SUPERCARD OF HONOR 2022 PREVIEW....

On March 31, 2006 the very first Supercard of Honor took place in Chicago Ridge, IL at one of the most important venues to ROH's earliest years. That night, a jam-packed Frontier Fieldhouse crowd of 1,200 fans witnessed Bryan Danielson and Roderick Strong battle for nearly an hour over the ROH World Title, and watched in awe as six men from Dragon Gate Pro Wrestling changed the game with their 2006 Wrestling Observer Match of the Year award winner.

Almost every year since then, Ring of Honor has presented Supercard of Honor, establishing the tradition so many have followed in running an event around the wildest wrestling weekend of the year, and presenting some of the most unforgettable moments of the last 20 years. The announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group bought ROH happened at a Supercard! ROH selling out Madison Square Garden happened at a Supercard! Jerry Lynn, Jay Briscoe, and Matt Taven all became ROH World Champions at a Supercard! The Young Bucks claimed ROH World Tag Team Titles at a Supercard! Jay Lethal fought the legendary Jushin Liger at a Supercard! Suffice to say, it is an event where history has been occurred, where moments have taken place, and memories have been made, and this year will be no different!

Because, after two years without a Supercard event, and four months since Final Battle 2021: End of An Era left ROH with an undefined future, the most influential pro wrestling company of the last twenty years is back in action Friday night in Texas! With the recent acquisition of ROH by All Elite Wrestling CEO Tony Khan, there are so many possibilities for what the future may bring, but one definite thing is that on April 1st, Supercard of Honor 2022 will be coming your way LIVE on HonorClub, Fite.TV, and PPV.com, as well as InDemand Cable & Satellite providers! Limited seating is also available at ROHTix.com so if you can be there in-person, do not miss out on the opportunity to see this loaded event first-hand!
 

ROH WORLD TITLE UNIFICATION MATCH
ROH World Champion Bandido vs. Original ROH World Champion Jonathan Gresham

 

Just days before Final Battle 2021, the news broke that ROH World Champion Bandido had to be pulled from the event in observation of ROH's stringent COVID protocols. It seemed as if the ROH World Title that had been carried by the likes of CM Punk, Nigel McGuinness, Samoa Joe, Matt Taven, Adam Cole, and Bryan Danielson would not be a part of the potential final event in ROH's near 20 year history. It also seemingly robbed Jonathan Gresham of a championship opportunity he earned the hard-way: in a fight with Brody King at Honor For All 2021 one month prior. All Elite Wrestling, in a goodwill gesture, allowed former 2-Time ROH World Champion Jay Lethal to step up in Bandido's place to face Gresham.

The rich history of these two Foundation members, their rivalry that gave way to mutual respect which in turn led to the longest World Tag Team Title reign in company history, it made for an emotionally loaded contest between “The Franchise of ROH” and “The Octopus”. But before the bell could even ring, before the PPV proper even started, it was revealed on the free Final Battle 2021: Hour One broadcast that the match between Gresham and Lethal would be for the Original ROH World Title belt that was retired in 2010 and had since been in the care of former owner and current ROH Ambassador Cary Silkin.

Gresham would ultimately defeat Lethal in the main event of the evening, just as he did in their Pure Title match on the 500th episode of ROH TV, and be awarded the original title belt held by three men from the 1st ROH Hall of Fame class. After sixteen years of honing his craft, Jonathan Gresham could now etch his name alongside that of men who helped inspire him to become a professional wrestler, who shaped how he viewed the sport, and as impressive as that accomplishment was, what “The Octopus” has done with the last three and a half months has been even more impressive.

Since beating Lethal, Gresham has embarked on a whirlwind tour of the professional landscape, both in the United States and outside the country, defending his ROH World Title against every competitor who has stepped up to the challenge, and with many of those bouts being contested under Pure Rules.  All told Jonathan has defended the belt on 15 occasions against challengers like IMPACT's Chris Sabin, Kenny King, and Josh Alexander, the NWA's Nick Aldis, the legendary 2 Cold Scorpio, AEW's Santana, PROGRESS' Chris Ridgeway, and so many others around the world. The numbers alone make Gresham the most prolific champion since Jay Lethal's second reign, but the speed in which he has accomplished these defenses, it is unquestionably faster than any champion before him, and it likely could not have happened under normal circumstances.  

The state of ROH since Final Battle 2021 wrapped has allowed Gresham to continually test himself against a wide variety of opponents from around the world, fighting in some 28 matches over the course of the last 15 weeks.  In a wrestling landscape in which many competitors fight once a week at best, Gresham has been on a schedule unlike any other, but he is going to need all that experience in order to walk out of the Curtis Culwell Center as the Undisputed ROH World Champion.

As for his foe this Friday night, since being cleared after his COVID precautions, Bandido has also stayed in steady competition. He's successfully defended his ROH World Title on one occasion, against Baron Black at Gresham's Terminus event in January, but has also been active in Mexico for multiple promotions, as well as in GCW, and on Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's Battle of Los Angeles 2022 events. Bandido fought the likes of Penta El Zero Miedo, Taurus, Dante Martin, El Hijo de Vikingo, and others, and he too is primed for the fight coming at Supercard of Honor 2022. Still, Bandido has made some last minute additions to his game plan to get ready for this fight:

Bandido may have Chavo Guerrero in his corner now, and that is something Gresham needs to be wary of, but it does not change the fact that both of these men want to enter this new era for ROH as the Undisputed ROH World Champion, and each is going to give it their all this Friday night in Texas!

 

ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH
Jay & Mark Briscoe(c) vs. AAA Tag Team Champions FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood)

 

At Final Battle 2021, the war of words between AEW's FTR and the 11-Time ROH World Tag Team Champion Briscoe Brothers finally moved beyond the social media sphere and into the reality of a professional wrestling ring. As can be seen in the video embedded above, Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood crashed the party after Jay and Mark beat The OGK (Matt Taven and Mike Bennett) to reclaim the title belts for the first time in two years. 

FTR and Dem Boys being in the same ring erupted into chaotic brawl that required mass amounts of security to separate, leaving nothing settled between the four men, and the fans wanting some resolution to the situation. Fans wanted a match, they craved a match between the two teams, the only ones who possibly wanted the fight more were the men themselves, but for numerous reasons, it seemed like a bout destined for the field of dreams. The war felt destined to remain verbal, stuck in the Twittersphere with the two teams jousting back and forth, that is until the sale of ROH to AEW CEO Tony Khan changed the landscape, and then the man himself made the impossible a reality on March 18th!

The dream match had become a reality; The Briscoes and FTR finally had the date with destiny they'd all been craving for months, and to top if off, the ROH World Tag Team Titles would be on the line at Supercard of Honor 2022! Of course, as the date gets closer, the verbal barbs between teams have only gotten harsher:

 

The day is almost upon us, the time when two of the greatest teams in pro wrestling today finally meet inside the squared circle, with one of wrestling's most coveted championships at stake! It's The Briscoes versus FTR this Friday night in Texas; there's no question this is a dream match for the ages, but can anything actually contain the fight?

 

ROH PURE TITLE MATCH
“The Technical Beast” Josh Woods(c) vs. Wheeler Yuta

 

Pure Rules:
*Competitors expected to obey the “Code of Honor” (shaking hand's before & after the match) 
*Each wrestler has 3 rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls. After a wrestler has exhausted their rope breaks, submission or pin attempts on/under the ropes are considered legal.
*Closed-fist punches to the face are not permitted. Punches to other parts of the body, excluding low blows, are permitted. First use of a closed fist receives a warning, the second results in a disqualification.
*Title matches have a 60 minute time limit. If the match goes past the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.

Josh “The Goods” Woods has been the ROH Pure Champion since September 12th when he defeated Jonathan Gresham at the Death Before Dishonor 2021 event, and in that time he has successfully defended the championship on seven separate occasions. Much like how the man Woods bested for this championship has done with the OG ROH World Title, so too has Josh taken the Pure Title outside the auspices of Ring of Honor in an effort to continually raise its profile as his predecessor has done since the championship's reintroduction. 

Even prior to Final Battle 2021 where he defeated the loathsome Brian Johnson, Woods defended the title against Ricky Shane Page at No Peace Underground, and since ROH's hiatus began, he has brought it to Iron Heart Pro Wrestling in Minnesota, United Elite Wrestling in Virginia where he fought ROH TV Champion Rhett Titus to a Title-For-Title draw, and to WrestlePit in Pittsburgh. Woods has also stepped into competition inside the All Elite Wrestling ring on several instances, fought Lee Moriarty at the first Terminus event, and has looked superb in every outing. As the man who beat Jonathan Gresham for the Pure Title, the bar has been set incredibly high for Woods but he has proven time and again that he can exceed all expectations.

That is something Woods has in common with his Supercard of Honor 2022 challenger Wheeler Yuta. Just as Woods has repeatedly surpassed expectations, so too has Yuta perpetually impressed fans and wrestlers alike with his skills. While it has been over ten months since the last time Yuta set foot inside a ROH ring, during his outings, especially in Pure Rules situations, he has proven more than capable of holding his own alongside some of the best wrestlers in the world. And during the months removed from the ROH landscape, Yuta has continued to hone his craft in AEW, New Japan Strong, Defy, Beyond Wrestling, and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. He has fought the likes of Jon Moxley, Adam Cole, Jeff Cobb, Penta, PAC, and been inducted into NJPW's CHAOS unit as a result of his affiliation with The Best Friends and Rocky Romero. Yuta has proven himself repeatedly, just like Woods had to do en route to claiming the Pure Title and continues to do in the months since, and the combination of the talents, drive, and hunger of these two competitors has all the makings of a must-see fight!

As fans witnessed during the original run of the Pure Title in 2004-2006, and have seen since the title was reborn in 2020, the unique rule set for these matches can make for quite the intriguing chess match, resulting in some of the most unpredictable contests in pro wrestling today. With every pinning predicament and every submission applied, the victim must make split-second decisions about their rope break situation. Even the one in control of the situation can lean into the psychological warfare of putting a foe in situations, such as applying a submission well within reach of the ropes, thus encouraging foes to use up their breaks early. A Pure Rules match can be as much a psychological war as a physical one, and when a championship held by so many living legends of the sport is on the line, it forces the combatants to step up their game even further.

This Friday night at Supercard of Honor 2022, we will likely bear witness to Josh Woods and Wheeler Yuta at peak performance as they battle it out to see just who will carry the Pure Wrestling torch into this new era of ROH!

 

INTERIM ROH WOMEN'S WORLD TITLE MATCH
Mercedes Martinez vs. Willow Nightingale

 

The last time the ROH Women's World Title was seen inside a Ring of Honor ring was on the Christmas Eve episode of ROH TV. That night Rok-C defeated Holidead to retain her championship, but did so with the memory of Final Battle 2021 fresh in her mind. On that night, after Rok-C successfully retained her championship over Willow Nightingale, the Women's Champion was challenged by IMPACT Wrestling competitor, and reigning AAA Reina de Reinas Champion, Deonna Purrazzo.

The confrontation would lead to a bout between the two champions on the January 13th edition of IMPACT Wrestling in which Purrazzo was victorious, and has since seen “The Virtuosa” defend both her titles simultaneously in the “Champ-Champ Challenge”. Essentially she has allowed her challengers to pick which of the two belts they've wanted, and has led to her successfully defending the ROH Women's World Title on five instances since defeating Rok-C. Unfortunately for the ROH faithful, Purrazzo's potential sixth defense via the 3C is set for IMPACT's Multiverse of Matches event on April 1st and thus she is unable to appear at Supercard of Honor 2022. Fortunately for all in attendance at SoH '22, and for all those watching around the world on the various providers, an alternate plan was enacted!
 

So it will be Willow Nightingale, the woman who took former champ Rok-C to her limit at Final Battle 2021, going head-to-head with “The OG Badass” for just the second time in their respective careers! Four years ago, inside the Berwyn Eagles Club that SHIMMER Women Athletes calls home, Mercedes took the measure of a very young Willow and found her wanting. Since that meeting, Martinez has said she kept an eye on Nightingale, watched her grow into the amazing athlete she is today, and knows that means there's a fight coming this Friday!

 

The winner of this will be crowned the Interim ROH Women's World Champion, and thus will meet Deonna Purrazzo (or whomever is champion) at a later date to crown one woman the Undisputed. Whose desire for championship greatness will win out at Supercard of Honor 2022 this Friday? Whether it is Nightingale or Martinez who wins the match, it is truly the fans who will win when these two world-class wrestlers collide in Texas!

 

ROH WORLD TV TITLE MATCH...
Rhett Titus(c) vs. Minoru Suzuki

 

“The King” Minoru Suzuki has not set foot inside an ROH ring since the G1 Supercard at Madison Square Garden in 2019, and that night it was simply as one of the competitors in the Honor Rumble alongside men like Jushin Liger, Great Muta, King Haku, Cheeseburger, and many others. Coincidentally Rhett Titus was also part of that Battle Royal situation, but they did not touch during that fracas.

While MiSu never step foot into the ROH ring again, Rhett Titus would continue doing what he had done since his first match back in January 2006, he kept grinding. He went to work in the gym and in the ring, harder than ever, and continued refining his diet. Titus got himself into the best shape of his life, arguably the best condition of any person on the ROH roster, and it was something that came onto the radar of the men who would compromise The Foundation. Jonathan Gresham, Jay Lethal, and Tracy Williams would bring Titus into their organization, essentially dubbing Rhett as THE foundation of Ring of Honor given his tenure with the company. After all, Titus is an ROH Original more than anyone else who saw the company through until Final Battle 2021. He trained in the ROH school under former World Champion Austin Aries, had his first match in ROH, traveled the roads to each and every city ROH ran, all while simultaneously setting up the ring, competing in matches, and then packing back up to do it all again the next day.

Given sheer time with ROH, Titus is the longest tenured wrestler in the companies history. Jay and Mark Briscoe may be Day One, and they may have shut it down like Titus, but the 12-Time Tag Team Champions were absent for 18 months between August 2004 and February 2006, and it was during that time frame that Rhett first stepped under the ROH umbrella. As much as Jay and Mark are synonymous with those three letters, so too is Titus, and all that hard-work, dedication, and drive would pay off at FB '21 when Titus beat Joe Hendry, Silas Young, and defending champion Dalton Castle to claim the ROH World Television Championship. 

He was the final Top of The Class Trophy Holder, he had been a World Tag Team Champion (albeit short-lived through no fault of his own) with Kenny King, and had claimed those titles again with Foundation partner Tracy Williams. But this was Rhett's first singles title after nearly sixteen years of scratching and clawing for every inch of ground he got in ROH, sixteen years of fighting for recognition with fans and peers alike, sixteen years of pouring his heart and soul into Ring of Honor and it finally paid off. If this were a movie about Titus' life, that would have been the perfect final scene before fading to the credits, but this ain't a movie, and the unknown future of Ring of Honor did not stop Rhett from continuing to fight wherever he could. Beyond, H2O, NWA Powerrr; wherever there was a match to be had, Titus went for it, even going to a draw in a title-for-title bout with Pure Champion Josh Woods.

Sixteen years and the work ethic of Rhett Titus has never faltered, the desire to be the best has never changed, and all of that is going to get put to the test this Friday night at Supercard of Honor 2022 when he steps into the ring with Minoru Suzuki. If you're unfamiliar with a man the wrestling community lovingly refers to as “Murder Grandpa”, then read this piece from 2021 prior to his AEW fight with Jon Moxley, and just know that Titus is in for a fight unlike any other he has ever seen. And that is saying a lot given that Rhett has been in the ring the Briscoes, Kevin Steen, Homicide, Brody King, and plenty of other violent individuals. He's also fought the likes of Kenny Omega, Tyler Black, Bryan Danielson, Jay Lethal, and Jonathan Gresham over the years, and thus has experienced a great many styles of foe. But none of them are like Minoru Suzuki; the man would just as soon take his foe down to the mat to choke them out as he would go strike-for-strike in the center of the ring as he would throw a chair at their skull. He is wild, unpredictable, and the living embodiment of chaos, which means Rhett has his work cut out for him in his very first defense inside an ROH ring of the World Television Title. 

It would not be the first time a competitor from New Japan Pro Wrestling came to ROH, beat the champion, and took the belt back to Japan with them, Tomohiro Ishii did it to Roderick Strong in 2016 before Bobby Fish reclaimed it for Ring of Honor. Problem is, if Suzuki does the same thing, is there anyone who will be able to step up and take the belt back?

There are going to be a lot of eyes on this battle between the King of Pancrase and the man with Pro Wrestling's Best Dropkick; can Rhett handle the pressure?

 

ONE-ON-ONE
Alex Zayne vs. Swerve Strickland

 

Following the Undisputed World Title Match, this first-time ever meeting between two of wrestling's hottest talents was the next announced for Supercard of Honor 2022! Both Strickland and Zayne come into this fight with bright spotlights shining down on their careers, a great deal of fans with vested interest in their respective successes, and for Swerve this is also his first shot at stepping inside an ROH ring.

Now Alex has had his taste of ROH competition in the recent past, including beating Bandido in his debut match in January 2020, as well as having the distinction of being the last man Bandido defended his World Title against inside an ROH ring back on the November 5th edition of ROH TV. Each man comes into the fight with something to prove, and on a night when the eyes of the wrestling world will be on Supercard of Honor 2022, there are few better opportunities to show and prove!

Will Swerve step up in his ROH debut and turn the Curtis Culwell Center into Swerve's House of Honor? Or will Zayne score the “W” in his return to ROH competition?

 

SINGLES MATCH
“The Franchise of ROH” Jay Lethal vs. Lee Moriarty

 

This next match certainly makes for an interesting tale of the tape. In one corner will be Lee Moriarty, a man who has stepped between the ROH ropes only one time in his career, and that was back at Death Before Dishonor 2021 last September. Standing in his corner however will be Matt Sydal, a former ROH World Tag Team Champion with “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels, who first entered the company 18 years ago and helped to establish it as a dominant force in independent wrestling through both his solo work as well as his part in the Generation Next faction. 

