Baltimore, MD – 2.26.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.
The show begins with La Facción Ingobernable of RUSH, Dragon Lee, and La Bestia del Ring are in a private locker room. RUSH says Shane Taylor is going down tonight, and everyone who gets in LFI’s way going forward will be humiliated. Ring has a steel chair in hand which he intends to use to humiliate Shane Taylor. The other two LFI members, Kenny King and Amy Rose, then enter the room. King tries to convince RUSH that he doesn’t need to use a steel chair to be victorious, but Amy Rose interjects and tells Ring he better use the chair. King gets in her face, then RUSH gets in King’s face. He tells King their group is about pure humiliation. Lee and Ring tell King to think as they leave the room.
Later, King and Lee are talking about their tag team championship opportunity. King says they are one win away from domination and proving that ROH is LFI’s house. Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham, the current champions, admit that defeating The Briscoes to earn their title match was a great feat for LFI. Lethal however says that was the easy part. Because their title match is under Pure Rules, Gresham says LFI actually have to wrestle to win the titles, and that LFI will not be successful.
ROH World Tag Team Championship – Pure Rules
The Foundation (Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham) vs. La Facción Ingobernable (Dragon Lee & Kenny King)
The Foundation have been champions since 12.13.2019 and this is their third defense. LFI defeated The Briscoes last week to earn this title opportunity, and Amy Rose is in their corner. The rules for this match are as follows:
*The competitors are to obey the “Code of Honor”, shaking one another’s hand before and after the match.
*Tags only count by one wrestler reaching over the top rope and tagging his partner hand-to-hand while holding the tag rope.
*Each wrestler has 5 seconds to exit the ring after a tag is made.
*Each team has 3 rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls. After a team has used all 3 of their rope breaks, submission and pin attempts on or under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal.
*Each time a team breaks up a pinfall or submission, that team will lose a rope break. A pinfall or submission breakup when a team is out of rope breaks will result in a disqualification.
*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 45 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.
Lee uses his first rope break early to escape a hammerlock, but also takes the moment to back elbow Gresham in the face. They pick up the pace on the mat, then tag in their partners when they reach a stalemate. King gives Lethal an open hand strike from the mat when Lethal goes for a figure four leg lock. When King goes for it a second time, King uses his team’s second rope break to escape, and slaps Lethal in the face before slipping to the floor. Lethal is laughing at LFI being down two rope breaks as Lee enters the ring as the legal participant. When Lethal slips under Lee for a powerbomb off the second rope, Lee uses a closed fist on Lethal. Although this earns LFI a warning, it pays off for Lee who dropkicks Lethal to the floor and takes him out with a suicide dive. During the commercial break, King wore down Lethal’s back, almost earning a pinfall after a Tiger Driver. Lethal attacks King’s knee and takes him down from the top turnbuckle with a dragon screw leg whip. Gresham and Lee enter as the legal men, trading forearm strikes. King accidentally enzuigiri’s Lee from the apron. Gresham gives Lethal a dragonscrew leg whip in the ropes. Gresham pulls down Lee, stomps on his arm, and Magistral cradles him. King uses LFI’s third and final rope break to save Lee from being defeated. Lethal sends King outside. He and Gresham attempt the Combination Cutter on Lee, but Lee catches Gresham with a reverse cradle piledriver instead. King pulls Lethal outside so he can’t break up the fall, but Gresham is able to kick out regardless. Lee knees Gresham in the back of the head to pick up another nearfall. King rolls Gresham up into a brainbuster. Lee hits the Incineration Knee to the back of the head. Lethal spends The Foundation’s first rope break to break up the pin. Lethal goes for a suicide dive on King and ends up wiping out Amy Rose by accident! As the referee is distracted by this, Lee clobbers Gresham with a closed-fist. This gets LFI the win and the titles at 14:12! The rules favored the champions, and they seemed confident they had the match in the bag with how quickly LFI exhausted their rope breaks. However, it was an error from Lethal which allowed LFI to break the rules and take the titles away from them, which I think is a tremendous story and portrays exactly what both sides in this feud stand for. They did a remarkable job making each nearfall believable and providing some captivating twists and turns in the final moments. Lee now becomes a double champion (TV and Tag) and King holds the tag titles for the second time, the first time being with current Foundation member Rhett Titus. ***¼
ROH World Championship
RUSH vs. Shane Taylor
RUSH has been champion since 2.29.2020 and this is his second defense. Kenny King joins commentary for the match. RUSH does not follow the Code of Honor, denying Taylor a handshake. RUSH goes after Taylor’s throat and mid-section to start. Taylor pops RUSH up into a spinebuster. Taylor pummels RUSH outside the ring. He gives RUSH a draping DDT from the apron and to the floor. Back in the ring, RUSH avoids a corner attack and dropkicks Taylor to the floor. RUSH throws Taylor into the barricades. He opens a door to the floor area behind the barricades and smashes the door into Taylor’s head thrice. RUSH sends Taylor into another portion of the barricade before pulling out cables from under the ring. He whips and chokes Taylor with the cables as King on commentary smugly reminds us that the title cannot change hands on a disqualification. In the ring, RUSH whips Taylor into opposite corners, able to avoid Taylor’s attempts to block his charges twice. RUSH fakes Taylor out before giving him a kick to the face and hitting the Tranquilo pose. Chops and strikes are traded in the corner after a commercial break. Taylor rolls RUSH into a knee strike. RUSH responds with a jumping knee strike, but is turned inside out with a clothesline for two. Taylor also gets two with a sit-out double choke bomb. RUSH German suplexes Taylor and knees him in the face for two.RUSH hangs Taylor in the ropes and drives him down with a double stomp. A dazed Taylor is able to exchange forearms with RUSH, who also throws a shot at Taylor’s mid-section. They exhaust one another with overhand chops, concluding with RUSH giving Taylor a headbutt. Taylor comes back with a couple headbutts and the Marcus Garvey Driver. RUSH kicks out at one! Taylor charges and gets dumped in the corner with a belly-to-belly suplex. RUSH is too wiped to follow up immediately. When RUSH does go for the Bull’s Horns, he turns around and accidentally knocks down Todd Sinclair. Kenny seems upset when La Bestia del Ring comes down and passes a steel chair to RUSH. Kenny King gets in the ring and pulls the chair out of RUSH’s hands, saying “you promised me you wouldn’t do this,” He goes to supposedly clobber RUSH, who ducks and ends up getting hit by Taylor! King then looks at RUSH and says “do you understand me now?” and tells RUSH to finish off Taylor. With Sinclair recovered enough to make the count, a Superman punch and the Bull’s Horns gets RUSH the pin at 18:14. What made this ending work was the established rapport between King and Taylor on a previous episode. Even on commentary King mentioned how while he was rooting for RUSH, he knew how hard Taylor worked for this opportunity and how he wanted Taylor to have a fair shake at the title. We now know he was full of it, and his actions have shattered whatever respect he and Taylor may have had for one another. The match itself until then was pretty good, and I like that Taylor tried using strategies that had worked for PCO and RUSH, two previous champions, by going to the floor and looking to get an advantage there. However, it is only a matter of time before these types of defenses wear thin on the audience. ***
Overall: This felt like an important episode of television, which firmly established La Facción Ingobernable as the top group in the promotion. They now hold the World, TV, and Tag Team titles, and have shown they are willing to do whatever it takes to remain in that top spot. It will be interesting to see who they end up pitted against for the 19th Anniversary show, which we now have a month to build up to and hopefully will be the sole focus of the television going forward.