ROH on SBG #538 – 2021 ROH Awards Special

1.7.2022

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.

This week features matches with winners of the 2021 ROH awards, as voted on by fans in the ROH Experience Facebook Group. We start with a close to full showing of the women’s championship tournament finals, one of the Top 5 matches of the year, featuring Rok-C, who won the Female Wrestler of the Year award:

ROH Women’s Championship Tournament Final Round Match
Rok-C vs. Miranda Alize

Death Before Dishonor 2021” – Philadelphia, PA – 9.12.2021

The winner of this match will be the first ROH Women’s Champion. Rok-C defeated Sumie Sakai, Quinn McKay, and Angelina Love en route to the finals, while Miranda Alize defeated Alex Gracia, Nicole Savoy, and Trish Adora. Lenny Leonard is on commentary. Alize denies Rok-C the Code of Honor.

Alize plays some mind games with Rok-C early on. Rok-C puts Alize in a bridging hammerlock and then an ankle lock. Alize uses her legs to pull Rok-C into a side headlock. Rok-C fights for a crossface and Alize won’t let her get it, backing to the ropes when she gets to her feet. Rok-C escapes two headscissors attempts. Alize pie faces Rok-C, and an angry Rok-C forearm strikes Alize before taking her down with a Thesz Press. Alize catches Rok-C on the middle rope and throws her down by the back of her head. Alize blasts Rok-C with a knee strike in the corner, dropkicking her before taking her over with a butterfly suplex for two. Alize halts an armdrag from Rok-C and bites her fingers. Rok-C fights out of a headlock but is caught with a throat snap onto the top rope. Alize hits a basement Frankensteiner for two. Rok-C uppercuts Alize after escaping a handlebar stretch. She hits running knees in the corner and lands a Thesz Press off of the second rope for two. She leg sweeps Alize into Kneecolepsy for two. Alize pulls Rok-C into a ripcord knee strike for two. Alize delivers Go 2 Sleep, pinning Rok-C more securely than she had previously, but Rok-C still kicks out. Rok-C slaps a trash talking Alize from the apron, but Alize DDT’s Rok-C off the second turnbuckle for two. She locks on the Miranda Rights. Rok-C looks close to tapping but manages to swing her legs to the bottom rope to escape. Rok-C pulls Alize to the floor and lands a sucide dive. Alize returns the favor, adding a knee strike to it, but she crashes head first into the barricade. They make it back in the ring just before the twenty count. Rok-C unloads with strikes on Alize. Alize spins her into a Cutter. Before Alize can hit the Drive By, Rok-C pops up and hits one of her own out of desperation. Alize gets the Miranda Rights locked in once more. Rok-C rolls back and puts on a crossface of her own! Alize rolls Rok-C onto her shoulders, then blasts her with two superkicks. Rok-C superkicks Alize to block the Drive By. Code Rok hits to get the pin and the title at 18:13! This was a really engaging battle. You had two distinct personalities and experience levels straight up gutting it out to become the inaugural champion of ROH’s renewed women’s division. It’s the type of match that makes me so excited to see more from both of them and the division at large. I am so thrilled both of them have signed with the company, and am really excited to see Rok-C’s championship reign begin. Having her beat two former Women of Honor champions in the tournament too was such a good wrinkle as well. Maria Kanellis-Bennett presents Rok-C with the title. ****

Shane Taylor vs. Kenny King from “Final Battle 2021” was voted as one of the Top 5 matches of the year. The Briscoes “Fight on the Farm” was another Top 5 match of the year, and they were also voted as the Tag Team of the Year.

MexiSquad (Bandido & Rey Horus) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)
ROH on SBG #521 – Baltimore, MD – 9.10.2021

The Briscoes are currently climbing the tag team ranks, and defeating the world champion in a tag match would certainly help their ascent. Bandido also pinned Jay Briscoe in his first singles main event two years ago. The two of them wrestle to a stalemate, but during the commercial break, the Briscoes gained the advantage on Horus. The Briscoes purposefully take MexiSquad to the floor to beat them both down. Back in the ring, Horus rolls under a double clothesline and tags in Bandido who wipes out the Briscoes with a springboard crossbody. Jay kicks out of a running shooting star press from Bandido. A big boot from Jay turns things back in the Briscoes favor, with Mark assisting in beating down the champion. Bandido slips out of a suplex from Mark and tags Horus back in, who takes down Mark and lands a leg drop for two. Bandido and Horus slam Mark face first and give him a double superkick. Jay breaks the pin and pitches Bandido to the floor. All four knock one another down. Mark gets two on Horus with an Iconoclasm. Horus drop toe holds Mark into the middle turnbuckle and Bandido comes in with a corkscrew crossbody. Bandido pops Mark up into a cutter and dropkicks Jay to the floor. He tags Horus before landing a Fosbury Flop onto Jay. Horus takes down Mark with the Roll of the King and Mark gets his shoulder up right before three. Jay shoves Bandido off the top turnbuckle. He catches Horus on his shoulders and Mark nails the Doomsday Device for the pin at 12:10. This was exciting and intense, and with the Briscoes on the come up in the tag ranks I did not anticipate how close Horus and Bandido would come to beating them. This is one of the best openers on ROH TV since the Pure Rules tournament. ***¼

Another Top 5 match of the year was the Steel Cage match between Matt Taven and Vincent at “Glory By Honor XIV Night 2.” After the commercial break, we learned that the Briscoes vs The OGK from “Final Battle 2021” was also voted a Top 5 match of the year, and it was my personal ROH match of the year as well. Jonathan Gresham was voted as the Male Wrestler of the Year, and one of his Pure Title defenses was featured as the final match of the episode to commemorate:

ROH Pure Championship
Jonathan Gresham vs. Mike Bennett

Best In The World 2021” – Baltimore, MD – 7.11.2021

Gresham has been champion since 10.30.2020 and this is his sixth defense. ROH Ambassador Cary Silkin joins commentary for this 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 60 minute time limit. If the match goes past the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.

