Ring of Honor: 2019 Volume 3

roh2019vol3

Disc One

Jay Lethal vs. Kenny King
“Best in the World 2019” – Baltimore, MD – 6.28.2019

This is the third match in a Best of 3 Series, with King defeating Lethal at “War of the Worlds 2019, Night 4” with Lethal’s own Lethal Injection, and Lethal defeating King at “State of the Art Night 1” by disqualification when King nailed Lethal with a microphone and then Pillmanized his arm after the bell. His left arm has kinesio tape on it as a result, and he denies King to Code of Honor.

King works over Lethal’s arm and tries some of Lethal’s own offense again him, but Lethal remains one step ahead of him and lands a cartwheel dropkick after a hip toss. Lethal gets his arm jammed on the top rope, but evades an attack from King and threatens to also Pillmanize his arm. Lethal second guesses himself, and ultimately ends up being suplexed into the ropes and bouncing back to the floor! After he escapes a half crab and armbar, Lethal backdrops King and delivers a second rope dropkick. King holds onto Lethal’s trunks to halt the Lethal Injection, so Lethal gives King a taste of his own medicine with the Royal Flush! King kicks out, but gets dropkicked to the floor and takes a suicide dive. King catches his second dive and drops Lethal with a spinebuster! King is hopeful for a count out, but Lethal comes in just before the twenty count. King surprises Lethal with a shooting star press, but Lethal is able to kick out! King calls over to Amy Rose for his walking stick, and while he’s doing that, Lethal rolls King into the figure four leg lock. Rose introduces the stick into the ring resulting in Lethal losing focus and releasing the hold. King tries a low blow but gets caught and dropped with the Lethal Injection. King kicking out shocks Lethal, who angrily stares down Rose until she leaves. King resists a flying Ace Crusher. He hits a Blockbuster, lariat and the Lethal Injection himself, then puts down Lethal with the Royal Flush for the pin and the series at 14:45. The hot crowd, commentary, and nature of this rivalry made this win for King feel as big as winning a title. They both had learned from one another over the course of their matches, and although King got the mental edge using Lethal’s own offense against him, I like that it was King’s trademark maneuver that led him to taking the series. Really good stuff here. ***¾

RUSH & Dragon Lee vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)
“ROH on SBG #410” – Philadelphia, PA – 6.29.2019

This is a rare brothers vs brothers tag team match in ROH. All four of the most at an extremely fast pace to begin. The Briscoes get a leg up by catching a suicide dive from Lee and double suplxing him on the floor. After throwing RUSH into the guardrails, Mark lands a senton off a chair onto Lee. The Briscoes double team Lee back inside the ring as RUSH recovers. Lee takes down Jay with a clothesline, and sweeps out Mark’s legs in the corner. He hits a slingshot dropkick on Mark and tags in RUSH. The two teams fight back outside where the Briscoes both get sent into the guardrails. Mark is bleeding from his head as he comes back inside and is taken out right away by the Dream Sequence. Jay sends Lee back in the guardrails as RUSH sets up chokes Mark in the corner, rubbing Mark’s blood on his chest. Jay rushes in with a lariat to RUSH in the corner. Lee comes in to make sure RUSH is not pinned. Mark then uses the chair to hit a tope con hilo from inside the ring to the outside! He almost has RUSH pinned with the Froggy Bow when Lee interjects once again. A brawl leaves all four men laying. RUSH wins a chop battle with Mark but accidentally assists him with a dropkick to Lee. RUSH avoids the Jay Driller and superkicks Jay before belly-to-belly suplexing him into the corner. Lee Frankensteiner’s Mark off the apron and to the floor, giving RUSH the opening to hit the Bull’s Horns to Jay uninterrupted for the pin at 12:33. This was a match people expected to be good, but got some good buzz given Mark’s bleeding and how relatively wild this was for a TV match. RUSH’s undefeated streak continuing is good, him pinning someone as decorated as Jay Briscoe is even better. A rematch was announced for April before COVID wiped out ROH’s plans, but given how good this was, and how excited the Briscoes stated they were for the rematch on the ROH Strong Podcast, it seems all but a guarantee we’ll see it at some point. ***½

