Baltimore, MD – 1.22.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman.
On the 1.19 episode of ROH Week By Week, a gauntlet match was held with four current ROH Dojo students, with the winner earning a future ROH Pure Championship opportunity:
ROH Pure Championship #1 Contenders Gauntlet Match
Dante Caballero vs. Eric Martin vs. Joe Keys vs. Ken Dixon
Will Ferrara and Jonathan Gresham join Ian Riccaboni on commentary. Martin and Dixon were randomly drawn to start. Martin dropkicks Dixon to the floor, but allows him to come back in the ring without interruption. He does it again to escape a waistlock, but a hot tempered Dixon pulls Martin out to the floor by his foot, and lets him crash to the floor. In the ring, Martin blocks a chop and pummels Dixon to the corner. Martin slingshots Dixon into a schoolboy for two. He pulls Dixon into a short-arm lariat for two. Dixon ducks another lariat and scoops slams Martin to pin him at 4:36. Caballero enters and controls Dixon on the mat. Dixon elbows Caballero in the shoulder blades to momentarily halt them as they get to their feet. He cuts off Caballero with a back elbow as Caballero comes off the ropes for a two count. Caballero also kicks out after a hard clothesline from Dixon, and then again after a neckbreaker. Caballero lays out Dixon with a clothesline of his own. He pulls him out of the corner after a second clothesline and into a slam for two. Caballero applies a crossface. When Dixon is about to reach the ropes, he converts into a seatbelt pin, eliminating Dixon at 8:51. Unhappy with the result, Dixon attacks Caballero and whips him into the barricades! He sticks around to watch the final fall. Keys isn’t pleased with the transgression, but Caballero tells the referee he is able to continue. Keys wastes no time, giving Caballero a couple of body slams before putting him a Boston Crab. Caballero gets to the ropes to escape. Keys further wears down Caballero’s back. Caballero side stepped a corner attack after escaping a Boston Crab attempt, sending Keys shoulder first into the ring post and out of the ring. Caballero spears Keys in the corner, following up with a body slam and gutbuster. Caballero hits a Sick Kick for two. He tries for a crossface but Keys resists. Keys stubbornness results in Caballero trying another seat belt pin, but Keys is able to kick out. Caballero ends a forearm exchange by sending Keys down with a wristlock driver. Keys responds with a rolling clothesline and a diving headbutt. He kicks Caballero in the back several times before applying a kneeling single leg crab. Caballero taps out at 17:21, giving Keys the win and earning himself a future Pure Championship opportunity. Everybody getting one win each (aside from poor Martin) is a bit too cute for my liking, as I think Keys would’ve been a stronger challenger if he walked away with multiple victories. I do like that with each showing the Dojo members style continues to emerge, and that Dixon stands out as the one Dojo member straying from the values the rest carry with pride. This match was a good idea to give the Dojo folks some more screen time, and for one of them to earn a match of consequence. **¾
Now onto this week’s episode. We’re reminded that Shane Taylor Promotions declined to take the Six Man Titles by forfeit at “Final Battle 2020.” Also, after Dragon Lee retained his TV Championship last week, Brody King approached him backstage and warned Lee that he is coming for his family, who cost him the World title at “Final Battle 2020.” We’re also reminded Flip Gordon has been suspended from the Pure Division for bending the rules in recent Pure Rules matches.
Dalton Castle vs. Josh Woods
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.
