A Great Alternative: ROH TV 2-14-2015

roh

Ring of Honor has been around for damn near thirteen years and I am horribly ashamed I’ve only gotten into it recently. I’m going to keep watching their show and re-capping it as it’s something that every fan of professional wrestling should get behind. One of the best things about this show is you can watch it right here: http://www.rohwrestling.com/tv/current.  I’m probably going to gush… be warned…

RING OF HONOR TELEVISION 2-14-2015

The first thing you’ll notice when watching ROH TV is that the intro is filled with crazy action instead of portraits of characters posing and smiling. I know it’s a crazy idea but it really gives me the impression that I’m about to watch a WRESTLING show as opposed to a poorly acted comedy/drama three hour.

COLE DANCING
TV’s original song and dance man.

Without so much as a twenty minute promo that buries the roster, we are treated to ROH champion Jay Briscoe coming out to join us for commentary. If you haven’t seen Jay Briscoe just look for the guy who looks like he’s about to murder your family. I swear, if Brock Lesnar wasn’t WWE champion, Briscoe would far and away be the most legitimate champion in wrestling. If Roman Reigns had half the poise and quiet charisma as Jay the WWE universe would be chanting Succotash instead of “YES”.

jay briscoe
I thawt I thaw a puddy tat???

Match # 1 – Tommaso Ciampa Vs. Jimmy Jacobs

I love watching wrestling and being legitimately scared for one of the competitor’s lives. Jimmy Jacobs seems like a really good hand, but Ciampa is going to kill him. Already the commentators have started pushing Briscoe’s upcoming PPV title defense against Ciampa, Elgin and Hanson and it gives me the sense that we have a theme for the night. Tomasso gets right in Briscoe’s face at ringside and Briscoe doesn’t even need to channel Denzel Washington to tell him to bring it. Before it can go anywhere Jacobs leaps at Chiampa and immediately gets a chair pitched into his face for his troubles. It’s all downhill from here for Jacobs, and while he gets a few token offensive moves including “sliced bread number 2” which is one of my most hated moves, he spends the rest of the “match” (slaughter) being pounded into jelly by the crazed Sicilian. As if Ciampa’s look and demeanor weren’t scary enough he throws Jacobs to the outside and knees Jacobs until he is dead. After three, the ref stops the match and awards in to Ciampa. The message is clear and effective: Ciampa is for real and he’s putting Jay on notice. I love simple storytelling. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a moment where Kevin Kelly on commentary explains that Ciampa deserves a shot at Jay Briscoe’s title because he had a visual pin over him. Jay’s response is golden “I won’t kick out if the ref ain’t countin’. I’ll take that rest.” It’s a sort of attention to detail that I haven’t seen or heard in a while.

No bullshit here guys we’re going right into the next match.

Match # 2 The Romantic Touch Vs. Hanson

It’s lovemaking time! The Romantic touch is here, and he does about a forty five minute entrance complete with women and rose petals. Just as I’m about to tire of it we get a terrific inset promo by him in which he overpronounces things like Valen…Tines… Day or Cho…co… lates… which endears him just a little bit more to each and every one of us. He’s fighting Hanson, who comes out with a beard that would make Daniel Bryan cry red tears of envy. As Hanson makes his entrance he’s told by an exceptionally clever man wearing a reDragon shirt to “Be a real Viking and rape and pillage this promotion!!!!” I’m unsure if the camera caught that though. Romantic Touch offers Hanson some choco…lates… and gets kicked in the face and pinned. Never offer a Viking chocolates. If he wants the damn chocolates he’s take the damn chocolates. Don’t insult a mighty Odinson like Hanson with your puny offering. These are the people that the Christian inquisition didn’t even want to fuck with. Hanson steps up to Briscoe again selling us on the idea that the title is important and something that everyone wants.

hanson
No, No it’s fine M’Lord, continue your devil worship with the Church’s blessing.

Jay Lethal now joins us, and as he does every week as he hocks The Health Alert Hotline. There’s something wonderfully endearing about Jay Lethal screaming wrestling puns into the camera so that someone will go and buy a knee brace. This is the kind of thing that make the promotion seem a little small time, but also gives me the impression that it’s a complete team effort where everyone is doing what they can to help the company.

Again no time to lose here as we’re getting right back to the action.

