Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Best In The World 2021
Date: July 11, 2021
Location: UMBC Event Center, Baltimore, Maryland
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman
It’s time for the fans to be back here as well, which should make things a little more energetic. Ring of Honor has been one of the more consistently quality TV shows as of late and now they need to make that work on television as well. That might be easier said than done though so let’s get to it.
It really is cool to see some fans back.
Tracy Williams is out of the Tag Team Title match due to being hit by a car a few weeks back, so Jay Lethal will be defending in his place.
Pre-Show: Demonic Flaimta vs. Rey Horus
This is a rematch from the Survival of the Fittest qualifying round. Horus knocks him to the floor to start and snaps off a hurricanrana from the apron. Flamita gets whipped into the barricade but he is fine enough to dropkick Horus out of the air back inside. A running kick to the head gives Flamita a rather arrogant near fall and it’s time to slap Horus in the mask. Flamita stays cocky and cuts Horus down with some chops. Horus gets back up for a middle rope bodyscissors to the floor, naturally setting up the big no hands dive.
Back in and Horus hits a crazy springboard spinning tornado DDT for two. They get back up and slug it out until Flamita gets in a sitout powerbomb for two of his own. A frog splash onto Horus’ lets leaves both of them down until they slug it out from their knees. Back to back superkicks rock Horus, who grabs a satellite DDT for two more. Horus goes up top and gets pulled down with the MuscleBuster into the knees to the chest. Another superkick gives Flamita two so he tries another, only to get sunset flipped to give Horus the pin at 9:49.
Rating: B-. Take two luchadors and let them fly all over the place for about ten minutes. What better way is there to wake up a crowd for the rest of the night? Ring of Honor, like many other promotions before it, knew what they needed to do here and it worked out again. These guys were all over the place and that’s exactly what they should have been doing.
Post match Flamita drops Horus again and even spits on him.
Bouncers vs. PCO/Danhausen
The Bouncers have Ken Dixon with him. Brawler Milonas jumps PCO before the bell and it’s Danhausen in early trouble. Beer City Bruiser comes in to slam Danhausen, allowing Brawler to send him into the corner by the neck. A running clothesline drops Danhausen again and it’s time to choke on the ropes. It’s off to Bruiser for a clothesline of his own and it’s a Samoan drop into Brawler’s falling splash.
Danhausen avoids a charge in the corner though and manages a German suplex, allowing the hot tag to PCO. Striking abounds, setting up a crossbody of all things. PCO busts out a pair of dives onto both Bouncers and helps Danhausen chokeslam Bruiser. Cue Sledge to stare at PCO and Danhausen but Brawler takes PCO down.
Bruiser hits something like a Vader Bomb from the apron to the floor to crush PCO (egads), leaving Danhausen alone. Danhausen gets caught in a powerbomb from Brawler (Danhausen: “NO! PUT ME DOWN!”), which he slips out of to set up a hurricanrana off the apron and into the post. A quick pat wakes up PCO and Danhausen’s headbutt rocks Bruiser. Goodnighthausen is broken up so Danhausen manages an AA onto the teeth. The PCOsault finishes Bruiser at 9:05.
Rating: C. I can go for this kind of lighthearted comedy where they make no secret about what they are doing. Yeah it’s goofy but that’s the point, as Danhausen is in the exact right spot. If you want to have him team with PCO as a goofy team for awhile then so be it, as they aren’t going to win the titles or anything. Have some fun and don’t go anywhere beyond that.
Post match, PCO and Sledge have their staredown with Danhausen breaking it up.
The opening video looks at some of the bigger matches. They’re keeping it simple here.
PJ Black/Brian Johnson vs. Briscoe Brothers
The Brothers are back on the same page after beating each other up on their farm. Johnson yells at the fans on the way to the ring, because they’re all fat people who got fatter during the pandemic. He doesn’t like the idiot Briscoes either because they all like kissing their cousin. We even get a few jabs at Mama Briscoe, which is not likely going to go well. Johnson brags about being the best in the ring and on the mic so everyone will know his name.
It’s a big brawl to start (again, you don’t mess with a mama) and the Briscoes get the better of it, because Black messed with Mama Briscoe. Mark uses a chair for a big dive to drop Johnson and we settle down to Mark chopping at him inside. Jay comes in for the uppercuts and Mark does the same, as Ian says Happy Birthday to his mom (who you shouldn’t mess with either).
