This past Friday night Ring of Honor presented Best in the World 2017 from Lowell, MA live on PPV and iPPV. The show featured 8 big matches with all 4 Ring of Honor championships on the line. The stars of CMLL (El Terrible & Ultimo Guerrero) and NJPW star KUSHIDA were also on the show as per the working agreement between ROH and the aforementioned promotions.
The show began with The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia) with the still injured third member of the trio, TK O'Ryan in their corner against the CMLL Legends from Mexico, El Terrible & Ultimo Guerrero. The Kingdom had a very impressive entrance complete with Matt Taven on a throne and Vinny Marseglia being wheeled in like Hannibal Lecter in a straight jacket. The story behind this match is Matt Taven was sent to Mexico on excursion due to the working agreement between ROH and CMLL. In his time there Matt Taven managed to ire the legendary Luchadore Ultimo Guerrero. Some back and forth action in this one at a frantic pace. The fans were into Ultimo Guerrero in this one. Everyone got a chance to shine in this one and it was eventually won by Team CMLL when Guerrero rolled up Marsegila for the 3 in 11:10. Good opening match that got the crowd into the show.
Next up was Hangman Page vs. Franke Kazarian in a Strap match. This was not a typical Strap match where the two would be tied by a leather strap and have to touch all 4 top turnbuckle pads to win. Instead both men were simply handed leather straps and told to beat each other with them senseless. The match could end by pinfall, submission or KO. This match was brutal as both men whipped each other mercilessly with their leather straps. The fight went all over the ringside area. At one point Hangman Page tied Kazarian up in the ropes using his signature hangman's noose before whipping the defenseless Kazarian over and over. Eventually things got even more brutal if that was possible, when Page introduced a leather strap with thumbtacks and nails stuck in it. Kazarian and Hangman Page both felt the brunt of that torturous strap and blood began to flow. In an ironic twist Hangman Page was choked out by Frankie Kazarian with the strap and Kazarian got the win in 12:06. I haven't seen a strap match in while in mainstream wrestling and there hasn't been one in ROH for quite some time. Both these guys brought the brutality and Hangman Page looked very good in this match despite the loss. Odd he would lose however a week before the NJPW G1 Special in USA where he's going to be part of the IWGP United States Championship tournament.
An eight-man tag team match followed with a special stipulation; the losing team must disband. Search and Destroy (Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Jay White & Jonathan Gresham) vs. The Rebellion (Caprice Coleman, Kenny King, Rhett Titus & Shane Taylor). These two factions have been at war with each other for several months with things finally coming to a head here in this match. First off, let me just saw Caprice Coleman is one of the most underrated wrestlers in ROH and in all of Pro Wrestling. Between his in-ring and promo work the guy has been killing it. Props to Shane Taylor as well for losing 60 pounds. Rebellion's whole story in ROH has been that feel they've been disrespected by ROH management. Jay White since coming to ROH on a learning excursion from NJPW has been undefeated in six months. Several near falls teased in this one as there were high spots all over the place. Eventually Search and Destroy had all 4 members of Rebellion trapped in submission moves and they got the win in 12:45. So, the Rebellion must now disband. I find it a little odd that Search and Destroy won this match. Jay White is on loan from NJPW and should be due to return to Japan any day now. You would think Search and Destroy would be the ones that disband. The question is, now who do Search and Destory fight next? There aren't many factions in ROH with 4 members or more aside from Bullet Club.
Jay Lethal took on Silas Young next. Young had Beer City Bruiser at ringside but Lethal quickly took out the Bruiser with a chair before the bell. Silas Young doesn't get enough credit as he's been one of the best wrestlers to come out of the Midwest in years. Lethal's resume meanwhile speaks for itself. This was a very good match that easily could have been for the ROH World Championship. Young was getting frustrated when he couldn't put Lethal away. Silas finally grabbed the Beer City Brusier's keg. Before he could use it though, Jay Lethal rolled up Young for the 3 at 16:40. Some people were poo-pooing the finish but I had no issues with it. Young was upset because he couldn't beat Lethal straight up and tried to cheat but he got caught in a pinning predicament when he took his eye off the ball. Lethal is not a former ROH World Champion for nothing. There was a post-match beatdown where Young and Beer City Bruiser destroyed Lethal with the keg. Bruiser then put Jay Lethal through a table with a splash off the top. They had to carry Lethal to back. Lethal is in the tournament for the IWGP United States Championship coming up this Saturday in LA so you have to wonder if this will effect him in that match.
