Ring of Honor
Death Before Dishonor XVII
September 27, 2019
Sam’s Town Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
When I previewed ROH Best In The World back in June, I talked about how ROH was at an interesting crossroads as we reached the halfway point of 2019. Attendance numbers seemed to be on a slow, but steady, decline following the departure of The Elite and SCU at the end of 2018. Meanwhile, the relationship with New Japan seemed to be getting colder with New Japan doing more business in North America on their own. Despite the fact that ROH managed to sign a number of fresh talents in an attempt to fill the voids left by The Elite and SCU, the promotion managed to (and continues to) lose fans and buzz throughout 2019, for a variety of reasons. A lackluster product, a talent roster lacking depth and real star power, a number of questionable booking decisions, and a pair of high profile incidents (The failed attempt of a worked-shoot angle with Enzo and Big Cass at the MSG show, the Bully Ray/Allure fan incident at a June live event in Portland, Oregon) have all hurt ROH in various ways.
Now, with only a few months in 2019, we can see that ROH has really taken a nosedive, with regards to live event attendance. The ticket maps for ROH events over the last few months have not looked pretty, with plenty of seats still available at multiple events mere days before the events were scheduled to take place. Historically strong cities for ROH like New York City, Chicago, and Toronto have seen very steep attendance drops, with the July TV Tapings in the Hammerstein Ballroom being the most shocking. ROH hasn’t done the best job with the talents at their disposal this year, and it’s clear that the product, despite a number of bright spots, isn’t connecting enough for people to buy tickets to their shows (the fact that a number of these shows are taking place in venues that are way too big for 2019 ROH certainly doesn’t help the overall perception). Despite a relatively solid lineup for this show, the last few months of 2019 don’t look any better for ROH, and this comes as the contracts of a number of key talents (Marty Scurll, Jeff Cobb, Brody King, Bandido, and yes, even Matt Taven) are coming up in the near future.
I have no idea what ROH will look like as we inch closer to 2020, but there are certainly more questions than answers at the moment.
ROH World Title
Matt Taven (c) vs. RUSH
RUSH has been undefeated since making his ROH debut this year, and it was only a matter of time before he got a shot at the ROH World Title. However, the big story in this match (and the biggest story on this entire PPV) involves the current ROH World Champion Matt Taven. A few weeks ago, news came out that Matt Taven’s contract was expiring at the end of September, and it wasn’t known at the time whether he was going to sign a new deal. This came as a surprise to many, and it added a new wrinkle to the controversial result of the ROH World Title Ladder Match from the G1 Supercard event in MSG back in April. The belief over the last several months was that ROH went with Matt Taven over Marty Scurll in that spot because Scurll was likely on his way out, while Taven was going to be around for the long haul. Now that we know Taven’s contract actually expires before Scurll’s contract, the MSG result is even more baffling with the benefit of hindsight. ROH actively decided to go with Matt Taven over Marty Scurll (who is without question one of the most popular guys on the roster right now, if not the most popular), and this Taven title reign has taken place during a period where ROH’s attendance is in a state of collapse. Realistically, ROH was going to be in trouble either way, when it comes to their attendance, but I’m sure the decline would’ve been lessened if Marty Scurll had been the champion this whole time.
We really haven’t had any major updates on this story, but Dave Meltzer did note on the most recent edition of Wrestling Observer Radio that ROH offered Taven a new contract that was described as being as much as three times what a potential NXT deal would offer him. Whether he takes that deal remains to be seen. Either way, I think the result of this match will ultimately tell the story. Even before this news broke, I felt that RUSH was going to win the ROH World Title here. Taven doesn’t seem like the guy who should hand RUSH his first loss, plus it’s about time to take the title off of Taven after he’s proven to be a business failure at the box office. Now, a RUSH victory could confirm that Taven is indeed on his way out of the company. If Taven comes out on top, then that should confirm that he’s signed a new deal. As far as the match goes, it could be pretty good. Taven has been working in CMLL over the last few years, so in theory, he should mesh well with RUSH. Whether that actually happens remains to be seen, as the last Taven PPV main event didn’t go very well at all. Again, even if Taven isn’t leaving, I don’t see how you keep the title on him in this spot, unless you’re saving him for whoever wins the #1 Contender’s Tournament. Prediction: RUSH
ROH World Tag Team Titles
The Briscoes (c) vs. Lifeblood (Bandido & Mark Haskins)
On paper, this is one of the best matches on the card, and it really has the chance to be a show-stealer. Back when Lifeblood first got started, Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams were designated as the regular tag team in Lifeblood, while Bandido mainly wrestled in the singles ranks. In the last few months, that formula got changed up a bit. Williams became more of a singles wrestler as he started to go after the ROH World TV Title, while Bandido started teaming with Mark Haskins. In just their second match as a tag team, they picked up a huge win over Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham in a great bout at the Summer Supercard event in August. Lifeblood would go on to defeat Brody King & Marty Scurll to earn this title shot against The Briscoes, and during the recent Global Wars Tour, they picked up a couple of wins over the current ROH World Tag Team Champions. I’m fully expecting this to be one of the best matches of the night. Bandido and Haskins work really well together as a team, and The Briscoes always seem to deliver in matches like this. My hope is that Bandido and Haskins leave Las Vegas as the new champions, but since both of them are in the #1 Contender’s Tournament for the ROH World Title shot at Final Battle, that makes me think they’re going to come up short here. Prediction: The Briscoes
