Glory by Honor XI
Ring of Honor
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
More of the same, less of the same, some sameold sameold, but a little different?
Ring of Honor has the unenviable positioning of being the #3 Company in an era where professional wrestling, as an industry, is in a downward spiral and falling, falling, falling away from any sense of mainstream radar.
Sure, we can talk breakfastcereal appearances and moviestars who sideline as maineventers, but neither of those guys are Champions.
So today, we have an industry where everyone’s still doing the same, doing more of the same, doing the sameold sameold and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why everyone thinks doing things like everyone else is going to be different.
ROH has gone through several bookers over the past few years, and from the end of the Gabe Sapolsky era through the Adam Pearce era through the Jimmy Cornette era and now to the Hunter Johnston era, is there much of a difference, more of the same, less of the same, or the sameold sameold?
Because being the same when everything the same is decidedly not ‘doing it’ for the casual fan … well, do I really need to spell that out?
There are glimpses of differences, and the Special Challenge Match between Roderick Strong and Tadarius Thomas was a move in the right direction. There are aspects that can be questioned, but the angle that layered the disintegration of the House of Truth, the introduction of a new face, and the establishment of Roderick Strong as a heel who’s not playing along was very solid.
Using a more ‘name’ wrestler like Rhino in this situation was decidedly positive.
Something sameold sameold with ROH, even though it’s morphed over the years, is the concept of the “Code of Honor”. Let’s take a look at the ROHWrestling.com web site for the official definition:
-CODE OF HONOR-
The Code of Honor is an understood act intended to promote sportsmanship, respect and honor inside the wrestling ring. The Code of Honor is defined by shaking hands before and after every match. Some ROH stars abide by The Code of Honor and others do not, its all a personal choice.
Setting aside the grammar at the end, there’s both great promise, and weak delivery of the concept. When ROH went to Sinclair, it seemed like “Code of Honor” was a checkbox on a stats graphic… no sense of ‘real’ and no sense of meaning. For a while, Roderick Strong was shaking hands but his ‘heel’ status was based more on the “No” indicator on the Code of Honor line.
I’ve always loved the Code of Honor, the sense of ‘fair play’, shaking hands and sort of ground rules for the babyfaces, but whether its wrestlers unable to comprehend babyface/heel dynamics, bookers too lazy to impose those archaic rules, or a promotion that is more interested in being third string (which I read as third rate) than creating their own rules, there’s been little development of that concept.
To wit, check out the Rules and Rules Violations from the ROH web site:
A selected group of ROH officials are the governing authority in Ring of Honor who can create and abolish rules. No one else can change or modify the set rules.
There is a strict policy for following the rules in Ring of Honor. Our referees are highly trained and will not tolerate deliberate rule violations.
(uhm,,,, do I have to comment here?)
-Grabbing tights or articles of clothing
-Holding the ropes
-Threatening a referee verbally or physically
Rules are one thing that can set ROH apart from the mainstream brands. A tradition of top notch talent that makes it to the mainstream is another. Today, ROH seems more interested in making money from the guys who made it on the big stages rather than investing effort and creativity, building up matches or building up a few names to continue that legacy.
Yeah, I know Jay Lethal is great, has a story and could put himself on the list of great ones.
But Lethal’s path isn’t the Code of Honor, and with an ROH Champion so antithetical to both the ROH legacy of greatness, the Code and the concepts that put the ROH Championship at the highest level, is it the right way to restore it all?
Perhaps, but it’s just one more admission that ROH is merely following the crowd, instead of establishing its own approach. Samoa Joe continues to get the benefits of the reputation and hardwork and tirelesseffort, as well as the fight anyone mentality and the availability of top names to battle.
Some of those aren’t the same these days, but some of those are also not the same because ROH went from an “indie” centric promotion to one more static promotion where using guys not on the set roster is seemingly incomprehensible.
So, looking at the eleventh installment of “Glory by Honor” – as if Honor was something ROH pushes, even though it’s RING OF HONOR and it’s touting an event that supposes that gaining Glory by Honor is important.
Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs (SCUM) vs Jay & Mark Briscoe
The positive of ROH is that Tag Teams are meaningful here, not just something that someguys do before the team breaks up and they get jobbed out and get mired in the low/mid card.
The criticism is the same theme as above – The Briscoes are awesome in their own way, and SCUM are heels of the top level, but is there a distinction between the babyfaces and the heels? Can we at least get some semblance of differences?
