Saturday, June 23, 2012

You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best

This Sunday Ring of Honor presents Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis on iPPV. The event has become one of the premiere showcases annually for the promotion. This year is headlined by a rematch between Davey Richards, who won the title at this event last year, and ROH anarchist, Kevin Steen. 

Last time RoH was on iPPV the company had less than a stellar experience as feeds across the world failed, and fan complaints piled up. Those that could see the iPPV watched as Kevin Steen turned the company on it's head. He captured the World title that Davey won in New York almost a year ago in what some consider the best match in all of professional wrestling in 2011. Now it's all or nothing for Richards who has agreed to meet Steen in a match tailor made for ROH's resident sadist, an anything goes & all moves are legal match. 

At the same event last year, when Richards & Edwards stole the show, Kevin Steen almost stole their thunder with his big "F-U" to Ring of Honor. It's one year later and RoH officials are stumbling to find a way to stop the Canadian Juggernaut. This Sunday if you have fifteen dollars, enjoy good wrestling, and are willing to trust that RoH has upgraded their iPPV ability, then I highly suggest you order, "Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis". It's one fourth the price of WWE's No Way Out and ten times the satisfaction.

Below is a review of "Best in the World 2011" that I wrote after the event for the Examiner. It should help set the stage for this huge event on Sunday, June 24th in New York City, NY. 

"Best in the World" Delivers On Name

Ring of Honor declared on June 26th in front of the biggest live and online audience in company history that ROH is the best in the world. The nine year old wrestling promotion, that started in a recreation center in Philadelphia, took a step into the national spotlight this weekend with a television deal announcement that will put Ring of Honor in thirty five television markets covering over a fifth of the United States starting 9-24-11. This announcement makes ROH the number three biggest wrestling company in the nation. In New York City, broadcasting from the Hammerstein Ballroom, Ring of Honor displayed what sets them apart from the other two top companies: wrestling.

The internet pay per view experience forces some to hone their inner Macgyver as an HDMI cord from Radio Shack and a set of pink iPod speakers turns a cheap laptop into a wrestling entertainment center. After only a few minutes the slight pixelation and sound issues of streaming a pay per view fades. The production value for the iPPV is really amazing, and can only get better for ROH with the new television deal. Some of the directing and camera work miscues interrupted the flow of the matches. Looking at the ring apron during a big moment warrants a grunt toward the television. These hiccups were far and few between. All of the technical issues with the iPPV became irrelevant when the action started.

Jim Cornette coming out to start the show made sense as nobody sells sizzle like Cornette. His promo was the pace car for the evening that set the table for the rest of the ROH talent. His role on camera throughout the event, and at the press conference, didn't overshadow the locker room. Jim Cornette is like frosting on a cake. It doesn't make the cake, it elevates it.

In the opening contest Ring of Honor presented Colt Cabana, wrestling's version of a whoopee cushion, versus Tomasso Ciampa, the love child of Perry Saturn and John Kronus. Colt Cabana was on fire from the minute he walked through the curtain. Tomasso Ciampa looked stiff at times. He missed sloppily on a few maneuvers, including his finisher which looks devastating if performed correctly. The match keeps Ciampa's win streak alive and that keeps him climbing the ROH ladder. Cabana again delivers, taking a few nasty misplaced knees along the way.

Keeping the shenanigans rolling was former ROH rising star, and the latest escapee from the Universal Studios retirement home, Jay Lethal taking on “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett with Brutal Bob Evans. Lethal makes his return to Ring of Honor with this match against Bennett. Both wrestlers had great chemistry with good exchanges early on that changed things up from the opening contests. Near the end of the match seemed to lull as the finish fell a little flat with Lethal picking up the three count using a Macho Man Randy Savage flying elbow. Lethal looks to be in the best shape of his life and primed to do some damage once 9-24-11 comes. A rematch in the future should be a welcomed addition to any Ring of Honor card.

