A Modest Response

The first News item speaks for itself and dominates the column. If you don’t want to know what happens on the next ROH PPV… well, consider yourself warned.

News of Honor

Ring of Honor has a new champion, Nigel McGuinness

Congrats to Nigel. Success couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Here are full Edison Results, which was a PPV taping (#4 for those counting), and here are the Boston results.

Mitsuharu Misawa will face KENTA for the GHC title on Nov. 3 in NYC

While it’s disappointing that Misawa will not face American talent, I’m still seeing Misawa live and that makes it all better.

Matt Cross and Erick Stevens are out of ROH for awhile

Cross lost the fall in a loser leaves for 60 days match in Edison. Stevens is kayfabe injured. I’m unsure what the real reason is for the rising star’s departure.

The Winner of Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson’s series will face Nigel McGuinness, while the loser will face Takeshi Morishima

This all but guarantees Danielson loses since he still has an issue with Morishima for injuring him. Hopefully Danielson goes over this time.

Joe Higuchi and Harley Race will also be at Glory by Honor VI Night 2

Joe Higuchi is the ref for GHC title matches, but the big news is Harley Race. Harley is a true legend, respected by everyone and hopefully takes an interest in doing more ROH. I can’t wait to see the King of Wrestling.

Quack is back for 11/2 in Philadelphia

I can’t wait until he’s a full time regular, but for now it just seems like he can’t keep away.

This Week on Pulse Wrestling

Andy Mac ranks the title changes in terms of quality of moment. Here’s my quick rankings based entirely on match quality.

10.Xavier vs. Low Ki (Unscripted)
9. Xavier vs. Samoa Joe (Night of Champions)
8. Takeshi Morishima vs. Homicide (Fifth Year Festival: Philly)
7. Nigel McGuinness vs. Takeshi Morishima (PPV #4)
6. Low Ki vs. Chris Daniels vs. Spanky vs. Doug Williams (Crowning a Champion)
5. CM Punk vs. Samoa Joe vs. James Gibson vs. Chris Daniels (Redemption)
4. Bryan Danielson vs. Homicide (Final Battle 06)
3. Bryan Danielson vs. James Gibson (Glory by Honor IV)
2. Austin Aries vs. CM Punk (Death Before Dishonor III)
1. Joe vs. Austin Aries (Final Battle 04)

Andy Mac also finishes our tandem series of reviews with Good Times, Great Memories.

Ollie Sutherland finished his Milestone Series reviews with the 100th Show.

ROH Rankings going into the month are here.

The PWG Chikartiles now run on their own. A new one will be up later today so be sure to check out Kirschner’s great work.

Burnside has a great CM Punk story.

Phil Clark discusses two hour Impact. For more on the two hour Impact, here’s Vinny and Ivan.

Mark Allen discusses triple crown champions.

Brashear goes over Stephanie’s wedding, which actually made for compelling television.

A Modest Response: The Twenty-five Most likely to dethrone Nigel McGuinness as ROH Champion

Ring of Honor title changes are rare, so when they occur, I like to throw kayfabe out the window and rank the entire roster based on their likelihood of dethroning the new champion. Well, Nigel McGuinness defeated Takeshi Morishima on 10/6 to begin his first World Title reign. Here is a ranking of the entire ROH roster based on their chances of taking the belt, from least to most likely.

25. TJ Perkins – TJ Perkins is the only non-ROH regular to make this list. He’ll be featured in this year’s Survival of the Fittest and had a very good, short match with Nigel at FYF: Philadelphia. He’s similar to Matt Sydal in that he’s a very good, if inconsistent, flier who relies as much as speed and mat work as his aerial antics. Sydal, as we know, was heavily pushed in ROH. There’s a shot, if Perkins impresses, he can receive the Sydal role, and with his desire for revenge on Nigel for forcing him out of ROH for so long, is at least an extreme longshot for the belt. As unlikely as this is, he should at least be a roster regular from here on out.

24. Adam Pearce – Adam Pearce is the mouthpiece of the Hangmen’s Three and appears to be focusing on tag team domination with his stable. Were one man to break off and go on their own, it likely would not be Pearce, so he has almost no shot at winning the belt. He’d be crushed by Nigel, his only shot being a healthy dose of cheating, something he isn’t averse to. Still, this is ROH and the belt wouldn’t change hands in that manner, and Pearce has the least shot of any regular by a good amount.

