Baltimore, MD – 12.4.2020
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman.
We begin the show with Quinn McKay showing us clips of Brody King defeating Shane Taylor from last week, as well as Josh Woods defeating Jay Lethal in a Pure Rules match.
Mike Bennett vs. Vincent
This is a grudge match from two weeks ago when Bennett returned to ROH to help Matt Taven even the odds against The Righteous. This is also Bennett’s first match back in ROH in almost exactly five years. As expected, these two exchange heavy strikes and stomp one another down. Vincent is able to catch Bennett with an Ace Crusher on the apron and follows up with a Saito suplex on the floor. In the ring, Bennett fires up after a German suplex and gives Vincent a death valley driver. Vincent avoids a back elbow in the corner. He smothers Bennettt with several running strikes before dropping him with a Side Effect for two. Bennett weaves out of a butterfly position and gives Vincent an exploder suplex. After a superkick, Bennett tries for a backpack stunner. Vincent fights free and puts Bennett in a standing guillotine choke. Bennett initially escapes, but when he looks for a spear, Vincent catches him and brings him down into a grounded guillotine. Bennett fights up and gives Vincent a brainbuster. After some posturing he lays out Vincent with a short-arm lariat. Vincent pushes Bennett to the corner to block a powerbomb. He pummels Bennett in the corner but doesn’t let up at the referee’s five count, so the referee awards the match to Bennett via disqualification at 11:34. Losing for “kicking too much ass” always stinks, but at least it fits into Vincent’s personality and keeps this feud continuing. Preceding that, the match was quite heated and had the feeling you would want in a grudge match situation. Bennett definitely seems motivated, and I think he will be a welcome part of the ROH roster going forward. **¼
Vincent continues to beat up Bennett around ringside. He tells Bennett he made a big mistake coming back and threatens to do the same thing to him that he did to Taven. This brings out Taven who dives off the entrance stage onto Vincent, and Bateman follows to attack Taven. Security and personnel break them up.
A video airs with The Foundation, with them discussing how overlooked and underappreciated Rhett Titus has been, despite being with the company for well over a decade. They say it’s time for his hard work to be rewarded. They tell Titus he is the Foundation. Titus takes off his octopus mask and says “I am the Foundation.”
Mark Briscoe reveals his partner to replace Jay Briscoe in his quest to go after the ROH tag team titles: PCO!
Tracy Williams vs. John Walters
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.
Walters is a former ROH Pure Champion, and this is his first match in ROH since November of 2006 where he lost to Nigel McGuinness at “Honor Reclaims Boston.” Flip Gordon is on commentary to scout, as he recently announced his intention to join the Pure division, and has been named the challenger to Gresham for the Pure Title at Final Battle. Walters is slightly frustrated when Williams tosses him to the floor to escape a full nelson instead of using a rope break. Walters seems to consider going for Williams’ nose to escape a short-arm scissors. When Williams converts to a crossface, Walters decides to spend his first rope break to escape, although he is not happy about it. The pace picks up, but Williams immediately scrambles away when Walters looks for a sharpshooter. Walters clips out Williams’ knee after ducking a clothesline. Walters attacks Williams’ leg, including tying it up in the ropes momentarily, and Williams spends his first rope break to escape Walters’ sharpshooter. When Walters goes for it again, Williams grabs Walters’ leg and brings him down in a grapevine ankle lock. Walters uses his second rope break to escape. Williams superplexes Walters. When Walters kicks out of his pin, he turns Walters over and applies the crossface. Walters uses his third and final rope break to escape. Walters trips Williams to halt a piledriver. With their legs interlaced they exchange lateral presses. Williams gives Walters a DDT on the top turnbuckle and nails a rolling lariat. Williams scores with the piledriver for the pin at 11:41. This had a really good level of intensity to it, while also keeping in the spirit of Pure Wrestling competition. Walters is clearly as good if not better than he was during his original ROH tenure and will add a lot to the Pure division if he sticks around. I find it interesting that Williams used a piledriver to win a Pure Rules match; perhaps he realized Walters was so proficient on the mat that it was best to shift to something more vigorous to win. I hope to see more of Walters and am glad to see Williams’ is still in a semi-prominent role coming out of the Pure Tournament. ***¼
Overall: I will admit this show left me a bit puzzled and I think it’s due to the tenuous nature of this year’s Final Battle build. Granted, it’s understandable and a necessity given the circumstances of COVID and whatnot, but given next week’s announced matches, it feels like some of these title bouts are being built backwards. That all said, the show in a vacuum was very good. A story heavy match, a great Pure rules match, both of which featuring returning champions, along with the video building up the resurgence of Rhett Titus all leave me very intrigued. Hopefully on the other side of Final Battle we’ll see some longer term stories and a more fleshed out roster emerge.