Ring of Honor Weekly

News of Honor

Coverage of the Next PPV Taping!. See who became a star.

BJ Whitmer has left ROH

See below for more on his ROH tenure.

Ring of Honor now posts business notes.

Here are the notes I’ve found out about current ROH Business:

1. PPV buyrates were just as expected initially and have grown. This is a fact. The problem is that these buys are mostly the regular audience. The hope was that this would cause more people to buy DVDs. It hasn’t. My theory is that people saw the PPVs as the only thing important, a la Andrelegeant, and so any new turn out was balanced out that way.

2. We know nothing about the Canadian provider. Not where they are, not how widespread they are. No-thing. Stop assuming anything. I know Canadians that can still get thePPVs. Thanks.

3. The Dish network report was a total farce. What isn’t is this: The Dish telling customers who called that they didn’t carry the PPV. When I called Cablevision to ask, they told me the same thing. I later found it on their demand service on my own. This is not ROH’s fault, but that of the cable providers. Naturally, this hurt buys.

4. G Funk’s job was to help get ROH the exposure. ROH seemed to and still seems to believe that word of mouth is more powerful than it is. They expect others to do advertising for them. Bones aside, this is not the rule and has hurt G Funk’s efforts, without which there is no PPV, nor is TV nearly as much a possibility.

5. TV is the holy grail for ROH, in their own eyes. All of their efforts are geared that way currently. With TV, they believe, comes the exposure they want. I’m not convinced. They can do a far, far better job promoting themselves.

6. ROH didn’t really lose money. They expanded as if PPV would be gaining them a large pot of money to work with. It didn’t, so they cut back some of the expansions.

7. ROH did lose money in San Francisco. This was made back in the NYC doubleshot. ROH didn’t lose money in Japan. 90% of the roster used was over there for the NOAH or DG tours at the time anyway.

The Dover shows of last weekend will be on 1 DVD

Check Bones Barkley’s reviews of Night 1 and Night 2.

ROH will debut in Manassas, VA on May 9

NOAH Talent will be on hand the night before the Hammerstein Ballroom debut. Do not miss this chance to see ROH’s best talent!

Jack Evans returns 4/11 in Boston

Get out and welcome back Jack from his broken face by kicking his ass in Capcom vs. SNK.

A Quick Ode to Mr. Whitmer

This week Ring of Honor lost its longest tenured wrestler (without a break), BJ Whitmer. Whitmer has been in a ton of different roles in ROH, going from an early generic tough guy, a role in which he had a notable match with Homicide at Main Event Spectacles, to a member of Chris Daniels Prophecy. When Daniels left ROH to be full time in TNA, Whitmer, along with Danny Maff, got to headline against CM Punk and Colt Cabana, the Second City Saints. This feud lead to the memorable brawl and chair riot from Death Before Dishonor 2 Night 2. Although they lost the feud, the Prophecy remained successful, holding tag gold until Maff left ROH. This would ultimately lead to BJ Whitmer’s most successful angle.

Whitmer, upon the departure of Maff, took tag gold with a new partner, Jimmy Jacobs. The funny and cooky Jacobs with the ultra-serious Whitmer worked shockingly well and both men became a real team, with impressive chemistry, even though they were mismatched partners. Any who watch TNA know how rare a feat that truly is. Jacobs would ultimately turn on Whitmer due to his emo love of Lacey, leading to a violent feud that culminated by stealing Supercard of Honor 2. During this time Whitmer was also embroiled in ROH’s most heated rivalry ever: the CZW War. This was personal for Whitmer who was featured not only in the wild 6-man at The 100th Show and the Cage of Death at Death Before Dishonor IV, but also the second barbed wire match in ROH history with the Necro Butcher at War of the Wire 2.

After all of this Whitmer became among ROH’s most respected veterans, but a babyface push ultimately failed. Though he was respected enough to open Respect is Earned, the first ROH Pay Per View, the crowd failed to truly connect with him. This lead to a losing streak and tenure in the Hangmen 3. This stable also failed, though due to no fault of Whitmer, and when it joined SnS, Inc. Whitmer was left without a place in ROH.

