Ring of Honor’s 401st episode only consisted of two matches. But it delivered a lot of storytelling to compensate. It also concluded with a shocking climax that was nothing short of a complete shocker as Kenny King took on Jay Lethal in the first of a Best of Three series matchups.
Karl Fredericks vs Flip Gordon
The 401st episode of Ring of Honor started big, with New Japan dojo’s Karl Fredericks taking on Flip Gordon.
The two started with some grappling on the mat, followed by some headlock takeovers. Both traded shoulder to shoulder takedowns, and Flip caught Karl in a head-scissors that launched him to the outside.
Flip followed with a suicide dive through the second ropes which shoved Karl hard into the guard rail.
Karl gained control after catching Flip coming off the ropes from a springboard by turning it into a spinebuster.
Flip made a comeback with a stiff springboard dropkick off the top rope. After a few reversals between the two, Karl was caught sitting on the second rope and Flip delivered a springboard neckbreaker.
It was only a moment later that Flip made Karl tap with the Grand Rapids when he wheel barreled Karl forward onto the mat while locking his leg in and leaned forward to lock his head too.
Winner: Flip Gordon
Jeff Cobb’s Challenge
Next up, Jeff Cobb came to the ring to address his controversial loss of the TV title at War of the Worlds in Toronto, which saw Shane Taylor pin Brody King in a four-way matchup to gain the gold. To make matters even more questionable, it was Cobb who mostly took Brody King out of action when Taylor came in to take the pinfall for himself.
Cobb addressed the matter by reminding the crowd that Shane Taylor never pinned him nor made me submit and that no one in Ring of Honor has done so thus far. Instead, Cobb said he wanted a World Championship title match against Matt Taven, and that Shane Taylor could relax for now. Matt Taven’s music hit and he presented himself on the entrance ramp.
Taven declared that he is not afraid of Cobb, considering Cobb could not even hold onto his first title anyway. While he threatened to take on Cobb anytime and anywhere including tonight, he said it was not going to happen as he suppressed the hope of the fans, who momentarily thought such a match may take place right then and there. He then tossed the microphone to Cobb and asked him to take care of it as he walked off.
Kenny King and Jay Lethal interviews
Next up, Kenny King conducted an interview backstage in which he said he took advantage of his time being blinded by the Great Muta, using it as an opportunity to watch and study Jay Lethal closely.
In a follow-up interview, Jay Lethal accused King of wanting a best out of three matchups with him in order to be in the ring with someone superior, in order to seek out career elevation for himself.
Silas Young’s Wrestling Seminar
Silas Young came out with a microphone and introduced a wrestling student, Baxter Belafonte. He explained that the two wrestlers would do a wrestling seminar of sorts. Silas demonstrated some basic submission holds on Baxter, who was clearly suffering in pain during this seminar.
In justifying his next move as merely a continuation of this seminar demonstration, Silas low-blowed Baxter. Silas then thanked the audience and officials for giving him the opportunity to demonstrate the “pure rules” of pro wrestling.
Kenny King vs Jay Lethal – First Match of the Best of Three Series
Kenny King and Jay Lethal started off trading lockups, but King quickly went to the outside to rethink his strategy. King surprised Lethal countering his cartwheel by catching his arm and attempting a shoulder lock.
Lethal looked especially concerned, as King has clearly studied Lethal’s every move closely. Lethal then went for his signature dropkick off the second rope, but King, on the ring apron, ducked.
Lethal responded with a followup dropkick to his back sending him to the outside. Lethal then went for his signature suicide dive, but King caught him midair, and ran Lethal into the ring post, pounding his back into it.
Back in the ring, King worked on Lethal, wearing him down with submission holds and forearms. When Lethal executed another wheel barrel, following up with a kick to the face, King caught his leg and tripped him.
He then continued to work on stretching Lethal’s shoulders and arms with a King Clutch (traditionally known as the Cobra Clutch). Lethal got one arm unhooked and barely made it to the ropes to break the hold.
King then hit Lethal with his own move, hitting him with a dropkick off the second rope. But Lethal made matters even with a surprise DDT on King on the outside. As the two rolled in the ring and struggled to their feet, they exchanged blows and kicks.
Lethal consolidated the upper hand with his wheel barrel into a dropkick to the face, followed by his signature dropkick off the second rope and a suicide dive to the outside. Lethal then nailed the elbow drop off the top rope, but King surprised the audience when he kicked out.
But when Lethal attempted to go for his finishing move, King grabbed him from behind and caught him in the Blue Thunder Bomb. Lethal barely kicked out.
Lethal fought back slowly, but King picked him up on his shoulders to finish him. Suddenly, Lethal landed on his feet and delivered a hard boot to King’s face.
A frenzy began to simmer within Lethal and he went for his finishing move again. This time, King caught his arms around him and the two traded belly to back positions. But the combination of maneuvers was broken up when Lethal hit King with an elbow to the jaw, bolted to the ropes and went for his finisher again.
Again, he missed coming back off the ropes as King moved out of the way. Lethal ducked a clothesline and once again went off the ropes in attempting to hit his finisher, but King ducked and Lethal backflipped over him landing on his feet.
When Lethal charged King, he nearly hit the referee by accident when King moved. Using this distraction, King was able to low blow Lethal. King then borrowed Lethal’s finisher, the Lethal Injection, and delivered. King scored a surprise pinfall and huge upset over Lethal. Their second matchup of the Best of Three series will take place in Kent, WA on June 1st.
Winner: Kenny King