MITCHELL'S TAKE MITCHELL: An Open Letter to Ring of Honor Wrestling Fans... Guys, we have a problem
Jan 5, 2012 - 5:36:20 PM
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By Bruce Mitchell, PWTorch columnist
Dear Ring of Honor Fans,
Guys, we have a problem.
It’s not that you’re not smart. You are. In your way, you know more about wrestling than any other fans. You know the holds. You know their special names. You know the wrestlers, their histories, and their personal foibles and habits. You know the components of a wrestling match, almost all the parts it takes to put together that elusive five-star puzzle, and you can make the determination of how many stars a match deserves almost immediately upon its finish.
Most wrestling fans can’t do that.
I mean, you’re about your pro wrestling. Most of you follow the sport day to day and hour to hour. You know the difference between Mark Henry’s and Alberto Del Rio’s groin injury. Chris Hero is as much a star to you as Randy Orton, but not as much as Bryan Danielson.
And you’re passionate about Ring of Honor. It was your passion, your noisy energy that impressed Sinclair TV executives when they explored buying the company and putting its programming on their networks in primetime. That passion fuels every ROH card.
Every wrestler on the show knows you’re paying attention to their every move, knows you pick up on the nuances of what they’re doing, and knows you appreciate them as wrestlers, not as over-written semi-TV stars. You’re in it, chanting and banging on barriers from the opening bell. There’s no comparison between you and the freeloaders at the Impact Zone and the Let’s go Cena/Cena Sux clods at the WWE shows. I’d even argue that you were the spark that ignited C.M. Punk to the top of the Raw card.
In your way, you’re the best fans in professional wrestling.
Now, though, your passion might kill Ring of Honor.
See, here’s the thing: While your passion may drive you to travel hundreds of miles to Ring of Honor shows, drape yourself in ROH gear, and buy their DVDs and order their iPPVs there are simply not enough of you doing it to make the company profitable. If there were, Sinclair Broadcasting would not have had to buy the company from Cary Silkin.
Ring of Honor has to attract new fans to survive and grow. Sinclair isn’t Turner Broadcasting and they won’t put money into a losing wrestling company for long. Ring of Honor has to change and become more accessible to new fans.
ROH officials know that, but they’re worried – about Ring of Honor fans. See, they hear you. They know you’re not happy. They know you see Gabe Sapolsky as the good old days, and it doesn’t help that your all-time ROH favorites Punk and Danielson are getting over in the world of corporate wrestling. They are scared to death that you will turn on them in the crucial moments while they reach out to new ROH fans.
So, look guys. You can’t expect ROH to survive if you keep insisting on:
•Four hour wrestling shows that wear out everybody involved. That’s too damn long for, well, damn near any kind of entertainment – movies, NFL games, concerts, daytime coffee klatch talk shows - particularly when you insist on:
•Pro wrestlers going balls out from the opening match to the main event three-and-a-half long hours later. Every form of entertainment needs pacing, and that includes slow times in the matches and even slow matches. The audience needs time to regain their energy for the important parts of the show, You can’t have a four hour climax. Your palm will go numb banging on the barricade.
Ring of Honor is also going to have identify and promote someone with the charisma to sell tickets to these new fans, and that person may not meet your high standard for works. Successful promotions have made fortunes taking guys like that and surrounding them with good workers to create good matches. You guys need to shut up if and when ROH can pull that off and not turn the guy into ROH Cena.
Then there’s the Briscoe Brothers. You guys love Them Boys from Sandy Fork, Delaware (and I understand why since they have more personality than any one else on the roster), but there’s a good chance the chicken farmers are going to have to go if they continue to insist on giving and taking brutal shots to the head with steel chairs. Wrestling promoters like Jim Cornette and Gabe Sapolsky might look the other way or rationalize around “We told them not to do it” if they think there is a buck in it, but Sinclair Broadcasting has heard of class action lawsuits and won’t go for their crap for much longer.
The good news is, if you stop your selfishness and take ownership in your favorite promotion’s natural growth, you’ll end up watching a better wrestling promotion, and you’ll be providing opportunity for the ring of Honor wrestlers who work so hard and so well to get more compensation for their sacrifice than just your adulation. More fans means more for you, too…
Unless you want to end up more of the same “pulling back the curtain” and “male soap opera” that brought you Dixie Carter and John Laurinaitis.
This is a special free site version of a VIP article, published originally last week in the PWTorch Newsletter available to VIP members. Bruce Mitchell is the senior columnist for PWTorch, on staff since 1990. VIP members listen to the Bruce Mitchell Audio Show hosted by Wade Keller every week at the PWTorch VIP website as they spend two hours discussing current events in pro wrestling, covering major history topics in depth, and answering member questions. Also, listen to Mitchell cohost the PWTorch Livecast every Monday night in the hour before Raw at www.blogtalkradio.com/pro-wrestling-torch. The library of most of his previous columns are available at the PWTorch VIP website.
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