Baltimore, MD – 4.23.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.
Before we get to the episode proper, an exclusive singles match took place on the April 20th episode of Week by Week:
Joe Keys vs. The Beer City Bruiser
Bruiser punches Keys when shaking his hand. Keys tries to go for an armbar with no success. He also doesn’t have success with a bodyslam, which Bruiser reverses. Keys tries his signature Boston Crab after Bruiser misses an elbow drop. Bruiser gets the ropes before it can be applied. Bruiser bites Keys’ hand and sends him chest first into the ring frame. Keys tries a crossbody off the apron and gets driven into the barricades. Bruiser lives up to his name, using various methods to deliver a full body assault on Keys back inside the ring. Keys tries a sunset flip but gets goozled. Keys blocks a chokeslam with a guillotine choke. He’s impressively able to convert that into a suplex. Keys successfully pulls off a crossbody and a lariat. He follows that up with a diving headbutt for two. Bruiser stops Keys as he is coming off the ropes with the Beer City DDT for the pin at 9:17. Keys successfully pulling off offense later in the match that didn’t work earlier was a good story, and although I don’t love the suddenness of the finish, I do love that it makes Bruiser’s version of the DDT look impressive. This was a good way for Bruiser to start anew and give Keys some more screen time. **½
Bruiser pulls out a cigar and a beer bottle. Keys’ fellow ROH Dojo members Dante Caballero, Eric Martin, and Ken Dixon run interference knowing Keys is about to be in trouble. As Martin checks on Keys, Dixon picks up Bruiser’s beer bottle while Caballero gives Bruiser an earful. Keys looks at the bottle and then decides to smash it over Caballero’s head! This naturally gets Martin’s attention, and when he gets to his feet, Dixon kicks him in the groin. Bruiser and Dixon then double chokeslam Martin over the barricades and onto concrete! Dixon celebrates with a can of beer which he also smashes over his own head. Bruiser is delighted. Dixon was already showing friction with his Dojo mates, and Bruiser is exactly the kind of person he would want to associate with, so I wholeheartedly endorse this pairing. It’s nice to see the Dojo folks getting in the mix with established members of the roster.
Now onto the show!
Eli Isom vs. Dak Draper
After unsuccessfully challenging for the Pure Title at the 19th Anniversary show, Draper has moved from the Pure Division back to the Television Division. Draper shuts down the fast moving Isom with a shoulder block, only for Isom to come back with a dropkick. Draper shuts him down once more with a press throw out of the corner. Draper ducks an enzuigiri attempt. Isom avoids the Mile High Muffler. Draper catches Isom’s springboard crossbody attempt. He escapes the Magnum K.O. and pulls off an impressive armdrag, but Draper drops Isom with a Hot Shot. Although Isom is able to send Draper to the apron with a headscissors, Draper jams Isom’s left arm he had been working over across the top rope. He drives Isom’s back into the apron and wears down Isom’s ribs back inside the ring. Isom gets in a couple of headshots before taking over Draper with a Northern Lights suplex. Draper initially avoids a suicide dive, but Isom surprises him with a Bermuda Triangle. A high crossbody gets Isom a two count. Isom also gets two with a straightjacket German suplex. Isom gets the better of a chop exchange. Draper gives him a right hand and the Doctor Bomb for two. Draper clobbers Isom with a springboard back elbow. He tries the Magnum K.O. again, but Isom slips out and crucifix pins Draper. Draper big boots Isom upon kicking out and goes for the Mile High Muffler. Isom halts that with a cradle, and then small packages Draper when Draper tries another Magnum K.O. Draper escapes Isom’s Promise. The 15:00 time limit expires with referee Joe Mandak calling the match a Draw. Neither man is satisfied with this result and both request a 5:00 extension.
