2/9 Powell’s ROH Free Enterprise live review: Marty Scurll and PCO vs. Rush and Nick Aldis, The Briscoes vs. Bandido and Flamita, Slex vs. Flip Gordon, ROH Tag Champions Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham vs. Jeff Cobb and Dan Maff in a Proving Ground match

By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Ring of Honor Free Enterprise
Aired live February 9, 2020 on FITE TV and HonorClub
Baltimore, Maryland at UMBC Event Center

The show opened with a message from ROH COO Joe Koff, who was seated behind a desk. Koff thanked everyone from the ROH family and the fans for continuing to contribute what they do to the family. He said they are gearing up for one of their biggest steps forward ever.

Koff said they are bolstering their infrastructure in every department. He said they are adding features to HonorClub, including adding the full back catalogue. He said ROH Cares will be more focused than ever. He said ROH stars have visited children’s hospitals and youth groups, and given thousands of tickets to military veterans. He thanked everyone for coming and said he hopes they enjoy what they see.

Footage was shown of Marty Scurll behind a desk with paperwork in front of him. Scurll welcomed everyone to Free Enterprise. A slick opening video aired… The broadcast team of Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman checked in and ran through the lineup…

1. Mark Haskins vs. Alex Shelley. Todd Sinclair was the referee for the match. Late in the match, Haskins stuffed Shelley’s Sliced Bread No. 2 attempt and rolled him into his deep Sharpshooter finisher for the submission win…

Mark Haskins beat Alex Shelley in 9:20.

Powell’s POV: A very nice match from two veteran pros. It looks like there are a lot of fans at the show, but it’s hard to tell for sure because the venue is so dark aside from the ring and the ringside area. When the wrestlers went to the floor, there were some visible open seats off the main floor despite the tickets being free, though it’s possible it’s a late arriving crowd. Either way, it appears to be a good crowd and ROH should really show it off. Finally, the opening statement from Koff was solid. Is the “biggest step ever” the weekly live show that we’ve been discussing as a possibility in our Dot Net Weekly audio show for a couple months?

2. Dalton Castle and Joe Hendry vs. Vincent and Bateman (w/Vita VonStarr, Chuckles). Castle was accompanied by a couple of Boys, but not the Tate Twins. Before the match, Castle said Hendry is neat and Vincent and Bateman would be so happy to shake his hand. The heels declined to adhere to the Code of Honor. Vincent showed off a crutch while standing in the corner. Riccaboni said there was an incident at the ROH meet and greet, and the crutch belongs to Matt Taven.

Late in the match, Hendry performed an impressive fallaway slam on both opponents simultaneously. A short time later, Chuckles pulled Castle to ringside, then Vincent hit a distracted Hendry with a cutter and scored the pin…

Vincent and Bateman beat Dalton Castle and Joe Hendry.

Powell’s POV: Vincent’s faction is going by the name of Righteous. They are very much a work in progress and it remains to be seen whether Vincent will click as a faction leader. ROH really needs to develop this act on television, but it just hasn’t happened yet. In fairness, Matt Taven’s injury probably changed some creative plans. Meanwhile, I still suspect that Castle and Hendry are teaming together just long enough to split them up for a singles feud.

A brief video listed up coming ROH events… Broadcast team member Quinn McKay hosted an ROH merch segment and her own t-shirt was spotlighted…

McKay stood on the stage and thanked fans for joining them. She announced that ROH would return to the venue on Friday, June 19 for the Best in the World pay-per-view…

Powell’s POV: ROH just isn’t budging when it comes to running their pay-per-view events on Friday nights opposite the free WWE Smackdown on Fox shows. Smackdown is a lousy show at the moment, but it’s also the most watched pro wrestling show on television.

3. Slex vs. Flip Gordon. Riccaboni ran through some of Slex’s move names. The referee made Slex remove his shades before calling for the bell to start the match. Gordon had a nice flury of late offense and used a Stomp to get the clean pin.

Flip Gordon defeated Slex in 10:30.

Afterward, Gordon offered a handshake, which Slex accepted. Once Gordon left the ring, the SOS tag team arrived at ringside. Shane Taylor entered the ring and gave Slex a headbutt, then hit him with his finisher. Taylor took the mic and said that everyone has been talking about ROH’s new signing when they should be talking about how all of his demands have been met. As such, Taylor said he’s officially back in ROH and now business is booming…

Powell’s POV: I don’t really understand the match outcome given the big buildup the company gave Slex. Gordon feels like the fourth man in Villain Enterprises. And while this win may be a sign of that changing with Marty Scurll’s involvement in creative, surely Gordon could have dropped one more match in order to get the newcomer off to a strong start. The post match angle with Shane Taylor was encouraging if for no other reason than it means ROH is finally giving up on the storyline of Taylor being on his way out of the company, which was hard to believe since he’s been appearing at all the shows.

