SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
This week we got a pure wrestling division show with a gauntlet match and the main event between Mike Bennett and Rhett Titus. It seems that they were using this show to ramp up the Pure Division again. Advance warning here, while I admire the theory behind the Pure Division and its concentration on the more stylized wrestling, featuring more mat and chain wrestling, I have found that unless the wrestlers are at the top of their game, the matches can be a bit plodding and lacking in excitement. This is especially exacerbated by the lack of audience reaction that ROH is currently dealing with. With that said, on with the show.
WORLD FAMOUS CB VS. DELIRIOUS
The set-up for this match was that Delirious trained CB. The action in this match was much more involved and fast paced with some solid and rapid exchanges. There were some clunky spots where it really appeared that CB was signaling to Delirious what the next move should be and broke the suspension of disbelief. I will say the final submission move that got the win for Delirious was a nasty looking twisting arm-breaker, that from the camera angle appeared to be totally twisting CB’s arm in about 12 different directions — all of them abnormal for a human arm. This match was much better and can be placed in the hit category by a little bit.
DELIRIOUS VS. LSG
Ok, on to the next match. I’m already getting a bit bored by this gauntlet match overall. There is very little story telling going on. This match had its share of mat wrestling, but added in a good deal more hard hitting moves and strikes. After some very fast paced back and forth action, LSG got the win with his submission move, an impressive looking leg lock with a back bridge while grabbing the jaw and pulling up. The tap out was very believable, in that this looked like it could really hurt. With a lot of action packed into a small amount of time, this round of the gauntlet was a hit.
LSG VS. MECCA (BRIAN JOHNSON)
Finally, we get to the last match and based on the announcers overplaying the “LSG is so hurt, what happens if he wins angle” that I went into this match with a pretty good idea of the final outcome. In a little bit of a switch, Mecca came out talking trash but was quickly attacked by LSG who got an early near fall, only to have Johnson nail him with his one fist to the face. This was not called because LSG had already used up his “rope breaks,” so the pinfall stood. Okay, I admit, I was sure LSG would win to follow up on the “oh, he is so hurt” angle, but Johnson’s quick win in a rather brutal match changed things up and was satisfying. Call this one a hit.
RHETT TITUS VS. MIKE BENNETT
The main event of the night. his one started out with some nice moves and interesting mat action, showing some really impressive athleticism. The match continued with a fast pace as both wrestlers search for pinning or submission combinations, while also using the pure rules to force each other to use up their rope breaks. Midway through the match the wrestlers exchanged some vicious chops that looked and sounded good, with Bennett ultimately taking control with a vicious upper cut and began working on Titus’ leg. Titus made a come back with some knees and kicks and ultimately got Bennett to use his third rope break, giving him a definite advantage. As the match progressed towards its finish, Titus continued to sell an injured leg as Bennett continued to go after the leg as Titus continued to soldier on. With the time limit (15 minutes) approaching, both men turned up the intensity finally hitting simultaneous lariats as time ran out and we went to the judges for a split decision in the favor of Mike Bennett. Even though I thought the finish was a cop out, the match was full of great action and good wrestling, making this one a hit.
ERIC MARTIN VS. WORLD FAMOUS CB
CB took this match pretty quickly after getting Martin to use up his rope breaks and finishing him off with a submission move. Not much here and over quickly to move the gauntlet and whatever story they had in store for us. This one was a miss, folks.
LSG VS. JOE KEYS
If you are noticing a trend here, you are not wrong. No wrestler has won more than a single match. This is strange for a gauntlet match as usually the story is one wrestler wins several rounds and though obviously tired and worn out, continues to strive for the ultimate victory. It was not going in that direction here. Keys controlled most of the action and delivered a solid beating to LSG, concentrating especially on his back. The announce team set things up saying that LSG was going to be at a severe disadvantage if he happened to be able to pull things out because of the beating he was taking. On cue, LSG reversed a top rope move by Keys and delivered a top rope slam for the win, making him the first wrestler to get more than one victory. The contrived ending ruined this for me. LSG took such a beating that a single slam type move should not have been able to beat Keys and thus makes this match a miss.
– A final note here on the miss side. While most of the individual matches in the gauntlet match were okay to good, overall the gauntlet was a miss. They did not strongly set out what the point was except for a vague “winner will be one of the top three” and they did not set up a hero in the gauntlet for the viewer to root for and urge on to fight through adversity to win (even if usually they don’t make it all the way through). Because of this, the gauntlet as a whole just kind of laid there, pretty much lifeless.