A Modest Response Debuts on a New Day

Welcome to the new alternate Monday column here at the Pulse. I’m Pulse Glazer, your friendly ROH analyst. Every Friday I wrote a column called A Modest Response. This began as a column with the following mission statement: The main idea of the column is that I’ll be writing a response or counter-argument to another piece of writing found here on the Pulse. Somewhere along the way, that idea became entirely “write about Ring of Honor.” Well, I like the original idea and have been looking to bring it back for awhile now. I’ve finally taking the plunge moving the column over to alternating Monday’s. If you enjoy my Ring of Honor coverage, have no fear, that remains an every Friday Pulse Feature, now called ROH Weekly.

For our first week back in this format, we’ll be aiming high. Eric Szulczewski has returned from a long hiatus and taken quite a few stands I can’t help but disagree with. I’ll take these point by point and argue each. Welcome back, Sir Eric.

Here’s quote #1:
Well, at least Lethal’s been given the X strap, which he’s long deserved. And put into a match against Sonjay? Oh, yeah, I’m there. These guys know how to work it, and they did. No complaints whatsoever about the match.

Lethal hasn’t long deserved the X-strap. As later noted, Daniels, Ki, Styles, Joe, Shelley, Sabin and Aries were all in the division with Lethal previously. He’s nowhere near the worker of any of those except maybe Daniels and even then he can’t come close to matching Daniels charisma or mic skills. Lethal is a very good underdog babyface and generates a ton of sympathy taking a beating. That would work great, except the X-Division is devoid of real heels to deliver said beating and why his X-Title run was doomed for failure from the start. As for Sonjay… he can’t work. He’s a good flippy guy, but really, he’s Matt Cross all over again. Some pretty flips fool people into thinking he can have a good match. Check Death Before Dishonor IV where he manages a shaky match with a freaking godly Danielson for proof that he is at best average. I can, without much effort, name at least 10 better fliers than him as workers. He and Lethal have no business being together as both need to be underdog faces to be remotely effective. By the way, further making Sonjay all but worthless is his ridiculous “Guru” gimmick which got old far more quickly than even Black Machismo.

The next quote:
Oh, wait, here comes the next wave of assault on my synapses: Frankie Kazarian, Main-Eventer. When I left, he was getting the crap beaten out of him on a weekly basis by Raven. How exactly did this happen? Why exactly is this happening? Does it involve photographs of certain people with certain tame farm animals? Beating Christian in a ladder match? For a title shot? Oh, dear God, where are the pills? Where the hell are the pills? And can I afford to take them with no medical insurance? The sad thing about this is that it was a pretty good match. But putting Christian and a ladder in the same ring almost guarantees a good match, so it’s not really anything to boast about.

Kazarian has become a very good worker. Among every current face on the roster he might have the best combination of look, ability, and knowing what to do in the ring to make both he and his opponent look good. That includes Joe, who we’ll get to later. Kaz is essentially a Bret Hart for the modern era. He has a good look, but isn’t especially flashy and gets by simply by being good at everything, getting good matches out of everyone (including a broken down Raven), and making people care by doing all the little things right. Does that mean the company should be built around him? No, but he had as much to do with the good matches as Cage did and has been very good and wasted for a very long time. Don’t let TNA’s completely wasting his talent for a long time sour you on the fact that the talent is there and the push should continue. He got what is one of my favorite Angle TNA matches out of the totally broken down Kurt on Impact, no mean feat. Just give it time, Kazarian will earn your respect, like he has earned all of ours (of course, since he’s former PWG champion, I was ahead of the curve here).

Quote Numero Tres:
And Let The Pimps Begin: So, DAVE is appearing on Raw despite being Smackdown world champ. Apparently, he has a Hell In A Cell match with UT at SurSer. As if I’d know any different. Three years ago, that would have been a kick-ass match. These days, it’s two forty-plusers thrashing at each other for no apparent reason other than to give UT yet another title reign. And to emphasize that, UT makes a special guest appearance as well.

Three years ago Taker was in perpetual suck mode, having just returned as the dead man and feuding with JBL, while DAVE was still Evolution’s bitch. This year, however, Undertaker and Batista have had at least matches that are around the low end of **** spectrum. Batista has essentially had a career resurgence since Wrestlemania, doing his best with the dead weight that is Khali sandwiched by the great stuff with Edge and Taker, while Taker has had his best year in recent memory, thanks mostly to these matches with Batista.