ROH World Championship
Matt Taven vs. Jay Lethal vs. Kenny King

“Manhattan Mayhem” – New York, NY – 7.20.2019

Taven has been champion since 4.6.2019 and this is his seventh defense. Alex Shelley is on commentary, as he will face the winner of this match on August 9th. Taven implements the same strategy as he used in last month’s “Defy or Deny” match, waiting outside while the other opponents fight one another. It isn’t too long though before he finds himself trading fists with Lethal on the floor and King dives onto them both. King impressively fights off both men individually, earning nearfalls on them both. Taven takes out Lethal with a neckbreaker and lionsault. He fights off King on his own, until Lethal reemerges and dropkicks them both in the corner. Taven stops him from pinning King after the Lethal Combination. A three way strike exchange ends with King laying both Lethal and Taven out with a double clothesline. On the outside, Lethal scores dives onto both Taven and King separately, then puts King in the figure four leglock back inside. Taven frog splashes Lethal to break it and get a two count, then puts his own figure four on King. King turned it over when Lethal went for Hail to the King, but Lethal was able to put Taven in a crossface after his crash, resulting in King releasing the leg lock and breaking Lethal’s submission. King gets nearfalls on both King and Taven after a double blockbuster. Taven evades the Royal Flush and hits King with Just the Tip. Lethal catches Taven with the Lethal Combination, but only gets a two count. King hits his own Lethal Injection and the Royal Flush on Lethal. Taven immediately drops King with the Climax and covers Lethal for the pin at 15:56. They incorporated enough moments with all three men together to make it feel like an actual triple threat. They must have done a good job convincing people a title change was possible, as when Lethal hit the Lethal Injection, the audience seemed certain they were about to witness the crowning of a new champion. Taven’s tactics of retaining make him look smart, but I could feel a fatigue factor from the crowd over Taven winning one too many times by the skin of his teeth. Kenny King’s rise this year felt like the making of a new star, and I’m not sure if that status stuck the way they hoped, but there’s no doubt he proved he could hang with ROH’s top guys in this bout. ***½

ROH World Tag Team Championship – Street Fight
The Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)

“Manhattan Mayhem” – New York, NY – 7.20.2019

The Guerrillas of Destiny have been champions since 4.6.2019 and this is their third defense. This stipulation comes from the last time these two teams met, where G.O.D. used a tag title behind the referee’s back to secure the victory. The Briscoes introduce kendo sticks at the start of the match, with G.O.D. taking control despite the weapons advantage. Loa sends Jay into the guardrails as Tonga handles Mark in the ring, bashing him on the back with a steel chair. Jay places Loa on a table outside, which allows a now standing Mark to leap off the chair inside the ring onto Loa and through the table. Loa gets revenge on Mark, sending him through a table moments later. Jay inflicts some damage with a kendo stick but ends up being suplexed onto the floor by Tonga. Loa backdrops Mark off the top turnbuckle onto a pile of chairs Mark set up himself! They get Mark up for the Magic Killer in the ring, but Jay saves him with a chair shot. Redneck Boogie gets the Briscoes a two count on Tonga. Loa stops Mark from hitting Froggy Bow onto Tonga through a table outside. Loa powerbombs Mark off the apron onto Jay and through the table! Amazingly, Mark is able to kick out of the Magic Killer onto steel chairs when brought back into the ring. They try a super powerbomb, but Mark counters with a Frankensteiner to Loa onto the chairs! Tonga tries a Gun Stun on both Briscoes to no avail. Mark throws a steel chair at Tonga’s head and then pulls a ladder out from underneath the ring. Jay and Loa trade strikes outside the ring as Mark props up the ladder and a table inside the ring. Loa interrupts Mark’s climb up the ladder and Tonga slinks off of the table. Loa and Jay fight off the ladder and Tonga ascends up the ladder quickly, hoping to superplex Mark through the table. Instead, Jay comes in from behind and places him on his shoulders, and from off the top of the ladder, Mark hits a Doomsday Froggy Elbow onto Tonga through the table for the pin and the titles at 17:39. These two teams knew exactly how to incorporate weapons into their brawling, and did so in a manner that the match crescendoed at its peak with an unbelievable stunt. It was a great way to build off their first match, and it was done in front of a crowd that was really into the contest and were really happy to celebrate the Briscoes 11th tag team title reign. ****

Lifeblood (Bandido & Mark Haskins) vs. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham
“Summer Supercard” – Toronto, ONT – 8.9.2019

