ROH on SBG #537 – Best of 2021

Baltimore, MD – 12.31.2021

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman.

The December 28th episode of “Week By Week” saw Quinn McKay present two of her favorite matches from the year in full. The first was her four way match from “Honor For All”, and the second was her fiancee Dak Draper challenging for the Pure Championship at the “19th Anniversary Show.” Click the hyperlinks for my thoughts on both matches and shows.

To my surprise, the December 29th episode of Women’s Division Wednesday featured a brand new match:

Chelsea Green vs. Janai Kai

I’d like to think they presented this match since Chelsea was getting married two days later, but I am sure that is not the case. Miranda Alize joins commentary for this bout. Kai controls Green by her left wrist, with Green using an inside cradle to free herself. She then Japanese armdrags Kai into a Perfect neck snap for two. Kai retaliated with a takedown and a kick to the side of the head. Kai has Green trapped in a Dragon Sleeper, but Green got herself up to her feet and backed Kai to the corner. The two competitors knocked each other down with stereo pump kicks. Green swings Kai’s leg into the ropes and brings her down with a back cracker. She then gets two with a missile dropkick. Kai comes back with a falling elbow drop neckbreaker. Green catches a spin kick and brings down Kai into a half crab with a twist on her ankle and calf. Kai escapes and lands a superkick. A dazed Green brings down Kai with an Ace Crusher. Green gives Alize a look before dropping Kai with the Unpretty-Her for the pin at 8:40. Maybe we have another new match coming with Green vs. Alize. Kai and Green had better chemistry than I anticipated, and this made me very interested in seeing more from both competitors in 2022. **¾

This week’s episode is a Best of 2021, featuring three matches from ROH PPV and HonorClub previously unaired on television.

Bandido vs. Flamita vs. Rey Horus
19th Anniversary Show” – Baltimore, MD – 3.26.2021

Bandido and Horus have a respectful exchange that ends with a handshake. Flamita disrupts the proceedings with dropkicks to them both. He kicks Horus as he tornado DDT’s Bandido. Horus gives Bandido a slingshot Frankensteiner on the floor, and Horus follows that with a step-up tope con hilo from Flamita to Horus. In the ring, Flamita tells Bandido it was his fault they lost the titles, as Bandido tries to calm him down. Bandido counters Flamita’s headscissors, planting Flamita face first on the canvas. Bandido superkicks Horus as he re-enters the ring. He then suplexes Horus as Flamita has Bandido on his shoulders! Flamita ends an even exchange with Bandido, turning him inside out with a superkick. He pulls Bandido up into a spiral bomb, and Horus breaks the pin. Flamita spikes Bandido with a pendulum DDT. He then gives Horus a Muscle Buster lungblower as he lands a senton onto Bandido, then pins Bandido for two. After Flamita says “no more MexiSquad”, Horus aids Bandido in taking Flamita off the apron with a Frankensteiner. Horus cascades up Bandido into an X-Factor. Bandido pops up Horus into an Ace Crusher. Flamita re-enters the match with a frog splash onto Horus. All three men wipe each other out with a triple boot to the face. Horus counters another pop up Ace Crusher from Bandido with a DDT. Horus spikes Flamita with a high speed prawn hold, and Bandido jumps over to stop his pin. Bandido finds himself in a position where Horus crossbody’s Bandido, and Bandido spikes Flamita with a reverse Frankensteiner! He wipes out Horus with a Fosbury Flip, then hits the dragonrana on Flamita. Unbelievably, Flamita kicks out. Bandido gives Flamita the X-knee and the 21 Plex for the pin at 10:47. This had some genuine jaw dropping moments, with some offense I have never seen before. As far as high flying “spot fests” go, this was top notch, and a perfect trio of guys to execute such a match. Flamita slaps hands with Horus, but shoves Bandido away, leaving MexiSquad’s future uncertain. ***½

Brody King vs. Jonathan Gresham
Honor For All”- Baltimore, MD – 11.14.2021

King attempts to do what he did with Lethal at “Best In The World”, 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. ****

The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) vs. The OGK (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett)
Death Before Dishonor 2021” – Philadelphia, PA – 9.12.2021

