Elmont, NY – 4.6.2023
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman & Nigel McGuinness.
The show begins with Christopher Daniels in the locker room sending a message to the new Pure Champion, Katsuyori Shibata. After congratulating Shibata on his title victory at Supercard of Honor, Daniels proposes a title match between the two of them. Daniels mentions that the only time he and Shibata met, a tag team match during New Japan’s 2015 World Tag League tournament, he was victorious. Daniels also admires Shibata for going through hell and coming out on the other side one of the toughest men in the world. Daniels isn’t scared of a challenge, and knows Shibata isn’t scared of answering challenges, so he more or less states that he will face Shibata tonight for the Pure title. Sounds good!
The Lucha Brothers (Penta El Zero Miedo & Rey Fenix) & Mark Briscoe vs. The WorkHorsemen (Anthony Henry & JD Drake) & Shane Taylor
Alex Abrahantes is in The Lucha Brothers and Mark Briscoe’s corner. They frustrate their opposition by taking all three of them out with relative ease in the early going. A headbutt from Taylor to Penta turns the match in their favor, as Taylor then sends him to his corner where he and Henry each deliver an attack and Drake lands a slingshot senton. Penta escapes their grasp by taking down Henry with a Sling Blade. Mark throws redneck kung fu at the WorkHorsemen. He wipes out Henry with a Spicy Dropkick and takes out Drake on the floor with a Blockbuster. Drake surprises Penta with a Boss Man Slam after Penta double stomps Henry out of a tree of woe. Fenix wipes him out with a rebound roundhouse kick. Taylor turns Fenix inside out with a lariat. Taylor resists a Jay Driller and drops Briscoe with Welcome To The Land. The WorkHorsemen have him taken out with a facebuster and Shining Wizard, but the Lucha Brothers break up the pin. They take out Taylor and Drake, leaving Henry and Mark in the ring. Mark cuts off a top rope attack from Henry with a boot to the stomach and puts him away with the Jay Driller at 8:44. This was a fun match to continue the relationship going with Mark and the Lucha Brothers, who are a great trio. They need to firmly cement whether Taylor is on the face or heel side of the equation – switching back and forth makes it tough to invest. He worked well with Henry and Drake, who I also hope get to do more than show up and wrestle now and then. ***
QT Marshall was watching the match with Powerhouse Hobbes and Aaron Solo in the crowd, as Marshall and Hobbes are challenging for the ROH Tag Titles at AEW “Battle of the Belts VI” the next night. Eh. I’ll check it for next week’s episode.
ROH Pure Championship
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Christopher Daniels
Shibata has been champion since 3.31.2023 this is his first defense. This is Daniels’ third attempt to win the title, unsuccessfully challenging Samoa Joe at “Night of the Grudges II” and Nigel McGuinness at “Weekend of Champions, Night 1.” 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 champion Jerry Lynn & BJ Whimter, and AEW Coach Dean Malenko.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be levied a hefty fine.
Daniels does his best to fight out of a figure four leg lock, but eventually settles for using his first rope break. Daniels evades a PK and attacks Shibata’s neck. He plants Shibata with a Complete Shot and applies the Koji Clutch. Shibata pivots his hips to place Daniels in a pinning predicament, resulting in Daniels releasing the hold and throwing multiple elbows to the neck. Shibata fires up when Daniels chops him in the corner. He forearms Daniels repeatedly in the opposite corner before nailing him with a hesitation dropkick. Shibata pulls Daniels down into a sleeper hold with a bodyscissors. Daniels scoots his way to the ropes and uses his second rope break to escape. Daniels gives Shibata a jawbreaker, but Shibata absorbs a clothesline. Shibata pops right back up when Daniels drops him with an STO, and he gives Daniels one of his own. Shibata goes back to the sleeper hold. He brings down Daniels into a seated position and nails a PK for the pin at 10:07. Shibata defeating an ROH stalwart like Daniels is his first defense is a wise choice to give him credibility in ROH. Daniels wearing down his neck, and neither man wanting to use the ropes to break submissions was a good story to tell. What I think is strange for Shibata is the fans get pumped for his entrance but cool off for the match itself. Why is that? **¾
Dasha Gonzalez congratulates Claudio Castagnoli on his successful title defense against Eddie Kingston at Supercard of Honor, and asks if there is anybody he deems worthy of challenging for the World title. Claudio says he did exactly what he promised to do at Supercard of Honor and defeated Eddie Kingston. He saw the way Eddie exploded after he lost, cursing on the microphone, and says that is not the type of person who should be Ring of Honor champion. Claudio then says he is ready to defend against anybody who proves themselves worthy. That is the Ring of Honor way.
