ROH Best In The World 2019
June 28, 2019
8:30 PM EDT
UMBC Event Center
Since the SBG era of Ring Of Honor began, Best in the World has been one of the company’s biggest events of the year. Over the course of the event’s history, we’ve seen plenty of great matches, big title changes, and cool moments. While the 2019 edition of Best in the World does have some promising matches up and down the card, it’s a show that’s sorely lacking interest on a weekend where it’s bound to be overshadowed by AEW’s Fyter Fest event, along with New Japan’s Southern ShowDown events in Australia. To be completely honest, the only reason why this ROH PPV isn’t the least important show of the weekend is because EVOLVE is running two shows in the Northeast.
Best in the World 2019 isn’t totally devoid of interesting matchups (I imagine the majority of these bouts will be pretty good), but it’s not a very compelling PPV lineup on paper either. What is interesting about this show is that it’s taking place at an important crossroads in the company’s history. We’re now six months into the post-Elite era of ROH. All Elite Wrestling is starting to build momentum as their schedule picks up on the road to their TNT debut, while New Japan is experimenting with more major solo efforts in North America (the opening night of the G1 Climax in Dallas and the upcoming Super J-Cup on the West Coast). Meanwhile, the decline in ROH business and popularity has seemed to increase. While attendances in the first half of the year didn’t seem to immediately crater following the departures of The Elite and SCU (though some of them looked a lot worse with ROH booking buildings that were way too big), things don’t look promising for the second half of the year. Ticket sales for a number of upcoming events hadn’t looked good, and this includes a big show in the Hammerstein Ballroom that will feature the next chapter in the feud between The Briscoes and The Guerrillas Of Destiny. Plus, a number of high-profile incidents (the attempted worked-shoot angle with Enzo and Big Cass at the MSG show, the Bully Ray/Allure fan incident at a recent live event in Portland, Oregon), have certainly done a number on the perception of ROH amongst wrestling fans.
What ROH looks like come Final Battle, or even a year from now is anyone’s guess. Is the company about to get a swift reality check, with regards to their attendance figures? How might the promotion’s relationship with New Japan change in the next year (if at all)? Which members of the current roster will ROH be able to hold onto once the next set of contracts come up? These are all fascinating questions to think about as we look forward to the second half of 2019.
ROH World Title – Matt Taven (c) vs. Jeff Cobb
As this PPV card was coming together, something that I quickly realized was that this lineup was a lot different from what I was anticipating. The main event of the show is a prime example of that. After Jeff Cobb lost the ROH World TV Title to Shane Taylor on Night 2 of this year’s War Of The Worlds Tour (in a Four-Corner Survival Match where Cobb wasn’t even involved in the deciding pinfall), I was fully anticipating a rematch between the two on this PPV. That would’ve been a great followup to the awesome hoss fight they had at the 17th Anniversary Show back in March. Instead, Cobb is getting vaulted right into the ROH World Title picture, as he’ll be facing off with Matt Taven, who won the ROH World Title at the G1 Supercard event in MSG. On the surface, this seems like a hard match to predict. Cobb is still undefeated in ROH, and he seems like a prime candidate to hold the ROH World Title sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Taven only just won the title two-and-a-half months ago. While I would have no issues with the title getting taken off Taven right now, it does seem a little quick to take the title off a guy that they worked so hard to build up. While these are the kinds of questions you want surrounding your main event (you want the sense that it could go either way), they might not matter at all. It was announced a couple of weeks ago that Jay Lethal would be challenging for the ROH World Title at the Manhattan Mayhem show on July 20th. That is in direct conflict with the G1 Climax and, as we all know, Jeff Cobb will be part of that tournament.
