Death Before Dishonor IX
Ring of Honor
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
Back to Ring of Honor again, and I will do my best to avoid my almost irrational need to complain about the promotion, even though I enjoy the matches, respect the talent and feel that it is the most viable alternative to the mainstream stuff going on today.
It’s a big event, and previous to Nigel on color, so we’ve got Dave Prazak with his familiar and knowledgeable voice on commentary. Boy, do I miss Lenny Leonard/Prazak…
Death Before Dishonor is one of the promotions notable shows, and this is the ninth incarnation. It has a big show feel, with some big show moments, and shows what the promotion is all about.
ROH revolves around having great matches; having great talent in the ring; and having logical storylines. There are weaknesses, but I’m going to avoid that train of thought today.
Let’s get to the matches, in reverse order:
Ladder War III: Briscoes vs The All Night Express
This is a brutal and at times gruesome battle between two red-hot feuding tag teams. What amazes me about ROH is that when they pull out all the stops and move away from a more pure wrestling approach, the matches gel. Which, with the Briscoes is interesting, since they have an innate psychology about tag team work that doesn’t always come across well to purists.
But in this situation, where a spot-fest is expected, everything works great.
The big spots are there, and built to. The finish was very satisfying and not cheap. They worked in a story to the match, and it ebbed and flowed – not just getting the spots in.
It wasn’t pure wrestling, but it wasn’t garbage – although there’s a shot of one of the Briscoes with blood just spurting out of his head which was quite uncomfortable.
The head shots were of the old school – toss the chair at the opponent type. There were some interesting things with Kenny King as he didn’t seem to blade. The crowd chanted for it, and the “You killed Kenny!” chant was obviously great.
Did I mention I missed Lenny Leonard here? This match with a little more history and a lot more understanding of the ROH brand would have propelled it even further, especially since this match hit on all cylinders and was very long without ever stalling.
In the end, a great tag team tornado match, and it really cements Kenny King & Rhett Titus as players in Ring of Honor.
Ringmaster’s Challenge: Roderick Strong vs Eddie Edwards
Ahhh.. there’s something about Ringmaster that is ironic, but this match was anything but that. Roderick Strong is one of my favorites – he’s just a very solid worker and does everything with a passion. Eddie Edwards is a guy that will carry the indy scene like Danielson or Punk in the not too distant future.
Together, they work at match at a level where you just can’t grasp if you’re hip-deep in the mainstream: they work the match at an intense level, work in influences and styles, are exceedingly creative and work well enough to the audience that it was more than just the average match.
Complaints? I’ve but a few, but let me limit it to the annoyance of having a set stipulation go to a draw and having Jim Cornette out to give it a ‘to the finish’ mandate. Of course, having Cornett out is never a negative, but stipulations should be set, not infringed upon at the finish.
Edwards and Strong keep the bar raised high in terms of wrestling and Ring of Honor.
Charlie Haas vs Michael Elgin
Old school split the tag team up is fine, but Elgin and Bennett are perfect examples of talents that shouldn’t be jobbing to the Tag Team Champions, when they should be built up for bigger and better things.
The “Unbreakable” moniker for Elgin is cool, and visually he’s very reminiscent of Rhyno, plus the costume coming out makes it all work.
Elgin is good, Haas is better.
El Generico vs Jimmy Jacobs
This was a momentous match, with the almost expected return of Kevin Steen making it more memorable. Jacobs has always been a passionate guy with loads of talent and an understated charisma.
El Generico is just one of the most intriguing guys around. He doesn’t look like much, but he is physically fit. He exudes a sense of professional wrestling attitude that simply cannot be taught, cannot be easily explained, but can be understood. With Generico and his selling, his aerials and his drive, you know the match will be taken up a few levels.
And against Jacobs, that’s a pretty high stage.
With the two, it’s about innovation, high spots and the ability of both to make it look – and feel – real.
The Steen stuff, though, is the big angle. Kevin Steen as the invader is being played up big, and his recent appearance on the Syndicated TV show adds an interesting layer with the smarmy lawyer contingent.
The pull aparts and attacks by Jacobs and Generico, plus the confrontations of Steen with Silken and Cornette, are made of memorable stuff.
Three Way Elimination Tag Team Match: Future Shock vs The Young Bucks vs The Bravado Brothers
If anything, this match shows that Ring of Honor has locked up the best young tag teams in the business, even if the mainstream wants to reject The Young Bucks.
While the Jacksons have lots of potential, they will be pushed to the limit in any feud with O’Riley & Cole. I like the dynamics here, with the ground game and submissions of O’Riley, the all-around talent of Adam Cole, and the superlative double team flying of The Young Bucks. Yeah, the Bravados are interesting but the obvious low rung of the ladder. (I’d have preferred them taking on Benjamin and Haas in singles, or Bennett and Elgin, but that’s me.)
The match did elicit the “This is Awesome!” chant, which is what’s going to happen when guys go all out when they are able, as is the best part of Ring of Honor.
Which, I’m sure The Young Buck appreciate these days.
Shelton Benjamin vs Mike Bennett
Another Old School split match, with the Tag Champs showing their stuff. Bennett has the look, and will only grow better in this company. What’s amazing is how much heat Bennett and Brutal Bob get for themselves, and that’s something mainstream heels just can’t touch.
Benjamin proves, as always, that he was meant to be in this profession, even if others never really gave him the full opportunity. But then again, that’s the story of a hundred wrecked careers in the business, and it’s good that Mr. Benjamin is back in the game.
Homicide & Jay Lethal vs Tommaso Ciampa & Rhino
Very interesting opener, with the returning Jay Lethal teaming with an old acquaintance, and the re-establishment of The Embassy as a lead heel group.
Prince Nana has way too many sidekicks -- Ernesto Osiris and Mia Yim are plenty, but how many others are needed? Yet Tommaso Ciampa is a prospect, and I dig the mercenary aspect of Rhino’s involvement. (Yeah, I’m loose with the spelling.)
Kind of a surprising finish, but in the end, getting over who needs to get over is vitally important and the guy who got the pin is the one in most need; the one who lost was the least in need.
Ring of Honor continues to raise the bar in terms of wrestling, and continues to impress on all aspects of the product, and will only get better with the upgrades from SBG.