Gresham and Haskins wrestle to a stalemate, with Gresham shaking Haskins hand, but breaking the contact with his foot in a moment of arrogance. Lethal and Bandido pick up the pace in their exchange with the crowd very much behind Bandido. Haskins assists him with a double facebuster and dropkick. Haskins begins to target Lethal’s leg and with Bandido’s help trap Lethal in their half of the ring. Gresham blind tags in when Lethal hits the rope. He catches Haskins’ leapfrog attempt with a German suplex as Lethal knocks Bandido off the apron with a springboard dropkick. Lethal and Gresham turn the tables by wearing down Haskins in their half of the ring until Haskins catches Lethal with a calf kick and backbreaker. Bandido comes in with a slingshot suplex, and Gresham stunts his progress by yanking down the top rope to send him outside. Lethal doesn’t seem pleased with his actions, but Gresham continues by driving Bandido back first into the guardrail and edge of the ring. Lethal stops him from using a steel chair which results in Gresham shoving Lethal down! Haskins comes in with a suicide dive to Lethal. Later Lethal and Gresham try the Cornette Cutter which Haskins cuts off with the Shoulder Soldier Toll to Gresham onto Lethal. Lethal kicks out of a falcon arrow, so Haskins gives a second and Bandido lands a frog splash right after, but Gresham stops a pin attempt. Gresham puts Haskins into a powerbomb from Lethal, who then puts Haskins in a figure four leg lock. Bandido powerbombs Gresham onto Lethal to break it up. Bandido wins an exchange against Gresham with a pop up cutter. Bandido hits Lethal with the X Knee and the 21 Plex. Haskins then puts Lethal in the sharpshooter. Bandido wipes out Gresham with a tope con hilo and Lethal taps out at 19:34. With Haskins tapping out a former World Champion, this felt like a very big win for Lifeblood. I like that Gresham got to show a lot of personality throughout the course of the match, and that he and Lethal’s dynamic was jeopardized but never completely fell through. The crowd was really hot, especially for Bandido, and the entire presentation of the match worked so well. ***¾

No Disqualification Match
Dalton Castle vs. RUSH

“Summer Supercard” – Toronto, ONT – 8.9.2019

Castle’s mind has not been right since RUSH embarrassed him with a 16 second loss at “G1 Supercard.” Castle beat up and got rid of his beloved Boys, and as a measure of revenge defeated RUSH’s brother Dragon Lee at “Best in the World 2019” with RUSH’s own Bulls Horn’s finishing move. In a mind game move, Castle wears a matador hat while taking down (in a non-serious manner) two boys dressed in cow masks before the match.

RUSH overwhelms Castle to start. Castle tries to bail, but RUSH cuts him off and throws him into a guardrail and in the crowd. He throws a garbage can at Castle’s head before the fight up the entrance ramp. After choking Castle with a cord, he brings him back in the ring where he stomps him down in the corner and gives him a fake out kick. Castle strikes RUSH with one of the props from his toreador entrance and throws a chair at RUSH’s face. After jabbing the chair into RUSH’s ribs, Castle mocks RUSH’s Bull’s Horns with his own variation while RUSH is seated on a steel chair, even stealing RUSH’s taunt after the fact. He also German suplexes RUSH onto the floor, then throws him over the guardrails onto two audience members! He splashes onto RUSH and brings him back inside for a two count. RUSH snaps when Castle calls him a dog and smacks him in the face. He German suplexes Castle, throws him into guardrails, then powerbombs him onto the timekeeper’s table! Back in the ring he absorbs a trash can shot from Castle, ducking a second and giving Castle a German suplex. The Bull’s Horns connect and give RUSH the pin at 15:22. Despite the rock solid backstory and how much time had been spent to build up this rematch, the match itself didn’t feel very impassioned. I believe the key reason is that RUSH was on such a hot streak that it was hard to convince yourself Castle ever stood a chance, and the intensity level never matched the story. They got the crowd going by the end and Castle did some tremendous character work, but as a feud ending bout it was less satisfying then I was anticipating. ***

ROH World Championship
Matt Taven vs. Alex Shelley

“Summer Supercard” – Toronto, ONT – 8.9.2019

Taven has been champion since 4.6.2019 and this is his ninth defense. Shelley pulled the veteran card to claim a title shot, which is flimsy, but as an unapologetic Shelley fan I am going to take it. It is also only the third time Shelley has challenged for the title, with the last time taking place in March of 2006.