Unless they’ve changed plans, with regards to that event in the Hammerstein Ballroom, then it certainly seems like Cobb will be eating his first loss in ROH, right before he heads to Japan. My hope is that we do get a title change, but with that news in mind, I can’t see it happening. I’m sure the match will be really good. Cobb has delivered in a big way every single time he’s appeared on a big ROH PPV, and Taven has proven that he’s capable of having really good matches with the right opponents. Will these two mesh? We’ll see what happens. If Taven does retain, it wouldn’t shock me if he does so via shenanigans, probably involving the rest of The Kingdom. Prediction: Matt Taven
ROH World TV Title – Shane Taylor (c) vs. Bandido
As I alluded to in my preview of the main event, I was fully expecting a Shane Taylor/Jeff Cobb rematch here. Instead, Taylor will be defending the ROH World TV Title against Bandido. It seems like an odd pairing on the surface, but there is a bit of a backstory to this one, as Bandido pinned Taylor in a singles match on an episode of ROH TV that took place before Taylor won the title. I’m honestly not sure what to expect from this one. You do have the classic power vs. speed story (though Bandido has shown in the past that he can pull off some impressive feats of strength), but much like the main event, I don’t know how well these two are going to mesh.
Their first meeting on ROH TV several weeks back was solid. Can they do better in this rematch? Again, we’ll just have to wait and see how the match unfolds on the PPV. As for the result of this one, my thoughts are actually similar to what I said about the result of the ROH World Title bout. While I would personally like to see a title change here (Bandido would make a great champion), I’m not sure if that’ll happen, since Shane Taylor just won the belt. Is he just a transitional champion, or do they have a longer title run in the plans? My heart wants the former to happen, but my mind is going with the latter. Prediction: Shane Taylor
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles – Villain Enterprises (“The Villain” Marty Scurll, Brody King, & PCO) (c) vs. Lifeblood (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams) & PJ Black
Remember back in February when Lifeblood has this huge debut, with Juice Robinson presented as the leader, and the promise that they (as a group) would help restore honor in ROH? Well, that fell apart pretty quickly, didn’t it? The idea of Lifeblood was a fascinating one on paper, and the makeup of the group was solid, but they didn’t see nearly the same kind of success that the other seemingly thrown together factor (Villain Enterprises) has seen. This babyface stable has been greatly reduced in size for a variety of reasons. David Finlay suffered a shoulder injury back in February, Tenille Dashwood left ROH when her contract expired several weeks back, and reports recently came out that Juice Robinson (the man originally pegged as the leader of Lifeblood) was done working with ROH. Lifeblood as a whole has been pretty aimless since the MSG show, but they look to turn things around by capturing the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles. With their fellow stablemate Bandido in another title match, Mark Haskins and Tracy Williams have enlisted the help of PJ Black as they challenge Villain Enterprises. The trio of Marty Scurll, Brody King, and PCO have been dominant in the tag team and trios ranks since they burst onto the scene as a unit (in just the first six months of 2019, they’ve held tag team/trios gold in three different promotions), and I expect their dominance to continue here.
I wouldn’t mind Lifeblood getting these titles at some point, but I can’t see them doing it with PJ Black as their third guy (in fact, I believe Black will take the fall here). I’m sure the action in this one will be very good, and it wouldn’t be shocking if this contends for the match of the night honors. Villain Enterprises have already had a number of strong tag team/trios performances this year. Meanwhile, I’m sure Lifeblood and PJ Black will be looking to have a great outing in their own right. However, the ultimate result doesn’t seem to be in doubt. Prediction: Villain Enterprises
Best-Of-Three Series – Match #3 – Jay Lethal vs. Kenny King
The issues between these two date back to last year, when Jay Lethal successfully defended the ROH World Title against Kenny King in Toronto during the Global Wars Tour. King still hasn’t let that loss go, and he recently reignited his feud with Lethal in the form of a Best-Of-Three Series. The previous two matches have taken place on ROH TV, and even though the series is tied at 1-1, King got the better of Lethal on both occasions. In the first match, King used a kick to the nuts (when the ref wasn’t looking), followed by his own shitty version of the Lethal Injection, to score the win over the former ROH World Champion. In the second match, Lethal did emerge victoriously, but only because King intentionally got himself disqualified (he hit Lethal in the head with a microphone and attacked his arm with a steel chair).
