ROH Review: Showdown Through Best in the World (Part 1)
With coaching and teaching responsibilities finished and another set of young minds sent on their way, I once again have the time to share some thoughts and analyses about Ring of Honor.
While I haven’t had the time to exhaustively review each episode of Ring of Honor Wrestling from the last several months, I have made the time to watch every week.
Without further ado, here are some thoughts concerning the last few (mostly) excellent months of Ring of Honor.
(Writer’s Note: I was in Britain for the last two weeks. Most of this was written before I left. These thoughts are on Ring of Honor Wrestling through Best in the World. Nothing after Best in the World is included here. Heck, I don’t even know what has happened since as of yet.)
Thumbs Up: Emerging Talent
TJ Perkins has come a long way in the last eight months, going from effective jobber to “Guy I Look Forward to Watching.”
Mike Mondo and Matt Taven’s singles match was absolutely incredible: The mind games, the back and forth action, the twists and turns. It was a picture-perfect match wrestled by two guys at the bottom of ROH’s depth chart.
Thumbs Down: Roderick Strong
Roderick Strong seems to be part of the Big Three (Richards, Edwards and Strong) who have dominated the ROH Championship scene for well over a year. I just haven’t seen much of anything to indicate that he deserves it.
He’s the ROH version of the Miz. He’ll put on a decent match without really adding to or detracting from it. Also, I can’t remember the last time I loved a match that featured either one of them.
Hopefully, he is just a placeholder until Elgin splits with the House of Truth and captures the Television Championship.
Thumbs Up: Michael Elgin
Michael Elgin needs to get away from the House of Truth. It’s only holding him back right now. They’ve been teasing the fall of the House of Truth for a couple months now, and the time is right.
Elgin is insanely over with the crowd and is more than capable of carrying a match all by himself.
I'd be remiss to mention the whole five-star match thing too.
Elgin is awesome. Not in the colloquial definition, but in that I constantly find myself in awe of him. This guy is the wrestling equivalent of baseball’s five-tool player.
He does it all. He has insane power, great quickness and the ability to make his opponents look good. I know that’s only three, but I didn’t mean that literally.
I also hope you enjoyed my apparent Jon Gruden impression back there. (“Now I call THIS GUY the SWISS ARMY KNIFE because he’s GOT ALL THE TOOLS!”)
I am very excited for the face turn that has to be on the way. However, I hope Elgin does not become a Cena/Bo Dallas type who gets beat up for 10 minutes, then “never gives up” (TM) before winning. Elgin should be Elgin—in a word, dominant.
I should also give credit to two of Elgin’s recent opponents.
Davey Richards convincingly dealt and took a beating against Elgin at Showdown in the Sun. Richards has a way of falling into wrestling wankery if you give him more than 15 minutes. However, he toned it down and fit it to his opponent. Richards deserves credit for that match too.
Then, at Border Wars, Adam Cole managed to hang with Elgin, believably, for almost 15 minutes. That’s no easy task, especially for someone without a title history to lend credibility.
Thumbs Up: End of the Richards Era
I found Davey Richards to be the least interesting champion in wrestling this side of WWE’s “smiling diva” face champions. I legitimately found Leo Kruger as FCW Champion more interesting than Richards.
The build to Richards/Steen was amazing and it had to end with Steen winning the ROH Championship. The story demanded it. Anything else would have been illogical and a massive letdown.
Props to ROH for doing the best thing for the company and good storytelling.
Unfortunately, they killed a lot of my good graces with Steve Corino on commentary and a brutally overbooked ending at Best in the World.
I am interested to see where Richards goes from here. The raw passion and intensity he showed in confronting Steen and Cornette was incredibly refreshing.
I’d love to see him have more of a character than “I train hard and enjoy kicking people in the face and then shaking hands after.”
He’s a natural heel. He looks incredibly dangerous. His character should do the same.
Thumbs Down: Corino on Commentary
Unfortunately, the rise of Kevin Steen has led to Steve Corino joining the broadcast team during his matches.
