Ring of Honor
19th Anniversary Show
March 26, 2021
UMBC Event Center
Baltimore, Maryland

Watch: HonorClub, PPV & FITE

Four-Corner Survival Match
Brian Johnson def. Danhausen, Eli Isom, and LSG

It was pushed on commentary that whoever won this match would move up the ROH World TV Title rankings. The bulk of this was mainly a three-way with Brian Johnson, Eli Isom, and LSG, while Danhausen stayed on the apron and picked his spots. He did get more involved later in the match (he did do a spot with his jar of teeth, which was really the only cringy spot of the match), and even came close to winning at one point after hitting LSG with his finisher, a version of the GTS which (I believe) he calls Goodnight-hausen. However, Brian Johnson managed to break up the cover by pulling LSG out of the ring. Johnson then snuck under the ring, came out from the other side, gave Danhausen an eye poke, and hit him with his finisher (called The Process) to score the win. Johnson getting the win here was certainly a surprise in the moment, but I suppose if he was going to win, the only person he should’ve pinned was Danhausen, and that’s exactly what happened. Eli Isom and LSG both looked good here, and as a whole, this was a pretty solid Four-Corner Survival with fun action throughout. Even though Johnson isn’t a guy who’s ever going to rise above prelim status, it’s fine to give him wins like this every so often to keep him from being a total jobber. ***1/4

ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles
Shane Taylor Promotions (c) def. MexiSquad (Bandido, Flamita, & Rey Horus)

This is a rematch from an episode of ROH TV back in February, when Shane Taylor Promotions won the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles from MexiSquad. The difference here is that this bout was contested under Lucha Rules, which obviously favored MexiSquad on paper. The trio of luchadores certainly didn’t waste any time, as they attacked Shane Taylor Promotions during their entrance, and connected with a series of big dives to the floor.

Going into the PPV, I was hoping that this match would equal (or even surpass) the previous bout these two trios had together, but that didn’t end up being the case. While it was still a solid match from start to finish, it didn’t turn out to be as good as I was hoping it would be (they didn’t even get as much time as their first encounter, as this only went seven minutes or so). To their credit, however, we got a couple of stories on both sides that I found pretty intriguing. The first (and this was pointed out a couple times by Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman on commentary) was that Shane Taylor appeared to be off his game somewhat, which meant the Soldiers Of Savagery had to carry the weight for the team. They paid that off when it came time for the finish, as SOS did in fact win the match for their trio. I really like how that played out, as it helped to elevate SOS a bit by showing that they’re not just Shane Taylor’s backup. They’re more than capable of pulling through when Taylor doesn’t hold up his end. Kaun in particular stood out, especially when he connected with (what looked like) a Jackhammer off the top rope right before the finish.

The other story they told here was that MexiSquad wasn’t getting along. In particular, Flamita was having problems with the rest of his team. There were a couple of points of miscommunication between them, and ultimately, they lost the match because of that dysfunction. Bandido and Flamita nearly came to blows in the post-match, but Rey Horus intervened, and suggested the three have a match against each other on the PPV to settle their differences. They seemed to agree, and the match was made for later. As for this trios match, it certainly wasn’t anything spectacular, though they did tell a few stories on both sides while setting up a big match for later, so I guess you can’t get too upset about that. ***1/4

Before the PPV officially kicked off, we got a big surprise in the form of Rocky Romero joining Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman on commentary! What a great three-man booth.

I should also note that ROH did an awesome opening video for the PPV:

ROH World TV Title
Tracy Williams def. Kenny King (with Amy Rose)

The PPV proper kicked off with the ROH World TV Title bout, which was a bit of a surprise. I figured the ROH World Tag Team Title match would go first of the two Tracy Williams title shots, but they decided to do it the other way around. Anyway, Kenny King was visibly upset on his way to the ring, probably annoyed that Dragon Lee’s World TV Title was still on the line despite Dragon Lee not being there. For the most part, this was a fine opening contest. Williams worked over King’s legs early on, but King managed to fight back and nailed some pretty big offense on Williams. It became a more back and forth affair in the closing minute until we got to the finish, which saw Williams take advantage of some LFI miscommunication (Amy Rose had tossed in Kenny King’s World Tag Team Title for him to use, but King hesitated) and connected with a piledriver to win the ROH World TV Title. The finish was a little wonky, though it did play into a couple of stories they were telling throughout the show, so it did have some purpose to it. The match itself was perfectly solid for what it was, and with Dragon Lee out of action for the time being, putting the World TV Title on Williams was really the only result you could’ve gone with. ***1/4

