Best in the World was another solid iPPV outing from Ring of Honor, with a number of interesting dynamics in the matches, throughout the show, which certainly helped to keep the show going forward. I didn’t manage to catch the show live, so couldn’t comment on the problems that occurred in the live iPPV stream, however having experienced the problems before I have to say I’m not too upset that this is the last of ROH’s live iPPV’s.
World Championship Match: Jay Briscoe © vs. Mark Briscoe
For me, the idea of two brothers fighting to see who is better, is a much more relatable idea, than say two brothers who had each other. Therefore, I anticipated this contest a lot more, than if say one of the Briscoe’s had turned on the other brother. The build to the contest was handled well with Mark being a logical challenger for Jay and making use of the years they had teamed together, with a quality contest against The American Wolves on ROH Television a few weeks ago. The face vs. face concept is one that is seen a lot more regularly in Ring of Honor than it is in either WWE or TNA, and this allows the competitors to focus on the more competitive element of the contest, rather than worry if they are getting the desired reaction from the crowd.
The contest started off well with some amateur style wrestling, each man exchanging a number of holds, with neither coming out on top, leading to separations each time. This set up the idea of how evenly match the brothers were well, with neither brother showing any signs of domination in the early goings. After the match settled down, it was Mark who took control of the bout, managing to frustrate Jay by outsmarting him on a number of occasions. There was an interesting spot where both men helped each put up a table at ringside, which I’m not sure how it was explained how the use of the table was legal, but it was certainly a unique moment, certainly something I haven’t witnessed before.
In the latter stages of the match, both men took a number of painful looking bumps, with Mark being power slammed from the top rope onto the outside, whilst Jay ended up being put through the table after a Froggy Bow from Mark. The match certainly needed these big moments to lift it to the next level and they worked in terms of pacing the match towards the finish. The finish the contest saw both men going back and forth with punches, even some redneck kung fu from Mark, until Jay eventually hit the Jay Driller for a two count. It took two further Jay Drillers and a Superkick but Jay eventually retained the ROH World Heavyweight Championship.
It was a good match between the two that flowed well and elevated as the match went a long. However, the ending may have been a little too over used by ROH, as we’ve seen similar ending to contests between Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards in 2011-12. Moving on from here, Jay would appear to have a number of challengers including Michael Elgin and Matt Hardy, both of which could produce some great matches, although if the rumours are to be believed The Briscoes are done with Ring of Honor, what that means for the World Title, I don’t know.
No Disqualification Match: Kevin Steen vs. Matt Hardy w/Steve Corino
I’ve enjoyed the development we’ve seen from Kevin Steen and has probably been the most effective attempt at long term booking we’ve seen from any of the bigger American promotions over the last couple of years. I was sceptical of Ring of Honor bringing in Matt Hardy though, when he made his return last September, however I think they’ve made good use of his popularity whilst also playing to the diehard Ring of Honor, by playing on the reason he is disliked by some internet wrestling fans. The rivalry has been built up to well, since Hardy joined SCUM at the 11th Anniversary show, with Steen’s reason for disliking Hardy’s participation in the group feeling legitimate and mirroring the feelings of a lot of the fans. ROH’s lean towards the longer build certainly allows these kinds of matches to feel a lot bigger than they would do in WWE with a month build to PPV.
Before the contest, SCUM leader Steve Corino cut a promo putting over Hardy, as well as attempting to get some cheap heat by insulting local heroes. It was a good promo, although I’m not sure how much it was needed, Hardy is more than capable of getting the heat on his own, especially when up against Kevin Steen. Steen replied by asking ROH Commisioner Nigel McGuiness to make the match a No Disqualification Match, Nigel quickly agreed to the change. This was a good decision by ROH, as I don’t think the match would have been nearly as it good as it turned out to be. Steen definitely benefits from this match type, as his style of wrestling works a lot better without the restrictions of a regular wrestling match.
Steen took an early advantage of the No Disqualification rules, with the use of fans crutch and sending Hardy crotch first in the ring post. Starting off so quickly certainly gave the match a fast pace throughout, and definitely brought a new element to the show. The match went on to include a dust bin, using in a nice cannonball spot from Steen, and each one of the tables, ladders and chairs that originally made Hardy a star. With Steen looking to F-5 Hardy through a table, the rest of SCUM quickly came out to help Hardy out. Rhett Titus got a package Piledriver for his troubles, with Hardy getting a near fall soon after with Side Effect. This became a running theme throughout here on in, with everytime Steen would look to be in control, a member of SCUM would come down to turn things around for Hardy. The match could be compared to the Bully Ray/Sting match from Slammiversary this year, however the main difference for me here, was SCUM members inferring separately to help Hardy regain some control, whilst Aces and Eights interference during the pre-mentioned contest, saw four member enter at once and get completely taken out by Sting!
