By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor Wrestling TV (Episode 480)
Taped in Baltimore, Maryland
Aired November 28, 2020 in syndication and on SBG regional sports networks, available Mondays on FITE.TV
After the ROH opening aired, Jonathan Gresham, Jay Lethal, Tracy Williams, and a man wearing Gresham’s octopus head mask delivered a backstage promo. Gresham spoke about The Foundation being for pure wrestlers who are looking to purify the company. Gresham said when they collect every title the company has, then honor will be restored. Lethal said that doesn’t make them the bad guys. He said they want to restore honor.
Lethal told Rhett Titus that he could remove the mask. Williams asked why they should show the world a face they haven’t given a damn about. He said the time for the unmasking will come. Williams pointed at Titus and said, “You are the foundation and we will rebuild brick by brick”…
Powell’s POV: I know what Lethal said, but The Foundation continues to come off as heelish with their militant approach to their stated claim of restoring honor to the company. Lethal seemed sincere and has been Mr. Nice Guy since the company returned to television. They could be playing it straight, but if they are going to be a heel faction, then perhaps Lethal ends up being the odd man out. Either way, I assume someone else will eventually unmask in place of Rhett Titus, though Titus may still end up in the faction.
Quinn McKay checked in from the studio and hyped the two matches…
Josh Woods was featured in a sit-down video feature. Woods said he fell short against Jonathan Gresham in the Pure Title tournament. He said he was able to showcase what he and ROH are all about, so he didn’t consider it a loss. Woods spoke about Lethal’s long and prestigious career not being as impressive when you factor in Woods’s own amateur exploits and his brief in-ring career.
Woods recalled being beaten by Lethal in 2017 and losing to the Lethal Injection. Woods said there’s no perfect move. He said every move has a counter and every move can be reversed. Woods said he doesn’t want to leave his future in the hands of the judges ever again. He said he could shoot straight to the top of the rankings with a win over Lethal and change the way that people view him…
A Jay Lethal feature aired. Lethal said he couldn’t be more proud of the way the pure matches have gone. He said people are seeing pure athletes at their finest while seeing actual wrestling. Lethal said he got his hand raised thanks to the judges in his pure match against LSG, but LSG didn’t lose. Lethal also said LSG used more rope breaks and shoved him off the top rope and that’s why he didn’t win. Nevertheless, Lethal said he respects LSG.
Lethal also said Josh Woods is an MMA specialist and therefore he’s one of the most dangerous wrestlers in pure matches. Lethal said Woods is overconfident and cocky, but he might be the same way if he had the background of Woods. Lethal said he doesn’t want the match to go to the judges, so he intends to win via pinfall or submission. Lethal said that Woods’s credentials means that Woods should win the match. “But you won’t,” Lethal concluded… [C]
Powell’s POV: Two good sit-down promo features that did a really nice of setting up their match while also making some of their past matches feel more important. Pro wrestling promotions are always anxious to move on to the next thing and most of the matches feel like they run together, so giving some lip service to recent matches helps the television matches feel like they count and are not just forgotten once the show concludes.
The broadcast team of Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman checked in during the ring entrances…
1. Jay Lethal vs. Josh Woods in a Pure Rules match. A graphic noted that Woods is 2-1 in pure matches. The wrestlers adhered to the Code of Honor. Lethal used an early rope break to escape an arm hold. Woods smirked. Lethal asked if Woods thought it was funny. Woods said that he thought it was sad coming from Lethal, who got fired up. Woods suplexed Lethal and threw some punches at him.
Woods went for a triangle choke, but Lethal rolled onto him for a two count. Woods picked up a couple more near falls before throwing a forearm to the head of Lethal. Woods had a hip-toss countered and then Lethal dropkicked him and covered him for a two count going into a break. [C]
Lethal went for his Hail to the King elbow drop, but Woods was waiting and put him in a cross armbreaker. Lethal rolled onto Woods and got a two count to force him to break the hold. Lethal went for the Lethal Injection, but Woods countered into a guillotine. Lethal once again rolled onto Woods to get another two count and to break the hold.
Woods applied a knee bar with less than two minutes remaining in the match. Lethal reached out for the ropes and then teased tapping once he couldn’t reach them. Lethal stood up and escaped the hold, then set up for a figure four, but Woods countered into a pin for the upset win.
Josh Woods defeated Jay Lethal in 14:30 in a Pure Rules match.
After the match, Lethal and Woods smiled at one another and shook hands. Lethal patted Woods on the backside, then Woods returned the favor, which drew a nasty look for Lethal… [C]
Powell’s POV: Lethal continues to elevate others. He put over Tracy Williams in the tournament, went to the time limit with LSG before winning via judge’s decision, and now put over Woods clean. I love it. I hope this means Woods is going to be a singles wrestler going forward. Woods and Silas Young seem to have fun doing their odd couple tag team act, but I think both men mean more as singles wrestlers.
