All Of Your Nostalgia Are Belong To Us

staredown

It was the final piece of the puzzle. From the moment Shane McMahon showed up in a WCW ring until last night at Survivor Series 4,990 days passed. In that time everything that I loved about WCW had been co-opted by the WWE monolith. My favorite performers found a new home and had their own moments that made the hair on my arm stand up. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio all had their moments. Booker T, Chris Jericho hell even Scott Steiner and Goldberg all had their WWE moments. Everyone and everything that I loved about WCW at some point after March 26, 2001 became a thing that I loved about the WWE.

Except one.

One person never showed up.

For 4,990 days Sting, the heart and soul of WCW for so many years (and the NWA before it) never made the leap to New York. He watched WCW close, his contract wasn’t picked up and he kicked around for a few years before washing out in Nashville and spending a relatively uninspiring decade (11 years actually) in TNA.

Call me whatever type of smark, or mark you want — but last night was about something more than who would be the new Authority in the WWE, last night was closure. For someone who grew up watching wrestling like I did last night was the final piece of the puzzle. The last hold out, the last man standing on an island — Sting, dressed one more time in his Crow gear walked down a WWE ramp, stepped into a WWE ring, and stared down the Chief Operating Officer of the company that put *his* company out of business in 2001.

Is it disappointing that Sting is now 55? That his hair is thin and grey? That he wrestles in a t-shirt and walks like a man who has put serious wear and tear on his body? Yeah. Do I wish it was 2003 and he was standing in the ring with The Undertaker? Of course. But last night Sting stepped into a WWE ring.

I’ve read a lot about Survivor Series last night and I’ve seen criticism about how Sting represents the past and the end of the show was once again a display of the WWE putting history over the future – and that’s not necessarily wrong, but this was different. This wasn’t long time WWE employee Shawn Michaels interfering. This was someone who had spent his entire career running parallel to the WWE, someone who went to war with the WWE, someone who held out as long as he possibly could stepping out of the shadow and interjecting himself in a place that he’d never been.

I also want to talk quickly about Triple H during this exchange, because he was awesome. The Rock had his moment with Hollywood Hogan — this was H’s chance to stand in on history. Everyone thought they knew that Sting was going to show up at Survivor Series. There was a sense that everyone was just waiting for the inevitable throughout the main event. When it finally happened you got a weird reaction from the crowd — there was a moment of relief, and then just a controlled type of pandemonium. People didn’t immediately start changing “THIS IS AWESOME” because they were chanting “HOLY SHIT” but also because those people who aren’t the type to chant “HOLY SHIT” at a WWE show were just enjoying a moment.

During the stare down, when the crowd starts to calm themselves down a bit Triple H gets a look on his face that is not fear, it is not concern, it’s confusion. He says something to Sting, which in my mind was “you’re here NOW?!” It’s kind of a brilliant job by Triple H who on screen has had a great year, and who off screen has ushered in a very interesting time for the WWE but who sold the moment last night as if he couldn’t believe what was happening. “You’re here….NOW!?” For 4,989 days Sting didn’t step foot in a WWE ring — and moments before Triple H’s team won at Survivor Series he decided it was time to show up, it was time to walk that aisle, it was time to check off that box.

Triple H is a great natural rival for Sting. Forget about his office responsibilities, Triple H has for many years been portrayed as a Ric Flair disciple. There is no more natural rival for Sting, no more natural “final match” for “The Icon” than the man who worships at the alter of Sting’s greatest rival. I know he’s 55, and not in ring shape and his hair looks bad and he’s gained some weight and he moves like he’s underwater — but I want to see Sting in a WWE ring — no, I NEED to see Sting in a WWE ring because once that moment happens, all of my nostalgia needs would have been met and we can finally move into the next era for professional wrestling.

Posted in WWE | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Look at the Beyond Wrestling #TFT3 Field

This weekend Beyond Wrestling makes their highly anticipated return to Fete Music after an extended break which was absolutely not what they wanted to be doing post Americanrana 2014. They’re coming back with a two day, four show, tag team extravaganza and I’m going to be talking a ton about that this week both here and in the Beyond Wrestling Newsletter. First up, let’s take a look at the field for the actual #TFT3 tournament, maybe the most stacked tag team tournament in the country this week.

—–

THE OUTSIDERS

 

Da Hit Squad: Monsta Mack and Mafia are legitimately awesome. When I talk glowingly about The Hooligans, just know that I appreciate the ground work that Da Hit Squad has laid down as far as – guys who are really too big to be carrying out this type of offensive attack – is concerned.  That being said I just don’t see a situation where Da Hit Squad make their Beyond Wrestling debuts and upset the apple cart with a huge #TFT3 victory. I can absolutely see a situation where they score an early round upset over the Doom Patrol, but after that it’s curtains for Da Hit Squad.

 

Osirian Portal: I confess that I’m not a huge Osirian Portal fan and that might impact my ranking of them in this piece, but I also can’t see any way that they wind up beating the Juicy Product in the first round. I think the Juicy Product has cooled down considerably from their height before this prolonged (unforced) sabbatical by Beyond but they’re still going to be a tall order for anyone to take down including the Portal. For the record, I like one member of the Osirian Portal significantly more than the other – I’ll let you decide which is which.

 

I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE TO PUT THIS TEAM

 

Doom Patrol: Dickinson and Jaka have the potential to be the proverbial turd in the punch bowl because I wouldn’t be shocked to see them lose in the first round, and I also wouldn’t be shocked to see them win the whole thing. I still feel that Dickinson is suffering from some weird personality disorder where he’s trying to be the craziest, most bad ass guy in the room but doesn’t want to embrace that personality if it means that people might boo him. He’s the best heel in Beyond Wrestling, but lately he’s been acting pretty lame. Jaka for his part is significantly better as a silent killer. There is tension in this union  and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it explode at some point during the tournament.

 

IT COULD HAPPEN

 

Juicy Product: If the #TFT3 took place five months ago I’d say that Juicy Product was a shoe-in for the victory; things have kind of cooled off for JT Dunn and David Starr since then. #TFT3 may be the thing that kick starts them again, but I’m not sure it’ll work out that way.  I think they have unfinished business with the Young Bucks and I’d love to see that get resolved this weekend at Fete Music, but at this point I just don’t think the OAF clan is going to be the last two men standing when the smoke clears.

 

Best Friends: I have no idea how this will work. Trent Baretta is out of the weekend, and Trevor Lee has been named as his replacement for Saturday’s “Alive and Kicking” huge main event. I don’t know if the Best Friends are being replaced on Sunday for the tag team tournament, or if Chuckie T is going to be bringing in a new Best Friend to try and win the tournament. Either way I don’t think Chuck Taylor is going to be able to put DDT4 and #TFT3 on his mantle this year, though that’s not to say that I’d be shocked if it happened.

 

IT SHOULD HAPPEN

 

Da Hoodz: If you’re asking me to pick a team that I wish would win the #TFT3 more than any other I’d pick Da Hoodz in a heartbeat. Nobody will benefit more than Da Hoodz by winning this tournament. Admittedly there is almost absolutely no chance that they’re even getting out of the first round, but holy goodness what a first round match that’ll be with the Young Bucks. I’ve been championing Da Hoodz since the opening match at Americanrana 2013 as Beyond Wrestling’s most underrated talent and I hope that they get the chance with the Bucks to absolutely tear the house down. In my dream they win this tournament by beating the Bucks, Team TREMENDOUS and Juicy Product and put their names at the top of the list with a bullet as *THE* top performers in Beyond Wrestling. In reality they get an amazing 15 minutes with the Bucks and then get handshakes and congratulations for the rest of the night from the Beyond fans.

 

Team TREMENDOUS: If anyone not named Matt and Nick Jackson are going to win this tournament it’s going to be Dan Barry and Bill Carr. Nobody personifies Beyond Wresting more than Team TREMENDOUS, they are the team that everyone looks to, they are the talent that everyone talks about (not named Biff Busick) they are the reason to tune into the show. I have incredibly high hopes for Team TREMENDOUS on this night and while I still think you can’t favor them over the Young Bucks, nothing would make me happier than sitting in Fete Music and cheering for Team TREMENDOUS, standing victorious as #TFT3 winners.

 

THE BEST TAG TEAM IN THE WORLD

 

The Young Bucks: There is not a better tag team in the world. I am overly hyperbolic when I talk about the Bucks, but there might not be a better tag team ever. Under no circumstance do the Bucks need to win #TFT3 (which by the way, is why they won’t win) but that doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve to be the top seed and be the favorites.  The Bucks have unfinished business with the Juicy Product and have been in the ring with Team TREMENDOUS before. If I had to guess I’d say we’re in store for an amazing opening match with Da Hoodz and the finals (a 3 team explosion) will feature the Bucks getting closure with both Team TREMENDOUS and the Juicy Product. If ever a match warranted your hard earned dollar, it was that one.

Posted in Beyond Wrestling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catching Up on Progress: Chapter 14 Reviewed

Havoc

At some point this year I fell dangerously behind on the one promotion that I like to keep current with, PROGRESS wrestling. If you’re not already following PROGRESS you really need to do yourself a service and check them out. I’ve recommended before that Chapter 9 is a great place to start and I’ve reviewed each show since then on this site. Chapter 14, subtitled “Thunderbasterd” took place right around the time that my son was being born which helps explain the delay in getting this review up. While not the strongest chapter from 2014’s amazing slate of shows, Chapter 14 did a lot of things that I liked and continued to build on one of the better stories in all of professional wrestling this year. My overall opinion of this show is that you should check it out, but if you haven’t been invested in PROGRESS yet, you should absolutely start at Chapter 9. It’s a great place to begin delving into the promotion and you’re going to become emotionally invested in the Jimmy Havoc storyline so you might as well jump into where it all starts.

Let’s start with Jimmy Havoc. As we approach the end of the year I’m starting to think about wrestler of the year votes and other than AJ Styles I can’t think of someone who has had a better year than Jimmy Havoc in Progress. Here’s the thing about Havoc, he has molten heat within Progress, but he’s not really cheating to win these matches. His heel turn was expertly done, pitch perfect and one of my favorite wrestling moments in recent memory. The way he became PROGRESS Champion was dirty and helped to create an atmosphere in the company that continues through Chapter 14 (at least). Jim Smallman and PROGRESS management have stacked the deck at every turn against Havoc to get the belt off him and he continues to come out on top. This Chapter it’s Noam Dar, who some people may know from TNA British Bootcamp 2 and others may know as the guy who has his name put into literally every song ever. Havoc was in perfect form during this match and the PROGRESS crowd (always a highlight) played their role perfectly. Early in the match the crowd is singing songs and putting Dar’s name into the lyrics and Havoc just gets tired of it and leaves the ring. Later on, one guy in the crowd tries to start a “JIMM-Y HAV-OC” chant and the rest of the crowd sings together “ON YOUR OWN” it was amazing. The match plays out brilliantly and Jim Smallman has to get involved, but the beauty is that Jim is so much of a good guy that when he is involved, and it looks like Havoc might win, Jim can’t help himself but to count the three for Havoc. It’s a beautiful and perfect moment of a conflicted man doing what is best for his company, not necessarily what is best for himself. I’m telling you this company, and Jimmy Havoc in particular operate on another level. Havoc retains the title, because of course he does and for another month the best villain in all of professional wrestling gets to continue to be Jimmy Havoc.

Samoa Joe on a European Independent Show. I can’t remember the last time I saw Samoa Joe on an independent show but here he is in the Main Event of Chapter 14 against Rampage Brown. This is the match that Joe references during British Boot Camp when discussing Rampage Brown, for the record. I’ve been watching a lot of classic era Joe stuff from Ring of Honor and it makes me sad to see him like this — but here’s the rub, did you realize that Samoa Joe lost the ROH World Championship at Final Battle 2004!! It’s been almost a decade since Joe vs. Kobashi. I bring this up because when I see Joe, still to this day I want him to be the guy who was ROH World Champion for almost two years — and that’s really not fair to Joe. That was a decade ago! I think Joe probably has a brighter light shone on him than his contemporaries from ROH of that era because he was always a bigger guy, he was always more unique and because of that his whole character was based on something different. It’s tough to be a vicious killer for more than 10 years believably, and yeah Joe has gained a lot of weight, but there really isn’t anything noticeably different about Joe’s matches today than from 10 years ago except that they’re a little bit slower, and he doesn’t have the same gravitas as he did back then. “Joe’s Gonna Kill You” stops being threatening when he doesn’t kill you for a generation. I say all of that to just mention that this was a perfectly fine match and I will always love you 2003-2004 Samoa Joe.

Paul Robinson, next level sh*t. Apparently hanging out with someone who is amazing can make you amazing. Paul Robinson, formerly of the Swords of Essex recently turned heel and threw in with the Jimmy Havoc lot. Former partner Will Osprey is not happy about that. In the opening clusterfu*k match (appropriately titled “Thunderbasterd”) Robinson is in first, does his thing — and Osprey comes out third — to which Robinson immediately gets DQ’d and thrown out of the match to avoid Osprey. BRILLIANT! I’m telling you as someone who watches a ton of wrestling – this type of underhanded stuff, that builds characters and tension almost never happens. I think a lot of it probably has to do with the smaller size of the European independent scene and the fact that guys don’t just disappear into the ether like they do Stateside, so you can slow build things. But Robinson being such a dick that he’d rather get DQ’d then have to face Osprey (with a world title shot on the line by the way) is amazing and I loved it. The match was a bit of a cluster for the middle chunk as multi-man matches tend to be – but HOLE-E-SHIT did the final segment kick so much ass. The final two were Will Osprey and Marty Scrull and I can’t even describe to you how amazing that segment was, I’ll just recommend that you go check it out right now. Osprey picks up the win kind of out of nowhere, which kept Scrull strong but also got Osprey to the fireworks factory as his personal beef with the Havoc crew is now perfectly lined up with his title shot opportunity.

Mad Man Manson is delightful. For good reason Grado is the beloved comedy icon of British independent wrestling, but do not sleep on Mad Man Manson who is equally as funny as Grado without the amazing ring entrance. Mason has an open challenge that is answered by super serious Michael Gilbert and the two guys have some fun. It didn’t all work for me, but one of the best things about PROGRESS is that the crowd can sometimes save matches like this one. For instance, during the match Gilbert puts Manson in an armlock, Mason immediately cries out that he doesn’t know any reversals and the crowd — without missing a frickin’ beat starts chanting “HIT R2!” which is legitimately the funniest and most incredible crowd chant that I’ve ever heard at a wrestling show and sometimes I wish I could bottle up the PROGRESS crowd and bring them to Fete Music so I can be a part of them at a Beyond Wrestling show.

It didn’t all work. I could almost certainly just sit here and talk lovingly about PROGRESS but not everything in Chapter 14 was “OMG! best thing everz!” Two matches in particular exist in my mind as just things that happened — the Martin Kirby/Mark Haskins match and the Pastor William Eaver/Chuck Mambo/Ali Armstrong matches both just kind of happened. Both matches had moments that I enjoyed and I certainly understand in a show that is as packed as this one was that you’re going to need some cool down moments but yeah, on a show that was excellent overall these two matches kind of just happened for me.

The London Riots finally lose. Up until Chapter 14 the London Riots had been undefeated. They earned themselves a PROGRESS Tag Title Match against F.S.U. and we got to see the delightful Mark Andrews almost die slipping on a shooting star press to the floor, and then pull of one of the most incredible reversals of a pop up spear that I’d ever seen to win the match with a roll up and give the Riots their first loss. On a show that had some wonderful moments, this was probably the best actual wrestling match that I saw, which is weird that I’m talking so little about it but honestly it was just a great tag team match with a fantastic ending that I would highly recommend.

 

Posted in Progress | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ROH TV Review: Jay Lethal is not sure how things work

This is not going to be something I enjoy

This is not going to be something I enjoy

I delayed posting this review in light of the Caprice Coleman GoFundMe.com project post that previously sat atop this page. I thought that was a worthwhile post that needed to be seen by as many eyes as possible. However, sooner or later I had to return to review the most frustrating hour of television that you can watch as a wrestling fan.

Jay Lethal

The main event this week is an ROH TV Title Match between Jay Lethal and ACH. Much of the show is dedicated to that match, and some promos leading into that match. Jay Lethal is the worst. I say this as someone who tries to find positivity in everybody — hell it’s why I created this site. I wanted to focus on the positive. But Jay Lethal is just something that I can’t support. Two moments from this weeks ROH TV highlight just how terrible Jay Lethal is. The first is his show opening promo — this is never a good idea. Lethal does a relatively charming Macho Man impression, but other than that you shouldn’t really put him anywhere near a live microphone. During his show opening promo he remarks that there is a lot of hype around ACH but tonight he’s going to end all the naysayers, and ACH is going down. What in the blue hills does that even mean? Who are the naysayers? Why would beating ACH, who has a lot of hype, end the naysayers? I’m utterly confused and we’re 30 seconds into the episode.

The more egregious problem I have with Lethal is that the Lethal Injection is the single worst move in professional wrestling history. Let that sink in for a second — there has never been a move that gets me more upset than the Lethal Injection. To perform this move, the following things need to happen:

  • Opponent, while stunned, wanders aimlessly into the middle of the ring
  • Lethal holds both hands up over his head as he prepares for take-off
  • Lethal performs a front flip towards the ropes
  • Lethal’s forward progress is stopped by the ropes during his front flip with his head by the mat and feet up in the air
  • Lethal bounces back off the ropes, to his feet
  • Theoretically the last time Lethal saw his opponent was while he was upside down against the ropes
  • Lethal attempts a blind Ace Crusher, while his body is being propelled backwards
  • Somehow his momentum reverses course, and he performs an Ace Crusher
  • (Sometimes) his opponent leaps into the air for absolutely no reason to facilitate this move

Look at that list and tell me why this is a move that is being allowed in 2014? I’d rather see Hulk Hogan pin Daniel Bryan with a leg drop, than see Jay Lethal win another match with the Lethal Injection. The Ace Crusher only works as a move because the person applying the move is moving in the opposite direction of his opponent’s body, so that the momentum of the move drives the opponent to the mat. When Lethal does the opponent to leap backwards so that the move can happen since the person applying the move is moving in the wrong direction. This is Cameron trying to pin someone’s back levels of stupid.

Also, for the record I love ACH but boy did he look like a goober just jumping straight up in the air with his neck extended for no reason while Lethal hit the Lethal Injection. I honestly can’t talk about Jay Lethal any more, but rest assured that he wins the main event and retains his title.

Kevin Kelly says the most offensive thing ever.

During the Lethal/ACH match, Kevin Kelly remarks that Truth Martini may go down as the greatest manager in ROH history. This is absolutely 100% the most offensive thing that anyone has ever said on ROH television and I acknowledge that the Briscoes have been saying things for years.  Rest assured that there is only one manager who will ever top the list of best managers in ROH history, everyone else plays second string to “Sweet  & Sour” Larry Sweeney. This is not open to debate.

This episode was not designed for me.

The Decade open the show with a six man match against Caprice Coleman, Tadarius Thomas and Will Ferrera. It was actually a pretty solid match and I have to tell you that Adam Page is turning into something special, but the whole point of the match was to set up the tension between Page and Roderick Strong and I’m sorry but “important acting moment” and “Roderick Strong” is generally something that doesn’t work out too well. Once upon a time Roderick Strong lost a pay per view match to Cedric Alexander in a match that was supposed to set Alexander on his way to the top of ROH. That PPV was in June 2014. Last week Alexander lost a show opening match to Mark Briscoe.

This entire Decade angle appears to have been built towards a Strong/Page match that will likely end with Page winning and setting himself up for future success in ROH. I think it’s a nice approach, and the turn by Page and BJ Whitmer against Strong was well done — I just hope Page takes a look at Cedric Alexander and maybe doesn’t put a down payment on the bigger house just yet.

Hey Raymond Rowe is here, oh, nope just a set up for more BJ Whitmer

Raymond Rowe comes to the ring to talk about his recovery — I do not believe he ever says a word, BJ Whitmer comes out, chases off Rowe who basically stands up for himself for one second and then meekly walks away without any fanfare or notice. Seriously if you watch this episode, Whitmer essentially emasculates Rowe, turns to the camera and ignores him and you can see Rowe in the background just sullenly walking out of the ring and back to the locker room.

Whitmer basically comes to the ring (after The Decade turns on Roderick Strong) to challenge Strong to a match against Page at Final Battle 2014. I have literally no idea why this segment was necessary unless Raymond Rowe was backstage and someone just thought they needed to make him look bad for no reason.

Matt Sydal, Confused Guy

Matt Sydal is a legitimate super-duper star. He was over like rover (hat tip: Aubrey Sitterson) in WWE, got released because he couldn’t get off the Rob Van Dam nutritional program and found himself back in ROH. For some reason Matt Sydal apparently dreams of becoming ROH TV Champion — which is like jumping from the ocean into a thimble as far as transition from WWE to ROH is concerned. Why would Sydal not be looking for a world title shot? Michael Elgin is still looking for a world title shot and that dude has had like four hundred world title shots in the last 18 months. Sydal just came back from the biggest yard in town and he’s content with wrestling Jay Lethal while everyone in the room goes to pick up that new Adam Cole t-shirt in the lobby? Hey, whatever floats your boat pal.

Posted in ROH | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If I Can Be Serious For a Minute

Real quickly as we head into the weekend. Caprice Coleman who most people probably know from his tenure in Ring of Honor recently began  GoFundMe.com project to help off-set the cost of his Father’s burial. I’m not going to guilt you into contributing, but I do think that you should watch the YouTube.com video that Caprice made, and if you have the ability, I think this is a really positive cause to donate to.

It’s a pretty heart wrenching story and from all accounts that I’ve ever heard Caprice is a legitimately good guy. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, and though it wasn’t much I did contribute to the GoFundMe.com campaign. Hopefully some of the WIF readers will also throw a little dough towards Caprice’s family to help in what has to be a terrible time.

Posted in ROH | Tagged | Leave a comment

ROH TV Review: The Kingdom v. The Briscoes

The Kingdom

When Matt Taven was ROH TV Champion and hanging around with the House of Truth I really wasn’t enjoying him. It wasn’t even all his fault — I fell off the bandwagon when Taven needed outside interference from everyone in the HOT to beat a non-contracted, one legged wrestler. That’s not Taven’s fault, it’s the way his character was presented and it was terrible. He was ruined for me, and for everyone else – which helps explain why he had to “quit” the company to freshen himself up. When Taven re-debuted as the infamous “Matt” of The Kingdom I went from apathy towards Taven to exploding heart shaped eyes.

Here’s the beauty of The Kingdom. They’re a heel stable, getting heel heat, for doing the exact things that the ROH fans hate the members for. Adam Cole is not the best example of this because he’s amazing and I think everyone is kind of on board with that classification, but people (and ROH fans in particular) genuinely dislike Michael Bennett and Matt Taven. They’re Jim Cornette era WWE-look talent that most of the dedicated ROH fans associate with the darkest timeline. So when Bennett or Taven are being anything other then completely abhorrent, move stealing, showoffs their talent is wasted. Michael Bennett may be the most hated wrestler on the American independent scene right now for reasons that are completely not his fault — but he has embraced them, used the “smark” narrative against the fans and is excelling right now. I’ve seen Michael Bennett literally get a crowd of bloodthirsty Beyond Wrestling fans to chant the exact thing that he was taunting them to chant. Newsflash, Bennett is amazing.

And now, all of a sudden — I find myself loving Matt Taven too.

That’s a long way to go to introduce this week’s ROH TV but I wanted to get some love in for The Kingdom before they disappear to Japan for the rest of the year.

Todd Sinclair bumps his ass off

I’ve been going back and watching some old ROH shows for a couple retrospective reviews that I’ll be posting in the not too distant future. One thing that I had forgotten is that Todd Sinclair has been taking a beating for YEARS in Ring of Honor. The opener this week was Cedric Alexander against Tommaso Ciampa and during the match Alexander absolutely kicked the shit out of Sinclair. Dude is an underrated performer.

As for the match, Tommaso Ciampa is one of the reasons that I tell people to watch Ring of Honor. Yes, they’re kind of recycling an old “me vs the man” wrestling storyline trope with Ciampa, but he’s so amazing at playing an unhinged killer that it’s working for me. I don’t really like the interaction with Nigel McGuinness because Nigel isn’t a good enough actor to play it off – and there is no pay off coming. Nigel and Tommaso are never going to wrestle. Cedric Alexander for his part is one of those guys that deserves to be in the conversation as “the future of ROH.” If Alexander doesn’t hold the ROH World Title one day then someone has made a significant mistake.

A great visual ends this match

Because he’s out of his mind after a decision is reversed and Alexander is awarded the victory, Ciampa hits a brain buster on a chair. The amazing visual comes after that when Ciampa takes the mangled chair, sets it up in the middle of the ring, sits in it and begs Nigel to come into the ring to stop him. It’s the little character moments like that which help build someone to icon status — it’s why Kevin Steen was able to get the ROH crowd to eat out of his hands and I think Ciampa is on his way to a similar position.

RD Evans and Moose with Veda Scott.

C’mon RD Evans, no Veda Scott (animated heart breaking .gif). Evans is probably the most gifted “comedic” performer in wrestling right now. Sorry Colt Cabana, sorry Kikutaro — but nobody can combine understated traits and character work like RD Evans. The guy is magnificent and teaming him with Moose is the perfect compliment to his style. Moose gets to hide his flaws in a tag team environment and Evans gets to continue the streak. See, even ROH does things right sometimes.

Here Michael Elgin is…I can’t even finish this thought.

I like Michael Elgin. He’s been nothing but nice to me when I’ve had the chances to speak to him, I’ve enjoyed more of his matches than I’ve hated and I’ve defended him on this site more than once against people who are bored by his schtick. That being said, the interview that Elgin did here was — not great. ROH had a real chance to do something interesting with Elgin, the last real “hero” on the roster who gets broken, not by an opponent but by circumstance and office politics. Remember when Steen hugged Corino and SCUM was formed? That hug was real and emotional and it wasn’t just Steen turning heel, it was Steen coming to terms with the fact that the office, and politics had put him in this position. Elgin could’ve done the same thing — instead he’s just going to wear a sports coat, pack a dip and say it’s time for him to be himself. Unless himself is a high flying luchador, I think we all know what we’re going to get from Elgin. This whole angle has been a nightmare and a real missed opportunity to do something interesting with one of your last truey established “good guys.”

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO MATT TAVEN?!

So Matt Taven debuts as the third (or fourth) member of The Kingdom, along with Michael Bennett he hits a Doomsday Device on Mark Brisoce and stands tall over the Briscoes. So in his first match back with ROH as a member of the Kingdom what happens? He eats the pin. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!? Are we protecting the Briscoes? The longest tenured, most absolutely without any need to be protected at all ever for any reason duo in the history of Ring of Honor? How does this match make Taven look good? How does it help The Kingdom? Hell, how does it help the Briscoes? This is the worst WWE style 50/50 booking that you could imagine. After the Briscoes win, the Kingdom beat them down. Everyone keeps their heat, nobody achieves anything and Matt Taven, the BIG REVEAL is just a guy to take the pin. Congratulations Kingdom you’ve added Captain New Japan to your ranks. Would anyone have been harmed if Taven had pinned Mark Briscoe? If you made Taven look great in finishing the match like you made him look during the match? So now The Kingdom have added a member who immediately takes a loss and then goes to Japan. Nice work everyone, good game, good effort.

Posted in ROH | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ROH TV: Matt Sydal is “Reborn(e)” against AJ Styles

The main event this week, AJ Styles v. Matt Sydal

The main event this week, AJ Styles v. Matt Sydal

At some point I am going to wind up talking about how much I hate the ROH TV taping schedule and how the product is presented on television. It is an unavoidable part of talking about Ring of Honor on television. For the time being though I just want to point out that regardless of what you think about the “ROH style” the program itself is generally well constructed. I think NXT does a better job of maximizing their limited time, but Ring of Honor does more in one hour than TNA does in two (and really more than WWE does in the 2-4 hours of non-RAW time they have each week). This week was a bit of a one trick pony, but that trick was a solid one.

Matt Sydal has a lot of….[line please]….heart

This week the show opens with a Matt Sydal promo. Sydal is one of those “once in a lifetime” performers that seemed to pop up in Ring of Honor all the time. I have to confess that I was never a *huge* Sydal fan in ROH. In fact I thought he was significantly better in the WWE (as Evan Bourne) than he was in Ring of Honor. You have to remember that from 2004 – 2007 when he was in ROH, the roster was absolutely stacked. Yeah he was good, but he never really stood out to me. One thing that Sydal has never been great at is promo work — and there is a hilariously awkward pause in the middle of the show opening promo to immediately remind ROH fans of that fact.

A commentary on the commentary

The Ring of Honor commentary is atrocious almost all of the time. Kevin Kelly calls a match like he watching it on television, in a different room, in black and white, while also reading a book. There is no emotion, there is no flow to what is happening and sometimes it just feels like a guy who is bored by wrestling, trying to talk about wrestling. When Steve Corino is around there is some saving grace. Corino is a great talker, he loves pro wrestling and while some of his antics might get tired, he brings enough life to the booth to keep things interesting. Well Cornio has been gone for this TV taping set, and this week we get Truth Martini alongside Kevin Kelly. This is arguably the worst two man booth of all time. I’d rather have listened to Michael Cole tell me how terrible the show was as I was watching it than listing to these two be bored to death.

Mark Briscoe has a weird dream.

The first match on the show is Mark Briscoe against Caprice Coleman. Caprice hit Mark with the one inch punch which Briscoe sold hilariously (because of course he did), but other than that almost nothing memorable happened during the opener. I do like that this was a match. Most televised wrestling gets bogged down in “feuding wrestlers must be in ring together always” and you never see fresh matches. This was fresh, it was kind of boring, and I don’t really want to watch it again, but at least it was new. The highlight for me though was when Kevin Kelly said that Mark Briscoe’s dream was to become ROH TV Champion. Let’s assume for a second that is true — how pathetic of a dream is that? Mark has been in ROH since literally the promotion began. He’s held the ROH Tag Team Titles 8 times, with 36 successful defenses. His brother is the actual ROH World Champion right now. Hell the ROH TV Championship has only even existed for 4 years. It would make more sense if Mark’s lifelong dream was to win the Pure Championship – at least that title was held by Nigel McGuiness and Daniel Bryan. I’m just saying – maybe Mark Briscoe has a very limited imagination.

A lot of information crammed into this segment

Because ROH only has an hour per week they sometimes do this thing where a segment of the show turns into like six different storylines and that kind of happens during Nigel McGuinness’s confrontation with Tomasso Ciampa. If you don’t know Ciampa he’s literally the best thing about almost anything he’s doing. He’s insane, which you’d know by watching this segment because he is constantly touching his face and rubbing his beard. Basically Ciampa has decided that crazy means doing what Luke Harper does on RAW. The best part of the initial confrontation is when Ciampa calls Nigel a quitter (both have injury histories, Nigel is retired). When Ciampa calls out Jay Briscoe, of course Briscoe comes out and Ciampa perfectly puts Briscoe down by mentioning that he always says “man up” but this is the first time that he’s ever stepped into the ring with Ciampa as World Champion. Of course a brawl breaks out, which ends with The Kingdom coming out and beating down Jay and Mark Briscoe with Matt Taven and Michael Bennett hitting Mark Briscoe with the Doomsday Device. It was a solid segment that felt a bit out of control (which I think was the point).

I respect Brutal Bob Evans, I don’t want to watch this match

The buffer between the donybrook and the main event was a Brutal Burgers against the Lesser Decade (BJ Whitmer/Adam Page). The less said about this the better. I do support this whole thing is The Decade is ultimately just a tool to get Adam Page a rub because he is starting to come into his own and separate himself from that group of Adam Cole, Michael Bennett, Matt Taven, Adam Page guys in ROH who all kind of look the same and do the same things.

I ruined this main event for myself.

I had really high expectations for the main event. Sydal and Styles are both great, they have contrasting styles, but they can both go 1000 miles per hour and put on a very entertaining match. This wasn’t really that. First off, Styles lost the IWGP Heavyweight Title on October 13th, this episode of ROH TV airs on November 6(ish) and here he is with the belt. That’s one of the problems with taping all of your TV in chunks. Sydal is also historically a Dragon Gate guy, and Styles is obviously a New Japan performer — so this match was pretty rare, for a Dragon Gate star to share the ring with the IWGP Heavyweight Champion in a singles match. It had moments of really beauty, Sydal’s meteora, AJ blocking a rana from the top into almost a super Styles Clash and the finish — where Styles stopped Sydal from countering a Styles Clash by just dropping him straight on his head in a tombstone was awesome. But it felt like a 12 minute match that they gave 25 minutes to. I think both guys are capable of so, so much more – and so did the crowd who for some inexplicable reason began an “ROH! ROH! ROH!” chant after Sydal missed a shooting star press. Everyone had high hopes for this match and I don’t think it really lived up the hype. Who knows, maybe we’ll get another match later on down the road between these two where they will put the pedal down and show off a bit.

Posted in ROH | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment