For Your Consideration…Responding Modestly

Welcome to Week 43.

For Your Consideration…Responding Modestly

Hmm, I guess last week’s column set off just a tiny bit of debate. Why, you ask? Well, I like to think it’s because of my stance on the use of the semicolon, but then again I could be wrong.

Yes, I committed cardinal sin number one here at InsidePulse, I dared to not throw unyielding support behind Ring of Honor. And what, pray tell, did happen? A veritable shit storm. To be more accurate, a very small and fabricated shit storm.

When I started writing here almost a year ago, I had one goal: provocative discussions about the world of pro wrestling. I also didn’t just want this to be “my column” despite my massive ego. No, I wanted this to be a column where you the reader felt that you could respond in kind and let your comments be heard, regardless of whether or not you agreed with me. That’s where the title of the column comes from in the first place, “For Your Consideration.” I’m basically framing an issue from one perspective and allowing you to continue the discussion on either the message board below or through e-mail. In fact, there’s nothing that makes me happier than to receive well-reasoned e-mail responses because if I was getting no feedback, this would be like batting a tennis ball against a brick wall.

Last week was admittedly a short column. Those of you that read me on a fairly religious basis know that I’m knee-deep in the second year of law school and contrary to popular belief it does not get much easier after you’re a 1L. Because of the time crunc, I don’t always get to give the amount of time to every column that I would like. Also, since there were a few big stories floating around, I didn’t want to risk them slipping through the cracks without me taking a glancing shot at them. There was the Rumble (an admitted disaster of a show for the most part), ECW, JBL, Lashley and-of course-ROH. It was the ROH section that seemed to set off the powder keg of discussion and it’s not like I wasn’t expecting it.

Ring of Honor just isn’t the promotion you criticize, even if it is a slight criticism. Those people that fawn over ROH are marks and there is no way around it. Now I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. Being a mark is what brought us to the table in the first place. Marks are always easy to spot and even easier to mock. How do you know a mark? When you’ve got a guy just blindly rooting for who he’s told to root for then chances are you’ve hit the mark (Get it? Hit the mark? It’s a play on words.). The 21st Century mark is clearly the ROH fan because they are backing a company that knows its audience. ECW years ago scored with that meta-philosophy of winking to the audience that yeah this stuff was fake, but we were going to give you the most exciting fake stuff you’ve ever seen. ROH in 2008 is doing the same exact thing, only they’ve replaced cheese graters with workrate, and the fans eat it up like 9 year olds eat up Rey Mysterio. Ring of Honor has created a culture of mark-dome that is acceptable, just like ECW did a decade ago. “Man, most wrestling sucks, but ROH is amazing!” And people get into those characters just like you did when you were a kid and Hogan was on screen. Folks, that’s totally fine. It really, really is. In fact, that’s the whole point of watching this stuff, to enjoy it. Unfortunately, that mark-dome has led people to become overprotective of their product. My criticism last week was that Ring of Honor was not promotion of the year because it did not reach the heights it should have in 2007. ROH set a fairly high bar by consistently delivering “breakout” stars in insane matches. The buzz about this company was enough for me to seek out matches featuring Punk, Joe, London, Kendrick, Danielson, et al. And they were great matches. The problem was that most of these matches did not come from 2007.

My criticism of them not deserving Promotion of the Year was not a condemnation of their product. They put on good, quality matches and generate a fair amount of buzz despite their size, but what did they do in 2007 that even allowed them to top their 2006, let alone topple the biggest promotion in the world? Before I open a can of worms and get deluged by an avalanche of e-mails pointing out how extraordinary they did in 2007, let me just tell you now to save your efforts. I watched their first few PPVs and saw what they had to offer, and it was good. In fact, I wrote a column about their first show that you could probably dig up in my archive somewhere if you were so inclined. My point is that they didn’t do enough to replicate the buzz they had a few years back, and that failure to elevate was why they didn’t deserve the Promotion of the Year.

The funny thing I found was that people got on me for basing my argument that the WWE deserved Promotion of the Year over ROH simply for business purposes. The funniest thing was that I was surprised that financial success was barred from being grounds for consideration. The WWE is a worldwide promotion that gives the most well produced, best looking and easiest to access programming in the history of pro wrestling. They have an easy to navigate website with tons of original content. They have an unparalleled DVD department. They have the most incredible VOD channel available anywhere. And best of all, they have a television show that can be watched with little to no effort. Those all seem like big “pros” in my book. On top of that, the WWE churns out storylines on a weekly basis that resonate throughout not just the pro wrestling community but through the industry in general. Like them or not, Kevin Federline versus John Cena, Donald Trump shaving Vince, the exploding limo and Vince’s kid all got mainstream coverage. Any time wrestling is mainstream we can agree is a positive for the industry. And even when you get to in-ring performance, the WWE did not deliver 12 months of clunkers, despite what the cynics say. Each PPV featured at least one or two “great” matches. No, they all weren’t 5-star classics (or even 4 in some respects), but on a consistent basis they gave the fans what they wanted. Look, I’m not going to convince any WWE hater nor do I want to convert anyone. In fact, I’ve often been the first to admit when the WWE drops the ball. The best part about all of this is that when someone rips the WWE I don’t fly off the handle.

