Baltimore, MD – 11.27.2020
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman.
The show opens with The Foundation. Jonathan Gresham says their mission is to purify ROH division by division. Honor will only be restored once they have claimed every title. Jay Lethal says that goal shouldn’t be too hard given that they are the four best wrestlers in the company. It also helps that they hold the tag and Pure titles right now. We learn the man behind the octopus mask is Rhett Titus, and Lethal tells him he can take the octopus mask off. Tracy Williams stops Lethal mid-sentence and tells Rhett “not yet.” Williams says Rhett will take off the mask when the time is right, when they’ve accomplished their goal of change. Lethal agrees. Williams tells Titus he is the Foundation, then looks to the camera and says they will rebuild ROH brick-by-brick.
Josh Woods 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.
Last week, Lethal defeated LSG in a Pure Rules match via judges decision. Both Lethal and Woods made it to the semi-finals of the Pure Wrestling tournament, with Woods being eliminated by Lethal’s tag team partner Jonathan Gresham. Lethal and Woods’ only other singles match was in 2017 and Lethal came out on top. Woods shows a confident smile as he escapes an ankle lock from Lethal. Lethal decides to spend his first rope break to escape a seated short-arm scissor and top wristlock combo, and he’s annoyed when he sees Woods smiling. Lethal asks if Woods thinks him using the rope break is funny, and Woods says he thinks it’s sad. That of course gets Lethal fired up, Although he comes after Woods, Woods blocks his strikes and throws him down with a t-bone suplex. Woods controls Lethal on the mat with amateur wrestling style holds. Back on their feet. Lethal reverses a hip toss and hits a cartwheel dropkick. Lethal keeps control during the commercial break by focusing his attack on Woods’ lower back. Woods uses his first rope break to escape a Camel Clutch. Woods kicks out Lethal’s legs and wipes him out with a kick to the side of the head. Lethal falls to the floor. Woods brings him back into the ring for a two count. Woods also gets two after giving Lethal a rope-assisted backbreaker and a German suplex. Lethal is able to send a charging Woods to the apron and dropkicks him to the floor. He follows up with a suicide dive and throws Woods back inside for Hail to the King. Woods catches him upon landing into a cross-armbreaker. Lethal rolls Woods onto his shoulders for two. Lethal tries the Lethal Injection and Woods catches him into a rear-naked choke. Lethal rolls back to pin Woods, but Woods kicks out and grabs a grapevined ankle lock. Lethal desperately tries to get the ropes but is too far away. Lethal manages to stand up and tries to counter with a figure four leg lock. Woods instead rolls him into the “Spladle” (a splayed out cradle) for the pin at 14:03. This was a tremendous showing for Woods, who had all of Lethal’s key offense scouted and more or less maintained control for the entirety of what was aired. Lethal put up just enough of a fight to remain competitive and keep the result in doubt. This feels like a huge boost for Woods going forward, and based on how great this match was, I am plenty happy if that is indeed his trajectory. ***¾
We’re treated to some clips from “Trending With Taven”, where Taven talks with Mike Bennett. You can watch the full episode here. In this clip, Bennett talks about all he and Taven accomplished together. He also says that he kept tabs on Taven while he was away from ROH, and he felt there was something he could help Taven with in returning to ROH by having his back.
We then see Mark Briscoe at the Briscoe compound. He reiterates his desire to become ROH World Tag Team Champions for the 12th time, and makes a plea for Jay Briscoe to re-focus. However, he knows Jay is hard headed and won’t shift away from EC3 until he gets the job done. Because of this, Mark states he is going to go after the tag titles with a different partner, he just doesn’t know who.
Brody King vs. Shane Taylor
Kaun and Moses are in Taylor’s corner. This is a first time ever singles match, although Taylor pinned King in a four corner survival in May of 2019 to win the ROH Television Championship. King gets the better of a strike exchange, unleashing a violence party on Taylor against the ropes and sending him to the floor with a haymaker. King lays him out with a cannonball senton off the apron. Taylor gets an opening when he blocks a boot from the apron and sends King crashing face first into the edge of the ring. Taylor then gives King a draping DDT onto the floor. After throwing King into the barricades, Taylor blasts him with a running knee strike, which breaks through the barricades! A dazed King makes his way back in the ring just before the twenty count, but is met immediately with several stomps from Taylor. King kicks out of a spinebuster. He intercepts a rebound clothesline with a big boot and cannonball sentons Taylor’s back as Taylor lay on the middle rope. King gives Taylor a Death Valley Driver in the corner. The two men trade shots, with Taylor getting in a headbutt to the stomach and then to King’s head. Taylor lariats King for a two count, which Taylor can’t believe was not enough. King catches Taylor coming off the ropes with a Boss Man Slam. He then picks up Taylor for a piledriver, only to get two. Taylor weaves his way out of a Ganso Bomb attempt, headbutting King again. He drops King with a Package Piledriver for a very close nearfall. King escapes a Welcome to the Land attempt and German suplexes Taylor. King blasts Taylor with a lariat, and Taylor kicks out at one! King holds onto Taylor’s wrist while clobbering him with three consecutive lariats, giving King the win at 12:37. If you love two big guys beating the heck out of each other, this match is for you. I am absolutely one of those people. With the discussion regarding both men being potential contenders for the World Title, along with the level of intensity featured in this match, the stakes felt high and thus King’s win felt like a big deal. I also like that King was able to avoid the same maneuver (Welcome to the Land) that Taylor pinned him with last year. All of those factors made for a very engaging main event, and if RUSH vs. King is the plan for Final Battle, count me in. ***½
Overall: Two awesome yet totally distinct matches made for one of the best weeks of television since the Pure tournament ended. Josh Woods quietly has become one of the most well-rounded competitors on the roster, and the momentum behind Brody King has been escalating in a way that has me buying him as the potential next World Champion. Hopefully we get some Final Battle matches set in stone soon as the show is only a few weeks away. Big time thumbs up for this episode.