Cult of ROH: The Big 4/20 Announcement

You hear a lot of funny declarations on 4/20. Your brother thinks the cat can talk. Your best friend from college (the one who smells like unwashed feet, even with his shoes on) thinks God is actually an ocean – on the other side of the world. This past April 20th ROH pulled such a serious announcement that turned out to be hilarious. The announcement was not Rob Van Dam or a TV deal, but a sale. By the way, you’ve got less than 24 hours to save 33% on everything in the ROH store. It’s partially my normal good nature, but I’ve been laughing over this all week. It’s the best wrestling laugh I’ve had since Colt Cabana went to OVW.

On Thursday they announced that they would have a big announcement. Personally, I’m always wary of anyone announcing that they will have a big announcement. But some people couldn’t help themselves.

Specifically, Gabe Sapolsky wrote:

“April 17th: There will be a big announcement on the main page of www.ROHwrestling.com this Sunday.”

That was it. It was a breather in-between hyping the weekend’s matches and stuff streaming on their website, and it got less space than Adam Pearce Vs. Silas Young. That was really vague, and given how small the news item was in ROH’s own Newswire, I didn’t put much thought into it. Seriously, compare:

“April 17th: There will be a big announcement on the main page of www.ROHwrestling.com this Sunday.”

to:

“April 17th: Ok, we know you’ve waited long enough. The first three matches for the 5/10 Hammerstein Ballroom debut in Manhattan will now be announced. GHC Heavyweight Champion Takeshi Morishima and Bryan Danielson were given a chance to pick each other’s poison. They have selected each other’s opponents for the card. Morishima has decided to match Danielson up against a man that has held every title in NOAH. It will be Danielson vs. Naomichi Marufuji in a battle of two of the best that ROH and NOAH has to offer. These two met in 2005 at ROH’s “Final Battle 2005” event, but they have each matured and gotten so much better. This one has the makings of a classic.”

Anybody thinking the use of “big” was deceptive probably didn’t notice Mr. Sapolsky used big several other times in the newswire, and that he said one of his matches would be “classic.” How you could read this Newswire (let alone several of them) and go nuts over “big announcement” is beyond me. If you’re still not convinced, go read that whole newswire here and ask yourself, despite hindsight, how high your expectations reasonably should have been:
http://www.rohwrestling.com/MessageBoard/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=40956

It didn’t matter. People went nuts. Maybe ROH was brokering a deal with TNA. Would talent be returning? Would Samoa Joe come back? Or maybe new guys from TNA could show. Could Kurt Angle make his ROH debut? Better, maybe ROH and TNA were going to work together. Would ROH stars invade Impact?

Others drew a different logical triangle. The announcement was on 4/20, the infamous ganj holiday. ROH had an upcoming show at the Hammerstein Ballroom, a venue intrinsically linked to the old ECW. Whether or not the man himself wanted to do it, fans had avidly speculated that Rob Van Dam would show up in ROH eventually. Maybe he’d headline the Hammerstein show!

What was the actual announcement?

“Ring of Honor is kicking off spring in a BIG way. You can now save 33% off everything on the ROH website with no minimum purchase required.”

“Spring of Honor,” they call it. I still can’t type it without grinning.

33% off is big in comparison to other sales they have run in the first half of any given year. It is big in comparison to sales, but a sale is not particularly big news. Sales are notoriously common at rohwrestling.com. Advice to new fans is always to wait a couple of weeks and order when the next sale comes up. There’s at least one a month.

Better, this wasn’t the biggest announcement ROH made that weekend. On Friday they announced that after six years of anticipation they would finally run a live show in Canada. Canadian fans had been begging almost since ROH’s inception (and certainly since ROH ran Buffalo, NY). ROH features several Canadian wrestlers and one of them, Kevin Steen, is a big contender for the ROH World Championship. This is a new country for a promotion that has only run shows in three countries previously (U.S.A, England and Japan). Last year their announcement that they were just going across the country to Nevada and California was big.

Better still, this wasn’t the biggest announcement ROH made on April 20th. That same day they announced that Mark Briscoe had a serious hand injury and would be out of action for a significant amount of time. With the Briscoes as ROH World Tag Team Champions, the prestigious tag titles would be in limbo. Jay Briscoe might need to find a new partner. There might a tournament. All we knew is that this was bigger than 33% off rather than 25%.

(We’ve since learned that Jay Briscoe will be allowed to pick a new partner to defend the titles. He and whoever he chooses will make their first defense against Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs, the latter being the man who injured Mark Briscoe, at the Hammerstein show on 5/10.)

Part of me hopes ROH will drop huge announcements at random all week just to hammer home the humor. Whoever Jay Briscoe picks as his opponent will be a bigger announcement – especially come Thursday, once the sale has expired.

There was no qualifier on what this “big announcement” would be about. An easily excited fan base hears their will be a big announcement, and they think of talent, new matches, television deals. They go to the things that are really big to them. But I still don’t blame ROH for this disappointment.

I blame Ring of Honor for plenty of things. I blame them for employing the Necro Butcher. I blame them for shoving the FIP title down my throat even after so many title defenses went bust. I blame whatever part of that company somehow renders SHIMMER female wrestlers incompetent when they step in an ROH ring despite being fully competent in their own company – and then letting them do it on every frickin’ show.

I do not blame ROH for some guy on Newsday’s blog blowing one sentence in a Newswire he received way out of proportion. I don’t blame Gabe Sapolsky for an eight-page thread of wild speculation where fans said they’d be disappointed if it was only more Pay Per Views. Cary Silkin did not suggest it was Rob Van Dam, a cable television deal or Jesus coming back (perhaps for an Easter weekend tripleshot). The disappointment I felt at this big announcement was thanks to fellow fans for suggesting wild ideas, and largely thanks to myself, for disregarding reason in believing these hundreds of people might be right.

Still, given that their message board moderators deleted the original “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT” thread (which became bloated with complaints) and locked the new announcement thread, it’s evident that ROH knows it did something. They have a very easily excited fanbase. We shouldn’t forget that a few teases about a “ROHbot Arm” drove these people wild with notions of fan cameras or robots. The ROHbot Arm turned out to be a new graphic that displayed names during entrances on DVD’s. And it was pretty ugly.

Somebody in their offices had to realize this was tempting fate. Their fans were already being treated to Kota Ibushi, Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin making special visits, all in one weekend. That sort of thing doesn’t sate appetites when further promises are announced; it elevates expectations. If we’ve got a crazy Japanese flyer and one of the best tag teams in the world, then a BIG announcement could be a TV deal!

No, it couldn’t. And it wasn’t. It was a sale. Best of all, it was a sale on items currently in the store, so you couldn’t even pre-order this weekend’s shows at the discount. But it wasn’t just a sale. It was also hilarious. Easily the best thing I heard or read on all 4/20.

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