After seven weeks of pure action, pure excitement and the best pure wrestling on the planet, the first ROH Pure Champion in 14 years will be crowned on this weekend’s episode of “Ring of Honor Wrestling” when “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams takes on “The Octopus” Jonathan Gresham in the Pure Title tournament final.
When the 16-man tournament began, a lot of fans and pundits predicted it would come down to Gresham and Jay Lethal, the ROH World Tag Team Champions. Lethal, who held the ROH Pure Title in 2005 and was vying to become the first two-time champion, all but guaranteed it.
But “Hot Sauce” threw cold water on that guarantee. Fighting through the pain in his troublesome left shoulder, Williams scored the biggest victory of his career by forcing Lethal to tap out to the crossface in the Block A final.
Gresham held up his end in the Block B final, as he pinned Josh Woods to move within one win of becoming the ROH Pure Champion and fulfilling what he believes is his destiny.
While Lethal versus Gresham would’ve made for a good story because of their friendship and storied rivalry, perhaps it’s fitting that the Pure Title tournament final will be between two men who have built their careers on the art of pure wrestling.
Williams and Gresham are both master technicians and submission specialists. Williams won all three of his tournament matches by submission, while two of Gresham’s three victories were via tap out.
Both competitors have been through three grueling matches, but Gresham appears to be less banged-up than Williams heading into the final. That, combined with the fact that Gresham is 3-0 all-time against Williams in one-on-one singles matches, makes Gresham the favorite.
However, Williams has proven throughout the tournament just how resilient and determined he is. Gresham’s best friend, Lethal, found that out firsthand.
The match has a one-hour time limit. If it goes the full hour, the winner will be determined by judges Gary Juster, Sumie Sakai and Will Ferrara.
Here’s a closer look at the two competitors:
TRACY WILLIAMS (BLOCK A WINNER)
Height: 6-2. Weight: 190 pounds. Pro debut: 2009.
Path to the final: Defeated Rust Taylor by submission in the first round; defeated Fred Yehi by submission in the block semifinals; defeated Jay Lethal by submission in the block final.
Fast facts: Williams’ victory over Lethal was the longest match in the tournament (19 minutes, 29 seconds). … Williams used his three allotted rope breaks in all three of his matches.
JONATHAN GRESHAM (BLOCK B WINNER)
Height: 5-4. Weight: 175 pounds. Pro debut: 2005.
Path to the final: Defeated Wheeler Yuta by submission in the first round; defeated Matt Sydal by submission in the block semifinals; defeated Josh Woods by pinfall in the block final.
Fast facts: Gresham used three different moves to win his tournament matches. … He had a total of 14 submission attempts and 16 counters and used just two rope breaks (both in the match against Woods).
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