The show kicks off with former ROH World Champion Jay Briscoe coming to the ring and recapping his storyline to this point. He said he can’t live in the past but they must look ahead. He said he’ll hand the belt over if the winner of the tournament if they win it fairly.
The first match of the show featured Jay Lethal going one-on-one with Silas Young in a very good opener. They didn’t go all out or overdo anything, but they both did a great job crafting a match that still featured exciting wrestling and got the crowd (me included) excited for the night of action. It’s always a good idea to throw two experienced performers out there and give them around 15 minutes, which is exactly what happened here. They told a good story of Young being able to keep up with Lethal and outsmart him at times, but Lethal’s athleticism and ROH experience being too much for him to overcome. In the end, Lethal picked up the win with the Lethal Injection after avoiding Young’s moonsault finishing move. It was a good way to start the show.
The show rolled along with the first of two semi-final matches in the ROH World Title Tournament as Adam Cole faced off against Tommaso Ciampa. The crowd was chanting “This is awesome” within the first five minutes, and they were completely right. The two wrestlers started the match off fast as they both wanted to end the match as early as possible to get rest before the finals. They beat the crap out of each other throughout the match. Cole smartly focused his attack on Ciampa’s knee, while “The Sicilian Psychopath” threw out whatever he could to keep himself in the match. Cole eventually moved on to the finals by knocking out Ciampa while having the figure four locked in and getting the pinfall. I liked the ending because it made Cole look ruthless without hurting Ciampa much, if at all. This is my favorite tournament match that I’ve seen so far.
The second semi-final match followed with Michael Elgin looking for redemption against Kevin Steen. This contest was a sharp contrast to the previous semi-final match as Elgin and Steen wrestles at a methodical pace. Not saying it wasn’t good, as it was, but it was a change of pace from what we just watched. It should come as no surprise that it wasn’t as good as their “Glory by Honor” match from last year, and it would’ve been foolish to expect it to be. Instead, they gave us a stiff and physical match like only they can deliver. There was a good bit of psychology during this match, too, as Steen’s shoulder was too injured during an earlier crossface, which meant he didn’t have the strength to life Elgin into the Package Piledriver. That played into the ending as Elgin once again locked in the crossface and Steen had no choice but to tap out. It was a good, hard-fought win for Elgin to send him into the finals of the tournament.
The show continued with The Forever Hooligans defending the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles against the American Wolves. This was the third time we’ve seen a high profile match involving these two teams this year, and what we got here was more or less the same as what we’ve become accustomed to seeing. It was exactly what their other matches have been: Good wrestling that never quite reaches that next level. While that’s fine for the first encounter or two, it becomes a bit disappointing once we’re on the third match. There’s nothing negative I can say about this match other than it’s the same old-same old that we’ve seen before. It’s not a knock against the talent, but there is only so many times these two teams can square off being it gets stale, and I think that limit was met here.
After intermission, RD Evans and Veda Scott came to the ring. It eventually led to an impromptu match with Adam Page. The action was nothing of note and the match may have lasted a couple of minutes. It was completely pointless other than to get Page on the show.
The show rolled along with Ricky Marvin making his ROH return to take on Roderick Strong. Fans have been clamoring for the company to bring in outside talents like Marvin for a while, but then the live crowd never reacts the way I would expect. This was the first time I’ve seen Marvin wrestle, and I can’t say I was all that impressed. Sure, the match was good, but it wasn’t anything special. It was just kind of there, which is the worst thing a match can be. The action was fine but they did nothing to get the crowd into the action or care about the match. The ending of the match was horribly botched, too, as Marvin didn’t kick out of a Sick Kick, but the referee didn’t count to three. Instead, it forced Strong to hit the Tiger Driver to pick up the pinfall. This match was a major disappointment.
The eight man tag match was up next as ROH World Tag Team Champions reDRagon, ROH World TV Champion Matt Taven, and Michael Bennett, who were joined by Truth Martini and the Hoopla Hotties and Maria battled C&C Wrestle Factory and AdrenalineRUSH. Given the amount of talent involved, I couldn’t help but be let down by this contest. I was expecting a fun, fast-paced match with a ton of high spots. We got some of that, but it never clicked, which hurt it. Maria and Bobby Fish rotated in and out of commentary, which was a major distraction. The action was good but nothing special and left me wanting more. C&C pinned Kyle O’Reilly to pick up the win, which will undoubtedly lead to another title opportunity for them. Let’s hope this time it will get them out of the rut they’ve been stuck in lately.
The show was capped off with the finals of the ROH World Title Tournament and the crowning of a new champion as Adam Cole took on Michael Elgin. As expecting, this was a great match and an excellent way to close out the tournament. Both men did a good job selling the wear and tear from the previous match of the night and fighting through it to earn the championship. There were a lot of really cool spots throughout the match that built up the drama through the closing minutes. Some people may complain about the lack of selling of some pretty major spots, but I was ok with it in a match of this caliber. In the end, Cole went over mostly clean with the Florida Key to become the new ROH World Champion. This was a fantastic match and a great main event.
After the match, former champion Jay Briscoe handed the belt over to Cole. Cole turned heel by superkicking Briscoe and hitting Elgin with the belt. The look on his face after turning heel was incredible and really made this come across even better than it already would have. Cole is the best wrestler on the independent scene and I’m exciting to see where his title reign leads.
Overall Thoughts: Wow! What a show! The first half of the show delivered way above expectations and included two amazing matches in Cole vs Ciampa and Elgin vs Steen. The second half dragged a little bit, but it was saved by the main event and closing angle. “Death Before Dishonor XI” closed off a major angle in the tournament and featured a historical moment in the crowning of a new champion. This was definitely one of the stronger ROH shows of the year and is an easy recommendation.