Baltimore, MD – 6.18.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman.
On the June 15th episode of “Week By Week”, the fourth of six first round Survival of the Fittest matches took place:
2021 Survival of the Fittest Opening Round Match
Chris Dickinson vs. O’Shay Edwards
Shane Taylor joins commentary for this match. After Edwards defeated Sledge, Taylor made him an official member of Shane Taylor Promotions. Edwards gets the first knock down with a shoulder block, then suplexes Dickinson across the ring for a one count. Dickinson ducks a boot. Edwards gets his foot stuck on the top rope. Dickinson kicks him in the hamstring and nails a Shining Wizard for two. Dickinson continues attacking Edwards’ left leg. Edwards turns things around when they get into a forearm strike battle. Edwards uses Dickinson’s momentum to score with a spinebuster. After clobbering Dickinson with clotheslines in the corner, Taylor brings him out with a t-bone suplex for two. Dickinson slips out of Edwards’ grasp and locks him in an STF. Edwards escapes, but Dickinson gives him a dragonscrew leg whip in the middle ropes and re-applies the hold. Edwards taps out at 8:08. On paper one may anticipate a slugfest based on the pairing, but I think the way this played made a lot of sense. Dickinson may be intense and strong, but Edwards showed he was just as strong if not stronger right away, and when Dickinson saw the opening to attack Edwards’ leg, he took it and saw it through to the end. I do find it interesting (in a not good way) that neither Sledge or Edwards made it to the SOTF elimination match after their three match series, which felt like a natural progression into elevating them. That said, I hope we get to see and hear more of Edwards going forward. **½
On the June 16th episode of Women’s Division Wednesday, two participants from the very first episode returned for singles action. Before the match, Maria Kanellis-Bennett informs Mandy Leon that she is in the women’s title tournament, which Leon felt was obvious and thus did not show any enthusiasm for this notice.
Rok-C vs. Laynie Luck
Rok-C was awarded the very first spot in the upcoming Women’s title tournament. Lots of confidence on display until Rok-C changes the mood with an overhand chop and springboard wristdrag. Luck responds with a springboard tricep to tricep armdrag and a dropkick for two. Luck wears down Rok-C’s back with a smile on her face. Luck becomes more frustrated when Rok-C kicks out of an elbow drop, and then a springboard dropkick. Rok-C manages to snap Luck’s neck across the top rope and follow that up with a flying Thesz Press. She takes down Luck with a side Russian leg sweep for two. Luck maneuvers Rok-C into a German suplex for two. Rok-C gives Luck a rolling kick to the mid-section and takes her down with a Code Red for the pin at 9:46. This was a good second chance showing for Luck, who got to show far more personality and in-ring ability than the tag match from a couple months ago, and a nice momentum builder for Rok-C who also looked very good. It is really strange anytime someone in a match on an episode isn’t one of the individuals receiving a Ticket to Gold, though. **¾
After the match, Maria Kanellis-Bennett presents another tournament spot to Nicole Savoy. Like Leon, Savoy was slated for the women’s division tournament pre-COVID. She is much more enthusiastic than Mandy was to be in the tournament, especially since the fans of the Experience enthusiastically supported her being in the new iteration.
Now onto this week’s episode! So far, Demonic Flamita, Brian Johnson, Eli Isom and Chris Dickinson have advanced to the Survival of the Fittest finals, and tonight a fifth name gets added to that list.
2021 Survival of the Fittest Opening Round Match
Bandido vs. Bateman
Bateman stated before the match that if he were to win Survival of the Fittest and then win the World Title, he would give the title to Vincent. The other members of the Righteous, Dutch and Vita VonStarr, are in his corner, but get sent backstage by referee Joe Mandak before the bell. Some feeling out ends with a forearm shot from Bandido. Bateman smiles and returns in kind. Bateman side steps a back handspring and delivers a chop. Bandido comes back with a twisting splash and sends Bateman outside with a headscissors. Bateman blocks a PK and sends Bandido face first into the ring apron, then delivers a knee strike to the face. Bandido fortunately stops a kick and takes down Bateman with a dragonscrew leg whip, following up with a Shining Wizard for two. Bateman mocks Bandido and gets a press slam Michinoku Driver for his troubles, as well as a standing moonsault. Bateman forearms Bandido out of mid-air and drops him with a rolling neckbreaker for two. Bandido blocks a punch and takes down Bateman with a crucifix driver. Bateman digs his fingers into Bandido’s eyes and comes off the second rope with a knee to the back of the neck. Bandido blocks This Is The Kill with a flipping square driver, following up with the 21 Plex for the pin at 13:23. They told a very good story with Bateman beating down the smaller Bandido, with Bandido’s speed and agility aiding him in the process. I particularly like that Bandido countered a power move from Bateman which also set up his finisher, as it’s logical given their size disparity. Good stuff. ***
As Bateman is lying in the ring, Vincent and the rest of the Righteous appear ringside. This is the first appearance of Vincent in person since the 19th Anniversary Show. He tells Bateman he had a moment of clarity where he realized the ROH World championship was important to him, and tonight, Bateman failed him. However, Bateman didn’t fail himself. He tells Bateman death is the greatest form of love. Bateman nods and extends his arms. Von Starr pounces on Bateman and chokes him in the middle of the ring. Dutch pushes Von Starr aside and gives him a rip cord Black Hole Slam. Weird cults gonna weird cult.
