Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City, June 26th, 2011: It was a battle of partners, of friends, of brothers, as Davey Richards finally challenged Eddie Edwards for the World title at Ring of Honor’s Best in the World, recently released on DVD.
The DVD began with Colt Cabana taking on Tomasso Ciampa, accompanied by Embassy boys Prince Nana and Ernesto Osiris.
Ciampa was looking to keep his unbeaten record intact, and although he was frustrated by Cabana’s antics early on it wasn’t long before he took control and wore Boom Boom down.
But when Cabana made his comeback and went for the Billy goat’s curse Ciampa managed to get to the ropes and break the hold, and moments later he kept his record intact by taking Cabana down from the top rope and taking him out with his back stabber-type move for the winning pin, ending a very entertaining opener.
The singles acti0n continued as Mike Bennett, accompanied by Bob Evans, went up against returning star Jay Lethal.
After the faithful in attendance told Dixie Carter and her company where to go Lethal and Bennett put on a very exciting match.
These two were pretty evenly match. Lethal put on the kind of performance we never saw from him in the Impact Zone, and it was a joy to watch as the two of them put on a match with great storytelling and tremendous action throughout.
The returning hero took the pin, paying tribute to the man who inspired his most successful TNA run by taking Bennett down with the top rope elbow, or the lethal injection as the commentators called it. Great stuff throughout.
Then it was on to the no holds barred street fight, as Homicide went up against the Embassy’s latest monster, Rhino, accompanied by Prince Nana.
Now this is what a fight should be about. These two started brawling as soon as the bell rang, and it wasn’t long before Rhino back dropped Homicide right into the time keeper’s table.
From there they beat the hell out of each other, first all around ringside and then in the ring, using a ladder at times before Homicide brought another table into the equation.
That particular item didn’t come into play at the end though. Rhino took his man down with a belly to belly suplex, but when he went for the gore Homicide countered with a sunset flip and a handful of tights for the winning pin.
It was then that the table came into play. When Nana’s attempted attack backfired Rhino saved his man by finally goring Homicide through the table, with the Notorious 187 having to be carried out of the ring afterwards.
The special challenge match saw Steve Corino, accompanied by Jimmy Jacobs, taking on Michael Elgin, accompanied by Truth Martini.
Before the match began Corino grabbed the microphone and once again thanked the fans for helping him change his ways. He then said that there was someone else who wanted to change his ways, who wanted ROH to give him a second chance.
The crowd went wild when Corino introduced Kevin Steen, but when Mr. Wrestling made his way down from the balcony and through the crowd security stopped him from jumping the guard rail and entering the ring. Eventually executive producer Jim Cornette appeared, and after a brief conversation Steen returned to his seat.
While all of this was going on Elgin and Martini has sneaked down to the ring, but Elgin’s attempted attack from behind failed as Corino sent him through the ropes, only for Elgin to return seconds later with an elbow over the top rope.
From there this turned into a very entertaining match, and once again Elgin impressed the hell out of me with his no nonsense straight forward attack. We had the inevitable confrontation between Martini and Jacobs at ringside before Elgin scored the big win, taking Corino down with a buckle bomb before finishing him off with his sit down power bomb.
That wasn’t the end of the action though. Elgin continued his assault after the bell, and when Jacobs tried to make the save he was soon taken out with a power bomb.
It was then that Kevin Steen raced through the crowd and returned to the ring, sending Elgin running for cover after a power bomb and shaking off Martini’s book clobbering shot with a super kick.
Security then surrounded the ring, accompanied once again by Cornette, who, at Corino’s urging, allowed Steen to talk, and talk he did. For a few seconds it looked like he was going to follow the path taken by Corino and Jacobs, but two choice words later and Corino was taken out with a package pile driver before security carried him out of the building. A very good match followed by even better drama.
The first title match of the evening saw El Generico challenging Christopher Daniels for TV title. No Truth Martini in the corner for the Fallen Angel in this one. I guess he was still suffering from the effects of Steen’s super kick.
