Live from Catonsville, Maryland, Ring of Honor (ROH) wrestling presents it’s ninth annual Best in the World event, headlined by a massive triple threat match for the ROH World Championship. Defending champion Dalton Castle has been pinned by both his challengers in recent times, as two of the Bullet Club’s top competitors – Marty Scurll and “The American Nightmare” Cody – will be attempting to take the title from the flamboyant champ. Old hostilities are renewed once more as current IWGP Tag Team Champions look to add to their collection as The Young Bucks (real brother Matt & Nick Jackson) face off against the ROH Tag Team Champions, the Briscoes (real brother, Mark and Jay Briscoe) for the ROH Titles, in front of a nearly hometown crowd for the defending champions. The ROH Television Title is on the line in a Baltimore Street Fight as Punishment Martinez defends against Adam “Hangman” Page, while the Woman of Honor Champion, Sumie Sakai, will lead her team of four in an 8-woman tag team contest. Austin Aries, KUSHIDA and The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia) are also on the cards in matches against Kenny King, Jay Lethal and Los Ingobernables de Japon trio of BUSHI, EVIL and SANADA, respectively.
+ The Briscoes (Mark & Jay Briscoe) (c) vs The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (ROH Tag Team Championships): these two teams have such great chemistry, and this was another in their long line of fantastic matches. The crowd was absolutely bonkers from the very beginning, and every twist and turn in the match was met with a raucous reaction. The Bucks cop a lot of flack for being one dimensional, but matches like this prove that argument wrong in every sense. I’m always a half-fan of the Briscoes (I like Jay much more than Mark, and prefer his solo work) but then a match like this happens and I happily reign myself in and admit they are a fantastic team. This was easily the match of the night
+ Jay Lethal vs KUSHIDA: I really enjoyed this match. The old ‘get my wins back’ story is so simple, but Lethal is good enough to really make it work with everyone – which is absolutely not to imply KUSHIDA is anything less one of the best in the world. Interestingly, it was KUSHIDA who played the bad guy for the most part, and while I truly do love Jay Lethal, his Lethal Injection finisher needs to go. I can’t take him seriously with such a contrived finishing move. Even just a regular cutter would do better, maybe with some less ridiculous theatrics
+ Austin Aries vs Kenny King: this was good, but it really should have been for the Television Title, as the story would have made much more sense. I had forgotten just how good Aries was when he was not being shackled by the WWE and 205 Live storytelling style. The K-I-N-G King is also really good, but whatever heights this match got to, it needed that extra oomph of being for the belt
+ Sumi Sakai, Jenny Rose, Mayu Iwatani & Tenille Dashwood vs Kelly Klein & Odeo Tai (Hazuki, Kagetsu & Hana Kimura): there was only one small hiccup in otherwise a really good match. Holy cow Hana Kimura is a cutie, and her segments with forever favourite Tenille Dashwood (fka WWE’s Evil Emma) were moments from my dreams. All three of the Odeo Tai women were really good at being bad guys, with the obscenely powerful Kelly Lein as their local villain lead. All four good-guy ladies were great as the underdogs, and while Sakai was a good choice for inaugural champion, I still think Dashwood was the better choice. All that aside, I enjoyed this significantly more than I thought I would
+ The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) (c) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA) (ROH Six-Man Tag Team Championships): as the opener, this was fun. THe crowd was excited for the LIJ trio, but never enough to outshine the ROH “home team”. Marseglia was the most impressive Kingdom member (I’ve never much cared for any of them, to be honest), but all of LIJ were fantastic
– Dalton Castle vs Cody (w/ Brandi Rhodes) vs Marty Scurll (ROH World Championship): this was not a bad match by any means, but it never felt like the epic they had hyped it to be. The crowd loved Castle and Marty, the crowd really wanted Cody or Castle to win, and the crowd reacted big to every time Cody and Marty interacted (both being Bullet Club buddies and all), which made for a good crowd response, but it is so clear that Castle is really banged up, and this match was never really going to be as smooth as it otherwise could have. Any other time or place, this may have been a positive here, but in this case I just can’t do it
– Punishment Martinez (c) vs Adam “Hangman” Page (Baltimore Street Fight for the ROH Television Championship): this didn’t do much for me. I remember the strap match Page had with Kazarian at this same event last year, and how that was possibly the beginning of me turning around on Hangman, but the same is not true here. Punishment is always sort of on the cusp of being a guy I like, but I think it is more his entrance that I enjoy. I dunno, this was not quite as wild as I wanted it, nor did I particularly want the TV Title on the line
– Flip Gordon vs Bully Ray: this was such a waste, and should have just been a mid-show promo segment rather than the pointlessly short match it was. The entire “match” was to set up the follow up angle, which again could have been done with in just a few minutes. This sucked
> every time Ring of Honor plays one of those “former stars” montages, I can’t help but think how much the WWE owes to ROH.
Should you watch this event: Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Young Bucks once again put on the match of the night, and the tag team title match against the Briscoes is definitely worth watching. I enjoyed the rest listed above, and if you’re a fan of KUSHIDA/Lethal, Aries/King or any of the women’s wrestlers, they might be worth your time as well. Otherwise, as always, just seek out matches you think sound good.