Ring of Honor
ROH 19th Anniversary Show
March 26, 2021
8:00 PM EDT (Free Hour) / 9:00 PM EDT (PPV)
UMBC Event Center
Watch: HonorClub, PPV & FITE
If you haven’t watched ROH PPVs over the past year or two, I just want to make a quick note regarding the format. There will be a free hour (viewable on HonorClub, YouTube, Facebook, and FITE) with two matches that starts at 8:00 PM Eastern (those two matches are the last two in this preview), while the PPV proper begins at 9:00 PM Eastern.
ROH World Title
RUSH (c) vs. Jay Lethal
So the big story that’s been brewing since the start of 2021 has been LFI vs. The Foundation. It was really only a matter of time before these two sides started feuding, as LFI’s brawling style and rule-breaking tendencies ran completely counter to The Foundation’s goal of restoring honor to ROH by “purifying” all of the titles. Lethal won a Four-Corner Survival Match against Matt Taven, EC3, and Jay Briscoe (a bout that featured a ton of shenanigans) to earn this shot against RUSH. This has the potential to be a really good match, but after seeing interference in RUSH’s previous two title defenses (against Brody King at Final Battle and against Shane Taylor on ROH TV), it’s probably going to have a ceiling depending on what kind of interference we might see towards the end. At the same time, it wouldn’t shock me if they tease interference, only for the rest of The Foundation to fight them off. In terms of the result, you can count out Jay Lethal in situations like this, but it just doesn’t seem like the right time to lose the title here. While I get that The Foundation wants to purify all the titles in ROH, I just can’t see RUSH losing at this moment. Going back to Lethal as World Champion would just feel like treading over territory that we’ve been over before. Prediction: RUSH
ROH World TV Title
Kenny King vs. Tracy Williams
ROH World Tag Team Titles
LFI (Kenny King & La Bestia Del Ring with Amy Rose) (c) vs. The Foundation (Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus)
I’m lumping these two matches together, as you really can’t talk about one without talking about the other. Of course, Dragon Lee (the current ROH World TV Champion and co-holder of the ROH World Tag Team Titles with Kenny King) was originally scheduled to be in both of these bouts, but news broke on Tuesday that he was out of the PPV after having surgery to repair a ruptured eardrum. That specific type of surgery won’t allow him to fly, so thus, we’ve had changes to these two title matches. It really is a shame. Losing Dragon Lee is a huge blow to the quality of this card.
The ROH World Tag Team Title bout was a pretty easy one to switch around, as La Bestia Del Ring will be stepping in to fill Dragon Lee’s spot. However, the ROH World TV Title situation is a little messier. Kenny King will be wrestling Tracy Williams instead, with King (a former ROH World TV Champion in his own right) defending the title on behalf of Dragon Lee. This weirdly brings up memories of the Best-Of-Seven Series for the United States Title between Booker T and Chris Benoit from SmackDown in 2005, where Randy Orton had to fill in for an injured Booker T in the final few matches.
Before these changes to the card were announced, my thinking was that we were definitely going to see a title change in one of these two matches. Even with the changes, I still think that will come to pass. If Tracy Williams wasn’t challenging for both titles, then Dragon Lee retaining both would be an easy pick. However, I just can’t see Williams coming out of this show empty handed. It’ll greatly depend on which match goes first, but my guess is that The Foundation will lose their tag team title challenge against LFI, with Williams coming back to win the ROH World TV Title later in the show. While Williams winning the title from King (who’s the substitute champion) would be very strange, they can spin that into a positive, where you can build to the Dragon Lee/Williams bout once Lee comes back (Lee can play the “I never lost the title”/”You never beat me” card). Lee has been the ROH World TV Champion since Final Battle 2019, while he and Kenny King just won the ROH World Tag Team Titles recently, so the former has a better chance of changing hands than the latter, by my estimation. Predictions: Tracy Williams (World TV Title) and LFI (World Tag Team Titles)
ROH Pure Title
Jonathan Gresham (c) vs. Dak Draper
