It’s been quite a while since I’ve reviewed a Ring of Honor event on DVD, and quite a lot has happened since then. Titles have changed hand, talent has changed sides, and the head booker has been replaced by a masked man.
Now we’re going to jump right back into the deep end by going back to Chicago Ridge last September to see what happened when former TNA World Champion Rhino challenged Kevin Steen for the ROH World title in the main event of Death Before Dishonor X: State of Emergency.
The disc began with the first semi-final of the World Tag Team title tournament between Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander and the S.C.U.M. team of Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs.
Looks like there has been quite a bit of change since I checked in last. Corino and Jacobs have gone back to the dark side, and Jacobs is now wearing a dress. Let’s just say that Brian Pillman could have pulled off that ensemble a little better.
Also, there’s a stipulation here, with the bad boys promising to leave ROH if they lose in the tournament.
Now all of that is out of the way let’s get back to the action. Well, it wasn’t a bad opener. Alexander and Coleman have certainly come a long way since I last saw them, and they looked pretty good as they pulled off some exciting tag team moves.
Corino and Jacobs, for their part, looked decent as well, although not as polished as their less illustrious opponents.
There were a couple of slightly dodgy moments, one involving Corino surprisingly, but overall it was quite enjoyable. Sadly head honcho Jim Cornette didn’t get his wish when the S.C.U.M. boys took the win. Alexander tried to roll Corino up for the three count, but after Corino kicked out Jacobs threw a chair at Alexander from ringside while the referee wasn’t looking. Corino then rolled him man up with a bridging backdrop driver for the three count to advance to the tournament final.
By the way, Zombie Princess? What’s that all about?
The Survival of the Fittest qualifier saw Tadarius Thomas taking on Silas Young.
This was one of those short and sweet encounters, the type of match ROH usually opened their shows with, and even though it didn’t last long it was pretty enjoyable.
Young put in a very solid performance, while Thomas, a guy I don’t think I’ve seen before impressed the hell out of me, showing the kind of flexibility that a certain Rob Van Dam showed during his ECW prime years.
There weren’t many near falls to speak of here, but after Young failed to take his man down with a springboard moonsault Thomas connected with a spin kick to take the winning pin and the final spot in the tournament.
The singles action continued with Davey Richards’ mini me Kyle O’Reilly taking on the debuting A.C.H. Who came up with that guy’s name, Groundskeeper Willy?
All joking aside, this was another quality quickie. Like Thomas before him A.C.H. impressed me as he pulled off some great fast-paced moves.
It was a nice piece of storytelling with O’Reilly underestimating his man early on until he took him down with a suplex on the floor.
From there we saw some extremely fast exchanges, but when A.C.H. missed a 450 splash from the top rope O’Reilly applied a triangle choke, adding a few elbows into the mix as the newcomer tapped out to give O’Reilly the submission win.
Then it was back to the Tag Team title tournament semi-finals as the Briscoe Brothers took on Rhett Titus and Charlie Haas, accompanied here by Shelton Benjamin.
Much was made of the dissension between Haas and Titus, and it was another storyline that was well played out, because while the brothers put in a good combined effort their opponents only tagged each other twice during the entire match.
Haas took on most of the workload for his team as he attempted to put Jay away, but when Jay got the hot tag his brother Mark came in and proceeded to batter Haas with his unique kung fu stylings.
It was only when Titus tagged himself into the match that this hybrid team had any chance of winning, and just when it looked like the Briscoes were going to take Titus down with their version of the Doomsday Device Haas managed to come back into the ring to stop the action, with Titus taking the win for his team with a roll-up on Jay.
By the way, is it me or is Mark borrowing a few mannerisms from George Steele these days?
After a brief in-ring speech from the returning Davey Richards it was back to singles action and a battle between old enemies as Jay Lethal went up against Homicide.
Looks like Lethal is another one whose attitude has changed since I last checked in with these shows, thanks to Jim Cornette telling him that he didn’t have a killer instinct.
Before the match began Homicide got in the face of our esteemed commentators Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness, telling them that Lethal couldn’t beat him. Remember that for later kiddies.
