It’s been a while since we’ve taken a look at ROH – so let’s see what one of the groups we ought to be paying more attention to is doing. Except when we wrote this, their TV was was in a “best of” run, so here’s some of their YouTube stuff!
Jessie Brooks vs. Gabby Ortiz
We’ve a Women of Honor championship tournament qualifier here, and we’ve got Ian Riccaboni in commentary alongside the WOH title belt. Stick a headset on that belt and it’s got to be more eloquent than quite a few commentators I’ve heard…
Ortiz was billed as coming from Philadelphia for the hometown pop, while Brooks has been wrestling for seven years per Cagematch. It’s Brooks who’s got the upper hand early, at least until Ortiz pulls off some headscissors and a rather hesitant hanging dropkick in the corner. She follows that with a dive off the apron that looked more like a slip than anything, before climbing up top for when Brooks returned to the ring… as her crossbody’s caught and turned into a fallaway slam.
Commentary notes that the WOH title tournament will feature several names from STARDOM, but doesn’t name them… meanwhile Ortiz catches Brooks in an Octopus hold, but it’s barely locked on and so Jessie’s able to slide out with ease. Some chops in the corner keep Brookes in, but that rough housing just fires up Ortiz into a series of forearms and kicks, before succeeding with a lifting DDT for a two-count.
Ortiz again heads up top, but she’s caught with a running powerbomb out of the corner as Brooks seemed to be easing ahead, only to get planted with a crucifix driver. Just like that though, Brookes murderises Ortiz with a running lariat, before a bridging Tiger suplex gets “Bonesaw” her spot in the tournament. Ouch. Some of Ortiz’s strikes didn’t look too convincing, but on the whole this was a solid, short match in front of an otherwise disinterested crowd. **½
Britt Baker vs. Deonna Purrazzo
Going to San Antonio for this, with November 2017’s Survival of the Fittest tournament. This was a match that Rev Pro were looking to do in their women’s title tournament in January, but bad weather kept Baker in the States…
From the opening tie-up, both women traded armbars as things were kept simple but technical, with Purrazzo forcing Baker into the ropes from her armbar. After that, Britt escapes a headlock takedown with some headscissors, but Deonna’s able to handstand her way free, before dishing out a couple of armdrags as she tried to soften up for a Fujiwara armbar. Baker makes a comeback, bamboozling Purrazzo with some rope running before grabbing a Slingblade, then a suplex before trolling us all with another rear chinlock! A swinging neckbreaker follows as Baker seemed to be in total control, grabbing a Rings of Saturn only for Purrazzo to roll back to score a near-fall.
The pair trade off on forearms, including a discus forearm duel before a pair of clotheslines left both women down, and it’s Purrazzo who strikes first as she works up into a side legsweep for a near-fall. A pair of suplexes from Deonna lead up to Baker countering with a discus forearm, but it’s not enough for the three-count as Baker heads outside after taking a German suplex for a breather… and she draws Purrazzo out after her, into a superkick on the floor.
Back inside again, Baker goes for another discus forearm, but Deonna ducks and pulls her down into the Fujiwara armbar for the submission. A really good match given the time they had, and now I’m sad I didn’t get to see a version of this live. Damn weather… ***
As a side note, this was the first time I’d heard Colt Cabana on commentary – massive thumbs up to Colt. It seems to be a thing that wrestlers are doing well as commentators as they get into their twilights?
Ryan Nova & Eli Isom vs. Tough Guy Inc. (Bob Evans & Tim Hughes)
Hey, it’s Joe Dombrowski! Former 1PW commentator from way back when he was just a kid!
Nova and Isom were representing the ROH dojo, while “Brutal” Bob has been going since at least 1999. His partner, Tim Hughes? Just the seven… Nova and Hughes start off trading a few holds before Hughes trapped Nova in a small package as they tried for flash pins. Yeah, that wasn’t happening anytime soon! The pair shake hands and tag out, so we get Isom and Evans, who start out shoving each other before they trade off more holds and shoulder tackles. It’s pretty basic stuff, ending with an Evans back elbow that looked almost like a hip attack.
The dojo pair come in and hit some double-teams as the referee didn’t even bother trying to enforce any kind of count, which meant that poor Hughes was left helpless as he was thrown outside, with only a blind tag from Evans to help. Bob comes in with a shoulder tackle to both men as he flings Nova into a slam before doing a wacky cheerleader thing for a double-team backbreaker.
Evans gets Nova in an abdominal stretch, holding him for a superkick as the “Sticky Wicket” gets a near-fall after the roll through, and it’s looking like the veteran’s team is taking these two rather lightly, as Nova is able to push his way into the corner for a the hot-ish tag to Isom. Release Fisherman suplexes from Isom turn things around while Nova throws superkicks, before they set up for a rather contrived and not-entirely-crisp superkick-assisted German suplex.
Nova and Isom tried to do Chasing the Dragon, but Hughes escapes and hits some backbreakers before bringing Evans back in, for a series of punches to the youngsters. A bulldog/clothesline combo puts Brutal Bob firmly ahead, and then it’s dive time as he tried to propel Hughes into Nova… except things don’t work and Hughes gets knocked to the outside.