On paper, this is certainly one of the….strangest matches on the show. Obviously, Jonathan Gresham has been doing an awesome job as the ROH Pure Champion, but having Dak Draper as his challenger here was an interesting choice, to say the least. The story coming in is that, since ROH returned, Draper has been undefeated in Pure Rules Match. However, those wins haven’t exactly come against strong competition. Until his win over Fred Yehi on a recent episode of ROH TV, his previous two wins in Pure Rules bouts were against Brian Johnson (who’s right at the bottom of the pile in terms of regular roster guys) and Joe Keys (an ROH Dojo student who’s probably positioned even lower than Johnson). To be fair, they have been leaning into Draper’s lack of wins against quality opponents a little bit, so at least he’s being positioned as the heel going in. What also makes this match weird is that there’s been zero interaction between these two on ROH TV, as Gresham’s attention has been fully focused on The Foundation’s war against LFI. This is a big spot for Draper, and it’ll be interesting to see how he’ll do. I’m sure his size will give Gresham problems, but I fully expect the champion to retain here. Prediction: Jonathan Gresham
EC3 vs. Jay Briscoe
This match was scheduled to take place at Final Battle, but EC3 had to pull out after testing positive for COVID. The feud resumed once EC3 made his return, and here we are. It’s been a challenge to decipher what exactly what EC3 has been saying in his promos, but I guess the gist is that he’s trying to find out whether honor is truly real. They did have an encounter prior to Final Battle that saw Briscoe get himself disqualified, and after EC3’s return, he paid off Flip Gordon to cost The Briscoes a #1 Contender’s Match against LFI. I think this has the chance to be decent, but I really don’t know what to think of EC3 in ROH. What he’s done thus far has certainly been an improvement over….whatever that cinematic match was that he did with Moose in Impact. The result of this one is really going to depend on whether this feud continues beyond this PPV. Now that we know EC3 is signed with ROH, there’s a very strong chance that he somehow wins this match to extend the feud with Jay Briscoe. As much as I want Jay to win (and I do think he has a decent shot to win), I just have a feeling that this feud is going to keep going beyond this show. If that ends up being the case, then EC3 is your likely winner. In terms of match quality, this will certainly be EC3’s biggest test to date. He’s never been known as a strong in-ring talent, but we’ll see what he can do in this spot. Prediction: EC3
Matt Taven vs. Vincent
It’s hard to believe that this feud has been going on since September of 2019, but a combination of Matt Taven being written off due to injuries and the COVID shutdown has pushed all the way into 2021. After going back and forth (both verbally and physically) since ROH’s return, it looks like this Unsanctioned Match will be the confrontation that ends the hostilities once and for all.
The only problem is that I have no idea what this match is even going to look like.
I wouldn’t say that if it was just listed as a typical Unsanctioned Match, but this blowoff won’t be taking place in the ROH bubble in Baltimore at all. Instead, it will be taking place in Fall River, Massachusetts inside PAL Hall, the same venue where both Taven and Vincent began their individual careers (if you do a quick search of the building in Google Images, you’ll see that it has hosted shows for an independent promotion called Top Rope Promotions, where both men wrestled early on in their careers). Now, unfortunately, we really don’t know much about the match beyond the stipulation and the location. The fact that it’s in a separate location, outside of the ROH bubble in Baltimore, would certainly lead one to believe that it will be a cinematic match. However, this easily could just be Matt Taven and Vincent have a wild hardcore brawl, with a ring in this empty indie wrestling venue in Massachusetts. It will probably be a very violent affair regardless, and it wouldn’t shock me if we get involvement from the rest of The Righteous (Tyler Bateman and Vita VonStarr) and the OGK (Michael Bennett and maybe even Maria Kanellis). If this is truly the blowoff for the Taven/Vincent feud, then Taven is likely a lock to win, but if they’re planning on doing another match (maybe a six-person tag with Vita VonStarr and Maria getting in the mix), then Vincent might have a chance. Prediction: Matt Taven
Dalton Castle vs. Josh Woods (with Silas Young)
Even though this seems like a total throwaway match at first glance, there’s actually a little more intrigue when you dive deeper, as both men have their own separate stories going into it. Dalton Castle has been on a losing streak since ROH returned from the shutdown with their bubble tapings in Baltimore, with his only victory in the bubble coming against Brian Johnson, who’s at the very bottom of the pecking order. One of those losses was to Josh Woods in a Pure Rules Match. Woods started off his time in the bubble in a strong way, making it to the semifinals of the Pure Title Tournament (where he was knocked out by the eventual tournament winner Jonathan Gresham), and scoring a huge win over Jay Lethal following that tournament. Since then, however, the win-loss record for Woods has been a mixed bag. After beating Dalton Castle in that aforementioned Pure Rules Match, Woods agreed to give Castle a rematch, but came up short when Castle (desperate for a win) faked an injury to catch Woods with a flash pin.
