The ROH Short Form, 4.19.08

So, how did this come about? Me, going back into ROH-bot mode? Simple, really:

Aaron: Eric, you want to cover the ROH show this weekend?

Moi: What’s on the card?

Aaron: Machine Guns/Briscoes…

Moi: Say no more.

Oh, yeah, for that match, I’m on it like white on…no, it’s bad enough that I actually went into work for a couple of hours prior to the show (it’s on the way to the arena, it’s only a couple of miles away, I had a couple of hours to put it before hitting overtime; hey, you’d do the same…well, those of you with a job, anyway). I shouldn’t use any analogies that allude to my job while I’m trying to concentrate on which reference I’m going to use for that match. I hope you’ll be pleased by the one I decided to use. Like it matters to me if you are anyway.

First of all, I do owe ROH an apology. The last time I attended one of their shows, the Short Form of it was never posted. Yes, it was pretty much finished, but…okay, full story. I was about fifteen minutes from finishing it when I had to go into work that Monday morning. By the time I got home…uh, that was the Benoit weekend. There was no way I was going to post my normal snarky column when three people were dead. So, I put it in abeyance permanently. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy the show. I did, let me assure you. Well, Aaron was there for that show, and I seem to remember that he got something up right after the show, so it wasn’t like we missed out on it here. However, there’s a difference between being covered by Aaron and being covered by me. Anyone familiar with my ego can easily figure out what that is.

So, sorry, ROH, I really am. However, looking back over that article, I kinda half-assed it because Aaron did results and everything. So maybe it’s better that it wasn’t put up. Of course, I’ll never be able to use an excuse like that again. I hope.

And the reason this is late? The Doctor, Galactica, exhaustion, place in any order. Well, at least it’s getting done.

So, let’s move to the show itself, shall we?

Match Results:

Rick Dennis (doing the Lover Boy act) and Dave Daniels (with Daredevil tights) over Local Boy Trent Davis and King Of The Prelim Matches Ernie Osiris, We Heart Prelim Matches (Pinfall, Dennis pins Davis, cheating rollup): I’m going to make things as clear as possible: Ernie Osiris is ready. He’s been ready for almost a year now. He’s more ready than Shane Hagadorn and Pelle Primeau were when they were in his position. The guy’s good. Versatile, willing to work the mat, the whole package. So why has he been stuck in prelims for the last year? Well, that’s ROH Quality Control. They wait to make abso-positively-sure a guy’s ready before promoting him. Well, it’s time. It showed in this match. The heel team was rather green (blown spots and all), but Ernie, who does a very credible Ricky Morton, covered for them nicely. Sticking him in this limbo between curtain-jerking and enhancement talent is doing him no good at this point. Give him a good program and see what he can do. It wouldn’t hurt.

As for the other guys, well, as I said, the heels are still green, but they seem willing to learn and improve. Davis reminds me of a greener Jack Evans, with the potential to get rid of the “green” part…ooh, shouldn’t say that on Arbor Day, should I? Gotta be green on Arbor Day. He may be the next high-flier off the production line given a little work and luck. This is why I love ROH prelim matches. They give a great indication of how talent’s developing and how they’re developed by the boys. The sheer amount of care taken in these young performers shows. That’s why people love working for ROH, and that’s why intelligent wrestling fans love watching ROH.

Austin Aries over Silas Young (Submission, brainbuster into what I can only describe as an inverted chicken-wing): Has Austin Aries lost a step? No, of course, he hasn’t. He’s just as good as ever (in other words, about twenty times better than he was allowed to display in TNA). This match highlighted that, since his opponent was, for all intents and purposes, a younger Austin Aries. Young displayed a good complement of high-flying and mat ability. You can see that he still has room to grow, but you can also see that he’s going to be able to take that next step. Aries isn’t certainly enhancement talent, but he does have the ability to enhance younger talent. He gave Young a lot of chances to show off, especially Young’s ability to chain wrestle and use combos. Good opener. Not hot, but they reserved the heat for the angle that followed (see below).

