Wednesday, September 28, 2022

5 Things To Watch For At ROH Death Before Dishonor

Ring of Honor has a long, important history that includes the rise of top wrestling talents and major stars like Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Samoa Joe, and quite a few others. The promotion gets particular credit for its role in keeping independent wrestling, and a more work-rate-oriented style alive and thriving.

That’s during a time after WCW and ECW were out of the picture and in a time when WWE turned to its bread and butter of churning out super hero types like John Cena and Batista in the mid-2000s.

The promotion lost some buzz over the years, though, and the emergence of AEW in particular seemed to displace ROH from the marketplace. So, it was quite a turn when AEW owner Tony Khan bought ROH and announced the brand would carry forward.

Death Before Dishonor will be ROH’s first PPV since Supercard of Honor over WrestleMania weekend, and perhaps more importantly, its first PPV formally under the ownership of Tony Khan.

What Is Claudio Castagnoli’s Future?

Claudio Castagnoli was arguably the hottest free agent in wrestling after he declined a contract renewal offer from WWE. The rumor mill suggested he might wind up back under the WWE banner, but the landscape changed when he instead debuted for AEW, making an immediate impact as a mystery opponent for Zack Sabre Jr. at Forbidden Door and an addition to the Blackpool Combat Club, factoring into the second-ever Blood and Guts Match.

At Death Before Dishonor, Castagnoli challenges John Gresham for the ROH Championship. Given his WWE pedigree and the momentum he’s established in AEW so far, he wouldn’t be out of place winning.

However, reigning as ROH Champion would seem to imply more of a commitment to that brand—not that Castagnoli couldn’t still appear for AEW, but that he might be less likely to move into the AEW Championship picture or otherwise become firmly entrenched in the Dynamite rotation. The results Saturday night may be very telling about the former-Cesaro’s future.

Does The Show Have An AEW PPV Atmosphere?

AEW can be polarizing among the wrestling community, but one point that falls undeniably in their favor is that their hardcore fans create an electric atmosphere every time AEW stages a major show.

AEW PPVs in particular have a strong record of not only satisfying fans with their match quality and booking, but the crowd contributing to the success of the show, staying lively even for almost all of a marathon show like May’s Double or Nothing.

ROH Death Before Dishonor can’t necessarily be expected to emulate quite that same feeling, with a bit less passionate pre-established fan base, a bit less marquee talent, and a venue with only about half the capacity of buildings AEW typically runs for PPVs.

Just the same, with the buzz of AEW crossovers, not to mention ROH relaunching, there is reason for optimism, and it will be interesting to see if the live crowd makes this show feel like a huge deal before the first bell even rings.

How this atmosphere plays out may prove important in determining how Tony Khan and company approach ROH on the whole moving forward.

Where Does FTR Go From Here?

FTR is one of the most talented tandems of their generation, clearly committed to the tag team craft, and earning endorsements from no lesser names than Bret Hart and CM Punk. Many fans anticipated they’d be challengers to and likely as not take the AEW Tag Team Championship off The Young Bucks, but that honor went to Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland.

There are all manner of possibilities for where the AEW tag titles go from here, but if FTR retains the ROH Tag Team Championship at Death Before Dishonor, it does create questions of whether they’ll be more focused on defending those titles than chasing gold in AEW.

One way or another, FTR vs. The Briscoe Brothers is likely to be great—especially under Two-Out-Of-Three-Falls rules—but there’s a question baked into the result about whether FTR gives The Briscoes their win back and moves on to other things, or cements themselves among ROH’s top acts.

Will Women’s Wrestling Steal The Show?

Merceds Martinez has impressed as a dominant ROH Women’s Champion since spring, showcasing the hard-hitting and technical style she never quite got to put on display during her WWE tenure. At Death Before Dishonor, she faces one of the most intriguing challengers available to her an another seasoned veteran and a legit technical wizard—Serena Deeb.

Like other title matches on this card, there’s a possibility the loser, in particular, may be featured in AEW in the near future. The bigger question, though, is if ROH may do the unlikely and emerge with a women’s title match that steals the show on Saturday, or perhaps even arrives as a consensus pick for one of the best women’s matches anywhere this year.

How Separate Will ROH Be From AEW?

One of the key questions that will hang over fans throughout Death Before Dishonor is the degree to which the event signals a new birth for ROH, or the degree to which ROH talent will remain more of a subsection of the AEW roster.

Wrestling fans are conditioned to feel jaded about separate wrestling brands under the same ownership, given WWE’s less than consistent handling of its different rosters over the years. On one hand fans might have more faith in Tony Khan to differentiate; on the other hand, the Forbidden Door concept he’s so infatuated with may mean that, by design, Khan keeps the borders between AEW and ROH loose.

Regardless, Death Before Dishonor may signal what the future holds in terms how much this show feels like an extension of AEW, who goes over, if any AEW talent make surprise appearances, or how the evening otherwise turns out.

ROH Death Before Dishonor 2022 may have more buzz around it than any ROH-branded event in years for all of the questions hanging over it, the brand’s absence making fans hunger for it, and talents like Claudio Castagnoli and Samoa Joe being back in the mix. However, the major matches play out and wherever the titles fall, it’s sure to be an event worth watching, and one that charts a course for ROH and AEW in different ways moving forward.

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