Preview by Josh Nason
For the first time since February 2020, Ring of Honor will host a show in front of live fans with tonight's Best in the World pay-per-view from Baltimore, Maryland.
The eleven-match card is headlined by World Champion Rush vs. Bandido. This will be Rush's first title defense since March and the first time they have clashed in a singles match since March 2019. Bandido earned the shot by winning the Survival of the Fittest tournament.
The show will also feature four other title matches: Tag Team Champions Rhett Titus and Tracy Williams vs. Chris Dickinson and Homicide in a fight without honor; Six Man Tag Team Champions Shane Taylor, Kaun and Moses vs.. Dak Draper, Dalton Castle and Eli Isom; Pure Champion Jonathan Gresham vs. Mike Bennett; and TV Champion Tony Deppen vs. Dragon Lee.
Best in the World will also feature Brody King vs. Jay Lethal; Josh Woods vs. Silas Young in a last man standing match, Danhausen and PCO vs. Brian Milonas and Beer City Bruiser; Rey Horus vs. Demonic Flamita; EC3 vs. Flip Gordon and The Briscoes vs. Brian Johnson and PJ Black.
Our live coverage kicks off at 7 PM Eastern.
The show started with an announcement concerning Tracy Williams. The Maryland State Athletic commission will not allow Williams to compete in his Tag Team Title match tonight. Jay Lethal will take Williams’ spot and join Rhett Titus to take on Homicide and Chris Dickinson. Lethal will be pulling double duty as he also has a bout with Brody King.
Rey Horus defeated Flamita
Horus blasted Flamita off the apron right as the bell rang, and took it to his former MexiSquad partner at ringside. Flamita was able to recover rather quickly and toss Horus back in the ring, and began a slow pace afterwards.
Flamita shrugged a lot of Horus’ offense off but eventually paid for it when Horus’ hit a great tope suicida. Horus would follow it up with a satellite DDT that absolutely drilled Flamita into the mat.
At this point in the match, the intensity turned up a notch. Both luchadors exchanged some stiff strikes and both guys eventually ended up on the top turnbuckle. Flamita lifted up Horus for the musclebuster/lungblower combination and was successful in hitting it, but Horus powered out at two.
Flamita went to attempt a powerbomb afterwards, but Horus flipped through and was able to roll up Flamita for the three count and the win.
Kenny King came out and cut an OK promo. He told the crowd to be loud and that the people in the back are eager to perform in front of a crowd. King then took a dig at the local Baltimore Ravens, and guaranteed Dragon Lee would regain the ROH TV Title tonight.
Trending With Taven with Vincent
Matt Taven is out and he has A LOT of hair. Taven recalls his successes and failures in the past number of years and The Righteous interrupt. Taven offers Vincent a contract that entails that him and Vincent have one more match. Vincent said he would only agree if Taven puts up his World Title shot on the line.
Vincent had a metaphor about a cage which led to Taven proposing a Steel Cage match. Vincent agreed and both men brawled, but The Righteous had Taven outnumbered. Bateman and Dutch threw Taven headfirst into his neon sign to end the segment.
PCO and Danhausen defeated The Bouncers (Beer City Bruiser and Brawler Milonas) (w/ Ken Dixon)
Milonas shoved PCO off the apron and started throwing around Danhausen. Bruiser and Milonas tagged in and out, both taking turns at working down Danhausen. Danhausen eventually hit a release German Suplex on Bruiser, which was impressive on its own, but then made the tag to PCO.
PCO had a great hot tag that saw a swanton on Bruiser who was laying on the apron, followed by a dive on the outside to Milonas. Sledge emerged from backstage and stood at ringside. Bruiser hit a springboard elbow drop on PCO, but was met by Danhausen when he got back in the ring. Danhausen slammed Bruiser on a spilled pile of teeth, followed by a PCOsault from PCO for the win.
The Briscoes defeated PJ Black and Brian Johnson
Brian Johnson ran down the Baltimore crowd, who actually cheered back at him. Johnson also said Black has been to more countries than The Briscoes can count to, which I popped for.
The Briscoes cleared house quickly and took the fight to ringside. Jay held Brian Johnson in place as Mark hit a topè off of a steel chair. The high intensity continued from the Briscoes as they pounced on Black after rolling Johnson in the ring.
Johnson and Jay ended up having a really intense forearm exchange, to which Johnson held his own. Mark tried to lift Johnson up for the redneck boogie but Black broke it up.
The Briscoes just continued their onslaught of momentum as Jay would hit the Jay-Driller piledriver on Black, followed by a Froggy Bow from Mark for the win.
EC3 defeated Flip Gordon
This bout started off quite slow to my suprise. Gordon targeted the knee of EC3 with a few chop blocks, but it didn’t seem to affect the “Essential Character”. Gordon continued a limb-targeting based offense, which fits his heel character a lot more than what previous work did.
