ROH in San Antonio (6/1/13) Review

Ring of Honor made its San Antonio debut recently with a loaded house show. It was the first time ROH had been in the state of Texas since 2009 when Houston held two shows so the company were keen to impress. The ROH World Title was on the line in the main event with the Proving Ground making an appearance alongside a personal dream match of mine as ACH battles Jay Lethal. The show looks great on paper, so let’s see how ROH in San Antonio (6/1/13) turned out!

The opening match sees Kyle O’Reilly and Mike Sydal go one-on-one. O’Reilly is accompanied by his tag team partner Bobby Fish. Sydal has featured quite regularly on ROH TV. Kevin Kelly is alone on commentary with Steve Corino missing. Fish is great on the outside, his heel character is just brilliant. I like Sydal, I don’t think he’s the type of guy who would be a permanent roster member but he’s a fun guy to watch now and again. This match didn’t have any great storyline or anything behind it but that didn’t stop it being a damn entertaining opener. O’Reilly eventually wins, submitting Sydal with an armbreaker after focusing on it throughout the match. A good start to the show.

A local TV broadcaster comes to the ring and tells us ROH is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting. When the hell did that happen?! He says Steve Corino was on his show yesterday ripping on the city. Corino then comes to the ring through the crowd and continues to tell us how bad San Antonio is and threatens the TV guy until Mark Briscoe comes to the ring and an impromptu match begins after Briscoe calls Matt Hardy, Fatt Hardy. This was a pretty fun brawl with two entertaining guys. With Corino set to lose, Jimmy Jacobs and Rhett Titus interfered to give Mark the DQ victory. BJ Whitmer and Michael Elgin then made the save. This was mainly about the storyline advancement than the actual match.

Women of Honor action next as Athena faces the debuting Barbi Hayden. Both of these women are Texas natives. Barbi is using the ‘diva’ gimmick and is doing it pretty well. Athena has impressed in her appearances on ROH TV and was definitely the better of the two in this one. Out of nowhere, Athena hits the O Face for the win. It’s a great finisher and the crowd seemed to like her. Was a pretty average match but helped get Athena over.

The Proving Ground makes an appearance now as ROH World TV champion Matt Taven takes on Eddie Edwards. Taven is here without Truth Martini or the hoopla hotties – the focus will be on him for a change. If Eddie wins the match or lasts the time limit, he’ll get a future title shot. Edwards earns that shot after hitting the Die Hard for the victory. Despite losing, this was Taven’s breakout match and his best to date. It showed he can put on great matches and seem like a star without Martini and co on the outside. He worked really well as a heel and helped put on a great back-and-forth match with the reliable Edwards. Please take note ROH: Let Matt Taven run with the ball, he has something special.

Up next should be one of the matches of the night as ACH (being billed as a home town hero despite actually being from Austin) goes up against Jay Lethal. This was a kind of mentor versus student contest with ACH saying he looked up to and learned a lot from Lethal. ACH is just so damn fun to watch. I don’t know what it is, he just has ‘it’. And so did this match. It slowly built and by the end, both men were giving it their all. The crowd absolutely loved it and rightly so because both men left it all in the ring and delivered a classic ROH style match. Plenty of hard-hitting, fast-paced, high-flying action between two fantastic athletes. Terrific match that you should go out of your way to see. Afterwards, Lethal puts ACH over on the mic.

We have another debut next as Raymond Rowe, making his first ROH appearance, takes on Bobby Fish. Fish comes out and talks down to the ‘hillbillies’ in the crowd – his words not mine, before the match begins. As I said before, Fish is just so good as a heel and really got the crowd going with some of his antics. Rowe looked pretty good for a bigger guy, hitting some nice power moves. Fish eventually got the win with a crucifix pin. Decent enough match between these two to transition us to the last three big contests.

The first of those three matches looks a cracker as Adam Cole and Roderick Strong do battle. I had high expectations coming into this one and it didn’t disappoint. The building looked really, really warm and both men looked pretty drained but that didn’t stop them from putting on a really great match. This was all about both men being so good and being so desperate to prove they were the better man. Strong picked up the win thanks to the Gibson driver. They put on a great match but still left you wanting more when it ended. Their rematch at ‘Best In The World’ should be fantastic. Cole refused to shake hands after the match, is this the continuation of his heel turn?

A No DQ Texas Tornado tag-team match continues the action as Jimmy Jacobs and Rhett Titus of SCUM take on BJ Whitmer and Michael Elgin. This was a wild brawl, as expected, that managed to reach every corner of the arena. A lot of fans in attendance said they couldn’t see some of the action but the cameras do a good job of keeping up. This feud is doing a great job of building Elgin up as a complete monster and I’ve liked the tag team matches SCUM and ROH have had. Steve Corino tries to get involved towards the end but is chased off by Mark Briscoe. Jacobs then rolls up Whitmer and Titus also gets involved in the pin as SCUM win. Another fun brawl of a tag team match in this feud. Probably wasn’t for everybody but I enjoyed it. It got really good in the middle stages after they got back in the ring but the ending was maybe a little flat considering some of the action.

Our main event of the evening is for the ROH World Title with Jay Briscoe defending against Davey Richards. A different start to this one as the crowd chant for a test of strength and both men oblige on numerous occasions, including a bit of comedy along the way. Davey seems to be having a lot more fun in the ring recently and it really shows. Did Kevin Kelly really just call the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders ‘evenly matched teams’?! Anyway, I digress… The comedy quickly ended as hard strikes took over and Davey hit a crazy diving move that left him in the third row! And then Jay matches that and hits a Falcon Arrow off the top rope! The match ended with back-and-forth action with Davey almost winning the belt. But Jay comes through and retains after the Jay Driller. This was a great title match that had everything; comedy, hard strikes and some crazy combinations. A great effort from both men and Jay’s best title defense to date.

Overall Thoughts: This was a quality show from top to bottom and one of the best house shows I can remember in a long while. I don’t like giving star ratings but if I did, I think there’d be four matches that were four stars or very, very close. Matt Taven finally showed he can deliver while Adam Cole and Roderick Strong put on a clinic. My favorite match was between ACH and Jay Lethal and the World Title match. Both were really great matches that you should definitely check out. The in-ring action was of a very high quality throughout and for $14.99 it’s an absolute steal. I can’t recommend this show enough, it was an enjoyable watch from start to finish with a really hot crowd.

Steven Coney

"Stuff Pants" Steven is the co-owner and editor of ROHWorld.com. He founded the website in February 2011 with Harry. Last spotted trying to take down ROHCast with his SCUM faction.