This week’s ROH TV sees two marquee matches that have ROH fans very excited; Pure Champion Jonathan Gresham vs. Fred Yehi, then, in a much-anticipated encounter, the Briscoes are set to go at it, one-on-one, as they take part in ROH’s first cinematic match, the ‘Fight on the Farm’ in what promises to be one crazy, bruising encounter.
Let’s get to the ring and get into it!
ROH Pure Champion Jonathan Gresham vs. Fred Yehi
The story going into this one was that Fred Yehi had previously taken a closed fist to the face in a Pure Rules match and had since denounced the division as being hypocritical. Jonathan Gresham took exception to what he saw as the tarring of ‘his’ division due to the actions of one man. Add in the fact that both men trained together under the same man, Jay Fury, when they were coming up, and you had all the ingredients for a heated encounter.
And make no mistake, this was a heated, excellent encounter that told a marvelous story. Gresham is not used to being driven to a stalemate early on, which is exactly what Yehi was able to achieve, frustrating the champ and proving how well the challenger knew him. A slick series of counters and reversals saw both men hip toss each other over the ropes where they continued an exchange of headlocks and head scissors on the floor! This oneupmanship seemed to frustrate Yehi, who began pushing back against Gresham in frustration in corner breaks. Pretty soon, both men were grinding their forearms and wrists into each other’s faces, brutally legal in Pure matches, before both men took it back to the mat. Here the champ kept his composure and it rewarded him, eventually tying Yehi up into a pinning situation to retain his title.
The storytelling here was phenomenal. The tale of two men who are excellent at what they do and know each other well, letting stalemates spill into frustration before a calmer head saved the day, was utterly compelling. Afterward, Gresham pushes his title belt into Yehi’s face before adhering to the Code of Honor and Shaking Yehi’s hand. In his post-match comments, Gresham made it clear that he was frustrated by how Yehi had slandered the Pure Division but that Gresham proved he is the figurehead of the Pure Division. He added that he’d be waiting for Yehi after Fred goes back for more training. Ouch.
As for his next challenger, Mike Bennett? Gresham didn’t have much positive to say. You’ve got to earn the Pure Honor, Mike…
Farm Yard Fight: Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe
This one has been brewing between the Briscoes for months, as the great pre-match video demonstrated. The brothers had come to resent each other, with Jay referring to his previous stints as ROH World Heavyweight Champion and that as he’s one year older than Mark, he’ll always be one year better. Mark, meanwhile, just wanted to be respected in his own right. Like Papa Briscoe says: you’ve got to get it out in the open and deal with it, and what better place than the farmyard where the Briscoes spent their formative years together?
This, as far as I’m aware, was ROH’s first cinematic match (do tell me if I’m wrong), although it was less ‘Boneyard Match’ and more just two guys beating the s**t out of each other. It did indeed all take place at the farm, starting in a ring in a barn before wandering across the land.
Jay cracked Mark with a shovel early on, before pushing Mark off the top turnbuckle through a table. Outside the barn, a trough cane into play (of course it did) before Jay set up a plank of wood against the back of a pickup truck. Unfortunately for Jay, that came back to bite him as Mark suplexed him right through the wood!
Jay would soon get his own back, throwing Mark off the roof of an R.V. onto something covered in tarpaulin on the ground. Jay then threw his prone brother on the back of the truck, ordered the cameraman to get in, and then drove off across the farm towards some sort of swamp to give Mark a dunking in the s**t! This was perhaps the only really noticeable cinematic trick here, as when Jay went to the back of the truck to get his brother, Mark was gone. He soon made himself known, jumping out and pounding Jay before hitting him with a sign and choking him with rope. Handily, there was a table in the back of the truck, so Mark set it up, dumped Jay on it, and…jumped out of a tree to put Jay through the wood! Crazy.
This seemed to knock both men daft, as Papa Briscoe came and helped lead both men back to the ring in the barn where both men collapsed on the mat. Papa kept asking if both men were “good yet” but evidently they weren’t, because they kept throwing shots at each other. Eventually, though, both men agreed they were good, ending the match. Papa seemed happy with that, telling the brothers they need to get back to being the baddest team on the planet, before telling them to clean up the shit they’ve knocked everywhere.
A strange ending, although I get what they were trying to accomplish, that idea of the brothers clearing the air, rather than it being about a winner or loser. I’m not sure it quite worked on that level, but in and of itself it was an entertaining brawl with a couple of absolutely crazy moments (the R.V. and tree spots) that made it well worth a watch. Where the Briscoes go from here is another question…
This was a very good episode of ROH TV as we move closer to the Best of the World PPV on July 11th. Jonathan Gresham and Fred Yehi demonstrated why the Pure Division is one of the most exciting things in wrestling currently and why Gresham is genuinely one of the best in the world right now, and Yehi’s no slouch either. Their match was full of fire, technique, and storytelling and was genuinely entertaining from bell to bell.
Meanwhile, the Briscoes took it to the farm and, while I’m not quite sure the match achieved what it wanted to, the brothers put on a match that was certainly unique in ROH’s sphere, made a nice contrast to the opener, and gave further evidence of why the Briscoes are genuinely two of the craziest damn people you ever could meet in the grappling game.