After feeling each other out, Taven poked Shelley in the eye and went for the Climax. Shelley countered with a Border City Stretch, which Taven escaped using the ropes. Shelley got his just desserts with an eye poke to block an armdrag. This match is best remembered for Shelley taking a shoe off of a fan who is asleep in the front row and throwing it at Taven’s chest, which happens after Shelley follows Taven to the floor with an attack off the apron. He also spits water given to him by a fan into Taven’s face. Shelley attempts Sliced Bread #2 on the floor but Taven counters mid-air by throwing Shelley through the timekeeper’s table! After Shelley crawls back in the ring, Taven begins focusing his attack on Shelley’s back. Shelley is able to get Taven to the apron and hit a slingshot DDT to the floor! Taven throws water into Sheley’s eyes, but that doesn’t stop Shelley from pulling off a standing Sliced Bread #2 onto the guardrail! Taven dives onto Shelley in the audience, but back inside Shelley gets his knees up to block a frog splash. He Shell Shocks Taven but only gets two! Shelley superkicks Taven twice and lands the Sliced Bread #2, but Taven kicks out! Shelley immediately locks on the Border City Stretch. Taven turns it into a pin to force Shelley to break it. Taven hits Just the Tip. Shelley mouse trap pins Taven after Taven blocks the Border City Stretch. Shelley takes the Climax, but crucifix pins Taven to stop Taven’s pin attempt. Just the Tip and a second Climax gets Taven the pin at 18:06. Once Taven put Shelley through the timekeeper’s table, the story built beautifully, with Taven wearing down Shelley’s back and Shelley outmaneuvering Taven at every turn until he himself was outmaneuvered. This ended up being a really strong title defense for Taven and an excellent reminder of just how damn good and diverse a wrestler Shelley is. ****

After the match, Taven gets on the microphone about all the people he has defeated, but there is one man that has never been defeated in ROH: RUSH, who took Taven’s hair in Mexico. RUSH confronts Taven who walks out but gives off the appearance of not being fazed.

ROH World Tag Team Championship – Ladder War
The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) vs. The Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)

“Summer Supercard” – Toronto, ONT – 8.9.2019

The Briscoes have been champions since 7.20.2019 and this is their second defense. This is the eighth Ladder War in ROH history, with Jay competing in four previous iterations of the match, Mark three, and no experience for the G.O.D. The match begins with all four men swinging chairs at one another. Mark makes the first mistake by clobbering Jay by accident with a chair. He makes up for it by suplexing Tonga on the ground as Jay sets up a table. He places Loa on the table with a ladder on top, and Mark tope con hilo’s onto the contraption! Mark also suplexes Tonga through a table laid against the ring. Tonga is put through another table that he sets up himself thanks to a spear from Jay. He comes out of nowhere to launch Mark into the crowd with a Jon Woo dropkick. Loa then backdrops a charging Mark onto a propped up chair. Jay becomes busted open when Tonga throws his face into a chair wedged between two turnbuckles. Mark gets busted open by Loa outside before Tonga slams him onto a ladder in the ring. G.O.D. do some more damage, but Mark creates a sea change with a Blockbuster to Loa off the apron and through a table on the floor. During a forearm exchange, Tonga and Jay allow each other to pick up a chair. They smash together. Loa scores a belly-to-back suplex, and Jay lariats Tonga, leaving both men laying. Jay hits the Jay Driller on Tonga off the apron and through a table! Loa powerbombs Jay through a ladder inside the ring, only to turn around and be met by Mark with a chair attack from the top turnbuckle. Mark also lands a big splash off a ladder and through a table onto Loa outside the ring! Mark climbs a ladder in the ring going for the titles, but is cut off by Tonga who jumps off a ladder leaned up against the top rope from the floor and brings down Mark with the Gun Stun. Tonga climbs the ladder and is met up top by Jay. Jay headbutts Tonga off and to the ground, giving Jay the chance to successfully retrieve the tag team titles at 22:00. This didn’t reach the level of “all time classic” like the first ladder war, but I give these teams credit for keeping up intensity and creativity from the street fight and producing a match that had the same vibe but was totally different. It provided a big fight feel with ingenuity whipped in, which is just what I was hoping for. ****

Disc Two

Bandido vs. Marty Scurll
“Saturday Night at Center Stage” – Atlanta, GA – 8.24.2019

