ROH on SBG #494

Baltimore, MD – 3.8.2021

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.

But first, we have two bonus matches to get into, beginning with a match exclusive to the March 2nd Episode of ROH Week by Week:

Pure Rules
Joe Keys vs. Dak Draper

Jonathan Gresham and Will Ferrara join Ian Riccaboni on commentary for this contest. The Pure Rules are as follows:
*The competitors are to obey the “Code of Honor”, shaking one another’s hand before and after the match.
*Each wrestler has 3 rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls. After a wrestler has used all 3 of their rope breaks, submission and pin attempts on or under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal.
*Closed-fist punches to the face are not permitted. Punches to other parts of the body are permitted, excluding low blows. The first use of a closed fist results in a warning, a second will be a disqualification.
*This match has a 15 minute time limit. If the match goes the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.

Keys goes to the ropes early to escape a front facelock. Draper tries a chop after releasing the hold, but it gets blocked. Draper shoulder blocks Keys to the mat, but Keys comes back with a knee to the mid-section. Keys jams Draper’s knee in the middle rope. He charges at Draper, but Draper gives him a Hot Shot. Draper then Cactus crossbody’s Keys to the floor, throwing back into the ring for a two count. Keys uses his second rope break to avoid a gutwrench powerbomb from Draper. Draper sends Keys to the ropes and follows in with knee strikes three times. Keys avoids a gutwrench and tries to fight from the mat with uppercuts. Draper weaves him up into a slam for two. He toys with Keys in a gutwrench position before finally tossing him aside. Keys scores with a backslide and uppercut before low bridging and sending Draper to the apron. Keys attacks Draper’s knee. Draper ducks a clothesline from behind. His knee is too weak for the Magnum K.O. He tries a springboard maneuver which Keys counters with a German suplex. He suplexes Draper, but misses the follow-up diving headbutt. Draper boots Keys and gives him a Doctor Bomb for two. He puts Keys in the Mile High Muffler (a standing Stretch Muffler) and Keys submits at 8:23. Draper’s new finisher is a perfect addition to his arsenal as he segues into the Pure Division. Although their story was sound, the action was much more awkward and mistimed than you typically see from these two. There wasn’t much intensity to speak of either, which usually helps the energy level in a closed environment such as this. I was let down by the match in general, but only because I know they’re capable of much, much better. *½

The other bonus match was a title match ROH fans voted to see as part of the ongoing ROH “Experience”, airing both on the Experience Facebook page and YouTube March 3rd:

ROH World Television Championship
Dragon Lee vs. Brian Johnson

Dragon Lee has been champion since 12.13.2019 and this is his fifth defense. He gets up Johnson’s ire by very slowly making his way out to the ring. Lee also has his tag team title with him, which he won this past week. Johnson attacks Lee before the bell. Lee avoids a corner attack, but Johnson comes right back with a flying shoulder tackle that sends Lee to the floor, and follows up with a suicide dive. Lee catches Johnson with a dropkick in the corner. He forearms Johnson down to a seated position and boot scrapes him repeatedly. Lee hits a running dropkick to a seated Johnson, then takes a seat himself and smiles as he looks at Johnson in despair. Lee smacks Johnson in the back of his head. Angry, Johnson accepts Lee’s offer of a free forearm strike. Johnson is able to get in a pump kick. They trade German suplexes. Johnson connects with another pump kick but Lee knocks him down with a clothesline. Johnson blocks a knee strike. Although Lee blocks the first attempt, Lee is able to connect with Spike Eskin on the second try, but only for two. Johnson tries another move off the second rope, but ends up being stricken with a knee in the face from Lee. Johnson puts his arms around his head and it successfully blocks the Incinerator Knee! A surprised Johnson grabs Lee and hits The Process for two. He tries for the Process a second time. Lee weaves him around into a ripcord knee, holding onto Johnson’s wrist as Johnson crumbles to the mat. Johnson antagonizes Lee, who serves repeated knees to the chin. Finally, the Incinerator Knee connects for the pin at 6:52. This was so much better than I expected, and I genuinely thought Johnson may just get the job done. They kept a brisk pace for the entirety of the match and worked really well together. Color me surprised. I think there’s a ton of value in making your bonus social media matches substantial; nothing wrong with a Dojo bout or a showcase match, but throwing something like this out there every so often makes me more inclined to tune into those channels more often. **¾

Now onto this week’s episode! We start with a clip from last week, where a chair shot from Kenny King cost Shane Taylor the ROH World Championship against RUSH. Backstage, King says it was crazy for us to think he would turn on his familia. RUSH says he is going to remain champion for a long time and destroy whomever gets in his way. La Bestia del Ring says LFI is all about discipline and humiliation. RUSH says nothing happens unless he says so.

Pure Rules
Dalton Castle vs. Josh Woods

This is a rematch from Episode 488, and was requested by Castle who lost the first match. The competitors are on opposite trajectories, with Woods securing big wins the past year over Jay Briscoe (in tag action), Jay Lethal, and of course Castle himself. Castle on the other hand has lost every match but one since September. The Pure Rules are as follows:
*The competitors are to obey the “Code of Honor”, shaking one another’s hand before and after the match.
*Each wrestler has 3 rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls. After a wrestler has used all 3 of their rope breaks, submission and pin attempts on or under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal.
*Closed-fist punches to the face are not permitted. Punches to other parts of the body are permitted, excluding low blows. The first use of a closed fist results in a warning, a second will be a disqualification.
*This match has a 15 minute time limit. If the match goes the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.

