Ring of Honor’s annual Honor United UK tour has become a staple for wrestling fans over the last few years. With a card absolutely stacked from top to bottom, this show was always bound to deliver the quality that we’ve become used to. In spite of, or perhaps because, the number of companies vying for position in the US, Ring of Honor needed to deliver a top show last night. Let’s see how they got on…
LifeBlood’s Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams, accompanied by Vicky Haskins, defeated the Brat Pack (Mitch Waterman & Nick Bury)
Sounds obvious, but the opening match should really set the tone for the whole night and this was an absolute banger. The Brat Pack’s old school heel personas, squirting water in the fans’ faces and bragging about how great they were on their way to the ring, really played off against the positive reception for the UK’s own Mark Haskins and his partner Tracy Williams.
Haskins and Williams have gelled together as a fighting unit over the last several months. They have some sick tag moves and would be worthy holders of the tag team championships, surely something that has to happen sooner rather than later.
The Brat Pack were no slouches either. After dominating Tracy Williams for part of the match, Haskins fired up the crowd for the comeback and ultimately the win. Vicky and Mark were great at getting the crowd on their feet. This was a brilliant opening match.
Jonathan Gresham defeated Jay Briscoe
This was bound to be a wrestling clinic which will come as no surprise for those familiar with Jonathan Gresham’s technical prowess and the possibly underrated (by some) skills of Jay Briscoe.
After a technical battle between the two, who were evenly matched throughout, Gresham’s frustrations got the better of him and his mischievous side came to the fore as he stole a win after misting Jay to incapacitate him for the win.
Jonathan Gresham remains a brilliant technician and his heelish nature in ROH showcases his great character work. Gresham is bound to be a breakout star in 2020.
Silas Young won the 6-Man Mayhem over Dalton Castle, Matt Taven, Kenny King, Rampage Brown and Hikuleo
Scramble matches such as this one are often difficult to get right. Too much emphasis on a select few can take away from other wrestlers but here the balance was just right. Everyone got their spot, from Hikuleo squaring up to Wrestle Gate Heavyweight Champion and ROH debutante Rampage Brown (surely a singles match in the making there?) to Dalton Castle relentlessly throwing everyone else out of the ring and great high spots from Kenny King and Matt Taven.
Silas Young was the man of the hour, though, sneaking in to steal a win at the end.
Women of Honor World Champion Kelly Klein defeated The Allure’s Mandy Leon
Kelly Klein’s most recent reigns as Women of Honor champion have been continually marred by the Allure. With no back up for either competitor, this was set to be a straight, clean one-on-one contest. However, Mandy Leon got the jump on Kelly Klein, flying in the face of the traditional code of honour handshake, going on to dominate the champ for the first part of the match.
After a comeback from Klein, Leon’s cheating ways continued when she maced the champ and picked up the win. However, thanks to some useful VAR intervention from senior official Todd Sinclair, the match was restarted with Kelly Klein hitting the K-Power driver for the win.
Colt Cabana defeated Flamita
Colt Cabana has toured the UK probably a hundred times, maybe more, and is no stranger to audiences at historic York Hall. Flamita, as far as I’m aware, has not competed at this historic East London venue so this was a first. With Colt finely balancing his usual comedy schtick against Flamita’s amazing Lucha skills, this was yet another great, entertaining match.
Cabana clearly had the strength advantage but Flamita’s speed and skills proved a force to be reckoned with for the wily veteran. Flamita’s continued attempts to put Cabana away went unrewarded, with a top rope move after a top rope move proving insufficient. After several near falls, Cabana picked up the win.
ROH World Television Champion Shane Taylor defeated Joe Hendry
Joe Hendry has it all. He’s a brilliant entertainer and his pure wrestling credentials (he competed in the 2018 Commonwealth Games) make him a perfect fit for ROH. He promised fans a great entrance and he certainly gave us that.
After the usual Shane Taylor Promotions video package, and the unusual step of having the champ enter the ring first, a video package from Joe Hendry aired on the screen showing him investigating, Panorama-style for those in the UK or 60 Minutes-style for US readers, Shane Taylor Promotions and their work. Cue a magnificent segue into Joe Hendry coming out on stage and performing the David Brent from the Office dance.
