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Brody King and Shane Taylor Brutalise for Honor

Ring of Honor Episode #480 Review

The road to Final Battle is seemingly well-paved at this point. With just over two weeks remaining before Ring of Honor’s first pay per view in… well… a REALLY long time, the picture of what will become of a company that found itself in dire straits is clear; they intend to restore honor (yes, I used the tagline in the hokiest of ways). The Pure Tournament bourgeoning a new division; Brody King and Shane Taylor making their way into the main event scene; The Foundation rounding out as a genuinely formidable stable by revealing Rhett Titus as the red octopus man (supposedly); the absolute boy-popper that was the return of Mike Bennett and the reformation of the original Kingdom; Jay Briscoe and EC3 beating the absolute crap out of each other; and Quinn McKay telling twitter trolls to shut up because the women’s division IS important and it WILL be a focus.

Ring of Honor needed change, big change, and that is exactly what has transpired. The most amazing aspect of all of this: we haven’t even seen Rush, Dragon Lee, Bandido, Danhausen, Flip Gordon, Joe Hendry or PCO yet. There is a lot to look forward to throughout the month of December and into 2021.

While ROH obviously still isn’t garnering the buzz it probably should have due to the output of the previous two months of television, those that are paying attention have been successfully hooked. AEW has taken a significant chunk of the New Japan and ROH audience that weren’t necessarily die-hard fans of the promotions themselves, and while New Japan’s road to the Tokyo Dome has been pretty rocky at times, ROH has nailed almost every aspect of their return. The countdown to the last (and one of the only) ROH pay per views of the year is upon us, and with every title on the line, things only look to get hotter from here. Let’s just say, I am going to have a membership to HonorClub for the first time in a long time…It is a good thing I don’t have children because the WWE Network, New Japan World, IWTV, Dragon Gate Network, and probably another that I have forgotten about may keep my wee babies from getting fresh socks every so often…but I don’t…so MAKE IT RAIN!

Josh Woods vs. Jay Lethal

I’m beating this horse to absolute death, but I think I had an epiphany regarding the pre-match video packages that air before important matches. It would be incredibly goofy to do every promo in-ring or backstage. Perhaps that should have been obvious, but the fact that they are STILL being produced has surprised me to a certain extent—they’re still wonderful by the way.

Speaking of surprises, Jay Lethal has been on almost every show in a Pure Rules match post-tournament. While Gresham is the Pure Champion, Lethal seems to be the one truly spearheading the division. Gresham was selling an injury in the latter rounds of the tournament, so perhaps that was more legitimate than I had initially anticipated. I am certainly not complaining because Woods and Gresham in a Pure match is exactly what we should be seeing out of this reignited division. While Lethal is a Tag Team Champion and could find himself in other divisions quite easily, I can’t say the same for Woods. Keeping the Pure division going week to week should work wonders for guys like Woods. On the other side of that coin, I have FAR more desire to see Lethal work guys like Woods than I want to see him work guys like LSG…no offense intended.

This match has an interesting dynamic because you would characterize both men as “technical wrestlers”. However, Lethal is more of a “professional wrestler” juxtaposed to Woods’ amateur background. Woods has a counter game that almost immediately looks superior to Lethal’s. It doesn’t hurt that Woods is a handful of years younger than Lethal. I would go so far as to say Woods was kicking Lethal’s ass in the first five minutes. The power, the speed and the tenacity all seem to be on the side of Woods in the early going.

Obviously Lethal gets some heat back because this was never going to be a squash, but even when both men are starting to deteriorate, Woods is looking like the more imposing character. Lethal uses his intelligence and experience to get the best of Woods in certain exchanges, but when it comes to the most significant power offense, Lethal is putty in Woods’ hands.