ROH World TV Title – Triple Threat Match
Shane Taylor (c) vs. Flip Gordon vs. Tracy Williams
Back at Summer Supercard, Tracy Williams was scheduled to challenge Shane Taylor for the ROH World TV Title. However, Flip Gordon jumped Williams from behind and did a good deal of damage with a kendo stick. Williams would still go through with his scheduled title match a little later in the night, but he wasn’t able to overcome the earlier attack and came up short in the end. There’s certainly no love lost between Flip Gordon and Tracy Williams, as it was Gordon who turned on Lifeblood to join Villain Enterprises at Best In The World. That would be the main story going into this match, if not for some strange developments involving ROH World TV Champion Shane Taylor. A few weeks ago, it came out that Taylor and ROH had come to terms on a “contract buyout”. It seemed at first glance that it was legit, but now it appears to be some sort of worked-shoot storyline. I honestly have no idea what to make of this. Is Taylor’s contract actually coming up, and they’re working a storyline into his potential departure. Are they just doing this to put more attention on Taylor? Again, I really don’t know what the purpose of this whole storyline is. If it were up to me, I would put the ROH World TV Title on Flip Gordon, but given that this Shane Taylor story just got going, I would imagine that he retains his title here. Prediction: Shane Taylor
“Flip when I finally get my hands on you face to face I am going to show you what it truly means to HURT!”
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) September 27, 2019
Women Of Honor Title
Kelly Klein (c) vs. Angelina Love
As everyone knows, the feud between The Allure and Kelly Klein started at the G1 Supercard event in MSG back in April. We’re now going into the final week of September, and we’re only just now getting a singles bout with Klein vs. a member of The Allure. To be clear, I’m not into this match or this feud at all (nobody is), but I bring that point up to illustrate that this feud has been moving at a snail’s pace. Before this, the only other interaction that Klein had with The Allure in an actual match was a tag team bout at Best In The World back in June. It’s absolutely ridiculous that this feud has been going on for so long. The silver lining is that they’ve managed to put off this match as long as possible. This is going to be a bad match. Neither competitor is known for their in-ring work, so this has trainwreck written all over it. I really don’t care about the result, but I feel like they’re going to put the title on Angelina Love here. With Session Moth Martina coming into ROH very soon, she would make a good babyface challenger to go against a heel champion. It wouldn’t shock me if Klein retained, but I’ll go with Angelina here. The real question is how bad will this match get? Prediction: Angelina Love
Jay Lethal vs. Jonathan Gresham
If the ROH World Tag Team Title bout between The Briscoes and Lifeblood doesn’t steal the show, then this match will. Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham formed a tag team around this time last year following a series of great singles matches throughout 2018. They were a very strong pairing, but unfortunately, cracks began to form in their relationship. It could really be traced back to the Pure Rules Match between Jonathan Gresham and Silas Young at Best In The World, where Gresham used some questionable tactics to achieve victory. Lethal wasn’t a fan of these heelish tactics, and dissension between the two partners in recent tag team matches led to a pair of losses. On the recent Global Wars Tour, a loss to Silas Young and Josh Woods proved to be the last straw, and the two came to blows. I’m expecting this to be a fantastic singles bout. Lethal always steps up for these big PPV singles match, and Gresham is always awesome. I presume the feud is continuing beyond this show, so it makes the most sense for Gresham to pick up the win here. He still hasn’t picked up a victory over Jay Lethal (he did submit Lethal in an Iron Man Match, but he ultimately lost the bout in the end), so I could easily see him cheating his way to his first victory over Lethal. It wouldn’t be the best finish in the world, but it would make sense with the story they’re telling with Gresham. Prediction: Jonathan Gresham
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— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) September 26, 2019
Final Battle #1 Contender’s Tournament – First Round
Colt Cabana vs. “The Villain” Marty Scurll / Kenny King vs. PCO
For the sake of time, I decided to lump these two matches together, so that I can talk about the tournament more broadly. Several weeks ago, ROH announced that there would be a special single-elimination tournament to determine the #1 Contender for the ROH World Title at Final Battle. The semi-finals and finals will take place at Glory By Honor in New Orleans on October 12th, but the first round of this eight-person tournament is set to take place during Death Before Dishonor Weekend in Las Vegas. Colt Cabana vs. Marty Scurll and Kenny King vs. PCO will be taking place on the PPV itself, while Dalton Castle vs. Mark Haskins and Bandido vs. Jay Lethal will happen at the TV Tapings the next day.
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) September 26, 2019
It’s a little odd that they’re holding this tournament about a month before the annual Survival Of The Fittest Tournament, but in general, I’ve got no problems with it. At least ROH is giving us something that’s somewhat interesting to follow in the final few months of 2019. For the most part, the lineup is pretty solid. You would expect guys like Marty Scurll, Jay Lethal, and Bandido to be involved in a tournament like this. That being said, there were some questionable picks as well. Why aren’t guys like Brody King and Jonathan Gresham in this tournament? Dalton Castle is a former ROH World Champion, but why was he entered after coming out on the losing end of a heated feud with RUSH? Why is Kenny King in this thing, period? The biggest omission has to be Jeff Cobb, but to be fair, he already has a shot at the ROH World Title coming up on the UK Tour at the end of October (though the fact he’s getting a title shot there is an interesting story in of itself).
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— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) September 26, 2019
As for the two opening round bouts on this PPV, one of them is incredibly easy to predict, while the other one is a little tricky. Marty Scurll should easily get by Colt Cabana, and I have no doubt that it’ll be the best of the two tournament matches on this card. Those two are very familiar with each other (they previously had a feud in RevPro over the British Heavyweight Title), so I’m sure this will be a fun technical affair. As for Kenny King vs. PCO, I’m not expecting it to be as good as Cabana vs. Scurll, but I’m sure it’ll be decent, at the very least. The fact that PCO is involved should at least guarantee that the crowd will be into it. The result could go either way, and the winner will likely tip off the winner of the other semi-final bout on that end of the bracket. If PCO wins, we’ll probably get PCO vs. Dalton Castle. If King wins, we’ll likely see King vs. Mark Haskins. My hope is that we’ll see PCO get the win here, but ROH will probably have Kenny King win instead, because reasons. Predictions: Marty Scurll and Kenny King
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) September 26, 2019
The Bouncers (The Beer City Bruiser & Brawler Milonas) vs. Silas Young & Vinny Marseglia
The Bouncers have been feuding with The Kingdom over the past couple of months, but for some reason, we’ve got Vinny Marseglia teaming up with Silas Young in this Barroom Brawl against The Beer City Bruiser and Brawler Milonas. I’m not exactly sure what the story is with TK O’Ryan. According to cagematch, he hasn’t wrestled a match since Summer Supercard back in August during SummerSlam Weekend in Toronto. I’m not sure if it was confirmed by anyone, but I’m guessing that he’s injured. Regardless of what the situation is, Silas Young is a very suitable replace for TK O’Ryan, especially considering his history with The Bouncers (and with The Beer City Bruiser in particular). The Kingdom had already committed some vicious attacks on The Bouncers prior to O’Ryan recent disappearance (Marseglia put out a cigar on the chest of The Beer City Bruiser), but the feud went to another level on a recent event in Milwaukee where Marseglia managed to knock out one of The Beer City Bruiser’s teeth. I appreciate the fact that this feud has been built up relatively well, but at the end of the day, I can’t see this being a truly standout match. It’ll be a fun hardcore brawl, and I’m sure there will be some memorable spots throughout. However, I can’t see this being anything above decent, as far as match quality is concerned. Given that The Bouncers have mostly been the ones taking the beatings from The Kingdom, I’m guessing they’ll get some revenge in this one. Prediction: The Bouncers
Brody King vs. Jeff Cobb
This was a pretty late addition to the card, and it will be streamed live on the PPV pre-show at 8:30 PM EDT (the pre-show can be seen on YouTube, FaceBook, HonorClub, FITE TV, and apparently on the PPV channels). There’s no story behind this one. It’s just going to be two big beefy men having a hoss fight. The idea of a free pre-show is a recent edition to ROH PPV’s (it only started at Best In The World back in June), and it’s already garnered some controversy, mainly because of the matches that ROH has chosen to put on the pre-show. Flip Gordon vs. RUSH was the pre-show match at Best In The World, and this time around, we’ve got another pre-show bout with some of ROH’s biggest names. Now I have no issues with ROH wanting to do a free pre-show. You can have a bonus match mixed in with some video packages to help hype up the PPV. However, it’s been a little puzzling to see ROH put some of their biggest stars on this free pre-show. I understand wanting to have a hot match to help sell the PPV, but surely you can switch things around to put Brody King and Jeff Cobb on the PPV. If it were me, I would put Kenny King vs. PCO on the pre-show, and move this match to the PPV. I get that this Brody King/Jeff Cobb match has absolutely no stakes attached, but it would definitely make the PPV better. As for the winner, Jeff Cobb makes the most sense, since he’s got a shot at the ROH World Title coming up, as I mentioned earlier in this preview. Prediction: Jeff Cobb