Ring of Honor crowns a new Pure Champion following tournament

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/11/02/ring-of-honor-crowns-a-new-pure-champion-following-tournament/

Ring of Honor aired the finals of the Pure Title tournament over the weekend and crowned its new champion following the match between Jonathan Gresham and Tracy “Hot Sauce” Williams.

Gresham’s path to the final featured victories against Wheeler Yuta, Matt Sydal, and Josh Woods while Williams was victorious over Rust Taylor, Fred Yehi, and Jay Lethal. The latter was a submission victory by Williams using the crossface against the Gresham’s tag team partner with many assuming it would feature the ROH tag champions squaring off in the final.

Gresham attacked Williams’ injured shoulder, who overcame the injury to hit a piledriver while using the opposite arm to direct the move.

The story of the match included the stat that Gresham only required two rope breaks throughout the tournament but needed all three in this match, including one for the crossface that was significantly played up after Williams’ submission of Lethal.

After the final rope break, Gresham caught Williams with the Octopus stretch as both fell to the mat with Williams submitting in 14 minutes and 36 seconds.

Afterward, the two shook hands as Jay Lethal celebrated with his tag partner and the show concluded.

The ROH Pure Championship was introduced in 2004 with AJ Styles serving as its inaugural holder. The title was designed to place a spotlight on technical wrestlers contested within the parameters of limited rope breaks and outlawed closed-fist punches.

The title was utilized for two years and unified with the ROH championship in August 2006 when ROH champion Bryan Danielson defeated Pure champion Nigel McGuinness in Liverpool, England in a classic match.

This past weekend’s episode of ROH also featured a six-man tag with Shane Taylor Promotions (Shane Taylor, Malcolm Moses & Bishop Khan) defeating EC3 & The Briscoe Brothers. The finish occurred after Mark Briscoe missed Froggy Bow and Taylor hit him with Greetings from 216.

Really enjoyed this tournament. Even if the finish of the final match seemed a bit abrupt and came just as the match seemed to be building steam, it made logical sense after the semi-finals - Williams had been forcing his opponents to use up their rope breaks, but there was a tremendous bulls-eye on his left shoulder. The Williams/Lethal match was by far and away my favourite match of the whole tourney, and put Lethal in a Tanahashi-esque elder statesman type role I think he’s really well-suited for in the years to come.

As much as this tourney drew me in to several weeks of RoH TV, it really put in sharp relief how derivative and flat their more commonplace TV programs and characters are. Having store-brand Rob Zombie and Tayven insert themselves into this stripped-down, sports-heavy tourney reminded me of why I just haven’t cared much about RoH over the past few years. I think the Pure title is something that could really set RoH apart from Impact and other indie NA wrestling that seems to be searching for a sense of identity moving forward, and I hope they keep a strong focus on it even if/when their TV presentation returns to normal(ish).

The title match was shorter than I anticipated, but I still thought it was strong.

I liked how they stated at the top of the episode that Matt Taven and Vincent had been fined for their brawls the previous weeks and warned not to do so. It indicates ROH taking a more serious direction again and probably holds off the hardcore matches so as to make them more special later on.

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This was a perfectly booked tournament, even if the final match just kind of ended.

I really liked the Jay Lethal/Williams semi final match and really think ROH shows have been a lot better since they returned.

But the Vincent/Taven stuff just isn’t working. I’d almost like them to focus more on the Pure division until fans come back.

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