By Jason Powell
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ROH Best in the World 2016
Aired live on pay-per-view
Concord, North Carolina at Cabarrus Arena
The event opened with a video package that focussed on the Jay Lethal vs. Jay Briscoe main event. The duo took turns reciting a similar speech and they cut back and forth to the two of them while still shots and video footage aired… Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness checked in on commentary and ran through some of the top matches…
1. Kyle O’Reilly vs. Kamaitachi. Kelly said Kamaitachi didn’t understand the code of honor early in his ROH run, but now he’s becoming a sportsman. He shook hands with O’Reilly before the bell. The feed cut out for a second or two and then returned. O’Reilly sold a left knee injury that Kamaitachi targeted.
Kamaitachi applied a leg lock, but O’Reilly reached the ropes to break it. Kamatachi got O’Reilly to the middle of the ring and applied it again, but O’Reilly reached the ropes again to break it. Kamaitachi sold left arm pain to some of the work that O’Reilly did early on. Kamaitachi performed a shoulder block that knocked O’Reilly off the ring apron. O’Reilly applied an arm bar over the ropes and broke the hold at four.
Later, O’Reilly went for a kick at ringside and ended up kicking the ring post. Kamaitachi performed a missile dropkick off the ring apron onto O’Reilly on the floor. Kamaitachi performed a senton off the ropes onto O’Reilly on the floor. He didn’t get much of O’Reilly and ended up staying down on the mats with him for a bit before getting up and rolling him back inside the ring.
Back inside the ring, Kamaitachi kicked O’Reilly’s bad leg out from under him. He tried again, but O’Reilly leapt over his kick. O’Reilly kicked Kamaitachi’s arm, and Kamaitachi responded with kicks to the bad leg. O’Reilly landed a knee to the head of Kamaitachi, who sold it by lying on the mat while the referee checked on him. Moments later, Kamaitachi performed a German suplex and followed up with a couple of suplexes. O’Reilly came back with a teetering clothesline.
Kamaitachi performed a suplex that dumped O’Reilly in the corner. Kamaitachi went for a double stomp that O’Reilly avoided. Moments later, O’Reilly caught Kamaitachi in an arm bar that Kamaitachi eventually broke free of. The wrestlers traded blows in mid-ring. O’Reilly performed a brainbuster and then applied a cross arm breaker for the win. Afterward, O’Reilly waited for a handshake, but Kamaitachi spat on his hand and left the ring…
Kyle O’Reilly defeated Kamaitachi in 13:50.
Powell’s POV: A good match. Kelly told the story that O’Reilly was the heavy favorite, yet Kamaitachi pushed him to the limit. Kelly also told viewers that O’Reilly would face the winner of the ROH Title match, so you knew he was going over, yet it was still entertaining from start to finish. It was refreshing to see a traditional wrestling match rather than the spot fests we’ve seen from WWE and TNA in the opening spot on their pay-per-views this month.
An ACH and Silas Young video package aired…
2. ACH vs. Silas Young. ACH put out his hand for the handshake only to have Young give him a forearm shot to the head. At ringside, Young whipped ACH toward the barricade, but ACH jumped on it and then dove off it onto Young. Back in the ring, ACH went for a move off the top rope only to have Young knee down, causing ACH to land on Young’s knee.
Young delivered shots to the kidney around 4:30. He played to the crowd and got some boos. Young stomped the chest of ACH and covered him for a soft two count. ACH started to show signs of coming back, but Young dropped him on the top rope and then clotheslined him. ACH caught Young in a backslide for two, then ate a kick to the head.
Young went up top, but ACH cut him off and then went for a superplex. Young regained control and performed a sunset flip powerbomb and a neckbreaker for another two count. Young went to ringside and grabbed a chair. Referee Todd Sinclair cut off Young and a couple of security guards approached for reasons that would become clear seconds later when ACH performed a big dive that took out Young and security. Back inside the ring, ACH avoided Young’s handstand moonsault. ACH performed Midnight Star on Young and scored the clean pin…
ACH defeated Silas Young in 11:10.
Powell’s POV: A decent match. There was nothing particularly memorable or special about it unless you’re new to ACH’s finisher. I’m surprised ACH won if only because I assumed the heel would win the first match of the feud.
A shot aired of Jay White standing in the crowd. Kelly and McGuinness explained that he is one of the New Japan Pro Wrestling young lions… A video package set up the next match…
3. Roderick Strong vs. Mark Briscoe. Strong made his entrance while Kelly spoke about what a great moment it was without elaborating. Briscoe wore his IWGP Tag Title to the ring. The fans chanted “thank you, Roddy.” Kelly said fans who checked out the ROH website know about Strong’s future plans, but he has business before he departs.
