By:Ron Musto (Turnbuckle Topics)
Let me preface this article by saying that I was sitting in the 3rd row for Ring of Honor’s Best in the World ppv and it was an incredible experience. The stars of Ring of Honor seemed to try and put an emphasis on fan interaction by tossing numerous people into the fans sitting ringside and performing multiple spots on the outside of the ring. Brody King even landed a tope suicida and immediately starting flipping off a heckler in the crowd nearby.
I’m sure many of you have seen the photos of the attendance on Friday, June 28th at the UMBC Event Center in Baltimore Maryland, it was less than fantastic. But as we have seen progressing over time, Ring Of Honor has been getting somewhat “lost in the shuffle” between the creation of AEW and the entire wrestling universe wondering where the biggest stars in the world are going to sign a contract to. Ring of Honor prides itself on tradition and being responsible for molding and creating future superstars such as CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Daniel Bryan, Austin Aries, Jay Lethal, Seth Rollins and more. Relying on the morals and qualities that have brought them they success they’ve had, Best in the World was a very fun pay per view to be in attendance for, with some very impressive professional wrestling.
We start off the pre-show with Rush vs Flip Gordon (don’t worry, we’ll come back to him). This match, for the most part, was very fast pace with an emphasis in strong style. With multiple chops echoing throughout the Event Center, dives to the outside, acrobatic exchanges and a Bulls Horns from Rush that damn near kicked Flip Gordon’s head off. Rush gets the win in a match that grabbed the audience’s attention very quickly.
To kick off the main show, we had Dalton Castle vs Dragon Lee in a match that really showcased Castle’s in-ring ability. As we have seen on Castle’s social media accounts, he has been training in couter-acting the luchador style and making it more ground and pound. To start the match we almost had a quick finish a-la the G1 Supercard event in MSG against Rush, but Castle managed to kick out. This match went close to 20 minutes and saw Castle brutalize Dragon Lee but not without Lee getting a chance to showcase his in ring ability that earned him the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship. Castle picks up the W after a Bangarang and a nice tribute to Rush, hitting the Bulls Horns on Lee for the 1-2-3.
Next up we saw 2 members of The Allure (Angelina Love and Mandy Leon) vs Kelly Klein and Jenny Rose. This match was a relatively quick one, going roughly 10 minutes with The Allure picking up the W, highlighted by the offenses of Kelly Klein and Angelina Love, but was quickly overshadowed by the debuting Maria Manic. Manic took out allure and even beat the hell out of a few ROH security members, even picking one of them up and executing a vicious Torture Rack! The Maneater is here!
Next on the card was the final match in the best of 3 series between Kenny King and Jay Lethal. This match went on for about 15 minutes and the audience figured out very early on that this was going to be a good one. King and Lethal are known to know every move in each other’s arsenal and know how and when to counter it. King took advantage of Lethal injured left arm very early on and let the whole crowd know it. He started saying “ohhh, im in his head yall” and “he can’t beat me” in reference to Lethal. This match included a shooting star press from King and even King executing Lethal’s finisher, The Lethal Injection, on the creator of the move. King picks up the win and wins the best of 3 series against arguably the greatest ROH star of all time. Look out world.
The Pure Rules match between Silas Young and Jonathan Gresham was next on the agenda at Best in the World. This match didn’t quite get over with the Baltimore crowd, but was very technically sound. “Pure Rules” meant that each ster was only given 3 rope breaks and a limited amount of strikes to the head before he would be disqualified. This match was slower paced as it was based around the traditional views of wrestling and ended with Young tapping to a submission hold applied by Gresham.
Next up we had The Briscoes vs. Nick Aldis & Eli Drake. That’s right, we find out earlier in the night that Nick Aldis’ “mystery partner” is none other than the newest signee to the NWA, E-LI DRAKE! Drake looked to be in phenomenal shape for this match. Sure, there was a little bit of ring rust but nobody’s perfect. The Briscoes were the OVERWHELMING favorite in Baltimore. They received the biggest entrance pop of the night and made sure to take some time to celebrate with their fans before and after the match. This match would end in a count-out with the Briscoes putting Nick Aldis through a table in the middle of the ring. This match was a lot of fun because of the crowd atmosphere and #DemBoyz using that to their advantage.
Getting toward the end of the card, we get the ROH TV Title Match: Champion Shane Taylor vs Bandido. Taylor really showed signs that he could be a top heel in the company in this match. Taylor was taking jabs at people in the audience every chance he got while also finding time to put a beating on Bandido and retain his ROH TV Title. This was a pretty good match with Bandido really selling the fact that he couldn’t get Taylor off his feet, but later CATCHING HIM as he jumps off the second rope. Taylor even showed flashes of improved stamina and athleticism running the ropes in exchanges with the swift luchador. Ultimately, Bandido took the L in this match but these two meshed a little bit better than people thought they were going to.
Going on second to last was, in my opinion, the best match on the show, the ROH Six Man Title Match: Champions Villain Enterprises vs Lifeblood. This match started with a very Road Warrior-esque entrance from PCO, Brody King, and The Villain Marty Scurll of Villain Enterprises. This match not only showcased the strong suites of each member of Villain Enterprises, it also showed a lot of people that Haskins, Williams, and Black of Lifeblood has what it takes to compete with one of the top factions in the world right now. This match shined a spotlight on the “inhuman” toughness of PCO, the larger than life luchador Brody King, and the leader and orchestrator of Villain Enterprises, Marty Scurll. VE picked up the victory in a very entertaining match but was quickly overshadowed by the actions that took place post-match. During the post match scuffle, Flip Gordon made a run-in to save the members of Lifeblood from attack. Haskins immediately offered Gordon a Lifeblood t-shirt which Flip accepted and continued to put on. All of a sudden the VE logo appears on the video board and Marty Scurll appears and begins to talk about how he is now announcing the 4th member of Villain Enterprises. He says that he found him right here in the United States, he is “The Mercenary”, and then the camera pans to a very angry looking FLIP GORDON!! Flip immediately attacks life blood and hits a superkick before escaping the ring and a beatdown from Lifeblood. FLIP IS THE 4TH MAN!
We end the Best in the World ppv with the main event for the ROH World Championship between Champion Matt Taven and Jeff Cobb. Jeff Cobb had not been pinned or submitted in Ring of Honor heading in to this match. Champion Matt Taven was received well in Baltimore, compared to MSG. The Baltimore crowd was very happy with Taven as their champion and the crowd seemed to be split 60/40 in favor of Taven. This match included Cobb tossing Taven around like a ragdoll and catching him in different suplex positions for the majority of the match. However, this match didn’t last as long as people were anticipating. This match seemed to abruptly end just under 10 minutes with Matt Taven hitting Jeff Cobb with his finisher to pick up the 1-2-3. Cobb is no longer undefeated in ROH and Matt Taven is still the ROH World Champion. Taven then grabbed a mic after the show and talked about how Baltimore holds a special place in his heart for being the city that made his dreams come true. He talks about a match he had in Baltimore that was the reason he got signed to ROH and the reason he is standing their as the champ. He then gets very serious and talks about how people know that ROH is in a “transition period” but how each and every person in that locker room gave and will continue to give everything they have for the enjoyment of the fans. Babyface promo from the champion, big signs of a true locker room leader.
All in all, Ring of Honor’s “Best in the World” pay per view was a great experience in person and came off as a very fun show with a wide variety of pro wrestling styles and personalities. ROH isn’t getting the recognition it deserves these days, with technically sound matches that can turn hardcore in the blink of an eye and over the top personalities, makes Ring of Honor must-see television for any wrestling fan.