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Ring Of Honor Coverage

Matt’s Recap & Review: Ring of Honor TV (10/21/19)

Matt Davis checks in with his look at this week’s edition of Ring Of Honor featuring Joe Hendry, Flip Gordon, and more!



NEW ROH Coverage

Matt Davis checks in with his look at this week’s edition of Ring Of Honor featuring Joe Hendry, Flip Gordon, and more!

Since 2002 we have created excellence together.” – Jay Lethal

Welcome to Ring of Honor Television! We open this week at the Summer Supercard, showing Flip Gordon attacking Tracy Williams with a kendo stick before his match for the TV Title in Toronto. We cut to Global Wars in Chicago when Gordon pinned Williams in a Chicago Street Fight with an F5 into opened chairs. Ian Riccaboni welcomes us to the show and tells us the main event will be “Hotsauce” Tracy Williams against his rival Flip Gordon in a No Disqualification match! If you’ve read my Glory By Honor Review, they discuss the match, but tonight we will see it in full! Quinn McKay tells us that next week we will see Joe Hendry challenge Shane Taylor for the ROH TV Title from Honor United.

There is a promo detailing Shane Taylor’s contract situation and recaps his thoughts about Ring of Honor failing to promote him. Come on Shane, it’s not personal, they aren’t promoting anyone! Cut to Taylor walking around backstage trying to leave an arena being followed by reporters and cameramen wanting to discuss his contract and next challenge. First, Taylor walks into a door that clearly says “Exit Only”,  and says “Of course they wouldn’t let me in” then turns to have a press conference. Then one of the people, holding up a cell phone, asks him who his next challenger is to his “world title” in one of the most rehearsed lines I’ve ever heard. Taylor says he’s going to sit down with ROH again to renegotiate his contract because they tried to screw him by adding Dragon Lee to the match but he still retained. The next question was since he’s a free agent, where will he be going next. Taylor says it doesn’t matter, he could go anywhere. He says if ROH wants him to defend the championship they need to pay him more. He wants to be featured and promoted more. A security guard breaks up the impromptu segment and tells Taylor the casino wants him to leave because people can’t be recording in the casino. That was one of the worst backstage promos I’ve ever seen, and this whole storyline is garbage. Strip him of the championship!

After a break we cut to a segment between Joe Hendry and Dalton Castle at Death Before Dishonor, where Castle reveals a mimosa under a cone in the middle of the ring without any explanation of what we are watching. Quinn McKay is standing in the ring dressed like a ringmaster of a circus. Watch this and disagree with me. Castle tells us the mimosa was made with real Equadorian orange, French champagne, and bubbles that were put in by Shaoudi monks in Napal and takes a sip to a cheer. Castle asks how Hendry will top that? Hendry says that will be tough, even though he believes in the tag team even though Castle is second best. Hendry says he’s going to host karaoke. The song about Dalton Castle is horrible and I’m not even going to type it out. Hendry attacks The New Boys as Castle exits the ring. What the absolute trash was that? Cut to McKay with Riccaboni telling us that got out of hand as she introduces the next match.

Joe Hendry vs Dom Kubrik

This is an exclusive television match featuring Kubrik already in the ring as Hendry signs an autograph for a child in his fathers arm at ringside. Hendry offers a handshake as the bell sounds.

We are told Hendry have an excellent amateur background as they tangle up as the match begins. About a minute in Hendry tries a Hendry-Lock, as were told that Kurt Angle bestowed the ankle lock to Hendry. A shoulderblock tackle drops Kubrik, reverses a leapfrog as Kubrik reverses an armdrag into a counter attack. Back elbow by Hendry gets two! Stalling showboat vertical suplex gets two by Hendry! We are told that this is basically an exhibition match for the Scottish singing star, great way to put over your lesser talent guys! We are told Santino Marrella trained Kubrik. At ringside, Hendry signs another autograph as the fans rips it up. Commentator snarks “That’s at least $12 on eBay that he just ripped up.” Highlight of the match so far. Kubrik drops Hendry face first into the turnbuckle! Superkick! Two!  Kubrik hits a move that looks like the Black Plague for two, into a guillotine choke! Hendry powers out and tries a suplex but Kubrik drops again ans Hendry breaks in the corner. Hendry with a suplex countering another try. Hard DDT by Hendry, butterfly into a shoulderbreaker across the knee, hard lariat hooks the leg and Hendry gets two! We are reminded next week Hendry challenges for the TV Title next week. High knee by Kubrik! Crossbody rolled through into a fallaway powerslam! Ankle Lock reversed, but Hendry steps over and locks it in for the submission in 5 minutes.

