SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
ROH TV (Ep. 473)
OCTOBER 9, 2020
AIRED ON SINCLAIR SYNDICATED TV & ROHWRESTLING.COM
REPORT BY RYAN SULLIVAN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Host: Quinn McKay
-The show started with a Ring of Honor Pure Title Tournament Video Package was shown, affirming that “This is the Pure Wrestling Tournament, and this is Ring of Honor”.
-An updated opening theme aired.
-The show begins with Quinn McKay seated at the Ring of Honor news desk, and she mentioned the remaining wrestlers on one side of the bracket, Jay Lethal, David Finlay, Fred Yehi and Tracy Williams. She then rolled highlights from last week’s matchup between Tracy Williams and Rust Taylor, a win for Williams. Quickly, McKay was backstage post-match with Williams, who cut a promo about competition, and seeking the best wrestlers in the world. Williams said Taylor too him to his limit, and knocked off any ring rust he had. Williams also mentioned facing Fred Yehi in the next round, and their history together in “Catch Point”. He said for Yehi to bring it, just like he knows he can.
-Quinn was back at the news desk, and mentioned the remaining competitors in the “B” Block. McKay then threw to highlights last week’s match between PJ Black and Tony Deppen, a decisive win for Black. Again, we went backstage with McKay, who was now joined post-match by Black, who cut a rather generic promo about having 1,000 moves and “betting on Black”.
-Quinn was, again, back at the news desk, and pivoted the conversation to this week’s matches, featuring Jonathan Gresham verses Matt Sydal, and Jay Lethal against David Finlay, which was coming up next. (c)
-Returning from commercial, highlights were shown from Lethal’s 1st round match against Dalton Castle, along with the key moments from David Finlay’s win over Rocky Romero.
-The show shifts “live” to Baltimore and the UMBC Arena, with Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman on commentary, and the legendary Nick Lendl working as the ring announcer.
(1) JAY LETHAL vs. DAVID FINLAY – 2nd ROUND MATCH, PURE TITLE TOURNAMENT
Lethal was out first, receiving his full ring entrance and introduction. He was, again, notably wearing his tag-team title belt to the ring. On his walk, a stat was shown on screen, stating Lethal was 15-2 career in singles’ matches in Baltimore. Finlay entered next, and on his way to the ring, a graphic appeared on-screen stating he was 2-0 career verses Lethal, although both were in tag-team matches. The Code of Honor was adhered to by both combatants, and referee Todd Sinclair signaled for the matchup to begin.
Finlay quickly began on offense, applying an ankle lick on Lethal. Lethal countered into a cross-arm breaker submission, and Finlay escaped to a clean break. Lethal and Finlay locked up, with Jay gaining wrist control on Finlay, and began working over Finlay’s left shoulder, previously injured in his last ROH run in 2019. Lethal goes for a hip toss, but both men trade counters until Finlay eventually hip tosses Lethal over the top rope and to the floor. Lethal takes his time returning to the ring, contemplating his strategy against the upstart Finlay.
Back in the ring, Lethal soon delivers an insiguiri to Finlay, and follows with a low dropkick, sending Finlay to the outside. Lethal tries to capitalize on this, and do his traditional dive onto his opponent on the outside, but Finlay wisely moves away, and takes his time returning to the ring. Back inside, Lethal shifts his strategy and begins to take the match to the mat, where he starts grounding the quicker Finlay, and attempting to wear him down. Lethal delivers a cartwheel dropkick at 5:26, and came up clutching his own knee into commercial break. (c)
Back “live”, Riccaboni summarized the action the audience missed during commercial, as Nick Lendl announced the 10:00 mark of the contest. Soon thereafter, Lethal delivers his Lethal Combination, but continued to sell the knee injury. Lethal went to the top rope, but Finlay avoided Lethal and hit him with a jumping knee strike. Finlay went for a pin, then pivoted into a figure-four leg-lock on Lethal, with Jay selling the agony on his injured knee. Lethal was in this submission for nearly a minute, before using his first rope break at 12:50.
Lethal turned the tide a moment later, hitting Finlay with a dropkick, sending him outside the ring. Lethal followed with his patented dive to the floor, but only did one, presumably due to his knee pain. Lethal throws Finlay back in the ring, and Jay goes to the top rope for his “Hail to the King” move – Finlay outsmarted the veteran and countered with an inside cradle for a long two-count. Finlay tried to deliver a lariat on Lethal, but Jay ducked and hit his Lethal Injection finisher for the 1-2-3.
WINNER: Jay Lethal at 14:57 to advance to the Semi-Finals of the Pure Title Tournament
(Ryan’s Thoughts: This was a very good match, and one of the best stories told thus far in the tournament. Finlay had a large percentage of the offense in this match, and Lethal did a great job making the up-and-comer look like a future star. In addition, the finish also “put over” how devastating Lethal’s finishing move is, which has seen far too many people kick out of it in the past couple years. This was one of the best matches in America last week, and I encourage fans to seek it out.)
The updated tournament bracket was shown on-screen and Riccaboni stated Lethal will face the winner of Fred Yehi and Tracy Williams. Lethal and Finlay adhered to the Code of Honor. Lethal sold his knee injury, before speaking into the camera, saying “I will be the 1st 2-time Pure Champion”. (c)
The show returns with Vincent in the middle of the ring, holding a microphone. Vincent said there had been a “lot of talk about change recently”, but he doesn’t need change, because he’s righteous. He is standing there “as leader of the Ring of Horror. Vincent then stated “If you wanna be successful, you gotta have friends. If you wanna be very successful, you gotta have enemies. You did what I’m saying.”