Too bad that I can’t tell you what the humorous chant was during this match, because we’re not allowed to use certain words here at IP anymore. Well, get the DVD if you want to know.

Alex Payne versus Mitch Franklin (ND, Necro-ference): Aw, come on. Yeah, you had to expand the angle, but at the cost of a Sugarfoot match? Everybody loves Sugarfoot. Unusually, everybody also loves seeing Sugarfoot get the crap beaten out of him, and there are few better in North America these days at doing so than Necro Butcher. Before you ask, yes, there was (fake) barbed wire involved. It’s Necro Butcher.

Necro Butcher over Alex Payne (Pinfall, general beatdown): The abuse thrown at Chubby-Boy Ref Todd Sinclair has finally cracked his brain, I see. Todd, Necro Butcher wasn’t involved in this match. It was Sugarfoot versus Franklin. Of course, Franklin was turned into a fine paste distributed across ringside, and this is ROH, where every match has to have an ending, so…oh, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being protective of Sinclair and want to get him the right therapy and medication…

…oh, this is getting weird. Aaron’s got a man-crush on El Generico. I’ve got a man-crush on Todd Sinclair. Which is stranger?

Claudio Castagnoli and Pelle Primeau over Adam Pearce and Brent Albright (Pinfall, Castagnoli pins Albright, powerbomb onto Larry Sweeney’s…small valise? large purse? What would you call that?): Claudio and Larry Sweeney in the same general area always equals fun, and everyone seemed to have fun in this match. The problem is that I didn’t. I just kept thinking one thing over and over: “Are Claudio and Pelle making some money on the side doing daddy/boy porn?” Their magnificent assisted hurracanrana and Claudio’s extended giant swing on Albright (you’ll have to see it on the DVD) didn’t even break me away from that.

Actually, you want to know the tipping point of why my last ROH review didn’t go up? It was because of Brent Albright. Here’s how that happened: during that show last June, I needed to empty myself of the quantities of Diet Pepsi that had gone down my throat. At Frontier Fieldhouse, the door to the locker room (and showers) is right behind the urinal in the men’s room. While engaged in mictuarial activites, I heard the locker room door open and turned around. There was Brent Albright, emerging from taking a shower, wearing only shorts and a towel, looking like he was six months pregnant. I’m talking serious tummy, people. Naturally, this observation had to go into the column. Then the Benoit situation happened, and, all of a sudden, my observations about Albright’s beer gut seemed a…well, a little too glib and facetious compared to the horrific real-life situation us wrestling fans found ourselves in. The good news is that Brent’s been spending time with the Abdominizer since then, and the tummy’s gone away. The tummy, in fact, has been replaced by a new dedication to improving himself. He’s one of the crispest pure power wrestlers around now, almost on a par with Nigel McGuinness. Hey, I owe saying that to him, and to ROH, and to you.

MsChief over Lacey, Daizee Haze, and Ashley Lane, Four Corners, Eight Hooters Match (Pinfall, MsChief pins Lane, brainbuster): Here’s how WWE has ruined me, and ruined all of you too. In my conscious thought processes, SHIMMER provides the best female wrestling this side of joshi. All of the performers are talented, they take the matches seriously, there’s no pandering to the audience, no sign of T&A BS. They consistently provide us with great action. But then the hindbrain kicks in, and some nasty thoughts start surfacing: “Hmmmm, I’m having a nicotine fit. Chicks in the ring. Now would be a good time to step outside.” Yes, I have willpower, a great deal of it. Yes, I could have resisted the siren song of my Zippo for ten minutes or so. Yes, I could have remained inside and witnessed most of this match. But, no, it’s chicks in the ring. WWE has conditioned us to set our conscious minds on Ignore when that happens. And I wasn’t alone. There were about two dozen people outside joining me in said activity. That’s damn shameful of me. SHIMMER and its performers deserve my respect for the fact that they’re trying to elevate women’s wrestling from the Poor Man’s (Straight/Lesbian Fantasy) Porn Ghetto that WWE’s stuck it in, and here I am, assauging my own cravings instead of paying attention.

