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Rhett Titus: The Man Who Can Wrestle ANYONE

Ring of Honor Episode #465 – ‘Day by Day: Rhett Titus’ Review

Rhett Titus may not be a familiar name to most casual wrestling fans, but if you are a Ring of Honor lifer, you know that this man bleeds ROH. Trained at the Ring of Honor Wrestling Academy by both Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), Titus has been a prominent mid-card act for nearly fifteen years. Titus has accrued championships across the independent scene of the United States, but his most memorable championship run has to be with Kenny King as the ROH Tag Team Champions.

If you look throughout the history of Ring of Honor, most of the former “top guys” stayed for a handful of years and then eventually moved on to what they believed would be greener pastures or at least a change of pace. While Titus continued to wrestle across the indies, he always stayed with Ring of Honor. I have a lot of respect for that decision. While I don’t believe BLIND loyalty to a company or organization (wrestling or not) is in any way a good thing, a sense of commitment isn’t the easiest trait to find in a person. I’m sure some may respond to that sentiment with: “Well, he wouldn’t have been able to make it in WWE anyway!” Do everyone a favor… sit down and be quiet. The Honky Tonk Man is seen as one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time… The Honky Tonk Man… so don’t try to pretend you can predict anyone’s success in any number of companies. None of us really can. The fact of the matter is, anyone that is able to make a living for themselves and their family, of which Titus’ is adorable, is a success. How many people can say they are supporting themselves with something they legitimately adore doing? I don’t know the statistics, but it’s safe to say that it is more than likely the minority.

I was all the way out of wrestling from 2005 to 2015, which is the crux of Titus’ rise through the Ring of Honor ranks. I know Kenny King is great (as stated in my ROH television review from a few weeks ago), so I have to imagine a Titus/King tag team is going to “slap”, as the children say. Not to mention, our opening match this week is King and Titus versus Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly… these are the moments that make 2020 slightly less terrible.

Rhett Titus & Kenny King vs. Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly (New York, NY – December 18, 2010)

Let’s all take a moment to appreciate just how phenomenal Kyle O’Reilly is. I wouldn’t say he’s “underrated”, because he’s rated highly among the talking heads whose opinion seems to matter. It’s more that he’s underappreciated, and I’m sure a portion of that under-appreciation has to do with who he is currently surrounded by. The Undisputed Era in NXT is a stable of super-workers, and O’Reilly is one of them. Over the course of the last year, it seems as though the company have allowed him to emerge from his comedic cocoon, and he feels like a more distinct character than he has in the past. He looks as equally fantastic in 2010 as he does in 2020. It just makes me happy to watch him wrestle, is all.

This match starts off HOT. Beyond the quick strikes and slingshot dives, these guys are beating the absolute crap out of each other. King hits a jumping heel kick on Kyle, followed by a lariat that makes it look as though Kyle should be missing no less than three teeth. When Cole hops over the ropes and NAILS King with a DDT on the “hardest part of the ring’, I started my own “holy s***” chant. I only said it one time… but you get the picture. The crowd chanted “ROH” in its stead. Kyle O’Reilly is so damn inventive. He hits Titus with this trio of what I can only refer to as a butterfly suplex driver? That’s probably a difficult thing to illustrate in your mind’s eye, but you shouldn’t be leaving it up to your imagination anyway… you should be watching this. Then, no big deal, Kyle hits a Shibata-esque dropkick in the corner, but not in the corner of the ring, rather the corner of the barricade. The people are on their feet. I miss the people being involved in wrestling, oh, so dearly.

King and Titus are finally able to start making their comeback after that insane flurry of offence, which is answered with another flurry of superkicks, shotgun knees and flying knees. It isn’t until King and Titus come together for the blockbuster powerbomb that they are finally able to get the best of Cole and O’Reilly.

I mean… good lord. This is what Ring of Honor was supposed to be all about. Super workers that may have a more difficult time making to a larger American promotion simply based on height or shape. I would put this tag match against anything WWE or TNA were producing, and the match isn’t even very long, relatively speaking. While the majority of the most dramatic offence was coming from the team of Cole and O’Reilly, everyone worked together perfectly. This is one of those matches where I find myself dumbfounded after the fact, attempting to understand how they could have put such a thing together and performed it so masterfully. Wrestling is better than all the things.

Rhett Titus & Kenny King vs. The Briscoes (San Antonio, TX – September 18th, 2015)

So, there is a nice little story preceding this match. The All Night Express (King & Titus) had TONS of ridiculous matches with the Briscoes. Unfortunately, those matches are basically too good to be shown on television. Instead, this is used as an introduction to the return of Kenny King to ROH and the return of ANX (All Night Express) as a pair. In what I would describe as a “cute” manoeuvre before the match, The Romantic Touch comes down to the ring to harass the Briscoes as he had been doing in previous weeks and months. Normally, it would be Titus under the mask of The Romantic Touch, but in this case, Titus and King reveal themselves at the top of the ramp as the contenders for the Briscoes. I appreciate that something as small as having someone else come out as The Romantic Touch can make a return much more special. Surprises in wrestling should always attempt to remain as such.

