â€˜Sup folks, Jake Mulligan here, Pulse Glazer will be back next week, perhaps with a response to this here column. Until then, weâ€™ll be covering this weekâ€™s news in ROH, and then youâ€™ll hear a little bit from me on why I feel ROH has begun to bore a lot of its fanbase. So with that, letâ€™s get to it!
News of Honor
Austin Aries and Lacey Disappear
It seems that, at least for now, Lacey has abandoned the Age of the Fall camp to stay with Austin, whom she is trying to recruit. Iâ€™ve got to believe that, after this build, Aries will be with the Age of the Fall, at least for a short while.
Detroit Mystery Partners Revealed
Austin Aries will team with Kota Ibushi against the Briscoes, and rival Claudio Castagnoli has agreed to team with ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness against respective rivals El Generico and Kevin Steen. McGuinness has said if Claudio wins he can have a title shot at Hammerstein, so expect Nigel to throw the match in some way, be it walking out, attacking Claudio, whatever.
Eddie Edwards joins Sweet â€˜N Sour Inc.
For now this isnâ€™t big, but Edwards defiantly has potential and has a good look with size, so he could be a player some day. The bigger news from Sweeney this weekend, however, is his continued attempts to recruit the entire NRC, and he seems to have Davey in his pocket. ROH seems to be headed to a massive Age of the Fall vs. Sweet â€˜N Sour Inc. vs. â€œROH Sekigunâ€ war, with everyone else seemingly dissolving. The BLKOUT, as well, havenâ€™t been seen or referenced in over a month.
Briscoes win ROH World Tag Team Titles in Edison
In a bit of a shocker, the Briscoes won the ROH World Tag Team Championship from the No Remorse Corps of Davey Richards and Rocky Romero in Edison last Saturday. Their matches against Austin Aries and Kota Ibushi in Detroit, and against Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin in Chicago, will be non-title. Their first defense will occur in Virginia on May 9th against unnamed opponents.
Chris Hero is here and heâ€™s Really Mad
Chris Hero underwent a major change in character this weekend, doing away with all flips and goofiness and becoming a bloodthirsty, angry fellow. With Eddie Kingston coming in, this could very well be a set up to continue their feud in a hateful environment.
First matches announced for 5/9 in Virginia and 5/10 in Hammerstein
Virginia will get Bryan Danielson vs. Tyler Black II, and Strong, Richards, and Romero vs. Morishima, Marufuji, and Shiozaki. Hammerstein will get the return of Johnny Fairplay, Bryan Danielson vs. Naomichi Marufuji II, Roderick Strong vs. Erick Stevens vs. Go Shiozaki, and TAKESHI MORISHIMA vs. NECRO BUTCHER. Buy your tickets now, guys. Buy them now.
Big Announcement coming Sunday
Iâ€™ll go ahead and guess that PPV is returning, with show 7 being taped on 5/10, but other rumors include ROH on TV (VERSUS Network), new International expansion (Canada, UK Return, Japan Return), and LAX coming into NYC to challenge the Briscoes.
My Take: Why ROH is Boring Right Now
Look, let me preface this. ROH is not completely boring right now; these are just some major complaints I have. I canâ€™t wait to see some of the shows theyâ€™re having on DVD, and theyâ€™re booking some fine looking matches. But my interest now is way below the ROH vs. CZW, Summer of Punk, or even the Morishima era, and these are many of the reasons I feel that way. I am a heavy supporter of ROH with, Iâ€™d guess, close to 75 DVDs and I have sat front row to every Boston show since the return, and made a trip to NYC specifically to take in ROH. So I have every right to air my complaints here.
Reason Numero Uno: PPV has sucked, and will continue to suck. If it brought in new fans, fine. But it hasnâ€™t, and itâ€™s hurt enjoyment for all the regulars. The shows themselves, live, are ridiculously disjointed and it majorly harms the shows. Iâ€™m sorry, but itâ€™s hard to sit through Davey Richards vs. Erick Stevens w/ a Daniel Puder run-in, and the Briscoes vs. Romero and Strong after seeing Nigel McGuinness and Austin Aries put on a classic for the ROH World Title. And the effect for regular viewers isnâ€™t just live, but on DVD as well. Originally, the first PPV aired before the shows after it were released, which at least meant PPV gave regular viewers a jump start on shows theyâ€™d normally have to wait longer to see. However, scheduling, and the fact that PPV could only be taped in certain markets, meant that I was able to see Nigel McGuinness make multiple defenses of his ROH Title on DVD before I ever saw him win it, with no clips of the win given because they donâ€™t want to give anything away. PPV has really given nothing back to the regular viewer, and itâ€™s majorly hurting enthusiasm in my opinion.
And PPV isnâ€™t just hurting â€œshow flowâ€. The matches themselves, in some cases and in my opinion, have been hurt. Take Chris Hero vs. Claudio Castagnoli from Rising Above, for example. This was the blowoff of a feud a year in the making, but because of time constraints it got 7 minutes, and because ROH is trying to stay relatively family friendly and already had one brawl on the show, could have been an exhibition for all I know. Also, Nigel and Morishima had to do their title switch match in about 13 minutes, while they had two greater matches previous that, surprise, got about 20. You can take this as nitpicking, but it hurts my enjoyment, and surely many other peoples too.
