Cult of ROH: Generico Out, plus a Weekend Preview

But first, Umaga is returning from his most recent injuries and his working CM Punk on house shows. A program on television may follow. To celebrate this occasion, a haiku:

Kicks on a fat man,
they do nothing! Look out Punk,
Giant uses thumb!

Haiku may have to become a regular feature on here. Art enriches the soul.

Generico Out

On Thursday, ROH management issued the following item in their Newswire:

“April 23rd: ROH officials are unsure as of now just how long El Generico will be out of action. We are hopeful that he will be able to compete in Boston on May 8th and Edison on May 9th. We will have another update on El Generico’s condition in Monday’s Newswire.”

He could be out much longer than just this weekend. Barring confirmation that Danielson really is leaving to train in MMA, Generico’s could be the worst wrestler-specific news you could get. McGuinness, dominant figure for almost two years and provider of so many top-shelf matches, is already out. The champion is solid, but not the exceptional wrestler the company needs to please critical fans. This is the time when ROH needs their beloved wrestlers around, and in terms of endearment, Generico is in the top of his class. He interacts with crowds from entrance to exit, reads what they want expertly, times offense in tag matches like no other, bumps with the best of them and sells true sympathy in the way the new vision of ROH is supposed to follow but so few guys actually can. He is good enough that at any time he can be pushed and in one match become a believable singles threat, while he already rooted in one of the top face challengers for the tag titles.

Right now ROH has an abundance of heels. There is Aries’s pretty-boy faction, Jacobs’s anti-establishment faction, Nana’s Embassy, the American Wolves with the tag titles, Hero and his loaded elbow pad, and soon Joey Ryan is going to “bring sleezy” to Ring of Honor. This host of unsavory, cheating guys desperately requires beloved faces to make them worthwhile. A bunch of guys who cheat to win because they’re cheaters get old fast unless there’s something great to pull them together, and in ROH, match quality is one of those aspects. The sympathy and lightheartedness Generico can present are a rare second quality.

That’s why Cabana being back is so important. If Generico is out, Cabana is even more important as a utility player capable of both technical matches and character matches. His beloved status helps it all. Cabana is no replacement for Generico, but it’s been a long time since audiences looked at Cabana as a mere replacement for anyone.

With Cabana here and Danielson hopefully saying, ROH needs to seriously look at how they’ve handled their good guys. Proving Lynn as a great face champion this weekend would seriously help. But it also goes for tag teams, as without Generico, they’re down to the make-shift Black/Danielson duo for serious contenders. Random pairings from Albright, Strong and Stevens just won’t cut it right now. The division is in need of stand-out teams we’re supposed to cheer, rather than even more heel teams like Aries’s new faction, whoever Jacobs tags with next, and the Dark City Fight Club as heel power guys. Turning that last team into embraceable giants, since crowds love to cheer power guys, might be the next wise experiment.

We at the Pulse wish Generico the best as we wait for Monday’s announcement on his health.

Friday in Dayton, Ohio

ROH World Title Match: Jerry Lynn defends vs. Roderick Strong

Tyler Black vs. ROH World Tag Team Champion Davey Richards

Bryan Danielson vs. ROH World Tag Team Champion Eddie Edwards

Kevin Steen & Jay Briscoe vs. The Dark City Fight Club

Colt Cabana vs. Chris Hero

The Phoenix Twins vs. Austin Aries & Rhett Titus

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Silas Young vs. Matt Cross vs. Skullkrusher” Rasche Brown

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Egotistico Fantastico

Jimmy Rave vs. Mystery Opponent

This is a healthy Friday show. Richards Vs. Black is a look at the future of what’s good in ROH a rematch to a very popular bout from their Florida shows. If you’ve seen it, or their FIP encounters, you know that watching the stocky Richards kick the bean poll Black is one of life’s little pleasure. The main event gives Lynn a good challenger in Roderick Strong. There is no chance Strong is taking it, but Strong’s low-character, fast-pace approach to big matches, with combos and pinning attempts, meshes perfectly with the best Lynn matches in ROH. If they don’t go too long, this will probably be one of the most fondly remembered Lynn defenses (at least of his early period, if the reign goes long).

If those two matches deliver, this Dayton show is certainly worth going to for a cheap G.A. ticket. The undercard doesn’t promise too much, and on a new ROH Friday show you don’t expect anything to bust out and wow the crowd. But Hero Vs. Cabana is promising, as both guys are on their way up and it could easily be the beginning of an issue between them. Hero used to have a penchant for great heel comedy in the company, and Cabana is perfect to draw that back out of him in a variety match on a show with plenty of more serious bouts.

