ROH News ROH News: ROH TV SPOILERS - detailed report from recent set of ROH TV tapings in Philadelphia, overview of TV taping experience
Feb 3, 2011 - 12:48:37 PM
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ROH TV taping report
Friday, January 21, 2011
Report by Brett B., PWTorch reader
Editor's Note: This is a report from ROH's first of two sets of TV tapings two weekends ago for the final episodes of ROH TV on HDNet.
I am a long-time wrestling fan and I am most likely too old to still be following pro wrestling, but I've reached an age where I care less about the public perception of a 29-year-old professional still interested in pretending fighting. It is within this backdrop that I took four non-wrestling fans, including my beautiful fiance, to the ECW Arena to see a live taping of Ring of Honor.
I was aware of Ring of Honor through C.M. Punk and Samoa Joe, but had never seen a full show, let alone a full match. My entire knowledge of ROH's current landscape was founded on a 30-minute YouTube session the night before. I hate Kevin Steen. The Briscos have a dad who can do the Legion of Doom's finishing move. Davey Richards is possibly concussed. Throw in a $20 price tag and promise of front row seats and next thing you know I have a car full of excited wrestling fans.
I had been to live wrestling before, but only at the Spectrum or the Wachovia Center for Raw or the weekend house show. Despite living in a Philadelphia suburb and watching ECW on public access, I never ventured to South Philly to see the ECW Arena until that night. Needless to say, there's something to be said about entering that arena for the first time after watching hundreds of ECW matches. My first two impressions were that I immediately recognized the area where Rey Mysterio and Psicosis finished their 2 out of 3 falls match and the balconies that New Jack jumped off seemed lower than I originally thought.
A: The first dark match featured two skinny guys whose names were unannounced against two bigger guys whose names were also not announced. The woman behind me kept calling one of the skinny guys, who looked like Mikey Whipwreck's little brother, "Freddie," but I could not confirm if that was his ring name or if this woman just happened to know Freddie personally. I assume the skinny guys were good based on the fact that the bigger guys had a manager with sunglasses on and briefcase. Classic evil manager gear. The bad guys prevailed with power moves proving moxie can only get you so far.
Following that match, there was a problem with the lights that prompted Jim Cornette to come out and let us know that there was indeed a problem with the lights. He was interrupted by the Kings of Wrestling. A few first impressions:
-- These guys were clearly sent out to kill time, which was fine with me. Amidst getting booed relentlessly, the Kings covered a few salient points. First, Philly sucks, our sports teams suck, and we're ugly. Second, they were great and would win later. I'm sure I'm missing some details, but I can assure you the Cliff's notes version is sufficient.
-- The crowd really hated these guys, with the exception of one kid with bad hair who showed massive dedication to the Kings by singing their theme song word for word as they came to the ring.
-- The Kings are a great example of two different bad guys who rile up the crowd in two different ways. Chris Hero is a jerk and Castagnoli is a smug European. It's a great trick that always succeeds when done correctly, ala America's Most Wanted and possibly pioneered by Haku/Andre or Yokozuna/Owen Hart. Bonus points, by the way, for Castagnoli's gimmick coming to the ring holding a cup of Starbucks coffee. It's small touches like that which really get the character across.
B: One more dark match after that featuring an arrogant bad guy with bad hair against an skinny underdog good guy with bad tattoos. Bad hair thought he was too good for bad tattoos and after a sloppy match that looked worse up close, bad hair put bad tattoos away. My friends enjoyed bad tattoo's efforts to liven the crowd by shouting "rock and roll!" which I think is right behind "U-S-A!" as the easiest way to get a crowd to perform synchronized cheers.
The taping started at this point. In my research of ROH going into this event, it was hard for me not to immediately notice El Generico, a red-headed luchador with a body type similar to an average person.
(1) El Generico & Colt Cabana beat the Bravado Brothers, who were a welcome relic to 1980s WWE stereotype-based gimmicks. El Generico and Cabana were incredibly over with the crowd, and Cabana was more specifically over with my fiance, who speculated that the pear-shaped Cabana has no problem picking up chicks. A highlight of our night, and a reason why ROH is so amazing, was when I shouted "You're cheating!" at the Bravado brothers, and the smaller, more effeminate one responded to me personally, yelling "No we're not!" It ended with the good guys winning and the crowd was stoked. Cabana took a second to puff up Generico's ego, which everyone enjoyed.
Steve Corino came out next to cut a promo about how he's changing and no longer wants to be a bad guy. This was very reminiscent of Eddie Guerrerro's last gimmick. You know he has bad intentions, but eventually your guard is down and that's when you get socked in the face with the heel turn. Corino brought out Devon Storm, who he claims to be a highly touted independent wrestler ten years ago. Storm looked like your typical late-90s WCW heel jobber, which is fitting since he played Crowbar in WCW.
(2) Steve Corino beat Devon Storm. Long story short, Storm doesn't trust Corino and despite Storm getting a ton of offense in, Corino wins cleanly. Great moments were Corino almost breaking the rules, but he didn't, including a spot where he teased grabbing the ropes during an abdominal stretch, but then changed his mind. I should note that I admittedly haven't seen Corino since ECW days, but he did not look like I remembered. Father Time has had his way with Corino.
(3) The next match involved two non-descript wrestlers who were sent out there so they could be interrupted by Michael Elgin. Elgin destroyed both competitors and his manager, Truth Martini, gloated and held up a book. I think I'm missing something with this gimmick. Now, as I will talk about later, I like wrestling cliches but I thought this segment fell flat. This was too much like Brock Lesnar's debut and Elgin is too small to be seem THAT dominant. Elgin came off like more a jerk who barged into a match unannounced than someone who demanded our attention. Bonus negative points for Martini aping Cyrus's ECW look. Note that Martini had sunglasses on, continuing the evil manager dress code.
(4) Homicide beat Mark Briscoe, the Briscoe Brother with no front teeth, was next. Excellent match and my first "ohmygodit'sthatguy" moment seeing Homicide. Homicide won in an awesome match, but didn't use the gringo killer, which I had been talking up to my uninformed friends.
A new taping started with Cornette (second impressive sighting) introducing the up-and-comers tournament. Grizzly Redwood was wearing jeggings (apparently they make some kind of jean and legging combination) which won him over with my fiance. The rest of my friends took a shine to Bobby Dempsey for obvious reasons. Cornette was interrupted by "The Prodigy" Mike Bennett, who seems about one foot too short for a WWE developmental deal. Apparently, Bennett is awesome and we just don't know it yet. I'm also not sure who decided that all heels need to wear suits, but that look has officially jumped the shark.
(1) Kyle O'Reilly beat a guy who was way too short to be taken seriously. O'Reilly won with an MMA-inspired finisher that was anti-climactic, but very realistic. Corino provided commentary and guidance post-match, solidifying his new outlook on life. It's a little heavy-handed, but I see where they were going with it.
(2) The aforementioned Michael Elgin beat Dempsey. Dempsey fell victim to Wrestling Cliche #25, where the big guy mounts the turnbuckle to punch his opponent, only to be powerbombed and pinned. One of these days, people will stop doing that to The Undertaker.
(3) Christopher Daniels beat Kevin Storm in probably the most disappointing match the night. I'm not sure if it was Storm's fault, but the match was slow and didn't show any of the flair I'd seen from Daniels in TNA. My fiance thought the symbols on Daniels's trunks was to indicate that he was the "frat boy" wrestler. When I indicated that he was the "Fallen Angel," she replied that "explained the guy liner."
(1) Andy "Right Leg" Ridge beat Grizzly Redwood. We couldn't decide if Grizzly was supposed to be a lumberjack or an hipster lumberjack, and decided that at this point they were essentially the same thing. You would also assume that anyone wrestling Andy Ridge would assume that he'd be throwing that right leg around a lot, but apparently Grizzly missed the memo. Huge bummer at the end when Grizzly botched a 619 and then ate a (surprise!) right-legged kick to the face coming off the top rope.