Since King has gotten the upper hand on Lethal in the previous two matches, it makes all the sense in the world that Lethal will win this decisive third bout to end the feud. With regards to the match quality, I’m sure that these two will have a very solid outing. I know a lot of people aren’t fans of Kenny King (I don’t love the guy either, but I do feel he gets shit on a little too much), but he’s going up against Jay Lethal, who almost never disappoints on these big ROH events (unless he’s wrestling Cody). The match these two had in Toronto last year was very good (even if the crowd wasn’t that into it). I have feeling that King will try some shenanigans to get the win, but I firmly believe he’ll be on the receiving end of a Lethal Injection when all is said and done. Prediction: Jay Lethal
The Briscoes vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis & TBA
Colt Cabana, the current NWA National Champion, was originally scheduled to team with Nick Aldis in this match, but was pulled from the match in the last couple of days after suffering a leg injury. Shortly thereafter, it was revealed by Nick Aldis himself that his mystery partner (who apparently will be revealed on the Best in the World Pre-Show) has signed an exclusive contract with the NWA. Given that he’s made some appearances with the NWA recently, James Storm would be my first guess (which would be very ironic, given that Storm was involved in an angle years ago in TNA where he attempted to murder Aldis’ wife, Mickie James).
This was another instance of an unexpected match taking place on this card. I was expecting that we’d be getting a rematch between The Briscoes and The Guerrillas Of Destiny, after their first encounter in Chicago ended in controversial fashion (G.O.D. cheated their way to victory). That rematch has been announced, but it’s taking place on the upcoming Hammerstein Ballroom show in July. With G.O.D. wrestling on New Japan’s Southern Showdown events in Australia, we’re instead getting the continuation of the feud between The Briscoes and the NWA. This story dates back to the Crockett Cup, when The Briscoes lost their semi-final match to eventual tournament winners Villain Enterprises by disqualification. The Briscoes went on a rampage afterwards, and essentially declared war on the NWA. They followed this up at the TV Tapings in Chicago, when they took out both Nick Aldis and Colt Cabana. The Briscoes are in a really weird spot right now in ROH, in terms of their babyface/heel alignment. While they’re being presented as heels in this feud with the NWA, they seem to be presented as the babyfaces in their feud with The Guerrillas Of Destiny. It sort of reminds me of how certain stables in New Japan (mainly referring to LIJ and CHAOS) will alter their babyface/heel alignment, depending on who they’re facing. As for this story with the NWA, I’m not entirely sure where this is going. I’m guessing The Briscoes will win, regardless of who the mystery partner is, but what is that leading to? Is Jay Briscoe going to get a shot at the NWA World Title? Will The Briscoes try to go after the NWA World Tag Team Titles? I honestly have no idea. As for the actual match, I was looking forward to it when Cabana was still involved. I’m sure this will be a fine tag team bout, but it’ll be curious to see what the result means for this particular storyline going forward. Prediction: The Briscoes
Dalton Castle vs. Dragon Lee
Following his quick loss to Rush at the MSG show in April, Dalton Castle officially turned heel when he attacked The Boys. Since then, Castle vowed to get revenge on RUSH. How is he going to do this? Is he going to challenge Rush to a rematch? Nope. Castle’s method of revenge, in this instance, involves going after Dragon Lee, who is RUSH’s brother. Having Dragon Lee on this card certainly adds to this show. He’s coming off a great run in the recent Best Of The Super Juniors Tournament, as well as a stellar match with Will Ospreay at Dominion. Obviously, there’s been questions surrounding Dalton Castle’s health for well over a year now, but it seems like Castle has gradually gotten better this year. It doesn’t seem like he’s fully back to what he was pre-injuries, but he’s had a number of strong performances in singles matches this year (vs. Jay Lethal in January, vs. Will Ospreay in February).