Winner: Joe Hendry
Grade: **
Thoughts: A highlight squash for Joe Hendry. He has a crisp style and a great look and character which immediately draws you to him. He’s like a mix of early Nigel McGuinness and Drew Gulak. He will be in WWE before long. He has a unique creative offense and has good control of his offense. The story that Angle bestowed the Ankle Lock to him is great. Impressive victory as he heads into next week. #IBelieveInJoeHendry 

After a break we are brought backstage with Jenny Rose as she discusses that she has had championship matches before, but now shes pissed off because Angelina Love finally got what she wanted. She says ever since she came here it’s been dirty tactics and disrespect, and of course shes a legend but she’s not honorable. In a cringy moment, her promo is cut off and we only hear her voice as we are shown a graphic for next weeks show. We are told next week Angelina Love will defend in a triple threat against Jenny Rose and Sumie Sakai. Can we talk about this week please? Riccaboni talks about Rhett Titus and Kenny King, the former ROH Tag Team Champions, have been feuding as King has been targeting his former partner at every angle.

Mark Haskins vs Rhett Titus  
“Global Wars: Espectacular: Night 1”
Dearborn, Michigan

Begins mid-match, Haskins knocks Titus down and goes up top, missing a stomp. Titus catches a boot in the corner, sloppy Super Facebuster off the top by Titus gets two and a half! I miss The Romantic Touch. Titus with a kick to the chest, mid kick, and an elevated DDT and hooks the leg and Haskins kicks out again! Running boots in the corner stun Haskins, Titus tries a tilt-a-whirl but Haskins reverses into a grapevine into a high angle deathlock and Mark Haskins wins by submission

Winner: Mark Haskins
Grade: N/A
Thoughts: For the one minute we saw, Titus looks like he has looked like for a decade with sloppy offense and zero compelling character traits. Haskins almost breaks Titus’s hip with the high angle submission. Like last week, can’t grade a match you see a small fraction of.

Backstage after the match, Haskins talks to Titus about their “scrap” and Titus says it was just what the doctor ordered. Kenny King walks up and taunts Titus. He criticizes Titus for tapping out, telling him he used to see him pass out before he tapped out (it’s true) when they used to roll. He asks Titus if he should be at home breastfeeding his son as Titus laughs and quips that at least he didn’t get knocked out walking into a camera and walks away.

I’m intrigued by this because these two have great chemistry as a team. Kenny King was the best thing that ever happened to Rhett Titus’s career. Will we eventually see a reunion of the All Night Express?

Backstage with Jeff Cobb as he praises ROH’s return to the United Kingdom, as he prepares for his ROH World Championship match with Rush. He says Rush might be a bull, but so is he, and it’s going to be two bulls colliding as he becomes champion.

In the ring at Death Before Dishonor Fallout we cut to The Kingdom with Matt Taven talking about how seven years ago he joined Ring of Honor because that’s where the best were. He said he tried every day to be the best, and he’s done it all, winning the Top Prospect Tournament, winning the TV Title, winning the Tag Titles and gives a shout out to Mike Bennett that gets a pop (Please come back Mike!), to winning the Six Man Tag Title belts with his two best friends on three occasions, and that all that was nice but since he was a boy he to wanted to be ROH World Champion! He said at Madison Square Garden and in front of tens of thousands of fans all his dreams came true. He said he’s held the title knowing the legacy it has as the most prestigious championships in wrestling. He said everytime he defended it, he would leave it all in the ring which got a cheer and a “Thank you Taven” chant. He thanks the fans. He says he’s at a crossroads, and people have been talking about what happens now. He said when he came here ROH was the best innovative best wrestling company on the planet and he still believes that and he is going no where. The only second Grand Slam champion in company history is staying in Ring of Honor as he hugs Marseglia and O’Ryan in the ring. Commentators tell us he will go down as one of the most underrated champions of all time.

