Rather than comment on a No Way Out PPV that I didn’t even bother to buy, I figured the better option was to focus on my first live Ring of Honor experience.
This past Friday, I had the pleasure of seeing ROH in person at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. I have seen a couple of Ring of Honor DVDs over the past month Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Redemption and Glory by Honor V Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and I must say that the live event was like nothing I had ever seen before.
That last statement is coming from a wrestling fan that has been to plenty of Raw, SmackDown, and WWE House shows, along with seeing Summerslam, Survivor Series, and even WrestleMania in person. While ROH could not surpass the Summerslam event which featured HBK’s triumphant return to the ring against Triple H or WrestleMania XX at Madison Square Garden, the show itself was its own spectacle chock filled with its own compelling storylines.
What really stuck out to me on Friday Ã¢â‚¬â€œ aside from the totally awesome and honest crowd that was everything the ECW One Night Stand crowd wished it could be but wasn’t Ã¢â‚¬â€œ was the seemingly perfect bubble that Ring of Honor has been able to develop that shields the wrestlers and the fans from all of the crap we have to endure with other brands. Of course, the lack of a TV deal helps the situation, because the men and women of ROH don’t have to worry about time constraints, and the management doesn’t have to worry about superficial benchmarks like TV ratings and advertising revenue streams.
All of this adds up to a level of comfort and trust between the fans and the wrestlers that is so strong because the fans in the audience know without a doubt that the wrestlers are there for one reason and one reason only: to work their asses off and entertain the thousands in attendance, without having to worry about any of the fickle “millions watching at home.”
In terms of the matches, characters, and storylines, here are a couple of things that stuck out to me that truly put Ring of Honor in a new perspective:
Brent Albright shakes off the futility of the Gunner Scott character and gives us one hell of an effort: Albright was in a Tables Are Legal match with B.J. Whitmer, and while the crowd was hesitant at first to really throw their support behind Albright, he earned a ton of plaudits and respect as he and Whitmer took turns taking sick spots that were just absolutely unbelievable to see in such a small venue as the Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom, where saying there are no bad seats is a gross understatement. There was a “Razor’s Edge” through two tables stacked on top of each other outside of the ring, and an even crazier spot where both men maneuvered themselves onto a wobbly table set up on the top turnbuckle and threw each other onto two separate tables that were set up in the middle of the ring. By the end of this match, Albright earned his spot on the card, and he and Whitmer left to rousing applause. Another key to this match that truly stood out as I watched the carnage unfold was the fact that these two were able to wrestle without any time constraints or commercial breaks, and that definitely helped the match move along more naturally than WWE / TNA spot matches.
Roderick Strong and Austin Aries lose a tightly contested Tag Title match, and then a heel turn ensues : Aries and Strong wrestled their hearts out against the retaining champs Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal, and Aries even looked to get hurt at one point. This didn’t stop Aries from finishing the match, and the heel turn by Strong afterwards was done well, as Davey Richards interfered. While I do not like the name for Strong and Richards — No Remorse Corps — it’s funny how Aries is much more compelling in the ring here than in TNA as Austin Starr.
Let the Samoa Joe Farewell Tour Begin : Ring of Honor fans always tell me how they can’t stomach watching some of the TNA broadcasts because they feel like their favorites become so diluted that the non-ROH fan just doesn’t understand how great these wrestlers can be. (The same can be said for C.M. Punk fans that cannot stand seeing him languish on ECW.) Samoa Joe is one of those special wrestlers that validate their arguments, for the ROH version of Joe just seems to have that something extra that has been taken away from the TNA version. His rapport with the fans in ROH is simply a spectacle to behold, and Joe himself just seems more relaxed and at ease here when he has that freedom to get on the microphone and speak from his heart. He’s not only intense in the ring, but he also has the ability to crack a joke here and there as well, which just makes him even more endearing. At the end of the day, I feel privileged to have seen Joe in this way, because I will know how good he truly can be even if he never is able to be his true self on television.
That’s it for me this week PEACE.
For more detailed results from the ROH shows this past weekend, check out articles from Pulse Glazer here and here, and from Big Andy Mac here.