This week is Quinn McKay presenting some of her favorite matches from 2020.
20 Person Battle Royal – #1 Contendership for the ROH World Championship
The Beer City Bruiser vs. The Blue Meanie vs. Brian Johnson vs. Brian Milonas vs. Cheeseburger vs. Crowbar vs. Dak Draper vs. Danhausen vs. Delirious vs. Dragon Lee vs. Eli Isom vs. Gangrel vs. Josh Woods vs. Kenny King vs. LSG vs. Maria Manic vs. PJ Black vs. Rhett Titus vs. Silas Young vs. Tracy Williams
“Free Enterprise” – Baltimore, MD – 2.9.2020
The participants were kept secret before the match, with the Blue Meanie and Gangrel receiving the biggest reactions from the Baltimore crowd, with this match serving as their debuts. People were very into Danhausen and Maria Manic as well. Kenny King, who had won the G1 Supercard battle royal in April, was taken out before the bell by Gangrel’s red mist as payback for King interrupting his entrance. King was also surprised to see his LFI teammate Dragon Lee in the match, as Lee had competed in Osaka, Japan that same day. Bully Ray ran out to help Silas Young eliminate Maria Manic and then put her through the timekeeper’s table. Delirious tried drinking Danhausen’s jar of teeth. He was pumpkicked by Danhausen and eliminated right after, resulting in teeth flying everywhere. Danhausen also stops Silas Young from swearing, and even though he is able to take down Young with a slingshot German suplex, Danhausen is eliminated shortly after. The match comes down to Dragon Lee, Tracy Williams, Josh Woods, and Silas Young. Naturally, as they are a tag team, Woods and Young work together and eliminate Williams. Dragon Lee is able to eliminate both Woods and Young. At that time, King sneaks in and tosses Lee over the top, just like he did at G1 Supercard to win the Honor Rumble. However, Lee is able to sneak the cat back into the ring. At that time, Dragon Lee unmasks to reveal he was Flip Gordon in disguise, and he tosses King out to win the Battle Royal at 17:45. Like most battle royals, this was just fine, but the surprise entrants, the humorous moments, and the reveal at the end made it more memorable than most. Despite it not truly being one of the best ROH matches of 2020, I totally understand why this was put on the TV show. **
ROH World Championship
PCO vs. Mark Haskins vs. RUSH
“Gateway to Honor 2020” – St. Charles, MO – 2.29.2020
PCO has been champion since 12.13.2019 and this is his third defense. RUSH and Haskins engage in a fast exchange after PCO is sent to the floor. RUSH dropkicks Haskins to the floor and PCO comes back with a clothesline to send RUSH outside. PCO suicide dives after RUSH. Haskins tries a suicide dive on PCO, but is caught and chokeslammed onto the ring apron. RUSH pulls Haskins out of the way of a somersault senton from PCO onto the ring apron, and sends both of his opponents into the barricades. He puts RUSH in an armbar in the ropes before taking a tranquilo break. He then fake outs Haskins and face kicks him in the corner before striking the tranquilo pose in earnest. Haskins sends RUSH outside with a heel hook to the jaw. He penalty kicks PCO before suicide diving onto RUSH. He suicide dives onto PCO and comes off the top with a double stomp to RUSH for two. Haskins nails PCO with a chest kick for a two count. RUSH knee strikes Haskins and German suplexes PCO. PCO takes a double superkick, but then clotheslines both Haskins and RUSH, leaving all three men laying. Haskins rolls to the floor. RUSH goes for the Bull’s Horns on PCO, but PCO intercepts with a mid-air tackle. Haskins breaks up PCO’s pin with a super double stomp. He gives RUSH the Soldier Shoulder Roll, but PCO breaks up his pin attempt. PCO chokeslams Haskins and hits the PCOsault. RUSH pulls referee Todd Sinclair out of the ring to stop his count. While Sinclair is distracted, Nick Aldis clobbers PCO with the NWA World Championship. RUSH forearms PCO down in the corner and hits the Bull’s Horns for the pin and the championship at 10:22. After the not-so-good Final Battle main event, I was not upset to see PCO’s title reign end so quickly. This match was fast, fun, and had a really good energy to it. Aldis’ interference was unexpected and came off flat, but it was also a way to give PCO a justification to challenge for the title again, and add to the story of him challenging Aldis for the NWA Championship. That was supposed to happen at Supercard of Honor XIV pre-Covid, and hopefully it still ends up happening one day. ***
Pure Title Tournament Final Round Match
Tracy Williams (Block A Winner) vs. Jonathan Gresham (Block B Winner)
“ROH on SBG #476” – Baltimore, MD – 11.2.2020
The winner of this tournament will be the new ROH Pure Champion. Williams defeated Rust Taylor, Fred Yehi, and Jay Lethal en route to the finals, while Gresham defeated Wheeler YUTA, Matt Sydal, and Josh Woods. Williams enters the match with an injured left shoulder, and Gresham enters the match with an injured left knee.
