ROH On HonorClub Report: Claudio Castagnoli retains against AR Fox, Eddie Kingston appears

ROH On HonorClub

March 2, 2023

By: John Siino

Universal Studios in Orlando, FL

Commentary: Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman

Mark Briscoe vs. Slim J (w/ Mark Sterling & Ari Daivari)

Very cool to have Mark Briscoe in the first match of this new era, as Jay Briscoe was in the first match of the original Ring of Honor. Right away, Briscoe sends Slim J to the outside where he comforts to Ari Daivari and Mark Sterling who accuse Briscoe of cheating and ask for the match to be ended. Sterling gets on the apron, as Slim J kicks Briscoe down low. Briscoe comes back by kicking Slim J to the outside where he hits him with a dropkick before using a chair to try and dive to the outside, but Daivari and Sterling save Slim J. Briscoe starts chopping Slim J in the corner and places him the corner, but Slim J is able to escape and hit a kick on Briscoe. Slim J sent Briscoe to the outside where Daivari took a couple of cheap shots on him. Briscoe is busted up on his forehead here as Slim J continues to hold him down. Briscoe mounts a comeback and hits a neckbreaker for a two-count. Briscoe follows with a Razer’s edge, Spicolli Driver, and the Froggy Bow, but Slim J dodges that. Briscoe comes right back with a clothesline and the Jay Driller for the pin and the win.

Winner: Mark Briscoe by pinfall at 9:00 

Lexy Nair is backstage with Tony Deppen and says next week he will take on ROH World Television Champion Samoa Joe and says some say it’s the biggest test of his career. Deppen pulls out a paper and says he proclaims that next week he will do the unthinkable and defeat Joe by pinfall or submission, and the two submissions are the STF and the Chicken Wing. After sitting front row at Final Battle last year, he now knows all of Joe’s weak points and he will take advantage and win the television title back.

The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) (w/ Maria Kanellis-Bennett) vs. The Infantry (Shawn Dean & Carlie Bravo)

Mike Bennett and Carlie Bravo start the match, as Bravo says ‘Hello, beautiful’ to Maria Kanellis-Bennett on the outside just for Bennett to take Bravo right down with a boot and tag in Matt Taven. Shawn Dean comes in as The Infantry double team on Taven with a hip toss before going after Bennett with a wishbone. Bravo and Taven run the ropes until Taven hits a dropkick and reminds everybody that he is Matt Taven. The Kingdom now starts double-teaming Bravo, as Taven hits a Purple Thunder Bomb. Bennett follows with a brain buster for a two before tagging Taven back in who comes in with an elbow drop for a two-count. Bravo hits a neckbreaker before tagging in Dean who hits both of The Kingdom with a double DDT. The Infantry keep Bennett in their corner for a while, but Taven breaks them up. Bravo goes to the top rope, but Taven knocks him down as The Kingdom hits the Proton Pack as Bennett pins Bravo for the win.

Winners: The Kingdom (Mike Bennett & Matt Taven) by pinfall at 4:55

We get a video package for the next match as Blake Christian says All Heart stands for seizing opportunities and making moments like he did when he faced Colt Cabana in the comeback of Ring of Honor. And tonight, he will make another moment and win the NJPW World Television Title from Zack Sabre Jr. Sabre says he’s back and some things changed like TMDK having a new frontman and him having a title and tells Christian to not forget about the 15-minute time limit as he’s about to step into the ring with the best technician in the world.

NJPW World Television Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. © vs Blake Christian

Ian Riccaboni starts the match talking about the history of the television title with Lord Steven Regal as right away Blake Christian tries to roll up Zack Sabre Jr. but gets a two count. Sabre starts working on Christian’s arms but Christian escapes and knocks Sabre down. Sabre goes right after the arms again, by putting on a rolling wrist lock and starts breaking Christian’s fingers. Christian springboards off the ropes to escape before sending Sabre down on the mat and rolling him up for a two-count. Christian dropkicks Sabre to the outside and tries a Fosbury Flop, just for Sabre to catch him in a cravat, and twists his neck on the apron. Sabre talks into the camera and tells ‘Bryan’ that he is watching the best technical wrestler in the world. Sabre puts on another cravat before Christian escapes and hits a springboard crossbody. Christian hits an Alabama Slam and a back suplex for a two-count. Sabre comes back with a front face lock into a suplex. Sabre keeps at it on Christian with uppercuts, but they end up on the apron where Christian hits Sabre with a spear and is able to hit the Fosbury Flop. Christian springboards back in with a knee, but Sabre ducks and puts on a Cobra Twist as Christian falls on the ropes, breaking it up. They start trading uppercuts before Christian hits a standing Spanish Fly out of nowhere for a two. Christian hits a Death Valley Driver and a brainbuster for another two. Christian follows with a springboard kick and tries to flip onto Sabre, but he catches him and starts twisting him every which way until Christian taps out to end the match.

