Ring of Honor
ROH on SBG #473
October 9, 2020
UMBC Event Center
Baltimore, Maryland

Watch: Honor Club & FITE.TV

In Part 4 of the ROH Pure Title Tournament, we saw the final set of first-round matches, as Tracy Williams picked up a submission win over Rust Taylor, while PJ Black scored a victory over Tony Deppen. With the first round concluded, the second round officially got away, and much like the first week of this tournament, the current ROH World Tag Team Champions would be the ones in the spotlight.

The show kicked off with Quinn McKay running down the participants who’ve advanced to the Block Semifinals (technically the Quarterfinals). This also included recaps of last week’s bouts, and comments from the respective winners of those bouts. Tracy Williams said that the whole reason he came to ROH was that they promised him the best competition. He proclaimed that he lives off competition, but he was started for six months during the shutdown. Williams puts over Rust Taylor, saying he’d love to face him again, before turning his attention to Fred Yehi. Of course, Williams immediately brings up their history together, when they were part of Catch Point. They both remember what Catch Point was supposed to be (wonder if that’s a shot at the later version of Catch Point when Stokely Hathaway took over the group). Williams is hyped to face Yehi, and he knows that he’ll bring his best. As for PJ Black, he talked about how he has over 1000 different moves in his arsenal, before commenting on Tony Deppen. He said that he didn’t know anything about Deppen coming in, but he’ll definitely remember him after their match together.

Now that we’re getting into the later rounds, the profile pieces on the wrestlers are no longer being used (which makes sense, since we know who everyone is at this point). Instead, we get video packages highlighting the first round matches, and how (in this case) Jay Lethal and David Finlay got their respective wins. They also featured the post-match comments that I’ve gone over in previous reviews.

ROH Pure Title Tournament – Block A – Block Semifinals
ROH World Tag Team Champion Jay Lethal def. David Finlay

While we continue to get the pre-match stat cards for both wrestlers, they’ve changed them around a little bit to include stats from their first-round tournament bouts. For example, while we did find out that Jay Lethal now has a 15-2 record in singles matches in Baltimore (88% winning percentage), we also saw his strengths and weaknesses from his match with Dalton Castle. His strengths included using more strikes than anyone in the first round, while his weaknesses included two rope breaks being used, with none forced. For David Finlay, we found out that he has two wins over Jay Lethal in tag team matches, before going into his pros and cons from his first-round match with Rocky Romero. While his strengths included being heavy on offense (five submission attempts and eight pinfall attempts), his weaknesses included two rope breaks being used, and his previously injured shoulder being targeted. Ian Riccaboni also mentioned the average amount of rope breaks that were used per wrestler in the first round which, again, is incredibly nerdy yet super cool at the same time.

As far as the match itself goes, it ended up being a pretty solid affair. We saw some technical exchanges in the opening minutes before the pace started to pick up a bit. At some point, Lethal tweaked his leg, which would come into play later in the match. Finlay struck a big blow against Lethal during the commercial break, as he hit a huge Roderick Strong-style backbreaker after avoiding the Lethal Injection. Finlay really took the fight to Lethal at various points, and came very close to winning after Finlay locked in his Indian Deathlock following a big spear. This forced Lethal to use his first rope break at around the twelve or thirteen-minute mark (which is a nice nod to how their previous matches played, since both used two rope breaks, as mentioned earlier). Lethal managed to fight back after this, and despite having a bad leg, managed to hit his running dive to the floor on Finlay. After they got back in the ring, Finlay avoided the Figure Four by countering into a small package, but then Lethal quickly followed up with the Lethal Injection. Lethal didn’t immediately go for the cover (again, selling his leg), but he was able to score the victory to advance to the Block Finals. A good match between these two. Nothing blow away or anything, but a solid television match. ***1/4

For the first time since ROH returned about a month or so ago, we get an in-ring segment that doesn’t involve anybody in the tournament.