It’s off to Black, who kicks Mark in the face a few times to take over. Johnson adds a slam into an elbow drop for two and the referee takes some yelling. Mark isn’t having that though and fights up to bring Jay back in. The yelling and fighting are both on with Jay getting the better of things on Johnson. Black breaks up Redneck Boogie and Jay accidentally knocks Mark outside.
Johnson’s rollup gets two and Black breaks up the Doomsday Device. The Spike Eskin plants Jay and sets up a 450 to give Black two of his own. Jay kicks Black off the apron and Mark hits the kick through the ropes to Black. The apron Blockbuster drops Johnson and there’s the Cactus Elbow. Back in and the Jay Driller into the Froggy Bow finishes Black at 8:06.
Rating: C. This could have been fine as a TV main event so it works out well for a pay per view opener. The main point here was to establish that the Briscoes are back on the same page, which is a nice followup after their Fight On The Farm. It didn’t have much drama, but should there be between these teams?
We recap EC3 vs. Flip Gordon. EC3 was not happy with Gordon cheating to win a tag match because it does not fit with EC3’s Quest For Honor. At least it’s better than whatever he had been doing in the past few months.
EC3 vs. Flip Gordon
I’m not big on either guy so let’s get this over with already. They shake hands to start, with Gordon pulling him into a headlock for the opening bell. A hard shoulder drops Gordon but he’s right back up with the headlock. Gordon goes after the knee to take over and unloads on him with chops in the corner. A Ricky Steamboat style double chop puts Gordon down again but he takes out the knee in the corner.
There’s a dropkick to the knee to put EC3 on the floor, with the fans not sounding pleased. The leg cranking is on back inside but EC3 powers out, meaning it’s off to a chop off. The Psycho Boy takes Gordon down but the knee gives out again, allowing Gordon to bail to the floor. Gordon sweeps the legs and wraps the knee around the post to take over again.
Back in and the Submit To Flip goes on until EC3 makes it over to the ropes. Gordon goes up but gets top rope superplexed back down for the big crash. Gordon’s springboard….something is chopped out of the air but the knee doesn’t let EC3 follow up. A low superkick rocks EC3, who smiles up at him. That means it’s an Angel’s Wings into the Purpose (Bank Statement) finishes Gordon at 11:14.
Rating: C+. They worked a nice match here and both guys looked good, though it wasn’t exactly a smash. EC3 sold the leg well as it messed with his offense, but I’m still not sure I get what he is doing. It seems to be working for him, but a bit clearer of an explanation would be nice.
Post match Gordon slaps him in the face instead of shaking his hand, so EC3 extends his hand again. Another slap gets the same result, so Gordon spits in his face and walks off.
Six Man Tag Team Titles: Dalton Castle/Eli Isom/Dak Draper vs. Shane Taylor Promotions
Shane Taylor Promotions (Taylor/Soldiers of Savagery (Moses/Khan), with O’Shay Edwards) are defending. Castle’s jumpsuit is back and so are the Dancing Boys, because they better be. Draper takes Khan to the mat to start as we hear about Khan being a prince in Cameroon. Khan goes with the power and runs him over, allowing the double tag off to Isom and Moses. A dropkick staggers Moses but Isom tries a waistlock for no apparent reasons.
Castle comes in instead and points out that the fans are chanting for him (not exactly). The threat of wrestling earns Castle a hard push back into the corner but he low bridges Moses outside. The tease of a dive lets Castle drop to to the floor and hop onto the barricade for some more dancing. Back in and Castle gets all fired up on Shane, who drops him with a single chop. Isom comes in again and is planted with a spinebuster, allowing Khan to come back in for a suplex.
It’s back to Draper, who snapmares Khan down to drop a knee to the face, allowing Castle to snap off a t-bone suplex. The fast tags continue with Isom coming back in for a belly to belly, but Castle wants to come in instead. The delay lets Moses come in and wreck the challengers as everything breaks down. Back in and Draper picks up the pace, along with Moses for a powerslam, only to be told that Shane made a blind tag.
For some reason Draper thinks he can Dr. Bomb Taylor, who easily reverses into the Marcus Garvey Driver instead. Castle breaks that up so Isom comes back in for a rather impressive Air Raid Crash….as Castle is being tended to by the Boys on the floor. Isom goes up instead of covering but has to shove Castle off for trying to go up at the same time. That’s enough for Khan to hit a super Jackhammer (geez) and it’s time for the parade of finishers. Taylor has had enough of this and hits Draper with Welcome To The Land to retain at 10:56.
