Ring of Honor returned to iPPV on Saturday, June 22, when it presented ‘Best In The World 2013’. On paper, the card looks pretty strong with all three titles being defended and the threat of SCUM potentially holding all the belts by the end of the weekend. It’s the first iPPV presented from Baltimore, MD so let’s see how it turned out.
We kick off the show, rather surprisingly, with Mike Bennett taking on BJ Whitmer. Bennett is accompanied as always by Maria and Brutal Bob. This was just your run of the mill Bennett match. It was slow and I still don’t know why this match happened in the first place. Weird choice for the opener which Whitmer won following an expoloder suplex after failed interference by Brutal Bob. Looks like Bennett is finally getting rid of Bob. I like his character but I still find his matches bland and boring and this was just sort of there. Nothing to see here.
Now onto the match that should have opened the show as Adrenalie RUSH face The American Wolves. This was the match I was looking forward to the most so I have high expectations. This told a great story of the veteran team teaching the new kids on the block a lesson and using their experience to gain little advantages. ACH and TD have really impressed since they started teaming and are so fun to watch. Some fantastic tag team wrestling in this one that made you believe Adrenaline RUSH really could win. In the end, the Wolves win after ACH tried to hit a 450 splash but Davey appeared to get the knees up and gets the pin, just like he did against Paul London. Bit of a strange finish that looked a bit botched but fantastic match nonetheless.
A rematch from San Antonio up next as Adam Cole goes one-on-one with Roderick Strong. I really enjoyed their match in Texas so hopefully we’ll see more of the same. Steve Corino is doing a good job on commentary of hyping Cole up and teasing his heel turn and the possibility of him joining SCUM. This match was exactly what it should have been, extremely competitive and made both guys look great. The end also played into Cole’s apparent heel turn. Cole hit a superkick to Strong on the apron who crashed through a table at ringside. Cole went to help Strong up and back into the ring… and then decided not to and pick up the countout win. Cole keeps saying how much wins and losses count and I loved the way this match was booked. A heel Cole will be awesome and he has the charisma and in-ring skills to really pull it off.
Up next is the return of Tommaso Ciampa to in-ring iPPV as he goes up against Michael Elgin. RD Evans, Ciampa’s former manager, is on commentary. I love the way they’ve built Ciampa up since his return, they’ve made him seem like such a big deal. As a quick aside, RD Evans is hilarious on commentary and definitely deserves more of a spotlight in ROH. This match was all about Ciampa trying to prove he deserves to be with the big boys and he did just that. He took a large amount of punishment and just kept on going. Second rope air raid crash only gets Ciampa two and then Elgin gets his foot on the rope after the Project Ciampa! Ciampa then kicks out of the Elgin Bomb before Elgin hits a number of backfists before a huge lariat for the victory. Absolutely fantastic match. I had reservations before this one about how they would mesh but it was a hard-hitting rollercoaster of a match. Ciampa has quickly established himself as a main event calibre guy since his return. A must watch match. After the match, QT Marshall hits the ring and intends to pick the bones of Ciampa and Elgin before they recover and he makes a quick escape.
Back from intermission and we begin with our first of three title matches as Matt Taven defends his ROH World TV Title against Jay Lethal and Jimmy Jacobs. Taven is accompanied by Truth Martini and the hoopla hotties. I wasn’t sure about making this a triple threat but it ended up being an enjoyable match. The action never stopped and that made for a fast-paced match between all three guys. At one point, Scarlett gets into the ring and Lethal rips her shirt off! Then the other hoopla hottie Seleziya gets involved before she gets superkicked by Lethal. Jacobs takes advantage to hit Lethal with the cutter off the second rope but as he goes to pin him, Martini holds onto his leg and Taven sneaks in and pins Lethal to retain. Fun match with some interesting moments but you still get the feeling Taven is being overlooked by all the hoopla (see what I did there?!).
Another title match follows as SCUM (Rhett Titus & Cliff Compton) and Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander challenge reDRagon for the ROH World Tag Team Titles. This is one fall to a finish despite Nigel McGuinness, who is the matchmaker, thinking it was elimination. Awkward… This wasn’t as hectic as the TV title match and I think that dragged it down, it was too slow and just dragged on to its inevitable conclusion. Cedric hits a brainbuster on O’Reilly but before he can pin him, Fish kicks him in the side of the head. That seems to knock Cedric out and Fish drags O’Reilly over him as reDRagon retain. A very strange finish out of nowhere but the match just didn’t click and was pretty disappointing in the end.
Before our main event of the evening we get a grudge match as Matt Hardy faces Kevin Steen. Steen gets on the mic before the match and requests a No DQ match which Nigel agrees to. It’s not long before weapons are introduced into this one and plenty of the action takes place on the outside. Rhett Titus tries to get involved but just gets a package piledriver for his troubles. Jimmy Jacobs is next out but he gets powerbombed onto the ring apron before Cliff Compton comes down and hits Steen with a chair. Hardy wins after a twist of fate onto two chairs following Steen kicking out of the same move onto a ladder. This was never going to be a classic but it was a fun enough brawl. Hardy was always going to win this with his World Title shot the following day but wrestling wise, he still doesn’t add a whole lot.
And now our main event as Mark Briscoe challenges his brother Jay Briscoe for the ROH World Title. This match didn’t have much build up to it apart from the rather obvious brother vs. brothers line. Apparently nobody fights like family but we’ll see. Mark hit a froggy ‘bow through a table after both brothers set it up on the outside. I don’t know if it’s just me but the match just seemed to be missing some intensity, maybe because nobody really bought into Mark winning the belt. Mark is finally put down after three Jay Drillers. It was a good match without ever reaching the levels you would expect from these two in an iPPV main event which is a shame. Jay’s reign hasn’t been brilliant in terms of quality of defences but maybe we expected too much after Steen delivered awesome matches every time. Still a great effort from both guys in what could be their final appearances.
Final Thoughts: Probably the weakest iPPV of the year so far but I think that says more about the quality of the other shows than this one. The crowd didn’t really help and they seemed pretty reserved all night. The main event was a bit disappointing and so were the other title matches. Despite that, we had Adrenaline RUSH and The Wolves put on a great match and the match of the night between Tommaso Ciampa and Michael Elgin. The first half of the show was much better than the second half. I like where they’re going with Adam Cole but I feel the whole show was overshadowed by the next day’s TV tapings which were arguably more important. And who can forget the terrible stream issues? Luckily I watched on demand but I feel for everybody who tried to watch live. Overall a good show but match quality wasn’t consistent enough.