ROH BEST IN THE WORLD
JUNE 29, 2018
BALTIMORE, MD AT UMBC EVENT CENTER
AIRED ON PAY-PER-VIEW & ROH HONOR CLUB
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Commentary: Ian Riccaboni, Colt Cabana
We opened with close-up shots of various stars while a voice-over spoke about everyone being out to prove they’re the best in the world. This was mixed in with past video footage and promo clips from competitors. All the matches were highlighted except for the 8-woman tag. The package closed with your ROH World Champion, Dalton Castle.
In the arena Riccaboni and Cabana ran down some of the lineup quickly as well. Evil was the first man to make his entrance for the night, followed by Bushi and then Sanada. Marseglia had a little girl in a yellow raincoat holding his red balloons on the stage before The Kingdom entered. He took his balloons from her and walked to the ring wearing a clown mask and crown. TK O’Ryan had his baseball bat over his shoulder and Taven had his walking stick.
(1) THE KINGDOM (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan, & Vinny Marseglia) vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPÓN (Evil, Sanada, & Bushi) – ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Evil and O’Ryan started but Taven took a cheap shot from behind. Evil fought off both of them and put O’Ryan down with a shoulder tackle. Tag to Taven. Sidewalk slam from Evil and tag to Sanada. Standing moonsault got an early two-count on Taven. Bushi tagged in and pointed at Marseglia. Marseglia quickly tried to remove Bushi’s mask. The crowd booed loudly and Cabana seemed impressed that they were so honorable as to respect the dignity of the mask. O’Ryan did the tranquilo pose in the ring but Sanada dropkicked him. The Kingdom managed to isolate Evil and took turns tagging in and out to work him over. Hot tag to Sanada. He cleared house and put Taven in the paradise lock. O’Ryan tried to put Sanada in the same hold but couldn’t figure it out. Sanada put O’Ryan in the paradise lock as well and dropkicked him and Taven free. The red balloons suddenly floated up from under the ring and Marseglia burst one in Sanada’s ear. Bushi and Evil saved Sanada from Rockstar Supernova. Taven headscissored out of Magic Killer. Just The Tip of the knee to Sanada. Tag to Bushi. Double hurricanrana to O’Ryan and Taven. L.I.J. triple-teamed Taven before getting dumped to the floor. The Kingdom triple-teamed Bushi. Evil broke up a pinfall. The action broke down. Bushi tried to backslide the referee and used the opportunity to spray mist in Marseglia’s face. Marseglia was blinded but Taven and O’Ryan were still able to hit Rockstar Supernova on Bushi without him.
WINNERS: The Kingdom in 11:09 to retain the six-man titles.
(Pageot’s Perspective: I spent the last two weeks knowing there was no way The Kingdom would lose the titles here. But when this was introduced as the opening match I began to doubt myself. I thought there might be a chance we got a feel-good opening moment and a short run from L.I.J. before dropping the titles on television in the next month or two. They went with the expected finish, though, with Taven pinning Bushi. The crowd seems very energetic and engaged and the arena looks nice and full.)
(2) BULLY RAY vs. FLIP GORDON
Gordon came out with an American flag draped over his shoulders, selling his pride in being a veteran ahead of Independence Day next week. Ray tried to jump him during his entrance but ate two superkicks. The bell rang and Gordon mounted him with right hands. The ring was still filled with streamers. “USA” chant for Gordon. Gordon flipped over the top rope onto Ray on the floor. He hit the ring and went back for a cannonball over the ropes onto Ray again. Ray tried to back off at ringside while Gordon springboarded off the top rope for a forearm onto Ray on the floor. More right hands from Gordon in front of the fans. Ray begged off. Gordon threw Ray into the ring and hit a Samoan pop and running shooting star press, followed by a moonsault off the second rope. Ray kicked out at two. Ray hit a clothesline at 3:50 for his first offense of the night. Gordon instantly went down like he was shot. Ray went to the second rope for a Vader bomb but Gordon rolled out of the way. He looked for the Star-Spangled Stunner but Ray kicked him between the legs out of the air.
