By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor Wrestling TV (Episode 488)
Taped in Baltimore, Maryland at UMBC Arena
Aired January 23, 2021 in syndication and on SBG regional sports networks, available Mondays on FITE.TV
After the ROH opening, Quinn McKay checked in from the studio and hyped the six-man tag match. She set up footage from Final Battle of when she informed Shane Taylor and SOS that ROH officials were going to give them the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles via forfeit because the MexiSquad could not appear. Taylor and SOS declined because they didn’t want the titles that way…
McKay recapped footage of Dragon Lee beating Rey Horus to retain the ROH TV Title in the main event of last week’s show. Footage from the match was shown…
Footage aired of McKay trying to interview Lee following his win. Lee blew her off and boasted about being the winner while asking who is next. Brody King showed up and looked down at Lee. “You want to get in my business?” King asked. “Tell your family this is just the beginning”…
McKay also recapped footage of Flip Gordon punching Rhett Titus in last week’s Pure Rules match. She noted that he the ROH Board of Directors removed Gordon from the Pure Rules division. The Pure division top five were shown: Tracy Williams, Josh Woods, Rhett Titus, Fred Yehi, and Wheeler Yuta. McKay noted that Gordon and Dalton Castle were not longer in the top five. She said Castle could get in the top five if he beats Woods in the opening match coming up after the commercial break… [C]
A Josh Woods sit-down spotlight feature aired. “One step forward, two steps back,” Woods started. He recalled beating Jay Lethal and then underestimating Flip Gordon when he lost to him. Woods said he’s facing a former ROH World Champion and there’s no time for jokes or games. He said they have similar skill sets and pointed out his height difference. Woods said he loves a challenge and he loves pure wrestling. He said all of his energy is focused on beating a former world champion and moving up the rankings. Woods said he needs gold and guaranteed that he would win some in 2021…
Castle’s sit-down feature aired. He said he was double booked and wanted this to be quick. Castle took a phone call from his mom and told her that he’d call her back. Castle said he was ready, then turned his phone to silent. He said he felt conflicted. He noted that his won/loss record in ROH wasn’t good, but he was very busy outside the ring.
Castle said he beat Brian Johnson and then he went to Final Battle and didn’t have a match, so he found another wrestler who didn’t have a match and set one up, but he ended up losing. Castle barked at someone off camera that he was busy and told the person to shut up. Castle said Woods is part gorilla and neanderthal. He said that was just from the feet to the neck. He said above the neck, Woods doesn’t have much going on.
Castle said he can beat Woods. Castle looked into the camera and asked what else you want from him. He said he has a greenhouse that he’s working on at home that won’t build itself. He said he has a lot pent up inside of him and Woods is dealing with a big box full of bees that has a lot of holes… [C]
Powell’s POV: More of serious Josh Woods, please. He’s a fun loving guy naturally and that has come through with some of his on-air silliness, but serious Woods is money rather than mid-card comedy. Meanwhile, Castle seemed to be setting the stage for a loss. He was a bit manic and told the story that he is distracted. It’s an interesting approach in that he came off frustrated by his lack of success, yet also conveyed that it’s because he’s not fully focussed. As always, the sit-down features told a good story heading into the match that was easy for longtime or even first-time viewers to understand. That’s why I find the new television format so promising. You don’t have to be an ROH diehard to understand what’s happening, which I believe will lead to more viewers becoming ROH regulars.
The broadcast team of Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman checked in during the entrances, and Bobby Cruise was the ring announcer…
1. Josh Woods vs. Dalton Castle in a Pure Rules match. Both men adhered to the Code of Honor. A few minutes into the match, Castle drilled Wood with a back elbow. Woods came back by dumping Woods onto the top rope, the covered him for just a one count. A short time later, Woods applied an abdominal stretch that Castle broke with a foot stomp. Woods grabbed Castle from behind, but Castle grabbed the ropes to use his first rope break. Woods charged at Castle, who used a hip-toss to send him sailing over the top rope. [C]
Footage aired from during the break. Riccaboni said Castle dominated the match throughout the break and forced Woods to use a rope break. Woods dumped Castle to ringside and then followed to the floor. Castle drove Woods into the barricade, then picked him up and ran him into the ring post. Castle suplexed Woods on the floor, then brought the match back inside the ring where he got a two count.
Woods came back with a nice sequence in the ropes that he capped off with a suplex. Woods covered Castle for a two count. Woods suplexed Castle, who returned the favor. Woods got to his feet first and threw a big kick at Castle. Woods and Castle traded big forearms. Woods caught Castle with a knee to the ribs with one minute remaining. Castle rallied with a Bangarang attempt, but Woods countered into an ankle lock and got the submission win.
Josh Woods beat Dalton Castle in 14:27 in a Pure Rules match.