In a flat out brawl Homicide defeated Rhino with a sunset flip. Each of the first three matches all came across as fresh because each one presented something different. This match provided plunder. The two tossed each other around in and out of the ring. The crowd attacked Rhino all match and he seemed to take it out on Homicide in return, including snapping the notorious 187's back on a ladder after telling hecklers to, “F*** Off”. With Homicide focused on the Embassy this will probably be the first of many battles between the two. The next one might not be for those with weak stomachs.

The moment of the night came next when Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs came out to continue their crusade to become rehabbed men of evil. The match was a back and forth contest between Corino and Michael Elgin, who raised his ROH stock at this event. Elgin's power, mixed with Corino's thumb in a bum, stuck out in the match up. Elgin picks up the win and positions himself to be a major player once television starts 9-24-11. Don't be surprised to see Michael Elgin in the ROH Television title picture. Jim Cornette during the press conference Friday said his name a lot. After the match is when the moment of the night happened.

Steve Corino,who probably has Terry Funk blood, and Jimmy Jacobs, the emo Brian Pillman, begged for their friend Kevin Steen to be let back into Ring of Honor. Steen was given a microphone to plead his case to Jim Cornette. The moment he said, “My name is Kevin Steen and F*** Ring of Honor”, while laying out Jacobs and crippling Corino made Steen the hottest thing going in ROH. Steen being crowd surfed out of the arena by security sent fans into intermission, and their twitter, crowing about the electricity of the moment.

During the intermission there was the promotional video for the event. With such a lengthy break in the action Ring of Honor might want to consider adding some content there. Footage of the press conference from Friday, or unseen matches, could have kept iPPV viewers more entertained than the screen saver for the event. It is something minor, but the intermission does slam the breaks on the event for the home viewer.

Coming out of intermission Spike television star Christopher Daniels put the ROH TV title on the line against fan favorite El Generico. The two had a great match that really interacted with the fans. One annoying Daniels fan in the front row tested the definition of what a lady is, but the two worked around her gutter mouth. Christopher Daniels plays with a crowd maybe better than anyone in Ring of Honor. El Generico beating Daniels with a ruthless brain buster that seems to have sent Daniels packing his bags for the sunshine state. This means Michael Elgin, a house of truth member with Daniels, could be in El Generico's future looking to bring the gold back into the fold. Ring of Honor fans won't mind that.

The four way elimination tag team match for the ROH Tag Team Championship followed but, because of all the expectations, fell short of the hype. The match felt as if it never got into fifth gear. Parts of the match really flowed well and were unique, such as a no hands UFO, but it ended up looking more patch work than masterpiece. Hass and Benjamin retained only to be destroyed by Jay and Mark Briscoe. The brothers want their seventh ROH tag team title reign and look to be going dark side doing it. The two teams should have some matches that would make Mike Tyson flinch.

The main event can't be described. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards rewrote the definition of wrestling with this match. The two told multiple stories and had several matches inside of this 35 minute main event. The two delivered reversals, submissions, headbutt battles, and a double foot stomp that Mario and Luigi would be proud of. The almost out of nowhere finish caught fans off guard who had begun to flirt with the idea that the two would go to a time limit draw. The two closed the iPPV with respect for each other and heartfelt comments from Richards who said, “Hey Grandpa. Hey Grandma. I did it”. Richards did do it. He and Edwards did give Ring of Honor fans the 2011 Match of the year (so far).

If this is the kind of wrestling Ring of Honor puts on television 9-24-11 then they won't be number three in the nation much longer. Those that need more proof then come to Richmond on July 8th at the Richmond Raceway Complex for ROH's tag team lottery event. There might not be a company in the world doing the sport of professional wrestling better than Ring of Honor right now. They don't have the biggest names, or the brightest lights, but they do have the best talent. When it comes to pro wrestling Ring of Honor does it the, “Best in the World”.

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