In this case, Vincent (minus the rest of his stable) was in the ring for a promo segment. I find Vincent’s character to be a really interesting one. He feels like the original Bray Wyatt character if WWE didn’t turn the dial up to eleven and go all the way with the supernatural stuff. Anyway, he went on about how he’s in the spotlight now after being previously relegated to the shadows. Vincent also had a very good line where he said that you need friends to be successful, but if you want to be really successful, you need to make enemies. He was then interrupted by a “Follow The Trend” video package (these have actually been airing on ROH’s social media for several weeks), and it turns out that they were promoting the return of Matt Taven, who had been on the shelf since Final Battle last year (he had an ankle injury, but also had work done on his knee during the shutdown). Then, Taven jumps Vincent, which leads to a massive beatdown. Taven exposed the wooden boards underneath the ring, and gave Vincent a Climax on the exposed wood (it’s funny that Taven’s still calling his finisher the Climax all these years later). He then follows up by putting Vincent on a table on the floor, and connecting with a Frog Splash from the top rope, after Vincent told Taven he didn’t have the guts to do it. Throughout this whole thing, Taven said “Follow The Trend” and “This is the start of a new trend” a couple of times, so I guess that’s his new catchphrase. I’m interested to see what this “Follow The Trend” stuff is all about, but I was fully expecting this feud to continue once Taven was able to come back. As a whole, I’d say this was a good segment, though now I’m intrigued to see what ROH TV looks like once this tournament is over.

ROH Pure Title Tournament – Block B – Block Semifinals
ROH World Tag Team Champion Jonathan Gresham def. Matt Sydal

Much like Lethal vs. Finlay, we get stat cards that include wrestler facts, as well as facts about their first round matches. For Jonathan Gresham (who actually came out with his ROH World Tag Team Title belt this time), his card said that he was now 5-1 in his last six singles bouts in ROH. In terms of his strengths in the first round, Gresham allowed no rope breaks, while having six counters and two escapes. In terms of weaknesses, Gresham allowed seven power turnovers, while only one of his submissions resulted in a rope break (which I guess is meant to say that his opponent easily escaped his submission attempts). For Matt Sydal, he had the fastest victory in the first round, as he defeated Delirious in just under ten minutes. In regards to his strengths, Sydal used no rope breaks in the first round, while he forced two on Delirious, and had six total escapes. Sydal’s weaknesses were that he had no takedowns, while his leg and head were attacked.

Gresham ultimately picked up the victory in this first-time ever singles meeting, and it ended up being a really good match. Much like Lethal vs. Finlay, we got some technical back-and-forth to start, and it actually helped those first few minutes fly by. Gresham eventually targeted the foot of Sydal with an ankle lock (the previously-injured foot that Sydal mentioned in his personality piece a number of weeks ago), but Sydal managed to fight out of it, and later locked on an ankle lock of his own. There were points in this match where Gresham was just stretching the hell out of Sydal. To his credit, however, Sydal more than held his own, and connected with a pair of rana’s, along with a series of kicks and chops, to take the fight to Gresham. Later on, Sydal tried to use the same submission that he used to beat Delirious. Gresham managed to survive that, and we got some good action between the two down the stretch before the finish, which was a super vicious submission win for Gresham. He managed to lock Sydal in the Romero Special, but instead of just pulling his head back into a Dragon Sleeper (Danielson and Liger have both done this in the past), he just sort of drops most of Sydal’s body, except for his one leg. With his leg being held up at an unnatural angle, Sydal had no choice but to tap. My words can’t do this finish justice. It looked absolutely brutal. This wasn’t quite as good as Gresham vs. Wheeler Yuta in the first round, but it was still a very solid bout. Gresham continues to show off just how good of a technical wrestler he really is, and at this point, he’s still very much a favorite to go all the way in this tournament. ***1/2

Final Thoughts

This week’s edition of the ROH Pure Title Tournament was the first episode that felt a little closer to a more traditional episode of ROH TV, and by that, I mean an episode of ROH TV pre-COVID shutdown. We didn’t get any personality pieces on the wrestlers participating in the tournament (which, again, I wasn’t expecting to see them after we got introduced to everyone in the first round), and we got an angle involving wrestlers not in the tournament at all. As I said earlier, I’m very curious to see what ROH TV looks like, in this environment, once this whole Pure Title Tournament reaches its conclusion. Speaking of which, we got two more solid bouts in that tournament, as Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham both have very good outings as they march closer to a potential collision in the finals.