Hey guys, Rob here, regular reviewer of Rev Pro. As you no doubt have noticed, this is not an RPW, rather a Ring of Honor show review. That’s because we at Voices of Wrestling are going to be covering more of the ROH shows, starting with this one. Your regular ROH reviewer Warren Taylor is going to continue to review ROH TV and the occasional big show. I’m also going to be covering some of the shows he’s not, and for the live PPVs some other member of the Voices family who is better equipped to view and review live may step in if Warren isn’t available, so the end result should be more total coverage for you guys from us. Warren and I may even co-review on a couple of shows, but he wasn’t available this week so for this show at least I’m flying solo. So without further ado, let’s get to it.
“Death Before Dishonor XII” Night 1
Friday, August 22, 2014
This show from late August was the first show of the double shot which was this year’s Death Before Dishonor, a show which is traditionally one of Ring of Honor’s biggest of the year. It actually took place before the iPPV All-Star Extravaganza, but has only now come out on VOD. Well, the first of the two shows has anyway. This is because they’ve taped a few episodes of TV from each show, and are only putting up the VODs up after they’ve all aired. I can kind of understand that, but I personally think it was a terrible idea, as these shows had a fair amount of buzz coming off of them, and that buzz has all but evaporated now. For an OCD completist, this has meant I still haven’t watched the iPPV due to the chronology issues it would cause. I also didn’t watch the TV episodes from these shows, so I’m going into these matches pretty much unspoiled on everything but the title main event.
The show opened with a nice new opening video package, which showed yet another in a string of very nice motion graphics that are making their way into ROH’s shows. Poor production value is a common complaint about ROH, so this is a step in the right direction. We’re in Milwaukee tonight, in front of what looks to be a pretty sizable crowd for ROH standards.
The Addiction vs. The Kingdom: For those of you not familiar, the Addiction are Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, formerly Bad Influence in TNA, and the Kingdom was represented here by now former Ring of Honor World Champion Adam Cole and Michael Bennett, who are managed here by Bennett’s fiancé (and soon to be wife) Maria Kanellis previously of WWE fame. This was a fairly basic tag with all four guys over in their respective heel and face roles. After an initial back and forth, The Kingdom took the early advantage thanks to interference from Maria, and worked over Christopher Daniels in there corner for much of the match. Daniels fought back multiple times, and several times came agonisingly close to getting the tag into Kazarian, but each time was cut off at the last second, often due to Maria interjecting herself behind the refs back. Eventually Daniels did manage to overcome this after rolling under one of Bennett’s clotheslines, and Kazarian came in off the hot tag. From there the match broke down, with The Kingdom achieving a good near fall after a Cole superkick followed up by a Bennett spear on Daniels. The finish came after Maria again tried to interfere, but this time it backfired with her ending up falling off the apron onto Cole, allowing Kazarian to lift up Bennett as if he were going for a backdrop, then flip him over his back so he landed gutbuster style onto the fallen angel’s knees.
A solid tag team opener. While it was basic, there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, with everything being very clean and crisp, and the crowd was really into it which always helps. It’s not a match I’m really going to remember come next month, but it was enjoyable enough, and the crowd was into it which is always important for an opener. Good win for the Addiction too after coming up short twice against the tag champions recently. ***
Tadarius Thomas vs. Adam Pearce: The Decade is a trio of Ring of Honor veterans (Strong, Jacobs & Whitmer) who, surprise surprise, have all been a part of the company at least ten years. They’re a heel faction, who don’t feel the new generation of Ring of Honor wrestlers show enough respect, and that they have it way too easy, unlike how the three of them came up in the company during its formative years. Tadarius Thomas, alongside Adam Page, are the young boys (despite Thomas being older than Jacobs) for the Decade, lower carders whom have been taken under the Decade’s wing to be brought up in ROH “the right way”. This right way have involved many beatdowns from their mentors when losing matches, and recently Thomas and Page have been taking exception to this. That’s how this match has come about, with Strong bringing in an “old friend” in multiple time NWA champion and former ROH star Adam Pearce to beat some respect into their young boys. An interesting subtext here is the fact that Whitmer isn’t too happy with Pearce being brought in, as they have some bad history together back from their Hangmen III days and he wasn’t happy that Roddy didn’t consult him before going to Pearce.
The majority of this match was made up of Pearce roughing up Thomas, highlighted by a cannonball senton into the barricade. Thomas eventually got the advantage, and hit a very nice german suplex along with several of his signature capoeira kicks, but didn’t fully capitalize, instead looking to his three mentors asking what he should do next. This allowed Pearce to pull back the advantage with a sneaky low-blow while he distracted the ref, followed by a piledriver to get the three count after a relatively short match. After the match, BJ slapped Tadarius around a little, and then everybody but Jacobs went to the back, while he cut a promo about what he’s learned in the last ten years in the company, and how that was going to help him beat Ciampa, which lead into the next match.
This was okay. I’m not really a fan of either guy, with Thomas never really having impressed me, and Pearce being a little over the hill at this point and never that great in the ring to begin with. Thankfully they kept this fairly short, which was for the best, and for what it was it was totally fine. **1/4
Jimmy Jacobs vs. Tommaso Ciampa: This match started off a house of fire, with Jacobs hitting a suicide dive onto Ciampa while he was coming down the entrance ramp. Ciampa quickly managed to turn things around though, and sent Jacobs around the ring throwing him from barricade to barricade, and hitting several of his signature knees to the head. From that point on, Jacobs attempted to overcome Ciampa’s superior size, strength and striking with his veteran guile, and managed to counter several of Ciampa’s big moves. He even managed to nearly get Ciampa to pass out after holding onto a guillotine choke after a northern lights suplex, but Ciampa then managed to power out and hit an over the shoulder driver off of the second rope for a nearfall. Ciampa then went to follow up with the same move again onto the apron, but Jacobs managed to counter out and hit a spear, sending both guys out onto the floor. The finish came later in the match when Ciampa caught Jacobs with a knockout knee while he was going for another spear, this one inside the ring, and followed up with a Sicilian Stretch earning him the tapout victory.
I was a little disappointed with this one, because while it was good it wasn’t too much more than that. I’m a big fan of both these guys, and they’ve proven they’ve got more in them than this. Perfectly acceptable, with some good moments, but again, nothing special. ***
AJ Styles vs. Kyle O’Reilly: This match was a champion vs. champion bout, with Styles being the current IWGP World Champion and O’Reilly being one half of the ROH tag team champions as well as the reigning PWG champion. AJ’s dynamic is pretty interesting in ROH at the moment, as it’s clear that ROH and NJPW are sharing the same continuity (unlike ROH and PWG) and AJ’s character is for all extensive purposes the same as his New Japan character, yet a few very slight tweaks coupled with the fans love for him mean he’s a face in ROH, so we had the traditional dynamic here with O’Reilly playing the heel with his partner Bobby Fish managing him.
AJ found himself in the somewhat rare situation for him that he was clearly outclassed in the striking department, so had to dig deeper than usual into his grappling bag of tricks to combat O’Reilly’s first class strikes and submissions, showing he truly is the complete package, as if that was in any doubt. After a methodical start, the focus of the match became left arm, which the announcers had brought up beforehand was damaged after a gruelling G1. O’Reilly targeted Styles’ weakened limb with a variety of strikes and submission, which AJ sold magnificently both on offense and off, and while getting outwrestled managed to limit his loses by escaping Styles’ really big moves, countering out of the Styles clash early on by sitting up and hitting him with an elbow, and then again towards the middle of the match by kicking AJ’s head with his heel while in position for the move. The match really stepped up into top gear when O’Reilly managed to counter yet another of Styles’ big moves into a crossarm breaker. AJ managed to roll O’Reilly onto his back, only for Kyle to transition into a move that looked halfway between a triangle choke and a crossarm breaker, which allowed him to keep the pressure on AJ’s arm while keeping his shoulders off the mat. AJ, in a last ditch attempt to escape, managed to power Kyle into the air and drop him in a modified Styles Clash while still trapped in the hold, but this also drove his wounded arm into the mat, so wasn’t able to capitalize. The finish finally came later in the match when Styles yet again went for the Styles Clash, and Kyle came up with yet another counter, managing to get into a guillotine choke. Styles fought out of this by spinebuster-ing him into the mat, then pulling him straight back up into the Styles Clash position yet again. Kyle again went for the heel kick counter, but this time AJ was ready for it, and spiked him down into the mat with a piledriver, which apparently AJ is calling the Hollow Point. Kyle sold this move like death, which was perfect. AJ then picked his deadweight up, and finally hit the Styles Clash clean for the three count.
