Ring of Honor
Best in World 2021
July 11, 2021
7:00 PM EDT (Free Hour) / 8:00 PM EDT (PPV)
Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena
Baltimore, Maryland

Watch: HonorClub, PPV & FITE

If you’re unfamiliar with the ROH PPV format, the Free Hour is essentially their version of the kickoff show/pre-show that you’d see from the likes of WWE and AEW. You’ll get previews of the matches on the main card, plus a pair of matches. In this preview, I’ve listed the two Free Hour bouts at the bottom, so if you’re looking for what will be happening on that portion of the card, that’s where you’ll find them. The Free Hour should be airing on a variety of social media platforms (YouTube for sure and probably Facebook as well) in addition to HonorClub and FITE.

ROH World Title
RUSH (c) vs. Bandido

Following the events of the 19th Anniversary Show, I thought for sure that Brody King was going to be the next challenger for RUSH. However, when it was announced that Brody King would be wrestling Jay Lethal at the PPV, that completely threw me for a loop. The title picture became much clearer when ROH announced that Survival Of The Fittest was returning, and when the dust settled, Bandido emerged victorious to earn himself a shot at the ROH World Title.

Now this isn’t the first time that these two have squared off in ROH. They had a singles match back at the 17th Anniversary Show in 2019 that was pretty good. They’re in a much bigger spot for this rematch, but I’m certain these two will deliver a strong main event. This is the biggest match of Bandido’s ROH run thus far (aside from the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Three-Way he was involved in on the New Japan/ROH joint show in MSG), so I’m fully confident that he’ll hold up his end of things. As for RUSH, he can be hit or miss at times, but against an opponent like Bandido, I think he’ll deliver.

As for the result, I have RUSH retaining here, but that being said, I still believe Bandido has a relatively decent shot to win. This is ROH’s first show with fans since the pandemic, so I could easily see a Bandido victory as not only a positive moment to end the show on, but a moment that signifies a new era of sorts, as the company slowly starts to come back to shows with full crowds. There’s also the fact that, on the second show in Philly next month, the main event is RUSH and Dragon Lee against Bandido and Rey Horus. Perhaps this is just me looking at this as someone who’s been used to the New Japan way of booking tag team matches, but putting a bout like this together after Bandido and RUSH have a title match just sets off alarm bells. Could this be part of the build to a rematch between the two, but with Bandido as champion? There’s also the fact that Bandido would have a number of challengers already lined up in the form of Flip Gordon (who not only is scheduled to get a ROH World Title shot on the first Philly show, but has never lost to Bandido in a singles match in ROH) and Flamita (who Bandido is still actively feuding with). Despite all those arguments for Bandido I just made, I still have RUSH retaining his title here. Don’t count Bandido out though. Prediction: RUSH

ROH World TV Title
Tony Deppen (c) vs. Dragon Lee

Tony Deppen shocked the world when he won the ROH World TV Title from Tracy Williams several weeks ago on ROH, but it was a result that I would classify as a pleasant surprise. Since he came to ROH last year, he’s had a number of strong performances, including against Dragon Lee at Final Battle. It was really cool to see Deppen get put in a big spot with this new Violence Unlimited stable, and I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed that he’d be the first member of the group to capture gold. He’ll be defending his title against Dragon Lee here, in a rematch from the aforementioned bout at Final Battle last year. The story going into this match is that Dragon Lee is looking to regain the title that he never lost, as an ear injury forced him to pull out of the 19th Anniversary Show. That led to a match where Tracy Williams won the title from Kenny King, who was defending it on behalf of Dragon Lee. It was a weird situation, but given what the circumstances were, they pretty much had to do a title change.

