Baltimore, MD – 2.15.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman.
Before we get into this week’s episode, the February 9th episode of “ROH Week By Week” featured two individuals who have been training with the ROH Dojo.
O’Shay Edwards vs. Sledge
This is the ROH debut for Edwards and Sledge, who have both competed in Future of Honor matches previously. A shoulder block from Edwards is responded to by Sledge with a back elbow. Sledge surprises Edwards with a slingshot spear. Sledge clothesline Edwards to the floor and pump kicks him in the face from the apron. Edwards is able to side step an attack towards the guardrails, sending Sledge crashing ribs first into them, and Edwards knocks down Sledge with a clothesline. In the ring he German suplexes Sledge and whips him back first into the turnbuckles. There, Edwards drives his shoulder repeatedly into Sledge’s mid-section. On the mat he pummels Sledge’s ribcage. Sledge is able to counter a suplex, continuing that leverage with a belly-to-belly suplex into the corner. Edwards back elbows Sledge before giving him the Oklahoma Stampede. Sledge catches Edwards coming off the ropes, scooping him into a face first slam for two. Edwards comes back with a Rydeen Bomb for two. Sledge baits Edwards into making a kick attempt, rolling him into a schoolboy for two, then dropping Edwards with a spinebuster. Edwards then eggs on Sledge. They end up colliding mid-air when they both go for running crossbodies at the same time. The 10:00 time limit expires as the two get to their feet and begin to exchange blows. They give one another a respectful fist bump, but they both indicate “this ain’t over.” This match did a good showcasing both of the competitors styles and personalities. I think they work well together, so whether they keep feuding, end up as partners, or both, I am all for it. It’s nice to see some fresh faces in ROH and I think both Sledge and Edwards both will be welcome additions to the TV program and live events when the time comes. **½
Now we move onto this week’s episode, which begins with The Foundation of Jonathan Gresham, Jay Lethal, Tracy Williams, and Rhett Titus talking to Fred Yehi and Wheeler YUTA in a locker room area. Lethal says tonight’s main event is a six man tag where they will show what ROH was built upon: honor, respect, and wrestling. There may be some members of the locker room who disagree, but in ROH, there are rules to follow. Lethal says they will lead by example in tonight’s trios match. He even shakes things up by splitting the Foundation in two, and placing Yehi and YUTA on either side. Lethal says the match tonight is about sending a message to the locker room about what ROH is really all about. As everyone is leaving, Lethal asks Williams to hang back. They agree to start the match off, and Williams slyly reminds Lethal of what happened the last time they wrestled one another.
Tony Deppen vs. LSG
Deppen pinned LSG at “Final Battle 2020” in a four corner survival bout, which earned him a shot at the Television Title later in the evening. LSG feels Deppen took what was his. Deppen keeps in step with LSG, and after trading pinfalls, LSG sends Deppen to the floor. Outside they clobber each other with forearm strikes at the exact same time. LSG wins a forearm exchange and keeps on top of Deppen back inside the ring. Deppen is able to springboard dropkick LSG to the floor. LSG stops a penalty kick from the apron, pulls Deppen down so he crashes face first on the ring apron, then hits a twisting neckbreaker on the floor. Deppen makes it inside before the twenty count, with LSG standing on his neck as soon as he enters the ring. Back from commercial, LSG cuts off Deppen’s body shots with a knee to the head. He then puts Deppen in a Hangman’s neckbreaker. Deppen escapes and armdrags LSG away. Deppen lands a high crossbody. He dropkicks LSG to the corner and drills him with double knees for a two count. LSG drives Deppen to the corner, and when he comes out, he scoops him up into a front face slam. LSG gets two with a springboard forearm strike. LSG does some more damage outside the ring. Deppen ends up sweeping LSG’s legs out and slingshots in in the hopes of a submission. Although LSG counters, Deppen is able to give him a brainbuster and a running knee to the side of the head for two. Deppen German suplexes LSG after taking a couple of pump kicks. Deppen gets two with an O’Connor Roll, a small package, and a backslide. LSG pulls him up into a Hangman Bomb for the pin at 11:57. Throughout the entire match, the action told the story that each competitor felt they had something to prove and that a win was very important to them. It is a bit surprising Deppen came up short, but I don’t mind LSG climbing the ranks one bit, and his new finisher is cool as hell. **¾
Quinn McKay is sitting backstage with The Briscoes. They use a lot of boat metaphors, but it boils down to this: Mark is still upset Jay put their team on hold to handle his own issues with EC3. McKay asks if it’s possible to reconcile and get the team back on the same page. Mark says if Jay wants the team to get back together, he needs to be all in. They agree to do so with a forearm bump.
