Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ring of Honor's Vegas Return Features A Double and a Joshi Icon

Aries is coming back to his first home company
Photo Credit: Lee South/ImpactWrestling.com
The sucking void in the "next promotion down" level from WWE left by TNA's crapulent freefall has seemingly been met by Ring of Honor in the last year or so. It continued to build upon its relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling, got a wider release on its weekly television show, and arguably has a foothold to where it can be the top dog in the space below WWE's market reach. That status was reaffirmed with two big announcements for the company's return to Las Vegas on July 17 at the Sam's Town Hotel and Gambling Hall.

The first announcement features a seeming answer to a criticism that ROH has had for awhile. ODB will take to the ring in a match that won't see her as a prop to advance a story between her running buddies the Briscoes and their nemeses the Kingdom. In fact, she will be battling a veritable joshi legend, Nanae Takahashi. The visiting emissary got her start in the legendary All-Japan Women's dojo and wrestled for the iconic women's wrestling company until 2001. She's wrestled everyone she could, and now, she'll hopefully prove along with ODB that women's wrestling isn't to be some sideshow or exhibition. Hell, maybe they'll do so well that Veda Scott and Maria Kanellis will get some extra reps in the ring along with other women who have dabbled with ROH in the last couple of years.

The second announcement is a return by the first wrestler to have held the ROH World Championship two times. Austin Aries will go right from the TNA whirlpool back into the ROH pool in Vegas, and apparently, he'll be bringing Thea Trinidad (fka Rosita) with him. Aries was the bridge between Samoa Joe and CM Punk with his first reign, and his second reign saw him tantalize Tyler Black for way too long before dropping the strap to him in early 2010. He left for TNA, where he was a big deal for a little while, ruling the roost in the X-Division and winning the World Championship.

Of course, Aries ran into a lot of trouble while there, cornering then-ring announcer Christy Hemme after she messed up his name. A lot of bloom came off his rose at that point. Still, he's an able performer, and it's not like ROH shies away from controversial performers. I mean, Jay Briscoe still works there after threatening to shoot anyone who told his kids gay marriage was okay. I'm not passing judgment good or bad on whether or not those types should be working for a nationally televised company, but it's out there in the open.

Anyway, ROH is gearing up to have one heck of a summer. The card for the Vegas show otherwise looks pretty hype without Takahashi and Aries. The main event is a "Vegas Wild Card" trios match featuring Jay Lethal and his two next logical contenders, Roderick Strong and Moose, on the same team. They'll be taking on Jay Briscoe, Dalton Castle, and Kyle O'Reilly. I'm not sure how that match is going to play out in the ring, but I expect a ton of story development to go down, especially on the new Champ's team. Plus, the Party Peacock gets to spread his feathers in the main event. That's a win from where I sit.

The match of the night, however, may just be junior heavyweight tag team madness as RPG Vice, featuring (Trent?) Berretta and Rocky Romero, will do battle with the Young Bucks. New Japan Pro Wrestling tends to spam its junior heavy tag matches, which means these teams have met and will meet a bunch over across the Pacific. But still, it's match I would get super excited for to see stateside. Also, a tournament to decide the number one contender to the Television Championship will get underway. The first round matches happening in Vegas will be Mark Briscoe vs. Christopher Daniels, Matt Taven vs. Bobby Fish, and Frankie Kazarian vs. ACH. Overall, even with only part of the show revealed, this Vegas show looks pretty hot.