Ring of Honor returned to the beautiful Turner Ballroom in Milwaukee for the first time since January with “Reclamation: Night One.” Although it didn’t feature any title matches, this show had some interesting and fresh match-ups on paper. As always, the Milwaukee crowd was hot throughout the night, which made the in-ring action even better than it was. But let’s take a look at each match.
The show opened up with Adrenaline RUSH taking on the team of #PartyBoys. Unfortunately, this match didn’t get the show off to a good start at all. The #PartyBoys were extremely sloppy and didn’t work well with TaDarius Thomas and ACH at all. There were several clear instances of miscommunication between the teams that led to some awkward moments. Thomas and ACH have adopted more of a ground-based style in recent shows and it doesn’t work for them. This match was mostly devoid of any high-flying or fun spots that made ACH and Thomas fan favorites. In the end, Adrenaline RUSH won with a 450 Splash from ACH on Mike Sydal for the pinfall. I wouldn’t like to see the #PartyBoys in an ROH ring ever again, and hopefully Adrenaline RUSH can begin matching their potential.
Sadly, the slow start continued as Athena went one-on-one with MsChif in a Women of Honor match. This was another match that didn’t really do much for me. The action was slow and boring when MsChif was on offense. ROH seemed to be building the WOH division around her, and I never understood why. She’s just not interesting to watch. Her opponent, on the other hand, looked really good here. If ROH is serious about building a women’s division, Athena is the one they should focus the division around. She is fun and energetic to watch and has a good look and a nice finisher. The match was fairly enjoyable when she was on offense, but MsChif seemed to control much of the match. In the end, surprisingly, Athena picked up the three count with the O-Face. It was a pleasant surprise to see her win, and hopefully it means she will play a more prominent role if the company continues with Women of Honor matches.
BJ Whitmer wrestled Michael Bennett, who had the beautiful Maria in his corner, in a “Best in the World 2013” rematch. Although the action was fine, there was nothing interesting or memorable about it. The main thing I was looking forward to seeing was how Bennett’s character had evolved after ditching “The Prodigy” name. But it was the same-old same-old with Bennett other than a more formal version of his first name. He was the exact same wrestler he always has been, which was disappointing. He’s a decent wrestler, but it would’ve been nice to see his character develop more after his recent actions. Bennett got the win with a pretty bad looking piledriver, which may have been the one new aspect of his character. The show was 0-for-3 at this point.
Luckily, everything after this was very good to great.
Kyle O’Reilly battled Eddie Edwards in the fourth match. I’m not sure what to say other than this was an awesome match. The crowd was on fire throughout the contest and for good reason: It was great and was one of the best of the night. It was everything a fan would expect with these two squaring off against each other as it featured some technical wrestling mixed with strike exchanges. The match never dragged or lulled throughout the almost 20 minutes it ran. Edwards picked up the win due to a referee stoppage after stomping on O’Reilly’s head while having him in the Achilles Lock. This is definitely worth checking out.
Up next, Tommaso Ciampa and Rhino squared off. I think I enjoyed this match more than most people, but I had a lot of fun with this one. I’ve always enjoyed two big and powerful guys beating the crap out of each other, and that’s exactly what we got here. Rhino always delivers a good performances and Ciampa continued to look like a future title holder. They went toe-to-toe with each other, but it sadly didn’t go too long. Hopefully we’ll see a rematch in the future. The ending was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Rhino was going for a Gore, but Ciampa got a knee up and knocked Rhino out to pick up the pinfall. It looked sick and came across perfectly. The main event tried something similar, but it worked so much better in this match.
Kevin Steen wrestled Silas Young in another match that didn’t get enough time to reach its full potential. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. It was a fun match while it lasted, but the short duration kept it from being anything more than a pretty good midcard match. With the talent involved, that’s exactly what a viewer would expect. Steen was his usual entertaining self, and Young once again showed his potential to be a big-time player in ROH. I think he could be a big star for the company. Steen picked up the win with a Package Piledriver. It was an enjoyable midcard match to keep the show flowing, but it didn’t have the time to flesh it out to be more than that.
The show continued to roll on with a Four Corner Survival Match that pitted ROH World TV Champion Matt Taven, who was alongside Truth Martini and the Hoopla Hotties, against Jay Lethal, Adam Cole and Michael Elgin. This was my match of the night. It was an insane match with nonstop action from bell to bell. Every wrestler had at least a few moments to shine, especially Elgin. He once again looked like a superstar with his freakish strength and new ring gear. Taven also looked like he belonged with the other three bigger names in the match. This could be the match where he finally established himself in the upper midcard of the division while playing the cowardly heel. It helped that Martini didn’t get too involved until the end, which allowed Selezia (I hope I spelled that correctly) to hit a great power spot of her own. In the end, Elgin got the pin on Cole with the Elgin Bomb. I was kind of shocked Cole took the pin, but it didn’t hurt him at all after the quality of the match. Cole’s heel turn was further solidified when he refused a post-match handshake. This match is almost worth the price of the show on its own.
The main event saw Davey Richards finally get his chance to shut Bobby Fish up. This was a weird match. It was good, but it wasn’t really what I expected. These two have hated each other for the better part of a year now, but that wasn’t evident at all here. There was a lot of small comedy bits and there wasn’t much as much intensity between the two as one would expect given the feud. The action itself was fine, though, and other than some of the comedic shenanigans it was exactly what one would expect from these two. The match was going along well until the closing moments, which bumped it down into the middle of the show in match quality. Richards tried charging Fish and looked to be going after Fish’s legs. Fish kicked Richards in the head and knocked him out for the pin, but it looked horrible and fell completely flat. The crowd was surprised that it was the ending, and not in a good way. Fish almost completely missed any contact and it just looked really bad. The earlier version of the same finish with Ciampa and Rhino was much better. Still, it was a good match and a decent main event.
Overall Thoughts: After a very slow start, “Reclamation: Night One” picked up in a big way during the second half of the show and had five really good to great matches. Everything after the O’Reilly vs Edwards match was entertaining and really easy to sit through. Not everything lived up to its potential, but the matches were still good. The Four Corner Survival match was fantastic and everyone cam out looking like a star. I’m sure my enjoyment of the show was aided by the Milwaukee crowd, who have quickly become one of the best crowds ROH runs in front of. Hopefully ROH will take notice and run there as frequently as they have this year. I would easilt recommend this show to ROH fans because of how strong the second half of the show turned out to be.