Death Before Dishonor 2021
Date: September 12, 2021
Location: 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman
It’s back to pay per view and it’s actually out of Baltimore for a change. As tends to be the case in Ring of Honor, the show has not exactly been built up well, but the company has the ability to throw out a bunch of stuff and make it work. The main event is a four way elimination match for the World Title so let’s get to it.
In Memory of Daffney. That’s a nice touch.
Pre-Show: Honor Rumble
Fifteen man Royal Rumble with ninety second intervals and the winner gets a future World Title shot. Brian Johnson is in at #1 (and gets to talk about how amazing Philadelphia, his hometown, really is) and Brian Milonas is in at #2. The fans are behind Johnson, which has commentary very confused. The much bigger Milonas grabs a front facelock and takes him over to the ropes as he thinks this is a Pure Rules match. Johnson has to escape but it’s Beer City Bruiser in at #3 to put Johnson in real trouble.
A few shots in the corner don’t get Johnson very far as he charges into a side slam/running boot to the face combination. There’s a Vader Bomb elbow to crush Johnson as Danhausen is in at #4. Danhausen seems to curse (without swearing of course) Milonas, who accidentally gets crushed by Bruiser’s charge in the corner. A double chokeslam is countered into a double spinebuster to crush Danhausen as Caprice Coleman leaves commentary to be in at #5.
The Bouncers miss Coleman and crash into each other, leaving Coleman to kick Johnson in the face. Danhausen is confused about Coleman being in the ring but gets shut up by a cutter. Brian Zane joins commentary to replace Coleman, who knocks out Bruiser. Everyone gets together to toss Milonas as well as Sledge is in at #6. Johnson tosses Coleman as Sledge and Danhausen team up. A running boot sends Johnson through the ropes (not eliminated) and it’s PCO in at #7 (out of sixteen apparently, despite everything saying fifteen otherwise).
Johnson is knocked down again but Danhausen tries to break up PCO vs. Sledge. PJ Black is in at #8 as the ring is starting to fill up again. Black cleans a bit of house and joins forces with Johnson to clean some more house. Dak Draper (Zane’s pick) is in at #9 and it’s time for people to pair off. Silas Young is in at #10 but can’t quite get rid of Danhausen. Draper is sent to the apron but manages to backdrop Sledge out. Rey Horus is in at #11 and it’s time to pair off again. With nothing else happening, Dante Caballero comes in at #12 to clean house.
Johnson gets rid of Danhausen and the fans aren’t sure what to do. Everyone gets together to go after PCO, who knocks them all away….and eliminates himself. Flip Gordon, back in his old look, is in at #13 and tosses Young in a hurry. No one can get rid of anyone else and it’s Joe Keys in at #14. Keys and Caballero get together to go after Draper before fighting among themselves. Then they reunite to superkick Gordon and it’s World Famous CB in at #15.
Palm striking abounds and Draper gets rid of Keys and Caballero. The final entrant is Alex Zayne in at #16, giving us a final field of Johnson, Black, Draper, Horus, Gordon, CB and Zayne. We start fast with Zayne going after Draper but getting caught in the Mile High Muffler. That’s reversed into a hurricanrana though and Draper is out as Zayne is already rolling. Johnson Stun Guns Zayne, leaving Horus and CB to slug it out. Horus gets rid of CB but Johnson tosses him as well to clear out more of the ring.
That leaves us with Johnson, Black, Gordon and Zayne and the fans are VERY behind Zayne here. Gordon and Zayne superkick the other two down but neither can get very far by flipping the other. Johnson is back in to take the two of them down but spends too long going after Black, allowing Gordon to get in a quick elimination.
Black elbows Gordon and Zayne in the corner and everyone winds up on the same corner. That means a double hurricanrana from Zayne (egads) but Gordon is back up with the reverse Regal Roll to Black. The running shooting star press makes it worse but Gordon’s Kinder Surprise is countered into an elimination to get us down to two. Black gets a running charge at Zayne but crashes out to the floor to give Zayne the win at 32:07.