We then see a video hyping up RUSH defending the World Championship against Shane Taylor. It will take place in two weeks on ROH TV. Also in that episode, Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham will defend the Tag Team championships.
The Foundation (Jonathan Gresham & Tracy Williams) & Fred Yehi vs. The Foundation (Jay Lethal & Rhett Titus) & Wheeler YUTA
This match is a direct response to the Foundation’s disgust over the result of last week’s main event which ended in a No Contest, with the group looking to present a match that defines what Ring of Honor is all about, inviting Yehi and YUTA to join them as they share the same philosophy as The Foundation.
Williams pulls down Lethal looking for a submission, which Lethal escapes early by rolling Williams onto his shoulders to trigger a pin attempt. Williams and Titus briefly exchange holds before Yehi is tagged in. Titus goes to the ropes when Yehi overwhelms him on the mat. YUTA and Yehi end up in a stalemate, so YUTA requests and gets Gresham to tag in. YUTA is determined to best Gresham in their exchange, controlling Gresham by his wrist. He attempts a cross armbreaker, resulting in Gresham getting his foot on the ropes instantly. Lethal and Gresham pick up the pace as they trade holds at a brisk pace. Lethal hits his hip toss cartwheel dropkick. He pulls Gresham to the corner so Titus can tag himself in, kick Gresham in the shoulder, and give him a gutwrench slam. Gresham wheelbarrows Titus for a nearfall. Titus wisely holds onto the ankle. He and Lethal attempt a double team, but Gresham’s quickness results in Lethal accidentally spearing Titus, and then assisting Gresham with the Combination Cutter onto Titus as well! Yehi tags in. He sends Lethal outside with a rolling chop. He sweeps YUTA’s legs and dropkicks him in the side of the head before giving him a snap brainbuster for two. Yehi rolls YUTA into a Koji Clutch and YUTA gets the ropes to escape. Williams and Yehi double team YUTA, ending with a knee capture back suplex from Williams to YUTA. YUTA enzuigiri’s Williams and gives him a German suplex for two. Lethal halts Williams with the Lethal Combination, following up with Hail to the King for two. He goes for the figure four, but Williams pulls him down into a small package for two, then nails Lethal with a clothesline after Lethal kicks out. Titus belly-to-belly suplexes Gresham for two. Gresham is able to sweep out Titus’ legs and tag in Yehi. He stomps away at Titus before taking him back down with a back elbow. Titus cracks Yehi with a yakuza kick. He clotheslines Yehi into a jackknife pin from YUTA for two. YUTA also gets two with an Angle Slam. YUTA has him pinned with a diving DDT, but Williams breaks up the pin. Lethal and Titus work to keep Yehi isolated. However, after Titus clears the apron, he turns around into a Koji Clutch from Yehi. Gresham looks to stop an interjection but Lethal shoves him onto Yehi and Titus to break the pin. Gresham also shoves Yehi, the legal man, out of the trajectory of the Lethal Injection and takes the move himself. Titus surprises Yehi with a dropkick for the pin at 17:47. I’m not totally buying Titus’ dropkick as a finish just yet, but I do appreciate that it is being established over time. I also like that even though the Pure rules were not in effect, the rope breaks and breaking up of pinfalls were meaningful and used sparingly. Some of the pairings also provided some fun callbacks to the Pure tournament. As both a palette cleanser from last week’s brawl, and a match to epitomize the style of ROH, this very much worked for me. If you enjoy the “Pure” style of wrestling, you’ll really dig this. ***½
Overall: The past couple weeks were a mixed bag from an in-ring perspective, but was well balanced with some solid stories being built. This week brought the goods in the ring and gave wins to two roster members who seem to be climbing the ranks, while also giving us a glimpse into tension between the Briscoes. With the rock solid wrestling this week and title matches announced for the next two weeks, along with the date of the 19th Anniversary show finally revealed, ROH is giving us quite a bit to look forward to.