Strong blew off the code of honor. Strong pulled Briscoe’s hair and it turned out to be a wig (he had a buzz cut). Briscoe jumped out to a fast start. Strong catapulted Briscoe into the ring post at 2:05 and went on the offensive. Strong whipped Briscoe into the barricade and then looked into the camera and yelled, “This is my company.” Um, not for long.
At 9:15, Mark went for Froggy Bow, but Strong put his knees up. At 11:50, Strong performed a superplex for a two count. A short time later, Strong applied a Boston Crab, but Briscoe reached the ropes to break it. Strong tried to drop Briscoe on the edge of the apron, but Briscoe held the ropes and then kicked Strong before dropping an elbow on him at 13:10.
They returned to the ring and Briscoe went for a move off the ropes and ate a dropkick. Yes, seconds after a Cactus Jack elbow on the floor, Briscoe was taking a dropkick. Anyway, they traded blows in mid-ring. Strong nailed Briscoe with a Sick Kick for a two count. The live crowd was flat for the near fall. Briscoe suplexed Strong for a two count, then followed up with a fisherman’s buster for the win. Strong shook Briscoe’s hand afterward, and a brief “thank you, Roddy” chant broke out…
Mark Briscoe beat Roderick Strong in 15:35.
Powell’s POV: A god match that seemed to mean more to the wrestlers than most of the fans. I’m not sure if the fans really picked a side. Strong got the big reaction so most fans knew he was leaving, and the Briscoes are always over. The handshake afterward seemed to get a bigger reaction than the actual finish. The story of Strong disrespecting Briscoe kind of came out of nowhere, but at least the fans were happy with the end result of Briscoe earning that respect.
A video package set up the six-man tag…
4. Adam Cole and The Young Bucks vs. Moose (w/Stokely Hathaway) and War Machine. Matt Taven sat in on commentary. Moose and War Machine wore makeup and shoulder pads, and Moose also wore the leather garment that War Machine wears. Kelly asked why Nigel is even allowing The Bullet Club members to wrestle. He said their opponents wanted a piece of them and he also pointed out how much merchandise they sell and questioned why ROH should suffer. Ugh. Finally, it was implied that they would be suspended without pay for six months if they repeated their actions from the last pay-per-view.
Cole and the Bucks landed superkicks to start the match. They dove onto their opponents at ringside. Moose performed an big dive over the top rope onto teammates and opponents. Moose and War Machine took control and worked over their opponents. However, Cole dodged a charing Moose, who ran into the barricade. Taven said he’d be worried if Moose didn’t have a “double thick head.” War Machine followed the Bucks onto the stage and then picked them up and threw them together.
The Bucks came back and teamed up for a suplex on Hanson on the entrance ramp. The Bullet Club had Moose alone in the ring and took turns hitting him while the fans chanted “Suck It” and Adam Cole’s catchphrase. Moose came back, but they put him down with a triple superkick. Hanson performed his usual cartwheel and then told the Bucks to suck it.
There was a really cool spot with Rowe throwing Nick Jackson at Moose, who caught him, then Hanson clotheslined Jackson into a German suplex by Moose. Things got a little sloppy as Rowe was tossing around Cole before Hanson performed a splash from the middle rope and went for a cover that the Bucks broke up. Cole caught Rowe with a destroyer.
Hanson went for a moonsault on Cole, who was long gone by the time he started to execute the move, which led to the Bucks superkicking him. Hathaway climbed onto the apron and took a triple superkick. The Bucks hit the Meltzer Driver on Moose and then Cole pinned him while Bucks kissed his cheeks…
Adam Cole and The Young Bucks beat Moose and War Machine in 13:10.
Powell’s POV: The usual Bucks style match. Moose is expected to leave ROH, so it was not a surprise to see him lose the match. Taven was rather annoying on commentary and not in a good, heelish way. He kept calling people “melvins” and also spoke about the Kingdom returning, which is a head scratcher considering that Cole is in the Bullet Club and Mike Bennett is in TNA.
A video package set up the tag title match…
5. Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian vs. Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin for the ROH Tag Titles. Bobby Cruise delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. The Addiction attacked Sabin and Shelley to star the match, but the Motor City Machine Guns came back quickly. The heels isolated Shelley for a few minutes and then he made the hot tag to Sabin. The Guns worked over the heels and primarily Kazarian.
