The first Ring of Honor pay-per-view of the Tony Khan era is now in the books, but what went down and what did it tell us about the future of the promotion?
Some people will consider Supercard of Honor, over WrestleMania weekend 2022, to be the first Ring of Honor PPV of the Tony Khan era, but in truth, that event was oven-ready by the time TK purchased the promotion from its often-indifferent former owners, Sinclair Broadcasting.
Khan made some tweaks to the booking, of course, flexing his new power and putting some of his spare AEW stars into championship positions. But really, Supercard of Honor was the end of an era, not the beginning.
Death Before Dishonor marked the true start of the Tony Khan era of Ring of Honor, an event booked with a fresh start in mind. One in which ROH and AEW would remain separate entities – but sister promotions, able to lean on one another when it comes to stars and storylines, as we’ve seen in the last few months.
A new era for Ring of Honor
This was a very different Ring of Honor show to the ones we’ve had in recent years, and it was by far the biggest crowd the promotion has drawn since 2019’s G1 Supercard – and if we’re being honest, that was mostly down to that show being co-promoted by the larger New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Death Before Dishonor felt much grander, especially when we consider the lockdown era of Ring of Honor (not so long ago) often felt like the promotion’s death rattle. This was despite putting on some of the best technical matches we had seen in a long time. Yet this event was a far cry from that, feeling like a rebirth and one that reminded us of a smaller AEW live show at times.
Yet the PPV was quintessentially a ROH show, balancing familiarity with freshness. The AEW DNA was clear, but the show set itself apart from its adoptive sister, retaining its original identity in the process.
After watching the show, it’s become obvious to us that Tony Khan was the right person to buy the company. When that news broke, we were cautiously optimistic, but also slightly worried. Our fear was the ROH would simply be engulfed by AEW.
Sure, the brand would be respected and live on in some form, but we dreaded the hypothetical day when the ROH World Championship would be unified with the AEW World Championship. Or the Pure Title merged with the All-Atlantic Championship, the TV title with the TNT, and so on.
Essentially, we were worried that we’d see a repeat of what happened to Evolve Wrestling once that was purchased by WWE. Evolve, just ceased to be – and it deserved better. We imagine something similar would have happened to ROH if Vince MacMahon had been able to buy the promotion instead of Tony Khan, and for long-time fans, such a fate doesn’t bear thinking about.
ROH arguably has more prestige than Evolve did, so Vince may have liked the idea of unifying its titles with his own as he did with WCW. After all, in 2018 it was Ring of Honor and Bullet Club giving the WWE Chairman sleepless nights, not AEW. But after doing that and uploading ROH’s incredible back catalogue to the WWE Network, ROH would have been gone forever.
Luckily, none of this happened, and if Death Before Dishonor 2022 is anything to go by, Tony Khan is sticking to his word. Meaning ROH is being rebuilt from the ground up, and now has the backing of a billionaire – one that just so happens to be a huge fan of the brand, who has also built a successful wrestling infrastructure (to rival WWE) from scratch.
Death Before Dishonor results breakdown
Death Before Dishonor offered an enjoyable pre-show with a rather generous 4 matches. We sometimes – only sometimes – roll our eyes when Colt Cabana’s music hits, but he really was the best person to open the show. Before joining AEW, Cabana was synonymous with ROH, and his presence, right at the start of the PPV, gave fans a familiar face to ease them into the event.
Although it was Cabana’s opponent who stole this match, despite losing it. Anthony Henry is ridiculously talented, and we feel like ROH is a good fit for him. His striking ability and technical aptitude could see him go far in Ring of Honor. He’s also excellent at playing a violent and unhinged heel. Just go watch his feuds with Darby Allin and JD Drake from Evolve. There is some serious potential here.
We were slightly disappointed to see Brian Cage and The Gates of Agony relegated to the pre-show. Cage fans have been waiting for his return for a long time since he vanished from AEW television. But here’s hoping this trio of monsters, under Tully Blanchard’s tutelage find their way to championship gold before long. In fact, a certain Peacock and his Boys seem ripe for the plucking since they won the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Championships that same evening.
