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Matt’s Recap & Reviews: Ring of Honor TV (10/28/19)

Ring of Honor Television on FITE TV: Episode #423

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Ring of Honor Television on FITE TV: Episode #423

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

Showing the ending of Death Before Dishonor between Angelina Love and Kelly Klein, with Love using the Botox Injection to get the win and the Women of Honor Championship. Ian Riccobani tells us The Allure has captured the championship and will defend it tonight in a triple threat match against Sumie Sakai and Jenny Rose. We are introduced to our first match of the night featuring a “Vegas Wild Card” match with all the participants chosen at random.

1) Jay Briscoe vs Joe Hendry vs Silas Young vs Cheeseburger vs Marty Scurll vs Jeff Cobb vs Josh Woods vs Brian Johnson vs Rhett Titus
Death Before Dishonor Fallout Tour
Las Vegas, Nevada

Starts off with Kenny King and Cheeseburger. King drives Cheeseburger into the corner and asks for a test of strength, but Cheeseburger reverses, King with double arm drags and gets a wristlock maintaining control. Cheeserburger tries to escape with a side headlock and gets dropped hard off the mat with a shoulderblock. Misdirection from Cheeseburger off the ropes, shoulder block gets two! Hard powerslam by Kenny King gets two! King allows Cheeseburger to roll into the corner and tag in Rhett Titus.

The former tag team champions tie up as Johnson tags Kenny King and begins barking at King that he’s the legal man and to get out of the ring. Johnson tags in Josh Woods as Johnson and King argue on the apron. Titus and Woods lock up. Cravate into a head takeover, Woods with a rolling pin gets one. Woods transitions into a full nelson and they exchange standing switches. Silas Young tags Rhett Titus as Silas Young and his protege square off. Fans start to change “Hug it out”, Young refuses as they tie up. Woods with an inside legsweep into a lateral press. He rolls Silas Young inside out and turns it into a banana split roll up as we fade to a commercial..

Back with Joe Hendry in the ring, driving Brian Johnson into the corner and Hendry tags in Rhett Titus. Titus with a power slam and a tag to Cheeseburger. Titus body slams Cheeseburger onto Johnson for a pin and a kickout. Burger tags Silas Young who stomps Johnson in the corner and tags Titus back in. Big splash by Titus gets a two count. Johnson with a back elbow ito a springboard shoulder. Johnson tags in Jeff Cobb who throws Titus over his head! Jeff Cobb lifts both Cheeseburger and Silas Young in his arms before dispatching both. He tosses Cheeseburger like a rag doll. Cobb destroying all four of his opponents. Titus flips onto the top rope, caught by Cobb in a stalling falcon arrow. Standing moonsault gets two by Cobb! Cobb tags in Kenny King who slaps Rhett Titus across the face and trash talks him. King heads outside the ring as Titus takes chase, back in, Johnson with a hard lariat that drops Titus and Johnson demands King tag him in. King fakes him out and back on the attack. Snap suplex! King backs into Woods who tags in. Woods crushes Rhett Titus! Knee in the corner! Pin and One count only. Brian Johnson slaps Woods back and tags in. Brian Johnson tells the crowd to shut up as Johnson attacks Titus as a couple fans chant “Last Place” at Johnson as he works over Rhett Titus.

Shenanigans occur as Johnson refuses to tag any of the men in his corner as Cheeseburger gets a hot tag. Cartwheel into a superkick and a Fuji Special! King attacks Cheeseburger, Hendry drops King with knee facebuster, Woods in and sends Hendry out, Titus drops Woods, Johnson launches off the top rope onto Titus and Silas Young with a backbreaker across the knee into a clothesline! Cobb and Hendry standing face to face. Titus ad Cheeseburger attack Cobb! Cobb with double pumphandles to King and Cheeseburger as Hendry drops two men with a double fallaway slam as they square off again. Running double clotheslines and both men are down. Everyone’s down! On the outside, Cobb and Hendry crash into each other as the crowd explodes. Silas Young and Josh Woods in the ring, Brian Johnson drags Woods outside, Cheeseburger drops Brian Johnson! Kenny King with an Arn Anderson Spinebuster to Burger! Titus with a Caporeia Kick to Burger! King tries a suplex but Titus blocks, Young and Woods drop the All Night Express from behind and Woods school boys Silas Young for the win in 15:00 shown.

* Jay Briscoe and Marty Scurll were shown on the screen as participants in the match, where as Kenny King and Rhett Titus were not, yet the latter were in the match. Odd.

Winner: Josh Woods (and his teammates who I couldn’t keep straight at all? Was this a tag match? Was it a Scramble? No rules were discussed, the pre-match advertisement didn’t have the correct participants shown, action was wild and tags were random)
Grade: *
Thoughts: I was going to give this two stars for having a decent length for an opener, one of the longest matches I’ve reviewed for Ring of Honor TV, but I need to take a whole star off for how confusing this whole thing was. I’m not surprised, this match is the epitome of Ring of Honor Television wrapped up into one highlight.

