Ring of Honor – Death Before Dishonor XIV Preview

Howdy!

So, there’s apparently a little bit of wrestling going on this weekend, isn’t there? NXT on Saturday, Summerslam on Sunday; but what about Friday? I mean, if we’re going to gorge ourselves on some sweet, sweet grappling all weekend, we need a little Friday night action. Well, Ring of Honor is here to solve that problem, as they present the 14th Death Before Dishonor! Let’s take a trip down the card so I can convince you to part with some hard-earned cash on some of the best wrestling on the planet….

First, here’s a bit of history. Death Before Dishonor began in 2003, with a main event of Samoa Joe vs Paul London for the ROH World Championship. Throughout the 14 year history of the event, the main event has played host to wrestlers including: Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Colt Cabana, The Briscoes, Austin Aries, Claudio Castagnoli (Cesaro), Kevin Steen (Kevin Owens), El Generico (Sami Zayn), Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), Nigel McGuinness, Lance Storm, Adam Cole, Michael Elgin & Tomasso Ciampa. And that’s just the main event! Wrestlers you know and love have come from up and down the card over the years; I expect more will be on the card this year. To be on this PPV is frequently an indication that big things are coming in the future.

To add to this, for the first time in what seems like months, Ring of Honor is on a roll with their main event storytelling, as they’ve finally managed to piece together good builds for several matches; those of you who have read my recaps know that while I genuinely love ROH, I’ve been critical of them over the last year for many miscues in the booking. It appears that for now, the ship is starting to seemingly right itself.

And, of course, we’ll see the stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling, as NJPW will be sending a host of wrestlers from the Far East to participate in this one, so this deck is stacked. Let’s get to the preview, shall we?

DONOVAN DIJAK (W/ PRINCE NANA) vs LIO RUSH vs JAY WHITE vs KAMAITACHI – 4 Corners Survival to determine the #1 Contender for the TV Title

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? – Donovan Dijak is my FAVORITE WRESTLER. No, he isn’t. But, I’ll give some credit to my former archnemesis in my ROH recaps – he has been showing signs of improvement. Dijak is a huge, almost 7 foot wrestler who won the ROH Top Prospect tournament in 2015. He’s managed by Prince Nana after splitting with the House of Truth several months ago. Lio Rush was the winner of the ROH Top Prospect tournament in 2016, and was the most deserving winner there was in the event. A small but extremely agile high-flyer, Rush can absolutely FLY around the ring. Jay White is a former Young Lion from the NJPW Dojo, with ROH being his first stop in North America, and has been getting a very nice push on television since arriving. A technical wrestler who can also strike, he’s pretty good. And Kamaitachi is a Young Lion as well, with experience in NJPW, CMLL, PWG and ROH. He is currently aligned with the tag team champions, The Addiction.

WHAT’S THE ISSUE HERE? – Besides becoming #1 contender to the TV strap? There’s a few, actually. You’ve got the last two top Prospect winners in Dijak and Rush, while you have two former Young Lions in White and Kama. White and Kama also have a feud dating back to Best in the World, where Kama yanked White over the barricade as Jay sat in the front row and brawled all over the area, helping The Addiction retain the tag belts; White took his revenge on ROH TV in a subsequent match, but the issue remains. Rush and Dijak, meanwhile, will want to prove who the best Top Prospect winner of the last few years truly is.

WHO WINS? – This match is absolutely loaded with young talent, and any one of them could take this down. No one seemingly has an advantage over the other. I think that the smart money has to go on either Dijak or on White. Both have been featured frequently on TV recently, with White getting a pretty big push in his initial run, and Dijak is clearly someone they’re high on. It’s genuinely a tough call here.

YOUR WINNER – Jay White

JAY BRISCOE vs “HANGMAN” ADAM PAGE

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? – Jay Briscoe is ROH royalty. With the company since the first show, Briscoe is a two-time former ROH World Champion and forms the most decorated tag team in ROH history with brother Mark Briscoe, multi-time ROH tag team champions & the current IWGP heavyweight tag team champs. He went for more than two years without being pinned in Ring of Honor, and the only person that seems to have his number is the current ROH World Champ, Jay Lethal, who has been responsible for two of his very few losses. Adam Page was the ‘young boy’ of the Decade, a heel stable in ROH; he turned on them and was a face for a very brief window of time before joining the NJPW heel faction the Bullet Club. He’s adopted the moniker of ‘Hangman’ Page, wearing a noose around his neck and occasionally attempting to ‘hang’ his opponents.

