The recent surge of new faces in Ring of Honor has created the potential for numerous dream matches. Here are five first-time-ever matchups we hope will become reality in ROH:
5. BRODY KING vs. BULLY RAY
Bully Ray has certainly lived up to his moniker during his time in ROH, but we’d love to see the overbearing brute from Hell’s Kitchen, N.Y., just try to bully King. Bully Ray, who is a member of multiple Hall of Fames and has competed all over the world for major promotions, obviously has a major edge in experience, but the 6-foot-5, 285-pound King has a slight advantage in size. More importantly, the Villain Enterprises monster is every bit as violent and nasty as Bully Ray. Put these two brawlers in the ring together, make it an anything-goes match and prepare to witness the carnage.
4. MAYU IWATANI vs. TENILLE DASHWOOD
Iwatani knocked off Kelly Klein to win the Women of Honor World Title this past weekend. That means Honor Nation will be seeing a lot more of Iwatani, one of the top stars in Stardom, the Japanese-based promotion that is the premier women’s wrestling organization in the world. Dashwood, a co-founder of LifeBlood along with Juice Robinson, has been out of action since undergoing shoulder surgery last fall, but she has not lost sight of why she came to ROH: to become WOH World Champion. Beating the talented Iwatani is a tall order for anyone, but Dashwood has defeated some of the biggest stars in wrestling, including Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Paige, Bayley, Natalya and Mickie James. Even if Iwatani isn’t champion when Dashwood returns, this would still be a must-see match.
3. JAY LETHAL vs. NICK ALDIS
Aldis, the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion, has been spending a significant amount of time in ROH as of late and has hinted on multiple occasions that he covets the ROH World Championship held by Jay Lethal. Lethal has no shortage of top contenders in ROH and has not expressed interest in the NWA Title, but given Lethal’s respect for pro wrestling history and tradition, it stands to reason that he has an appreciation for a championship that dates back to 1948 and has been held by some of the greatest legends in the sport. Both champions are in their early 30s and just entering their primes. Aldis has done an outstanding job of restoring prestige to the NWA Title, while Lethal recently broke the record for most combined days as ROH World Champion.
2. JEFF COBB vs. PCO
Cobb made an immediate impact in ROH by destroying the field of Top Prospect Tournament competitors, causing the tournament to be called off. Then, in his first match in ROH, he steamrolled Punishment Martinez in less than 90 seconds to win the ROH World Television Title in September. The former Olympian has been a dominant champion ever since. PCO also made an impactful debut. From the moment he was unveiled by Marty Scurll as a member of Villain Enterprises, the enigmatic PCO has wowed fans with his death-defying offense and seeming imperviousness to pain. Both Cobb and PCO are powerhouses, but they’re also freakishly agile for men their size. Could PCO survive Cobb’s Tour of the Islands? Could Cobb survive PCO’s moonsault? We’d love to find out.
1. RUSH vs. BANDIDO
RUSH is a huge international star, and Bandido is quickly becoming one. Now that both of the supremely talented, charismatic luchadors are making their homes in ROH, it seems inevitable that their paths will cross. RUSH, a highly decorated competitor in CMLL and the founder of Los Ingobernables, has the edge in size and experience, but Bandido is one of the most sensational and fastest-rising young athletes in the sport. Both of the Mexican stars have been impressive since making their recent debuts in ROH. In RUSH’s only singles matches in ROH thus far, he defeated Kingdom members TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia. Bandido, meanwhile, has scored victories over the likes of Silas Young, Mark Haskins, Rocky Romero and PJ Black. RUSH versus Bandido is a sure-fire show-stealer that must happen.
UPDATE: After this article was published, the ROH Board of Directors announced that RUSH versus Bandido has been signed for ROH 17th Anniversary on March 15 in Las Vegas live on pay-per-view and for HonorClub VIP.