Preview: Ring of Honor – Death Before Dishonor (9/28/18)

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Ring of Honor - Death Before Dishonor
Credit: Ring of Honor

Ring of Honor returns to iPPV on Friday, September 28 (9 PM ET/6 PM PT on FITE TV and Honor Club) with Death Before Dishonor 2018. While the company has had several events including tours for Honor for All and Honor Re-United, DBD will be ROH’s first iPPV since Best in the World 2018 in June.

Over the past several months, many of the storylines from BITW have been resolved with new challengers coming forward to challenge champions, and new feuds being established. Death Before Dishonor will showcase the best ROH has to offer in this seven-match card. Featuring both New Japan Pro Wrestling and ROH talent, four title matches, one grudge match, one longtime rivalry adding a new chapter, and a once-in-a-lifetime dream encounter, DBD is a card packed with exciting potential and top-of-the-line competition.

Tables Match: Bully Ray and Silas Young vs Flip Gordon and Colt Cabana

Flip Gordon and Colt Cabana vs Bully Ray and Silas Young
Credit: Ring of Honor

“Silas, get the tables!”

Okay, so maybe that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue the way people are familiar with hearing Bully or Bubba Ray‘s iconic catchphrase, but it’s one that could come into play on Friday night nevertheless.

After retiring from professional wrestling in February, Bully Ray, who had joined ROH a few months earlier in a veteran/locker room leader capacity, was appointed as COO Joe Koff‘s official enforcer. For about two months, Ray held this role, watching as beloved ROH roster member, Cheeseburger, was continually being attacked by The Dawgs (Rhett Titus and Will Ferrera). ‘Burger implored Ray to be his partner and the offer was accepted for a match at Supercard of Honor XII, only for Ray to turn on him and cut a promo afterward about how the younger generation – name-dropping guys like Will Ospreay, Ricochet and Flip Gordon – are ruining wrestling. Ray also threatened to piledrive Cheeseburger, an act which would have shut down the event right then and there, as the move is banned in Louisiana.

Following Ray’s actions, Koff fired him as the enforcer, to which Ray told his boss that he had unretired from wrestling. In the ensuing weeks, Ray turned his attention toward Gordon, often low blowing him during his matches and ultimately, disrespecting him and his military service in the worst way.

The two faced off at Best in the World, where Ray got intentionally disqualified, only to continue to torment Gordon in the following months. This all led up to All In, where Gordon eliminated Ray to win the Over Budget Battle Royal, only for Ray to attack Gordon later in the night, following his championship match against Jay Lethal.

It was then, that perhaps an unlikely ally in color commentator Colt Cabana, who was sick of hearing months of Ray’s verbal insults, came to Gordon’s aid, stopping the attack and setting up the match for Death Before Dishonor.

Ray and Silas Young have allied over recent weeks and will be formidable opponents. Not to mention, its a tables match, so the advantage right out of the gate has to go to the guy who helped make that stipulation famous. That being said, Gordon is looking more and more like the next great ROH talent and has his opportunity to finally shut up the WWE Hall of Famer in the man’s own statement match. You can be assured that Gordon and Cabana are not going down without a fight.

Tag Team Championship: The Briscoes (Jay and Mark Briscoe) vs The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian)

Briscoes vs Addiction
Credit: Ring of Honor

Feeling disrespected after his loss of the ROH World Championship was cheered, Christopher Daniels cut a scathing promo on fans, his fellow wrestlers and ROH management. Claiming to know where the bodies are buried, Daniels and Frankie Kazarian threatened to reveal ROH’s secrets to their friends in other companies, namely WWE and IMPACT Wrestling. The two didn’t expect that Koff would call their bluff and tell the duo that when their contracts expire at Final Battle in December, they’ll be gone from ROH permanently. But more than that, a non-compete clause will go into effect which won’t allow Daniels and Kazarian to wrestle elsewhere.

For the better part of the year, Daniels and Kazarian have been trying to overcome their failed powerplay with mixed success. Alongside SCU partner Scorpio Sky, the two are former world 6-man tag champions, but the trio has since lost their belts, leaving The Addiction‘s fate up in the air. With the clock ticking down and just a few months left until Final Battle, Daniels and Kazarian are starting to get desperate. Knowing they need to be in possession of titles in order to regain some leverage in this war with ROH, the two attacked the Briscoes, following a successful title defense at Best in the World.

Having just passed 1,000 days combined as tag team champions, The Briscoes are once again at the top of ROH’s tag mountain, a position they are no strangers to. Now in their ninth reign, Jay and Mark have approached things with a new attitude, one that has led to  statement victories over The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin), The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), Jay Lethal and Hiroshi Tanahashi, Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI and Tetsuya Naito), Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer), Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH) and Bullet Club (Cody and Hangman Page).