Note, please, that this is not an example of my fabled sarcasm. I’m serious. The portions of the match that I did see were wonderful. Fast action, no descent into formula, the ladies’ full repertoires on display…wait a second, that sounds a little dirty. Unfortunately, that’s the best way to say it. Here are three damn good wrestlers (and Ashley Lane) busting their, it must be admitted, hot-looking butts for us, and I can’t appreciate it because Vince, damn his eyes, has pandered to the lowest common denominator of an audience that, frankly, has a very low common denominator to begin with. MickieLexis LaJames and Beth Phoenix should get a month off from their current toils and get permission to do a month’s worth of ROH/SHIMMER shows with these ladies. It may be the only way to appreciate what we’ve got in them.

Chris Hero over Delirious (Pinfall, Clothesline From Metropolis): I think you can easily figure out how I feel about Delirious…well, I’ve said it a few times, actually. I may not like him, but he does have a tendency to bring the Lulz. Having Sweeney out there should help in this regard. But then there’s Chris Hero, who couldn’t get laughs if he stopped his match and started singing “Springtime For Hitler” in the middle of the ring. He’s a lulz-killer supreme. He single-handedly pushed the accelerator and drove the speeding car to Dullsville like Danica Patrick on crank.

ROH is proud, and should be proud, that they consider every match important and that there’s no such thing as filler in their shows. But sometimes, sometimes, they come oh, so close to an unabashed filler match. This was one of those times. It didn’t help that at this point, I was getting a bit tired and needed something to wake me up.

Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin over Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe, Non-Title Match (Pinfall, Shelley pins Jay, top-rope brainbuster): Okay, this’ll do it. Two Aprils in a row now. It’s like ROH is rewarding us for doing our taxes on time or something. Last year’s match was an MOTYC; so was this year’s. How awesome was it? It was so awesome it drained the batteries on my pocket recorder and I had to switch over to my phone to do notes. This year, they didn’t do a prolonged comedy routine before the match, they just got into it and didn’t stop until they turned the entire crowd into foam-salivating dishrags; it was so jam-packed that the restholds didn’t last longer than fifteen seconds. There are some moments that stand out, like Sabin’s mini-routine with Chubby-Boy, where Sabin was about to go outside to join in the extracurricular fun on the apron, gets blocked from doing so by the object of my man-crush, then topes over him anyway. Sabin gets Mark in a variation of the Indian Death Lock, then Shelley kicks him right in the other, more important Briscoe Brothers. The Machine Guns even repeated the double submission spot that they used last year (with different moves), and it worked just as well or better. The Briscoes contributed their part, of course; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a high-flying team make moonsaults look effortless (Spanky and London, for instance, always looked like they were trying too hard when they did stuff like that).

This match even featured some educational moments. If you ever want to run a class on how to break up pinfalls, show them this match. Everything not only flowed perfectly, but all four guys actually made the break-ups entertaining. It wasn’t the entertainment of desperation until later in the match, when each break-up got more and more desperate by both teams; the pinning moves kept escalating and escalating, and the break-ups and kick-outs just kept coming (Sabin kicking out of a chicken-wing brainbuster slightly strained credulity, though). The build-up was wonderfully executed. I don’t know who was calling this match (I suspect Shelley), but whoever it was knew exactly what both teams could do. You could have the greatest teams in the world in there (and you were damn close to having them in this match), but you could still ruin the match by blowing the booking. This match was the equivalent of a nun with lockjaw in that respect.

Speaking of Catholic things, you know, those three Portugese brats saw the Virgin of Fatima three times. I feel a bit cheated in this regard. I’ve only seen this match twice. I deserve a third time, if only for all the crap I’ve put up with in wrestling over the last quarter-century-plus. And if you take offense to this assertion on the basis that Fatima was a religious experience, let’s just say that some people see God in their own way. This was Team Seraphim and Team Cherubim turning a non-descript southwest suburb of Chicago into a wrestling fan’s equivalent of Lourdes. If you don’t think that my soul was healed in some way from a bit of the damage that wrestling has done to me, you’re a heretic and must be burned.

