Saturday, 8 October 2011

Honorary Mentions 01.10.11

The second episode of the new ROH TV show was always going to struggle to better the first. The debut episode had featured the Kings of Wrestling versus Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team (one of the company’s hottest matchups) and the ever impressive Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly beating the underrated Bravado Brothers. No matter how good episode was it was always going to be tough to top the first.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The first episode of the new ROH TV show needed to provide a strong introduction to the ROH product. Those two tag matches were all about action and showed people what they could expect from Ring of Honor.

The October 1st entry would not have been anywhere near as effective as a debut show. The first match pitted Mike Bennett against Jimmy Jacobs, who was accompanied by Steve Corino. It was the standard Bennett affair: a match that featured about three minutes of action but ran for around ten. ‘The Prodigy’ has an impressive look and can talk well (especially by the standards of his ROH contemporaries) but wrestles a very slow sports entertainment style of match. Had this contest been the introductory match for SBG viewers ROH would have made a very bad first impression.

On the plus side there was a nice video package introducing viewers to Mike Bennett and his manager ‘Brutal’ Bob. The gimmick, which was established when Bennett debuted earlier this year, is that Bob put Bennett through a very tough training regime and subjected him to incredibly painful submission holds. The character puts me in mind of Stu Hart with less of a moral conscience.

Bennett’s Hollywood aspirations were also mentioned. This is clearly a gimmick patterned on the career paths of several wrestlers (most notably The Rock) who have left the business to become film stars. We’re supposed to hate Bennett because he’s openly planning to use ROH as a stepping stone to what he considers bigger and better things. The trouble is that his style and character fit ROH so poorly that most fans wouldn’t care if he left to make movies. The heel film star schtick only works if the wrestler in question has had genuine success outside of wrestling and was at one point a popular babyface. Right now Bennett has achieved neither of those things and so the gimmick means little.

There was also an in-ring interview conducted by Jim Cornette with ROH World tag team champions Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. It was announced that the Briscoes have refused to agree to wrestle the champions again unless the belts are on the line. Haas and Benjamin said they were happy to defend the gold against ‘Dem Boys’ but Cornette said ROH wouldn’t make the match because of Mark and Jay’s heelish antics.

Segments like this are fairly counterproductive. The fans want the match, the champions want the match and the Briscoes want the match, but Cornette won’t make the match. I understand it’s being done to build anticipation for the inevitable championship encounter between the twosomes but it makes Cornette look like an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

El Generico’s main event TV championship defence against Jay Lethal was predictably great, the only negative aspect being that the title change outcome has been common knowledge for several weeks. The bout was excellent and the crowd were into the action. They became even louder during the final moments of overtime the match was allocated which translated well to the TV audience and made enhanced the match greatly.

Frankly the overtime is something I could have done without. Extra time had also been granted to Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong in their Death Before Dishonor IX match two weeks before. Two matches getting overtime allocated to them in as many weeks encourages the belief that non-decisions and restarts happen all the time, which they don’t. ROH may think it’s dramatic and shows that they’ll always strive to have a clear winner in their matches (and they’re right, it does), but it kills the drama when done so frequently. Less is more, yes?

The show wasn’t without its faults but overall it was a good show. There were no swerve turns, no run-ins and no lengthy promos about who has booking power, a refreshing change from a US wrestling show. Bring on week three.

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