The last thing I’ll say on this before I get to the feedback I received is something small and nitpicky but nonetheless I’m going to address it here. One of the other featured columnists on this site (and a man that I not only read religiously but also respect), dedicated his last column as a response to my remarks. Not only did I expect that, I welcomed it. My problem came from the fact that it consisted of comments from the ROH message boards. First, it would be very hard to find any truly honest criticism on the ROH boards. That’s like me posting a well-earned congratulations to the team of my youth, the New York Football Giants, on a Patriots website and expecting unbiased responses. Of course ROH-bots are going to be in lockstep against me considering I’m criticizing their product, especially when they’re responding ON THEIR OWN WEB SITE. The second part of my criticism of this is that the discussion took place on their web page and not ours. We have a very active and passionate message board, yet rather than continue the argument on the site that brought it, the forum for debate was moved. I put a comment section on the bottom for a reason, and it’s so that those who have something to say can do so.

Alright, enough of me, here’s some feedback:

Andy,

Thanks. Thanks for showing me I’m not the only one fed up with IP
becoming one big love-in for ROH, a fed which is about on a par with IPW:UK (yeah, I’m in the UK). I’ve been reading IP since it split from 411, dragged in by Eric S, Hyatte and Scott Keith. I don’t read anywhere else, and I don’t watch a lot of wrestling these days. Now I suppose I read out of habit, but recently much less so, because of the sheer blind devotion to ROH. I’m fed up with it. I’m fed up with the mentality of so many of the writers on the site, which seems
to be nothing more than the idea that anything TNA or WWE does is the worst thing to ever happen to the business, while everything ROH touches turns to gold. Not just in columns, but in news reports and pretty much every comment
that’s made. Of course I don’t wish any company to go out of business, that’s bad for the industry- I sincerely hope they do succeed, the same as you do. But you’d think a “Promotion of the Year” would at the very least still be open in six months time- these financial reports make me wonder just how sure a thing that is. So again, thanks for having the guts to go against the grain and say what a lot of people think.
All the best,
Law

Richard wrote:

So what you are basically saying is, WWE should have won cos its the biggest therefore, the best.

It seems to me you are bashing ROH and it certainly sounds like you don’t watch enough of it to bash it. You seem afraid of change I guess.
Yes, WWE can be entertaining, like the Royal Rumble often is, but it can also be extremely embarrassing and silly which ROH very rarely is.

If you use a ‘movie’ analogy like I am about to, maybe you will see more sense.
Ok, so I Am Legend may have been the more mainstream and popular movie, it certainly made a lot of cash, but was it better than No Country For Old Men?
No, I bet some people have never heard of that film but when it wins a Best Picture Oscar I can’t see Will Smith complaining really. Bigger isn’t always better.

Four or Five ‘great’ matches, well, lets see, the Dragon/Aries trilogy, Steen & Generico vs. The Briscoe’s feud, Morishima vs. Dragon, KENTA vs. Dragon, Nigel vs. Dragon, Nigel vs. Aries, KENTA vs. Misawa, Claudio vs. Matt Sidal, Claudio vs. Morishima, Jacobs vs. Whitmer cage match, DG matches, that seems like a lot more than 4 or 5 to me, which proves, you don’t watch enough ROH to comment.

Don’t be scared to give ROH a try, you will probably like it if you understand it.

I watched the Royal Rumble this year, it’s the first WWE I have watched since the terribly disappointing Wrestlmania last year. I went into it with a very open mind and I was frankly appalled by the standard of matches and nonsensical angles.

e.g.

Flair vs. MVP was awful, botched spots, MVP looked weak once in the figure 4.

JBL vs. Chris Jericho wasn’t as bad but still wasn’t ‘great’. More bothed spots. Jerry Lawler tells us Jericho’s son asked him, “Daddy, is it true, are you a coward?”, Jericho then uses a chair (heel tactic) to get DQ’d, answer, yes, by using the chair, he is a coward. Silly booking. If a DQ finish is needed, why not just have Jericho
refuse to release the Walls of Jericho? Therefore, the feud continues and Y2J is still the face.

Rey Mysterio vs. Edge, super finish, perfectly timed spot. The rest of the match lacked a hell of a lot. Edge works on Rey’s knee, that’s fine but Rey is then ‘grounded’ and can’t do the moves the fans want to see. Dud.