What we had here was a battle between two guys channelling the forces of the dark side, and it was a very solid and very good match. Mind you, I wasn’t expecting anything less, considering the number of times they’ve faced each other in the past few years.
It started off, surprisingly, with both men observing the Code of Honor, but it wasn’t long before the niceties went out of the window, especially when the action spilled to the outside of the ring and Homicide wanted to bring a few toys into the equation. The referee was having none of this though. He looked even more shocked when they tried to put each other through the timekeeper’s table.
Eventually the match settled down, and it wasn’t long before Lethal brought out the big moves as he attempted to put his man away. First came the Macho Man elbow, but instead of going for the pin he went for the Lethal Combination. That didn’t get the job done though.
So Lethal picked his man up and took him down with a second Lethal Combination, and once again Homicide kicked out of the pin, taunting Lethal that he couldn’t beat him.
So Lethal upped his game even further, and a few moments later he finally tasted success, taking Lethal down with a DDT variation for the winning pin.
The Tag Team Challenge Match saw the House of Truth team of Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin, accompanied by Truth Martini and his extraordinary hair, taking on Irish Airborne’s Jake and Dave Crist.
Another thing I’ve missed is the dissension in Martini’s ranks, with Elgin apparently unhappy with his place in the grand scheme of things.
This match was basically another chapter in the House of Truth’s breaking up storyline, not that there’s anything wrong with that. It began with Strong taking on Jake, and after he was on the receiving end of a few of the Airborne’s double team moves he tagged himself out of the match.
It then became a handicap match for all intents and purposes. Elgin put on a great display of power as he took both Crists down, but when he went to tag his partner Strong either jumped off the apron or walked off in the opposite direction.
Despite the lack of assistance from his partner Elgin went on to dominate his opponents, who were more or less becoming the forgotten men of this encounter. Elgin proceeded to take Dave apart, first with a buckle bomb and then with a normal powerbomb.
It was then that Strong wanted to tag in, but Elgin was having nothing of it, and while he was attempting to take Jake out after he’d charged into the ring Strong tagged himself in, so while Elgin took Jake down with another buckle bomb Strong pinned the fallen Dave to take the pin and the glory for his team. Needless to say that Elgin wasn’t too happy with things.
After the introduction of guest commentator Matt Hardy it was on to the first title match of the evening as Mike Mondo challenged Adam Cole for the TV title.
Before the match began Mondo grabbed the microphone and challenged Cole to a “No Fear” rules match, with no count out and no time limit. It was a challenge that Cole readily accepted.
Now this was good. It started off with a long lock up as both men jockeyed for position. Neither man was willing to give way as they took the hold around the ring, out of the ring and around ringside before heading back into the ring.
Then it settled down into a nice technical encounter, with Cole working over Mondo’s leg in preparation for his figure four before Mondo took the upper hand working over Cole’s arm in preparation for his double-armed DDT.
The action got really heated when it spilled out of the ring. After they rammed each other into the metal barricades Cole dragged Mondo up the aisle and planted him head first on the floor with a suplex. He then went back to the ring, intent on taking the count out win before remembering the he himself had waived the count out rule.
Eventually the action returned to the ring, and Cole was able to apply his new submission hold of choice. Mondo tried to fight the figure four and even managed to roll over and put the pressure on Cole’s legs for a few moments. Cole soon regained the momentum though, and it wasn’t long before Mondo tapped out to give Cole the title retaining submission win.
Matt Hardy then got up from his seat at the commentary table and grabbed the microphone, and after Cole and Mondo observed the Code of Honor once again he got into the ring and shook Cole’s hand. He then went on to talk about the comparisons between Cole and his young self before declaring his intentions by saying that he’s a lot better than Cole is now.
The penultimate match was the final of the Tag Team title tournament, with Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs taking on Rhett Titus and Charlie Haas, who were once again accompanied by Shelton Benjamin.
Once again the dissent between Haas and Titus was apparent for all to see. The arguments began before the match, and once it started they hardly tagged each other again.
This seemed to make things a lot easier for Jacobs and Corino. They looked a bit better this time around as they used Titus as their personal punching bag. It was only then that Haas wanted into the match.
