Baltimore, MD – 12.25.2020
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman.
Last week, we saw promos from LSG and Kenny King hyping up a singles match between the two of them. ROH released that match on YouTube on Christmas Eve.
LSG vs. Kenny King
Right at the bell they go for quick pin attempts. King drops LSG with a spinebuster and stomps him until LSG rolls outside the ring. When he comes back in, LSG catches King with a dropkick and stomps him down in the corner. However, King catches him in mid-air coming off the second rope with a gamengiri. King cracks him with a kick upside the head for two. LSG also kicks out for a springboard legdrop. LSG grabs the ropes to escape a double leg lock from King. LSG spins King around once back on his feet, knocking him down with a couple running forearm shots. LSG mi paso’s King to the floor and follows him with a dropkick through the ropes. In the ring, LSG knocks King back down with a flip-up clothesline for two. King catches LSG’s up-and-over attempt. He hits the chin checker and a Tiger Driver for two. LSG is able to scoop up King into a face slam and then applies a crossface. King gets the ropes to escape, but LSG holds on for the full count. LSG takes some time to trash talk King before hitting the ropes, which costs him big, as King nails him with an Eddy Gordo kick and the Royal Flush for the pin at 8:03. This was a rock solid match, giving King some momentum back after losing to Shane Taylor, and LSG continuing to stew in frustration over his hard fought losses. There’s a lot of ways they could have that story play out, and I am interested in what path LSG ends up taking. **½
Onto this week’s episode!
ROH Dojo Challenge Tag Team Match
Dante Caballero & Joe Keys vs. Eric Martin & Ken Dixon
Caballero and Keys mention in the pre-match video package that they were guided by Gresham to go back to basics and re-build, focusing on pure wrestling. All four men are in plain black tracks with an “ROH dojo” emblem on the far right, similar to how the New Japan young lions begin their careers in black trunks. Will Ferrara, one of the ROH Dojo trainers, is ringside watching.
Caballero and Martin trade control on the mat, utilizing some creative pinfall captures in the process. Caballero flapjacks Martin as he comes off the ropes and scores a nearfall with a Magistral cradle. Keys tags in and with Caballero overwhelms Martin with a quick succession of offense. Martin blocks a leapfrog from Keys with a mid-air single leg dropkick. Dixon does some damage to Keys’ left arm, but Keys controls Dixon by his wrist and takes him over with a fireman’s carry. Dixon shoulder tackles Keys and nails him with an elbow to the face. Keys focuses on out-wrestling Dixon, but Dixon muscles him back first into the corner. During the commercial Martin and Dixon isolated Keys in their corner. Keys was able to slam Martin and tag in Caballero. He kicks Dixon off the apron and gives Martin a fireman’s carry facebuster. Dixon blind tags in as Caballero O’Connor rolls Martin, but Caballero notices and catches a charging Dixon with a crossface. Martin breaks up the submission. Caballero takes down Martin with a Sick Kick. He whips Dixon to the corner, but Dixon catches Caballero coming off the ropes with a powerslam for two. Dixon has Caballero pinned with a pump-handle slam, but Keys uses Martin to break it up. Keys clotheslines Martin off the apron before giving Dixon a backbreaker and diving headbutt. Dixon grabs the ropes to escape a half crab. He puts on a high angle full crab, with Caballero spearing Martin to ensure he can’t break up the hold, and Dixon taps out at 11:36. This was an excellent showcase match for all four individuals, as it involved some creative wrestling, unique counters and reversals, and gave these Dojo trainees a spotlight they are rarely provided. I think Caballero and Keys would be a really intriguing addition to the tag team roster, especially now that tag team Pure rules matches are a thing, but truthfully all four looked ready for the main roster. ***
As is now tradition, ROH holds a wildcard 10 man tag team match around Christmas, with two team captains drawing their four teammates at random. To make it festive, the two captains for this year, Jay and Mark Briscoe, open gift packages which contain names to choose their partners randomly. Jay and Mark do not reveal the names as they are drawn, but you get some nice reactions to their picks in this video.
Before the match, Brian Johnson joins Ian and Caprice on commentary and gifts them “Bozo 1” and “Bozo 2” shirts.
Christmas Surprise 10-Man Tag Team Match
Jay Briscoe, Flip Gordon, Brian Milonas, John Walters & PCO vs. Mark Briscoe, Beer City Bruiser, Dak Draper, Tracy Williams & Dalton Castle
Williams and Walters chain wrestle to start. Draper tags himself in against Walters, who maneuvers himself so Gordon can blind tag in and knock down Draper with a springboard dropkick. Draper throws Gordon off his shoulders to stop a sleeper hold. Milonas and Bruiser tag in, pitting the Bouncers against one another. Draper shoves Bruiser into Milonas while Milonas is turned around, resulting in the two partners coming to blows. They end up crossbodying each other at the same time. Castle and PCO enter as the legal men, with Castle wrestling in a turtleneck. Castle sends PCO face first into the turnbuckle several times, with Castle feeling none of it. Castle however is able to get the better of PCO on the mat and knees him in the side of the head. PCO lays out a charging Castle with a clothesline. Frustrated, Castle tags in Mark Briscoe, and PCO tags in Jay Briscoe. As they engage in forearm strikes, the match breaks down with all ten competitors coming to blows with everyone ending up on the floor. PCO naturally PCOsaults onto everybody but Jay. Back in the ring, Jay’s team take turns beating down Mark Briscoe in their half of the ring. Mark gets Irish whipped into the corner, and he propels off the bottom rope and forearm strikes Walters. Bruiser tags in and drops a knee onto Walters’ forehead. We return from commercial break with Williams attacking Walters throat and neck. Mark’s team continues to pummel Walters. Bruiser presses Walters up into an Ace Crusher. All of his partners rush the other team to prevent a break-up, but Walters is able to kick out. A series of offense from all competitors ends with Walters giving Williams a lungblower and into a triangle choke. Bruiser smartly takes the opening and comes off the top rope with a leg drop. PCO breaks up the pin and drops Bruiser with a Stroke. He spins Draper from a full nelson into a DDT. PCO lands the PCOsault onto Draper to pick up the win for Team Jay Briscoe at 13:59. These matches are a fun way to feature a large number of people in a unique way, including pitting partners against one another, possibly whetting our appetite for future partnerships or match-ups. Out of this match, I came away very much wanting to see Williams vs. Walters in a singles bout, and have to imagine it’s only a matter of time before that comes to fruition. I can see why these matches have become a staple, as the surprise element of the partners is fun to see play out, and the contest itself is very entertaining. ***¼
Overall: For a “lame duck” episode, I think this bested last week’s offering, as it provided a spotlight onto four Dojo students who did made the most of the opportunity, as well as a star studded main event provided a really fun conclusion to the year that was 2020 for Ring of Honor. Isn’t that the kind of conclusion to this year we all need?