This Friday Ring of Honor Wrestling returns to pay-per-view for the first time in 2023, and with it comes one of ROH's most hallowed traditions: SUPERCARD OF HONOR! Nearly every year since 2006, Ring of Honor has presented this showcase of the greatest pound-for-pound professional wrestling on the planet, and 2023 will be no different! During one of professional wrestling's most important weekends, ROH is coming to Los Angeles and the Galen Center, home of the USC Trojans, to once again show the world why ROH is the most influential professional wrestling organization of this generation!
After watching events unfold over the last five weeks of ROH ON HONOR CLUB, we head into LA with multiple championships at stake, including the crowning of new ROH World Tag Team Champions with the Reach for The Sky Ladder Match being held in honor of Jay Briscoe! Plus, Claudio Castagnoli will put the ROH World Championship on the line against Eddie Kingston while his Blackpool Combat Club ally Wheeler Yuta will risk his Pure Championship against the much-feared Katsuyori Shibata! ROH Women's World Champion Athena will put her title on the line against Yuka Sakazaki, Samoa Joe will renew an old rivalry when Mark Briscoe challenges him for the ROH World Television Champion, the ROH World Six Man Titles will be at stake, and El Hijo del Vikingo puts the AAA Mega Championship on the line against Komander!
The action goes down on Friday afternoon, March 31st, starting at 4pm PT/7pm ET, and if you can't be there live, don't you worry, don't you fret, because it will all be available on Bleacher Report and FITE+, with the ZERO HOUR absolutely free on on FITE and at the official ROH YouTube Channel!
ROH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP...
Claudio Castagnoli(c) vs. Eddie Kingston
The story of Claudio Castagnoli and Eddie Kingston dates back nearly two decades, to the earliest days of their wrestling careers, and their first time sharing the ring in front of an audience taking place in Evansville, IN in October 2004. From that point forward, the two men spent time training together, fighting each other, even fighting together, and actually living together for an extended period of time at their “Wrestle House” in Pennsylvania. Their first singles match on record took place in Detroit of all places, back in January 2006, but it would be far from their last. All told, Kingston and Castagnoli went head-to-head on eleven occasions across five different wrestling promotions, with the final clash taking place on March 13, 2011, and the record is heavily in favor of Claudio at 9-2.
They fought in a Respect Match where Eddie should have told Claudio he respected him after the loss, but instead told Castagnoli he did not respect him prior to leveling him with a spinning backfist. Eddie's words to the unconscious Claudio as he left the ring that night were “I know you”, and later that night Double C would actually betray the entire promotion they were working for at the time, proving Kingston's words to be true.
Their last one-on-one bout actually ended with Claudio defeating Eddie with a chain-assisted European Uppercut, and then proceeding to whip him with a belt. Kingston never had the opportunity to even that score, so when Claudio arrived in All Elite Wrestling as the newest member of The Blackpool Combat Club, and thus immediate ally of Kingston's in the Blood & Guts II Cage Match, it didn't not sit well with “The Mad King”.
Reluctantly, as a promise to Mox, Eddie played nice with Claudio throughout this entire scenario, despite his disappointment with the end result of Blood & Guts where Castagnoli got the win for their team rather than Kingston. Still, Eddie kept his word to Mox during their mutual tenure in AEW and left Claudio to his own devices despite his personal disdain for the 2-Time ROH World Champion.
But this isn't All Elite Wrestling...this is Ring of Honor, and as such the promise to Jon Moxley no longer means anything. Kingston is free, free of obligation to anyone other than himself and his own desires, and what he desires is the ROH World Championship held by Castagnoli. Now Claudio may feel Kingston is a dishonorable man, or at least not the type of honor Castagnoli recognizes, but it's not the first opportunity Eddie has had to represent ROH as champion. Over a decade ago, when the ROH World Championship was held by Kevin Steen, Kingston faced the champ at BOILING POINT 2012 but came up short after nearly 20 minutes of fight.
