ROH Best In The World 2019
June 28, 2019
UMBC Event Center
Baltimore, Maryland

Watch: FITE.TV

Meet our reviewers:

Sean Sedor: Voices Of Wrestling’s resident Ring Of Honor expert is back for another ROH PPV review (let’s be honest, if Sean didn’t preview/review these ROH shows, then who would?). You can follow Sean on Twitter @SASedor2994, and be sure to check out his Extreme Warfare: Revenge diary (where he takes over WCW in 1998) on the Voices Of Wrestling Forums at this link.

Gerard Di Trolio: Yeah I’m still watching ROH in 2019. And you know what, while there’s been some embarrassing stuff like The Allüre, there is still some pretty good stuff. We shall see what tonight brings, this could be a good show but I think there’s potential for a bad show, especially if ROH makes some bad booking decisions. You can follow me on Twitter at @GerardDitrolio.

RUSH def. Flip Gordon

Sean Sedor: They didn’t waste any time on the pre-show, as we got this matchup right out of the gate. RUSH picked up the victory (as expected) after hitting Flip Gordon with the Bull’s Horns. This was a very solid contest that featured good action throughout. Gordon got RUSH’s attention early by slapping him right in the face, and this led to RUSH dominating the early minutes of the bout (this included RUSH tossing Gordon over the timekeeper’s table, nearly taking out Cary Silkin). Eventually, Gordon managed to mount some offense of his own, and the pace picked up in the second half. While the crowd certainly wasn’t as big as last year’s Best In The World PPV (in the same building), they really seemed to be into this match, which is a good sign for the rest of the show (we’ll see if that holds up). Again, the result was never in doubt, but this was a fun way to get things started. No complaints from me. ***1/4 

Gerard Di Trolio: Crowd was hot for this, which is a good sign for tonight. I think this was the most competitive singles match RUSH has had in ROH so far. Though RUSH controlled most of the match, Gordon got in a fair share of offense in the middle of the match. I thought the match was mostly good but the finish was kind of anticlimactic with RUSH brawling outside of the ring and then attacked Gordon with a garbage can shortly before he got the victory with the Bull’s Horn. Still, this was a good choice for the opener. ***1/4 

Dalton Castle def. Dragon Lee

Sean Sedor: This match officially kicked off the PPV portion of the show. Back at the MSG show in April, Dalton Castle lost in seconds to RUSH, which served as the impetus for Castle’s heel turn. The former ROH World Champion swore revenge on RUSH, and decided to get back at him by challenging his brother, Dragon Lee. The big question surrounding this particular bout was whether Dragon Lee could have a strong match against a wrestler who is still dealing with the impacts of all the injuries he suffered in 2018. Ultimately, it proved to be a pretty good PPV opening. The match got off to a quick start, as Dragon Lee nearly beat Castle in the exact same way that his brother RUSH beat Castle at MSG. Castle (who is now wearing high-waisted trunks to cover up his back brace) responded immediately, and beat the shit out of Dragon Lee on the outside for a number of minutes. He even went after Dragon Lee’s mask, as he attempted to tear it apart. Dragon Lee managed to fight back, and connected with a couple of high-impact moves here and there. However, this ended up being a very definitive win for Castle. He hit the Bang-A-Rang, but then decided to put Dragon Lee away with the Bull’s Horns, which is RUSH’s finishing move. I was expecting Castle to get the win here, but I didn’t think he would do it in such a conclusive way. This match did a great job in putting over this new vicious side of Dalton Castle. I imagine this victory will help set up a rematch between Castle and RUSH at some point. This was certainly a unique way of helping to build up that rematch. I can’t complain too much though, because this match was very good. ***3/4 

Gerard Di Trolio: I think Castle’s heel character has been great so far. Match started with a bang, and Dragon Lee teased he was going to get a quick win with some Bull’s Horns over Castle just like his brother did at MSG. I thought this was a smartly wrestled match given Castle’s physical condition, though there was plenty of slow stuff and rest holds between the action. But Castle’s great heel work helped to mitigate the slow sections of the match. The last few minutes saw a lot of big moves and reversals and Castle won with a Bang-A-Rang followed by a Bull’s Horn as a big fuck you to RUSH. I thought this ended up being great and helped a great deal in establishing Castle’s heel persona and to continue his feud with RUSH. ***3/4

The Allure (Angelina Love & Mandy Leon with Velvet Sky) def. Women Of Honor Champion Kelly Klein & Jenny Rose