After two matches, I can safely say that I would rather have Michael Cole calling Davey Richards a nerd. Corino added nothing to either match, but was extremely effective in preventing me from focusing upon or enjoying both.
Then there’s the homophobia. Good one, Corino. Kyle O’Reilly is Richards’ boyfriend.
Get it? Because that means he’s gay and somehow that’s still an insult in 2012.
Thumbs Up: ROH in WWE
I’m sorry I doubted you all about Daniel Bryan. When I started watching wrestling again last summer (because of a promo from a former ROH Champion), I found Daniel Bryan incredibly boring.
Then I began to understand his style and psychology. Then he was given a chance to have more of a character than “underdog.” Now, he’s my favorite in the business.
Although his character has fallen flat, CM Punk’s wrestling has been criminally good, although not as much of a crime as Cena’s auto-main eventing.
It feels great seeing Antonio Cesaro develop and hopefully take off soon. Seth Rollins, Kassius Ohno, and Dean Ambrose (not ROH, but still) are waiting in the wings.
ROH is consistently the best thing in WWE right now.
Thumbs Down: ROH in WWE
If anyone has been keeping up with WWE, former ROH Tag Team Champion Ricky Reyes was one of the many poor souls Rybacked on Smackdown.
I think ROH should sign Carlito and have TJ Perkins buzzsaw him five seconds into the match. That would even things up.
Thumbs Down: Corporate Practicality
I’m sure D-Line is a perfectly passable local tag team. I’m sure they have great community roots. I’m sure their charitable causes are worthy of our attention and money.
But, they clearly did not belong in the same ring as wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team.
The attention and community connections are great, but if ROH is supposed to be about the best wrestling in America, then D-Line should not be on ROH television.
Thumbs Up: Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team
I am placing them at the top of my list of heel tag teams. I won’t repeat my weekly praise of Haas and Benjamin, but I loved the “ether-based substance” finish.
At the end of the day, it was a Fight Without Honor and WGTT were heels. They needed to win with the All Night Express the new title challengers. WGTT has been intelligent and devious recently, so the either was a perfect fit. It’s impossible not to hate them.
Thumbs Up: C & C Wrestling Factory
I’m not sure what their official team name is, but I love Shelton Benjamin’s moniker for the team of Coleman and Alexander. They are a fantastic team, but there seems to be a shortage of heel tag teams right now.
The Young Bucks are available, but the House of Truth is crumbling and wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team probably won’t be leaving the title picture immediately. There’s not much for the duo to do other than be the “team caught in the middle of other teams’ rivalries.”
Thumbs Up: Good Storytelling
I believe that the good guy should always win at the end of a good wrestling story. It can, and should, take months or years to happen. After all, any story is only as good as its antagonist.
But, at the end of the day, the bad guys should reap what they sow. ROH recently gave us two great examples of this.
The Young Bucks injured Rhett Titus, propelling them to a title shot. After a lengthy feud, the returning All-Nights defeated the Young Bucks in a tag elimination match in which Kenny King was eliminated first.
Rhett Titus, tortured by the injury and mercilessly teased by the Bucks afterwards, survived the handicap match to defeat both Young Bucks.
In short, a great story.
Tommaso Ciampa set his sights on Jay Lethal and his Television Championship.
Ciampa went off the deep end after Lethal fought him to a draw, becoming obsessed with proving his dominance over Lethal. Then, Ciampa stole the Television Championship belt before costing Lethal the title against Roderick Strong.
When Lethal and Ciampa finally met again, Lethal won a lengthy battle in which both men looked strong and impressive.
I don’t know if this was the right time to break Ciampa’s undefeated streak, but I do know it felt good watching Lethal beat him.
Comeuppance is a wonderful thing when done right.
To Be Continued...
Feel free to leave a comment below. I welcome any thoughts, praise or scorn you might have. Just don’t give me the Elbow of Disdain. I don’t think my psyche could survive that.
Part two will follow in a couple of days, and regular reviews will resume soon afterwards as I get caught up from my two-week trip to Britain.
Ryback & Daniel Bryan photos courtesy of wwe.com
All other photos courtesy of rohwreslting.com