Baltimore, MD – 10.16.2020
Last week, the first two quarter-final matches of the Pure Championship tournament took place, and just like the very first episode that featured the opening round matches of the tournament, the current tag team champions Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham advanced. This week concludes the quarter final round, with the second match from Block A and the second match 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.
Before the tournament matches, we see a recap of Matt Taven returning to ROH and attacking Vincent from last week’s episode.
Pure Title Tournament Quarterfinal Round Match – Block A
Fred Yehi vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Willams
Yehi defeated Silas Young in the opening round, while Williams defeated Rust Taylor. An interesting juxtaposition is that Yehi used none of his rope breaks in the opening round and Williams used all three rope breaks in his opening match. They give each other the Catch Point handshake before the bell which rules. Williams basically leads Yehi to the ropes in a hammerlock when he begins to add a chinlock to it, resulting in Yehi using his first rope break. Williams applies the hammerlock again, and instinctively Yehi grabs the top rope to break, using his second rope break. Yehi picks up the intensity with some chops and an exploder suplex. During the commercial break, Williams used his first rope break to escape a sleeper hold, but turned the match around with an arm-capture suplex and began to focus his offense on Yehi’s leg. Williams kicks Yehi in the spine then blasts him with a forearm strike to a seated Yehi for two. Yehi comes back with chops and a German suplex, holding onto the waist after impact. After a second German suplex, he stomps on Williams’ foot and hits a single-leg basement dropkick. He applies the Koji Clutch, and Williams uses his second rope break to escape. Williams has to fight for a crossface on the apron. He doesn’t get it, but does land a brainbuster for two. After Williams hits a discus lariat, Yehi small packages him for two. He rattles him with a rolling chop then brings him down into a Koji Clutch variation. Williams uses his third and final rope break, then stacks up Yehi on his shoulders before Yehi releases to get a two count. The two of them throw flurries of open hand shots at one another. Yehi backdrops his way out of a piledriver attempt. Williams kicks out of a pin and blasts Yehi with a forearm strike. Yehi chops Williams to stop him on the top rope, but he’s able to DDT on Yehi on the top turnbuckle. Williams tries for the crossface, but when that doesn’t work again, he gives Yehi a piledriver. Yehi gets his foot on the bottom rope, spending his final rope break to break the pin attempt. Williams finally gets the crossface on. He goes to the ropes, where Williams decides to convert into a rope-assisted Dragon Sleeper to get the submission victory at 14:03! As someone who was very into EVOLVE during the Catch Point days, seeing these two square off in the second round was a real treat, and the blending of submission wrestling and striking was exactly what I wanted out of this match. The contest was very even, both in terms of trading who was on offense, and with them both ending up out of rope breaks, and for the latter, I love that it played into the finish and harkens back to the way Doug Williams and John Walters won the Pure championship back in 2004. As someone who has been a fan of both of these guys for years, this was very satisfying. I am hoping and praying we have not seen the last of Yehi in ROH. ***¾
EC3 makes his official ROH debut, coming to the ring. He talks about control, honor, and finding your purpose. He talks about some of those who built the house that is ROH in the past, and those who maintain it currently. He’s not here to wrestle, but to fight, and seek out the best competition. He is willing to sacrifice himself at the altar of honor, while also putting the title of “honor” to the test. He tells the roster they have been warned.
We see EC3 is stopped backstage by Shane Taylor, who is flanked by the Soldiers of Savagery. Taylor introduces himself to EC3, noticing Taylor failed to mention his name. He tells EC3 to wipe his feet before entering his house. This brings The Briscoes into the picture who argue with Taylor and the S.O.S about this being Taylor’s house. EC3 stands by unmoved and silent as Jay proposes a six man tag, the Briscoes and EC3 vs. Taylor and the S.O.S. After officials break things up, EC3 and Mark Briscoe acknowledge each other with nods.
Pure Title Tournament Quarterfinal Round Match – Block B
Josh Woods vs. PJ Black
Woods defeated Kenny King in the opening round, while Black defeated Tony Deppen. Silas Young is in Woods’ corner, and PJ Black’s protégé, Brian Johnson, is in his corner, and is also the alternate for Block B. Woods and Black look for control on the mat. Woods only gets a hold of Black’s ankle for a moment. Woods elevates his hind quarters to make Black release a waistlock. Woods escapes a headscissors and once again has his eyes set on Black’s ankle. He rolls Black onto his shoulders, and Black kicks out of a potential pin. After the break, Woods stops Black from an up and over and tosses him outside. Woods puts Black in a rear-naked choke in the ropes, which forces Black to use a rope break. Black throws some chest kicks. Woods catches the foot, bringing Black down immediately in a leg bar, and Black uses his second rope break to escape. Woods evades a dropkick attempt. He crosses Black’s ankles, then switches into a grounded cravate. Woods brings Black to his feet in an armbar, but Black uses a Samoan Drop to break it. Woods overhead throws Black down, putting him into a kneeling cravate. Black manages to escape. He comes off the top three times in a row, once with an elbow to the top of the head, another with a double axe handle, then with a high crossbody. He puts Woods in a pendulum swing. Woods fires back with a jumping knee under the chin. Woods stops Black in the ropes and brings him out with a German suplex. Black escapes a cross armbreaker, so Woods puts him in a grapevine ankle lock. Black taps out at 13:27. I was really surprised (but also thankful) neither Young nor Johnson got involved. I thought the way these two wrestled the match was very engaging, with Woods keeping laser-like focus on Black’s ankle and neck, and Black flexing his mat wrestling abilities. It was also wise of him to try and pick up the pace of the match, but Woods’ strategy had already put in motion so successfully that it ultimately didn’t work. I’m really glad these two got to show what they’re capable of, as it also helped to produce one of the most unique matches of the tournament so far. ***¼
Overall: Williams and Yehi produced the best match of the tournament so far, and Woods and Black provided the most unique, making this episode an easy recommendation. The EC3 promo and subsequent backstage altercation make me very interested in what his role in ROH will be. Both semifinal matches look awesome, and I can’t wait to see how the final round takes shape.