Las Vegas, NV – 1.1.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni.
This week, ROH presents what they’re calling the Pandemic Special. It’s a look back at the weekend of March 13th and 14th in Las Vegas when they were supposed to hold the ROH 18th Anniversary and Past vs. Present events at Sam’s Town Casino. Because of COVID, a game time decision was made to cancel both events.
Many of the ROH roster share their stories about that weekend, including Matt Taven, Flip Gordon (who calls it a “plandemic” like a real piece of shit), Cheeseburger, The Beer City Bruiser, Session Moth Martina, Amy Rose, Mark Briscoe, and Slex.
Several wrestlers had already touched down in the city before the decision was made to cancel the events, and so some matches were taped in a no-fans capacity at Sam’s Town Casino. This episode features two of those bouts. We are also shown some highlights from an eight person tag team match (Beer City Bruiser, Joe Hendry, Rhett Titus & Session Moth Martina vs. Delirious, Grizzly Redwood & The Shinobi Shadow Squad (Cheeseburger & Eli Isom)) which looks like a lot of fun. Hopefully we get to see that on a Week By Week or something one day.
Bandido vs. Flip Gordon
After reaching a stalemate, Gordon lures Bandido into being low bridged out to the floor. Bandido however comes back in with a high crossbody and a Frankensteiner. He dropkicks Gordon to the floor, but Gordon is able to trap Bandido in the ring apron and pummel his back. Back from commercial, Gordon sends Bandido back first into the barricades and slams him on the floor. In the ring, Gordon continues to attack Bandido’s back and neck. Bandido stops a corner attack and comes off the top with a twisting tornillo press. A series of kicks gets Bandido a two count. Gordon ducks a clothesline and pops up with a Pele kick. Gordon maneuvers Bandido into a savate kick to the head for two. Bandido muscles up Gordon after trading strikes with him. He drops him with the X-knee for two. Gordon superkicks Bandido to stop a 21Plex attempt and uses the second rope for a spear. The Flip-5 gets Gordon the pin at 9:25. Since Gordon had just won a World title opportunity the month before it was logical for him to pick up the win, especially since the future was so uncertain. They kept a really nice pace and busted out some really fun counters and sequences. I really miss Bandido. **¾
Mark Haskins vs. Jay Lethal
Vicky Haskins is in Mark’s corner. Haskins is pretty aggressive with Lethal on the mat, to the point where Lethal has to push him up against the ropes to halt his momentum. Lethal headscissors Haskins into a pinning predicament to stop a sharpshooter attempt. Lethal elbows his way out of a hammerlock and pummels Haskins against the ropes. Haskins sends Lethal outside with a leg lariat. He penalty kicks Lethal’s arm from the apron and continues to wear down Lethal’s arm inside the ring. On the floor Lethal gets the chance to whip Haskins to the guardrails. Unfortunately, Haskins is able to leap over the rails to avoid contact. Haskins sends Lethal to the apron. Lethal does a headstand on the apron, bouncing off the ropes and hits a Lethal Injection on the floor! In the ring, Haskins avoids another Lethal Injection by kicking out Lethal’s arm on the rebound. Lethal however hits the Lethal Combination afterwards for a two count. Haskins small packages Lethal to stop a figure four leg lock. Lethal rattles Haskins with a pump kick and enzuigiri. He goes for Hail to the King and gets caught in a crossface upon landing! When Lethal reaches for the ropes, he converts into the Ring of Haskins. He also grabs Lethal’s left leg to stop him from getting the ropes, but Lethal is able to get his right leg out from underneath him and reach the ropes with it. Lethal swoops under a pumphandle attempt and prawn holds Haskins for two. Haskins takes down Lethal with a running Gourd Buster, following up with a running knee strike for two. Lethal avoids a top rope double stomp. Haskins ducks a Lethal Injection, and when Lethal hits the mat, he puts Lethal in a sharpshooter. Lethal taps out at 8:44! This was an intense and really fun match. The counter-wrestling was exciting to watch and kept the result in question the entirety of the bout, and the action never let up. These two are just great, and I really hope we can see Haskins and the rest of the international roster back soon. ***½
The show ends with an inside look at the ROH Bubble and the precautions that were taken that allowed for TV tapings to resume in the second half of the year.
Overall: I am glad we got to see the two matches taped during the Vegas weekend in March, as even if they are ultimately inconsequential, both were quite good, especially Lethal vs. Haskins. I will always take never before seen matches before a Best Of episode. It was also interesting to get first-hand insight from the wrestlers as to what that weekend was like, and see some footage of those who did make it to Vegas making the best of a bad situation before dispersing. It’s nice to see some humanity in your wrestling every so often. Give this a watch if you’re looking for something a little different, and if you’re like me and miss seeing Bandido and Haskins on a regular basis.