Baltimore, MD – 3.26.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.
Mike Bennett vs. Beer City Bruiser
This match is as a result of Bruiser attacking the OGK after they defeated him and Milonas on Episode #489. Matt Taven is on commentary. Bruiser knocks Bennett off the apron during his entrance and tosses him over the barricades to the exposed floor. Back in the ring, Bennett gets in some chops and forearm strikes, but Bruiser cuts him off with a double underhook DDT. Bruiser keeps control during the commercial and calls for his leg-capture DDT when action resumes. Bennett escapes and clobbers Bruiser in the neck with an elbow strike. Bruiser blocks a superkick and drives Bennett’s knee and ankle into the mat with a falling elbow drop. This was the same leg hobbled by The Righteous at “Final Battle 2020.” Bruiser continues to attack Bennett’s ankle and knee while keeping him grounded. Bennett is able to come back with a Side Effect. He’s a bit slower in his movements, but is still able to take down Bruiser with a superkick to the knee and a boot for two. Bruiser blasts Bennett as he comes off the ropes with a back elbow. Bruiser drops him with a leg-capture DDT, and Bennett gets his foot on the bottom rope to stop the pin attempt. Bruiser grabs a beer bottle from underneath the ring and smashes it against the ring post, creating a makeshift shiv. Referee Todd Sinclair preemptively calls for the bell at 8:07, making the match a No Contest. Taven runs in from commentary and sends Bruiser packing with a superkick before he can take action. I suppose since Bruiser technically didn’t take action a No Contest makes sense, and a referee probably should call for the bell instead of waiting to see if the guy uses a dagger on their opponent. The match was totally serviceable for the story, but fairly pedestrian. **
Pure Rules Gauntlet Match
Every match in the Pure Rules Gauntlet match is, you guessed it, contested under Pure Rules. The rules are below. Rope breaks and warnings do NOT reset between matches:
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.
*Each match has a 15 minute time limit. If any match goes the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.
Dante Caballero vs. Will Ferrara
This is Will Ferrara’s first singles match in ROH since August 2018 (not counting the Jericho Cruiser), with his last in-ring appearances occurring in April 2019 as part of the Honor Rumble at G1 Supercard and a Tag Team Battle Royal at the Crockett Cup. Ferrara has coached Caballero at the ROH Dojo. Kevni Eck replaces his spot on the judges panel for this gauntlet. As they exchange holds, they more or less dare each other to use a rope break. Caballero slams Ferrara twice to stop Ferrara from working over his wrist. On the third slam attempt, Ferrara sends Caballero crashing down with a wristlock driver. Caballero fights out of a Cobra Clutch, but is taken down with an armdrag and re-applies the hold. Caballero’s arm is too weak to execute a piledriver when he escapes, and Ferrara jams Caballero’s arm across his shoulder. Ferrara applies an arm-scissors. Caballero is able to escape. He also kicks out of a crucifix pin. He hoists up Ferrara into a gut buster and then hits the Sick Kick. He looks for the piledriver, but Ferrara counters with a jackknife pin, eliminating Caballero at 5:57.
The World Famous CB vs. Will Ferrara
Ferrara’s last singles match in ROH was a Fight Without Honor against CB, which CB won. Before the bell, Ferrara says they should put the past behind us, and with a handshake CB agrees. Ferrara utilizes the same strategy as he did against Caballero, focusing on CB’s wrist. They end up trading pin attempts, ending with Ferrara getting CB in a modified crossface. CB uses his first rope break to escape. Some maneuvering from CB allows him to pin Ferrara with a cross-armed Alligator Clutch at 4:15, which he calls the Sugar Bear Pin.
The World Famous CB vs. Eric Martin
After a shoulder tackle, Martin drops numerous elbows onto CB. Martin fights for the Boston Crab, which commentary makes clear is similar to the NJPW Dojo in terms of it being a key submission utilized by their students. CB uses his second rope break to escape one of Martin’s attempts. Martin nails CB with a lariat for two. CB side steps a corner attack and gives Martin a dragon screw leg whip. CB gets two with a low superkick. Martin catches a crossbody attempt of CB. He Northern lights suplexes CB back into the Boston Crab. CB uses his third and final rope break to escape. Martin blocks a shotei attempt but CB is able to take him down in a Judo Throw. He puts Martin in the Nudo de la Muerte (Death Knot), and Martin submits at 6:03.
The World Famous CB vs. Wheeler YUTA
CB tries to end the match quickly with various pinning combinations. He takes down YUTA with a couple armdrags, but YUTA evades a third and senton splashes CB’s worn down back. He further wears down the back with a Gory Stretch. CB frees himself with an armdrag. YUTA kneels down on CB when he tries a schoolboy, leading them trading various pin attempts. Back on their feet, YUTA enuzigiri’s and German suplexes CB. He drills CB with a Flying DDT for the pin at 3:09.
Wheeler YUTA vs. Fred Yehi
YUTA scores the first strike with a dropkick. Yehi comes back quickly with a t-bone suplex. Yehi stomps the back of YUTA’s neck after knocking him down with a back elbow. Yehi jams up YUTA’s left arm and stomps on his left hand. YUTA halts Yehi using an atomic drop and enzuigiri. Yehi tosses YUTA overhead, but YUTA comes back with a springboard crossbody for two. YUTA fakes out Yehi with a delayed crossbody. Yehi rolls it over upon landing and gets a two count, then twists up YUTA’s left knee and ankle. YUTA pops Yehi’s knee, dropkicks Yehi’s knee out, then basement dropkicks Yehi to the floor. Yehi suplexes YUTA on the floor and brings him back inside where he applies a half-nelson on the canvas. He converts to the Koji Clutch, which YUTA escapes by twisting Yehi’s ankle. He gives Yehi a spinning toe hold. Yehi trips YUTA and puts him in a rear-naked choke. YUTA rolls backwards to pin Yehi’s shoulders. Yehi kicks out. He and YUTA exchange waistlocks until YUTA trips him down in a wrist-capture heel hook. Yehi uses his first rope break to escape. Yehi double stomps YUTA on the back of the head. Yehi’s knee is in some pain as he goes for the Koji Clutch. When YUTA grabs his ankle again, Yehi switches sides. YUTA taps out at 6:24, making Yehi the winner of the Gauntlet.
As you’d expect, the wrestling in each match was very good and a lot of the participants got creative with their transitions which made it pretty fun to watch. A gauntlet match isn’t something I wouldn’t want to see often, but I like it as a method to get a lot of underrepresented wrestlers a spotlight, and am thrilled YUTA and Yehi closed the proceedings. ***¼
Overall: This was a solid show to feature wrestlers who weren’t on the PPV. I also appreciate that we saw that the OGK/Bruiser issue wasn’t completely dropped. Nothing must see but given how loaded the PPV was, I am fine with the episode featured on a PPV weekend being something a bit more light.