EC3 got very little offense up to this point but despite his knee injury, he was able to muster enough power to hit a butterfly facebuster. EC3 followed it up with a crossface and made Gordon submit quickly.
Shane Taylor Promotions (Shane Taylor, Moses and Kaun) defeated Dak Draper, Dalton Castle and Eli Isom to retain the ROH Six Man Tag Team Titles
Kaun and Draper began the bout. The two weren’t in for even a minute before Isom and Moses came in. Moses overpowered Isom with ease, causing Isom to tag out to Castle.
Castle did his usual showboating shtick, to which the crowd played up. Moses tagged out to Taylor, who mowed him over with a forearm. Isom came in and Taylor planted him into the canvas with a one-handed spinebuster.
Castle recovered and hit a few moves on Kaun, but refused to go for a cover and continued to showboat. Isom shoved Castle down, but then Moses shoved Isom into Draper. Chaos kept erupting while Isom had a few nearfalls on Taylor.
Isom went to the top rope in an attempt to jump on Taylor, but Castle tried to do the same. Isom shoved Castle off the top rope which allowed for enough of a distraction for Kaun to suplex Isom off the top rope. Taylor planted Draper with a “Welcome To The Land” piledriver for the win.
Josh Woods defeated Silas Young in a Last Man Standing match
Woods jumped Young from behind during his entrance. Both guys wasted no time and almost instantly introduced a chair, a table and a ladder to the match. Woods took it to Young by throwing him groin first into the steel turnbuckle. A few short minutes after, Young speared Woods into a table set up in the corner of the ring.
Woods would eventually apply a gorilla lock to Young who tapped quite fast, but it didn’t matter due to stipulation. Woods set up two tables on the outside of the ring and tried to lure Young to that area, but the “Last Real Man” kicked him in the groin. Young sat Woods in a chair and tried to charge at him, but Woods caught him and powerbombed him into the ladder.
Both guys eventually made their way on the apron, dangling over the set-up tables. They teased a German Suplex spot a few times before actually doing it. A “Holy Sh*t” chant emerged from the building as the referee began his count. Woods emerged at a ten count to win the match.
Brody King defeated Jay Lethal (w/ Tracy Williams)
Lethal and King have a stare down before the bell. There’s a lot of tension here so both guys wasted no time going right after each other. Lethal hit a Lethal Injection almost immediately, but King kicked out at one. King went to recover on the outside, but Lethal hit four (!) dives in a row. None of the dives kept King down as he just climbed back in the ring.
King laid in a few “frying pan chops” as Ian Riccaboni called it and slowed down the pace. Commentary played this up as a giant downfall for Lethal as King continued to dominate him. King set up Lethal in a chair against the barricade and hit a running crossbody, crushing Lethal. Lethal tried to show some fight, but King kept hammering him with chops and brutal forearms.
King planted Lethal with not one, but two gonzo piledrivers for the win. A really good display of strength for King.
Jonathan Gresham defeated Mike Bennett to retain the ROH Pure Championship
Gresham and Bennett grappled and exchanged a few waist and wrist locks for the first two minutes. Bennett caught Gresham in a hold that forced Gresham to use his first rope break. Gresham would then target the arm of Bennett and begin showboating, even starting a few clap-alongs while smacking Bennett’s arm.
Gresham would get a bit cocky and afforded Bennett a opportunity to swing at him, but the Champion rolled to the outside. Bennett followed and Gresham would jump back in the ring and spring onto Bennett. Bennett caught him but Gresham transitioned it into a standing kiruma on the outside. Bennett tapped multiple times but since it was on the outside of the ring, it didn’t count.
Bennett and Gresham both eventually made their way back into the ring and the match picked up speed. Bennett would try a few different moves but his arm gave out multiple times. Gresham would keep picking on the same arm and eventually made Bennett use his final rope break. Both men would engage in a war of forearms and it would allow Bennett to get an adrenaline rush at a key point in the match.
Bennett planted Gresham with a great powerbomb followed by a piledriver which almost resulted in a new champion, but Gresham’s foot was underneath the rope during the pin attempt. Bennett celebrated thinking he won the title, but Gresham would sneak up behind him and apply a leglock and make Bennett tap for the win.
Dragon Lee defeated Tony Deppen to win the ROH Television Championship
Lee and Deppen went right after each other, exchanging super stiff forearms and slaps. Deppen sent Lee to the outside and hit a wonderful cannonball candian destroyer. Lee recovered rather quickly and both guys went to war inside the ring.
Multiple german suplexes, knees, and stomps were exchanged between Lee and Deppen before Lee hit a piledriver for a near fall. Lee was able to eventually nail Deppen with a Dragon’s Breath knee for the win.
