Baltimore, MD – 3.15.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.
We begin this review with a match exclusive to the March 9th Episode of ROH Week by Week, a triple threat match between individuals in the Television Title division.
Bandido vs. LSG vs. Tracy Williams
LSG attempts to be the aggressor. Williams and Bandido, former Lifeblood tag partners, double team LSG, resulting in him rolling to the floor for a respite. Williams controls Bandido in a double wristlock on the mat. Bandido maneuvers Williams down into a modified Mouse Trap pin. Williams grabs Bandido’s legs momentarily, but Bandido swings out and takes Williams over in an armdrag. Williams puts on a headscissors which Bandido pops out of, and LSG outside the ring looks for an opening. Bandido stops Williams’ leapfrog and boots him in the side of the head. LSG pump kicks Bandido to the floor. Williams blocks a pump kick and gives LSG a leg capture back suplex. LSG drops Williams with a neckbreaker for two and knocks Bandido off the apron as he tries to re-enter the ring. Williams swings LSG into a cradle to escape LSG’s cravate. Bandido jumps back in, clotheslining and uppercutting his opposition in opposite corners. Bandido staggers Williams with a knee and looks for the 21 Plex. LSG catches Bandido on the rebound and hits him with the Starjammer for the pin at 5:43. LSG crucifix pins Williams after a front face slam and gets a two count. He ducks a rolling clothesline from Williams and tries the Starjammer again. Williams counters. LSG escapes a piledriver attempt and goes for a kick. Williams rolls him into a crossface. LSG escapes and pump kicks Williams twice. He tries a springboard, but Williams avoids contact and re-applies the crossface. LSG taps out at 7:33. LSG got to pick up an important win in the first fall, but the victory for Williams secures his spot at the top of the TV title rankings. I was really big into Lifeblood, so seeing him and Bandido team up again was huge in my book as well. This was fun to watch. **¾
Now onto this week’s episode! We get a reminder that Flip Gordon cost the Briscoes an opportunity at the ROH World Tag Team Titles last month, and also are reminded that he was paid off by EC3 to do so. That’s the first time I’ve heard that, so that’s a storyline gap filled. We are also reminded that Jay Lethal won an opportunity to challenge RUSH for the World Title at the 19th Anniversary Show last week by pinning Matt Taven in a Four Corner Survival match. Taven was distracted by Vita VonStarr in that match, and Jay Briscoe and EC3 brawled to the back during the match. It is confirmed that EC3 and Jay Briscoe will meet in a Grudge Match at the 19th Anniversary Show. Also confirmed for the Anniversary show is “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus challenging Kenny King & Dragon Lee for the World Tag Team Titles on that show. Williams will also challenge Lee for the TV Title in a singles match, so they will meet in two separate title matches on the card. I have to imagine that is an ROH first.
Dak Draper vs. Fred Yehi
Based on the commentary, it seems Dak Draper’s request to be moved from the Television Title division into the Pure Title division has been accepted. Will Ferarra joins commentary for this match.
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.
A tentative trade of holds ends with Draper slamming Yehi. He misses a knee drop and Yehi gives him a strike. He goes for Draper’s knee, but Draper kneels, and Yehi converts to a waistlock. Draper chops Yehi in two corners before he Beele tosses Yehi into a knee drop. Draper escapes Yehi’s attempt at a headscissors.Yehi using a spinning chop and several knee drops in the corner to take Draper to the mat. Draper swings Yehi out of a waistlock, dropping him on the mat. Draper worked over Yehi’s left arm during the commercial break. Yehi counters a neckbreaker with a backslide for two. He also gets two with a prawn hold, but Draper scoops him up into a stampede style slam. Yehi stops a boot, attacks Draper’s foot, and then gives him a boot to the side of the head. Draper blocks a Koji Clutch attempt. Yehi fights back with several chops to the chest and shots to the stomach. Draper rocks Yehi with a closed fist and is issued a warning. Draper rocks Yehi with a boot, a back elbow, and a clothesline. He smashes Yehi with the Magnum K.O. for the pin at 11:16. It’s always a fun wrinkle when someone abuses the Pure Rules to get the advantage, and that’s exactly what Draper did in this match. He was not able to out-wrestle or outmaneuver Yehi, so he utilized a closed fist to turn things in his favor and pull out the victory. He also had a much better chance to showcase his wrestling acumen here moreso than the Joe Keys match from a couple weeks ago. Draper is someone I have enjoyed seeing grow over time, and I will continue to praise Yehi for being one of my favorites to watch in general. That said, it is clear Yehi is 1-4 so far in ROH, so needs to start turning his fortunes around. ***
Quinn McKay asks Tony Deppen what his mindset is going into his match with Kenny King, knowing that King is a current champion and that he also has LFI by his side. Deppen says he has to be on his A game and watch his back during the match, but he has confidence he can get it done. Kenny King is far more smug. He says all of the internet hype has gotten to Deppen’s head and he’s stupid to even be stepping in the ring with him. He puts Amy Rose on blast for talking to him in a way he does not care for, even though she didn’t say anything.
