Ring of Honor Weekly

Welcome to ROH Weekly where opposing viewpoints collide. Wiswell and Glazer, Riren and HBK826, discuss and argue current hot topics in ROH. You know you don’t want to miss this one!

News of Honor

Registration is always closed on the ROH board and new fans need a place to turn to answer. Old fans want a place for no holds barred discussion. Well, join at Ring of Honor Fans, a new forum dedicated to the answers and discussions you demand.

There’s a new video wire, so please check here. It’s an awesome sitdown interview with a heeled out Nigel McGuinness.

This Week on Inside Pulse

Vinny covers Rising Above.

Pulse owns Puro. Here’s Ditch, Mulligan, and Clark with proof.

Matt Michaels discusses the cruiserweight title. I’ll be responding to this modestly on Monday.

Mark Allen discusses Wrestlemania Eras.

Fool in the Stands: Discussing the Big Stories with John Wiswell

Topic 1: Nigel’s Heel Turn and the Hammerstein

Wiswell: The slow build to McGuinness’ turn was beautiful. You had to wonder why he could wrestle Silas Young in a filler match but not defend his title. He was getting fed up with the snarkier fans. He had to know he was doing something wrong when Chris Hero schooled him in a Pure Wrestling Rules match. I understand why a lot of people were jarred by the suddenness of his turn – the elements were very subtle, to the point where it felt like ROH would build it for several more months if they were actually going to do it, and apparently Danielson playing a goodie-goodie in the Sixth Anniversary match turned some people off. But now they’ve got a money rematch where Danielson is angry and won’t hold back. The rematch with Aries should be absolutely killer, especially in front of a healthy Wrestlemania weekend crowd. The challenger I’m really looking towards is Claudio Castagnoli. McGuinness and Castagnoli had some of the best Pure Title matches in McGuinness’ reign, and Castagnoli has grown a lot since then. His connection to crowds is incredibly strong and should really help the dynamic McGuinness is working, in addition to them having some really good physical chemistry together.

Glazer: My real problem is that those are the only three faces, besides maybe Stevens, in a position to be a serious threat to Nigel. With all three coming up soon (Claudio Castagnoli likely at the PPV) what’s left for his reign besides filler? Sure it’ll be entertaining, but with much chance of him losing, that only gets you so far. Besides a Dragon rematch there’s also absolutely nothing for The Hammerstein that Nigel can do that’s big enough with current talent.

Wiswell: One thing they are going to have to do, and McGuinness is going to have to work the hardest on this, is building up money challengers and money rematches. Think of how much people believed in Roderick Strong at This Means War, and then think of how much they believed in him a week later at Vendetta. Think of how much crowds bought Delirious by Ring of Homicide, in large thanks to his previous exchange with the champion. ROH has guys that can perform really well but aren’t on this level yet. El Generico could so easily do what Delirious did that it will be heartbreaking if they don’t try.

Glazer: I don’t see many on the roster for whom that is even an option, particularly as faces. Generico can work, surely, but with his look and the company looking to expand he likely isn’t serious enough for PPV. Of the other guys to bump up the card, most of the best suited seem to be heels like Tyler and Davey.

Wiswell: While you can interpret El Generico’s marketability and how serious a threat new viewers might consider him, ROH’s position looks pretty plain. They’ve already let him main event a PPV, go for the tag titles twice, and win the tag scramble despite Age of the Fall being the most logical choice at the time. Off of PPV, they let him go to a draw with Castagnoli and pin Aries. If ROH has that much faith in him, let him go. A performance like what he had against Danielson in PWG would absolutely make him. As for others, Davey Richards could definitely do it. It feels like they’ve positioned him to break out in singles by holding off on matches with Danielson and McGuinness, and underplaying his matches with Strong and Aries. He wrestles so well, so crisply and entertainingly, and for such a jaded audience, that he could easily spin around to a good guy role. But both of these guys would need to be built.

Glazer: Problem with saying Generico is a major PPV player for the wider audience is he really didn’t headline that PPV, the ladder and crazy stunts did, to a lesser extent the Briscoes too. I love Generico and would love it if he didn’t look utterly ridiculous, but he does. To a WWE fan, who ROH might try and attract, he’s an instant channel change. Davey is a tag champion and rather busy with stable warfare and finding his niche as a heel. All of this is fine long term for DVDs, but what does ROH do to set up Hammerstein and further PPVs with Nigel as champion?

