By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Donovan Dijak def. Kamaitachi, Jay White and Lio Rush in a No. 1 Contender's Four Corner Survival Match For the ROH World Television Championship
This match almost served as an X-Division-esque opener with three fresh (albeit unestablished) faces and Dijak. Dijak is relatively new on the scene as well, but not as much as his opponents. It did have a bit of storyline support as well (all four competitors have crossed paths at one point or another over the past month) and wasn't randomly put together. Plus, with a title shot at stake, it was easy to remain engaged in the exciting in-ring action. Dijak was the right winner in my mind since he has been largely underutilized as of late and I'm glad to see him entering in the TV title picture.
Katsuyori Shibata def. Silas Young
Is it just me or does Young feel like Ring of Honor's version of what Tyler Breeze used to be in NXT? He can always be counted on for a great match, though he never seems to win the big one when it matters most and he puts his opponents over more often than not. This was another classic example of that as he and Shibata worked very well together and both men were able to get their signature spots in. Young had a strong showing here, but I really wish ROH would do more with him in the future.
Chaos def. The Bullet Club
I feared Yano's comedic style wouldn't mesh too well with Bullet Club, but he ended up being the star of the match. I was also happy this wasn't as over-the-top (i.e. superkicks galore) as other Bullet Club matches in terms of non-stop kickouts, but that might have been because The Young Bucks weren't involved. I don't know if I would have beaten Bullet Club, but as I mentioned, Yano was hilarious throughout, so it was almost fitting he scored the victory for his team. Besides, Bullet Club got their heat back afterward with the post-match attack, and Adam Page and Jay Briscoe coming out was a nice transition in their match.
Hangman Page def. IWGP Tag Team Champion Jay Briscoe in a No Disqualification Match
Admittedly, I haven't been paying as close attention to this feud as I should have been, but Page and Briscoe did a great job of getting me invested with their brutal brawl here. I didn't care much for Page in The Decade or during his subsequent anticlimactic face turn, but he has been killing it since joining The Bullet Club and has looked as badass than ever before. Needless to say, this is the best Page match I have ever seen. The hangman gimmick might be taking it a little too far for some, but hey, it made for an exceptional match and it was a rare case where the violent nature added to my enjoyment of it, similar to Steve Corino vs. BJ Whitmer from Best in the World. Furthermore, Page scoring the victory was a smart move as it should solidify him as a star on the rise.
IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada def. Dalton Castle (Non-title)
I've said it once, I will say it a million more times: Okada is an absolute star. We don't see him all that often in ROH, but when he does show up, it immediately becomes apparent that he demands respect from his opponents. Combine that with Castle's ability to make any match he is a part of ten times more entertaining and you have yourself an awesome matchup between two of the brightest stars of their respective promotions. Castle has been floundering in and out of consistent storylines this year, but he has yet to deliver a bad bout, and this was no exception. I never doubted for a second that Okada would win, but Castle certainly looked credible in defeat.
ROH World Television Champion Bobby Fish def. IWGP Tag Team Champion Mark Briscoe
Perhaps this is just me, but I still have zero idea how to react to Fish at this point. He exhibits a handful of heel tendencies, yet is positioned as a babyface alongside his reDRAGON tag team partner Kyle O'Reilly. Due to that, I have yet to see him have a breakout performance. While this was a well-wrestled bout, I just wasn't as amped up about it as I was the matches that preceded it. If nothing else, the final few minutes were fun, but I'm waiting for Fish to become a full-fledged heel.
ROH World Tag Team Champions The Addiction def. Hiroshi Tanahashi & IWGP Intercontinental Champion Michael Elgin and Los Ingobernables de Japón in a Three-Way Tag Team Match
I could have sworn The Young Bucks earned a tag title shot on a recent edition of ROH TV. What did these two tandems do to deserve a championship match? I assume this was merely meant to be a showcase of two of Japan's top tag teams, but it was illogical, nevertheless. On the bright side, the match itself was above-average and everyone involved played their parts well. And can we all take a second to appreciate the fantastic finish with Daniels making the blind tag and executing a roll-up on top of another competitor to steal the win?
Adam Cole def. Jay Lethal to Win the ROH World Championship
It's amazing that hair can still serve as the centerpiece of a rivalry this day and age. I'm not saying it can't or shouldn't, but that almost never happens nowadays, yet Cole and Lethal have managed to have a hell of a feud in recent months. That bad blood was evident in this match, translating well onto television. ROH hyping this up as the most anticipated title match in history might have actually hindered the match at certain points, or at least early on when not much of note was happening. But they really kicked it up to the next gear in the latter half of the bout and the nearfalls down the stretch were wonderful. I loved the story told with Lethal's emotions getting the better of him, causing Cole to take advantage and capture the championship. Kyle O'Reilly's return was the icing on the cake. I'm looking forward to them rekindling their rivalry, this time over the world title.
I spoke candidly back in June about how Best in the World was a disappointment by and large and came across like a glorified house show. Death Before Dishonor, on the other hand, was the exact opposite in that every match had something to offer and there wasn't a single match I didn't enjoy. The TV title match was the only outing I'd say that was slightly underwhelming, but even that was solid. The crowning of a new world champion breaths new life into the product, and we already have our first feud over the title in Cole vs. O'Reilly. I can't recall a ROH pay-per-view I was more entertained by on the whole than this one. What a way to kick off what should be a stellar weekend in wrestling. Enjoy it, my fellow fans!
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