WHAT’S THE ISSUE HERE? – These two have been feuding off and on dating back to Page’s time in the Decade, where Page called Briscoe out and got beaten, but put up enough of a fight that it seemed that they ended up with respect for each other. After Page’s face turn in which he left the Decade, he was scheduled to participate in a 10-man tag match with ROH against the Bullet Club on the War of the Worlds tour; the Bullet Club seemingly took Page out before the match. When it looked as though Jay Briscoe would be left to take on the Bullet Club by himself, Page ran to the ring with a chair and cleared the ring…..and then turned on Sting, er, Briscoe, hitting him with a chair and revealing that he was, in fact, the newest member of the Bullet Club. Briscoe has wanted to get Page in the ring ever since, and here we are.

WHO WINS? – Okay, so I’m going out on a limb here, I truly admit it. But there’s almost literally no point to Adam Page losing this match. He already lost a feud to Jay less than a year ago, and he’s the young guy of the Bullet Club that they’re trying to push. Yes, he’s probably just there to be Briscoe’s feud of the month and get crushed, but there’s a part of me that thinks that giving Page the Bullet Club spot means they actually see something in him and are going to take a shot. There’s no better place to fire that bullet, so to speak, than in this match. Jay isn’t hurt by a loss, but a win helps to MAKE Page. Sure, there’ll probably be tons of Bullet Club interference, but that’s okay.

YOUR WINNER – ‘Hangman’ Adam Page

CHAOS (Rocky Romero, Trent Baretta, Toru Yano) vs The Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi, Tama Tonga, & Tonga Loa)

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? – Two Japanese factions going to war in ROH, that’s who they are. Let’s start with CHAOS. They’re a Japanese faction led by the IWGP champion Kazuchika Okada. The members in question here are Rocky Romero and Trent Baretta, collectively known as Roppongi Vice in both ROH and NJPW, where they are former Jr. Heavyweight tag team champions. Toru Yano is one of the original members of the CHAOS faction, going all the way back to founding the stable with Shinsuke Nakamura. He has traded the NEVER Openweight tag team titles with the Bullet Club multiple times after winning them with the Briscoes, so he has some personal issues with the Bullet Club. The Bullet Club is one of the older heel factions in NJPW, dating back to the leadership of Prince Devitt, the current Finn Balor in the WWE. Yujiro is a former member of CHAOS, having turned on them by helping Bullet Club member AJ Styles defeat CHAOS member Okada for the IWGP Championship at Wrestling Dontaku 2014, and has been a member of Bullet Club ever since. Tama Tonga is also one of the earliest Bullet Club members and is the son of Haku. His brother, Tonga Loa, was known in North America as Camacho in the WWE and is the last member of the Bullet Club team.

WHAT’S THE ISSUE HERE? – This is a faction war that has been going on for quite some time, but there’s no overarching issue at bear besides that. No titles are on the line here, it’ll just be a straight six-man.

WHO WINS? – I feel like this is going to be a Bullet Club type night, and since this is a relatively meaningless six-man, they can lose this one and not be hurt too badly. Romero and Baretta both work for ROH regularly and are frequently in the mix for the ROH tag titles, so I’d expect them to be kept strong and go over here.

YOUR WINNER – CHAOS (Romero, Baretta, Yano)

SILAS YOUNG vs KATSUYORI SHIBATA

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? – SHIBATA~! Katsuyori Shibata is my 2nd favorite wrestler in all of NJPW, barely edged out by KUSHIDA. He is a stiff striker that has some of the best disdainful facial expressions in the entire wrestling world. I cannot talk this man up enough; I genuinely believe that he’s the next big thing that will come out of Japan. He just finished a long feud with Yuji Nagata in an old guard vs new guard storyline, in which he first lost then regained the NEVER Openweight title from Nagata. Couple that with a strong run through the recently completed G-1 Climax and you’ve got one of the strongest guys to come through the NJPW pipeline in years. As you can tell, I’m really, really high on the dude. Silas Young is an ROH mainstay; a mustachioed brawler, he bills himself as the ‘last real man’ in wrestling, frequently attacking his opponents for not being ‘manly’ enough.

WHAT’S THE ISSUE HERE? – None, really; Shibata is coming over for his first North American dates this weekend, and he needed a lamb to slaughter. Silas Young is that lamb.

