Eck's Files: Pure Title Tournament Debut Gets Rave Reviews; Very Best Of Death Before Dishonor Coming To Pay-Per View; Jonathan Gresham Appears On ROH Podcast

By Kevin Eck

Last week’s episode of “Ring of Honor Wrestling,” featuring the start of the ROH Pure Title tournament, is receiving rave reviews from the pro wrestling community.

Here’s a sample of what prominent wrestling journalists said about the show:

The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer: “I liked it. It’s completely different than anything else in pro wrestling. For all you people who want pure sports pro wrestling, this is as pure sports pro wrestling as you’re ever going to see. … With every other promotion, I notice in like one minute that there’s no fans or the fans are fake. In this one, there’s no fans and it doesn’t matter because they’re just out there wrestling. … The key is you know who these guys are, you know their motivations and you can learn to like them or dislike them. They do a great job with the personalities, better than any other company’s doing. … There’s no wackiness to anything. These are just serious athletes fighting in these matches with rules to keep the match clean, [and] different things -- between the rope break and the time limit and the punches and everything -- that add to the psychology and strategy of the match. … I enjoyed every minute of this show for the whole hour.”

PWinsider’s Mike Johnson: “The talents were presented as athletes who happened to fight and wrestle for a living, not as over the top cartoonish characters. For a show featuring [Dalton] Castle, Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham and newcomer Wheeler Yuta, it was a snug, easy fit and an enjoyable viewing experience that made the hour fly by. … In a world where every bit of professional wrestling these days has been pushed to the extreme of storytelling or high spots or some attempt to further it into the 21st century, the ROH TV felt a bit like a throwback.”

Pro Wrestling.net’s Jason Powell: “Overall, ROH did a terrific job with the first week of the tournament. The sit-down interviews were strong, the matches were entertaining, and the presentation made this feel like an important, sports-like event. I had some concerns that the pure wrestling format might be a little dry for some viewers, but they did such a good job with the presentation that this stood out as something truly unique compared to what the other American promotions are doing during the pandemic. I highly recommend catching a replay of the first show of what will be an eight-week television run for the tournament.”

Here’s a sample of what fans on social media said about the show:

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The first-round matches from last week’s TV episode (Lethal versus Castle, Gresham versus Yuta) have been uploaded to HonorClub in their entirety with no commercial interruptions. Full matches from each week’s episode will be available on HonorClub every Wednesday going forward.

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This weekend’s TV episode features David Finlay versus Rocky Romero in a Block A first-round match and Delirious versus Matt Sydal in a Block B first-round match.

You can watch along and interact with the stars of ROH on Twitter (@ringofhonor) Monday at 7 p.m. ET using #ROHPure. Finlay and Romero will answer questions from fans, and other ROH stars will comment on the action as it happens. To participate in the Twitter watch party, view the episode on ROHWrestling.com or FITE. The watch parties will continue at that same time every Monday for the duration of the tournament.

Check out the preview videos for the Finlay-Romero and Delirious-Sydal matches featuring comments from the four competitors. To read more on those matchups, click here, and for the full bracket and schedule of first-round matches, click here.

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The Very Best of Death Before Dishonor airs on HonorClub and pay-per-view on Friday, Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. ET.

The lineup of matches:

-- ROH World Champion Samoa Joe vs. Paul London (2003)
-- ROH World Champion Austin Aries vs. CM Punk (2005)
-- Cage of Death: ROH (Samoa Joe, Adam Pearce, B.J. Whitmer, Ace Steel and Homicide) vs. CZW (Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Necro Butcher, Nate Webb and Eddie Kingston) (2006)
-- ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Tyler Black in a Four-Way Elimination Match (2008)
-- All Night Express vs. the Briscoes in a Ladder War (2011)
-- ROH World Television Champion KUSHIDA vs. Kenny King (2017)
-- ROH World Champion Matt Taven vs. RUSH (2019)

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Gresham was my guest on the latest episode of the “ROHStrong Podcast,” which drops this Monday at 7 a.m. ET on ROHWrestling.com and most podcast platforms.

Gresham talks about the ROH Pure Title tournament and his mission to keep the pure wrestling style alive; the story behind The Foundation videos; traveling around the world to wrestle when he was younger and why it wasn’t nearly as glamorous as it sounds; having to postpone his marriage because of the pandemic; and much more.

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New episodes of “ROH Week By Week,” hosted by popular on-air personality Quinn McKay, will now premiere every Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET on YouTube.

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The All-Time Draft of Honor Winner Reveal premieres on YouTube on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET. Fan voting determined whether Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman, Todd Sinclair or Bobby Cruise drafted the best roster of ROH talent past and present.

What are the odds Cruise will take it well if he didn’t win? Probably the same odds his beloved Boston Red Sox have of winning the World Series this year.

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Speaking of Coleman, his weekly column, A Dose of Colemanism, debuted on ROHWrestling.com this week. Look for a new column from ROH’s color analyst every Thursday. We could all use a dose of Colemanism in our lives.

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Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis Bennett joined Beer City Bruiser and Brawler Milonas on the latest episode of “Happy Hours With The Bouncers.” Did The Bouncers get the scoop on what’s next for the couple?

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More matches from 2008 have been added to the HonorClub archives for Fresh 50 Friday, including: Kevin Steen versus McGuinness; Steen and El Generico versus McGuinness and Castagnoli; Danielson versus Black; Danielson versus Naomichi Marufiji; and Team NOAH (Takeshi Morishima, Marufuji and Go Shiozaki) versusNo Remorse Corps (Roderick Strong, Davey Richards and Romero).

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I have no idea what #FollowTheTrend is all about, but I’m intrigued.

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Until next time, keep safe and stay #ROHStrong!

Kevin Eck is a veteran pro wrestling journalist who has worked for The Baltimore Sun, WWE and WCW before joining ROHWrestling.com.