promotion as request from Jim Cornette to attempt to take the ROH Championship from wrestling’s nightmare and Adam Cole captured his first piece of ROH Championship gold when he beat Roderick Strong for the ROH Television Championship and Mike Bennett finished his feud with Lance Storm by defeating the Canadian legend.

The promotion rounded off the month by running Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs had their first singles match since Supercard Of Honor II back in 2007 (which was a bloody war) and Kevin Steen turned away the challenge from the messiah of the back breaker Roderick Strong.

(Right) This of course is ROH Champion Kevin Steen who had an amazing year in 2012

It was announced that The All Night Express had been stripped of their newly won ROH Tag Team Championship after Kenny King was released on his verbal agreement after appearing in an edition of TNA Impact; an tournament would start at the Television Tapings in August and round up at Death Before Dishonor X in September.

ROH made its Milwaukee debut this month. It saw Rhett Titus in singles action after his tag team partner’s release against brother of Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne in WWE) Mike Sydal, in the a return single encounter from Unscripted II BJ Whitmer took on Roderick Strong, an injured Mike Mondo was able to finish his match with Jay Lethal and a simple tag team match turned into a wild tag team match which saw Mark Briscoe live up to his insanity by jumping a off a balcony onto the world champion who was in a table in the ring.

Another set of TV tapings kicked off the month with the announcement of the eight teams which would compete for the opportunity to become the thirty forth Ring Of Honor Tag Team Champions they were Blk Out {making their ROH debut as a team (Ruckus was returning to the promotion since Ring Of Homicide II)}, Briscoe Brothers, Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman, Charlie Haas and a mystery partner, Guardians Of Truth, Rhett Titus and a mystery partner, The Bravado Brothers and The Young Bucks. Surprisingly enough Charlie Haas and Rhett Titus decided to put all differences aside (until they won the tag titles) so Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino entered the tournament so all SCUM (Suffering Chaos Ugliness and Mayhem) can control all the championship gold, Rhino was announced as the #1 Contender after beating Eddie Edwards in a anything goes match, Kevin Steen put Homicide challenge to his ROH Championship to rest, Mike Mondo earned an opportunity at Adam Cole’s television championship and Briscoe Brothers, Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman, Charlie Haas and Rhett Titus and SCUM advanced Death Before Dishonor X.

The promotion promoted its fifth iPPV of the year and on that iPPV QT Marshall earned an Ring Of Honor Contract, Adam Cole got redemption over Mike Bennett’s personal trainer Brutal Bob in a proving ground challenge, cracks where being to show in the foundation of the house of truth, Tommaso Ciampa suffered a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament during the two out three falls match against Jay Lethal, Sara Del Ray made her final appearance for the company by teaming with Eddie Edwards taking on Maria and Mike Bennett and Kevin Steen knocked back Eddie Kingston in a wild ROH Championship match that witness an powerbomb on a table (which was upside down) and a F Cinq on two open chairs.

The month kicked off with a return to Charlotte, North Carolina and to a show entitled “Cage Hostility” . The Bravado Brothers and Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman stole the show, Davey Richards returned to the company, Kevin Steen could of been fined $5,000 if he didn’t wrestle in the main event of the show, Kyle O’Reilly earned an opportunity at his former partners ROH Television Championship and Rhett Titus and Briscoe Brothers won a bloody cage match over SCUM.

The promotion promoted its sixth iPPV of the year Death Before Dishonor X State Of Emergency coming from Chicago, Illinois. SCUM and Rhett Titus and Charlie Haas reach the final of the ROH Tag Team Championship final with SCUM capturing the gold, Tadarius Thomas qualified for the 2012 Survival Of The Fittest, Davey Richards added himself into the Survival Of The Fittest, Irish Airborne (Dave and Jake Crist) (making their first appearance since Stylin and Profiling in 2009), ACH made his Ring Of Honor debut, Matt Hardy made an unexpected returning after the television championship match and calling Adam Cole a “Young Matt Hardy” and Kevin Steen over came House Of Truth member Rhino.

