2/1 Ring of Honor TV Review: AJ Styles Returns, Top Prospects Semi-Finals; Michael Bennett’s New Finisher Looks Familiar…

Mike Killam

Roderick Strong is out in the ring, and it looks like this main event is going to get the full second half of this show. 

Roderick Strong vs. AJ Styles

Nigel has joined this match on commentary; Corino is still there, thankfully. Loud "AJ Styles" chants from the beginning. Styles is controlling the match, and still is after a commercial break. Roddy counters with an elbow and clears the announce table; the two fight to the outside and Styles gets bashed off everything in sight. Dueling chants for both guys, prior to AJ running through some of his signature moves – springboard forearm, pele kick, jumping knee from Roderick, gutbuster, etc. AJ locks in the Calf Killer, but Strong rolls through into a pin attempt. An absolutely brutal Sick Kick turns AJ inside-out and the fans are screaming as the finish draws closer. Styles with a kick to the side of the head, and he nails the Styles Clash for the 1-2-3. Strong definitely planted his head into the ground – that one is going to hurt. 

One of the better matches we've seen on television in the last few months. It had a good flow to it, lots of near falls and signature spots. Everything you'd expect, with a hot crowd for AJ's return. 

After the match BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs attack AJ Styles, but are run off by Chris Hero, Jay Lethal, Michael Elgin, Tadarius Thomas and Mark Briscoe. 

This episode was heavily booked around the return of AJ Styles, as that's what they've been advertising for three weeks now. Still, they managed to do a fair bit of progressing stories. There's a TV title 3-way next week which I would have liked to see more about. Still no update on Kevin Steen or a potential feud with Cliff Compton. When you only have 45 minutes every week to put out a broadcast, I understand that there's issues getting everything across. The last three episodes have been great at doing that, but this week's show had to make room for a 20-minute main event match. No huge complaints there, as it was quite good, but I would have at least tried to get Cliff on television, and do more with your world champion in four weeks of television. 

Oh right, the score. I'll give it a solid B. My only issues with the episode were what I didn't get to see, and that's more a reflection of how good the product has been at keeping me intrigued. All of the matches delivered something special, the Top Prospects finals have me glued to the next few weeks of TV, and I can't wait to see more.

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