Rating: C. This was a very story heavy match as Castle continues to be a bit of a self obsessed pest, but how can you not love the jumpsuit? Isom continues to look like a star in the making and Ring of Honor is about the only place he could make that work at the moment. I’m still not sure why these titles exist, but the match was ok enough.
We get an ad for Honor Pals, Ring of Honor’s version of Wrestling Buddies, because those are the greatest wrestling toys ever.
Silas Young vs. Josh Woods
Last Man Standing and this former mentor vs. former mentee. They even make things a bit more interesting by pointing out that Young is 3-0 in Last Man Standing matches, making it his signature match. Woods jumps him from behind in the aisle though, because woods is smart like that. Young gets sent hard into the barricade but he is right back up with a springboard clothesline to put Woods on the apron. A hard forearm to the back cuts Young down again and Woods knocks him outside again.
Woods grabs a chair but Young shoves the referee into him (smart) to take it away. A chaos suplex off the barricade drops Woods again and it’s time to set up a table. We’ll add a ladder next to the apron, with Ian explaining that it’s there to fix the lighting. Woods sends him into the ladder and throws in a table of his own. Said table is set up in the corner, followed by a bunch of running strikes to Young in the corner. Young picks him up for a drive through the table though and it’s time to slug it out from their knees.
Woods pulls him into a leglock with Young crawling underneath the ropes and tapping to no avail. Yet another table is set up next to the other one on the floor but Young gets in a low blow for a breather. For some reason Young tries a running hurricanrana and is quickly powerbombed onto the ladder for his efforts. Woods throws in a bunch of chairs but gets caught in a backbreaker back inside. A chair shot to the back has Woods in trouble and Young nails Misery for a nine count. They slug it out on the apron above the two tables….and Woods German suplexes Young through both of them for the win at 13:10.
Rating: B-. That’s how it should have gone as these guys beat each other up for a good while until Woods survived. They built up the idea that Young was the best guy at this kind of match and then had someone beat him. Woods has been ready to break through to the next level for a long time now, though I’m not sure if this is going to be the big step forward.
During Hour One, Vincent challenged Matt Taven to a cage match in August and then beat him down.
From the trainer’s room, Taven accepts.
Brody King vs. Jay Lethal
Tracy Williams is here with Lethal. King powers him down with no effort to start and tells Lethal to bring it. A strike off doesn’t work for Lethal either so it’s a very early Lethal Injection for one. King bails to the floor so Lethal hits four straight suicide dives. That isn’t enough to put King down so Lethal hits a baseball slide, which doesn’t put him down either. Instead, King knocks him down again and throws him over the top by the throat. Back in and Lethal is chopped down in the corner as he can’t get anything to work so far.
King hammers away in the corner but Lethal slips out of a superplex and hits a powerbomb. That doesn’t last long either as King is back with a snap piledriver. King pounds him into a chair and hits a running crossbody to knock them both down. A Death Valley Driver onto the apron gets two on Lethal and he can’t even stand up for the Ganso Bomb. That means a hard running lariat to knock Lethal even sillier, followed by a pair of Ganso Bombs for the pin at 10:43.
Rating: C+. The more I see from this version of King, the more I’m expecting him to be the Final Battle World Title challenger. He was treated like a monster here and basically squashed Lethal, whose biggest stuff didn’t do much damage. That’s the right way to go with this and the Ganso Bomb looks like the biggest weapon going at the moment. Nice job.
We recap Mike Bennett vs. Jonathan Gresham for the Pure Rules Title. Bennett won a Pure Rules gauntlet match to earn a title shot but Gresham flat out said he didn’t respect him. Bennett has heard that over and over again but Gresham says this is all about his legacy. Now it’s time for Bennett to prove him wrong.
Pure Rules Title: Mike Bennett vs. Jonathan Gresham
Gresham is defending and this is under Pure Rules, with an extended pay per view time limit. Cary Silkin of all people joins commentary as the fans seem split to start. An early lockup goes nowhere as they seem to be taking their time here. Gresham grabs a waistlock to start the grappling but gets taken to the mat without much effort. They pop back up with Bennett shouldering him down to make things seem a bit more serious.
