By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor Wrestling TV (Episode 500)
Taped in Baltimore, Maryland at UMBC Arena
Aired April 17, 2021 in syndication and on SBG regional sports networks, available Mondays on FITE.TV
The show opened with a video package acknowledging the 500 episode count… The standard ROH opening aired… Quinn McKay checked in from the studio and said the company selected two matches that embody what ROH is all about for the milestone episode. She spoke about the two matches. She also noted that ROH debuted on Sinclair owned stations on the weekend of September 24, 2011. She said that after 500 episodes, the company is still here and stronger than ever…
A Jay Lethal sit-down feature aired. He spoke about the milestone and said the company has pulled out all the stops. Lethal said the fans were asked which tag team they would like to see meet in a singles match, and the fans selected him and Jonathan Gresham.
Lethal said that he learns a little about himself whenever he faces Gresham. On the other hand, Lethal said he’s nearly had his arm broken by Gresham. Lethal said Gresham is unmatched in what he does. He said that he was no longer conflicted about the match once he found out that the ROH Pure Championship would be on the line.
Lethal said he loves Gresham to death and he could promise that the ROH Pure Championship would remain in The Foundation, then wished Gresham good luck…
A Jonathan Gresham feature aired. He stood next to a ring and had the ROH Pure Championship on a podium next time. Gresham spoke highly of Lethal’s history in ROH while classic footage was shown. Gresham said that Lethal is the best wrestler in the world with or without the championship.
Gresham said he is proud to call Lethal his friend and to stand by him while they fight the war of restoring honor to the company. Gresham said he wanted to give the fans what they want by having another match with Lethal, only this time for the ROH Pure Championship… [C]
Powell’s POV: A good opening to the show. In general, the ROH production team has done a really nice job of incorporating classic footage into the post pandemic break shows during the sit-down features and video packages.
The broadcast team of Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman checked in on commentary during the introductions. The entire Foundation made their entrance together. Gresham, Lethal, Rhett Titus, and Tracy Williams all entered the ring and then ring announcer Bobby Cruise delivered the introductions…
1. Jonathan Gresham vs. Jay Lethal for the ROH Pure Wrestling Championship. Titus and Williams stood at ringside and watched the match. Riccaboni noted that the match had a 60-minute time limit and explained the rope break and other rules of the Pure division. Coleman spoke about how the entire Foundation warmed up together even though Gresham and Lethal were facing one another. “I’ve never seen a unit this tight,” Coleman said.
After a little mover five minutes of standard action, they cut to break with neither having used a rope break. [C] Lethal went for a figure four, but Gresham caught him in an inside cradle for a two count. When they stood up, Lethal put him down with a cutter. Lethal covered Gresham, who put his foot on the bottom rope to break the pin while using his first rope break. [C]
Lethal caught Gresham in a Boston Crab. Coleman said that Lethal knew that Gresham wasn’t going to tap, but he was trying to force a rope break. Gresham reached for the ropes moments later to use his second rope break. Lethal sold an arm injury from an earlier hold. Gresham targeted the arm. Lethal returned the favor by wrenching the left arm of Gresham.
Lethal called out Lethal Injection, but his arm gave out when he did the handspring into the ropes. Gresham tried to pounce on him, but Lethal ended up applying a crossface. Gresham reached out for the ropes, but Lethal hooked his arm. Gresham eventually reached the ropes to use his final rope break. Both men stood up and went for moves on the other’s bad arm. Gresham did a head-scissors into a pin, then hooked the legs of Lethal and got the three count.
Jonathan Gresham defeated Jay Lethal in 16:40 to retain the ROH Pure Wrestling Championship.
After the match, Lethal showed a little frustration, but he and Gresham adhered to the Code of Honor with a post match handshake while both sold their left arm injuries…
Riccaboni hyped the main event… [C]
Powell’s POV: A nice match. These two could have filled another fifteen minutes with ease, but it was an enjoyable match with both men making great use of the Pure Rules format.
Highlights aired from the first episode of ROH Wrestling with Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas defeating Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli (Cesaro)… Entrances for the main event took place. Riccaboni thanked Cary Silkin, the late Doug Gentry, Bobby Cruise, and Todd Sinclair. He also spoke Jay Briscoe working on the first ROH show and being managed by his underage brother Mark Briscoe. Riccaboni also thanked the production crew members by name…
Powell’s POV: I apologize if I missed something, but I didn’t hear any mention of former ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky. I know things have been ugly between the two sides at times over the years, but it would have been a nice gesture had they let bygones be bygones by having Riccaboni thank Sapolsky by name even though he wasn’t involved in the ROH Wrestling television show era.
2. Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe. Sinclair was the referee. Riccaboni thanked Joe Koff, Jim Cornette, and others while the match got underway. With Mark on the apron, Jay caught him with a big boot that sent him to the floor. Jay leapt onto Mark heading into a break. [C]
Mark dropkicked Jay through the ropes and sent him to ringside. Mark delivered a Cactus Jack elbow drop off the apron. Later, the brothers traded forearm shots on the apron. Jay headbutted Mark, then put him up on his shoulders, but Mark escaped and knocked Jay to the floor, then performed a Blockbuster off the apron.
Mark grabbed a chair and set it up in the ring. Mark ran the ropes, but Jay rushed back inside the ring and gave Mark a Death Valley Driver onto the chair. Damn! Jay followed up with a neckbreaker and covered Mark for a two count. One of the brothers cussed and was censored… [C]
Mark performed Froggy Bow and got a near fall. Jay came back with the Jay Driller and covered Mark for a near fall of his own. The broadcast team made a big fuss over Mark kicking out of his brother’s finisher. Jay blasted Mark with a forearm to the head and then performed a second Jay Driller, but Mark rolled to ringside to avoid being pinned.
The Briscoes fought at ringside where Mark got the better of the exchange. Mark placed Jay on top of a table, then went up top and performed an elbow drop that drove Jay through the table. Both Briscoes were down. Mark beat the referee’s count at 19 while Jay was counted out.
Mark Briscoe defeated Jay Briscoe via count-out.
Mark offered Jay a post match handshake. Jay hugged his brother instead…
Graphics listed Eli Isom vs. Dak Draper, and Brody King, Homicide, and Chris Dickinson vs. Rush, Kenny King, and Bestia del Ring in a six-man tag match for next week’s show…
A graphic noted that ROH wished to thank all the wrestlers who competed on ROH TV, all the staff and crew plus those behind the scenes who had been there for all 500 episodes, Joe Koff, Gary Juster, (booker) Hunter Johnston, Mark Davis, and “the best fans on the planet”…
Powell’s POV: A fun main event. I would have rolled my eyes had someone told me in advance that the match was going to end via count-out, but the Briscoes made it work with Mark barely beating the count while Jay was struggling to return to the ring.
Overall, ROH did a nice job with the 500th episode. They picked the right main event and I enjoyed the Pure Championship match. It’s a shame that they couldn’t do a two-hour special to mark the occasion, but it is what it is and they made the most out of the hour they had to work with. Congratulations to ROH on the milestone. And bonus points for including graphics that promote next week’s show. My weekly audio review of ROH Wrestling will be available for Dot Net Members later today.