ROH’s weekly television product is finally coming back.
SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath-the-surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.
Ring of Honor TV will begin airing Thursday, March 2
There has been a new revelation in AEW, and it has come in the form of Mark Briscoe.
Surrounded by the grief of losing his brother, Jay, who was killed in a car crash last month, Mark has stepped into AEW programming and introduced himself in an unmistakable manner.
A certain charm has always accompanied Briscoe, especially in his supporting role as the younger member of the famed Briscoe Brothers tag team. His brawling, savage style in the ring is enhanced by his interviews, which are unique in their thoughtful but succinct delivery. Briscoe wrestled Jay Lethal on the Jan. 25 edition of Dynamite, honoring his brother, and he further enhanced the family legacy in AEW, which will continue Wednesday night as he wrestles Josh Woods on Dynamite.
Tony Khan, who is the CEO, general manager and head of creative for All Elite Wrestling, spoke with Sports Illustrated about the chance to highlight Briscoe’s work.
“This match is a great opportunity to see Mark Briscoe, one of the best pro wrestlers on the planet,” says Khan. “His match against Jay Lethal that honored the late, great Jay Briscoe celebrated his brother, that was an emotional, unforgettable moment. Mark has brought so much positivity with him, and people want to see him wrestle. Now he has this issue with Mark Sterling and Josh Woods, who is an incredibly talented wrestler. AEW fans are in for a great treat tonight on Dynamite on TBS.”
Since Full Gear in November, Khan’s promotion has been on a run of consistently high-level shows. AEW has built Dynamite into the industry’s most distinct wrestling show. It is difficult to compare to WWE in that aspect, as there is a vastly different setup in structure between the two companies. The product in AEW is based infinitely more around what takes place in the ring.
The opportunity now exists for Khan to relaunch a well-respected wrestling brand. Khan revealed that Ring of Honor, which he purchased last March, will start airing new weekly television shows on Thursday, March 2, on its HonorClub streaming service platform.
“Ring of Honor TV is coming Thursday, March 2 on HonorClub,” says Khan. “We’ll have our first tapings on Feb. 25 and 26 at Universal Studios in Orlando, and we’re going to put tickets on sale for the inaugural taping on Thursday. Those will be the first-ever tapings of the new Ring of Honor.
“We also have the library on the HonorClub with 20 years of matches. All the Briscoes-FTR matches are available, including Final Battle from December, and those matches are going to stand the test of time in wrestling. Ring of Honor has a tremendous history. We have been able to introduce it with a further reach across the world this past year, and I’m excited to finally introduce weekly Ring of Honor shows.”
This week’s Dynamite will take the next step in building to the Revolution pay-per-view March 5. MJF, who will defend his AEW title in a 60-minute Iron Man match against Bryan Danielson at Revolution, will be on Wednesday’s Dynamite, in addition to matches that include Jon Moxley and Claudio Castagnoli against Rush and Preston Vance. “Hangman” Adam Page will wrestle Kip Sabian, and there will also be interviews with Adam Cole and Wardlow.
Another scheduled bout is Orange Cassidy, The Acclaimed and Billy Gunn against Lethal, Satnam Singh, Sonjay Dutt and Jeff Jarrett. Though Jarrett is playing the role of a villain on screen, he will likely receive an outpouring of support from the crowd in Laredo, Texas, after news circulated that his father, the legendary wrestler and promoter Jerry Jarrett, died Tuesday.
“This is going to be a great night of pro wrestling,” says Khan. “It’s a stacked card, we’re building toward Revolution and we’re building off some outstanding shows. Tonight’s show is going to be another great one.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- Sami Zayn and Jey Uso have made magic together on screen this past year, and all signs point to their story culminating at WrestleMania 39.
- Cody Rhodes gave a fascinating interview on Ariel Helwani’s “MMA Hour,” addressing CM Punk’s infamous press conference following All Out.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi will challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP world heavyweight title Saturday at Battle in the Valley. It will be a real memory for the crowd in San Jose to witness that live—and it continues another great stretch for Okada, who just defeated Shingo Takagi in a spectacular bout over the weekend at The New Beginning in Osaka.
- Another critical match at The New Beginning unfolded with Hikuleo defeating “Switchblade” Jay White in a Loser Leaves Japan match. White will wrestle this weekend for New Japan at Battle in the Valley against Eddie Kingston, but he would be a major acquisition for either AEW or WWE.
- The former Sasha Banks—now known as Mercedes Moné—will wrestle her first match since May this Saturday at Battle in the Valley, and it has the chance to be a classic as she squares off against IWGP women’s champion Kairi.
- Jordan Oliver looked fantastic in last week’s Jersey J-Cup, as did “Speedball” Mike Bailey, who continues to make a compelling case for why he is the best wrestler in the world.
- If this AEW tag title run from The Gunns is quick, it isn’t the worst thing to have a wildly popular babyface team in The Acclaimed go on a quick chase to reclaim its belts.
Is Saturday night the beginning and end of Sami Zayn’s time in the world title picture? Or could it lead to WrestleMania?
Sami Zayn has done his job—and then some—for WWE during this current stretch.
Zayn brought new life to The Bloodline, adding an element of excitement and comedy that otherwise did not exist. His official split came at the Royal Rumble, which ended with a violent beatdown led by Roman Reigns. Zayn will get his shot at Reigns and the world title Saturday at Elimination Chamber, which takes place in his hometown of Montreal.
“On paper, maybe people would think I don’t fit in on the top of the card,” Zayn told SI late last year. “But I believe I’m pretty good at this. It’s so hard to separate a healthy dose of self-confidence from my delusions, but from an early age, even when I wasn’t that good, my performances stood out. Even in the church basement in front of 60 people in Montreal, it worked.”
It is hard to recall a situation in modern pro wrestling where the crowd had to live up to unreal expectations, but that is exactly what the case will be Saturday. The crowd in Montreal is expected to steal the show, which is an incredibly tall task. Especially when this match Saturday marks the end of the Reigns-Zayn program and will transition to The Usos against Zayn and fellow Montrealer Kevin Owens (whose return Saturday night could help the crowd leave on a high note after Zayn is defeated). Reigns would then move on to his story with Cody Rhodes—a program that could very well end with Rhodes winning the belt–with Zayn left out of the main event at WrestleMania 39.
But does it really end here?
WWE teased a Zayn-Rhodes match Monday on Raw. There is also the potential that Zayn could be added to the title match at WrestleMania, making it a triple-threat.
Clearly, Paul “Triple H” Levesque was listening closely to the way fans reacted when Daniel Bryan was left out of major plans at WrestleMania 30. Those plans changed, and Bryan—correctly—won the belt and closed the show. Along the way, the inability to tell that story hurt multiple people, including Batista and even Rey Mysterio. This time, however, the story has been told almost flawlessly.
How will Saturday end? Most likely with Jey Uso costing Zayn his shot at the title. That would put the wheels in motion for a tag match at WrestleMania, especially with Owens returning to help even the odds. But to Levesque’s credit, and especially to the credit of the performers involved, there is still just enough belief that Zayn could win.
Tweet of the Week
Wrestling loses a major figure with the death of Jerry Jarrett.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.