The threat of a London Dungeon (seated armbar) sends Gresham going straight to the rope for the first break. Gresham pulls him down and starts cranking on the arm for some unnatural angles. An armdrag sets up a hammerlock and Gresham cranks on the other arm at the same time. Now it’s time to twist the ankle at the same time as Gresham’s confidence is going up. Back up and Gresham’s running shoulder hurts Bennett’s arm again.
The Kimura goes on so Bennett uses his first rope break in a smart move. Gresham is sent outside so Bennett tries a dive, only to get pulled back into the Kimura. Bennett taps to no avail before going back inside for another rope break for a bit of a weird sequence. Back up and Bennett goes for the arm as well, meaning Gresham needs his second break. Bennett uses the good arm to hit a Death Valley Driver for two and the seated armbar goes on again.
With that broken up, Bennett clotheslines him down but the arm gives out on a piledriver attempt. Another clothesline gets two on Gresham but the arm is banged up. Gresham is smart enough to use his feet to pop the arm and Bennett is in a lot of trouble. The Cobra Twist sends Bennett to the ropes for the third and final time so a pair of springboard standing moonsaults have Bennett knocked to the floor. Gresham adds a suicide dive but Bennett is right back up with a powerbomb for two.
That’s fine with Gresham, who pulls him into the Crossface. Somehow Bennett crawls out and rolls Gresham into the corner. The piledriver connects for three…but Gresham gets his foot on the ropes for his final break. Gresham switches it up and pops the knee this tine but Bennett stacks him up on a rollup attempt for two of his own. With the arm not working, Gresham ties him in a nasty looking kneebar for the tap to retain at 19:21.
Rating: B. There is something so fun about watching Gresham pick apart a limb like that as he turns it into a science. Bennett was trying hard here but got taken down piece by piece, with Gresham taking him apart to win in the end. This was a heck of a performance and it is great to see him do it every time. The problem is I’m not sure who is going to be able to beat him, as he is virtually unstoppable in this kind of a match. In other words, whoever takes the title from him is going to look awesome and get a heck of a rub.
Jay Lethal is too banged up to defend the Tag Team Titles so Tracy Williams asks Jonathan Gresham to take his place. Gresham reluctantly agrees.
TV Title: Tony Deppen vs. Dragon Lee
Deppen is defending, Lee has La Bestia de la Ring in his corner and Kenny King is on commentary. They go straight to the slugout to start with neither being able to get very far with the forearms. They try chops instead with Lee knocking him into the corner, where Deppen reverses for more chops of his own. Lee gets knocked outside so Deppen follows him, only to get kicked in the chest.
Deppen pounds him down again, setting up a suicide Canadian Destroyer, which is only good for two because the Destroyer is more played out than the DDT. Back in and Lee is fine enough to hit a shotgun dropkick in the corner. With Deppen in trouble, Lee puts him on top for an Alberto double stomp to the apron (dang that always looks rough) but Deppen is right back in with a small package for two.
It’s bad enough that King heads to the ring for a distraction so it’s an exchange of no sold German suplexes. Lee hits a poisonrana but Deppen pops back up for the double clothesline to put them both down. Back up and Lee kicks the knee out the Dragon Driver gets two more as frustration is setting in. More kicks just fire Deppen up and he chops away, only to get suplexed into a powerbomb. The Incinerator gives Lee the title back at 10:10.
Rating: C+. This was a spotfest and that might get a little annoying in a hurry. What are you supposed to do when a match features a suicide Canadian Destroyer for two? They weren’t even bother to sell a lot of the time here and while I get the idea, it was hardly the best thing to see. Entertaining perhaps, but it took me out of things more than once.
King comes in to celebrate so here are Homicide and Chris Dickinson to chase them off. They’re challenging for the Tag Team Titles next so here are the champs to start the match less than two minutes after the previous one ended.
Tag Team Titles: Foundation vs. Violence Unlimited
Rhett Titus and Jonathan Gresham are defending for the Foundation in a Fight Without Honor (basically a street fight). The brawl is on in a hurry with Gresham beating Dickinson up on the floor. That leaves Titus to send Homicide into a chair in the ring as the violence begins. Dickinson catches Titus on top though and shoves him into an open chair (freaking ow man) but Gresham is back in with an abdominal stretch on Homicide.
With that broken up, Gresham kicks the chairs out….as Titus gives Homicide a Falcon Arrow through the timekeeper’s table. Back in and Dickinson chokes Gresham with I believe a shirt but can’t quite get an armbar. The Death Valley Driver gets two on Gresham and Homicide is back with a super cutter on Titus. That’s not even good for a cover as Titus is up with a powerslam with Dickinson having to make a save. Titus goes Rob Van Dam with a dropkick into a chair (not quite a Van Daminator but close enough), leaving Gresham to Octopus Homicide.
