Ring Of Honor hosted their ‘Final Battle’ pay-per-view this past on Saturday, December 18th, and it very well could be the promotion’s final show ever. Despite the company saying that they’ll be back in April, the honorable future seems to still be in major doubt for a lot of fans. Before the hiatus news came out a few months back, Ring Of Honor was one of the best wrestling products in North America. As somebody who personally covered the product on a week-to-week basis, it was one of my favorite shows of the week as it featured consistent storylines, great wrestling, and a very talented, well-rounded roster. ROH’s 2021 was filled with a ton of great in-ring matches, so let’s dive into the top ten ROH matches of 2021.
Top Ten ROH Matches in 2021
10. Six-Man Mayhem Match: Bandido vs. Brian Johnson vs. Chris Dickinson vs. Demonic Flamita vs. Eli Isom vs. Rhett Titus – Ring Of Honor TV #510 June 25
Multi-man matches usually tire me out because of the predictable formula they usually follow. Two guys in, while the rest of the participants lay on the floor and wait for their spots to come. In ROH, this isn’t the case as most multi-man matches are contested under “Lucha Rules” – meaning only two guys can be in the ring at the same time. This makes much more sense and quite frankly, ROH executes it perfectly.
This was a six-way elimination match to determine the number one contender to the ROH World Title – which Bandido would go on to win. This would lead to Bandido vs. RUSH at the Best In The World pay-per-view, where Bandido captured his first ROH World Title. Specifically, this match was so good due to the final few minutes between Bandido and Eli Isom. Personally, I was sold on Isom as a top babyface after I saw this match.
9. ROH TV Championship Match: Tony Deppen (C) vs. Dragon Lee vs. Tracy Williams – Ring Of Honor TV #509 June 18
The list of TV Champions in 2021 is as follows: Dragon Lee, Tony Deppen, Tracy Williams, Dalton Castle, and Rhett Titus. When you have five wrestlers of that caliber holding a championship that has a high place on the promotion’s priority list, there are bound to be a good chunk of really good matches.
Although the finish of the match was a bit of a shrug, I still thoroughly enjoyed the match. Any time that Deppen and Lee step in the ring together in some form or capacity, magic is made.
8. Bandido & Flamita vs. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham – Ring Of Honor TV #499 April 9
Faction wars were a huge part of ROH’s storylines throughout the year – and it made for some very good television. Bandido and Flamita were in the midst of their “Mexisquad” breakup throughout this match, which only added a different dynamic to the bout that was guaranteed to be good based on the performers alone.
7. Kenny King vs. Shane Taylor – Fight Without Honor – Final Battle December 11
A fight without honor was one of the few stipulations that was appropriate for this match given the eight-month story that was unfolding between the former friends. Despite Kenny King costing Shane Taylor an ROH title match back in March, the two never so much as touched until their Final Battle match. This bout wasn’t a technical classic by any means, but rather a war between two former best friends.
6. ROH TV Championship Match – Dragon Lee (c) vs. Eli Isom – Ring Of Honor TV #519 August 27
The ROH TV Title was made to feel like such an important championship in 2021, and that was mainly due to Dragon Lee. Lee plays the role of a spoiled and overconfident heel very well, which blends in excellently with Isom’s great babyface tactics.
5. ROH World Championship Match – RUSH (c) vs. Bandido – Best In The World July 11
Bandido finally getting his due and ending the near 500-day title reign of RUSH was the ultimate way to officially position the superstar luchador as a top guy in the company. To add to the moment, it happened in front of the first live crowd that ROH hosted since the beginning of the pandemic.
Although Bandido should have won the title in a way that didn’t involve a roll-up pin, the match and moment itself were too good to place any lower on this list.
4. ROH TV Championship Match – Dragon Lee (c) vs. Tony Deppen – Best In The World July 11
As previously mentioned, when Dragon Lee and Tony Deppen step in the ring together – magic is made every single time. This match was an eleven minute sprint that never really had a point where it slowed down, which is fitting given the two similar styles that both guys bring to the table.
3. Bandido vs. Rey Horus vs. Flamita – 19th Anniversary – March 26
Similar to the previous match, this was just a full-on sprint and a marvelous showcase of athleticism that lasted only about eleven minutes. The match was even more impressive due to the fact that the three had already wrestled earlier in the night when they lost the ROH Six-Man title rematch to Shane Taylor Promotions.
Bandido is such a consistent performer, but Flamita is the one who really got to shine in this bout.
2. ROH Pure Championship Match – Jonathan Gresham (c) vs. Mike Bennett – Best In The World – July 11
I remember going into this match, I was unsure of how Mike Bennett would adapt to the Ring Of Honor “Pure” style. But after the 20-minute encounter, I was convinced that Bennett could become a full-timer in that brand of wrestling.
This was easily the best title defense that Gresham had over his near one year reign with the Pure strap, and was one of three matches that made the show one of the best ROH pay-per-views in some time.
- ROH World Title Match – RUSH (c) vs. Shane Taylor – ROH TV 2/26
- Brody King vs. Jay Lethal – Best In The World – 7/11
- ROH Pure Title Match – Jonathan Gresham vs. Dak Draper – 19th Anniversary Show – 3/26
- Allysin Kay vs. Trish Adora – ROH TV – 08/27
- ROH Six Man Tag Title Match – Shane Taylor Promotions vs. Incoherence – Death Before Dishonor – 08/21
- Steel Cage Match – Vincent vs. Matt Taven – Death Before Dishonor – 08/21
1. ROH Tag Team Championship Match – The OGK (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) (C) vs. The Briscoes – Final Battle – December 11
Going into Final Battle, this match wasn’t on my radar to even come close to making this list – but boy, I was wrong.
Matt Taven was the star of the match, and while that might be hard for some other fans to admit – I’ve watched Taven improve in all categories throughout the latter half of 2020 and all of 2021.
Everything about this match was just phenomenal. It was obvious that every guy in this match worked hard to make it a near-classic, as they wanted to (potentially) close out their own respective careers with a bang.
When I first ranked this match here, I had to make sure it wasn’t a case of “recency bias”. But after watching the bout a few different times, I can say with full confidence that it’s the best ROH match of the 2021 calendar year.
What were your top ten ROH matches of 2021? Sound off in the comments or on the LWOS boards.
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