23. Necro Butcher – Necro is a better wrestler than many believes. While he doesn’t often show it, he has the skill to put on a great match with a variety of opponents, sell and tell a compelling story in the ring. He’s one of the biggest and toughest guys on the indies and a match with Nigel would be fantastic. He has a terrible look, though, and just isn’t ROH enough to hold the big belt. Hopefully he and Nigel have some classic brawls finding out, though.

22. Matt Cross – Matt Cross is gone from ROH for 60 days so he can tour NOAH for the first time. Cross is a small, flippy wrestler who plays a very good face-in-peril for his team with Erick Stevens. Cross is also notably good as a flier, with phenomenal body control from years as a gymnast. He is no where near the top flier in ROH, however, nor is he remotely ready for a main event slot as more than a tag performer. Luckily for Cross, he’s going to NOAH, where he can potentially learn a lot and come back a whole different level worker. Were this to occur, he’d still be a longshot for the title, but at least he’d be in the running.

21. Ruckus – Ruckus is charismatic and highly flippy, basically reprising the Jack Evans role in ROH. He and Evans are in one stable and very similar. While there is precedence for the second man in a stable to rise to title contention, like Generation Next, that was a main event stable and the Vulture Squad are, thus far, nowhere near that. Ruckus is also heavily associated with CZW, further hurting his chances at the belt. He’s already quite over though and has proven he can hold gold in a major indy. He and Cross’s chances are about even, but Ruckus charisma gives him the extremely minor edge.

20. Mark Briscoe – Mark is the smaller, ninja redneck, insane Briscoe. His flips and style make him a huge fan favorite. He’s also pretty much exclusively a tag wrestler since Jay Briscoe quit the business in 2004 rather than go on in a team when Mark was hurt, they’re basically inseparable. It’s possible to do a dual champion scenario with one of the Briscoes, but even then, Jay is a better storyteller and probably a better long-term seller, so he’d likely get the call. Mark’s over enough and fun enough for it to be him, should ROH go that unconventional route, which shows its unlikelihood by its placement on the list.

19. Jay Briscoe – See Mark Briscoe, but unlike Mark, Jay has a title shot scheduled in San Francisco. Jay has no chance in Nigel’s first defense.

18. Jigsaw – Jigsaw is on the fast track to being the most complete high flier in the business. He’s smooth, good at nearly everything, and can tell quite the story in ring. Of all the Chikara trainees, he’s the one most like their teacher, Mike Quackenbush. So why is he so low? Two reasons. First, he’s on the fast track to being the best, but not only is he not there yet; ROH also has yet to push a flier to the top. The other major point is that while Jigsaw is quite similar to Quack, Quackenbush himself is present to take the crown, so why give it to the student? The answer is unless Nigel’s run is almost two years, they simply will not.

17. Tyler Black – Tyler Black is similar to Jigsaw in that he’s a future top notch star in the business, but he’s not similar to Quackenbush, he’s similar to ROH Icon, CM Punk. That’s a very, very good thing for Black’s career. He has the look and all the tools to make it to the top, but ROH being ROH means that he will not be rushed and is at least a year or two away. While it’s possible for Nigel to have the belt that long, Tyler will likely be vying with someone different for the title by then.

16. Jack Evans – Jack is the highest rated flier in ROH currently and has been in ROH for years. He’s the leader of a faction, charismatic and unique. He’s also vastly improved in the ring. So why isn’t he ranked higher? Well, a number of reasons. First, his stable is not especially successful thus far and are clearly playing second fiddle to at least the Age of the Fall and possibly the NRC as well. Also, while Jack has improved vastly, that still only leaves him at very good. Add in that ROH doesn’t push fliers and Jack is over without the belt, and there is simply no reason to think he’ll be in contention. I would enjoy a Jack title shot, however, as Nigel could absolutely kill Jack with the Jawbreaker Lariat and that’d be fun.

