By Skylar Russell for F4WOnline.com
The Big Takeaways:
Ring Of Honor returned for their first TV show since February 29th. Tonight’s episode featured the current Tag Team Champions in two first round matches of their Pure Championship tournament, the first time the title will be held in 14 years.
Dalton Castle vs. Jay Lethal was a great rehash of two old foes going at it again while Wheeler Yuta vs. Jonathan Gresham was a very hard, well fought showcase for Yuta.
The show was recorded at Baltimore, Maryland, in an empty arena with Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman on commentary.
The show starts off with Quinn McKay (who is absolutely phenomenal at her job btw) in the ROH Studio. She recapped the history of the Pure Championship title, naming off some big names who held the prestigious championship including CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, etc. She then ran through the 16-man tournament participants and explained the rules.
The first round matches are 15 minute time limits while the second round gets 20 minutes, the semifinals get 30 minutes, and the finals get a whole hour. There will be three judges for each match to help make a decision if the contest goes to a draw.
The rules for Pure matches are as follows:
- Every match begins and ends with the Code of Honor handshake.
- Each wrestler has three rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls. After a wrestler exhausts his rope breaks, submission and pin attempts on or under the ropes by his opponent are legal.
- Closed fist punches to the face are not permitted as only open-handed slaps or chops to the face are allowed. Punches to other parts of the body are permitted, excluding low blows. The first use of a closed fist will get a warning while the second will result in a disqualification.
- As in standard ROH matches, there will be a 20 count when a wrestler is on the floor.
- Outside interference will result in automatic termination from the roster for the wrestler that interferes.
Lethal started us off with a sitdown promo about him being the franchise of Ring Of Honor and the way he learned the business. He brought up the ROH World title Match with Dalton Castle in Vegas a few years back as a way to prepare for him.
Castle did his own sitdown promo, also discussing the way he came up as a wrestler, running through his history from high school and college. He then talked up Lethal and his respect for him. He said he needs to win his first Pure Championship to establish himself as a true Ring Of Honor legend.
Pure Championship First Round: Jay Lethal defeated Dalton Castle (13:11)
Castle and Jay immediately locked up and Lethal threw Castle towards the ropes and issued a strong takedown, but Castle countered it with a headlock and Lethal immediately used his first rope break out of instinct. The two men traded holds on the ground for a while before Lethal trapped Castle in a headlock with his legs, which Castle escaped quickly. Castle then began a series of dump suplexes with the third one throwing Lethal into the turnbuckle.
We returned from break and Lethal was in firm control of Castle's right leg, dropping repeated elbows and knees on it. Lethal brought Dalton back to his feet before hitting a single leg atomic drop to the other leg. Castle practically couldn’t stand at this point in the match, so Lethal continued to dominate the leg. Lethal tried to lock in a figure four twice, but Castle found a way out of it. Castle made his way to his feet and the two men began trading hard open palm strikes and elbows, Castle attempted a Bang-A-Rang but his legs gave out, which Jay took advantage of by hitting a Lethal Combination that got a two count.
Lethal followed up with a trip to the top, but Castle sprung up and made his way up there as well. The two athletes traded strikes and Lethal knocked Castle off the top and dove, but missed and rolled through to which Castle used to hit a Bang-A-Rang but didn’t get all of it. Castle hooked the leg, but Lethal put his foot on the rope at the very last moment and broke the count.
Castle tried to hit a Tiger Driver, but Lethal escaped and popped Dalton with a superkick, followed by a great enziguri. Lethal then capitalized with a Lethal Injection for the three count to close out a great match. They shook hands afterward, adhering to the Code Of Honor.
Lethal will face the winner of David Finlay vs. Rocky Romero in the second round.
Wheeler Yuta did a promo, discussing his past as an athlete and coming up training with Drew Gulak. He has a broad range of experience across the world in wrestling including Germany and Japan and named Colt Cabana, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles as inspirations. He admitted that Jonathan Gresham is the best technical wrestler on the planet, but he’s going to go hard early to try and slow him down.
Gresham talked about his upbringing, saying that he has always known he wanted to be in Ring Of Honor and that his goal has always been to be the best technical wrestler in the world. He complimented Lethal as a great tag partner, but knows what his own goals are. He complimented Yuta as he sees him as a fellow technical wrestler like himself. Gresham wants to bring the ROH Pure Title home to The Foundation and reclaim the company and the wrestling business as his own.
Pure Championship First Round: Jonathan Gresham defeated Wheeler Yuta (10:25)
They began with a strong knucklelock, but Yuta worked Gresham down to the ground and got a series of two counts while pinning his shoulders down. Gresham flipped Yuta over, but Yuta locked in a strong bodyscissors hold. Gresham rolled out quickly and Yuta wrenched in a reverse bodyscissors instead. Right as Gresham was slipping out of it, Wheeler sprung himself into Gresham for a quick two count. The two men separated themselves and locked up again, and Yuta sent Gresham to the mat immediately, targeting his leg. Gresham escaped quickly and trapped Yuta’s ankle between his knees instead.
We returned from a quick break and the two men exchanged arm drags with Gresham getting a bit cocky before being nailed with a great dropkick. Yuta tried to lock in a head submission, but Gresham countered with half of a Indian death lock. Wheeler tried to fight out of the pressure on his knee and instead, Gresham rolled out and applied the hold again, but in reverse. Yuta used both of his rope breaks while screaming in agony, but Gresham refused to break the hold. Wheeler responded with a closed fist punch for which he was given the one time warning. The referee broke the two men apart and separated them to their respective corners.
They both charged at each other and traded multiple open palm strikes before Wheeler sprinted towards the ropes and landed a beautiful springboard crossbody for a two count. Yuta then went to the top and nailed another crossbody for another two count. Gresham made his way to his feet and was gasping for air when Yuta went for an enziguri, but Gresham caught it and locked in a figure four.
Both men began rolling while the submission was still locked in, hitting the outside floor while the hold was still applied. Both men immediately grabbed their knees in pain, but after a 15 count, both rolled back in the ring filled with agony and pain. They exchanged quick roll ups for two counts before Gresham trapped Yuta's knee and began slamming it into the mat aggressively, making Wheeler tap out. He will face the winner of Delirious vs. Matt Sydal in round two.
We won't have to wait long to see who Gresham and Lethal face as Delirious vs. Sydal and Finlay vs. Romero will be on next week's show.