Ring Of Honor
ROH on SBG #476
October 30, 2020
UMBC Event Center
Watch: Honor Club & FITE.TV
In Part 7 of the ROH Pure Title Tournament, the Finals were officially set, as Jonathan Gresham and Tracy Williams scored victories over Josh Woods and Jay Lethal, respectively. Following the opening video package, we got the usual introduction from Quinn McKay, who went over the finalists, and the respective paths they took to get to the Finals. She mentioned the brutality and technique that Jonathan Gresham brought to his matches against Wheeler Yuta and Matt Sydal, while saying that it’s his tournament to win or lose. As for Tracy Williams, she talked about his cold calculation, creative moveset, and his skills as a pure wrestler. McKay also notes that Matt Taven and Vincent received fines for their actions over the previous couple of weeks.
Shane Taylor Promotions (Shane Taylor & The Soldiers of Savagery) def. EC3 & The Briscoes
With only one tournament match on the show, that opened the door for a non-tournament match, which ended up being the six-man tag that was set up a few weeks ago. Apparently the little stat cards that were featured during wrestler entrances in the Pure Title Tournament are carrying over to normal matches, as we got them here during the entrances for this bout. EC3 (who apparently finished his run with Impact following the cinematic match with Moose at Bound For Glory a few weeks back) wrestled the match in jeans, so I guess that’s his thing now. This ended up being a fine little six-man tag. Perfectly solid for a TV show, but not really memorable in any way. The early minutes saw The Soldiers of Savagery isolated Mark Briscoe for a bit until he was able to make the tag to his brother, Jay Briscoe. The action picked up a little bit after the commercial break, with the highlight being Mark doing a twisting moonsault to the floor. Shortly thereafter, however, Mark got pinned by Shane Taylor after getting hit with Welcome To The Land (the former Greetings From 216). EC3 didn’t do a ton in this, which probably isn’t a good sign. I guess he’ll keep feuding with Shane Taylor? Who knows. **3/4
Before the main event, we got video packages featuring comments from both Jonathan Gresham and Tracy Williams. Up first was Williams, who talked about the long road he took to get to this point. He admitted that his ROH run thus far had been marred by failures, shortcomings, and missed opportunities. Now, he’s right where he’s supposed to be, and he runs down his victories in the tournament over Rust Taylor, Fred Yehi, and Jay Lethal. Williams considers Gresham to be a career rival, and notes that they took similar paths to get to the stage that they’re on now. Thus far he’s failed in his goal to restore honor to ROH, but he’s learned valuable lessons out of those failures. Williams then brings up a call he made to Gresham (which was teased in one of the pre-tournament videos that Gresham did), and said that he told him that they would meet in the Finals. Whoever came out on top wouldn’t matter though, Williams told Gresham, because as a unit, they would build ROH on the true foundation that it needed to be built on, in the form of pure pro-wrestling. Williams concluded by saying that, by winning the Pure Title, he would be the one to lead this new vision of the future.
We then got a promo from Jonathan Gresham, who told the story of the aforementioned phone call from his end. He confirmed it was about The Foundation, which itself is about people like him, who view pro-wrestling the way that he does. Gresham notes that he and Williams are similar in many ways (both having come up through the independents), and that he has a ton of respect for him. They both fell in love with classic ROH, but the promotion lost its identity and honor over time. Gresham said only pure wrestlers can restore that honor, and that he and Williams are going to make history. While Gresham does echo the comments of Williams by saying that the ROH Pure Title will be coming home to The Foundation no matter what, he proclaimed that he’s the best pure wrestler in the world, and he’d prove that during the Finals.
ROH Pure Title Tournament – Finals
ROH World Tag Team Champion Jonathan Gresham def. Tracy Williams
If the promos beforehand didn’t make it clear, Tracy Williams is now officially a member of The Foundation, as he was announced as such during the ring introductions.
