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Ring of Honor Best in the World 2014 preview: Match by Match

Ring of Honor (ROH) has been in existence for twelve years.  If you're not familiar with the company, you are familiar with many of the men who have wrestled for them.

Current WWE Superstars like Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins and Cesaro came through there, as did CM Punk.  Austin Aries and Samoa Joe worked for them on their way to TNA, and many names like AJ Styles, Jay Lethal and Christopher Daniel have returned to ROH after their time in Florida.  Japanese legends like Naruki Doi, Shingo and Takeshi Morishima have held titles with the promotion's name on them.

But they've never had a televised pay-per-view (PPV).  Until tonight.

The company is now owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Group (SBG).  SBG's main motivation for counting ROH among their holdings is cheap programming for the syndicated stations they own in various markets across the United States.  Their weekly show, ROH TVshows up on TVs in a lot of places, but it's certainly not a nationwide presence like USA Network or Spike TV.  You can stream the show for free online by registering at

They've recently invested in more name talent to go with the young blood that ROH is famous for (Bryan was 21 when he started there; Punk 24), and have successfully pulled off a couple of internet PPVs after some rocky-to-disasterous attempts at distributing events that way over the last couple of years.

Which brings us to Sunday night in Nashville, Tennessee.  So without further adeiu, here are the bouts you'll be getting if you choose to plunk down your $24.95 US to see the show from one of these carriers tonight.


ACH vs. Watanabe vs. Caprice Coleman vs. Tadarius Thomas vs. BJ Whitmer vs. Tommaso Ciampa - 6 Man Mayhem (Winner gets a future TV Title shot)

In need of a hot match to either kick off the show or come out of intermission (a staple of big independent cards, it will be interesting to see if ROH drops it from their repertoire tonight), Nigel McGuinness and the bookers behind him put together this one.

Takaaki Watanabe is a youngster from New Japan looking to make a splash in the States.  He's come out a loser in his first two ROH bouts, but would immediately be a presence on the scene with the TV title shot that goes to the winner of this match.  The Sicilian Psychopath is a former TV champ that many (including this writer) feels should be on his way to the main event.  ACH and Tadarius Thomas, in addition to being two of the most exciting stylists in independent wrestling, are former tag team partners with some bad blood between them due to Thomas aligning himself with The Decade.

That would be Whitmer's latest faction, a crew designed to keep the veterans running the locker room.  Capoeira practioner Tadarius may have signed on with The Decade, but their mission pretty much ensures that BJ won't get out of the way for him.  Caprice has plenty of motivation to look strong and make a statement here, too.  He's had plenty of run-ins with Whitmer, Jimmy Jacobs and Roderick Strong, and his tag partner gets a higher profile one-on-one shot at Strong tonight.

Who will emerge with a date against the winner of Best in the World's TV title match?


Kevin Steen vs. Silas Young

At War of the Worlds, Steen battled with New Japan's King of Strong Style, three time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Shinsuke Nakamura.  Mr. Wrestling came up a little bit short in the dream match, and after having fallen to Adam Cole at the previous iPPV, Steen grabbed a microphone and told the assembled crowd at Hammerstein Ballroom that ROH would always be his home, but he was going to have to leave it.

Most assumed that the rumors were coming to fruition, and that Kevin was following in Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins footsteps to WWE (rumors that are reportedly true - he should be reporting to Developmental in August).  But Silas Young interrupted.  A man who styles himself the last real man in professional wrestling, Young expressed his disappointment that Steen would both show his emotions and quit ROH.

Steen was ready to walk, but then Young brought up his young son.  And as anyone who follows the Zoo Enthusiast on social media knows, you don't &#(% with his family.  In an attempt to KILL STEEN KILL, Mr Wrestling took out a security barricade, but Silas escaped.

Now, he'll get his hands on him at BitW.  Most assume this will be Steen honoring wrestling tradition by putting over an up-and-comer on his way out the door.  But nothing's official, especially with WWE's recent budget woes looming, and Young's not that young (and was in fact signed to WWE Developmental at one point in the late aughts as before it moved from Ohio Valley Wrestling to Florida).


Matt Taven vs. Jay Lethal - ROH TV Championship Match

It wasn't that long ago that Matt Taven was holding the TV title as a heel aligned with Truth Martini.  The duo partied with Martini's "HOOPLA hotties" and connived their way to keeping the belt on Taven for longer than anyone else has ever held that belt.

It also wasn't that long ago that Jay Lethal was a returning hero, back in ROH after being misused by TNA.  He won the TV Championship shortly after re-signing with the company.  But being an honorable babyface didn't keep that strap around his waist, or help him capture the main prize in the company in a lengthy feud with Steen.

At ROH's WrestleMania weekend show in New Orleans, Supercard of Honor VIII, the two men switched places.  Taven saw the dark side of his manager when he was attacked with the Book of Truth when telling Martini that he felt he'd outgrown him.  Later on the show, Lethal became the first two-time TV Champ with the assistance of Truth...turning heel and turning the page on HOOPLA and rebuilding The House of Truth.

In an effort to ensure that the interloper Martini doesn't get involved in the issues between his old and new clients, he'll be at ringside - connected to the ring post by handcuffs.  Will that allow Taven become the second two-time Television Champ?


Roderick Strong vs. Cedric Alexander - Submission Match

Roddy Strong has been in ROH a long-time, and he's tired of the company always fawning over the next big thing.  With a pair of fellow veterans, Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer, he formed The Decade to teach the new guard some respect and humility.

