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ROH : Death Before Dishonor
by Samoa Rowe
September 12, 2021
Live from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Wrestle Tix thinks there's just shy of 400 fans in attendance. Our hosts are Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman.
Dalton Castle (with The Boys) vs. Eli Isom
Castle is now accompanied by 4 masked Boys, doing a synchronized, robotic, clapping routine (reminds me of the Jimmy Eat World "555" video). It manages to be both campy and creepy, I like it. They exchange chops, and Isom quickly hits a somersault dive. Castle hides behind the Boys, who make room for him to lunge at Isom to no avail. In the ring, Isom hits an overhead suplex, but Castle stomps his foot and answers with a German. Castle hits a dropkick on the apron, and the Boys jump for joy. Castle hits another back suplex, and Isom looks to be in big trouble. Isom eventually mounts a scrappy comeback, but Castle counters into a clever rana from the apron. Isom no-sells and hits a cutter for 2. Castle gets pulled to safety, and Isom moonsaults onto the Boys. Dak Draper interferes, so Isom kicks him in the groin. Isom blocks Bangarang, but Castle tries again and wins at 9:45. Totally fine opener, gives the revamped Castle a boost, **½.
Winner: Dalton Castle
Jake Atlas vs. Taylor Rust
They adhere to the Code of Honor and start with some competitive chain wrestling. Atlas gets testy with a shove. They have a quick exchange, but instead of reaching a stalemate (like I expected) Rust grabs the boot and reverses into an ankle lock. Atlas takes a quick timeout, but Rust catches him returning and stomps his arm into the canvas. Snapmare by Rust and a shoulder dropkick for 2. Atlas seems to weather the storm and grabs a chinlock. By the way, the fans are so quiet right now, I honestly forgot that I wasn't watching an empty studio show for a moment. Some confusing calls by the referee wakes up some loudmouths, and Rust quickly wins with an arm submission at 6:54. I was digging this until the abrupt ending, **½.
Winner: Taylor Rust
VLNCE UNLTD (Chris Dickinson, Homicide, and Tony Deppen) vs. John Walters, LSG, and Lee Moriarty
The commentators don't hide the fact that Moriarty just signed with AEW and give him props. Homicide is willing to shake Walter's hand before shoving him away. They exchange holds like it's 2004 again. Tags are made, Dickinson and LSG frantically trade counters. More tags are made, Moriarty spins Deppen on his back, and turns him into a backslide pin for 2. Moriarty puts every member of VLNCE UNLTD in successive abdominal stretches. VLNCE UNLTD manage to trap Walters in their corner to build some heat. Walters hits a desperation Lung Blower on Homicide, and LSG storms in on the hot tag. LSG's corkscrew press sets up Moriarty's sitout powerbomb. LSG face plants Dickinson, but then flies into Deppen's nasty knee lift. Moriarty helps with a dive and springboard clothesline. Walters tags in and rolls Dickinson into a leglock, DDT's Homicide, and puts them both in Muta Locks. Deppen breaks it up with a flying double stomp! LSG puts Deppen down with a missile dropkick, and everyone goes down while the crowd misses their cue to applaud. This is like the worst 2300 crowd since EVOLVE 10. Homicide piles up his opponents with a diving cannonball. Dickinson finishes Moriarty with a Spicolli Driver at 11:03. Between Violent by Design in Impact, and VLNCE UNLTD in ROH, I'm having trouble caring about these odd collections of mean dudes brought together by a love of violence, but this overdelivered down the stretch, ***½.
Winners: VLNCE UNLTD
LSG, Moriarty, and Walters bicker about the loss, but Jay Lethal comes out to be the voice of reason. Lethal is optimistic about the future of ROH, which makes it kind of awkward that Moriarty is leaving for AEW. Lethal gets emotional talking about how much the Pure division means to him. The sleepy crowd gives him an "ROH" chant while the losing team hold their arms up.
