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For the first time since All In and the sellout of Madison Square Garden ROH returns to pay-per-view live from Las Vegas. Like All In there hasn’t been a lot of backstory to many of these matches but the wrestlers involved are all talented and are sure to deliver. It’s also likely that this show will mark the beginning of the road to Final Battle in December, arguably ROH’s biggest show of the year. Where we land after this one should end up being significantly more important than where we are going in.
Last year, at Death Before Dishonor XV, Cody successfully retained the ROH world title against Minoru Suzuki while the Motor City Machine Guns defeated the Young Bucks to capture the ROH tag titles for the first time. One year later and it’s Jay Lethal’s turn to defend the world title against a NJPW guest star. Meanwhile Alex Shelley has retired, Chris Sabin is challenging for singles gold, and the men who took the tag titles from them are still in possession of those belts.
1. Kenny King vs. Jushin Thunder Liger
At Best In The World in June a babyface King faced off against his former friend Austin Aries. When King’s conscience prevented him from inflicting the pain necessary to win, Aries beat him with a brainbuster. Aries would later claim that King will never be a main eventer with that attitude, something that has stuck in King’s psyche. On August 19 television King was booked against Marty Scurll and chose to use the opportunity to learn from The Villain, stealing a victory with his feet on the ropes. On September 23 TV King had his next match against Scurll’s Bullet Club stablemate Adam Page and picked up another win with a handful of tights. The crowds have accordingly begun to turn on King.
Prediction: The crowd response to King’s heel turn will face a big test here as he competes in his hometown. Luckily he faces the über-popular legend Liger. That alone should ensure the majority of the crowd roots against King and showers him with boos when he twists Liger’s mask, obscuring his vision, and capitalizes with a Royal Flush for the win.
2. Colt Cabana & Flip Gordon vs. Bully Ray & Silas Young (tables match)
Ray spent the summer pissing off everyone he came in contact with including (but not limited to) Cheeseburger, Joe Koff, Flip Gordon, Eli Isom, Colt Cabana, Ian Riccaboni, Todd Sinclair, Cary Silkin, Bobby Cruise, Chuck Taylor, Silas Young, Jonathan Gresham, and Jay Lethal. At Best In The World Ray faced Gordon in singles action and took a disqualification loss in five and a half minutes after kicking Flip between the legs. Post-match Ray attacked Flip, Isom, and Burger with a steel chair until Cabana reached his breaking point, throwing down his headset and leaving the commentary table to chase him off. On July 8 TV Ray’s feud with Burger came to a head in a No DQ match that saw Ray dominate the smaller Burger and whip him mercilessly with a chain. When referee Todd Sinclair attempted to end the match Ray shoved him to the mat and whipped Sinclair too. This again prompted Cabana to storm the ring, this time tackling Ray to a huge ovation.
At this point Cabana had only wrestled one match for ROH in 2018. That one was as a last-minute fill-in for Flip at War Of The Worlds in Toronto on May 11 after Flip’s flight was cancelled. His second match would come on August 12 TV, again as a fill-in for Flip. On that episode Gordon was scheduled to team with Burger and Josh Woods to take on the team of Ray, Punishment Martinez, & Shane Taylor. Ray attacked Gordon before the match and Burger and Woods fought their best in a handicap effort until Cabana hit the ring and tagged in partway through. Cabana took Ray out of the match but Taylor pinned Burger for the win. Post-match the heels triple-teamed Colt until Flip made the save.
Silas Young entered the picture on August 26 TV when he lost to Flip in singles action. After the match Flip offered the code of honor and the curmudgeonly Young actually seemed to be considering shaking his hand until Ray low blowed Flip from behind and shook his head disapprovingly at Silas. One week later Ray and Young teamed up against Best Friends and Young took the pin after Ray walked out on him, claiming that Silas had gone soft and wasn’t the man he used to be. Silas of course took exception to this. After the show he berated Ray in the locker room and on September 16 TV Silas saved Ray from the wrath of Jay Lethal, hitting Misery on the world champion. This led to Silas and Bully teaming again on September 23 TV and picking up a victory over Lethal & Jonathan Gresham via a low blow to Gresham behind the referee’s back.
