Triple H's least favorite wrestling promotion returns to your screens tonight at 8PM Eastern time with Death Before Dishonor XIII, live on internet pay-per-view (iPPV)!
Coming at you from Baltimore, Maryland's small-but-sold-out William J. Myers Pavilion, this will be the first live broadcast of the Jay Lethal era. The World and Television champion will do battle with long-time Ring of Honor (ROH) veteran Roderick Strong in the main event of a show that also features a fourway dance for the tag titles and a nice mix of wrestling showcases and drama-filled storylines.
You can order the stream here. We'll have a results open thread tonight, and reactions from a keener evaluator of scripted grappling exhibitions than me tomorrow.
In the meantime, let us help you decide to spend $19.95, or get caught up before you do, with a look at each of the matches on the main card...
WIll Ferrara vs. Silas Young
ROH tried to make Silas Young a bigger deal for a while - he was basically Kevin Steen's farewell program, for crying out loud - but there's also nothing wrong with where he's at, which is a heel gatekeeper to the upper mid-card. He's been serving that purpose both for Ferrara, a youngster whose biggest moment was eliminating Jay Lethal from a Royal Rumble-style match, and Dalton Castle, whose taking a big step up the card tonight
That makes the likelihood of he, or his Boys, get involved in this one. Which is one of the ways Ferrara has earned a win in this feud (the other was by disqualification when The Last Real Man crotched him). A clean win would indicate the company has some confidence in him. Seems like a fine worker to me, but with his current look & gimmick, I don't see huge things in his future.
The Briscoes vs. RPG Vice
It's the first time Rocky Romero is taking on Dem Boys - at least with his latest tag partner, former WWE Superstar Beretta. His issues with Jay & Mark go all the way back to his early days in the company, tagging with Dave Richards in No Remorse Corps.
Though there's not a lot of backstory here, there doesn't need to be, with a combined eleven ROH tag title reigns between the two teams (eight for The Briscoes, and three for Romero - each with a different partner). These duos are left out of the fourway for the belts tonight, but that just speaks to the depth of the company's tag scene. Either team could jump right into contention, if that's the plan...and considering that Jay just wrapped an epic two year main event singles run and Roppongi Vice's "Summer Tour" kicked off with the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight tag straps in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW)...lots of folks in this one might have other plans.
One things for sure. Baltimore is part of the same DelMarVa area that includes Sandy Fork. Expect LOUD "Man Up" chants in Briscoe Country.
Cedric Alexander vs. Moose
This one has plenty of story development behind it. In fact, it's a GRUDGE MATCH!
Moose has been on a tear since debuting last year. Befitting someone with his pedigree and talent, the former NFLer had several handlers. But while he and his friend Stokely Hathaway were committed to making it to the top the "right way", Veda Scott didn't see any reason to wait. That tension came to a head on a recent episode of ROH TV, as circumstance (and booking) would have it, in a match against Cedric.
In the Roderick Strong mold of workrate dynamo with verbal limitations, Alexander has flirted with the top of the card for a while now. He's picked up some big wins along the way - notably over Roddy - but was cast into a losing streak gimmick while Moose was stacking up victories. When Scott decided to make the bout a test of her man's willingness to rise at any cost, he refused. That left a foreign object at Cedric's feet while Veda & Moose argued and Hathaway pleaded with the referee. A wrench shot to the head later, Moose's undefeated streak was history.
At Best in the World, after Caprice Coleman dissolved his long-running partnership with Alexander over his embrace of underhanded tactics (usually involving wrenches), Scott was disgusted by Moose's adherance to the Code of Honor following another loss in a #1 contender's match. She got physical with Stokely and her client, which almost lead to one of ROH's troublesome acts of violence by babyface against non-wrestling female characters, but instead provided an opportunity for Cedric to use his favorite tool - forging an alliance between he and Veda.
Guessing that the new heel's rub in this program was being the one to end Moose's streak, and that the ROH just signed to a new deal gets revenge here. Plus, Cedric has a showdown with his old C & C Wrestle Factory at the TV taping tomorrow were he can pick up some heat.