BJ Whitmer is an incredibly hard worker who took some insane bumps for the pleasure of the audience. He was in no less than three major, ROH defining angles, and several more of ROH’s best matches, though admittedly usually with a gimmick. He was always a rather weak seller, which really hurt him as a face, but as a tag specialist really found his niche. He had likely run his course in ROH, but either way, his place in ROH history is secure and all the best should come to that proud warrior.

The Fool in the Stands: Stable Wars just didn’t Work

The loss of BJ Whitmer to the ROH roster called into focus the failure of the stable wars. The stable wars of ROH were a very good idea, but one that, in execution, did not deliver the promised logic and feuds to the card.

The first real problem of the Stable Wars was that it took so long to get off the ground. The first full stables were The Resilience of Austin Aries, Erick Stevens and Matt Cross and The NRC of Roderick Strong, Rocky Romero and Davey Richards. Jack Evans was also promised in a stable, but due to an injury angle (read: Dragon Gate booking) that took months to happen. Early on the Resilience and NRC matches were very good, but Aries being forced to leave to TNA made that portion of the wars fall apart. At the time, Jack was in Dragon Gate, so the Resilience tried to come back against the NRC with Delirious in Aries place. Del was never really added to the group and made Faction Warfare feel more like assorted guys beating up on Cross and Stevens, who became pure jobbers, and Delirious, who’s matches with Strong always seemed to fail to deliver.

Jack Evans had time before he left to start a stable and, indeed, wrestled Strong several times. Nothing came of any of this and Jack meandered about until he was “hurt.” This showed no urgency and left fans wondering how much the stables really mattered, with good reason. So with no Aries for the Resilience and no Jack’s stable, the reason for factions was called into question right from the start.

There was a third faction early in the stable wars and that was Sweet and Sour, Incorporated. The problem here was that this stable was mostly putting comedy characters around their one true wrestler. The stable became nothing more than an entourage for Chris Hero, and despite pretensions otherwise with the short term addition of Matt Sydal, the stable never took off in the slightest. This ultimately made it seem Hero was more comfortable on his own than in a group: the opposite of the desired effect. This is because he began battling Claudio Castagnoli, his former Kings of Wrestling partner. If he so chose to have a stable, why not have one with Claudio and Sweeney so as to actually work as a group. Instead, Hero showed that his stable meant nothing by spending the late Summer and Fall getting beaten all through the ROH circuit by the solo Castagnoli.

During the course of events, Austin Aries returned. He again lead the Resilience, but unfortunately got hurt in two major matches (Death Before Dishonor V Weekend), before competing in a series of stable themed singles matches. These weren’t bad, but the leader of each stable always beat the other number two man, making the results predictable. When number ones or number twos met each other, the result went to whoever was higher up the card. With this the case, why bother with the stables to begin with? Before we arrive at that, let’s go over the two last stables that showed up during the Summer.

The Hangmen 3 were a stable formed due to cryptic messages of Adam Pearce that seemed to cause Whitmer and Albright to become his loyal followers. Somehow this was still consistent with the flashy, gay joke manservant that was Shane Hagadorn and they were called the Hangmen 3 despite having four members in the group. This group, tired of losing, did not immediately try and take out as many as possible, or even join the other stables at all. They attacked Delirious. That’s a fine way to get heel heat as Del is quite beloved, but really, why was a stable needed to go after a lone, small masked man?

Meanwhile, Jack Evans had finally returned to join the war of former Generation Next members and had chosen Ruckus to be his stablemate. This was well done and left the Vulture Squad with a recognizable gimmick and purpose. Of course since Jack was decisively beaten by Roderick Strong immediately before this stable was formed, there was little question that this group was well below the NRC in terms of quality. This also weakened the tag division further by eliminating the awesome team of Quackenbush and Jigsaw from contention, though they were a fan favorite team that’s potential had barely been scraped.

While all of this was ongoing, the true goal of the stable wars, or what the goal should have been, the Tag Titles were becoming nearly as important as the World Title due to the Briscoes great matches and awesome feud with Steen and Generico. These matches were fast paced overkill, and the crowd was eating it up. The Briscoes won the feud and upon their victory was the one thing that would really set stable wars alight: The Age of the Fall.

This group was meant to be revolutionary and huge. It featured Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black, and Necro Butcher, three of the most charismatic men on the roster who promised to destroy what ROH represented, including the Briscoes, attacking and bloodying them. This brought the other stables into the mix since the AOTF had to defeat someone to earn a shot at the Briscoes, the rest of the stables became involved and finally went after the tag titles.

This lead to several new problems. The first of which is that most of the stables had been quite weakly booked, leaving the only credible ones the new Age of the Fall and the dominant NRC. The NRC seemed focused on killing other stables, though, and never had a real stable team. Most preferred Roderick and Davey Richards, but that was passed up in favor of Richards and Romero, who gelled surprisingly well, but were still not what people wanted to see. The AOTF, for a revolution, sure fell into line quickly, having normal matches with the other stables. This might have been okay, but Necro in particular was booked quite weakly and lost often, making the group seem like less of a threat.

Showing how important this whole affair truly was to him, Austin Aries also quit faction warfare, disbanding a major team in the Resilience. With the tag titles up for grabs, one of the few established leaders simply walked away.

To make matters worse, all of the stables were booked fairly evenly. With the Briscoes looking dominant people began to doubt any of these other stables had a shot. That was the first waning of interest in the Briscoes, and since their titles were the drive for all these matches, the matches became far weaker.

With the Briscoes as the goal and most over, all of the stable wars teams began aping their style. Whether it was suicidal moves from everyone or far too many pointless head drops, everyone speeded up and tried to work like the Briscoes. Ultimately this doomed the tag wars as much as anything. With everyone feeling the same (except the Hangmen and their random masked feud off in the corners of continuity), there was no reason to really care who won or lost. Then there was no reason who was champion. They all worked the same way, so what difference did it make? The Briscoes went from a unique draw to played out in record time and the belts had to be moved.

The NRC and AOTF were the only two factions in position to hold the belts so they were taken from the latter to the former. The Age of the Fall were major heels, but in the Briscoes style, so flashy they were cheered. Not helping matters was that ROH kept booking them in matches where it was especially hard to hold on to their titles, showing favoritism with several Ultimate Ultimate Endurance matches. The heel revolution was wronged and flashy… so why were they heels?

The NRC eventually took care of this and are now a fairly good regular heel team. The stable wars have collapsed around them, leaving a dearth of qualified contenders. Aries and Danielson are teaming due to the lack of established contending teams. The Vulture Squad were already defeated and lack in any credibility, being fliers who lose far too often. The Hangmen were a failure and given up upon so that they could join Sweet n Sour Incorporated. This marks Sweeney’s group as the first super-stable, though they are clear heels, so cannot challenge the NRC properly. The other major stable is also heel, and that’s the Age of the Fall. They could work face as challengers, but it would undermine their initial goal and feud with the Briscoes. That leaves Steen and Generico as the only major challengers, guys who were barely involved in faction warfare.

Instead of building many tag team challengers and viable teams, faction warfare lead to a number of teams aping the Briscoes style, the devaluing of the tag titles, and breaking up of numerous quality teams to make many lesser teams that didn’t work (Quack and Jigsaw, Aries and Strong, Hero and Claudio, Strong and Evans, Stevens and Cross, and Romero and Reyes). The feuds that followed lacked heat, produced losses being traded, and made no one stronger than they were on their own, as shown by Stevens only getting over when he left. Faction Warfare could still work, but it needs radical realignment into teams people care about. Steen and Generico, one of the few fresh acts left, need the tag titles and need to be good enough that some of the above teams re-form in order to try and pry the belts away. Until then, the tag titles are less than they were before the factions, as are those involved in their chase. For those scoring at home, that’s the opposite of the intended goal.

Be sure to check back for more coverage and flip through our Top 100 Wrestlers</b? feature, including Bryan Danielson and AJ Styles this week!

Tags: