Pre-Show: Rey Horus def. Demonic Flamita
The breakup of MexiSquad has made for some excellent matches since the 19th Anniversary Show, including this outing. It was the perfect match to kick off Ring of Honor's first show back with fans as they worked an energetic pace. I felt Flamita had more going for him as a heel with the new entrance and everything, but Horus winning instead isn't a huge deal. This was an enjoyable encounter as expected.
Pre-Show: Kenny King Addressed the Audience
King received more of a favorable reaction from the crowd than I would have expected given he's a heel. He didn't have a match on this show, It was cool to hear from him for a few minutes. He hyped up the two La Faccion Ingobernable matches on this show and said they were taking the titles back home. I'm surprised King hasn't been booted from the group yet, but maybe it's coming at some point.
Pre-Show: The Righteous Attacked Matt Taven on Trending with Taven
I was wondering why a blow-off match between Taven and Vincent (which is desperately needed) wasn't added to this card, but we found out here it was because it will happen on Night 2 of Glory by Honor next month and it will headline inside a cage. That's great and all, but why would they take the stakes down a notch? Taven was willing to leave ROH simply so he could have one more match with Vincent, and then Vincent asked him to put his title shot on the line instead. That was underwhelming and didn't make much sense. It was a solid segment otherwise, though.
Pre-Show: PCO and Danhausen def. The Bouncers
Damn, Danhausen was over. I'm happy he's apparently full-time with ROH because he won me over with his work online right before the pandemic. He's a blast and the audience was super into him here, which made for a fun match. Danhausen and PCO work well together as a team while The Bouncers served as nice foils for them. Post-match, PCO and Sledge teased facing off eventually.
The Briscoes def. PJ Black and Danhausen
Johnson has come so far during the pandemic period for ROH that I wish he didn't go back to teaming with Black. I like Black and I'm glad he's back for the first time in over a year, but Johnson has proven he can hang on his own. His pre-match promo running down the audience was just terrific. Similar to PCO and Danhausen vs. The Bouncers on the pre-show, this was all about these teams wanting to work their way up the tag team rankings. This was a solid match to get The Briscoes back on track following their recent fight on the farm.
EC3 def. Flip Gordon
Gordon earned an ROH World Championship opportunity all the way back at Final Battle 2019. The commentators announced that he'll finally be getting his shot on August 21st on Night 1 of Glory by Honor. With that in mind, I assumed he'd be winning here, but apparently not. I actually didn't have an issue with the outcome since EC3 lost to Jay Briscoe at the 19th Anniversary Show and needed a win on pay-per-view. It must have been an awesome feeling for him to be back in front of fans for the first time in almost two years. The two of their styles didn't mesh too well and it wasn't the most exciting outing, but what we got from them was good. The dynamic just felt off. We haven't seen the last of this feud based on their interaction afterward.
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions Shane Taylor Promotions (Shane Taylor and Soldiers of Savagery) def. Dalton Castle, Dak Draper and Eli Isom
Shane Taylor Promotions haven't been champions very long, so I didn't think the titles were truly in jeopardy of changing hands here. That said, Castle works best when he has one or two other people to play off of, so I like the idea of him taking Draper and Isom under his wing. They're not The Boys, but the trio has potential if they stick together. This was a well-wrestled match while it lasted with the right trio going over. Draper and Isom have improved since the relaunch and maybe aligning with Castle will help them develop their characters.
Josh Woods def. Silas Young in a Last Man Standing Match
Young has had success in Last Man Standing matches in the past, which is why I really liked that being the stipulation for this rubber match in their rivalry. There were definitely points where it dragged, but on the whole, it was well worked and there were enough high risk spots to keep the crowd engaged. Woods is very talented and this was a big win for him. Here's hoping he can capitalize off this and enter contention for a championship sooner rather than later.
Brody King def. Jay Lethal
I personally don't care much for the faction wars involving these two, but Lethal and King are two of the very best in the company right now and this lived up to the hype. I was happy that there was no outside interference and that the attention was entirely on them. They could have gone a few more minutes, but this was designed to make King look dominant and his decisive win accomplished that. This was a hell of a hard-hitting affair that cemented King as a top talent on the roster. It was already apparent to an extent, but he needed a high-profile win on a big stage and this was it.