The stat cards are absolutely loaded for the Finals of this tournament. For Tracy Williams, his 3rd Round Strengths included forcing three rope breaks, having ten submissions and six pin attempts, being the only person in the tournament to not be pinned after getting hit with the Lethal Injection, and having an adaptive strategy (no strikes in the first six minutes, adapted with some power moves, then went back to submissions in the final minutes). The weaknesses in the 3rd Round for Williams included having the longest match in the tourney thus far, suffering damage to his shoulder and neck, as well as being forced to use all three of his rope breaks (he’s actually the only person in the tournament to use up all of their rope breaks in every match they’ve taken place in)
As for Jonathan Gresham, he’s got a 3-1 record vs. Tracy Williams in ROH (3-0 vs. Williams in singles matches across all promotions). He also won all three of his matches in the tournament with different moves, while accumulating fourteen submissions and sixteen counters. His 3rd Round strengths included having the ability to inflict a ton of damage with just one move, getting a pinfall win despite that only being only his second pinfall attempt. His weaknesses included two rope breaks being used (his first two of the tournament), no rope breaks being forced, no offensive moves for the first four minutes, being outmatched by his opponent in total suplexes, and taking a number of voluntary breaks by rolling out to the floor.
These two had a very good match that definitely showed off just how good they are at this style of wrestling. That being said, once the match ended, I was left wanting a little more. Was it the fact that I was expecting it to go longer than it did? Possibly. The Block A Final with Jay Lethal and Tracy Williams went nearly twenty minutes, so my expectations for a longer match in the Finals were already there coming into this bout. While I don’t have a ton of issues with this match going fourteen minutes (or just shorter than I expected in general), perhaps the time wouldn’t have been as much of an issue if the finish had a bit more build to it. I get that these types of matches can have endings that come out of nowhere (which definitely works in some cases), but in this instance, even though I knew the Octopus Stretch is one of Gresham’s big moves, I was still surprised that the match ended when it did.
Again, I should stress that I really enjoyed this match from start to finish. Gresham and Williams went right after each other to start, did some cool spots on the floor in the early minutes, told some solid stories (Gresham using up all of his rope breaks while Williams only used one), and had several strong exchanges following the commercial break. However, it just didn’t quite top the aforementioned Lethal vs. Williams match from the previous week (for me, anyway). I won’t go so far as to call this a disappointing match, because that would be a little unfair. It was, for sure, one of the best matches in the entire tournament. However, I thought a few other matches from the tourney were just a little bit better, and you’d typically expect the final bout of a tournament to be the best. The actual finish saw Gresham tap Williams out to the Octopus Stretch, after Gresham had barely escaped after getting hit with a piledriver from Williams (this was where we saw Gresham use his final rope break). Definitely worth checking out, my minor complaints aside. ***1/2
Gresham was awarded with the ROH Pure Title, along with a trophy, following the match. He shook hands with Tracy Williams, and then celebrated with Jay Lethal to close the show. I’m super excited to see what Gresham does with the ROH Pure Title, now that it’s finally made its return. Hopefully he has a lengthy reign to help further establish its importance (the tournament got it off to a great start, in that regard). If you haven’t checked it out, Gresham cut a great backstage promo after the bout that featured the rest of The Foundation. I’m very intrigued to see what happens with this group going forward, now that Tracy Williams is part of it.
Welcome To The New Era Of Honor. pic.twitter.com/BGhAF2GT7g
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) November 3, 2020
After eight weeks, the Pure Title Tournament has finally concluded, and we have a new ROH Pure Champion in Jonathan Gresham. While the match that decided the new champion (Gresham vs. Williams) wasn’t the best match of the tournament, it was still a really good match that’s worth seeking out. The video packages beforehand also did a nice job of building up the match and establishing Williams as a member of The Foundation.
If you’re pressed for time, you can skip the six-man tag at the beginning. It’s fine, but there’s no real need to watch it.