Overall, however, there’s a definite effort by the Briscoes and while their style of psychology is off-putting to many traditionalists, I’ve always appreciated that they have that concept of a STYLE and a sense of working a match to a story (well, when comparing to 85% of their peers).
Against the decidedly heelish tandem of Corino and Jacobs, the Briscoes are default faces, which is good for now, but how does that play out months from now?
Kevin Steen vs Michael Elgin
And here is where the theme is problematic. Elgin has had the babyface sort of energy and backing of the fans, and in many ways could have captured many things in this matchup. Elgin is everything that Steen is, and more – he’s a big guy (relatively) on this roster, he has proven that he can work with the best, he has the promise of being the best, and he is a much fresher face.
Meanwhile Steen seems to have … well, I’m not sure how best to spell it out.
On one hand, I’ve never been one to point out or complain about looks, because my glasshouse isn’t exactly stoneproof, but for a guy who’s World Champion, even if we’re all nudging and faking each other into believing that he’s not liked by the ROH brass, there’s unavoidable commentary on just how outofshape Kevin Steen looks.
The other part is that Steen was always a very good worker bordering on great, but now he’s relying on a move (package piledriver) so much that the long battles he’s in seem oddly long. I like the dangerous finisher, but the dangerous finisher that only gets nailed after thirty minutes of typical backandforth action?
What’s offputting about wrestling in general is that there’s no confidence that any promotion can catch a rising star, and the concept that professional wrestling should be based on fan reactions both in the ring and in terms of booking is so archaic to most that I’m not so sure anyone will get back to those concepts until the industry dies and gets revived when antigravity becomes a workable concept – decades in the future.
Adam Cole vs Eddie Edwards
Alright … so we have a great babyface vs babyface match for the TV Title.
In many ways, great, and in many ways, more of the same type of back-and-forth match, but the big positive here is the sense that Adam Cole is gaining credibility while Edwards is being moved back to the tag team scene.
And with no nonsense along the way, so it’s all good. While Matt Hardy has his quirks and his question marks, I’m definitely interested in seeing how that plays out in the near future.
Ok, so these are so-named on the package, which somewhat annoys me since grudges are feuds, and feuds should be the underlying focus of professional wrestling, but then again, everything has to be special for every match, which is the sameold, sameold for ROH.
Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas vs Rhett Titus & BJ Whitmer
BJ Whitmer as replacement, in essence, for Kenny King is a very positive move. But we’re really just seeing more of the same with the WGTT, albeit beating the crap out of Rhett Titus (without King) to set a storyline for the feud.
I do like it, with the sense that Titus & Whitmer shouldn’t have a chance as a more makeshift team, and both are the scrappy type of midcard babyfaces that everyone likes and everyone gets behind. I’m glad Titus is moving away from the overthetop character he once portrayed, and I’m glad to see Whitmer back in ROH.
I wish I did have more confidence in how Benjamin & Hass will be used, before they possibly move on to other things. Then again, I wish I didn’t have the belief that Benjamin is headed out.
Haas & Titus?
Mike Mondo vs Mike Bennett
Ok, just when I want to avoid frustrations, I set myself up with Mike Bennett.
Let’s set aside the Mikes, but wow, Maria Kanellis is on the roster, and the incredible potential of this package is just left sitting around the undercard?
I know Bennett’s a guy whom ROH would be ‘foolish’ to shoot to the top, just to see him sign up with the mainstream, but wow, the promotion is monetizing every former ROH Champion and wrestler to make DVDs, and they have a surefire talent that will hit the mainstream soon enough, so why not build him up strong to build up the ROH brand strong, and then deal with the consequences.
Bennett is one guy that has the look, the girlfriend and the believability that would make him a star, and yet he’s got this Grudge Match with Mondo?
That Mike Mondo
I’ve railed against that other national promotion for years for giving castoffs big pushes while diminishing their own talent.
Yeah, it ends up good, and wow does the ROH announce crew put over Maria, but wow, make use of the assets you have while you have them and it will 1) make ROH a place that builds stars and 2) give ROH one more name to build a Best of DVD and 3) could just spark some looks by mainstream fans if Mike & Maria would happen to get some punk to shoot his mouth off….
Jay Lethal vs Davey Richards
This is what ROH is all about. Great matches by great talents.
The Bravado Brothers vs Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander
Ironically, this is also what ROH is all about. Setting the stage for relatively unknown talents to break out and make names for themselves.
Now, if only ROH would bring out some new jobber tag teams and let both of these teams grow in the stature of the fans and the promise of their potential, before throwing them into matches with the top tag teams and/or having them feud with each other far too long!