Dak Draper pushed his new t-shirt in a quick ad…

4. Alex Zayne vs. Andrew Everett. Riccaboni noted that Everett wears a singlet because in honor of Andre the Giant because he believes he’s a giant. The wrestlers adhered to the Code of Honor. Zayne performed an impressive springboard corkscrew moonsault onto Everett at ringside at one point.

Everett lowered his singlet strap and pulled it back up, then went for a chokeslam, which Zayn flipped out of. Everett came back with a backflip Pele Kick and a corkscrew springboard splash (just like Andre) for a near fall. Everett went for a poison rana from the ropes, but Zayne landed on his knees.

Everett hit an in-ring version of the move for a two count. Everett went for a shooting star press, but Zayne rolled out of the way. Zayn performed a shooting star press dive and landed with his knees on the back of Everett, then followed up pump handle cobra driver and scored the pin. The wrestlers hugged afterward…

Alex Zayne defeated Andrew Everett in 9:10.

Powell’s POV: Zayne was given an upset win over Bandido in Concord recently, so it was logical to follow that up with a win over Everett. I feel late to the party with Everett’s gimmick. I know he’s done it outside ROH, but I haven’t seen it, and ROH hasn’t showcased it. Zayne has impressed in both ROH matches thus far.

An ad aired for the ROH 18th Anniversary pay-per-view on Friday, March 13 from Las Vegas…

5. Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe vs. Bandido and Flamita. The broadcast team played up the story that the Briscoes have had a lot of trouble beating luchadores over the years. The teams jawed at one another and then shook hands before the bell. Bandido popped the crowd with a springboard shooting star press at one point. A short time later, Mark leapt off a chair into a flip dive onto his opponents at ringside. Fans chanted “one more time” and Mark obliged. Fans chanted “this is awesome.”

Mark followed up with a Cactus Jack elbow onto Flamita. There was a loud “let’s go Briscoes” chant. Bandido and Flamita came back and Bandido launched his partner over the top rope onto Mark on the floor. Bandido performed a GTS style move on Jay for a good near fall. Bandido performed a 450 splash and had the pin, but Jay broke it up.

The Briscoes rallied. Jay performed a neckbreaker on Flamita, then Mark hit Froggy Bow. Coleman told us that had to do it, so we knew it wasn’t the finish. Sure enough, Bandido shoved Jay into the pin to break it up. Bandido and Flamita came right back with simultaneous standing Spanish Fly for a near fall. The Briscoes ended up hitting a Doomsday Device on Flamita, then Mark pinned him to win the match. The teams shook hands and hugged afterward…

The Briscoes beat Bandido and Flamita in 18:00.

Powell’s POV: The hottest match of the night thus far and it’s not even close. This was really fun. The live crowd loved the big dives and were hot for The Briscoes. My critique isn’t about this match as much as it is the overall show thus far. We are five matches in and I feel like we’ve seen every dive imaginable, particularly in the last three matches. Looking ahead to the second half of the show, it feels like they could have structured the card differently to create a bit more variety.

Riccaboni and Coleman said the battle royal would take place after the intermission. They told viewers to rejoin them in about 15 minutes (roughly the top of the hour)…

Intermission (footage aired of Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe from August 24, 2002 and was labeled a Past vs. Present Preview)…

Coming out of the intermission, a bunch of wrestlers were already at ringside for the battle royal. The Bouncers entrance was televised. Riccaboni noted they appeared on NWA Powerrr and then plugged the show for Tuesdays on YouTube. Blue Meanie was a surprise entrant and received a televised entrance. Maria Manic’s entrance was televised. Gangrel was another surprise entrant who received a televised entrance. Kenny King’s entrance was shown. Dragon Lee was the final wrestler to make his entrance…

6. A battle royal for a future ROH World Title shot. The entrants included Gangrel, Blue Meanie, Maria Manic, Crowbar, Danhausen, Beer City Bruiser, Brian Milonas, Silas Young, Josh Woods, Delirious, Tracy Williams, Kenny King, Rhett Titus, Dak Draper, Eli Isom, Cheeseburger, PJ Black, Brian Johnson, and LSG.

Draper was responsible for several early eliminations, but then he charged at Cheeseburger, who pulled the top rope down, causing Draper to be eliminated. Ugh. Young and Woods remained at ringside. Meanie led the The Bouncers in doing his dance. Johnson eliminated Meanie, then the Bouncers roughed up Johnson, who was saved from elimination by PJ Black. Johnson faked a back injury, then eliminated his mentor Black.

