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ROH DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR
SEPTEMBER 12, 2021
PHILADELPHIA, PA AT 2300 ARENA
AIRED ON FITE.TV
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman
We opened with a graphic for Daffney and the ROH staff surrounding the ring for a ten-bell salute.
-A video package recapped Bandido defeating Rush for the world title at Best In The World on July 11 followed by comments from tonight’s three challengers.
-Riccaboni and Coleman discussed the main event.
(1a) HONOR RUMBLE FOR A ROH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
15 entrants. Staggered eliminations. Over the top rope elimination.
#1 – Brian Johnson
Johnson had a mic and claimed he demanded to be the first entrant. It’s mecca vs. everybody in his hometown. He got the crowd on his side with some sports references.
#2 – Brian Milonas
Milonas grounded Johnson with a headlock. Johnson mocked Milonas being in the pure division, then scurried to the floor under the ropes.
#3 – Beer City Bruiser (w/ Ken Dixon)
The other half of The Bouncers was out with Ken Dixon carrying his keg for him. Bruiser yelled “Philadelphia sucks!” Johnson powered up but The Bouncers double-teamed him.
#4 – Danhausen
Big pop and the cameras found a small child dressed like him. Danhausen walked around the ring, playing to the fans. “Danhausen” chant as soon as his music stopped. He avoided a Bruiser splash and Bruiser connected with his partner. Danhausen wanted a double chokeslam but they slammed him instead. Coleman informed Riccaboni that it was going to be 16 people in this match, not 15 like he thought.
#5 – Caprice Coleman
Coleman pulled his sweater off at the commentary desk and strutted down to the ring, shirtless in dress pants. Coleman chopped away at The Bouncers. Spinning heel kick to Johnson. Cutter to Danhausen. Coleman clotheslined Bruiser over the top rope! Brian Zane joined Riccaboni on commentary.
#6 – Sledge
Coleman, Johnson, and Danhausen dumped Milonas over the top rope. Johnson eliminated Coleman off-camera. Sledge worked over Johnson. Danhausen encouraged him to eliminate him. Johnson went out through the ropes again.
#7 – PCO
PCO went after Johnson and tossed him back into the ring. The other three took turns working over Johnson. Things broke down between Sledge and PCO. Danhausen tried to make peace but PCO choked him.
#8 – PJ Black
Black hit a flurry of offense on everybody. Black and Johnson worked together as Riccaboni noted that Black has been mentoring Johnson lately.
#9 – Dak Draper
A fallaway slam sent Black into Johnson. With six wrestlers in the ring, everybody paired up in a different corner.
#10 – Silas Young
Young and Black almost eliminated Danhausen but he hung on. Sledge got Draper onto the apron but Draper backdropped Sledge out for an elimination.
#11 – Rey Horus
Horus went after Young.
#12 – Dante Caballero
The ROH Dojo student got a little showcase against Horus and Danhausen. Johnson tossed Danhausen out. Black tried to dump Johnson from behind but Johnson hung on. PCO grabbed Johnson by the throat but short-circuited, ran in the opposite direction, and eliminated himself.
#13 – Flip Gordon
2018 Flip Gordon ran out, clean-shaven with an American flag in Mini-Cena mode. He hit a flurry of kicks and eliminated Young. (Wow, it really is 2018 again.)
#14 – Joe Keys
Another dojo student, Keys also went after Horus right away. Caballero tried to toss his tag partner but Keys hung on and they came to blows. Gordon stopped them and encouraged them to too-sweet each other. They dropped him with stereo superkicks.
#15 – The World Famous C.B.
C.B. went after his students. Shotei to Caballero. One for Keys. Draper booted Caballero out for an elimination. Keys tried to dump Draper but Draped suplexed Keys to the floor.
#16 – Alex Zayne
Riccaboni welcomed Zayne back. He’s 2-0 in ROH. Zayne and Draper paired up. Draper spun him around with a stretch muffler but Zayne headscissored Draper out for an elimination. Johnson went after Zayne. C.B. and Horus traded blows. Horus kicked C.B. off the apron. Johnson eliminated Horus.
Final four: Black, Gordon, Johnson, Zayne.
Black and Johnson teamed up again against the high-flyers. Johnson tried to betray Black but Gordon threw Johnson out instead.
“Let’s go Alex” chant. Black and Gordon both wound up on the apron in one corner. All three men began to climb the same corner. Gordon shoved Zayne into the ring. Leaping hurricanrana from Zayne to both men. Samoan pop from Gordon to Black. Gordon looked for a kinder surprise but Zayne shoved him off the top rope for an elimination.
