Sunday afternoon may be the most important show in the nine-year history of Ring of Honor wrestling.
It also marks the return of ROH to the Hammerstein Ballroom of the Manhattan Center in New York City, a venue that has an incredibly rich pro wrestling history.
When this show was first announced, ROH executive producer Jim Cornette raised the expectations of many ROH fans by claiming that this would be the biggest show in ROH history.
He teased that outside talent (KENTA, anyone?) would be brought in for the event, saying that ROH would prove that they produce the best wrestling in the world.
Alas, the hopes of many fans who expected talent from Japan or elsewhere to come challenge the top ROH stars was dashed when the full card for Best in the World was revealed.
Even though ROH is not bringing in any major international talent for the iPPV, they have put together a solid card that includes every ROH title on the line, as well as the much anticipated return of former TNA X Division Champion Jay Lethal to an ROH ring.
The main event of the evening is the clash of the American Wolves, former ROH World Tag Team Champions and longtime friends. Eddie Edwards will defend his ROH World Heavyweight Championship against the No. 1 contender, Davey Richards.
It is a match that fans have been expecting since Edwards surprisingly became the ROH World Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Roderick Strong at Manhattan Mayhem IV.
Prior to that match, most fans expected that Richards, who has been on fire in ROH throughout 2011, would be the one to put an end to Strong’s reign atop the promotion.
At first, Richards congratulated Edwards on his enormous victory and appeared genuinely happy for his friend and tag team partner.
Over the past four months, that happiness has slowly turned into a unique tension between the two, who both want nothing more than to be able to call themselves the best in the world.
A few months ago, I wrote this article analyzing the potential effects that this clash could have on the American Wolves.
Just this week, ROH released this four-plus minute video package that wonderfully illustrates the path that Richards and Edwards have been on since Richards’ last unsuccessful attempt at becoming the top man in ROH at Final Battle 2010.
The Edwards vs. Richards match alone will be worth the $15 price tag of Best in the World but the rest of the card should provide plenty of exciting in-ring action. Here is a look at the official announced card for the iPPV:
- ROH World Heavyweight Championship - Eddie Edwards vs. Davey Richards
- ROH World Tag Team Championship Four-Way Elimination Match - Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas vs. The Kings of Wrestling vs. The Briscoes vs. The All Night Express
- ROH World Television Championship - “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels vs. El Generico
- Steve Corino (with Jimmy Jacobs) vs. Michael Elgin (with Truth Martini)
- “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett vs. Jay Lethal
- No Holds Barred Street Fight - Homicide vs. Rhino (with the Embassy)
- Colt Cabana vs. Tommaso Ciampa (with the Embassy)
There is also a special dark match that will not be shown on the iPPV and will be a DVD exclusive, as TNA’s Generation Me return to ROH for a tag team showdown with Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly.
Generation Me, better known throughout the independent wrestling scene as the Young Bucks, have been one of the top tag teams in pro wrestling for the past few years. Cole and O’Reilly are the young guns of the ROH tag division and this match would be their opportunity to emerge from the pack.
Rhino will be making his ROH debut in a street fight against Homicide. Rhino has been brought in by Prince Nana and the Embassy to take out the Notorious 187, who has been a thorn in the side of Nana and company for the past several months.
Jay Lethal steps back between the ROH ropes for the first time since 2006 when he takes on Mike Bennett, a man who has garnered X-Pac levels of heat during his time with ROH.
Whether the fans like him or not, Bennett is out to prove that he deserves to be in the promotion and a victory over a major name from the ROH history books could go a long way towards that.
Rumors of Kevin Steen’s return to ROH have been rampant ever since Steve Corino brought him up during a recent promo on YouTube.
Corino, who at one time was Steen’s mentor and led him down a path of destruction that gave us the epic feud between Steen and El Generico last year, is looking to prove that he is a changed man.
Corino has brought Jimmy Jacobs, known mostly for leading the Age of the Fall (perhaps the most notorious stable in ROH history), into the fold. Corino and Jacobs are determined to shed their evil ways and they have reached out to Steen for help in their feud against the House of Truth.
ROH officials have released a statement saying that Steen is barred from showing up at any ROH event due to the stipulation of the mask vs. career “fight without honor” between Steen and Generico at Final Battle 2010.
It has been over six months since Steen lost and was forced out of ROH, will he defy the rules and show up at Best in the World to aid his former mentor?
El Generico looks to win his first singles championship in ROH when he challenged Christopher Daniels for the World Television Championship. Whoever walks away with the belt will more than likely be the first TV Champion of the Sinclair era of ROH, which adds a bit of extra importance to this one.
Daniels blindsided Generico and aligned himself with the House of Truth at the second Honor Takes Center Stage iPPV during Wrestlemania weekend. Generico will undoubtedly be looking for retribution when these two square off in the Hammerstein Ballroom on Sunday.
Four teams will do battle in an elimination match for the ROH World Tag Team Championship. Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas, collectively known as Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, will put their titles on the line against three teams hungry for tag team gold.
The Kings of Wrestling, Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli, fell one day short of a full one year reign atop the ROH tag team division when they were defeated by Haas and Benjamin at Honor Takes Center Stage. They want their titles back desperately, though rumors of Hero and Castagnoli working out for the WWE have recently surfaced and caused much speculation.
The Briscoes are six-time ROH World Tag Team Champions and want nothing more than to be at the forefront of the tag team scene as the Sinclair era of ROH kicks off.
They recently released this outstanding, and not safe for work, promo on YouTube, in which Jay Briscoe rants about how important winning the belts for a seventh time would be to them.
The All Night Express have been involved in a long and bloody feud with the Briscoes for much of 2011. They have also transformed into popular fan favorites and proven that they have what it takes to hang at the top of the ROH tag team division.
They go into this elimination match as the dark horse, but seeing the belts around the waists of Kenny King and Rhett Titus after Best in the World would come as no surprise.
And then there is the main event, Richards vs. Edwards. The American Wolves collide for the ROH World Heavyweight Championship.
Those who saw their match in the finals of the World Television Title tournament know what these two are capable of when put against each other. With the stakes raised even higher this time around, which wolf will come out of Sunday as the leader of the pack?
Richards has been marked as a future ROH World Heavyweight Champion for the past few years and he has stated that he will not challenge for the title again if he does not win it on his next attempt.
Of course, Edwards, his friend and partner, was not the man with the championship when that statement was made.
Many fans still see Edwards as a transitional champion, someone who is simply holding the belt until Richards finally gets it. This match is Edwards’ chance to prove his doubters wrong and more importantly, prove to Richards that he is indeed the best in the world.
2011 has been a landmark year for ROH and Best in the World marks the end of an era for the upstart promotion. A new era, with a new TV deal and new ownership, is kicking off and it has never been a more exciting, or nerve-wracking time, to be an ROH fan.
While the card for the Best in the World iPPV may not live up to some of the initial hype surrounding it, there is no arguing that ROH has put together a solid card which should very easily be well worth the cost.
For more information on Sunday’s iPPV or ROH, check out their web site, which is linked above. Keep your eyes open for more news and views from the rest of the independent wrestling world here on Bleacher Report.