Backstage, Angelina Love and Mandy Rose discuss how bitter Love was that she had to defend the championship next week and complained it took her three months to get an opportunity at the title, but now everyone is lining up to face her. Mandy Rose says its the Age of the Allure and no one is taking the championship from them and ends with a chalk on chalkboard nauseating “Bye” and I’d rather have my eyes pecked out by seagulls than ever listen to that again.

“Hotsauce” Tracy Williams vs Flip Gordon
Death Before Dishonor Fallout Tour
Las Vegas, Nevada

Not sure of the difference between a “television exclusive”, and a match taped for television. This was taped the night after Death Before Dishonor, and begins right away with Williams attacking Gordon on the stage as fisticuffs fly! Gordon cracks a kendo stick across his ribs and back! Gordon chases Williams towards the ring and cracks him again! The welts already appear on his back!

Gordon digging under the ring and grabs a chair at ringside, Williams dives to the outside and splashes it into Gordon’s face! Chops and elbows by Williams! Williams back ripped open already. Butterfly suplex on the outside! Williams rolls Gordon into the ring as Gordon drops Williams face first into the corner! Knife edged chop by Gordon. Williams reverses and gets a chop of his own! Gutwrench toss, to the top rope, Williams rips Gordon off the top with a snap superplex for two!

Williams aggressively all over Gordon as Gordon rolls to the outside and Williams jumps on him again! Gordon reverses a suplex outside and posts Hotsauce! We are told this has been boiling since Gordon joined VE, and dislocated his elbow on a 450 attempt on Williams. Gordon stalks and haunts Williams against the barricade. Gordon tries a suplex but it’s blocked. Gordon tries to whip Williams into the steel but Williams reverses and Gordon jumps over the barricade into the crowd! Williams tries running..and catches an elbow in the face. That was poorly executed, what was plan? Were you going to run knee first into the barricade if Gordon didn’t elbow you? Springboard tornado DDT plants Williams as we fade to commercial!

We are back with both men in the ring, with Gordon swinging a chair. He misses! Williams grabs it, misses, superkick by Gordon! Gordon with a swinging neckbreaker on the chair and gets two! Williams playing possum and drives the chair into Gordon’s ribs. He drops the chair outside, then goes get it again. Jumping knee in the corner! On top, Gordon blocks a superplex. Gordon reverses and drops Williams groin first on the top rope! Gordon tries a full steam charge but stops, stalls, and baseball slides Williams in the back, low risk. He grabs the chair again as both men inside. Gordon opens it and tries to brainbuster Williams into the open chair but Williams blocks. Springboard kick by Gordon! On the top, Williams catches Gordon and all hell breaks loose when Williams drops Gordon with a sitout suplex across the open chair! Hooks the leg, two and a half! Damn! Williams tries a crossface and wrenches back, trapping the arm. Gordon drags himself to the side rope! Williams refuses to break the hold as it’s No DQ! Gordon continues to crawl and drag himself out of the ring and slips away.

Under the ring, Williams unveils another kendo stick and cracks it across Gordon’s chest and back, White Russian Legsweep adapted by The Sandman! Again across the back as it echoes across the arena (easier when it’s empty) Williams cracking it over and over Gordon up the ramp, as he breaks it across Gordon’s back. Williams tries a piledriver on the ramp but Gordon hits a low blow! Gordon with an inverted DDT as we fade to another commercial.