Castle backs Woods to the ropes in the hopes of throwing Woods down. Woods trips Castle, who nicely pulls Woods back into a waistlock. Woods moves Castle into a lateral press and then a double wristlock. Castle manages to escape and get to his feet. However, when Castle goes for a leapfrog, Woods pulls him down and goes for the Woods Lock, which he has re-dubbed the Gorilla Lock. Castle uses his first rope break to escape before it is fully applied. Castle angers Woods with a pie face and double leg takedown. Woods boots Castle outside. When he comes out, Castle drives Woods back first into the ring frame and tosses him over the barricades. During the commercial break, Castle gave Woods an exploder suplex on the floor. Back in the ring, Woods ducks a clothesline and hits a springboard gamengiri. Woods unloads with a series of corner attacks before giving Castle a butterfly suplex for two. Woods goes for the Gorilla Lock and again Castle uses the ropes to escape. Castle escapes a spin-out knee strike. Castle tries Bang-a-Rang and kneels down on Woods for a pin when Woods tries to counter into a submission. Castle ducks a clothesline and feigns a back injury, baiting Woods into a small package for the pin at 9:44. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Castle exploited his broken back to secure his first victory in a long time. Castle also did not act very honorably during the match with his pie facing and tossing Woods over the barricades. A solid match with a good story, but their first match as definitely the superior bout. **½

Silas Young makes his way to the ring in a suit to address Josh Woods. Woods wants to know where the hell Young has been. Young says the last time he saw Woods was during the Pure Title tournament. He says at that time, Woods was feeling pretty good about himself after securing a few wins and told Young he needed to focus on a singles career. Woods then lost to Jonathan Gresham in the Pure tournament, and also failed to secure a TV Title shot at “Final Battle 2020.” Now, Castle made Woods look like a fool. While Woods may be a beast, Young says he has a lot to learn about pro wrestling, and the best way Young thinks he can teach Woods is for them to get back to kicking ass in the tag team division. As Young leaves Woods to consider this option, Young asks Woods “do you want to be good, or do you want to be great?”

ROH World Championship #1 Contendership
EC3 vs. Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal vs. Matt Taven

The winner of this match will challenge RUSH for the ROH World Championship at the 19th Anniversary Show later this month. Maria Kanellis joins commentary for this bout. EC3 only extends the Code of Honor to Jay Briscoe, who does not give him the satisfaction. Briscoe pummels and stomps EC3 down and takes the fight with him to the floor. This leaves Lethal and Taven in the ring. Lethal scores a quick one count after a hip toss into a cartwheel dropkick. Taven dropkicks Lethal to the floor and follows him out. EC3 Irish whips Briscoe who wipes out both Lethal and Taven with a double clothesline. EC3 suplexes Briscoe into the ring from the ring apron and sends him back first into the corner. Lethal dropkicks Briscoe to the floor, but turns around into an inside out clothesline from EC3. Taven missile dropkicks EC3 to the floor, and Lethal gives Taven the Lethal Combination. Taven slips outside to avoid a pin. After he catches his breath, Lethal looks to dive, but instead Taven clotheslines Lethal outside and dives onto both Lethal and EC3. Briscoe snaps off a Frankensteiner on Taven and clobbers him with a big boot. Briscoe overhead suplexes Lethal onto Taven in the corner and then pins Taven for two. Briscoe tries for the neckbreaker, only for Taven to counter with his own. EC3 throws Taven outside and pummels Briscoe after taking him down with a Thesz Press. EC3 only stops to stop Lethal and Taven from entering the ring. A headbutt from EC3 to Briscoe also dazes EC3 himself. Lethal and Taven do finally make it into the ring, with offense leading to all four individuals laying. Lethal stops Taven from hitting Aurora Borealis. He and Briscoe fight over Taven perched on the top turnbuckle. They decide to go for a double superplex, and EC3 sneaks in underneath to powerbomb them both in the process. EC3 grabs Briscoe by his ear. He tells Lethal to kick Briscoe in the face. Lethal chooses to attack EC3 instead. Lethal blocks a Jay Driller and puts Briscoe in the figure four. EC3 powerbombs Taven onto Lethal to break up the submission. EC3 hooks Lethal for a Jay Driller. Briscoe attacks EC3. Their fight spills outside the ring, over the barricades, and to the backstage area. Vita VonStarr appears ringside just as Taven hits Lethal with Just The Tip. Taven notices her as he ascends to the top turnbuckle. When Lethal charges, Taven hops down. Taven hits the Kick of the King and Just The Tip once again. VonStarr teases interfering when Taven goes for the Climax. The distraction allows Lethal to take him down with an Ace Crusher. Lethal Injection gets Lethal the pin at 14:04, and he will face RUSH for the World Title at the 19th Anniversary Show. This match built three separate rivalries, as we of course saw Jay Briscoe and EC3 lose control once more, Vincent taunting Matt Taven in the form of Vita VonStarr, and now the rivalry of the Foundation and LFI will continue over the World Title at the Anniversary show. That achievement alone makes this match a success, but the wrestling was really solid as well. ***¼

Overall: We are starting to see the Anniversary show shaping up, and a possible new direction for Josh Woods. The main event alone makes this a worthwhile watch for anyone considering watching the Anniversary Show later this month.

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