By Chris Shore
Thursday, April 12, 2012, 2:00 CT
Saturday, May 12, Ring of Honor comes to Toronto for the first time since being purchased by Sinclair broadcasting. The event will be broadcast live on iPPV. And there can be no question, it will be the single most important event in ROH history. When the dust settles late that Saturday night, ROH will have either breathed new life into the promotion, or doomed it to failure.
There are two reasons why this show has so much riding on it. The first is the decision to air it on iPPV. ROH fired longtime iPPV provider Go Fight Live this week after massive technical problems with the WrestleMania weekend shows left countless fans frustrated with not only the shows themselves, but ROH's response to the issues. ROH COO Joe Koff explained to me that they gave the response they felt was appropriate because they were not the ones actually providing the stream, a nuance that shows a gross misunderstanding of customer service.
ROH has not announced how it will provide Border Wars. The company could hire another provider, or they could take the Dragon Gate USA approach and setup their own service. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but one thing is clear, whatever they use had better work. Several fans reached out to me on Twitter, Facebook, email, and even within our own member's forum to tell me they were done with ROH iPPVs. Hopefully for ROH the new platform, whatever form it takes will entice those fans to come back.
That's why it is so important for the new platform to perform flawlessly. ROH burned up all of their good will with their weak response to the GFL issues. The leash will be very short for many of those watching Border Wars. If the show goes off without a hitch, many of those fans will settle down (though the leash will not be extended much). If the platform fails, the already anemic iPPV numbers are only going to get worse.
Once ROH has assured that everyone will see the show, they need to make sure what everyone sees it what is best for business. The success or failure of this show, and it's long term impact on ROH comes down to one match: Kevin Steen vs. Davey Richards for the ROH World Heavyweight Championship.
ROH has been in a creative slump at the top of their cards since the Sinclair deal put Jim Cornette in power. The very first iPPV even they had saw their World Champion out of the country. At their 10th Anniversary Show, the champion was in a tag match that held little to no meaning in the ROH universe. The triple threat the first night of the WrestleMania shows was uninspiring. The Davey Richards vs. Mike Elgin match was not a great draw, though it did turn out to be the second best match of all the wrestling done by any promotion that weekend.
But the problem at the top of the card are more than just poor booking decisions. Davey Richards has been a terrible champion. All you have to do is read the reports from this last round of TV taping to confirm it. Davey was booed by the TV crowd, just like he was booed by the PPV crowds over Mania weekend. He has worn out his welcome with that belt, and it's time for ROH to transition it off him.
That said, I do think the best move for business is to end Richards vs. Steen in a schmozz. Now I'm generally the last person you will ever hear call for a non-finish, but there are times when they are appropriate and this is one of them. The build to this match has been great, if a little disjointed. Steen has been mostly sniping from the sidelines, and he and Davey had really only had two face to face moments, once on TV, and once at the press conference where this match was made.
There is a lot of money in this feud for ROH, and pulling the trigger here is one step too soon. Best in the World, the next scheduled iPPV, is only a little over a month after Border Wars. End this match in a schmozz and put these guys in front of each other every week to build to that moment. Then put the title on Steen in NY, a place where Steen is revered by the ROH fans.
Whether the match ends in a schmozz or not, the one thing that cannot happen is for Davey to go over clean. That would be the biggest mistake Jim Cornette has ever made. Even if he has a great story behind it, no one will be around to watch. If people are going to be forced to see Superman win every time, then they can do it with higher production values every Monday night. Border Wars is a flag in the ground moment for ROH. I sincerely hope it becomes a turning point as well.
Questions? Comments? Anyone, anyone? Let me hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @TheShoreSlant with whatever is on your mind.
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Shore's Blog: Border Wars is the most important event in Ring of Honor history
Apr 12, 2012 - 02:00 PM
Apr 12, 2012 - 02:00 PM
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