Sunday 12 February 2012

Days of Future Past

In the last few months the Ring of Honor careers of Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly have taken an odd twist. Having worked as a tag team for a little over a year the team was dissolved and both men have found new partners, each a former member of another ROH tag team: the American Wolves.

Cole and O’Reilly were signed to contracts in the latter half of 2010 and put together as a unit by ROH management. Throughout 2011 they had many impressive matches and were lauded by many (myself included) as future tag champions. They were expected, in time, to become top singles stars within the organisation.
The trouble is that they were never really used well. They worked well in the doubles division but they never got to make an impact. They didn’t pick out a team name for around a year. In a company like ROH, which has set itself up as the saviour of tag team wrestling, that’s pretty poor. The booking team didn’t help matters either, as they rarely won matches. They were the guys in the lower or middle part of the card that would provide a solid match but only win if they were facing a team at a similar level to themselves. They never got that big victory over a team like the American Wolves, the Kings of Wrestling, the Briscoes or Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team that would have allowed them to start establishing themselves as big winners in the eyes of the fans.

The unit had a lot of potential. With the Kings of Wrestling gone and the Briscoes popularity fluctuating wildly from town to town there is a spot at the top of the card for a reliable, popular team. Future Shock could have filled that spot nicely. Instead they’ve been split up to play a part in the burgeoning Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards rivalry.
The move, while disappointing, does at least make sense. O’Reilly has been presented as Richards’ protégé throughout his time in ROH and has accompanied him to ringside for several big matches in the last year. The two forming a tag team is a natural progression of the relationship and plays nicely into the angle that both men are “spurning” their former teammates.

Meanwhile Edwards and Cole are relatively similar in style. While the newly formed Team Richards is all about bringing a real sports feel to their matches, thanks to their stiffer ring style and emphasis on training regimens and submissions, Cole and Edwards are more prone to flying and mat wrestling.
The two teams will clash in the main event of the ROH Tenth Anniversary Show at the end of the month in what is going to be a great match. It will not only deliver in the ring but on the storyboards too: I imagine what happens at the Tenth Anniversary Show will set the scene for the next several months of storylines between the four men. The rivalry is likely to progress to outright hostility at some point.

While this program should be entertaining for ROH fans, and likely form the basis of a Richards v O’Reilly feud at some point in the distant future, I can’t help but feel it could and should have been held off in favour of establishing Future Shock as a standout unit in the tag division. Not only would this current feud have had more impact but the two younger men would have received a more impactful start to their ROH careers. It’s all about timing though, and in this case timing just wasn’t on Future Shock’s side.

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