By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor Wrestling TV (Episode 496)
Taped in Baltimore, Maryland at UMBC Arena
Aired March 20, 2021 in syndication and on SBG regional sports networks, available Mondays on FITE.TV
The ROH opening video aired and then Quinn McKay checked in from the studio. She hyped the 19th Anniversary pay-per-view for Friday, then touted the two television matches…
An Eli Isom sit-down feature aired. He said he’s been wrestling for three years and all three years have been with ROH. Isom said he was a three sport athlete in high school in football, wrestling, and track. He said he became hooked by pro wrestling when his mom was watching it on television. Isom recalled that he didn’t have a place to stay when he started training. He also said his mother was killed a month earlier in a car accident.
Isom recalled that he considered quitting, but he knew his mother wouldn’t be happy with him. He said he fought and that’s the reason he’s in ROH today. Isom said the first people he met in ROH were Will Ferrara and Cheeseburger. He spoke about the Shinobi Shadow Squad being three friends coming together. He said the team, which featured him, Cheeseburger, and Ryan Nova, climbed and would get knocked down.
Isom spoke of being in the ROH TV Title division. He said the title boosts careers. He knows he’s at the bottom because he hasn’t wrestled in ROH for some time, but he said he will be a major player in ROH. Isom said he’s just as explosive and quick as Rey Horus, and he has more to prove. Isom said he knows that every match he has could be his last and he’s trying to establish his legacy. Isom said his climb starts with Horus…
A Rey Horus sit-down feature aired. He spoke in Spanish while English subtitles appeared on the screen. Horus spoke about his match against Dragon Lee and how close he came to winning the ROH TV Title. He said the loss makes him grow as an athlete and the story will be totally different the next time they meet. Horus said he knows that Isom has heart and people say he’s the future of ROH, but we’re living in the now and he is the present… [C]
Powell’s POV: Two good sit-down features. That’s probably more mic time in one sitting than Isom received during his previous appearances on the ROH Wrestling show. He came off as a likable upstart and the story of his mother’s tragic passing was a heartbreaker. Meanwhile, Horus seemed like he was more focussed on Dragon Lee than he is on Isom, which might be the story they are trying to tell going into the match.
The broadcast team of Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman checked in while ring announcer Bobby Cruise handled the introductions…
1. Eli Isom vs. Rey Horus. The wrestlers adhered to the Code of Honor. A graphic listed the 19th Anniversary pay-per-view matches while the match got underway. Horus sent Isom to ringside, then hit him with a great flip dive after soaring over the top rope. Horus whipped Isom into the barricade heading into a break. [C]
Horus performed a standing Spanish Fly for a near fall. Horus cussed out of frustration and was censored. Isom swiped at Horus’s mask while trying to get to his feet. Both men traded forearm shots. Horus appeared to get the better of it, but Isom drilled him with an enzuigiri. Horus came right back with a kick and then suplexed Horus into the corner and covered him for a two count. Horus applied a guillotine, but Isom powered him into his brainbuster called The Promise and scored the pin. The wrestlers shook hands afterward…
Eli Isom beat Rey Horus in 8:01.
Powell’s POV: They didn’t really play up Horus being too focussed on getting another ROH TV Title match, but it was good to see ROH continue the story of Isom getting upset wins. The problem in the past was that he would get these big wins, then revert to spending most of his time in throwaway tag matches with Shinobi Shadow Squad. With that trio seemingly disbanded, hopefully Isom’s push will be more consistent this time around.
A graphic listed the eight-man tag main event as coming up next… A video package noted that it’s not just about pure, it’s time to restore violence… A very brief Matt Taven promo was shown followed by a graphic for his pay-per-view match against Vincent… [C]
A video package spotlighted the EC3 vs. Jay Briscoe match for the pay-per-view with both men speaking separately. EC3 said he wants Briscoe’s absolute best. Briscoe spoke about how EC3 talks about controlling his narrative, yet it took him so long to figure that out. Briscoe said he can’t event say how many times WWE has called him and his brother Mark and offered next level NXT deals. “Man, I can do that landscaping,” Briscoe said.
Briscoe said he’s never gone anywhere and he never will. Briscoe said he doesn’t shake EC3’s hand because EC3 doesn’t deserve it. He spoke about locking horns and shaking hands with Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, and Tyler Black. He said EC3 couldn’t even look him in the eye when he offered him a handshake prior to the recent four corner survival match. Briscoe said that if EC3 gives him a fight and looks him in the eye, then he’ll shake his hand, but only after he whoops his ass. EC3 said he will extend his hand and then the choice will be Briscoe’s. EC3 said ROH has been warned…
Ring entrances for the main event took place. La Faccion Ingobernable was out first. A brief promo aired with the group in the ring and each man delivering brief promos while Amy Rose stood by. The Foundation made their entrance while their promo aired from inside a locker room. Rhett Titus said they are ready to go to war with LFI heading into the pay-per-view. Tracy Williams said Ingobernable means ungovernable. He spoke about how it led them to power, but added that what truly matters is what you do with that power. Williams spoke about the group taking the titles and restoring honor brick by brick… [C]
2. “The Foundation” Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham, Tracy Williams, and Rhett Titus vs. “La Faccion Ingobernable” Rush, Dragon Lee, Kenny King, and La Bestia del Ring in an eight-man tag match. Amy Rose sat in on commentary. The wrestlers did not shake hands prior to the match. Riccaboni hyped the pay-per-view being available free for HonorClub subscribers.
