The first installment of Wrestling Worth Watching ran about 2,000 words longer than I wanted it to, so from here on out I’ll be splitting the post into three sections. The first will deal with Monday Night Raw and Ring of Honor, the second with TNA IMPACT Wrestling and WWE Friday SmackDown!, and the third with webshows–WWE’s NXT and Superstars, TNA’s Xplosion and so on, in addition to weekly awards and the occasional pay per view or live show report or indie DVD review. I know not everybody reading this blog is here for the wrestling, just like not everybody here is reading the movie reviews or the comic reviews or monster truck odes, but we’ll find a balance as the blog continues to grow and evolve.
Ring of Honor Wrestling (10/8/11) (Watch it on rohwrestling.com)
More Jim Cornette: I’ve still yet to see the second episode of ROH and can’t tell if this was a problem that got fixed right away, but it’s good to see Jim Cornette out there early, taking charge as the lead interviewer. The first episode featured Kevin Kelly announcing, interviewing, shilling, selling hot dogs and offering sexual favors to the viewing audience, and while he’s one of the better play-by-play men in the business right now, the more he wanders away from the commentary table, the more I want to see Jim Cornette out there. Clearly the pre-taped show was picking up on my future brainwaves.
The Briscoe Brothers: If you don’t know the Briscoes, do so. Their response to losing $5,000 for attacking the World Tag Team Champions: “$5,000 can buy a lot of beer and bullets.” These guys aren’t just playing a role–the Southern hick thing is their life, and what life’s worth living once you need to cut back on the beer and ammo budget? Tremendous.
Goofy Censor Noises: An ancient-sounding ring bell covers words like “bitches.” For some reason, I laughed.
ROH In Focus: If you didn’t know Tommasso Ciampa or Prince Nana before this segment, you would after this. Can’t ask for much more than that from any segment, and it’s kind of sad to see how this sort of thing has all but disappeared from from modern wrestling. Give people a chance to account for themselves. They may surprise you. The only bad thing about a segment like In Focus is that it kind of makes the outcome of the match more obvious. This is a new product trying to introduce me to new stars–what are the odds that the guy in the video package loses right after it airs?
A Disgruntled Ex-Ring of Honor Employee: Steve Corino did the commentary for Ciampa’s match against Andy “Right Leg” Ridge, and, beyond being very good, he mentioned that he’s lost the only friend he had–a disgruntled ex-Ring of Honor employee who has crashed events and caused enough chaos that his name has been blacked out on official records, even pertaining to his long and successful run as a tag team champion. Said employee, Kevin Steen, is probably the hottest property in independent wrestling, and his angle is an example of how to slowly tease a guys return, unlike WWE shotgunning CM Punk back onto TV because they had a Pay Per View to promote. ROH doesn’t have 1,000,000 live events depending on Steen’s presence, so they’re allowed to bide their time. When a fan demanded he be brought back, ROH’s color commentator, Nigel McGuinnes, called the kid a “complete wanker” and went back about his business. So far, so good.
Roderick Strong: Claiming that winning the World Title would be better than having sex? That’s dedication.
Davey Richards vs. Roderick Strong: Just a good match for the ROH World Title. If you’re unfamiliar to any style of wrestling but what the WWE offers, it likely won’t convince you of ROH’s absolute dominance in terms of the quality of their wrestling, but in terms of what you can get for free, you take title matches like this and run before the company offering them changes their mind.
Questionable Decision of the Week: Having Kevin Kelly as the main play-by-play guy. Not that he’s not the best PBP guy around (especially seeing as Jim Ross hasn’t found his voice on a three man booth), but Ring of Honor is supposed to be the wrestling of young America, and Kevin Kelly’s about as cool as an uptight neighbor.
This dude spent the early part of his career being clowned on by the Rock and occupying an announce desk with Shane McMahon on Sunday Night Heat. He is better than just about every announcer the WWE has brought in to replace him on his level, it’s clear that he cares about the product and he conveys all of that very well. Wrestling shouldn’t be about how cool you are, but coolness, I’m guessing, is the reason they brought back the bald British guy in his sunglasses to call the action right alongside him. Not having a young, fresh voice (like Dave Parazak, who is very good) calling the matches and introducing the product is, so far, ROH’s third biggest oversight, beyond ending their association with SHIMMER and cutting Chris Hero, Sara Del Rey and Colt Cabana from the roster. ROH will never be the slickest wrestling on TV in terms of presentation, but give a guy with some edge to his voice a headset, and the difference between it and the WWEs and TNAs of the world will be that much more pronounced. Hell, this is the one instance where I think a three man booth is justified, if not required.
