By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor Wrestling TV (Episode 434)
Taped February 9, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland at UMBC Event Center
Aired March 14, 2020 in syndication and on SBG regional sports networks, available Mondays on FITE.TV
The ROH opening video aired… Footage aired of Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham beating The Briscoes to win the ROH Tag Titles at ROH Final Battle…
Show host Quinn McKay checked in and hyped the main event and the two additional matches… Entrances for the battle royal took place with some of the wrestlers already in the ring while the entrances of The Bouncers, Blue Meanie, Maria Manic, Gangrel, Kenny King, and Dragon Lee were televised… [C]
1. A battle royal for a future ROH World Title shot. Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman were on commentary. The following report is from my live review of Free Enterprise: The entrants included Gangrel, Blue Meanie, Maria Manic, Crowbar, Danhausen, Beer City Bruiser, Brian Milonas, Silas Young, Josh Woods, Delirious, Tracy Williams, Kenny King, Rhett Titus, Dak Draper, Eli Isom, Cheeseburger, PJ Black, Brian Johnson, and LSG.
Draper was responsible for several early eliminations, but then he charged at Cheeseburger, who pulled the top rope down, causing Draper to be eliminated. Ugh. Young and Woods remained at ringside. Meanie led the The Bouncers in doing his dance. Johnson eliminated Meanie, then the Bouncers roughed up Johnson, who was saved from elimination by PJ Black. Johnson faked a back injury, then eliminated his mentor Black. Manic grabbed Johnson by the, um, johnson and then pressed him over her head and tossed him out to eliminate him. [C]
Manic pushed The Bouncers over the top to eliminate them. Danhausen tried to hug Manic for saving him. Manic hugged him, then shoved him down. Young entered the ring and shoved Manic from behind and barked at her about being in a man’s world. Young no-sold her chop and said she better hit harder than that if she wants to put a man down. Manic silenced the crowd, then fired two chops at Young, who returned the favor. “He just hit a woman,” Coleman said. Riccaboni jumped in and pointed out that she signed on for the competition. Young performed his backbreaker and clothesline combo on Manic.
Young had Manic on the ropes when Bully Ray showed up and pulled her over the top to eliminate her. Bully grabbed a chair and slammed it over the back of Manic, then powerbombed her through the timekeepers table. Ray threw a chair and then headed to the back. Danhausen and Delirious had a moment that seemed to matter more to them than the live crowd. Danhausen searched for his jar of teeth, which referee Todd Sinclair gave to him. Delirious poured the teeth into his mouth and didn’t get a reaction. Danhausen kicked Delrious, who spat out the teeth, and was then eliminated. Danhausen was eliminated moments later.
The final five (unless someone is hiding) were Young, Cheeseburger, Lee, Williams, and Woods. Cheeseburger nearly eliminated Young, but Woods saved him. Young eliminated Cheeseburger. Young and Woods squared off with Lee and Williams. Woods saved Young from a Williams kick. Young saved Woods from being eliminated by Williams. Young and Woods worked together and eliminated Williams.
Young and Woods teamed up on Lee. Woods accidentally eliminated Young, then Williams eliminated Woods. King returned to the match and tried to eliminate Lee, who skinned the cat. Lee eliminated King. Lee then unmasked and revealed himself to be Flip Gordon… [C]
Flip Gordon won a battle royal to earn a future ROH World Title shot in 17:15.
Powell’s POV: My POV from the Free Enterprise review: King hiding and trying to steal the win played on the way he won the battle royal at MSG. You had to know that Lee wasn’t actually under the hood because he wrestled Hiromu Takahashi in Japan for NJPW early this morning (my review of that show is available on the main page). But Gordon worked in Lee’s baseball jersey and it was legitimately tough to tell who it was. Will Lee be pissed that his stable mate King tried to eliminate what he thought was him or will that be forgotten? The battle royal was really hit and miss in terms of what worked, but it’s obviously a big night for Gordon, who seems to be the early beneficiary of the creative shakeup if night one is any indication.
McKay interviewed Flip Gordon, who held his Dragon Lee mask while saying he got another world title opportunity due to a mask. She asked him about being number one contender heading into Supercard of Honor. Gordon said he beat a legend when he returned from knee surgery and now he can become a world champion regardless of who holds the title going into the match…
Highlights aired of Session Moth Martina defeating Sumie Sakai at Free Enterprise… [C]
Powell’s POV: They were wise to avoid showing the full match in this case. It was not a strong debut for Martina, and the live crowd was as quiet for this match as anything on the show.
McKay attempted to speak with Sakai backstage. Sakai grabbed her by the collar and pressed her against the wall. Sakai let her go and walked away…
2. ROH Tag Champions Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham vs. Jeff Cobb and Dan Maff in a Proving Ground match. Riccaboni stressed that the tag titles were not on the line and the a win for Cobb and Maff would earn them a future tag title shot. Cobb and Maff offered handshakes. Lethal and Gresham slapped their hands in dismissive fashion. [C] There was a second commercial break during the match while Maff was getting the better of Lethal. [C]
Late in the match, Gresham and Lethal went for their combo cutter, but Cobb caught Cobb. Maff speared Lethal, then Cobb performed an Oklahoma Stampede on Gresham. Maff tagged in. Lethal caught Cobb with a kick and went for a Lethal Injection on Maff, who caught him. Gresham took out both opponents. Lethal went for the Lethal Injection again, but Maff caught him and performed a Burning Hammer and got the pin while Cobb held Gresham at ringside…
Jeff Cobb and Dan Maff defeated ROH Tag Champions Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham in a Proving Ground match to earn a future title shot.
Powell’s POV: My Free Enterprise POV: This match looked good on paper and lived up to expectations. The outcome did feel a bit predictable because it was a Proving Ground match, but it helped establish Cobb and Maff as a team heading into that future tag title shot.
As for the overall television show, they had a couple of interview clips, but it wasn’t enough to make this a worthwhile watch if you’ve already seen the Free Enterprise event. I will have more to say in my weekly Dot Net Members’ exclusive audio review of the ROH Wrestling television show.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Brian Fritz of Sporting News and Between The Ropes discussing WrestleMania 36, WWE television from the empty WWE Performance Center, his own travel woes, NFL free agency, and more…