The crowd were firmly in Hendry’s corner, with Taylor calling the Scot a ‘bell end’ which went down like a lead balloon. This was an extremely competitive match, probably the best that we’re seen from Joe Hendry in ROH so far, with Hendry struggling to pick up his sizeable opponent for several slam or suplex attempts. For a moment, I was convinced that Hendry was going to get the win but hopefully this will shine a light on him as a future top star in the company.
Villain Enterprises’ PCO & Brody King defeated Kyle Fletcher & Lucky Kid
With Mark Davis unfortunately injured, fellow Schadenfreude stablemate Lucky Kid stepped into partner Kyle Fletcher. This was always going to be an uphill struggle for the two high fliers against Crockett Cup winners and former NWA tag champs King and PCO.
PCO’s reception from the York Hall crowd was incredible and his top rope rolling senton onto a prone Lucky Kid and Fletcher was a highlight of the match. Brody King was also on devastating form, carving a swathe of destruction through his opponents. Fletcher and Lucky Kid are consistently brilliant performers on the British scene. Let’s hope that this match might bring them to further international attention and that 2020 is a breakout year for them both.
Jay Lethal versus Mark Briscoe (no contest after outside interference)
In a repeat of the match from the last Honor United tour, ROH legend Lethal and Tag Team titles record-breaking holder Mark Briscoe put on a strong showing. These two know each other so well and were matched hold for hold, move for move. The Froggy Bow and Lethal Injection were well scouted by Lethal and Briscoe respectively.
However, the real talking point of this match was Jonathan Gresham’s involvement. For regular ROH viewers, Gresham’s antics, such as refusing to shake hands with Alex Shelley at Glory By Honor, have long been a source of frustration for his friend Jay Lethal, the seemingly perennial good guy. However, tonight marked an interesting turning point as Lethal turned heel, using a chair provided by Gresham to take out Jay Briscoe. This dramatic turn will surely have long term implications and serves to balance out the roster with a heel team to potentially challenge for the tag belts in the near future. Plus, many of us really do like heel Jay Lethal.
ROH World Champion RUSH & Jeff Cobb defeated Villain Enterprises’ Marty Scurll & Flip Gordon
After a whole night of great matches, this was a fantastic way to end. Each man could earn his way onto a list of top wrestlers working in the world today with ease so it was a treat to see them all in the same ring at the same time.
Jeff Cobb and RUSH received an incredibly vocal welcome from the crowd but the reaction of the night went to Marty and Flip. As Marty pointed out in his post-match promo, he spent many years wrestling at York Hall and, despite his year-long absence from these shores, BritWres fans are always happy to accommodate the Villain.
Marty was on truly villainous form, pressing RUSH’s buttons early on by continually flipping him off to the point where the usually Tranquilo leader of Los Ingobernables lost his cool and chased Marty halfway up the entrance way.
After I had a short exchange with Marty, expressing that I’ve missed him (“I’ve missed you too, sunshine”, he responded) the match got underway.
Marty and Flip are a great tag team. Flip’s heel turn has done him the world of good and his new menacing, brooding Mercenary persona really suits him. Only using high flying moves sparingly just draws further attention to his speed and skill on the mat. Meanwhile, Marty’s work rate has also seen him go from strength to strength. His in-ring character work as a fan favourite but kind of a heel too is unmatched – he walks a line but walks it incredibly deftly.
Jeff Cobb is so impressive. His pure power remains unmatched and his match against RUSH in Bolton will be a must-see. RUSH’s speed and athleticism make him one of the most exciting all wrestlers in the world today. There’s not really much more to say about this match other than go and watch it.
Having Jeff Cobb stealing the pinfall over Flip from RUSH was a great piece of storytelling that sets up an interesting night in Newport on the next stop of the tour for this unlikely team and serves to build more fire between RUSH and Cobb ahead of their collision in Bolton on Sunday.
Overall, this was a great event but with a slightly smaller crowd than I would have expected for such a great card and I would highly recommend seeking this out on Honor Club for a watch. It strikes me that Ring of Honor still have the potential, even in a crowded marketplace, to stand out from the competition given the depth of talent on their roster. Let’s hope that this tour will help to showcase this amazing brand with its incredible pedigree of performers.
All images courtesy of Ring of Honor/James Musselwhite