• ROH World Title Tournament Preview

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    When reading about Ring of Honor quitting on live iPPVs, Jay Briscoe leaving and a new champion not being crowned until late September, it felt as if ROH was on a major downswing. The long tournament seemed like a terrible idea under the assumption it would just be the normal guys on the roster. However, with the names being announced, my stance changed drastically.

    The combination of the influx of new guys, returning talent and many members of the current roster having something important to prove has gotten me really excited to see how this tournament unfolds.

    Let’s take a look at all of the participants and their chances of winning, what they have to prove and what overall fun each provides:

    Michael Elgin:

    Easily the favorite. Winning a big tournament, defeating some bigger names and having awesome matches gives him the best road to the title. Personally I thought it would have been a bad call to go with him beating Jay for the title as I couldn’t see that creating a bigĀ  enough moment for the title change. This tournament gives an opportunity to add what that outcome would have lacked.

    If I’m predicting, I definitely go with the chalk and expect Elgin to win. Even if he doesn’t, he always has great matches with great wrestlers and that won’t change.

    Brian Kendrick:

    This announcement changed my tune regarding the ROH title situation. People forget or sleep on current day Kendrick. Thinking back to a few years ago, I consider his TNA run from winning the X Division title to feuding with Austin Aries as his best work in wrestling. Even before signing with TNA for that run, he had one return ROH match with Roderick Strong that I considered one of Strong’s most fun ROH matches in the last few years.

    Needless to say, I am quite excited to see what he can do here. The title isn’t in the cards for Kendrick but hopefully a full time return is.

    Karl Anderson:

    Machine Gun Karl Anderson has been on fire in NJPW last few years. When Giant Bernard/Albert/A-Train/Tensai/Tons of Funk/Hip Hop Hippo went to WWE, the estimated guesses were Tensai would do well in WWE, as the better of the two. Anderson wasn’t as highly regarded as Bernard so his role was up in the air. He got a chance and ran with it having fantastic matches, my two personal favorites vs Okada in 2012 and Tanahashi in 2013.

    Seeing him at Supercard of Honor in April was really cool and very happy he’s back for at least one more match. No shot he wins but at least we get to see him again.

    Kevin Steen:

    Obviously the most loved wrestler in ROH at the moment. I view him to be in the position (Daniel) Bryan Danielson was in around his last few years in Ring of Honor. Wouldn’t be a surprise if he won the tournament but unlikely. The whole “over to a point where he doesn’t need the belt” logic is apropos in ROH considering no one has ever been champion more than once with the exception of Austin Aries who was basically a different wrestler years later when he won the title for the second time.

    I do expect Steen to go a few rounds deep given he’s likely the wrestler with the highest mix of reliability and fan interest, although it would be interesting if he went out early in an upset. (Shades of Ricochet defeating him in BoLA 2012.)

    Paul London:

    Wrestling on Earth’s sentimental favorite. Paul London is probably my favorite person in wrestling. Many were skeptical of London’s in ring work after he took a step back from the indy wrestling spotlight for a few years. After seeing London a few times in FWE, I realized he still had the goods but never expected he’d return to PWG or ROH. He got a chance back in both and delivered so many have caught on and welcomed him back into their hearts and (lone star state of) minds.

    I expect another very strong and fun performance by London. Same story as Kendrick. Not winning but PLEASE HAVE LONDON AT THE NYC SHOW IN AUGUST, ROH!

    Roderick Strong:

    For the tournament to have any credibility, Strong had to be in it. I don’t really have many thoughts on his current role in Ring of Honor. It’s a bit difficult to keep an interest or appreciation for someone you’ve seen for so long.

    The back (breaking) bone of ROH should have a very interesting match with Taven. After it ends, I hope he starts tag teaming again with a new or old partner.

    Adam Cole:

    The reigning and defending “Sexy Wrestler of the Month/Week/Day/Hour/Second” has a great chance at winning. One good thing to come out of the SCUM era was Cole’s standing with the fans being on the fence. He hasn’t officially turned heel but he definitely he is no longer a face. After winning the title, it would be a peak time to give us the full fledged evil Cole.

    I’d say Adam Win Win is my realistic hope to win the title. Seeing some of his work in other promotions, I don’t think Adam Cole has scratched the surface of what he can do in ROH and doing so while capturing the title would be something special.