Kenny King vs. Tony Deppen
La Facción Ingobernable of Dragon Lee, La Bestia del Ring, and Amy Rose are in King’s corner. King cheapshots Deppen with a forearm strike during a handshake, which Deppen was rightfully hesitant to accept to begin with. King pummels Deppen on the mat after striking him in a couple of corners. Deppen comes back with a springboard armdrag, but King catches him on his shoulders and drops him down with a gutbuster across his shoulder. King outstretches Deppen on the mat while also grabbing at his face. During the commercial break, Dragon Lee got some licks on Deppen behind the referee’s back outside the ring. Deppen ducks a knee and schoolboys King for two. King drops Deppen with a spinebuster for two. Deppen fights back with open hand shots when King brings him to his feet. He kicks out King’s knees and looks for the Knee Trembler. King gets back to his feet. Deppen lures him into a trip and a double stomp to the back. He builds momentum with multiple forearm strikes in the corner. Deppen leg sweeps King into a back senton for two. King escapes a double stomp attempt. Deppen escapes a Royal Flush and knee strikes King to the floor. Deppen follows him out and gives King a tilt-a-whirl DDT on the floor! Back in the ring, Deppen connects with the double stomp off the top for two. A flub from Deppen with a springboard allows for King to give him the chin checker and a Tiger Driver. King decides to stop his pin at two, telling his LFI stablemates he isn’t finished with Deppen just yet. He calls for the Royal Flush with a smile on his face. Deppen counters that with an inside cradle for the pin at 8:29! While a more definitive win for Deppen would have been preferred, I understand that the way Deppen won is better suited while King is a title holder. Even so, Deppen got to look efficient when put against a current champion, and King’s hubris costing him the match fits his character perfectly. I’ll never turn down Deppen matches in general, especially big opportunities such as this. **¾
Ring and Lee attack Deppen after the bell, with Kenny joining in as well. Brody King runs out after Ring drops Deppen with a reverse kneeling piledriver and attacka all three of them. RUSH runs out, and even though Brody drops him with a Boss Man Slam, the numbers game gets the better of Brody. Lee and Kenny get a table as Ring and RUSH choke Brody. Ring puts Brody through the table with a super senton splash! Seems like Brody vs. Ring at the 19th Anniversary Show is a distinct possibility.
Flamita vs. Flip Gordon
Gordon refuses to follow the Code of Honor. A chop exchange ends with Flamita sending Gordon to the floor with a headscissors. It backfires as Gordon drives Flamita back first into the barricades when Flamita exits the ring. Flamita stops a second charge, but eats a hard superkick from Gordon. Back in the ring, Flamita hits a back handspring elbow which sends Gordon back to the floor. Flamita evades another barricade drill, superkicks Gordon, and hits a moonsault off the second turnbuckle. In the ring, Gordon dropkicks Flamita out of mid-air when he comes off the top turnbuckle. An intense strike exchange leads to Flamita giving Gordon a release Tiger Driver for a two count. Gordon crotches Flamita on the top turnbuckle. Flamita is able to jump down without taking damage and palm strikes Gordon when Gordon ascends to the top turnbuckle. Gordon pulls Flamita down into a sunset bomb for two, then roundhouse kicks Flamita for another two count. Gordon pulls up Flamita, and Flamita jumps up with a desperation spike reverse Frankensteiner! Another strike exchange ends with a superkick from Flamita. Flamita then hits a frog splash for two. They each get in kicks, and Gordon intercepts Flamita with a springboard Sling Blade. Flamita flips out of the Flip-5. Gordon catches a tiger feint kick attempt from Flamita. He is about to hit the Flip-5 when a chair is slipped into the ring. Distracted, Flamita is able to get off of Gordon’s shoulders. As the referee disposes of the chair, Gordon ducks a clothesline from Flamita. Mark Briscoe hits Gordon in the back with a chair as Gordon hits the ropes, and Flamita schoolboys him for the pin at 8:59. I like Mark getting revenge on Gordon, especially since they emphasized that this match has implications for rankings. It also can build to an Anniversary match between Mark and Gordon which is a perfectly cromulent way to keep them busy. As expected, this match kept a quick, entertaining pace, and although the action was repetitive, it at least fit a narrative. Maybe it’s because he is typically in tags or trios matches, but Flamita does not get the love he deserves. ***
Gordon attacks Flamita after the bell and rips his mask off. Bandido and Rey Horus run out to send Gordon packing as the referee covers up Flamita’s face and he gets his mask put back on.
Overall: Having the final two matches both end with subsequent beatdowns featuring factions is an odd choice, but overall the wrestling this week was good. The 19th Anniversary Card has also taken significant shape, and we have two more possible matches teased on this episode. Another good episode for ROH.