15. BJ Whitmer – BJ Whitmer just might be the most maligned man in ROH. He’s a very good worker who can do almost everything but sell and keep the fans consistently behind him. His recent losing streak turned him to the darkside and from there he might be able to earn a shot at Nigel. He and Nigel trained together and rose in the business together after Les Thatcher’s HWA, so he knows Nigel well and could likely have a great match with him. Nigel has changed a lot, however, so there’s a chance Whitmer’s knowing him wouldn’t help much, but the big reason this won’t happen is that ROH fans would revolt. He’s simply not charismatic or liked enough to hold the big belt.

14. El Generico – El Generico is the first guy with an outside shot of actually winning the belt from Nigel. While it’s extremely unlikely due to his hokey gimmick, Generico is universally regarded as a great worker. He’s also on the rise in the company after he and Steen’s awesome Briscoes feud and making the Race to the Top finals. He and Nigel would doubtlessly have a great match, but with the company moving into the PPV era, it would end there because of a poor look and silly gimmick, unfortunately.

13. Rocky Romero – Rocky Romero is a strange wrestler. He’s fast, stiff and crisp and can be an excellent seller. He’s also distracted, inconsistent, botches quite a bit, and can sell like absolute crap. Often, both of these Romero’s show up in the same match. Gabe seems to love him, so he has a shot, but as the third man in the NRC he’d have to jump both Roderick Strong and Davey Richards, which really isn’t very likely, given his inconsistency.

12. Delirious – Delirious is a very good wrestler, with a ton of charisma and a unique gimmick. Unfortunately, he’s been running the same gimmick for far too long now without anything to freshen it up and he desperately needs to go down to pure comedy or step up with something new before the audience turns on him. He’s quite skilled in ring, a ROH vet, and that he is the new trainer earn him this spot. Every other trainer at the ROH Wrestling School has held the belt, so Delirious has an outside shot.

11. Kevin Steen – Kevin Steen is just an impressive wrestler. In ring he’s a big, strong guy who can do flips, work loose or stiff, mat wrestle and fly. He’s literally the whole package, but that isn’t what makes him so great. What makes Steen great is that he is absolutely perfect at all the little mannerisms and actions that make a fan really care about a character, whether love or hate. He has the potential to be one of the biggest stars on the roster and a major heel or tweener push to face and beat Nigel would be awesome. The crowd would have no choice but to accept the arrogant bastard as a worthy champion. It looks like ROH is not ready to pull the trigger with Steen in singles yet as he is now involved against the Hangmen’s Three with Generico, after which I’m sure he and Generico will eye the tag belts again, so Nigel has a respite before Steen comes after him.

10. Brent Albright – Brent Albright is a strange beast. He’s a very solid worker and very good at his power, brawling based offense. He’s a big guy for the ROH roster as well and so is a threat. The crowd sometimes loves him and sometimes is bored by him, with good reason, but interestingly, Albright always picks it up for a hot crowd. He appears energized by an active crowd and puts on great performances in those instances. Well, a ROH title match is pretty much guaranteed to be one of those instances, so he’d make a fine champion. The problem is, with the lack of response he normally generates, is he really worthy of the push? He’s also in a faction, so has a feud established and ROH might not want a WWE castoff as their champion at this point in their growth where the differences between ROH and their bigger counterparts is the emphasis.

9. Bryan Danielson – Bryan Danielson is the best wrestler in the world in the ring. He’s become a very good promo and has awesome presence at this point. He’s also pretty much dominated Nigel for well over a year and it would kill Nigel’s long term credibility for Danielson to just come along and beat him again. They won’t do that to Nigel, but if there is any kind of emergency, and this is wrestling, so there might be, it’s easy to see that Danielson would be the first man they’d parachute the title two.

8. Davey Richards – Davey Richards has been in the business for a remarkably short period of time for all he has accomplished. He’s a stiff worker who patterns himself after Dynamite Kid and Chris Benoit. He’s learning to lead more in the ring and tell a story, capable of greatness with the right opponent as his match with KENTA and Samoa Joe have shown. He isn’t ready yet, but the rate of improvement cannot be discounted, so if Nigel holds onto the belt for around a year, he’s likely to be one of the better workers on the roster by then and can leapfrog Strong to take the belt.