Ah, but there’s something missing, you say. Where’s the negative comments? It’s Eric; he has to have negative comments. Okay, here goes: it wasn’t the best Match Leading Into Intermission that I’ve ever seen. Of course, when the competition is Benoit/Regal at Pillman 2000, you can’t help it. But they tried. Oh, they tried. Yes, I must agree with the ROH-bots: Please. Come. Back.

Ibushi Kota over Generico El (Pinfall, inverted top-rope hurricanrana into a twisting moonsault): As I said, Aaron’s got a man-crush on El Generico. He tried insidiously to convert me to his way of thinking by prompting me to watch this match closely, ostensibly because of Ibushi. He really, really insisted on wanting to know if Ibushi was all that and a side of miso. Sure you did, Aaron. Aaron found out privately that his plan failed, so he’s now moved on to the next step: he’s offering me a match between Generico and Danielson. Oh, he knows my weaknesses, what few of them there are. He knows I can’t resist this bait. I know it’s a trap, and yet I walk into it a happy camper. It’s a last-gasp move, of course. If Ol’ Best In The World can’t convert me to the First Church of Generico, nothing can. We’ll see, Aaron. We’ll see.

(Please, Generico fanboiz, don’t misunderstand me; I think Generico is good. But, admittedly, I haven’t seen him at his best. He always seems to get the short end of the stick when ROH comes to Chicago. Maybe he is better than I think. Probably not, but my mind is still open at this point. However, it doesn’t help when someone lighter than you kicks out of your brainbuster. Then again, kicking out of a brainbuster was almost as much of a theme for this show as the Jacobs extravaganza; this was, I think, the third match this happened in that evening.)

I praised the booking of the Machine Guns/Briscoes match. Now it’s time for karmic payback. They booked this match in the one way that’s guaranteed to piss me off to no end: start the match as a mat wrestling routine, then flick a switch and go into flippy-yippy mode. As most of you know, I hate that. I really hate that. If the transition was a little more prolonged and it was more an organic part of the match story, I have no problem with it. But switch-flicking? No. Guaranteed to turn my switch to the Off position and break the control. So, I didn’t come away from this match a happy camper. But your mileage, and your tolerance for this type of booking, may vary. There will be a great many of you who will love this and think that it was a magnificent choice coming out of intermission to get the crowd re-energized. I will respect you for thinking that. At the same time, I will be shaking my head at you and wondering if there’s any future for the human race, and attempting to figure out ways to prevent you from breeding. You being wrestling fans assists in that regard, of course.

Now, that being said, is Ibushi all that and a side of miso? No. Actually, not yet. He’s well on his way, though; in fact, you might say he’s tantalizingly close. He’s got loads of speed, snappy transitions, great ability on the flying end (he has one of the crispest standing moonsaults I’ve ever seen), and, despite his size, he has a credible power game and lots of mat wrestling ability. He’s a five-tool guy, no doubt; some of the things he pulled out were visually spectacular. You need to see what he does with a moonsault late in this match just to understand how difficult it is to describe it (yet again, people, that means, “Buy the DVD”). He just needs a bit more seasoning, perhaps a sweet ginger marinade before dipping it in miso. Right now, as is, he’d fit in perfectly in ROH on a full-time basis. He can mesh well with any number of people on the roster and even provide a complementary presence in tag matches to a number of people who could use him in regard to carrying a match (hello, Chris Hero). Just don’t team him with Delirious and he’d be fine. I came away impressed. Naturally, he got a “Please Come Back” from the crowd too, and really seemed to enjoy the post-show autograph session that began during the extended lull that was the title match. Here’s hoping that he does come back, for an extended period of time. It’s not that ROH needs someone like him (frankly, they have enough people like him already), it’s that ROH can use him, and use him properly. I trust ROH to do something like that, and as all of you know, I don’t trust anyone to do anything. Thus, it actually has meaning coming from me.