(2) Mike Bennett beat Adam Cole. This match was hugely popular with the 11-year-old girls sitting behind me, who had a hard time deciding who was better looking. Bennett won, but I should note that for being "the next big thing," he was pretty underwhelming. He came off like an arrogant heel in his promo, but had a hard time putting away a guy half his size and was more of a cowardly heel in the ring. Not sure what the plan was there, but I was hoping The Prodigy would be a little better at wrestling. The girls behind me did not share my criticism, as the girl who touched the sweaty post-match Bennett could not have been happier.
At this point, I'd like to set the stage for the final match. It's been three hours. We've seen a lot of wrestling and I think everyone was a little stir crazy at this point. It was the perfect time for the Kings of Wrestling to come out again to the wrath of roughly 200 angry spectators. The kids were giving Hagadorn the middle finger and everyone was cursing Sarah Del Rey. Essentially, the crowd was beginning to come to life. In this environment entered Rhett Titus, a smarmy party guy, and Castagnoli sans Starbucks.
(3) Claudio Castagnoli beat Rhett Titus. As the match progressed, the crowd was getting more animated as evidenced by Shane Hagadorn verbally sparring with a 50-year-old mom three rows behind me. Good back and forth match that ended with Castagnoli winning via cheating. The crowd was angry. Kenny King, who should have won Tough Enough 2, came out, followed by Chris Hero.
Their arguing led to the ref starting their match immediately and at this point the crowd is at a full fever pitch. I look to my left and see Castagnoli flexing in front of an 18-year-old spectator. He is cursing up a blue streak and providing a wonderful example for the ten or so kids he seems to be chaperoning. One such kid has his middle finger turned upside down and is using language directed at Sara Del Ray that leaves my fiance a little taken back.
(4) Kenny King beat Chris Hero. The match in the ring has the full attention of all my friends, who have fully suspended disbelief at this point. Good match between King and Hero, which ended with Wrestling Cliche #13. Bad guys attempt to cheat and are foiled by the good guys outside the ring. Havoc ensues distracting the referee. Bad guy in the ring attempts to cheat, but his cheating attempts backfire (Hero decks Hagadorn when King, who was being held by Hagadorn, ducks a shot). King rolled up Hero and the place exploded. Great moment that really came off well with the live crowd.
The Kings were angry with their loss and took it out on the victors. A lesser known wrestling cliche ensued where the bad guys beat down the good guys and kept referees and lesser-known wrestlers from saving the good guys. My fiance was horrified as Hagadorn whipped out his belt at the previously mentioned rock and roll jobber. At this point, it seemed routine to me that El Generico would come out and save the day, but I could tell from my fiance's face before and after Generico and Cabana made the save that she did not anticipate that occurring. Nice ending, although slightly predictable. Having Generico in street clothes, but still under a mask, was a nice touch. I couldn't help but envision Generico finding what was happening, putting his mask on and running out for the save in just jeans and skate shoes. The other option being that Generico just hangs out with the mask on all the time, which is equally amazing.
The show concluded with all good guys tentatively shaking hands. The announcer invited us to tomorrow's show, but I unfortunately had plans and could not attend. Given my experience with wrestling, I'm going to guess that Bennett wins the tournament over the remaining good guy.
All in all, I cannot advocate seeing independent wrestling enough. The cost is low and unlike WWE, you are pretty much assured of seeing something exciting. My last WWE main event was DX fighting the new Hart Foundation, which was massively disappointing. Sitting up close can sometimes expose "how the sausage is made" in regard to hearing wrestlers call out spots and seeing obvious missed moves, but it's much easier to suspend disbelief when you're seeing everything live and moments like the last match more than make up for it.
Also, as someone who works independently on a small business, I can appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into being an independent wrestler. Chances are, most of these guys may not be lifers in the wrestling business, but I am more than happy to pay money to support someone's dream. Even if that dream is to wear women's clothes and screw up Rey Mysterio's finishing move. In conclusion, I strongly recommend everyone attend this or any other independent show given the opportunity. Ring of Honor puts out an amazing product and wrestling fans of all ages will not be disappointed.
[Torch art credit Marco D'Alfinso (c) PWTorch.com]
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