Review: ROH World Championship Tournament – First Round Matches

Mike Killam

Earlier this summer Jay Briscoe was stripped of the ROH World Heavyweight Championship after getting caught in a company war with S.C.U.M. (aka he didn't re-sign his contract), and he was forced to vacate the belt. Nigel McGuinness then announced a tournament that would span several months, leading up to their annual Death Before Dishonor event in the birthplace of ROH, Philadelphia. We've traveled across several states and even left the country for this tournament already, with the final three matches looming this Friday.

I'm here to take a look at each of the matches, in an order that will make sense to you, and help the consumer figure out which events are worth your time and money. Yes, in order to watch the entire tournament you're going to have to spend some cash, but my job is to spend it first, and let you know what's what. 

FIRST ROUND MATCHES

All eight of the first round matches are actually available now for free on Ring of Honor TV, but they were recorded at live events I paid to see. I feel a little ripped off, but there's some phenominal content on both All-Star Extraveganza and Manhattan Mayhem V to lessen the pain. The tournament matches claim a large chunk of both cards, but there's enough tag team action and guest stars to make it worth it. Maybe.

(1) Jay Lethal vs. Sonjay Dutt

Sonjay Dutt is one of the smoothest workers I've ever seen. He rarely misses his spots, and has some of the coolest, most innovative counters. There was a point at the start of this match – and words can't do it justice – where he escaped a tombstone piledriver, threw himself back onto Lethal and took him down with a headscissors; all one fluid motion, mind you. The crowd was off and on, and really didn't have a favorite so long as both guys were doing cool moves. Luckily there were a lot of them; maybe too many for my taste, as Lethal committed my least favorite indie wrestling sin, no-selling power moves just to get right back up and try for one of your own. It just drives me crazy; at least Hulk Hogan only did it once per match in his day, and had the decency to finish off his matches with it. This particular incident struck a chord because it's also my #1 pet peeve when a guy no-sells a superkick. Considering that Lethal put away Dutt with a superkick and the Lethal Injection, it just didn't flow right to me that he took exactly the same move moments prior, like it was nothing. 

Winner: Jay Lethal

Rating: ***

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