Baltimore, MD – 11.14.2021
Pure Rules Match
Tracy Williams vs. Taylor Rust
The night before this event, Jay Lethal officially joined the AEW roster. ROH must have had some advance notice about this, as Lethal does not join fellow Foundation members Jonathan Gresham and Rhett Titus on the entrance to give Williams some moral support before the bout. Pure Champion Josh Woods, however, is with them. Brian Johnson is on commentary for the bout.
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.
Williams goes after Rust’s legs. Rust responds in kind, putting Williams in a Trailer Hitch. When Williams gets on a bodyscissors, Rust’s twists on Williams ankle, and in pain Williams uses his first rope break to escape. Williams takes the same approach, but with a cross armbreaker, and it works as Rust also uses his first rope break. Williams ends up switching his attack to Rust’s shoulders and neck. Rust falls into the ropes out of a Cobra Twist, but he gets to escape while using his second rope break. Williams takes down Williams with a gutwrench powerbomb. Williams brings Rust down as Rust comes off the ropes. Rust uses his third and final rope break to avoid a crossface being applied. With no rope breaks left, Williams puts Rust in an armbar in the ropes. Rust has to shove Williams off of the apron to escape. He then pulls Williams into the Gaia Lock, and Williams uses his second rope break. Rust fights to get the Gaia Lock on in the middle of the ring. Williams verbally submits at 11:47. That was a genuinely surprising victory, not only because of their relative roster positions, but because Rust had exhausted all his rope breaks. It was a statement victory for Rust as he establishes himself in ROH once again, where I do hope to see him when the company returns (fingers crossed) in 2020. Their Pure title tournament match was superior, but this was to no surprise still quite good. ***
ROH Women’s World Championship Contenders Match
Holidead vs. Quinn McKay vs. Trish Adora vs. Vita VonStarr
The winner of this match will receive an ROH Women’s Championship match on the December 24th episode of ROH TV. Lucha tag rules are in effect. Miranda Alize is on commentary for the bout. Holidead exits on her accord after fighting to escape a headscissors from Adora. VonStarr tags herself in to face off with McKay. McKay gets two with a rolling neck snap on VonStarr. Holidead overpowers McKay, but eventually Adora gets Holidead locked back into her headscissors. VonStarr saves Holidead and puts Adora in a Muta Lock. Adora sends VonStarr out and goes for McKay’s shoulder when she enters the ring. She swings McKay into a back breaker and takes her down with Lariat Tubman, which both Holidead and VonStarr know has to be broken up. Mckay fights her way out of a suplex from VonStarr and drops her with a TKO. Holidead throws McKay to the apron, but Mckary springs back in and pushes her to the floor. McKay superkicks Adora to the floor and suicide dives onto her. Back in the ring, VonStarr drops Holidead with a tornado DDT but misses a headstand Vader Bomb. Holidead drops VonStarr with a Tiger facebuster for the pin at 13:52. The time was not filled well, partially due to there being no flow or coherence to the wrestling. I like Holidead and think it’s cool she’s getting the title shot, but this match was fine at best. **¼
GCW Tag Team Championship
The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) vs. Second Gear Crew (AJ Gray & Effy)
The Briscoes have been champions since 10.23.2021 and this is their first defense. They defeated fellow Second Gear Crew stablemates Mance Warner and Matthew Justice to win the titles. Effy surprises Jay with a bicycle kick to the corner. He even challenges and accepts Mark’s chops to the chest. One too many see Gray tag in and deliver his own chops to Mark. He lays out Mark with a lariat. Jay gets a tag and blasts Gray with a pair of boots. Effy and Mark end up trading punches on the floor, with Jay and Gray fighting on the opposite side. A chair is entered into the ring, and Gray gives Mark an exploder suplex onto it. After taking out the Briscoes in opposite corners, the SGC introduced a table and more chairs into the ring. The Briscoes throw the chairs at their heads. Effy throws Jay head first into a chair propped up in the corner. Mark and Gray fight ringside as Effy sets up a table. He ends up breaking Jay through the table with a flying clothesline off the top turnbuckle. Effy uses his leg to pull Mark down into a frog splash from Gray, getting the SGC a two count. Effy sets up a table ringside. Thanks to Jay booting him down and taking out Gray with a chair, Mark puts Effy through the ringside table with a Froggy Bow off the top turnbuckle! In the ring, Jay pins Gray with the Jay Driller at 8:33 to retain the titles. This was emblematic of the GCW spirit: wild, gritty, and a lot of fun. Effy and Gray fit in perfectly with the Briscoes and helped produce a very memorable first defense for Dem Boys. ***½
Brody King vs. Jonathan Gresham
