A unique match was presented in Richmond, VA on Sunday January 22nd, with two ROH titles held by partners being put on the line in the same match:
UEW World Championship, ROH World Television Championship & ROH Pure Championship
Josh Woods vs. Brian Johnson
UEW “Ignition” – Richmond, VA – 1.22.2022
Woods has been champion since 9.12.2021 and this is his sixth defense. Titus has been Television Champion since 12.11.2021 and this is his first defense. Titus is also the UEW World Champion, but I am not certain how long he’s held it or how many times it’s been defended. 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.
I was warned about this match by my good friend Jake Ziegler. This match goes over a half hour and ends in a double pin. They then go two more minutes, and that ends in a double count out at 34:24. I am absolutely perplexed by this choice. Doing this kind of match actually sounds like a fun experiment ROH could have tried during the pandemic, perhaps as a YouTube exclusive or a lame duck TV episode. To do this in front of a crowd, a non-ROH crowd at that, who doesn’t seem to be particuarly interested in their titles, in a town ROH hasn’t run in nearly a decade, is baffling. The wrestling was fine – a whole lot of abdominal stretching and Titus holding onto arm submissions – but wrestling that long in a main event that culminates in a draw is never satisfying. Flair vs Steamboat from Spring Stampede 94 is the exception to that rule. Whoever’s idea this was, what were you thinking? I do not recommend watching this. To leave this on a positive note, I think the lone commentator did a really good job. *
Baltimore, MD – 1.28.2022
This week’s episode features two more matches from Final Battle: End of an Era. Additionally, you get to see some of the “thank you” videos from ROH past roster members Colt Cabana and Bryan Danielson. You can read my review of the entire show here, but below are the two matches featured this week:
ROH Women’s World Championship
Rok-C vs. Willow
Rok-C has been the Women’s World champion since 9.12.2021 and this is her eighth defense. Quinn McKay is on commentary for this match. Willow’s power overwhelms the champion to start. She even catches Rok-C’s Rok Knees and launches her into the corner with a seesaw. Willow also counters Rok-C’s super armdrag and splashes her in the corner. After a cannonball senton, Willow gives Rok-C two suplexes and an arm-clutch Angle Slam for two. Rok-C is able to pull off a Frankensteiner and Thesz Press before giving Willow a corner uppercut. She successfully lands the Rok Knees for a two count, then rolls into the Rok Lock. Willow rolls Rok-C onto her shoulders to get a nearfall and break the submission. She blasts Rok-C with a Pounce. Moments later, Willow counters a Code Rok attempt with a Jig N’ Tonic for two. Rok-C pummels Willow as Willow ascends the ropes. Rok-C brings her down with a sit-out powerbomb for two. Willow stops Rok-C as she climbs the ropes, bringing her down with a superplex, and then lands a moonsault for two. Willow looks for the Bae Bomb right after. Rok-C escapes, blasts Willow with a knee strike to the face and a savate kick to the mid-section, and then takes her down with the Code Rok for the pin at 10:18. The crowd boos the heck out of Rok-C, which as a live attendee I can say was more about their love for Willow than their dislike of Rok-C. The match structure also made Willow seem like the powerful superstar and like Rok-C more or less got lucky. Kind of a weird defense for Rok-C, but I am glad Willow got a high profile title match on this show. ***
After the match, Willow and Rok-C embrace. Deonna Purrazzo makes her way out with the AAA Reina de Reinas championship. She challenges Rok-C to a double title match in Impact Wrestling. Rok-C immediately accepts the challenge. This match would come to pass on January 13th, with Purrazzo defeating Rok-C to become the new Women’s Champion.
ROH World Championship
Jay Lethal vs. Jonathan Gresham
The winner of this match is presented with the original ROH World Championship title. Gresham and Lethal wrestle a very even match until Gresham sends Lethal to the apron and dropkicks him to the floor. Lethal’s shoulder collides with the floor, and Gresham takes notice. Gresham controls Lethal by his arm, but Lethal hip tosses Gresham into a cartwheel dropkick and takes some time to recover. Gresham reverses an Irish whip by throwing Lethal arm first into the mat. Lethal uses a spinning enzuigiri to send Gresham to the outside and follows with a suicide dive. Back inside, Lethal body slams Gresham to stop his crossbody, but it definitely hurt Lethal’s arm to do so. Gresham small packages Lethal to escape a reverse brainbuster, and Lethal smacks Gresham across the neck after kicking out. He then flips Gresham into a front flapjack. It takes Gresham a lot of effort for a clutch pin, and when Lethal kicks out, Gresham is finally able to punt his bad arm. Lethal comes back with a ripcord powerslam. The volley for position on the mat. Lethal pulls Gresham off the ropes when he tries his lionasualt press. He stretches out Gresham in a torture rack before giving him an inverted Finlay Roll. Lethal lands Hail to the King. Lethal’s arm gives out when he tries Hail to the King. Gresham lands the lionsault press and kicks Lethal’s arm before trying a chicken wing. Lethal impressively turns that into an Ace Crusher. The Ring of Honor roster surrounds the ring to watch this match, as does Gresham’s friend Baron Black and his wife Jordynne Grace. Gresham German suplexes Lethal to end a strike exchange for two. He also gets two twice after two successive running forearm smash to the back of Lethal’s head. Lethal superkicks Gresham to stop a third. Gresham backdrops out of a powerbomb attempt and hits a third forearm smash for two. Gresham blocks a Lethal Injection and applies an Octopus Stretch. He elbows Lethal in the side of the head until he taps out at 15:11. Cary Silkin presents Gresham the World title to end the PPV broadcast. It’s a bummer Bandido couldn’t be on this show, but I feel some closure, as this match can serve as a wrap up to the issue Lethal was starting with the Foundation before he left. Gresham had defeated Lethal in regular singles action, then again for the Pure Title, but Lethal held a World Title victory over him. Now, Gresham can claim a title victory over Lethal. ROH going out with a competitive, engaging wrestling match for the title also seems very appropriate, and nobody deserves to be the final champion of this era more than Gresham. ****
On Wednesday, January 26th, ROH announced the establishment of their Hall of Fame to coincide with their 20th Anniversary. For the entire month of February, each week of TV will be a showcase for inductees into the inaugural Hall of Fame class. The first inductees announced are the Briscoes, so they will be the featured act for next week’s episode. It should be a great month of shows.