With both men kicking out of the others respective finishing moves, you knew it was going to take something that utilized the No Disqualification gimmick to pick up the win for either Steen or Hardy. Hardy attempted to do so with a Side Effect onto the Ladder but this only managed a near fall. With help from Cliff Compton, Hardy set up two chairs, it was teased for a moment that a defiant Steen who spat in Hardy’s face might pull off a repeat of what we’ve seen a number of times in ROH and F-5 Hardy onto the chairs, however this was not to be the case with Hardy quickly gaining control and hitting a Twist of Fate onto the chairs for the victory. It was a decent enough contest and allowed Hardy and SCUM to pick up a victory somewhere on the card, but when compared to Steen’s similar matches against the likes of El Generico and Jimmy Jacobs, it doesn’t stand up that well.
World Tag Team Championship Three Way: C&C Wrestle Factory vs. reDRagon © vs. SCUM (Cliff Compton & Rhett Titus)
The dynamic here was another interesting one, as we had the heel tag team champions reDRagon, defending their gold against the face team of C&C Wrestle Factory, as well SCUM’s team of Cliff Compton and Rhett Titus, with essentially two heel tag teams, the make up of the match should have been cut and dry, however with one of the heel teams still representing Ring of Honor the other representing SCUM, it certainly gave it an air of unpredictability. The way the match was built up also gave it an exciting feel, with C&C winning a number one contenders match, but with SCUM already holding a victory over C&C, it was difficult to really say which of the two contenders had the momentum going into the bout.
Early on in the bout reDRagon and C&C Wrestle Factory worked together to take out SCUM, but drawing on the elements talked about earlier reDRagon quickly turned on C&C and the dynamic of the match was laid out clearly for all to see. ROH went for the idea of two people in the ring at one time, with the other four on the outside waiting to get tagged in. I can’t say this is my favourite configuration for this type of match up, mainly because someone usually has to take an illogical tag at least once during the match and eventually has to break out of the mould to head towards a finish. The better parts of this match for me, were the parts pitting reDRagon against C&C Wrestle Factory as the two strung together some exciting move sequences, unfortunately Compton & Titus didn’t quite seem to fit with the style of the match those two teams wanted to have and don’t quite work as a team for me.
Unfortunately, it was the sluggishness of the SCUM team that let the ending of the match down, with Cedric Alexander hitting Overtime on Kyle O’Reilly, it took what felt like an age for Compton and Titus to pull O’Reilly out of the ring to prevent the pinfall. SCUM were then out of place for a Caprice Coleman dive, making it seems like Coleman hardly touched them, yet they were meant to stay down for the finish of the match. reDRagon retained the title after Alexander hit a Brainbuster on O’Reilly only to receive a kick to the back of the head from Bobby Fish who draped O’Reilly over Alexander for the victory. This finish would have been helped from being worked a lot quicker and closer and generally felt like a bit of a let down.
The match itself wasn’t an awful contest, we aren’t talking Great Khali in terms of slowness either by no means. It was enjoyable, but I feel it would have been a lot better match if it were just a straight forward tag team match between any combinations of these teams, unfortunately attempting to mix all three styles of these tag teams didn’t quite pay off. I know I’ve said a lot of negative stuff here about Compton and Titus, however I actually do like both men, I just don’t think they make a particularly great team to watch in the ring, hopefully they both find new roles in ROH once the SCUM angle is over and done with.
Best of the Rest (in the World)
Matt Taven defended his World Television Champion in a Three Way with a similar dynamic to the Tag Team Championship Three Way, seeing ROH face Jay Lethal and SCUM member Jimmy Jacobs going after the belt. Personally, I felt that the styles of these three men meshed together a lot better than the tag team match, certainly made for a much more enjoyable contest to watch. The match also made a better use of the dynamic it had present, with each of the competitors happy to take out anyone in the match, we didn’t see a lot of double teaming because of this. I’ve said before that a three way type bout is at it’s best when all three competitors are involved for the optimum amount of time, however in this match we had more than three people involved, we had six! Yes, Television Champion Matt Taven was accompanied by not just Truth Martini but two Hoopla Hotties as well, all of whom got involved during the contest.
