Ring of Honor
Death Before Dishonor XVII
September 27, 2019
Sam’s Town Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada
With Colt Cabana wrestling on this show, your main announce team for the night was Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman
Jeff Cobb def. Brody King
While the crowd would fill in a little bit more by the time the actual PPV started, you could tell very quickly that this venue in Las Vegas (which can only fit about 900 or so for a sold-out ROH event) was far from full. It’s one thing for ROH to not draw well in these massive arenas that are clearly too big for them right now, but to not sell out a relatively small venue like this just shows you how far they’ve fallen over the last several months. From an aesthetic standpoint, this was definitely reminiscent of those WWE PPV kickoff show matches where only half the crowd is in the arena. Even with a half-filled building, Brody King and Jeff Cobb still managed to have a really entertaining match on this PPV pre-show. After a brief technical exchange in the opening minute, this quickly broke down into a slugfest, as these two beat the crap out of each other for twelve minutes. There were plenty of hard strikes and stiff exchanges, but both men also showed off their incredible agility at various points as well. King nearly had the match won after a nasty piledriver, but Cobb ultimately got the win with the Tour Of The Islands. It’s a shame that this wasn’t on the PPV itself (or in front of a larger, and more lively, crowd) because it was really freaking good! Two big dudes throwing bombs while mixing in a little bit of high-flying. What’s not to like? ***3/4
Following this pre-show match, we got another in-ring bit before the PPV officially began, as Dalton Castle was out to do an interview with Quinn McKay. He also had a pair of boys with him (though not the original boys). Castle went on and on about how entertaining he was but was then interrupted by Joe Hendry. After Castle revealed that his form of “entertainment” was him drinking a mimosa, Hendry introduces a karaoke song that started with references to their efforts as a tag team, but then it made fun of Castle. This led to Castle throwing his mimosa at Hendry, who responded by taking out Castle’s “boys”. It’s clear that these two are heading towards a match. It’s just a matter of when and where.
Final Battle #1 Contender’s Tournament
“The Villain” Marty Scurll def. Colt Cabana
The PPV officially kicked off with two first-round matches from the Final Battle #1 Contender’s Tournament, where the eventual winner will receive a shot at the ROH World Title in the main event of Final Battle. The first of those two matches was Colt Cabana vs. Marty Scurll, and as I mentioned in my preview, these two are very familiar with each other (most notably, they battled over the RevPro British Heavyweight Title several years ago). This was a great way to get the PPV started, as we saw a really fun back-and-forth technical battle between these two. The fans in Las Vegas were very much into Scurll (as they always are), while Cabana continues to look just as good in the ring as he did in the glory days of ROH. It’s easy to forget that he’s almost forty when you seem him nail these beautiful moonsaults. The action picked up in the second half, as Cabana somehow managed to survive an onslaught of offense from Scurll. Likewise, Scurll managed to survive some of Cabana’s best shots (including the Cubs Win submission, the Chicago Skyline, and the Superman press pin) before hitting Black Plague to get the win. A very predictable result, but this was still a very strong opener. With Scurll contract coming up before Final Battle, one has to wonder how far Scurll will go in this tournament. ***3/4
Final Battle #1 Contender’s Tournament – No DQ Match
PCO def. Kenny King (with Amy Rose)
Apparently, Kenny King lobbied to get this match changed to a No DQ Match. King had a bunch of random dudes come out to set up various weapons around the ring for him (we’ll see those guys again later). Meanwhile, PCO came out to his new theme song (composed by famous WWE songwriter Jim Johnston) while wearing a Frankenstein-esque jacket. I imagine this was changed to a No DQ match to help protect PCO a little bit, because a normal singles match with King would’ve been a lot worse than this. Or maybe they just didn’t think King was a strong enough worker to have a passable match with PCO under normal rules? Whatever the case was, this ended up being a solid enough bout. PCO pretty much dominated the first portion of the match. At one point, he nearly took himself out when he almost smacked his head on a table while hitting a senton onto King, who was on the apron. That could’ve turned out a lot worse than it did. Unfortunately for PCO, things got worse for him moments later, as he dove out of the ring on the wrong side after “malfunctioning”. This allowed King to go on the offense, as he used a couple of ladders to do damage on PCO. He later tried a sunset flip to the floor which didn’t go quite as planned (it was actually a pretty ugly landing). This all led to an absolutely ridiculous finish that I had no idea what to make of when I first saw it. King poured water all over PCO, and Amy Rose (King’s valet) brought out a freaking cattle prod in an attempt to electrocute PCO. However, this had the opposite effect, as it “fixed” PCO’s malfunction, and he “transferred” (as it was explained on commentary) the electricity to King’s body while he hit a chokeslam for the pin. It was an incredibly wacky finish, but when it comes to PCO, I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised with stuff like that.