King attempts to do what he did with Lethal at “Best In The World” by attacking Gresham at the bell and dropping him with a Ganso Bomb. He continues to pummel Gresham outside the ring until he misses a chop and clobbers the ring post instead. Of course, Gresham exploits this with a kick to his hand as he tries to come back in the ring, but King is able to catch his pescado attempt and drive him back first into the ring post anyways. Gresham takes a barricade attack, and then uses three consecutive suicide dives to send King over the barricades. King gets back in the ring just before the twenty count. Gresham literally bounces off of his chest when he tries a crossbody. Gresham kicks at King’s legs. King swats him away but Gresham keeps coming back. When King goozles Gresham, Gresham twists his fingers and lands an enzuigiri. King sends Gresham into the buckles with an overhead suplex. Gresham avoids a cannonball senton and delivers a running dropkick. King hits the cannonball on his second try and with one arm piledrives Gresham for two. As King pulls Gresham mid ring, Gresham uses his boots to clasp King’s hurt hand. King misses a senton and Gresham puts him in a sleeper hold. King gets the ropes to escape. Gresham goes back to King’s fingers after catching a chop. Gresham takes down King and elbows him in the side of his head repeatedly. Gresham nails a running forearm to the back of the head and pins King at 10:51. This was everything I want in a contender’s match – hard fought, exciting, and believing either competitor could realistically come out victorious. King and Gresham are opposites in many ways, but their styles mix so well together. Gresham looks incredible in defeating a beast en route to Final Battle, and I am pumped for him vs Bandido. ****
ROH World Tag Team Championship
La Facción Ingobernable (Dragon Lee & Kenny King) vs. The OGK (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett)
LFI have been champions since 9.11.2021 and this is their second defense. La Bestia del Ring is in their corner. Shane Taylor is on commentary, as he will be facing Kenny King in a grudge match at “Final Battle.” The OGK take control of the match with a double dropkick on King. Bennett avoids a double suplex, throws Lee outside, and Taven wipes him out with a suicide dive. Taven also wipes out King with the Flight of the Conqueror. The OGK goes for the Hail Mary early on King. Lee however shoves Taven off the top turnbuckle and King backdrops his way out of Bennett’s grasp. The OGK isolate Taven and attack his knee. Bestia even gets in some licks. After a few minutes, Taven ends up dropping King with a rolling neckbreaker and tagging Bennett. He goes hard against Lee, who he ends up knocking out with a rolling forearm strike. King saves his partner from being pinned and gives Bennett a Dragon suplex. The Tiger Driver follows, which pinned Bennett on “Week By Week,” but Taven blasts King with Just The Tip before a count can even begin. Taven has King pinned twice, but he is not the legal man. LFI double team Taven, ending with the Incinerator Knee from Lee. Bennett goes to spear Lee but is wiped out with a spin kick from King. Lee blocks the Climax from Taven at first, but Taven ends up dropping him with it. Bestia distracts referee Jake Clemons. Max The Impaler comes out with Amy Rose and they stare down Bestia. OGK hit a Proton Pack/Pump Kick combo on Lee for the pin and the titles at 11:59! With Lee as a double champion this result seemed like a bit of a foregone conclusion, but I really liked the touch of Max as the equalizer against Bestia. Given LFI’s history, it makes sense. The match got a little tough to follow at the end but it all worked out. OGK vs. Briscoes with both sets of titles on the line at Final Battle? ***
Bandido vs. Demonic Flamita
EC3 is on commentary. He is still salty Demonic Flamita cost him the World Title at “Death Before Dishonor.” Flamita defeated his other MexiSquad stablemate Rey Horus in a No Disqualification match in August. A first fight ends with Flamita using the ring post to damage Bandido’s legs. Flamita dropkicks his leg against the ropes and chokes him in the corner. He then uses a steel chair on Bandido’s left knee. Bandido manages to halt Flamita coming off the ropes and drop him with a one-armed slam. Bandido gets some blood flow going to his leg before delivering a Fosbury Flop. A table is set up ringside and Bandido attacks Flamita’s back. In the ring, Flamita drop toe holds Bandido into a chair and gives him a brainbuster for two. Bandido comes back with a crucifix driver. He pops up Flamita into a pop-up cutter, although Flamita takes down Bandido with a Spanish Fly afterwards. Flamita knocks Bandido to the floor and lands a 450 splash off the apron! Bandido back suplexes Flamita onto the table and it does not break. Back in the ring, Flamita is able to give Bandido a cross-armed powerbomb. Bandido stops him on the top rope. He brings down Horus with a super Frankensteiner. Flamita low blows Bandido after avoiding the 21 Plex. He argues with Todd Sinclair. Flamita charges Bandido in the corner. Bandido hits Flamita low and rolls him up for the pin at 13:33. I liked this a hair less than Horus vs. Flamita, which is to say this was quite disappointing. I suppose it was nice for Bandido to exorcise his past before Final Battle, but truthfully if they just moved on from their issue without this match, nobody would’ve cared or noticed. It’s been a cold issue for months now. If he was going to win, giving Bandido another successful title defense would’ve been nice – why make it non title? Nothing bad here, just kind of inconsequential. **¾
Overall: It thought the show overachieved until the last two matches. King vs. Gresham was an especially strong match and I had a blast with the GCW tag title defense. If nothing else, this made me feel like we’re in a good spot as we get on the road to Final Battle, as it wrapped up a couple stories and gave us a firm idea of where some competitors will be heading.