Lethal and Rush ended up in the ring together at one point. Lethal got the better of the exchange with some chops and an enzuigiri followed by a dropkick that knocked Rush off the apron. Lethal performed a suicide dive. Lethal returned to the ring and spat at Bestia, who had taunted him while he was in the ring earlier. [C]
The Foundation members isolated King for a stretch. King dropkicked Titus to ringside. The teams started brawling inside and outside the ring. Lee slammed Titus’s head into the broadcast team’s podium. Rush slammed the ringside barricade door on Lethal’s head and ran him into the barricade. Lee brought Titus back to ringside and crotched him via the ring post.
Riccaboni said that referee Todd Sinclair had a decision to make in terms of whether to allow the match to continue or run the risk of someone getting hurt before the pay-per-view. Rush wrapped a cable around the neck of Titus and the brawl continued going into a break. [C]
The LFI faction worked over Lethal inside the ring and performed a quadruple dropkick while he was seated. Williams ran in and out was outnumbered. Rush removed Williams’ shoulder brace and the LFI members roughed him up. King put Williams down with a spinebuster. Rush and Bestia held Williams over the apron while their teammates performed a simultaneous dropkick on him.
Coleman said The Foundation allowed the match to become a fight and the only way for them to get things under control was to turn it back into a wrestling match. Titus was worked over and tossed to ringside. Lee brought Gresham into the ring while the other Foundation members were down. Gresham was able to get the better of the LFI members and tried to make a tag and he eventually tagged in Titus, who cleaned house.
Titus performed a nice suplex into a bridge on Bestia for a near fall. Titus hit Bestia with a big boot in the corner and then tagged in Williams before throwing another big boot. Williams performed a piledriver on Bestia and had him pinned, but Lee broke it up. Titus and Lee traded forearms shots.
Lee suplexed Lee, then Williams put Lee down with. Death Valley Driver. Rush cleared Lee. Lethal hit a Lethal Injection on Lethal. King performed a Blue Thunder Bomb on Lethal. Gresham performed a springboard moonsault on King, then performed a nice cannonball dive onto the other LFI members. With everyone else down at ringside, King clotheslined Williams using the top rope, then Bestia performed a tombstone piledriver on Williams and pinned him to win the match.
“La Faccion Ingobernable” Rush, Dragon Lee, Kenny King, and La Bestia del Ring defeated “The Foundation” Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham, Tracy Williams, and Rhett Titus in 18:50 an eight-man tag match.
The LFI members struck their pose and celebrated their win while Riccaboni plugged the pay-per-view. A 19th Anniversary pay-per-view graphic appeared on the screen and then the matches were listed. Jay Lethal stood in front of the ROH backdrop and delivered a brief promo with a Foundation flag in his hand to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A good main event with the heels getting some heat going into the pay-per-view. I am surprised that Williams took the pin given that he’s doing double duty at the pay-per-view. I was even more surprised that he was pinned by Bestia, who seemingly didn’t have a pay-per-view match. It’s been announced since the show aired that Dragon Lee is out with an injury and will be replaced by Bestia in the ROH Tag Title match, and Kenny King will take his spot in the ROH TV Title match. The main event served as a good pay-per-view preview given that there are a few matches that play into the rivalry between the two factions.
As much as I liked Isom beating Horus, the only problem with airing the match on this episode is that it seemingly did not play into anything pay-per-view related. And even if it does in some way given that he’s in the pre-show four-way match, it’s hard to imagine Isom’s role being a big one on Friday. In other words, his match that could have aired coming out of the pay-per-view, and then something more pay-per-view geared could have aired in its slot. The hype for the pay-per-view was consistent with graphics and the broadcast team promoting it. ROH did a better job with their pay-per-view go-home show this time around than they did for Final Battle, but there’s still room for improvement.
The storytelling for most of the pay-per-view matches has been strong and the lineup looks really good on paper. I am looking forward to covering the 19th Anniversary event on Friday night and I encourage you to join me for my live review. Dot Net Members will hear my audio review of this episode later today, and they will also have access to my exclusive audio review of the pay-per-view on Friday night.