Ortiz vs. Brian Cage
Prince Nana is in Cage’s corner. I like Ortiz, but what is the purpose of this match? Commentary spent most of the match talking about AEW’s All In announcement which tells you exactly how important it was. Ortiz was resilient and quick, attempting many quick pins to end the match. Ortiz almost had Cage pinned when he blocked Cage’s super suplex by slipping back into the ring and bringing him down with a powerbomb off of the middle rope. Ortiz picked him up into a vertical suplex position, which Cage immediately countered into the Drill Claw for the pin at 8:14. This was fine but pointless. Again, no idea why this match occurred or why Cage needed eight minutes to defeat Ortiz. **
Darius Martin vs. Jay Lethal
Sonjay Dutt and Satnam Singh are in Lethal’s corner. This is Lethal’s first ROH match since losing the TV title to Samoa Joe. Maria Kanellis-Bennett has joined commentary, and The Kingdom of Mike Bennett an Matt Taven are also present at the commentary desk. Dante Martin broke his leg a “Supercard of Honor”, so he is looking to find himself as a singles competitor while his brother recovers. This is tough to do when Lethal is taking shortcuts such as attacking Darius right at the bell and crotching him on the top rope. Darius managed to block the Lethal Injection twice and almost pinned Lethal with crucifix and a Spanish Fly. After that, Matt Taven made his way ringside. Singh distracted the referee as Taven came in and superkicked Darius. Lethal shrugged at the attack and dropped Darius with the Lethal Injection for the pin at 5:32. Ultimately this was here to keep the Kingdom and Top Flight feud going. Not sure if Lethal is staying around in ROH, but it could benefit from his presence if he does. **½
The Infantry (Carlie Bravo & Shawn Dean) vs. La Facción Ingobernable (RUSH & Dralistico)
Jose The Assistant and Preston Vance are in LFI’s corner. Dralistico pretends to show Dean respect after they reach a stalemate and blindsides him with a tornado kick. Bravo gets pay back with a rolling forearm strike. RUSH knee strikes Bravo from the apron and v blasts him with a pumping knee. LFI pummel him in their corner for a few minutes. When they pose in the middle of the ring, Dean attacks from behind, but is quickly taken out with a German suplex and flying Code Breaker. Dralistico takes out Bravo with a modified GTS for the pin at 3:41. LFI seem like logical and exciting opponents for the Lucha Bros, so giving them a glorified squash makes sense. Dralistico may have to do away with that finish soon. **¼
Tracy Williams vs. Daniel Garcia
Both men lost at Supercard of Honor, so I suppose they both want to get back on the right foot. Williams wants to show wrestler-turned-entertainer that ROH is about wrestling, and does so by attacking his neck and grounding him in a stretch. Garcia thrusts Williams in the throat to turn the match in his favor. Williams tosses him in a hammerlock suplex, but Garcia shoves him off of the top turnbuckle and to the floor. Garcia angers Williams with boot scrapes. Williams knocks him down with an overhand chop. He also pulls off the top turnbuckle DDT and a discus lariat for two. He then applies a crossface, and Garcia places his foot on the rope to escape. Williams and Garcia switch waist locks until Garcia cuts him off with a half-hatch Code Breaker for the pin at 6:18. That was pretty sweet, and it hurts me to think how much better it would be if Garcia wasn’t stuck in the stupid JAS. ***
Willow Nightingale vs. Notorious Mimi
Mimi is a Monster Factory graduate who has recently made some waves in Wrestling Open. Mimi scored a couple near falls on Willow with a Gedo Clutch and then a crossbody. Willow would then shut her down with a Pounce and put her away with the Bae Bomb at 2:01. Willow’s just the best. I’ll want her on my screen every week, even if it’s a squash.
The Righteous (Vincent & Dutch) vs. Even Stevens (Steven Azure & Steve Somerset)
Even Stevens’ are Create-A-Pro Wrestling graduates. Simply based on their dorky, unmuscular look, you’d think The Righteous would wipe the floor with Even Stevens in quick fashion. That’s exactly what happened. After dropping Azure with a Boss Man Slam, Vincent landed the Redrum. Vincent would then pin Azure with Autumn Sunshine (the Acid Drop, which used to be called Orange Sunshine) in 1:57. I am happy to see The Righteous back in the fold, and think they could have an excellent dynamic with the Dark Order.