This weekend is a tryout for three more talented guys. The first is Egotistico Fantastico, in two singles matches destined to be enhancements for Jimmy Jacobs and Rasche Brown. Jacobs needs a turnaround win after losing to Delirious in Canada, while Rasche has been talked up in Newswires that made him sound like Pearce’s next physically huge guy who gets pushed as important out of the gate. Fantastico is a solid masked wrestler with good size himself (he’s 6’3”, though barely over two hundred pounds). He dabbled in WWE developmental and has a little more charisma than most guys running around the indies. Like the tag team getting a tryout this weekend, it’s good to see he’s getting a shot.

The other talented tryouts are the Phoenix Twins, destined to lose two straight nights against Aries & Titus and then the Dark City Fight Club. There is a miniscule and wonderful outside chance that they’ll pin Titus, as the most recent Videowire made him seem like the loser of Aries’s cocky little group and his comedy angle allows more leeway in wins and losses. However, the Twins are clearly coming in to show what they can do in brief losing efforts. If you don’t know them, they are a little flippy team that’s been stealing hearts for a couple of years. I’ve barely seen any of their work, but they come so highly critically praised that the tryouts are a definite positive.

Saturday in Chicago, Illinois

ROH World Championship Match: Jerry Lynn (if still champion) defends vs. Colt Cabana

2/3 Falls Match for the ROH Tag Titles: The American Wolves (if still champions) defend vs. Kevin Steen & Jay Briscoe

Bryan Danielson vs. Jimmy Rave

Tyler Black vs. Chris Hero

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Roderick Strong vs. Jimmy Jacobs

Austin Aries & Rhett Titus vs. Alex “Sugarfoot” Payne & Silas Young

The Dark City Fight Club vs. The Phoenix Twins

Egotistico Fantastico vs. “Skullkrusher” Rasche Brown

Colt Cabana is back in ROH and this is his return to Chicago. The hometown boy should draw overwhelming support and could have a very special title match. Despite backlash, Lynn draws ovations from nostalgic ECW fans, and the two ought to be able to play the crowd well. The nightmare scenario tainting a solid title match is that the crowd will turn entirely on Lynn in favor of their hometown hero, beginning Lynn as not just the unwanted champion, but the unwanted heel champion. Recent Newswire recognition of his dissenters sound too similar to what happened with McGuinness. Some apologists are bound to pretend that hated champions are a staple of wrestling. It doesn’t work that way in ROH and I’ve covered why in multiple columns over the last year. If Lynn becomes the unwanted heel champion, expect even more people to leave. I don’t know if even I could stand it.

What really should have main-evented was the 2/3 Falls tag match. It may still do that, being a gimmick title match, but Jay Briscoe is a poor substitution for El Generico. A brawler, even an intense one, simply cannot play the role in there that Generico can with his pacing, crowd interaction and versatility. Briscoe’s inclusion makes this an even more brawl-centric match, which should be kinetic, but lacks the attraction a Steen & Generic or Briscoe brothers match would. If they smartly go for a knock-down fight for all three falls, they could wisely avoid expectations and deliver something different instead of something better.

The undercard has two promising matches that may make up for a lack of excellence in the main event to produce a solid show throughout. Danielson Vs. Rave has a good history in ROH, and should build to something relevant if Danielson’s issue with the Embassy is going somewhere. Danielson remains the ring general who can happily acknowledge the enthusiasm of audiences, and so if Chicago toilet papers the Embassy, we may get a dynamic match instead of just a technical one.

The other bright spot is Black Vs. Hero. This hasn’t happened before in ROH, yet the opponents are good for each other. Black built heat into his breakout match at the original Take No Prisoners by rising from potential knockouts, and Hero is all about the knock out these days. In outings like those against Danielson and Richards, Black has shown himself to be a prime target for heavy striking abuse, and Hero is an even more imposing opponent. He is taller, thicker and stronger, able to abuse Black, while also a competent target for taking flying offense and counters, setting himself up well for Black comebacks. Something special could begin here.

That’s it for the Cult of ROH. Have a good weekend, and if you’re still hungry for wrestling media, check out:

-The Pulse has a little contest to win a copy of The Wrestler. Click here to enter.

-David Ditch continues to interview Jae of Dragon Gate USA.

-And Vinny Truncellito writes a memoir on moving from televised wrestling to the indies.

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