By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor Wrestling TV (Episode 493)
Taped in Baltimore, Maryland at UMBC Arena
Aired February 27, 2021 in syndication and on SBG regional sports networks, available Mondays on FITE.TV
The show opened with a championship edition video package that spotlighted Rush vs. Shane Taylor… The standard ROH opening aired…
Backstage, La Faccion Ingobernable members Rush, Dragon Lee, and La Bestia del Ring spoke inside their locker room. Rush said they would humiliate their challengers. Kenny King and Amy Rose showed up. King tried to make a pitch for Rush beating Taylor straight up. “Go in there and prove you’re the champion,” King said.
King’s comments weren’t well received. Rose said they would be there and told Bestia that he better use his chair. King wasn’t happy. Rush stood up and barked at King in Spanish that their faction is about pure humiliation. Lee and Bestia told King to think as they left the room with Rush…
Powell’s POV: An interesting development with King wanting to do things the right way and being met with resistance from the rest of the faction.
Quinn McKay checked in from the studio and hyped the main event. She recalled Taylor and SOS winning the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles last week and said Taylor has a chance to win the ROH World Championship this week. She also hyped the tag title match…
King, Lee, and Rose were shown standing in front of a ring. King told Lee that they are one win away from domination. He said they would beat Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham in a pure match. They all put their fists together…
Lethal and Gresham stood in front of the same ring and delivered their promo at a different time. They emphasized that it’s a Pure Rules match and said that meant that King and Lee would actually have to outwrestle them in order to take the titles. Gresham said that won’t happen… [C]
The broadcast team of Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman checked in on commentary during the entrances for the opening match…
1. Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham vs. Kenny King and Dragon Lee (w/Amy Rose) in a Pure Rules match for the ROH Tag Titles. King and Lee blew off the Code of Honor handshake offer made by the champions. Riccaboni explained that the teams are allowed a total of three rope breaks and/or pin breakups per the Pure Rules.
Gresham caught Lee in a hammerlock. Lee grabbed the ropes to use one of his team’s three rope break just under a minute into the match. A few minutes later, Lethal put King in a leg lock, which led to King using his team’s second rope break. A short time later, King distracted the referee while Lee put the boots to Gresham at ringside. [C]
Gresham rolled Lee into a pin that was broken up by King for their team’s final rope break. Lee came back with an inverted piledriver on Gresham for a near fall of his own. Lee followed up with a running knee to the back of Gresham’s head and covered him for another near fall.
King performed a brainbuster on Gresham, then Lee hit him with another knee to the head and went for the cover, but Lethal broke it up to use his team’s first rope break. Lethal threw King to ringside and went for a suicide dive, but Rose pushed King out of the way and was taken out by the suicide dive. Lee hit Gresham with a bad punch while the referee was distracted by the scene at ringside. Lee covered Gresham and the referee turned around and counted the pin.
Dragon Lee and Kenny King defeated Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham in 14:12 in a Pure Rules match to win the ROH Tag Titles.
Lee and King celebrated their tag title win in the ring while Riccaboni pointed out that Rose made history by becoming the first manager to simultaneously represent the ROH World Champion, ROH TV Champion, and ROH Tag Champions. He said he didn’t think she knew it because she was still down at ringside from the suicide dive. Riccaboni hyped the main event… [C]
Powell’s POV: The punch looked really weak. Punches are illegal in Pure Rules matches. They result in a warning for the first offense and a disqualification for the second, and the heel duo had already used one, so the idea is that they would have been disqualified had the referee saw the second punch. I get that they were going for this being a heel move, but it felt a little forced and still would have even if the punch had looked better. It’s not like it’s been established that Lee has a devastating knockout punch, so it looked like Gresham was knocked out by something that’s fairly routine in non Pure Rules matches. ROH is definitely all in on LFI with the faction now holding every title other than the Pure Rules Championship. I still feel strongly that LFI is in desperate need of a strong mouthpiece.
A Shane Taylor sit-down feature aired. He spoke about the ROH Championship while footage aired of Low Ki, Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), Takeshi Morishima, Nigel McGuinness, Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), Kevin Steen (Kevin Owens), Jay Briscoe, Jay Lethal, Adam Cole, Dalton Castle, Matt Taven, and Rush with the championship at different times.
Taylor said being ROH Champion is supposed to mean that you’re the best in the world. He said there’s a stigma in that someone like him isn’t supposed to win or compete for the ROH Championship. He said he didn’t mean just an African American male, but rather an African American male who also talks about politics and social issues. He said he rocks the boat and that makes a lot of people nervous and scared.
Taylor said people can’t relate to his struggles, his culture, and problems, so they assume that if they can’t relate, then people can’t relate. Taylor said it was actually the people who voted him number one contender and that means the people are ready to see a new ROH Champion who can deliver night in and night out just like Danielson, Joe, and McGuinness.
Taylor said people deserve to have a champion who defends the title more than once every ten months. Taylor said he gets that Rush is physical and brutal, but that’s all he saw growing up on the east side of Cleveland. He said the intimidation that Rush brings to others won’t be found.