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr. by submission at 12:28, to retain

We see Lexy Nair with Konosuke Takeshita, Mark Sterling, and Ari Daivari backstage as Sterling has an offer for Takeshita. Sterling says this match isn’t going to happen because Takeshita attacked MJF, he doesn’t like Takeshita and Josh Woods wanted his first match in ROH against someone of a higher caliber. Sterling gives Takeshita a contract to cancel the match as Daivari says he’ll throw in 10 grand if he signs. Takeshita rips it up.

We see a video package from Christopher Daniels showing his history in Ring of Honor and says the competition here is still the toughest in the land and Daniels is still in the thick of it. Daniels gives a warning for all the things he’s done there’s a lot more to do and anybody who stands in his way, better say their prayers.

Christopher Daniels vs. Rohit Raju (w/ Jora Johl)

Right away, Rohit Raju goes after Christopher Daniels, attacking him in the corner and going for a pin attempt. Raju continues by choking Daniels in the ropes, but Daniels comes right back with a drop kick. Daniels hits a suplex for a two-count but Jora Johl trips him up while running the ropes. Raju is distracting the referee as Johl attacks Daniels on the outside. Raju keeps attacking Daniels, mounting him with punches. Daniels comes back with a suplex, but Raju stops him with a big knee. Daniels catches Raju in the corner and hits the Best Moonsault Ever for the pin.

Winner: Christopher Daniels by pinfall at 5:00

Lexy Nair is backstage with Rhett Titus and Tracy Williams as Titus says the path remains the same as it did 17 years ago when he started here. Williams says ROH is the wrestling he loves, and they worked to achieve their goal by becoming champions until it was snatched away from them so they will work harder and restore honor in ROH. Aussie Open join in and say this is 2023 as there no better tag team in the world and challenge them to a match for next week.

Josh Woods (w/ Mark Sterling) vs. Konosuke Takeshita

Konosuke Takeshita starts the match cornering Josh Woods, but they go right to the mat trying to take each other down. They challenge each other with shoulder tackles before Takeshita wins that battle. Takeshita whips Woods in the corner before hitting ten punches, but Woods is able to whip him and hit a gut wrench suplex from the outside into the ring for a two. Woods continues here attacking Takeshita against the ropes before taunting the crowd. Woods continues with body shots and starts stretching Takeshita in the ropes before going for a pin attempt for a two. Woods blocks a knee from Takeshita, but he comes right back with a flying forearm. Takeshita hits a boot in the corner, and heads to the top rope, but Woods quickly knocks him down. They fight on the apron where Takeshita hits a vicious-looking DDT. Takeshita heads to the top rope, but Woods dodges him and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two. Woods hits a kick and another gut wrench suplex followed by a knee strike for a two. They head to the top rope where Woods hits a twisting suplex for a two. Woods hits a T-Bone suplex, but Takeshita comes back with a German suplex before they knock each other down with forearms. They go back and forth before Takeshita hits a forearm and a kick, a couple more roll-ups going right into a rolling German Suplex by Takeshita for the pin.

Winner: Konosuke Takeshita by pinfall at 10:20

Lexy Nair is backstage with Claudio Castagnoli and asks how is handling all this pressure for tonight’s main event. Claudio says he looks forward to situations like this every day, as he’s born for this and looks forward to it. Claudio is still upset at AR Fox and Top Flight for costing him money but there is nothing that will spoil his title defense tonight.

The Embassy (Brian Cage, Bishop Kaun & Toa Liona) (w/ Prince Nana) vs. Joe Keys, LSG & Rex Lawless

Right away, Rex Lawless gets taken to the outside and taken out by Bishop Kaun as Toa Liona takes out Joe Keys on the other side. Brian Cage and LSG start the match, with Cage attacking LSG in the corners. LSG tries to come back with a drop kick, but Cage tosses him in the corner before tagging in Kaun who heads to the top rope, hitting a sidewalk slam on the turnbuckle. They continue demolishing LSG in the corner, before Cage deadlifts LSG back inside with a superplex. The Gates of Agony swing Cage right into Cage, who hits a sit-out powerbomb for the pin and the win.

Winners: The Embassy (Brian Cage, Bishop Kaun & Toa Liona) by pinfall at 2:13

Ari Daivari (w/ Slim J & Mark Sterling) vs. Metalik

Metalik, who’s going by Mascara Dorada again since leaving WWE, is going back to using remnants of his old Lucha House Party name, sans the ‘Gran’. Commentary mentions how Ari Daivari paid for Metalik to not have an entrance tonight. Metalik takes Daivari right down to the mat with a side headlock, as Mark Sterling starts complaining on the outside. Metalik kicks Daivari in the corner and hits a sling blade bulldog, before running the ropes to hit a shotgun dropkick sending Daivari to the outside. Slim J distracts Metalik, as Daivari sends him flying into the post. Back inside, Daivari starts choking out Metalik in the ropes, before Slim J joins in. Daivari starts hitting knee drops before putting on a chin lock, that Metalik chops his way out of. They head to the top rope, where Metalik walks the ropes again and hits a backbreaker. Metalik handsprings an elbow sending Daivari to the outside, where he meets him with a dive from the top rope to the outside. Metalik hits a splash back inside for a two-count, but Daivari blocks another springboard attempt by hitting a kick. Daivari heads to the top rope but misses, as Metalik goes for a pin to get a two. Slim J runs in the ring, as Sterling distracts the referee, but Metalik fights him off. Metalik goes for the pin but the referee is still distracted, Metalik goes to get the referee as Daivari grabs him into the hammerlock lariat for the pin.

Winner: Ari Daivari by pinfall at 7:22

Lexy Nair is backstage with AR Fox who says how ten years ago he tried out for Ring of Honor but didn’t get invited back, maybe because he wasn’t good enough. So, Fox said he busted his ass and tried to be the best he could be and now he’s main eventing the first episode of the new era of ROH and he’s coming for the title.

The Renegades (Charlette Renegade & Robyn Renegade) vs. Madison Rayne & Skye Blue

Ian Riccaboni mentions how The Renegades recently won the NWA Women’s Tag Team Championship, as Skye Blue and Robyn Renegade start the match. Blue goes for multiple pin attempts right away before tagging in Madison Rayne who hits a basement clothesline for a two. Charlette Renegade tags in as The Renegades start stomping Rayne in the corner. Rayne goes for a couple more pin attempts before Blue tags herself in as they double-team on Charlette. Robyn hits a cheap shot on Blue, as they corner Blue before Robyn tags in and hits a dropkick for a two. Blue reverses a double suplex for a two-count before kicking Robyn off and making the tag to Rayne. Rayne hits a cutter on Robyn for a two, before Charlette gets tagged back in. All four ladies start going at it before they are all laid out. Blue tags in and hits a crossbody for a two, as Rayne spears Robyn out of the ring. Blue hits Charlette with the Skyfall for the pin and the win.

Winners: Skye Blue & Madison Rayne by pinfall at 6:30

We see a quick video hyping up Dalton Castle for next week.

Who Accepts Wheeler Yuta’s Challenge?

Ian Riccaboni is in the ring and introduces the ROH Pure Champion Wheeler Yuta. Ian asks for his thoughts on tonight’s main event, but Yuta gets offended at being called the junior member of the Blackpool Combat Club. Yuta said he didn’t become Pure Champion by accident but by surrounding himself in three of the best wrestlers of all time and they beat him down and made him nothing before forging him into combat. Yuta says he feels left out and puts out a challenge for anyone for next week. Timothy Thatcher makes his way out and says he’s not a big fan of talking but is of fighting and accepts Yuta’s challenge for next week for the ROH Pure Championship.

We get a quick video highlighting Samoa Joe’s ROH career hyping him up for next week.

Willow Nightingale vs. Lady Frost

Caprice Coleman is having a blast during Willow Nightingale’s entrance, dancing to her music as Willow and Lady Frost lock up to start the match. Frost tries to take Willow down, but she escapes to do a twerk. Willow asks Frost to dance with her, but she runs the ropes instead before Willow shoulder blocks her down. Willow follows with a low cross body for a two count before hitting a series of short clotheslines and a body slam. Frost comes back with kicks and a rolling neckbreaker until they both kick each other down. Willow kicks Frost down before hitting a big spine buster for a two-count. Frost kicks Willow down and hits a beautiful top rope moonsault, but Willow kicks out at two. Willow catches Frost in the corner and hits the Babe with Power Bomb for the pin and the win.

Winner: Willow Nightingale by pinfall at 4:38

Ian Riccaboni joins Willow in the ring after and dances a little bit before asking her what’s next. Willow talks about being part of the old regime and getting two wins in the last two pay-per-views and says she’s on a roll and the only logical next step is to challenge Athena for the ROH Women’s World Championship. Athena comes out and congratulates Willow and knows she’s ‘happy to be here’ and if she was happy, she wouldn’t be champion. Athena accepts Willow’s offer but when she beats her, she wants everybody to know that Willow is porcelain and just lucky enough to be here and they will have the match next week.

ROH World Championship: Claudio Castagnoli © vs. AR Fox

The crowd is chanting for both men as they start the match. Claudio Castagnoli goes to trap AR Fox in a pin attempt, but he escapes. They run the ropes a bit with a pin attempt by Fox, but Claudio gets right out and hits a big uppercut. Claudio continues with a leg drop for a two count, before Fox hops on the ropes for a bulldog getting a two count. Fox heads to the top rope, but Claudio kicks him down and tries to toss him off. Fox lands on his feet though and tries a springboard back in, just for Claudio to block him. Claudio starts attacking Fox on the apron before hitting a gut wrench suplex for a two, transitioning right into a knee bar. Fox grabs the bottom rope as Claudio starts stomping at him. Claudio hits another gut wrench, before whipping Fox in the corner just to hit a suplex. Claudio puts on a half Crab, but Fox crawls over to the bottom rope. Claudio continues attacking Fox while he’s on the apron before jumping on him once he’s back inside. Claudio starts targeting the lower back with shots, but Fox DDT’s Claudio when trapped in the ropes. They go back and forth some more before Fox bounces off the corner for a cutter, getting a two-count. Fox clotheslines Claudio in the corner, who ends up on the outside just to get a dive from Fox. Fox hits a swan dive, inside, for another two-count. Claudio comes back with a big boot to get a two-count. Claudio hits the Giant Swing, as Fox ends up falling to the outside after. Claudio hits an elbow drop off the ropes before putting on the Sharpshooter into a crossface. Fox gets out, but Claudio hits a big lariat for a two. They head to the top rope, as Fox escapes out to hit a Death Valley Driver to Claudio who was sitting on the turnbuckle. Fox follows with a 450 Splash for a two-count. They go back and forth with pins , before Fox tries to springboard back inside the ring just to get hit with an uppercut from Claudio that ends the match, as Claudio gets the pin and the win.

Winner: Claudio Castagnoli by pinfall at 15:36, to retain

Eddie Kingston comes to the ring (fresh off of ‘quitting’ AEW) and says he is an independent contractor so he could be here. Kingston mentions telling Jon Moxley he wouldn’t go after him in AEW, but this isn’t AEW so he wants the ROH World Championship. Kingston says Claudio is scared, as Claudio knocks down his mic and leaves.

Thoughts On The Debut Episode

Visually, they did make changes to this soundstage where they have taped AEW Dark in the past, by adding more seats in the crowd, a larger screen for the entrance, and LED screens above the crowd so it does look a bit different than the AEW show. The only problem with that is if AEW uses this same set-up for their shows, they will just both look the same. Having Lexy Nair backstage doing the interviews in the same style she does in AEW also doesn’t help. Where ROH could do things differently is the video packages in between matches and we saw a bit of that with the Christopher Daniels and Zack Sabre Jr./Blake Christian one, but they have to do a bit more to make this stand out. The same cut-away match graphics in between matches, just screams what I already see every Monday and Tuesday on YouTube (The quick, flashy Metalik video withstanding; do more like that).

I personally am not a fan of the 2 plus-hour formats, but I understand them wanting to re-introduce as many names and faces as possible for this relaunch but would rather have a 45 to 60-minute show with matches of the caliber we got tonight such as Sabre/Christian, Takeshita/Woods, and Claudio/Fox. This shouldn’t have a problem getting the hardcore Dark viewers to keep subscribing to HonorClub, but it’s hard to justify paying $9.99 a month when you can get something similar with most of the same stars for free twice a week on YouTube. The best possible solution is to have different people work on this show who might work on AEW Dark and have it look and feel totally different, bringing different creative visions on board. Anybody who tuned in expecting something totally different, prepare to be disappointed.

About John Siino 296 Articles
New York native and reporter at POST Wrestling. He is also Associate Producer and Social Media Director at upNXT, and the host of the 'Shot in the Dark' podcast.