This was a dream match for me going in, and didn’t disappoint one bit. It was absolutely divine. Both men sold the hell out of everything, with AJ’s arm selling throughout and Kyle selling of the Hollow Point specifically being extraordinary. They managed to keep Bobby’s interference to a perfect level too. They had some strike exchanges in this one that I’d put up there with Styles’ exchange against Suzuki which has a gif going round at the moment and being called a five star exchange. In fact, there were portions of this match which really were five star quality. A somewhat slow start and the fact that this was booked as maybe the third biggest match on the show which, for me at least, felt like they didn’t want to do too much and hurt every match that followed them meant they didn’t quite reach those heights, but don’t get me wrong, this was exquisite wrestling. The scary thing is, I really felt like these two were holding back a tad. Stick them in a main event of a big show in front of a hot crowd like this one and I may seriously have to break out my rarely used five star rating. These two absolutely knocked it out of the park. Exactly what this show needed ****1/4
Next up Adam Cole came out to complain out his loss earlier tonight and how Ring of Honor screwed him out of his rematch in a four way because they’re terrified of his talent and potential. He then superkicked ref Brian Gorey.
I haven’t done the content of that promo justice at all, but trust me when I say this, it was a brilliant promo. I’m not as high on Adam Cole’s in ring as some, but damn can he talk, and he proved that here. I fully expect him to get picked up by WWE in the next few years, because he’s the closest thing to the complete package the indy scene has at the moment.
Adam Page vs. BJ Whitmer vs. Cedric Alexander vs. Bobby Fish vs. ACH vs. Jay Lethal: Back from intermission, and this is the perfect match to open up the second half of the show. ACH and Lethal are fresh off a fantastic match (I went ****) for the TV title recently on TV. This match had two men legal at a time, and both tags and scramble rules are in effect. This was a sprint as you’d expect it, with everybody but Fish getting a chance their shine. The highlights were ACH’s backflip dive to the outside and Page flipping over the top rope into the ring from the apron straight into a clothesline. Whitmer and Page’s attempted finger poke of doom spot was fun too. The finish came when Lethal superkicked Alexander off of the apron, only to turn around into a discus forearm from ACH, who then followed up with a bridging german suplex for the win. Crowd loved it.
Yeah it was a spotfest, but it was fun, and for a match like this that’s all you need or want. Everything was hit crisply with no botches, and everybody looked good. Did its job coming back from intermission. ***
Hanson vs. Roderick Strong: This match saw Ring of Honor stalwart and member of the Decade Roderick Strong take on a guy who’s primarily been a tag team star as a part of War Machine until his partner was recently injured in a motorcycle accident. This was a very physical back and forth contest, where Hanson had the slight edge in strength while Roddy took a slight edge in speed. Hanson looked like he had got the win after a big lariat, but Adam Page, who was at ringside pulled the ref out of the ring. Hanson then took out both Roddy and Page on the outside, only to get assaulted by BJ Whitmer who ran out from the back, punctuating it with an exploder suplex on the floor. After then being rolled back into the ring, Roddy hit him with a Sick Kick, and the crowd thought it was over, but the ref slowly rolled back into the ring and Hanson had a weak kickout at the last second. The ref then, for some unknown reason decided to act dead again, and Page slid a chair into Roddy. Roddy took the chair, then shook his head, and shouted at Page saying “I’m Mr Ring of Honor, I don’t need a damn chair to win against this nobody”, tossing the chair back at Page. This momentary distraction was all it took though for Hanson to recuperate, and as Roddy turned back to him from Page Hanson hit him with the Spin Kick of Doom (and yes, that sadly is the actual name of the move), which got him the three count.
This was an enjoyable hard hitting match until the boatloads of interference took a hold. It wasn’t even necessarily bad interference, but there was so much of it that by the end it felt like less of a match and more of an angle. Hanson botching a powerbomb by dropping Roddy on his head as he was trying to lift him up hurt the match a little too. Solid showing for Hanson, but he’s had better. ***
After the match, BJ actually takes Page’s side, further teasing the dissention between Whitmer and Strong.
The Briscoes cut a fun little rap going into their match with the Bucks. I may not be the biggest Jay fan, but damn he’s a great promo.