Despite having all been in ROH for so long, this will only be the fourth time that the Briscoes and Addiction face off two-on-two. Desperation can cause you to make mistakes and the Addiction will have to avoid that if they hope to defeat the best tag team – and a team the Addiction are 0-3 against – in ROH history.

Bullet Club (Cody, Marty Scurll, Hangman Page and Young Bucks – Matt and Nick Jackson) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Rocky Romero, Tomohiro Ishii and Best Friends – Beretta and Chuckie T)

Bullet Club vs CHAOS
Credit: Ring of Honor

The Bullet Club is fine, really, but there’s chaos in CHAOS after Gedo, who had stood by Kazuchika Okada‘s side since his first day with New Japan Pro Wrestling, turned on his longtime friend in favor of Jay White‘s powerplay to take over the faction. CHAOS is in a bit of disarray, which won’t bode well for them against a newly united and perhaps stronger-than-ever Bullet Club grouping.

Bullet Club and CHAOS have been feuding since the dawn of time…Okay, maybe not that long but the two factions have been embroiled in fierce battles ever since Bullet Club first came on the scene in 2013. Formed under the leadership of Shinsuke Nakamura in 2009, CHAOS is the longest-running faction in NJPW and served as the standard to which all of the company’s stables were measured. That’s why in 2014, these two factions began a series of battles which has raged on ever since. In the ensuing years, all of NJPW’s titles would be fought over at various points by men representing either stable, starting with Okada and Bullet Club’s AJ Styles and continuing through to 2018 with Okada’s battles with Bullet Club’s Kenny Omega, the continuing wars of the Young Bucks and Romero, and newer faction members, Scurll vs CHAOS’ Will Ospreay, bringing their feud over junior heavyweight titles across the pond into both ROH and NJPW.

Death Before Dishonor marks Okada’s return to ROH for the first time since August 2015, and he’ll be doing so alongside guys who he may or may not be able to trust anymore. Okada should keep his head on a swivel because he’ll have to worry about Bullet Club and perhaps even his own teammates. Of CHAOS, no one besides Gedo and White has shown their loyalties one way or the other yet so it’s any wonder what could be jump-started on Friday night in Las Vegas.

World Television Championship: Punishment Martinez vs Chris Sabin

Punishment Martinez vs Chris Sabin
Credit: Ring of Honor

The Motor City Machine Guns were riding high…until they weren’t. Having won the ROH tag team championships at Death Before Dishonor in 2017, almost unbelievably for the first time, Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley were at the top of their game. But then, the two lost the titles to the Briscoes and while still a team on paper, began competing separately as Sabin took part in his first Best of the Super Juniors tournament, where he reached the semifinals, and Shelley teamed up with Jonathan Gresham and Leon St. Giovanni in a #1 contendership gauntlet for the 6 man titles. During that match, Shelley sustained some pretty bad injuries and shortly after, retired from wrestling to focus on his wrestling school.

With Shelley gone, Sabin is returning to a singles career in ROH, where he is looking for his first singles title with the promotion. A former TNA world champion, Sabin is perhaps best known for his time in the promotion’s X-Division, where he is the most successful wrestler of all-time. Sabin held the X-Division title for a record 426 days over a record eight title reigns.

In June, Sabin won a #1 contender’s match against Silas Young to grant him the opportunity to face Punishment Martinez, who is currently in the 103rd day of his first reign with the title. Following Sabin’s win against Young, Martinez attacked his future opponent, with the two having gone back and forth ever since. Martinez is the largest man to ever hold the TV title and he’ll look to rely on that size as he has throughout his reign. But what Sabin lacks in size he surely makes up in heart as he’ll not only be fighting for himself in this one, but for his former tag team partner as well.

Kenny King vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger

Kenny King vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Credit: Ring of Honor

They say respect is earned not given and Jushin “Thunder” Liger has certainly earned Kenny King‘s respect. But according to the former television champion, that was then, this is now, and it’s time for Liger to hand him the torch at Death Before Dishonor.

A legend of the business, the 53-year-old Liger has been wrestling for over 34 years and it doesn’t seem like he plans to stop anytime soon. Liger got his start in NJPW in 1984, but is also known for his time in World Championship Wrestling, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, DragonGate and Pro Wrestling NOAH to name a few. Liger has also worked for TNA, WWE, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Revolution Pro Wrestling and more. In 2004, he made his ROH debut, where he has wrestled 27 matches in his career. This year alone, Liger has made five appearances for the promotion, often teaming with Cheeseburger, Delirious or Flip Gordon. Death Before Dishonor will be just his second ROH singles match this year, his first coming against Cody in May at the ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds tour.