ACH vs. Adam Page (No DQ)
Despite having lost it's more marquee members in Strong (face turn) and Jimmy Jacobs (WWE Creative gig), BJ Whitmer's The Decade is still in the midst of a couple of interesting stories. They both might come into play here, as ACH looks to avenge his tag partner, Matt Sydal, who was sidelined by an attack by BJ, Page and their "young boy" Colby Corino on ROH TV just last week.
Yes, he's related to Steve "King" Corino, best darn color commentator in the business (apologies to Corey Graves, Vampiro and Josh Barnett, who keep it close). Perhaps because of his own old school, extreme and sometimes SCUM-y history, Steve's not been thrilled watching Whitmer corrupt his son. Might he put down the headset and get involved to help the Texas high flier avenge his partner in a beef that goes back to last Fall when the jealoys Page joined up with The Decade?
Personal issues + ACH doing ACH things = hot match!
Adam Cole vs. Dalton Castle
These two, as Sasha Banks would say, are what's true. Cole is a former ROH World champ, currently doing as much bickering with his stable, The Kingdom, as anything else. His path to the top will probably include some resolution to the issues he's having with Michael Bennett, Matt Taven & Maria Kanellis, who experienced a lot of success while the Florida native was recovering from shoulder surgery.
Castle has the proverbial "it". His is a gimmick that shouldn't work in the wrestling-first world of ROH. That he's connected with the crowd and risen so quickly since coming aboard full-time is testament to his charisma - and wrestling ability that isn't far behind his character work.
Even without much tension between the two, this has a shot at, if not stealing the show, being one of the more entertaining things on it. Look for miscommunication or outright interference from The Kingdom helping The Peacock of Professional Wrestling to a pick up a huge win.
ROH Tag Team Title Four Corner Survival Match: The Addiction (c) vs. War Machine vs. ReDragon vs. The Kingdom
Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian are just over three months into their run as tag champs, a reign that started with a win over Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly of reDRagon - with a little help from Chris Sabin, the third man in their Knight of the Rising Dawn scheme that had been hinted at for weeks on ROH TV.
That came after a string of defeats at the hands of both Fish & O'Reilly and another team that's tasted IWGP pairs gold in NJPW recently, Bennett & Taven of The Kingdom. Despite that win making them big in Japan, Maria's boys have never held ROH's tag titles. If they can make it through the night intact, they might finally claim the belts while making sure their frequent foils in reDRagon don't become four-time kings of the division.
Meanwhile, the two finalists from 2014's Top Prospect Tournament, Hanson & Rowe, seemed to be rampaging their way to the top of the scene when War Machine went on hiatus following Rowe's motorcycle accident. They've been hossing it like they never stopped since he returned in March at 13th Anniversary...maybe tonight is their night?
For the unitiated, ROH's "Four Corner Survival" matches are not elimination matches or WWE-style Fatal 4Ways. They're tag scrambles where two men are legal at a time, but anyone else can become legal by tagging or by jumping in when a competitor is knocked to the floor. The winner is whoever pins or submits a competitor, so there is no champions' advantage for The Addiction.
There's a case to be made for putting the belts on any of these four teams, so in addition to hectic action, this is the where to look for a tense finish amongst men with a lot of history between them.
ROH Title Match: Jay Lethal (c) vs. Roderick Strong
Look. You and I both know there's almost no chance they pull the rug out from under Lethal only a month after finally dethroning Jay Briscoe.
But we all need to remember that the new champ is firing on all cylinders right now and is one of the most well-rounded performers in the game. And, that Mr. ROH has upped his always stellar in-ring work to new heights in 2015, putting on show stealing matches for companies all over North America, against a wide array of talent from all over the world. Don't forget that Strong's run as World champ was when he was managed by Truth Martini, providing a throughline of company history going back to Death Before Dishonor VIII, when Roddy earned the #1 contender spot he again holds now en route to taking the belt from a guy you now know as Seth Rollins.
It's not the suspenseful main event that Best in the World offered. But outcome be damned, you want to see this match.
Who do you got, Cagesiders? More importantly, who's buying?