5 Best Moments from Supercard of Honor 2023
Well, it’s nice to see Tony Khan just having fun with wrestling cards at this point.
Supercard of Honor 2023 had so many treats to look forward to. Katsuyori Shibata and Yuka Sakazaki each in prominent ROH title bouts. El Hijo del Vikingo and Komander for the AAA Mega title. Hiroshi Tanahashi just casually advertised last-minute. As Caprice Coleman damn near trademarked on commentary, this is why it’s called Supercard.
Hiroshi Tanahashi v Daniel Garcia, Jeff Cobb v Tracy Williams
Both these matches delivered with an absence of expectations. In the Zero Hour opener, Cobb and Williams had great chemistry utilizing their technical skills, with a spice of strength v quickness. Tanahashi and Garcia also delivered in a technical bout just as succinct as the former. They don’t read like complementary rivals on paper, but they quickly proved it in the ring. Having no build to these matches has its pros and cons, but on this night, only the pros mattered.
Nigel McGuinness returns to ROH commentary
On the Zero Hour, the longest-reigning ROH Pure Champion Nigel McGuinness made his return to the promotion as a commentator, to a warm welcome from the fans. McGuinness is no stranger not just to ROH, but to commentary duties. ROH fans once again got to enjoy that Nigel McGuinness snark, excitement, and vaunted insight on wrestling psychology. They would have also enjoyed him bringing up his ROH accolades enough to get Chris Jericho to sheepishly blush.
Samoa Joe (c) v Mark Briscoe (World Television Championship)
The build to Samoa Joe/Mark Briscoe, at its most basic, was about Briscoe reaching for his destiny. That destiny being the World Television Championship, and the man in the way of that destiny, Samoa Joe. And for Joe, this match was going to be a reminder to Briscoe about the man he’s facing.
The closing minutes of the match was some of the most tense, most stressful moments of wrestling as you can get. Briscoe fighting out of Joe’s control, and Joe maintaining inevitability, as the crowd braces themselves with screams. A reminder of who Mark Briscoe was facing.
Greater hopes, greater heartbreaks. And Mark reaching for Jay in the corner, akin to this tender promo, is one I’ll never be ready for.
Claudio Castagnoli (c) v Eddie Kingston (World Championship)
With tension to rival that of the World TV title match, we have Castagnoli/Kingston for the World Championship. The closing moments were mighty suspenseful, as the possibility of a title change suddenly grew strong.
Kingston looked the most credible as champion as he ever had since Anarchy in the Arena. He withstood so much: huge European uppercuts, a gutwrench suplex from the apron to the floor, and disrespectful palm strikes to the bitter end. He also dished out as much, most significantly a string of backfists, and what would have been the most perfect hurricanrana to the capture the World title. Which, alas, would be his own undoing.
Awkward post-match notwithstanding, this was a strong, weighty way to cap off the event.
Katsuyori Shibata wins Pure Championship
In the biggest shock of Supercard of Honor, Shibata wins the Pure title. Defending champion Yuta sank to the most pathetic state of his career yet, at one point hitting a low blow on a challenger he himself called out. Despite that, score-wise Shibata ran through Yuta not unlike how Castagnoli ran through Jonathan Gresham to win the World Championship. Unlike “Yuta” and “bully” however, Shibata is a perfect fit as Pure Champion. Let’s see where this ride takes us.
El Hijo del Vikingo (c) v Komander (AAA Mega Championship)
ROH in general has a strong emphasis on technical wrestling (see, rest of this list). But the opening bout to Supercard had the crowd chanting lucha libre less than a minute in, enticed by the promise of Vikingo/Komander.
Both men had recently been introduced to the AEW audience in one-off Dynamite matches. For Komander, a memorable participation in a multiman ladder match. For Vikingo, an out of nowhere show-stealer against Kenny Omega. Now with a bit more fanfare, and a coveted PPV opener slot, Vikingo and Komander had a lot more room to play.
A lot of the moves we saw don’t have elegant names because nobody attempts to make them signature moves. Reverse, imploding, jumping, springboard, ropewalking. These moves could be named, these moves could be described. The baffled commentators and the red-hot crowd were all we needed to know. The anticipation and respect they had for moments they were about to witness, a direct effect of everything lining up for this match. Arguably the biggest show-stealer for Supercard of Honor.