7. Mike Quackenbush – Mike Quackenbush, the master of 1,000 holds, is among the most over men on the indies. He’s a master of numerous styles and gaining belts and reputation all over American and in Japan. He won’t be a ROH regular until 2008, but Nigel’s run will in all likelihood last until then anyway and a face vs. face match between the two would be great, not least because of all the different styles they could use to tell their story. Quackenbush is over enough to take the belt and good enough to wear it with pride, but he’s already a star elsewhere and other commitments, such as owning Chikara, might prevent him from getting the push in ROH he so richly deserves.

6. Erick Stevens – Stevens is a breakout star and exactly the type of wrestler that should beat Nigel for the belt. Hell, he should have beat Morishima for the belt. Stevens was actually ranked higher before he was pulled from the ROH roster indefinitely due to a worked injury. This could and hopefully is a blessing in disguise as he will return with more character and on a path of rage straight to the top. ROH likes to let its stars grow slowly, but if ever one begged for a fast push, it’s Stevens, but it would be so out of the ordinary for ROH as to keep Stevens out of the top 5. Still, Stevens is the best big man at generating sympathy from his selling in recent memory, a fantastic trait for a champion to have.

5. Chris Hero – Chris Hero is not only charismatic and a great wrestler, but also a great talker with a unique look and gimmick. Pushing Chris Hero makes ROH stand out and since he holds a victory over Nigel, he should be in line for a title shot. Chris Hero, for all his skill, has some major strikes against him. He was the leader of the CZW faction in the ROH vs. CZW war because he wasn’t considered good enough to work ROH for years. That’d be hard to overlook from a continuity standpoint, and yes, in ROH, that matters. Also, Hero is currently working a comedy gimmick with Super Agent Larry Sweeney. That’s a load of fun, but really would need to be shed since the ROH world title is handled to seriously. Lastly, Hero’s matches where there isn’t a lot of heat aren’t always very good and his selling can be suspect. Since his matches would be under a microscope as champion, that’s a very bad thing indeed since ROH is built around workrate as much as anything else. Still, with Hero’s size, charisma, and tools, he cannot be fully counted out.

4. Jimmy Jacobs – Jimmy Jacobs is the leader of the Age of the Fall, a revolutionary group trying to take over ROH and be heard. Jacobs wants the belts for power. He’s a great brawler, good speed worker and top notch promo. He fills the Raven role in ROH perfectly and might be able to, by sheer force of his awesomeness at getting into a character’s soul, take ROH to an entirely new place with a heel title run. Still, that has never been ROH’s thing and a tag title run is far more likely, especially considering Jacobs diminutive stature. Still, he’s fantastic and really deserves a shot, even if only in a Summer of Punk type run.

3. Austin Aries – Austin Aries will very likely be the first major challenger for the World Title. Since his return to ROH he’s been perceived as a huge star and has big wins over Roderick Strong and Bryan Danielson. There is a big push to make Aries a star giving him a second title run, as well. Aries already is a star and has had the big belt, beating the most dominant ROH champion ever, Samoa Joe. Nigel is another huge name and should be used to put someone new over the hump. Aries has already risen that highly, so he likely will not be given that chance again with the main event seen so bare.

2. Roderick Strong – Roderick Strong has been on the cusp of regular main eventing for a long while. While his matches with Danielson, Punk and others were great, he always has lacked that big win. Now a heel, Roderick is beginning to find the groove between working heel and still having great matches. He’s probably the most legitimately hated man on the roster due to his jockish persona and mannerisms and defeating the major babyface Nigel, would absolutely put him over the top. He’s got to be built some more before challenging for the belt, but it’s easy to see the leader of ROH’s most successful stable making the leap to a permanent main eventer.

1. Claudio Castagnoli – Judging by crowd reaction alone, at least New York and Boston believe Claudio Castagnoli to be a major star. Claudio hasn’t beaten anyone more important than Chris Hero, but he did win the Race to the Top and since then audiences have absolutely embraced the most improved man of 2007. To top off his breakout year, the man with all the tools, could overtake Nigel as the best young European in the states and take his belt, setting up a long, competitive rivalry and creating a new ROH main eventer.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned next week for more of the best ROH coverage on the ‘net and, barring technical issues, the debut of a new ROH based Podcast by myself and Hayden Munro, also known as HayHay17 of the ROH and DVDR board.

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