Sean Sedor: The babyface team didn’t waste any time, as they went after The Allure right away. Klein seemed to have the edge over Angelina Love early, but after Velvet Sky went after Jenny Rose on the outside (while referee Brian Hebner…..yes, that Brian Hebner…..wasn’t looking), The Allure took control. The action down the stretch was fine, I suppose. Towards the end of the bout, we got more shenanigans, as Mandy Leon clocked Kelly Klein with a high heel shoe. This allowed Angelina Love to hit the Botox Injection (yes, that’s the name of Angelina’s finisher) on the Women Of Honor Champion to score the pin. I guess we’re getting a Kelly Klein vs. Angelina Love title match down the line (that’ll be something). To be frank, I was expecting the match to be shit, but it was actually ok for a Women Of Honor match (not a very high bar, to be fair). Both sides played their respective roles well and, as I just mentioned, it appeared to set up a future title match. Afterward, we got the debut of “The Maneater” Maria Manic, who scared off The Allure and destroyed a bunch of security guys. **

Gerard Di Trolio: Pretty sure everyone thought this was going to be the worst match of the show. That turned out to be a harsh prediction, because I thought this match was fine. Angelina Love is actually better than I remember her being. Kelly Klein was fine and didn’t have to do anything too complex that she could botch.  Jenny Rose is good and if anything underrated. Mandy Leon definitely looked like the weakest worker out there, but she didn’t have to do too much. The match was worked like a basic face vs. heel tag match, with the heels cheating and their manager Velvet Sky getting involved. The finish was silly because I don’t buy a high heel shoe as a lethal weapon, as Love pinned Klein with the Botox Injection after Leon blasted Klein with the shoe. With Maria Manic making her debut here, and this match not being awful, the Women of Honor division doesn’t look quite as bad as it has lately. **3/4

Best-Of-Three Series – Match #3
Kenny King def. Jay Lethal

Sean Sedor: This was the final match in the best of three series between these two. King won the first bout, but while Lethal won the second bout, it was only by DQ after King attacked him with a microphone and (later) a steel chair. King injured Lethal’s arm in that assault, and once this bout got going, he went after Lethal’s arm almost immediately. From there, we saw a very good contest that featured some good back and forth action. The storytelling in this one was also pretty strong. We saw both men stealing each other’s moves, and countering some big moves, to put over the fact that they knew each other very well. There was also a point early on when Lethal showed a more aggressive side (as he went after King on the floor), and the commentary team pointed out that Lethal needed to focus on his in-ring wrestling if he wanted to get the win over King. Towards the end of the bout, Kenny King demanded that Amy Rose (who had been helping King out while he was “blind”) bring his cane to him, but this really didn’t play into the match that much, as it was never used as a weapon. Lethal followed up with a Lethal Injection, but couldn’t get the pin immediately, since he was still injured. This gave King the chance to kick out of the pin, and they went on an offensive flurry before putting Lethal away with Royal Flush. I’m shocked that King won this Best-Of-Three Series. However, what shocked me even more was the fact that King won this match, and the series, very decisively (that’s a bit of a running theme on this undercard, isn’t it?). The action from start to finish was really good, and both men played their roles perfectly. It’ll be fascinating to see where Kenny King goes from here, especially since Jay Lethal has a shot at the ROH World Title already lined up. This was definitely one of the best matches on the entire card. ***3/4 

Gerard Di Trolio: I like King more than a lot of people it seems. I thought his whole being blinded by The Great Muta’s mist at MSG gimmick was hilarious. Last November, I saw an ROH Title match in Toronto against Lethal and King that I really liked and exceeded my expectations. These guys delivered once again, and went all out compared to their other matches in this three-match series. This felt like a real fight at times, Kenny King even busted out stuff like a Shooting Star Press and both guys stole each other’s moves and got huge heat for it. Lethal trying to be more brutal and aggressive than usual and it backfiring was also a nice touch to the story of this match. On the negative side, Lethal’s arm injury from their second match was an afterthought and only got a bit of attention near the beginning of the match. The stuff with Amy Rose and the cane wasn’t necessary either. But the near falls were still exciting and King got a big pop for his win with the Royal Flush. The commentators put over the win as the biggest in King’s career. This was the match of the night for me. Remember, King has an ROH World Title shot still in the dock from his MSG Rumble win. ****

