Fresno, CA – 1.26.2022
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.
This show was filmed just one night after Jay’s death, which explains why the card is made up the way it is. Tony Khan did make it known that this would be the first, but not the only, tribute show for Jay. There are tons of testimonials throughout the show. I do not feel comfortable transcribing or paraphrasing those, so I encourage you to watch the show to see those.
ROH Pure Championship
Wheeler Yuta vs. Hagane Shinno
Yuta has been champion since 12.10.2022 this is his first defense. Shinno is a TAKA Michinoku trainee who has been wrestling since 2002 and primarily wrestles for Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling in Japan.
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. The judges for this match are ROH alumnus and former champions Jerry Lynn and BJ Whitmer, and Dean Malenko.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.
Yuta goes after Shinno’s legs after Shinno gives him a running chest check. Shinno uses his first rope break to escape a double leg lace with a back bridge. Shinno armdrags his way out of a Gory Special and delivers a sole butt kick. Yuta pulls him by the wrist into a high angle Cobra Twist, digging his hand into Shinno’s ribs. Yuta tries to pull Shinno away from the ropes, but Shinno ends up getting his feet on the bottom rope, using his second rope break to escape. Shinno kicks Yuta off the top rope, resulting in Yuta crashing onto the ring frame before falling to the floor, where Shinno lands an Asai moonsault. Yuta catches a corner elbow attack from Shinno and German suplexes him for a two count. Shinno ducks a clothesline and hits a Pele Kick. He then drops Yuta with a Michinoku Driver for two. Yuta halts a Ranhei from Shinno, but Shinno small packages Yuta for two. Shinno prawn holds Yuta to escape a German suplex, but Yuta nails him with a clothesline once they get back to their feet. A top rope splash gets Yuta two, so he throws the hammer and nail elbows to Shinno’s face before applying a modified crossface for the submission victory at 9:26. That was brisk and fun. I questioned Shinno’s credibility as a challenger, but he worked very well with Yuta and clearly was proficient in the style that the Pure division represents. ***
Three classic Jay Briscoe matches are also featured throughout the show. The first is his Fight Without Honor against Adam Cole at “Final Battle 2014.” Check out my pal Jake’s review of the match.
Marina Shafir vs. Mighty Mayra
Shafir ate up Mayra, submitting her in 2:12 with an upturned wristlock. She gives an emotional “thank you, Jay” to the camera as her arm is raised in victory.
The second Jay Briscoe is the semi-main event from Survival of the Fittest 2016 Night 2, where Jay faces Christopher Daniels in a singles match. Check out my pal Jake’s review of the match.
Eddie Kingston vs. QT Marshall
Jay Briscoe is 0-2 over Marshall in singles matches. Kingston only wrestled Jay in tag team matches, and in the 2012 Cibernetico. Kingston chops Marshall to the floor. Kingston gets a couple of fans to hold Marshall so he can chop him again, including a fan who refused to hold Kingston so Marshall could chop him. Marshall kicks the middle rope into Kingston’s groin behind Bryce Remsburg’s back to turn the contest in his favor. Kingston comes back with a clothesline that turns Marshall inside out and unloads with Kojima style chops in the corner. A facewash kick is followed up with an exploder suplex for two. Kingston avoids a Diamond Cutter and blasts Marshall with the Backfist to the Future. A standing Dragon Sleeper gets Kingston the submission victory at 5:07. Watching Kingston beat up someone is fun – watching him beat up Marshall is even more fun. **¼
ROH Women’s World Championship Eliminator Match
Athena vs. Madison Rayne
If Rayne is victorious, she will earn a future ROH Women’s World title match. Skye Blue is in her corner. Athena rolls to the floor to escape Rayne’s initial offensive stride. Rayne tries to continue the attack on the outside, and ends up being dropped with a Gourdbuster. Inside the ring she wears down Rayne’s back. Rayne low bridges the middle rope to send Athena back to the floor. She PK’s Athena from the apron and sends Athena crashing into the barricades. On the ring apron, Athena sends Rayne shoulder first into the ring post and drops her with a Side Effect. Rayne counters the O-Face with an Ace Crusher out of mid-air for two. Athena bites Rayne’s arm to block the Rayne Drop. She kicks Rayne in the side of the head, gives her a gutbuster, and applies the crossface until Rayne taps out at 8:27. Athena knocks down Blue with the title after the match. I like Athena’s attitude and that they’ve transitioned from lots of title matches to Eliminator matches instead. Rayne was a perfectly cromulent opponent for the champion. **½
