In the year that Ring of Honor celebrates its tenth birthday, it’s only fitting that the company should return to where it all began – Philadelphia. ROH’s homecoming will take place on Friday night at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory. Ring of Honor hasn’t been to the Armory since 2008 so will be pulling out all the stops to make it a night to remember – and they definitely have the card to do it:
ROH World Title Match
Davey Richards (c) vs. Jay Lethal
Jay Lethal has taken Ring of Honor by storm since his return at ‘Best In The World 2011’. He beat El Generico for the ROH World TV Title on the second episode of ROH TV on Sinclair and has defended it against the likes of Generico and Mike Bennett since. He overcame both of those men at ‘Final Battle 2011’ but before then at ‘Southern Defiance’ he won the 20-man Honor Rumble to gain a future ROH World Title shot which he will receive in Philly. Richards has had quite a six months too. He won the World Title back at ‘Best In The World 2011’ and beat the man he defeated for the title, Eddie Edwards, at ‘Final Battle 2011’ to retain the most prestigious championship in wrestling. With Richards looking over his shoulder at the recently reinstated Kevin Steen, he faces a tough task against a man who is the in-form man in ROH. These two will battle it out to see not only who the better man is, but to also see who the best champion is in Ring of Honor.
Eddie Edwards vs. Roderick Strong
These two men just don’t like each other. They battled it out during 2011 to see who was the better man and although Edwards might have got the better of those exchanges, the question of ‘who is the better man?’ has still not been answered. Strong had his ROH World Title run ended by ‘Die Hard’ at ‘Manhattan Mayhem IV’ and he then lost in his rematch at ‘Supercard of Honor VI’. ‘Death Before Dishonor IX’ would be the site of their next war – and what a war it was. In a first ever ‘Ringmaster’s Challenge’ match, Edwards proved that he was the superior athlete – or so he thought – by winning two of the three falls. Since then, the two men have gone down different paths. Strong beat the returning Chris Hero at ‘Final Battle 2011’ while Edwards was unsuccessful in challenging for the ROH World Title against Davey Richards. Despite that, these two men got into another argument and the only way to end this bitter rivalry is by going at it with no hold barred!
Chris Hero vs. Michael Elgin
2011 was a fantastic year for ‘Unbreakable’ Michael Elgin. He solidified his spot on the Ring of Honor roster with a string of impressive matches and even won the Survival of the Fittest tournament to earn himself a future ROH World Title match. Before then, he has what is probably his toughest test so far in ROH – ‘That Young Knockout Kid’. It looked like we would never see Hero again after he and Claudio Castagnoli lost to Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team on the first episode of ROH TV. However, he returned to accept Roderick Strong’s challenge at ‘Final Battle 2011’. Despite losing, it was good to see Hero back. Nobody is sure how long he will stick around – with the WWE still reportedly interested in acquiring his services – but while he is still in ROH, he will give anybody a tough match. Elgin could really send a message out to the rest of the roster by defeating Hero in what should be a fascinating encounter.
Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Future Shock
Both of these teams are desperate for a win. WGTT are coming fresh off of losing their ROH World Tag Team belts at ‘Final Battle 2011’ against the Briscoes while Future Shock have failed to gather any momentum recently. Kyle O’Reilly’s emergence as a singles star, and his allegiance with Davey Richards has seemed to stall the pair – something Adam Cole is visibly unhappy with. But they have a chance to put themselves right back on the tag team map with a win over Haas & Benajmin. WGTT seemed to change their attitudes completely in their match against the Briscoes – viciously attacking them with weapons before the match started. They have shown no remorse for their actions so it looks as if Future Shock will have to through a very angry Haas & Benjamin if they want to be victorious in a rematch from ‘Gateway To Honor’.
The Briscoes vs. Jigsaw & Hallowicked
This match is all about competition. The Briscoes are now the seven time ROH World Tag Team champions. They want to face the best and when it was announced that ROH was returning to Philadelphia, another promotion thought they would see how good ‘Dem Boys’ really are. That company is CHIKARA – who are based in Philly – and they have sent over two men who will pose quite a problem. Jigsaw and Hallowicked, like the Briscoes, have been in their promotion since day one. While they may not wrestle as a permanent team, ROH asked for the best and that’s what they have received. There’s no doubt that the Briscoes have the experience edge in this one but it’s doubtful that they have faced off two men quite like Jigsaw & Hallowicked in quite some time. Will CHIKARA leave the Proving Ground with a future Tag Team title shot or will the Briscoes defeat the hometown favourites? We will find out on Friday night.
Kenny King vs. Kevin Steen
‘Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare’, ‘Mr. Wrestling’, ‘The Antichrist of Professional Wrestling’. Whatever you want to call him, Kevin Steen is back in Ring of Honor. He defeated Steve Corino in a brutal affair at ‘Final Battle 2011’ and how embarks on his journey towards the ROH World Title – a title he promised he would win in a promo at ‘Final Battle 2011’. He begins that journey in Philadelphia against Kenny King. King will be competing in singles action for a while as Rhett Titus is out injured, recovering from knee surgery. However, King is no stranger to being on his own and will no doubt put up a fight against Steen, who has his signature Package Piledriver banned. Will Steen be able to announce his return to ROH as an official roster member with a win? Not if Kenny King has anything to do with it.
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Grizzly Redwood vs. Andy Ridge vs. Mike Bennett
It is always tough to predict how a Four Corner Survival match will pan out and this one is no different. Every man will want to win this one albeit for very different reasons. ‘The Dominant Male’ is still undefeated in Ring of Honor and after it was announced that The Embassy has a new financial backer – they will definitely want him to remain that way. Grizzly Redwood is all about fighting spirit and this type of match might be right down his street. A win for Grizzly would be huge for his ROH career and would no doubt encourage ROH Officials to give him more matches. Ridge is in a similar position to Grizzly in the fact that he is trying to prove himself to the matchmakers. ‘Right Leg’ has shown he has the talent to do well but has failed to win enough matches to be considered as a permanent fixture on ROH shows. He is no stranger to Four Corner Survival matches and that may well give him the edge in a match that he will be looking to win. Finally, Mike Bennett needs to win this match. After an impressive start to 2011, he claimed it would be the ‘year of the Prodigy’ and that he would be wearing gold by the end of the year. Despite challenging for the ROH World TV Title, Bennett was unable to dethrone Jay Lethal and that prediction turned out to be false. ‘The Prodigy’ will look to kick off 2012 in the right way and instantly put himself back in the title picture.
Also scheduled to appear is Steve Corino, who will discuss his Ring of Honor future after losing to his former protégée Kevin Steen at ‘Final Battle 2011’ For a clue to what Corino might say, have a listen to an interview we conducted with Steve prior to that epic battle, here