Baltimore, MD – 3.22.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.
We begin this review with a match exclusive to the March 16th Episode of ROH Week by Week:
The Foundation (Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus) vs. S.O.S. (Moses & Kaun) vs. The Bouncers (Beer City Bruiser & Brawler Milonas)
Despite Milonas handling Williams just fine, Bruiser tags in to show him how it is done. Williams gets the better of Bruiser and puts him in an armbar in the ropes. He tags Titus who frog splashes Bruiser’s lower back. Kaun blind tags in and surprises Titus with a running back elbow. Moses drives Kaun into Titus in the corner. Moses gives Titus a running seated boot, and Kaun follows up with a slingshot senton for two. Bruiser tags himself on Moses. He does some damage and surprisingly tags Moses back in instead of Milonas, who was requesting to be tagged in. Kaun boots Titus off the apron and to the floor, into the arms of Moses. Moses lawn darts Titus into the ring post. Kaun chokeslams Titus into a Vader Bomb from Moses. Milonas breaks up the pin, resulting in the Bouncers and S.O.S. brawling with each other. Even so, Kaun pulls Williams off the apron to make sure Titus can’t tag out. Titus avoids a corner attack and clothesline, rolling to Williams who is now back on the apron. Williams takes out S.OS. on his own, almost getting a three count on Moses with a rolling clothesline. Milonas pulls Moses over so he can tag himself in. Milonas lays out the Foundation simultaneously with a running crossbody, then assists Bruiser with a somersault senton off the apron onto S.O.S. The Bouncers flatten Titus with the Keg Drop, but Williams breaks up the pin attempt. Milonas is confused when Bruiser lights his cigar and wants to burn Titus with his cigar. He wants to win by any means necessary, but Milonas won’t allow it. Bruiser ditches the cigar and his tag team partner. Williams and Titus dropkick S.O.S. off the apron. Milonas finds himself the victim of two yakuza kicks from Titus. Titus takes Milonas off his feet with a belly-to-belly suplex. Titus wipes out S.O.S. with a tope con hilo as Williams lands a super senton on Milonas. Milonas kicks out, but Williams puts him in a crossface, and Milonas taps out at 9:39. The cigar bit felt contrived and came off very silly, but otherwise this was a good match. It was effective both in giving Williams and Titus another tag team win before challenging for the tag team titles at the PPV, and continuing the dissension between Bruiser and Milonas. S.O.S. also continue to up their tag team game, contributing nicely to the proceedings as well. **¾
Now onto this week’s episode!
Rey Horus vs. Eli Isom
This is Isom’s first match in ROH in over a year. He is starting fresh as a singles competitor, with the Shinobi Shadow Squad seemingly disbanded. Horus on the other hand is looking to rebound from both failing to capture the Television Championship, and losing the Six Man Tag Team titles. Horus scores the first big offensive move of the match, sending Isom to the floor and following with a beautiful tope con hilo. After the commercial break, Isom leaps over Horus to escape a corner attack and ripcords him into an overhead suplex. Isom impressively holds up Horus for a significant period of time in a vertical position. Horus however does escape and takes down Isom with a colliding Spanish Fly for two. A strike exchange concludes with an enzuigiri from Horus. Horus slides into the corner when Irish whipped and kicks Isom in the head from the apron. He belly-to-belly suplexes Isom into the turnbuckles for two. Isom blocks a tornado DDT, lifting Horus back into a vertical position and dropping him with a brainbuster (called The Promise) for the upset win at 8:01! This was an excellent re-introduction for Isom. Getting a win over a former champion is a great way for him to pivot into the next chapter of his ROH career, and with Horus more entrenched in the tag and six man scene right now, the loss does not do him much harm. I really like that Isom also got to showcase his strength and I appreciate the simplicity of a brainbuster finishing a match. I look forward to seeing more from Isom, and am especially glad to see him on the PPV card this Friday. **¾
We see a cryptic video about Restoring Violence, and then Matt Taven reminds us that he and Vincent will fight in a Unsanctioned match at the 19th Anniversary event.
We also get a video where EC3 and Jay Briscoe give their thoughts going into their Grudge Match at the 19th Anniversary event, where Jay turns EC3’s “control your narrative” phrase back on him. Jay says he won’t shake EC3’s hand because he doesn’t deserve it. If EC3 can give him a fight and actually look him in his eyes, he may shake his hand, but only after whooping his ass.
The Foundation (Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham, Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus) vs. La Facción Ingobernable (RUSH, Dragon Lee, Kenny King & La Bestia del Ring)
These two groups have formed a rivalry due to their competing philosophies as it pertains to wrestling. A win for either group will be significant, as the two groups will be paired off in three title matches at this Friday’s 19th Anniversary event. Amy Rose of LFI joins commentary for the match.