Zayne vs. Black. Zayne clotheslined Black over the top but he landed on the apron. Black charged Zayne with a crossbody against the ropes. They both flipped over the top rope but Zayne hung on while Black crashed to the floor.
WINNER: Alex Zayne in 32:10.
(Pageot’s Perspective: This was Zayne’s first match back on the indies since being released by WWE. “Ari Sterling” was only with WWE for about three months of TV time, almost exclusively on 205 Live other than one enhancement loss to Cameron Grimes on NXT in June. Obviously no indication yet if he’ll be here to stay but he’s got a future world title match coming his way. Overall, a well-paced match. Everybody got a good shine and nearly all the eliminations were caught on camera. Danhausen was the most popular by far so it will be interesting to see how long ROH continues to keep him on the pre-show and in undercard matches.)
-Quinn McKay hit the stage to talk about the Women’s Championship tournament and brought out Maria Kanellis-Bennett. She thanked all the women who came before them and said, regardless who wins tonight, she’ll put her champ against anyone’s. There’s no forbidden door in ROH because there is no door. Anyone who’s interested is welcome.
-Video package on Rok-C, Miranda Alize, and the women’s title match tonight.
-Bandido arrived at the arena earlier in the day. Rhett Titus and Tracy Williams greeted him and said they were proud to have him as their champion.
-Video package on the Woods-Gresham pure title match.
-New tag team champions Kenny King & Dragon Lee walked onto the stage in their civilian clothes. Lee asked how many LFI fans were in attendance. He said his brother Rush is out following surgery. Their match tonight was for him and their family. King took the mic and tried to get them back into heel territory by boasting about everyone they’ve beat. You can’t replace someone the caliber of Rush but you don’t need to when you’re as smart as he is. Once they take Shane Taylor out, the rest of the team will fold. STP stands for Shane’s too pussy.
-Video package on the Castle-Isom match.
-Zane headed backstage and Coleman returned to commentary.
Dalton Castle was out first with four fake Boys. Dak Draper joined commentary. Eli Isom was out second.
(1) “INFINITE” ELI ISOM vs. DALTON CASTLE
They are #1 and 2 in the TV title rankings. Isom leapt over the ropes onto Castle. Isom backdropped Castle onto the apron and threw him into the barricade. Suplex to Castle in the ring. Castle connected with a knee strike off a distraction from the Boys. Castle worked over Isom. Sidewalk slam from Isom. Dueling chants from the live crowd. Isom ducked a clothesline and Castle went to the floor. Isom hit a neckbreaker and Draper fled from the commentary booth. He barked orders to the Boys and pulled Castle to the floor. Isom hit a moonsault that took out the Boys. Draper lunged but Isom kicked him between the legs. Castle hit a Bang-A-Rang for the win.
WINNER: Dalton Castle in 9:17.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Fine match that keeps Isom on the slow climb and protects him with all the interference. Castle is seemingly in line now for a shot at Dragon Lee’s TV title. A far cry from his days as world champion but it’s hard to argue for him being slotted any higher on the card these days.)
(2) TAYLOR RUST vs. JAKE ATLAS
Riccaboni put over Atlas as being a proud gay spokesman and 6-3 on WWE television. Rust was out of the Diamond Mine and looking serious. Riccaboni acknowledged him beating Bobby Fish on NXT recently. Back and forth in the opening minutes. Rust caught Atlas with an ankle lock but Atlas escaped to the floor. Rust jumped onto Atlas’ elbow. Rust continued to target his elbow and shoulder. Sole food. Todd Sinclair declared it a two-count but Atlas didn’t kick out and the crowd called him on it. Goya lock for the submission.
WINNER: Taylor Rust in 6:59.
(Pageot’s Perspective: They had a plan but that was a bit of a swing and a miss. The match was over before it began and things seemed a little shaky between them. Rust will appear at the TV tapings, Riccaboni mentioned. Maybe they just both need some more time getting the WWE-style out of their systems.)
(3) VLNCE UNLTD (Homicide, Chris Dickinson, & Tony Deppen) vs. LEE MORIARTY, LSG, & JOHN WALTERS
Fans in the front row had “Sign Tony Deppen” signs. Former world champ Homicide vs. former pure champ Walters in a battle of the veterans to start. Side headlock from Walters and Homicide couldn’t shake him, even after hitting a back body drop. Tags to Dickinson and LSG. Anklelock from Dickinson. Anklelock from LSG. Tags to Deppen and Moriarty. Taigastyle outwrestled Deppen, frustrating him. Tag to Dickinson. Moriarty put him in an abdominal stretch but Homicide raked the back. Walters in for a sharpshooter on Homicide but tied Deppen and Homicde together with their legs instead.
