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Ring of Honor - Pure Title Revival - Part 3

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G. Badger

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Here we are at week # 4 of ROH's Pure Title Tournament. This week was the weakest on paper to me with Tracy Williams being the only guy I actively enjoy. PJ Black is cool but, the other two I've never heard of. 

That being said, everyone's interviews got me psyched on them and the match. Rust Taylor seems like a real star in the making for ROH and if they sign him would be perfect for their roster. I guess he's been working NJPW. And Tony Deppen no one even on the show seems to know where he came from but dammit, he's a punk rock skater who's a technical wrestler! I've got to support him!

Tracy Williams vs Rust Taylor: The first match but, very good stuff from both men. Taylor looked to have the weight advantage on Hot Sauce as well as a solid gameplan. Tracy looked in big trouble once the arm work started getting to him. He doesn't have the arm/shoulder bandaged anymore but, its got to be a psychological weak point if not a physical one. Very good match overall. I thought the finish was rather quick but, Hot Sauce did push that combination of moves as a finisher so, I bought it. 

PJ Black vs Tony Deppen: PJ the Darewolf looked to have Deppen squashed after the first few minutes. His size/physique advantage as well as his experience looked to me too much for Deppen. But like a true underdog, Tony wouldn't quit and went for broke! Busting out some stiff strikes and a Shiryu/Homicide dive that was killer! The finish was pretty great as PJ had to empty the tank to keep his hungry opponent down. 

Overall, this was another great week of wrestling. I thought this was going to be the weakest show but, honestly was one of the better ones as there was a strong simple story for both matches. Little known underdogs taking on ROH talent to advance in the Pure Tournament and secure a spot. I don't know if this is the last we'll see of these two but, I hope not. In fact, they really have the guys to make a shoot style/strong style stable with these two along with perhaps Hot Sauce and Yehi (maybe Gresham?). I'm going to sound like a broken record but, I really prefer to see these type of wrestlers in ROH. 

We're on to round #2 with the brackets looking like this:

Jay Lethal vs David Finaly (A)
Jonathan Gresham vs Matt Sydal (B)
Fred Yehi vs Tracy Williams (A)
Josh Woods vs PJ Black (B)

These are 20 minute matches now so, I expect one of these to judge's decision. I'd say Gresham & Sydal or Yehi & Williams. The former would make both guys look strong as you know they're doing something with either after the tournament. Williams vs Yehi has the EVOLVE history behind it and they could use this match as a program starter with the two. They could do the human game of chess type thing for 20 minutes and have it go to a decision. Or with either - they could not :) I think if ROH is adding on 5 minutes they want to show that somehow. No one was disqualified but, that was the "reason" Kenny King lost in the decision with Woods. Also, Hot Sauce if I remember correctly, was down to 0 rope breaks and looked in big trouble. So, ROH rightfully wants to play up the stipulations. I can't see them changing course in Round 2.

I have to see Lethal winning as he is their franchise, ace, etc. I can't see Finlay as an NJ talent going over here. Gresham vs Sydal is trickier. This tournament seems to be a way for Gresham to get singles gold however, ROH has to want to use Sydal big time once things get back to normal. He's still got IT and frankly is ROH's #2 to Lethal in terms of accomplishments within ROH, history and connections to the golden era (which the company is playing up big time with this tournament). So, they could do a lot with either facing Lethal.

You may notice I'm treating it as a forgone conclusion with Lethal facing either Sydal or Gresham in the finals. I could be wrong here. It all depends on how much of push they want to give Yehi, Williams, PJ, and/or Josh Woods. And I suppose, it depends how much of a distinction they want the Pure Title to be. If they want it to be like Shoot Style LITE then, I could see Yehi or Williams going over Lethal. I think it was a pretty big deal with Fred Yehi going over Silas Young. Similarly, I could see Woods over PJ Black. An interesting thought is that ROH still doesn't know how to use Silas. I thought his stable with the Beer City Bruiser and Brian Milonas was pretty fun. But, Silas is top tier heel talent. PJ Black is a guy that I really see the potential in every time he's on TV. This week's Pure Match was no exception. He's got a great look and the moves to also be up there. They're having him mentor Brian Johnson but, I don't know who actually care since Black himself isn't really making waves in the company. The Pure Championship could be a way to do that though. 

If we look back at who were the Pure Champions from its inception in 2004 to its end in 2006 when Unified with the World Title, we might be able to find a pattern or some logic in how this tourney may go. 

Champs in order with defenses and the length of their reign:

AJ Styles (1 defense, 70 days) - Won in a tournament was vacated & never defeated
Doug Williams (3 defenses, 42 days) - Won in a tournament
John Walters (6 defenses, 189 days)
Jay Lethal (2 defenses 63 days)
Samoa Joe (6 defenses, 112 days)
Nigel McGuinness (17 defenses, 350 days)
Bryan Danielson (0, unified with World Title)

The case of AJ and Joe, ROH wanted to have big talent that was signed with TNA still on the marquee. With Joe, it was also about him holding all of the belts in the company and raising the prestige of the Pure Title like he did with the World Title as well. I could see ROH wanting to do that with Jay Lethal as well. He's in a similar situation as they were with Joe. He should be World champ BUT other people need to get pushed and have the spotlight. So, we have him as a secondary champ. 

In the case of Doug Williams, John Walters, Lethal, and Nigel - these were guys Gabe/ROH saw their talent but, perhaps the fans didn't at the time. Its a venue for them to show their skills. I could see Hot Sauce or PJ being in this territory like Walters or Doug Williams. Depending on what they do with Yehi, I could see him being like Nigel in terms of defenses and essentially being on par with the World Champion. He came out like a beast versus Silas so, I hope they continue to book him this way. I could see a Yehi vs Gresham finals...power vs technique. I don't see Josh Woods going to the finals as he looks like he needs a little bit of work still. Like Nigel, he could be that diamond in the rough and down the road he could get better with each show. He's got the look and the combat sports background. He's got some character work to do as well as snug up his strikes a little bit (probably afraid he's going to hurt someone) and I think he can do a lot. 

Anyhow, this is just some brainstorming. I could be totally off base but, its fun to think about :) Oh, there was an EC3 video at the end of ROH TV this week. Looks like he'll be working for both ROH and Impact. I gotta think he's going straight for the World Title. Very excited about this!

Thanks for reading!

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