VLNCE UNLTD (Chris Dickinson and Homicide) defeated The Foundation (Jonathan Gresham & Rhett Titus) in a Fight Without Honor to win the ROH Tag Team Championships
When Dickinson and Homicide rushed to the ring to check on Tony Deppen, Gresham and Titus followed behind quickly. The bell rang and everything fell apart quickly. Dickinson tossed Titus off the top rope spine-first into a chair, and only moments later Titus put Homicide through a table with a Falcon’s Arrow.
Dickinson worked on Gresham in the ring while Homicide and Titus brawled on the outside. All four guys eventually made their way back in the ring and while Gresham was out of breath, he kept his fight alive. Dickinson and Homicide took a dominant position at this point in the match. Dickinson had Gresham in a STF and when Homicide was about to stab him with a fork, Titus sprung back to life and suplexed him. Dickinson would waste no time and powerbomb Titus off the top rope into a table, while Homicide would hit the Cop Killer on Gresham for the win.
Maria Kanellis Bennett revealed the ROH Women’s Tournament bracket
Bennett introduced Lenny Leonard to the crowd and revealed the bracket for the upcoming ROH Women’s Tournament. With one spot left, Bennett introduced Chelsea Green. Green said she is ready to prove herself worthy after spending two years being deemed not worthy. Green made it known that she is entering the upcoming tournament that starts on July 31st.
Bandido defeated RUSH to win the Ring Of Honor World Championship
Rush blasted Bandido as soon as the bell rang and hit his signature running corner stomp immediately. Rush stood over Bandido’s body and covered him with his foot, but released the pinfall at a one count. Bandido rolled out of the ring to try and recover, but Rush followed him out and started hitting him with cables.
Bandido was completely lifeless at this point as he rolled to the outside, to where Rush followed him. Bandido would gain a burst of energy and toss Rush back in the ring, and follow it up with a stunning shooting star press. Bandido would continue to gain momentum slowly, but when he attempted his X-Knee finisher Rush reversed it easily.
Rush introduced a table to the bout shortly after and set it up at ringside. When he went to climb back in the ring, Bandido launched himself over the top rope and took Rush with him in the process as both men crashed into the table. As a twenty count from the referee approached, both men made it back in the ring.
Bandido and Rush kept finding more and more momentum to continue the bout. Bandido hit a moonsault slam for a near fall, followed by a 23-Plex for another near fall. Rush got very frustrated at this point and ripped the top of Bandido’s mask off, and also shoved referee Todd Sinclair down. Bandido would take advantage of Rush’s distraction and roll him up for the win. Bandido is the new Ring Of Honor World Champion.
Despite the whole Pay-Per-View feeling rushed at times, I enjoyed ROH's return back to live crowds. Almost every match made itself different from another, which is what I look for in a 12 match card like this one. I wasn't a fan of the Baltimore crowd at all, but it could have just been mic-ing issues. Or again, the fact that there were TWELVE matches.
Besides a fun Flamita/Horus opener, the first few matches lacked a PPV-type feeling. I don't think the "Get everybody On The Card" strategy has ever paid off for any company, but I understood it for ticket-moving logistics. If I was cutting the proverbial fat off of the PPV, I would shave off the first two tag matches between PCO/Danhausen/The Bouncers and The Briscoes/Brian Johnson/PJ Black.
I don't know if something happened early in their match, but EC3/Gordon was quite terrible. Definitely expected a better match from those two. Shane Taylor Promotions getting a great reaction is the stuff i love to see, as they were one of my favorite acts throughout the pandemic tapings.
The Josh Woods/Silas Young match is where the show got really, really good. Young and Woods had a good last man standing bout that had a satisfying finish. Brody King absolutely mauled Jay Lethal and it was a sight to behold to say the least. Following up the near-murder was a fantastic Mike Bennett and Jonathan Gresham Pure Title match that had a heart-breaking near fall at the end. This match only furthered my belief that Gresham is a Top 10 wrestler on the entire planet.
After that bout was a Dragon Lee and Tony Deppen match that despite going under ten minutes, was my match of the night. It’s hard to put it into words, but I'd highly recommend watching it if you haven’t already.
After a great 15+ minute match with Bennett, Gresham had to defend the ROH Tag Titles with stablemate Rhett Titus against Dickinson and Homicide in a very fun match. It was a Fight Without Honor, so there were a lot of cool weapon related spots. Homicide even threatened to stab Gresham with a fork, to which Ian Riccaboni pointed out that this wasn't a CZW event.
Chelsea Green showed up! It gets more eyeballs on the product, so I'm cool with it.
The main event saw Bandido and Rush add onto the slate of great matches. Bandido winning the title was a really cool moment and genuinely unexpected on my part. I hope he’s around a lot more than RUSH was.
Overall, a really great effort put forward by the whole ROH roster. They continue to trend in the right direction and gain some fans back from the past.