Dragon Lee is an awesome talent (as we all know), so there’s no doubt in my mind that this match should be very good, at the very least. As for the winner, Castle probably needs it more than Dragon Lee. It would be an odd move for Castle to lose his first big match after his heel turn. Plus, a win over an established worldwide star would go a long way in helping to build up Castle’s new heel persona. Prediction: Dalton Castle
Pure Rules Match – Jonathan Gresham vs. Silas Young
I’ve really enjoyed the midcard feud that these two have been having, mainly because it has a very simple story behind it. Over the last several weeks, Silas Young picked up a pair of wins over Jonathan Gresham in singles competition. Despite the fact that both of these wins came via nefarious means, Young has been referring to himself as the “Technician Of Honor”, and has been claiming to be a true master of technical wrestler. They even did a segment where Young went to the ROH Dojo while Jonathan Gresham (one of the head trainers at the ROH Dojo) was in Japan, so that he could show the students how pure scientific wrestling is really done. Young has played his role as the heel in this story very well, and after what happened in his previous bouts with Gresham, their third meeting will be contested under Pure Rules. I’m not expecting this to steal the show, but this should be a very entertaining bout on the undercard. Gresham is coming off an impressive outing in the Best Of The Super Juniors Tournament, and I expect that he will finally get the upper hand over Silas Young in this contest. Not much else to say beyond that. A simple story setting up what should be a pretty solid match. You really can’t go wrong with that. Prediction: Jonathan Gresham
Women Of Honor Champion Kelly Klein & Jenny Rose vs. The Allure (Angelina Love & Mandy Leon with Velvet Sky)
At the G1 Supercard event in MSG, Angelina Love and Velvet Sky made their shocking ROH debuts, as they aligned with Mandy Leon to form The Allure, which is essentially the Women Of Honor version of The Beautiful People from TNA. To say that angle was one of the low points of that MSG show would be an understatement (if not for the worked shoot angle involving Enzo and Big Cass, it would’ve been the defining lowlight of the show). We all know that the Women Of Honor division has been sorely lacking for a very long time. They certainly needed some new faces, but (outside of the decision makers in ROH), I don’t think anyone believes that Angelina Love and Velvet Sky (who haven’t been relevant in years) are the answer. Anyway, The Allure immediately set their sights on Kelly Klein, and they’ve been harassing her on seemingly every ROH show over the past few months. This will be the first time that Klein has had the chance to get her hands on members of The Allure in an actual match, and she’s enlisted the help of Jenny Rose for this tag team encounter. It’s certainly a far cry from the really entertaining eight-women tag we saw at Best in the World last year (which featured talents from STARDOM). If there’s a silver lining in all of this madness, it’s that Velvet Sky won’t be wrestling at all. Apparently, she still considers herself retired, so I guess she’s just here to be a manager. Either way, this will likely be the worst match on the card. I imagine that Klein will get pinned by either Angelina Love or Mandy Leon (my money would be on the latter) to set up a future title match. Nobody cares about anyone involved in this match.
Women Of Honor is far and away the worst women’s division in the United States (out of the major promotions that have women’s divisions) and hopefully this doesn’t go too long. Prediction: The Allure
Flip Gordon vs. Rush
A couple of days ago, ROH announced that this match would be airing for free on the Best in the World pre-show, which kicks off at 8:30 EDT. According to ROH, this match will be shown for free on Facebook, FITE TV, and “all major cable and satellite operators” (I guess that means on the actual channel that the PPV is airing on?). This is a pretty smart move by ROH. These two should have a very exciting contest, and it’ll be a great last-minute selling point for the PPV. I would image Rush gets the win here to remain unbeaten in ROH. To continue the trend of “not getting the matches I was expecting”, I thought that Rush was going to be challenging Matt Taven for the ROH World Title in the main event. I’m sure Rush will be getting a title shot eventually, but on this particular night, he’s facing Flip Gordon on the pre-show. There’s no reason not to check out this match. It’s going to be free, and it should be really good! Prediction: Rush