The last few weeks of ROH have been adding a tablespoon or two of flour to the delicious drippings of this show (that makes gravy, if you were unaware). We have a far more succulent mid-card as we begin marching toward Ring of Honor’s 19th Anniversary event. With OGK, The Righteous, World Famous CB and The Bouncers being introduced into storylines alongside the likes of La Faccion Ingobernables, Shane Taylor Promotions and The Foundation, not to mention the YouTube specials such as the Danhausen and Brian Johnson match, ROH is becoming an even richer wrestling experience.
This week is seemingly continuing that trend, with Wheeler Yuta, Fred Yehi and Tony Deppen all being highlighted. While Deppen has showed out previously, especially in his match with Dragon Lee, we haven’t seen as much of Yuta and Yehi. I have been seeing quite a bit of Yuta and Yehi on the indies in recent months, but if memory serves correct, this is their first return to ROH since their eliminations from the Pure Tournament that was held so many months ago.
I am already excited because, due to the insane winter storms in Texas, it is currently Tuesday night and I have not yet watched a single second of Monday’s show; this was the first episode since Gresham’s initial Pure Championship victory that an episode has had genuine buzz on Twitter. Perhaps that is due to the inclusion of Yehi and Yuta and the desire people have to see them succeed, but either way, I feel proud to be able to continue to carry the torch for the wrestlers I have become attached to.
Tangentially, Ring of Honor has now been back for six months. This doesn’t seem like it should be as big of a deal that it is, but I feel safe emotionally investing in these performers. I can’t say that for many promotions right now other than AEW, ROH and Dragon Gate. I don’t feel like I am simply waiting for ROH to screw it up, and that is exactly how I feel about certain promotions that only a short two years ago I was in love with… so, kudos.
Tony Deppen vs. LSG
Tony Deppen is such a perfect fit for this iteration of Ring of Honor. It isn’t like he is some kind of old-timer, but with so many YOUNG wrestlers signing contracts to larger promotions, Deppen has essentially assumed the role of the indie veteran. To put that into perspective, the man wrestled a two-hour iron man match at GCW’s Fight Forever. The match itself is not something that I would say should be re-visited, but it was a two hour iron man match…and that is pretty ridiculous. He is definitely the type of guy that could thrive in the Pure Division, especially with highly experienced performers on the other side of the ring.
I honestly haven’t gotten all that much out of LSG up to this point; he is objectively a good wrestler, but I just don’t feel much watching him. In all fairness, I have only seen two or three of his matches and I can easily admit that is not nearly a large enough sample size to formulate an earnest opinion. Above all else, I am very interested in who comes out on top in this match. Not that the man on the losing end will be forgotten, but it feels like the one to get the win here will have more focus on them than the other in the short term.
These boys are doing some WRASSLIN’! I really like the story they are telling because LSG genuinely annoyed me for a bit. As I said, both of these guys are currently fighting for a spot and LSG isn’t too pleased with Deppen for winning that Television Championship Number One Contender match at Final Battle last year. Beyond that, LSG is shouting phrases such as “show me” and “prove to me that you belong”; I found this annoying because I found myself thinking “well, who are you to say that?”, but that is what makes it so good. LSG has been in ROH forever and for Deppen to get that spot in Final Battle is an affront to everything LSG has worked for up to this point. As far as the actual work-rate, if this were one of those touring television tapings with four-hundred people in the crowd, they would have been loving what these two are producing in the first five or so minutes.
I was already pulling for Deppen to come out on top in this one, but when he begins taking all of the heat from LSG, it solidified my desire. Once Deppen begins getting his heat back, this match does what you want every match to do; it hits a higher gear. There are striking and grappling exchanges that don’t look like they belong on a television opener, but that is Ring of Honor in 2021. The closing moments of this match were filled with the type of drama that has you pop a few inches off of your couch when you think your guy is about to win. Unfortunately, my guy did not win, but LSG looked much better in this match than I had seen up to this point. This match was absolutely delightful and is a perfect representation of what Ring of Honor is attempting to produce in this new era. I imagine LSG will be moving up the rankings for the ROH Television Championship after this little banger, and I can’t imagine this is the last we will see of Deppen.
Meanwhile, The Briscoes talk about a boat and get back together… go watch the family therapy session with Dr. Quinn McKay… like right now… leave this tab open, and go do it… do it.
Jonathan Gresham, Tracy Williams and Fred Yehi vs. Jay Lethal, Rhett Titus and Wheeler Yuta
As a response to last week’s multi-man tag completely falling apart into chaos as ROH went off the air, The Foundation proposed a gentlemanly contest between Foundation members and a couple of newcomers. While last week’s main event was certainly fun (especially Flip Gordon getting massacred), this should be fun in a completely different way. I don’t think there could be a clearer example of “proving ground” for Yehi and Yuta, being teamed up with arguably one of the greatest active factions. I especially enjoy Jay Lethal being a complete dork as he was setting up this match and being filled with glee when Williams agreed to start the match with Lethal on the other side. I don’t know why…but I feel like I am waiting on a Jay Lethal heel turn. I don’t know if he is being a goof on purpose, or if he is being a bit of a d**k. Time will tell.
To be honest, I did not look at my laptop once while watching this match. By the time it was over I could not believe seventeen minutes had passed. While there wasn’t much in the way of storyline advancement, there are a couple of important notes. Aside from Masquerade and Team Taz, The Foundation is definitely my favorite faction. As far as who was the standout in this particular match, it was definitely Fred Yehi. That is no slight toward Yuta because I have seen him have some absolutely stellar matches, but Fred is just a different beast. For a man of that size to move the way he does is something special.
This entire main event existed as a juxtaposition to last week’s main event. Both were great in their own little ways. This match took a little while to really get going, but it didn’t drag because all of the wrestlers looked as though they were having a genuinely good time. The final important moment of note was Rhett Titus ultimately getting the victory. While I wouldn’t say Rhett needs to “prove himself”, it is good for him to get high profile wins to solidify the idea that he isn’t a middling mid-card act anymore.
I don’t want it to seem like I am hand waving the main event because I’m not, it was a lot of fun…but next week…next week is going to be absolutely absurd, so I apologize if my attention is diverted away from this multi-man tag. Next week we have The Briscoes in a tag match against Dragon Lee and Kenny King, and in the main event, Shane Taylor Promotions finally gets their shot at the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Titles against the Mexisquad! BANDIDO IS BACK BABY! That show is going to bang, but a mere seven days later, Shane Taylor will be facing Rush for the ROH World Championship. There is a lot to love right now. There is a lot to look forward to. This is not a fluke—Ring of Honor well on its way back to being in a perpetual state of critical acclaim.