This Friday, at SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023, it's as if all the disparate paths Kingston and Castagnoli have walked are converging once again, but now there is a prestigious singles championship at stake for the very first time. All the animosity, all the bitter history, it's all coming to a head in Los Angeles with the ROH World Championship at stake, and after Claudio's comments about Kingston always giving up when the road gets too hard, along with the two decades of personal history, there is a great deal of personal stake as well.
“REACH FOR THE SKY” ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP LADDER MATCH...
The Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero Miedo & Rey Fenix) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) vs. LFI (Dralistico & Rush) vs. Top Flight (Dante & Darius Martin)
vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)
At FINAL BATTLE 2022, Jay and Mark Briscoe continued to make history as they defeated FTR in an epic Double Dog Collar Match to become 13-Time ROH World Tag Team Champions. Unfortunately, Jay's life was tragically cut short by an automobile accident on January 17, just days before his 39th birthday, and the wrestling world lost, not only one of its most beloved figures, but also one of its most talented competitors.
Remarkably, with a strength that comes from his family and faith, Mark Briscoe elected to stay in the game, and has been on a remarkable roll ever since he and Jay Lethal paid tribute to Jamin in an extremely emotional contest on the January 25th edition of AEW DYNAMITE. But that roll has been in solo competition, although Mark has still been recognized as one-half of the World Tag Team Champions, but it wasn't until just recently that Mark himself made a decision about the future of the championship.
As seen in the video from AEW RAMPAGE embedded above, effective March 31st Mark Briscoe will vacate the ROH World Tag Team Championship and in a match dubbed the “Reach For The Sky Ladder Match”, a new championship team will be crowned! Mark himself picked The Lucha Brothers as the first time to be entered into the fray, and on the March 23rd edition of ROH ON HONOR CLUB we found out who else would fill the field!
Former 2-Time ROH World Tag Team Champions The Kingdom will take part in this Ladder affair, but so too will their recently earned enemies in Top Flight! Plus, the LFI duo of Rush and Dralistico will be involved in the fight, attempting to claim their first ROH World Tag Team Championship, as will the unbeaten duo of Aussie Open, who've looked extremely impressive in their ROH victories over Rhett Titus/Tracy Williams and Christopher Daniels/Matt Sydal.
Obviously there is plenty of tension between Top Flight and The Kingdom heading into this one, especially after Taven's recent victory over Darius Martin, but they can't just be focused on each other if either team hopes to become the 65th champions. LFI has proven extremely dangerous in their two ROH ON HONOR CLUB bouts, as have Aussie Open, and for the Lucha Bros, well this marks their debut in ROH, and what a way to make that first impression it would be to add the ROH World Tag Team Championship to their trophy case. Penta and Fenix are quite adept at Ladder Matches, just check out their Escalera de la Muerte fight at AEW's ALL OUT 2019 with The Young Bucks to see, and that experience may have swung the advantage in this environment into their corner, but Aussie Open also has their share of Ladder Match experience during Kyle and Mark's time as a team.
But as for The Kingdom, Top Flight, and this LFI pair, there's not one Ladder match between the teams; individually there may be a few Ladder match situations, Matt Taven won the ROH World Championship in Madison Square Garden in a Ladder Match for example, but as teams, none of those three have competed in this environment. Will that be the deciding factor in this tribute to Jay Briscoe set to crown new ROH World Tag Team Champions? On top of that, Thursday night during ROH ON HONOR CLUB, the quartet of The Kingdom and LFI beat The Lucha Bros and Top Flight in an eight-man tag, putting some momentum in their court as this historic match draws near!
ROH WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP...
Samoa Joe(c) vs. Mark Briscoe
It has been 19 years, and a few months, since the very first time that Mark Briscoe went one-on-one with Samoa Joe at FINAL BATTLE 2003, and it has been 16 years and change since their last head-to-head at CHICAGO SPECTACULAR: NIGHT 2 on 12/9/06, and what both of those had in common was Joe defeating Mark. Now there were been plenty of other encounters between the two men in tag and trios situations, and even an instance where they stood on the same side of the ring, but those two singles encounters definitively swung in Joe's favor, especially that ROH World Championship fight in December 2003.
