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ROH Wrestling recap: Jay Lethal becomes #1 contender for Rush

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Episode 494 of ROH Wrestling featured Dalton Castle using a veteran trick to outsmart Josh Woods and the rivalry between The Foundation and Los Ingobernables spicing up again as Jay Lethal earns #1 contender status to battle Rush for the ROH World Championship.

Check for ROH channel listings in your area. Watch the episode on ROH Honor Club (here) or Fite TV (here) released on Mondays.

Before getting into the recap, let’s start with a rankings update from ROH Week by Week. Quinn McKay revealed the new top 5 for all divisions.

ROH World Championship
5. Jay Briscoe
4. Shane Taylor
3. Jay Lethal
2. Matt Taven
1. Brody King
Champ: Rush

After Rush successfully defended the title last week, Shane Taylor dropped from #1 to #4.

ROH Pure Championship
5. Fred Yehi
4. Wheeler Yuta
3. Rhett Titus
2. Dak Draper
1. Josh Woods
Champ: Jonathan Gresham

Dak Draper won a bonus match against Joe Keys on ROH Week by Week to move up one spot to #2. Draper secured the victory via standing muffler submission in a Pure rules contest.

ROH World Television Championship
5. Tony Deppen
4. LSG
3. Brian Johnson
2. Kenny King
1. Tracy Williams
Champ: Dragon Lee

Brian Johnson hopped up from #3 to #5.

ROH World Tag Team Championship
5. The Righteous (Vincent & Bateman)
4. SOS (Moses & Kaun)
3. Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus
2. The OGK (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett)
1. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham
Champs: Dragon Lee & Kenny King

New champs Los Ingobernables switched places with the old champs The Foundation after winning gold last week.

Time to hit the weekly ROH broadcast.

The show opened with Quinn McKay recapping last week’s title matches and backstage interviews with the winners. Kenny King taught Shane Taylor one more lesson. Don’t trust anybody. Rush will continue to be champion and will destroy anyone in his path. Los Ingobernables are the past, present, and future.

Josh Woods was excited for a rematch with Dalton Castle as a chance to pick up another strong victory against the former champ. Woods’ win was no fluke. He can submit anybody from any position. A second win will give Woods momentum to challenge Jonathan Gresham for the Pure Championship.

Dalton Castle wonders where he fits in with ROH. Results aren’t matching his talent. In the rematch, Castle is confident that he can close the hole in his game that Woods exposed. Castle is sick of failing but knows he is still a great wrestler. Castle teased that he will be out of ROH if he can’t beat Woods.

Josh Woods vs Dalton Castle

Pure rules with a 15-minute time limit. Grappling work to start with Woods getting the edge by catching Castle in a Gorilla Lock leg submission. Castle grabbed the ropes for his first break.

Castle gained an advantage by taking the fight to the floor. He smashed Woods’ back against the apron, tossed him over the barricade, then hit an exploder suplex for good measure. Back in the ring, Woods rallied with strength on a butterfly suplex. He cinched in a second Gorilla Lock, which caused Castle’s second rope break.

The action progressed with intensity. Both were working counters to escape heavy moves. Castle ran the ropes to duck under a clothesline from Woods. Castle then collapsed from apparent back spasms. Woods ceased his attack as a sign of good sportsmanship, but it was all a ruse for Castle to sneak a roll-up for victory at 9:44.

After the match, Silas Young approached Woods in the ring to speak with his protege and tag team partner. Woods questioned where Young has been. Young gave Woods room to breathe in his singles career, but Woods failed to get the job done when it counted most. Young put over Woods as a technical beast but Woods still has a lot to learn. The only way for Young to teach Woods is by getting back together as a tag team. The mentor left his student alone to make a decision.

EC3 sees four conflicting narratives with one singular purpose in the upcoming four-way #1 contender main event. Is that what honor is? They eat, breath, and sleep about the championship. That is not purpose. That is addiction. They can’t control their narrative if they allow something to control them. EC3 will have to show them the way.

Jay Lethal is on a course to restore honor in ROH. He can’t do that unless The Foundation holds all the gold. They are rebuilding brick by brick. Becoming ROH World Champion is destiny.

Matt Taven has lost focus after losing the world title. That belt validated his career. He is coming to take back what is his.

Jay Briscoe is ready to be in the right place at the right time to win. What the people what to see is Rush versus Briscoe, so he is aiming to give the people what they want.

#1 contender match: EC3 vs Jay Lethal vs Matt Taven vs Jay Briscoe

The winner earns #1 contender status to challenge Rush for the ROH World Championship at ROH’s 19th Anniversary on March 26. The Code of Honor handshake was exchanged all around between the competitors, except for Briscoe refusing EC3.

As soon as the bell rang, Briscoe beelined for EC3. The lengthy match mostly paired off with Briscoe fighting EC3 and Lethal wrestling Taven, but all four did mix it up with each other. The top move was a Tower of Doom from EC3.

EC3 held up Briscoe for Lethal to kick in the face, but The Foundation member chose honor and attacked EC3 instead. EC3 got payback by powerbombing Taven on top of Lethal as he had the figure-four applied to Briscoe.

In the end, EC3 and Briscoe brawled to the back. Taven had momentum, but he was distracted by an appearance from Vita Von Starr. Lethal capitalized with a cutter then a Lethal Injection handspring cutter to win at 14:04.

Two solid matches for the latest offering from ROH. Josh Woods is such a beast. He impresses every time I see him in the ring. Dalton Castle’s dirty tactic was lovely. The fading veteran can’t hang anymore at the top level, so he resorted to trickery for victory. That style could breathe new life into his career.

Due to the feud between The Foundation and Los Ingobernables, Jay Lethal was the likely winner going into the #1 contender match. The action delivered excitement even though the story favorite won. It is too bad that Matt Taven had to be protected with the distraction. That diminished the value of Lethal’s success instead of making him look strong en route to challenging Rush. At this moment in time, I don’t buy Lethal as a threat to dethrone the champ in a clean contest. Lethal has top-notch skills, so it wouldn’t be shocking if he did win. However, I’m not feeling the sizzle of anticipation just yet.

We’ll close with an online exclusive match as Brian Johnson challenged Dragon Lee for the TV title.

The champ was too much for the challenger and won with a running knee finisher at 6:52. Dragon Lee is starting the month off strong after sharing the Wrestler of the Month honor for February with tag team partner Kenny King.

Share your thoughts about episode 494 of ROH Wrestling. Which wrestler had the standout performance?

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