The first of 4 title matches was next with The Briscoes & Bully Ray putting the titles on the line against Dalton Castle & The Boys. Dalton Castle is probably the most over guy on the ROH roster. There was a little bit of everything in this match. Castle and Bully had some comedy spots early on. Jay Briscoe was like a powder keg ready to explode. The story of the match was Briscoe wanting to get his hands on The Boys. Eventually Jay Briscoe snaps and tries to kill one of the Boys with a chair. The Boys hightail it out of there. Meanwhile Bully Ray tries to talk some sense into Jay, leaving his brother Mark alone with Dalton Castle. Castle gets the small package on Mark Briscoe in 13:45 and we've got new champions. Dalton Castle wins his first championship in Ring of Honor. This was a good six-man tag, nothing great but the fans were into it. They also told a good story with Jay Briscoe's temper costing his team the championship. You have to wonder where they go with Bully and Briscoes from here.
A rematch for the ROH World TV Championship was next as KUSHIDA put the title on the line against the man he defeated for a belt a few weeks ago, Marty Scurll. KUSHIDA has been on fire in the last month. He's been putting on great match after great match. He won the NJPW Best of Super Juniors and the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship in a great match against Hiromu Takahashi. Marty Scurll meanwhile joined Bullet Club and had a strong showing in NJPW part of the Best of the Super Juniors. The story of this match was a simple one. Marty Scurll kept trying to set up KUSHIDA for the Chicken Wing while KUSHIDA kept going after the wrist of Scurll for the Hoverboard Lock. A lot of back and forth and counter wrestling in this one. Scurll at one point thought he had the Chicken Wing locked in only for KUSHIDA to counter into the Hoverboard Lock. Scurll finally got the Chicken Wing but KUSHIDA would not give up. The finish came with Scurll went to break the fingers of KUSHIDA on the second turnbuckle only for KUSHIDA to break SCURLL's fingers! KUSHIDA then delivered the Back to the Future from the second rope! Then another Back to the Future for good measure to get the 3 at 14:54. This was by far, IMO, the best match of the card. Both of these guys are on top of their game right now and they work well together. It is a little intriguing that KUSHIDA retained the TV Championship considering he's not a mainstay ROH guy as he's part-time due to his NJPW contract. I would like to see a third match between these two for the title at some point.
The semi-man event was originally Young Bucks defending the ROH World Tag Team Championship against War Machine two-on-two. Before the match could start however, Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor aka Best Friends, showed up. Best Friends picked up a win over Young Bucks and wanted a championship match in a 3-way Tornado tag. Young Bucks accepted and this match became a 3-way. Seeings as how it became a 3-way match this allowed for this match to become an all-out spotfest. I also want to say, I'm glad Chuck Taylor is finally getting some exposure on a bigger stage. Chuck Taylor has been busting his butt for years on the indy scene but hasn't got a big break. I hope he continues to get bookings with ROH. The crowd was into this match as they chanted, “This is Awesome.” Creative finish the Bucks hitting a double Indy Taker on Best Friends before hitting the Double Superkick on War Machine to get the pin and retain the championship at 12:27. This was a fun match and I did not expect to see Chuck Taylor & Trent Beretta added to the match. I would like to see War Machine get a straight two-on-two match at some point. The problem is that Young Bucks have run through about every tag team at this point in ROH. However, due to their overwhelming popularity I don't expect them to lose the championship anytime soon.
Finally we had the main event of the evening with Cody Rhodes challenging Christopher Daniels for the ROH World Championship. Rhodes was of course was also representing Bullet Club. Daniels has been synonymous with ROH for years. Christopher Daniels has been in ROH since day one but never won the ROH Championship until back in March of this year at the 15th anniversary show when he defeated former Bullet Club member Adam Cole. So, this match was not just about Cody trying to bring home a World championship for the Rhodes family for the first-time in 30 years. It was also about Cody trying to win back the ROH World Championship for his group, Bullet Club. Daniels not only fighting to keep his Cinderella story going but also fighting for Ring of Honor. You could feel the desperation of Daniels to keep his championship in this match. Marty Scurll of Bullet Club made his presence known sliding in a chair. Daniels tried to pull an Eddie Guerrero with the chair to get Cody DQ'ed. Frankie Kazarian, Daniels tag team partner and best friend came to ringside to neutralize Scurll. Cody Rhodes used the Rainmaker a message to opponent on July 1st for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. A table spot was teased throughtout the match with both men finally crashing through the table. Daniels was nearly counted out but made it back in just before the 20-count (there's a 20-count on the floor in ROH). Daniels went for Angel's Wings only for Rhodes to counter into a hurricanrana. Rhodes hit the Cross-Rhodes at 19:18 to become the NEW ROH World Champion. Bullet Club, Young Bucks and Marty Scurll, came out to celebrate with the new champion. Rhodes now has a chance to become the first man to hold both the ROH World Championship and IWGP Heavyweight Championship at the same time.
Overall, a sold show from top to bottom. Nothing really bad and the TV Championship was great. Cody Rhodes had his best performance I think I've seen from him on the independent scene since leaving WWE last year. I recommend checking out the show. ROH PPV doesn't disappoint.
- Nick Swinke