Scurll pokes Bandido in the eyes when he is unable to get an advantage in the opening exchange. Bandido superkicks Scurll to the floor, but Scurll baits him into a superkick from the ring apron. Scurll stomps Bandido’s wrist and shoulder, then stomps Bandido’s knees into the apron. Bandido stops Scurll with a superkick and a twisting tornillo press. After a backbreaker and cutter, Bandido follows Scurll to the floor with a Fosbury Flop. Bandido continues his offensive strive back in the ring until Scurll cuts him off with a half-nelson suplex. When Bandido fights off a chicken wing attempt, Scurll settles for a 2k1 Bomb on his knee. Bandido takes another half-nelson suplex, but nails Scurll with a knee to the back of his head to leave them both laying. Scurll jabs Bandido during an exchange, but Bandido enzuigiri;s him in the corner. The X-knee gets him a close two count. Scurll blocks the 21 Plex, but Bandido lands a standing shooting star press. The crowd explodes after Bandido brings Scurll down with a super moonsault press! Scurll however locks in the chicken wing out of desperation. Bandido escapes but gets turned inside out with a lariat and dropped with Black Plague. Bandido kicks out of that, but a second Balck Plague gets Marty the win at 18:53. This was a nice continuation of the Lifeblood and Villain Enterprises feud that didn’t get much love on these DVD collections at all. People were really into both wrestlers which made it easy for them to keep up the energy and keep the audience in doubt over who would be victorious. I would’ve loved to have seen Bandido pick up the duke, but with how much the audience loved the Villain it was hard to argue the choice. ***¾

ROH World Tag Team Championship
The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) vs. The Rock & Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)

“Honor For All” – Nashville, TN – 8.25.2019

The Briscoes have been champions since 7.20.2019 and this is their third defense. Four months prior, the Briscoes defeated The Rock & Roll Express in the opening round of the Crockett Cup tournament. Morton delights the Nashville audience by holding his own with Jay, even sending him outside with a low bridge and knocking Mark off the apron. Gibson holds the ropes so Morton can land a double suicide dive! Mark kicks Morton from the apron as he hits the ropes, allowing Jay to take him down with a hard boot to the side of the head. The Briscoes pummel Morton until he slips out of the corner resulting in Jay crashing into the buckles. He rolls to Gibson who tags in and lays in punches to Dem Boys. As he is pummeling Jay in the corner, Mark comes from behind to attack. Jay places Morton on the timekeeper’s table. Gibson stops Mark from hitting Froggy Bow, shoving him off the top turnbuckle and through the table! The RnR double suplex Jay in from the apron, then hit the double dropkick for a close nearfall. Gibson accidentally goes shoulder first in the corner. Jay kicks out of a schoolboy from Morton and gives him a neckbreaker. Mark comes back inside with the Froggy Bow, and Jay pins Morton at 8:49 to retain the titles. This a fun match both for the Nashville fans, and to put a bow on their lingering issue from the Crockett Cup. I appreciate that the Briscoes kept up their aggression, while also giving RnR a realistic chance of winning the titles too. This pairing works very well. ***

Team CMLL (El Barbaro Cavernario, Hechicero, Okumura & Rey Bucanero) vs. Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll, PCO, Brody King & Flip Gordon)
“Global Wars Espectacular, Night 1” – Dearborn, MI – 9.6.2019

Gordon joined Villain Enterprises at “Best in the World” in June. Hechicero (“magician”) frustrates Scurll with his superior technical wrestling. PCO bested Cavernario during most of their exchange, but ultimately PCO got sent outside with a dropkick off the second turnbuckle. Bucanero showed no fear against the larger King, who got cocky after a lariat. Bucanero yanked King down to the mat by his hair and gave him a leg drop. Okumura gets the better of Gordon with a draping DDT using the second turnbuckle. All of CMLL stomps down the Mercenary while the referee is tied up with Villain Enterprises. The CMLL team beat down Gordon in their corner until Gordon manages to catch Okumura with a diving, swinging DDT out of the corner. King cleans house on all four opponents. Scurll assists him with a German suplex on Bucanero for two. King also gets a two count after PCO hits a Swanton bomb on Bucanero. King is assaulted by the remaining CMLL team members. The rest of Villain Enterprises gets wiped out on the floor. Cavernario and Hechicero pull King back into a double bulldog from Bucanero and Okumura, with Scurll and Gordon jumping in to break the pin just in time. King busts out a double wristlock drag, sending Bucanero and Cavernario out to the floor with Okumura and tope con hilo’s onto all three of them! Hechicero moonsaults onto Kin on the floor. Cavernario dropkicks Gordon and Scurll outside, diving onto Gordon afterwards, with Hechicero then launching Bucanero onto both of them. PCO hip tosses Hechicero from the inside of the ring and to the floor, and then moonsaults onto everyone! Inside, Scurll snaps Okumara’s fingers. King sentons Okumura across Scurll’s knees to pick up the pin at 15:51. The CMLL team started with more focused teamwork, but Villain Enterprises found that focus as the match progressed and it ultimately earned them the victory. The match did a great job showcasing Hechicero and Cavernario who I hope become more regular visitors into ROH. ***¾

