Baltimore, MD – 4.16.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.
ROH Pure Championship
Jonathan Gresham vs. Jay Lethal
Gresham has been champion since 10.30.2020 and this is his fourth defense. This is the fifth singles match between these two, with Lethal taking 3 of the 4, but Gresham winning the most recent. 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 60 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.
Fellow Foundation members Tracy Williams and Rhett Titus lead Lethal and Gresham to the ring. After trading places on the canvas, a rigorous wristlock exchange concludes with Gresham dropkicking Lethal away. Gresham grounds Lethal in a side headlock. Lethal tries a cartwheel dropkick when he finally escapes, but Gresham keeps control of the wrist. Lethal avoids Gresham’s signature arm kick after being tripped. After the commercial break, we see Lethal is in firm control of Gresham’s left arm. At the ten minute mark, Gresham from the apron pops Lethal’s shoulder with a double foot kick, then takes him down with an armdrag. With both men’s shoulders now damaged, both experience agony when they collide in a double shoulder block. Gresham’s shoulder is too hurt to fully apply a kimura lock, so he pivots into applying pressure to Lethal’s arm and wrist while locking his other arm and shoulder between his legs. Gresham crucifix pins Lethal for two. Gresham halts both the Lethal Combination and a Figure Four, but Lethal hits an Ace Crusher. Gresham uses his first rope break to stop the pin. After a second commercial, Lethal turns a Frankensteiner attempt from Gresham into a Boston Crab, forcing Gresham to use his second rope break. Lethal whips Gresham shoulder-first into the canvas. Lethal’s arm crumbles underneath him when he tries the Lethal Injection, but he’s able to get Gresham down into a crossface. Gresham fights to use his third and final rope break to escape. As they go back to the mat, Gresham catches Lethal in a headscissors and pulls back his legs, trapping and panning Lethal at 16:38. This started a bit slow and ended a bit abruptly, but the story that played out for the duration of the match was intriguing. The fact that they stuck to wrestling and threw no strikes is very indicative of what The Foundation represents when competing against one another, and fits the Pure Wrestling motif. While this wasn’t their best match against one another, it was unique and another noteworthy defense under Gresham’s belt. ***¼
We are shown highlights from the main event of Episode 1, where Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team won the ROH World Tag Team Championships from the Kings of Wrestling.
Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe
This is the seventh singles match between these two over their nineteen year ROH tenure. Mark won the very first singles match between them in August 2002, Jay has won four, and the other resulted in a double knockout. Jay elbows Mark to escape a waistlock. Mark comes back with some chops. Jay shoulder blocks Mark and takes him over with a Frankensteiner, with mon reaching a stalemate shortly after. Mark digs his elbow into Jay’s face in the corner after they exchange positioning on the canvas. Mark goes up and over in the corner, but Jay boots him to the floor and follows with a running elbow off the apron. Both men fought back and forth during the break. Mark sends Jay back outside, hits a Spicy dropkick, then a Cactus elbow. Mark slams Jay on the floor, but Jay boots Mark over the barricades and onto the concrete floor! In the ring, Jay climbs to the top turnbuckle. Mark cuts him off and brings him down with an Iconoclasm for two. Jay throws some open hands and tries his neckbreaker. Mark breaks from it and gives Jay a uranage suplex. The two brothers fight to the apron. Mark knocks Jay to the floor and comes off the apron with a running Blockbuster. Mark tries to use a steel chair as a step stool for a dive. Jay comes back in and gives Mark a Death Valley Driver onto the chair! Jay then drops Mark with a neckbreaker for two. Jay looks for the Jay Driller. Mark weaves out and pops Jay up into a rolling Death Valley Driver. Mark delivers The Froggy Bow for two. Mark looks for the Cutthroat Driver. Jay knees and elbows his way off of Mark’s shoulders. Mark throws some shots and decides to go for the Jay Driller himself. Jay backdrops Mark, kicks him in the mid-section, and hits the Jay Driller for a very close two count. Jay hits the Jay Driller again, but Mark rolls out of the ring to avoid being pinned. Mark is able to take down Jay when Jay comes after him. He places Jay on the timekeeper’s table which he has pulled closer to the ring. Mark hits the Froggy Bow off the top turnbuckle and through the table! Mark is able to crawl back into the ring at the count of nineteen, but Jay is just a step behind and gets counted out at 15:09. This match was probably the most reminiscent of their best match, the Fifth Year Festival encounter, and while this fell a tad shy of that, it was darn close. Quite simply they beat each other up, Mark ended up being the most clever of the two, and that cleverness paid off. As good as they are wrestling one another, I hope they can get back to being on the same page going forward. ***½
Overall: This was very fitting for ROH’s 500th episode, celebrating its history with three of its most tenured and decorated roster members and presenting a championship contest the fans voted to see. The match between the Briscoes also fit the current narrative of them not getting along, so it’s nice that it didn’t occur just to fit the occasion.