ROH Best in the World
June 26, 2011
Hammerstein Ballroom
Review by: Jose Marrero of Wrestleview.com

It is time for another Jose Marrero show review. This time out I was fortunate enough thanks to the fine folks at Ring of Honor to score tickets to be live in attendance for Ring of Honor’s latest IPPV offering “Best in the World”. When this show was first announced there were many high expectations and of course with Ring of Honor’s recent sale to Sinclair Broadcasting some would say those expectations may have increased a bit. Honestly I was just wondering what changes would be made to the product.

I like many of you saw the press conference that was held earlier in the week and unlike many came away a bit nervous. Why was that? Because Ring of Honor changed their logo. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice looking logo I just didn’t get the point of it. I took it as a company’s way to put their stamp on things as with all the things to improve upon they started with the logo? So I went into this show a bit worried that the ROH I knew would slowly cease to exist. Did it? Stay tuned.

I have to say that while at the press conference a new logo was unveiled the old logo was prevalent in this show which made me ask why did you introduce a new logo only not to use it? Of course that is nitpicking and well I hate when others do that so I will try to refrain from that myself. We opened with the commentators who introduced Eddie Edwards who did a last minute buy the show plug since this was being streamed as a free preview show on gofight live. After a pause for some videos that of course those live couldnt see we got our pre show opening contest which was Generation Me vs Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly. Anyone who has ever read one of my Ring of Honor show reviews knows I can’t put these guys over enough. They might be small but they are an entertaining babyface tag team. As a matter of fact my one complaint is always the same in that I never see them put over. When this match was announced all I could think about was what a great platform a victory over Generation Me could be to get these guys on some kind of a roll. I guess I think more of them than Ring of Honor creative does because that didn’t happen. Instead I got a 200 mph spotfest that for a Ring of Honor show wouldn’t have bothered me much instead the wrong team got their hands raised. I understand how wrestling politics work and I’m sure TNA didn’t want Generation Me doing a job to an Ring of Honor guy but this was a situation that a draw could’ve sufficed and it didn’t happen. Finish of the match came around 8 minutes with O’Reilly and Cole having double guillotines on Generation Me giving everyone at least the visual win until the Bravado Brothers came down and attacked everyone. Both teams would clean house and I was fine with this until it was announced that Generation Me who weren’t even the first ones that the Bravado’s made physical contact with were given the win by DQ. I didn’t get that at all and thought it was a poor decision and for me I started this show off annoyed.

We opened with Jim Cornette coming out. He mentioned how this is the biggest ever crowd for a Ring of Honor show and that early indications are that this show is the most purchased in company history. He mentioned how wrestling isn’t dead yet and for people who think it is to “Kiss his fat white butt”. If this was the biggest crowd ever I am not sure by how much as I was at the last show in the Hammerstein Ballroom that Ring of Honor had said was the biggest crowd they have had and this crowd looked somewhat identical but big ups to Ring of Honor that they were able to make this kind of an impact after the sale. It shows curiosity in the wrestling world to see if with Sinclair they can truly be a national promotion.

First match we got on the main show was Tomasso Ciampa with RE Barrister, Ernesto Osiris and Prince Nana vs. Colt Cabana and to tell you the truth I never have high expectations for a Colt Cabana match as he almost always gets a match with a lower mid card performer and does his comedy bit and breaks up the monotony on a show but this was the IPPV open and I thought a better match should’ve been shown. I don’t really think much of Ciampa but I guess someone does as he got the won clean here at about 10 minutes with a powerbomb into a backcracker that looked horrible.

Next we had “Prodigy” Mike Bennett accompanied by “Brutal” Bob Evans vs. The returning Jay Lethal who was an original Ring of Honor talent who hadn’t competed in the company in 5 years. Lethal was as you would expect extremely over and the recipient of many chants including one of “You still got it”. I didn’t know you lose it before you hit 30 but he did wrestle in TNA where you generally have to hit 40 to be a star. This was an okay match but nothing spectacular. I’ve seen Bennett a few times and while there is nothing that really blows me away he just has this look about him that makes me see him in WWE one day. Even his nickname “The Prodigy” makes me see him as someone who the company has big plans for. Sort of like John Cena as “The Prototype”. I got the idea of putting him in this match to give him a rub against a supposed big time star in Jay Lethal but I would’ve made Bennett look a bit stronger as he just looked minor league next to Lethal. Anyway Lethal won the match clean with the crummiest “Big Elbow” ever (That’s why there was only one guy who ever used it) and I am wondering if this is a onetime thing for him or if he will be back in Ring of Honor in the future.

