ROH "Best in the World" 2014 PPV Review
June 23, 2014
By: Adam Martin of Wrestleview.com
Sunday night in Nashville, Ring of Honor presented its first ever live Pay Per View "Best in the World" from the Nashville Fairgrounds. This venue is no stranger to professional wrestling and hosted the weekly NWA TNA Wednesday night PPV events from July 2002 to September 2004. Many wrestling media members openly mocked the announcement by ROH back in April that they would run their first ever live PPV in Nashville.
After a string of disappointing iPPV events plagued with technical issues, it was no surprise the highly critical wrestling media was ready to attack once again. This was the same promotion that first attempted PPV back in 2007 through taped events on delay. I was among the many that decided to pass on these events. Plus, presenting live PPV in 2014 didn't exactly feel that innovative given how long the medium has existed.
Fast forward to 2014. ROH is now nationally syndicated with help from Sinclair Broadcast Group. This new television presence has helped grow a new audience for the company along with a surge of new talent in Adam Cole, Kevin Steen, Michael Elgin, Mike Bennett, Mark and Jay Briscoe, Roderick Strong and more. Add in more established talent like Matt Hardy, AJ Styles and the recent returns of Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, you saw a unique group of talent all starting to come together around the time of the live PPV announcement.
I'm by no means an avid follower of Ring of Honor. I keep up with what is going on mainly by reading live reports and reviews. I was the target this company was trying to reach on Sunday night by slapping down $24.95 ($34.95 in HD) to see a card filled with new and familiar talent.
Below are some of my impressions.
My biggest gripe with any pro wrestling promotion is production value. If you don't have good equipment, the show suffers. Plain and simple. If you aren't going to be attending a show live, you need to bring that experience at a level that would make you want to buy a ticket and attend live. This has always been ROH's biggest problem and was something that even bothered me being a casual purchaser of events on DVD. The company debuting on HDNet with higher end camera equipment was a step in the right direction, yet other flaws were still very noticeable (poor entrance, poor audio, etc). The jump to Sinclair in 2011 also produced very weak video quality in my television market.
That all changed Sunday night. "Best in the World" 2014 was without a doubt the best Ring of Honor has ever looked from a production standpoint. The video was HD quality, the production set was top notch from the entrance ramp to the surrounding area with video screens and banners and you could hear the commentary team of Kevin Kelly, Steve Corino and later Nigel McGuinness perfectly. Even the graphics hyping the upcoming matches were done more professionally and made ROH have a very big league presentation. The production team deserves a big thumbs up for the hard work and I know it is something they will continue to tweak and improve on as more live PPV events are presented.
Being that I'm not an avid viewer, one of the things that always stands out to be about the ROH product (and not in a good way) is the in-ring product. In the first three matches alone I saw numerous talent doing variations of the same chest chop and dive over the top rope. Before I get hammered for tossing out this opinion, I completely understand that this type of wrestling has always existed in ROH and will continue. That doesn't mean it's good. I can appreciate the athleticism of any talent trying to entertain the fans. However, when wrestlers are all pulling off the same stunts, why should I care? You never want to burn out an audience that early into a show, especially a live one.
Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino did an excellent job keeping attention to all of the action taking place inside the ring and never veering too far from the path when trying to explore other topics. To me, commentary can really make or break a show. Toss in terrible production and you have a disaster waiting to happen. Kelly and Corino found a wonderful balance of making sure the stories that needed to be told was accomplished along with making sure to have fun with the viewers as they were going along for the ride as well. The later addition of Nigel McGuinness during the last few matches was great as McGuinness was able to bring in his experience as ROH Champion to the main event discussion points.
My biggest gripe about the show was the pacing. While the video packages to hype matches were a nice touch, where was the occasional backstage interview at the venue? I found myself getting very overwhelmed when a match would conclude and the commentary team being quickly forced to introduce the next video package. It's very possible the company felt that with seven matches on the card, each match had an importance and that a video package was the best way to tell that story. While I can empathize with that, you also need to let the viewer catch his/her breath and not create giant burn out. Hopefully next time they can incorporate backstage interviews or stop gaps to slow things down a bit.
Kevin Steen is a star. Tonight felt like a rare opportunity to see a talent on the rise with a bright future. Steve Corino sucking up to Matt Hardy on commentary was great and created a wonderful atmosphere for Hardy. Mark and Jay Briscoe are flat out one of the most entertaining tag teams in the wrestling industry today - both in and out of the ring. Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian didn't miss a beat and picked up where they left off in TNA. Adam Cole is a great representative of the ROH product and will be a top guy for the company in the years to come. Michael Elgin is a throwback to the big guy wrestlers that you love to watch destroy people and has huge upside going forward.
Ring of Honor proved on Sunday that they have a bright future. With the growth in production value and the continued evolution of the talent roster, it has further cemented itself as a promotion to keep an eye on. With numerous TNA talent flocking back to the promotion in recent months along with a solid partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling, you are only doing yourself a favor to give them a shot and sample the product. I know that after tonight I will be following the company even closer and look forward to the next live PPV event.
Be sure to check out Jason Namako's full recap of the PPV at the link below.
Wrestleview.com: ROH Best in the World PPV Results - 6/22/14 (Elgin wins ROH Title)
Follow me on Twitter: @adamwrestleview