Bandido vs. Jay Briscoe
“Global Wars Espectacular, Night 1” – Dearborn, MI – 9.6.2019

Mark Haskins is in Bandido’s corner while Mark Briscoe is in Jay Briscoe’s corner. PJ Black is on commentary. Haskins and Bandido are #1 contenders to the Briscoes Tag Team titles. Jay and Bandido have an aggressive opening exchange but neither man gets an advantage. Bandido lands a Fosbury Flop to Dearborn’s delight, however, when he tries a moonsault back inside the ring, Jay cracks him in mid-air with a superkick to the jaw. The two Mark’s go nose to nose as Jay scores a two count with a Death Valley Driver. Jay presses his luck by choking Bandido with a production cord and throwing him into the guardrails outside the ring, resulting in a bloody elbow for Bandido. Bandido builds some momentum back in the ring, landing a tornillo press on Jay after an enzuigiri. Jay traps Bandido, pretending like he wants to duel with chairs, but instead dropping his chair and making Banadido get in trouble with the referee so he could turn the match around. That’s very clever! Jay gets to do more damage to Bandido’s neck and jaw, turning him inside out with a lariat for two. Bandido comes back with a reverse suplex and Shining Wizard for two. Bandido counters the Jay Driller with a dragonrana for a very close two count. Bandido ends a forearm exchange with a pop-up cutter. Jay cuts off a dive from Bandido and connects with the Jay Driller, but Bandido shockingly gets his shoulder up from the pin! The two men fight up to the top turnbuckle, where Bandido brings down Jay with a moonsault fallaway slam, and Jay kicks out at one! Bandido decides to try the Jay Driller himself and ends up being spiked with a Frankensteiner. Jay takes him down with a lariat and both men are down. Once on their feet, they fight for position, where Bandido hits the X-knee and the 21 Plex, scoring his biggest singles win in ROH to date at 21:44. This was a fantastic match between two opposite yet complementary wrestlers, where Bandido got to show he could match Jay in the striking department, while Jay showed he can be crafty and counter wrestle when the time calls for it. In some ways, Bandido was playing the short-game, fighting to win this match to build momentum towards his and Haskins tag title match. Jay was playing the long-game, as although he took the L here, he did significant damage to Bandido heading into the tag title match, and it would pay off. Either way, both men held up the Code of Honor, which was deserved after a terrific, engaging match in which the audience was very invested. ****

ROH World Championship
Matt Taven vs. Volador, Jr.

“Global Wars Espectacular, Night 2” – Villa Park, IL – 9.7.2019

Taven has been champion since 4.6.2019 and this is his eleventh defense. Volador is receiving this defense, as he is the last individual to pin or submit Taven in singles action, defeating him in August of 2018 for the NWA World Historic Welterweight Championship, which he still holds. Taven dropkicks Volador to block his Lucha roll, but a headscissors sends Taven outside and Volador follows that up with a sucide dive. Moments later Taven responds in kind with his own suicide dive. Volador ducks Just The Tip and schoolboys Taven for two. Taven sends him back outside, stringing together and through the ropes dropkick and Air Taven before landing a frog splash back inside for two. He earns another nearfall beautifully maneuvering from a backbreaker into a DDT. Volador superkicks Taven to the floor and lands a tope con hilo. Back inside, Taven counters a flying Frankensteiner with a powerbomb and Just The Tip. Volador comes back with a superkick and lungblower. He hits the Volador Special (super Frankensteiner) for two. A running Mexican Destroyer doesn’t cut it either. Taven gets his boots up, blocking a moonsault from Volador by blasting him in the face. Taven avoids the Spanish Fly and hits a draping Climax for the pin at 11:56. Volador had a perfectly valid reason to challenge for the title, I just don’t think it resonated with the ROH audience, nor did anyone really think Taven was going to lose en route to RUSH. It was a good match with a great ending, but the circumstances surrounding the match itself caused it to fall just a bit flat. ***

ROH Women’s Championship
Kelly Klein vs. Angelina Love

“Death Before Dishonor 2019” – Las Vegas, NV – 9.27.2019

Klein has been champion since 4.6.2019 and this is her seventh defense. Love pinned Klein at “Best in the World 2019” in a tag team match. Mandy Leon is in Love’s corner. Love lands a neckbreaker for two, and Klein comes back with a backbreaker for a one coin shortly after. Love rolls outside after being dropped on the top turnbuckle and taking a clothesline, and Klein follows with a crossbody off the apron onto Love and Leon. Love is able to send Klein into the guardrails. Klein responds in kind and gives Love a high back suplex in the ring for two. Love surprises Klein with a Complete Shot and then locks on a Koji Clutch. Klein made it to the rope to escape. Klein then follows Love to the top turnbuckle and brings her down with a fallaway slam. Love lands a second rope cutter. Klein was surprised when her modified Death Valley Driver only got a two count. Mandy Leon distracted the ref so Love could blind Klein with hairspray. The Botox Injection followed, but Klein kicked out. Leon then entered after accidentally blinding Love. Klein speared and pummeled lien, giving Love time to recoup and hit the Botox Injection for a second time to get the pin and the title at 9:06. The match meandered for a while before getting into the usual Allure nonsense, which does nothing for me. The high point was the emergence of Maria Manic after the bout to save Kelly Klein from further beatdown, as she’s a perfect person to help reboot the Women of Honor division. This match also serves as a prime example as to why a reboot iss welcomed. *

Jay Lethal vs. Jonathan Gresham
“Death Before Dishonor 2019” – Las Vegas, NV – 9.27.2019

These two formed a tag team which got into troubled waters when Gresham would stray too far from the Honor Code for Lethal’s liking. These two are very evenly matched on the mat. Lethal gets Gresham to the floor long enough to pull off a suicide dive. Back inside when Gresham attempted a tornado DDT, Lethal escaped and dropkicked Gresham’s knee, then attempted a figure four leg lock. Gresham cuts off Lethal with a moonsault press. His knee buckles a bit, but he kicks out Lethal’s wrist before kneeling. Gresham controls Lethal by the wrist, even almost having his shoulders pinned while twisting on his arm. Lethal sneaks in a powerslam. Gresham tries avoiding the figure four but ultimately succumbs to it. Gresham rolls the both of them crashing to the floor to break the hold. After a chop battle to the outside, Lethal attempts a drop toe hold. Gresham halts it by holding onto a ringside chair, then considers using the chair on Lethal. Todd Sinclair takes it away and Lethal chastises Gresham, telling him it’s the only way he can beat Lethal. Gresham smacks him in the face and they break back down into a forearm exchange around ringside and back in the ring. Gresham kicks Lethal’s wrist to block the Lethal Injection. He tries a Magistral cradle, which Lethal reverses, then Gresham reverses into a small package. Lethal escapes and drops Gresham with a Cutter. He applies the figure four and this time Gresham grabs the ropes to escape. Lethal tries the Lethal Injection as is caught with a backslide. Lethal kicks out and hits the Lethal Combination. Lethal’s wrist is too hurt to attempt another Lethal Injection. Gresham kicks out the wrist twice. After peppering Lethal with slaps, he applies an Octopus Stretch, hyperextending Lethal’s arm. Gresham pulls him down to the mat and Lethal taps out at 17:18! No doubt this was a huge win for Gresham and a blow to Lethal’s ego. It validated Gresham’s means during their tenure as a team, and perhaps makes Lethal think he may have been the reason the team didn’t work as Gresham had accused. These two also have terrific chemistry and put on a really engaging wrestling match, which is always good to see. It reminded me of in 2007 when the Briscoes had troubles, so they beat the crap out of each other to get the issues out of their system, which resulted in them winning back the ROH World Tag Team Titles. This got Gresham and Lethal back on the same page (as illustrated) with a post-match hug and (spoiler) would lead them to greater success as a tandem in the future. ****

Bar Room Brawl
The Bouncers (Beer City Bruiser & Brain Milonas) vs. Silas Young & Vinny Marseglia

