ROH was in Baltimore, Maryland on Friday for their Best in the World pay-per-view live on the HonorClub and FITE streaming services. Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana were the announce team for the night.
- Rush defeated Flip Gordon
- Dalton Castle defeated Dragon Lee
- The Allure defeated Kelly Klein & Jenny Rose
- Kenny King defeated Jay Lethal to win their Best-of-Three series
- Jonathan Gresham defeated Silas Young in a Pure Rules match
- Nick Aldis & Eli Drake and the Briscoe Brothes ended in a double-countout
- Shane Taylor defeated Bandido to retain the ROH World Television Championship
- Villain Enterprises defeated LifeBlood & PJ Black to retain the ROH World Six-Man World Tag Team Championships
- Matt Taven defeated Jeff Cobb to retain the ROH World Heavyweight Championship
Pre-show: Rush defeated Flip Gordon
Ian Riccaboni, Colt Cabana and Caprice Coleman are on commentary for tonight's event. There wasn't a wide establishing shot on the pre-show feed so it was hard to gauge how many people were in the building.
Gordon came out to a good reaction from the audience and got lots of pyro. A lot of people in the crowd were into Rush as well.
Rush brawled with Gordon from the start of this one. Gordon was quickly tossed out of the ring and into the barricade. The more he chopped and posed, the louder his reactions sounded. All charisma from him. Caprice Coleman said this was like having steak as an appetizer.
Gordon botched a uranage so Ian Riccaboni called it a throw. Rush shouted “f*ck you!” a few times during this match. After speaking with Rush in Portland, he did mention he’s trying to use more English, both in and out of the ring.
Gordon made a mid-match comeback and landed a few kicks and knee strikes. At one point Rush caught Gordon who attempted a dive but slammed him into the barricade, then threw a garbage can at him. He's been doing this a lot in ROH recently.
Rush blasted Gordon with a brutal Bull's Horns basement dropkick in the corner. Gordon sold it like he was murdered and fell through the ropes before being pinned.
Rush was interviewed ringside afterwards and said: "Remember people, I didn't come to play. I'm here to destroy." He's also transliterated his "Se pasa nada" catchphrase so that it's now "Nothing happens -- unless I say so."
This was good but too short and kind of shallow overall. Rush is being positioned as undefeated even though I'm pretty sure he lost that Four Corners Survival match for the TV title where Shane Taylor won the title. I think they meant he wasn't pinned in ROH.
-NWA Worlds Champion Nick Aldis came out to announce his replacement tag partner but James Storm came out to interrupt and spouted wrestle-rhetoric until Aldis introduced Eli Drake as his tag partner for tonight.
Drake got a pretty big reaction and the crowd chanted his name when he came out. He called people j-bones and mentioned he was from Maryland and essentially explained that he’s going to turn the world of NWA upside down. He’ll team with Aldis against the Briscoes later tonight.
Dalton Castle defeated Dragon Lee
Dragon Lee got the same pyro action that Flip Gordon did as he came to the ring. Fans threw some streamers in the ring for him. Riccaboni mentioned LuchaBlog, which was pretty cool.
A dropkick and a Bull’s Horns from Lee to kick off the match, for an early two. It was sold as revenge for Castle’s recent recent attacks on his brother Rush. He went for a running hurracanrana from the apron but Castle power bombed him on the apron. Lee bounced around ling one of those super-balls you get from a gum-ball machine. Castle threw him into the crowd and into the barricade.
Castle’s style as a crazy-eyed powerhouse bully works pretty well. He suplexed Lee all over the place and tried tearing his Lee’s mask off midway through.
Lee dove headfirst through the ropes onto Castle and Castle sold it with his eyes crossed ike he was Jackie Gleason or something. The crowd was quite into the match at this point.
They traded big suplexes until Lee murdered castle with an inverted hurracanrana. Brutal.
After a few attempts Castle finally caught Lee with the Bang-a-rang but didn’t pin him. He then did his own version of the Bull’s Horns for the win.