Tyler Black, Joey Matthews, and Zach Gowen over Jack Evans, Jigsaw, and Ruckus (Pinfall, Black pins Evans, cradle brainbuster): And since we didn’t see enough of them the rest of the night, Age of the Fail comes on to actually wrestle. Honestly, guys, how am I to take this stable seriously? You’ve got Whiny Emo Bitch, Pegleg Pete, a nonentity in Tyler Black, a guy who dressed in furs for two years while playing third wheel to Melina “There Isn’t An STD That’s Kept Me Down Yet” Perez and Johnny Freakin’ Nitro, and a man whose tenures elsewhere in North America have prompted some, shall we say, interesting rumors about what he considers to be proper post-date behavior. Honestly, is it because I’m 43 years old? Is there an appeal here to the young’uns who might be my illegitimate children that I don’t comprehend? Is emo still considered edgy, or did it really go out about five years ago like I thought it did? Doesn’t Madonna recording a whole album that sounds like “SexyBack” mean emo is officially dead? Wrestling isn’t supposed to be hip and on the edge. It’s supposed to lag behind societal trends to some extent. But isn’t this a pretty short peg to hang your most visible angle on?

Yes, I’m avoiding talking about the match. Later in this article, I call this show a sine wave. Here’s one of the troughs. No fault of Jack Evans, of course. He was his usual great self. But it was just too much for him to carry. Jigsaw hasn’t really improved since I saw him last year. Ruckus is a generic bruiser. He wasn’t getting much help from his side, despite the fact that he wasn’t supposed to, being booked to play Ricky Morton in this match. Normally, Jack Evans playing Ricky Morton is enough to make me enjoy a match, but he got swept past the event horizon of the Singularity Of Suck.

Please note this fact: being invited into someone’s house does not necessarily forbid me from criticizing the hideous decor.

Nigel McGuinness over Kevin Steen, ROH World Title Match (Pinfall, short clothesline): And here might, just might, be the possible origin for my neutral feelings about El Generico. I don’t get Kevin Steen. I really don’t get him. He’s Generic Musclebound Moron with you-really-can’t-help-not-to-pick-them-up-when-you’re-in-ROH high-flying moves. Seeing him in a world title match triggers my memories of Al Snow going up against Shane Douglas in ECW for their world title. Those of you with extremely long memories know how that turned out: Douglas was going to be going out for six months with an injury after that match, and he still refused to drop the title because he was up against Al Snow, for Heyman’s sake. Even ROH can fall victim to improper pushes. Kevin Steen is one of them. What do they, and what do the ROH-bots, see in Captain Whitebread? I honestly don’t get it.

Look, folks, trust me. I’ve been around the block a few times, and I know better than you. Kevin Steen is a clean-shaven Jim Neidhart, albeit one who’s not afraid to go off the top rope. Like Neidhart, he works better as the bruiser in a tag combo (and despite my ambivalence regarding both of them, Steen and El Generico are a damn sweet tag team, there’s no denying that). Like Neidhart, he has absolutely no personality and nothing to recommend him in terms of singles action. Of course, that would make Generico Bret, and you know how I feel about Ol’ Overrated. That explains a great deal.

I love Nigel, by the way, and this is actually the first time that I’ve had a chance to see him when he hasn’t been injured and/or had the crap beaten out of him by Danielson the night before. He’s a good choice for champion. He also has good instincts when it comes to being a heel in ROH. The natural inclination of any ROH-bot is to cheer everyone regardless out of some unusual sense of obligation, but Nigel does just enough to keep the crowd from doing that. He’s dastardly in a wonderfully subtle way, something that took Trip and Michaels years to learn. He knows how to act in a match to get a negative response from the crowd, and that even extends to his movement. He has a wonderful sense of presence and body language. Of course, none of that helps when you’re stuck in a match with Kevin Steen. Steen isn’t a black hole for heat, but he does tend to put a damper on things.

I don’t know whether or not the crowd was still drained after the intermission bookend matches, or if it was because it was late and the weather was rather dreary, or if they were just totally bored, but there was no crowd heat at all for this match, not even during Steen’s big face moments. It just seemed a little weird, because my previous ROH shows have featured rousing and/or crowd-pandering closers, and I’ve always been amazed that the audience had enough energy to respond that far into a show. But this time, the crowd was just petering out. A dull end to what was, on occasion, a great evening.