A 16-year veteran of the business himself, King made his ROH debut in 2006. By 2008, he was working with the company full time, first as part of Young Rich and Ready for Action (Chasyn Rance, Steve Madison and King), and then with Rhett Titus as the All-Night Express. King left ROH in 2012 to begin a three-year stint with TNA, only to return to his original stomping ground in 2015. Primarily used in a tag team role, in 2017, King won his first singles title with ROH when he won the television championship, a title he has now held twice.

Facing Liger is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity as this will be the first and likely only singles meeting for the two. The two did face off once prior in 2016 as Liger, alongside Cheeseburger took on the All-Night Express in tag team competition. But this is different. As King says, this is the chance for Liger to pass the mantle of being one of the best junior heavyweights to a new star. And if King has his way, that star will be crowned on Friday night in King’s hometown of Las Vegas.

Women of Honor Championship: Sumie Sakai vs Tenille Dashwood

Sumie Sakai vs Tenille Dashwood
Credit: Ring of Honor

In 2002, at Road to the Title, just the fourth event ever put on by Ring of Honor, Sumie Sakai defeated Simply Lucious in the promotion’s first-ever women’s match. In its history, ROH’s women’s matches have been sporadic but in 2015, amidst the women’s revolution beginning to stir in WWE, the company opted to brand matches under the Women of Honor banner. The new division, or rather brand of the company, had its own show, which aired online, and also had matches incorporated into TV broadcasts on occasion.

That being said, it wasn’t until 2017 that ROH created a Women of Honor Championship, after having previously just used the SHIMMER title as somewhat of a stand-in. The tournament to crown an inaugural champion came down to Sakai, the woman who wrestled in the first ever ROH women’s match, and Kelly Klein, who has been a standout in the division since its early days. But prior to that championship final, which was won by Sakai, she had to defeat Tenille Dashwood in the semifinals, in their first-ever meeting.

Since then, Sakai has defended the title seven times but none of them have been against Dashwood. Busy with her independent schedule, Death Before Dishonor marks just Dashwood’s third ROH match since June. If she wins the WOH title, it will be Dashwood’s third title, the first two being the NWA ECCW SuperGirls Championship, in her career. With the time right for a new champion to bring WOH to prominence, Dashwood makes sense as someone who can lead the division into the future and really help it gain the foothold in women’s wrestling WOH has yet to achieve.

ROH World Championship: Jay Lethal vs Will Ospreay

Jay Lethal vs Will Ospreay
Credit: Ring of Honor

On December 16, 2017, Will Ospreay’s brief run in ROH seemingly came to an end as he faced Jay Lethal in his last match with the company in almost a year. Now he’s back and he’s ready to challenge for the greatest prize in ROH, the world title, against the same man who gave him his last loss in the company.

Appearing on a monitor, Ospreay answered an open challenge Lethal laid out, setting up the one-on-one rematch for Death Before Dishonor. And it is a true rematch as Lethal and Ospreay have only faced each other in singles action once before. This is Ospreay’s first opportunity to win the world title in his career. While the gravity of the situation sounds intimidating, Ospreay’s last first opportunity, not to mention his first ROH match, resulted in the 25-year-old megastar winning the television title. Even though his reign was short-lived and at just two days is the shortest such title reign in ROH history, Ospreay made his mark on the company early.

All the while, Ospreay also had immense successes in Japan. A two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Ospreay also won Best of the Super Juniors in 2016, making him both the youngest overall and only British competitor to win the prestigious tournament. A megastar in wrestling the world over, as well as an incredible aerialist and underrated in-ring technician, this could be Lethal’s biggest challenge since winning his second ROH title in June.

A two-time world champion, Lethal is one of the most decorated guys in ROH history. Having made his debut in 2002 at the first-ever Final Battle, Lethal has wrestled for the company, at least part-time in all but four years of its 16-year existence. In that time, he’s been a Pure Champion, two-time world champion and two-time television champion, of which he has both the longest single reign, with 567 days as champ, and longest combined time as champ with two reigns lasting 798 days. In addition, Lethal held both the world and television title simultaneously for about four months in 2015.

Wearing the fighting champion moniker like a badge of honor, Lethal will no doubt have his hands full with the Aerial Assasin. As for Ospreay, there’s nothing like saying, “welcome back to Ring of Honor,” like winning the world title.

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