This was good. Dragon Lee has gotten even better, somehow, and was moving at 100 mph tonight. The booking makes sense considering Lee’s recent loss to Will Ospreay in New Japan.
The Allure defeated Kelly Klein & Jenny Rose
This was weak. The Allure had new gear and wore sunglasses to the ring. On commentary they were referred to a few times as “social media influencers.” Brian Hebner, son of Earl, ref’d this one.
Kelly Klein was in more professional looking gear tonight. The crowd was into her and chanted her and Jenny Rose’s names during this match a few times. They went after the Allure before the bell. This all looked like it was in slow motion compared to what Dragon Lee was doing just a few minutes before.
Velvet Sky took Rose out with a phony looking lariat on the floor. Angelina Love hit a really nice plancha to the floor a bit later.
When Jenny Rose and Mandy Leon together in the ring was like watching a regular match at half-speed. Klein was the only one to get significant reactions while she was in the ring.
After a botched spear on the apron, Rose slammed Leon onto the floor. Klein hit a super form the second rope fall-away slam for two. Velvet Sky distracted Hebner after this so Leon could hit Klein with a shoe. Love then did the Botox Injection (Yakuza Kick) for the win. They’re heading towards a program with Klein and Love based on this and the recent TV tapings.
-The lights went out and on the monitors they played the Maneater vignette that’s appeared online recently. Maria Manic came to the ring and spooked the Allure off, then attacked security. She put one guy in a torture rack and then Razor’s Edge’d the other one onto the rest of security outside the ring. People in the crowd knew who she was and chanted her name after this. This was minute-long angle was twice as effective as the match itself.
Best of Three Series: Kenny King defeated Jay Lethal (series tied 1–1)
These two had their second match of this series almost a month again in Kent, WA but it wasn't broadcast until this week. It's not worth watching, unfortunately. Lethal didn't shake King's hand beforehand.
King has been attempting a handful of Lethal's moves but it looks really strange when he tries any of them, like the Lethal Injection that he almost botched on TV in the aforementioned match, or the springboard Jericho dropkick he did early on in this match. Despite that, the crowd was more or less on board with those one.
He did a drop toe-hold to King onto an unfolded chair. After teasing a Pillmanizer on King's arm, he thought against it but eventually got backdropped onto the edge of the apron. It looked unsafe but if Lethal is all right then whatever.
Lethal used a Royal Flush -- King's finisher, on King, but it looked bad because King landed on his foot before bumping. Lethal then went for a suicde dive but King caught him, then dropped him. I think they were going for a spinebuster spot but King couldn't hold Lethal up. They tried really hard to put it over as intentional on commentary but it was hard to buy.
King did a shooting star press that was five degrees away from Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XIX but he stuck the landing, thankfully. Lethal used Lethal Injection but only got two, much to the surprise of the crowd. Crowd was relatively hot here. King then hit a Lethal Injection of his own (better than the one he used on TV) and a Royal Flush for the clean pin.
The last few minutes of this were the best part of this match. It'd have been a lot better if King wasn't in it, I imagine.
Jonathan Gresham defeated Silas Young in a Pure/Scientific Rules match by submission
I have no idea why there is a slash mark in the ad-copy for this match. Riccaboni mentioned that this was the first match of its kind in ROH in close to a decade.
The story here is that Young lowblowed Gresham a month or so back, but Young claimed that, technically, he won with a wrestling move: a small package. Young feels more like a comedy mid-carder than anything else these days.
The basic Pure rules are that there are three rope breaks, no closed fists, no low blows, a twenty-count on the floor. Referee Todd Sinclair mumbled the convoluted list on the mic before the match.
Gresham got a rope break early on. The crowd was really quiet for this for the most part. Young sounded like he had a mic to his face when he'd taunt Gresham. Young accidentally used one of his rope breaks early on.
On commentary, Riccaboni mentioned that Cary Silkin owns the now-defunct ROH Pure Championship belt.
The wrestling itself was solid but Young didn't necessarily shine; he was solid, but Gresham was excellent.