Woods and Castle shook hands afterward… [C]
Powell’s POV: So you can be disqualified for punching someone in the face twice during a Pure Rules match, but it’s okay to run your opponent into the ring post? Strange. Anyway, the match was entertaining and it was a logical win for Woods given the story told during the sit-down features, and because Castle’s deal with the company was on the verge of expiring when these tapings took place.
McKay interviewed Woods in the backstage area. She asked Woods why he looked disappointed. Woods said he was disappointed that he let all the fighting and brawling take place during the match. He said he didn’t come to the Pure division to brawl and fight, he came to establish his dominance as one of the best wrestlers in the company. He said his only goal is to be the ROH Pure Champion…
“The Foundation” members Jay Lethal, Tracy Williams, Jonathan Gresham, and Rhett Titus stood in the locker room. Williams praised Shane Taylor and SOS for declining to accept the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles via forfeit. Williams said he also met them when they attacked them from behind. Williams called for a six-man tag match…
Shane Taylor, Moses, and Kaun stood in a smoky area. Taylor said that Lethal and Titus have been in ROH for over a decade and could have brought change to ROH if they wanted to. Taylor accused Gresham and Williams of wanting conformity and to gentrify ROH. He told them to admit that they wish The Foundation was Shane Taylor Promotions. Taylor said they were asking if they wanted the opportunity to whip their asses, they definitely do…
Ring entrances for the main event took place… [C]
2. Shane Taylor and “SOS” Moses and Kaun vs. “The Foundation” Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham, and Tracy Williams. The wrestlers adhered to the Code of Honor. Kaun used his power to get the better of Lethal to start. Kaun tagged Lethal with a punch that sent him tumbling through the ropes to the floor. Gresham and Williams checked on Lethal while Coleman reminded viewers that this was not a Pure Rules match.
Lethal returned to the ring and tagged in Williams, which led to Taylor tagging in for his team. Williams caught Taylor in a choke, but Taylor backed into a corner of the ring to break it. Williams applied a cross arm breaker over the ropes, but he had to release the hold. Williams went for an armbar, but Taylor avoided it and then knocked him down with a punch.
Moses and Gresham tagged in. Moses used his power while Gresham showed off some quickness. Moses knocked Gresham down with a shoulder block, which led Lethal tagging in, followed by The Foundation trio meeting at ringside for a strategy talk. Williams told his partners that their opponents wanted to fight, so they needed to fight.
A short time later, Williams caught Moses in a Fujiwara Armbar. Moses sent Williams through the ropes to the floor, and Williams held onto his arm to wrench it on the ropes. The Foundation members used quick tags and isolated Moses heading into the final commercial break. [C]
Late in the match, Taylor drilled a kneeling Gresham with a big knee to the head. Taylor followed up with a package powerbomb style move and had the pin, but Lethal and Williams broke it up. All six men fought. Williams avoided a tope from Kaun. Moses performed a senton from the apron onto Williams.
Lethal hit suicide dives on Moses and then Taylor. Lethal shoved Taylor back inside the ring where Gresham performed a shooting star press that led to a two count. Lethal tagged into the match and went for a Lethal Injection, but Taylor caught him and put him down with his finisher and scored the clean pin.
Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham, and Tracy Williams defeated Shane Taylor and “SOS” Moses and Kaun in 12:08.
After the match, Gresham and Williams helped Lethal to his feet, and then everyone adhered to the Code of Honor. Riccaboni hyped Gresham vs. Joe Keys for the ROH Pure Rules Championship, Brian Johnson vs. Danhausen, and another match. Taylor looked into the camera and said he is coming for the ROH World Championship…
Powell’s POV: Lethal has been trying to elevate others coming out of the pandemic break and that continued here. ROH has to be careful not to have him lose too frequently or it will hurt him and ruin the effect, but so far so good. Taylor continues to shine, and SOS are starting to come into their own. The Foundation faction is strong enough to absorb the loss, and it really means something for Taylor and SOS to beat them clean.
Overall, another quality episode of ROH Wrestling, which is hands down the most improved pro wrestling television show coming out of the pandemic. I was downright bored by the product prior to the pandemic, but the promotion has come back strong with their new television format. They continue to stand out as a true alternative to what the other companies are doing, and there are elements of what ROH is doing that others would be wise to emulate.
Perhaps the only real complaint I have about this episode is the lack of hype for what’s happening on the next show. Riccaboni read through the teaser for next week’s matches so fast that I wasn’t even sure what he said about the last match or if there is a third match. That’s not on him, it’s on the formatting. ROH could scale back just enough on their recap videos to make room for a video teaser of the next show’s matches to give viewers a good hook to come back for more. Again, though, I really enjoyed the show. I will be back later today with my audio review of this episode for Dot Net Members.