Surprisingly, Gresham is the first person to use a rope break, utilizing it to escape Bennett’s London Dungeon. Not happy with this, Gresham becomes aggressive in attacking Bennett’s left arm and going for various crucifix style pin attempts. Gresham holds onto Bennett’s arm when Bennett body slams him and puts him in a kimura lock. Bennett backs Gresham to the ropes, spending his first rope break to escape the hold. Bennett catches Gresham’s springboard dive to the floor. From there, Gresham reapplies the kimura and Bennett taps out, but it doesn’t count since it’s on the floor. Gresham keeps the hold applied as they get in the ring, and Bennett uses his second rope break to escape. Bennett gets on the London Dungeon again, forcing Gresham to use his second rope break as well. Bennett drops Gresham with a Death Valley Driver for two and reapplies the London Dungeon afterwards. Gresham is able to escape without using the ropes and is met with a forceful clothesline from Bennett’s healthy right arm. Gresham drops a knee on and kicks out Bennett’s left arm to take back over. Bennett fights out of an O’Connor Roll but is taken down by a lionsault press. Bennett kicks out of a European Clutch and Gresham kicks him in the arm again. Bennett uses his third and final rope break to prevent Gresham from putting him in an Octopus Stretch. Bennett is able to cut off Gresham mid-air with a superkick. He pins him after a clothesline and superkick, which Gresham reverses into a crossface. Bennett muscles up Gresham, driving him into the corner with a backpack senton. A lariat and piledriver get Bennett a pin with a three count, but referee Joe Mandak realizes after the count Gresham’s foot was under the rope. Gresham’s third and final rope break is removed and the match continues. Bennett’s second piledriver attempt fails. Gresham takes out Bennett’s knee and rolls him forward into a high angle ankle lock using his legs. Bennett tries to fight out, but ends up tapping out at 19:21. Bennett absolutely stepped up to the plate and with Gresham delivered an engaging, unique match that utilized the rules really well. The fake out pin was perfectly executed and surprisingly not completely pooped on by the crowd. After watching this, I’d be plenty happy with Bennett staying in the Pure division. ***¾

The night after this show’s initial broadcast, Gresham entered Impact Wrestling to face an old friend:

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ROH World Championship – Pure Rules Match
Jonathan Gresham vs. Chris Sabin

Impact Wrestling “Hard To Kill 2022” – Dallas, TX – 1.8.2022

Gresham has been champion since 12.11.2021 and this is his third defense. Bobby Cruise does the ring introductions, and Ian Riccaboni joins D’Lo Brown and Tom Hannifan on commentary. 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 60 minute time limit.

Sabin and Gresham were partners in the “Search and Destroy” faction in ROH in 2017 along with Alex Shelley and Jay White. Ricaboni mentions that Sabin went the time limit draw in a Proving Ground match for the World Title in 2018 against Jay Lethal, and the immediate reward match was a No Contest, so this match counts as the title shot Sabin earned that night. That’s just awesome. Sabin is a former ROH Tag Team Champion, and only challenged one other time for the World Championship against Bryan Danielson in 2005. After Sabin nearly catches Gresham with a Magistral cradle, Gresham attacks his left arm and left ankle. He also manipulates Sabin’s right shoulder and fingers, but Sabin maneuvers Gresham to the floor and delivers a PK from the apron. Back in the ring, Sabin avoids a punt to the left arm and forearms Gresham away when he goes for it. Gresham holds onto the ropes when Sabin tries an Irish whip, snapping Sabin’s arm. However, Sabin is able to muscle Gresham up onto his shoulders and bring him down with a DDT for two. Gresham twists Sabin’s left wrist to escape a Cradle Shock attempt. Total Anarchy however gets Sabin a two count, as Gresham uses his first rope break to stop the count. Gresham kicks Sabin’s left arm from the apron and catches his second PK attempt. He dragonscrew leg whips Sabin and delivers several elbow strikes to the side of the head before applying a crossface. Sabin spends his first rope break to escape. Gresham hooks his leg around Sabin’s arm while in an Octopus Stretch so he cant get the ropes. He pummells Sabin in the side of the head, but Sabin pulls Gresham up into a Cradle Shock. Sabin gets a three count, but referee Brian Hebner notes Gresham’s foot is under the ropes, so instead of it winning Sabin the match, Gresham loses his second rope break. The two men hold onto each other’s wrists as they trade chops and open handed shots to the face, firing up the Dallas audience. Sabin takes out Gresham with an enzuigiri and goes for the Cradle Shock. Gresham crucifixes his way free. Sabin Magistral cradles Gresham, but Gresham rolls up to his feet and dog walks Sabin into a European Clutch for the pin at 12:41. These two are such a great pairing, as they are able to keep up with each other’s pace both on the mat and on their feet, which made for a very exciting watch. They got the crowd fired up just before ending and you could feel that enthusiasm from the announcer’s as well. It seems as if this is the start of a relationship between the two companies, and if it means we get more matches like this, I am in total favor. ****

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