Young used a closed fist punch which earned him a warning. Bobby Cruise would announce whenever something of note would happen during the match which made it easier to follow.
Gresham at one point did a deadlift vertical suplex to Young, which was amazing for his size, really. He then sold this by attempting a move from the second rope and "throwing his back out," which led to Young knocking him to the floor. At this point in the match, Gresham had used his three rope breaks. He later put Young in an octopus hold and forced Young to take his third rope break, something really subtle but clever. It sounds like the crowd didn't apprecate it as much as I did, but the announce team did a good job over selling this.
Gresham continued selling his lower back. They did a wild double suplex over the ropes onto the floor, like how Bret Hart used to do it. Because Gresham's back was storyline-injured, he himself snuck in a low blow on Young. This received a chorus of boos. He then put Young back in the octopus hold and Young tapped.
(Note: I initially typed this up as a DQ finish because Young didn't have any rope breaks and he grabbed the ropes in this spot. This speaks to how convoluted everything came off as on TV.)
This was fine but Young's schtick is just so played out that and his skill isn't anywhere close to Gresham's which hurt the quality of the match. The finish was creative but it didn't get over with the crowd, and unless ROH's booking committee has a long-term plan for Gresham, like a possible heel turn, this didn't elevate either wrestler much at all.
Nick Aldis & Eli Drake vs. The Briscoe Brothers (Jay & Mark Briscoe) ended in a double count-out
James Storm was on commentary for this match. The Briscoes received superstar reactions all throughout this bout. They're from Delaware, only a short drive away from Baltimore, MD, and they sure sounded like the hometown heroes here. Eli Drake is massive these days and is maybe in the best shape of his life. He screamed his own name a lot. Half-way into this match he jumped to the top rope with no-hands, like Shelton Benjamin, and did a super double-underhook suplex.
A few moments after Mark Briscoe landed the Cactus Jack elbow to the floor, but just as soon as things heated up more than they had all night, the match ended out of nowhere in a double countout.
The teams brawled around the venue for a few minutes until the Briscoes teased putting Aldis through a table until Kamille, Aldis' bodyguard, came out and speared Jay. Security tried breaking things up and eventually got Kamille out of the ring, but the Briscoes took out security in Steve Austin-cool-heel-style and did put Aldis through Chekov's Table with a Mark Briscoe Froggy Bow.
Marty Scurll then came out to a big response and helped Aldis out of the ring.
The crowd soured on the finish but enjoyed the post-match carnage with the Briscoes. ROH obviously didn't want Drake to look bad on his debut night so it's easy to understand the booking choice, but this was turning out to be the best match of the night. The same thing happened during Matt Taven's title match with Mark Haskins a few months back, where the two were tearing down the house until the schmozz finish. Talk about a heat killer.
ROH World Television Championship match: Shane Taylor (c) defeated Bandido
This was easily the best match of the night up to this point in the card. Bandido came to the ring wearing a new mask It had teeth drawn on it. Taylor didn't shake hands with Bandido and swore at him before the match. He actually spit in his hand a minute later after a rope-running sequence.
Bandido went for a running hurracanrana off the aprong but Taylor caught him and power bombed him onto the apron. There was a lot of that tonight. Taylor argued with a fan who was telling him to get new gear and told him off. He's good at improvised trash talk, maybe the best at it in ROH right now.
Bandido used a beautiful tornillo on Taylor in the ring, then a big Fosbury Flop to the floor. He later tried lifting Taylor up for a slam but couldn't Taylor up. When Taylor went for a cross body block from the second rope Bandido caught him in mid-air and did a swinging powerslam. Absolutely unreal because of the size difference. For context, Bandido is a junior heavyweight whereas Taylor is a super-heavyweight.
After almost slipping off the top rope, Bandido landed a shooting star press for a very close two-count. The crowd had finally come to life, even more so than in the Briscoes vs. Aldis/Drake match. Taylor then quickly hit a Greetings From 410 for the win. Really good match.