ROH Pure Championship Jonathan Gresham def. Mike Bennett in a Pure Rules Match
Gresham has been absolutely killing it in the role of Pure Champion since late last year and has been having stellar matches with pretty much everybody. This was no exception. Hell, this might have been his best bout yet as champ. Credit to Bennett as well for putting forth an exceptional effort. I don't care what anyone says; he was absolutely wasted in WWE. These 20 minutes were a war and Bennett looked great in defeat. I'd love to see a rematch eventually. The crowd was quiet at times, but I understand that "pure" wrestling isn't for everyone and isn't the most exhilarating style.
Dragon Lee def. Tony Deppen to Win the ROH World Television Championship
Deppen is a hell of a wrestler, but I still don't know much about him aside from how he's a member of Violence Unlimited and that he's mostly portrayed as an underdog. It's hard to care about him as a result, not to mention that his title win came completely out of nowhere. In fact, I would've liked to see Tracy Williams hold the gold a little longer before he lost it to Deppen almost immediately. Lee getting the belt back was the right call, but the title changing hands three times in the span of a few months seems unnecessary. These two had a quality contest and I appreciated that the outside interference from King was kept to a minimum halfway through.
Violence Unlimited (Homicide and Chris Dickinson) def. The Foundation (ROH Pure Champion Jonathan Gresham and Rhett Titus) in a Fight Without Honor to Win the ROH World Tag Team Championship
Lethal was supposed to defend the tag titles on behalf of The Foundation alongside Titus, but because he was (likely kayfabe) injured against King, Gresham filled in for him. Tracy Williams is currently recovering from being hit by a car a few months ago, so here's wishing him a speedy recovery. Making this a Fight Without Honor was a smart move as it was right in the wheelhouse of Violence Unlimited and made the match stand out from everything else on the show. This was an entertaining sprint with the tag titles changing hands yet again. It told a simple story of Gresham already being burned out from his lengthy title defense and that costing his team the win.
Chelsea Green Debuted
A tournament to crown a new ROH Women's Champion was announced a while ago, but we finally found out here from Maria Kanellis-Bennet that it kicks off on the July 31st edition of ROH TV (or August 2nd if you're like me and watch it when it becomes available to watch online on Mondays). With Vita being removed from the bracket, Green emerged to take her place. She's a great get for ROH's women's division. This was probably the most I've heard from her since her IMPACT days, and it was only fitting that Maria introduced her considering their history in that promotion. Her 90 days were technically up next weekend, but Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful confirmed that she was among those who asked for an early out. Speaking of her injury, she's still sporting a wrist brace, but she said she'll be cleared to compete by next month.
Bandido def. Rush to Win the ROH World Championship
I figured this would be a wonderful main event given the level of talent involved and I wasn't disappointed. Bandido hasn't been featured as a world title contender at all up to this point, but he's so damn good that I'm complaining. He's a fresh face and him taking the title made for a genuinely shocking moment. That was the loudest pop of the night! The fluky finish wasn't ideal, and I could have done without La Faccion Ingobernable laying out Rush afterward, but this was a strong main event overall. The main event scene needed a shot in the arm with Rush having been on top nearly non-stop since September 2019 and ROH was wise to wait until fans returned to pull the trigger on the title change.
This was a loaded card on paper and they filled the four hours (one of which was the pre-show) well. The biggest positive of this show, along with the excellent in-ring action, was having fans back in the building. It didn't sound like there were a ton of them and they weren't always rowdy, but it was better than the empty arena atmosphere that we've gotten from ROH since the September relaunch. Unfortunately, there won't be fans for the next set of TV tapings, but there will be fans for Glory by Honor next month. As for this event, it featured a ton of top-notch wrestling. The issue with ROH's pay-per-views is that they lack must-see moments that will get people talking. Green's debut was notable and the three title changes (including the major one in the main event) were a step in the right direction. The weekly ROH product is the best it's been in years, but I want them to generate more buzz so they can get the exposure they deserve.