Garland, TX – 4.1.2022
Commentary is provided by Ian Ricabonni and Caprice Coleman
Blake Christian vs. Colt Cabana
This is Christian’s ROH debut, and Cabana’s first ROH match since Final Battle 2019. Cabana’s singlet is a reproduction of what he wore in his first ever ROH match back at “Night of the Butcher.” Cabana, the crowd favorite, is in a playful mood until Christian cuts him off with a dropkick. He wheelbarrows Cabana into a standing frog splash for two. Cabana avoids a Fosbury Flop, and slams Christian face first into the mats to avoid a diving armdrag. Cabana gets caught up in the crowd reaction when on offense back in the ring, sending Christian face first into the turnbuckle multiple times. Christian takes him down with a back handspring Sanakakugeri and a tiger feint kick. The Fosbury Flop into a reverse DDT is pulled off successfully, and a follow up springboard 450 splash gets him a two count. Cabana catches Christian on the top turnbuckle and brings him down with the Chicago Skyline for the pin at 8:05. Having Cabana back in an ROH ring was a treat and the fans seemed to dig it. Even if Cabana was the fan favorite, Christian stole the match due to his amazing offense, and I hope he is brought back. **¾
AQA vs. Miranda Alize
This is AQA’s ROH debut. Alize of course was the runner-up in last year’s Women’s Championship tournament. AQA has Alize bested and well scouted, so Alize has to trap AQA in the ropes and slam her into the mat by the back of her head to get things in her favor. Alize even bites AQA’s hand for good measure. She gives AQA a running boot and delayed corner dropkick. AQA reverses a suplex into a DDT, and we see AQA has a cut under her right eye from Alize’s boots. After several shots, AQA goes to the top turnbuckle, and Alize throws her off and to the mat by her hair. Alize then hits a Ripcord Cutter and locks on the Miranda Rights. AQA rolls free and lands a rewind kick. Another enzuigiri keeps Alize down long enough for AQA to land a shooting star press for the pin at 8:15. I was glad to see Alize here, as she was one of the individuals who impressed me most during the Women’s division reboot. AQA is totally solid as well as was a good opponent for Alize to play her character against. **½
Denise Salcedo interviews The Foundation of Jonathan Gresham, Rhett Titus, and Josh Woods, all of who are defending their titles tonight. They all of course say they will defeat their respective challengers. Gresham also says he is the only person who can lead ROH into the future.
Shinobi Shadow Squad (Cheeseburger & Eli Isom) vs. Gates of Agony (Kaun & Toa Liona)
The Gates of Agony are introduced and managed by Tully Blanchard. Kaun is the same Kaun from Shane Taylor Promotions, who has been on numerous episodes of AEW Dark. Liona has also been featured on Dark, and this is his AEW debut. The Gates of Agony blew out 3-S, with Liona pinning Isom after a Samoan Spike, right after Kaun gave him a gutbuster. That was definitely a good way to introduce a new team. I would like to see Isom get some actual opportunities in the future, though. Blanchard says we’ll see the third member of Tully Blanchard Enterprises on the PPV. Yippee. *
Dalton Castle vs. Joe Hendry
Castle and Hendry were a popular tag team until COVID prevented Hendry from entering the country for almost two years. He and Castle ended up wrestling each other in a TV title four way at “Final Battle 2021”, but this is their first singles match in ROH. When Hendry uses the ropes to escape a waistlock, Castle breaks the hold cleany. However, Hendry from underneath sneaks a bodyslam to the floor, and then throws Castle over the barricades and onto concrete. Hendry does more damage to Castle’s back inside of the ring. Castle traps Hendry chest first on the top turnbuckle and knee strikes him off and to the mat for a two count. Hendry comes back with a side slam for two. Castle misses a knee attack in the corner and falls out to the floor. Castle however uses the apron to pull off a Frankensteiner. Castle uses his hips to throw Hendry twice and connect with the corner knee strike. He gets two with a rolling bulldog. Hendry comes back with a high angle spinebuster. Castle back elbows Hendry to the ropes. On the rebound, he catches Hendry with the Bang-A-Rang for the pin at 9:40. As expected, these two had a fun match, and I like that it took extra momentum for Castle to pull off the Bang-A-Rang given his back had been worn down all match long. I will cry if we don’t see either of these guys in Tony Khan’s ROH. ***
Denise Salcedo interviews Bandido and Chavo Guerrero, Jr., who will be accompanying Bandido to the match tonight. Guerrero believes Bandido is still the champion since he was never defeated, and Gresham can only claim to be the interim champion. He is here to help Bandido claim the championship by any means necessary. Bandido asks Chavo for no cheating, and Chavo says he will obey that request, despite the Guerrero reputation.