An example of that new guard is Cedric Alexander.  Coming as the hot act out of a successful tag team in C & C Wrestle Factory, Alexander was headed to War of the Worlds and a showdown with Japanese superstar Kazuchika Okada, The Rainmaker.  It was to be his coming out party, a chance to make a splash in front the international pro wrestling community.

But a Global Wars, after losing to Alexander, Strong and his men destroyed Cedric.  Finishing him off with a backbreaker onto a pile of chairs, they made sure that Alexander would miss his date with Okada.

Strong has never been a personal favorite, but he's a solid worker, and he and Alexander put on a heck of a match in Toronto.  With some additional heat to the story, this could be a potential highlight of the card.


The Briscoes vs. Matt Hardy & Michael Bennett - Tag Team Grudge Match

Jay Briscoe had finally climbed to the top of the company he'd been with from day one.  But his reign as ROH World champ ended with a Matt Hardy elbow drop onto a steel chair wrapped around his shoulder.  His busted wing meant he couldn't defend the title, and matchmaker Nigel McGuiness had no choice but to strip him of the belt.

Adam Cole eventually won the title at the conclusion of a tournament that featured many of the most talented and popular names in the company.  When Jay came out to honorably turn over his belt, Cole blasted him in the back with it.  This heel turn was eventually revealed to be something the Florida Keys native was coached in by...Matt Hardy.

That was not something the tag team legend was going to take without a fight.  Briscoe was so fixated on championship gold that he made his own belt.  And at Supercard of Honor VIII, the two titleholders faced off to decide who should rightfully be called king.  The redneck was again denied an honest chance and a win due to interference by...Matt Hardy.

Mark Briscoe had been feuding with Michael Bennett.  Since his debut, Bennett's gimmick has been that of a "sports entertainer" - someone only temporarily in the indies on his way to a paycheck from Stamford, Connecticut.  So it made sense when his manager and real-life girlfriend, WWE alumna Maria Kanellis, aligned him with Hardy and Cole.

Kanellis dubbed the new faction The Holy Trinity, and the trio's first order of business was to put Dem Boys on the shelf.  Adding insult to injury, Cole awarded Jay's custom belt to Hardy, who re-christened it "the ICONIC championship".

Now, the Briscoes are all healed up and looking for revenge.


Christopher Daniels & Kazarian vs. reDRagon (Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish) (c) - ROH World Tag Team Championship

This one is pretty much self-explanatory.  The Fallen Angel was half of the first ROH tag champs all the way back in 2002.  He and his current partner, Pro Wrestling Guerilla legend Frankie Kazarian, recently became free agents when TNA opted to not tender them new contracts.  They didn't get to take their team name with them, but they're bringing everything else that made them fan favorites.

Speaking of fan favorites, the new Tag champs are technically heels, but with mixed martial arts influenced ring work and comedic characters not that dissimilar Daniels & Kaz, they are tremendously entertaining ones.  They just one the tag belts from The Young Bucks at War of the Worlds, and defended it successfully against The Briscoes last weekend.

Now, they'll try to hold onto the belts they just recently won for the third time, while Daniels & Kaz try to pad their already impressive resumes with a title win in their debut as a team in ROH.


Adam Cole (c) vs. Michael Elgin - ROH World Championship

Elgin has been this close to ROH's top prize for quite some time, and Cole has been the man keeping him away from it on several occasions.

A wounded Elgin made it to the finals of the championship tournament last year, but couldn't get a win against Cole despite it being his second match of the night.  Months later at Final Battle, Unbreakable joined Jay Briscoe in a threeway for the title, but The Panama City Playboy again escaped with his belt due to an assist by Matt Hardy.

Those loses - and the World championship - should be enough to fuel the Canadian bruiser.  But Cole and his Holy Trinity couldn't leave well enough alone.  Playing mind games designed to take Elgin off his game, the champ attacked the #1 contender after his match with Michael Bennett.  When they tied Unbreakable to the ropes and cut off his signature mullet, Elgin's wife, MsChif, tried to intervene.  So, Cole put the green haired banshee in a figure four.

While the haircut may have been a victory for good fashion, it's questionable whether any of it was a smart move for Adam Cole.  The champ has been one-step ahead of his enemies through out his nearly 300 day run with the belt.  But there a slew of angry men gunning for he and his allies.

With Bennett or Hardy be in any condition to help him after their war with The Briscoes?  Will ROH want to make a splash on their traditional PPV debut and end the night with a new champ and babyface standing tall?

It will only take you $25 US to find out!


In all honesty, this card doesn't feel quite as stacked as the NJPW shows - especially War of the Worlds in New York City.  There are certain unannounced things that I would expect, like an appearance by R.D. Evans to continue his hilarious "new streak" parody of Goldberg, or a surprise appearance (even via satellite) by AJ Styles.

I also hope they have a surprise or two up their sleeves.  Either the birth of a big angle or a debuting name would guarantee that Best in the World is on wrestling fans minds and in their discussion come Monday morning.

There's a lot on the line tonight, including ROH's reputation, its standing in the unofficial ranking of North American wrestling promotion, the futures of a lot of the workers and the hopes of fans looking for a WWE alternative.

Cageside Seats will have you covered with the live blog of the show, our immediate reactions and all the fallout.  Whether you watching or not, stick with us and we'll provide you with the winners and losers - and let you know if Ring of Honor's move to televised pay-per-view was a smart play or bad decision.

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