ROH Death Before Dishonor 2021 (9/12/2021)- Baltimore, MD
I heard all that was on Hour One was an Honor Rumble, so I skipped it. I have better things to do with my time than watch a battle royale containing mostly jobbers. If you want me to watch that sh*t you’ll have to do what AEW does and put it in the middle of the show (and those matches, despite having more wrestlers in them, often feel liken they don’t have as many jobbers as the typical Honor Rumble.
ELI ISOM vs. DALTON CASTLE (w/the Baby Chicks)- 5.75/10
They showed a video package for this match with clips of matches that I had never seen before. Are they doing angles on Week By Week and then not mentioning them on TV?
Dak Draper was on commentary for this match. Dalton took advantage of Eli’s attempt to follow the Code of Honor by diving in for an ankle pick. That’s something you don’t see too often.
From that point on they had a match was that competent, but not particularly engaging. “Not particularly engaging” is also an accurate description of Draper on commentary. Eventually, Isom had Dalton hooked for a move, but Dak Draper ran down to ringside and pulled Dalton out of the ring, right in front of the referee. He interfered in a manner clearly designed to help one of the competitors. How was this not a DQ?!
Draper then got in the ring and got taken out by Eli, but this let Dalton recover, and he won soon afterwards with the Bangarang.
TAYLOR RUST vs. JAKE ATLAS- 6.5/10
I was more than a little surprised to hear Ian outright plug Atlas’ “record on WWE television.” In this particular instance, I thought Ian did a good job of not making ROH feel small with his phrasing, but he that’s not always the case.
This was tremendous for the time it got, which was a criminally short 6:55. If you want to give a match 6:55, give it to the next match, where you know Moriarty isn’t staying and Walters is only in for the nostalgia.
JOHN WALTERS, LEE MORIARTY, & LEON ST. GEOVANNI vs. VLNCE UNLTD (Tony Deppen, Chris Dickinson, & Homicide)- 6.25/10
Leon St. Geovanni? Really?
This was passable for eleven minutes. VLNCE UNLTD got the win over Moriarty, who is already on his way to AEW.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- meh
The team of Pure wrestlers argued until the Foundation (minus Gresham) came out and Lethal put them over and the rest of the company. He transitioned into talking about ROH’s history and putting over stars of the past and their influence on everyone in the match. Some babyfaces (and even a heel or two) came out to applaud him. He finished by putting Jonathan Gresham over big and putting over Pure wrestling. It was a great speech… but what was the point of it? Everyone watching this is already paying for Honor Club, so he’s preaching to the choir, and I don’t see any storyline direction to this simply because he and his pals have been saying similar things for almost a year now and it hasn’t led to anything.
THE BRISCOES vs. OGK- 6.75/10
This was decent, but it would have been better if we didn’t have the Briscoes bringing a chair into the ring. If all you’re going to use the damn thing for is for Mark to do a dive, just don’t bring the chair in at all. This is supposed to be the “we enforce the rules” company. You shouldn’t have babyfaces grabbing chairs.
Taven caught Jay with an inside cradle for the win, which I certainly didn’t see coming. I guess the Briscoes’ road back to the top will be a bit bumpier than anticipated.
ROH PURE TITLE MATCH: Jonathan Gresham(c) vs. Josh Woods- 7/10
If there was ever a match that was a microcosm of my feelings towards ROH at the moment, this was it. The Pure division has essentially been built around Jonathan Gresham, but Woods has always been pushed as the guy waiting in the wings. Gresham was “the guy” at the moment, but Woods was clearly “the next guy” who they had been building up. This should have been a clash worthy of a main event, but the build didn’t feel like it was, the match underdelivered, and even though they’ve changed the belt, I’m still not sure if Woods has what it takes the be “the guy” in this division. There is a lot of talent in ROH, but of that next set of guys who should be coming up to compete with (and one day replace) the Jay Lethals and Briscoes and Matt Tavens and Dalton Castles in the main event, only Dragon Lee, Jonathan Gresham, and to a much lesser extent Tony Deppen, Bandido, and Shane Taylor, have been allowed to show me that they belong at that level in ROH. For pretty much everyone else- Brody King, Chris Dickinson, Tracy Williams, Rey Horus, Flamita, Josh Woods, (and Deppen, Dragon Lee, and Taylor), I either still have questions about their ability or I know they have the ability but only from their work elsewhere. When they’re in ROH they either don’t seem to get the opportunity (be that in terms of time in their matches, focus on their stories, or both), or (as was the case with this match here) it just doesn’t seem to click at the level it feels like it should. This was the minimum acceptable for a PPV title match in a non-main event spot, for a match that should have been awesome. This was the match that should have cemented Woods’ ascension to the next level, but instead I’m left wondering whether he will be able to deliver matches worthy of a champion in Ring of Honor.
