Every time Katsuyori Shibata has graced the ring in ROH, it has been a treat. His latest title defense of the ROH Pure Championship was no different.
Josh Woods entered as the challenger for the Pure rules contest. Woods is a four-time collegiate All-American, collegiate national champion, and former Pure champion in his own right.
Jimmy Jacobs, Jerry Lynn, and John Walters sat in as judges in the case of a draw. Ring the bell!
Shibata didn’t play any games. He recognized the threat posed by Woods and came out with aggressive grappling to start. Both men hooked kneebars and refused to release even after rolling out of the ring and crashing to the floor.
Shibata grabbed a waistlock, and Woods hooked the ropes to shed off his opponent. Shibata argued that it should be a rope-break. Mark Sterling hopped onto the apron to use his lawyer skills in persuading the referee to overlook it. The official call was clean action. No rope-break was issued. That moment acted as a double advantage for Woods when he attacked Shibata, who was occupied by Sterling’s presence. Woods gained control on the outside by damaging Shibata’s left arm with a hammerlock smash into the barricade.
Woods maintained pressure for a deadlift gutwrench suplex and a gutwrench bomb. Woods landed the penalty kick, but Shibata rolled with the impact right onto his feet to fire up for strikes and suplexes.
Shibata secured a sleeper. Woods couldn’t escape, so he grabbed the ropes for his first break at 9 minutes into the match.
Intensity increased with a suplex battle and a striking exchange. Double pump kicks put both men flat on their backs. Back up for a double clothesline. Woods was heftier on the hammer, and he gained control to stomp Shibata’s arm. When Woods lifted Shibata into a fireman’s carry, the champion countered for a sleeper. Woods was on dream street as Shibata booted a penalty kick for victory. Shibata retained the ROH Pure Championship at 11:10 on the clock.
Afterward, Shibata showed that Woods earned his respect.
Backstage, Woods was frustrated about the loss. All his prior success has brought him to this moment, but he doesn’t have anything to show for it. He has lost a world title bout to Claudio Castagnoli, he lost a TV title match to Samoa Joe, and now this Pure title loss to Shibata. Woods declared that something has to change.
This contest between Shibata and Woods was badass. It was constant motion working an aggressive Pure style. This is the type of match that makes ROH TV worth watching.