This is a nearly perfect television match—the fifteen minute time limits of Pure matches give closing sequences a palpable sense of drama and, when executed in the way Woods and Gresham executed it, it pulls you in. I mentioned Woods’ counter wrestling in the first two minutes of the match; it just so happens that was the thread running through the entire bout. I adored everything about this, especially the last two minutes. The method Woods used to reverse the Lethal Injection into a rear-naked choke led to an exclamation of “NICE!”…WHAT THE HELL, PEOPLE?! WATCH THIS SHOW!

While “Trending with Taven” is a neat segment that I have a lot of interest in due to the return of Mike Bennett (entire segment streaming on HonorClub), Mark Briscoe decided to cut a promo about going after the tag titles at Final Battle. With Jay transfixed on EC3, it looks as though Mark wants to be a twelve-time champion, regardless of who his partner is. I wish Mark Briscoe had his own talk show…give that man a prime time slot and take every penny I have.

Brody King vs. Shane Taylor

This match is being sold as one that has ROH World Title implications, as well it should considering the two men involved. We didn’t get to these two by pure happenstance; Brody beat Dalton Castle in an absolute ripper and Shane was finally able to topple the man he never could in Kenny King. While I would be more than intrigued to see either of these guys take on Rush, I think I am pulling for big Brody in this one. I became a Shane Taylor truther over the summer; I am completely sold on that man’s ability to put together an incredible main event match…but Brody is just an absolute freak. In fact, he puts his freakishness over as the one obvious advantage he has over Taylor. Right now, Brody is the definition of “speak softly and carry a big stick”. He isn’t shouting into the camera, telling you he is a monster, comparing himself to a locomotive…he is simply informing the audience that he is an extremely dangerous man. At the same time, Taylor had a genuinely historic television title run that ended not all that long ago, relatively speaking. Taylor has been the man at the top of the heap far longer than Brody has been and he is very matter of fact about how good he has been in the recent past. Taylor doesn’t have any hate or anger directed toward Brody. Taylor’s ambitions are focused solely on himself and being the absolute best. I mean…this is genuine main event stuff, folks.

If you have watched as much professional wrestling as I have, you would have bet your entire life savings on this match starting with a test of strength. While that bet was indeed a sure thing, it wasn’t a Hogan/Andre Greco-Roman knuckle lock for fifteen minutes—it was more like one minute followed by several minutes of Brody King exercising demons on Shane Taylor. Just as I was beginning to feel surprised regarding the amount of offense Brody was getting, everything took a complete 180-degree turn. I genuinely thought Taylor cracked Brody’s head open on the ringside area with an elevated DDT. I was expecting big beefy boys being beefy, but I guess I should raise my expectations for these ROH main events…

The way these guys are able to “easily” toss each other around is wildly impressive. As I have stated before, I watch these shows and write about them as I see them…I don’t start compiling my thoughts once a show ends…and literally thirty seconds after “toss each other around”, Brody absolutely spikes Shane with one of the nastiest Death Valley Drivers into the turnbuckle that I have ever seen. I have seen junior heavyweights land the way Taylor did at that moment, but not a man that is a solid three and a half biscuits. My face and a phonetic re-enactment of the noise I made: O-O “BUUUUUUUUUH!”…moving on…

The strike battle that ensues after the commercial break is easily comparable to the most physical strike battles you would see throughout the stiffest bits of Japan; it just so happens that this strike battle utilizes three hundred pound piledrivers as the cherries on top…I laughed out loud when I saw this had only been ten minutes because it felt so much longer in the best type of way.

Once again, we had an ROH main event that delivered on every single level—I can only describe this match as “brutal”. It is not the greatest match I have ever seen, but that is NOT what this was aspiring to be. This was meant to leave you with your mouth agape, truly believing that whoever came out of this on top deserved a shot at the ROH World Championship. While it has not yet been made official, based on what I have seen up to this point, Rush versus Brody King is going to BANG.

Guys… seriously… watch this show… please? For me? What are you doing on Monday? Watching Raw? That is three hours… at best, only one of those hours is worthwhile… watch this show instead… that is all the pleading I will do…for now.

Written by Andrew Stewart

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