ROH on SBG #473

Baltimore, MD – 10.9.2020

Last week, the opening round of the tournament concluded, with “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams and PJ Black advancing to the quarter final round. This week begins the quarter final round, with one match from Block A and another from Block B.

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.
*These match have a 20 minute time limit. If the match goes past the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.

Pure Title Tournament Quarterfinal Round Match – Block A
Jay Lethal vs. David Finlay

Lethal defeated Dalton Castle in the opening round, while Finlay defeated Rocky Romero. After feeling one another out, the two of them trade positioning for a hip toss, leading to Finlay hip tossing Lethal over the top rope and to the floor. Back inside, Lethal blocks a boot and enzuigiri’s Finlay. He dropkicks Finlay’s legs out, causing Finlay to land on the floor, tweaking his knee. Finlay walks away before Lethal can go for a suicide dive. Lethal does however hit a hip toss into a cartwheel dropkick, but also seems to have tweaked his ankle in the process. During the commercial, Finlay blocked the Lethal Injection and gave him a uranage backbreaker. Finlay has since targeted Lethal’s back. Lethal halts Finlay with the Lethal Combination after Finlay blocks a figure four leg lock. Lethal jumps down from the top turnbuckle, further hurting his knee when Finlay comes running at him and brings him down. Finlay cracks Lethal in the corner with a Brodie Knee and a spear. When Lethal kicks out of a pin attempt, Finlay applies an Indian Death Lock. Lethal tries to fight free, but has no choice but to use his first rope break to get a respite. The two men fight on the apron where Finlay stomps on Lethal’s knee. Lethal slips into the ring off of Finlay’s shoulders and hits a springboard dropkick. Lethal hobbles his way into a successful suicide dive. He makes his way up top for Hail to the King. Finlay gets his leg up, which Lethal is able to catch on his way down. Finlay small packages Lethal for two. Upon kicking out, Lethal hits the Lethal Injection on Finlay for the pin at 14:58. Working down a body part is a sound strategy, but it requires focus. Finlay switching from Lethal’s back to his knee may have seemed wise but one has to wonder what would have happened if Finlay either stayed with Lethal’s back, or started with the knee to begin with. Nevertheless, Finlay got to look more than formidable against the two time World Champion, and Lethal really had to gut it out to squeak by with a win. Whether it’s Hot Sauce or Yehi, he has a big challenge coming up in the semi-finals. ***¼

Vincent is then granted time on the microphone, as he apparently requested. He says if you want to be successful you have to make friends, but if you want to be very successful, you have to make enemies. The “Follow The Trend” video that’s been playing on ROH Week by Week plays, and we learn Matt Taven is the man behind the videos. Taven then appears in the flesh and attacks Vincent! He chokes Vincent with his purple belt, then pulls the canvas off of the ring. After hitting Vincent with “Just The Tip” (of the knee), he gives Vincent the Climax on the wooden board of the ring. He then gives Vincent a frog splash through a table on the floor. He tells Vincent that he made him do this, and that this is just the beginning.

An EC3 video plays, ending with him looking up at a sign that reads “You Have Been Warned.”

Pure Title Tournament Quarterfinal Round Match – Block B
Jonathan Gresham vs. Matt Sydal

Gresham defeated Wheeler YUTA in the opening round, while Sydal defeated Delirious. Gresham wisely goes after Sydal’s left ankle which Sydal has had surgery on in the past. Sydal kicks Gresham as Gresham pulls on his other foot while sitting on his bad ankle. Sydal angrily kicks out Gresham’s left leg from underneath him, giving him a taste of his own medicine by applying an ankle lock in a step over toe hold. Gresham uses his foot to escape. He takes down Sydal in a hammerlock, trapping that arm while pulling back on Sydal’s leg. He pulls Sydal down into a pinning position for a two count. Sydal’s snaps off a Frankensteiner and headscissors before arm dragging Gresham down into a muffler tie. As Gresham converts out, Sydal applies almost a Tower of London. Both men roll into the ropes, and while the hold is broken, the referee declares neither participant loses a rope break. Gresham avoids a standing moonsault. Sydal lands on his feet, but Gresham gives him an armdrag and back elbow. Sydal comes back with a spinwheel kick and a spin kick to the side of Gresham’s head. Sydal gets a two count with a Michinoku Driver. He goes for the Cobra Clutch, the move he used to win the opening round. Gresham resists, so Sydal plants Gresham’s knee in a dragonscrew and hits a standing flip senton for two. Gresham avoids the Cobra Clutch again, giving Sydal a backpack stunner and enzuigiri. After trading pins, Sydal cracks Gresham in the head with a high kick. Gresham kicks Sydal’s leg out from underneath him, then puts him in a surfboard stretch. While Sydal is in the air, Gresham releases one leg so that all the pressure gets applied on his bad ankle, and Sydal submits at 13:27. Gresham’s escapes and submissions are so creative that it makes his matches really engaging. He and Sydal had a very good rapport, and we got to see some more mat wrestling out of Sydal than we’re used to. He incorporated more of his usual high flying style too, but because his ankle had been worked over he never went for broke on the top turnbuckle. This was another great match from both individuals, and Gresham goes another round without using rope breaks. ***¼

Another EC3 video ends the episode.

Overall: I want to give kudos to commentary and the production team for providing statistics on rope breaks, closed fists, and the times of the matches in the previous round. Those details add to the overall framework of the matches and the entire presentation of the tournament. This week’s tournament matches continued the high quality set by the opening round. There’s no surprise as to who ended up advancing, but at least in both matches they did plenty to make any audience member second guess themselves in terms of the outcome. I also think the EC3 videos and Taven’s return did a lot to make the episode feel more “complete”, as they’re slowly integrating story elements from outside of the tournament back into the tapestry once again. I continue to be totally engaged with ROH in a way I have not for a long while.

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