    Sonjay Dutt:

    This addition also made me very happy. Aside from a familiar face returning and adding to the unique nature of this tournament, Sonjay has become very underrated. His short stint back in TNA provided some very fun matches, namely vs. Rubix/Jigsaw. At some of the local FWE shows I’ve attended, he has had quite a few entertaining matches vs. some younger guys who haven’t been around the indy wrestling block.

    I’d expect a strong showing from Sonjay and at least one fun match vs. Jay Lethal. When announced, I was hoping for this match-up and I’m glad my wish was granted. Very slight chance he wins that match but down the road, I would love to see Dutt and Lethal face reDRagon and the Young Bucks on future ROH shows.

    BJ Whitmer:

    You’d expect Whitmer to be an early exit but I’m not sure about that. Providing the appeal of a veteran who has given his all to ROH, there’s a ready made story for a Cinderella type deal where he wins a few matches before falling short.

    Ultimately, I expect a loss but the tiebreaker match in his series vs Mike Bennett should be fun.

    Tomasso Ciampa:

    One of the most intriguing guys in it. I’ll be honest. I disliked Ciampa during his early ROH days and didn’t understand his appeal until his feud with Jay Lethal. But his return has been done amazingly. From his online video promos to his overall approach during his time off, you can sense how driven and passionate he was about making a spot in ROH his to own when returning. The iPPV surprise return in Canada was one of the coolest things ROH has done and his matches with Elgin and Rhino has made him look so legit.

    I’ve gone from not liking Ciampa to flat out rooting for him to win the ROH title. Regardless of who wins, I think Ciampa will be the wrestler who shines brightest in this tournament. My forecast sees him falling short to Cole or Elgin in the semi finals or even the finals.

    Jay Lethal:

    Someone I wish had more of a structured role in ROH. Lethal excels in many different forms so I understand not pigeonholing him into a specific role but I would like to see him have a feud or an alliance or just a purpose other than wrestling good matches. During his feud with Steen, his goal was the ROH title and it ended in a really good match.

    Since then, he’s had some great matches facing or teaming with Elgin and recently debuted the Black Machismo but if it happens at Night of Hoopla, it stays at Night of Hoopla. Maybe he goes deep in the tourney but I see a second round exit.

    Michael Bennett:

    Listening to a Bennett interview last month, he said some very interesting things. Mainly that he was ready to showcase a new side of himself to Ring of Honor and has been making comments about the Prodigy Era ending. I’m very interested to see how that comes into play for the tournament match or matches.

    Showed a little in the last week of shows before the tournament being referred to as Michael Bennett now, I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw and look forward to seeing how it continues. Of the second round matches, Bennett vs. Tomasso Ciampa would be my most anticipated, realistic showdown.

    Adam Page/Silas Young winner:

    Educated guess says Page wins since he just signed a ROH contract and is younger. These two had a fantastic short television match that apparently got Page his ROH contract. Silas had a fantastic weekend of shows going into the tournament.

    A strong showing vs. Ciampa before falling short would do wonders for Page going forward. I expect that to happen.

    ACH:

    Dominating a fan poll for this spot, ACH gets a big spot facing Karl Anderson. I don’t expect him to win but it’s really cool to see him get in the tournament.

    Perhaps the most impressive performance at Supercard of Honor, ACH had the crowd in his hands with every move. I look forward to seeing his future in ROH and this match could be a stepping stone.

    Matt Taven:

    The tournament spot is massive for Taven. Not having many memorable matches since becoming TV champ, he had some really fun multi-person matches and picked up a win vs. Steen last weekend.

    I am looking forward to seeing how he does in a big singles spot vs. Roderick Strong. One of the first round matches most interesting to me. I expect him to win before losing a rematch vs. Steen in the second round.

    Mark Briscoe:

    One and done. The Milwaukee Bucks of the tournament.

    Fun fact: Most of this was written before I was made aware of the tournament brackets. With the brackets existing, we can now do PREDICTIONS YAY!

    First round:

    Cole over Briscoe. Lethal over Dutt. Ciampa over Page. Bennett over Whitmer.
    Anderson over ACH. Elgin over London. Taven over Strong. Steen over Kendrick.

    Second round:

    Cole over Lethal. Ciampa over Bennett. Elgin over Anderson. Steen over Taven.

    Semi Finals:

    Cole over Ciampa. Elgin over Steen.

    Finals:

    Michael Elgin over Adam Cole to become the new ROH champion.

    Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter: @typicalROHfan

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