Juice Robinson vs. Brandon Cutler
This is Cutler’s first ROH singles match, with his only other ROH match occurring twelve years earlier at SoCal Showdown II. Cutler ends up sending Robinson outside with a clothesline, so Robinson uses Cutler’s cold spray on his eyes to take over. Cutler strings together some offense on Robsinson, including a dabbing clothesline and spinning elbow drop. Cutler dizzies both himself and Robinson with an airplane spin, and after a punch to the face, Cutler falls onto Robinson for a two count. Robinson lands the Left Hand of God, but hits Cutler’s plastic mask. Both Cutler and Robinson grab cold spray. Aubrey catches Robinson with it, but Cutler is able to use it on Robinson without her knowing! Cutler schoolboys Robinson, but Rock Hard kicks out just before the three count. Robinson crotches Cutler on the top rope. Cutler falls down in the corner where Robinson crushes him with a cannonball splash. Robinson’s modified DDT scores him the pinfall at 7:40. A match with levity such as this was an appreciated change of pace on this card. **
Yuka Sakazaki vs. Sandra Moone
Sakazaki made it known she was interested in the ROH Women’s title on Dark: Elevation the week prior. Moone swipes her missile dropkick out of the way and clobbers her in the back of the head with an elbow smash for two. Sakazaki rolls with Moone out of a snapmare, kicking her in the chest from the apron, and following up with a basement forearm smash to the chest. Sakazaki hammerlock’s Moone up onto her shoulders. Moone forearms Sakazaki in the face, but Sakazaki catches her coming off of the ropes with a brainbuster. Sakazaki drops Moone with her version of the Bang-A-Rang and then lands the Magical Girl Splash for the pin at 3:03. A nice solid victory for a possible future ROH Women’s title challenger. Sakazaki’s theme music is a total earworm. *¼
The third and final Jay Briscoe match featured is a sleeper match between the Briscoes and the Kings of Wrestling from Final Battle 2006. Check out my review of that match here.
ROH World Championship
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Christopher Daniels
Castagnoli has been champion since 12.10.2022 and this is his second defense. Daniels himself is a former World Champion, Television Champion, four time Tag Team Champion (once with Donovan Morgan, once with Matt Sydal, and twice with Frankie Kazarian), and Six Man Tag Team Champion. Claudio takes down Daniels with a side headlock, challenging him to “man up.” He also takes him down with a Briscoe style football tackle. He gives Daniels a backbreaker and clotheslines him to the floor. Daniels snaps Claudio’s throat on the top rope and knocks him down with a clothesline. Despite the damage to his throat, Claudio is able to halt Daniels with a backdrop. Daniels however pulls him down into an STO. He then trips Claudio throat-first onto the middle rope and further chokes him. Claudio backs Daniels into the corner to break free from his sleeper hold, but Daniels applies a Guillotine Choke moments later. Claudio muscles up Daniels into a brainbuster to escape. Claudio unloads with a flurry of uppercuts after sending Daniels across the hypotenuse of the ring from one corner to another. Daniels jabs Claudio in the throat to avoid the Giant Swing. Daniels then swings Claudio down in a Complete Shot for two. He takes down Claudio with a BME Press for two. He calls for the Angel’s Wings, but Claudio blocks. He rolls through Daniels’ sunset flip attempt and clobbers him with Swiss Death. He Giant Swings Daniels and then hooks him for the Neutralizer. Claudio pauses and instead decides to deliver the Jay Driller to Daniels for the pin at 13:36. Having someone who was on the very first ROH show with Jay challenging one of Jay’s greatest rivals for the ROH World title was a perfect capper to this celebration. The match itself was excellent, with the champion overpowering and overcoming the crafty, underhanded veteran. Far and away the best match of the card. ***½
If you just watch the fresh matches, you’re more or less treated to a garden variety Dark: Elevation episode. It’s the testimonials and classic footage that make this a special event. I recommend checking those out, and the two title matches on this show.