WINNER: Flip Gordon in 5:24 by disqualification.
-The feed went down. When it came back a garbage can was in the ring and Ray had a steel chair. He hit Gordon’s knee with the chair over and over while Gordon screamed and begged for mercy. Eli Isom ran out for the save but went down immediately. Cabana respected Isom for the effort but asked where people like Lethal or Castle or the Briscoes are. Cheeseburger ran out and went to work with right hands on Ray. Ray instead power bombed him into unconsciousness. Riccaboni joined in with Cabana on asking for somebody legitimate from the back to come out. Ray threw Isom head-first into the ring post. Ray brought a table into the chair. Referee Todd Sinclair tried to talk him down so Ray shoved him. Cabana had enough. As Ray set up Gordon for a power bomb through the table Cabana ran down to the ring and grabbed a steel chair. He stared down Ray, who tossed Gordon aside in anger, and stormed off in a rage. Cabana looked pissed and disgusted with Ray as he check on Gordon.
(Pageot’s Perspective: It was a hot start to the match and the crowd was firmly behind Gordon kicking Ray’s ass. Gordon acting like he was dead after one clothesline was bad, though. The Ray-Gordon feud would presume to continue from here. As to Cabana’s involvement? I love it. I’m a huge Colt Cabana fan and he’s had negative things to say about Ray’s actions over the past few months so it logically built to a head here. If he gets to compete again in ROH as part of an actual storyline I’m all for it. In the past Steve Corino was suspended for putting his hands on a wrestler when he was working as a commentator. I doubt we’ll go to that well here as Ray put his hands on an official first and there’s no real authority figure in the company anymore. At least not until they hire a new enforcer. *cough cough* Shane Helms *cough*)
(3) WOH WORLD CHAMPION SUMIE SAKAI, TENILLE DASHWOOD, JENNY ROSE, & MAYU IWATANI vs. “THE GATEKEEPER” KELLY KLEIN & OEDO TAI (Kagetsu, Hazuki, & Hana Kimura)
Oedo Tai did a choreographed dance entrance. Sakai held up the WOH title while Kagetsu held up her World Of Stardom Championship. They both insisted on starting for their teams. Kagetsu hit some hard kicks but Sakai came back with her own that sent Kagetsu scrambling to Kimura for a tag. Kimura asked for Dashwood. Kimura put her down and said it was all about her. Dashwood tackled her and hit a tilt-a-whirl Russian leg sweep. Tag to Rose. Clothesline on Kimura in the corner and fisherwoman’s suplex. Kimura hit a dropkick and tagged to Klein. Klein put down Rose with a clothesline. Rose got a couple roll-ups that sent Klein tagging in Hazuki. Iwatani and Sakai took down the 20 year-old Hazuki. Everything broke down. Kagetsu and Hazuki double-teamed Sakai. Klein used Dashwood to distract the ref while Oedo Tai triple-teamed Sakai behind his back. Klein isolated Sakai. Hot tag to Dashwood. She cleared house and dropped Klein with a neckbreaker across the middle rope. Dashwood hit The Taste Of Tenille on both Kimura and Kagetsu. Tarantula to Klein and a cameraman went down. High crossbody from Dashwood to Klein for two. The heels came back but Dashwood tagged to Iwatani. Split-leg dropkick on Kagetsu and Kimura. Rose speared Hazuki. Dashwood with a butterfly suplex to Kimura. Iwatani with a top rope frog-splash but the rest of the heels broke up the pin. Bodies went everywhere and Kagetsu nailed Iwatani with a wooden placard to the back. Iwatani with a dragon sleeper to Iwatani but Kimura powered out into an impressive delayed vertical suplex. Iwatani kicked out at two and a half. The first “this is awesome” chant of the night. Kagetsu hit Kimura with the placard by accident. Dashwood brawled with Klein on the floor. Sakai with a top rope crossbody on a crowd on the floor. Iwatani caught Kimura with a kick in the ring and followed with her signature bridging dragon suplex.
