The iPPV issues left such a bad taste in the mouth of ROH's fanbase that it overshadowed what was an otherwise excellent show that featured the semifinals and finals of a tournament to crown new ROH World Tag Team Champions, as well as Kevin Steen defending the ROH World Title against former ECW and NWA World Champion Rhino in the main event. Since I did play-by-play in my live-ish coverage of the show, I'm going to do the DVD review in a thoughts format now that I'll get to see the show in its entirety.
The Steen-Rhino main event was excellent, and the storyline leading into this match was that ROH Executive Producer Jim Cornette has been so desperate to get the title off of Steen that he was willing to give anyone he thought could beat him a title shot, whether they work for ROH or not. I think the matches with Eddie Kingston and Rhino (who technically is part of the House of Truth, but is really a part timer with an extensive track record elsewhere) actually enhance Steen's reign, because he's proving himself against the best from outside the company instead of just facing ROH guys. That's something that people like Samoa Joe and Bryan Danielson did quite a bit to bring prestige to the title, so even though the story is that Steen's the guy they don't want holding that title, they've actually booked him quite smartly to be one of the best and most interesting ROH World Champions in years.
Jim Cornette came out before the match to say that since both men have done so well in no DQ matches recently, he decided to turn this into an Anything Goes match as well. They brawled on the outside for several minutes with Rhino getting a clear advantage, manhandling Steen and throwing him around like we don't usually see. Steen briefly got an advantage by shoving Rhino off the top rope to the floor and tried putting him through a table, but Truth Martini distracted Steen and allowed Rhino to nail him and then put him through the table with a splash off the apron. Steve Corino, Rhino's longtime ally from ECW, tried to distract Rhino before he put Steen away, but Rhino took out Corino, Jacobs, and the referee with the Gore. The distraction still gave Steen an opening to hit a Gore of his own on Rhino, followed by an F5 for 2. Steen gave Truth Martini a Package Piledriver and dumped Roderick Strong when he tried to run in, then dodged a Gore that sent Rhino crashing through a table that was set up in the corner. Steen hit a second F5 and retained in a hell of a way between two big behemoths. Michael Elgin came out after the match and went face to face with Steen, leading to a brawl between SCUM and the House of Truth where Strong may or may not have intentionally nailed Elgin. Regardless of Strong's intentions, Elgin finally had enough and flattened him with a sitout powerbomb.
I thought the tournament semifinals and finals featured some very good wrestling, but there wasn't as much drama to it as there could have been since the storyline had Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs leaving ROH if they didn't win the title. Their win over Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander (ROH's resident "come on, baby!!!" midcard babyface team) was a foregone conclusion, which was too bad because it was a great match with a lot of dramatic near falls. C&C kept coming even though SCUM were dishing out a lot of punishment, but a chairshot from the floor by Jacobs, followed by a bridging backdrop suplex from Corino put Coleman down for 3.
The other semifinal was a bit more competitive, as the Briscoes (who have to be considered favorites anytime the ROH World Tag Team Title is on the line) took on Rhett Titus & Charlie Haas, a mismatched team of two guys who hate each other, but wanted to use one another to regain the title they live and die by. Shelton Benjamin, whose suspension resulted in the Titus/Haas team coming together, was back in ROH and in Haas' corner for the evening, though it was debatable whether he could be considered to be in Titus' corner given their history together. Titus also has a violent history with the Briscoes, and while they had buried the hatchet over the summer, this match was an amalgamation of the three teams that dominated the tag division for the last two years. There was a visible conflict between Titus and Shelton, though Haas took advantage of that by beating Jay up on the floor while the referee was distracted by Titus and Shelton's arguing. Titus may not have liked having Shelton out there, but he did save them from defeat by putting Haas' foot on the rope during a pinfall attempt, then distracted Mark during a Doomsday Device attempt and allowed Titus to roll Jay up for the win.