But that was a long time ago, in a time when The Briscoes were primarily tag team competitors, but in the years since, Mark, just as his brother Jay did, ventured into the singles division, and for him it was all about pursuit of the ROH World Television Championship. The first time he challenged for the championship was against Eddie Edwards on the 89th episode of ROH ON HDNET back on January 3, 2011, but it would not be the last. He challenged Christopher Daniels, Matt Taven, Jay Lethal twice, Bobby Fish, and Kenny King. 25 different ROH World Television Champions, Mark has challenged six of them, in seven different matches, and that says nothing for the #1 Contender situations in which he has competed.
The ROH World Television Championship has been Mark's individual goal since it was first introduced in March 2010, but sadly it has been one that has eluded him all these years. But it seems rather appropriate that Mark's next shot at the championship be fighting the man against whom he had his first-ever singles championship match in Ring of Honor: Samoa Joe.
Joe enters into this match as one of ROH's Triple Crown Champions, a man who has held three separate titles in the company, in his case the ROH World Championship, the ROH Pure Championship, and now the ROH World Television Championship. After defeating Minoru Suzuki back on April 13, 2022, making him the 3rd longest reigning champion in the title's history, Joe has successfully smashed his way through seven different opponents including Juice Robinson, Jay Lethal, Trent Beretta, and most recently Cheeseburger, but now has to contend with someone with whom his career is tied back to its early days. These are men who came up together in ROH's earliest days, who helped mold the company into the most influential one of the last 20 years, and now they are helping to shape the new era of honor.
Will Mark Briscoe finally achieve his dream of becoming ROH World Television champion, or will Joe make it to the one year mark as champion as he aims to make his TV Title reign resemble his record-setting 645 days ROH World Championship one?
ROH WOMEN'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP...
“The Fallen Goddess” Athena(c) vs. “The Magical Girl” Yuka Sakazaki
After successfully defending the championship against Emi Sakura on Thursday night in quite the hard-hitting affair, “The Fallen Goddess” Athena will officially face “The Magical Girl” Yuka Sakazaki this Friday at SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023!
It's a fight weeks in the making, with hostilities rising to the point Athena actually called Yuka out for a match knowing very well that Sakazaki was in Japan at that moment. Well assumed by many to be a sure-thing for this Friday night, Emi Sakura did her level-best to throw a curveball into the best laid plans and take Athena's championship as her own.
Still Athena found a way to survive Sakura's onslaught, and force her to tap out last night in their championship fight during ROH ON HONOR CLUB, but as is par for the course with the ROH Women's World Champ, just winning the match was not enough, and she just had to attack her fallen foe after the bout had concluded. Although Mei Suruga tried her best to stop the attack, she too ended up knocked down and out by Athena, leaving only the arrival of Yuka Sakazaki to stave off the beating. The brawl that erupted from that took an entire crew of referees and staff security to separate, and even after the two competitors were pulled apart, Yuka still tried to come after her SUPERCARD foe.
Well this Friday night there won't be any reason to hold Athena and Yuka apart when they collide live on pay-per-view with the ROH Women's World Championship at stake! But if “The Magical Girl” can't stop the tear that “The Fallen Goddess” has been on since becoming champion, is there anyone else who can?
ROH PURE CHAMPIONSHIP...
Wheeler Yuta(c) vs. Katsuyori Shibata
There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and it is reasonable to say that based on his actions over the last several weeks, ROH Pure Champion Wheeler Yuta is straddling that line. His championship victories over Timothy Thatcher and Clark Connors, as well as his standing as the only 2-Time Pure Champion in history, have fueled this arrogance in Yuta, and his alignment with The Blackpool Combat Club has only served to bolster the defending champion's ego.