Back, as Gordon grabs a table from under the ring. Gordon opens the table in the ring as Williams rolling around outside. Gordon throws a chair on Williams and rolls him inside. Gordon places Williams on the table and thinks about a 450 Splash. Williams up and nails a european uppercut! Both men on the top now. Headbutt by Gordon! Gordon tries a Kinder Surprise, but Tracy launches Gordon into the barricade and the floor. Williams drops the table closed and then opens it back up half open. Running boot to Gordon on the apron! Williams drops a double axe handle and drags him onto the apron and then the top rope again. Williams with a Piledriver off the top rope through for the table for win in about 15 minutes shown!

Winner: Tracy Williams
Grade: **1/2
Thoughts: This rivalry is far from finished, but here we are with a big win for Tracy Williams and Lifeblood as the carnage continues against Villain Enterprises. Small complaint of not enough weapons for me in a No DQ match. There was a wrinkle of a No DQ match stipulation here, but overall, not a lot. Some kendo sticks, some chairs, and the one table spot that ended it. The momentum of the match was severely interrupted by two commercial breaks. I couldn’t get into the match because of them. The finish kind of came out of no where and wasn’t “built up”, at least not in what they showed. Down. Oh sorry, that’s not my gimmick.

Overall Show Grade: 5/10

Better than last week, but still had some very awkward stuff going on. That awkward segment with Joe Hendry and Dalton Castle was not introduced, and it wasn’t funny in any way. Hendry is hilarious but it really fell flat as they tried to make dick jokes and neither the crowd or I, as a viewer, cared at all. The akward segment with Jenny Rose had awful production. I’ve never seen an interview cut off as their voice continued as we were looking at graphics on screen before. The Shane Taylor storyline is TURRRRRIBLE and that whole interview was really poorly done, little things make a huge difference. We just saw NJPW strip Jon Moxley of a championship because he couldn’t defend because of inclement weather, you’re telling me you’d allow a champion to get bought out of his contract but keep the title on him? If he wants out, agree to buy him out and strip the title. It literally doesn’t make sense from a business stand point, it’s not believable and drives me insane! The TV Title could be utilized so much more with characters like PJ Black, Joe Hendry, or either of the guys in the main event. Great promo by Matt Taven. Felt real, heart felt, and the fans were invested in everything he said. Less complaints than last week, but still enough to irritate me. Until next week! #UseYourHead

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Greg DeMarco’s ROH #470 Review: Finlay/Romero & Delirious/Sydal

Greg DeMarco continues his catch-up on ROH as the Pure Championship tournament continues with David Finlay vs Rocky Romero and Delirious vs Matt Sydal.



ROH Ring Of Honor Pure Tournament Pure Championship

Greg DeMarco continues his catch-up on ROH as the Pure Championship tournament continues with David Finlay vs Rocky Romero and Delirious vs Matt Sydal.

If you know me, you know I am a huge ROH fan going back to the “old days” when the company featured stars like CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, AJ Styles, Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), Kevin Steen (Owens), El Generico (Sami Zayn) and many more. Recent years turned me off of the of the product, but with ROH making a return and focusing on the Pure Championship, I am ready to make my own return…to honor.

ROH episode #470

Quinn McKay welcomes us and we see the end of both matches from last week, followed by comments from the winners. I don’t hate it, but this show (on is 50 minutes long. Both promos were effective, addressing their possible block semifinal opponents, all of whom are wrestling on this episode.

Quinn then introduces our upcoming matches for this week, before we head to commercial. At this point, I don’t know if we’re getting the promo packages like we got last week.

David Finlay promo

I enjoy Finlay’s backstory–fourth generation pro wrestler, injured in his last ROH match, and his history with Rocky Romero (including Finlay doing Romero’s laundry). My problem is simple: he comes off as a geek. He’s not imposing as an athlete, and doesn’t jump out as anything special. I know what he’s capable of, and in the ring he suits ROH. But…he’s just so blah.

“We have to figure out who the best one is. I think  that’s me.” You think? Okay…

Rocky Romero promo

Man, these sit down promos aren’t helping either guy. Rocky Romero is a great athlete, charismatic wrestler, and someone who can still deliver on all fronts. But here he seems boring and bland. Maybe it’s the sit down concept? I don’t know, because Jonathan Gresham and Wheeler Yuta delivered in these last week, and Jay Lethal showed a ton of intensity. But these two are just boring.