WINNERS: Sakai, Iwatani, Dashwod, & Rose in 10:27.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Tremendous match that definitely earned the crowd reaction that it got. The finish is a bit surprising with the Stardom face pinning one of the Stardom heels. Nothing to really answer the question of who Sakai’s next challenger will be but I was begging for Sakai vs. Iwatani a few weeks ago and Iwatani did pick up the win here. Maybe that’s enough to put her into consideration. Can we get rid of the six-man titles and introduce Women Of Honor tag titles instead? That seems much more appealing to me.)
(4) AUSTIN ARIES vs. KENNY KING
Aries came out with the Impact World Championship around his waist and carrying the Defy Wrestling Championship and the World Series Wrestling Heavyweight Championship. Collar and elbow tie-up with Aries driving King into the ropes. King returned the favor. Slow to start with both men pausing between offense to stare down and trash talk one another. The crowd chanted “sweep the legs”, possibly in reference to King’s trunks tonight which look a bit like martial arts gear. King took their advice and followed with the Karate Kid pose to applause. When King looked to springboard into the ring Aries dropkicked him off the top rope to the floor. Aries threw King into the guardrail and raked his back. Aries with kicks to King’s spine. Snapmare and jumping back elbow from the second rope. Aries continued to methodically work over King. King dropped Aries throat-first over the top rope at 9:40 and followed with a blockbuster. The volume went out but came back 30 seconds later. Aries dropped King with a neckbreaker over the middle rope. King cut off a suicide dive with a roundhouse kick to the head. They fought at ringside. King looked for a Royal Flush onto the apron but Aries begged him not to and cried “I’m your friend!” King rolled Aries into the ring instead. Aries looked for a roll-up, King hit the Royal Flush, but Aries grabbed the bottom rope to break the count. Aries scampered away to the timekeeper’s table and grabbed his belts to a loud chorus of boos. King with a corkscrew flip over the ropes onto Aries and his various titles. King took the Impact title belt and teased hitting Aries with it. Aries hit a brainbuster on the ringside mats instead. “You killed Kenny, you bastard” chant from the crowd. In the ring King grabbed a surprise roll-up but Aries kicked out and hit a second brainbuster for the win.
WINNER: Austin Aries in 15:34.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Rather plodding to start but it finally started to get interesting near the end. The commentators sold that King could have won the match a couple times if he was willing to be more vicious and unethical like Aries but King’s good heart prevented it. King posing with the Impact title was an interesting visual. This all started with Aries coming to ROH in pursuit of the ROH television title. Could King show up in Impact and go after Aries’ championship instead? His presence will be on display when season five of Bachelor In Paradise premieres this August. Why wouldn’t Impact want some of that mainstream cross-promotion?)
(5) JAY LETHAL vs. KUSHIDA
The pre-match video package focused on Lethal’s road to redemption. Kushida was listed as the last name on Lethal’s list, though Silas Young had victories over Lethal last August and September and those haven’t been avenged. Kushida turned down the code of honor to boos from the crowd. The commentators were confused why Kushida wouldn’t honor the tradition. Dueling chants for both men. Kushida took down Lethal with a trio of flips over the top rope (in the same way Lethal usually does his trio of suicide dives). Double ax-handles from the top rope to Lethal along with a Macho Man-esque finger twirl. The crowd didn’t seem to know what to make of Kushida heelishly mocking Lethal’s mannerisms. Lethal came back and worked over Kushida’s left leg, setting him up for the figure four. Lethal looked for the figure four at 9:25 but Kushida kicked him off. Lethal hit his trio of suicide dives but Kushida caught him on the third and turned it into an armbar. In the ring Kushida targeted Lethal’s arm. Lethal Combination left both men down. At 13:11 Lethal caught Kushida in a torture rack. Kushida caught Lethal on a Hail To The King attempt and put on another armbar. Lethal locked on the figure four instead. Kushida made it to the ropes. “This is awesome” from the crowd. They traded kicks. Kushida patronizingly shook Lethal’s hand. Lethal Injection countered into the hoverboard lock. Lethal escaped. Back and forth on roll-up attempts. Lethal countered Back To The Future into a cutter. He hit Lethal Injection a minute later.