The OGK (Matt Taven and Mike Bennett) vs. The Briscoes (Jay and Mark)
The Briscoes aren't messing around and look for their finishers early, resulting in a standoff. Mark and Taven settle in as the legal men. Tags are made, Jay slugs it out with Bennett. The Briscoes corner Bennett and totally eat him for lunch. Taven rights the ship with a missile dropkick onto Mark. Blind tag by Jay allows a running boot to Taven's face. Jay hits Taven with a DDT, but Taven kicks Mark onto Bennett's shoulders to tease an outside Doomsday Device, but sadly, the Briscoes break it up. Instead, Taven moonsaults onto Mark and Bennett. Mark pops up for a top rope dive onto the other team and NOT his own brother. Jay puts Taven down with a neckbreaker, but Bennett sneaks in for a DVD. Bennett puts Jay into a deep armbar, but Mark rescues with a dropkick. Mark eventually summons Redneck Kung Fu on a sorta hot tag. Mark hits a blockbuster from the apron. Jay lariats Taven to set up Mark's Froggy Elbow, but Taven saves the match. The Briscoes bring in a chair, but the OGK don't let them use it. Bennett slams Jay into an uppercut onto Taven, and then Jay leaps off the chair for flying clothesline to rinside. That leaves Taven to roll up Mark for the sudden win at 13:16. Well, they maintained great intensity from bell to bell, but the action was mostly random noise with no rhyme or reason, **¾.
Winners: The OGK
Hype video for Josh Woods vs. Jonathan Gresham. Woods bonded with Gresham early in his ROH career. Gresham talks about being inspired by the ROH Pure division way back in 2006, and it's driven him to this point.
ROH Pure Championship:
Jonathan Gresham © vs. Josh Woods
True to the format, they lock knuckles and jockey for position. They trade monkey flips without letting go. They tangle against the ropes, and the ref splits them up since neither guy has a clear advantage. It happens again, so the grumpy ref makes them both forfeit their first rope breaks. They resume chain wrestling in the center. Gresham kicks the bicep and hits an armdrag. Gresham dropkicks the freshly injured arm, but Woods answers with a messy throw from the buckles. Gresham relentlessly goes after the arm, Woods crawls into the ropes, but for some reason it doesn't count as a rope break. They trade arm submission counters and both use up their second rope breaks. They trade rolling pinning predicaments, and the match ends with an apparent double pinfall at 11:48. Gresham refuses to let a decision like this tarnish his reputation and demands the match be restarted. Bell rings again, they trade stiff slaps. Gresham grapevines the legs, Woods rolls over, and they use up their final rope breaks. Gresham soars into a sunset flip roll up for 2, applies a cradle, but Woods reverses into a Rear Naked Choke. Gresham escapes by attacking the bad arm and nearly wins with a head scissors. Gresham flies into Woods' boot, and they take a breather. Gresham blocks some suplexes and unloads elbow strikes to the shoulder. Woods reverses the ankle lock, and then hits Chaos Theory for only 2. The fans heckle the ref for botching the nearfall. Enziguri by Gresham, then a German suplex for 2. Gresham eagerly works a Kimura, Woods reverses into a wild wheelbarrow suplex for the win at 20:04! They had a really smart gameplan that suffered a few execution hiccups, mostly due to some wishy-washy refereeing, but they stuck the landing, ***¼.
Winner and new ROH Pure Champion: Josh Woods
Gresham wraps the Pure title around Woods and graciously takes his leave. The fans are pretty receptive to Woods as champion.
ROH Six Man Tag Team Championship:
Shane Taylor Promotions © (Kaun, Moses, and O'Shay Edwards) vs. La Facción Ingobernable (Dragon Lee, Kenny King, and La Bestia Del Ring)
Shane Taylor is supposed to be in the match, but Kenny King takes him out with repeated chair shots in front of everyone. O'Shay Edwards steps up to take his place. It's Lucha Rules, so no tags, just one man in one man out. Kaun and Dragon Lee take turns dishing out beatdowns in the corner. Moses knocks Lee down with a body avalanche. Bestia and Moses duke it out. King uses his speed advantage against Edwards, but falls to his spinebuster. LFI manage to cut Kaun off for a heat sequence. "Hot tag" to STP, and Moses and Edwards share the spotlight to clean house. They might be strapped for time, they head straight to the breakdown sequence. The dead crowd gives them nothing until popping for the diving sequence. King seems ready to finish Moses with a Blockbuster, but Taylor returns to smash King's brains in with a chair, giving Moses the Poetic Justice victory at 11:26. This was a fun match with lots of big bodies flying around the place, they dragged the fans into it near the end, ***.