Prediction: Despite their victory on last week’s TV things are far from rosy between Bully and Silas. They continued to bicker before and during their last match and you can be assured Silas hasn’t forgotten Ray’s condescension toward him. This seems like a prime opportunity to have Young get some payback on Ray from their first tag match and underscore that the revitalized Silas only cares about himself. Young walks out on Ray and Bully takes a 3D through a table. Cabana vs. Ray in a singles match seems like our Final destination.
3. Sumie Sakai vs. Tenille Dashwood (Women Of Honor World Championship)
At Road To The Title in June 2002 Sumie Sakai defeated Simply Luscious, winning the very first women’s match in ROH history. Nearly 16 years later, at Supercard Of Honor this past April, she defeated Kelly Klein to become the first Women Of Honor champion. Since then the 46-year-old Sakai has defended her title across the USA and UK against American (Stella Grey, Jenny Rose, Madison Rayne), British (Chardonnay), and Japanese (Hazuki) wrestlers. As a result the Women Of Honor Championship was officially declared a world title on September 16 TV. Sakai is undefeated in 2018 and has the best record of anyone in ROH at 11-0.
Australia’s Tenille Dashwood made her ROH debut on February 9 at Honor Reigns Supreme. The former Emma of WWE fame joined WOH as an immediate fan favorite and currently has the second-best 2018 record in the women’s division at 5-1. That sole loss occurred in the inaugural championship tournament when Sakai defeated Dashwood in the semi-finals with a crucifix pin. On September 16 TV Sakai said that she wanted to face Dashwood again and Tenille agreed, suggesting Death Before Dishonor as the location.
Prediction: Sakai has already held the WOH title longer than the inaugural ROH world and six-man champions and will pass the inaugural tag champions’ reign on Sunday if she retains here. Dashwood has had a somewhat lacklustre run in ROH thus far, in part due to physical health issues and scheduling problems. Whatever the reasons, though, she hasn’t had nearly the sizzle that she did as a strong heel in her final NXT run. Let’s fix that and throw some fuel onto this fire. Sakai wins clean with Smash Mouth and Dashwood viciously attacks her after the match.
4. Punishment Martinez vs. Chris Sabin (ROH World Television Championship)
On May 13 TV Sabin and Alex Shelley wrestled what would be their final tag match as the Motor City Machine Guns with a victory over The Dawgs. Sabin wouldn’t return to ROH until August 5 TV where he inexplicably was booked into a #1 contenders match for the TV title against Silas Young. Sabin defeated Young, picking up his first singles victory in ROH since April 2017. Two weeks later on television Shelley announced his retirement from wrestling and encouraged Sabin to win some singles gold for him. Martinez promptly showed up and attacked both men. He was prevented from seriously injuring Shelley at the time but the ex-Machine Gun was found decimated backstage half an hour later with his teeth bashed in.
Prediction: Martinez defends the TV title against Aaron Solow on this weekend’s post-PPV episode of ROH television in a match that was taped a month ago. Even if that didn’t telegraph Martinez retaining here, Sabin has only won two singles matches in ROH in the past 17 months. His third should not be for an established championship. Martinez wins with the South Of Heaven chokeslam.
5. The Briscoes vs. SoCal Uncensored (ROH World Tag Team Championship)
The Briscoes have established themselves as the most important tag team in ROH history. Over the course of their nine title reigns they have held the belts for a total of 1006 days. They’re first for number of reigns, number of days held, and number of title defenses – by a far margin. They’re also the current longest-reigning champions in ROH having held the titles since March 9 at the 16th Anniversary Show when they won them from the Motor City Machine Guns.
