MITCHELL'S TAKE MITCHELL: Things You Think About When Watching An 83-Minute Wrestling Match (#1232)
Dec 8, 2011 - 12:32:25 PM
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This Mitchell Feature Column was originally published in this week's Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter available for Print Subscribers and Torch VIP Members. Find out to sign up for VIP membership to access the latest Torch Newsletter, thousands of Back-Issues, and VIP Audio featuring Mitchell on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Weekends at PWTorch.com/GoVIP .
By Bruce Mitchell, PWTorch senior columnist
Note: After 11 straight weeks of ROH TV airing Saturdays night at 8 p.m. on WCWG, Ring of Honor Wrestling debuted at the Greensboro Coliseum Annex on Sunday, Dec. 4 at four o’clock in the afternoon.
- Annex? What annex? I think this building used to be a storage shed.
- Not only was the ten bell salute for Bison Smith done with taste and discretion, it linked this show back through 50 years of pro wrestling tradition at the Coliseum. I just wish it didn’t continue to be necessary.
- Does the Greensboro Coliseum have the longest running history of professional wrestling of any major building?
- I know, I know, Arena Mexico…
- Looked like, what, a third of the 350 or so fans here this afternoon are wearing ROH gear, but only a few are wearing t-shirts with a specific act on them – mostly the Kings of Wrestling, and they’ve been gone since the first TV show…
- Jim Cornette is comfortably in charge here and did a great job of setting the stage with his introduction to the night’s proceeding. In the first of what may or may not be inadvertent tributes to days gone by, Cornette explains that the winner of tonight’s eight-man All Star Elimination match will receive a check for TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. “And for the NWA TV Title and TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, Tully Blanchard, with Baby Doll, puts his belt on the line…”
- And Tully used to put his TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS on the line in front of crowds this size, too, at high school gyms throughout the area.
- Cornette even has the old-time over-sized gimmick check for TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS ready and even had former ROH owner Cary Silkin sign it. Cornette knows the Austin Idol story about the gimmick TEN THOUSAND DOLLAR check better than anybody left in the business, and chuckles that this is a “symbolic check.”
- The Austin Idol story? Back in the ‘70s The Universal Heartthrob was working for promoter Fred Ward in Georgia when he won a battle royal for TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. Idol didn’t like Ward, and did like money, so he took the over-sized gimmick check for TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS to the bank first thing in the morning and they cashed it. Ward couldn’t say anything, either, because if he objected it would have made the local paper and been an admission that the Idol’s win wasn’t on the up and up.
- That living remnant of days gone by, John Hitchcock - who was not at the first pro wrestling event held at the Coliseum - was the only one in the crowd with signs ready. (You have him to thank for all those signs all these years at WWE shows.) He raised WELCOME BACK JIMMY to a big smile from the Louisville Lip. WHERE’S BOBBY AND STAN? This gets a pantomimed head on a pillow and mouthed “At home, asleep.”
- The last, perhaps inadvertent, tribute to days gone by came when the All-Night Express (The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express) were scheduled to face the Bravado Brothers (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard), only the Young Bucks (The Midnight Express) jumped Rhett Titus (Ricky Morton) and injured his leg with a chair. The Bravado Brothers want a win by forfeit since Titus can’t go, but ROH Executive Producer Jim Cornette (Jim Crockett, Jr.) asks them to let Kenny King (Robert Gibson) pick another partner from the back, The Bravados cite their contract that says they signed to fight the ANX tonight. It’s not their fault ANX isn’t prepared to fight. King wants to go anyway, so we have a two on one match.
- King puts up a valiant effort, but the Bravados wear him down until, dramatically, Ricky Morton, I mean Rhett Titus, limps down to ringside, complete with a Spirit of ‘76 bandage around his head. Unlike in 1987 or 1988, the gutsy effort isn’t doomed to cost his team the NWA World Tag Team Championship and they win a well-earned if somewhat implausible victory.
- This was the second match on the show.
- At this point I bet some of you are considering asking Wade Keller for your money back.
- This was the first time I saw Jay Lethal live and he didn’t look like a kid dressing up in his daddy’s bathrobe to play wrestler, He had a pretty damn good match with Adam Cole, too. The Proving Ground stipulation, which stated that Cole could get a future ROH TV Title shot if he lasted the 15 minute time limit, added intrigue to the match.
- The Young Bucks are heels, but they mostly use cool athletic moves. They won with one, too. On the other hand, they didn’t shake Booker T’s hand once.
- A friend of mine bought a second row ticket for 40 bucks the day of the show.
- No way this Briscoes & Roderick Strong & Mike Elgin vs. The Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team & El Generico & Eddie Edwards match goes two hours.
- Uh oh, Cornette is at ringside calling the match. We’re going long.
- The thing starts with the Briscoes bowing up on some fan at ringside. We’re going long.
- Damn, these guys work hard. They work harder than any pro wrestlers I’ve ever seen.
- Damn, these guys are good.
- Damn, this is a small crowd.
- This is clearly going on DVD.
- The crowd is staying with it, and thankfully there is only one tiresome “This is awesome” match review chant, but from the back row I’m starting to hear some grumbling about how long this is going to last. We don’t get our first elimination until the fifty-minute mark, and it’s hard to tell why any particular spectacular finishing sequence works while all the other ones don’t.
This is really well booked. The Briscoes are the favorites of the night and the World’s Greatest Tag Team work like tag team champions should, and never do, but the match is designed ultimately as a showcase for the Eddie Edwards vs. Davey Richard ROH World Title challenge in New York City at the Best in The World pay-per-view at the end of the month. Roderick Strong is an excellent foil, (I never thought he’d get a personality, particularly a playboy one, but it works) and is clearly going to be the next big challenger for the ROH Title. He submits to Edwards’s guillotine to end the match.
- 83 minutes.
- Good Lord.
- Booking this stipulation for the first main event in the market, catering to the same small number of loyalists who took the company to the brink of extinction, to the exclusion of new fans trying out the product, is a bad business decision.
- ”How was the ROH show?”
“It was pretty good. Those guys bust their asses, but the main event went an hour and a half.”
“Are you kidding?”
- An eight-man match with a two hour time limit for the first main event in new market where you they just got prime-time television? It’s amazing the lengths these companies will go to do anything but promote their own wrestlers as stars.
Bruce Mitchell of Greensboro, N.C. has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. He hosts the PWTorch Livecast with Travis Bryant on Mondays.
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