Pure Rules Match
Jonathan Gresham def. Silas Young

Sean Sedor: I enjoyed Silas Young playing some mind games during his entrance, as he came out wearing an entrance robe that’s similar to the one that Gresham usually wears. It’s always cool to see ROH bust out the Pure Rules stipulation every so often. While this was far from the best match of the night, there was some good wrestling throughout, and they managed to tell an interesting story with the Pure Rules Match. Early on, both men used up their first rope breaks, but in both instances, they seemed to trick each other into taking those rope breaks. Gresham managed to gain the advantage over Young in the rope break battle, but after using up his first closed fist, Young regained control. Gresham ultimately used up all of his rope breaks first, but he still managed to take the fight to Young. The finish was a rather interesting one, as Gresham hit Young with a low blow while Todd Sinclair was trying to fix the ring skirt. He then locked on the Octopus Hold to score the submission victory. Ian Riccaboni said on commentary that the way this match ended sent mix messages, and I would agree. Jonathan Gresham got a lot of boos for using the low blow on Silas Young. However, within the context of the story, it made perfect sense, as Gresham was simply getting payback after Young had beaten him a couple of times via nefarious means. I have a feeling that finish was just part of the story (and not the impetus for a Jonathan Gresham heel turn), but time will tell. A technically sound match for sure, but again, it wasn’t exactly stellar either. ***1/4 

Gerard Di Trolio: This was the culmination of a feud that took place on ROH TV where Young defeated Gresham a couple of times by cheating. This got off to a good start with plenty of mat wrestling. Both wrestlers tricked each other to use up their first rope break early on. While I appreciated the early matwork in this match and the psychology around the rope breaks, particularly how Gresham forced Young’s third one, I never thought the matched kicked into high gear. That was probably Young’s fault. He’s not a bad wrestler but can often be plodding in his matches. The finish was weird. Just because Young cheated in their past matches, I think that’s a stupid excuse for a face like Gresham to have used a low blow before he got the win with the Octopus Hold. ***1/4

The Briscoes vs. NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis & Eli Drake (No Contest)

Sean Sedor: During the pre-show, Nick Aldis came out to reveal he was mystery partner for this tag team match (his original partner, NWA National Champion Colt Cabana, was sidelined with a leg injury). Initially, James Storm interrupted Aldis, and it seemed like he was going to be revealed as the mystery partner. Instead, Aldis announced that his partner was Eli Drake, who has now officially signed with the NWA after being let go by Impact a couple of weeks ago. Honestly, I didn’t see that move coming at all. It seemed like AEW was potentially going to land Eli Drake, but he decided to go with the NWA instead. Isn’t it interesting that the NWA is quickly becoming a home for former Impact Wrestling names? Anyway, these two were having a fine tag team encounter until the match got thrown out when Jay Briscoe and Eli Drake started brawling the crowd. The action was solid enough, and the crowd seemed to be into everyone not named Nick Aldis. Once the match got thrown out, Eli Drake started brawling with James Storm (who was with Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana on commentary), and they quickly disappeared. This led to Nick Aldis being the receiving end of a two-on-one beatdown from The Briscoes that ended with Aldis getting put through a table with a Froggy Bow (Ian Riccaboni did his best to hold back the injured Colt Cabana at the commentary table). The segment ended with Marty Scurll coming out to help his friend to the back. I’m guessing the next phase of this whole Briscoes/NWA storyline will see The Briscoes vs. Nick Aldis and Marty Scurll at some point. As for this particular bout, it was fine for what it was. I suppose it served its purpose, with the introduction of Eli Drake and the stuff that happened afterward, but I wish we got an actual finish. ***

Gerard Di Trolio: Well I was expecting James Storm to be Aldis’ mystery partner but in somewhat of an actual surprise, we got Eli Drake. Anyway, this match was way better than I thought it would be. The Briscoes really helped to keep this thing moving at a brisk pace. Drake and Aldis, despite their averageness a lot of the time, looked pretty good here. Aldis has managed to have some pretty good matches as NWA champ, so I don’t roll my eyes like I used to when I see him on my TV. This was building to something good but we got a DQ after Drake and Jay Briscoe brawled all the way over to the commentary table. After the match, Drake and James Storm brawled and the Briscoes went after Aldis. After the Briscoes left, Marty Scurll came out and helped Aldis to the back, rekindling their friendship and probably a tag match with the Briscoes down the road. While I hated the finish, some stories were told and advanced here and the match had lots of action. ***1/4