Angle Developments And Various Other Observations:

Mies-en-scene: The theme for the night was “How Miserable Can Jimmy Jacobs Get Without Actually Wrestling A Match?” The only continuing angle that was developed was a good, old-fashioned one with a typical ROH twist. To set things up: in Detroit on Friday night, something might have gone on which led Jimmy Jacobs to believe that Austin Aries had become a member of Age of the Fail. Apparently, Lacey supposedly sealed the deal with Aries in a way that Lacey probably appreciated greatly; Aries, on the other hand, needed a quick trip to the local VD clinic. Jacobs, of course, didn’t know that Lacey had sealed the deal in that particular way. And, oh, by the way, she didn’t seal the deal. Whoops.

In the night’s first promo after the opener, Aries made it absolutely clear what he and Lacey did before leaving Detroit for Chicago, and probably did a few more times while heading down I-94. Aries also made it absolutely clear that this transaction in no way obligated him in any way, shape, or form to Age of the Fail. Aries has brains and intelligence.

The next real extension (if you don’t count Necro Butcher behaving like Necro Butcher) came after the SHIMMER match, naturally. After all, Lacey was in the ring and it was a convenient time to have an extremely personal conversation about where your long-standing relationship is going in front of a thousand of your closest friends. At the end of this, Jacobs demonstrates why he’s not really cut out to be a leader of a heel faction. Good heel faction leaders are cynical by definition. They will use people to their own ends, manipulating the situation. If Jacobs was a good heel faction leader, he would have blown off the revelation of Lacey’s ineffective bang-bang session with Aries: “Well, hey, we tried to get him on our side every way possible. Now we have to beat the crap out of him.” No, no, no, this is Jimmy Jacobs, the Emo Warrior. He breaks down in the middle of the ring and cries like a bitch. Naturally, the sensitive, caring ROH-bots respect this baring of emotions by throwing large quantities of streamers in the ring at him.

I like Jimmy Jacobs, but, damn, I can’t take him seriously. The reason is simple: I come by my emo the natural way, though various and sundry imbalances of brain chemicals. If you don’t have that as an excuse, the Briscoes have two words for you on how to deal with things.

And speaking of the Briscoes, they got their next move in just as the audience was learning how to exhale again after the Machine Guns/Briscoes match, and proceeded to beat the pulp out of an exhausted Mark and Jay. ROH did miss a trick here: naturally, the end of the previous match was Respect Time all around. A run-in by the Machine Guns to chase off Age of the Fail wouldn’t have been out of place and would have provided a nice curtain call for Shelley and Sabin. However, the beatdown did what it was supposed to do: stop the audience from leaving during intermission. What stopped me from leaving was two things: 1) Aaron virtually begging me to have a look at Ibushi and 2) the fact that I needed to cover this show. Remember, you ungrateful bastards, I do it for you.

And thus begins an angle that threatens to dominate ROH for the next few months. Honestly, ROH doesn’t go much in for sports entertainment, but when they do, they at least choose guys to do it that can actually pull it off. I may hate the emo act, but Jacobs is good at it. He was an entertaining presence when he couldn’t wrestle last year after his cage-induced injury. He’s a decent choice to lead the “serious” heel stable in ROH (Sweet and Sour is, frankly, a comedy heel stable). Aries is a proven quantity when it comes to ROH angles; there’s a reason he was one of the biggest stars in ROH before his misbegotten tenure in Orlando. He’s a wonderful smart-ass face. I think they can pull this off, so long as a few guidelines are set and maintained, and this thing doesn’t drag on for more than, say, four months. And if ROH had guts, they’d end this by having Jacobs reveal that he doesn’t need Lacey in his life anymore now that he has Necro Butcher to warm his cold, lonely, black-sheeted-from-Hot-Topic bed. It’d be worth it just for Necro Butcher’s reaction alone.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Stress Out: Syd, I know you’re reading this, so if your friends and colleagues won’t tell you, maybe I can. Ever since you shaved off the goat last year, you’ve been visibly aging. I’m talking about ten years in a year or so. I know you’re in a very stressful position, but you actually shocked me with the way you looked. I’m scared for you, man. I really am. You need to do something, and quick. A visit to a day spa, maybe. A “special workout” with MsChief, perhaps. Or a visit to your doctor for some good tranqs. If you decide on the last one, my readers can assure you that I can give you some good recommendations. If I’m at the June show, I’ll bring some of my stash with me. We don’t want to lose you, Syd. You’re too important to ROH.

