Baltimore, MD – 8.13.2021
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman & Lenny Leonard.
Eli Isom vs. Dak Draper
Dak Draper keeps looking over his shoulder for Dalton Castle, who commentary tells us is officially a licensed second for Draper in this match. Right before the bell, the busy Castle and his boys call out to Draper from the bleachers and begin to walk their way down to the ring area.
Isom takes advantage of the distracted Draper to blast him with a running forearm in the corner. Isom tells Draper he doesn’t need Castle as he throws him into the barricade. Castle overheard this and grabs Isom’s foot as he gets in the ring, allowing Draper to flapjack Isom for a two count. As Castle joins the commentary table, Draper drops a knee across Isom’s sternum. Isom sunset flips Draper for two, and Draper knocks down Isom with a boot after kicking out. Some words of encouragement from Castle make Draper smile, and he muscles up Isom for a powerslam for two. Castle takes a phone call. Isom kicks out of a backslide, striking Draper multiple times before knocking him down with an enzuigiri. Isom gets two with a sidewinder suplex, but he’s also very irritated with Castle’s constant jabbering ringside. Castle pulls Draper out of the ring to have a chat with him. Isom shoves Castle aside to go after Draper and ends up eating a right hand. Draper also gives Isom a Doctor Bomb on the ring apron. Isom is able to escape a superplex and land a high crossbody in the ring before delivering an Air Raid Crash for two. Draper pops Isom up into the Magnum K.O., and Isom rolls to the floor to avoid being pinned. Here, Castle convinces Draper to hold Isom so he can give him a clothesline, and this leads to Draper being disqualified at 11:13. Isom laughs at Draper for how stupid he is. The story here is very simple and compelling – one of the two men recruited by Castle, Draper, bought into his cock and bull story of wanting to help elevate them. Draper buying into this resulted in the exact opposite – Draper is now off the World Television title leaderboard, and Isom is on the very top, and that is because of Dalton Castle. Even though this match was completely focused on a third party, the wrestling was still very good in between Castle’s interruptions. I am very interested in what direction this story will take, and I am glad two of the most talented roster members on the rise are part of something compelling. ***
Now onto this week’s episode! Ian Riccaboni is hosting again. After recapping the first round of the women’s tournament, we move into the final first round match.
ROH Women’s Championship Tournament Opening Round Match
Holidead vs. Max The Impaler
Amy Rose is in Max’s corner. Rose tries to follow the Code of Honor on Max’s behalf and Holidead turns her down. Holidead gets in a series of strikes to Max in the corner. While they stifle Max, Max stops Holidead and Beele’s her across the ring. Holidead smiles as she approaches Max. Max greets her with a headbutt and slam. Holidead keeps coming, giving Max her own headbutt and slam. Max and Holidead exchange clotheslines. Max pulls Holidead into a clothesline and stretches out Holidead’s back in the ropes. Max drives Holidead back first into the corner when Holidead taunts Max with an “is that all you got?” Max continues to wear down Holidead’s back. Holidead scores with a desperation DDT but it only keeps Max down for a one count. They spear Holidead after kicking out, but miss a second spear and hit the ring post. Holidead German suplexes Max, and Max rolls to the floor. Holidead follows with a high crossbody. In the ring, however, Holidead misses a leg drop off the top. Max gives Holidead a uranage backbreaker and an over the shoulder backbreaker for the pin at 9:18. As much as I like Holidead, I think a dominant performance from Max would’ve been better suited in continuing to assert their dominance. That said, it was also refreshing to see Max face someone more formidable in the intensity and intimidation department. With this win, Max continues to be a favorite to win the tournament, and with her potentially mauling Angelina Love in the quarter-finals, there’s some potential catharsis coming for the audience. **½
Next week, Rok-C meets Quinn McKay and Miranda Alize meets Nicole Savoy in the quarter-final round of the tournament.
We are shown a preview of Matt Taven and Vincent’s Steel Cage match this weekend at “Glory By Honor XVIII, Night 2.” It ends with Taven shaving off part of his depression beard.
Champions vs. All-Stars Match
Champions (Bandido, Jonathan Gresham, Dragon Lee & VLNCE UNLTD (Chris Dickinson & Homicide)) vs. All-Stars (EC3, Flip Gordon, Josh Woods & The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe))
This is the seventh Champions vs. All-Stars match in ROH history, with the first occurring back in 2011. The All-Stars have won 4 of the bouts, with the Champions winning 3. Kudos to Jake Ziegler for the statistics. Woods enjoys testing himself against Gresham and Dickinson. The Briscoes then get Dragon Lee beaten down in their corner. EC3 asks for a tag, and Jay Briscoe gives it to him, showing the respect earned for one another at the Anniversary Show held. Who lacks respect is Gordon, as shown by blind tagging himself in when EC3 was doing just fine. Lee takes him down with a slingshot boot in the corner. Gordon hits an enzuigiri on Dickinson, leading to Woods suplexing Dickinson upon tagging in. Homicide goes to Woods’ eye and throws him to the floor before spitting in the direction of the Briscoes. A brawl ensues between VLNCE UNLTD and The Briscoes, and in the melee, Dickinson pulls Woods, the legal competitor, back to the Champions corner. Woods knocks down Gresham with a forearm strike and makes a quick tag to EC3. Gordon jumps off the apron, refusing a tag to assist in beating down Gresham, but the Briscoes are game to work with him as Woods catches his breath. This disrespect shows itself with Gordon blind tagging himself in once more. This time, EC3 tackles Gordon when trying to spear Gresham, and EC3 is not unhappy with this transgression at all. Bandido enters the ring for the very first time, taking out the man who challenges him for the title Saturday (Gordon) with a twisting crossbody for two. A brawl between all ten men breaks out after Bandido’s kick out. Lee assists Bandido with a double dropkick which sends Gordon and Woods to the floor, and they also agree on a double suicide dive. A flurry of offense in the ring ends with Homicide scoring a two count on Gordon after an exploder suplex. Homicide kicks out of an O’Connor roll and overhead suplexes Gordon for another two count. Gordon avoids the Cop Killa and hits the Flip-5 for two. Gordon pins Homicide at 13:29 with a piledriver, which according to commentary is a shout out to the recently passed Paul Orndorff. It’s very strange to have the heel winning with a tribute finisher, which is a very babyface move, but otherwise I really liked the story of this match. Gordon had no interest in being a team player, which his partners of course did not appreciate, but choosing to act on his own accord resulted in him pinning a former World Champion just before he challenges for that very title. The action itself was fine, mostly centered around building to Gresham vs. Woods and Briscoes vs. VLNCE UNLTD, while also emphasizing the issue between Gordon and EC3 is not over (unfortunately). I am more than okay with a TV main event building to future matches instead of being a self-contained banger. ***
The show ends with a run down of both Glory By Honor XVIII cards, emanating from Philadelphia this weekend.
Overall: While I wouldn’t call anything must see per se, I do appreciate that they provided some momentum going into this weekend’s Glory By Honor events while also building to future title matches and continuing a rivalry.