This was everything I thought it would be, a tremendous back and forth match between two men at the top of their game.
For nearly twenty minutes these two put on a breath taking back and forth encounter, and, dare I say it, Truth Martini was hardly missed at all.
Daniels was at his cocky best, showing that he doesn’t really need a manager, at one point grabbing the belt and putting it on after he’d taken Generico down by ramming him head first into the metal barricades from the ring apron, convinced that he was going to get the count out win.
To say that he was surprised that Generico made it back into the ring would be an understatement. After taking his opponent down again he decided to go for the BME while still wearing the belt.
Generico managed to counter with a boot to the face, and moments later it was all over. Generico took Daniels down with a top rope brain buster, and a three count later we had a new and deserving champion.
The penultimate match saw the Kings of Wrestling, Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero, accompanied by Shane Hagadorn and Sara Del Ray, the All Night Express, Rhett Titus and Kenny King, and Jay and Mark Briscoe challenging Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, for the World Tag Team titles in a four way elimination match.
When you’ve got four of the best tag teams of the 21st century in the same match it’s pretty obvious what kind of match you’re going to get.
This was awesome. For over 40 minutes we saw a ton of great work from all eight man in a match filled with tremendous back and forth action and packed with high drama. It’s really hard to pick one outstanding moment because there was some many, it was that good.
The Briscoes were the first team eliminated, the seven time champions taking the first ride home when Titus pinned Jay after taking him out with a top rope knee drop while he was draped of King’s knee.
King and Titus were the next team eliminated. After they’d taken Castagnoli out with their power bomb/neck breaker combination Sara Del Ray distracted the referee so Shane Hagadorn could hand Hero his loaded elbow pad. A rolling elbow bow later and Titus was out of it, with Hero draping his partner over Titus for the pin.
This left the champions and the team they’d beaten for the gold as the last two teams, and once again they picked up where they’d left off the last time. Both teams pulled out all their big moves until a double Alabama slam took care of Hero for the winning pin.
But that wasn’t the end of the action. The Briscoes came back to the ring, chairs in hand, and clobbered Haas and Benjamin while Hero and Castagnoli sat on the corners and watched, and with security seemingly powerless to do anything it was left to the weapons wielding All Night Express to send the brothers running for cover.
The main event was the battle of the American Wolves as Davey Richards challenged Eddie Edwards for the World title.
Now this was a match. For what seemed like an eternity these two put on a wrestling clinic, a tremendous back and forth encounter between two men who knew each other so well but held nothing back.
It was a joy to behold. We saw a marvellous exchange of submission attempts early on, with Edwards even applying a cross arm breaker out of a suplex attempt, something I’ve never seen done before and something I’m sure a certain WWE star would never attempt.
From there we had a ton of great action, high flying moves over the ropes, hard slams onto the ring apron, and back and forth exchanges that had to be seen to be believed. As the old saying goes they left everything in the ring.
With fatigue and pain from numerous injuries setting in Richards took his partner down with a series of kicks, a roundhouse kick to Edwards’ head finally putting him down for the three count and sealing the World title win.
Afterwards, as his those closest to him gathered in the ring and those in attendance gave him a standing ovation Richards paid tribute to his partner and beaten opponent as well as to those he’d lost along the way. It was one of the most emotional things I’d ever seen in my near 40 years as a wrestling fan.
There’s plenty of extras on this DVD, including the usual Video Wire, a bonus match putting Generation Me against Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole plus post-match moments with Jimmy Jacobs, Steve Corino, El Generico, Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team and the All Night Express.
In conclusion - I think I’ve just found my show of the year.
ROH Best in the World 2011 is just that. From the opening bout to the phenomenal main event this release had everything. There wasn’t one bad moment here people, there really wasn’t, and if there are no nominations for this show or any of it’s matches then there really isn’t any justice in this world.
So even though I probably don’t need to say this, but this DVD definitely gets the big thumbs up. This is a show that any true wrestling fan needs to see.
With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. ROH Best in the World 2011 is available to buy online at www.rohwrestling.com.