Manic grabbed Johnson by the, um, johnson and then pressed him over her head and tossed him out to eliminate him. Titus posed for her (I thought he was done that gimmick) and she returned the favor. They shook hands, then Manic held on. She hip-tossed Titus over the top rope to eliminate him. The Bouncers worked teamed up on Danhausen by the ropes, then Manic walked over and pushed The Bouncers over the top to eliminate them.

Danhausen tried to hug Manic for saving him. Manic hugged him, then shoved him down. Young entered the ring and shoved Manic from behind and barked at her about being in a man’s world. Young no-sold her chop and said she better hit harder than that if she wants to put a man down. Manic silenced the crowd, then fired two chops at Young, who returned the favor. “He just hit a woman,” Coleman said. Riccaboni jumped in and pointed out that she signed on for the competition. Young performed his backbreaker and clothesline combo on Manic.

Young had Manic on the ropes when Bully Ray showed up and pulled her over the top to eliminate her. Bully grabbed a chair and slammed it over the back of Manic, then powerbombed her through the timekeepers table. Ray threw a chair and then headed to the back. Danhausen and Delirious had a moment that seemed to matter more to them than the live crowd. Danhausen searched for his jar of teeth, which referee Todd Sinclair gave to him. Delirious poured the teeth into his mouth and didn’t get a reaction. Danhausen kicked Delrious, who spat out the teeth, and was then eliminated. Danhausen was eliminated moments later.

The final five (unless someone is hiding) were Young, Cheeseburger, Lee, Williams, and Woods. Cheeseburger nearly eliminated Young, but Woods saved him. Young eliminated Cheeseburger. Young and Woods squared off with Lee and Williams. Woods saved Young from a Williams kick. Young saved Woods from being eliminated by Williams. Young and Woods worked together and eliminated Williams.

Young and Woods teamed up on Lee. Woods accidentally eliminated Young, then Williams eliminated Woods. King returned to the match and tried to eliminate Lee, who skinned the cat. Lee eliminated King. Lee then unmasked and revealed himself to be Flip Gordon. Amy Rose showed up at ringside with King…

Flip Gordon won a battle royal to earn a future ROH World Title shot in 17:15.

Powell’s POV: King hiding and trying to steal the win played on the way he won the battle royal at MSG. You had to know that Lee wasn’t actually under the hood because he wrestled Hiromu Takahashi in Japan for NJPW early this morning (my review of that show is available on the main page). But Gordon worked in Lee’s baseball jersey and it was legitimately tough to tell who it was. Will Lee be pissed that his stable mate King tried to eliminate what he thought was him or will that be forgotten? The battle royal was really hit and miss in terms of what worked, but it’s obviously a big night for Gordon, who seems to be the early beneficiary of the creative shakeup if night one is any indication.

Another ROH merch ad aired with Silas Young and Josh Woods…

7. Session Moth Martina vs. Sumie Sakai. The Allure duo of Angelina Love and Mandy Leon sat in on commentary. Riccaboni said Martina is one of the biggest names in women’s wrestling in the world. She didn’t get much of a reaction from the live crowd. The women adhered to the Code of Honor, but Sakai went for a cheap kick. Martina caught her leg and then danced. Sakai wanted the referee to get involved, so he danced behind Martina.

Martina performed an early Bronco Buster. “Oh, lord,” one of the Allure members said (it was hard not to agree with her). Martina ran the ropes and acted winded. Some fans chanted “you’ve still got it.” Sakai tied up Martina in the ring skirting and spanked her. Sakai went on the offensive for a bit. Martina took a drink from one of two glasses of what Riccaboni described as “whatever that liquid is in her corner” and then had a burst of offense.

Later, Martina charged the corner and knocked the referee down with her ass, then rubbed it on him while thinking it was her opponent. REF HUMP!!!! With the ref apparently bumped from her ass, Sakai brought a chair into the ring and ended up hitting Martina with it and DDT’ing her on it. Sakai brought the referee back into the ring. Martina hit her with a Jagerbomb and scored the pin…

Session Moth Martina beat Sumie Sakai in 11:00.

Powell’s POV: As someone who hasn’t seen Session Moth Martina, I came away feeling totally underwhelmed by that match and nodding along with what was supposed to be heel commentary from The Allure. Martina is charismatic, so perhaps her act will grow on me.

A video listed the upcoming ROH dates…

8. ROH Tag Champions Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham vs. Jeff Cobb and Dan Maff in a Proving Ground match. Riccaboni stressed that the tag titles were not on the line and the a win for Cobb and Maff would earn them a future tag title shot. Cobb and Maff offered handshakes. Lethal and Gresham slapped their hands in dismissive fashion.

