Baltimore, MD – 11.20.2020
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman.
Jay Briscoe vs. EC3
This is EC3’s singles debut in ROH. Interestingly, Jay denies EC3 the Code of Honor handshake. After some lock-ups, EC3 elbows his way out of a hammerlock. He extends his hand again and Jay once again refuses to shake it. Jay instead pummels and stomps down EC3 in the corner, choking EC3 with his boot after the fact. Jay is so caught up in the moment that he doesn’t release the choke by Todd Sinclair’s five count, so Sinclair disqualifies him at 1:57, making EC3 the winner. Jay argues the decision with Todd. The two men brawl after the bell and have to be pulled apart by four crew members. EC3 however drops to his knees, offering himself to Jay. Jay tries to hook him for the Jay Driller but he is pulled away by the crew members before it can happen. EC3 tells Jay there is no honor in what he does. I’m not sure what to make of EC3 or this story, but I am definitely intrigued.
Backstage, Quinn McKay asks Jay Briscoe why he didn’t uphold the Code of Honor with EC3. Jay simply says “f*ck him, that’s why.” Perhaps he worked at the Sandy Fork branch of PopCopy.
LSG vs. Jay Lethal
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.
*This match has a 15 minute time limit. If the match goes the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.
Lethal claims he requested this match, as a way to give LSG an opportunity like Samoa Joe did with him back in 2005. This is a first time singles match, although Lethal and Jonathan Gresham hold a tag team victory over LSG and Shaheem Ali. LSG has Lethal well scouted, countering the cartwheel dropkick with a backslide and evading the maneuver when Lethal goes for it a second time. Lethal jams LSG’s arm across his shoulder. Lethal pulls LSG’s leg as LSG looks to come off the ropes, aiming for a figure four leg lock, but LSG spends his first rope break to escape and takes a breather outside. LSG picks up the aggression, sending Lethal face first into multiple corners. Lethal responds with a backbreaker for two. Lethal wears down LSG’s back. They trade uppercuts and Lethal goes for the figure four again. LSG tries a cradle to get the pin but Lethal escapes. Lethal goes to the top turnbuckle, but LSG dumps Lethal to the floor and follows after him with a suicide dive! From there, LSG focuses his offense on Lethal’s neck. Lethal is able to send LSG chest first to the corner and catch him on the rebound with a side Russian leg sweep. Lethal finally hits the cartwheel dropkick before dropkicking LSG to the floor and landing his own suicide dive. In the ring, Lethal decides not to go for Hail to the King when he sees LSG getting to his feet, instead dropping him with a reverse DDT. LSG kicks Lethal away and hits a rolling clothesline for two. Lethal cracks LSG with an enzuigiri. He goes for the Lethal Injection which LSG counters with a facebuster. He puts Lethal in a crossface. Lethal picks up LSG to escape. LSG rolls under and locks Lethal in a Sharpshooter. He adds the Muta Lock with a single armed straightjacket choke. Lethal manages to get the ropes, using his first rope break, and the time limit expires at 15:00. We’re alerted that a split decision by the judge’s panel rewards the match to Jay Lethal, which quite frankly I don’t understand given that he was more or less saved by the bell. Either way, it seems LSG is going it alone for the foreseeable future in ROH and him more than holding his own against someone of Lethal’s caliber will serve him well. He wrestled a very smart match, keeping his eye out for all of Lethal’s usual offense, and focusing his attack on Lethal’s neck. The ending gives LSG plenty of reason to request a rematch, and I hope we get it, as this was really fun to watch. ***¼
A video package alerts us that former ROH Pure Champion John Walters is returning. His two matches in Beyond Wrestling in late 2018 against Jonathan Gresham and Wheeler YUTA were great, so count me in.
Matt Taven vs. Bateman
This match was established last week, with Vincent’s fellow member of the Righteous Bateman telling Taven that Taven must go through him if he wants to get to Vincent. Taven comes at Bateman with furious blows. He’s cut off with a mid-air forearm from Bateman as he comes off the middle rope. Taven is able to swoop a charging Bateman onto the middle rope where he brings him down with a falling elbow strike. A slingshot senton follows. Taven gets two with an O’Connor roll. After a suplex and some grounded strikes, Taven attempts a neckbreaker. Bateman counters with his own neckbreaker to turn the match in his favor. After the commercial break, we see Taven has taken back over. Bateman blocks the Climax, so Taven drops him with an elevated Complete Shot and locks on the Trendsetter (crossface). Bateman gets his foot on the bottom rope to escape. Taven is able to land the Flight of the Conqueror (over the top rope dive to the floor), but unfortunately his knee buckles upon landing. Taven misses Aurora Borealis (frog splash) in the ring. Bateman picks up Taven in a waistlock, but Taven rolls underneath him into a victory roll for the pin at 4:14 (shown). A bit of a bizarre match as Taven rolled Bateman here. It was all a smokescreen for the after match stuff anyhow, but still, a little more out of Bateman may have been beneficial. **
Bateman forearm strikes Taven in the back of the head after the bell. Vincent makes his way ringside. Bateman gives Taven a tombstone piledriver. Vincent thinks it’s sad that Taven is still desperate for attention in an empty arena. Vincent enters the ring and says no matter how hard he tries, Taven will never get the approval he is looking for. He slaps Taven in the face as Bateman has him grounded, then grabs him by the chin. He says Taven’s legacy will be nothing more than one of a failure. He talks about going back to violence and pulls out a dart. Suddenly, the lights go out and Mike Bennett’s music and entrance video plays! Bennett appears in the ring out of nowhere, sending both Bateman and Vincent packing. Bateman tells Bennett that he has no idea what he has done, but Bennettt says he knows exactly what he has done. Bennett and Taven embrace mid-ring to close out the episode.
Overall: Two story heavy matches bookend an excellent Pure rules match, making for a very intriguing episode. Even if it was expected, Bennett’s return felt like a big deal, breathing fresh air into this rivalry and into ROH in general. Both that story and the EC3 story have me interested in their next chapters, and I come out of the episode viewing LSG on a higher plane than I did coming in, so I have to say this was another effective episode of television.