The episode opens with a recap of Bully Ray’s beatdown of Gresham and Flip Gordon, Lethal getting involved but Silas coming down to take out Lethal and refusing the attempted embrace from Bully Ray. The video hypes tonight’s tag match, featuring Lethal & Gresham against Bully and Silas. And from there we get the opening video!
Ian and Caprice are on commentary, from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, as we start right off with entrances for the first match of the episode.
THE BOYS vs BEST FRIENDS
A very interesting Code of Honor brings us into the match, with Chuckie T and Boy 1 starting us off. Chuckie gets some offense in up front but Boy 1 gets some shots in taking Chuckie outside, Baretta in but gets intercepted by Boy 2 as The Boys take the advantage. Do-See-Do by the Best Friends turns into double hurricanranas by The Boys which send the Best Friends outside, and Boy 1 takes out Chuckie on the outside with a fantastic tope con hilo. Boy 1 takes Baretta down and looks to fly, Baretta cuts him off but eats an enziguri, but Baretta takes advantage with the sliding German off the ropes and a crucifix cutter on Boy 2 outside! Chuckie back in and plants Boy 1 with a spinning sit out power bomb for a good 2. And that brings us to BREAK.
We’re back to Boy 1 planting Chuckie with a great tornado DDT, looking for a tag to Boy 2 but no one is there for him, and Baretta meets Boy 1 in the corner and brings him in and he and Chuckie hit a nice double chokeslam but Boy 2 interrupts the count at 2. Chuckie sects Boy 2 back outside and the Best Friends maintain control. The crowd is tuned in as Baretta calls for a Razors Edge, but Boy 1 counters and The Boys put some double teaming together in the corner with Boy 2 hitting a springboard crossbody on Baretta before taking Chuckie off the apron. The crowd chanting for The Boys, who hit a backstabber/MX double-team combo sequence on Baretta, cover for 2 as Baretta kicks out. The Boys are doing a nice job hyping the crowd as Boy 2 takes Baretta into the corner. Chuckie saves Baretta from some corner impact so Baretta can hit a HUGE clothesline turning Boy 2 inside out. Boy 1 hits a running dropkick, but Chuckie cuts him off and Baretta hits the Sexy Chuckie Knee. Best Friends go for dual cradle piledrivers, but The Boys reverse and Boy 2 ALMOST GETS THE PIN ON BARETTA but Baretta is out at a very close 2. Best Friends take control back, and we get stereo finishers with Baretta hitting the Dudebuster and Chuckie hitting a Omega Driver-style Awful Waffle, planting both Boys and getting the 3 count and the WIN.
Best Friends defeat The Boys with the Dudebuster for the pinfall
Jay’s Rating: 2.5/5
A solid little match keeping the Best Friends on their momentum. It feels more and more definite that they are building the Best Friends toward a tag title challenge down the road, and I’m curious who will have the straps by the time we get there. There was no chance of the Boys pulling out the win here, but every time I see them I feel like they seem more and more at home in their own skins as performers, and they pulled out some great offensive and selling spots here that makes me have some real tangible hopes for them over the next few years. I don’t know if they will need to break fully from Castle in order to reach the next level, but they are well on their way and I’m excited by their growing potential. But at the end of the day this was about the Best Friends, and I couldn’t be happier about that – this may not have been anything particularly special but damn do they just know how to deliver a compelling match from top to bottom. I feel like this is a team I can rely on to deliver on whatever scale they are asked to.
Video Package: SCU & THE BRISCOES
We get a package hyping the upcoming tag match at Death Before Dishonor. We see some of the recent history between the two teams, with SCU promising to end the Briscoes’ reign, ending the video showing the Briscoes standing tall last week. Eh, not much here, pretty bland as a package, but did the job.
KENNY KING vs HANGMAN PAGE
Kenny King comes to the ring with giant inflatable pool stuff and dressed to relax in the sun, as the announcers hype his match with Justin Liger, saying first he needs to get past Page. Page’s entrance takes us to BREAK.
And we’re back to the bell. Page and King lock up, the announcers talk about how these men have met before but not since their careers have taken off as they have. Technical start to the match goes back and forth, as both of them hit a stalemate. They lock up again with King getting a headlock, Page sends to the ropes and they meet in the middle with neither budging. They go shoulder to shoulder again to no avail, and King turns a third into a drop toe hold and headlock on Page. Page powers out but King shows some great agility before hitting a dropkick that takes Page outside. King up and over, misses Page on the outside and Page takes control for a moment before King counters with a forearm on the outside. King throws Page in and makes time for a selfie with a fan, but it backfires as Page its the shooting star shoulder block off the apron and he gets a photo with the same fan for good measure.
Page tosses King back in and grabs the inflatable stuff that King entered with and puts them in the ring. The ref takes one away from Page, but King uses the other as a shield and weapon, but Page takes advantage and hits a vertical suplex onto the pool floater, which King sells… I mean sure, but is that the kind of match they’re going for here? And we have BREAK.
