Week three of the Ring of Honor Pure Title tournament rolled on this week with two more first round matches, one featuring a promotional debut and the other featuring a judges' decision.
The Big Takeaways:
Fred Yehi made an impact in his ROH debut with a very fun victory over Silas Young while Josh Woods scored a slight upset over Kenny King in a judges decision as a King error worked against him.
Quinn McKay set up tonight's show before we got a recap of last week's action with the winner (David Finlay and Matt Sydal) getting some promo time. Finlay noted that his left shoulder was hurting but would be alright with some rest -- something to note if they play it up in his second round match.
As always, Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman were on commentary. As the show went, I thought how this tourney would be ideal to have Kurt Angle in the booth given his background. A boy can dream.
First Round: Fred Yehi defeated Silas Young
The pre-match promos they have been doing are ridiculously good. After two minutes, you know the wrestler's backstory, their finisher, and why they want to win this tournament. Young even pointed out he was in the last Pure rules match before this tourney was announced when Jonathan Gresham "cheated" to beat him. It's really those little things that help the viewer understand, or remember, what is going on.
This marked Yehi's ROH debut and he couldn't have looked better and could be the favorite after tonight. His style, and this match in general, is perfect for this tournament and ruleset. If he was to win, he would fit perfectly on the roster. Honestly, he would fit even if he doesn't win.
The match featured plenty of chain wrestling and holds but featured plenty of impressive spots by both guys. In one sequence, Yehi landed a back hand and transitioned into his Koji clutch finisher but Young escaped and hit a tornado DDT after two big boots.
The end came when Young went for the Pee Gee Waja Plunge and missed. Yehi stomped Young's foot, hit a sliding attack, and then snared Young in an inside cradle for the pin in thirteen minutes.
Yehi moves on to face the winner of next week's Tracy Williams vs. Rust Taylor first round match. This was excellent.
First Round: Josh Woods defeated Kenny King by split decision
Woods is a former MMA fighter, amateur wrestler, and the 2017 Top Prospect Tourney winner. He is mentored by Young who is his tag team partner. In the run-up, we learned this is a rematch from 2017 and that Woods wanted to earn King's respect after he said King questioned who Woods could be teaching at a wrestling school.
King put over his Los Ingobernables squad and said he's been preparing for Woods by training BJJ at a Gracie school and boxing with Jeff Mayweather.
In a funny spot, King had Woods in a headlock and said to the ref, "You better ask him!" to which Woods replied, "You don't have anything!" At times, this felt very MMA inspired, especially with the groundwork.
King disputed his first rope break and later used a closed fist, getting a warning that if he did it again, it was a DQ. This played into the story of the match that while Woods lacked the experience of King, it was King who had to find his way out of situations due to his inexperience with grappling.
King hit the Royal Flush, but Woods' arm was under the bottom rope, earning him a rope break even though he didn't realize it. After recovering and hitting a nice looking twisting inside neckbreaker on King, things picked up a bit with a good exchange of near falls.
However, when the match got to the last minute, there didn't seem to be too much of a sense of urgency to win which also felt like an MMA fight at tines. Both seemed to be content to let it go to the judges although King did have a single leg crab ensnared as time ran out.
Will Ferrara and Sumie Sakai gave the match to Woods while Juster scored it for King. We were told Sakai's rationale was that King used the closed fist. The judges were never shown. King was furious and didn't shake Woods' hand as we closed the show.
Woods will face the winner of next week's Tony Deppen vs. PJ Black match.
The debuting Rust Taylor vs. Tracy Williams and the debuting Tony Deppen vs. PJ Black.
- I haven't been a regular watcher of the tourney as I'm filling in for regular Skylar Russell, but this was right up my alley. The lack of a crowd still hurts any televised wrestling product, but the talent is making it work. I think Yehi is a standout and I hope he gets his chance to shine in the weeks to come. Woods has a good look, but I didn't have that same feeling coming out of his win.
- I watched this on Honor Club and thought it was strange they included TV ads. Isn't that the point of paying to see the show?
- While I love stats as much as the next sports nerd, I would recommend ROH production not make us think too hard in reading them. Two verbatim examples from tonight: "(11-6 vs. all opponents in this tournament, in singles matches, in ROH since 8-20-17 (65% wins)" and "8-1 record in Baltimore, MD, in one fall matches, since 4-7-12".