The premiere edition of ROH ON HONOR CLUB ended in shocking fashion when “The Mad King” Eddie Kingston returned to Ring of Honor television for the first time since May 2014 and made a beeline for ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli. There is no love lost between these two men, something Kingston made quite clear when Castagnoli was brought into The Blackpool Combat Club last June and Eddie had to team with him in BLOOD & GUTS II, but it's a hate that dates back nearly two decades to the infancy of each man's wrestling career. Claudio clearly had no interest in accepting Eddie's challenge, walking away from “The Mad King” without a spoken answer, but knowing Kingston, especially now that he's apparently walked away from AEW, there's no chance he's letting this challenge just fade out.
And while that moment may have been a shocker, it would be a disservice to not mention the amazing effort AR Fox put forth in trying to claim the ROH World Championship from Claudio, coming close on multiple occasions to pulling the upset of his lengthy career! And Fox wasn't the only one on the verge of an upset; Blake Christian nearly pulled one off as well in his NJPW World Television Title fight with Zack Sabre Jr earlier in the night. Plus we witnessed Mark Briscoe open the new era of honor with a victory over Slim J, Willow Nightingale challenge Athena to a ROH Women's World Championship Match, and Wheeler Yuta see his Pure Championship invitiation answered by the vicious Timothy Thatcher!
This week there will be THREE championship matches going down with the Women's, Pure, and Television Titles all at stake, as well as the return of former ROH World Tag Champions Rhett Titus and Tracy Williams as they take on Aussie Open! Plus Eddie Kingston will be in action, LFI is back in ROH taking on The Spanish Announce Project, and former World Six Man Champions Dalton Castle and his Boys are back in the house!
The premiere episode of ROH ON HONOR CLUB showcased just why Ring of Honor has endured for more than two decades, and why it was the most influential professional wrestling company of the last twenty years. With this new era of honor, ROH will continue to demonstrate each and every week how it is the home for pure professional wrestling at its finest, and it takes place this and every Thursday night beginning at 7pm ET/6pm CT exclusively on Honor Club!
ROH WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP Samoa Joe(c) vs. Tony Deppen
In October 2nd of 2020, Tony Deppen made his debut for Ring of Honor Wrestling, taking part in the tournament to crown a new Pure Champion as the title was reinstated 14 years after its unification with the ROH World Championship. Unfortunately for Deppen, he was knocked out of contention in the first round by PJ Black, but left a lasting enough impression that just two months later, he earned his way into a ROH World TV Championship opportunity at FINAL BATTLE 2020. While Deppen failed to dethrone Dragon Lee that night, it made him hungry for success in Ring of Honor, and actually led him into a faction known as VLNCE ULTD alongside Brody King and ROH Legend, former World Champion, “The Notorious 187” Homicide.
That proved to be the key ingredient as just a month after their formation, Deppen defeated The Foundation's Tracy Williams to become the 25th Television Champion, holding the title for 72 days before Dragon Lee reclaimed it. Deppen's tenure in ROH would last until FINAL BATTLE 2021: END OF AN ERA, and he would participate in several memorable bouts, including a World Six Man Championship fight against Shane Taylor Promotions, a wild Street Fight at GLORY BY HONOR 2021, and a tremendous eight-man tag at that aforementioned FINAL BATTLE event.
Deppen would appear on the DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR 2022: ZERO HOUR in a Six Man bout against The Embassy, but it was his presence at FINAL BATTLE 2022 that raised some eyebrows. That night Deppen appeared not as a competitor in a match, but rather a spectator whose attention was fixed on the ROH World Television Title match between Samoa Joe and Juice Robinson. Without saying a word, the intent was clear: Tony Deppen had designs on reclaiming the championship he'd lost many months before.
Well this Thursday night during ROH ON HONOR CLUB's loaded second episode, Deppen will have his chance when he squares off with ROH Legend, the longest reigning World Champion in company history, and Triple Crown Winner (World/Pure/TV), the incomparable Samoa Joe! What a beginning to ROH ON HONOR CLUB it would be to see Deppen rise up and knock down Joe this early in the programs run, and just weeks before SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023 (https://www.rohwrestling.com/live/events/supercard-honor-2023) goes down in Los Angeles!
ROH PURE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH Wheeler Yuta(c) vs. Timothy Thatcher
Wheeler Yuta put out the call last week for a worthy challenger to step up this week and try to end his ROH Pure Championship reign, but it is highly unlikely he expected Timothy Thatcher to be in the zone that night, much less be the man to answer the call!