Abruptly, a brief video package aired, stating “When one trend dies, another will rise”. Matt Taven hit the ring and began to pummel Vincent, before putting him in the STF submission. Taven then hooked Vincent’s eye, and said proudly, he would take out his eye. He continue to break on Vincent, before taking the opportunity to cut the canvas and expose the plywood under the ring. Taven delivered a stiff Climax finisher on the wood on Vincent. The beating continued, with Taven ramming Vincent’s head into the ring post, then placing him on a table outside the ring. Taven then climbed to the top rope, and oddly, Vincent said to Taven, “You don’t have the guts to do it”, before Taven hit one of the best frogsplashes you will see outside of Montez Ford. Taven said “This is just the beginning, Follow The Trend”. (c)
(Ryan’s Thoughts: This entire segment was very well done. Vincent cut an eerie promo, and the television audience was likely anticipating Taven interrupting Vincent’s soliloquy. This showed a vicious side to Taven, in his attempt to get his revenge, while also leaving questions about Vincent and where the next step in this feud goes.)
-Returning from commercial, a promo was aired by an unnamed, unseen wrestler. It said “They have tried to take away your freedom. Control your narrative.” The anonymous wrestler wanted into a wrestling gym and pointed toward a sign, stating “You have been warned”.
-Rather abruptly, a video highlight package was shown of the opening round matches between Jonathan Gresham and Wheeler Yuta, followed by the finish of the Matt Sydal and Delirious match.
(2) JONATHAN GRESHAM vs MATT SYDAL – 2nd ROUND MATCH, PURE TITLE TOURNAMENT
We are back in Baltimore at the UMBC Arena, with Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman on commentary, and the stallion-like Nick Lendl as our ring announcer. Gresham was out first, receiving his full ring entrance and introduction. Gresham was wearing his tag-team championship belt to the ring, different from the opening round contest. A stat is shown on-screen as Gresham walked to the ring, saying Gresham was 5-1 in his last six singles matches in ROH.
Sydal was out next, also receiving his full ring entrance and introduction. A stat was shown stating Sydal has the fastest win of any competitor in Round 1, at 9:57. A Tale of the Tape graphic was shown, the Code of Honor adhered to, and we go to commercial break. (c)
Back “live”, the referee sounded the bell for the match to begin. Riccaboni mentioned this was a first-time singles match between Sydal and Gresham. Ian also astutely noted Gresham was wearing a mouthguard, something he normally does not do for his matches. The action began with Gresham establishing a wrist lock, into a head lock, and using this to take Sydal to the mat, as he attempted to ground his high-flying opponent. Gresham began to work on Sydal’s left ankle. Sydal escapes with kicked to Gresham’s head, then applied a step-over toe hold on Gresham. Gresham swiftly escaped and went back to the wrist lock, to regain control of the offense, then shifted into a bow-and-arrow stretch into a pinning predicament, but only earned a quick two. Later, Gresham ducked a standing moonsault from Sydal, then delivered a running elbow into commercial. (c)
Back “live”, Sydal was firing up and hitting kicks and chops on Gresham, before hitting a jumping spinning kick, into a shoulder driver for a two-count. Sydal then went for the Cobra Clutch, but Gresham avoided it. Sydal hit a corkscrew leg whip on Gresham, and Jonathan began selling an injury to his left knee. Sydal was now on offense, and again went for the Cobra Clutch, but again, Gresham avoided the hold. Sydal and Gresham traded roll up pin attempts, before Sydal got to his feet and struck Gresham with a hard kick to the head. Somehow, however, Gresham kicked Sydal on the ground, then applied a surfboard submission on Sydal. Creatively, Gresham released Sydal from the surfboard, and dropped him into a devastating variation of an ankle-lock submission, and Sydal immediately tapped out in pain.
WINNER: Jonathan Greshem at 13:27 to advance to the Semi-Finals of the Pure Title Tournament
(Ryan’s Thoughts: This match was solid, but nothing particularly special. Sydal got some offense in, but it was effectively a 13 minute squash match, in order to spotlight Gresham’s incredible array of mat wrestling holds. I liked the finish, but thought there was too much filler mid-match to give this more than an average, to slightly above, grade.)
Ian Riccaboni discussed the updated Pure Title Tournament bracket, and specified that Gresham would face the winner of Josh Woods and PJ Black’s match next week. The Code of Honor was adhered to by both men, with Gresham selling his knee injury post-match.
-The show pivoted to another video package, again stating to Control Your Narrative. A wrestler was shown pummeling another man, and the wrestler was revealed as EC3, before the show quickly faded to black.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was another strong hour of professional wrestling. Both matches were average or better, each told a compelling story, almost entirely inside the ring. That said this show will be remembered for the EC3 reveal at the end of the show, and Matt Taven’s return for vengeance on Vincent. Taven and Vincent is the best feud in the company (and perhaps North America) right now, and EC3 is an interesting addition to the roster. Time will tell how well he does in ROH, but he is one of the biggest free agent’s presently available, and is a strong presence in the heavyweight title picture.
Ring of Honor is clicking right now, and I hope lapsed fans give the product another chance, even in this crowded pro wrestling landscape.