Dickinson breaks it up again and it’s a camel clutch into a Homicide basement dropkick. An STF has Gresham in more trouble and Homicide throws in a table, which Gresham shoves out while still in the hold. Gresham won’t tap so Homicide busts out a fork but Titus breaks it up with a gutwrench suplex. Titus sets up the table but Dickinson breaks up a superplex attempt, meaning it’s a super Razor’s Edge to send Titus crashing through the table. Homicide busts out the always terrifying Cop Killer on Gresham for the pin and the titles at 11:01.
Rating: C. I couldn’t get into this as it was like they had two different matches going on at once. Gresham was trying to do his technical stuff and the other three were having a hardcore brawl (makes sense for Homicide and Dickinson). It also felt like they were flying through everything here to get things done in a hurry, especially with the fast start. Not bad or anything but I couldn’t get into this.
Here is Maria Kanellis-Bennett to introduce former Ring of Honor broadcaster Lenny Leonard, who will be calling the Women’s Title tournament. We even have brackets!
Some of those are missing first/last names but that’s as much as we get.
Actually hold on though as Vita VonStarr is out due to breaking rules, so we have a replacement: Chelsea Green, who says this is what freedom looks like. She just spent two and a half years being deemed unworthy so she is here to prove that she is enough. The Maryland Athletic Commission has deemed her unfit to compete, but she will be ringside throughout the tournament watching everyone. Her scars remind her that she is unstoppable and in one month, she is taking this division to the forefront of wrestling. So we still don’t know who is getting the final spot.
We recap the World Title match. Bandido won Survival of the Fittest to earn the shot and he is coming for the unstoppable Rush.
Ring of Honor World Title: Rush vs. Bandido
Bandido is challenging and gets jumped at the bell, with Rush hitting the Bull’s Horns at six seconds for a one count as he pulls his foot off of Bandido’s chest. They head outside with Bandido being whipped into the barricade to take the beating into the crowd. Back to ringside and a heck of a whip sends Bandido into the barricade, setting up the whipping with the camera cord.
They get back inside with Rush cockily kicking away and stomping on Bandido’s head. There’s another kick to the face in the corner and Rush is feeding off of the crowd. Bandido falls outside and Rush cracks him in the leg with a chair. More playing to the crowd lets Bandido get up for a desperation dive, his first offense in about five minutes. Back in and a shooting star press gets two on Rush as the leg is mostly fine. Rush grabs (kind of) him low to ask where something is but charges into an attempt at the X Knee.
That’s broken up as Rush hits a superkick instead, only to get caught in a crucifix bomb for two. An overhead belly to belly sends Bandido hard into the corner and he gets dropkicked out of the air. Rush sends him outside for a big dive and let’s get a table. Bandido manages to get back inside for a superkick though and a running shove sends Rush through the table. Back in and they trade some snap German suplexes until Bandido hits a pop up touch of the head (supposed to be a cutter).
That earns him a spinning kick to the head (fair enough as it was nowhere near a cutter, which commentary pointed out) and they’re both down again. It’s Rush up first to drag Bandido to the apron by the hair but Bandido is back up with the super fall away slam. The 21 Plex connects for two and the fans think this is awesome. Bandido charges into another suplex into the corner and Rush starts tearing at the mask. A shove of the referee is enough for Bandido to grab a rollup for the pin and the title at 16:04.
Rating: B+. These guys started fast and didn’t stop, which is how a match like this is supposed to go. They had one heck of a hard hitting fight with Rush being the monster who got too cocky and let the athletic freak catch up to him in the end as he went over the line. The match absolutely didn’t feel like sixteen minutes and it was the right call as Rush had been champion for far too long already. Heck of a main event and worth a look as Bandido jumps through the glass ceiling.
Post match, La Faccion Ingobernable runs in to beat down Bandido, with Rush getting in a belt shot to end the show.
Overall Rating: B-. It’s a rather good show with the main event leading the way, but it was also a bit longer than it needed to be and a match or two could have been dropped. What matters most here though is some stuff happened, as so much of Ring of Honor TV feels like it just keeps happening with no end in sight. Good show here, but it could have used more than a few adjustments.
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