We are back with highlights of The Kingdom against The Bouncers in a Barroom Brawl at Death Before Dishonor as The Bruiser and Milonas were bleeding. Also shown was Marselgia throwing darts into Beer’s back. Everyone was bleeding as Milonas and Bruiser picked up the win. Backstage, Bruiser and Milonas celebrated with crimson masks, as Beer City Bruiser asked who’s next because they just proved they could fight.

2) The Bouncers (Brian Milonas & Beer City Bruiser) Vs Slice Boogey & Chris Bey

Boogie pie faces Bruiser to start as trash talks him. Bruiser is in great shape from when I’ve seen him before as Bruiser crushes Boogie as the crowd chanting “Beer Beer Beer” as Milonas and Bey get tagged in. Bey on the attack but Milonas sends him into the corner. Milonas tries a charge but Bey with a kick to the face. He tries to jump off the top, but Milonas drops him with a clothesline! Chris Bey gets crushed under Milonas who tags in Bruiser. Bey with forearms, missed a swing, Bruiser dazes Bey with dizzying punches and bites Bey’s forehead! Bruiser argues with the referee that he didn’t bite him, because he ain’t go no teeth.

On the outside, Boogie drops Bruiser with a clothesline. Bruiser rolls back in and Bey with a shining wizard! Tries a pin but Bruiser kicks out before one! Tag to Boogie who drops an elbow on Bruiser but kicks out. Bey tags back in, standing moonsault gets one only! Bey tags in Boogie. Hard spinebuster on Bey! Bruiser sends Boogie down and tags in Milonas who buries Boogie in the corner, runnuing body splash to both his opponents! Crossbody by Milonas onto Bey! Double team as Milonas with the diving guillotine legdrop, reminiscent of The Decapitation Device with a legdrop instead of an elbow, for the win at 4:30.

Winners: The Bouncers
Grade: *
Thoughts: Athletic squash as Boogie and Bey looked decent in a couple minutes of action. The Bouncers deserve more recognition for their explosive team work. I think they will be ROH Tag Team Champions before long. They are one of, if not the top contending team in the company right now. (I need to say this, and it might not be popular, but Brian Milonas needs to lose some weight. That’s not healthy to be carrying around that much weight. As I mentioned in the beginning of the match, Bruiser looks to be in the best condition I’ve ever seen him in this company in years, he’s still heavy, but he’s lost a ton of weight. He looks healthy and bulky, not balloon huge. Milonas looks really big. I hope he decides to give his body the benefit of the doubt before his heart gives out on him and we lose another wrestler young. Please Brian, please do yourself a favor.)

After a commercial, we are back with Rhett Titus, Silas Young, Cheeseburger, and Joe Hendry backstage. Titus says “We learned some things here in Las Vegas, 1) Cheeseburger is the greatest 2) I Believe in Joe Hendry (#IBelieveInJoeHendry), 3) Kenny King is going to get his ass whooped, and 4) I guess the student is better than the teacher, as he turns his attention to Silas who says his teammates didn’t have his back! Hendry breaks them up and tries to cheer them up by handing out autographs as Silas storms away.

Backstage after Death Before Dishonor, Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham are discussing their electric match. Lethal has an ice pack on his elbow, telling Gresham he also broke his elbow, and asks Gresham if they’ve hashed things out. Lethal apologizes if he upset him and apologizes for his constructive criticism. He says Gresham is the best technical wrestler in the world, and if they’re going to team he needs to start listening to his partner. Lethal asks what next, Gresham says he thinks the tag division needs a team like them. (Insert Simon Miller’s “Nobody Talks Like That!”)

Back with Ian Riccobani and Quinn McKay who plugs Rush vs Jeff Cobb at Honor United which can be found on Honor Club! Riccobani tells us that Gresham is a former Top Prospect Tournament competitor, but right now we will see highlights of the 2019 Finals match between Austin Gunn and Dak Draper. Literal highlight package of the entire match. Dak Draper picked up the win as Gunn stares into the lights as Draper celebrates.

Backstage, Dak Draper said at the beginning if the tournament he said he didn’t have to work hard to win the tournament and then remarked that was a lie. He’s been waking up every morning five days a week to train and says he pushes himself harder than anyone does. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s tall, but he’s strongest asset is his mind. He says his mind is the general and his body is the army. He says it doesn’t matter who the TV Champion is, he’s got him in his sights.

After a break, highlights of Rush winning the ROH World Championship, as Riccobani tells us about Rush against Jeff Cobb! He tells us about ROH The Experience, ROH Unauthorized, ROH Survival of the Fittest, and Final Battle all coming up for whoever the champion is. Quinn McKay says Rush is one of the hardest hitting and toughest champions of all time, as she wants Brian Zane to tell us his Top 5 Toughest ROH Champions Of All Time.