Why else would Wheeler Yuta have the audacity to not only run down New Japan's LA Dojo, but also its head trainer, Katsuyori Shibata! Shibata, even during his medically forced retirement, stood as one of the most feared men in professional wrestling over the last 20 years. His relentless physical assaults, the pleasure he took in inflicting punishment upon his foes, the ruthless nature in which he fought, it all added up to make “The Wrestler” one of New Japan Pro Wrestling's most dangerous competitors. One can't help but speculate the levels of greatness he have achieved already if not for his collapse following an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match with Kazuchika Okada in April 2017 and the subsequent discovery of a subdural hematoma that not only required emergency surgery, but effectively brought an end to his wrestling career.
At least that's what everyone thought, everyone except Shibata himself as on October 21, 2021, Shibata stepped into the ring to fight Zack Sabre Jr. in a 5-minute Grappling contest. It wasn't a full-blown pro wrestling match, but it was a start, and three months later, at WRESTLE KINGDOM 16, Shibata would compete against Ren Narita in a full-blown professional wrestling match. It was a triumph for Shibata, just getting back into the ring in the first place, but in this case it was also a victorious return to action for the 3-Time NEVER Openweight Champion.
Though it would be 10 months before Shibata returned to the fights, it would be a match that brought him to All Elite Wrestling for a second time. The first came at FORBIDDEN DOOR 2022 when he arrived to assist Orange Cassidy against Will Ospreay, but this time around it resulted in an All-Atlantic Championship bout between Shibata and Orange Cassidy, a championship match actually won by “Freshly Squeezed”, and perhaps there-in lies the purpose in Yuta's brazen call-out.
See, just about a month ago, Yuta went to war with his former friend for that All-Atlantic Championship and was found wanting, just as Shibata was several months prior. That loss to OC marked a turning point in the attitude of Wheeler Yuta, one that has tilted him towards this increasingly violent, arrogant place in which he currently resides, a place that emboldened Wheeler to make the challenge. Perhaps his ego needs to accomplish the same thing Orange Cassidy once did, perhaps it's about showing the dominance of The BCC in both ROH and AEW, or perhaps it's just about Wheeler Yuta responding to that notion Ian Riccaboni put out weeks ago when he called Yuta the “junior member” of The Blackpool Combat Club.
Yuta needs to prove he's just as worthy of respect as his BCC fellows, needs to prove it by defeating one of the most revered men in the sport, and needs to do it when the eyes of the wrestling world fall on SUPERCARD OF HONOR! That drive to be the best, that need to prove himself the best, it led Yuta to put the title on the line less than 24 hours before this battle, and although he defeated Leon Ruffin, any match takes a toll on the body, and if that tense staredown between Yuta and Shibata after the match is any indication, this one is going to be a very physically taxing one both men involved!
ROH WORLD SIX MAN CHAMPIONSHIP...
The Embassy (Brian Cage, Kaun, & Toa Liona w/ Prince Nana)(c)
AR Fox, Blake Christian, & Metalik
AR Fox, Blake Christian, and Metalik united for the very first time on the March 23rd edition of ROH ON HONOR CLUB, defeating The Trustbusters in trios action, but the victory was rather pyrrhic thanks to Prince Nana's Embassy. See, when the newborn trio first accepted the challenge to face Ari Daivari's crew, they made an off-handed comment about pursuing the ROH World Six Man Championship once they were done with Trustbuster business.
Clearly that did not sit well with Brian Cage, Kaun, and Toa Liona as they assault Fox, Christian, and Metalik following their victory on the 23rd. They heard the words spoken by the group, and this display of violence was their response. If they wanted an opportunity to dethrone the champs, then this it what AR Fox, Blake Christian, and Metalik had to look forward to if and when the six men met inside the squared circle.
As it turned out, they would not have to wait long as AEW/ROH CEO Tony Khan announced just days later that at SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023 the ROH World Six Man Championship would be on the line with The Embassy defending against AR Fox, Blake Christian, and Metalik! It's a huge get for the challengers, this being just their second time out as a unit, but The Embassy isn't going to let any challenge go unanswered, whether they're as experienced a trio as Dalton Castle and The Boys, or as new to this style of competition as their challengers this Friday.