Swerve Strickland vs. Alex Zayne
Strickland debuted for AEW last month at “Revolution” and this is his ROH debut. Zayne has a bit of a Riff Raff look to him, and a bit of attitude. Strickland impressively stops his flipping Frankensteiner off of the top turnbuckle and drops Zayne onto the top rope with a TKO. After taking some more neck damage, Zayne turns Strickland inside out with a clothesline. Strickland is popped up to the top turnbuckle and Zayne successfully pulls off the jump-up Frankensteiner. Strickland fights out of the Baja Blast and stomps on the back of Zayne’s ankle. Strickland attacks Zayne’s left knee. Despite this, Zayne is able to take Strickland down from the apron and to the floor with a reverse Frankensteiner! He follows that up with the Crunchwrap Supreme, which Strickland amazingly kicks out of. Zayne sets Strickland up for the Taco Driver, but Strickland headbutts Zayne thrice and takes him out by the back of his left ankle. A rebound German suplex and a rolling Complete Shot leads to the Swerve Stomp and a two count. Strickland rolls through the Baja Blast. He double stomps Zayne’s knee and delivers the JML Driver to get the pin at 11:40. They took a more methodical pace than expected and it worked out well. The bigger offense had time to breathe and Strickland’s ankle work aided him in victory. This was a fun way to kick off the PPV. ***¼
Brian Cage vs. Ninja Mack
Cage is the third member of Tully Blanchard Enterprises. Blanchard is of course in his corner. This is both Cage and Mack’s ROH debut. Mack tried to surprise Cage with a Sasuke Special, but Cage caught him and dropped him with a Razor’s Edge on the ring apron. Like Blanchard’s other clients on the pre-show, Cage demolishes Mack, tossing him around the ring before putting him away with the Drill Claw at 2:50. That’s a bit of a slap in the face to the fans who requested Mack to be booked through their Choose Your Honor chats. And Brian Cage, really? Even AEW fans weren’t upset to supposedly see him go. Whatever. *
Lee Moriarty vs. Jay Lethal
Matt Sydal, who is on crutches, is in Moriarty’s corner. Sonjay Dutt is watching alongside Gary Juster in the crowd. Lethal grows frustrated with how well Moriarty has his offense scouted. Lethal is able to catch him off guard with his cartwheel dropkick after enduring several chops. Moriarty comes back with an armdrag and a boot to the face. Lethal slides under a clothesline. He gives Moriarty a backbreaker, a knee breaker, and then a dragonscrew leg whip. Lethal takes Moriarty to the outside where he lands two suicide dives. Moriarty evades a third, and even though his leg is in pain, he fights through to pull off a suicide dive of his own. Moriarty gets the better of a strike exchange, and maneuvers Lethal into a hammerlock clothesline for two. Lethal comes back with the Lethal Combination. He takes down Moriarty with an Ace Crusher. When he goes for Hail to the King, Moriarty catches him in a crucifix pin upon landing for two. This leads to a series of pin attempts between Moriarty and Lethal. Moriarty goes to the ropes when Lethal grabs his leg. Lethal pulls him to the middle of the ring, with Moriarty pulling the ring apron with him. As the referee is fixing the apron, Lethal low blows Moriarty! The Lethal Injection then gets Lethal the pin at 14:50. Moriarty is such a fantastic wrestler and really won the crowd over. Him being portrayed as an equal with Lethal, who had to cheat in order to defeat him, was a good way to shift Lethal’s character and save a little face for Moriarty. I’ll definitely be down for a rematch. ***½
Sydal gets in Lethal’s face in the ring. Lethal kicks out his crutches and begins attacking him! Sonjay Dutt runs in the ring to break things up and looks to talk some sense into Lethal as they had backstage.