Nova replies with a low-pe to Hughes, while Isom goes for a tope… hell, even Brutal Bob dives, with a flip plancha to the outside, but he looked to land awkwardly, hitting his head on the ring apron. Indeed, Bob comes up bleeding heavily from the back of his head, showing that not all wrestlers are meant to fly… but he keeps on going as they get to the finish, which was a DDT to Isom before he press slammed Hughes onto him for the win. Well, that looked like a hurried “just go home” finish, but my God, I’d love to know how Bob sliced himself open – my guess is something he caught that the apron didn’t cover? Anyway, the match before then was alright, but nobody really stood out as the different styles and paces didn’t mesh well. **¼
Howie Timberche vs. Nick Cammarato
It’s a match taped in the ROH training school at some point in 2017 now, as Howie Timberche takes on “Freakbeast” Nick Cammarato. Who is actually a typo’d Nick Comoroto, whose big break thus far was in June last year when he was Ethan Page’s replacement “Gatekeeper” in EVOLVE. For one show. When he got blasted by (ironically) the former Blaster McMassive, Thomas Sharp. Who then lost to Page the next night and was never seen again in EVOLVE.
We get promos from both men, with Timberche presumably getting that first name because he looks like Howie Mandel. Sorta. It’s a bit of a meandering promo, that ends with him singing Haddaway. Seriously. Cammarato’s hair is beyond frizzy, and I completely tune out and return as the match starts with other ROH trainees surrounding the ring.
Timberche opens by singing some R. Kelly, and I can instantly see the one thing that’s going to hold this act back. Copyright. Or at the very least, royalties. From the opening tie-up, Cammarato shoves Timberche into the corner, before Howie replies with some jaw jacking and a stomp to the feet… but Nick overpowers him again!
Angry Howie charges, but gets knocked down as Cammarato runs… and toys him around with gutwrenches a la Jeff Cobb. A slam and a running elbow drop follows, but it’s barely enough for a one-count, before a missed charge into the corner allows Timberche back in, hitting a dropkick as Howie starts throwing some rights. Some choking in the ropes ensues as Howie’s establishing himself as a generic heel, trading kicks as Cammarato tries to resist, only to get whipped into the ropes for a back elbow.
More singing draws boos, so Timberche pulls Cammarato into a camel clutch. After a rope break, a drop toehold from Timberche and an elbow drop keeps Cammarato down after he’d escaped the clutch, but Timberche looks to bump way too early as he was to charge into Nick’s boots in the corner. He tries to style it out by resuming the offence with a neckbreaker for a near-fall, but Nick rebounds with an armwhip out of the corner and a kick to the back as Timberche was back on defence.
Cammarato throws a Polish hammer-ish double axehandle, prompting Timberche to roll outside to avoid being pinned. He returns to hang up Cammarato in a Tree of Woe in the corner, then rushes back with a handspring elbow… but Nick fires back with more Polish Hammers before lifting him up into a gutwrench into a facebuster for another solid two-count. Timberche gets back up to trip Cammarato as he looked to climb the ropes, and that gives him the chance to hit a frog splash for another near-fall. More singing. More boos… and Howie’s made to pay as he walks into a spinebuster for the win! Decent enough for a trainee match, but the Timberche character just seems to be “there” – or perhaps I’m just not drawn into hating guys who sing randomly? **¼
Rain vs. Brandi Rhodes
We’ll wrap up with one more Women of Honor match, and it’s the dark match from ROH’s “Elite” show last November. Can you guess who was in the main event here?
Anyway, the crowd in Fort Lauderdale were still filing in, so not many were on hand here, with Ian Riccaboni being joined on commentary by Mandy Leon and Sumie Sakai. According to Cagematch, this was only Brandi’s 20th match, with all but one of them coming in the prior year (her first was apparently a debut in a battle royal back in the Florida Championship Wrestling days of 2011!). As for Rain, this was apparently her first match back after a near-four year absence…
From the off, Rain leads Brandi into an armbar and reversal as the two worked over the arm, but Brandi starts throwing some kicks as she built up to an X Factor. Hey, ten years ago, that would have been her finish and the whole match! In 2017 though it’s just a two-count, as Rain heads outside ahead of the modern day staple… a faked out dive?
Brandi follows her outside, but gets pulled down into the apron as Rain took over with some hair tosses, before landing a brainbuster that Sumie was so eager to call! A running cutter out of the corner keeps Brandi down, as does a running knee, but Rhodes keeps on kicking out.
Rhodes shoves Rain away as she went for a superplex, and then follows up with a delayed ‘rana out of the corner. Somehow, Rain got up first as she started throwing shots, before Brandi ducks a clothesline and throws some chops as she mounts a comeback of her own… featuring a missile dropkick for a near-fall. After that, Brandi rolls Rain towards the ropes for some reason and puts her in a full nelson clutch, but of course, Rain was able to get a foot on the ropes…
More shots from Rain lead to the Rain Drop DDT, and just like that the returning veteran gets the win! I know Brandi’s very inexperienced, but I hope for her sake they don’t overexpose her because of the surname. She needs time to develop, to remove the tell-tale signs (like the many steps in running the ropes) – and if the plan is for her to be a wrestler full-time, then she’ll get it. If it’s to capitalise on TV shows and everything else… well, anyone who’s watched WWE for long will know how that goes! **
That wraps up another batch of “Odds and Sods” – if there’s anything you think we should take a look at in this little vacuum, hit us up via that Contact form!