That second encounter was followed up by Silas Young making his return, where he berated Woods (his tag team partner) for the loss to Castle and the various other losses he suffered recently. He then left Castle with an ultimatum, saying that it was time for the two of them to return to the tag team ranks. So we have a rubber match between Castle and Woods on this PPV (not a Pure Rules match, unlike their first two bouts against each other), with the former trying to get back on the winning track, while the latter is at a bit of a crossroads, in terms of what division he’s going to focus on. With Castle getting that win over Woods via questionable means, I could see Castle getting another underhanded win (leading to a heel turn), which will put Woods in a situation where he has to decide between sticking in the Pure Division or going back with Silas Young tag team division. Even though this does feel like a good spot for Woods to get a win, a Castle would probably do a better job advancing the stories of both men. Prediction: Dalton Castle
Flip Gordon vs. Mark Briscoe
This is another match that actually has a bit of a backstory going into it, despite looking like a throwaway match on the surface. On the February 19th edition of ROH TV, Flip Gordon attacked Mark Briscoe during a #1 Contender’s Match that saw The Briscoes going up against the LFI duo of Dragon Lee and Kenny King. This interference ultimately led to The Briscoes losing the bout (it was later revealed that EC3 paid Flip Gordon to interfere in the match), but Mark Briscoe got a measure of revenge a few weeks later, when he cost Flip Gordon a singles match against Flamita. It was the simplest of builds, but in a PPV environment, I’m sure these two will deliver a quality undercard bout. Mark Briscoe is the kind of guy who can lose to almost anyone in a singles match, and it really won’t hurt him, so I’m going with Flip Gordon to pick up the win here. There’s a chance that Mark could win if they’re planning to build him for a World TV Title shot, but Gordon does have a World Title shot in his back pocket, and since that’s probably going to come into play sooner rather than later, Gordon winning here makes the most sense. Prediction: Flip Gordon
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles
Shane Taylor Promotions (Shane Taylor & The Soldiers of Savagery) (c) vs. MexiSquad (Bandido, Flamita, & Rey Horus)
MexiSquad was originally set to defend the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles against Shane Taylor Promotions at Final Battle last December, but Bandido and Flamita were unable to make the ROH taping bubble due to COVID. Shane Taylor had the option of accepting the titles via forfeit (since they hadn’t been defended since the pandemic started), but he turned them down, saying that he and the Soldiers Of Savagery didn’t want to win the titles that way. The two trios eventually had their showdown on the February 19th edition of ROH TV, and Shane Taylor Promotions successfully captured the titles from MexiSquad. The rematch is set to headline Hour One (the free portion of the show), and it should be a pretty good trios bout. That aforementioned first encounter was very entertaining, but this has the potential to be even better, as I would guess they’ll get a little more time here than they did on TV. MexiSquad are a great trio, and their style should mesh really well with powerhouse team of Shane Taylor Promotions. While it would be cool to see MexiSquad get the titles back, I don’t see that happening. It was a long wait for Shane Taylor Promotions, and I don’t see them losing the titles so quickly. Plus, MexiSquad are probably better-served wrestling in some of the other divisions at this point. They were good champions, but it’s time for them to move on to other things. Prediction: Shane Taylor Promotions
Four-Corner Survival Match
Danhausen vs. Eli Isom vs. Brian Johnson vs. LSG
While there’s nothing officially at stake here, ROH has teased that this match is a chance for one of these four to rise up the ROH World TV Title rankings. I’m sure that Danhausen and Brian Johnson will continue their preliminary feud here, but I don’t see either of them being serious contenders here. It will likely come down to either LSG or Eli Isom, who have both picked up wins on ROH TV in the last month or so (over Tony Deppen and Rey Horus respectively). I don’t think either would be a bad choice, but since Eli Isom just came back on the go-home edition of ROH TV (he had missed the previous taping bubbles due to COVID contact tracing), LSG seems like the favorite. He’s had some solid performances since ROH’s return, and this would be a good win for him. The match itself will probably be solid enough. You do have Danhausen in there, but I don’t think his wackiness will be as big of an issue in a Four-Corner Survival, as compared to a singles match. Prediction: LSG