Dickinson rallied his team at 5:00 and they began to isolate Walters. Homicide bit his fingers but Walters hit a lungblower. LSG tagged and went to work on Dickinson. Deppen hit a knee under the chin illegally while the referee tried to regain control. Springboard clothesline from Moriarty. Walters with a double Muta lock to Homicide and Dickinson. Deppen broke it up with a top rope double-stomp. Tag to Moriarty at 10:00.
Moriarty vs. Dickinson. Enziguiri from Moriarty. The rest of Vlnce came in and everything broke down. Homicide took out all three opponents with a cannonball through the ropes. Dickinson pinned Moriarty with a death valley driver.
WINNERS: Vlnce Unltd in 10:58.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Classic ROH multi-man match. A Bullet Club special minus the Bullet Club. Naturally the cohesive team got the win and the new AEW signee took the pin. Everybody looked great here.)
-The three singles wrestlers started to bicker over the loss but The Foundation (Jay Lethal, Rhett Titus, & Tracy Williams) hit the ring in their civilian clothes. Lethal said it’s been a long time since there’s been an ROH pay-per-view without him wrestling. He was excited to watch guys like Eli Isom, to crown a new women’s champion, and to monitor the pure division. He put over LSG and the legend John Walters. He wished Moriarty was staying so the pure division could have him. The rest of the pure division walked out onto the stage while Lethal spoke about guys like Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Reckless Youth, and Alex Shelley paving the way for them. Wrestling in general is doing pretty damn good but now it’s time for pure wrestling to prevail. People have called the pure division new, fresh, and exciting but it’s nothing new. It’s the same stuff they all grew up on.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Lethal’s always masterful on the mic even if this didn’t really set up anything in particular. It was more of a mission statement and a call to arms. The pure division has truly come to define ROH during the pandemic era and stands out as something unique that differentiates them from other promotions. Lethal and Maria have both alluded tonight to being open to working with other promotions. It seems like they’re just waiting for those phone calls to come join the AEW/Impact/NJPW/NWA party. It could make a real difference for ROH and help shake up their stagnant TV schedule. And it sure wouldn’t hurt guys like Lethal, Castle, and the Briscoes to compete against some new faces in new arenas.)
(4) THE BRISCOES (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) vs. THE OGK (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett)
The Briscoes attacked at the bell. Bennett avoided a Jay Driller. Mark avoided a Climax. The teams squared off. Taven and Mark officially started. Jay and Bennett tagged in. Taven took out Jay and Bennett at ringside with a top rope moonsault at 7:00. Mark followed with a top rope froggy-bow onto the ringside trio. Back and forth with neither team gaining the edge for too long.
Mark and Taven back in at 10:00. Blockbuster off the apron to Taven at ringside. Froggy-bow in the ring but Bennett made the save. Jay threw a steel chair into the ring. They wanted a Redneck Boogie onto the chair but Bennett stopped it. Mark leapt off the chair to take out Bennett on the floor. Jay Driller countered into an inside cradle by Taven for the pin.
WINNERS: The OGK in 13:21.
(Pageot’s Perspective: After his loss to Vincent, Taven needed a win and the Briscoes can obviously afford it. What’s the end game for them? A twelfth tag title run?)
(5) “THE OCTOPUS” JONATHAN GRESHAM vs. “THE TECHNICAL BEAST” JOSH WOODS – ROH PURE CHAMPIONSHIP
Both men fell into the ropes while locked up. The referee separated them and didn’t penalize either one a rope break. They went back into the ropes and the ref got heated at them for not listening to him. Back into the ropes again and he deducted them both a break. Reset at 4:30. Gresham with a leg scissors. Dropkick to the wrist and Woods came up nursing his left arm. Woods wanted a suplex but couldn’t with his bad arm. They went into the ropes and ignored the referee again.
Back into the ropes yet again at 10:00. The ref penalized them both a second break due to their failure to comply with his orders. Inside cradle and they rolled around the ring in circles. The ref counted three with both men’s shoulders down.
DECISION: Draw in 11:46. Gresham retains.
Gresham refused to accept that. He wanted to go 13-0, not 12-0-1. The referee agreed to restart the match.