But with Titus refusing to tag him in Haas eventually went in anyway as the mass brawl began, and as he began brawling with Corino in the corner, and as the referee tried to separate them, Benjamin made his presence known when he took Jacobs down with a super kick.
This wasn’t the way Titus wanted to do things, and even though Benjamin urged him to pin the fallen Jacobs Titus was more intent on arguing with his partner’s partner.
When Titus eventually went over to Jacobs Benjamin had had enough as he took Titus down with his Paydirt move. Jacobs had recovered by this time, and the first thing he saw was Titus laying prone in the ring. A three count later and we had new champions.
Unsurprisingly Haas and Benjamin blamed Titus for the loss, and when Titus tried to explain to Haas what Benjamin had done Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team attacked Titus and took him down with their double spine buster.
The main event saw Rhino, accompanied by Truth Martini, challenging Kevin Steen for the World title.
Before the match began Executive Producer Jim Cornette came down to the ring and grabbed the microphone, changing the match to an anything goes affair because both men were experienced in fighting under a no DQ stipulation.
So with those stipulations in place I have to say that this was quite unlike any other ROH World title match I’ve seen. Over the years I’ve been treated to some technical classics, but this was as far removed from those technical classics you could get.
In short, this was one big brawl between two big guys, and it was pretty good. They threw everything they could at each other, and then some, and despite the fact that these two were meant to be hated heels the crowd were lapping it up.
It wasn’t long into the match that the tables and chairs were brought into the equation, and as all hell broke loose even the lovely lady timekeeper took a shot when Martini managed to avoid Steen’s super kick. Moments later Martini clobbered Steen with his massive book, setting him up so Rhino could dive over the top rope and put him through a table.
As the action went on, and when it looked as if Rhino was about to put Steen through a second table Steve Corino appeared on the scene in an attempt to convince his former ECE protégé to stop the carnage. Rhino was having none of it, and Corino soon found himself on the receiving end of a gore, as did Jacobs, as did the referee.
Further attempts at interference followed as Roderick Strong went flying over the ropes and Martini was taken out by Steen’s package piledriver. It was then that Rhino tried to set up for the gore again, but Steen moved out of the way and Rhino went crashing through the table.
Steen then lifted the Man Beast onto his shoulders and took him down with the F5 for the title retaining pin.
As the champion celebrated number one contender Michael Elgin came down to the ring. Steen spat on his challenger, and as Elgin was about to take Steen down Corino pushed Strong into them to break them up. Strong tried to plead his innocence but it didn’t help him much as Elgin took him down with a powerbomb as the show came to an end.
The bonus feature comes in the form of a backstage segment with the S.C.U.M. boys as they celebrated their various title triumphs.
In conclusion - as I said at the beginning of this piece it’s been quite a while since I’ve reviewed an ROH event on DVD, and to be honest with you I think I’ve been a little spoiled having watched all of those compilations last year.
Death Before Dishonor X was a good event. The action was good, and the majority of the matches were quite good, but for me it just seemed to be lacking that certain something. It took me a while to figure out what that was, but then I realised that it was actually quite a simple thing.
The sound. You see for all of the show the way the sound was handled kind of bugged me. While you could clearly hear the commentators, the bumps in the ring and the entrance music you couldn’t hardly hear the most important people in the building, the fans.
Let me explain: when the wrestlers made their entrances you could clearly hear the music as well as the announcers, but you couldn’t hear the crowd reactions. It was something that went on for most of the show, and this lack of atmosphere ruined things a little. It meant that you couldn’t get wrapped up in the fan’s reactions to the matches.
But enough of this. You’re probably wondering who is going to get the esteemed no-prize this time around. This time the award is going to Adam Cole’s TV title defence against Mike Mondo. A great piece of technical wrestling, even though it had a no DQ stipulation.
So with all of that out of the way it’s time to end this thing by giving Death Before Dishonor X the thumbs up for it’s action and a thumbs down for it’s lack of atmosphere because of the technical issues.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Death Before Dishonor X can be purchased online at www.rohwrestling.com.