After an aggressive lock-up, they fight for a hip toss. Williams ends up hip tossing Gresham to the floor. On the floor the fight continues with Gresham giving Williams his own hip toss and both men reaching a stalemate. Back in the ring, Williams applies a twisting hammerlock, trapping Gresham’s wrist and applying some “snap” to it as well. Gresham rolls Williams into a grapevine, pushing Williams’ legs against his posterior. Williams rolls forward and back to his feet. Gresham rolls Williams back and kicks out his left wrist before delivering an armdrag. Williams uses his first rope break to escape a high wristlock. Williams controls Gresham by his wrist and delivers an underhook back suplex. Gresham avoids being pinned in a cravate and uses his first rope break to escape Williams’ grasp. Gresham uncharacteristically spears Williams. Williams chops Gresham and whips him into the corner. Gresham slips out of a super DDT. He tries another spear, but this time Williams catches him in a front facelock. Gresham reverses into a suplex, but Williams comes right back with a chop. Gresham enzuigiri’s Williams after absorbing a few more chops and German suplexes Williams for two. Williams lariats Gresham for his own two count. After both men tumble to the floor, Williams intercepts a slingshot attempt from Gresham back in the ring and gives him a brainbuster. He puts Gresham in a crossface. Gresham gets close to the ropes, ultimately deciding to use his second rope break when Williams’ moves his arm over Gresham’s nose. Gresham comes back with another German suplex. He blasts Williams with a pair of running forearm strikes to the face as Williams is seated. A forearm to the back of the neck also gets a two count, but this time, Gresham looks for a kimura lock. Williams gets to his feet, so Gresham tries an Octopus Stretch. It takes two attempts, but Williams is able to give Gresham a piledriver. Gresham spends his third and final rope break to stop the count. Gresham ducks a rolling lariat from Williams. He pulls down Williams in an Octopus Stretch. As he digs his elbow into Williams’ hip and hyperextends Williams’ left arm back, Williams submits at 14:36. Gresham wins the tournament and the Pure Championship. This match did a great job showcasing the style of wrestling the Pure title epitomizes and built off the damage Williams’ arm sustained in the previous round.. However, the atmosphere of the match lacked an intensity and sense of urgency one would have anticipated and hoped for. It seemed like the match was just getting into the next gear when it concluded. It stands to reason that with both guys worn down they wouldn’t endure a longer match, but it doesn’t make for the most satisfying final round. Mileage will certainly vary, but after a super strong tournament I found myself a bit let down by this match despite the strong individual performances. It was very good, but certainly not the best match these two have had together, and not the best of the tournament. That said, Gresham should make a great champion and I am really looking forward to his title defenses. ***¼
Jay Lethal celebrates the victory with Gresham, draping his tag team championship over Gresham’s shoulder, adding to the Pure championship and tournament trophy.
Overall: If you haven’t been tuned into ROH of late, or missed their pre-pandemic events, this is a good starting point to catch up before going into new 2021 episodes, as you get a fun battle royal, and get to see how the current ROH World and Pure champions won their respective titles.