In between the interference there were number of nice three man spots, the highlight for me being Jimmy Jacobs stopping Taven’s Arm Trap Headlock Driver attempt on Lethal, to hit a Sliced Bread #2 on the Television Champion and straight in a Spinning Head Scissors on Lethal. The ending saw all three of Taven’s associates get involved, including Scarlett losing her top, much to the delight of the Du Burns Arena, until Jay Lethal hit Selezia with a Superkick as the powerful Hoopla Hotties looked to be attempting a version of Sheamus’ White Noise. Jacobs some how managed to hit Lethal with a version the Lethal Injection but with Truth Martini holding onto Jacobs, Taven slid in to retain his championship. It was an enjoyable match, and the ending would seem to tease future face turn for Jacobs as he really should have won the championship, a possible match with Matt Hardy could be on the cards.
In another interesting twist of dynamic, we had two faces go at it once again, in Tommasso Ciampa and Michael Elgin, to finish up the first half. However, with both men taking similar paths in Ring of Honor after leaving two major heel groups in ROH, in The House of Truth and The Embassy. The match proved that two big powerful men in the ring doesn’t have to be boring. The match was brutal contest, with a number of painful looking spots, including use of the hard floor on the outside (the mats had been removed) with Elgin suplexing Ciampa onto the floor, as well as a Kryptonite Krunch from Ciampa.
It was hard hitting through out, with some nice selling (and no selling) from both men. It looked like Ciampa might have got the win after managing to hit Project Ciampa on Elgin, only for Elgin to get his foot on the rope. Elgin eventually picked up the victory, after a number of hard strike and finishing up with the Decapitation Lariat for the pinfall. It was an unusual ending, after such a spot laden brutal match, but certainly helped to make both men look very credible competitors and allows Elgin to go strong into his ROH World Title match in August. QT Marshall tried to pick the bones after the match, but Elgin and Ciampa had enough about them to see off QT with just a look. QT seems to be becoming ROH’s comedy heel along side R.D. Evans, a role which is perhaps below him.
Adam Cole and Roderick Strong were also in action in a singles contest. As expected the match was a great technical display by both men, with a number of different holds exchanged throughout. Cole logically focused on Strong’s leg for most of the match, in an attempt to soften up the leg for a possible Figure Four Leg Lock latter on in the contest. The end of the match saw Cole superkick Strong through the timekeepers table, with Cole attempting to get Strong back in the ring for the pin, he instead decided to take the countout victory. It was a clever move, that finally seemed to cement Cole’s slow heel turn that we’ve seen since his title shot at Border Wars. I’m interested see where Adam Cole goes from here, and hopefully a much more heated rivalry with Strong could be on the cards.
The under card also featured a very good tag team contest between The American Wolves and Adrenaline Rush. The Wolves certainly did a lot to help the younger team in this match, in terms of making them look like a credible tag team, with the match being pretty much even for most of the bout. There was some great double team work through out from both teams, but Adrenaline Rush’s offense certainly stood out because it looked like they might pull out an upset victory during these times. The ending saw ACH miss a 450 splash allowing Davey Richards to pick up the victory for the American Wolves. With ROH losing a number of tag teams of the last two years including Kings of Wrestling, Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, The All Night Express and now The Briscoes, Ring of Honor could really do with some more new teams, like Adrenaline Rush, I look forward to seeing more out of them in the future.
The show kicked off with BJ Whitmer taking on Mike Bennett. It was decent opening contest but nothing particularly out of the ordinary. Bennett worked over Whitmer for a lot of the match, until Whitmer began to no sell punches to make a comeback, which involved some nice suplexes from Whitmer. The ending saw Brutal Bob Evans try to get involved, only to get dispatched by Whitmer, with Bennett distracted by Evans, Whitmer hit an Exploder Suplex for the victory. It was a good ending but only to set up what happened afterwards with Maria Kanellis blaming Brutal Bob for the loss and Bennett to seemingly dump Evans from the group. This seemed like a logical move and probably should have been done a long time ago with Brutal Bob seemingly like a third wheel for the entertaining duo of Bennett and Kanellis.
1. The Briscoes are as exciting to watch as opponents as they are as a Tag Team.
2. Matt Hardy is still capable of putting on a good match, even if it wasn't one of Steen's bests (He's set the bar pretty high in those kinds of matches)
3. Steve Corino and Nigel McGuiness are both entertaining commentators, but I couldn't listen to Corino for an entire iPPV.