Flip Gordon def. Mark Briscoe

I mentioned this in the PPV preview, but I really liked how pretty much all of the non-title undercard matches still had stories going into them. While they could’ve easily just thrown a match like this on the PPV to fill things out, they added some story to it (Flip Gordon costs The Briscoes a #1 Contender’s Match, with Mark Briscoe returning the favor by costing Gordon a match a few weeks later) to give you at least something to sink your teeth into. Even though this particular bout didn’t get a ton of time (it was just shy of eight minutes), I really enjoyed it, and I will gladly accept being the high man on this one. They went after each other right from the opening bell, and certainly made the most of the time they were given. There was entertaining action throughout, but ultimately, Gordon would pick up the win via the Flip 5 after kicking Mark low while the referee was distracted (Mark had brought in a chair to use on a dive attempt, but Todd Sinclair trying to get the chair out of the ring gave Flip the opening for the low blow). I suppose Gordon winning here was the right result. He still has that World Title shot in his back pocket, plus Mark is a guy who can lose matches like this and it really doesn’t hurt him. Again, I’m probably the high man on this match, but I very much liked it. ***1/2

Dalton Castle def. Josh Woods (with Silas Young)

These two were 1-1 in singles action against each other, and this rubber match was going to go a long way in determining the futures for both competitors. While this was just a straight singles bout (unlike their first two meetings, which were contested under Pure Rules), it certainly felt like a Pure Rules Match in the opening stages, as the two grappled back and forth. Woods had the early edge, but Castle took advantage of a disagreement between Woods and Silas Young (I think I’m starting to sense a bit of a pattern on this show) to gain control. It became a more even affair down the stretch, with both men taking turns tossing each other into the barricade and hitting each other with German Suplexes. However, the aforementioned issues between Woods and Young would play a big role in the ending of this bout. At one point, Young told Woods to put Castle on a chair he had set up so he could hit a big strike while Castle was sitting in the chair. Woods refused to do this, and when the referee ducked out of the way to avoid getting run over by the two men in the ring a few moments later, Young nailed Woods with a chair shot to the head. Castle then rolled up Woods for the win, and scurried away as quickly as he could. A good match between these two. Castle continues to pick up wins any way he can get them (I still think a heel turn is coming for him), while we sadly saw the breakup of Two Guys, One Tag with Young turning on Woods. ***1/4

Afterward, Silas Young cut a promo running down Josh Woods, saying that he was tired of being patient with him, and was fed up with Woods constantly defying him. While the pairing with Young was a big benefit to the career of Woods (he really wasn’t going anywhere before that team started), this was always going to be the inevitable destination. There was always that weird tension where Young was still very much a heel while Woods was the babyface who had a goofier side to him, but was going along with Young since he was his mentor. I’m sure they’ll have a couple of matches in this feud which Wood will ultimately win.

Jay Briscoe def. EC3

ROH did a video package for this match that featured an awesome promo from Jay Briscoe, which featured him making fun of the offers that WWE have sent The Briscoes over the years (saying he could make that much landscaping) while also mentioning all of the legends that he’s shaken the hands of in ROH over the years (including the likes of Mitsuharu Misawa and Kensuke Sasaki). We get reminded of this every so often, but Jay Briscoe is such a great promo.

Anyway, EC3 came out wearing actual wrestling gear and looking completely shredded (still don’t know how Vince McMahon couldn’t figure out what to do with a guy like EC3 given his physique and promo ability, but whatever). The match itself was a little better than I was expecting, but to be fair, my expectations weren’t that high to begin with, given that EC3 has never been known for being a steller in-ring performer. While the action throughout was relatively good (EC3 took one or two bumps that I wasn’t expecting him to take), it definitely felt like they missed the peak. It got to a certain point and I thought “great, the match should end right about here”….and then it went a few more minutes. EC3 did a fine job in this bout, but it had no right going twenty minutes. While some time definitely needed to be shaved off this one, I did enjoy the story they told, particularly in the closing stretch. Jay basically needed to kill EC3’s neck (a Death Valley Driver on the apron, multiple neckbreakers, and finally the Jay Driller) to put him away. The whole story going in was that EC3 wanted to see if honor was real, and while Jay refused to shake his hand at the start, EC3 earned Jay’s respect through the beating he took and the two shook hands without issue afterwards. Again, this was too long, but the bulk of the action in the ring was solid enough. ***1/4