They traded slaps. Legs grapevined and they wound up in the ropes again. The ref was fully tired of their shit and took away their third rope breaks. The fans chanted “We want Todd” for senior referee Todd Sinclair. Sunset flip to Woods for two. La Magistral for two. Body scissors to Gresham. Gresham pried away at the injured arm of Woods to free himself.
They traded pins in the ropes at 15:00. Gresham came off the second rope but ate a kick on the way down. German suplex but Gresham landed on his feet. He unloaded on Woods’ neck with elbows. Ankle lock. Woods rolled through and locked in his own. Gresham made the ropes but it didn’t matter. Woods dragged him back and Gresham escaped. Rolling German to Gresham for a visual three but the referee stopped his count and claimed Gresham got his shoulder up at two. Fans were skeptical. They traded forearms. Bridging German to Woods, who did kick out. Kimura to Woods. An inverted Alabama slam chucked Gresham backwards and onto the back of his head. He was out and Woods covered.
WINNER: Josh Woods in 20:01 to capture the pure title.
-Gresham strapped the belt around Woods’ waist.
(Pageot’s Perspective: I was very unsure about making the referee the story of the match but in the end the finish was all that mattered. The crowd was responsive to the title change and Woods felt like a star here. He is only the ninth Pure Champion in history and second since 2007, joining a list of bona fide legends like Bryan Danielson, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and Nigel McGuinness. Gresham loves the pure division but I’d like to see him head into the world title picture now and let some of the new faces jockey around with Woods for a while.)
-The challengers were out first for the trios title match. Shane Taylor Promotions was out second with O’Shay Edwards and another man at their side. As Taylor jawed with a fan, Kenny King caught him with a steel chair to the gut. He unloaded with more chair shots to the back until the rest of STP ran over. The medical staff said Taylor couldn’t compete; Edwards said he could.
(6) SHANE TAYLOR PROMOTIONS (Moses, Kaun, & O’Shay Edwards) vs. LA FACCIÓN INGOBERNABLE (La Bestia Del Ring & ROH World Tag Team Champions Kenny King & ROH World Television Champion Dragon Lee) – LUCHA RULES FOR THE ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Edwards and King started but King scurried away to a tag. Kaun and Lee locked up. Moses and Bestia were in next. Edwards manhandled King. S.O.S. hit their double-team finisher on King at 8:20 but the others broke up the pin. Moses took out a bunch of men with a cannonball off the apron at 10:00. Spinebuster from King to Moses. Blockbuster. Shane Taylor returned and clocked King across the head with a chair. The referee was nowhere to be found for some reason. He eventually returned and counted Moses pinning King.
WINNERS: Shane Taylor Promotions in 11:28 to retain the six-man titles.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Ehh. I guess the original intent was for the match to build to something with Taylor and Rush and Rush’s surgery changed things. This was fine but a real clusterf- with the lucha rules. STP are refreshing babyfaces at least. Get Trish Adora with them and give them some more screen time and we could have something special.)
-Lenny Leonard joined commentary for the finals of the Quest For Gold women’s championship tournament.
(7) “THE PRODIGY” ROK-C vs. “THE LUCHA BADDIE” MIRANDA ALIZE – ROH WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Alize slapped away the code of honor. Alize stalled in the opening minutes as a handful of fans mustered a “Let’s go, Rok-C” chant. Ankle lock from Rok-C. They went back and forth on the mat, trying for submissions before hitting a stalemate. Louder chant for Rok-C. Rok-C cartwheeled out of a headscissors. Alize slapped her across the face. Rok-C got heated and tackled her with a Thesz press. Alize chopped her across the chest. Facewash. Hesitation dropkick. Butterfly suplex. The fans were firmly behind Rok-C. Armdrag from Rok-C but Alize bit her fingers. She choked Rok-C on the second rope. Alize with a chinlock as she mocked the fans’ chants. Rok-C dropped throat-first over the top rope. Basement hurricanrana for two. Rok-C tried to mount a comeback. Running uppercut. Double knees in the corner. Thesz press off the second rope at 10:00.
Side Russian leg sweep to Alize. Handspring double knees. Ripcord knee from Alize but Rok-C got her shoulder up. Go to sleep but Rok-C kicked out again. Alize trash talked some more and hit a draping DDT. Miranda Rights locked in. Rok-C almost made the rope break but Alize pulled her back to mid-ring. She squirmed her way back and made the break. Rok-C dragged Alize to the floor and bounced Alize’s head off the barricade. Suicide dive! Alize dropkicked Rok-C off the apron. Alize with a suicide dive of her own. Both women were down at ringside at 15:00.