I do have to praise Rocky for the way he talks strategy in terms of his match with Finlay. He plans to focus on his armbar submission and make Finlay exhaust his rope breaks early. THAT is great. Just zero intensity.

Pure Championship Tournament Block A First Round: David Finlay vs. Rocky Romero

Fifteen minutes and 2 commercial breaks later, we have a match! Love the stats for Rocky, including his record over Finlay in Japan and his notable wins in ROH (including Daniel Bryan and Cesaro–but they insist on avoiding those names). David Finlay enters still devoid of any charisma. Code of Honor is respected with a handshake before the bell, and we are reminded that the winner will face Jay Lethal in the Block A Semifinal.

Caprice Coleman with the great point about both men being active in New Japan this year, meaning they have less ring rust than most. Of course, they’re opponents, so it gives neither the advantage. Ian Riccaboni gives the rules during the opening moments of the match, which at least wastes less time.

Three minutes into the match and David Finlay is finally showing some charisma.  This tournament is all about athleticism and in-ring prowess (a fact which Coleman just remind me of on commentary), but it’s STILL pro wrestling, and you need the whole deal to keep people engaged. Also, we go to commercial 4 minutes into the match, giving us three commercial breaks and less than 4 minutes of wrestling in the first 22 minutes of the program.

No offense to Riccaboni, but reminds me of how much I miss Dave Prazak calling ROH matches. Ian is a great host and would do well if ROH utilized panels, but this just isn’t working as well for me.

Rocky cuts off Finlay seven and a half minutes in, meaning that we are halfway through the time limit of the match and nothing of significance has happened. But with Rocky in control, and with a face towards the camera, the storytelling finally begins. I really hope Rocky wins, because this tournament needs personality.

Rocky shows some fire after not getting three, using his warning on a closed fist. He moves to another Diablo Armbar, getting Finlay to use another rope break. Finlay reverses Sliced Bread into a back breaker for a nearfall, then gets the win with his Last Shot

Winner and advancing to the Block A Semifinals – David Finlay
Rating – ***
Impression: Good match, started off slow, but picked up. Watch for the brilliance of Rocky Romero.

I am bummed that Rocky Romero was eliminated here, because he was really shining in the match.

Matt Sydan promo

In the opening 30 seconds of Matt Sydal’s promo, he’s outclassed everyone on this episode. He speaks with a certain urgency that was lacking. He puts over himself, his opponent in Delirious and their history, and the importance of Ring Of Honor both historically and today.

Delirious promo

I remember when Delirious took over the ROH Academy, and all the talents suddenly started to have personas. This man is a fantastic character, and proves so here. Talking in jibberish with subtitles, he tells a better story than Finlay or Romero before him.

“I’m doing this because I’m bored, and I want to play chess with the best wrestlers in the world” is a brilliant line that perfectly sums up this character.

Pure Championship Tournament Block B First Round: Matt Sydal vs. Delirious

Lots of intensity despite the opening being an obvious “feeling out process.” These two know each other so well, and it shows. The intensity also minimizes the need for commentary, making it complimentary to the product, it doesn’t have to make up for anything like we saw earlier.

Both guys are also, for lack of a better word, noisy. And that really makes a difference as we don’t have fans. Four and a half minutes in, Delirious uses a rope break to impact Sydal’s shoulder, showing how smart he is in the ring. He had been focusing on the leg, but commentary brilliantly points out that Sydal had shoulder surgery in 2010 and it’s always bothered him, proving that Delirious had this set-up in mind all along.

Delirious kicking out multiple times with his legs trapped under him tells me two things: you can still do something new in wrestling in 2020, and Delirious is obviously a fan of yoga. Sydal then taps Delirious’ out with his own move, the Cobra Clutch, right before the 10 minute mark.

