Gutteridge Blog: The first time Ring of Honor experience
By Darren Gutteridge
I honestly am finding it hard to put my thoughts on my first ROH experience in a nut shell.
Last night, I saw some world class technical wrestling. I saw moves I have never seen before (rolling Northern Lights suplexes anyone?). I saw some men display athleticism far beyond what I thought was possible from such big guys.
But I also saw some needlessly dangerous spots, and some unbelievable levels of non-selling. I suppose this is the ROH way, but it’s polarizing for this WWE born and bred boy.
I’ll start off by praising the differences ROH put into their broadcast to differentiate themselves from the bigger companies. Instead of trying to emulate WWE on a smaller budget like TNA, ROH tried to work with what it had, one of the many similarities to ECW. The tale of the tape, the Code of Honor and the lack of video screens stripped the show of any ‘glamour’ to present something more akin to a real sport.
And instead of skits, backstage arguments and impromptu matches, we got three and a half hours of wrestling. Outside of replays of previous segments from the TV show (a nice touch for people like me who don’t watch it), there was almost nothing in the way of talking to interrupt the wrestling. And boy, did we get a lot of that.
Not one match was on the "short" side. WWE pay-per-views tend to give five to ten minutes to most matches, and maybe 15-20 to the main event. The five minute Rhyno vs. Tadarius Thomas match was the shortest by five minutes. Everything else was TV main event worthy in terms of time. And for the most part, the wrestling was great. It’s easy to see why ROH has become the unofficial second developmental territory of the WWE, as they give everyone, regardless of level of fame, a lot of time to show off and hone their skills.
Jay Lethal and Davey Richards were fantastic, and surely one of the big two will want Lethal soon. The wrestling was also crisp and clean in the Cole/Edwards match, and all the tag matches. And hats off to Steen and Elgin for putting on a surreal big man match that involved spots I didn’t think these guys could do.
But each match had the same problems. I can think of quite a few spots that were hard to watch. Both apron spots in the Cole/Edwards match looked sloppy, and the entirety of Mondo/Bennett was disturbing. It looked legit dangerous, and it was also very hard to tell who the babyface was (Mondo stalks Maria, but Bennett was doing the heel mannerisms, so I have no idea). The swearing felt needlessly tacked on to add to the ‘realism’ or macho nature of the company. And the no-selling was the worst I have ever seen. How can anyone suspend their disbelief while watching this show when an arm drag has the same effect as a superkick or a turnbuckle powerbomb?
If the main event had been the only match with a ridiculous string of false finishes, that would be fine, but from the opening tag match everyone was Superman. By the time the main event arrived I was legitimately getting annoyed and bored of the endless big move – kickout – big move – kickout sequences. If everyone does it, why is the champion any better than the first guy out the curtain?
I wanted to like ROH, for I admire them immensely. And I think most of the problems may be down to my unfamiliarity with the style and product. There’s the nagging doubt in the back of my head that my problems stem from 'this isn’t the WWE style,' which is probably the same thing ROH fans reading this now are saying – the kid raised on what the big company fed him doesn’t know how to handle "real wrestling." And maybe that’s it. But I think with a few tweaks, I would truly love this company, and I wish them all the best, because we all know how important competition is. But I can’t say they won me over entirely at the first attempt.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know! @DazatheG
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