I loved the match these two had at Final Battle, and I’m sure this rematch will be just as good, if not a little bit better. The fact that fans will be in attendance will certainly give these guys extra motivation to have a killer match. As far as the result goes, I would love to see Deppen retain, but I’m really leaning towards Dragon Lee here. I have no idea what the original plans were at the last PPV, had Dragon Lee actually been there, but these quick title switches feel like they might’ve been just a stopgap until he was able to come back for a title match. Again, I’d love to see Deppen successfully defend his title here (a win over someone like Dragon Lee would be huge). However, I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re going to see a title change. Prediction: Dragon Lee

ROH World Tag Team Titles – Fight Without Honor
The Foundation (Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus) (c) vs. Violence Unlimited (Chris Dickinson & Homicide)

The Foundation is a stable that’s all about restoring honor to ROH through their pure wrestling ability. However, after having to go up against Violence Unlimited for the last several weeks, they’re come to realize that they have to fight fire with fire. Thus, at Best in the World, we’re getting a Fight Without Honor for the ROH World Tag Team Titles, as Tracy Williams and Rhett Titus defend against Chris Dickinson and Homicide. First, it should be noted that (as far as I’m aware), this is the first match Tracy Williams has had since he got hit by a car crossing the street several weeks back. I honestly wasn’t sure whether he’d make the PPV or not, but it seems like he’s good to go, which is great to see. As for the match itself, I’m sure it’ll be an entertaining hardcore brawl. Homicide always excels in these matches, and I have no doubts that the other three will work hard. This is a match that could really go either way. My initial instinct is to say that the champions retain, but we have been getting a lot of relatively short title reigns lately with both these titles as well as the ROH World TV Title. While I would love to see Chris Dickinson capture ROH gold, I just can’t shake this feeling that Titus and Williams are going to retain. The three stables are likely to split wins on this card, and in this particular case, I’m going to go with The Foundation coming out on top. Prediction: The Foundation

ROH Pure Title
Jonathan Gresham (c) vs. Mike Bennett

Now, this was a title match that I wasn’t expecting to see. Just last week on ROH TV, we saw Jonathan Gresham defend the ROH Pure Title against Fred Yehi. It would’ve been awesome if that was the PPV bout. Instead, Gresham will be defending his Pure Title against Mike Bennett, who won the 2nd ever Pure Rules Gauntlet Match (which was shown on YouTube). It is a little weird to see Bennett suddenly not involved in the Matt Taven/Vincent program (which is still ongoing) after he’s had Taven’s back for the past few months. That being said, they’ve been able to build a little bit of a story here, as Gresham has stated that Bennett doesn’t have his respect after the multitude of dishonorable things Bennett did during his original ROH stint. Gresham comes into this bout 10-0 in Pure Rules matches since the revival of the division last year, and while I’m sure Bennett will be more of a challenge than Gresham is expecting, I don’t see a title change happening here. Gresham will lose that title eventually, but he’s not going to lose it to Bennett. Prediction: Jonathan Gresham

ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles
Shane Taylor Promotions (Shane Taylor & Soldiers Of Savagery) (c) vs. Dalton Castle, Dak Draper, & Eli Isom

As I mentioned in my Survival Of The Fittest review, Dalton Castle has gotten involved in this strange program with Dak Draper and Eli Isom. Castle, who’s now doing a gimmick where he only cares about entertainment and….being entertaining (I guess), interjected himself into two separate matches involving Draper and Isom. First, he kicked both of them in the balls after they went to a fifteen minute time limit draw. Then he caused a variety of distractions that led to Isom getting a win over Draper in a Survival Of The Fittest qualifier. I pondered what the point of all of that was, but as it turns out, it was done to set up a ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Title bout at this PPV. Castle ended up requesting a title match with Draper and Isom as his partners, and Shane Taylor accepted the challenge. I’m not expecting a ton from the match itself, but I do expect to get some advancement with whatever this Dalton Castle story is. I imagine there will be shenanigans involving Castle that will cause his team to lose. I don’t have much else to say about this one. It doesn’t really excite me, and the story is strange, to say the least. Prediction: Shane Taylor Promotions

Brody King vs. Jay Lethal

This was one of the first matches announced for this PPV card, and it’s a pretty big one, as two factions leaders go head-to-head. Back in March, the 19th Anniversary Show concluded with the debut of ROH’s newest faction, called Violence Unlimited. Led by Brody King, this new group attacked both La Faccion Ingobernable and The Foundation, kicking off a three-way faction war the likes of which we haven’t seen….well….the original faction warfare back in 2007-2008.