Young Bucks vs. The Briscoes: Time for the semi-main event, featuring the hottest tag team on the planet the Young Bucks recently coming off tag title reigns in ROH, PWG and NJPW going up against an Ring of Honor institution, the eight time tag team champions the Briscoes. The Briscoes, up until recently, have been working predominantly in singles competition over the last few years, but over the last month or two it looked like they were moving back into the tag division up until the World title situation, but that’s another story.
This was your classic speed versus power matchup, and it broke down right from the off, with the tag rules thrown out the window almost immediately. As you expect from any Young Bucks match, there was a litany of superkicks throughout, sold to varying degrees, and the both Briscoe boys even fired one off. The eventual finish came following one of the Jacksons kicking out of a Jay Driller, which got a great reaction, only to fall to a Doomsday Device.
Hmm, well I’m not going to say it was a bad match. I’d go as far to say it was very good, but the thing is with the Bucks is that they’ve been so good and so consistent for quite a while now that “only” have a ***1/2 match with them in a high profile spot really makes you look at the team opposite them and frown slightly. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but I’ve made it no secret that I don’t think either of the Briscoes are anywhere near the workers they were in the past, and this match did nothing but back that up for me. I think they’re at their best in a tag team capacity at this stage, but they’ve definitely lost a step even like that. This match was fun for sure, but didn’t tell any meaningful story whatsoever. It just felt like a paint by numbers indy tag match, and I’d hoped for more. But to be fair on them, the crowd loved it, so maybe it’s just me. But then again, this crowd has loved everything. ***1/2
ROH World Heavyweight Championship – Michael Elgin (c) vs. Silas Young: Two short but solid promos from these two, and it’s main event time and this is actually our first title match of the night. These two have a long history outside of ROH in companies like AAW, with a string of critically acclaimed matches in their history. Silas is getting great cheers from being the hometown hero, despite doing everything he can to heel it up, including grabbing a mic and insulting them all. Nothing worked. Despite that, these two worked really hard, and really did everything they could despite the circumstances, with both guys coming off looking strong.
They did a lot, with some highlights being Elgin hitting a 360 leg drop onto Silas in the ropes, an incredible feat for a man his size, and Silas taking a belly-to-back suplex over the top rope through a table at ringside. Elgin eventually got the win by hitting Silas with a spinning backfist while he was going for a headstand moonsault, and then followed up with an Elgin Bomb.
Man this was dumb booking. You want to give a heel a title shot against your big babyface champion and you chose to do it in his hometown where every time you’ve gone there he’s tried and failed to turn the people against him? It’s a freaking double shot too, I have no idea why they didn’t just switch around the Young and Ciampa match, so Ciampa got the shot here in Milwaukee and Silas got his shot the following night. Silas is a fantastic heel, and does a great job of getting his heat in any market but this one. I’m a huge fan of both these guys, but the match was hurt a HUGE amount by both guys doing everything they could do to try and have a traditional face-heel match, and the crowd reacting the exact opposite way. Hey, hindsight is great, but would it really have been so hard to foresee a hometown guy getting a face reaction? It’s not even like this is the first time this has happened with Silas, but it’s the first time it’s happened in such a high profile spot. It’s hard to tell, but I think if you have this exact match in front of a crowd who are reacting how the performers were working, and I think you’re somewhere around the four star mark, maybe even higher. As it is, this match was really hard to rate, as the wrestling was so much better than the match. ***1/2
Well that’s the show folks. And it’s a weird one to sum up overall. The crowd for a most part was a definite plus, apart from ruining the main event. I put more blame on the booking than crowd for that though. Again aside from the main event, they cheered hard for the faces and gave the heels great heat, something that doesn’t always happen with the ROH “smark” crowd, so that was really nice to see.
For the first half of the show Kevin Kelly was partnered with Caprice Coleman on commentary, and to be frank I thought they were absolutely awful. I don’t think Kelly and Corino are great by any means, but they’re solid, and Corino coming in for Coleman for the second half of the show was a definite improvement.
As for the in ring stuff, it was definitely consistently good. Aside from the short Pearce-Thomas match, every match was at the very least good, and the Styles-O’Reilly match was tremendous. But the crowd issue on the main event meant the second half of the show didn’t have a real high point that great shows have. Have the main event with a regularly reacting crowd, or switch the Styles-O’Reilly match with the main event in positions and you’ve got a great main event and an easy recommendation and a great event. As it is, it peaks out at enjoyable.