These two teams were embroiled in a bitter rivalry in 2014 into early 2015. Bennett also challenged Jay for the World title when he held gold. The Briscoes maul Bennett in their half of the ring. Bennett tags Mark with a rolling forearm strike and Taven follows up with a dropkick off the top turnbuckle for two. Taven keeps his eyes on Jay as he pins Mark following a neckbreaker. Jay blind tags in and nails Taven with a big boot. Taven is able to knock Mark onto Bennett’s shoulders on the outside. Jay halts Taven from a Doomsday Device on the floor. Taven meets Mark on the top turnbuckle as Jay and Bennett trade forearms. Taven lands a bermuda triangle moonsault and Mark follows with a stage dive onto everyone. In the ring, the OGK double team Jay. Mark prevents Bennett from putting him in the London Dungeon. Taven superkicks Mark into a spear from Bennett. Jay backdrops out of a piledriver attempt from Bennett. Mark enzuigiri’s Taven to the floor and hits him with a spicy dropkick. Mark low bridges Bennett to the floor and hits a running Blockbuster onto Taven on the floor. In the ring, Jay lariats Taven into the Froggy Bow from Mark. Bennett intercepts the pin just in time. The Briscoes look for Redneck Boogie on a chair. Bennett spears Jay. The OGK set up for Hail Mary but Mark escapes. Mark uses the chair to dive onto Bennett. Jay goes for the Jay Driller and Taven counters with a small package for the pin at 13:17. They brought the intensity and energy of their former rivalry into this match with a lot of success. The match was action packed and really fun to watch, and the OGK winning was both a feel good moment and a genuine surprise since the Briscoes had been picking up momentum for a couple of months now. I’m cool with the OGK becoming a focal point of the tag division if they continue to put on matches of this caliber. ***¼

Even more surprising than the new Women’s Division Match was the new match posted on its own on January 1st:

Jonathan Gresham vs. Brian Johnson

This is being treated as Gresham’s first match in ROH since winning the World Title, but was clearly filmed before Final Battle. Gresham’s Foundation stablemate Rhett Titus is on commentary for this match. Even though Johnson gets Gresham’s ire up with some slaps to the face, Gresham takes him down with a slew of offense and peppers his bald head with slaps as payback. Gresham damages Johnson’s left shoulder, including pulling him out to the floor when Johnson throws him outside. Back in the ring, Johnson Hot Shots Gresham onto the top rope and hits the Mecca Locomotive, nursing his arm after doing so. He drops a fist and digs his knee into Gresham’s shoulder blades while holding onto both of his wrists. Gresham ducks an ear clap attempt, but Johnson pulls him up and places him on the top turnbuckle. Gresham blocks Spike Eskin. He brings Johnson off the top with a back superplex. During a pin exchange, Johnson almost gets Gresham in a sunset pin, and when Gresham kicks out, Johnson hits another Mecca Locomotive so he can buy some rest time. Although Johnson takes a strike exchange with a haymaker, Gresham pops back up and lands an enzuigiri. Johnson uses his Mecca flag to distract referee Todd Sinclair and poke Gresham in the eyes. Even with this, Gresham gets Johnson into the Octopus Stretch. He hammers Johnson in the side of the face and then converts into a sleeper hold. A running forearm smash to the side of the head then gets Gresham the pin at 15:29. They kept things simple for a while, then ramped things up in the final moments, and it worked very well. It genuinely made Johnson seem like somebody who could hang with the World Champion, but still at a point where he gets desperate and feels the need to try shortcuts, meaning he’s got room to grow. There is no denying Johnson has improved, which is good since ROH has invested in him quite a bit. ***¼

Overall: Three very good choices for a Best of 2021 episode. If you only watch the TV and not the PPV’s, this is definitely one to check out.

Here are my Top 10 ROH matches of the year:

1. The OGK vs. The Briscoes (Final Battle 2021, 12.11.2021)
2. Shane Taylor vs. Kenny King (Final Battle 2021, 12.11.2021)
3. Rok-C vs. Miranda Alize (Death Before Dishonor 2021, 9.12.2021)
4. Jonathan Gresham vs. Dak Draper (19th Anniversary Show, 3.26.2021)
5. Jonathan Gresham vs. Jay Lethal (Final Battle 2021, 12.11.2021)
6. Brody King vs. Jonathan Gresham (Honor For All, 11.14.2021)
7. Dragon Lee vs. Rey Horus (ROH on SBG #487, 1.15.2021)
8. Jonathan Gresham vs. Mike Bennett (Best In The World 2021, 7.11.2021)
9. Josh Woods vs. Silas Young (ROH on SBG #507, 6.4.2021)
10. The Foundation vs. Shane Taylor Promotions (ROH on SBG #488, 1.22.2021)

NEXT WEEK: The fans of the ROH Experience Facebook group have voted for the 2021 ROH awards, and matches featuring some of the winners of those awards will be featured on next week’s episode.

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