We had a NYC Street Fight between Homicide and the debuting Rhino who was accompanied by Prince Nana and I guess is a member of the Embassy. When you hear Street Fight you think a lot of things that I didn’t think this match was. First off you think bloodshed. I can’t remember the last time I saw a no holds barred match of any kind in Ring of Honor that didn’t have someone busted wide open but while it’s something you sort of look forward to in a cruel way it’s not something that totally kills the experience. The other thing you expect is wide spread weapon use that we didn’t get as other than a ladder and Table there was really no weapons to speak of. I thought these two did everything mechanically right but given the Street Fight stipulation I just expected more and didn’t get it and it left me lacking. Why these two in a street were fight anyway? This was Rhino’s debut in the company, I understand Homicide has a feud with the Embassy but shouldn’t a street fight be built up for someone who he was having issues with? The finish came when Rhino went for a Gore on Homicide only to be rolled up for the pin. He would get his heat back when Homicide tried to attack Nana after the match only to be beat up and gored by Rhino through a table. Homicide was helped to the back by officials afterwards. I didn’t have a problem with Rhino getting his heat back except I am not sure if he is going to do anymore Ring of Honor shows and if he is where do you go from here with him and Homicide now that you did the street fight? I would’ve just had them do a regular match and then ran this angle and built up to a street fight.

Steve Corino accompanied by Jimmy Jacobs vs. Michael Elgin accompanied by Truth Martini was next. I really like Corino’s rehab gimmick as I don’t know why but it just works for me. He came out and cut his promo about trying to be a better person and thanked the fans for cheering him and then he apologized to Cary Silken, Jim Cornette and the new owners but said someone else deserved a second chance and introduced the returning Kevin Steen who was in the balcony where I was at and received a tremendous pop from the live crowd. I got to say Steen looks great and may be in the best physical shape I have ever seen him in as he has lost a lot of weight and I can’t wait to see him get back in there. Of course he tried to come to the ring and Jim Cornette and security came out and escorted him apparently out of the building as Steen is banned from Ring of Honor since Final Battle 2010 when he lost a loser leaves town match to El Generico. Elgin and Corino had a nice match in which Elgin would win clean with a twisting powerbomb. I like the push Elgin has received in Ring of Honor and if Rhino is sticking around wouldn’t mind seeing them mix it up in the future. Anyway the story of this match was the post match in which both Corino and Jacobs were getting beat down by Elgin and Martini only to have Steen run back down and make the save. Cornette and security would return only to see Corino grab the microphone and say how Steen deserved a chance to speak which led the fans to chant like crazy to “Let Kevin Talk”. After much consternation Cornette relented and let Steen speak his piece. Steen thanked everyone for letting him get this chance to talk and apologized for everything and then he said “My name is Kevin Steen…and . Ring of Honor” and attacked Jacobs and Corino laying out the latter with the package piledriver. Steen was dragged out of the ring by security as Cornette yelled he swore on his mother’s grave that Steen would never wrestle in Ring of Honor again. The crowd booed him for that and he yelled out that he didn’t care what the crowd thought. We went to Intermission after that and spent a good portion of that with Corino selling the piledriver and being helped to the back. At this point with the Steen angle I thought this was not a horrible show but just average. We did have an announcement that ROH would be back in Hammerstein on September 17th.

We had a much anticipated match between Christopher Daniels and El Generico for the Ring of Honor TV title. I was happy to see this match take place as I couldn’t remember the last time I saw that title defended and was particularly peeved since it stopped being defended right after I put it over in a column. I then saw Daniels do two clean jobs in a row in Atlanta and as much of a fan of his as I am I knew that title had to come off of him. This was the best match up until this point and really got me to be a fan of the show again as both men worked really hard and Daniels did his best to make Generico look good as this was his night. Generico got the win after he hit his top rope brainbuster and the place erupted when he was handed the title. Generico really deserved the win as he has been a consistent performer as of late and well Daniels is on his way out and should remain strictly a TNA performer at this point. It was at this point that I noticed Mike Johnson and company at a table typing away at a computer and remarked to myself how I am treated well by Ring of Honor but that guy is treated way better but I digress.