“Death Before Dishonor 2019” – Las Vegas, NV – 9.27.2019

Josh Woods joins commentary. Bruiser attacked Vincent during his entrance and Milonas came from the crowd to attack Young in the ring. Bruiser smashes a beer bottle over Vincent’s head and chokeslams him on the apron. Milonas suplexes Young on the floor. Marseglia sends Bruiser into the ring post. Young chop blocks Milonas back in the ring, then he and Marseglia zip tie Bruiser to the ropes. Young gives Bruiser a back cracker, then Marseglia drops Bruiser into the broken glass from the beer bottle with a Side Effect. As Young and Marseglia bring a table in the ring, Milonas finds the strength to break out of the zip ties. He backdrops Marseglia onto Young, then holds up Young for a side slam aided by a kick from Bruiser. Bruiser gives Marseglia a Samoan drop onto the glass and Milonas splashes back first onto him. Bruiser pulls out of a spare turnbuckle (the actual buckle, not the pad) and brings it into the ring. Marseglia gets hold of the buckle and hits Milonas in the forehead, then digs a piece of a broken pool cue into the wound! Bruiser saves him, but Young traps Bruiser in the corner in a seated position. Marseglia throws darts into his back and they stick! Unbelievably, even after that, Bruiser kicks out when Young hits the Pee Gee Waja Plunge. Milonas bashes both opponents with chair shots to the back. Young uses the chair to get Milonas outside where Marselgia pummels him onto a table. Marseglia lands the Red Rum Swanton off the top and onto Milonas through the table! Bruiser gives Young a Death Valley Driver on the apron. He superplexes Marseglia through two chairs inside the ring. Milonas DDT’s onto a chair and gets the pin at 14:25. I fully admit this exceeded my expectations, and I appreciated the creative use of bar room elements in the match, even if the darts in the back made my stomach turn. It was nice to see the Bouncers get a substantial win on PPV. ***¼

ROH World Championship
Matt Taven vs. RUSH

“Death Before Dishonor 2019” – Las Vegas, NV – 9.27.2019

Taven has been champion since 4.6.2019 and this is his twelfth defense. RUSH comes into this match with an unblemished singles record in ROH since debuting in December of 2018. Taven got in some superkicks early. RUSH overhead suplexed a charging Taven and went for the Bull’s Horns, but Taven escaped to the floor and pulled RUSH out, throwing him into the guardrails multiple times, including in front of RUSH’s father, son, and his brother Dragon Lee. RUSH backdrops Taven on the entrance ramp and throws him into the guardrails for retribution. Taven straight up drops him off the apron and onto the floor, it’s pretty rough looking. After a couple dives he lands the frog splash back in the ring for two. Taven works over RUSH’s back. RUSH hits a rebound German suplex, then in a fit of anger suplexes Taven on the floor, drops him onto a guardrail, and slams him onto the timekeeper’s table. RUSH fakes out Taven with a corner kick and then hits a shotgun dropkick off the top turnbuckle. He lands another dropkick off the apron and onto the floor. RUSH busts out a Jay Driller. Taven finds the strength to hip Just The Tip and then the Climax, but RUSH kicks out! RUSH German suplexes Taven. He goes for Bull’s Horns but Taven stops him with a spear. RUSH takes Just The Tip thrice. RUSH escapes a second climax and sends Taven clavicle first into the ring post. He puts Taven in the tree of woe and hits the Bull’s Horns. The regular Bull’s Horns gets RUSH the pin and the title at 16:02. This moment for RUSH had been percolating for a long time, however, the match was structured in such a way where it seemed totally plausible that Taven could retain. With RUSH being so popular (and so damn good) and Taven being a divisive figure it was the right place and time for the title change. I will say, I come away from these Best Of’s thinking much more of Taven as a champion then I did going in, especially the first two defenses on this collection and this title change. Taven shakes RUSH’s hand after the match and RUSH celebrates with his family. ***¾
(You can watch this match on YouTube for free!)

Overall: Of the three 2019 compilations I’ve reviewed so far, this is easily the best one. Not only did the time period covered had so many big events and some really great matches, but this compilation provided the most context for these matches, such as showing the build to RUSH’s title change and the dynamic of Gresham and Lethal evolving. I also found myself going to the Honor Club to seek out some matches missing from this set to get an even better picture of the entire story. This set gets an easy thumbs up.

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