Interim ROH Women’s World Championship
Willow vs. Mercedes Martinez
I’ll spare you the rant, but having an Interim champion when your current champion isn’t injured and is simply booked on another show at the same time is just silly. Just make it a #1 contender’s match! This is Martinez’s first ROH match since December of 2006. Willow challenged for the Women’s Championship at “Final Battle 2021” and had become a cornerstone of the Women’s Division before Martinez into a senton splash for two. Martinez responds with a pair of butterfly suplexes and a grounded butterfly lock until Willow grabs the bottom rope. Martinez knocks her down with a running knee for two. Willow superkicks Martinez twice after escaping a fisherwoman’s buster. Martinez comes back with an Air Raid Crash for two. Willow traps her arm to stop taking repeated elbow shots to the side of the head, and Willow Angle slams Martinez for two. Willow pounces her across the ring and lands a cannonball senton in the corner for two. Martinez stops Willow from ascending the ropes and brings her down with the OG Drop for two. Martinez gets stuck in a tree of woe attempting a super German suplex. Willow hip attacks Martinez before pulling her down into position for a moonsault for two. Willow looks for the Bae Bomb. Martinez counters into the Brass City Sleeper to win the match and the interim championship at 12:45. Something was off in this match – the crowd wasn’t digging it, there wasn’t a story that stuck, and the wrestling at times was rough around the edges. Willow came off as a bonafide star. I like Martinez plenty, but it’s felt like Willow’s time to shine for some time now, and I hope she gets her due soon. **½
ROH World Tag Team Championship
The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) vs. FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood)
The Briscoes have been champions since 12.11.2021 and this is their third defense. They bring the classic ROH tag titles with them to the ring. FTR attacked the Briscoes after they won the titles at “Final Battle 2021” and after a whole bunch of social media chatter, they finally face off tonight. FTR denies the champions the Code of Honor. Harwood further shows dishonor when he spits in Jay’s face during their exchange. Jay takes out his anger with a Frankensteiner, big boot, and a clothesline to the floor. Jay also takes Wheeler down with a hard back elbow and Mark gives him a suplex. Wheeler uppercuts Mark and brings him to his corner where he and Harwood pummel Mark down to a seated position. Harwood throws a closed fist at Mark as he and Wheeler beat down Mark in their corner. Jay blind tags in when Mark hits the ropes, and Jay comes in with a big boot to Wheeler, who he stomps down in the corner and chokes with his boot. Mark Spicy dropkicks Harwood to the floor, Jay tosses Wheeler out along with him, and then tope con hilo’s onto both men. FTR are able to turn things around with Wheeler tossing Mark over the barricades and FTR launching Jay face first into the underside of the timekeeper’s table. A now busted open Jay finds himself at FTR’s mercy back inside the ring. Jay fights free with back elbows and punches to escape FTR’s corner and rolls to his corner to tag Mark. After assaulting both men with chopes, he takes out Wheeler with a Capoeira kick and Harwood with a uranage throw. He gets two on Harwood with an Iconoclasm. The Briscoes take out Wheeler with Redneck Boogie for two. Wheeler shoves Mark to the floor to avoid a double superplex. Harwood sit-out powerbombs Jay into a Superfly Splash from Wheeler for two. Mark saves Jay from the Big Rig, and the Briscoes then deliver it themselves to Harwood for a two count. Wheeler uses the ring apron to tornado DDT Mark on the floor. Jay then gives Wheeler a Death Valley Driver on the floor. Jay then suplexes Harwood from the inside of the ring to the floor! Both teams stumble their way back into the ring before a four way count out is administered. A slugfest between the two teams leads to Mark wiping out Wheeler with a corkscrew splash on the outside. Jay takes down Harwood back inside the ring, and Mark comes in with a Froggy Bow for two. Harwood avoids the Doomsday Device. Jay is sent to the floor, and FTR hits Mark with the Big Rig. Wheeler keeps Jay on the floor and Harwood pins Mark at 27:25 to win the tag team titles. This had a big match feel and truly felt like two of the best tag teams in wrestling today going to war. The momentum swings were exciting, many of the nearfalls were believable, the crowd was really hot, and the nearly thirty minute runtime flew by. I don’t think it’s the perfect match some do, but it’s for sure one of the most memorable tag team title matches in ROH history. ****½
Suddenly, The Young Bucks come in from the crowd and superkick the Briscoes. They hit Jay with double Kamagoye’s, but before they can take out Mark with the Meltzer Driver, FTR come to their rescue. Brandon Cutler is filming the Bucks, and the three of them retreat before either FTR or Briscoes can get their hands on them. FTR wants to wrestle The Bucks right now, but the Bucks make them wait until Wednesday night.