The crowd is SUPER hot for King’s return, as well they should be. Well into the opening exchanges, the crowd is still chanting “All Night”. Heat is easily retained when matched up against The Briscoes. Over the course of the last year, they have become one of my personal favorite tag teams. They would have been a personal favorite for longer if I had been aware of just how fantastic they were. I don’t believe there is a harder hitting tag team in the last decade of wrestling. I’m sure a significant portion of the allure stems from Mark Briscoe being an actual psychopath.

Once again, most of the dramatic offence comes from the opposition to the ANX. While King and Titus are certainly opportunistic and land some very stiff moves, the mouth-gaping moments come from Jay and Mark. Especially Mark, as he seemingly throws his body around the ring and the outside with little regard for any human life. All that being said, the widest of the mouth-gapes comes just after ANX hit the blockbuster powerbomb for the win. The Briscoes are at their apex in 2015, so for Titus and a returning Kenny King to get the pin against this particular team, it meant more than it would have against any other partnership.

Rhett Titus vs. Jonathan Gresham (Joppa, MD – December 14, 2019)

Rhett Titus vs. Jonathan Gresham title card

Oh boy, oh boy… a Jonathan Gresham match is PRECISELY what I wish to see on these ROH spotlight episodes. Gresham is basically an even more athletic version of Dean Malenko in 2020. That is fairly high praise, and even that may be selling him short. If you read my review of Gresham’s spotlight episode, I don’t think I have ever gushed over anyone quite that hard before. I became a Jonathan Gresham convert that day, so much so that I went back to watch his run in the Best of the Super Juniors. More importantly, he also happens to be a pretty incredible human being based on what I have read about him in the recent past. He is always looking to teach others and give a helping hand whenever needed. The Foundation is also The Truth. If I want to see the best of Rhett Titus, I’m sure it will be delivered in tandem with Gresham.

I chuckled because the commentators seem to hold the same opinions of Gresham that I do. Specifically stating, “I’m not saying he is the best technical wrestler I have ever seen, but I can’t say I’ve seen a better one”. The only reason I disagree with that statement is I DO believe Gresham to be the greatest technical wrestler I have ever seen. This is illustrated in the first three minutes of the match; the minuscule slips and counters are what gives his work such a sense of reality. It does take a specific type of worker to make such work look good. If a guy like Gresham has to slow down in order for the competitor to keep up, the entire illusion begins to fall apart.

I feel like I am still trying to wrap my head around Titus’s style at this point in the episode. All we have seen are fairly abbreviated tag matches where the bulk of the offence is coming from the opposing team. While most of the match seems to be Titus working off of Gresham, he has these short moments of flash. Maybe that’s exactly what makes Titus good; being able to work with just about anyone. He is obviously a good worker, it just seems as though he gets a little overshadowed by the men he is working WITH throughout this episode. That is not meant to be a slight at Titus, he is working PERFECTLY with the likes of Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, The Briscoes and Jonathan Gresham. All of the men Rhett Titus competed against throughout thispisode could easily be put in the top ten Ring of Honor wrestlers of all time. No matter how I frame it, calling someone a “good hand” comes off as an insult, but I couldn’t be more complimentary when I say that. Titus doesn’t seem to have a very distinct style or a very innovative move-set, but the way he works WITH people is absolutely phenomenal.

Of course this match is excellent – what did you expect? Gresham uses his mat skills to get the upper hand well past the first half of the match. It’s not until Titus is able to use his size and power that it starts to get significantly more competitive. There can’t be more than 100 people in this building, and I wouldn’t say they’re “going crazy”, but I do believe this quality was unexpected. The final moments are extraordinarily stiff, with Titus landing a dropkick that looks as though it could have actually had Gresham out on his feet. While this match was affiliated with ROH, this match actually occurred at an MCW show, the company Titus was the champion of at the time. Titus retains his title and the fans MUST be going home happy.

Final Thoughts

Rhett Titus is the type of guy I can’t wait to watch once wrestling comes back full-bore. The guy absolutely kills it with everyone he is in the ring with, and I have to imagine he is the type to take his game to a new level after such a layoff.  I want to see what he can do when he is fully energized because I feel like he may have more within him than he has shown up to this point. Once again, I feel as though the “good hand” moniker is one that is scoffed at and taken as an insult. Is Rhett Titus my new favorite wrestler of all time? No, but do I believe he could have an absolutely phenomenal match with my favorite wrestlers of all time? Without a doubt. What a wrestler delivers in the ring is more important than anything, and Rhett Titus consistently delivers.

Written by Andrew Stewart

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