We take a look at a match out of Ireland, as Jonathan Gresham’s tour of Europe took him to Fight Factory Pro.
This one comes from the Fight Factory in Dublin, in front of a limited crowd of just fifty people… and it feels weird to see Fabio, a guy who I saw live either making his debut or in one of his first matches back at the “Big Sean” in 2018 is in the main event here.
Pure Rules for ROH World Championship: Fabio vs. Jonathan Gresham (c)
I know what you’re thinking – the result’s probably telegraphed, but let’s enjoy the journey. We’re under Pure rules because the ROH title’s on the line, which means we’re counting rope breaks.
Fabio’s of course the home-town favourite, and looked like he had a few butterflies during the pre-match honours. Those quickly flew away as he took down Gresham in a wristlock, but it’s quickly escaped as the pair stood off, before a drop toe hold from Gresham ended a series of standing switches in the ropes… forcing Fabio to burn a rope break. Cheeky.
More standing waistlock switches see Fabio look to get a receipt, knocking Gresham into the ropes as the champion burned a rope break too, which clearly annoyed Gresham. Looking for a hold, Gresham scored with a headlock takedown for a series of two-counts, with Fabio rolling through for one of his own before he picked the leg and grabbed a toe hold. A open handed slap from Fabio keeps him ahead as the pair hit the ropes, leading to a dropkick that took down Gresham. Fabio looks for a 619, but Gresham avoids it and went to work with some armdrags, focusing on the youngster’s left arm as he tied it up on the mat while torquing the other. Gresham’s crucifix gets a two-count as he followed up with a snap armdrag to take Fabio into the corner, before an attempted kicks as caught, with Fabio getting tapped in a hammerlock’d armbar on the deck.
Gresham followed that up with a toe hold as he rolled to the mat for a two-count… while another flash exchange ended with a low dropkick to the knee as Fabio forced his opening. Fabio escapes a back suplex, but so did Gresham… so Fabio changes up for a Dragon screw as he took Gresham to the mat for a Figure Four… forcing Gresham to burn his second rope break. Resuming, Gresham worked an uppercut to Fabio’s arm, prompting the challenger to come back with kicks and a roundhouse to the back of the head, before a Fisherman suplex nearly drew the win. From the kickout, Gresham targets the arm once more, landing a stomp and a Magistral cradle for a near-fall, while he then walked Fabio up for another roll-up.
Fabio returned by rolling through a crucifix as the pair trade Magistrals, but Gresham changed it up with a Euro clutch for a near-fall as Fabio came close to defeat. Leaping over Gresham in the corner, Fabio lands an enziguiri, then a 619 to the back of the knee in the corner, while a springboard dropkick to the knee and a cutter forced Gresham to use his last rope break – draping a leg on the rope just in time to save the three-count. Staying on Gresham, Fabio reapplied the Figure Four, knowing Gresham had no more rope breaks left… so all Gresham could do was use the ropes to pull himself and Fabio to the apron, before one more twist saw the pair fall to the floor. That’d break the hold… and likely your knee!
We’re working with a 20-count, which both men beat with time to spare as Fabio looked to go back to the Figure Four. Gresham pushes away, but jarred his knee on a leapfrog as Fabio had done some damage (as had the floor), so we go to strikes as Fabio aimed for the knee, then rolled through a ‘rana for a near-fall. They continue to exchange pinning attempts, as a Samoan driver nearly wins it for Fabio, as the pair then began to exchange elbow strikes.
A rolling elbow from Fabio stunned Gresham briefly, but they continue to boo/yay those strikes, before an enziguiri and a bridging German drew a two-count for Gresham. He baits Fabio to the ropes ahead of a second German suplex, but there’s no rope break… nor was there on a strait-jacket German… before a sleeperhold led to referee Niall Fox waving off the match. THis was a fantastic outing, with Fabio keeping pace with Gresham before the hattrick of German suplexes sapped too much energy and led to a pretty straightforward TKO win.
Result: Jonathan Gresham defeated Fabio via referee stoppage in 18:29 – Gresham retained the ROH World Championship (***¾)