Pure wrestling rulesEdit
Matches for the ROH Pure Championship were conducted under Pure Wrestling Rules. The three Pure Wrestling Rules are:
- Each wrestler has three rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls during the match. After a wrestler exhausts his rope breaks, submission and pin attempts under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal.
- There are no closed-fist punches to the face allowed in a Pure match, only open-handed slaps or chops to the face are allowed. Punches to other parts of the body (save for low-blows) are permitted. The first use of a closed fist will get a warning, and the second will cause the wrestler to be penalized a rope break. If he is already out of rope breaks, he will be disqualified.
- A wrestler is subject to a twenty count by the referee if the wrestler goes to the floor.
While not a rule itself, it is worth noting that unlike other championships, the ROH Pure Championship could change hands on a disqualification or count out.
The title was originally named the Pure Wrestling Championship and A.J. Styles defeated CM Punk in the finals of an 8 man, one night tournament to crown the first champion. The tournament took place at the Second Anniversary Show and also featured John Walters, Chris Sabin, Doug Williams, Matt Stryker, Josh Daniels and Jimmy Rave.
Styles was forced to vacate the Pure Wrestling Title in the wake of the Rob Feinstein Controversy that resulted in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling abruptly ending its talent-sharing agreement with ROH (pulling all of its contracted performers, including Styles, from all ROH shows). However, for almost ten years ROH considered the "Pure Wrestling Championship" and the "ROH Pure Championship" two distinct titles—not a single title that was merely renamed/re-branded. There wasn't mention of Styles on ROH's website as having held the "ROH Pure Championship," and it was seldom, if ever, acknowledged in commentary that Styles held the previous version of the title or that it even existed until on January 2014, when ROH released a DVD about AJ Styles, describing him as the first ROH Pure Champion. Doug Williams would win the vacant title after he defeated Alex Shelley in the finals of a one night mini-tournament at Reborn: Completion.
Weekend of Champions: Night Two, on April 29, 2006, saw the first ever title vs. title match in Ring of Honor as ROH World Champion Bryan Danielson took on ROH Pure Champion Nigel McGuinness. The match was contested under Pure Title rules, but both the World and Pure Titles were on the line. McGuinness won the bout by countout, but since only the Pure title can change hands on a countout, he did not win the ROH World Championship. The two faced each other again on August 12, 2006 in Liverpool, England, with Danielson defeating McGuinness to unify the ROH Pure Championship with the ROH World Championship. Danielson and McGuinness competed in a rematch for the ROH World Championship later that month, wrestling to a one hour draw. After the match, Danielson announced that the ROH Pure Championship had been officially retired, and gave the belt back to McGuinness to keep.