As was witnessed on DYNAMITE when Thatcher brutalized Yuta's BCC mate Bryan Danielson, this is a man who relishes in violence and delights in inflicting pain on his foes, and not just the pain necessary to secure victory, but rather above the call of duty simply to hear an opponent break. Thatcher answering Yuta's call marked the man's debut appearance for Ring of Honor, and thus this Thursday will mark his first-ever match, but it is not the first outing for Yuta and Thatcher as foes.
In August 2022, just after Thatcher's first tour of Pro Wrestling NOAH, the two men would meet at the White Eagle for Beyond's AMERICANRANA 2022: BLACKOUT event, and after fifteen minutes of combat, it would be Yuta who defeated the then-GHC Tag Team Champion. Thatcher would return to NOAH following that battle only to lose the GHC Tag Team Titles, as well as unsuccessfully challenge for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. His return to the States led to that collision with Danielson, followed by a brief return to NOAH to participate in the KEIJI MUTO GRAND FINAL PRO-WRESTLING LAST LOVE HOLD OUT event.
Now he's back from NOAH, a promotion with whom ROH had a tremendous working relationship with for several years, for this first-ever bout under the Ring of Honor banner, and he's aiming to end this second Pure Championship reign of Wheeler Yuta! As the only two-time Pure Champion in the title's history, Wheeler Yuta is already a part of ROH history, but he wants to go down as the greatest Pure Champ in history as well, he wants to surpass men like Nigel McGuinness and Samoa Joe, arguably the two greatest to ever hold and defend the title, and be the name most associated with said title.
In addition, as can be heard in Yuta's response to Ian Riccaboni calling him the “junior member of the Blackpool Combat Club”, there is certainly a level of needing to prove just how wrong that label is, of how he's every bit as world class as the men he associates with, otherwise he would not be standing with the BCC letters emblazoned on his soul.
Yuta is in for a tremendous fight in this second defense of his second reign, can he have the same success against Thatcher that his BCC partner did several weeks back? Or will Thatcher take the Pure Championship back to NOAH and defend it as McGuinness and Takeshi Morishima did with the ROH World Championship many years back?
ROH WOMEN'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH Athena(c) vs. Willow Nightingale
One would be hard-pressed to find a woman on a hotter streak than ROH Women's World Champion Athena. Between AEW, ROH, and a ROH Women's Championship defense against Miyu Yamashita from Prestige Wrestling's VENDETTA show on IWTV, Athena has won more than 25 consecutive matches! With 90 days as champion, four successful defenses under her belt, and numerous victories in Eliminator/Proving Ground matches, it is getting to the point where one has to wonder if there's any women in ROH or AEW capable of putting a stop to this roll?
Well, Willow Nightingale is going to step up and try! With victories in Ring of Honor over Allysin Kay and Trish Adora on 2022 pay-per-view events, as well as last week's over Lady Frost, Nightingale feels ready to challenge the women she once called an ally in All Elite Wrestling! Willow will absolutely have the fan support in this one; with that infectious smile, bubbly personality, and most importantly, hard-hitting style in the ring, it's hard not to rally behind Willow even if she's facing another fan favorite combatant. And when it's someone like “The Fallen Goddess” who has earned the ire of the ROH and AEW faithful, there's no question who the people are rooting for on Thursday night!
But if Willow can't stop the rampage of Athena, just who can?
PLUS: Eddie Kingston in action! Dalton Castle & The Boys in action!! Rhett Titus & Tracy Williams vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) Trish Adora vs. Billie Starkz The TrustBusters (Ari Daivari & Slim J) vs. Jake Crist & Man Scout LFI (Dralistico & Rush) vs. Spanish Announce Project (Angelico & Serpentico)
With three championship matches, ROH ON HONOR CLUB's second episode is as loaded as it gets! Who will step up and stake their championship claim as ROH looks towards SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023 on March 31st? Will Kingston get the championship shot he's demanding? The only way to watch is to sign up for Honor Club, but it isn't just the home for all-new Ring of Honor, it's also the place to peruse twenty years worth of history from the most influential professional wrestling promotion of this generation, including the new “This Week in ROH History” playlist, the BRYAN DANIELSON: WORLD CHAMPION compilation spotlighting his reign as ROH World Champion, and a rich event archive dating back to THE ERA OF HONOR BEGINS!