Cult of ROH: Plague of Injures & Weekend Preview

This week we look at ROH’s injury woes and a doubleshot in Boston and Edison. But first, a haiku about Raw.

Chavo Guerrero
son of fame, helped Legacy.
Why would he do that?

A Plague of Injuries
There is no news as huge as the injuries in Ring of Honor. We all expected Mark Briscoe to hurt himself again, so his latest problem was unsurprising, if sad. When Nigel McGuinness had to lose the belt because of bicep tears, people accepted it. Now El Generico, Tyler Black, Mike Quackenbush and the Dark City Fight Club’s Jon Davis have all fallen injured. That is three regulars and the most popular non-regular all dropping out since Wrestlemania weekend.

Before you blame ROH’s spotty style, note the circumstances. Black was injured in a match with Danny Daniels on AAW, an unaffiliated indy. Quackenbush has had cysts on his spine for a long time, and simply finally gave into the excruciating pain. Quack’s history of back injuries have nothing to do with Ring of Honor. And Davis and McGuinness wrestle styles that leave them more likely to hurt opponents than themselves.

McGuinness’s case sticks out the most. He tore a bicep in December and suffered a major hematoma in his other arm more recently. In a recent interview with Powerslam Magazine he blamed the latter injury on throwing such hard Lariats. In a company famous for head drops and flips, this is embarrassing, but should also awaken wrestlers and fans to the reality that even high-risk offense is less dangerous than reckless stiffness. This and Jon Davis’s simple wrist injury echo Danielson’s frequent concussions in reminding fans and critics that many injuries aren’t actually about high risk, but dumb, bad luck. The Pearce Era’s lower octane style has not reduced injuries to the roster, and now he has a significant disadvantage to book through. The injuries have stricken this weekend’s shows, which desperately need breakout performances to validate their cards.

The injuries do two other troubling things to ROH. One is that they put the company in a tough spot for babyfaces. Black was their biggest up-and-coming babyface, while Generico had amongst the best report with crowds. Quackenbush was the best guy to tap and make a new regular babyface in that void. ROH’s current roster doesn’t have any flashy babyface stars that can wrestle like these three men. Somebody in the ROH offices has to be on his knees begging Bryan Danielson not to leave for his MMA training jaunt.

The other problem is that without Mark Briscoe, El Generico and Jon Davis, ROH is short three tag teams. Two of them were the top teams in the company, while the third looked like the leading up-and-comers. With Tyler Black out, the dream team of Danielson & Black is also down, and effectively strikes out the three biggest babyface teams in the company, with the American Wolves sitting as heel champions that really need great matches to keep validating them. So in addition to begging Danielson to stay, ROH management would be wise to putting some money towards flying somebody like Paul London in, not just for buzz, but to create a high profile tag team as quickly as possible. PWG is handing them the idea of the Hybrid Dolphins with the goofy crowd buzzing already catching on in ROH crowds. And in this circumstance just one team won’t do it. Prospects getting tryouts, like the white meat flyer team the Young Bucks, need to be given a serious chance to prove themselves.

A tertiary issue lies in the current roster philosophy. Management brings in fewer regulars, supposedly to save on travel costs. If these injuries plagued the old ROH they could still rely on Aries, Danielson and Strong to try to save the weekend with big matches. Thanks to the new policy, only Danielson is around, and he’s not in preferable positions for either night. Similarly, the old ROH would encourage the likes of Stupefied, Kenny King and Eddie Edwards to make themselves and steal the show this weekend, where the theme of the new ROH seems to be holding back so Lynn can shine the brightest in the main event. What good will Lynn won by blowing the roof off against Strong is limited by worry that he can’t do it against Hero, with whom he had a lackluster match last time in Boston. As poor a situation as it is, there has never been a better time for Lynn to prove his ability as champion.


Friday Night Mass. (It’s in Massachusetts. Get it?)

The plague of injuries has devastated the weekend’s cards. Friday went from the appearance off an A-show to a B-show despite Dutt’s guest appearance, Ryan’s debut and the world title match. Previously scheduled were Lynn defending his title against Tyler Black and the triple threat of Danielson Vs. Quackenbush Vs. Dutt. First El Generico suffered a terrible knee injury and management re-booked the triple threat into singles matches, presumably to fill out the card, though even at the time it seemed pretty baffling considering he wasn’t in it. Now, though, Black, Quackenbush and the Dark City Fight Club are all out, and the entire line-up has changed, including another version of the triple threat.

