The departure of TJ Perkins from Ring of Honor has robbed TV champion Adam Cole of one of his greatest potential opponents. The two men are of a similar age, height and weight and work blisteringly quick styles. A title match or two between them could have been huge for ROH and could have become one of the company’s most celebrated rivalries in years.
Last week I wrote that ROH should consider getting rid of the TV championship in order to retain the world title’s credibility in the long run. While I still think that’s the company’s best option I don’t think it’s something we can realistically expect anytime soon. Everything about the booking suggests that ROH sees nothing wrong with its number of titles.
With that in mind what can we expect to see from champion Adam Cole over the coming months? A defence against ‘Die Hard’ Eddie Edwards has been announced for Glory By Honor XI on October 13th. That’s one of the best pairings at the promotion’s disposal and should be a great match.
It’s rumoured that whoever leaves GBH XI with the TV strap will face Matt Hardy at Final Battle. With an American Wolves reunion imminent (according to Davey Richards at least) a tag battle seems more likely for ‘Die Hard’ at Final Battle than a bout with Hardy, so I think it’s safe to assume we’ll see Cole retain the title in October.
There are other prospective challengers too. Mike Bennett immediately springs to mind as someone who’s make a good opponent for a popular talent like Cole. ‘The Prodigy’ is one of the league’s better antagonists and would be something different as far as champions go.
The recent turn to the dark side of Jay Lethal makes him a natural choice to tackle Cole too. ‘Black Machismo’ is closer to the champ’s speed than is Bennett and his previous title reign would provide a natural storyline. I think a Lethal v Cole feud, booked correctly, would peak nicely at next year’s anniversary show if it was started later this year.
Since Kenny King left Rhett Titus has essentially been made into a singles position. The former tag team champion unsuccessfully challenged Kevin Steen for the world championship at last night’s TV tapings in Baltimore but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t succeed with the mid-card championship. Cole v Titus would be a bit of a style clash, made even more tricky by both men being fan favourites, but it’s something to bear in mind for when Cole runs out of smaller opponents.
If Andy ‘Right Leg’ Ridge were booked properly I’m sure he would be viewed as a threat to beat Cole. His size, speed and style (the three esses?) would make him an ideal challenger. When he returns from his unwanted stay on the injured list Tommaso Ciampa will be a natural choice too. He’s hunted the TV title before and the story of a man who got himself injured while trying to win a belt would write itself.
Finally there are men like QT Marshall who can be booked in forgettable exchanges with any mid-card champion, getting the number of title defences up without being considered as serious contenders.
There will be plenty of time for Cole to face Kyle O’Reilly again too. The (former?) protégé of Davey Richards is the natural choice for a long-term rival for Cole. They started in ROH at the same time, have a history as a tag team, and are both heralded by fans (myself included) as future headliners. An ever-present threat from O’Reilly mixed with shorter term programmes with names lower down the card should help to keep Cole’s reign interesting for a while yet.