Another thing that could be hurting enthusiasm right now is a real dearth of great feuds. Most periods in ROH history have one classic feud going on at the time that could account for a match or two on the card. Joe vs. The Rottweilers. Punk vs. the Roster. Generation Next vs. The Embassy. ROH vs. CZW. Briscoes vs. Steenerico. These feuds captured peoples imagination, and they all have one of these two elements: theyâ€™re extremely simple (Punk has the belt and wants it back, two stables want to prove which is better) or theyâ€™re easy to relate to (Steenerico need to prove their worth, ROH and CZW hate the fact that they present opposing sides of one business). Now what do we have for feuds? We have faction warfare running all. Itâ€™s certainly not simple, everyone has numerous beefs and you have to follow Blogs, Video Wires, Myspaces, Youtube Accounts, Hotlines, everything to get the whole story. And hey, Iâ€™m not knocking that, Iâ€™m all for innovation, but I canâ€™t relate to it either. We have a sports agent (not a lot of those in the ROH fanbase) a group of revolutionists (and literally no one knows what theyâ€™re revolting against, Iâ€™ve asked multiple times), a group of guys who never explained why they got together, and even abuse one of their members for no apparent reason (sup NRC), and dudes from the streets who happen to be led from a Washington suburbanite. Certainly not a lot the average, college aged white male ROH fanbase can relate to, so theyâ€™re 0-2 on what has constantly made theyâ€™re feuds great.
And with feuds comes the champ, Nigel McGuinness. He was getting really cool mixed reactions for a while, and I almost wish they stayed with it, because ROH World Champion as a heel has become tired. We are just coming off a long term heel run with Morishima, and the only differences between Morishima and Nigel (two hard hitting heavyweights) is that Nigel can cut a promo (which are hilarious, so people are actually cheering him more now as a heel than as a tweener) and that all of Morishimaâ€™s matches were fresh, while Nigel has wrestled two men as champion in ROH he had not wrestled already (and one of them was Jay Briscoe, not exactly a singles superstar). So the ROH World Champion, while due to his great matches not bad, is not entirely interesting to me, but then again, ROH has never run with a long term face champ (besides arguably Joe, three and a half years ago), so maybe I just really wanted to see that.
Another problem Iâ€™ve been having is that everything gets draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaged the hell out badly, and itâ€™s hurting feuds for me. What are some of the most successful angles in ROH history? ROH vs. CZW (6 months), Summer of Punk (2), Briscoes vs. Steenerico (by the time an actual issue started, 5), I could go on and on. Sure Jacobs and Whitmer went a year, but over half of that time Whitmer was either hurt or wrestling exclusively against CZW. Now, all the feuds get dragged out to about a year or so, and by the time theyâ€™re done people just donâ€™t care. Sweeney is constantly evading Claudio, and I speak from experience in Boston last Friday, no one gives a shit anymore â€˜cause itâ€™s expected Sweeney will get away. Age of the Fall vs. Briscoes has been rapidly losing heat since the day it began. Dragon and Morishima are coming close to a year, and canâ€™t even have another match till Morishima loses his GHC Title, which could be a long time. Delirious started his feud with Adam Pearce in mid 2006, and JUST blew it off in Chicago a few months ago, and to what? Silence. Dragging stuff out hasnâ€™t worked in the past (remember this every time you feel like watching Joe vs. KENTA), and it wonâ€™t work now. ROH could use some quick and dirty feuds, because now (for the most part, some major things or ones with classic matches get over), no one gives a shit for the first few months because they know itâ€™s not ending anytime soon, and by the time itâ€™s close to ending, itâ€™s overstayed its welcome.
The last issue Iâ€™d like to speak on is one pretty close to my heart: the tag division. I love ROHâ€™s tag teams. Steen and Generico are one of the best in the world, and you have a supporting cast of Jacobs and Black, the Briscoes, Jack and Ruckus (have quietly had some great matches), Aries and Dragon (I think), any combo of the NRC, and special guests like Doi and Yoshino, Shingo and Hulk (best in the world for my money), and Sabin and Shelley. But the focus of the division, the tag belts, havenâ€™t meant shit since the Ladder War, as far as Iâ€™m concerned. The Briscoes defended in bad matches against goof teams like Aries and Cross, and Strong and Romero (much better as opponents than partners), then lost to Jacobs and Black. They had tons of fresh matches as champs, so of course they lost within a month. Gabe has a plan, they would say. Romero and Richards will do something with those belts to justify the switch. Ya, they did something. They beat the Vulture Squad C-Team twice and lost them to the Briscoes. The same Briscoes who held the belts for a year and have wrestled everyone in the division. ROH has the potential to have one of the best tag divisions ever, but until they stabilize the top, the rest will never sort itself out.
These are my issues, and theyâ€™re off my chest. Ya, I have a few more (way too many title matches, because no one buys Jay Briscoe or an injured Erick Stevens winning the belt, and those matches, trust me, arenâ€™t drawing fans on their own). But these are the main. Feel free to contact me to argue/support/whatever at firstname.lastname@example.org, in fact, I encourage it. Until then, you can read me in VS (I never lose) or my Spotlight on Japan column, which after a delay to write this, will return next week. Until then, Iâ€™m Jake Mulligan, and thanks for reading.