Winner and advancing to the Block B Semifinals – Matt Sydal
Rating – ***1/2
Impression: Match of the night, you can tell they’ve done this more times than we know. Great intensity, great wrestling, and great finish.

Matt Sydal advancing makes total sense, since he was wrestling the booker. Glad to see him moving on and I am looking forward to his match with Gresham.

Overall Impression – 7/10

Honestly, my quips are the same: goofiness outside of the ring that makes this look like we are “playing wrestling promotion.” In-ring action was great, but we went nearly 20 minutes before getting to the action. Cut down the promos, and add in a third non-tournament match. It’s a simple idea, and it would add so much.

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Greg DeMarco

Greg DeMarco’s ROH #469 Review: Pure Championship Tournament Kicks Off

Greg DeMarco starts playing catch-up on ROH with the Pure Championship tournament, featuring Jay Lethal vs. Dalton Castle and Jonathan Gresham vs. Wheeler Yuta!



ROH Ring Of Honor Pure Tournament Pure Championship

Greg DeMarco starts playing catch-up on ROH as the company makes its return to TV with the Pure Championship tournament, featuring Jay Lethal vs. Dalton Castle and Jonathan Gresham vs. Wheeler Yuta!

If you know me, you know I am a huge ROH fan going back to the “old days” when the company featured stars like CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, AJ Styles, Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), Kevin Steen (Owens), El Generico (Sami Zayn) and many more. Recent years turned me off of the of the product, but with ROH making a return and focusing on the Pure Championship, I am ready to make my own return…to honor.

ROH episode #469

The company gives us a quick overview of the Pure Championship that was impactful for me–a guy who was already familiar with the product. For someone who isn’t? I think it’s lacking. Then we have Quinn McKay here to present the field to us, in a manner that was downright goofy with the majestic music and all. It doesn’t seem to fit the “pro wrestling” motif they are going for.

They also give us an overview of the rules, and I am left wondering if they simply forgot that the first closed fist earns you a warning, and the second costs you a rope-break if you have any left. If you’re going to bring this back, even using the old belt, let’s do it right!

Jay Lethal promo

We’re doing sit down interviews with each person, and it’s still just…odd. I don’t know if it’s the music, the way it’s lit, filmed, or what. It just seems like I am watching an old show, not something that was released within the past month. Jay Lethal does a good job selling the importance of the championship, but I question calling Brian Kendrick “Spanky.” Yes, that was his name when Lethal beat him, but today’s fan isn’t going to remember this as well. This is a problem similar to AEW. you’re trying to build new fans, not just appease old ones.

Dalton Castle promo

I am on record thinking that Dalton Castle was cheated in his ROH World Championship reign. but his promo didn’t sell me on ANYTHING. And I love Dalton Castle.

Pure Championship Tournament Block A First Round: Dalton Castle vs. Jay Lethal

I love, love, LOVE the stats on the wrestler cards on their way to the ring. Kinda reminds me of another company that was going to focus on stats….and hasn’t. The clock and rope break counter on the bottom of the screen is a nice touch. It’s strange to see if during a whole match, but it’s also something I will get used to.

Jay Lethal was manipulated into the ropes by Dalton Castle early, establishing the importance of the rope breaks. Later Castle used the rope for leverage, allowing Ian Riccaboni to explain to use that that wasn’t a rope break.

Castle went for a Bangarang at the 11-minute mark, seeing his leg give out at the end. Lethal had to use his second rope break to stop the pinfall. Jay Lethal connects with the Lethal Injection at 13 minutes to score the pinfall.

Winner and advancing to the Block A Semifinals – Jay Lethal
Rating – ***
Impression: Great match, cheated out of fan reaction, definitely one to watch.

I really liked his this match established the rules of the tournament, as Lethal used two rope breaks and Dalton Castle used none. Castle was highly effective with his legal closed fists, telling that story as well. This was a good match to kick off the tournament.

Wheeler Yuta promo

I was exposed to Wheeler as part of Dojo Pro on Amazon Prime, but this promo did a good job establishing who he is. Might be worth it to secure some footage of his matches, even if it’s from Dojo Pro. Pictures are great, but footage is better. Wheeler Yuta fits in with ROH, and this promo told me exactly that.