The Dissemblance Is Uncanny: I knew that Dave Prazak reminded me of someone, but I just couldn’t figure out who. Until this show, that is. Prazak is starting to bear a serious resemblance to David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology. Dave, you have GOT to do something about this, quick. You don’t want Anonymous raiding ROH shows by mistake. ROH-bots are bad enough without Anon there.

Memo To The Program Guy: You accidentally gave me three programs, dude. Next time you’re around, I owe you ten bucks, okay? Great program, though. Poster of the Briscoes on one side and the SHIMMER cast on the other. Talk about attempting to appeal to everyone.

And Speaking Of Appealing To Everyone…: I can’t fault ROH for attempting to market itself as the “clean”, “family-friendly” alternative. It’s not only a good way to expand the audience, it’s a very good way to create the next generation of fans. If there’s anything that will make these kids want to become intelligent wrestling fans, it’s exposure to ROH at an impressionable age. However, if they’re going to do that, they need to make sure that they’re not going to have those kids walk out of the show, go home, and use the line, “Mommy, what’s a pussy?” “Where did you hear that, Junior?” “Austin Aries called Jimmy Jacobs one, and it had something to do with Lacey.” Not good. I’m not even going to get into the screaming kids part. Long-time readers know exactly how I feel about children.

Paralytic Indecision: Normally, when it comes to the merch table, I get completely bamboozled as to which DVD to buy. ROH has put out two-show DVDs, which is incredible value for money. This time, though, the wavering came on the subject of…baseball caps. Yeah, I was perfectly willing to pop twenty bucks for an ROH baseball cap. But there was a problem. What color? The black one goes with most of my wardrobe, of course. But the tan one goes perfectly with some outfits I wear to work. The pewter one covers both bases. And there’s no way I’m popping sixty bucks for all three. Sometimes too much choice is a bad thing, you know.

You’re A Better Woman Than I Am, Gunga Din: All of us who cover ROH, whether on a sporadic basis like me or a neurotic basis like Aaron, always mention, in virtually every column, how fan-friendly ROH is. We say it so much that people who read us who’ve never been to an ROH show must think we’re full of it. Someone’s paid us off, right? Shame on you. You should know by now how resistant I am to that. In fact, you should know by now that if someone tried doing that, I’d make them pay in ways they couldn’t imagine. The truth is that it is simply the truth: ROH goes out of their way to be fan-friendly. It’s not only things like Cary Silkin at the door after each show thanking the fans for coming. It’s little things like MsChief showing up at the merch table during intermission and doing autographs and pictures. This was definitely unannounced and unexpected. And here’s the best thing: she enjoyed it. I can tell when someone feels that something’s an obligation. She didn’t in this case. She had a helluva time doing this, and it was thoroughly spontaneous. Yes, there might be a bit of cynical salesmanship involved in this (“Hey, when SHIMMER’s in town next time, come and see us!), but it’s forgivable because it’s so slight. And this happens all the time with everyone. I lost count of the number of wrestlers heading to the locker room who stopped on their way to sign autographs for those kids running after them.

You just can’t buy an experience like this. You just can’t. Why do you think ROH has defied the odds and been around for six years, and had their audience expand and grow each year? The “Honor” in Ring of Honor is them honoring their fans in little, critical ways. I’m not an ROH-bot, but I’d actually find no shame in being considered one. And if you know me, that’s really saying something.

And I can’t think of a better way to end this one. A show that had more ups and downs than your normal ROH show, but the ups were incredibly up and the median of the sine wave was still about a hundred levels higher than your average WWE show. ROH, after six years, is still the best value and best experience you can get in wrestling. Full credit to them. And, yes, I’ll be back for more. You’ve been warned.

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