ROH Honorable Mention: War Machine vs. Keith Lee and Shane Taylor
This week’s episode of Ring of Honor television saw the team of War Machine, Raymond Rowe and Warbeard Hanson, taking on Keith Lee and Shane Taylor and once again proved why the issues between these two teams should be settled in a Fight Without Honor at Final Battle.
The match, as has most of the matches between the two, was a donnybrook, with all four men performing at a high level, ending with chair shots from Shane Taylor. The teams have been embroiled in a heated rivalry since the summer, replete with motivations for each team’s actions and an edge that has removed them from the title picture while keeping both teams relevant and fresh.
Lee and Taylor were dominating matches against lesser known talents in dark matches through April and May, but June saw the team begin to tango with some of ROH’s heavy hitters. The Road to Best in the World tour saw them come out to challenge the All-Night Express, Kenny King and Rhett Titus, losing by DQ, but coming off as very imposing figures. The very next night the duo took on Silas Young and the Beer City Bruiser, defeating them and climbing the ranks of the tag team division.
It was the final night of the three show weekend during which the two truly began to assert themselves and make a statement. During Rowe and Hanson’s opportunity to reclaim the ROH tag team titles Taylor and Lee, made their presence known during the no disqualification contest attacking War Machine and thwarting their attempt be crowned champions once more. The Pretty Boy Killers, at the time, seemed to have no good reason at all for attack War Machine, aside from making a statement.
Not a duo to sit back and allow themselves to be disrespected, War Machine came out to pay a receipt to Taylor and Lee after a match in the middle of July. Neither team truly got the upperhand in the altercation, but the stage was now set for the largest teams in ROH to settle a score.
Since then, Shane Taylor cut a promo, during the TV tapings from Sam’s Town, Las Vegas. Taylor shared that Rowe had been a mentor and that the two were together in Texas for while before Rowe went off to ROH, never to reach out to Taylor again, leaving him behind with nary a phone call. This really solidified the work that these two teams had been doing. Competition is a great motivator, but Taylor and Rowe’s backstory made this that much more contentious and explains all of the attacks by both sides.
After Taylor shared his story, he called Ray Rowe out, who answered the taunting alongside his imposing partner Hanson. The two teams had a match, if one can call it that, as wrestling took a backseat to the animosity between the brobdingnagian foes as they pummeled each other with chairs, earning both sides a double disqualification and further raising the mercury in this acrimonious rivalry.
At All Star Extravaganza VIII, both teams were involved in a four corner tag team match that would determine who would be the number one contenders for the tag team titles. In a sublime bit of plot development, the two teams allowed their rancor for each other prevent them from earnings themselves a tag title shot. Nothing is more important than having the belts to prove that a tandem is superior to every other team on any given roster, but these men have made the titles of secondary importance; this blood feud is what drives them and it has become of equal importance to the title picture.
The Ring of Honor tag team division is full of great tag teams and when War Machine dropped the belts to The Addiction, it was quite honestly a bit perplexing. Before the emergence of Taylor and Lee, it appeared that Rowe and Hanson would be rudderless. Flash forward a few months down the line and four men are in the most intricate and well-told story that ROH has going on today, aside from Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly’s Final Battle showdown.
On ROH’s October 15th episode of television, the teams went at it again, with Rowe and Hanson showing incredible agility as they dove through the ropes and connected with dueling tope suicidas before the Pretty Boy Killers could make it to the ring. The action was hard-hitting and both teams showed their depth as not only powerful brawler, but fleet-footed big men, exhibited by Keith Lee’s picture perfect moonsault, albeit one that he missed. War Machine won the match, but Taylor made sure that they did not win the war, clobbering his hirsute rivals, guaranteeing that this issue still has legs.
With Glory By Honor come and gone, as well a UK tour in the offing, the next time these two teams may meet is at Final Battle. The event, which has been known to be a blow-off for major feuds, shows a gleaming bit of promise that the two teams will take their resentment a step further. Ring of Honor rarely has ultra violent matches, a great example being that the Ladder Wars main event from All Star Extravaganza was only the sixth in the company’s history. The smart money here would be to have the two teams clash in a Fight without Honor to settle their differences. As effective as all four men would be as single stars in ROH, the sum of their parts is so valuable, that this match type that is normally reserved for singles competition would be elevated by what they can do together.
Whichever team eventually comes out on top does not really matter, as both teams will come out of this looking that much stronger and naturally be on the path to be Ring of Honor tag team champions. Rowe and Hanson have held the titles before, so a run for Taylor and Lee would be logical. Nonetheless, it’s clear that both of the teams will be ensconced in the upper echelon of the ROH tag team division and should continue to wreak havoc against themselves and other teams for a good while to come.