We see a preview for the final Survival of the Fittest qualifying match, which will see Danhausen face Rhett Titus. That takes place on tomorrow’s episode of Week by Week.
We then see a clip from Episode 503, where The Briscoes lost to EC3 & Flip Gordon due to Gordon hitting Mark Briscoe in the head with a chain. The Briscoes are about to come to blows when Papa Briscoe breaks up the confrontation and tells them they will solve things in two weeks with a “Fight on the Farm”, where the Briscoes will face one another on their own property.
ROH World Television Championship
Tony Deppen vs. Tracy Williams vs. Dragon Lee
Deppen has been champion since 4.30.2021 and this is his first defense. Lee is receiving this rematch due to an injury preventing him from defending the Television Title at the 19th Anniversary Show. Lee sticks and moves, jumping in to try for schoolboy pins, happy to let Williams and Deppen go at it otherwise. Williams halts Lee after Lee schoolboys Deppen, but accidentally chops Williams. Lee is able to take them both to the floor, but they stop a suicide dive and give him a tandem suplex on the floor. Deppen is able to dropkick both opponents to opposite sides of the ring. Williams pulls Deppen to the floor before he can follow that up, allowing Lee to sneak in with a tope con hilo onto both of them. In the ring he lands a top rope double stomp for two. Lee springboard dropkicks a seated Williams in the corner. He dropkicks Deppen down in the opposite corner, hitting seated corner dropkicks onto both men, and pinning Deppen for two, as Williams breaks up the pin. Williams drops Lee with a Spicolli Driver and Deppen breaks up the pin. Deppen drops a knee across Williams neck. Williams heads to the top turnbuckle. Deppen follows and gets DDT’d on the top turnbuckle. Knee strikes and clotheslines leave all three men laying. After the break, Williams German suplexes both Lee and Deppen at the same time, pinning Lee for two. Lee kicks Williams to stop a piledriver to Deppen. Lee pump knees Deppen and gives him a sit-out powerbomb, with Williams breaking up his pin. Williams turns Lee inside out with a clothesline. As Williams goes for a piledriver, Lee shoves Williams into referee Todd Sinclair. Lee low blows Williams behind Sinclair’s back. Deppen sneaks in with a schoolboy and calls for Todd. Lee is about to break up the pin, but decides not to, allowing Deppen to pin Williams and retain the title at 11:27. My thoughts on the reasoning behind Lee not breaking it up follow, but I enjoyed the match. It had a good amount of creativity and some very good wrestling, with all three showing a strong dynamic with one another. I also appreciate that all of their respective factions did not get involved. A totally solid main event, and a nice first defense for Deppen. ***¼
Brody King, Chris Dickinson, and Homicide come out to celebrate with Deppen as Jay Lethal and Rhett Titus tend to Williams. LFI member Kenny King on the microphone sings “The Foundation is falling down the rankings” to the tune of “London Bridge” with Bestia del Ring by his side. King informs Deppen that the strategy tonight by Lee was if he can’t win, at least do not get pinned. The rationale behind this is that since Williams was pinned, he falls down the leaderboard, and Lee’s standing is unaffected as he was not pinned. Lee is now firmly the #1 contender to the Television title, and Williams falls down the leaderboard. There’s part of me that likes this for it’s cleverness, but a bigger part of me finds it to be very silly. What kind of leaderboard allows someone to lose and remain the #1 contender? I don’t care who takes the pin, Dragon Lee did not win, and thus he lost the match. It’s not LFI’s fault that it’s a dumb system, so I don’t fault them for exploiting it.
King tells Deppen that he will put the title on the line against Dragon Lee at Best in the World, or else they’ll sneak into his home with his wife and kid and take it then. Well, they had a great match at Final Battle, so even with the plot holes in the set up I’ll take it.
Overall: Another good week of TV with the SOTF finals close to filling up and Deppen’s first TV title defense. We also have a new match for the Best in the World PPV and matches set up for the next two weeks of TV, which makes me a happy viewer.