Three-Way Match
Bandido def. Flamita & Rey Horus

While I normally wouldn’t be a fan of adding another match to what was certainly going to be a long PPV, I was perfectly fine with this bout getting added in this case, considering the wrestlers involved. Now I went into this expecting a really fun three-way, but when the dust settled, they managed to blow away my expectations. This was an absolutely incredible three-way that saw incredible lucha action from start to finish. There were so many cool moves and amazing spots that I just stopped keeping track at one point. Two spots, in particular, did stand out. Bandido managed to give Rey Horus a deadlift suplex while sitting on Flamita’s shoulders (Flamita essentially gave Bandido an Electric Chair in the process), and then later on, Bandido reversed a Rey Horus top rope crossbody into a Fallaway Slam while simultaneously giving Flamita a Poison Rana. Truly insane stuff that has to be seen to be believed. Bandido eventually won the match with the 21-Plex on Flamita in what was easily the match of the night. I love matches like this that are just pure action right from the opening bell. The post-match certainly indicated that MexiSquad is done as a trio (with Flamita going heel), but the bout itself is one that you need to go out of your way to see. Words can’t do a match like this justice. ****1/2

Unsanctioned Match
Matt Taven vs. Vincent – No Contest

Talk about going to the complete opposite end of the spectrum. We go from an insane Lucha Three-Way to the continuation of a blood feud in the form of a wild brawl. As I mentioned in my preview of the PPV, this Unsanctioned Match between Matt Taven and Vincent was taking place in PAL Hall in Fall River, Massachusetts. This is the venue where both men wrestled and trained early on in their careers. I was really curious to see what this was going to look like, since it really wasn’t made clear whether this was going to be cinematic, or just a brawl in the building.

It ended up being much closer to the latter. Now, this next statement is meant as a complement to the match, not a knock. This was basically the Darby Allin & Sting vs. Team Taz Street Fight from the AEW Revolution PPV, but with no commentary, no music, and (I imagine) on a lower budget. It was just two guys who hated each other having a brawl in this indie-wrestling venue where they started their careers. The first portion of the match saw them brawl in a training ring on the second floor, and we got some spots involving a bunch of ladders that were set up at ringside. From there, they brawled back down the stairs (which included a big elbow drop from Taven that was pretty crazy) in and around the ring in the main part of the building, and Vincent took control after hitting his finisher on Taven onto the exposed ring boards. He then slowly dragged Taven to the balcony above the ring to put Taven through the pair of tables he had set up earlier. Taven managed to fight back, and was about to send Vincent crashing through the tables below, but then a mysterious figure in overalls appeared out of nowhere and sent both men off the barricade and through the tables.

This mystery man in overalls turned out to be none other than Bill Carr from Team Tremendous, who is now part of The Righteous. After coming down the stairs, he checked on both men before putting Vincent on his shoulders and carrying him out of the venue. The video ended here, so I guess this was a No Contest? I was a little surprised by the finish, since it means that this feud is likely going to continue. The brawl itself was pretty fun for what it was, and I’m glad that it was more of a brawl than cinematic match (though I will say that cinematic matches need to be more like this and the Revolution Street Fight to be more tolerable). They did some pretty cool spots throughout this brawl, and it ended with the apparent introduction of Bill Carr into ROH. I’m going to throw a star rating on this, but I can totally understand if you don’t. Stuff like this can be very hard to rate. ***1/4

Up next, we got a segment in the ring where Quinn McKay introduced Maria Kanellis, who is apparently now part of the ROH Board Of Directors. She had an announcement to make, and it was that ROH will be holding a Women’s Title Tournament in the summer. This leads to The Allure coming out, and the two of them call out Maria for just waltzing back into ROH after being away for a number of years. Angelica Love insinuates that Maria slept her way to this position, but Maria responds by saying that from now on, they have to earn opportunities, before noting that The Allure haven’t wrestled in over a year. She then proposed a match with Angelina Love against Quinn McKay on ROH TV, where Love can earn a first round bye if she wins the match. Love and McKay have a staredown as the segment ends.

So we knew that ROH had been planning a Women’s Title Tournament prior to the lockdowns (in fact, most of the field had already been announced), but it’s interesting to see that they’re going back to this. Of course, the problem still remains that the list of available women’s wrestlers is small, and the list of available women’s wrestlers who are really good is even smaller than that. Some of the women in that original lineup are now AEW Dark regulars, while others (like Tasha Steelz) have since signed with other promotions. I’m guessing we’ll get all of the women in the states who are under contract (The Allure, Sumie Sakai, Jenny Rose), others who are available (Nicole Savoy would be a great choice), plus the international wrestlers who are signed that could be available to come in by summer (Session Moth Martina, Kellyanne). We’ll see who else we get and what happens with this tournament when the time comes.

