Lowell, MA, added another historical event to its pro wrestling resume with the first full-on presentation of Tony Khan’s Ring of Honor with Death Before Dishonor. Many wondered what match would close out the show.
Would it be the World Championship or the Tag Team Championship?
A lot of fans feel the World Title should always occupy the top spot. I subscribe to the belief that the right match should headline a show.
FTR defeated The Briscoes in an excellent 2 out of 3 falls affair to retain the ROH Tag Team Titles in the main event. Briscoes took the first fall, with FTR taking falls two and three.
This version of ROH is all about FTR/Briscoes. Their match at Supercard of Honor has Match of the Year consideration, and Dax Harwood’s slew of great singles matches has many proclaiming him Wrestler of the Year. FTR is one of the most popular acts in AEW and is featured weekly on television.
Claudio Castagnoli defeated Jonathan Gresham in the opening contest to become the new ROH World Champion. On paper, it’s a phenomenal match. When the bell rang, it was a 50/50 showcase where both men wanted to display their skills and prove who was the best wrestler in the world.
It was a fun match, but it wouldn’t have hit the same if it had ended the show. FTR vs. Briscoes had the richer story to tell. Claudio debuted in AEW under one month ago, and the bout with Gresham was announced a week before the show.
Some are unhappy that Gresham lost the title, and it’s easy to understand why. He never got a real run with the championship. However, Tony Khan is trying to score a TV deal for ROH, which will be easier to obtain with the former Cesaro as champion.
Speaking as a promoter, it’s unwise to make booking decisions based on sentiment unless that sentiment is good business. Khan inherited Gresham as champion when he purchased ROH. The new owner of any company will replace the old regime with their own people.
Gresham dropping the title is not a slight on him as a wrestler. If anything, he’s a victim of circumstances that no one could have predicted. At the end of the day, new era, new champion.
Samoa Joe continues his steak of producing great moments in the Mill City as he toppled Jay Lethal to retain the ROH Television Title. Joe’s music hit before Lethal could finish his entrance, and they started brawling in the aisle and around the ring for 10 minutes before the bell rang.
Wheeler Yuta beat Daniel Garcia to hold on to the ROH Pure Championship. As a Pure rules match, I didn’t like it. There was some excellent wrestling on display, but most of the outing felt like a regular match instead of the technical showcase Pure rules promises.
Mercedes Martinez vs. Serena Deeb was my most anticipated match on the card. Martinez is solid, and Deeb is the most underrated women’s wrestler in the world. Of course, they didn’t disappoint and put on an excellent match. Judging by the crowd reaction, Deeb should have won.
Circling back to the main event, FTR/Briscoes made lightning strike twice. Three falls produced three different matches filled with 40 minutes of action and suspense. Sounds cliche, but the execution of all the key elements puts this one in a league of its own.
The Briscoes trapped FTR in a pair of single-arm camel clutches during the third fall. Harwood and Wheeler were positioned face to face while in excruciating pain and grabbed each other’s hands in a sign of unity while preventing the other from tapping out.
It was a beautiful moment that got everyone in the Paul Tsongas Center on their feet chanting, “FTR,” encapsulating the best of professional wrestling.
I got to put my press hat on this evening to cover the event for Gerweck.net, where you can get complete results for Death Before Dishonor.