Claudio Castagnoli beating Jonathan Gresham for the ROH World Championship was the right decision. Gresham is fantastic, but a new era calls for a new champ and this has been a long time coming for Claudio. It was a little strange to see this match before the ROH Pure and TV titles were defended, this being the biggest prize in the company, but we understand why it was done from a booking point of view.
It was a good night for the Blackpool Combat Club as Claudio’s stablemate Wheeler Yuta defeated Daniel Garcia for the Ring of Honor Pure Championship. We were interested to see what would happen to the Pure title in the hands of a ‘sports entertainer,’ but this was probably the right call for the future of ROH. It was also refreshing to see two competitors not burn through all their rope breaks in ten minutes.
Rush and his younger brother Dragon Lee had a hard-hitting match that saw Rush deploy some nefarious tactics to win. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will this spill into AEW? Or will a possible Los Ingobernables civil war be saved for ROH TV when that arrives?
Mercedes Martinez defeated Serena Deeb for the Ring of Honor Women’s World Championship. This cements Martinez as ROH’s premier female star as we move into a new era for the promotion. Deeb may continue to chase Martinez or the AEW Women’s Champion Thunder Rosa. But what’s clear is both companies need their own separate women’s roster eventually.
The return of Samoa Joe defending the Ring of Honor TV Championship against a heel Jay Lethal was everything we hoped it would be. Lethal reminded us why ROH considered him ‘The Franchise’ for so long and Joe just did what Joe does best. The right man won, and we honestly think that the Samoan Submission Machine is one of the stars that the new and improved ROH should build the company around.
Coming to the main event, all we can say is sorry Usos, Youg Bucks, and Good Brothers. These two teams are the best tag team wrestlers on the planet – and once again they proved it. FTR retained the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championships against the Briscoe Brothers and continue to be the belt collectors.
We can see why this was chosen to be the main event of the show, as it stole it, and incredibly, lasted over forty minutes without ever letting up. The Briscoes are probably the most celebrated ROH tag team of all time, so we’re surprised to see FTR beat them for a second time on their home turf. The question now is, will FTR become ROH wrestlers, or will they continue to have a foot in both of Tony Khan’s camps, at least until ROH TV returns?
We’re surprised that EC3 and Adam Scherr didn’t make an appearance, especially after they made such an impression at Supercard of Honor back in April 2022. However, they could be doing their own thing on the indies and may have been booked for that show before the Tony Khan purchase. Still, it would be fun to see them unleash the Titan again.
The future of Ring of Honor under Tony Khan
Moving forward, Tony Khan now has a tough task ahead of him; he needs to decide which talents call ROH home and which ones remain with AEW. We imagine overlap between both companies will always happen, and we look forward to it, but for ROH to not cannibalise AEW, the talent pools will need to be separate – for the most part.
ROH feuds will need to play out on AEW TV until the promotion has its own slot, but this will get confusing to casual viewers if it goes on too long. Both promotions will need to walk their own paths before converging again at a later date, perhaps an annual AEW vs ROH PPV could be on the cards one day?
Speaking of PPVs, along with AEW’s calendar of live events, if TK decides to keep the rest of ROH’s PPVs after Death Before Dishonor, such as Final Battle, the Anniversary show, etc, then he’ll find himself with a full year’s worth of premium events.
Khan could, feasibly, run an AEW PPV one month and an ROH one the next. This would prevent ROH and AEW from competing with each other, allow for more build time, and always have an event to sell every month. It would also give him as many PPVs as WWE, and named events that are already known to the wrestling community in terms of branding.
While not a perfect show, Death Before Dishonor is exactly what Ring of Honor needed to come back swinging. A lively crowd, an injection of new alongside existing talent, a bigger budget, a clear path forward, and some memorable moments. It is a very exciting time to be a wrestling fan, and quite possibly the most excited we’ve ever been when it comes to Ring of Honor.