ROH Pure Title
Jonathan Gresham (c) def. Dak Draper

Aside from seeing how the size difference would come into play, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this match. Of course, we all know how good Jonathan Gresham is, but the real unknown here was Dak Draper. The guy is by no means a bad wrestler (he’s relatively decent for a guy of his size), but at the same time, I’ve never been impressed by him. While he’s capable of having perfectly solid matches, there’s been a clear limit on how good his bouts can be. When the dust settled, this was without question the biggest surprise on the entire show.

This was a legitimately great match. It started off well enough, and as it was going along, it was about what I was expecting. They told the story of Draper using his size to his advantage, as Gresham struggled against his much larger opponent. He actually forced Gresham to use all three of his rope breaks by the time we were ten minutes into the bout. It was really from this point on where the match just took off. Gresham started going after one of Draper’s legs. He nailed a springboard moonsault, and started nailing Draper with the same running forearm strikes that put Flip Gordon away at Final Battle. This assault forced Draper to use two of his rope breaks, and finally, Draper had no choice but to use his third and final rope break when Gresham trapped him in an ankle lock.

At this stage, Draper gets desperate and uses a closed fist. Gresham sells this like he’s dead, and we get two great moments where he just barely avoids a count out and just barely kicks out on a pin attempt. Draper then nails Gresham with some big offense (a deadlift superplex, a Doctor Bomb, an insane big boot that turned Gresham inside out AND a freaking massive gutwrench powerbomb from the second rope), but the champion survived each time, and continued to target the leg. Draper ends up on the outside, and Gresham does a tope suicida into a sleeper. Draper gets back into the ring at the count of eighteen with Gresham still on his back with the sleeper, and tries to grab the ropes, but he’s out of rope breaks, and Gresham makes him pass out for the win.

This was the greatest Dak Draper match I’ve ever seen in my life. Easily the best match in this man’s entire career. Again, this dude is a pretty decent wrestler, but not much else in terms of his in-ring ability. I will give Draper credit in that he played his role in this bout perfectly, and more than held up on his end of things. However, this was nothing short of an amazing performance by Jonathan Gresham. It’s the kind of performance that makes your realize that Gresham is probably one of the twenty best wrestlers in the world right now. To put it in perspective, Dak Draper had a match with Dragon Lee for the ROH World TV Title on the last ROH event before the COVID shutdown in February 2020, and it was nice little *** match. DRAGON LEE wasn’t able to get even a really good match out of Draper, while Jonathan Gresham gave him the best match of his entire career. That’s not meant to be a knock against Dragon Lee, but it just shows how awesome Gresham’s performance was here. I was genuinely shocked with how great this match was. Well worth going out of your way to check out. ****1/4

Before the next match, Delirious came out to the commentary table (in character to be clear), and whispered something in Rocky Romero’s ear. Apparently, Delirious wants to wrestle Rocky in a singles match, and I presume we’ll be seeing that on ROH TV.

ROH World Tag Team Titles
The Foundation (ROH World TV Champion Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus) def. LFI (La Bestia Del Ring & Kenny King with Amy Rose) (c)

Of course, La Bestia Del Ring is stepping in for his son Dragon Lee in this match. This broke down into a brawl right from the opening bell, and for the most part, this was a relatively solid tag team affair. Kenny King and Rhett Titus paired off (which makes sense given their history together as the All Night Express) and had some good exchanges. Bestia did a fine job when he was in there, and we got a couple of solid back and forth moments in the closing minutes. The finish didn’t exactly come off that well, however. There was miscommunication between Bestia and Amy Rose, but it just came off poorly. The bottom line is that Titus took advantage of the situation, and got Bestia to tap to a full nelson. So both members of the All Night Express win the ROH World Tag Team Titles almost nine years after they briefly held the titles in 2012, but with different partners. The setup for the finish with Amy Rose and La Bestia Del Ring didn’t work at all, but the bulk of the match was still solid enough. Not memorable in any way aside from the fact that the titles changed hands. ***1/4

Afterward, Kenny King and La Bestia Del Ring are furious with Amy Rose. She gives King the middle finger, and King tries to calm things down with a handshake. This was a trap however, as Bestia destroyed Rose with a spear, and she’s out of LFI. Not the best timing for an angle like this, given the Ospreay/Priestley angle from the New Japan Cup Final. It was a taped show, so I’m sure they were completely independent of each other. The bottom line is that Amy Rose is out of LFI, which they had been teasing over the last few weeks.