ROH World TV Title
Shane Taylor (c) def. Bandido

Sean Sedor: Shane Taylor won the ROH World TV Title during the War Of The Worlds Tour in May, but before that tour took place, Bandido actually scored a victory over Taylor on an episode of ROH TV. Taylor managed to avenge that previous loss by pinning Bandido after he managed to connect with Greetings From 216. The bulk of the match was relatively good, but the last two minutes or so were really strong, with a couple of incredibly close nearfalls. Taylor nearly had the match won after hitting a package piledriver, while Bandido almost won the title after an awesome shooting star press. The crowd loved that closing stretch, and as a whole, these two seemed to do a fine job together. Taylor utilized his obvious size and power advantage but showed once or twice that he can be pretty mobile. Likewise, Bandido used some of his high flying offense to take the fight to Taylor, but he did show off some awesome stretch at times. In one particular instance, Bandido actually caught Taylor, who was coming off the top rope. I don’t think this would be my match of the night, but it was certainly a highlight on this PPV. I would’ve liked to have seen Bandido win here. However, I just didn’t think that ROH would be taking this title off Taylor so soon. It should be interesting to see who will be the next challenger to step up and face Taylor. ***1/2 

Gerard Di Trolio: Shane Taylor has been on the run of his career lately. His match against Jeff Cobb was awesome, and the four-way in Toronto where he won the TV title was also pretty good. At one point when Taylor was yelling at a fan, Ian Riccaboni said: “We’ve had enough one-on-one interactions with fans lately,” which made me laugh. Got to take your shots at Bully Ray when you can. Taylor worked hard here and looked great. This match was as believable as you could make a pro wrestling match between 2 guys with such huge size discrepancies. Bandido got a lot of offense in, but was never able hit stuff like the 21-Plex. One really cool spot was Taylor going for a Crossbody from the second rope but Bandido catching and Powerslamming him. That got a big pop. Both guys got a few near falls on each other but Taylor put Bandido away with the Greetings from 216 in what I thought was a surprising result. While a great match, you really have to strike now with Bandido, especially given he’s done a few jobs in ROH already. Hopefully, we get another match between these two. They have good chemistry together. ***3/4

ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles
Villain Enterprises (“The Villain” Marty Scurll, Brody King, & PCO) (c) def. Lifeblood (Mark Haskins & Tracy Williams) & PJ Black

Sean Sedor: Villain Enterprises came out with a new theme song, custom championship belts, and Road Warriors-esque shoulder pads. If they weren’t already a lock to retain coming into this match, then all of that new stuff (particularly the custom title belts) should’ve totally sealed the deal. Even with the predictable result, this was a very entertaining match that was certainly one of the best bouts on the show. It was wrestled at a quick pace, and there was a lot of fun action throughout, with all six guys getting moments to shine. PCO tried to kill himself (like he always does), and both sides implemented some cool double team and triple team offense. For the most part, the crowd seemed to be into it (though at points, it did seem like they were starting to fade), and as a whole, I don’t have many complaints about this match. There was a noticeable both right in the middle of the match, where the referee (I believe he was a new referee) messed up on a pinfall attempt by Lifeblood. The fact that it happened in the middle of the match (as opposed to closer to the finish) just amplified it even more. I would’ve gone **** if that botch hadn’t happened, but alas, it did happen. PCO won the match for his team after hitting his signature moonsault. ***3/4 

A lot of things happened afterwards, but I’ll try to explain it the best I can. So this new tag team called The Soldiers Of Savagery (they’re actually a team from MCW that ROH signed back in April) came out and attacked Lifeblood. Bully Ray then came out to join in on the attack, but he was chased off by Bandido and (eventually) Flip Gordon. Lifeblood once again offered Flip Gordon a spot in Lifeblood (they’ve been courting him for months), and he appeared to finally accept their offer. Then, we got a pre-recording video from Marty Scurll (it’s so odd that this aired right after Scurll had a match), who announced that Flip Gordon was the 4th member of Villain Enterprises. This was a total parody of the Marty Scurll/Bullet Club reveal video that Kenny Omega did two years ago. Gordon then attacked Lifeblood, and the rest of Villain Enterprises joined in on the beatdown. The segment ended with Flip Gordon appearing to mess himself up pretty badly as he put one of the Lifeblood guys through a table on the floor with a 450 Splash. This whole thing was incredibly messy that left me with a lot more questions than answers. Is Lifeblood just a stable of geeks now? Was this a Villain Enterprises heel turn? Will all of it not matter because Flip Gordon hurt himself AGAIN? Who knows….