WINNER: Jay Lethal in 17:36.
-Kushida turned babyface again after the match and followed the code of honor.
(Pageot’s Perspective: I appreciate the attempt at a face vs. heel dynamic but Kushida’s heel work in this match came so out of nowhere that it just seemed to confuse people more than anything. Like our opening contest this was another match that was hurt a bit by the fact that there was zero interaction between the competitors in the build to tonight. Good wrestling is good but there’s no shortage of quality in-ring work in 2018. It’s the stories and characters that make good matches into great matches these days. At least that’s how it is for me. There’s a very good chance you disagree and thought this match was indeed awesome. The live crowd sure did.)
-Silas Young joined the commentary team for the next match. Beer City Bruiser stood behind them, chewing on a cigar. Young admitted he’s disappointed not to be defending the TV title on this show but blamed his loss on being put in the six-man mayhem match where the odds were stacked in everyone’s favor but his.
(6) PUNISHMENT MARTINEZ vs. ADAM PAGE – STREET FIGHT FOR THE ROH WORLD TELEVISION CHAMPIONSHIP
Martinez came out of an upright casket on the stage with his face painted blood red. Four men followed him down the ramp and posed around him while he held up the title in the ring. Page had new entrance music and a new video all his own rather than the generic Bullet Club theme. He had his rope hanging around his neck. Martinez was in jeans and a tank top. Page wore his usual wrestling gear. Page with a suicide dive out of the gate. He whipped Martinez into the guardrails and went under the ring for a table and steel chair. Page threw the chair at Martinez’s head and wedged the chair into the corner. Page whipped Martinez back first into the chair. Martinez with an apron bomb to Page and a chokeslam onto the edge of the guardrail. Martinez brought the busted steel chair from earlier back into the ring and cracked Page across the back. Martinez threw Page back-first into the guardrail. Young was annoyed that they were more focused on hurting each other than trying to win the TV title. Martinez set up four chairs in sitting position with a fifth laid flat across the seats. Page superplexed Martinez off the guardrail to the floor. “Holy shit” chant from the crowd. Martinez looked for a tombstone piledriver on a steel chair in the ring but Page countered and hit a cradle driver onto the chair instead for a two-count. Curb stomp from Martinez on the apron. He tried for a second one on the chair but Page fought back. Martinez grabbed a zip tie instead and bound Page’s wrists together. Page came back with a double axhandle and tried for the chair. Martinez stopped him, though, and stomped Page onto the chair. Page kicked out at two. Martinez set up a table in the ring. Page stopped a chokeslam attempt by spitting in Martinez’s face. The zip tie broke and Page’s hands were free. He speared Martinez through a vertical table leaning against the ring post. Page with a top rope moonsault onto Martinez on the floor. “Hangman” chant from the crowd. Martinez powered back up and pump-kicked Page off the apron. Martinez fetched a bag of thumbtacks from under the ring and sprinkled them everywhere. He tried for a powerbomb but took a back body drop on the tacks instead. Page was fired up. South Of Heaven chokeslam through the table and Martinez fell back-first over Page. Martinez’s shoulders were flat on the mat while Page’s were slumped at an angle across a piece of table but Martinez was declared the victor.
WINNER: Punishment Martinez in 15:04 to retain the TV title.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Something about Martinez was looking Roman Reigns-esque tonight. Maybe it was his hair being pulled back. And then we even got a Reigns ending! This was the Reigns-Lesnar Greatest Royal Rumble finish. Martinez was declared the victor here but it was clear that his shoulders were touching the mat whereas Page’s were off-kilter across the broken table. The feud must continue. Maybe toward a triple threat with Silas? The match itself was enjoyable. They hit enough big spots that you got what you were looking for but nothing so precarious that you were genuinely fearful for their well-being. I still think Martinez would be better with a full stable of his own, maybe a woman and a tag team, instead of unnamed goons who only stick around for the entrance.)