The next match up was a four way elimination tag team match between The Kings of Wrestling, All Night Express, The Briscoe’s and Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team. I really was hoping for a title change in this match as while Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team is awesome after matches with all of these teams I didn’t really see a direction for them going forward. There was a lot of great wrestling in this match as you really had a match with 4 different styles and they all blended well together. First elimination in this match didn’t take place for 25 minutes and that was when ANX hit a modified vegamatic on Jay Briscoe to eliminate the Briscoes which shocked everyone as many including myself thought the Briscoes were the favorite to win this match. The match continued and our next elimination came when Chris Hero hit Rhett Titus with a loaded elbow pad for the pin and we then had the Kings of Wrestling vs. World’s Greatest Tag Team which is a good match but one that I’ve seen live a few times already. At this point I think I particulary got annoyed with some of the Ring of Honor fans who were bullying someone in a John Cena shirt. I guess TNA and WWE have their anti bullying campaigns but Ring of Honor has yet to establish one. I think I can help WWE asks their fans to “Be a Star” and TNA asks their fans to “Eliminate the Hate” I think Ring of Honor should tell their fans “Harass if you’re an Ass”…I’m just saying. Anyway the finish to this match was sort of flat as the World’s Greatest Tag Team hit a double sidewalk slam on Claudio for the win. After the match they were attacked by the Briscoes with chairs who were then run off by the All Night Express so I guess those three teams will continue to work each other with the Kings of Wrestling now being the odd team out. I think it can be expected to see another Briscoe’s title reign which will hopefully transition to an All Night Express title reign. How we get there? I don’t know.

We then had our main event Davey Richards vs. Eddie Edwards for the Ring of Honor championship. This was a really good match and really the kind of wrestling I enjoy as both did a little bit of everything from chain wrestling to high flying to just beating the snot out of each other. The physicality these two showed was just off the charts and they really did a good job of telling the story of two guys who just wanted to be the “Best Wrestler in the World”. After over 30 minutes of hard fought action Davey Richards finally pinned Eddie after a running kick to the head and became Ring of Honor champion. I had mixed emotions when this one was over as I thought Eddie Edwards could have reigned as champion a bit longer and you could have held off on doing this match. After all Eddie just won this title the last time they were in this very venue and at the very least he could have had one successful appearance as champion in this building to make him look like a champion instead of a placeholder. I think Ring of Honor fans liked Eddie and wouldn’t have minded him as champion a bit longer as long as you would have continued to build up to the eventual Eddie Edwards vs. Davey Richards showdown. Once this match was announced there was really no other way to go as you ran the risk of doing to Davey what was done to Tyler Black in that Black got so many title shots that the Ring of Honor fans were sick of him by the time he won the title. He had to win the title now. I just hope that this thing with him and Eddie isn’t over yet as there is still a lot more to get out of it. This was a very real moment for Davey as he got very emotional and cried in the ring as Eddie took the title and strapped it around his waist. Davey grabbed the microphone and thanked everyone including Eddie and said how he had no family and that Ring of Honor was really all he had. Eddie took the microphone and put Davey over saying he wouldn’t be where he was if not for Davey and how Davey always tells others how good they are and forgets how good he is. He thanked him and told him to raise his arms like the champion he is at which point Davey grabbed the microphone and shouted “Grandpa, Grandma I did it” and ended the show.

All in all it was a solid show. It wasn’t the best show Ring of Honor has done which many people expected it to be but I didn’t think it was a stinker either although I wasn’t really in love with the first half of the card the second half was better than anything either of the “Big 2” have put on all year. I did have an observation that I am sure many Ring of Honor fans are probably already mentioning and that’s how the Ring of Honor title has changed hands in New York City a little too much as of late, 6 of the last 9 Ring of Honor Heavyweight title changes have taken place in New York City with one of the remaining 3 having taken place in New Jersey which might as well have still taken place in New York. This also includes the last 5 which have all taken place in New York City. If Ring of Honor wants to be taken seriously going national they have to spread out where their flagship title changes hands so as not to dilute the other markets. The bad thing about this is that New York City does do the best attendance and you don’t want something as important as your main title changing hands and no one is there to see it. It’s definitely something that has to be addressed as that title has not changed hands outside of New York/New Jersey in over 3 and a half years. Going forward with Ring of Honor on TV we have a few storylines to look forward to such as The Briscoes feuding with World’s Greatest Tag Team and where the All Night Express fit in, we have the eventual in ring return of Kevin Steen who has to be the next person to win the Ring of Honor title in my opinion but before that he has to settle differences with Steve Corino and maybe even another series of matches ahead of him with the new TV Champion El Generico and just what is the next step for Davey Richards as he has finally captured the Ring of Honor title? It’s an exciting time to be a Ring of Honor fan and I look forward to what’s ahead. I can’t wait to see the new Ring of Honor T.V show and hope to find myself in attendance when Ring of Honor returns to New York in September.