The week after the epic Hammerstein Ballroom ROH show, there is a plethora of news. All of the news and commentary on each bit will make up the focus of the column this week with an assist from the prodigal, Big Andy Mac.
– Manassas and the Hammerstein were huge successes-
The Hammerstein Ballroom for the first time became ROHâ€™s largest attendance ever. Manassas seems to be the regular venue before Hammerstein shows, since August 1, 2008 ROH will return again before the Hammerstein return. This is notable since it is around when Death Before Dishonor weekend usually turns up and features the nextâ€¦
-The Murder City Machine Guns will be at the August 1 Manassas and August 2 Hammerstein shows-
This should be absolutely huge. The Guns have yet to appear in ROH on the East coast, much to the chagrin of many (Bones), but that was clearly a scheduling conflict. This more than makes up for the Guns previous New York absence and Iâ€™m really hoping for a weekend double shot against Team Work (Aries and Danielson) in Manassas and against Steen and Generico in NYC. Steen and Generico are wildly over in NYC and they vs. the Guns is the MCMG match thatâ€™s yet to happen.
-There is a new best Ring of Honor DVD Ever in Supercard of Honor 3-
There has simply never been this many amazing matches of this quality on a non complation DVD prior to SOH 3. There are an astonishing five straight **** or more matches. They are, in order â€“ Erick Stevens vs. Roderick Strong (****), The Briscoes vs. Jacobs and Black (****), Shingo and BxB Hulk vs. Steen and Generico (**** Â½), Nigel McGuinnsess defending the ROH World Title against Austin Aries (**** Â½), and The Third Dragon Gate 6-Man (**** Â¼). Get this DVD please. If you like wrestling, I simply cannot imagine you not enjoying it. Iâ€™ll even do a full review of it soon for more information.
-Jack Evans is taking a leave of absence from ROH-
Jack is the most well-known high flier on the indies and despite his critics, is responsible for more than a few people checking out ROH due to his highlight reel style maneuvers. That said, the style Jack wrestles seems to have peaked last year with the Briscoes title run, which, sadly would have been when Jack and a regular partner would have been of the most use. Now, Jack is a very nice change of pace, but given that Ruckus and Jigsaw, Evans Vulture Squad teammates remain, the overtly flashy spot on the roster is filled. Jack will now go international, which likely means Dragon Gate, where he is hugely over and should get a good push.
-Take No Prisoners the Sixth (and final?) ROH PPV debuts May 30-
This has two MOTYC on it and a free, $10 preview coming. Check it out for a classic rivalry and the birth of a star.
-Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal vs. Roderick Strong and Austin Aries is free on www.ROHvideos.com-
Itâ€™s about a *** Â½ match, but seeing two perennial TNA title holders vs. two ROH Stalwarts has got to be a draw to many who havenâ€™t seen much ROH, so spread the word. This is the kind of marketing ROH needs more of. TNA fans would check this out and itâ€™s a gateway into ROH, if only more had heard of it. CM Punk vs. Homicide is also still free on the site.
-Philadelphia on June 7 features a Fight Without Honor of Erick Stevens vs. Roderick Strong-
With no titles and no rules, this should be a war. Many people donâ€™t realize how amazing and diverse this feud has been since its inception. Just going through singles encounters (skipping the three ways for a later column), hereâ€™s what has gone down so far:
1. FIP Battle of the Belts – Florida Heritage Title Match: Strong vs. Stevens (**** Â¼). The finals of the Florida Heritage Title Tournament, this is an awesome, face vs. face encounter based on the young Stevens rising to Strongâ€™s example as an extremely similar, hard hitting, back working wrestler. They go hold for hold in an excellent match.
2. ROH Man Up – Strong vs. Stevens (****). By now, we had a heated rivalry based on the NRC (Strongâ€™s stable) vs. the Resilience (Aries stable which featured Stevens) between these two. This was the third in a best of three between the stables and both men simply went to war immediately. Strong brought an unbelievable stiffness and intensity and dared Stevens to match him. Stevens proved unable in a stiff war.
3. ROH Final Battle 07 – FIP World Title Match: Roderick Strong vs. Erick Stevens (****). Strong seemed to have the advantage here, working over Erickâ€™s back and attempting to dismantle him while Stevens sold wonderfully and made sure his comebacks did as much damage as possible. This match, styled almost like a Hogan match with more high impact maneuvers captured the crowdâ€™s attention and left them chanting.
4. FIP Redefined – FIP World Title Match: Erick Stevens vs. Roderick Strong (**** Â½). Stevens and Strong met in FIP as two faces and wrestled a match that mixed the mat wrestling of their first encounter with the stiffness of their second at first. It soon became clear that Stevens had an answer for everything Roderick threw at him and Roderick wouldnâ€™t be able to put him away, so Roderick began slowly heeling it up and taking control like at Final Battle 07. This was the culmination of chapter 1 of their feud.