Hardy vs. Orton, Hardy was not strong enough in this match to warrant another shot at the title. All momentum was lost, it’s pretty rare a heel goes over clean in WWE and I can see why Randy Orton did, because Jeff is the hottest thing in wrestling right now and Orton is HHH’s boy. Politics – something ROH, thankfully, doesn’t have.

Royal Rumble, superb swerve ending.

1 good match out of 5, not good enough but the fans with the negatively named ‘blind faith’ as you called it will still buy the next PPV and still tune into RAW. Hypocrisy.

ROH deserves Promotion of the Year for consistently producing great shows, angles that make sense, having no steroid scandals, no glass ceilings, treating it’s fans with respect and never ever phoning in a performance.


Hey Andy,
I loved your column and I have to agree with you completey on Ring of
Honor being the Promotion of the Year. I only hear about them on the
internet. I have never seen one match. I would think for a promotion to be this great and successful, they should, you know, promote.
Back when ECW was first taking off, I had a friend who lived in Boston who would tape the show for me and send me a video tape once a month.
The shows were fun and great and it made me loan those tapes to all of my friends so they could see it. It was something fun and new and exciting. ROH doesn’t have any sort of show to introduce people to their product. I don’t want to pay for a PPV when I don’t know anything about the shows. And to top it off, a lot of us enjoy angle development in our wrestling. I don’t understand how a promotion can further angles when they only have house shows and PPVs here and there. Plus the PPV are taped so the spoilers are everywhere and since net fans have to be so “smart” they begin to talk about the results as if the show has already happened. Now granted, again I’ve never seen any of their product. But for them to be better than WWE, TNA, hell even NWA is on once a week, then they need to be a real promotion.
Gary


I am Marcus from the ROH boards. I know you didn’t write this, but I felt this was the best way for me to reply. Here are my thoughts on this guys rant about ROH and Promotion of the Year.

Seriously? Ring of Honor is promotion of the year? You know what, I give up. I do. ROH-bots have taken over and I surrender. How in the hell can anyone truly justify Ring of Honor as THE promotion of the year? They are a regional promotion that isn’t close to being as big as ECW was yet they get the top honor after a lackluster year? Ring of Honor has been around for many years now and while they did break out in 2005 and maybe even 2006, their act got stale in 2007. By this point in ECW’s history, they were a legit threat to WCW as the number 2 company in the world. They had TV deals with what is now the Fox Sports affiliate system and were on PPV doing live monthly shows. ECW was selling out a lot of major cities despite their top talent always being raided. Oh, and by the way, ECW did this without the invention of true high-speed internet and rohvideos.com and torrents and DVD sales.

ECW lasted 6 years. (94-00, I don’t count the Eastern years and the one month of 01′) ROH however is approaching there 6th year and things continue to look up for the company. Now sure they have made some cut backs, but let’s face it, they (ROH) are still making money. ECW never made money…EVER. They lost money every year and guys continued to get stiffed on checks. ECW wasted money on big venues, Live PPV, & TV. ROH has learned from ECW and are trying to avoid dying after only 6 years. Now you claim ECW was near the #2 slot by this point, to me that doesn’t mean jack. WCW was a distant 2nd place by 00-01 and a lot of ECW’s main roster by 00-01 had already left for the E or WCW. By this point both companies were slipping and WWE comfortably took the #1 spot. These were easily the worst years of WCW and ECW still wasn’t near the #2 spot.

What’s ROH’s excuse? You know, I planned on doing this before their financial woes came public, and I decided not to pull it after it came out because it just magnifies my point. Sure, Ring of Honor put on three or four “great” matches in 2007. Of course they did. They are not under the constraint of the WWE or even TNA. They can hold a three hour show and allow their guys to go out there and do whatever. If the WWE wanted to, they could have Shawn Michaels and C.M. Punk do a Broadway on RAW every single week and draw the love of ROH marks, but they don’t because that’s not good business. Business, ladies and gentlemen, is key. Promotion of the Year doesn’t mean a small company that puts out grainy video of two guys aping Steamboat/Savage. Promotion of the Year shouldn’t be a company you can only watch if you’re willing to pay to order their stuff online based on blind faith.

Isn’t that good? ROH fans have such a high standard & faith in their company to purchase shows by word of mouth. Hell, some fans don’t even read or hear about a show, they’ll just buy it. And that is because ROH puts out such a great product (wrestling & storylines) that there fans can buy the product blindly. You don’t get that with the E. If you can find the numbers, find out how well each WWE PPV did then find the number of people who ended up buying the PPV DVDs. Odds are (and yes I’m guessing, but I’m that confident) half the people who watched the PPV live didn’t bother buying it when it came out on DVD.

