Last Sunday’s Best in the World internet pay-per-view saw Davey Richards capture the ROH world championship in a thrilling main event. I predicted that this would be the match of the night and a match of the year contender and I was right on both counts. Where my predictions went a little awry was in the outcome.
As Eddie Edwards had only captured the ROH world championship three months earlier (March 19th to be precise) I’d expected Best in the World to end in a one hour time limit draw. Such a “real sports” approach would not be out of keeping with the booking style of Ring of Honor and would have allowed the rivalry between the two men to continue with neither man looking weak.
Going into the event it appeared to me that Eddie Edwards was being set up as the company’s leading man for when their new TV deal begins in September. He’d become the first ever triple crown champion in company history and joined the select group of men to win the ROH championship on their first try, both impressive accolades in a company where such things mean something.
For whatever reason Eddie Edwards is no longer “the man” or “the centrepiece” as Ring of Honor heads into what is likely to be one of its biggest expansion periods in history. That honour belongs to his teammate Davey Richards. It’s a shame Eddie only got three months and three title defences to show what he could do as champion because his title reign could have been something really special had it lasted a few months longer.
What does the future hold for our new champion? Hopefully a lengthy run on top. This is something I’ve wanted for a while now. I originally thought Roderick Strong’s years of service would ensure him a lengthy run and predicted he would hold the title until Final Battle2011 where he would lose to Richards. That would have been a fifteen month reign, but the surprise victory by Edwards meant it didn’t happen. That switch made me think there were big plans to build Edwards up as a big new name for Ring of Honor, which was another part of the reason I expected a reign that lasted until Final Battle at the earliest. Again, it wasn’t to be.
Davey Richards’ title reign is probably more likely to last a long period of time because fans have wanted to see it for so long. It was last year’s Death Before Dishonor VIII show (held on on June 19th) that convinced the ROH faithful that Richards was a champion in waiting, but he’d been viewed as a future world champion for some time before that. ROH is unlikely to give Richards a short title reign having spent so much time readying him for the top. In fact, Richards strikes me as one of the likeliest candidates to have a longer reign than Bryan Danielson or Nigel McGuinness. It’s possible that he’ll even break Samoa Joe’s record 21-months at the top.
This Friday will see Richards and Edwards team together as the American Wolves to tackle House of Truth members Michael Elgin and Roderick Strong. With Strong and Edwards being two of the top contenders to Richards’ title I expect that match will see some groundwork done for upcoming defences. Perhaps the Wolves will suffer another miscommunication, allowing Strong to capitalise and pin the champion. Perhaps Richards and Edwards will attempt to one-up each other throughout the match, leading to heated words about putting individual glory over the success of the team. Perhaps Eddie will tag himself in at the last minute to score a decisive victory over Strong and establish himself as higher up in the pecking order of challengers.
Whatever happens I imagine both Strong and Edwards will receive championship opportunities in the next couple of months. After that there are names like Christopher Daniels, Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Colt Cabana (if he’s still around), Kenny King, and Homicide to challenge Richards for his belt. Looking a little further ahead Kyle O’Reilly, Rhett Titus and Tommaso Ciampa should all be ready for title shots by the end of 2011 or early 2012.
For now, the eyes of ROH fans are on Davey Richards. As the man who many have considered the uncrowned ROH champion for almost exactly one year he has a lot to prove. Can he stand up to the constant scrutiny he’ll find himself under as champion? Will he manage to remain popular, unlike so many other men who have won the title only for the fans to turn on them? Only time will tell, but I’m confident Richards will provide us with a memorable and enjoyable reign.