ROH World Television Championship
Rhett Titus vs. Minoru Suzuki
Titus has been champion since 12.11.2021 and this is his second defense. Suzuki denies Titus a handshake, so Titus slaps him in the face. Suzuki slaps back and Titus attempts a single leg takedown. He eventually gets a half crab, which Suzuki grabs the ropes to break. Suzuki gets him in his rope-assisted cross armbreaker, and then on the floor sends him into the barricades. Titus gets the ropes to escape a grounded chinlock, which Suzuki holds onto as long as he possibly can. Titus attacks Suzuki’s lower back before throwing him out of a belly-to-belly suplex. A pair of big boots in the corner and a Saito suplex get Titus a two count. Suzuki rolls Titus into a kneebar and Titus gets the ropes once again. Titus escapes the GSP and lands the Hydraulic dropkick for two. A smiling Suzuki ducks a clothesline and puts Titus in a sleeper momentarily before dropping him with the GSP for the pin and the title at 6:00. Titus got in more offense than I expected, but you knew he had no chance at defeating Suzuki. It’s cool that Suzuki won his first championship ever in the U.S., and a little bittersweet if this is Titus’ end in ROH. **¼
ROH Pure Championship
Josh Woods vs. Wheeler YUTA
Woods has been champion since 9.12.2021 and this is his eighth defense.
*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. The judges for this match are ROH alumnus BJ Whitmer, Christopher Daniels and Colt Cabana.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.
YUTA had been making waves in ROH’s Pure division in 2020 and 2021 before becoming part of the NJPW STRONG roster and finding his way into AEW. YUTA goes to the ropes when Woods locks for a Gorilla Lock, and YUTA is visibly displeased he used his first rope break so quickly. He uses his second rope break to escape Woods’ cross armbreaker attempt. YUTA slaps Woods in the face and takes him down with a dropkick before trapping Woods’ leg in a grapevine. YUTA adds a bridge for extra pressure, and Woods uses his first rope break to escape. When YUTA looks to go up and over in the corner, Woods strikes his wrist. YUTA nails Woods with forearm strikes as Woods uppercuts his wrist. Woods knocks down YUTA with a large open hand strike for two. YUTA comes back with an enzuigiri and corner splash and nails a flying clothesline. Woods rolls to the floor and YUTA suicde dives after him. YUTA looks to dive onto Woods back in the ring, but Woods catches him in mid-air with a knee strike to the face. YUTA escapes a TKO but takes a spiral suplex into the corner. YUTA uses his third and final rope break to prevent a pinfall. Woods looks for the Gorilla Lock again. YUTA rolls him forward and repeatedly elbows Woods in the neck before trapping him in a Skayde Schoolboy for the pin at 12:55! Given YUTA’s rise in AEW, this move makes sense, but it’s less irksome than some of the other AEW wins on this card, as he also has a recent history of making waves in the Pure division. Something about this match didn’t click. The wrestling was good and I liked the story, but it lacked intensity or urgency, and the crowd was mostly checked out. Regardless, I think there’s potential for YUTA to have a heck of a Pure Title run. **¾
Undisputed ROH World Championship
Jonathan Gresham vs. Bandido
Gresham has been champion since 12.11.2021 and this is his fourteenth defense. Bandido technically never lost the championship, and has defended it five times. Chavo Guerrero Jr. is in Bandido’s corner. He tries to discourage Bandido from following the Code of Honor, but Bandido does indeed shake Gresham’s hand. An even opening exchange ends with a fake out from Gresham allowing him to land a dropkick. Bandido comes back with a pump-knee, a Frankensteiner, and then his own dropkick. Gresham dropkicks Bandido in the back to send him to the outside. Gresham applies a crossface when Bandido comes back in, with Bandido grabbing the bottom rope to escape. Bandido tries a surfboard stretch, but Gresham rolls through and goes for the crossface again. When that fails he tries an ankle lock, and again Bandido gets the ropes. Bandido also uses the ropes to escape an Octopus Stretch. Gresham does more damage to Bandido’s left arm in a wristlock and hammerlock. Bandido nurses his arm as he armdrags Gresham away and pulls off a corkscrew splash. He rolls Gresham up into a delayed one-armed suplex, holding Gresham upside down for a full minute before bringing him to the mat. Gresham catches Bandido off guard with an inside out lariat and a bridging German