Being an ROH fan is like being a drug addict because they hook you and you keep paying despite the fact that you can never reach that initial high.

Common sense should tell you that that is a good thing. Having your fans hooked on your product so they buy it is what businessess want. By the way you always reach that initial high…That’s why you go back. Otherwise if you never reach that high, then you are doing drugs for no reason, and you wouldn’t be an addict.

I watched their first PPV and I wrote a column pointing out the good and the bad. Did ROH learn from their first show? Nope. They still don’t do live PPVs. They don’t have a weekly TV show (which, by the way, Women Extreme Wrestling does). They finally just announced that they are going to put out DVDs like ECW did highlighting the fact that the guy who just got squashed by Mister Kennedy used to wrestle for them.

Live PPVs cost more money and ROH doesn’t want to go the ECW route. A weekly TV show also costs money and would probably put restraints on ROH and there workers. Again ROH doesn’t want to die like ECW. I believe Joe and Punk will be the key selling points for the DVDs. The casual WWE mark will see Punk in his “early days” and for only $15 may try the DVD out. Also this is good for ROH to put there DVDs in stores because I’m sure there are several WWE fans and TNA fans who don’t want to blindly purchase a ROH DVD online for $25 (after shipping). This way they see familiar faces and get to watch the product they have been hearing about. Good business on ROH’s part. And I’m gonna go back to PPV here. I think you are missing the point of ROH & PPV. ROH is doing this to spread the word, to bring in new fans who will hopefully purchase DVDs. ROH isn’t trying to compete with anyone.

Hey, I wish Ring of Honor would succeed so that they would expand and put on national shows. I wish I would be in town for all of Wrestlemania weekend to see them live for the first time. But 2007 Promotion of the Year? As far as I’m concerned, if they are not even up to their own standards that to just blindly hand them this title makes our site look like a bunch of blind marks. You might hate the WWE, but they are still the default champions until someone proves otherwise.

I highly suggest getting to Orlando days before Mania to catch ROH. If you haven’t seen them live you are missing out. As for the “living up to their own standards” comment the same can be said about TNA & the WWE. The WWE reached it’s peak during the Monday Night Wars. Since then they have been declining year by year. All you need for proof is to watch it for yourself. Any WWE fan will tell you it’s not as good as it was or could be. I know plenty of wrestling fans all of which are WWE fans. They are your hardcore and casual fans, but they all agree the WWE is pretty lackluster. It’s like they don’t even try. I’m not even gonna bother w/ TNA. If you think TNA is living up to their standards then you shouldn’t be watching wrestling.

Just because the WWE is the biggest promotion doesn’t make it the best. The best promotion is the promotion that had you as a fan drawn in thanks to it’s in ring action and storylines. Now whether ROH lived up to their standards or not, they clearly put on the best PPVs of the year and had more MOTYC than TNA & the WWE.

And lastly from Bergman:


Well, I’m not to lie to you. I don’t have a forum name on the message board and I normally just visit to see what people are thinking. However, when I read what was written there by Andy Wheeler I just thought I’d have to have my say. Yes, we as fans of ROH realize that some of us are smitten with the idea of basic mat wrestling with no gimmickry involved. Yes, we realize that ROH, from a pure money making standpoint isn’t what you consider sucessful. But if there is one thing that ROH does better than any other wrestling business is meeting the wants, needs, and expectations of their fans.

Now, here me out, I don’t you to think that I totally disagree with everything that you said, I agree with parts of it. ROH would benefit greatly from a TV deal, whether it e weekly or bi weekly or whatever. This is the idea that the UFC has had with Unleashed and it has worked charms for them. By doing that you show enough of the product to keep people interested and raise demand for something weekly. Could it also help them to try and get a live PPV? Absolutly it could, but we need to move forward in slow baby steps. To be acknowledged by the majority of the wrestling world on a more national scale Roh needs to start running shows in the midwest in cities outside the usual and then more out west.

Where I do take offense to your comments though as in the fact that ROH is an unsuccessful business. I did say early that they aren’t doing so well financially and I stand by that, but, to me at least, there is more to being a successful wrestling promotion than making money. One of the most important things in business is that you will be able to adapt to an ever changing landscape of your demographic. ROH has done this in spades. When you look at ROH, there is honestly something for everyone: PURO style, great tag teams in factions, high flying, solid mat wrestling, Japanese stars, and gimmicks. ROH can appeal to any aspect of the fan in us.

So I guess in closing what I want to say is that while ROH is far from being totally perfect, it decisively has earned it’s right, in my eyes at least, to be called the #1 wrestling promotion in the world

Well, there you have it, a little from people agreeing with me and a little…well, not so much. Still think something wasn’t said? We’ve got the message board below or you can always e-mail me at awheeler316@yahoo.com

This has been for your consideration.

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