As I said, no real drama in the finals since you pretty much knew Corino and Jacobs were going to win. Shelton's interference ended up costing Haas & Titus the match this time around, because Shelton superkicked Jacobs behind the referee's back and told Titus to make the cover, but Titus wasn't happy that he interfered and shoved him. Shelton responded by hitting Paydirt on Titus, allowing Jacobs to make a cover and win his fifth ROH World Tag Team Title, and Corino's first ROH title ever. Haas and Benjamin briefly got into an argument after the match, but ended up stomping Titus out together when Titus made the questionable decision to attack both of them by himself.
Adam Cole successfully defended the TV Title against Mike Mondo, who challenged Cole to make this a No Fear rules match, which meant no countouts and no time limit. Cole agreed, and they had a very physical match that saw Mondo at one point take a suplex on the outside and land square on his face on the bare gymnasium floor. Mondo hung in there, but eventually was forced to submit to Cole's figure four. Matt Hardy, who was observing the match on commentary, came into the ring after the match and told Cole that while a lot of people were comparing him to a young Matt Hardy, Hardy was better than Cole when he was young, and is even better than him now. This set up the TV Title match between Cole and Hardy at this weekend's Final Battle 2012 iPPV.
Besides Hardy, we also got a special appearance from Davey Richards, who returned to ROH and said that he's not proud of what he's become outside the ring and how he's been trusting the wrong people, but he's back and has rededicated himself to being the best wrestler in the world. Not a superstar, not some flashy catchphrase you can sell on a t-shirt, but the best wrestler in the world. He's entered himself into Survival of the Fittest, and he plans to win it and regain his ROH World Title.
One man he'd eventually find standing in his way at SOTF (which we'll get to in the next ROH review) was Jay Lethal, who faced Homicide at Death Before Dishonor X. Lethal was in the midst of an angle where he's wrestling more aggressively to show that he has a killer instinct and deserves to challenge Kevin Steen for the ROH World Title, and spent most of the match beating the crap out of Homicide. I think the way ROH has been booking Homicide sucks, he's one of the most loved guys ever in that company, was one of the founding fathers, and was even the ROH World Champion, and now they use him as a glorified enhancement guy. I'm happy to see him getting bookings, but the fan in me would rather not see him at all than see him doing jobs every time he comes in. He did manage to kick out of several finishers, but finally went down in defeat after Lethal planted him in the mat with a cradle DDT.
Other matches on the show included a Survival of the Fittest qualifying match between longtime Midwestern mainstay Silas Young and Tadarius Thomas. This was the first time I've seen Silas in a while and he looked good. I like the newer, more rugged persona he's using because, for as good a wrestler as he is, I had a hard time taking him seriously when I saw him prancing out to the ring to Don't Stop Believin'. Thomas connects with a spinning knockout kick and gets the win to earn a shot in SOTF.
Kyle O'Reilly took on ACH, another youngster who has been getting a lot of attention on the indies over the last year or so but didn't really impress me. He's in great shape and showed a lot of agility, but seemed way too reliant on doing spots rather than wrestling. O'Reilly tapped him out to a triangle choke, then left it on for good measure after the match.
Irish Airborne returned to ROH after more than five years to face Roderick Strong & Michael Elgin in tag action. Irish Airborne had a new look and worked hard, but were really just there as a backdrop to the continued dissension between Strong and Elgin. Strong refused to tag in when Elgin was in trouble, leading to a shoving match on the outside before Elgin came back in and flattened both members of Irish Airborne with powerbombs. Strong tagged himself in as Elgin was delivering the second one and scored the win while Elgin was distracted, stealing the pin after Elgin did all the work. The Strong/Elgin dissension dragged on for way too long, and this was the kind of thing we'd seen for literally months before they finally did the split. I'm happy to see them wrestle each other this weekend just so this feud will finally go somewhere.
* * *
The final verdict: this show wasn't the strongest iPPV ROH has put on this year. The main event was very good and the tournament was a unique attraction, but there wasn't much else I think is necessary to go out of your way to see.
I'll be back tomorrow to look at Survival of the Fittest 2012, but until then, you can order Death Before Dishonor X and other ROH DVDs at www.rohwrestling.com.
If you enjoy PWInsider.com you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more, right now for THREE DAYS free by clicking here!