I got to see these matches up on ROH's site today. Its episode #344 , aired 04/20/18 for what its worth. All take place on the Supercard of Honor show from 'Mania weekend.
Ok with that outta the way, we go to the fights!
Kelly Klein vs Mayu Iwatami: This was pretty enjoyable. There were some flubs but, this wasn't meant to set the world on fire. I guess this was a semifinal to determine the Women of Honor champion. Kelly made a good first impression whereas I was hoping from more from Mayu. I've seen her in Stardom back in 2015 or 2016 and thought maybe she could have brought more to this. Nevertheless, this was hard hitting & competitve and A-OK in my book.
Sumie Sakai vs Tenille Dashwood: Dashwood has a very good look and character. Turns out she was Emma from WWE. That means very little to me...other than I can see why her character-work is really polished. As with the previous match, this was good but, nothing amazing. The highlight was Sumie bringing some mat wrestling to the show. That's something the modern product (oh I fucking hate saying that but, I've been watching WWE Network for an hour and it gets burned into your soft brain)....Mat wrestling is something that is lacking from the modern ROH show. So, it was nice to see even a flash of it here.
*So it turns out (per Wikipedia) that the previous matches were prior to the main show.*
Kelly Klein vs Sumie Sakai: This is for the WOH belt. This starts out pretty heated and does really well in topping the previous two fights. It was really good and building to something but, sorta just ends. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be longer but, I liked it nonetheless. I almost get the feeling that ROH management wanted all 3 matches to be less than 12 minutes so that they could put them on an episode of TV. As in, "Keep it short, we're gonna put all of these matches on the show. Wrestle for the TV show and not the PPV or live event".
Here's my gripe with that idea sorta in mind. Colt Cabana and the other commentator go out of their way to make ROH seem pro-women or "pro-feminist" by changing words around and making apologies. For instance, it's a fisherwoman's suplex or it's her-story (instead of history). These things aren't said with tongue in cheek either. Then, Colt talks about how they're making things right by finally having a championship for the women & they have Daffney, an old school ROH and Shimmer wrestler sit ringside to promote some historical-gender connection or something. It was a cool blast from the past though.
Initially, I felt that this was all some marketing/sales ploy to get a couple bucks from sympathetic viewers or attract female viewers by softly riding the wave of pop feminism. I was cynical of their intentions and well, I suppose I still am BUT, I genuinely think they are trying to be supportive. Sure, allowing more than 1 of the 3 matches to be on the PPV show, giving them more than 10 minutes per match, and putting the WOH title match above one of the FOUR other men's title matches that night MIGHT be MORE supportive but, it's something...I suppose.
Really, it's not much is it? It's embarrassing actually but, the real positive is putting the strap on veteran 46 year old Sumie Sakai. Clearly she's not the same in-ring but, she's got loads of experience. And that is what this group of women need in terms of stepping up their game. These wrestlers are not Charlotte Flair, Asuka/Kana, etc. They need leadership and guidance in order to approach that level.
It's a gutsy thing to have the face of your Women's division not be some young "hot chick" especially when your fan base is young men. I think everyone assumed Kelly was going to get the nod because of the youth factor. It was a good move to wait on that. ROH hopefully will keep the belt on Sumie for awhile and set the tone for their division as one of competition, athleticism, and progression.
If so, I'll probably watch it more regularly than WWE's women's division.