We’re back as Page hits his great pumphandle bridging suplex for a 2 count on King. King takes control with a chin-checker and comes off the ropes with a great clothesline taking down Page, spin kick follows that up to Page but Page catches King with a boot before walking into a King spine buster for another 2 count. The crowd is in it again as King gets shots in on Page, runs the ropes and they have a bit of a dropped reversal moment that they try to salvage with Page getting the go behind, King reverses into a German but Page lands on his feet, hits a roaring elbow and a German of his own with a bridge for a 2 count on King.
King goes outside and Page runs the ropes, but King catches him as he is about to fly with a gamengiri to the head. Both men on the apron and Kenny hits a great Eddie Gordo capoeira kick, goes in and runs the ropes but Page hits a HUGE buckshot lariat for a CLOSE 2 count! Page and King trade forearms in the ring, and the crowd is behind Page. Page takes advantage and looks for Rite of Passage but King reverses into a rollup with his feet on the ropes, but the ref catches it and breaks the count. King gets Page up but Page turns it into a small package for 2, King shifts weight for a package of his own for 2, back again for 2, back again and King is holding the tights and gets the 3 count and the WIN.
Kenny King defeats Hangman Page with a small package
Jay’s Rating: 2.5/5
Another solid match, nothing really special to me except once again showing that these two can also make the most of their time really well. A story well told that keeps King’s momentum going into a huge match with Liger, and further establishing him as willing to bend and break rules to get what he wants while not fully being a heel. A match that had a job to do and it did it, but did it well given the natural abilities of the two performers.
Top Prospect Tournament
DANTE CABALLERO vs BRIAN JOHNSON
We get short promo videos from each, which are fine. Brian feels the most derivative to me at the moment, a bit Flair/Roode/Orndorff/Dillinger… the match begins with Dante taking charge at the top, but Johnson hits a dropkick before JEFF COBB ARRIVES AGAIN. All he does is step in the ring and the crowd erupts chanting “This Is Awesome”. Cobb’s angle is getting through to the audience big time. Brian Johnson is on his knees trying to make a deal with Cobb, who shifts his attention to Caballero and begins the destruction with a throw as the ref calls for the DQ. Johnson is celebrating alongside Cobb, but gets floored with a headbutt and DESTROYED with Tour of the Islands. The ring is cleared and Cobb just claimed 2 more victims. Cobb takes the mic and says that the Top Prospect Tournament is over, because HE is the Top Prospect. Drops the mic, thats it.
Match ends in a No Contest due to interference by Jeff Cobb
Jay’s Rating: NR
I mean, we all knew what it was going to be, but this approach to building Cobb is WORKING. Big time. He’s focused but is showing personality within his aggression in a way that reminds me of Lesnar’s WWE debut. And the audience is eating it up. While his promo was a bit short to get a sense of his command there within his ROH career, he said everything he needed to say for this story and he said it well. God I really want Gresham/Cobb at the top of the next generation here. IT JUST MAKES SENSE.
Video Package: SUMIE SAKAI & TENILLE DASHWOOD
We get a package recapping Sumie calling out Tenille for a title match, to prove that she is the best women’s competitor in ROH. A nice little package that did its job well – they were able to cut the segment from last week into a decent little hype package.
SILAS YOUNG & BULLY RAY vs JAY LETHAL & JONATHAN GRESHAM
Young and Bully enter first and are already arguing in the ring before their opponents enter. Gresham in next, followed by Lethal, whose entrance takes us to BREAK.
We’re back and Gresham wants Bully, who yells back at him furiously. Gresham tells Lethal he’s got it and he and Bully start us off. Bully and Gresham feel each other out at the top as Gresham tries to use his speed, but the Bully tags in Silas, and on top of that walks to the next corner leaving Silas alone in his corner. Silas gets in the ring with tensions flaring with Bully right away. Crowd chants hard for Gresham. Silas puts Gresham into the ropes for the break, Gresham with a go behind to follow up and takes Silas down, but Silas follows up with some technical wrestling as well, reversal by Gresham takes Silas into the corner and they break again. Bully gets in Silas’ face again, telling him to do something.
Lockup again in the middle, Silas runs the ropes and is able to fake out Gresham on a dropkick, but Gresham follows with a frankensteiner off the ropes, roll through to a dropkick and then gets right in Bully’s face to call him in, and then goes so far to SLAP BULLY who gets that signature stare in his eye. Silas then comes over and tags Bully in, daring him to show him what its about then… and Bully drops off the apron and starts to walk away. Bully makes his way up the ramp and the crowd chants “you suck.” Bully stops and makes his way back to the ring as the crowd chants “we want D-Von” which is GREAT. Bully is back in now looking pissed, Gresham gets the waist lock and uses his speed to avoid Bully, but Bully catches him, Gresham with a reversal behind though and PAINTBRUSHES BULLY. Bully, however, throws him up into a HUGE back body drop and gets in Lethal’s face. Gresham begrudgingly decides to tag Lethal, showing that he wants Bully but knows good strategy. Jay and Bully face to face, but Bully calls Todd in and plays some mind games. Headlock from Lethal on Bully, Bully whips him over and takes Lethal down, but Lethal and Bully throw some moves and counter moves including Bully throwing a dropkick which Lethal avoids but which earns a pretty great standoff and some genuine crowd appreciation which takes us to BREAK.