Konosuke Takeshita vs. Tony Nese
Josh Woods, Ari Daivari and “Smart” Mark Sterling are in Nese’s corner. Nese confidently flexes after leg sweeping Takeshita. Nese takes advantage of Takeshita’s handshake offer by delivering a forearm to the face. Takeshita then takes him down with a flying shoulder block and shows Nese his own bicep flex. Josh Woods holds onto Takeshita so he cannot skin the cat, and Nese dropkicks him to the floor. Nese sends him crashing into the ring steps and places him in a bodyscissors back inside of the ring. Takeshita attempts a sunset flip, only for Nese to roll up to his feet and roundhouse kick him. Takeshita however turns Nese inside out with a clothesline to block a corner knee strike. Two yakuza kicks lead to a forearm shiver and a somersault senton off of the second rope for a two count. Takeshita scoops him up into a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Nese is pulled to the floor by his partners, so Takeshita tope con hilos onto Woods, Nese, and Daivari, and sends Nese into the ring steps. However, Nese halts a deadlift suplex and lays Takeshita onto the middle rope. Nese comes back in with a springboard moonsault for two. Nese attempts a pumphandle. Takeshita counters that into the Hitodenashi Driver for two. Interjection from Nese’s partners allows for him to pull off a double stomp and pump handle sit-out piledriver. Takeshita gets his shoulder up just before the pin, which Nese cannot believe. Nese utilized multiple face wash kicks, getting Takeshita into place for the Running Nese. Takeshita moved out of the way and rolled Nese into the Chaos Theory for the pin at 10:25. This was very similar to Takeshita’s match with Woods, with lots of fun and interesting momentum swings that got the crowd going. What makes that last bit even more remarkable is that this was the last match filmed in a five hour block, and it is a credit to Takeshita and Nese that they got the crowd fired up this late in the night. Really good stuff. ***½
ROH Women’s World Championship
Athena vs. Miyu Yamashita
Athena has been the champion since 12.10.2022 and this is her eighth defense. Yamashita unsuccessfully challenged Athena for the title at Prestige Wrestling in January, with Athena hitting Yamshita with the championship belt to win the match. Athena bails to the outside when she sees Yamashita’s high kick coming. Yamashita surprises her with a Sankakugeri to end a series of each of them ducking each other’s kicks. Yamashita delivers multiple kicks as the champion is kneeling, and then kicks her down in the corner. She stuns Athena with a knee strike and uses her legs to trip her into a PK. Athena pulls herself out to the floor by the apron. When Yamashita comes to get her, Athena sweeps the ring apron from underneath Yamashita to trip her and pulls her head first into the ring post. Yamashita low bridges the top rope to send Athena to the floor and delivers two PK’s from the ring apron. Athena blocks a third and pulls down Yamashita onto her shoulders. She throws Yamashita’s head into the ring post before slamming her out of a firewoman’s carry. Athena misses a senton splash, and Yamashita rushes her with a running knee strike. In the ring, Athena pulls Yamashita down from the middle rope, but Yamashita recovers and takes her down with a super Air Raid Crash for two. Athena catches a pumping knee and rolls Yamashita into a half crab. She transitions into an ankle lock, and Yamashita rolls forward to send Athena crashing into the second rope. She kicks Athena in the back of the head before releasing her with a German suplex. Athena ducks a skull kick and rolls to the floor. Yamashita chases her up the entrance ramp and gives her a Death Valley Driver. As Yamashita is bringing her down the ramp, Yamshita shoves her off of it and follows with a somersault senton. When they make it back to the ring, Yamashita kicks out of a roll-up and hits a pair of rolling enzuigiri’s to Athena while she is grounded. Athena ducks the Skull Kick and brings down Yamashita into a crossface. Athena rolls Yamashita to the middle of the ring, and Yamashita passes out at 13:33. This was a step above their first encounter, with less filler and a better environment. I think the focus of the story was lost at points, but if nothing else, Yamashita looked like a very formidable challenger, and Athena attacking her head paid off in the end. This was a very good main event to end an unspectacular episode. ***½
We had some good stuff again this week, and I think the atmosphere of wherever AEW runs Dynamite trumps Universal Studios, but again, there are too many matches without purpose and way too little in terms of story progression. The squashes being shorter was helpful.