ROH Death Before Dishonor XIV
August 19, 2016
Sam’s Town Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada
#1 Contender’s Four-Corner Survival – Donovan Dijak def. Lio Rush, Jay White & Kamaitachi
I had really high expectations coming into this match (considering who was involved), and while I don’t think this matched the awesome Four-Corner Survival that I saw at the War of the Worlds event in New York City back in May, this was still a very good match. It took a little bit to get going, but once it did, the match became really entertaining to watch, and everyone appeared to get a chance to shine here. I amazed at some of the crazy bumps that Dijak (the eventually winner of this match) takes, for a guy of his size. Getting hit with reverse-ranas on the floor and hitting springboard dives to the outside is incredible to see from a guy of his size. I really thought Jay White was going to win here (given the push he’s been getting), but I’ve got no issues with Dijak getting the win. ***3/4
Katsuyori Shibata def. Silas Young
Shibata didn’t come out with as much tape on his shoulder compared to the end of the G1, so hopefully he’s healing up. I thought this match was really good. It didn’t last very long (I think it clocked in at just under ten minutes), but they still managed to use that time very well. The crowd was definitely into Shibata, and we got to see Shibata’s signature spots (the corner dropkick, sitting down and egging on his opponents to hit him, etc…), but I think Young actually did a solid job here as well. While I don’t think this was an amazing performance from Young, it was still better than his outing with KUSHIDA a few months prior. I think Shibata was just a better matchup for him. Shibata would get the win with the PK (as we all expected), but based on this showing, I don’t think Young lost anything in defeat. ***1/2
After the match, we got a true display of manliness, as the two exchanged hard slaps to the face before shaking hands.
CHAOS (Roppongi Vice & Toru Yano) def. The Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & The Guerrillas of Destiny)
Yujro Takahashi and Tanga Loa were both terrible, as you might have guessed. The CHAOS trio had its moments (to be fair, they are an entertaining threesome), but this just wasn’t the right matchup for them. I still have no idea why anyone thought putting this match on PPV was a good idea. Yano would get the win for his team after a low blow and one of his signature pins. ¾*
No Holds Barred Match
“The Hangman” Adam Page def. Jay Briscoe
Page tried to hang Yano after the aforementioned six-man tag, but Jay Briscoe ran out for the save, and this match started right away. I was really intrigued to see how this one would turn out, considering the fact that these two had an awesome No DQ Match last year. Not only did they manage to top themselves, but they put on one of the best matches on this entire show. This match isn’t for everyone, but for a hardcore, anything goes brawl, this was as good as it gets. This was a violent spectacle, and these two tried to kill each other at multiple points. I don’t know what it is, but it just seems like Jay Briscoe really brings out the best in Adam Page, as two of his best matches (with this one being his best in ROH, in my opinion) were against the former two-time ROH World Champion. There weren’t exactly that many weapons used (I think it was many just chairs, a table, and Page’s noose), but they were utilized in several brutal ways. After driving Jay Briscoe through a table with the Rite of Passage (which was absolutely insane), Page choked out Jay Briscoe (whose back was all bloodied from going through the table) with his noose, and then it another Rite of Passage in the ring for the victory. This win is obviously the biggest of Page’s career. Jay Briscoe is extremely protected in the booking (as we all know), so for Page to get such a definitive win like this, with no interference, in a type of match that Jay Briscoe thrives in, is a massive moment for him. I’ll be very intrigued to see where “The Hangman” goes from here. ****1/4
Before I leave this match, I just want to make one quick remark about Jay Briscoe. Seeing his back all bloodied and cut up after that big table spot just reminded me of how much punishment Jay Briscoe (well, to be fair, both Briscoe Brothers) has put his body through over the years. From his bloody Steel Cage Match with Samoa Joe to the Ladder Wars, to matches like this. It’s amazing to me that, after years of doing a ton of crazy stuff that’ll definitely do damage to one’s body in the long haul, he still does matches like this, and absolutely excels in them.
Dalton Castle cut a backstage promo before his big match against Kazuchika Okada, which I bring up because it featured Castle EATING Okada Dollars.
Kazuchika Okada def. Dalton Castle
While Castle has his Boys with him (as he always does), Gedo was noticeably absent from ringside. I thought this two delivered a really good match, which was just shy of being great. Okada was, of course, his usual awesome self. He’s so good, that it’s almost impossible for him to have a singles match that’s less than very good. Everyone knew that Dalton Castle had no shot at defeating the current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, but the big question was whether Castle could hold his own against an opponent the caliber of Okada. In the end, I definitely think he did. Castle looked great in this match, really taking it to Okada on several occasions. He even got to hit his finisher, The Bang-A-Rang, only for Okada to roll to the outside before Castle could go for the pin. He definitely had a strong showing against one of the best that New Japan has to offer. The only complaint I have about this match is that I thought The Boys spend too much time in the ring during the lead up to them posing with Okada. That hurt the match a little bit for me, but still, this was one of the better matches on the show. It’ll be interesting to see where Dalton Castle goes from here. ***3/4
ROH World TV Title
Bobby Fish (c) def. Mark Briscoe
There was an awesome video package that was played before the match. I’ve really enjoyed this program (probably because it’s a very simple one that’s easy to understand). As far as the match itself goes, it was a perfectly good, fundamentally sound match, and both guys worked hard, but it was just missing something. I’m honestly not sure what exactly, though. It just never quite reached that next level for me. This would have been a really good fit for an episode of ROH TV, but for this being a title match on PPV, I expected a little more. Some might go a bit lower than I did, as far as the match rating is concerned, but I consciously can’t knock a match that had nothing wrong with it, from a technical standpoint. There was some really solid wrestling throughout this match, and it certainly turned out to be very good, but it failed to go any higher than that, in my opinion. Bobby Fish would retain his ROH World TV Title. ***1/2
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 20, 2016
ROH World Tag Team Titles
The Addiction (c) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & EVIL), and Michael Elgin & Hiroshi Tanahashi
EVIL had his laser pointer gloves with him during his entrance. Also, Matt Taven was on commentary for this match, but he got pretty annoying (He kept calling everyone “Melvins”). Some might be down on the idea of seeing another three-way match for a set of tag team titles (especially when almost every other promotion in the world seems to be doing it in some form or fashion), but I enjoyed this particular match. Much like the title match that preceded it, this was by no means spectacular, but it was pretty good. I thought the two New Japan teams did a very solid job in this one. They definitely outshined The Addiction here, which probably isn’t a shock to some (It’s definitely not a shock to me). There was some really good action in this one, including an awesome near fall off an EVIL Bomb by EVIL on Tanahashi. Eventually, The Addiction would retain their titles after Daniels got a blind tag on Tananashi, who then snuck in and scored the fall (Daniels basically did a jackknife pin on EVIL, which subsequently trapped Tanahashi. It sounds weird, but it was definitely a unique finish). I’m continuing to grow tired of The Addiction as ROH World Tag Team Champions. They’re just not that interesting to watch, and I can’t wait for them to lose the titles. ***1/2
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 20, 2016
Before I move on to the main event, after The Addiction retained their titles, Matt Taven noted on commentary that his “Kingdom” was coming soon, and that it’ll be a moment people won’t soon forget (or he said something to that degree). Again, this has been teased for months, so if and when Taven’s version of The Kingdom appears, don’t be shocked.
ROH World Title
Adam Cole def. Jay Lethal (c)
This match started off in one of the most disgusting ways imaginable, with Cole pulling Lethal’s dreadlocks out of his trunks. Aside from that, and a bit of the match early on where Lethal seemed to have trouble finding a table, this was actually fantastic. The action was, of course, very good, but the story of the match (Lethal being more focused on getting revenge on Cole), really added a lot to this one. That was evident early on when Lethal went crashing through the aforementioned table on the floor after Cole moved out of the way of a top rope elbow drop attempt. Lethal was taking risks that he wouldn’t normally take in a ROH World Title match, because he was so obsessed with getting revenge on Adam Cole, and in the end, his desire for revenge would cost him. The rest of the match from that table spot onward was great, with the closing stretch being particularly awesome.
If there’s one critique I could make, it surrounds Cole’s brainbuster on the knee. It’s obviously become one of his big finishing moves, but the crowd really doesn’t react to that move like it’s (potentially) the end of the match. Maybe actually naming the move would help (I guess it’s called The Last Shot, but it’s never been named on TV)? Anyway, Cole would eventually put away Lethal to become the third two-time ROH World Champion in company history. I thought this was an awesome match. It was definitely one of the best matches we’ve seen from ROH this year (though I don’t think it’ll end up in any major MOTY discussions, since the bar across the world has been set so high this year). The action was very good, but the story that they’ve been telling on TV really added some drama to this match, and that made it even better. With Cole’s victory, Lethal’s incredible run as a champion (both as ROH World Champion and, previously, ROH World TV Champion) has come to an end. To put that in perspective, the last time that Jay Lethal wasn’t holding a singles title in ROH was in early April of 2014. ****1/2
After the match, Cole’s celebration was cut short when Kyle O’Reilly made his return, and attacked his former tag team partner. O’Reilly posed with the ROH World Title to close the show. It’ll be interesting to see what O’Reilly does at All-Star Extravaganza VIII, since it seems as though Michael Elgin will be challenging for the ROH World Title, but it definitely seems like Cole vs. O’Reilly will be fighting over the ROH World Title sometime this year (probably Final Battle). I’ve got no issues with that.
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubItal) August 20, 2016
Aside from that awful six-man, this was actually a really good PPV from ROH. Jay Lethal vs. Adam Cole for the ROH World Title and Jay Briscoe vs. Adam Page in a No Holds Barred Match were easily the best matches on the show. The fact that the winners of those two matches (Adam Cole & Adam Page, both members of The Bullet Club) won cleanly and decisively, with no interference of any kind, was a shocking, but pleasant, surprise. It’s nice to see that ROH has now done two PPV’s in a row with no shenanigans or nonsense in the main event (as a pattern that seemed to develop last year, and this year, saw BS finishes in the main event of every other PPV). Hopefully they can keep doing clean finishes in PPV main events.
Additionally, I think it’s important to note that, even though this show had a heavy New Japan presence, the aforementioned two best shows of the night featured four ROH guys (despite both Jay Briscoe & Adam Page now having important ties to New Japan). As for the rest of the show, again, everything else was pretty good, besides that awful Six-Man Tag. The opening Four-Corner Survival and Okada vs. Castle were definitely the “best of the rest”, but Shibata vs. Silas Young, Bobby Fish vs. Mark Briscoe for the ROH World TV Title, and the Three-Way for the ROH World Tag Team Titles were pretty good as well. Despite not having as much buzz compared to other wrestling companies (especially this weekend), ROH managed to put on a very good show, with two matches that are definitely worth checking out.