Rivalries vs. Feuds in RoH: Is there a Difference?
Well, I’m back after a brief hiatus to raise a question about Ring of Honor’s booking philosophy that I find particularly enjoyable. Some would argue that there is no difference between a rivalry and a feud, but I think RoH has gone to great lengths to distinguish between the two.
One of the brilliant notions in RoH booking is involving the wrestlers in two and sometimes three angles at once to make sure that no matter who is on the show, almost every wrestler has some sort of angle that they can focus on. For example, someone like Austin Aries in 2004 may have been involved with American Dragon, pursuing the Pure Title, Feuding with the Second City Saints, or any of the other wrestlers whose “spot” they were trying to take like Matt Stryker, John Walters, and others. As a result no matter who was on the show Aries could have a meaningful match. Not all of them were feuds, but they all had some sort of professional rivalry.
I guess at this point I should note the difference between a feud and a rivalry. A feud is, naturally, the building block of a wrestling angle. Wrestler A has some sort of personal issue with Wrestler B, and as a result they hate each other. The issue goes beyond, “You beat me last show, I want to win. It is more along the lines of, “You cost me a title victory, or you tried to break my arm, or you attacked my best friend, and I want to tear your heart out through your throat.” It is the personal issues that make it a true feud. A rivalry is more of an example of a wrestler trying to get a win back, or proving that he is the better wrestler. Ok now, with the terms defined, it is time to look at some examples of this from Ring of Honor’s storied history.
The first example comes from the very first show, well actually the very second show. The first show of course ended with the amazing triple threat match that I think has yet to be duplicated in terms of quality for a three-way-dance in RoH. The match ended with Christopher Daniels on the losing end, refusing to shake hands and uphold the code of honor. This set off the vicious feud that would exist for much of the first year in RoH between Low Ki and the prophecy. At the same time, since the round robin challenge was set up for the next show, a professional rivalry of proving who the better wrestler is was established between Low Ki and American Dragon. They did not have extreme issues with one another, they just wanted to see who was better, the essence of a rivalry.
Perhaps the best example of a blood feud is the almost legendary Raven vs. CM Punk feud. I cannot think of too many conflicts in Ring of Honor that have been so violent and so bloody as this one. It had every aspect that makes a feud great, mind games being played on both sides, violent matches that were, for the most part, of a very high caliber, and a clean finish to determine one definite winner.
There have been many great and many potentially great rivalries over the years as well. Matt Stryker and Chad Collyer competed in a very entertaining pure wrestling series in 2003. Samoa Joe and AJ Styles seemed to be building a great rivalry over which belt was more important, the RoH World title or the Pure Title. Sadly, AJ was taken away and we never got to see that happen.
Today I can think of a couple of examples of great feuds and great rivalries that are currently dominating RoH storylines. The hottest feud going right now is clearly American Dragon vs. Homicide. It has been bloody, violent, and both men have deep personal issues involved. Homicide tried to break Dragon’s arm and thus Dragon demanded these matches, all of which has had violent stipulations, in order to try to destroy Homicide. Nigel McGuinness and Colt Cabana however, have been involved in more of a rivalry because they are simply out to prove who is better and more serious about wrestling. The seeds have been sown, however, for this to shortly change into a very violent feud. CM Punk and Jimmy Rave are in the midst of a very violent feud, caused by Rave’s constant efforts to injure Punk. So much so, that Punk has sworn that he will disfigure Jimmy Rave before all is said and done. Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal are currently involved in a rivalry. Joe is attempting to win all three RoH titles, and Jay Lethal, the current Pure Champion is standing in his way. They are both friends, but it seems that both want to prove who the better wrestler is the essence of a good rivalry.
It seems that nowadays, with RoH getting more wrestlers to make Ring of Honor their priority the necessity for simple rivalries based on proving who the better wrestler or team is will slowly fade away and we will begin to see more well developed, well thought out feuds. Which, I think is a good thing.
Well that will about do it for the column this week. Questions, comments, and concerns can always be e-mailed to email@example.com. But I have a question for my readers this week. Let me know what your favorite rivalry or feud has been in the history or Ring of Honor. Or if you don’t see a difference let me know why not.
I’ll see ya next time.