We come back to Bully hitting a HUGE chop on Lethal but Lethal fires back, they trade big shots with each absorbing, Lethal calls for chops and just eats each one and calls for more, Bully straight up slaps Lethal and they begin trading slaps. Bully takes the lead with punches to Lethal, but Lethal comes back and will not back down but hits the ropes only to run into a wall of Bully Ray. Bully however misses a shot that takes out Silas on the apron, Lethal tags Gresham and they hit stereo suicide dives on their opponents outside. Silas back in the ring and Gresham climbs up top, but Bully crotches him up top and lays a shot in, tossing him in to Silas who tags Bully in and we see a bit of actual tag teaming from Bully and Silas… Bully keeps control of Gresham, classic jabs to the face, but Gresham cuts off the Flip-Flop, tries for a tag but instead is able to get the Octopus Hold on Bully! But Bully uses his size to fall back and pancake Gresham into the mat.
Bully takes Gresham to the corner and lays into him as Jay yells encouragement to Gresham to fire him up, which works. Bully takes Gresham down HARD with a huge chop but GRESHAM EATS IT AND IS BACK FOR MORE. Another chop, another knockdown, Bully to the middle rope and goes for the senton, but – as is often the case – his opponent moves and as able to get the tag to Lethal as Bully tags Silas. Lethal takes down Silas with the hot tag and Silas is reeling. Lethal takes out Bully and keeps the momentum on Silas, nails a great Lethal Combination and then big kicks to Bully who comes in. Lethal looks for a suplex on Bully, cant quite get him up so Gresham joins him and they hit the double suplex! Lethal stops Bully from rolling out and looks for WHAZZUP?!, Gresham off the top and hits it as Bully makes an awesome sell face. Silas in but takes a snap German from Gresham, Lethal up top and we get Hail To The King, Gresham up too, Lethal rolls Silas and Gresham hits a a GREAT shooting star press for 2 but Bully breaks it up by pushing Lethal into the pinfall, taking down Todd Sinclair. This allows Bully to low blow Gresham, and Silas (who is still legal) comes in and hits Misery on Gresham for 3 and the WIN. (And Bobby Cruise announces the victors SUPER sadly. Sad Bobby Cruise.)
Silas Young & Bully Ray defeat Jonathan Gresham & Jay Lethal with Misery on Gresham for the pinfall
Jay’s Rating: 2.75/5
This was a good tag match that kept the story going well by keeping the teams super evenly matched but keeping Gresham on the hunt toward the victory over Bully Ray, with Bully once again having to resort to a low blow in order to win and unable to beat Gresham in a pure wrestling match. All 4 performers are such natural in-ring storytellers that this match didnt need to be more than what it was for it to be really great storytelling, in particular Gresham’s ability to absorb just about everything Bully could throw at him save rule-breaking. Everyone looked good in their roles and this was just another step along this story’s path, which I’m enjoying the arc of so far. I still feel reason to be optimistic about where this one could go.
And we get a Death Before Dishonor hype video to take us out. SCU calls for becoming 3 time tag champs, Punishment Martinez says Sabin is his next victim while Sabin promises to take the TV title, Silas says Colt and Flip are going against the two realest men in the business in himself and Bully Ray, Kenny King thanks Liger for handing him the torch calling Liger “too old to stop me”, Lethal hypes the ROH title and the match with Ospreay, and Bullet Club all talks at once to give us the nod for the 10-man tag. This was functional and mostly effective, I sort of wondered about ending on a more comedic note with the Bullet Club piece but its also so charming so I’m sort of torn there, but thats a nit-pick for sure.
This was essentially the go-home show for Death Before Dishonor, and as such it did its job, but did lack something for me. And I think the main thing it lacked was building more hype toward the big matches coming up at the end of the week. Jay Lethal was plugged into the Gresham/Bully/Silas/Flip/Colt story, so there wasn’t much in terms of Lethal/Ospreay for the World Title – I mean, with the two of them, you just naturally have the potential for a GREAT title match, but this episode did little to create investment in a match where Ospreay hasn’t really been present except on a video challenge. Sumie’s build with Tenille was last week, and also just had video hype. Same with Martinez and Sabin for the TV title. Same for SCU and Briscoes for the tag titles. I understand, a lot of that work was done last week… but it sapped that go-home energy from this week. Another go-home approach would be to focus solely on hype and not have other matches, and maybe that could have helped here, since the Best Friends match didnt necessarily feed the 10-man tag story they are in this weekend, King and Liger got more build but Liger also isnt around to build with him, and Bully and Silas are facing Flip and Colt at the PPV who were not a part of the main event. For me, the dominos here weren’t quite lined up on making this episode the one that takes us into Death Before Dishonor. And this is no knock to the performers on the episode, who delivered some consistently solid work – its a big-picture storytelling issue that I feel was off. Nonetheless, I am excited for the PPV, and am hopeful for the match quality of the event for sure – we’ll see how the stories progress.