Gerard Di Trolio: Love the Road Warriors cosplay from Villain Enterprises. This match could have been New Japan 6 man main event in Korakuen Hall, and I don’t mean that in a pejorative sense. Everyone got all their usual spots in, we got some high spots like a somersault senton off the apron from King, and the match kept a quick pace. Only really big high spot that PCO did was a Tope Suicida which is pretty tame compared to what I’ve seen him do in ROH this year. Everyone mostly looked pretty good but Black was the JAG of the match and PCO looked sloppy in spots. This was a lot of fun and one of the best matches on the show. After the match, the Soldiers of Savagery and Bully Ray attack Lifeblood and Black but Bandido and Flip Gordon make the save. Flip Gordon seemed to join Lifeblood but then Scurll appears on the screen announcing Gordon as the new member of Villain Enterprises and Lifeblood gets attacked. Gordon does a 450 Splash through a table and looks like he may have hurt himself… again. Definitely did not see Gordon joining VE but I could see Gordon basically leading PCO and King in a faction eventually if Scurll does in fact leave ROH later this year when his contract is up. ***3/4

ROH World Title
Matt Taven (c) def. Jeff Cobb

Sean Sedor: There are plenty of things to be critical about when it comes to Ring Of Honor in 2019 (and I would tend to agree with a lot of those criticisms). However, the one thing that ROH has gotten right over the last year is the Jeff Cobb push. He beat Punishment Martinez for the ROH World TV Title in his first official match with the company and has remained unbeaten ever since. In a perfect world, Jeff Cobb would’ve won the ROH World Title here, only a week or two before he enters his first G1 Climax. Instead, Matt Taven just pinned Cobb out of nowhere after hitting him with his Climax DDT for a second time. Not only was this match one of the most forgettable ROH World Title bouts in recent memory, but it was one of the worst ROH PPV main events of the SBG era. The only other contender that comes to mind was the main event from the 13th Anniversary Show in 2015, which was a Four-Corner Survival for the ROH World Title with Jay Briscoe, Michael Elgin, Hanson, and Tommaso Ciampa. I would still say that main event was worse than this one (mainly because it was mired by a ton of overbooking), but it wouldn’t be by much. 

The wrestling itself appeared to be relatively fine (for the most part), and they seemed to be telling a decent story early on, as Cobb showed off his incredible power by tossing Taven around. Unfortunately, there were a lot of problems as well. It seemed like they might’ve been rushed, but the PPV went off the air with almost five minutes left, so I really have no idea what happened there. Then there was the fact that the crowd didn’t care at all. I’m not sure if they were just tired in general, or burned out after the Flip Gordon segment. Either way, they certainly didn’t react to much in this one. Taven winning really wasn’t a shock (given that a title defense against Jay Lethal has already been announced for a show that’s taking place while Jeff Cobb is in Japan for the G1 Climax), but the fact that he won so definitely was a surprise. Cobb’s first pinfall loss in ROH should’ve been a big deal. While the announcers certainly treated this result as a big deal, it came off incredibly flat, and the match as a whole (given the lack of reactions from the crowd) felt like a wet fart. Even though there were parts of this match that I enjoyed, this was still incredibly disappointing. **3/4 

Gerard Di Trolio: I’ve learned to live with Matt Taven. I don’t think he’s awful, though I’m not in love with him. He clearly has his fans and got a good pop for his entrance here. Thought the match started a little slow with some Taven stalling and rest holds. Things picked up after a Taven Tope Suicida that sent Cobb head first into the guardrail in a gross looking impact. Things seemingly picked up from there… but not really. There was some decent to good back and forth stuff, but then after countering a Tour of the Islands attempt, Taven hit the Climax for the win out of nowhere. Really flat ending and quite possibly Cobb’s weakest match in ROH thus far. I’m not sure if Cobb got injured and they went to the finish or they were coming up against their PPV window, as the show went off the air at 11:58. Bad way to end a PPV that was quite good up to that point. It was really time to out the World Title on Cobb. Taven is a decent heel transition champion but nothing more. Also, it looks really bad that Cobb suffered his first loss in ROH in such a forgettable match. The way this PPV ended was sort of an omen for ROH in 2019 really. **1/2