Late in the match, Gresham and Lethal went for their combo cutter, but Cobb caught Cobb. Maff speard Lethal, then Cobb performed an Oklahoma Stampede on Gresham. Maff tagged in. Lethal caught Cobb with a kick and went for a Lethal Injection on Maff, who caught him. Gresham took out both opponents. Lethal went for the Lethal Injection again, but Maff caught him and performed a Burning Hammer and got the pin while Cobb held Gresham at ringside…

Jeff Cobb and Dan Maff defeated ROH Tag Champions Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham in a Proving Ground match to earn a future title shot.

Powell’s POV: This match looked good on paper and lived up to expectations. The outcome did feel a bit predictable because it was a Proving Ground match, but it helped establish Cobb and Maff as a team heading into that future tag title shot. It is rather sad that Cobb was considered a can’t miss star early in his ROH run, but he’s no longer in

The broadcast team spoke at ringside and hyped upcoming events and set up the next match…

9. Brody King vs. Rey Horus. King performed an early splash and barked at the referee about only getting a two count. King followed Horus to ringside and hit him with a kick and a chop. King rolled Horus back inside the ring, but Horus used his speed to dropkick King before he could follow. Horus performed a leap over the top rope into a huracanrana on King at ringside. Horus performed a flip dive onto King.

Back inside the ring, King rallied and put the boots to Horus in the corner. Horus leapt off the top rope into a DDT and picked up a pair of two counts. King came back with a big clothesline, hit a Gonzo Bomb, and scored the pin…

Brody King beat Rey Horus in 6:30.

Powell’s POV: I’m not sure why this match was on so late in the card, but it was fine. It was actually nice to see a brief match on a show filled with long matches.

A video package set up the main event…

10. ROH Champion PCO and Marty Scurll vs. NWA Champion Nick Aldis and Rush. Ring announcer Bobby Cruise introduced each man individually. Rush attacked PCO as he was removing the jacket he wears to the ring and then the bell rang to start the match. The heels jumped out to a fast start. PCO did his monster no-sell bit, but the heels remained in offensive control. “You’re not much of a monster now, are you?” Aldis asked him a little over five minutes into the match.

Later, Scurll backdropped PCO onto Aldis and Rush at ringside. Scurll kicked Aldis in the gut, but Aldis ducked whatever he was going for and then put Scurll down with a piledriver. Aldis went up top for an elbow drop, but PCO cut him off. Scurll ran up and superplexed Aldis. Scurll sent PCO onto Aldis with a cannonball. PCO had the pin, but Rush returned to break it up.

Aldis and Rush double teamed PCO, which led to Aldis getting a two count. Aldis called out for Rush to get PCO in position. Aldis went up top and dropped a top rope elbow, but PCO pulled Rush onto him to take the elbow drop. Rush walked out on Aldis. A short time later, PCO performed a moonsault and pinned Aldis. Riccaboni noted that the ROH Champion pinned the NWA Champion.

PCO and Marty Scurll defeated Nick Aldis and Rush in 14:45.

After the match, Scurll took the mic and told Aldis to slow down. Scurll recalled Aldis telling him to put his money where his mouth is. Scurll said that when they face each other, if he beats Aldis then he will become the NWA Champion. Scurll said Aldis claims the belt is worth half a million dollars to him, so if Aldis beats him then he’ll write him a check for that amount. “And we know he’s good for it,” Riccaboni said.

Scurll then informed Aldis that his opponent for Supercard of Honor (during WrestleMania weekend) will be PCO. The broadcast team marveled over a champion vs. champion match. PCO and Scurll celebrated their win while Riccaboni hyped the Bound By Honor event for Nashville and then closed the show…

Powell’s POV: The main event had a couple of clunky moments, but the bigger issue was that I didn’t understand the idea of having PCO pin Aldis when Scurll is the one challenging Aldis for the NWA Championship. And I really didn’t understand that decision once they announced PCO vs. Aldis for the Supercard of Honor event. I guess we’ll see where it all goes. Is it really a good idea to playing up how much money Scurll is making? And now they are claiming that he’ll write a big check to Aldis if he doesn’t beat him in their NWA Title match. I guess this means the idea of Scurll reimbursing fans for their ticket costs if he loses to Aldis isn’t happening, which is probably for the better since it could have led to the live crowd pulling for heel Aldis. But monetary stipulations like the one Scurll set up don’t do much for fans because it doesn’t actually affect them, nor will most suspend disbelief and buy into the idea of Scurll actually writing a check in that amount if he loses.

Overall, Free Enterprise was billed as the beginning of a new era for ROH. Joe Koff’s comments at the top of the show were interesting and made for an unique opening. For better or worse, it became a standard ROH event the more the show went on. Sure, there were a couple of debuting wrestlers, but Slex lost his match and Session Moth Martina had a rough debut. Flip Gordon was given a surprise win over Slex and then went on to win the battle royal, so it was a good night for him. There were some good matches along the way and it was a solid show, but very little actually felt new, fresh, and exciting.


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