WHO WINS? – Silas Young is gonna get KILLED. The end.

YOUR WINNER – Katsuyori Shibata

“RAINMAKER” KAZUCHIKA OKADA vs DALTON CASTLE (W/ THE BOYS) – NON-TITLE MATCH

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? – Kazuchika Okada is one of the most renowned wrestlers in the world. The current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, a multiple time one in fact, Okada is one of the biggest stars in NJPW. His gimmick as the ‘Rainmaker’ showers him with money when he comes to the ring. He is the leader of the CHAOS faction with Gedo over in NJPW. Dalton Castle is a very unique wrestler for ROH. A flamboyant worker, he comes to the ring with his ‘Boys’, two young men he frequently uses as furniture and to fan him off during the matches. He refers to himself as a Peacock, which plays into his ring entrance. He is truly a unique entity in the world of ROH. This match is NOT for the IWGP title that Okada currently holds.

WHAT’S THE ISSUE HERE? – None. Okada is coming over as part of the NJPW contingent and needed a match. Castle has been moving steadily up the card over the last year in ROH, and booking him against Okada is a sign that ROH will hopefully keep that going.

WHO WINS? – Okada probably isn’t doing a job at this PPV, especially not to Castle, even if it’s non-title. Match should be fun, but Castle is probably going down.

YOUR WINNER – Kazuchika Okada

TETSUYA NAITO/EVIL vs MICHAEL ELGIN/HIROSHI TANAHASHI vs THE ADDICTION – TRIPLE THREAT MATCH FOR THE RING OF HONOR TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? – Tetsuya Naito and Evil are members of Los Ingobernables de Japon, the top heel faction in Japan. Naito is a former IWGP Heavyweight Champ, having won it from and subsequently lost it back to Okada earlier this year, and is perhaps the most over heel in all of Japan. Evil is the former Takaaki Watanabe, who has appeared in Ring of Honor before in that persona. Both were in the G-1 Climax. Michael Elgin is a former ROH World Champ and the current IWGP Intercontinental Champion, having won the title from Kenny Omega in a ladder match. Hiroshi Tanahashi is one of the biggest NJPW stars of the last decade, a multiple-time IWGP World Champ, and has been Elgin’s tag partner on past ROH PPVs. Both competed in this year’s G-1 Climax as well. The Addiction are Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, formerly known as Bad Influence in TNA, and they are the current Ring of Honor tag team champions, having regained the titles from War Machine earlier this year. Daniels in particular is one of the most celebrated independent wrestlers of all time, and has been with Ring of Honor off and on since the beginning of the company.

WHAT’S THE ISSUE HERE? – The ROH Tag team titles. Since Honor Rising, where Ishii defeated Roderick Strong for the TV title, Japanese wrestlers have made more comments about openly coveting ROH titles and with the cross-promotion between the two companies, I expect that to continue.

WHO WINS? – Ever since Honor Rising and considering that the current IWGP heavyweight tag champs are the Briscoes, I’ve been a little more wary to just assume that the NJPW guys are dropping these matches just because they’re title matches. However, the ROH tag division is a big enough part of the company that I expect that they will be staying home. This match probably should have been the Young Bucks taking the straps, but they’ve decided not to go in that direction. Therefore….

YOUR WINNER – (and STILL your ROH World Tag Team Champions….of the World) The Addiction

BOBBY FISH vs MARK BRISCOE – RING OF HONOR WORLD TV TITLE MATCH

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? – Bobby Fish is one-half of reDRagon with Kyle O’Reilly, and is a former ROH World tag team champ and IWGP Jr tag team champ. He won the ROH TV title from Tomohiro Ishii at Global Wars and successfully defended it at Best in the World against Dalton Castle. Mark Briscoe is the real-life brother of Jay Briscoe and is an 8-time former ROH tag team champ with his brother, along with both Briscoes being the current IWGP tag team champs.

WHAT’S THE ISSUE HERE? – Mark Briscoe defeated ACH on Ring of Honor television to earn this title shot. While it could have ended there, the feud has become much more personal over the last several weeks of ROH TV. That came to a head when Briscoe called out Fish after taking over Fish’s scheduled ‘Fish Tank’ segment, and during their subsequent dueling promos, Bobby referred to Mark as someone who will only be remembered as Jay Briscoe’s little brother. A brawl was only barely avoided after that, as we got some heat for this feud as a result.