In the aftermath of the 19th Anniversary Show, we’ve gotten a number of matches featuring all three factions. In one of those bouts, Violence Unlimited managed to defeat The Foundation in an eight-man tag that saw King score a clean pinfall victory over Jay Lethal. So the setup to this singles clash was pretty straightforward. I fully expect these two to have a very strong contest, and when the dust settles, I’m certain that it’ll end up being one of the better bouts on the PPV.

In terms of the result, I’m picking Brody King to come out on top, but I can’t completely rule out Jay Lethal. The reason why I say that is because King pinned Lethal to set this match up in the first place, as I already mentioned. That might lead some to believe that Lethal is getting his win back here, but I just don’t see the point of having Lethal go over in this spot. Having King score the victory here just accomplishes so much more, especially if you’re looking towards building the future. Lethal winning here does nothing, unless the idea is to do a big rubber match down the line. If King is sticking around, he’s definitely a future ROH World Champion, and getting a big singles win over a former multi-time champion in Lethal would be an excellent step in that direction. Prediction: Brody King

Last Man Standing Match
Josh Woods vs. Silas Young

At the 19th Anniversary Show, Silas Young turned on his protege/tag team partner Josh Woods, costing him a match against Dalton Castle. Young was furious at Woods for continually defying his advice, and with Young’s betrayal, 2 Guys 1 Tag was no more. The two would face off in a regular singles bout on ROH TV, which Young won by nefarious means. Afterwards, Young bragged (after Woods brought up Young cheating in a backstage confrontation) that he could beat Woods in a Pure Rules Match as well. They eventually had that match, and Woods emerged as the victor, as he forced Young to tap out. Not content with this result, Young would later low blow Woods backstage, and challenged his former protege to a Last Man Standing Match at Best in the World.

This has been an enjoyable feud so far. The story is pretty straightforward, and the matches have been good. Woods has been showing a more serious side since Young turned on him, while Young has played his role very well. I know some might groan at the prospect of a Last Man Standing Match, but I actually think it works in this case, as it’s really been as established as Young’s specialty. He’s 3-0 in Last Man Standing matches in ROH, against the likes of ACH, Jay Lethal, and Kenny King (the promo I have attached mentions a match with Kevin Steen from 2014, which Young did win, but that was just a No DQ Match, not Last Man Standing). It’s cool that they went from a match that plays into the strengths of Josh Woods (Pure Rules) to a match that plays perfectly into the hands of Silas Young. While Young is undefeated in this particular match type, I believe Woods will break that streak here. If this is the end of the feud, then Woods going over would be the right call. Young really doesn’t gain much from winning, as this whole program is more about elevating Woods. A strong win over his former partner on PPV would hopefully set Woods up for bigger things down the line. Prediction: Josh Woods

EC3 vs. Flip Gordon

On paper, this is a match that really sticks out, and not necessarily in a positive way. That’s not to say that this will be a bad match, because it could end up being relatively decent. It’s just not a bout that gets me excited. The story here is that several months back, EC3 hired Flip Gordon to attack Jay Briscoe, in the buildup to the EC3/Jay Briscoe match at the 19th Anniversary Show PPV. This would later lead to a tag team match on TV following the PPV, with The Briscoes against EC3 and Flip Gordon. Of course, this was after EC3 had sort-of turned face by earning Jay Briscoe’s respect in their PPV bout. EC3 scored the pin on Mark Briscoe in that match, but only after Gordon had hit him with a chain (without EC3’s knowledge). So EC3 will be looking to defend the honor and integrity of ROH here, I guess, against the dastardly Flip Gordon. Again, there’s a chance this could be decent. However, if I had to bet money on it, I’d put money on this match being….less than stellar. With Gordon having a ROH World Title shot coming up in Philly next month, it would make the most sense for Gordon to get the win here. Even though EC3 is the face, I can’t see why you would have him beat your next ROH World Title challenger right before his title bout, unless Gordon is winning the title. I don’t see that scenario being very likely at all, though. Prediction: Flip Gordon

The Briscoes vs. Brian Johnson & PJ Black

Last weekend on ROH, we saw Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe battle it out in the Fight On The Farm, in an attempt to settle the issues the two of them have been having over the last several months. Their issues really dated back to last year, when Jay got distracted by his issues with EC3, leading to Mark getting PCO to be his tag team partner in an attempt to capture the ROH World Tag Team Titles. Once they got back together, they still weren’t on the same page, which led to a losing streak that set up the aforementioned Fight On The Farm. That brawl ended in a stalemate, with Papa Briscoe declaring that it was time for them to get back to being the baddest tag team on the planet, now that they got whatever issues they were having out of their system.