Daniels recovered and took out Shelley briefly. Daniels called for the Intervention finisher, but Shelley recovered and broke it up. Later, Shelley hit Daniels with Sliced Bread, but then Kazarian took out Shelley. Suddenly, Kamaitachi came out to ringside and attacked Jay White, who was seated in the crowd. During the melee, Daniels caught Shelley with a low blow. Moments later, Daniels and Kazarian performed the Best Meltzer Ever on Sabin and got the win. Afterward, Kamaitachi and the Addiction raised their arms on the stage while Kelly threw a fit about how the Addiction did it again…
Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian beat Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin to retain the ROH Tag Titles in 12:20.
Powell’s POV: It was a strange call to have the tag title match follow the six-man tag match. Both matches had lots of kicks and no regard for traditional tag team rules, which is fun in small doses, but it hurt the second of the two matches.
McGuinness spoke about the unsanctioned fight without honor. He said he has washed his hands of the match and would go backstage. A video package set up the fight without honor…
6. Steve Corino vs. BJ Whitmer in a Fight Without Honor. Cruise announced that viewer discretion was advised. Ian Riccaboni sat in on commentary in place of McGuinness. Corino came out with eyeblack and a hat on and received a nice pop. He removed the hat to reveal his old school blonde hair. Corino attacked Whitmer as he was making his entrance and brawled with him. Whitmer quickly took control and whipped Corino into the barricade a couple times.
Kelly said Corino lost a front tooth. Whitmer continued to work over Corino and tried to piledrive him on the ring apron. Corino avoided the move while Kelly reminded viewers that Whitmer nearly lost his own career taking the same move. Corino struck Whitmer’s surgically repaired knee with a chair.
Whitmer took control and struck Corino above the eye a few times and drew blood. A doctor tended to Corino while Whitmer set up a table in the corner of the ring. Corino pleased with the referee to not stop the match despite the doctor’s recommendation. Whitmer performed an exploder suplex that didn’t break the table. He did it a second time and the table broke. Whitmer covered Corino for two.
Corino performed a superkick. Whitmer hit him with a piece of the table twice. Corino superkicked him again and got a two count. Corino picked up a beer bottle and slammed it over the head of Whitmer. Corino had a piece of the broken glass. The broadcast team started yelling “no” repeatedly, but they were still showing the replay of the bottle shot. They cut back to the ring where Corino was jabbing the broken glass into Whitmer’s forehead. Both men were a bloody mess.
Corino pulled out a bottle of rubbing alcohol and poured it onto Whitmer’s open cut. The fans chanted ECW. Corino removed one of his boots and then filled a sock with quarters. He tried to use it as a weapon, but Whitmer struck Corino with a roll of quarters. There was a “this is awesome” chant. The wrestlers traded punches and then Corino performed a package piledriver for two.
The lights went out and when they came back on, Kevin Sullivan was in the ring with a spike and looked at Whitmer, who smiled. Sullivan drove the spike into the head of Corino. Whitmer performed an exploder supelx on Corino and pinned him. One of the announcers recalled questioning whether this was the end and then said maybe it’s just the beginning…
BJ Whitmer defeated Steve Corino in a Fight Without Honor.
The broadcast team spoke at ringside. Kelly encouraged someone to get word to Corino’s wife at home that he was okay. Then he went on a tangent questioning when this will ever end…
Powell’s POV: An insane hardcore war with a silly turn at the end. Longtime fans will be delighted to see Kevin Sullivan, but it’s not like he even appeared on the weekly television show to set up the swerve, so that had to feel really random for those who didn’t watch the online video. I’m not a big fan of hardcore in 2016 and I have no desire to see this never ending feud continue, but those two did it very well and Corino had the crowd with them every step of the way. I’m guessing McGuinness legitimately wanted nothing to do with the match since he’s been outspoken about bloodletting in pro wrestling, which would explain his unenthusiastic line when he rejoined Kelly on commentary (see below). Meanwhile, Kelly was ultra cheesy with his post match meltdown.
A taped Dalton Castle promo aired. He spoke about winning a four-way to earn the title shot. He said it’s time people starting seeing him as a real threat. A taped Fish promo aired…
At ringside, Nigel McGuinness returned to commentary while Kelly spoke about the previous match. “Yeah, I’m at a loss for words,” McGuinness said…
7. Bobby Fish vs. Dalton Castle (w/The Boys) for the ROH Title. Castle had his usual two boys with him and then others who lifted him onto the apron. The wrestlers adhered to the code of honor. Only the usual Boys remained at ringside. Kelly said Corino and Whitmer are both on their way to the hospital. Fish threw a couple of knees into the gut of Castle and then performed an exploder suplex into the corner. It didn’t get much of a reaction, perhaps because we’ve seen so many exploder suplexes tonight.