They both rolled back in at the referee’s count of 19. They traded forearms. Cutter from Alize! Rok-C shot up and planted her with a kick of her own before collapsing again. Crucifix pin from Alize for two. She rolled into Miranda Rights again. Rok-C struggled, rolled back, and caught Alize with a crossface. Alize got her shoulders down for two. Alize with two kicks to the head. Drive-by blocked by a kick from Rok-C. Code Red! Alize kicked out… at three and a half.
WINNER: Rok-C in 18:17 to become the first ROH Women’s Champion.
-Rok-C’s parents came into the ring as fans showered her with streamers. Mom hugged her daughter and her stepfather scooped her up.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Just a fantastic match. They were given plenty of time and used all of it. Alize went hard heel and it made things so much better than the 50/50 she was doing during the rest of the tournament. Neither looked nervous being on the big stage and the fans were right there with them. They got the penultimate match on the card and this felt like a big deal. Our new champion is a 19 year-old woman who’s been wrestling for years and been a lifelong wrestling fan. It’s a real statement to anybody paying attention that Maria’s women’s division is not the Women Of Honor we used to get so frustrated by.
I’ve been following both of these women for years. Rok-C in Reality Of Wrestling. Alize in Rise Wrestling. It was a treat to see them in the finals here without a fear of “We need to have an established name veteran in the mix.” I’ve been a bit hard on Alize throughout the rest of the tournament but she was very strong here. In the last days of Rise she had an on-screen mentorship under Mercedes Martinez and I think that’s who I was trying to place during portions of this match with her mannerisms and facials. Rok-C, meanwhile, is the second coming of AJ Lee and the next Bayley in one. I think this was my favorite match of the year. I’ll have to stew on that some more.)
(8) BANDIDO vs. EC3 vs. DEMONIC FLAMITA vs. BRODY KING – ELIMINATION MATCH FOR THE ROH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Elimination match. Not four-corner survival but rather all four men in the ring at the same time. Flamita bailed to ringside, then dragged Bandido out. King and EC3 went at it. EC3 clotheslined King over the top rope. The luchadors faced off in the ring. Flamita was sent to the floor and Bandido landed a Fosbury flop. Bandido with a suicide dive to King that sent Bandido right into the laps of the fans in the front row. EC3 grounded Bandido in the ring and slowed things down. King finally returned after taking one suicide dive four minutes earlier. EC3 continued to dominate everyone in the ring. Flamita hit him in the back with a steel chair but EC3 no-sold it. EC3 took the chair from him and cracked Flamita across the back. The bell rang.
EC3 was eliminated via disqualification at 8:51.
The broadcast team explained that Sinclair was away somewhere (shades of the six-man tag) and didn’t see (or hear) the first chair shot. EC3 just walked sadly to the back without dishing out any further punishment to a chuckling Flamita.
MexiSquad reunited to double-team King. They danced and hugged. More tandem moves and they shook hands. King took a Doomsday Device-style piledriver. Bandido turned on Flamita with a powerbomb, then backdropped Flamita onto King at ringside. Top rope moonsault took out both challengers. Flamita set up Bandido for a muscle buster. King hit a big boot to drop them both. All-Seeing Eye to Flamita for the pin.
Demonic Flamita was eliminated at 13:47.
Chokeslam to Bandido. Piledriver. Bandido leaped off the top rope into a hurricanrana. Crucifix pin for two. Shooting star press but King kicked out at one. Discus lariat to the champ. Gonzo Bomb countered into a roll-up. La Magistral cradle for the pin.
WINNER: Bandido in 17:14 to retain the world title.
-The Foundation came out to applaud and shake Bandido’s hand. Gresham was the last to shake and kept his eye on the world title the whole time.
Vincent and his cult walked out dressed all in white and sarcastically applauded from the stage.
(Pageot’s Perspective: It was… a match. The first half with EC3 in control was very plodding. It was 100% him so you knew he’d be the first elimination but what a lousy way to do so. I’ll always be against doing two “the referee didn’t see the chair” angles in the same night and especially if it’s the same referee both times. And what a weird way to present babyface Bandido. He happily works with the guy who betrayed him and has to fight the last quarter against another babyface that the majority of fans seemed to have preferred. Vincent, Alex Zayne, and Gresham are now set up as the next three potential challengers for the new champ and only of those will guarantee the fans being on Bandido’s side. The next pay-per-view is likely Final Battle in December which usually is reserved as a blow-off for a long-burning feud. None of those three really fit that bill so I’ll predict Zayne and Vincent’s matches being burned off at live events and Dragon Lee challenging in the year-ending big one.)