Baltimore, MD – 7.9.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.
The July 6th “Week By Week” featured a Pure Rules match with two of the competitors from the Pure Rules gauntlet from June 24th:
PJ Black vs. Ryan Mooney
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 time limit expires, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.
Black takes Mooney for granted early on, but the mood changes when Mooney sends Black crashing face first on the ring apron and then comes off the ring apron with a diving knee to the face. In the ring, though, Black keeps a smile as he blocks a spring back maneuver from Mooney with a mid-air uppercut. Black becomes surprised and frustrated when Mooney gives him a chinbreaker and rolls him into a heel hook, adding a kneeDT before releasing when Black uses his first rope break. The frustration leads to Black earning his first warning after clobbering Mooney with a closed fist. Mooney uses his teeth for his first rope break, escaping a pendulum stretch. Black pump-handles Mooney up into a cutter for two. Black ends up dropping Mooney with the Bad Habit for the pin at 7:49. This was a really good showing for Mooney who got to further showcase his wrestling acumen and get the better of a far more seasoned competitor multiple times during the bout. Black’s frustrations are an interesting wrinkle to his typical zen character; perhaps he and Brian Johnson are more alike than he thinks? **½
The July 7th Women’s Division Wednesday started with Maria Kanellis-Bennett offering Sumie Sakai a Ticket to Gold. Given she was the first Women of Honor champion that is logical. The episode also featured a tag team match with two Women’s title tournament contenders taking on two tournament hopefuls:
Sumie Sakai & Willow vs. Allie Recks & Gia Scott
Recks and Scott try to double team Willow but Sakai helps her partner with a top rope dropkick onto both opponents. Scott feigns a leg injury to turn the match around with a big boot to Sakai. Recks does not appreciate the means with which Scott turned things in her favor, but proceeds to assist with a front flip clothesline to the corner. Sakai comes back with a Judo Throw, looking to submit Recks in an armbar. Willow intercepts Scott when she jumps in, but when Recks gets the ropes, Willow let’s her go and things go back to one-on-one. Recks headstands her way into a headscissors on Sakai. Scott tags herself in when Recks is looking for a tiger feint kick on Sakai. Scott holds Sakai so Recks can hit her, and Recks hesitation allows Sakai to take them both down with a London Bridge. Willow gets tagged in and lays out both opponents with clotheslines. She pounces Recks and drills Scott with a spinebuster for two. Scott is able to trap Willow into a powerbomb out of the corner, but Sakai breaks up the pin. Recks tosses Sakai to the floor, and Willow gives Recks and Scott a fallaway slam/Samoan Drop combo. Sakai lands a high crossbody to both of them on the floor. In the ring, Recks escapes Willow’s Bae Breaker but is dropped with a uranage. Scott breaks the cover and boots Willow in the face. Recks spears Willow to get the pin at 9:30. Really enjoyable tag action all around, and a lot of personality shown from the three newcomers in the company. That to me is exactly the kind of match I like to see from these episodes. **¾
Maria Kanellis-Bennett offered Allie Recks a Ticket to Gold, but unfortunately Recks sustained an injury during her match against Max The Impaler and thus had to decline the ticket. Maria offered Recks some words of encouragement, stating future opportunities will be available when she is healthy. Then on a special Thursday presentation of Women’s Division Wednesday, Maria offered the final two Tickets to Gold to Holidead and Marti Belle, both of whom accepted. As a reminder, if Quinn McKay defeats Mandy Leon next week, she will receive the final tournament spot. The tournament bracket will be revealed at “Best in The World.”
Now onto this week’s episode!
The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) vs. Joe Keys & Dante Caballero
After the Fight on the Farm last week, The Briscoes are back on the same page. They will be climbing up the tag title ranks from the bottom. Keys and Caballero backstage are scared of the pain they’re about to experience. Caballero and Keys did their best, but as anticipated, the Briscoes rolled them. Caballero got popped by Jay’s big boot on the floor, leaving Keys open to fall victim to Redneck Boogie. Keys kicks out, but a neckbreaker from Jay and Mark’s Froggy Bow gets Dem Boys the win at 6:06. Nice and squashy, exactly how the Briscoes reunion should have been. *½
PJ Black vs. Flip Gordon
This is Black’s first TV match since 2020. Black’s senpai Brian Johnson is on commentary. Gordon cheap shots Black after breaking a lock-up against the ropes. A fired up Black rocks Gordon with chops before sending him outside with a headscissors and landing a pescado. Gordon however traps Black in the ring apron, pummeling him before whipping him into the barricades. Before the commercial break, Gordon lays out Black with a superkick on the floor. In the ring, Black halts a tornado DDT from Gordon, converting it into a suplex. Black then takes down Gordon with a single-leg double stomp for two. Gordon avoids a shooting star press. Black rolls through, but Gordon takes him down with a rolling Samoan Drop, then hits a standing shooting star press for two. When Gordon goes for his springboard spear, Black catches him on the ropes with a Spanish Fly. He then drops Gordon off of his shoulders into a DDT for a very close nearfall. Gordon goes to Black’s eyes and then drops him with a Flip-5 and locks on a crossface. Black taps out at 13:05. Johnson chases Gordon away as Gordon reapplies the hold after the bell. These two had good chemistry. With Gordon having a singles match at the PPV it made sense for him to defeat Black here, and possibly establish a crossface as a new finisher. I can’t say I am pumped for a Gordon vs. Johnson match, though. **¾
The Foundation (Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham) vs. VLNCE UNLTD (Brody King & Tony Deppen) vs. La Facción Ingobernable (Dragon Lee & Kenny King)
LFI are happy to let Gresham and Deppen go at it. King and Lee drag Gresham out when he isn’t paying attention and give him a double suplex on the floor. Deppen has no issue capitalizing on this, but Gresham kicks his left arm away and tags in Lethal. Lethal requests and gets Brody to tag in, a preview of their singles match at Best in the World. Lee and King also pull Lethal to the floor and give him a double suplex. King and Deppen take advantage, wearing down Lethal’s back and double teaming him in their corner. Deppen however falls victim to LFI’s drag out and double suplex. King chases them off and puts Deppen back in the ring. Gresham gets the tag, knocks King off the apron, moonsault blocks onto Deppen, wipes out LFI with a suicide dive, and hits a springboard crossbody on Deppen. King blind tags in and stomps Gresham when he has Deppen bridged in a German suplex. King is dragged out by LFI, but when they try a double suplex, King instead suplexes King and Lee at the same time! Lethal catches King off guard with a suicide dive. Lethal and Gresham take out King with a DDT and superkick. King breaks the pin. Lee enters the match for the first time and gives Gresham a one-armed powerbomb. Lee and King double team Gresham. King tosses both members of LFI to the floor. Gresham stops a superplex attempt from King by powerbombing him to the floor. The Foundation hit the Combination Cutter on Lee. Deppen wipes out Gresham with a running knee. King however kicks Deppen upside the head, stealing his pin on Gresham for the win at 10:42. This was a solid main event to give LFI some momentum going into the PPV, as well as add some heat to the King and Lethal singles bout. Good wrestling all around too; it made me miss Gresham and Lethal as a team. ***
Overall: This episode falls in that weird space of being a Best in the World go-home episode, but not appearing on ROH’s website to watch until after Best in the World. In that sense, if you have seen the PPV, you don’t “need” to watch this episode, but I think because faction warfare is still going, the main event at least is worth going back and watching. These episodes with three matches move more briskly than those episodes with two matches and pre-match promos, so it has that going for it too.