Quote #4:
Now, back to the match. According to Aaron, the Shelley-Sabin/Briscoes match that I was honored to witness at Good Times, Great Memories is only the third-best ROH match of the year according to some poll or whatever (yes, the site’s barfing on me again). How good must those other two matches be? That match was freakin’ brilliant in every single respect.

It’s your birthday. I’ll get you a DVD or two. See me on the super-secret writer forum or sign into Aim. Also, you really do need to get the ROH PPVs. By the way, that was the fans voting. I have that absolute classic at about fifth best of the year from ROH. Yes, it’s been a very good year.

Quote #5:
Given her size, you can equate her to Morishima. Unlike with Morishima, though, the women’s division actually has someone who can compete with Kong on the size and brutality basis, namely ODB, and she’s already moved into a fan favorite position. ROH doesn’t have anyone who can directly compete with Morishima on a purely physical basis stature-wise.

Eric, you simply missed too much ROH for this to be remotely viable. When Vader was WCW Champion, an awesome era, no one matched up physically. That’s the point of the unbeatable monster. Foley and Sting were competitive and Flair used sound strategy, but Vader was the unbeatable, unmatchable physical beast. ROH had this almost exactly. Nigel was Sting, the straight face who was nearly there and had numerous memorable title shots, while a lot of guys alternated in the Cactus role, notably Claudio Castagnoli, who really just took it to Morishima in a great match. Albright, Aries, and Shingo also had awesome matches with Morishima. In the Flair position, we have the current best wrestler in the world, Bryan Danielson, who had the Match of the Year with Morishima and took the title run from good to great, breaking his orbital bone and detaching his retina in the process and creating what might be the Feud of the Year if Briscoes vs. Steen and Generico wasn’t so damn good. TNA will never come anywhere near any of this with Amazing Kong or anyone else, just trust me… or buy the DVDs (Good Times Great Memories, Fighting Spirit, Death Before Dishonor V Night 1, Manhattan Mayhem 2, and the current PPV, Man Up being the best uses of Morishima available).

The last quote:
As for the main event, it was overshadowed by Joe’s promo. When I saw Joe last year here in one of his last ROH appearances, he cut one helluva wicked promo. I wondered at that time why TNA never gave him the stick, preferring to do a Monster push with him. I knew at that time that their approach was a mistake. Now, they’ve got a clue. Joe has the potential to be one of the best promo men of his generation, if he’s only given the chance. He’s now getting it more and more frequently, and he’s picking up things by osmosis from guys like Christian who are past masters at The Art Of The Mic. Combined with his in-ring style and undeniable ability…he could change wrestling. I don’t say that very often about anyone, but he’s got that potential. From a historical perspective, where would I put him? Magnum TA just before the car accident. He’s definitely someone to pass the torch to.

This one upsets me more than all but the most ardent ROH fans can understand. Joe in TNA is on the fast track to becoming a glorified version of Tazz in WWE. He’s wildly over, but except for rare occasions, the magic is gone. Joe had some very good matches this year with Christian Cage, but that was literally it in terms of quality in TNA from him this year. He had a nice farewell run in ROH, with great matches with Morishima, Davey Richards and Nigel, but it’s almost impossible for anyone who has watched him long enough to not realize that each of those matches would have been even better even last year and certainly in 2005 when he was likely the best American wrestler (in the world still went to Kobashi).

What’s worse than the apparent physical breakdown of Joe is the apparent change of attitude. Gone is the fun loving Joe who had everyone behind him with his attitude and intensity. He’s been replaced by a sour man who doesn’t appear to be trying regularly on national television and has garnered a reputation among indy bookers as someone who will not try and give them their money’s worth for a booking, having a very bad attitude. This is not the same Samoa Joe that made the ROH title, putting on classic matches and having a blast. This Joe is devoid of fun. He’s a smart enough worker to get by without the physical tools that were formerly present, but nothing can replace the fire that made him so special. If he regains that, by all means, push him to the moon. He’s among the best in the world, though surpassed by Danielson and likely Punk among his own peer group, has an almost unparalleled ability to connect with crowds and have great matches…when he cares. Right now he doesn’t and that is almost certainly TNA’s greatest failing.

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