Random, Feud Combining Tag Team Matches: I’ve been a fan of these since I was a kid. Two teams, made up of two guys who hate one guy on the other team but might not fit particularly well with their partner? As a way of keeping feuds fresh and interesting, I’m fine with this formula. So fine, in fact, that I won’t bother to complain that they used it twice. AJ Styles/Rob Van Dam vs. Christopher Daniels/Jerry Lynn overcame my indifference towards all four men and was quite entertaining, though neither Styles or Van Dam seemed to remember being attacked with chairs in the back. In the second match, Kid Kash and Austin Aries faced off against Brian Kendrick and Jesse Sorrenson, combining two X-Division feuds that’ve been going on since the Destination X pay per view. Aries is an absolute masterclass deserving of all the exposure in the world. Kendrick is one of my favorite wrestling personalities. Kid Kash, as I mentioned last week, has an amazing name and, when motivated, is pretty good. Sorrenson…I don’t know who he is, and he got beat up a lot. Another good, quick match that does its job in raising interest in the Bound For Glory pay per view.
Matt Morgan vs. Samoa Joe: Two talented hosses a-clubberin’ each other? I’m down, even if I’m kind of tired of watching Samoa Joe lose, and even if I wonder at the logic of putting three hosses in a triple threat match to clubber each other with less structure. I’d love to see one of the three move up the card after this feud’s conclusion. I’d prefer Samoa Joe, who has been horrifically mismanaged, but wouldn’t mind seeing Matt Morgan finally live up to his seemingly infinite potential. Crimson’s got all the time in the world and probably doesn’t need to win.
The Value of Ink Inc. On the Streets: If Mexican America were to pimp out Ink Inc., it’d be for “two cups of soup and a honey bun.” I wonder if those terms are negotiable.
Christina Von Erie: Always nice to see indie talent on TV. Erie recently made her SHIMMER debut, and here she is on IMPACT, backing up Ink Inc. Makes sense, and it gives the Knockout division something different. As Taz says, “she’s drinking the same food and beverages Ink Inc. is.”
Christopher Daniels Would Rather Hear AJ Styles Say “I Quit” than Murder Him Outright: That, friends, is wrestling.
Scott Steiner: Always a fan.
Bobby Roode vs Kurt Angle Hype Video: A definite HBK/Hart vibe to the feud, which actualy makes sense here (Hart and Michaels were the same age, so making Michaels look like the young upstart made Hart look kind of stupid). Both Roode and Angle make good points, and make the match seem like it’ll be one of the more important ones in TNA history. This is why I anticipate that everything’s gonna go wrong.
Jeff Hardy Looking Motivated: Not that Jeff Hardy is the greatest wrestler in the world, but he is certainly the most popular one on TNA’s roster, and it wouldn’t hurt if he legitimately wanted to make up for his failings and his mistakes. I have some problems with his return angle this week, though. First, Roode just got done talking about the company needing a face that wasn’t a cast-off from another company, then he gets saved by Hardy. Second, it really makes me fear that their big match on their big pay per view is going to be marred by 100 guys interfering on Kurt’s behalf, and that Roode, should he win, will only do so if Hardy lays Angle out for him.
Questionable Decision of the Week: Not quite sure why the Knockouts need a Vice President, nor am I sure why Karen Jarrett should be the one to get the dubious title. I know that women’s divisions are historically cordoned off from the men, but taking it to this extreme is just pointless. Why can’t women wrestle without lame pretense? Why can’t we move past authority figure angles? It’s 2011, folks–nobody is gonna live up to Austin/McMahon, and Karen Jarrett’s having a hard time living up to Vickie Guerrero. I do wonder, though, what a “five-and-dime street walking ho’s” going rate is. Five, or a dime? (Lots of prostitution in TNA this week.)