Match #3 – Michael Elgin Vs. Moose

As Michael Elgin walks to the ring he gets encouraged by a crazed man screaming “kick his ass” which I’m sure was in no way because the man was racist towards Moose, but was almost certainly said to Elgin because aid man was terrified of Moose. This is a great little hoss battle which starts out slowly but really gains speed as it goes on. Some great spots include Elgin holding Moose up in a vertical suplex for infinity, only to have Moose pop right back up off the mat and kill him with a dropkick. Elgin also does a multiple power bomb spot which is impressive as Moose is 300 pounds that he’s basically dead lifting. I really, really want to like Michael Elgin, as he’s clearly talented in the ring, t I just feel he tries waaaaaay to hard with his facial expressions and acting. Let’s be straight here: Moose is WWE bound in what? Two months? The guy is an absolute beast. It’s a shame he’ll leave Stokely Hathaway behind as it takes a performer with great attention to detail to wear a Fresh Prince of Bel Air jacket when they’re in Philly. The match gets really good before just devolving into a huge brawl when Elgin gets in Briscoe’s face at commentary. The four guys who’ll compete for the title at the ppv go at it and both Briscoe brothers eat Moose spears for good measure. That damn Michael Elgin also paraded around with Jay Briscoe’s title which is just classless and wrong. You have to earn that title Mister!

We next get a video package hyping Alberto El Patron vs. Jay Lethal at the 13th Anniversary PPV. The gist of the story is: Patron comes in, mentions he wants to face the best competition, name drops Jay Briscoe, Jay Lethal is upset/jealous he wasn’t named and now Lethal is going to prove to El Patron that he’s the best. It’s almost as if professional athletes (which is what everyone is portrayed as here) have pride and what they do and want to be recognized for it. Crazy…

So if the show ended here it’s a pretty solid forty minutes of television, sure some of the matches were a little lacking, but they were all used to tell a bigger story which I have no problem with. The show doesn’t end here though…

bullet club
Oh you didn’t know…

Match #4 – AJ Styles/ The Young Bucks Vs. Matt Sydal/ACH/Cedric Alexander

I’m not sure what to say about this one. I could go on and on describing all the moves but I think you need to go and watch this for yourself. I don’t mean need because I can’t describe it. I mean you owe it to yourself as a fan of professional wrestling to see this kind of match. Everyone is on their “A” game and the action is a non-stop roller coaster from bell to bell. It’s such a treat to see six men at the height of their talent. Cedric Alexander and ACH are just incredible performers on every level. Matt Sydal exudes a start power and in-ring ability that the WWE had to make an effort not to see. And the Bullet Club… Jesus Christ the Bullet Club. Amazing chemistry from AJ Styles and the Young Bucks who are easily my favorite act in wrestling. It’s the kind of match that has you popping at the near falls not because your favorite guy kicked out, but because it means the match isn’t over and you’re getting more. I know these guys are having this type of match over in Japan, but this kind of a stuff is a real game changer for me. How can I go back to John Cena vs. Rusev when guys like this are tearing the house down? Their passion and talent make me excited to be a fan. Make an effort to see this match, it’s easily the TV match of the year so far.

Best Match: The six man.
Worst Match: Hanson Vs The Romantic Touch (really by default)
Best Promo/Skit: No time for this shit. Though Jay Briscoe was solid on commentary.
Worst Promo/Skit: Hahahahaha!
MVP: Everyone in the Main Event.

What Worked Really Well

– They make the whole production seem like a legit sporting event. The tale of the tape before every match helps this a lot.

– There is a definite focus and respect of their world heavyweight title and their champion. The show itself did a really good job of selling the title four-way at the PPV.

-Every single person is presented as a credible professional wrestler even the god damned Romantic Touch!

– The in-ring work is fantastic top to bottom.

– The show moves, there are no dead spots and no bullshit sports entertainment.

– I like how everyone’s theme music is varied and different.

– The commentating is light years ahead of anything you see in WWE. And I’m not just saying that because Kevin Kelly was the nararator in our Place to Be Nation Christmas Play. They call moves, they keep everyone focused on the title or storyline at hand without deviating too much from calling the match and Kelly and Steve Corino have a great chemistry that allows them to be funny yet not obtrusive with their humor.

What Sort Of Works

– I’m not sold on the guys in the red neutral masks. It may turn out to be something great but for now it’s just odd and they’re destroying the idea of neutrality by painting them red. My improvisation teacher who made me pretend to be a tree while wearing one would be enraged.

– As much as the wrestlers are all presented as legit, the same cannot be said for the managers. They feel a little second rate.

truth
I can’t hear the obvious talent over the jacket.

What Didn’t Work

– I really didn’t like the commercial breaks in the main event. As much as I loved the match I felt it hurt the pace and made it look the teensiest bit worse than it was. I know there’s no choice, but I have to put something in this section.

So Why Should I Watch This Instead Of Raw?

Because if you like wrestling you should be watching Ring of Honor. POINT FINALE. The show is a fast hour of great matches and is a tremendous throwback to the time when it was pro wrestling rather than sports entertainment. All the things you hate about Raw and the WWE? They don’t exist here. It’s a tremendous product that respects it’s fans and there’s no reason to not check it out. We need ROH to succeed. You don’t believe me? Go to the website and spend an hour. You’ll be as hooked as I am.

Thanks for Reading! See You Next Week!

Author: Aaron George

Aaron is a classically trained Shakespearean actor by day who fulfils his culture quotient by watching wrestling by night. He has two sons a great wife and once explored the sewers in his hometown.