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship match: Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll/PCO/Brody King) (c) defeated Tracy Williams/Mark Haskins/PJ Black
Villain Enterprises came out with a new theme song, new gear and brand new custom title belts with Marty's plague mask logo on them. They wore Road Warriors-inspired spikey shoulder pads with spikes and chains. They all wore a black line of makeup on their faces over their eyes, similar to what PCO usually wears these days. It looked really, really cool.
PCO got a lot of "He's not human!" chants. Tracy Williams and Brody King had a really good exchange. King wore new tights as well, basic trunks and black boots, like a NJPW Young Lion.
King did a somersault senton off the apron, then PCO did a running catapault senton to the floor onto the other team and landed clean and flat. Amazing to see, really.
Later, Haskins and PJ Black double-teamed and triple-teamed Scurll in their corner. Scurll eventually tagged out to King who went on an in-ring rampage. He reminds me of a young Terry Gordy and could really shine at the top of the card in singles matches.
PCO did a running tope con giro through the ropes. He does it so often and so well that it doesn't even get the reactions it did a few months ago. How crazy is that?
After Williams landed a spike pildedriver with the help of his teammates, the ref accidnetally counted three because he wasn't in synch with PCO on the count. The crowd didn't like this, but they really saved it on commentary because this ref is actually a rookie so that's what they chalked it up to. Williams and Haskins spiked PCO onto the apron for what might have been the fourth or fifth apron spot of the night.
King did that insane lucha sprinboard armdrag spot he did a few times in Japan during the BOSJ tournament tour, the one that Milano Collection AT freaked out for on commentary. Tope con giro directly after this from King too. Again, unreal.
PCO landed his PCOsault on PJ Black for the win. This was excellent. Villain Enterprises came off like mega-stars but LifeBlood and Black looked really good too.
-The Sons of Savagery came out and attacked the LifeBlood guys and Black. Colt Cabana sounded like he genuinely didn't know who they were. Bandido saved his buddies but Bully Ray came out and decked Bandido with a lariat. Flip Gordon came to the ring with a kendo stick and chased Ray off. The LifeBlood guys offered Gordon to join their group and offered him one of their shirts. He put it on and then the lights went out. Marty Scurll appeared on the screen and introduced the newest member of Villain Enterprises: "The Mercernary," Flip Gordon.
The lights came back on and Gordon laid Bandido out with a stiff superkick. Villain Enterprises then took out all of LifeBlood, but the segment was topped off with Gordon doing the dirtiest 450 splash from the top rope to the floor through a table on Williams. The crowd lost it for all of it and loved Flip's heel turn.
ROH World Heavyweight title match: Matt Taven (c) defeated Jeff Cobb
Taven did not adhere to the Code of Honor before the match. The crowd sounded 60/40 with the majority in favor of Cobb. Taven was popular though.
Taven tried stalling around the ring before they really got started, but once they got going they were pretty much on fire. Cobb moved around like he was 180 lbs, doing leapfrogs and standing moonsaults as gracefully as a gymanst. Taven landed a tope suicida with such impact that it legitmately knocked Cobb into the barricde headfirst.
I felt like this had the same break-neck heavyweight pace that the Roderick Strong vs. Matt Riddle had match at the most recent NXT Takeover. It was one long sequence of cool spots. Cobb used what felt like at least 10 different awesome suplexes in this match. Taven finished things off sort of out of nowhere with the craziest looking Climax. Cobb bumped on top of his neck like he was Rob Van Dam. Taven retains. This was a only a taste of what I think these two could do together.
Final thoughts --
The last three matches of this were very good and the rest of the card was fine but nothing spectacular. The crowd came across flat really until the end of Taylor vs. Bandido, and then once more for the Flip Gordon heel turn and that 450 splash through to the floor through a table onto Tracy Williams.
The last match was great the finish felt abrupt. If anything, though, it made Taven look like he actually broke Cobb's neck because of that RVD-esque bump Cobb took for the Climax. Basically what I'm saying is you might be better off watching this card in a clipped digest form rather than sitting through the entire card.