Oh. Right. The match itself. They both worked the arm. They kept doing a thing where they wouldn’t listen to Mandac after they had gotten tangled in the ropes so he yelled at them and twice he took away both men’s rope-breaks at the same time to penalize them for not breaking their holds on each other. The crowd got strangely upset at this and booed Mandac for enforcing the rules. If you don’t want the rules enforced, ROH is not the company for you. Two thirds of the way in they did a double-pinfall spot, at which point Gresham grabbed the mic and said he wasn’t going to have a draw like that and ordered the match restarted, and at that point you knew the finish was either going to be Gresham going heel to retain or Gresham losing clean (and probably setting up a heel turn). We got the latter, marking the first change of the Pure Title since its revival… and, as a I said above, this should have been a change to a guy who feels like he’s the new top guy his division, but Woods just doesn’t feel that way. I’m not salivating over the thought of Woods defending his title against Jay Lethal or Tracy Williams or Tony Deppen or Chris Dickinson or Mike Bennett or P.J. Black or Fred Yehi. With Gresham, I would be. This should feel like a big passing the torch moment, but instead I am full of doubt. I know Woods has the potential to be an excellent Pure Champion, but he hasn’t yet shown me that he actually can be.
And that’s how I feel about ROH right now. So many of the names on the roster have potential, but I feel like that potential is rarely ever maximized, and the match-ups and stories rarely ever get me as excited as I should be given the potential of the talent.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- fine
Gresham snatched the belt away from Woods, but then strapped the belt around his waist and walked away to give Woods center stage.
ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLES: Shane Taylor Promotions(c) (w/Ron Hunt) vs. La Faccion Ingobernable (Dragon Lee, Kenny King, & Bestia Del Ring)- 6.75/10
Kenny King attacked Shane Taylor with a chair before the match, so Taylor was replaced by O’Shay Edwards. I understand that you’re building to a singles match between King and Taylor and it plays off of King costing Taylor the ROH World Title with a chairshot, but that singles match should have happened MONTHS AGO! King screwed Taylor out of the ROH World Title at the end of February! You shouldn’t still be building to their first singles match in mid-September. Also, this is an angle you should be doing on TV, not here. ROH has so few shows with live crowds nowadays, so I think it’s pretty sh*tty to screw the paying crowd out of the best worker on one of the teams.
They did action stuff. It was good, but not great. No one stood out in any way. The finish saw Taylor come back and hit Kenny with a chair while the referee was checking on someone on the outside, setting up the pin. Poetic justice.
ROH WOMEN’S WORLD TITLE TOURNAMENT FINALS: Roc-K vs. Miranda Alize- 7.25/10
The shtick Ian and Caprice did any time Miranda locked in her Miranda’s Right finisher was embarrassingly bad and needs to stop.
I thought this was a great match, but when you’re establishing a new title, you need something better than great. And, for once, Delirious actually gave the wrestlers an appropriate amount of time (in this case over eighteen minutes), but the match just didn’t quite deliver to the necessary level. I will say that I did see that babyface “it-factor” in Rok-C for the first time in this match, so that’s good. I assume having Alize kick out at 3.1 is intended to set up a quick rematch between them, but if I was booking this, I would have gone with a decisive finish to establish the new champion.
FOUR CORNER SURVIVAL ELIMINATION MATCH FOR THE ROH WORLD TITLE: Bandido(c) vs. EC III vs. Demonic Flamita vs. Brody King- 7.75/10
Lots of great action here, but nothing truly standout for 2021.
The first man eliminated was EC III. He was in control of things, but when Todd Sinclair was checking on Brody King on the outside, Flamita hit him with a chair. Ethan pretty much no-sold it and grabbed the chair. He hit Flamita with the chair… and Todd Sinclair did the logical thing and disqualified Ethan from this four-way elimination match. This was a good way to leave EC III as a credible contender that can play into… whatever, exactly, his arc actually is with his belief that honor is bullsh*t or whatever.
Once Ethan was out, Flamita offered Bandido an alliance against Brody. Bandido didn’t want to take it, but Brody running in and clotheslining both of them convinced him that it was necessary. This is pro wresting, so I was sitting there waiting for Flamita to eventually betray poor Bandido, but it was actually Bandido who broke the alliance, so good for him for not getting fooled.
More actioned happened, and Brody eventually eliminated Flamita. That obviously doesn’t keep him alive as a challenger, but it does keep the issue between Bandido and Flamita alive, as Flamita can still claim an unanswered pinfall on the champ and Bandido still needs revenge on Flamita for betraying him and generally being a dick.
Our short final two segment started with Brody offering a handshake, and I was quite shocked that he was being genuine and not trying to sucker Bandido in. They traded big stuff for a few minutes before Bandido kept trying to catch Brody in roll-ups and Brody countered them all until Bandido pulled out La Magistral for the win. I didn’t like the finish because it felt a little too much like trying to protect Brody while still giving a clean finish. I’d have much rather seen them just let Bandido win with his finisher and then they take the time to rebuild Brody.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- meh
The Foundation came out congratulate Bandido, and the Righteous came out onto the stage all dressed in white, so we’re now building up Gresham and Vincent for title shots.
This was a sub-par show from ROH. It wasn’t bad or anything like that, but pretty much everything felt like it was a level below where it needed to be. My thoughts on the Gresham vs. Woods match above are applicable to the whole show.
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