Again, the match was perfectly fine for what it was. It didn’t leave a lasting impression, but it had some fun spots throughout. I wasn’t expecting PCO to win here, so it should be interesting to see how far he goes in this tournament. **3/4
Women Of Honor Title
Angelina Love (with Mandy Leon) def. Kelly Klein (c)
I went into this expecting a horrible match, and while it wasn’t quite the trainwreck I was expecting, it was easily the worst bout on the entire show. To be clear, I felt like this had a strong chance to be an absolute dud, so the step up between “total trainwreck” and “not quite a total trainwreck” wasn’t that much. The first few minutes weren’t too bad, but then we got a ton of shenanigans towards the end, and that’s when this completely went off the rails. Mandy Leon sprayed Klein in the face with something (I think it was hairspray?), and despite hitting the Botox Injection right after this, Love only got a two count. Leon then used the spray again, but it wasn’t timed very well, as it looked like both Klein and Love got sprayed in the eyes. Leon would then get in the ring, and Klein went after her. This left Klein wide open for another Botox Injection, and Love captured the Women Of Honor Title. It’s no secret that the Women Of Honor division is pretty bad, and this match didn’t do it any favors. *1/2
Afterward, Angelina Love and Mandy Leon continued to go after Kelly Klein until Maria Manic made the save. After sending The Allure packing, Manic took out a bunch of security dudes to show off how strong she was. I have to be honest….when I talked about this match in my preview of the PPV, I totally forgot that Maria Manic was in ROH. I guess she’ll be the next major challenger for Angelina Love, and honestly, I hope Manic squashes her.
Jonathan Gresham def. Jay Lethal
Gresham came out wearing this cool CCK entrance robe that featured one sleeve that was meant to look like an octopus tentacle. These two had a series of great technical matches throughout 2018, and while those matches were strictly professional, this one was more personal, as their friendship seemed to fall apart after Lethal disapproved of Gresham’s usage of dirty tactics to win matches. Even though this was probably in the bottom-half of Lethal/Gresham matches, this was still a great bout that was easily one of the best on the entire show. The first portion of the match featured a series of great technical exchanges, which was to be expected. They eventually started working over injured body parts, as Gresham went after Lethal’s wrist/arm, while Lethal went after Gresham’s legs (both of his knees were taped up coming into this bout). Both of those injuries would hinder Lethal and Gresham at various points later on, but a major moment took place when Gresham went to use a chair. Lethal admonished Gresham for this, and asked if that was the only way he could beat him (there were a couple of NXT-esque talking/melodrama bits during the match, but this was the most prominent of them). This led to a brawl breaking out between the two, and the match got more heated as both tried to score victory. An attempt at the Lethal Injection failed when Lethal’s previously damaged arm prevented him from executing his finisher, and this allowed Gresham to gain the advantage. He went after the arm, and ultimately got Lethal to tap out.