WHO WINS? – This one could go either way, but I’m leaning towards Fish retaining. Mark has commitments with his brother in Japan, but more to the point, I think that ROH is prepping for a possible Cole/O’Reilly all-out war for the ROH World title in the future, and keeping Fish a single at this moment in time makes sense; why cut his title reign short? Might as well give him some time with the strap.

YOUR WINNER – Bobby Fish

JAY LETHAL vs ADAM COLE – RING OF HONOR WORLD TITLE MATCH

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? – Jay Lethal is the current ROH World Champion, and has been for more than a full calendar year. Before that, he was the World TV champ, holding both titles simultaneously after winning the World title from Jay Briscoe at Best in the World 2015. All told, Lethal has held singles gold consecutively in ROH since April 4th, 2014, meaning that he has had an ROH singles title around his waist for the last 2 years and 4 months, an amazing run. He is a member of the House of Truth, but has lately not been coming out with any of the members as he’s been in the midst of a face turn for the last several months. Adam Cole is a former ROH World champ and ROH TV champ, and now seeks to become one of a select club in winning the Ring of Honor World Championship multiple times. He is the North American leader of the Bullet Club, having joined at Global Wars by attacking both Lethal and Colt Cabana during the ROH World title match.

WHAT’S THE ISSUE HERE? – At Global Wars, Jay Lethal faced off against a returning Colt Cabana for the ROH World title. During the match, the Young Bucks (Bullet Club members) attacked the ringside area, taking out anything with a pulse. They then seemingly offered both Lethal and Cabana Bullet Club shirts; however, the lights went out and when they came back on, Adam Cole was standing in the ring with the Bucks wearing a Bullet Club shirt, and the Bucks then superkicked Lethal and Cabana as Cole proclaimed that HE was the newest member of the Bullet Club. Subsequent episodes on ROH TV have revealed that Cole desperately wants the ROH World title back and will do anything to get it; after attacking Kyle O’Reilly before his ROH title match against Lethal a few weeks ago, thereby making good on his boast that Kyle would NEVER win the ROH World title while Cole was a part of Ring of Honor, matchmaker Nigel McGuinness told Cole that he would never receive another World title shot. The following week, Lethal teamed with the Briscoes against Cole and the Young Bucks; although Lethal’s team managed to win the match, the Bullet Club attacked post-match and knocked out Jay Briscoe with a Jaydriller on a chair, then proceeded to triple superkick Lethal into unconsciousness before shaving off Lethal’s hair. The following week, Lethal defeated Colt Cabana in a rematch from Global Wars, then proceeded to beg Nigel McGuinness to give him Cole at Death Before Dishonor for the World Title; after initially refusing, Nigel finally relented and gave Lethal what he wanted, which was Adam Cole. And here we are.

WHO WINS? – I think that the reign of Jay Lethal is coming to an end on Friday night. Lethal has been a great champion for ROH, but the time has come. Lethal has already beaten most of the ROH roster, including a second win over Jay Briscoe; there really isn’t anyone left to end Jay’s title reign at this point EXCEPT….for Adam Cole. Cole has never gotten a one v one shot at Lethal (his only title shot was a 3-way with Lethal and Kyle O’Reilly), but more to the point, it makes sense that it would end here. ROH is positioning the North American version of the Bullet Club as one of the strongest factions in the company, and putting the World title on Cole gives him fresh feuds as a heel against the entire roster, including the endgame being the man who used to be his partner and the man who he swore would never win the title, one Kyle O’Reilly. Yes, I know that I’m a homer for Kyle, but I really think that they’re going out of their way to make him at this point, and Cole dropping the strap to Kyle at the end of his run is where I think we’re going. In the mean time, Cole can have matches with Lethal, Jay Briscoe, guys like ACH, and all of them will feel fresh with a new dynamic. In short, the time is right to switch the title, and Cole is the right guy.

YOUR WINNER – (and NEW Ring of Honor World Champion; start celebrating, Kenny Reigns!) Adam Cole, bay-bay!

That should just about do it! This is YOUR primer for Friday, and if you decide to part with your money, I hope that I convinced you that it looks like a good show. I think it does; even the lack of Kyle O’Reilly (he’s selling the injury from the Bullet Club) isn’t dissuading me from this one. Ring of Honor has 8 matches and I think they’re all looking great, and it’s a great way to kick off a weekend of pro wrestling.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter