Ring of Honor
Death Before Dishonor XIII
Friday, July 24
Baltimore, Maryland – William J. Myers Pavilion
I called the go-home show for Ring of Honor’s impending internet pay-per-view perhaps the worst of all-time. And yet, I was still excited coming into this event because ROH has a way of delivering when it only has to focus on wrestling matches. Best in the World was one of my favorite cards of the year and a main event that featured Jay Lethal making his first title defense against Roderick Strong seemed guaranteed to deliver.
Silas Young vs. Will Ferrara
The show began with a rematch of a television match that ended in a distraction finish. As they teased in that match two weeks ago, Young and Ferrara were capable of having a decent match together. This was a solid opener that let Ferrara show a little of what he can do and allowed Silas Young to get the clean victory he needed as he continues to feud with Dalton Castle. The stuff after the match with Castle’s Boys was mostly goofy and didn’t do anything to further that program. But the crowd ate it up so it’s hard to level much criticism beyond personal disinterest. **3/4
Moose vs. Cedric Alexander
Rob Reid was right and I was wrong. Cedric used the wrench again to get a second win in a row over the previously undefeated Moose. The real story here though was that these guys had a really good match before the finish. There is a lot of talk about how green Moose is and much of it is correct. But in this match, he showed that it is awfully likely he will put all his potential together to become a real force. And that is going to come sooner than many think. I would’ve preferred Moose to put Alexander away and continue his way up the card but I am looking forward to seeing the sequel. ***1/2
The Briscoes vs. Roppongi Vice
Outside of the main event, this was my most anticipated match of the night. Roppongi Vice has been excellent since they debuted and The Briscoes are always awesome, when they aren’t talking about social issues anyway. The match was everything you could want out of these two teams: plenty of high spots, great heat segments, and some vicious offense. Kelly and Corino made it clear on commentary that The Briscoes’ win would catapult them into the Tag Team Championship picture. It’s too bad Roppongi Vice isn’t around ROH more often to add some much-needed quality depth to the tag division. This was the early front-runner for MOTN. ****
Adam Cole vs. Dalton Castle
I don’t remember the last time I had the kind of mixed feelings about a wrestler I have toward Dalton Castle. I truly hate his gimmick and all the character-related things he does and yet I love his work in the ring. The one positive thing about his character for me is that I do enjoy the juxtaposition between his mannerisms and his aggressive wrestling style. Castle brought that juxtaposition to this match, bringing out the strong type of work that helps Adam Cole to shine. And he also brought exactly what he’s brought to ROH since he showed up: he is so good in the ring that he can battle with guys higher on the card, end up losing, and still be outrageously over. Adam Cole desperately needed a clean win, which he got in another very good match. The predictable Silas Young run-in came after the match, ensuring that enjoyable program will have another chapter. ***3/4
Just when you thought there was no way ROH could kill the momentum of a very enjoyable card, BJ Whitmer came out to cut a promo! Luckily, he was out to announce that he just had ACL-reconstruction surgery and he won’t be wrestling for the foreseeable future. Yes, I feel awful about saying that. But Whitmer sucks, folks. And since Whitmer came to bring good news, the crowd stayed hot. Perhaps it was because Whitmer also announced he would be joining the commentary team so the live crowd was enjoying that he would only haunt those of us watching on iPPV for the rest of the show.
ACH vs. Adam Page
OK, we have one of the most exciting wrestlers on the planet. Let’s book him with one of our most boring acts, put him in a slow match that showcases none of his strengths, and let a performer who is nowhere near his level repeatedly get the best of him. I didn’t understand the booking of this program from its inception unless it was a way for ACH to use Page as a stepping-stone up the card. Instead, Page has stood tall after each confrontation, though always by using nefarious means, which ensures he doesn’t come out ahead either. This kind of seemed like ACH/Page will continue. If so, I will amazingly care less than I did coming into this match. **3/4
ROH World Tag Team Championship Match – The Addiction (c) vs. reDRagon vs. War Machine vs. The Kingdom
This was good for what it was but I am so burned out on these four-way tag matches. The main story told on commentary was the continued fissure between Adam Cole and The Kingdom. After the stretch that always comes in these matches where everyone ran in and out and stuff was gotten in, The Addiction used the relative shenanigans of a phantom tag to get the win, with Bobby Fish taking the fall. The point was to keep the Addiction/reDRagon feud going for at least one more match but when the need for tags is ignored for five minutes or more of a match, I have a hard time considering The Addiction’s win less than clean. ***1/4
ROH World Championship Match – Jay Lethal (c) vs. Roderick Strong
It was in the preview for this very show that I said ROH had banked substantial goodwill with regard to the booking of Lethal’s title reign by the way they booked his title win. And all of that goodwill was long gone well before this match mercifully ended. Lethal and Strong worked a painfully slow match that consisted of the competitors swapping the advantage back-and-forth instead of trying to tell any coherent story. The House of Truth regularly got involved when what Lethal needed was a strong, clean win to establish himself as champion. Then, amazingly, in 2015, we were treated to a 60-minute draw in the first match of a four-week program. About 30 minutes into the match, I thought it was headed for a gimmicked Broadway. At some point I realized they were actually going to go the full 60 and I had never wanted more the magic of pro wrestling timekeeping. I highlighted the poor build overall for this event in my weekly ROH TV reviews but this match I actually felt excited about even beyond the fact that both participants are great workers. Ultimately, this was the most disappointing drawing-position match in recent memory. A spirited final stretch bumps the rating slightly but I was so bored by then that it only barely registered with me. **1/2
Final Thoughts: After the early run of Moose/Alexander, Briscoes/Roppongi Vice, and Cole/Castle, I thought this might end up as a really great show, regardless of the lack of a build. That outcome seemed especially likely since I never imagined the main event would be less than a 4-star affair. Instead, the second half of the show was mediocre and sometimes painful, culminating in an historically bad main event title match. While I really liked the three matches I listed, they won’t change your life so I wouldn’t go out of your way to give Ring of Honor $14.95 to watch this card.