I wasn’t shocked that Gresham got the win, but I was surprised to see that he beat Lethal that cleanly. I figured a more heelish finish would help extend the feud. However, I don’t mind this finish at all. A clean submission win over Jay Lethal is the biggest moment of Gresham’s ROH tenure, and with the benefit of hindsight, this tease of Gresham heel run seemed to just be a way for Gresham to gain a bit of an edge. The fact that he embraced Lethal afterward appears to signal that their feud is over, and Gresham is back to being a babyface. We’ll see where this goes from here, but hopefully, it means that Gresham is destined for bigger and better things. ****
The Bouncers (The Beer City Bruiser & Brawler Milonas) def. Silas Young & Vinny Marseglia (with Josh Woods)
So after an awesome match between two skilled wrestlers who’ve had a feud built on great technical wrestling, we go to a bout that’s on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The Bouncers managed to get revenge on Silas Young and Vinny Marseglia in this violent Barroom Brawl after a bloody Beer City Bruiser put Marseglia away with a Beer City DDT. This wasn’t the greatest hardcore match in the world, but it had enough memorable moments for me to give it the gentlemen’s three. Some of the notable spots included Marseglia getting busted open from a beer bottle shot in the first minute of the match, Marseglia driving a broken pool cue into the head of Milonas, and Marseglia hitting a bit swanton from the top rope to put Milonas through a table on the floor. However, none of those spots compared to what was easily the highlight of the match, as Marseglia threw several darts into the back of The Beer City Bruiser. That was just sick on so many levels, but it did manage to get a big reaction in the building, and proved to be one of the most talked-about spots on the entire PPV. Josh Woods did commentary for a decent chunk of the match (he’s being mentored by Silas Young, but the story there is that Woods is still a babyface who doesn’t approve of Young’s heelish tendencies). After seeing enough of this carnage, Woods just carried Young to the back, and that left Marseglia alone against The Bouncers before the aforementioned finish. This was by no means stellar, but these guys tried hard, and it was fine for what it was. ***
ROH World TV Title – Fatal Four-Way Match
Shane Taylor (c) def. Dragon Lee, Flip Gordon, & Tracy Williams
Shane Taylor did a boxer/MMA fighter-style entrance, as he came through the backstage area with an entourage that was made up of the same guys who helped out Kenny King earlier. I’m not sure if this was an intended line as part of a future story, or just a cover for the same guys appearing again, but Ian Riccaboni questioned whether this meant that Kenny King was possibly joining Shane Taylor Promotions (it was some good attention to detail either way). This was originally scheduled to be a Triple Threat Match, but Dragon Lee then entered the match as a last-minute addition. Ian Riccaboni mentioned how he was supposed to be at CMLL’s Anniversary Show, but was here in ROH instead (more on that later). The addition of Dragon Lee definitely raised my expectations for this one, and while it was still a relatively good match, it ended up being a short one. It went just about eight minutes, and Taylor retained after pinning Flip Gordon with the Greetings For 216. This served as a fine continuation of the Flip Gordon/Tracy Williams feud, and even though Dragon Lee didn’t take the fall, he had moments to shine, and I could easily see him getting a title shot against Taylor in the future. There was fun action throughout this one, but it ultimately suffered because it didn’t have the time to really become a better match. ***1/4
ROH World Tag Team Titles
The Briscoes (c) def. Lifeblood (Bandido & Mark Haskins)
Bandido and Mark Haskins haven’t been a regular tag team for very long, but they’ve been very impressive in all of the showings thus far. Even though they ultimately came up short in the bid to beat The Briscoes for the ROH World Tag Team Titles, this was a great tag team encounter that featured some strong action from start to finish. The Briscoes did control things in the middle portion of the bout, but for the most part, this really had a wild and out of control feel to it. There was brawling on the outside throughout, The Briscoes tried to get chairs and a table involved, and in general, both teams were just going after each other with double team move after double team move. In hindsight, it was amazing that Bandido was able to pull off some of the stuff that he did, considering he was working with a knee injury that has now put him on the shelf for several weeks. Haskins showed a lot of fight in this one as well (the fact that his wife, Vickie Haskins, was sitting in the front row, added to that story), but he wasn’t able to survive two Jay Drillers, and Jay Briscoe scored the winning fall for his team. Again, this was a great match between these two teams. I’m very curious to see what The Briscoes do from here, since there doesn’t seem to be many tag teams left for them to face, but we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks. ****
Afterward, Bully Ray made his unwelcome return and attacked Lifeblood. Tracy Williams ran out to make the save, but he got attacked from behind by Flip Gordon, who had a brief moment with Bully Ray before leaving. Commentary seemed to stress that this wasn’t a situation of Gordon helping his former enemy, but more so Gordon going after Williams (who he’s feuding with currently), and nothing more beyond that. Regardless of what his intentions were, Bully Ray took advantage of this and continued his assault. He got in the face of Vickie Haskins, who slapped him in response. Bully Ray then put Mark Haskins through a table, and got security to drag away Vickie Haskins when she tried to jump the rail. We all thought Bully Ray was done as an on-screen character, but here he is again. I’m guessing that he’s going to have a match with Mark Haskins, which does make a little bit of sense, since he did cost Haskins in a title bout against Taven earlier in the year. Even if there is a story there, nobody’s happy to see Bully Ray again. Does he realize it’s almost 2020?