On January 14 TV ROH COO Joe Koff reached his breaking point with the actions of the heel SCU. He reminded them that their contracts expire following Final Battle this December and vowed that they will not be re-signed. At Best In The World in June the Briscoes retained the tag titles against the Young Bucks. Post-match the chicken farmers looked to continue their attack but SCU hit the ring and turned face, chasing the Briscoes off with chairs. In a belated explanation on July 29 TV they explained their reasoning. They believe that if they are holding ROH gold come the end of December Koff will have no choice but to re-hire them. Since then SCU and the Briscoes have fought again and again. At Honor Re-United on August 19 Christopher Daniels defeated Mark by DQ. On August 26 TV he defeated Jay by DQ. On September 1 at All In Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky beat the Briscoes in tag action. On September 9 TV Kaz defeated Mark and one week later SCU defeated the Briscoes & Punishment Martinez in six-man action.
Prediction: Wrestling Booking 101 says that SCU coming out on top in every encounter so far means they’re not going over here. Also the big story to tell is SCU growing desperate as they come up against their firing deadline on December 14. The Briscoes steal a victory here and maybe SCU can put up a different combination (Daniels & Sky?) for their next title shot.
6. Bullet Club vs. Chaos
The Bullet Club and Chaos factions have been feuding off and on with each other as far back as April 2014 when BC’s AJ Styles challenged Chaos’ Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and as recently as All In on September 1 when Okada defeated Marty Scurll. For this ten-man tag it’s Bullet Club USA (Cody, Scurll, Adam Page, & The Young Bucks) facing a Chaos team of Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Rocky Romero, & Best Friends. The extent of the rivalry going into this one was Bullet Club calling Chaos the least-popular group in New Japan on September 16 TV. Cody & The Young Bucks also won the ROH six-man titles on August 26 TV from The Kingdom despite not pinning the legal man at the time.
Prediction: This might just be a big multi-man match to get some star power on the show and provide some fun action but it would seem a waste to not try to spin some further stories out of it. Best Friends are the only members of Team Chaos to be full-time ROH performers, though Romero was a regular at one point, and The Kingdom aren’t on the lineup for this show. The Kingdom interfere for a modicum of revenge against Bullet Club and Romero & Best Friends are set up to challenge for the six-man titles in the future.
7. Jay Lethal vs. Will Ospreay (ROH World Championship)
In his first ROH match on November 18, 2016 Ospreay defeated Bobby Fish to win the television title. He then lost it two days later to Scurll. Lethal made his ROH debut on January 11, 2003 as Hydro, a member of the faction Special K alongside Angel Dust, Deranged, Yeyo, Lit, and Slugger. Um… 2003 was a different time.
Lethal spent the early part of summer 2018 on the road to redemption, systematically picking up victories over everyone who defeated him in the previous year. It culminated on July 22 TV when Lethal pinned world champion Dalton Castle in a four-way match also involving Matt Taven and Cody to become a two-time ROH World Champion. As we crept closer and closer to this pay-per-view no #1 contender to Lethal’s title was announced or established so he chose to issue an open challenge on September 16 TV, which was accepted by Ospreay via video submission.
Lethal is 34 days shy of passing Nigel McGuinness for the record of second-most combined days as ROH world champion behind Samoa Joe. If he defeats Ospreay and retains successfully in six more title defenses he will tie McGuiness’ and Daniel Bryan’s records of 38 defenses.
Prediction: Ospreay has previously made one appearance in ROH in 2018. On January 14 TV he lost clean to Lethal in singles action. Tune into Death Before Dishonor to see it happen again. Lethal with the Lethal Injection.
Up next it’s Glory By Honor on October 12 in Baltimore, Maryland. Let’s go with Dalton Castle getting his rematch against Jay Lethal for the world title, Matt Taven vs. Marty Scurll, and the Young Bucks vs. Best Friends vs. TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia in a triple threat match.
Find Harley on Twitter @talkinghonor and listen to he and Emily Fear discuss all things ROH every Tuesday on the PWTorch livecast “Talking Honor.”