It may be just shy of two months since this event took place, but last week Ring of Honor finally released the second night of Death Before Dishonor XII. I had planned to review it almost immediately, but illness swept in, followed by busyness (by which I mean, at least in part, I had to go to see Okada live) so I’ve only just now got a chance to watch it. But better late than never right? If you missed it, my review of night one can be found here.

I’m going in almost totally blind, with me only knowing the result of the World Title match due to me knowing cards for events that occurred after it. If I’m honest, the only matches I actually remember are the aforementioned title match between Ciampa and Elgin, and the main event. But I’m sure it’ll be a good show, or at least hope so. So let’s get to it.

Ring of Honor “Death Before Dishonor XII” Night 2
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Frontier Fieldhouse
Chicago Ridge, IL 

Good crowd by the looks of it, Chicago Ridge is usually one of the best stops on the road for Ring of Honor, both in crowd size and volume, and this looks to be no different. Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are on commentary from the start tonight.

Monster Mafia vs. Strong & Jacobs: Josh Alexander and Ethan Gabriel Owens, collectively known as Monster Mafia, are a relatively new addition to the ROH roster, and have impressed me left right and center. They are facing off against Decade members and ROH veterans in former world champion Roderick Strong and Jimmy Jacobs. The match saw Strong and Jacobs take the Mafia way too lightly, meaning they had to fight from behind to try to block the upset.

Monster Mafia brought some awesome team moves to this one, coming close to grabbing their first big win in Ring of Honor on multiple occasions, but in the end the experienced team were forced to break the rules slightly, with an illegal Roderick getting into the ring during a double team piledriver attempt by Alexander and Owens and hitting Ethan with a Sick Kick and then Alexander with an awesome looking jumping knee. This then allowed Jacobs to steal the win with a quick spear on Alexander.

This was a fantastic opener, with all four guys looking great and the crowd really getting into it right from the bell. Monster Mafia are a fantastic addition to the tag division, and create so many great potential matchups due to them being so different in size to most of their potential opponent, while still being able to hang with a fast paced style and delivering great innovative double team maneuvers. Some are speculating they may be done with ROH due to the Elgin debacle, and if that’s true then it’s a HUGE shame for both parties. ***1/2

ROH World Television Championship: Caprice Coleman vs. Jay Lethal (c): This is a minor title defense for Lethal, with no real build, on his road to All-Star Extravaganza where he was set to face ACH. This ended up easily exceeding my expectations, as in general I don’t really like Coleman in 2014. They wrestled a match with a lot of counters and blocks of moves, which really differentiated it from your regular indie match because it made the moves that were hit feel really important. They even managed to work a delayed heart punch spot in that actually worked pretty well.

My only qualm with this match was a very weak and unnecessary finish. It was going along very nicely, when Truth slid his Book of Truth into the ring. Coleman picked it up, and then proceeded to do nothing for a good ten seconds, before just throwing the book out of the ring. Then Lethal hit a superkick followed by a Lethal Injection for the pin. The interference served zero purpose, made Coleman look like an idiot and sucked all the heat out of the finish. Apart from that, good stuff, one of Coleman’s best singles efforts this decade. *** 

Silas Young vs. BJ Whitmer vs. ACH vs. Michael Bennett: ACH was coming off a win in a six-way from the previous night, but this time he was in there with three heels who all wanted to lay a beating on him. This lead to the majority of the match being an ACH sellfest. Things eventually picked up, and we got some interaction between the other guys in the match. There were several call-backs to when Bennett broke Whitmer’s neck by piledriving him onto the apron. ACH eventually picked up his second multi-man win of the weekend by hitting a German suplex on Whitmer after Thomas screwed up some interference.

This match just didn’t quite do it for me. For whatever reason it flowed really poorly, and they were really bad at keeping legalities even under Lucha Rules. Even ACH’s comeback sequences, which are usually so good, felt uninspired. **1/2

Post-match, BJ got on the mic and announced Thomas wouldn’t be his partner at All-Star Extravaganza, but instead Page, because he was fed up of Tadarius screwing up. Meanwhile, Thomas overacted at being angry.

Hanson vs. Adam Cole: This match just didn’t quite click for me. Cole spent the first half of the match working over Hanson’s knee then they both proceeded to forget about it for the second half of the match, and Hanson forgot to sell it for the second half too. Instead, there were about 42 superkicks, with maybe two of them actually being sold. Cole eventually got the win by ducking a spin kick and catching the Warbeard with a small package.

The crowd seemed to enjoy it quite a bit though, so maybe I’m just too picky, but I just couldn’t really get into it. I really like Hanson, and I enjoy Cole when he’s not the guy you can tell is laying out the match. But Cole hasn’t really shown me he can pace a singles match on his own, and tell a cohesive story throughout. He’ll get there though. **3/4 

Hanson went for a post-match handshake, but was met with a middle finger from Cole, who then went for yet another superkick, which Hanson caught. Then Bennett hit the ring and the two of them laid a beat down on the big guy. Cole then grabbed a mic and so proceeded story time with Adam Cole.

Now I may not be completely down with Cole’s in-ring stuff, but damn is he great on the mic. He cut a simple yet effective promo on how nobody cared about either member of War Machine, and how he was wasted outside the world title picture facing nobodies like Hanson. Simple concept, but he really executed well, and made you really care about what he was saying. Michael Elgin then came to the ring, far too late might I add, and chased off the Kingdom.

Elgin then went to speak, only for Ciampa’s music to interrupt him, and we have ourselves our World title match of the night.

ROH World Championship – Michael Elgin (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa: This match had a testicular claw without a DQ. Yeah. I didn’t feel this match at all.  It was just a collection of spots with no real selling. There’s was just so much no selling here, and I hated it. Sure, there were some awesome spots and amazing shows of strength, but I just didn’t care. They even had some really nice sequences at the end, but by then I’d already given up on this match. Moves mean nothing without selling.

This is another match in a string of poor World Title matches for Elgin. I don’t know what’s happen, he’s been one of the best in ring performers of the last few years in any company, but since he’s won the title he’s just been poor. Elgin can’t afford a weak run of matches, as workrate is all he’s got. His look is okay at best, and his promos are substandard. I don’t like 2014 Briscoe in the ring, but even he is an improvement on Elgin delivering this standard of match. I’ve been on the Elgin bandwagon since February 2011, but I think this is the point I get off.

It got a load “That was awesome!” chant afterwards, so maybe that’s just me. **1/2

After the match, Ciampa went on an awesome rampage. He took out some young ring crew members, and then nearly took out Kevin Kelly, before security dragged him off. Once the security had dragged him off, and it looked like the time for entrances for the next match, Ciampa ran out and hit ring announcer Bobby Cruise with about ten knees to the face in the corner. Cruise sold them really well, and it just looked awesome. Really well done segment, way better than the actual match. I’m intrigued to see where Ciampa’s story goes from here.

Adam Page vs. Adam Pearce: Matchup of two very similarly named people. This is the second part of Pearce teaching the Decade young boys respect. I won’t rewrite the backstory, as it’s exactly the same as the previous night, so you can read it there if you want. When Jimmy was introducing Pearce, Whitmer really didn’t look happy, and they had a good staredown post-match. The subtleties they’re working into this Decade angle are tremendous. BJ seems to be earning some affinity for Page, and you could see that here with him getting a pre-match pep talk, while Jacobs seemed intent on Pearce giving Page a beating. Jimmy on commentary also seemed to be a lot more behind Tadarius than Page.

The match was a good hard hitting conflict, and Page looked good, although Pearce is very basic these days. Enjoyable enough, with some stiff strikes and fun exchanges between an athletic young stud and a grizzled veteran. Page won with a quick jackknife pin, to the shock of the rest of the Decade. **3/4

BJ was ecstatic over the victory, Jimmy was surprised but impressed, and Strong was angry. That’s what makes this angle so good; each guy in the stable reacts to things individually based on their own interactions and relationships. It’s so rare for a stable not to react with a hive mind. I love it.

Pearce then offered his hand to Page, only for Pearce to beat him down once he took it because “He still hasn’t earned the handshake”.

Cedric Alexander vs. AJ Styles: Big test for Cedric here. There’s been a lot of talk from people about Cedric not being ready for this push he’s getting. I’m not sure, but I can see their reasoning, and if he doesn’t deliver here then I’ll be with them. AJ easily got the best reaction to his entrance of the night up to this point.

This match started out nicely, but the crowd really got taken out of it early doors by an ugly looking botch. AJ charged Cedric in the corner, who elevated him up, but instead of him landing on the apron he just went face first into the post while he was completely upside down, then fell down all the way to the outside. Ouch.

That really took away from a very enjoyable match which followed. AJ worked over Cedric’s knee throughout the match, and Cedric actually sold it really well on and off of offense. It played really well into the finish, with Cedric hitting a brutal looking Lumbar Check backbreaker out of nowhere, but being unable to follow up due to the agony it caused his knee. When Cedric did manage to crawl over, AJ manage to roll into the Calf Killer, which eventually got him the submission victory.

Good match, although a step below AJ’s usual standard. This match showed Cedric’s potential well, but also showed that Cedric isn’t where ROH wants you to think he is at yet. I still think he’s best suited to a tag team at this point. ***1/2 

The Addiction & The Briscoes vs. reDRagon & Young Bucks: This match needs to be excellent for this show to have delivered. I’m glad to see ROH realizing their World Title doesn’t have to main event every show. This match was clearly the most anticipated of the night, so it makes sense for it to go on last. ROH’s tag team division has been really good throughout the summer, so this has potential to really deliver. It’s under elimination rules, but not normal elimination rules. Each tag team is viewed as a unit, so each team is made up of two units. When either member of a unit is pinned or submitted, then the entire unit is eliminated, which would make it 4 vs. 2 after the first elimination. Right, on with the match.

This match, as you would expect, had action all over the place. But it was focused action which was sold, and there were no ridiculous kickouts or no selling. They cleverly rotated who was legal and had well placed pinfall break-ups which allowed them to never have a dull moment while at no point feeling like overkill. That’s a real art.

Now of course some won’t like how many times we got people running into the ring illegally, but in general the legal men were the focus of the action, and every single pinfall attempt was by a legal man on a legal man. That’s something that doesn’t often happen in a crazy match like this, so I have to applaud them. For me that’s what I need from tag legalities, it’s enough that the tag rules actually have a point.

The first elimination came after some slight dissention between Kyle and the Bucks, and this lead to the Addiction hitting their flipping gutbuster finisher to give their team the advantage. The Bucks swiftly levelled the playing field by pinning Daniels with a tandem springboard tombstone after a bucklebomb-enziguri combination. This left the Young Bucks vs. The Briscoes, in a rematch of the previous night’s encounter. The Jackson’s managed to get their win when Nick landed on his feet from a Doomsday Device, Jay ate a Superkick from Matt, and they then ate a double superkick followed up by a More Bang for your Buck at just under the twenty five minute mark.

This was a great main event, as you’d expect looking at the talent in this one. It flowed fantastically, and as I said it was structured really intelligently. The Briscoes and Addiction both looked better here than they have in quite a while, and reDRagon and the Bucks were there ever brilliant selves. Go out of your way to see this. ****

Final Thoughts:

Overall, this was a solid show for Ring of Honor. The crowd was great for the main event and solid for everything else, and commentary was pretty good throughout. ROH has had a very consistent year, with almost all shows having one great match and a handful of other good matches, and that was exactly what this was. The main event was a great finale to a good weekend of wrestling, and worth going out of your way to see, while the semi-main and the opener were very enjoyable too with the TV title match being good too apart from the finish. The middle of the show did take a dip in terms of match quality though.

Despite not finding the match that great, I really enjoyed the storylines occurring with the Decade. It’s everything I want from a wrestling angle in 2014, it’s unpredictable yet logical, it’s intricate but easy to follow, and it doesn’t break kayfabe but it’s real not goofy. You can understand the heels points of view, but you still don’t like them. There’s not even a truly defined good and bad guy. There aren’t enough angles which work like this.

So overall, I think this show gets a recommendation from me, but not a strong one. It’s definitely worth picking up, but if you’re only going to pick up one show from the weekend then the previous night is the one to get, that one had a more consistent card and the best match of the weekend.