It initially seemed like The Briscoes were just going to demand a shot at the ROH World Tag Team Titles straight away, but Papa Briscoe demanded they work their way up from the very bottom. So, that’s led us to this match, as The Briscoes go up against Brian Johnson and PJ Black, who recently made his return from a severe leg injury. Johnson and Black had been a team prior to the pandemic (with Black trying to mentor the short-tempered and seemingly always angry Johnson), but with Black’s injury, they haven’t done much as a team in quite some time. I like what they’re doing here with The Briscoes, and I would fully expect this to be the first win on their journey back to the top. It wouldn’t shock me if we see a breakup between Black and Johnson as well, and perhaps we’ll get a lower card feud out of that. The match will be perfectly solid, I’m sure, but I can’t see anything other than a Briscoes win here. Prediction: The Briscoes

Demonic Flamita vs. Rey Horus

Back at the 19th Anniversary Show, we started to see issues within the ranks of MexaSquad. The trio lost their rematch against Shane Taylor Promotions for the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles due to some miscommunications, and that led to a Three-Way Match between the three luchadores on the exact same show to sort out their issues. It was clear from the jump that Flamita was the instigator in this situation, and after that last PPV, things went from bad to worse for the group.

Eventually, Flamita turned his back on his teammates, and after winning a bout against Bandido via nefarious means, transformed himself into Demonic Flamita. Complete with black makeup under his mask, black gear, a black entrance rope, and an actual demon flying around in his entrance video, this was a whole new side of Flamita. Despite this new attitude, he came up short in Survival Of The Fittest, as he was the first elimination in the Finals.

On this PPV card, he’s facing off against his other former MexaSquad partner in Rey Horus. This is actually a rematch from Survival Of The Fittest, where Flamita defeated Horus in a Qualifying Match that was probably the best match in the entire tournament. This rematch will be in front of fans, so I’m sure those two are going to be even more motivated to have a killer bout. I’d even say that, if given the time, this could be a dark horse contender for match of the night. In terms of the result, I don’t think Rey Horus will be able to avenge his previous loss. The feud between Flamita and Bandido is far from over, and it would make a lot of sense for Flamita to pick up another victory as that side of the feud continues (especially if Bandido manages to win the ROH World Title in the main event), so that’s who I’m going with. Prediction: Demonic Flamita

The Bouncers (The Beer City Bruiser & Brian Milonas) vs. Danhausen & PCO

This match will (presumably) open up the free first hour, and it features two teams who are looking to move up the rankings. Danhausen recently formed an alliance with PCO, who had been absent for most of the first half of 2021. It definitely seems like PCO has been downcycled significantly compared to how he’d been used through Final Battle last year. Meanwhile, The Bouncers are now fully heels, with The Beer City Bruiser finally convincing Brian Milonas to turn to the darkside. I’m not expecting this to be any sort of mat classic, but the result could go either way. I could easily see The Bouncers going over here, given that they’re fresh heels. At the same time, I doubt this Danhausen/PCO team will be comedy jobbers, so I’m sure they’ll pick up at least a few wins. For a match that I really don’t care about too much, it’s a real coin flip. I’ll go with The Bouncers here, with the idea that maybe we get a little mini-feud here with the faces getting a win down the line. Danhausen just sticks out like a sore thumb in a match involving three large men, so I could definitely see him eating the fall. Prediction: The Bouncers

I should also note that Matt Taven and Vincent have been teasing something for the PPV. There hasn’t been any match announced, so I’m guessing it’s going to be an in-ring segment of some kind? I’m not really sure. The only thing I know is that you should expect both of them to appear in some form.