By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor Wrestling TV (Episode 481)
Taped in Baltimore, Maryland
Aired December 5, 2020 in syndication and on SBG regional sports networks, available Mondays on FITE.TV
After the ROH opening aired, Quinn McKay checked in from the studio and hyped this week’s matches. Footage was shown of Brody King defeating Shane Taylor in last week’s main event. King’s post match promo aired. King said he was going for the ROH World Championship at Final Battle. “Violence is the answer,” King concluded…
McKay set up footage of Josh Woods beating Jay Lethal on last week’s show. Footage aired of Woods’ post match comments. Woods said he was trying to bring back what ROH is all about, the foundation of what the company was built on. Woods said he wished Silas Young was there because he would be so proud of him…
A video package aired on the Mike Bennett vs. Vincent match. Bennett said Vincent has always been Vinny. He said he doesn’t know what he’s trying to be now. Vincent, who was in a separate location, questioned why he’s the bad guy. He said he was all Matt Taven had left. Footage aired of Bennett recalling that Vincent asked him if he was cool joining The Kingdom. Bennett said Vinny was one of them and he was happy to let him, but now he’s pissed off and motivated. Vincent told Matt Taven to tell Bennett that the biggest mistake he ever made “was you”… [C]
Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman checked in on commentary during the entrances. A graphic noted that Vincent has a winning record against Bennett in matches held outside ROH. Meanwhile, a graphic stated that Bennett has a 22-3 record in ROH singles matches not involving Jay Briscoe, and is 4-1 in his last five matches…
Powell’s POV: I like or tolerate most of the music in ROH, but Bennett’s theme was rough. Maybe it will grow on me.
1. Mike Bennett vs. Vincent. The match was listed as having a 20-minute time limit. Vincent stalled to start, then hit Bennett with a forearm shot while Bennett was talking with the referee. Bennett fought back, but Vincent caught him from the apron with a cutter through the ropes. Vincent performed a back suplex on the floor. [C]
Bennett performed a Death Valley Driver in the ring coming out of the break. Vincent fought back with some running forearms and then performed a Side Effect for a near fall. Bennett rallied with an exploder suplex, then superkicked Vincent before covering him for a near fall. Vincent caught Bennett with a guillotine choke, but Bennett was able to power him into the corner to break the hold.
Bennett connected with another superkick and then followed up with a spear, but Vincent caught him in the guillotine again. Bennett eventually escaped and performed a brainbuster. Vincent laughed while selling head and neck pain. Both men got to their knees and traded shots, then continued as they got to their feet. Bennett knocked Vincent down with a clothesline.
Bennett waited for Vincent to stand up, then he speared him. Bennett put Vincent in piledriver position and played to the crowd of no one. Vincent shoved Bennett into the corner to break the hold. Vincent was censored as he threw repeated punches at Bennett. The referee called for the disqualification when Vincent ignored his commands.
Mike Bennett beat Vincent by DQ in 11:34.
Vincent took Bennett to ringside and ran him into the barricade. Vincent sat on the floor and laughed heading into a break while Coleman said it was a rivalry that’s nowhere near finished… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good match with a logical finish for this early stage in the feud. I assume the plan is to have Vincent and Bateman face Bennett and Taven at Final Battle, and they have to put as much heat on the heels as possible because they feel like underdogs to the more established babyface duo. And just as I was going to write that they really needed a stronger beatdown angle…
Coming out of the break, Vincent continued to worked over Bennett at ringside while Riccaboni narrated additional footage from during the break. Vincent told Bennett that he made a big mistake coming to ROH, so now he had to do to him what he did to Matt Taven. The broadcast team recalled that Vincent used an axe to break the ankle of Taven. Suddenly, Taven leapt off the stage onto Vincent. Bateman showed up and attacked Taven. Security ran out and pulled the wrestlers apart…
Powell’s POV: That’s more like it. They are doing a good job of making this feud feel heated.
An ad aired for Final Battle on Friday, December 18…
A Rhett Titus vignette aired. He told viewers to imagine working at a job where you did everything right for 15 yeas and felt overlooked and under-appreciated. Footage aired of Titus wearing the octopus head mask while Jay Lethal and Tracy Williams shouted encouragement and told him that he is The Foundation. Titus was shown standing between the two men. He removed the octopus head mask and said, “I am The Foundation”…
Mark Briscoe delivered a backstage promo while standing in front of a Christmas-themed backdrop. Briscoe spoke about how he was focused on wining the ROH Tag Titles, but his brother had his mind on something else. Briscoe said he found somebody to be his partner. He said it was the perfect time of year too because he’s always wanted his own personal monster. The backdrop was actually something that was covering PCO, who revealed himself as the monster. Briscoe said they were going after the ROH Tag Titles… [C]
Powell’s POV: I wasn’t sure where they were going with Mark’s mystery partner, but PCO is a fun choice to serve as his Final Battle partner.
