At this point to rehash the “Michael Elgin situation” is probably unnecessary, but for purposes of this piece let me just quickly run down what we know, or think we know. On Saturday night at ROH “All Star Extravaganza 6″ Elgin lost the ROH World Championship to former champion Jay Briscoe. To say this was a surprise would be an understatement. Elgin just recently won the belt at ROH’s first pay per view “Best in the World 14″ back on June 22nd. Immediately after the title loss Elgin was supposed to hope a ferry to Cleveland to take part in AIW “Wrestle Rager” night 3. He never arrived. He never arrived because Michael Elgin’s work visa expired and while being in Toronto for ROH he was not allowed back into the United States. As of my writing, Michael Elgin is still in Canada.
Dave Meltzer has been the straw to stir the Michael Elgin drink recently telling Brian Fitz that the decision to take the belt off Elgin was a last minute decision, and indicating that Ring of Honor wasn’t even aware that Elgin was about to have a visa issue when they decided to take the belt. There have been rumors and speculation that Elgin openly discussing a desire to try his hand at professional baseball was a contributing factor in the decision to have him drop the belt to Briscoe. But there has also been talk that Elgin didn’t property “protect” the ROH World Championship, with specific reference and rumor around the interwebz being that the people at Sinclair Broadcasting were not happy with Elgin’s defeat at the hands of Trevor Lee at PWG’s “Battle of Los Angeles.”
Let me address each of these issues in kind, starting with the idea that Michael Elgin lost the ROH Title because he wants to play professional baseball.
I’m going to make something clear. I wasn’t giving up to play baseball. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it. Trying out doesn’t hurt
— Michael Elgin (@ROHMichaelElgin) September 8, 2014
No question that Elgin wanted to attend an open tryout to play professional baseball. He played baseball in high school and college and wanted to test his skills at the professional level. I’ve seen people call into question Elgin’s commitment to professional wrestling because he wanted to attend a tryout. Here’s my thinking on the subject. (1) if Michael Elgin has enough talent to make a professional baseball team, to be offered a try out and make his living as a professional baseball player — shouldn’t we just celebrate that? Wrestling is hard. It’s a serious grind. Michael Elgin is married, he’s got a mortgage. If he can find a better way to pay for said mortgage than killing himself on a weekly basis, who the fuck are you, or anyone else to judge that? But (2) Michael Elgin is not going to make a professional baseball team. Just stop it. Michael Elgin could try out for the Harlem Globetrotters that doesn’t mean he’s going to leave independent wrestling to throw buckets of confetti on people.
Remember when Tom Holzerman was blasting TNA because they had contracted employees who were working at Hot Topic in the mall to supplement their income? Well if Ring of Honor wants to dissuade their employees from exploring other avenues they should make sure that their mortgages are paid.
Honestly, I don’t even care about the baseball thing because it’s a red herring. I refuse to believe that anyone at ROH saw that Elgin wanted to try out for the Blue Jays and immediately decided to take the strap off him. Which leaves the idea that he wasn’t “protecting” the belt or the image of Ring of Honor.
If this is true it’s one of the most reprehensible reasons to take a belt off someone that I’ve ever seen. First and foremost, Michael Elgin has a pretty exclusive contract with Ring of Honor. He’s had to say goodbye to some great promotions that he’d worked with for a long time (Hi, SMASH Wrestling) because he is limited in the number of independent dates he’s allowed to participate in. I refuse to believe that ROH limits the number of dates a talent can book, but doesn’t also maintain some control over the booking of those dates.
If you’re even remotely familiar with how independent wrestling works in connection with the more “high profile” companies out there – specifically ROH, TNA, NJPW and to a lesser extent the WWNLive.com companies and CHIKARA, the talent that has a working relationship with those promotions (primarily title holders) always have their appearances booked in connection with their “home” promotion. Watch the Juicy Product/Throwbacks match from Beyond Wrestling “Battle of New England” and tell me that someone from outside Beyond Wrestling didn’t have a hand in how that match ended.
So, the idea that Elgin losing to Trevor Lee at BOLA somehow compromised his position as champion seems crazy to me. The only way it would be relevant would be if ROH okay’d Elgin appearing in BOLA, and was clear with Super Dragon et. al., that Elgin was not to be pinned, and then he was. If that happened, I could see there being some heat, but that would be between ROH and PWG — not between Elgin and ROH.
Here’s the other thing — who on the independent circuit right now is more protected than Michael Elgin? I watch a ton of Northeast and Midwest independent wrestling and do you want to know what consistently happens on a monthly basis? Michael Elgin shows up with his work boots on, has a 15 minute match, hits his three moves of doom, gets a pin, sells some merch and goes home. When Trevor Lee beats Michael Elgin at BOLA people don’t react because “LOL Michael Elgin” they react because “HOLY SHIT, Michael Elgin lost a match!” Elgin always wins, in fact the winningness of Michael Elgin is one of the reasons people get on his case — so he loses a match to Trevor Lee and suddenly he doesn’t deserve to hold the ROH World Championship? Give me a break.
Whatever the reason the rumor is that Sinclair Broadcasting came from on high and handed down the edict that Michael Elgin was not to hold the ROH World Championship any longer. Jay Briscoe, who has absolutely no skeletons in his closet and who under no circumstance can be questioned as the face of a company is now the world champion — nothing to see here folks, just whistling past the graveyard.
This is the point in this (overly long) piece where I give you my guess as to what happened and I think it has a lot to do with heat between Elgin and the “office” and I have nothing to support this theory. Elgin has always said that he had two dreams for his professional wrestling career — he wanted to win a world championship, and he wanted to wrestle in Japan for New Japan (he has specifically said New Japan, not just anyone). By now I assume everyone knows that New Japan and ROH have some working relationship. During the NJPW/ROH crossover shows in the states, there was a New Japan tryout. Adam Cole, Michael Bennett and reDRagon impressed enough to get an invite to Japan, Elgin very specifically was not invited. He was disappointed — he went on social media and said that he was disappointed (how the hell else would I know about it?).
Elgin is not shy about stating his opinion, both good and bad. Do I think the New Japan thing soured him on ROH a little bit? Yeah I do. I also think that if the Toronto Blue Jays offered Elgin a contract to DH for them next season he’d leave wrestling behind in a heartbeat. I don’t blame him. My guess is that over the past six months or so Elgin has realized that he may have reached the height of his professional wrestling career. If New Japan doesn’t want him, and there is no contract coming from the WWE — where does he go? He’s been ROH World Champion, what’s left? I know he has seminars that he runs, and he does train guys — Elgin is one of the most vocal proponents of getting his “guys” their chance, it’s why the Monster Mafia have had appearances in Ring of Honor, but other than “old guy on the independent scene” I’m not sure where Elgin’s brain is on his career.
I don’t think Elgin lost the title because he asked the Blue Jays about an open try out. I also don’t think that Trevor Lee beating Elgin at BOLA is why he’s no longer ROH World Champion. Honestly, I think someone at Sinclair just doesn’t like Michael Elgin and decided to take the company in another direction. I think it sucks for Elgin — he should’ve been ROH World Champion a year ago, they waited too long to pull the trigger on his championship reign and now it has ended too soon. I feel for Elgin because I think he’s a guy that truly loves to be a professional wrestler, and I think he was incredibly proud to hold the ROH World Championship. Elgin isn’t the first guy who has had a title reign cut short because of someone in “the office” and he won’t be the last. I just hope people aren’t blaming Elgin — we already know that the one thing Elgin could control (his visa) is not the reason he lost the belt.