We return from commercial with all parties in agreement to continue the match. Referee Joe Mandak is about to ring the bell when the arena lights go out. Dalton Castle then emerges with new music, entrance video, and four boys! He dances his way to the ring in a snappy pink suit with the boys clapping overhead behind him. He compliments both Isom and Draper, and says he thinks the two of them can help him with a problem he has. He believes the ROH TV program lacks a bit of drama and panache. Castle looks to Draper and says he has potential, but Isom doesn’t. He then kicks Isom in the groin! Draper laughs and offers Castle his participation trophy to lay on Isom, but Castle then kicks him in the groin! Castle says he is very busy and dances to the back with his boys in tow. I think Castle was due for a fresh coat of paint so I am looking forward to where this is going.
As for the match itself, I thought Isom playing defense and improving as the match progressed made him look his most proficient. It’s also appreciated that the commentary mentioned Draper’s breakout match against Gresham – that should not go forgotten. Castle was right when he said Isom and Draper are two of the most promising individuals on the roster, and this match exemplified that very fact. ***¼
We are shown highlights of the Bruiser vs. Keys match from “Week By Week”, including the fallout with Dixon attacking his fellow ROH Dojo students and joining up with Bruiser. Quinn McKay interviewed both of them backstage after the fact. Bruiser says Dixon coming to his side was like someone picking up his tab at the bar. Dixon says he was tired of playing the role of the Dojo student; he didn’t fit in, and was sick of pretending. Bruiser says he’s out to make a name for himself and wants to do so with like minded individuals such as Dixon by his side. Next week, they face The OGK in tag team action.
The Righteous of Bateman, Vita VonStarr, and the newest member Dutch, who debuted at the 19th Anniversary Show, make their way to the ring. Bateman says Vincent’s invisible hand is still hiding the proverbial knife. Dutch hands something to VonStarr. It appears to be a note from Vincent, saying this is the door to a Righteous rebirth. Bateman says the good work won’t go undone. We see the red “V” Vincent mark on the back of Dutch’s overalls as The Righteous exit.
VLNCE UNLTD (Brody King, Chris Dickinson & Homicide) vs. La Facción Ingobernable (RUSH, La Bestia del Ring & Kenny King)
VLNCE UNLTD emerged at the 19th Anniversary Show, with King putting the group together to have back-up against LFI to ensure that they would not screw him out of the ROH World Title again. This is Homicide’s return to ROH, last seen teaming with Eddie Kingston in 2014. This is Dickinson’s ROH debut. RUSH strikes first with a punch to Brody. All six men brawl as the bell rings. Kenny and Dickinson fight inside the ring, with Kenny powerslamming Dickinson as he comes off the ropes. RUSH slams the barricade door into Brody’s head and chokes him with a production cord. Dickinson gives Kenny a dragonscrew leg whip. During the break, Brody gave Ring a senton splash, Kenny dropkicked Dickinson into a double powerbomb from Ring and RUSH on the floor. Homicide landed a tope suicida onto RUSH, and RUSH gave Dickinson the fake out boot in the corner. Dickinson ducks a clothesline and tags in Brody. He batters Kenny and RUSH with corner clotheslines, then hits a cannonball senton on RUSH for two. Dickinson does the deal with a Falcon Arrow on RUSH for two. King and RUSH pull Dickinson off the middle rope, then assist Ring with a super Swanton for two. Brody hits Ring with a chair from the floor resulting in a disqualification win for LFI at 5:09. As the two teams are fighting around the ring, The Foundation of Jonathan Gresham, Tracy Williams and Rhett Titus run out and get involved in the fracas. This achieved its goal in showing the animosity between all three factions and the chaos that ensues when they get in each others’ business. However, the match was too reduced to get much from it. That is totally fine for the vibe of this story, but I can’t help but think perhaps the match itself was scrapped for its mediocrity. **
The proper show ends with chaos, but we get a video package hyping next week’s main event, where Tony Deppen challenges Tracy Williams for the ROH TV Championship.
Overall: This was a pretty packed episode, front loaded with a good wrestling match, three angles, and a recap of a good angle. From that perspective the episode could’ve maybe been balanced a bit better, but at least there’s a lot of stories in motion. While last week’s episode was good as a celebration of a landmark, this is the first post-PPV show that truly feels like things are progressing forward.