Woods has Castle flummoxed in the opening minutes of the contest. Castle is able to hold his own in a grappling exchange. He intercepts a strike and back elbows Woods in the face. Woods drops Castle ribs first on the top rope. Woods attacks Castle’s mid-section, including a really hard kick to Castle while Castle is hung in the ropes. Woods instigates a body stretch in the ropes, and while he insists its a rope break on Castle’s behalf, the referee disagrees. Castle desperately scrambles for offense and Woods shuts him down with a gutwrench suplex. Woods tries to prevent Castle from using his first rope break to escape an abdominal stretch, but Castle does manage to do so. He also manages to hip toss Woods to the floor after elbowing his way out of a waistlock. Castle was able to maintain control during the commercial break, in which Woods used his first rope break to escape an armbar. Woods dumps Castle over the top rope and to the floor. When Woods follows him out, Castle drives Woods into the barricades, and then into the ring post. Back in the ring, Castle blasts Woods in the side of the head with a running knee for two. Woods reverses a vertical suplex attempt from Castle into a Gourd Buster. Woods German suplexes Castle out of the ropes for two. Castle responds with a gutwrench suplex and his own German suplex. Woods pump kicks Castle’s in the lower part of his stomach. Castle and Woods trade forearm strikes. Woods hits Castle in the stomach. Castle tries for Bang-A-Rang, but Woods forward rolls him into a grounded cloverleaf with a bodyscissors (the Woods Lock.) Castle taps out at 14:27. Woods has consistently stood out as one of the top performers in the Pure Division, and this was no exception. The strategy utilized by Woods had Castle regrouping and re-strategizing all match long, while he was able to maintain and see through his focus on Castle’s stomach and back. This stands out as one of the more psychological Pure matches in recent memory, and I absolutely loved it. ***½
Despite being victorious, Josh Woods is disappointed in himself because of the brawling and fighting that occurred in the match. This is because he wants to establish himself as the best pure wrestler in ROH, stating that winning the Pure Championship is his goal.
The Foundation (Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham & Tracy Williams) vs. Shane Taylor Promotions (Shane Taylor & S.O.S. (Kaun & Moses))
Lethal and Gresham are the current ROH Tag Team Champions, and Gresham is the current Pure champion. Kaun surprises Lethal by overpowering him. The Foundation is not happy when he tags Lethal with a forearm that sends him to the floor. Taylor and Williams tag in, and Williams puts Taylor in an armbar in the ropes. He lets go before the five count. Taylor escapes another arm hold attempt and nails Williams with a forearm strike across the jaw. Gresham uses his speed to outmaneuver Moses, but Moses eventually does catch him with a hard shoulder block. The Foundation re-groups on the floor to discuss strategy. Lethal jams up Moses’ left arm. Williams knee strikes Moses in the shoulder and rolls him into a Fujiwara armbar. When Moses escapes, Williams holds onto the arm. Gresham kicks his arm from the apron. Moses however does not budge from Gresham’s high crossbody. Gresham pops Moses’ arm and dropkicks him down into a seated position in the Foundation’s corner. The Foundation ferociously attacks Moses’ arm until he Samoan Drops Williams and tags Kaun. Kaun blocks a superkick Lethal. He knocks Lethal down with a pair of clotheslines and a back body drop. He boots Lethal to the floor and follows with a pescado. Back inside the ring, Kaun gives Lethal a gutbuster for two. Kaun is able to halt the Lethal Injection. Gresham sneaks in from behind with a German suplex onto Kaun as Lethal dropkicks Kaun’s partners off the apron. Kaun stumbles back to his corner after Gresham gives him a dropkick off the second rope. Taylor blind tags in and cracks Gresham in the face with a knee strike. He drills him with the Marcus Garvey Driver but Lethal is able to save Gresham from being pinned. S.O.S. end up in the ring Williams. Williams does his best to fight them both off, but ends up tossed to the floor and mowed over by a somersault senton from Moses off the apron. Lethal wipes out Moses and Taylor with suicide dives. He tosses Taylor back into the ring where Gresham lands a shooting star press. Taylor pushes Gresham up and off of him to stop his pinfall. Gresham moonsault presses onto Taylor and then suicide dives onto Kaun. Lethal goes for the Lethal Injection. Taylor catches him in his arms and scoops Lethal into Welcome To The Land for the pin at 12:08. Both teams brought a lot of intensity to this match and the action was non-stop. S.O.S. had a breakout showing, and this win gives them a reason to challenge for the tag titles. Taylor also has a nice boost going into his future World title bout against RUSH. I expected this to be good, but this was great, and I am pumped to see more from all six guys going forward. ***¾
Overall: Two fantastic matches make for one of the best episodes of ROH TV in awhile. I strongly recommend checking it out.