Castle came back with a suplex into a bridge, but Fish’s shoulders weren’t down. Castle caught Fish with a couple kicks. A short time later, Fish caught the knee that Castle had been selling in a knee bar. Castle reached the ropes to break the hold and continued to sell the knee. They fought on the ring apron. Fish dropped down and swept the legs of Castle in a cool spot. The Boys used their fans while a few people yelled “Fan Up.”
Fish drove Castle into the barricade and returned to the ring. Fish was temporarily distracted by the Boys. Castle performed an exploder suplex that drove Fish over the top rope onto two members of “ringside security.” Castle dove over the barricade onto Fish. Castle hoisted Fish onto his shoulders and carried him back to the apron and slid him back inside to break the count.
They went back to ringside where Fish performed an exploder suplex (what else?) that drove Castle into the ring post. Both men returned to the ring. Later, Castle ate a knee from Fish, then immediately hoisted him up and started spinning for the Bang-A-Rang finisher, but Fish countered into a rollup pin…
Bobby Fish defeated Dalton Castle to retain the ROH TV Title in 16:50.
Powell’s POV: An entertaining match that was missing the traditional babyface vs. heel dynamic. I’m still not sure whether we’re supposed to like or dislike Fish. Either way, the crowd liked both guys and were attentive, yet not as hot as they had established a heel vs. babyface dynamic going into this.
“Hail to the Chief” played and a podium was set up on the stage. A handful of indy types and/or fans stood in front of the podium and applauded. Caprice Coleman introduced himself as the Minister of Information, while Rhett Titus and Kenny King stood at his side. Coleman said they decided to unite and they will now be recognized as The Cabinet.
Kelly started to talk at ringside, but the indyriffic segment wasn’t over. Rhett Titus complained about the look of talent and said they want to put a headlock on high spots. Kenny King took his turn. Coleman said they will make wrestling great again. The song played again to end the madness…
Powell’s POV: Remember they found time for that horrible segment if the main event is cut short.
A video package set up the main event…
8. Jay Lethal (w/Taeler Hendrix) vs. Jay Briscoe for the ROH Championship. Kelly said Briscoe could become the first ever three-time ROH Champion. Taeler could be seen at the bottom of the screen giving some fans a crotch chop about a minute into the match. At 4:15, Briscoe performed a suicide dive onto Lethal. He set up for a second one and connected again. The fans chanted for one more and this time flipped over the top rope onto Lethal.
Hendrix attacked Briscoe. Referee Todd Sinclair ejected her from ringside. Hendrix threw a tantrum. He went over to the broadcast table and knocked over a water bottle that spilled into the lap of McGuinness (who probably needed to cool off from earlier) and then picked up a headset and started yelling. The camera cut away and missed most of Mandy Leon going after Hendrix. The women were both removed from ringside and the match continued.
Briscoe performed a Death Valley Driver in mid-ring for a two count. A short time later, Lethal pulled Briscoe through the ropes and gave him a cutter off the apron. At 9:00, Lethal dropped a top rope elbow for a two count. Lethal applied the Figure Four.
Lethal went for the Lethal Injection, but Briscoe went with him. Lethal still managed to superkick him. Moments later, Briscoe hit the Lethal Injection and followed up with the Jay-Driller for a good near fall that had the crowd on their feet. The wrestlers fought for position while standing on the top rope. Lethal won the battle and performed a cutter from the top. Lethal performed the Lethal Injection and pinned Briscoe clean.
Jay Lethal defeated Jay Briscoe to retain the ROH Title in 12:00.
The wrestlers kneeled in the ring with the title belt between them. There was a “that was awesome” chant. Lethal and Briscoe shook hands. They stood up and shook hands again a short time later while Kelly said it was a fitting way to end an incredible physical encounter…
Powell’s POV: A good match that didn’t have enough time to be more than good. They made good use of the time they had and the late near fall for Briscoe was really well done. I have no idea why they felt the need to get the women so involved when they were already short on time and it really wasn’t important to the match. Nevertheless, a solid pay-per-view main event that could have been much better had the show not run long.
Overall, this was a house show that happened to air on pay-per-view. Say what you will about Corino vs. Whitmer (and it’s certainly not going to be for everyone), but they made an attempt to have an epic battle, whereas nothing else on the show really felt special or memorable. ROH is capable of much better than we saw tonight. I’m sure some will blame the lack of New Japan talent. Obviously, it helps to have their top wrestlers, but ROH has the talent to put together strong events using their own talent. They simply failed to do so this time around.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ring of Honor's PJ Black discussing the ROH Pure Title tournament beginning on ROH Wrestling TV this weekend, ROH's COVID-19 safety precautions, his run in WWE as Justin Gabriel with The Nexus, wrestling as The Bunny, and more...