Did something important happen on Raw this week? Instead of redundantly focusing on the build to WrestleMania, whether Daniel Bryan is being pushed to the moon or BURIED~, or CM Punk’s ode to “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?”, we here at the High Spot decided to look at wrestling outside of the “big two” this week.
And we start in the Midwest, where, when you’re having a roller coaster of a month, nothing cures what ails you more than live independent wrestling with your friends. Steve made the trip to both Milwaukee and Chicago for Ring of Honor’s “Raising the Bar” weekend and fields the following notes:
The biggest news coming out of the weekend shows, some of which was taped for television, is that Nick and Matt Jackson, the Young Bucks, exited Chicago as the World Tag Team Champions. Despite Matt’s legitimately broken hand and a loss in the six-man match the evening before to the Briscoes and Michael Elgin, the title victory awarded the Bucks their third concurrent major championship, along with the PWG World Tag Team Championships and the IWGP Jr. tag straps. The Superkick Party was in full effect at both venues, as the Jacksons superkicked opponents, streamers and nearly connected with new ROH ring announcer, Scarlet.
Speaking of the venues, Milwaukee’s Turner Hall has become a new hotbed for Ring of Honor’s tours; Kevin Steen has compared it affectionately to PWG’s Reseda crowds. From my perspective, this show had the largest and most vocal crowd yet, with several additional rows set up and several patrons being forced to stand. I overheard several fans clamoring for a move to a larger building, perhaps the Eagles’ Ballroom that hosted ECW events in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In suburban Chicago, the Frontier Fieldhouse has hosted Ring of Honor shows for a decade, but the attendance trend seems to be trending in the opposite direction. Crowds are far less packed than from 2005-07, though, to be fair, they may be more profitable, as those shows often had several wrestlers from Japan competing, as well as stalwarts such as Samoa Joe, CM Punk and Christopher Daniels. At “Raising the Bar,” the Chicago faithful seemed anything but, as Steen, Silas Young and Michael Bennett all commented, in match, how silent the crowd was. My best guess is that the lack of television in the Chicago market may be hurting crowds somewhat, while Milwaukee, a historically rabid wrestling town that carries the Sinclair product on multiple channels, is thriving.
In other weekend news, Adam Cole had two successful title defenses, one against Matt “Shots” Taven, and then a grueling victory in the Ringmaster’s Challenge against Chris Hero. Earlier in the evening, Taven underestimated the drinking prowess of Wisconsin, offering to take the crowd out for shots if he beat Cole, leading to “Shots” chants overwhelming the title match. To Cole and Taven’s credit, they played along well. The Shots Movement carried on to Chicago, though to a lesser extent. Truth Martini continued to be a thorn in Taven’s side, providing a distraction in both of his matches and perhaps scouting Silas Young as a future partner. Jay Lethal showed a more aggressive side on both nights, and Kevin Steen further cemented himself as one of the most popular wrestlers in the world, popping crowds with some furious athleticism in both matches, combined with his signature enthusiasm. He looks to be heading into a feud with both members of Outlaw Inc., who mocked Steen’s weight in Chicago.
Ring of Honor will return to both Milwaukee and Chicago on August 22nd and 23rd for Death by Dishonor weekend, but, first, they have gigantic events in April during WrestleMania weekend and in May, the athlete of New Japan Pro Wrestling will be in attendance for “Global Wars” in Toronto and “War of the Worlds” in New York City. Tickets for all of these events are now on sale at rohwrestling.com.
- Can You Snap Into Them?: In a new ad for KFC chicken strips, independent wrestling sensations and former SmackDown superstars Colt Cabana and Mr. 1859 Cliff Compton compete in a heated arm-wrestling bout for the sweet, sweet prize of two crispy strips of baked chicken flesh. Arm wrestling seems like a lot of effort to go through to get your tender in some dipping sauce (especially if after all that effort all you wind up with is ranch), but sometimes you have to prove your mettle.
- RIP: Since his granddaughter was killed by a drunk driver in 2012, Dutch Mantell has been championing a law proposing that judges be allowed to order drug- or alcohol-related offenders to wear monitoring devices. Amelia’s Law, as it’s come to be known, passed the Tennessee State Senate last week.
- Announce Trounce POUNCE: Jeff and Karen Jarrett recently announced that in three weeks they will be making an announcement. I can now formally announce that we here at The High Spot will be awaiting this announcement, and any further announcements yet to be announced, with the heated anticipation of Michael Cole refreshing a list of trending topics.
- ?! ?! ?! ?!: There are interpretations of quantum mechanics that theorize the existence of an infinitely large multiverse. The many-worlds interpretation holds that for every event, there is at least one universe in which each possible outcome takes place. Imagine a tree with infinite branches shooting off from the main trunk, and infinite branches shooting off from each branch. The multiverse contains realities in which everything you have ever known, everything you have ever experienced, everything you have ever been aware of, happened in any possible way and had any possible result.
There are interpretations of alchemy that embrace the ancient art not only for base metallurgy and personal transformation, but comprehensive transmutation and transcendence of the limits of our physical world. There are those who believe that the physical limitations we experience are as curable as the psychological limitations that plague so many of us. Just as you can spend a lifetime studying and practicing the formation of healthy mental habits and healing of past trauma, so too can you devote time and effort to the study of the magickal sciences, ultimately unlearning, undoing and understanding the limitations of mere appearance. Solve et Coagula: Dissolve and Coagulate. (Alchemy also teaches that red is the best color to ward off danger, while grey is the color of knowledge, lore, and wisdom.)
When we combine the teachings of quantum mechanics, that all possible outcomes occur somewhere in the multiverse, with the teachings of alchemy, that physical limitations are fungible rather than set in stone, it stands to reason that there is some universe, somewhere, where Daniel Bryan won the royal rumble. But it is not this one. We are in the wrong universe.
Huddled deep in the dungeons beneath the Towers of Titan, The Swaggering Man and The Prodigal Son-in-Law collude to shape the future: “We offered Them Randy Orton. They did not want Randy Orton. We offered Them Batista, but They did not want Batista. They want Daniel Bryan. But Daniel Bryan didn’t win the Royal Rumble.”
Can the combined forces of these two powerful men shatter the boundaries between realities? Can they propel The Erstwhile Main-Eventer into the position of prominence he possibly earned in another reality, but has not in this one? What will they sacrifice along the way? And even if they succeed, will They be appeased?
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward New Orleans to be born?