The next set of television tapings where entitled as “Fans Appreciation Night” and “Survival Of The Fittest 2012.” Adam Cole, Davey Richards, Jay Lethal, Roderick Strong, Mike Mondo and Michael Elgin made it to the final with Lethal capturing the 2012 crown, the unlikely team of BJ Whitmer and Rhett Titus defeated WGTT, Ciampa was kicked out of the guidance of RD Evans and was introduce into his latest client QT Marshall, Kevin Steen stopped Rhett Titus quest for the title and the Headbangers (yes Mosh and Thrasher the former WWF Tag Team Champions) where confirmed as the Guardians Of Truth.

The promotion kicked of the month with a show in Edison, New Jersey with a show called “Killer Instict.” Bobby Fish returned to the company (making his first appearance since Eliminating The Competition back in 2009) and the debut of the tag team 3.0 from Chikara, SCUM retained the tag team championship, Davey Richards and Mike Mondo put a technical classic and Jay Lethal fought Kevin Steen to a no contest and then Lethal ran rampant in the backstage and injured Jim Cornette. The injury angle wrote out Jim Cornette character after being hospitalised thanks to Lethal but there was speculation that it also meant that Jim Cornette would hand over the booking control to delirious.

Kevin Steen put Ring Of Honor on the spot by demanding the following things 80% of all Kevin Steen merchandise sales, Referee Paul Turner in various Outfits, Jay Lethal parents from all Ring Of Honor events, a new ROH Championship design, never to wrestle Jay Lethal again, to make the package piledriver legal again and to have unlimited amount of supply of milk and fruit punch Gatorade. If the demands not met then Kevin Steen will not defend the ROH Championship at Glory By Honor against Michael Elgin.

The promotion presented their eighth iPPV Glory By Honor XI Mike Mondo injured his ankle but continued to the finished against Mike Bennett, Jay Lethal proved that it wasn’t a fluke back Survival Of The Fittest against Davey Richards, dysfunction continued in the ranks of the house of truth when Roderick Strong refused to take on Tadarius Thomas so Rhino took the match and then lost to the up and comer then Rhino gored Truth Martini off the apron onto the guardrail and ripped truth’s pants reviling an nasty bruise on his leg, SCUM retained the ROH Tag Team Championship over the Briscoe Brothers, Kevin Steen retained the ROH Champion over last year’s Survival Of The Fittest Champion and fellow Canadian Michael Elgin. Ring Of Honor colour commentator Nigel McGuinness handed Steen a cardboard box and in that box was a El Generico mask and the chants of Ole Ole Ole Ole rang through the arena.
It was announced by the end of the month that Jim Cornette and the Sinclair Broadcasting Group agreed that it was time for Jim to set down as head of Ring Of Honor Head of creative but would stay on as a backstage and a production role.

The final set of television tapings took place with the announcement that Nigel McGuinness would become the new ROH Match maker for the promotion the first matches he set were a ROH Championship Ladder War between Steen and Generico and ROH Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Sudden Death match between Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman and the Briscoe Brothers challenging SCUM, Adam Cole retained his ROH Television title over his former partner and was rewarded with a new title design, Jerry Lynn would return to the promotion for his final match for the promotion at Final Battle, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly formed a tag team to target Davey Richards, Matt Hardy would return to the promotion to take ROH Television champion in a non title match, both Strong and Elgin confirmed that they were both done with the House of Truth, Kevin Steen retained the ROH title over Mike Bennett and Steve Corino and Jay Briscoe in a wild Steel City Street Fight.

The promotion presented their ninth and final iPPV of the year at the eleventh annual Final Battle. Jerry Lynn (his first show since Salvation 2007) and Matt Hardy (his first show for the company since Punk: The Final Chapter) both returned to the company but Lynn lost in his final match against Mike Bennett and Matt Hardy won against Adam Cole, Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team beat BJ Whitmer and Rhett Titus in a New York Street Fight which saw BJ take a sick bump through a table, Eddie Edwards returned from his tour of Japan to reform the American Wolves against Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, Briscoe Brothers brought honor back to the ROH Tag Team Championship by becoming eight time Champions and Kevin Steen Survived to capture the new ROH Championship over El Generico after a brutal ladder war.

What is next for ROH promotion? Who will end the nightmare of the promotion? Will Steen’s nightmare regain supreme in 2013? Who will rise up to the challenge? Let’s see the promotion in 2013.

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