2014 was a big year for Ring of Honor for many reasons. It saw an influx of talent from TNA (AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, and Frankie Kazarian), who went on to become major parts of the promotion in the years that followed, to varying degrees. It also marked the official beginning of ROH’s relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling, which led to a multitude of joint shows and talent exchanges over the ensuing years.

2014 was also the year that saw ROH air on live PPV for the very first time.

Of course, ROH had run PPVs in various forms since 2007, from the taped PPVs in the latter half of the 2000s to the live iPPVs in the early 2010s (most of which were pretty disastrous as far as the live streams themselves went).

However, on June 22, 2014, Best In The World would be their first PPV event to air live on traditional PPV. In many ways, it was a milestone for the promotion as it had finally climbed its way out the doldrums that it had been left in following Jim Cornette’s tenure as booker. This PPV, and the year 2014 as a whole, was really the starting point of the relative success the promotion would enjoy until the end of 2018 when several talents (The Elite chief among them) left to be part of the newly-formed All Elite Wrestling.

The show took place in (of all places) the Nashville Fairgrounds, in the same venue that had gained notoriety as the TNA Asylum from when TNA used that building during their early years. In the main event, Michael Elgin’s two-year title chase finally came to an end when he captured the ROH World Title from Adam Cole. While they probably shouldn’t have waited that long to put the title on him, it was absolutely the right finish on that night, and a great way to close the PPV.

Elgin would hold the World Title for a few months, picking up several successful title defenses, before dropping the title to Jay Briscoe in early September in a title change that wasn’t supposed to happen at that point. Originally, Elgin was going to have a much longer reign (reportedly, per the September 15, 2014 edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter) that would last at least until Final Battle, but a variety of outside issues with Elgin (too many to get into here, but they can all be found in that aforementioned edition of the Observer) led to ROH making the decision to take the title off Elgin earlier than planned.

Elgin was probably one of my favorite wrestlers to watch during the 2010s. He had incredible matches in both ROH and New Japan, a number of which I still remember fondly to this very day. He’s honestly the kind of wrestler we need more of in today’s wrestling world. Unfortunately, Elgin had all of his various issues and problems that permanently derailed his wrestling career. Looking back on it now, his 2014 was really a microcosm of his entire career. A great in-ring wrestler who put on many awesome matches, but also a guy whose career was destroyed by his own hand.

I remember Best In The World 2014 being a very good show and a solid starting point when it comes to ROH doing live PPVs, but when compared with some of the PPVs that followed over the next several years, it probably wouldn’t end up near the top of most people’s lists. Other highlights from the show including Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian appearing for the first time together since their TNA departures to challenge reDRagon for the ROH World Tag Team Titles, the opening Six-Man Mayhem Match (in terms of being the perfect kind of match to kick off a show), one of Kevin Steen’s final matches in the promotion against Silas Young, and the conclusion of the Cedric Alexander/Roderick Strong feud. That Submission Match in particular reminded me of just how frustrating the booking of Cedric Alexander was during that time period. They did such a great job with the Roderick Strong feud, and it ended on this show with Cedric tapping out Strong with his own Strong Hold….but then the booking completely dropped the ball on him afterward to the point that, within a year or so, he felt like such a non-entity. As someone who followed the promotion very closely during this time period, it had its various flaws, and that was one of the biggest examples.

The event also featured Matt Taven (during his brief babyface run between his time in The House Of Truth and The Kingdom) challenging Jay Lethal for the ROH World Television Title, as well as The Briscoes battling Matt Hardy and Mike Bennett in a No DQ Match which featured (and I’m sure most of you probably don’t remember this part at all) actor Nick Searcy in Hardy and Bennett’s corner.

I had been following Ring of Honor for about five years at the time of this PPV. To say that those five years had been a tumultuous period for ROH (despite still putting on some amazing wrestling) would be a huge understatement. The Jim Cornette Era, in particular, was incredibly frustrating for so many reasons. Following the rebuilding at the started at the end of 2012 and continued through 2013, it really felt like ROH was back in 2014, and I was really proud to be a fan as the promotion was starting to pick up some steam (relative to its size, of course).

A new influx of awesome talent and a new working relationship with a promotion in Japan that was also on the rise added to those feelings of excitement. However, the debut of ROH on live PPV with the 2014 edition of Best In The World was just as big. As I already mentioned, it wouldn’t end up being on the higher end of PPVs that the company would put on, but it served as another building block for the run that ROH would be on for the next four-plus years.

Listen to Five Star Match Game’s episode all about Ring of Honor!