A Tracy Williams spotlight video aired. He spoke about his vision to win the ROH Pure Title tournament. He said he didn’t accomplish that, but the other part of the vision was being in the finals with Jonathan Gresham. Williams said that by being in the finals, he and Gresham strengthened their bond and they want to move pure wrestling to the forefront of ROH again. Williams ran through the list of notable names that people mentioned when talking about Pure Wrestling. He said they don’t say the name of John Walters nearly enough. Williams noted that Walters was beaten by a young Jay Lethal, whereas he just beat the experienced Lethal. He spoke about the similarities between their styles. Williams said his goal was to finish Walters within the 15-minute time limit to avoid the match going to the judges because he doesn’t trust the judges. He said he would go for a facelock finisher to guarantee himself the victory. Williams said Walters had what it took to beat elite wrestlers in ROH back in the day, but now the shoe is on the other foot because Williams will beat Walters to make a name for himself…
The John Walters spotlight video aired. He noted that he was trained by Killer Kowalski and won the ROH Pure Championship by defeating Doug Williams in 2004. Walters said he’s the second longest reigning champion in history. He said he beat Nigel McGuinness, Alex Shelley, Homicide, Jay Lethal, and Jimmy Rave. Walters said he’s back in ROH because the Pure Title is back. He said he doesn’t just want to be a part of the division, he wants to be on top of the ladder. Walters said he’s not a thing of the past and has been putting in the work. He said that he doesn’t need one particular hold or one move, but the Sharpshooter has worked well for him over the years. Walters said Williams is very good, but he’s not ready for him yet. Walters said it’s not personal. He said he wants the Pure Title and he’s going to move Williams out of the way so that he can get it… [C]
Powell’s POV: Walters also worked as RJ Brewer. Both videos were successful in reestablishing Walters to the ROH viewing audience. A lot of time has passed since Walters was in the company, so these were likely introductory pieces for a lot of viewers. And they are so much more effective when they come from the talent and footage is shown than the old approach of having the poor broadcast team attempt to get viewers up to speed during ring entrances and the opening portion of a match. A viewer who has never seen Walters before now has a good understanding of who he is and what he accomplished in ROH. Great stuff.
Flip Gordon sat in on commentary for the match and Riccaboni noted that Gordon will be challenging Jonathan Gresham for the ROH Pure Championship at Final Battle.
Powell’s POV: Gresham and Gordon should have a strong match, but it does seem odd that Gordon is getting the Pure Title shot at the biggest show of the year when I don’t believe he’s ever had a Pure Rules match before.
2. Tracy Williams vs. John Walters in a Pure Rules match. Walters’ graphic noted that he is 9-2 in Pure Rules matches during his career. Williams’ graphic noted that he has a 3-1 record in Pure Rules matches. A tale of the tape was shown. The wrestlers adhered to the Code of Honor. Williams wore his shoulder harness. Riccaboni noted that Gordon will face Josh Woods on next week’s show. Williams targeted the arm of Walters with a hold. Walters had to use his first rope break to break it. Riccaboni said the only Pure Rules match that Walters lost was when he lost the title to Jay Lethal. Williams was in offensive control heading into a break at 5:00. [C]
The show returned when the match was around the 6:10 mark. Walters came back with a running clip of Williams’ knee. Walters went to work on the bad knee and then applied a Sharpshooter, but Williams grabbed the ropes to use his first rope break. Williams took Walters down and applied a heel lock. Walters had to use his second rope break. Williams placed Walters on the ropes and then tossed him to the mat where he applied a crossface, which they are a facelock. Walters used his foot to reach the ropes to use his final rope break just past the 10:00 mark.
Williams went for a piledriver, but Walters punched his bad knee to avoid it, then took him down and applied leg hold. Walters rolled Williams into a pin, then the countered with back and forth pin attempts. Williams went to the ropes, but Walters cut him off with a forearm. Walters went to the ropes, but Williams grabbed him and performed a DDT onto the top turnbuckle pad. Williams threw a clothesline and followed up with a piledriver for the win.
Tracy Williams defeated John Walters in 11:41 in a Pure Rules match.
Afterward, Williams helped Walters to his feet and then they shook hands. Riccaboni hyped Gordon vs. Woods for next week, and announced “The Bouncers” Brian Milonas and Beer City Bruiser vs. Mark Briscoe and PCO…
A montage listed the following matches for Final Battle: EC3 vs. Jay Briscoe, “MexiSquad” Bandido
Powell’s POV: The television main event was fun. It will be interesting to see if Walters does more with ROH and, if so, what they do to reestablish him since he lost in his first match back. The Final Battle card is coming together nicely. ROH has also announced that Dragon Lee will defend the ROH TV Title against the winner of a four-way match with both matches taking place at Final Battle.
Overall, this show continued the streak of strong episode that ROH has delivered since returning from a pandemic break. I continue to recommend to anyone who hasn’t sampled ROH Wrestling since it returned from a pandemic break to give it a shot. The sports-like presentation is a breath of fresh air and the show is a true alternative to the other American products. My weekly ROH Wrestling audio review will be available for Dot Net Members later today.