On July third, the unthinkable happened. Ring of Honor vacated it’s title with an announcement put forth on Youtube by matchmaker Nigel McGuinness. Former reigning Champion Jay Briscoe was injured coupled with internet reports that he and his brother Mark were interested in testing the waters up in New York. A sixteen man tournament was set up with many names that have competed on past ROH shows to crown a new Champion. The list of competitors were
– Michael Elgin
– Adam Cole
– Jay Lethal
– Kevin Steen
– Brian Kendrick
– Paul London
– Tommaso Ciampa
– Matt Taven
– Karl Anderson
– Roderick Strong
– Sonjay Dutt
– BJ Whitmer
– Winner of Silas Young vs. Adam Page on 7/27
– Winner of Facebook Vote (ACH, Caprice Coleman, Cedric Alexander, Tadarius Thomas & QT Marshall)
– Mark Briscoe
– Michael Bennett
Eventually Silas Young and ACH were added into the tournament and we were off and running to what was a historic Death Before Dishonor XI for multiple reasons. There were fantastic bouts that were all shown on ROH syndicated TV but also on VOD releases of the live events with some honorable mentions being Elgin vs Anderson, Briscoe vs Cole, and more. It was the first time the ROH title had been vacated since its inception in 2002 and it was almost ironic that it was Nigel McGuinness who had to take it away from Jay Briscoe because of injuries suffered at the hands of SCUM when Nigel had been a much lauded champion during his reign for working while severely injured.
On September 20th it was down to four excellent talents, Tommaso Ciampa, Kevin Steen, Michael Elgin, and Adam Cole. While many fans made their brackets in a variety of ways, it was highly speculated that the finals would come down to Adam Cole who had slowly been showing that he was growing more desperate to do what it took to win and Michael Elgin who had a chance to be given the ROH World Championship and turned it down for the sake of winning it the honorable way. Death Before Dishonor XI was also historic because it became a free iPPV with ROH teaming up with Go Fight Live again to give the fans a taste of what could be. Unfortunately the test was as much a failure as it was all those years ago when ROH first worked with GFL and while the first half of the show went almost perfectly, the last half was unseen by many. But it did not deter the ROH fans from showing up on Twitter, Facebook, and other sites reporting results to find out what would go down on the historic event.
Adam Cole defeated Tommaso Ciampa with a finish not seen often. Ciampa was caught in the figure four and Cole began kicking him hard in the face. Ciampa slumped over and was pinned. Michael Elgin and Kevin Steen lived up to many people’s expectations again as they delivered a match that told a great story and in the end even though Elgin won, he was worse for wear. It had a few great spots including a deadlift of Steen by Elgin and a few suplexes that probably shook the ground underneath the ring. But, in the end it came down to Elgin and Cole.
While the match was difficult to view due to the all the internet issues, the match ended up in a surprising fashion with Adam Cole defeating Michael Elgin after repeated German suplexes and the Florida Key for the pin. Many had surmised that there would be a turn here by Cole, that Cole would reach his wits end and do something dastardly to win, but it was what came after that cemented this night as unforgettable to all Cole fans.
The former Champion Jay Briscoe was there to present the ROH World Championship to the winner and after he graciously put it in the hands of Adam Cole, Cole would superkick Jay in the back of the head and then smash the title into Elgin.. Cole would end the night by posing at the top of the ramp and blowing a kiss to Nigel McGuinness who had been at ringside all night. What does the future hold for Ring of Honor and its new Champion Adam Cole is not written yet, but no doubt Adam Cole is a deserving Champion no matter his post match actions and I think we’re in for some unexpected things and an exciting time to be a Ring of Honor fan.