Rating: C+. They kept this moving well enough despite the long run time. Zayne returning and winning is fine, as he can have his title match at a one off event somewhere. The rest of the match was just kind of there, but it is always fun to see who is coming out of that curtain when the clock runs out.
The opening video focuses on the wrestlers coming into the building and how this is a historic venue. If the walls could talk, they would choose death before dishonor.
Dalton Castle vs. Eli Isom
Castle has the Dancing Boys with him but no Dak Draper, who is listed on his chiron (but winds up on commentary). An early takedown attempt doesn’t work for Castle as Isom strikes away and dropkicks him out to the floor. The Boys (or the Dancing Chickens, according to commentary) offer a distraction though and Castle gets in a cheap shot. Back in and Isom snaps off a suplex but gets dropkicked off the top and out to the floor. There’s a knee against the barricade and we hit a ten second chinlock back inside.
Castle throws him down with a suplex and gets two off a knee to the head. Isom slips out of another suplex though and scores with a running forearm in the corner. A Sidewinder slam gives Isom two and it’s time to slug it out. That means a trip to the floor, with Castle trying something like a 619 onto the apron into a hurricanrana to drop Isom (that wasn’t bad). Hold on though as Draper comes out to deal with the Dancing Chickens so Isom moonsaults onto all of them. Isom has to kick an invading Draper low, allowing Castle to hit the Bang A Rang for the pin at 9:38.
Rating: C. The more I see of Isom, the more I like him and the more over the top villainy we get from Castle, the better he is. It was a good choice for an opener as Castle is a big name around here. Isom got in some offense too and had to deal with the numbers game so this went pretty well for everyone.
Jake Atlas vs. Tyler Rust
They’re both newcomers and recently released from WWE. Commentary makes it clear they are fresh out of the company, which still feels weird to hear (though there is no reason to not mention it). Feeling out process to start with Atlas taking him to the mat and getting in a slap to the face. They trade arm cranking until Atlas grabs a crucifix for two.
Rust’s ankle lock sends Atlas bailing to the floor for a breather, only to get caught with the Shayna Baszler arm stomp back inside. Rust spins him around by the arm but Atlas comes back with a superkick. The chinlock goes on for a bit but Atlas’ arm gives out on a fireman’s carry attempt. Rust loads up the Perfect Circle (bulldog driver) before settling for the Rings of Saturn with his legs to make Atlas tap at 6:55.
Rating: D+. This was little more than a squash for Rust and it wasn’t exactly interesting either. Atlas didn’t do much here and the match was mainly Rust working on the arm until Atlas gave up. I get that this was supposed to be a showcase for both of them, but it felt like something that should have been a warmup for the live fans. Not long after this match, Atlas announced he was stepping away from wrestling, seemingly retiring. I mean….the match wasn’t THAT bad (and yes I know there was probably way more to it than that).
Violence Unlimited vs. Lee Moriarty/LSG/John Walters
It’s Tony Deppen/Homicide/Chris Dickinson for Violence Unlimited here. Moriarty has been on fire as of late and was signed by AEW less than a week before this show. The fans are VERY happy to see Deppen here, as he is the hometown boy. Homicide and Walters start things off with Walters grabbing a headlock to keep him down. Back up and Homicide tries an STF but gets pulled right back into the headlock. Dickinson comes in and gets caught by the arm, allowing LSG to come in and trade rollups.
LSG’s ankle lock is broken up so Deppen comes in to go technical with Moriarty (which seems like a bad idea). Deppen’s leapfrog is pulled out of the air and the abdominal stretch goes on. That’s broken up by Dickinson, who gets caught in an abdominal stretch as well. The rapid fire tags bring Walters and Homicide back in, with Walters tying up Homicide and Deppen in separate holds at the same time.
That’s broken up and it’s a double elbow to drop Walters for a change. Back up and Walters wins a slugout with Homicide, setting up a Backstabber. LSG comes back in to Stun Dickinson and Moriarty gets two off a sunset flip. Rocket By Baby knocks Dickinson silly but Deppen knees LSG in the face to cut him off. Moriarty is right back up with a suicide dive to Deppen and a springboard clothesline for two on Dickinson.