But the fact that the challengers are so new to competing as a unit could swing things in their behavior because there's not tape to game plan for what they bring to the table, there isn't loads of footage to prep for AR Fox, Blake Christian, and Metalik. They are quite unpredictable, that makes them dangerous, and that danger could bear fruit in the crowning of new ROH World Six Man Champions!
AAA MEGA CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH...
El Hijo Del Vikingo(c) vs. Komander
Fans worldwide bore witness to what AAA Mega Champion El Hijo del Vikingo is capable of last week on DYNAMITE when he battled Kenny Omega in one of the most spectacular matches AEW has ever offered on Wednesday night. While the bout did not go the way of Vikingo, it earned the man a well-deserved ovation from the AEW faithful in attendance, and drew plenty of eyeballs to the television screen to see just what this man had to offer.
Komander, Vikingo's foe this coming Friday, also made his AEW debut quite recently, as part of the Face of the Revolution Ladder Match on March 1st to be exact, and while it was a wild situation in which to make his first AEW appearance, it only gave fans a small glimpse into what this man is capable of doing.
That is why this contest taking place at SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023 is such an intriguing addition to the stacked pay-per-view event! It features to of Lucha Libre's finest athletes, competing against each other for the first time, and for a championship that Vikingo has held for over 480 days! He's defended the Mega Championship on eight instances after defeating four other men to claim it, and those challenges have come from as varied foes as Rey Fenix, John Hennigan, Laredo Kid, and Bandido. It should also be noted that immediately following that bout with Kenny, Vikingo returned to AAA two days later for a Trios contest, and then competed for Warrior Wrestling the very next day in Grand Rapids, MI! He's a busy man who never stops competing, but the same could be said for his upcoming foe.
See Komander, since his AEW debut, well he's traveled to Germany for wXw's three night 16 Karat Gold Tournament, then headed to Japan to compete on an All Japan Pro Wrestling event as well as a GLEAT show, all before returning back to Mexico for AAA and an Invasion Indy bout. Suffice to say, Komander has been just as busy as the defending Mega Champion, and though they may be hurting from their experiences, neither man is going to hold back come Friday at SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023!
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Daniel Garcia
The last time Hiroshi Tanahashi competed inside a ROH ring was April 6, 2019 when they, along with New Japan Pro Wrestling, presented the G1 SUPERCARD from Madison Square Garden. That night, “The Ace” challenged Zack Sabre Jr. for the RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship, but unfortunately for him, it would not be a title added to his already impressive trophy case.
While that may have been the last time in Ring of Honor for Tanahashi, it was far from the only; the man has challenged for the ROH World Tag Team Titles, he's attempted to claim the ROH World Six Man Championship, he's taking a shot at the ROH World Television Title, and even tried to become the ROH World Champion in 2016 during Adam Cole's reign.
And now it is the challenge of a former ROH Pure Champion that brings Hiroshi Tanahashi back to Ring of Honor this Friday night for SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023! Daniel Garcia issued the challenge on Wednesday night, and it was promptly answered by the multi-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Coming off a loss to the returning Adam Cole during DYNAMITE, “Red Death” is looking to rebound in the biggest way, and toppling Tanahashi in his match would be the ultimate return to form for Garcia. This is a man who has beaten “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson, Brody King, and Ricky Starks, he's been learning under the tree of Chris Jericho for months now, “The Ocho” being a man who beat Tanahashi back in January 2020 at WRESTLE KINGDOM 14.
But will all that experience Garcia has amassed since coming into AEW, particularly since joining The J.A.S., be enough to conquer “The Ace of New Japan”?
SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2023 comes your way on Friday, March 31st, beginning at 4pm PT/7pm ET, and if you can't be there live, don't you worry, don't you fret, because it will all be available on Bleacher Report and FITE+, with the ZERO HOUR absolutely free on on FITE and at the official ROH YouTube Channel!