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Best In The World HOT TAKE

July 6, 2021

To be the Best in the World.

It's a daunting task, one that comes with dreams of having your legacy celebrated forever.

It's also a fleeting goal, one that comes with the pressure of knowing that someone is always going to be gunning for you, because they want to be exactly where you are, that mountaintop that is reserved for only the greatest of all time.

It's that endless cycle that empowers athletes to push themselves to the brink of excellence while also forcing them to never let their guard down for fear of losing all they have achieved.

For the life of a professional wrestler, it's that simple and that stressful, all at once - and that is the foundation of Ring of Honor's return to FITE.TV on Sunday July 11th. It will be a special night, one that sees the valiant warriors of ROH clash before a live crowd in Baltimore for the first time in over a year - and that one that will truly decide who is, indeed, the best in the world.

This Sunday's Ring of Honor's Best in the World 2021 will feature the following:

ROH World Heavyweight Champion Rush vs. Bandido - For Bandido, this match is about more than just ascending to the throne as ROH World Champion. It's about continuing to prove he is the best in the world. Several weeks ago, Bandido persevered and outlasted all other challengers to become the 2021 Survival of the Fittest winner and in doing so, secured his challenge of the seemingly unbeatable Rush. The Kingpin of La Faccion de Ingobernables has run roughshod over all challengers as his Faccion members have run interference for El Toro. Bandido has shown he can withstand incredible punishment and rebound to victory, but can even he overcome the odds a challenge against Rush, who has beaten him in the past, brings to the table? Perhaps Survival of the Fittest holds a clue to that answer as Bandido was able to overcome injury and even attacks to have his hand raised in victory. Which of these lucha stars will reign supreme? FITE fans will stand witness live to see whether the balance of power in Ring of Honor is ripped from Rush's hands.

ROH World Television Champion Tony Deppen vs. Dragon Lee - A world of emotion surrounds the ROH World Television Championship match at Best in the World. For Dragon Lee, it's a chance to redeem himself and take back the title that he never truly lost, since ROH management would not clear him to compete due to the injury. In his mind, he is still the champion and Tony Deppen is a false prophet. Deppen, however, would obviously disagree, having taken Ring of Honor by storm after years of earning his stripes in GCW and other promotions across the country. In his mind, he earned his way to his first taste of ROH Championship gold and now, he's going to fight to maintain his level of prestige. Given La Faccion threatened his family in order to get the title shot, emotions will obviously run high and there should be an expectation of interference. Deppen has the backing of Violence Unlimited, which should balance out the distracting influences, leaving the tale of who is the better man between Lee and Deppen to be written inside the squared circle by two of the best in-ring combatants on the planet.

ROH Pure Champion Jonathan Gresham vs. Mike Bennett - Since Ring of Honor resumed operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the resurrection of the Pure Division has seen some of the best combat sports competitors entering the ring to prove they are truly the best in the world. Thus, it's appropo to see Mike Bennett, who has redeemed himself as a competitor since his ROH return, endure a Pure Rules Gauntlet to earn his shot at The Octopus, Jonathan Gresham. Over the last year, Gresham has risen to the pinnacle of the Pure Rules Division, proving time and time again that there is no competitor who's riddle he can solve like a Rubik's Cube master inside the ring. If Mike Bennett can decipher the mystery of how to outlast and out-wrestle Gresham within the dreamscape of a division that was seemingly built to enhance everything Gresham does best, he'll truly have evolved to the next level as a fighter. If not, Gresham will have lived to add yet another notch to his championship accolades.

ROH World Six Man Tag Team Champions Shane Taylor & The Soldiers of Savagery vs. Dalton Castle & Dak Draper & Eli Isom - Opportunity makes for strange bedfellows and in this case, that may be one of the biggest understatements in Ring of Honor history. Little would anyone have thought that when Dalton Castle challenged Shane Taylor to place the ROH World Six Man Tag Team Championships on the line, Castle would pick two partners who don't like each other, or even Castle himself. This strange trio sets the stage for a most unique story that will unfold at Best in the World - does the united front of Shane Taylor Promotions run through three divided challengers or will the unique individuality of Castle, Eli Isom and Dak Draper prove to be too much for Taylor and the Soldiers of Savagery?