Wiswell: The rumor going around is that ROH doesn’t intend to fill up the Hammerstein Ballroom. It seems bizarre to book a huge setting if you don’t intend to fill it, but I’m not an economist. If they want to sell a lot of tickets off of an ROH World Title match, they’re probably going to have to use Danielson, or if the buzz from Rising Above is amazing, Aries. Booking a multi-man title match won’t work out properly because most fans will realize in advance that McGuinness will sneak his way through. It doesn’t matter that the Age of the Fall lost the titles in such a situation; the singles title doesn’t feel like it will move in such a match. What would you do at the Hammerstein?

Glazer: Well, the first answer is some kind of TNA talent and advertising the hell out of being at the House ECW built. That’d work especially well with some radio spots on local rock stations and a few well-done advertisements during WWE TV. Beyond that, allow me to indulge in some minor fantasy booking here.

Larry Sweeney swears he will take over Ring of Honor and through ROH history only one thing has been shown to generate major power: Ring of Honor Titles. Sweeney should sign Nigel McGuinness. Chris Hero has been gone from ROH for a bit, but right before he left at Final Battle, he was getting monster face-heat to become the next champion. NY has reacted strongly to Hero since the CZW feud and he won the Tag Titles there at Glory by Honor V Night 2. Hero could be insulted he’s no longer Sweeney’s centerpiece and either be jumped out or choose to leave, declaring that he was the best and would prove it on his own. This would require no change in Hero’s persona or his wildly over antics, which is the best part, since it merely encourages the fans to cheer for what they apparently wanted to cheer for anyway. With Nigel vs. a New Face (but still sort of evil, think the Rock post Nation) Hero on top, the fans would be excited to see a newly pushed top face. Add in either Danielson vs. a TNA guy in a dream match or The Briscoes vs. TNA guys in a dream match and you have far closer to a sellout without actually driving the booking costs through the roof. If you don’t get a TNA guy for one of Danielson or the Briscoes, a Danielson vs. Marufuji rematch, while Briscoes face some TNA team (LAX likely works best for NYC), or a Briscoes vs. KENTA and Marufuji rematch (outside of a damn tent), while Dragon faces Joe or Homicide would go a long way to generating hype and filling the Manhattan Center.

Topic 2: Kevin Steen: Solo and Tag (ole!)

Wiswell: Taking Steen out of the tag division is a sin. He and Generico are one of the most entertaining and dynamic tag teams anywhere right now, able to play aggressors, straight faces, or split the difference and work two different roles. They do all of that very well, and feuds with the No Remorse Corps and Age of the Fall would be great. If they took off, they might even score their definitive victory over the Briscoes.

Meanwhile, Steen is nowhere near as compelling a singles wrestler. He had a very good title match against Generico in PWG, but that’s a guy he knows very well. His match against Morishima at Honor Nation was average for Morishima, the same guy that got the best matches of Castagnoli and Albright’s careers. He isn’t as spectacular in big singles matches as I’d like, and in fact seems better suited to lower card singles matches, like destroying Pelle Primeau or having something competitive but brief with Jay Briscoe. I’m not as down on Steen in singles as you are, Aaron, but the day he becomes more of a singles guy than a tag guy will be a sad one for me. I’d honestly rather see Generico win it.

Glazer: I’ve unfortunately seen too much of Steen in singles lately to harbor any illusions about his quality. He doesn’t sell enough to be a singles face and insists on controlling most of his matches as a face to the boredom of the crowd. His early antics have the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, then he bores them to tears with badly placed face control before no selling a bit of offense into a hot finish.

Meanwhile, in tag matches, he’s perfect at being a jerk and working over an opponent, the
boredom isn’t a problem with the hot tag to come. He’s also an awesome hot tag for Generico, who sells well enough for both of them, allowing Steen’s flashy offense to carry the later part of the match. Wrestlers scoff when you tell them a guy is a good tag wrestler, but not at singles, but that’s silly. Tags can hide weaknesses, and while Steen is extremely charismatic and entertaining, those get lost amid the weaknesses in his singles matches. Thankfully Generico covers them perfectly in tags. That he’s so charismatic then allows for his tags to seem even more important.

As for Generico in singles, which keeps coming up, it’s just not time right now. ROH needs to be more established for someone with that look to be taken seriously. Rey is vaguely similar, but he looks cool, as opposed to goofy for Generico. No one is a bigger fan of his work, but it’s just not what ROH needs right now on top. That said, a DVD title shot for Generico is an instant buy.

Topic: Austin Aries Future

Glazer: Austin Aries is certain to stay face until at least after Wrestlemania weekend. This is due to him now facing uber-heel Nigel that Saturday. Without that, perhaps there would be more drama, but ROH continues to spoil future storylines by booking a bit too far in advance. Sunny will be at those shows, so unless losing to Nigel is the impetus (unlikely) alone he stays. This is a shame, I’d really love Aries to go heel. He’s at his best as a tweener, leaning heel, a la his title run, which is what AOTF are now. It’d still be a step back for him to go join a stable after leaving Stable Wars for the title, though I suppose a second failure would change that. I’m still holding out hope for Aries in the NRC and rejoining Strong somehow.

Wiswell: My hope is that he remains a face. He’s one of the most entertaining guys to get behind in the company, and him Vs. Jacobs, Vs. Butcher, a rematch with Black, and a possible tag team match with Danielson against Age of the Fall are all interesting match-ups. He can team with Danielson now and again, without it being a routine thing. I’ve yet to see the Age of the Fall actually behave as tweeners; some of their rhetoric can split fans, but they’re still a group with an overly negative message and immoral tactics. There was nothing tweenerish about kidnapping Mark Briscoe or having managers run interference on Danielson. If Sunny is around then Aries can interact with her, but I don’t see any advantage to having them paired up. It’s not like this generation of WWE fans knows who she is, as was evidenced by her appearance on Raw.

Glazer: He’ll likely remain a face if for no other reason than the company has a severe lack of top level faces. Danielson, Aries, and Claudio are really it, so if Aries is a heel, the idea becomes: to what effect. AOTF are in a feud with various factions, with which Aries would add nothing. Meanwhile, they have enough members to support their feud with Aries and the Briscoes. Again, I retain hope that at some point Danielson and the Briscoes refuse to help him, leading him to the NRC helping him as an “enemy of my enemy ” deal.

Wiswell: We could easily see a situation where Aries doesn’t work well with the Briscoes, and miscommunication between them causes them to lose to the Age of the Fall rather than any of the three men being incapable or unworthy in the ring. Aries could even comment that this reminds him why he and Strong beat the Briscoes so often, foreshadowing that reunion. As the named ‘company ace,’ ROH ought to have enough to do with Aries individually for the long run, even if it doesn’t mean regaining the title this year (I doubt he’ll win it in 2008). But if they do move him to a more regular tag team, a reunion with Strong would be a beautiful thing, especially as Romero and Richards are quickly proving to be more successful than any NRC pairing that included Strong.

Somewhat related – if anyone in singles needs to enter the tag division, it’s Delirious. Are you really telling me Hallowicked won’t spring for the bus ticket to bring Incoherence to ROH?

Glazer: Delirious, unfortunately, looks to be sticking with Steen and Generico. With all three doing singles a lot, they’ll just keep teaming together. They kind of have to due to the hangmen. Del’s team with Tornado was a joy, unsurprisingly, but I want Tornado in openning comedy to make the crowds live. There’s nothing better for Del to do than bring in Hallowicked and I have no clue whatsoever why he hasn’t.

I do have a problem with the tag scene, though it’s being resolved I think. Everyone was doing wild sprints for awhile and, really, that’s the Briscoes schtick. That’s why they were getting so stale really. No one else did it as well, but everyone made them seem less special. The Briscoes draw so that has to stop. The NRC might be the right place for the belts then, because with Heel champions we might even get a bit of tag formula!

That’s it for this week. This weekend we’ll cover all the ROH shows from Dover and Philadelphia (A PPV Taping, Sunday), while Monday I’ll be back with A Modest Response.