I feel like this sort of match is one that we don’t get often enough these days: two powerhouse tag teams going toe to toe and just slugging it out. A lot of it is because we really don’t have that many power teams, and probably because there’s such a premium on flying. But if people are watching matches like this one I can see a lot more interest for power guys coming up.
War Machine, made up of Raymond Rowe and Hanson, took Ring of Honor by storm in the 2014 Top Prospect Tournament, where they met in the finals for an excellent match. Later on Michael Elgin brought them together as a team and they were well on their way to a strong spot when Rowe got sidelined by a major injury. Now they’re back on on the path one again, but Elgin’s turned on them and brought in the Killer Elite Squad to take them out. In Ring of Honor, War Machine enjoys a huge power advantage over pretty much every other team. The Killer Elite Squad are bigger than them and they’ve been champions a long time. When they walk to the ring they’re bringing two tag titles (NOAH’s GHC straps and the NWA straps) and they have all the pedigree they need to make sure no one messes with them without thinking real hard about it first.
I have a high opinion of War Machine’s work in ROH so far but I feel like this is their first real test. Hanson singly has had a lot of standout matches while Rowe was out, even rising to an ROH World title shot. Since they’ve been back they’ve mostly rolled over weak competition, working out ring rust. Plus, the fact that their opponents here have such a developed power game is going to make this much different than any test they’re likely to face from the regular roster. Killer Elite Squad are a team I’m sort of iffy on. I don’t really know why. Davey Boy Smith Jr I’ve liked since WWE but my opinion of him has definitely increased since he’s been working New Japan. Lance Archer, I definitely think Steve Corino’s telling the truth when he says Archer’s one of the most slept on talents out there. I’ve seen Archer in a lot of things I liked. I just can’t get into him. Don’t know why, it’s never really clicked for me. That said, he’s definitely good and his viciousness definitely puts the Killer in the KES name.
Tag Team Challenge Match
Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer) vs War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe)
The best thing about this match was that War Machine was absolutely destroyed. Every single other time we’ve seen Hanson & Rowe they’re rolling right over their opponents. Now that War Machine is up against a team with at least as much power and a lot more experience, they are actually having trouble. Hanson, not Rowe, has been on a total tear through ROH in 2014. Yet here it’s Hanson, not Rowe, who is getting double-teamed, bodyslammed, tied up, and crushed by the Killer Elite Squad. Yet in all that War Machine never lose their steamroller attitude. They don’t become mewling wretches and they’re not gasping and pleading with the fans to help them. You see the KES pinning Hanson in the corner, hitting a series of attacks, and the vibe you’re getting is still “Once I can step out of this corner I’m gonna kick these motherfuckers’ heads in.”
Thought we had a very nice arc here with KES not taking War Machine seriously until War Machine had done some damage, then immediately turning the pressure on. The Killer Elites were brought in to take War Machine out and it seemed very much like that’s what they were intent on doing. Despite being a power team they are exceptionally crafty and did a lot of very effective rule bending. Hanson is actually really good at taking the heat despite being such a big hoss-type guy; was impressed by his tag selling at one point because he gets up looking at the far rope and then sells around rather than doing the regular dead fish crawling sell. I think when Rowe came back in and hit Archer he was supposed to take Archer down. The way Rowe fell back just makes me feel like it was unexpected. However, whatever way it was meant it helped sell the story better, and it didn’t slow Rowe down any. The finish made sense to me but I would have liked it better without having Elgin do the pull the ref spot. We’ve seen that spot a million times and it makes so little sense. In a title match I can see leeway but at some point shouldn’t Nigel be like “okay zero tolerance on this shit now stop fucking touching the ref.” Throwing the match out because it totally breaks down is legit, I would have bought that on its own.
I’m hoping that, given the no contest ending, we are going to get this match again on a pay-per-view. That’s something I’m all for. One criticism I have of War Machine is that they’re trying a bit too hard to be like the current teams ROH likes: Young Bucks, reDRagon, Forever Hooligans, etc. They want to get some cute poses together and do a lot of tag team moves and shit. For me, they should get on the model of teams like Bad Intentions and Killer Elite Squad. Get to be a fluid unit but don’t necessarily try and synchronize everything. Another match, or even a series, against KES could do a lot to help War Machine develop as a team.
Bottom Line: This is a totally savage heavyweight tag team match which is absolutely my style. I’d like to see this one again for sure.