Everything breaks down and Walters ties up Dickinson and Homicide in a double Muta Lock. Deppen breaks that up but gets taken down by LSG as everyone is down again. Back up and Dickinson slugs it out with Moriarty but Homicide sends Moriarty outside. A big running flip dives takes down every non Violence member, leaving Dickinson to Death Valley Driver Moriarty for the pin at 10:57.
Rating: C+. Take a bunch of people and let them go nuts for a good while. It has worked before and it always will, even when you have a team who doesn’t have much of a change at winning. Moriarty and company were outmatched but still managed to hang in there, with Walters looking like a step above everyone else. Nice stuff here, even if it felt like a TV main event.
Post match the losers are left in the ring when the Foundation comes in. Jay Lethal praises all three of them, because they are the kind of guys who make the future bright. Lethal talks about people like Eli Isom and the upcoming new Women’s Champion. He puts over each member of the team on their own, even though Moriarty is leaving. Lethal talks about loving wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles.
We’re still not done as Lethal talks about Reckless Youth and Alex Shelley. They all love professional wrestling, including Jonathan Gresham. Lethal doesn’t get why the Pure Rules division is considered exciting and new when it is what they all grew up on. the Pure Rules division comes out to applaud from the stage. Pretty awesome speech here, even if it came a bit out of nowhere.
OGK vs. Briscoes
It’s a brawl to start with Mark having to save Jay from the Climax. Things settle down to Taven taking Mark down but missing an elbow to the head. A discus forearm rocks Bennett and it’s time for some Briscoes double stomping in the corner. Mark adds a running forearm and it’s Jay coming in to chop Bennett down. Bennett gets in a shot to the face though and Taven comes in with a missile dropkick to the face. Jay sneaks in off a blind tag and scores with a running big boot as everything breaks down.
OGK loads up a Doomsday Device on the floor but Jay cuts Taven off in a fast save. Taven has to cut off the same thing and then moonsaults down onto Jay (and Bennett, while sticking the landing). Mark isn’t done and dives onto everyone, setting up a big boot for two on Taven back inside. Jay’s neckbreaker gets the same but Taven scores with a knee to the face. That means a seated armbar can keep Jay in trouble, at least until Mark comes in to clean house.
There’s a dropkick through the ropes to drop Taven and another does the same to Bennett. Back in and the Froggy Bow gives Mark two on Taven with Bennett making the save. A chair is thrown in but Bennett breaks up Redneck Boogie, which would have given Taven an extreme case of pain. Mark uses the chair for a springboard flip dive onto Bennett but Taven rolls Jay up for the pin at 13:21.
Rating: B. Ring of Honor knows how to do big tag team matches and the Briscoes are as good as anyone else going right now. That makes a win over them like this feel like such a big deal and OGK got something out of this. It was a hard hitting, back and forth match so well done on doing exactly what they should have done. I liked this and I’m not even a bit surprised.
We recap Josh Woods vs. Jonathan Gresham for the Pure Wrestling Title. Woods is an amateur wrestling champion and Gresham has been Pure Wrestling Champion for the better part of ever. This is a dream match in this kind of wrestling so it wasn’t hard to set up.
Pure Wrestling Title: Jonathan Gresham vs. Josh Woods
Woods is challenging. The fans are split to start and believe it or not, they start with some grappling. Woods takes him down by the arm but gets pulled into a test of strength, meaning it’s time to flip around with the hands interlocked. Back up and they fight over some grappling with neither being able to get anywhere. They go over to the ropes and we’ll call that a double rope break, which doesn’t sit well with either of them. Woods takes him down again and goes for the leg, which is broken up in a hurry.
Another try, this time with Woods going after the arm, is countered into a headscissors. Back up and Gresham scores with a kick to the arm but Woods is fine enough to suplex him out of the corner. They grapple into the ropes and the referee yells a lot over them not breaking. For some reason that isn’t another rope break so they trade armbars until they both go to the ropes again, which this time calls for their second break each. That means another standoff until they fight over a small package…until it’s a double pin at 11:46.