Brian Zane introduces him and says success is defined by win and losses, but also tenacity. 5) Austin Aries, the greatest man who ever lived, snapped Samoa Joe’s undefeated streak and won the title in 2004, then five years later became the first ever two time ROH World Champion in 2009, 4) Mr.Wrestling Kevin Steen, he says Steen has always flew in the face of authority but always backed it up. He defeated El Generico in one of the greatest ladder matches of all time, and also caused a riot when he spat in the face of Jay Lethals parents, 3) Samoa Joe, The Samoan Submission Machine, when you think of dominance you think of Samoa Joe. Joe was the first to defend the championship internationally, making it the ROH World Championship, and reigned for 21 months, the longest of all time, 2) Brian Danielson, the man once called The American Dragon was a founding father of the company, winning the championship in 2005, and holds the record for most successful defenses over 400 days, he wrestled the end of his reign with a major shoulder injury, and 1) Nigel McGuiness. No one felt for so long, in so much pain as much as Nigel, he held the belt longer than anyone else for a 545 day reign, withstanding a torn bicep (which ultimately ended his career), a concussion, a broken nose, and more while holding his own against the best wrestlers in the world. Dalton Castle walks up to Brian Zane and complains he’s not on the list even though he broke his back and then won the championship and defended the championship for six months, asking if that’s not tough?! He says he swims in the ocean and he’s not afraid to swim with sharks. Castle says he’s the top 5 toughest champion of all time!

3) ROH Women Of Honor Champion Angelina Love (w/ Mandy Leon) vs Sumie Sakai vs Jenny Rose
ROH Women of Honor Championship
Triple Threat

This is a television exclusive match. Jenny Rose out first, Sakai next, followed by the champion, Angelina Love. We are told Sakai was the first ever Women of Honor champion, and she trained Jenny Rose. Cabana says Love will do anything to retain the championship.
Bell sounds as we have under 10 minutes left in the show.

All three women stand across from each other. The challengers attack Love early. Double team attacks on the champion in the corner, double suplex! Double clothesline and the champion rolls to the outside. Jenny Rose turns it against Sakai inside and tries to suplex her but Sakai blocks. Rose reverses into a spinning side suplex for two. Off the ropes, Rose crushes Sakai, and Sakai tries again but Love trips her and gets in the ring. Running crossbody by Love on Rose. Sakai trips Love ad drags her outside, dropping her with a forearm! Inside, Jenny Rose with a Fishermans Suplex for two! Fade to a break…

Jenny Rose has a half crab locked in tight on Sakai, as Love drops Rose with a bulldog, Love locks in the Koji Clutch on Sumie Sakai in the middle of the ring! Nowhere to go! Sakai refuses to give up and swings her legs to the ropes. Sakai looks unconscious and Love breaks after four count. Love with a Lou Thesz Press to Rose on the outside, Rose trips Love into the apron, inside, Rose chops Love in the corner, and Love throws Rose outside and targets Sakai again. Sakai with a Fishermans Buister! Hooks the leg! Two count only! Love reverses Smash Mouth into a bridge pin for two! Love sends Sakai outside into Jenny Rose! Jenny Rose rolls inside with a jawbreaker to the champion! Rose with a boot to the throat! Rose targets on Sakai who is rolling in the ring. Both women brawling as they both take down Love. Rose with a short Spear for two and a half! Victory roll by Sumie Sakai for two! Rose with a lariat, hooks the legs, two and a half! Uranagi by Rose! Love dives in to break the count! Love with the Botox Injection! Sukai breaks the pin! Sukai hooks Love in the Smash Mouth again as Mandy Rose distracts Sakai on the apron and she chases Rose. Turns around into a Botox Injection for the win at 8:45 shown.

Winner AND STILL ROH Women of Honor Champion: Angelina Love
Grade: **1/2
Thoughts: For a match that ran under 10 minutes there was some fun stuff in here between three talented women. I wasn’t expecting much, but they delivered. Jenny Rose looked like a future star, and Sukai can just go, and at her age that’s truly amazing. Sukai being “distracted” by Mandy Rose on the apron was stupid, why not hit your move and THEN attack Rose? It’s as old as time in wrestling and it doesn’t get any less illogical. Another complaint I have is, Sakai didn’t sell either submission hold AT ALL. The announcers kept playing it like she was exhausted. Not believable, at all.

Overall Show Grade: 5/10

Maybe one of these days we will get a show worth watching. Few major complaints this week, but overall, the planning and production of these shows are mindbogglingly bad. Who makes these episodes for television? They surely can’t all go through the same person or team. There’s so much confusing direction that it can’t be possible; it’s embarrassingly unprofessional. Does this company know they are satire wrestling right now? Even in TNA’s worst moments, they weren’t this bad. I will replace whoever is in charge of producing these shows, and I’ll do it for half the salary and I promise you, I’ll make a relevant program that makes sense.


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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.

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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 FITE.tv) 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!

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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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