Tempers flare between Gresham and Lee in their opening exchange. Lee spitting on Lethal leads to an almost all out brawl, but referee Todd Sinclair is able to keep the peace. Ring and Williams trade heavy chops until Ring wipes out Williams with a clothesline and spits at Lethal again. Riddle avoids a senton and dropkicks Ring to the floor. Lethal and RUSH enter the ring. RUSH pretends to offer Lethal a free shot, but then smacks him in the face. Lethal is able to enzuigiri RUSH to the apron and springboard dropkick him to the floor. Lethal follows with a suicide dive. Lethal spits at LFI after, giving them a taste of their own medicine. The former tag partners, King and Titus, end up across the ring from one another. After aggressively trading positions on the mat, they each try for big kicks but fail to connect. This leads to overhand chops being traded until King rakes Titus’ eyes. Titus comes back with a high crossbody for two. The Foundation takes turns wearing down King’s left arm in their half of the ring. He escapes when Titus misses a yakuza kick. LFI rush the ring and wear out all of LFI around the arena. RUSH slams Lethals’ head into a door in the barricades as Lee brings Titus to the announcer’s table area. He then runs him crotch first into the ring post. Ring backdrops Lethal onto the floor, and Gresham dropkicks King. RUSH chokes Titus with a production cable as Ring throws Gresham shoulder first into the barricades. After the commercial, LFI have Lethal isolated in the ring while his partners recover on the floor. Lethal is taken out with a quadruple dropkick. Williams is assaulted by all of LFI next, ending with a double dropkick from Lee and King leading to a double slam off the apron from RUSH and Ring. Titus tries his best to get the upper hand but the numbers game gets the better of him. RUSH tosses Titus outside after King lands a frog splash. Gresham is brought into the ring. He surprises LFI by outmaneuvering their offense and using them against one another. He tags Titus who slingshot dropkicks Ring, tosses Lee outside, and belly-to-belly suplexes King. He overhead suplexes Ring in from the apron for two. Titus yakuza kicks Ring twice and sends him into Williams for a clothesline. Williams gives Ring a piledriver and Lee jumps in to break up the pin. He German suplexes Titus. Williams drops Lee with a Death Valley Driver. RUSH drops Williams with a Superman Punch. Lethal gives RUSH a Lethal Injection, and King swoops in with a Blue Thunder Bomb on Lethal. Gresham wipes out King with a springboard moonsault and then tope suicida’s onto RUSH and Lee. King snaps Williams’ arm on the top rope. Ring then spikes Williams with a cradle tombstone piledriver for the pin at 18:50. There were some logic leaps to make here, like why Sinclair wouldn’t have thrown out the match earlier when chaos ensured, or how four dropkicks from LFI doesn’t end a match but one from Titus will, and even Ring getting the final pinfall on Williams when he has no matches on the PPV and Williams has two is a bit puzzling. That said, the match was a solid way to set up the PPV itself, showcasing the mindsets of each team, and in general was a fun match to watch. I really like that Caprice on commentary emphasized that the Foundation would need to keep the match from devolving into fights or brawls and stick with wrestling to be successful, as I think that is a key indicator of who will come out in the Foundation vs. LFI bouts on the PPV. I have no doubt the two sides would have produced a better match without all the show considerations, but it did seem to achieve what ROH wanted going into the 19th Anniversary show. ***
The show ends with a run down of the 19th Anniversary Card (see the end of this review for that card). Jay Lethal promises RUSH that he will be the next World Champion and that the company will be set right by The Foundation.
While that ends this week’s episode, ROH featured another exclusive match on the March 23rd Episode of ROH Week by Week:
MexiSquad (Bandido, Flamita & Rey Horus) vs. Primal Fear (Matthew Omen, Gabriel Hodder & Adrien Soriano)
Primal Fear is a trio from the Monster Factory who migrated to the ROH Dojo. This is their official debut, although on a Future of Honor match in early 2019, they defeated Elijah Evans IV, Alan Angels (Five in AEW), and Josey Quinn. Bandido gets in a couple shots to Omen’s midsection. Omen trips him after taking a knee strike. They reach a stalemate after evading kicks from one another. Horus armdrags Soriano across the ring. Horus avoids his stomp attempted and uses the ropes for a twisting wrist drag. Hodder gives Flamita a healthy shove, but Flamita is not afraid to collide with Hodder on shoulder blocks. He ends up super kicking Hodder for a two count. Omen pulls Flamita into the middle rope, and Hodder tackles him into the corner. Primal Fear assault Flamita in their corner, making frequent tags to keep each other fresh and execute some team attacks. Flamita quickly tiger feint kicks Soriano in the back of the head and tags Horus. Horus knocks Hodder and Omen off the apron and lights up Soriano with kicks before giving him a leg drop. Omen breaks his pin attempt. Soriano accidentally boots Omen. Bandido springboard crossbody’s onto Soriano and Hodder. Bandido gives both of them a Samoan Drop at the same time and pins Soriano for two. Soriano falls victim to a barrage of kicks from all of MexiSquad. Bandido assists Horus with a senton and Flamita with a splash. Hodder saves the match for his team just in time. Hodder and Omen get rid of Horus and Flamita. They nail Bandido with double knee strikes and Soriano lands a frog splash. Flamita and Horus break his pin. They wipe out Omen and Hodder outside the ring. In the ring, Bandido pops up Soriano and he comes crashing down onto the canvas. Bandido follows up with the 21 Plex and pins Soriano at 9:15. Primal Fear showed some personality and intensity, but had some rough patches in the match as well. It was a nice way to get MexiSquad some momentum going into the PPV, but hardly essential viewing. **¼
Week By Week also announced that Dragon Lee would be unable to travel due to minor surgery. Kenny King will now defend the ROH Television Title on his behalf, and La Bestia Del Ring will step in to defend the tag titles on his behalf with Kenny King.
Overall: The sole focus of this episode was on the 19th Anniversary show, as it should have been. I come away from the show looking forward to most everything on the show, at least the most important bouts, and also find many of the outcomes to be unpredictable. As a wrestling show it was a solid enough watch even with the PPV card withstanding.