Yeah that’s not happening, as Gresham says we’re not done yet. The bell rings again and they slap it out until they go to the mat and grab each others’ legs. A roll to the ropes means they both use their third and final break. Gresham gets two off a sunset flip and a cradle but Woods pulls him into a sleeper with a bodyscissors. That’s broken up as well with a shot to the arm and a headscissors but Woods knees him in the face for a double knockdown.
Gresham goes right back to the arm and drives in elbows to the neck. They fight over an ankle lock until Woods grabs Rolling Chaos Theory for two as…..it looked liked Woods just dropped the cover. A slugout goes to Gresham with a bridging German suplex into an armbar. Woods reverses that as well into a Tombstone, which he flips backwards into a suplex to pin Gresham for the title at 20:01.
Rating: B-. I get the appeal of a match like this but I wasn’t feeling the mirroring each other deal. That doesn’t feel so much like a classic match as much as it feels like two people having a match they put together really intricately backstage and then performed it out here. Throw in the rope breaks being a little weird (especially with the referee not calling it every time) and this was only good when it could have been great. Gresham had to lose the title at some point and Woods gets a heck of a rub from the win too.
Respect is shown post match.
Six Man Tag Team Titles: Shane Taylor Promotions vs. La Faccion Ingobernable
Shane Taylor/Soldiers of Savagery (with Ron Hunt/O’Shay Edwards) are defending for the Promotions against Dragon Lee/Kenny King/La Bestia del Ring, under Lucha Rules. Hold on though as King jumps Taylor with a chair, meaning Edwards will be taking his place. Khan takes Lee down to start and it’s already time for the slugout. That goes badly for Lee, who gets hammered down in the corner but Lee knocks him outside for a breather.
Moses comes in and kicks Lee in the face so it’s off to Bestia to drop Moses with a shoulder. That isn’t enough of a slugout so we’ll try Shane vs. King for a change. They trade hard shots to the jaw until Shane plants him with a spinebuster. Everything breaks down until Lee takes over on Khan in the corner. King adds a legdrop for two as the villains take over…for at least a few seconds as it’s back to Moses to really clean house.
Everything breaks down again and Lee knees Khan in the head for two with Shane making the save. King gets caught in the old MNM Snapshot but Bestia dives onto Shane. Lee hits a heck of a running dive onto Khan and King tries his own running corkscrew dive, which hits Lee by mistake. We settle back down to King spinebustering Moses and adding a springboard Blockbuster. Cue Shane to chair King in the head though and Moses gets the retaining pin at 11:33.
Rating: C+. This was your required faction war and, as usual, it was entertaining but not the most interesting. It feels like we have been doing these things for the better part of forever now and that gets repetitive in a hurry. The match was fun and Shane interfering made sense, but factions trading wins and losses over and over again gets a little old.
We recap the Women’s Title match between Rok-C and Miranda Alize. It’s a tournament final to crown the next inaugural champion so it’s back to back “we worked hard to get here” speeches.
Women’s Title: Miranda Alize vs. Rok-C
For the vacant title so we get the Big Match Intros. Feeling out process to start as they head to the mat, with Rok-C grabbing a headlock….and let’s look at commentary for a bit for some reason. Rok-C cranks on a hammerlock before switching over to the leg. That doesn’t last long either but Alize escapes the Fujiwara armbar, giving us a standoff. Rok-C flips out of a headscissors and takes a quick bow, followed by a cartwheel to escape again, meaning it’s another bow.
Alize pulls her out of the corner for a crash though, allowing her to chop away in another corner. Some running kicks in the corner rock Rok-C for two and we hit the chinlock (with Alize mocking some LET’S GO ROK-C chants). Back up and a hurricanrana gives Alize a slightly delayed two and it’s time for a double arm crank. Rok-C fights up and hits a middle rope Thesz press (with an actual press for a change).
Alize knees her down for two more, setting up a Go To Sleep for the same. A hanging DDT out of the corner gets another near fall and it’s off to something like a Crossface in the middle of the ring. The feet on the ropes get Rok-C out of trouble so they head outside with Rok-C hitting a suicide dive. Back up and Alize hits a running dropkick off the apron and another suicide dive leaves them both laying.
They dive in to beat the count and Rok-C wins a slugout, only to walk into a cutter. Rok-C is right back with a running shot to the face, leaving both of them down. The Crossface goes on again but this time Rok-C reverses into one of his own. That’s broken up as well so Alize hits back to back superkicks but Rok-C kicks her right back, setting up Code Red for the pin and the title at 18:15.
Rating: B. This started slowly but they did an amazing job of turning a match with virtually no story into a heck of a back and forth fight. I was into this by the end with the young prodigy getting the big win. Good stuff here and one of the better matches of the night. The division has a LONG way to go but at least they had a heck of a match to crown the first champion.
Maria Kanellis-Bennett presents Rok-C the title and her parents come in for the celebration.
We recap the main event. Bandido is World Champion, Demonic Flamita is his former stable mate, and Brody King/EC3 are top challengers. Go have a four way for the title.
Ring of Honor World Title: Bandido vs. Demonic Flamita vs. Brody King vs. EC3
Bandido is defending and this is under elimination rules (as it should be). They stare at each other for a bit until Flamita drops outside, leaving the other three to fight among themselves. Bandido is sent outside as well so EC3 hammers on King. A Cactus Clothesline puts them on the floor so Bandido and Flamita take their places to pick up the pace. Bandido spins around Flamita into a headscissors to the floor, setting up the big running flip dive. Bandido isn’t done so he hits a big dive onto EC3, only to keep going and land in the crowd.
We settle down to EC3 brainbustering Bandido and it’s off to the neck crank. Flamita breaks that up (because reasons) so EC3 clotheslines him down for a change. Bandido comes back in and gets suplexed for his efforts so King is back in as well. That earns him a powerbomb out of the corner and EC3 powerbombs Bandido onto King for a bonus. Flamita’s chair shot to EC3 has no effect so he takes it away and chairs Flamita….which is a DQ to eliminate EC3 at 8:57. IN A FOUR WAY??? Flamita thinks it’s brilliant, which I’ll take as it gets rid of EC3.
We get the big sad walk off from ECW, leaving Flamita and Bandido to reform Mexiblood to take King down. Unfortunately this means the return of the Floss Dance but King isn’t having any of this and punches both of them in the face. A Doomsday Canadian Destroyer takes King down but Bandido turns on Flamita (as he should) for a near fall. Flamita is then launched at King on the floor, leaving Bandido to moonsault onto both of them. King saves Bandido from the MuscleBuster and it’s the All Seeing Eye to finish Flamita at 13:47.
Bandido and King shake hands and then start the brawl in a hurry. King drives Bandido’s pile for two and then chops the heck out of him on top. That just earns King a top rope hurricanrana for two and the crucifix bomb is good for the same. A shooting star press gives Bandido one and King turns him inside out with a lariat. The Ganso Bomb is loaded up but Bandido rolls around about thirty seven times until la majistral retains the title at 17:12.
Rating: B-. The action was good, but the match felt rather tacked on and that’s not a good thing. I couldn’t begin to tell you why these three people were getting a title shot in a four way elimination match and that’s one of the places where Ring of Honor needs some work. They are very light in storylines (which is a fine direction to take), but it can make for some weird moments when people aren’t wrestling on TV for months at a time and are suddenly getting pay per view title shots. Bandido is still awesome, but this wasn’t the most thrilling main event.
Post match the Foundation comes out to congratulate Bandido, with Jonathan Gresham taking a long look at the title. Cue the Righteous to applaud as well, because stables are cool.
Overall Rating: B-. As much as I wasn’t thrilled with it coming into the show, the Women’s Title match should have headlined here. It really was a good match and felt like a big deal, which was not the case with the main event. There wasn’t anything truly bad on the entire show and I liked what I saw for the most part, but there was nothing on here, save for maybe the Women’s Title match, that I am going to remember in just a few days.
Ring of Honor is in a weird place at the moment, as they still have rather good TV, but there is nothing going on that would make me want to see what happens next. You know you’re going to get some solid action, but they haven’t had a hot story in years. The stable/faction wars are beyond stale and seeing two more of them coming out at the end made me roll my eyes more than anything else. Overall it’s a good show because of the wrestling itself, but some upgrades in the stories would be a very welcome change.