ROH Best In The World 2018 Review

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Our main event. Credit: ROH

Best In The World is an ambitious show name for Ring Of Honor. The days of ROH being a centre of wrestling excellence behind them and you’d struggle to bestow on this show with that title. However, even with their demise, it’s hard to think of a big ROH event that hasn’t delivered. Will this be that time? Let’s find out.

The Kingdom (Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia and TK O’Ryan) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Evil, Sanada and BUSHI)

There is not much to say about this. It was a solid, three-star opening match. LIJ were taking it easy, but who can blame them? And, while I have many problems with The Kingdom, they are an alright in-ring unit (that’s as nice as I can be about them). The only real fault was Sanada cowering away from a popped balloon like a timid child at a birthday party. Surely the Cold Skull isn’t that easy to frighten?

 

Verdict: Three Stars

Flip Gordon defeated Bully Ray by Disqualification

Everything about this was definitive proof that ROH highlighting Bully Ray is a mistake. For all of five minutes, I thought they might be able to do something. It was nice to see Flip show a bit of aggression as he cut out the more superfluous elements of his offence in an attempt to beatdown his bully.

Then Bully Ray hit a low blow and started smacking people with stuff forcing Colt Cabana to make the save. None of which was interesting, and I love Colt. In a company that proclaims to be about the wrestling, Bully Ray is a turn-off. ROH would be well-served by putting him out to pasture.

Verdict: One And A Half Stars

Sumie Sakai, Jenny Rose, Mayu Iwatani and Tenille Dashwood defeated Oedo Tai (Hana Kimura, Hazuki and Kagetsu) and Kelly Klein

What a fantastic advert for Stardom. The Joshi talent appeared to be a step above everyone else with Oedo Tai shining in particular. They came across as a well-oiled machine and the chemistry they had in the ring was fantastic.

On top of that, this was a step-up in the presentation for Women of Honor. Not only were they actually allowed on the main show, but they were given the time to put together a fun back and forth bout with everyone getting a chance to show what they can do. Even the lack of a story didn’t hurt it.

After all that Bully Ray shit this was a lovely pick me up and a standout performance from a division that doesn’t always get the chance to impress.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Austin Aries defeated Kenny King

What a frustrating watch. It was close to being a fun encounter before being let down by a couple of gaping flaws.

Both of those flaws revolved around Kenny King. Firstly, he started off like he was on holiday. Mucking around and repeatedly sweeping Aries’s leg in a Karate Kid tribute. On a random TV match, that would be fine. On PPV in a fight against your former best friend who recently attacked you, it felt out-of-place. It’s hard to buy the blood feud if half of the participants aren’t taking it seriously.

Then, there was the finish where King refused to hit the Royal Flush on the floor because Aries told him he was his friend. How stupid is Kenny King? Has he learnt nothing from his recent interactions with Aries? King went from wanting to beat this man senseless to trusting him with only a pathetic plea as evidence that it was a good idea. They made King look like a mug and quite frankly he deserved the defeat that followed.

Those flaws served to drag this down a step or two. It was still a decent outing, but nowhere near what it could have been.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Jay Lethal defeated KUSHIDA

I owe Jay Lethal an apology. It’s not too long ago that I wrote him off. He seemed to have lost a step as I was struggling to get invested in anything he did. I’m now wondering if that was me rather than him. In the last few months, I’ve switched back around into the pro-Lethal camp.

It should be no surprise that this was great. It’s KUSHIDA and Jay Lethal. They’re two immensely talented men who are a natural fit style wise. Starting slowly they built the intensity of this match to a fitting crescendo. It was aided by KUSHIDA working heelish, refusing the Code Of Honor and mocking Lethal throughout. It was a small touch that gave them a little bit of edge to work with as they upped the aggression.

Lethal got the win to complete his recent redemption storyline as he puts down the last man in the list of people who had beaten him. He’s back on top in ROH and on current form, that can only be a good thing.

Verdict: Four Stars

Punishment Martinez defeated Hangman Page to retain the ROH TV Title

Much like Lethal vs KUSHIDA, this felt like a natural match-up. Unlike those two, it’s not for the beautiful wrestling. These two excel in violent brawls, and a violent brawl is what we got.

Martinez impresses in these situations as his combination of strength and speed allows him to do things others can’t. Page, meanwhile, became a bumping machine. Watching him being dropped on the barricade was particularly cringe-inducing while the tumble he took from the apron onto the chairs was mental. He’s a man who has no care for his own wellbeing as well as a beautiful moonsault.

A year ago, I would have groaned at the thought of this. However, the last 12 months have seen both of these men get over with me. They’ve taken huge leaps forward as in-ring competitors, and while I still think Punishment’s character is a bit hokey, they are getting better outside the ring too. If they keep delivering like this, they’re only going to go up in my regards.

Verdict: Four Stars

Some Homophobic Shits defeated The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) to retain the ROH Tag Team Titles

I’m sure this was a good match, but I won’t be watching it. The Briscoes are homophobic scum and aren’t worthy of the words.

Verdict: Fuck The Briscoes

Dalton Castle defeated Cody Rhodes and Marty Scurll to retain the ROH World Title

It’s kind of weird talking about this while being aware that Castle was set to lose the title the next night to Lethal. However, it is what it is, and I’m going to review it in the vacuum of the night. All of which made it one hell of a surprise that Dalton retained. I thought this was a guaranteed Cody victory with Scurll having a slight chance of sneaking out with the belt.

Instead, the story was that The Bullet Club men cancelled each other out. Despite their allegiance, they were unable to get on the same page. In fact, they spent most of the match going at each other. Proving that the title belt is thicker than the Bullet Club bond.

Sadly, it once again meant that Dalton Castle felt like the least important part of the show. His entire title run has been overshadowed by The Bullet Club’s drama, and now they’re actually coming into his main events and stealing the spotlight there too. The champion should not be the third wheel. You could even argue he was the fourth if you include the interfering Aldis. While Castle is a good wrestler, this title reign will not be going down as a classic.

Anyway, it was alright. A lot of it was just there, with not much memorable going on. They relied on shenanigans with the final story being that Cody and Scurll were so interested in each other that they gave Dalton the opportunity to sneak out with the belt. Much like Castle’s title reign, it’s not something you’ll ever go back to.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Overall Show

This wasn’t one of ROH’s best and yet it was still good fun. Page vs Martinez and Lethal vs KUSHIDA were the definite highlights while Bully Ray provided the lows. Also, in a change of pace from most ROH events, they kept it relatively snappy, coming in at under three hours. If they could make that the new norm then all of these shows will benefit from it. As usual, ROH did enough to make this worthy of your time even if they failed to capture some of the highs of their previous events.

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