(7) THE BRISCOES (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) vs. THE YOUNG BUCKS (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) – ROH WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Mark and Nick started things off. Jay cut Nick off with a back elbow that brought Matt into the ring too. The brothers went head to head and threw hands. Double superkicks to the Briscoes. Split-leg dropkick from Nick to the Briscoes. Redneck Boogie got a two-count on Matt. Dueling “man up / Young Bucks” chants. The commentators explained it as the Briscoes living less than an hour away. Matt tried to make a tag to Nick. Jay held Matt on the floor but he escaped, leaving Mark crashing into his brother with a dropkick through the ropes. Tag to Nick. Corkscrew flip off the top rope onto both Briscoes on the floor. Nick went to town on both Briscoes. Stereo suicide dives from the Bucks. “The Elite” chant from the crowd. High knee from Nick to Jay in the corner. Mark grabbed him into a rear naked choke but the referee made him break the hold as Jay was still the legal man. Mark with a blockbuster off the apron to Matt at ringside. Froggy-bow from Mark to Nick for two. The Briscoes looked for Redneck Boogie from the second rope but Matt pulled away from Jay and Nick hit a hurricanrana on Mark. Tag to Matt. Clotheslines on Mark. Jay with a death valley driver. Jay stomped away at Matt and channeled his inner Bayley, yelling “You boys ain’t shit!” at Nick on the apron. The teams traded stereo superkicks. Jay Driller to Matt but Nick broke up the pin at two and three-quarters. The Bucks with a springboard Doomsday Device to Jay at 13:25 but Jay kicked out. More Bang For Your Buck on Jay but Mark hit a top rope elbow drop on referee Paul Turner. It was questionable whether he was aiming for Matt and missed or whether he hit Turner on purpose. Mark swung a steel chair at the Bucks but they avoided and superkicked Mark. Meltzer Driver to Jay but it was a slow count due to Turner being hurt and Mark broke up the pin. Mark threw a chair at Nick’s head on the apron. Jay Driller to Matt on the steel chair. Another slow count from Turner and Matt kicked out! Cabana said it was essentially a four-count due to Turner’s slow pace. The Briscoes looked for Redneck Boogie from the second rope again and landed it. Mark pinned Matt as Jay prevented Nick from getting back into the ring.
WINNERS: The Briscoes in 17:02 to retain the tag titles.
-The Briscoes posed with their belts before stomping away at the Bucks some more. SoCal Uncensored hit the ring. Frankie Kazarian held up Matt and Scorpio Sky held up Nick while Christopher Daniels carried a steel chair. They milked the moment and then Daniels nailed Jay Briscoe in the back. SCU tossed the Briscoes and Daniels yelled at them that they want the tag titles. The Bucks looked on in confusion. Jay spit back that they “don’t have time for y’all.” The Briscoes left and SCU and the Bucks faced off tensely.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Great match. I hadn’t banked on the Briscoes getting “hometown” cheers. I forgot how close Baltimore is to Sandy Fork, Delaware and the Briscoes have been such good heels on TV that I didn’t think anyone would want to cheer for them. The calamity with the chairs and the ref getting injured obviously protects the Bucks. Does the feud continue, possibly to Ladder War VII at Death Before Dishonor in September? Do the Briscoes move into a feud with The Addiction? If so, where does that leave the Bucks? Or could we get a triple threat ladder war like the last installment two years ago with the Bucks, Addiction, and Motor City Machine Guns? Lots of possibilities here and uncertainty is always nice in wrestling.)
