Ring of Honor has almost two decades of quality matches in its library, and a whole host of them are available to you for free.
In these uncertain times, there isn’t too much in the way of fresh wrestling to sink your teeth into. You could opt to watch the WWE’s weekly offerings, but equally, you could choose to yank your teeth out for the same effect. MLW is still able to pump out great shows each week thanks to their back catalogue of taped material, but they are only an hour so don’t quite scratch that itch for long enough. Enter Ring of Honor.
The name once synonymous with quality may not be giving anything new whilst COVID-19 continues to force the world indoors, but they have you covered with a huge number of excellent matches on their YouTube channel.
It may not be brand new stuff, but these are classic matches in front of a live crowd. Chances are that you haven’t seen a lot of them either.
For instance, it’s unlikely that too many fans have watched Bryan Danielson and Samoa Joe vs. KENTA and Naomichi Marufuji.
Just from the title of the contest, you’re likely able to imagine the level of skill of display from these four strong style aficionados. Danielson and Joe are a dream team that combines raw power with cunning and technical ability. Their opponents are two of Japan’s finest who will light any opponent up with blistering kicks. It makes for one hell of a hard-hitting affair from bell to bell.
The reason for its inclusion here is that mainstream western audiences are likely not overly familiar with Marufuji. He was never a big name in this part of the world and so in watching him perform you’re going to be treated to something fresh. Seeing how well he works alongside these three greats just proves that he deserves to be held in the same regard.
Tag Team wrestling is often forgotten in WWE, but it was always alive and well in ROH. This match is a shining example of that.
Another fine example of that is the Tag Team Triple Threat between The Young Bucks, The Addiction, and MCMG.
The beauty of this match is that the veteran presence of Daniels and Kazarian is able to temper some of the Bucks more idiotic indy trappings. There’s still a Superkick Party and the appearance of a Kenny Omega themed broom, but logic is inserted by the much savvier ring generals to balance things out.
What you end up getting is a frenetically paced contest between three of the best teams around. The Machine Guns can match Nick and Matt move for move, whilst also mixing it up with the more technically minded Addiction – they serve as a much-needed lynchpin to the action.
It’s a showcase of what each team is all about. Even if you’re not a Bucks fan you should still watch this as you’re going to get a kick out of the ending.
If it was a blend of styles that made the last match good, then it’s what made this next one great.
Will Ospreay vs. Jay White was a match where two very distinct athletes waged war and you could believe every second of it.
Even before the bell rang the visual disparity between the two told a story all of its own. Will had yet to bulk up to his current frame and so he was made to look like a mere teenager by the sculpted physique of the New Zealander.
Once the action got underway it was a story of Will using his insane athleticism to try to combat the brutality of the larger White. You don’t see the unwarranted number of dives that often feature in Will’s matches as White keeps him grounded and applies pressure throughout. What that means is that when he does to take the air it has far more of an impact on the fans.
Neither man had attained the accolades that they would go on to achieve, but this match leaves no doubt that they were well on their way to that point. It’s an enthralling 15 minutes that deserves to be appreciated.
That idea of a fight seeming more realistic carries over into the Two-Out-Of-Three Falls Match between Bryan Danielson and Paul London.
This is one from the early days of ROH and after watching it you should be left with no doubt as to why they rose to such prominence within the industry.
Those of you who have only seen London in WWE may not realise just how gifted of a performer he is outside of the daredevil offence he employed during his run there. In this match, he engages the American Dragon in a technical masterclass that starts off slow and builds gradually until it’s an all-out slugfest with both men hitting big moves in a desperate attempt to keep the other man down.
Despite the 40 minute run time, the match never feels like it’s lagging. They both know how to keep their audience engaged with clever switches in pace and style. You can believe both men are battling for supremacy as they are physically worn down by one another.
Danielson is perhaps ROH’s best wrestler of all time, but maybe Paul London should enter into the conversation after seeing what he can do.
Just to make sure you get your Danielson fill, here’s one more match of his that personifies what ROH is all about. Chris Hero vs. Bryan Danielson for the ROH World Championship.
The story to this one is classic wrestling heat at its finest. Hero was a CZW standout and pretty much flew against everything that early ROH was all about. Despite that, he was and still is an incredible wrestler who could match Danielson move for move. So Hero took to disparaging ROH before challenging for their top title.
The fans reacted as a good audience should and rained down the hate over Hero throughout this match. There was no cool guy heel cheering going on, this was straight up contempt from the Philly faithful.
Hero adds to that by taking his time to get things going, slipping outside the ring and getting in the faces of various crowd members. Once he does re-enter the ring, you’re in for a real treat. It’s a hard-hitting outing with both men displaying their technical and brawling prowess.
At the time it may have come as a surprise for ROH fans to see that Hero was actually THAT good. Of course, everyone knows that these days so the reason to watch it is to get a healthy dose of a match that WWE didn’t deliver.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @Impers0nalJesus. Thanks for reading!