I also really liked Yuta describing his in-ring philosophy as a “decoder.” One who figures out his opponent through film study and the feeling out process of a match, and then “decodes” how to beat them. Break down their tendencies and exploit them. If you want to see wrestling presented as a modern-day sport–this is it.

Jonathan Gresham promo

Gresham’s rise to prominence in ROH came when I wasn’t really watching, so for me this was a great opportunity for me to gain an appreciation for what he means to the company now, and how he compares to those who historically came before him. He ended with a bit of a manifesto on pure wrestling, and it makes me wonder if we could see a pure wrestling vs. non pure wrestling feud of some kind. Not sure it would work.

Honestly my reaction to the Yuta and Gresham promos makes me think I was too hard on the Jay Lethal and Dalton Castle promos. The goofy music didn’t matter as much to me, because I was engaged in both talents. I am literally sold on both after these not-so-short promos.

Pure Championship Tournament Block A First Round: Jonathan Gresham vs. Wheeler Yuta

Love the storytelling of Jonathan Gresham coming to the ring without his World Tag Team Championship, when Lethal did. Gresham was the one campaigning for this title to return, and he is fully focused on it. I love Wheeler Yuta already, but dude we gotta talk about your footwear. You stopped wearing a shirt, and look more like a wrestler. Get some boots! I knew Gresham was shorter, but didn’t realize that was 5’4″. I am going to assume that’s not worked at all, even though many heights are.

I don’t love the amateur wrestler in the background, this is pro wrestling. You don’t want to associate this tournament with a regression in the product–because despite this being a return of a championship after being gone for 14 years, it’s not that.

Wheeler Yuta is 6 feet tall, the tallest of all four competitors featured on this episode. And at 23 years old, he’s already a fantastic storyteller. If he adds size, he can be a big time star–not only for ROH, but in the wrestling business in general.

If you think the first match of this show told a good story, then this one told a phenomenal in-ring story. I can’t even describe the finishing sequence of this match, a punch of rolling pinfall combinations that ended with Gresham pounding Yuta’s knee into the mat until he tapped.

Winner and advancing to the Block A Semifinals – Jonathan Gresham
Rating – ****
Impression: Match of the night, which sounds silly when we only had two matches. But if there were more, this would still likely be on top.

Wheeler Yuta belongs in ROH, and he proved that here. Jonathan Gresham is one of the best in-ring wrestlers in the world today. Hopefully he sticks around.

Overall Impression – 8/10

Ring Of Honor is still a little too “goofy” for my tastes outside the ring, but they more than make up for it in the ring. I am not 100% sure others will agree. It makes me wonder who is producing the non-in-ring elements of the program, and what we have to do to replace them. The in-ring action honestly holds up against any in the world, but the other elements remind me of a high school media project. The talent deserves better.

I do want to talk about the environment. It reminds me of WWE NXT at Full Sail or the Performance Center. Outside of the WWE Thunderdome, I think it’s one of the best environments anyone has created during this “COVID era” of wrestling. I wouldn’t be opposed to piping in some crowd reactions to go along with this action, as there were some great moments in both matches that didn’t land as well without the crowd noise.

Ian Riccaboni makes a great point about how the fans would “come alive” when Lethal and Castle were both down, and he was exactly right. Caprice Coleman, being a wrestler himself, is really underrated as a color commentator. He does a great job adding to the story by adding the wrestlers’ perspective, as well as explaining the technical elements. Riccaboni sounds like a fan who has learned from commentators (not his fault, he’s not a wrestler) when getting technical. Coleman sounds 100% credible and legit.

Putting aside the goofiness of some non-in-ring elements, the only thing I would change here is adding a middle match that is designed to give us a break from the Pure Rules, and introduce (or reintroduce) us to other ROH talent. My 8/10 rating is propped up by the in-ring action, which has to make up for the goofiness otherwise.

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