(8) DALTON CASTLE (w/The Boys) vs. “THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE” CODY (w/Brandi Rhodes & Burnard The Business Bear) vs. “THE VILLAIN” MARTY SCURLL – ROH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Scurll had some goth eye makeup on. Castle’s left thigh and right hand were still bandaged up. Cody’s right hand was also taped. He sent Burnard to the back before the bell. Castle threw Cody into the guardrail and hit a hurricanrana on Scurll on the floor. NWA World Heavyweight Champion was shown sitting at the timekeeper’s table with his title belt. That seemed to scream that Cody was winning here. Scurll and Cody ended up alone in the ring at 3:20. They traded chops. Castle returned and hit a twisting throw on Cody from off the top rope. Scurll grabbed Castle in the chicken-wing from behind. Cody put Castle in the figure four while Scurll still had him in the chicken-wing. Cody grabbed Scurll’s hair to break his hold, which broke both. DDT from Cody to Scurll for two. Cody grabbed the ROH title belt and brought it into the ring. As referee Todd Sinclair removed the belt Cody tried for a low blow on Scurll but Scurll blocked. Scurll set up Cody for his brother’s Shattered Dreams. Brandi jumped on the apron and flipped out. As Sinclair dealt with her, Cody kicked Scurll between the legs and got a two-count. Sigh. Brandi gave Cody the ring of honor and he slipped it onto his finger. He told Scurll to kiss the ring. He did, then grabbed Cody’s hand and snapped his fingers. Scurll stole the ring of honor and put it on. He looked for a loaded punch on Castle but Castle hit Bang-a-rang instead. Aldis pulled Sinclair from the ring to break the three-count. Presumably because he wants Cody to win so that he can face Cody for the title at All In. The Boys got hot so Aldis beat them up and security tried to separate them. Cody with a springboard splash onto Aldis and security. Scurll clocked Castle with the ROH belt during the melee. Sinclair returned to count the pin but Cody and Brandi pulled him from the ring. Sinclair had enough and sent Brandi and Aldis to the back.
Roll-up trades from the actual men in the match. They threw hands in the middle of the ring at 12:12. Cody grabbed Scurll’s patented bag of flour from ringside and poured it into his hand. Sinclair saw the entire thing. Scurll kicked Cody’s own hand of flour into his face. A blinded Cody hit CrossRhodes on Scurll anyway. Castle dumped Cody and pinned Scurll for two. Bang-a-rang again countered into a roll-up from Scurll for two. Chicken-wing again on Castle. Cody was wandering around blindly at ringside, unaware of what was happening. He finally returned and looked for CrossRhodes on Scurll but Scurll hit CrossRhodes on him instead. Castle then grabbed Scurll and hit Bang-a-rang again to end it.
WINNER: Dalton Castle in 14:25 to retain the world title.
-Riccaboni quickly thanked us for watching and hurriedly signed off at 11:59 E.S.T.
(Pageot’s Perspective: That was a car wreck. Fascinating because of how disappointing it ended up being. They were clearly rushing to be off the air by midnight but it’s unclear why. For that matter, it’s unclear why the show started at 9 PM instead of 8 PM in the first place. I’d have to imagine the match was cut short as a result of this midnight deadline because the four that preceded it were all longer and this entire match just felt rushed. Aldis appearing suddenly at the timekeeper’s table with the match already in progress instead of getting a proper entrance has to be another consequence of the time. Burnard coming out for the entrance and then leaving might be a consequence too? You’d have to imagine they originally had something planned with him and The Boys. But let’s try to forget about everything we didn’t get or might have gotten had we not been rushing off the air for some reason and look at what we did get instead.
There was no big build to the Bullet Club members fighting each other for the first time as you would have expected. Rather than have them double-team Castle for a while before turning on each other they merely started slapping each other the second they were alone together. There was no hesitation, no reluctance that they’re friends and stablemates and hated that it was coming to this. There was also next to no actual wrestling. These were attitude era shenanigans. Four people getting involved outside the ring, a low blow, a title belt, flour, security, a foreign object, the referee getting accosted… The only thing missing was the lights going out and then coming back on with someone else in the ring. It’s great that Castle retained and has a chance to try to right the ship and ensure that his title reign doesn’t go down in the history books as a flop but the execution of all of this was a mess. Usually Bullet Club’s biggest strength in situations like this is character work but Cody kicking Marty between the legs just doesn’t feel at all in line with the Cody we’ve been seeing on Being The Elite who’s distraught about what his feud with Kenny Omega did to his friendships and wants to mend things among the Club. I don’t know where we go from here but #BulletClubfatigue is a real thing and we need a total reset on the world title picture in ROH after this one.)
Find Harley on Twitter @talkinghonor and listen to he and Emily Fear talk all things ROH every Tuesday on the PWTorch Livecast “Talking Honor.”