Footage aired of Matt Taven hosting the first “Trending With Taven” talkshow segment. Taven introduced Mike Bennett as his first guest. Bennett said he’s been wrestling since he was 15 years-old. He said he signed with ROH in 2011, worked for the company for five years, worked for New Japan Pro Wrestling, and has worked around the world. Bennett said he kept tabs on Taven when he left because that’s what friends do. Bennett said he felt like there was something he could help Taven with. He said Taven just needed someone to have his back…
Mark Briscoe checked in from the barn on his property and said he wants to be a 12-time ROH Tag Team Champion. Mark said he and Jay Briscoe are owed a tag title shot and he wants it at Final Battle, but his brother is too concerned with EC3. Mark wondered if Jay’s quarantine mask is restricting oxygen to his brain. Mark said he wanted the titles and would find a partner…
Brody King was spotlighted in a sit-down feature. King said he and Shane Taylor have similarities in terms of coming from a tough background. King said his only motivation is success and championship gold. King also said that while he and Taylor are like rocks, he is like a rock launched out of a catapult at 90 miles per hour.
King said both men want the ROH World Championship. King said Taylor talks about what he deserves, whereas he doesn’t think he’s owed anything. He wants to earn it. King said Taylor will have to go through him if he wants the ROH Championship…
The Shane Taylor sit-down feature aired. He said he feels like a weight was lifted off his shoulders after beating Kenny King. He said he believes they are still friends. Taylor said he doesn’t know much about Brody King, but he thinks their strengths are similar and they both try to impose their will on their opponents. Taylor said King might be resentful that he dropped him on his head with his finisher when he won the ROH TV Title.
Taylor said there’s hypocrisy with fans cheering a guy who wears a ski mask and talks about bringing violence. Taylor said that if he walked around a ski mask, fans would be holding their children a little closer and wouldn’t be buying his t-shirts. Taylor said the match is important because both men want the ROH World Championship. He said they have been on a collision course since both men arrived in ROH. Taylor said that the ROH World Championship brings power and people have to listen to you. Once he wins the title, no one can say he isn’t a team player or hard to work with. It just means that he won’t let anyone dictate what his value is… [C]
Powell’s POV: Great mic work from both guys. If this match had taken place prior to the pandemic break, it would have been thrown out there with no or minimal mic work. The new format continues to be outstanding. And while some guys are better talkers than others, I have yet to feel like someone really struggled in this setting. Taylor always made the most of his mic work and his star is only shining brighter, and we’re finally getting a chance to know the King character.
2. Brody King vs. Shane Taylor. Moses and Kaun accompanied Taylor to the ring prior to the match, but they did not remain at ringside. A graphic noted that King is 4-0 in his last ROH matches, and 5-1 all-time on ROH TV. The wrestlers adhered to the Code of Honor. A graphic noted that the match had a 20-minute time limit. Both men used shoulder blocks and forearms in what was a stalemate. King got the better of
King with chops and punches, then knocked him through the ropes and out of the ring with a big right hand. King followed and performed a cannonball from the apron onto Taylor at ringside. King worked over Taylor at ringside, then looked into the camera and said, “Just violence.” King ran Taylor into the ring post, and remained on the offensive heading into a break. [C]
Powell’s POV: It irks me that King was able to run Taylor into the ring post right in front of the referee. I know it’s not a Pure Wrestling match, but with ROH taking such an old school approach these days, it would be nice if they tried to make ring post shots matter. There was a time in pro wrestling when wrestlers were disqualified for running opponents into the ring post, and wrestlers actually sold being run into the post in a big way. Unfortunately, WWE made the post shots a transition to commercial breaks, wrestlers stopped selling them for more than a few seconds, and all the other companies followed suit.
Taylor tripped King on the apron, then performed a draping DDT to the floor. Taylor had King positioned against the barricade and then performed a running knee to his head, which led to Taylor and King going through the barricade. Taylor returned to the ring, and King barely beat the referee’s count by running at 19. Taylor put the boots to King. Taylor performed a nice spinebuster style slam for a near fall. King rallied and performed a cannonball while Taylor was leaning against the ropes, then covered him for a two count. King performed a Death Valley Driver into a corner of the ring. [C]
Taylor and King traded blows in the middle of the ring. King was getting the better of it, but Taylor tagged him with a couple of headbutts and a big clothesline that resulted in a near fall. King came back with a Bossman Slam for a two count, then piledrove Taylor for a really good near fall. Taylor connected with another headbutt and then performed a package piledriver for another strong near fall. King performed a German suplex and followed up with a lariat. King covered Taylor, who kicked out at one. King fired away with three lariats and knocked Taylor down with the third before pinning him.
Brody King defeated Shane Taylor in 12:37.
Taylor shook King’s hand afterward and seemed to indicate that he hopes they will have a rematch at some point…
Riccaboni hyped John Walters vs. Tracy Williams, and Mike Bennett vs. Vincent for next week’s show…
Powell’s POV: A strong main event. It’s always fun to watch a match and not feel like you know who is going to win, and that was the case here, as a case could be made for either man climbing the ranks for an ROH World Title shot. And because the outcome wasn’t predictable, those late near falls worked like a charm.
Overall, another strong episode. ROH Wrestling has become a terrific television series since the company returned from the pandemic break. The formula is so simple and so effective. The wrestlers set up their matches with promos and then deliver in the ring. It also helps to have the perfect broadcast team for this style. I don’t know why it’s taken so long for a pro wrestling company to take this approach, but ROH is proof of how effective it can be. My weekly Dot Net Members’ exclusive audio review will be available later today.