“You will see no fear in my eyes, you will see no intimidation in my eyes,” Taylor said. He added that he will top Rush’s intensity. Taylor said he’s been the MVP for three years and elevates everyone around him. Taylor said he’s been the uncrowned champion and now he’ll make it official…
Powell’s POV: The usual top notch promo from Taylor. He was one of the few ROH wrestlers who shined with the limited mic work that the wrestlers received under the old television format, so he’s definitely making the most out of the new format that was introduced after the pandemic break.
Ring entrances for the main event took place. Moses and Kaun accompanied Taylor to the ring. Rush came out alone, but faction mate Kenny King sat in on commentary for the match… [C]
2. Rush vs. Shane Taylor for the ROH World Championship. Bobby Cruise delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Riccaboni read through a table of the tape. Referee Todd Sinclair held up the title belt. Taylor offered a Code of Honor handshake, but Rush kicked his hand away. Taylor responded by laughing at Rush and then the bell rang to start the match.
Riccaboni said the time limit for the match was 60 minutes. He said that if the match went long, fans could see the conclusion on the HonorClub streaming service. Taylor put Rush down with a spinbuster, then tossed him to ringside. Taylor followed to the floor and ran him into the barricade. A short time later, Taylor had Rush draped over the apron and then DDT’d him onto the floor. [C]
Rush came back with a dropkick coming out of the break. Rush rolled Taylor to ringside and ran him into the barricade. Rush opened a barricade door and then slammed it onto the head of Taylor several times. Rush and Sinclair bickered with one another, then Rush ran Taylor into the barricade again.
Rush pulled some cables out from underneath the ring. Sinclair told him to stop. Rush told Sinclair that he’s the champion. Rush whipped Taylor with the cables and then used the cables to choke him. Coleman defended the match continuing by saying it would be the worst decision ever if Sinclair called it off. Rush looked into the camera and boasted, then went back to work on Taylor.
Rush rolled Taylor back inside the ring. King said Rush had to use the cables in an attempt to break Taylor because that’s the way to beat him. Rush performed his finishing teaser and instead delivered a light kick to Taylor’s head, then struck his pose in the middle of the ring. [C]
Taylor rallied by blasting Rush with a knee to the head. Rush came right back with a knee of his own, but Taylor turned him inside out with a clothesline and covered him for a two count. Taylor slammed Rush for another two count. King recalled asking his squad to back off of Taylor because of their friendship, but he added that he was pulling for Rush.
Rush swept the legs of Taylor, who was then caught up in the ropes. Rush performed a leg drop and then made a lazy cover for just a one count. Rush put Taylor back in the ropes and then double stomped him from the ropes and covered him for a two count. Rush removed his decorative wristbands.
Taylor got back to his feet and traded forearms with Rush. Both men fell to their knees and continued to trade blows. Taylor eventually hit Rush with a pair of headbutts and then performed a Marcus Garvey Driver and covered Rush for just a one count. Taylor charged Rush, who suplexed him into the corner. Both men stayed down while Riccaboni said Rush would normally pop up after that move and perform his finisher.
Rush got to his feet first and then put the boots to Taylor in the corner. Rush turned and knocked Sinclair down with a forearm. Rush acted like it wasn’t intentional. La Bestia del Ring came out and handed Rush a chair. King left the broadcast table, entered the ring, and stood in front of Rush. King barked at Rush that he told him no.
King wound up and swung the chair at Rush, who moved, and the chair hit Taylor instead (Taylor wisely put his hands up). “Do you understand me now?” King asked Rush. Rush told him yes. King told Rush to finish Taylor. Rush knocked Taylor down with a punch and then followed up with Bull’s Horns. Sinclair recovered and counted the pin…
Rush defeated Shane Taylor to retain the ROH World Championship.
Afterward, Rush celebrated with the championship and then with King and Bestia. King looked down at Taylor and smiled. Rush stood over Taylor and barked at him, then left the ring with his faction mates. Rush and King laughed at ringside…
Graphics were shown for Josh Woods vs. Dalton Castle in a Pure Rules match, and Jay Briscoe vs. Matt Taven vs. Jay Lethal vs. EC3 in a number one contenders match while Riccaboni closed the show…
Powell’s POV: It was good to see match graphics promoting next week’s show, but they didn’t specify which title the four-way will be for. Given the finish of the main event, you’d think that Taylor would be in line for a rematch, but it looks like they are moving on to someone else. Of course, there could be some storyline developments involving Taylor and the number one contender, so we’ll see where it goes.
The main event was well worked. They told a story with the King drama that could have been better. For starters, they never bothered to explain why the camera was in the LFI locker room during that opening segment. ROH is doing a lot of things right when it comes to presenting a traditional pro wrestling product, so it’s disappointing that they couldn’t be bothered to come up with a simple explanation for the camera’s presence. It felt like we also needed a bit more on the King and Taylor friendship. It’s been established in the past, but they could have used an angle leading up to this help set the table better.
Despite my issues with the show, it was still an enjoyable hour of television, and I like that ROH made it feel like a special episode by going with the championship theme. As much as ROH is all in on LFI, I just don’t get the sense that the faction is generating a lot of buzz. Of course, it’s hard to tell without attendance numbers during the pandemic era, but it feels like the things that are generating the most interest are the television format changes and the Pure Rules division. I assume the idea is that LFI will generate heat for going against Pure Rules and The Foundation, and only time will tell whether it’s a successful approach. My weekly audio review of ROH Wrestling will be available for Dot Net Members later today.