Best in the World 2013
Ring of Honor
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
Two things I feel compelled to achieve with Ring of Honor is a more positive approach, and a more timely one. With Best in the World 2013, I’m aiming to accomplish both and set some new standards for myself. But enough about framing the review, let’s move on to the matches:
The “opener” is anything but traditional, with one of ROH’s most marketable couples (Mike Bennett & Maria Kanellis) making an appearance, and Bennett is taking on the newly monikered BJ Whitmer (re: Buzzsaw”). As if Maria could look any better, there’s always something about the black & gold look that take things to a new level. Both Maria and Steve Corino are conspicuously jumping on the Pittsburgh Pirates bandwagon.
As a backdrop to ditching “Brutal” Bob, the match works and there’s never any complaining about seeing Maria in action, especially when she’s becoming more vocal. Bennett has a lot of potential, and perhaps a renewed focus and a lot more Maria could be the spark.
In what could be a complain-about-match, the tag team spectacular pitting The American Wolves vs. Adrenaline Rush turns out to be too good to go negative. The potential complaint is why pit a fresh, young babyface team that clearly has the crowd behind them against one of the top dog tag teams on the roster?
But as a spotlight on the potential of ACH & TD Thomas, and the less-than-subtle suggestion that Adrenaline Rush could be in the Richards/Edward slot in the not-so-distant future, the match certainly worked well.
Ironically, Thomas’ capoeira based kicks and agility was more on display – imagine the concept of a completely different style in this business! But ACH has definite and distinct charisma that already puts him among the guys to watch in the company. (I recall being alerted to ACH a few years back, I believe by Drew Cordeiro when ACH did some Beyond Wrestling work).
Several clever spots, even though a few didn’t mix well with true Tag Team wrestling rules, but when talent like this is in the ring, and Steve Corino is on the mic, there’s nothing to gripe about.
Adam Cole vs Roderick Strong is an old school feud and tremendously enjoyable. I loved the packaging of the feud (as well as the first two matches). I love the way the crowd and the ROH environment is also on display. Then again, the crowd sucks when it doesn’t understand a count-out victory. Where would Bruno have gone in his eight year title reign without that finish? I don’t even have to ask him.
Next up with Michael Elgin vs Tommaso Ciampa. Kind of a weird (as in different, as in interesting) setup for the match, especially with two tweener-by-default-babyfaces involved, but for ROH, two of the biggest and most physical wrestlers doing battle is nothing to snark about. These heavy hitters pull out all the stops, but one little wee comment on the crowd – why is it that near-falls get the biggest pops?
And realistically, four applications of any finisher should be final, a Triangle Choke doesn’t look like that, and two heavy hitters should display some semblance of tiring after a hard fought match.
But when the announcer calls a “decapitation”, it better be the 1-2-3, and it was.
Steve Corino is awesome. No wonder Mark Madden sounds like him. But seriously, the QT Mar-shall run-in was awesome, as was the sportsmanship.
A nifty break ensues between the two halves of the DVD with commentary from lots of guys about who would win the ROH Title Match, and then setting up the “Nobody Fights like Family” aspect. Is it me or is everyone missing the reality that pro wrestling and catch-phrases continue to be the best way to get over with crowds across promotions, and yet no one is even trying?
Yes! Yes! Yes!
A duo of Triple Threat matches pushes the card to the main events. All things considered, I liked the card having a few less matches and a few more people in these two matches, but there’s something about Championship matches that should be one-on-one, with the contenders more suited to battling out their competitors to get to that top slot.
But the combo-packaging, and focusing on SCUM’s attempt to wrest the gold from ROH heels, intermixed with ROH faces, adds a few dimensions to it all.
Matt Taven continues to grow as a young talent, but putting anyone in with Jay Lethal and Jimmy Jacobs is going to make them look good. This whole Hoopla Hotties thing is over the top. Or is it something else about a top? ROH is pushing the envelope, that’s for sure.
Three-ways can get a little more convoluted but a little more predictable, and putting three Tag Teams together just cries for confusion, but with reDRagon in charge, the match was in control by the Champions. Is it me or is the C & C Wrestling Factory the best Tag Team nickname in years? Still not completely sold on Cliff Compton (or Kevin Kelly) but I’m keeping it positive, and Rhett Titus is a talent in search of a position. (Where is Kenny King, anyway???)
Matt Hardy vs Kevin Steen is a dream match in many ways, but with the backdrop of SCUM and Steen’s insanity in going “No DQ”, there’s a great irony in that ROH’s “Greatest Nightmare” got what he sic-ed upon the company he now defends.
There’s way too much gratuitous interference, but what’s to expect with a “No DQ”.
What’s amazing is the outright disdain for Matt Hardy, and the negative energy that is generated between his presence and the ROH fanbase. Despite my often incredulity about that fanbase, there’s a dynamic here that makes Steen’s storyline of last year altogether forgettable.
Which is the biggest irony.
Not sure if Steen truly rises to the level of top babyface, but fighting against all odds, and losing the battle, is a more satisfying effort than channeling Dusty Rhodes…. That’s for sure.
Everything about Mark vs Jay Briscoe (C) for the ROH World Title was packaged well, built up well, visually impressive and showed all the right images of two Delaware rednecks, backed by their family, spurred by a sibling rivalry some 28 years in the making.
All that was great, but …
Well, I don’t want to go too negative here. Brothers fighting each other has been a rather failed storyline for ages. (well, Undertaker/Kane, and that other story with Cain in it and undoubtedly some others… the Harts had some greatness surround their clash and angles, but overall, two brothers look too alike, usually act too alike, and there’s that deep-seated sense that takes away any sense of suspension of disbelief).
What was good is that the match ultimately told the story of the Championship, the lengths both brothers would go for that Title, and how meaningful it was.
But how was that set up with Jay defending, calling out the roster and having Nigel McGuiness set up a brother-vs-brother match with a lot of hilarious promos and a lot of family pictures, but about three to six months of missing storyline gaps that would have propelled it to a higher level.
Perhaps I do go too negative.
The talents of the Brothers Briscoe are unquestionable, even when ultimately nontraditional. There’s always a sense of psychology involved, but one that requires some understanding of the melding of comedy, high flying, hard-hitting and unique working on multiple levels.
If only the Briscoes channeled more Diaz Brothers and less Beverly Brothers in their work.
If only this wasn’t so rushed to get to the ring, but some stories must be told, and this one was. What happened in ensuing weeks, between the angles and the insider situations and contracts actually played out a lot better than I thought. This match said a lot about what ROH is all about – wrestling in the ring, establishing that branding of “Best in the World” and setting the stage for a Championship that is even more meaningful afterwards.
In those regards, Best in the World 2013 succeeded.