ROH World Title
RUSH (c) def. Jay Lethal

Before I even get into this match, one thing that I thought was cool was how the other LFI vs. The Foundation title matches built up to this main event. The Foundation were undefeated on the night, and that meant RUSH was trying to prevent a clean sweep here against Jay Lethal. As far as the match itself goes, I thought it delivered as a main event, though it wasn’t necessarily the best bout on the show.

RUSH shook Jay Lethal’s hand with no issues at the start, and it looked as though RUSH was going to wrestle cleanly against Lethal. Of course, that proved to be RUSH just messing with Lethal, as he soon went back to cocky and arrogant ways. Lethal did manage to gain the edge early, as he attacked RUSH’s knee. However, RUSH soon turned the tables, and took control after beating up Lethal on the outside. Eventually, Lethal managed to fight back, and we got into a pretty entertaining second half of the match, which featured strong back and forth action. At one point, LFI came out, and Bestia actually managed to Lethal with a chair in full view of Todd Sinclair. However, Sinclair ultimately decided not to disqualify as the rest of The Foundation chased off LFI. There had actually been a backstage promo earlier where Lethal basically begged Sinclair to be as lenient as possible to make sure RUSH didn’t try to get away with a DQ, so at least they paid that off in the match.

The closing sequence was pretty great, as we got a few counters before Lethal connected with the Lethal Injection for a really good nearfall. RUSH responded quickly with a Bull’s Horns, but Lethal rolled to the outside. This was actually a clever little spot they did, as when RUSH went for another Bull’s Horns, I was expecting Lethal to avoid it and possibly hit another Lethal Injection. That didn’t happen though, as RUSH just hit another Bull’s Horns with no issue and got the pin to retain his title. Again, this was a great bout, though I don’t think it was on the same level as the three-way or even the Pure Title match. Lethal always delivers in these spots, and to his credit, RUSH stepped up as well. I said this in the preview, but RUSH retaining was the right result. Lethal winning the title for the third time would just feel like treading over ground we’ve already been on. ****

Afterwards, the rest of LFI returned to the ring, and continued the beatdown of Jay Lethal. The rest of The Foundation came out, but they were unsuccessful in their attempt to save their fellow Foundation member. This led to Brody King coming out, and he congratulated RUSH for almost getting through a World Title match without help from his family. He said that LFI has had the numbers advantage since ROH’s return, so he got numbers on his side to even the odds. Tony Deppen comes out to the ring, but Brody holds him back, and he gave in the indication that there was more to come. Indeed, more did indeed come in the form of Chris Dickinson and Homicide, and the four of them put a beating on LFI. They also gave a beat down to Jay Lethal, as he got laid out with Da Cop Killa from Homicide. The PPV went off the air with this new Brody King led faction, called Violence Unlimited, standing tall to close the show.

Obviously, there was a tease of a new violent faction coming to ROH on the go-home episode of ROH TV, and that paid off in a big way on the PPV. We’ve pretty much got full-on faction warfare in ROH right now, with this apparent three-way program with LFI, The Foundation, and Violence Unlimited. Plus you have other factions like Shane Taylor Promotions and Vincent’s group, The Righteous (which gained a new member tonight) on the roster as well. As for Violence Unlimited, it’s a pretty kickass lineup for a stable. You have your link to the past in the form of Homicide, Brody King as the leader, a guy in Chris Dickinson who’s been a name on the independents for years, and a potential future star in Tony Deppen. It’s going to be really exciting to see what this faction does in ROH, and (at least in my view) it pretty clearly sets Brody King on the path to becoming ROH World Champion at some point.

Final Thoughts

Losing Dragon Lee due to injury was a significant blow to this card, but even with that setback, ROH still put together a very good PPV. It was definitely on the longer side, without question (I like the free first hour, but do these things really need to be four hours long?), but from a bell-to-bell perspective, there really wasn’t a ton to complain about. Even the worst matches on this show were still pretty solid. In terms of the best bouts from this card, the three-way involving Bandido, Flamita, and Rey Horus was easily the match of the night for me. A close second was the Pure Title bout, which featured an outstanding performance from Jonathan Gresham. The main event was a great match as well, while the rest of the show featured matches that ranged from solid to pretty good. The closing angle with the introduction of Violence Unlimited was a strong way to close the show, and served as the cherry on top of what was a thumbs up PPV.