For months Ring of Honor has been including Women of Honor matches at their television tapings. While not being aired on their weekly television programming, they have been uploaded for viewing on their YouTube channel. Typically it has been one or two matches, varying from singles to tag team to four corner survival matches. In response to demand for more, Ring of Honor announced that at their February 6th Nashville television taping they would have a “special spotlight” on their women wrestlers. They will be filming multiple Women of Honor matches for an upcoming VOD release, in addition to debuting their newest female graduate from the ROH DOJO. A list of great talents has already been announced, including ROH regulars such as Veda Scott and Taeler Hendrix, in addition to the likes of Amber Gallows and Sumie Sakai.
When WWE introduced the “Divas Revolution” in an attempt to make up for decades of treating their women talent as “less than,” every wrestling promotion took the hashtag and ran with it. Some pointed out they had been doing not only women’s wrestling, but intergender matches, for years. TNA boasted that they had given women’s wrestling plenty of airtime, in addition to World Title shots. However, Ring of Honor had been noticeably quiet up until fairly recently. While women are included in their shows and on television, it’s only in the context of a managerial role–Veda Scott and Moose, Maria and the Kingdom, Veda Scott and Cedric Alexander, Taeler Hendrix and the House of Truth. While’s there’s nothing wrong with women valets and managers, to choose not to do more in the midst of this was a little annoying for myself as not only a fan of women’s wrestling but also as a fan of Ring of Honor. I knew they used to have women’s wrestling, so where is it now?
Enter the return of Women of Honor. As of now, they are dark matches being taped for YouTube, but something is better than nothing. I hadn’t had the opportunity to see any of these matches, but I finally had my chance on December 12th in Philadelphia during the TV tapings after Final Battle. We were going to get not one, but two women’s matches–a tag team match, and a four corner survival match. Eight women were going to be wrestling, and I was looking forward to seeing it, but nervous of the crowd’s reaction. So I held my breath and waited.
Tag team match: Deonna Purrazzo & Hania the Huntress vs Mandy Leon and Sumie Sikai
I’m not at all familiar with Hania or Sikai, but I had seen Purrazzo on NXT recently, in addition to wrestling Leon previously on YouTube. Leon definitely has shown improvement since the last time I saw her, and I think she could be great if she keeps working at it. The crowd was initially quiet, but eventually some “Let’s go Mandy” chants popped up. The Sikai and Purrazzo were definitely the strongest wrestlers, which helped the match considerably when they were in the ring. I thought I could relax regarding the crowd and then Sikai got some “Asuka,” chants, which, well, fuck you.
The match ran about 9 minutes, and Mandy and Sumie walked away with the pin.
Four Corner Survival: Kelly Klein vs Taeler Hendrix vs Kimber Lee vs Veda Scott
I was slightly more familiar with the competitors in this match, I’d seen Scott and Lee wrestle before, and Hendrix has become a familiar face with the House of Truth. I knew of Kelly Klein, but hadn’t seen her wrestle yet.
This match was miles better than the tag team match, which makes sense considering the collective experience in the ring. Kimber Lee just recently won the CHIKARA Grand Championship, and Veda Scott has won her fair share of championships. It was a hard hitting match and the crowd was very into it. Klein won via submission on Scott after about 12 minutes (music to end).
Something that stood out to me before the match was that Veda, Kelly, and Taeler all came out to Cedric Alexander’s, The Decade’s, and House of Truth’s music respectively, and Kimber Lee came out to generic music with no video package. Now, Taeler makes sense considering her affiliation with the House Of Truth, even Kelly and The Decade. I wish Veda at least came out to her own video, even if she came out to Alexander’s music.
I’m hoping Ring of Honor keeps up with the Women of Honor matches and thinks about giving some television time to these matches, and develops some storylines around them so they can fully integrate into the promotion. I was thinking out loud with my friend on the drive home from Final Battle about my concerns that Ring of Honor wants the benefits of claiming women’s wrestling, but not fully committing to it. Having 8 women in 2 matches that will never make it on TV fits that narrative, but I would like to be proven wrong.