ROH World Title Match: Jerry Lynn ( c ) Vs. Chris Hero

Bryan Danielson Vs. Sonjay Dutt Vs. Eddie Edwards

Anything Goes Match: Davey Richards Vs. Kevin Steen

Jay Briscoe Vs. The Necro Butcher

Brent Albright, Erick Stevens & Colt Cabana Vs. Jimmy Rave, Claudio Castagnoli & Joey Ryan (with Prince Nana)

Kenny King & Rhett Titus vs. Player Uno & Player Dos/Stupefied

Delirious Vs. Ricky Reyes

I write for this site, but I write about wrestling at all because I’m a fan. I was jazzed for the show because I’d finally get to see Mike Quackenbush live, and Lynn Vs. Black provided the dream scenario of Black losing narrowly only to cash in his pocket title shot and take the belt in a nuclear heat reception. When I saw the first changes I told a fellow writer, “At least Edwards Vs. Quackenbush is promising.” God bless Mike Quackenbush, and I am actually glad he’s going to take care of his back, but him disappearing let even more air out of the tire. ROH knows this, which is why they are changing the Buy 3, Get 1 Free into a Get 2 Free sale, and offering a Meet & Greet with some wrestlers at intermission.

I have no desire to see Joey Ryan become the umpteenth conceited, cheating heel in the new ROH. Now Boston has Lynn Vs. Hero, a match that was only okay as an undercard bout in 2008, and then only because Lynn in ROH was novel. Barring blow-away performances where guys like Dutt and King are told to steal the show or crazy last-minute re-booking (which might be welcome on this card), Lynn must do what he did with Strong two weeks ago. And if he does, expect me to tell you when I post my live report later in the weekend. The plus side is that Hero has come a long way in pacing and differentiating the strikes that dominate his Young Knock Out Kid offense, and hopefully he will bring more than the same series of strikes and teases with loaded elbow pads now that he’s in a high-pressure main event.

That’s the great hope: a repeat of two Fridays ago, when Richards and Black had a match so good that the crowd figured it was going to be the best of the night in the new, more restrained ROH, only for Lynn Vs. Strong to blow away expectations. If Richards Vs. Steen pulls out all the stops in “Anything Goes” only for Lynn Vs. Hero to outshine it regardless, then we’ve got another hit when no one was looking for one. The appearance of saving a show would do wonders for Lynn’s reputation in ROH, and build on what he started with Strong. The entire company is under peculiar pressure since, while they didn’t wish any of these injuries on their guys, they’ve spent the last two weeks advertising KENTA, Ric Flair and Bret Hart for other shows, while bringing no one special to boost Boston or Edison.

Watch now as they fly in Paul London.

All That’s Old is New Jersey Again (Because Jerry Lynn is old. Get it?)

Only one really big match has changed on this show, but it’s the re-match of the most-buzzed about match of ROH’s year: the American Wolves Vs. Danielson & Black. Now Steen replaces Black, and though a very good character, the weight he’s been putting on has noticeably slowed him down. He does not bring to the table what Black or his own partner normally would, instead adding size and likely slowing the pace further. The outlook still isn’t bleak, as Steen certainly knows what he’s doing in tag matches, but the change is a big damper.

ROH World Title Match: Jerry Lynn (if still champion) Vs. Jay Briscoe

Chris Hero Vs. Sonjay Dutt (Hero will defend the World Title against Dutt if he wins Friday)

World Tag Team Title Match: Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards ( c ) Vs. Bryan Danielson & Kevin Steen

Colt Cabana vs. Joey Ryan (with Prince Nana)

Necro Butcher & Delirious vs. Claudio Castagnoli & Jimmy Rave (with Prince Nana)

Brent Albright & Erick Stevens Vs. Player Uno & Player Dos/Stupefied

Eddie Kingston Vs. Ricky Reyes

Jay Briscoe has been getting better every month since his brother went down with injury. He hustles, has passion, and forces guys not to rest so much when doing their familiar offense. There is no reason Lynn shouldn’t channel that into an exciting, faster-paced match. Doubtless it will be the obligatory Briscoe loss to the ROH champ, but what’s a title reign without one or two of those?

By the way, aren’t jokes about Jerry Lynn’s age getting old? What kind of tool makes those anymore?

The undercard is solid. I pray that Ryan goes comedy heel on Cabana, which would turn that into a golden undercard match. Kingston and Reyes should have a brief and passionate brawl. Hero has a lot of experience with flyers, and especially if he and Dutt start playing cocky one-upsmanship, this will be fun. Hero will smack him out of the air and get a big win to recuperate from his Friday night loss. Kenny King & Rhett Titus are advertised to pop up in some sort of tag capacity, likely a squash, but especially in the current tag scene, they’re worth a push.

It’s sad that Quackenbush Vs. King won’t happen now, but the show still has enough points of attraction to survive. Like Friday, this is a show that could use a shot in the arm from Aries and Strong. How much more exciting would the tag title match with Strong subbing for Steen? Or Aries challenging Lynn on either of these nights? Depending on the outcome and turnout for the weekend, management may have to reexamine its strategy.

And no, they are not really going to fly in Paul London.


You can find more of John Wiswell’s writing at www.johnwiswell.blogspot.com

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