5. ROH Supercard of Honor 3 – Erick Stevens vs. Roderick Strong (****). The second act of these twoâ€™s feud kicks into high gear here after a memorable three way with Necro Butcher at ROHâ€™s Sixth Anniversary Show, they kept the brawling and intensity high with one of the sickest non-deathmatch brawls of the year. These two brought the hatred and intensity.
Thatâ€™s just the feud so far, too. The feud continued in FIP with a supposedly brutal, yet to be released, Last Man Standing match and thereâ€™s still the ROH Fight Without Honor in Philadelphia. Add in the probably blowoff in FIP and what we have is a classic feud few can match for heat, stiffness, differentiation, and, most importantly, quality.
-Ring of Honor is heading to Toronto-
ROH is joining a new market in a new country. This is an especially important expansion for the company due to how poorly ROHâ€™s PPV did in Canada. This increased exposure to wrestling crazed fans cannot but help Ring of Honor reach itâ€™s potential growth as a company.
-Nigel McGuinness successfully defended the ROH World Title in a 3-way vs. KENTA and BJ Whitmer in NOAHâ€™s Korakuen Hall show
Nigel does nothing but raise the beltâ€™s prestige with this defense, but also notable is that this is KENTA and Nigelâ€™s first encounter. This match looks like it would be very stiff and likely, at the least, quite entertaining. Hopefully this hits the net soon.
-The $10 sale is on at www.rohwrestling.com-
If youâ€™d like recommendations e-mail me at email@example.com and include what your preferences are for wrestling.
-The ROH World Tag Team Titles have been vacated by Jay Briscoe after one successful defense with Austin Aries
The lineage of the title could have been better kept with a clean Age of the Fall win, but nevertheless, the tournament has been announced for 6/6 in Hartford. Weâ€™ll go over the tournament and itâ€™s possibilities as we arrive closer to the date of the show.
Be careful in visiting 411mania.com without a popup blocker as a virus has found its way to one of their popups. If youâ€™re wondering where some of your favorite writers have gone, be sure to check out TheCoolKidsTable.com
The (guest)Fool in the Stands: Are Ring of Honor Fans spoiler? by Big Andy Mac
Are Ring of Honor Fans Spoiled?
Iâ€™ll see you next timeâ€¦
I guess I should elaborate. Ring of Honor has set an absurdly high standard of show for which to follow. It seems like every six months or so the bar gets set at a new astronomical level. The fans, as a result, start expecting the majority of events to approach or even clear that bar. When a show doesnâ€™t meet those lofty standards, the poop storm (heh heh poop) starts to fly and an otherwise excellent wrestling exhibition gets crapped all over.
I am going to use as a case study the recent shows in Virginia and New York as my exemplars. Starting with Virginia, you can read my review of the show here. This was, judging by fan reaction alone, an amazing show. From the opening contest through the main event the crowd reaction built larger and larger until the roof was ready to blow off the building. Now this show had nothing that Ring of Honor fans have not seen before. Heck, the show even had its fair share of rematches. Still these Manassas VA disgustos (credit Larry Sweeney) loved every second of it. One of those reasons, for sure, is that this was a show made up of a large number of first time fans. If they had run the same show with the same matches with the same flow in a â€œregularâ€ city the show could very well get crapped on. I mean it only had two matches in the four star range.
Take, for example, the Hammerstein ballroom debut. I personally loved the show, and so did Aaron. But the show received its fair share of flak from the message board faithful. By my and Aaronâ€™s reckoning the show featured at least two four star matches and a bunch of others in the three star range. Maybe expectations were high because it was the debut in the historic Hammerstein, or because it was in New York city, the site of some of the best shows in RoH history? Either way expectations were through the roof. Bones Barkley made his claims about those lofty expectations with the stunningly succinct yet eloquent argument of â€œCalled it!â€ But maybe he was writing in anticipating the over hype of the show.
It is fast moving towards a time where no Ring of Honor show can be considered good unless the star rating averages 4+. I try not to be the type of guy that tries to tell people how to enjoy wrestling. Ultimately, I just want fans to enjoy wrestling. I have seen great shows from Ring of Honor, Chikara, and WWE. I have seen terrible shows from WWE, IWA: Mid South and MCW. I have seen wrestling-poor but entertainment rich shows from Chikara, RoH, 2CW, and others. Most times I have found a way to enjoy these shows. Few of them approach the quality of the recent Hammerstein show. Some did not even have one four star match, yet most fans left saying they had a good time. The question that needs to be answered, though, is: who is at fault here?
You cannot fault the wrestlers for putting on great performances. Their job from the opening contest to the main event is to put on the most entertaining match possible. They are doing their job. The blame does not fall on Gabe Sapolsky or any other wrestling booker. Their job is to piece a show together, and by all logic Gabe has put together countless entertaining wrestling shows over the past six years. The fault obviously then goes to the fans that keep expecting more and more from the wrestlers and bookers. Fans should, and I hate repeating myself, just enjoy the show. Each show should have something to offer, and as a wrestling fan you should attend and enjoy.
Iâ€™ll see you next timeâ€¦