Winners and still ROH Six Man Tag Team Champions: Shane Taylor Promotions
Hype video for the ROH World Women's Championship tournament finals. Rok-C is portrayed as soft-spoken, likable, and perhaps just beginning to find her voice. Miranda Alize comes across as confident, cocky, and seemingly ready to take on the role as champion.
ROH World Women's Championship:
Rok-C vs. Miranda Alize
Alize slaps away a handshake, and they aggressively lock up. Alize pats the face, so Rok-C takes her down to prove a point. Rok-C works a bridged hammerlock, Alize reverses, so Rok-C goes for an ankle lock. They frantically block facelocks and reach a stalemate. They restart, Rok-C cartwheels to block a head scissors takedown. Alize gets tired of Rok-C's cartwheeling tricks and smashes her into the buckles, but Rok-C comes right back with a Thesz Press. Alize snaps Rok-C's head for a nearfall. Face wash, shotgun dropkick, and snap suplex by Alize. Rok-C's armdrag is blocked and Alize bites her fingers. The fans care enough to give them a "Let's go, Rok-C" chant. Rana by Alize gets 2. Rok-C makes a brave comeback, hitting another Thesz Press from the second rope. Rok-C hits a back flip knee drop for 2, Alize answers with the ripchord knee strike. Alize's trash talk only serves to fire up Rok-C, but Alize hits a DDT fro the buckles for 2 anyway. Alize blinds Rok-C with her own hair while working a chinlock. Rok-C survives with a rope break, sends Alize into the rails, and then digs deep for a tope suicida. Alize answers with a shotgun dropkick and tope suicida. They both take a breather and beat the countout for a slugfest. Cutter by Alize, but Rok-C pops up for a pump kick. Alize breaks a crossface and hits a pair of glancing superkicks. Rok-C hits a superkick and Code Red to win at 18:16, despite Alize kicking out immediately. Good match, greatly thanks to the well-defined personalities of the performers. A few whiffs and minor botches along the way didn't hurt too much, ***½.
Winner and first ever ROH World Women's Champion: Rok-C
Maria Kanellis-Bennett awards the Women's World Championship belt to Rok-C. Alize complains to the ref while Rok-C's family enters the ring to celebrate.
ROH World Championship (Four Corner Survival):
Bandido © vs. Brody King vs. Demonic Flamita vs. EC3
It looks like EC3 and King might have a hoss fight, but instead menace Flamita from the ring. They turn on Bandido, but Flamita drags him to ringside, so we get the hoss fight after all. The big guys take themselves out, so Bandido and Flamita take their place for a frantic lucha sequence. EC3 interrupts the showdown and sends Bandido into the rails. Flamita picks his spot against EC3, but eats a clothesline. EC3 spins Flamita onto his knee and turns out to back drop Bandido. King interrupts EC3's superplex, so EC3 powerbombs him off the apron, then eats Bandido's swanton. EC3 powerbombs Bandido onto King. Flamita swings a chair at EC3, but the ref turns around to see EC3 using the chair for revenge and disqualifies him at 8:50. Flamita thinks this is all pretty funny, the fans are like "eh." Bandido and Flmaita put their differences aside to swarm King with tandem offense. They hit King with an electric chair Destroyer (that doesn't quite land, but I appreciate the effort). Bandido opportunistically powerbombs Flamita and then launches him at King. Bandido wipes out both challengers with a moonsault press to ringside. King interrupts a Muscle Buster and finishes Flamita with a Ganso Bomb at 13:42. King tries to quickly finish with a piledriver but Bandido kicks out. Bandido hits a West Coast Pop variation for only 2. Crucifix bomb by Bandido still isn't enough to win. Bandido's SSP only gets a 1 count! Decapitation lariat by King, Bandido blocks the Ganso Bomb, and rolls him up at 17:11, for a rather anti-climatic ending. The action wasn't bad, but no one looks all that strong, including the champion who seemingly won on a fluke, **¾.
Winner and still ROH World Champion: Bandido
Bandido's friends join him for a celebration. VINCENT appears on the stage to applaud in a manner that suggests that he's next.
Final Thoughts: This PPV provided a bunch of decent/good matches in front of a dead crowd that clearly doesn't hold ROH in a particularly high regard these days. If a show with live fans in attendance leaves me yearning for empty studio pandemic shows, then we've got some problems.
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