In the post-Supercard of Honor presser, Righteous Reg of Fightful’s Grapsody Podcast expressed to Tony Khan the importance of Supercard in the Mania Weekend landscape, and how it was something of a tradition to Ring of Honor fans. Khan, who has expressed disinterest in running programming on this weekend in WrestleMania’s host city, remarked that he hadn’t considered the importance to fans of the event existing in the same space of what is now a four-day weekend of wrestling extravagance across the independent circuit.
Supercard of Honor, coming from someone has not watched a ton of Ring of Honor outside specific matches, feels like a mid-show reboot of a show after switching networks. We don’t know much about the landscape of Ring of Honor going forward, whether it will be on television and what contracts will look like. What we did end up getting, though, was a pay-per-view event that felt like a kickoff for whatever this new Ring of Honor will look like, creating the best out of a hectic situation.
Before we get started on the show, I think that there is something to be said about the changeover with RoH and how four out of five belts fought for this show are now held by people either employed by All Elite Wrestling or from a company that they have a good working relationship with. This feels like it’s a move for stability, but I can very easily see why this could be seen as a sour point for longtime Ring of Honor fans.
As for the show itself, however, wow. The production quality of the show was top-notch, with particular notes going to Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman on commentary. They kept a great energy through the entire show, and elevated some already great matches into that next tier. There was a lot of crew on hand from AEW, including a cameo of Doc Samson in an AEW polo as well as a few AEW referees.
The show’s first few matches were some interesting singles matches. Swerve and Alex Zayne put on a real fun match to start off the show, and then Ninja Mack came in against former FTR manager Tully Blanchard’s new client, Brian Cage. Cage, who’s been out on injury and then vanished from AEW, came in here and delivered what Cage does best: being an absolute beast in the ring and absolutely destroying the stuffing out of someone. Mack did a hell of a job taking the squash, and Cage immediately feels right at home here as a villain in Ring of Honor. Brian Cage has a problem. He’s physically perfect, does good work in the ring, and does good physical character work. He just is not great on the mic. Pairing him with Tully is a smart move, and like in his work with Lucha Underground, putting him in a situation with a “tradition” of wrestling to disrespect works perfectly for him.
Jay Lethal also defeated Lee Moriarty, with a great match that showcased both wrestler’s skills excellently, and both men did great storytelling work to lead up to the finish. Lethal, as the match stretched on, started to dig deeper and find himself reaching his limit. Desperate to win, he struck a low blow on Moriarty before hitting the Lethal Injection. It’s a compelling heel turn, especially for a character who’s had a rough time of things losing all four of his TV appearances in AEW.
Now let’s jump to the big one. FTR against the Briscoes. It’s the best tag match I’ve watched in the last year. If another dethrones it, I expect that my brain will melt from the experience. It was a gauntlet showing off the best of what tag team wrestling can do, culminating a beef that’s been simmering for months now. This was the closest we could have gotten to living up to the hype.
Of course, when the words “Greatest Tag Team of All Time,” are uttered by any pair of wrestlers, this is in fact a secret dark spell. This spell summons the Young Bucks, who are there to immediately be the most obnoxious shits in the entirety of the universe, and by God, did they deliver. A post-match run in to Superkick the Briscoes (with Riccaboni’s call a delightful howl), and just like that, both Ring of Honor and AAA belts are going to be defended on Wednesday.
Also joining on Wednesday was our show’s ending surprise. After Gresham won the RoH world title unification, Lethal popped up to show off some of his new villain attitude. Him and his buddy Sonjay Dutt, after demanding a title shot, decided to lay into Gresham, only to be saved by… Samoa Joe. Joe’s signed to AEW/ROH now, and in the media scrum after the show it seemed like he’s there to be a headlining talent.
Across the rest of the card, Willow Nightingale and Mercedes Martinez put on a good match for the interm RoH women’s belt to put Martinez as the one who will eventually face Deonna Purazzo for the Women’s Championship. While we have no idea what RoH contracts will look like now, Willow’s performance here is what I hope will be a sign that she gets signed. She’s charismatic, she worked great in this match, and if she doesn’t headline RoH’s women division, I’ll be wondering what this company is here for.
Minoru Suzuki took on Rhett Titus for the RoH TV title, beating Rhett Titus in a short but fun match that’s typical of the work Suzuki does. Suzuki won his first North American title in a showing that had him crushing Titus. There are two types of American Suzuki matches: valiant efforts and horror shows. This felt more like the latter.
Wheeler YUTA’s performance with Josh Woods was a fantastic technical showcase, with YUTA taking home the Pure championship. Wheeler feels like he’s been due a level up in story, and between his match with Bryan Danielson this week and putting on a technical showcase with Woods, it’s looking like Wheeler YUTA is ready to get pushed to the next level.
Finally, the unification match between Bandido and Gresham was a great title match for a main event. Having watched a little of Gresham and Bandido, their rivalry and the story of the dual championships felt like it had a satisfying conclusion here, and Bandido walked out of this show looking like a great guy, especially when he had Chavo, his own manager, ejected for trying to interfere. Unfortunately, it feels like this was a fantastic main even that’s going to be overshadowed by the tag match earlier in the evening, but it’s a small quibble overall.
As a show on a whole, I would say that if you’re a fan of All Elite’s PPVs, and enjoy a low-shenanigans, wrestling-focused show, you’ll enjoy Supercard for this year. There’s some great in-ring storytelling from the performers here, a combination between great work and fun spots, and a high production quality and commentary effort. About the only real negative I can say from a newcomer’s perspective is that after FTR/Briscoes, the show does seem to get a little bit of wind out of its sails until the main event brings it back. But putting that aside, I think that this is a great show. How Ring of Honor proceeds in the future going forward seems to be up in the air, with more questions than answers. As time goes on, I am sure we will see how the new Ring of Honor is going to shape up. For now? I’m interested.
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