Jay Lethal vs. Brody King - There are very few firsts left in professional wrestling, so when one comes along, it's reason to sit up and take notice. This past March, Violence Unlimited burst upon the scene and laid waste to everyone at the end of ROH's 19th Anniversary event, putting Brody King and Jay Lethal on the path to facing off in their first ever singles encounter. For Lethal, who has held every title imaginable in ROH, it's a moment where he seeks to teach the brash King a lesson in respect while also redeeming The Foundation. For King, who has cracked heads across PWG, New Japan, ROH and beyond, this is a chance to rise back towards the top contender's position for the World Championship. What better way to return to the championship scene than by destroying one of the most important grand champions in Ring of Honor history?

EC3 vs. Flip Gordon - EC3, the former Impact Wrestling World Champion, has come to ROH over the last year to spread his narrative and take back professional wrestling in order to reshape it in his own image. In doing so, he battled with and earned the respect of the forefathers of ROH. The Briscoes. At the time, EC3 had taken on Flip Gordon as his partner, but over the course of their wars with Delaware's favorite sons, Gordon's actions to be underhanded earned the wrath of his partner. At Best in the World, EC3 will once again stand at the intersection of what professional wrestling is and what it can be, trying to take down one of ROH's most dangerous mercenaries in order to teach a lesson in respect, humility and defeat. If Gordon can score the victory, he'll move onward to new goals, leaving the world to ponder what happens then, to EC3?

Last Man Standing: Silas Young vs. Josh Woods - A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, Josh Woods and Silas Young were one of the most feared tandems in Ring of Honor, at least, until ego got in the way. When Woods began building a reputation as a singles star during Young's hiatus from ROH, the green eyes of jealousy got the better of the veteran, leading to him attacking his former protege. From there, the war has been on with only one way to truly end the way, for there to be one Last Man Standing. At Best in the World, these grizzled, stellar fighters aren't looking for gold or even the winner's share of the purse, but to be able to know that when they wipe the blood and sweat from their brow at the end of the evening, that they were the better man and will always be, once and for all.

PCO and Danhausen vs.The Bouncers - The former ROH World Champion PCO and the evil madman known as Danhaunsen may be one of the strangest tag teams in Ring of Honor history, but they carry a most unique pedigree, equal parts insanity and destruction. The Bouncers, meanwhile, have upped their aggression and frustration in recent months, no longer content with just carrying the banner for ROH's fans. This is a story of four athletes meeting at a most unique intersection of their respective careers on a night where a victory will change the trajectory of their professional lives, while a defeat could submerge them to a depth they'll truly have to battle out of.

Demonic Flamita vs. Rey Horus - These former partners will take to the stratosphere and beyond in order to try and wipe the other from the face of Ring of Honor at Best in the World. Flamita's demonic side emerged after abandoning Horus and Bandido several months ago, sparking a rivalry that has only become more incendiary the longer it has endured. At Best in the World, Horus draws a line in the sand, seeking to ward off Flamita and his bitter aggression once and for all. Will Flamita continue to commit his wrongdoings and show that there is truly no justice in the world of ROH? Or, wil Horus fend off the Flamita and show him the error of his Demonic ways?

The eyes of the combat sports world will descend upon Ring of Honor as Best in the World emanates from Charm City. As the world at large emerges and steps towards normalcy, ROH returns to providing a home for the best combat sports fighters to face off and truly prove their mettle, to showcase themselves as indeed, The Best in the World.

Mike Johnson is the lead reporter for PWInsider.com and has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He can be found on Twitter @MikePWInsider and MikeJohnsonWrites.com.