suplex for two. He holds onto Bandido for another German suplex, and then clobbers him in the side of the head before pulling him into a crossface. He converts into a standing Octopus Stretch, hammerlocking Bandido’s left arm and striking him in the neck until Bandido falls into the ropes. Gresham misses a pescado as Guerrero pulls Bandido out of his trajectory. Even though Bandido doesn’t like it, he maintains the advantage back in the ring. His arm gives his way when he tries the X-Knee. Gresham dizzies Bandido as he rolls him into multiple pin attempts. During a strike exchange, Bandido superkicks Gresham, and Gesham falls into referee Paul Turner. Guerrero clobbers Gresham with the world title belt while Turner is indisposed, but Bandido rats him out to Turner and Guerrero is sent to the back. Bandido looks for the super fall away moonsault slam. Gresham shoves Bandido off and lands a high crossbody. Bandido rolls through and gets a two count. Bandido pops Gresham up into an Ace Crusher for two. Gresham flips out of the 21 Plex. He drops a knee on Bandido’s arm and bridges back in a cradle for two. Bandido Fosbury Flops onto Gresham outside, bringing him back inside for the X-Knee right after. The 21 Plex gets Bandido the closest nearfall yet. Gresham moonsault presses Bandido outside. After a suicide dive of his own, he brings Bandido back in and springboard armdrags Bandido into a seatbelt pin to win the match at 24:55. It’s really nice to have closure on the World Title situation, and both guys put in a tremendous effort. As good as Bandido is, Gresham had been doing as he claimed in carrying ROH on his back during its down period and defending the title during the hiatus, making him a worthwhile individual to continue doing so as ROH embarks on a new chapter. I get what they were going for with Chavo, but his inclusion took things down a notch for me. Still, it was a very good match and a great way to close the show. ***¾
Bandido congratulates Gresham, who holds both the original and current ROH World Titles up high, and heads backstage. Gresham tells the crowd that his mission and vision was to make Ring of Honor “pure.” He says he had no interest in going anywhere else, when suddenly Jay Lethal interrupts. He tells Gresham after everything he did for ROH and for Gresham’s career that it’s only fitting that he be the first person to challenge him for the ROH World Championship. Gresham tells Lethal that he used to think Lethal embodied the spirit of ROH, but Lethal’s current actions have shown him that he has changed. Lethal pie faces Gresham and says nobody would know he was if it wasn’t for him. Sonjay Dutt comes to the ring to seemingly talk sense into Lethal again. Gresham pulls on Dutt’s arm, and Dutt turns around and punches him! Dutt and Lethal beat down Gresham and also take care of Lee Moriarty who tries to come to Gresham’s aid. Lethal and Dutt embrace and Lethal holds up both ROH World title belts. Suddenly, Samoa Joeappears on the stage and the crowd roars. Joe enters the ring and stares down his former proteger. Dutt backs Lethal away. Joe grabs Dutt in a rear-naked choke and Lethal is too afraid to come to his rescue. Dutt rolls outside after being released, and Joe once again stares down Lethal. After Lethal goes backstage, Joe shakes Gresham’s hand. The two of them and a recovered Moriarty stand tall in the ring as the show goes off the air. Tony Khan would announce that Joe has signed to AEW on Twitter this same night.
Overall: The FTR vs. Briscoes match will rightfully be remembered fondly, Lee vs. Lethal was excellent, and the main event was a great capper to the show. The rest of the show was pretty forgettable, and some matches disappointing. Every AEW wrestler winning their match is understandable, but very telling of ROH’s future. The word is that it will be AEW’s “developmental”, which while understandable, does not excite me whatsoever. It will be interesting to see what ROH’s future holds, and while having the titles defended on AEW programming provides some excitement, it’s tough to see these two brands co-existing long term. Coming out of this show, I am weary that I will be fully engaged in this iteration of ROH as I have been for the past year and a half. As of now, there are no future ROH dates on the books. ROH continues to air television with older matches, which I will continue to cover, as well as any ROH title defenses on AEW television. We’ll see if and when actual ROH shows resume where my interest stands in terms of covering the product going forward.