Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille (@SteveWille34) will take you through the biggest story of the week in the world of wrestling, adding in a unique view to help put the story in perspective. Glenn Butler (@Glenniebun) then takes a quick look at other important stories of the week. If you have any tips or story ideas, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
As Impact Wrestling struggles through cost-cutting measures and a complete revamp of their roster, fans have been prematurely predicting their demise. Of course, this is nothing new for Impact, a distant second place promotion behind the juggernaut that is the WWE. With its downturn, there are some that question whether Ring of Honor is catching up or even surpassing TNA. Before now, there have been few measurable metrics available to compare the two. Surely, Impact has the bigger, more global television deal and, subjectively, better “production values”, that catch-all phrase wrestling fans overuse to describe how the product looks on the screen. But this summer, a few events have emerged that will allow fans and pundits to directly compare the two companies.
Impact Wrestling made the first move, booking the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York for six television taping dates over the course of two weekends. Ring of Honor historically has run in this venue several times a year, selling out the facility on multiple occasions. Once these tapings occur, it will be an easy comparison to see which company draws more, by measuring the average number of tickets sold per event.
As the WWE transitions away from the traditional pay-per-view model, Impact has started to increase its PPV offerings in a reversal of its 2013 strategy. Ring of Honor has joined the fray, announcing its first live PPV event, “Best in the World” on June 22nd. ROH formerly had taped PPV events under its previous ownership. Again, the emergence of both entities on traditional pay-per-view creates an objective measure. If the events are available in an equal amount of homes, a direct comparison of the buy rate is a simple way to compare the two.
Finally, in what’s to me the most interesting move, Ring of Honor booked a new “Field of Honor” show at MCU Park, a minor-league baseball stadium in Brooklyn, NY, on August 15th. Impact has been running similar shows to this, called “BaseBrawl,” for several years, including a few at this very park. Again, the direct comparison with attendance figures can serve as an indication of the promotions’ relative health, both in drawing and advertising power. Scanning reports from previous Impact events at MCU Park, attendance was around 3,000, which would be a huge number for ROH. In terms of the show itself, the original Field of Honor concept took place in 2003 and was a round-robin tournament with multiple blocks, somewhat akin to the World Cup or similar tournaments in New Japan and All Japan Wrestling. There’s no current clarification as to whether ROH will maintain a tournament format or if the title is merely a pun related to holding the event at a baseball stadium.
- Fill ALL the Roster Spots: TNA recently announced that their upcoming Slammiversary pay-per-view special event extravaganza will see the US television debut of Marshall and Ross Von Erich. Considering the need for fresh young talent and the fact that Slammiversary will take place on Fathers’ Day, these Von Erichs will be accompanied to the ring by their father, Kevin Von Erich. TNA had previously been the television home of Lacey Von Erich; they are apparently cornering the market on Von Erich wrestling in the twenty-first century.
- And Now for Something Completely Different: As Steve gushed about on Episode 10 of the Main Event, Chikara’s return to iPPV saw Icarus become only the second Grand Champion, making Eddie Kingston pass out while locked in the Chikara Special submission hold. Icarus cemented his face turn by covering up his frightening full-back tattoo which scares small children and sickens pregnant women. The massive heel group The Flood attacked the technicos post-match, and a character that looked like the combination of DC Comics’ villains Doomsday and Bane destroyed the impish Kobald with a devastating one-hand chokeslam. Shockingly, long-time technico Solider Ant also joined The Flood, for reasons yet unknown. Was he kidnapped and brainwashed, or did he turn on his own volition? Chikara returns to action on June 21st in Chicago for two events. The must-see event can be ordered on-demand at smvod.com.
- He’s Got NBC-Universal in His Hands: In what must be a result of the recent deal between WWE and NBC-Universal regarding the 649849 hours of wrestling television WWE produces weekly, recent episodes of Raw and SmackDown have been added to the WWE Network with a delay of only one month rather than the longer delay evident in prior months.
- The Weematch: It has come to this. There are times in wrestling when you need to rely on a feud to get you through a few months, whether it’s because other parts of the show aren’t quite catching on the way you might like, or perhaps someone important has been sidelined by injury. This Sunday on the Payback super special super show, Hornswoggle and El Torito will meet in a return match from their recent series on television and WeeLC match at Extreme Rules. Torito has by now run through all four members of 3MB, including a win in WeeLC, so one might think this feud has been one-sided; this week on Raw, however, Hornswoggle gained the upper hand and exhibited extraordinary strength when he tore El Torito’s tail off with his bare hands in a brutal assault. El Torito exhibited extraordinary endurance and pain tolerance by even remaining conscious through the ordeal. Luckily, one of his colleagues grabbed up the shorn tail and put it on ice. (One can only think what might have happened if the tail had fallen into the hands of someone who might draw inspiration from the Big Bossman.) It remains to be seen if they made their way to an emergency facility quickly enough after the on-site paramedics failed to reattach the appendage, and how successful any attempt at reconstructive surgery may have been. (“On-site paramedics failed to reattach the appendage” is a kind way of referring to what may be, depending on one’s individual perspective, either a medical professional declining to enter into a procedure that falls outside his medical expertise, or a shameful case of discrimination against bulls that highlights how far our society still has to go. Make up your own mind.) The tail is not an incidental part of a bull’s body — it aids most bulls in keeping flies away, but for a bull as compact and athletically active as El Torito it must have a crucial role in the amazing balance he shows while plying his acrobatic talents — so this injury could handicap Torito significantly heading into the coming match. Torito might be a rough beast come Sunday, slouching toward Rosemont, Illinois to be born…at the very moment when both competitors need to be at their best, as this match will have dire consequences for the loser: Torito’s mask, or Hornswoggle’s hair. One has to go; the WWE is no longer big enough for both of them. It has, indeed, come to this. As ever, we here at PTBN’s High Spot will be closely following these ongoing developments.