Sydal would return to ROH in 2014 after seven years away and compete consistently for the next several years before stepping away in 2017. After several more years away, Matt returned to the fold as part of 2020's Pure Title Tournament where he fell to eventual winner Jonathan Gresham and although he is currently rehabilitating an injury, Matt Sydal will once again return to ROH this Friday night, but it will be alongside Lee Moriarty! In All Elite Wrestling, Sydal has been serving as a mentor to Moriarty for the last several months and now aims to bring that dynamic to ROH when #Taigastyle faces “The Franchise of ROH” Jay Lethal!

As for Lethal's side of the tale of the tape, well his Ring of Honor history certainly makes his inclusion in a Hall of Fame an inevitability. After being plucked out of the chaos of Special K by Samoa Joe, Lethal became the ROH legend's protege which ultimately led Jay to a Pure Title reign in 2005. It would be just the first of many titles captured by Jay that would all come after a lengthy hiatus from ROH competition. His first TV Title reign started in 2012 while his second that began in 2014 still holds the record for longest at just shy of 600 days. Jay simultaneously held that TV Title with the ROH World Title during his first run with the latter, and when combined with his second World Title reign, “The Franchise of ROH” has spent more days as the ROH World Champion than any other man in the company's twenty year history! 

Perhaps more so than any other individual, Lethal can make a credible claim that ROH was carried on his shoulders the last several years, and with that in mind, this is a gigantic opportunity for Lee Moriarty to score a statement victory! He has looked great in AEW in bouts with CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, and Bobby Fish, but they all have one thing in common: defeat. What Moriarty needs is that big victory to establish his bonafides, just as Lethal needs one to get himself back on track after suffering AEW defeats, albeit via cheating, against Adam Cole and Ricky Starks.

Will a return to his roots get “The Franchise of ROH” back in the right space, or will it be the breakout moment in Lee Moriarty's career? Watch it all unfold live on pay-per-view this Friday at Supercard of Honor 2022!

 

HEAD-TO-HEAD...
Ninja Mack vs. Tully Blanchard's Newest Client

 

Houston's own Ninja Mack has been impressing fans throughout Texas for several years now with his ultra-athletic wrestling, and rather magnetic charisma that comes from it. In doing so, he also caught the eye of GCW who brought him to Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, and he even united with a man named Dante Leon to fight The Briscoes over the GCW Tag Team Titles. He stole the match he was in when GCW debuted in the Hammerstein Ballroom, and has since traveled to Mexico and Germany to hone his craft. In doing all this, Ninja Mack also caught the eye of Ring of Honor, and he was contacted for a spot on Supercard of Honor 2022 prior to the purchase of ROH by AEW CEO Tony Khan.

As the weeks progressed towards this Friday night, fans speculated what would happen with Ninja Mack at this event, guessed at just who he would wrestle, and fans finally got there answer twenty-four hours before SoH '21...or did they?

As can be seen in the tweet embedded above, the legendary Tully Blanchard has announced that he will be bringing his newest talent acquisition to Ring of Honor to face off with Ninja Mack! Until recently in AEW, Blanchard was associated with FTR before they fired him several weeks ago and his status with Shawn Spears seems to be up in the air, that combined with Tully's statement that this wrestler is a new acquisition for him has now prompted new speculation as to show Ninja Mack will have to face.

This event is a first-time affair for both Mack and Tully, will it also be one for whomever he is bringing along? Is it a wrestler familiar with Ring of Honor, or one for whom this trip to ROH will be a maiden voyage? There are a great many possibilities, but all of them put Ninja Mack at a disadvantage; his foe knows who they are facing so they can game plan the fight, Mack does not have the same luxury. He just has to focus on doing what he does best, and fighting like there is no tomorrow!
 

In addition to the matches announced above, Scotland's own Joe Hendry was also signed for this Friday night, and he shared his thoughts about the event, and what it means to him, on his Twitter account! 
 

So with multiple championship matches on tap, dream matches, and plenty more on tap, Supercard of Honor 2022 is primed to be the premier wrestling event of the entire weekend, and likely to be a historic night in the history of ROH!

On April 1st, Supercard of Honor 2022 comes to wrestling fans LIVE on HonorClub, Fite.TV, and PPV.com, as well as InDemand Cable & Satellite providers! There is seating available at ROHTix.com as well, so if you are in the area for the weekend, do not miss out on the chance to watch this piece of wrestling history unfold before your very eyes!