ROH World Title
RUSH def. Matt Taven (c)
Both RUSH and Matt Taven got big entrances for this match. RUSH came out wearing an all-white suit (much like Tetsuya Naito), and members of his family (Dragon Lee, La Bestia Del Ring, and RUSH’s young son) were seated at ringside. Meanwhile, Taven’s entrance was pretty much a cheap imitation of Chris Jericho’s entrance from Double Or Nothing back in May. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, but when the dust settled, this proved to be a very strong main event. What made this match so exciting is that there was pretty much no downtime to speak of. These two went right after each other as soon as the bell rang, with RUSH teasing the Bull’s Horns immediately. From there, they managed to keep the match going at a very good pace, and they didn’t go overly long (which certainly helped). There was a fair amount of brawling on the outside, and a number of vicious spots occurred during this period. RUSH took a vicious fall to the floor after Taven just dropped him out of a vertical suplex position from the apron. RUSH responded later on with throwing Taven into a detached barricade and connecting with a DDT on the timekeeper’s table. The closing stretch was very good as well. After RUSH kicked out of the Climax, there was a really cool strike exchange between the two, and moments later, RUSH hit the Bull’s Horns twice to capture the ROH World Title.
Even with Matt Taven signing a new deal to stay with ROH, this was the right decision. Taven’s title reign was a disaster from a business standpoint, so it was time to try something new. Will RUSH do well as ROH World Champion? That remains to be seen, but they did a great job building him up since his debut, and it certainly seems like he’s in for a lengthy reign. If there’s a silver lining for Matt Taven, it’s that his title reign ended on a high note. I’m not sure if this was the best singles match of Taven’s ROH run, but it’s certainly up there. The same could be said for RUSH. Since his first appearance earlier this year, I don’t think he’s had a match as good as this. He and Taven worked very well together, and their chemistry produced a strong main event title bout. ****
RUSH celebrated with his family afterward, and this included RUSH’s young son doing the Tranquilo pose. Matt Taven then returned to the ring, and shook the hand of RUSH before Cary Silkin presented him with the ROH World Title. Now the big story in the immediate aftermath of this PPV was all the controversy surrounding RUSH, Dragon Lee, and CMLL. RUSH announced after the PPV that he and his father (La Bestia Del Ring) were leaving CMLL to go independent in Mexico.
CMLL responded to this by firing RUSH and his brother, Dragon Lee. Now I won’t go into much detail, since I’m by no means an expert on CMLL or the lucha scene in general.
I would recommend listening to the great podcast that Cubs Fan and Rob Viper put out over the weekend detailing everything that went down, why it went down the way it did, and what the potential ramifications will be.
While this story has a ton of direct impacts on CMLL (and the lucha scene as a whole), there also could be impacts on ROH and New Japan as well. RUSH is still under contract with ROH for some time, but how will that impact the ROH/CMLL relationship? How will CMLL feel about a man they just had a major falling out with being the World Champion of their partner promotion in the United States? Does ROH care what CMLL thinks about? How does this story and the growing whispers of major unrest in the CMLL locker room impact New Japan and its dealings with CMLL? What does Dragon Lee do going forward? There are so many questions that are still unanswered, even a couple of days after all this news first broke. It should be fascinating to see what the repercussions are on all the parties involved.
Death Before Dishonor XVII was two-thirds of a really good PPV. You had five matches that ranged from very good to great, with Lethal vs. Gresham, The Briscoes vs. Lifeblood, and Matt Taven vs. RUSH being the best out of that bunch. The other four matches ranged from solid, to ok, to downright bad. Obviously the women’s match was the worst bout of the night, but the other three matches were all slightly disappointing to varying degrees. The two hardcore matches weren’t really outstanding aside from a few memorable spots, and the Four-Way Match for the ROH World TV Title was a victim of not getting enough time. There were certainly strong elements to this show, but there were also parts that you could easily skip.