Glory by Honor X
Ring of Honor
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
The tenth installment of “Glory by Honor” is everything that Ring of Honor does great: awesome matches, raising the bar of workrate, an interactive crowd and, of course, some of the best talent in the business.
The DVD of the yearly event, held this time at Chicago Ridge, is a very good entry point for new fans.
Most importantly, this is the set up for the big end of the year event, Final Battle, so the storylines are fully developed and the announce crew is focused on the buildup. While there are a few stray matches and the always present multiple man match, the direction of the storylines are clear and the finishes help to progress the climactic matches of the year’s end show.
What I like about Glory by Honor X was that the promotion seems to be gearing up and focusing on a few levels. One of my ongoing issues with ROH was having far too many matches and far too many of the same matchups, but there seems to be a shakeup of those approaches. There’s also enough of a divergence from the always annoying ‘every match must go 10-15 minutes’ approach which made every match more of the same.
Here, there are enough changeups to show some differences… although the dimension of match duration remains one of the most ignored aspects of the business with every promotion.
But Glory By Honor has a positive feel: matches play out, storylines get developed, guys are being set-up for future matches, and there’s an underlying sense of structure that ROH has lacked all too often.
So let’s get to the matches:
Mike Bennett vs Adam Cole vs Michael Elgin vs Grizzly Redwood
(Four Corner Survival Match)
Multiple man matches is a staple of ROH, and they do them well. The problem with these matches is that either the combatants are obvious or the winner ends up being just the right guy at the right place at the right time. I’d love to see unknowns in these matches, even if it means a squash by a ‘name’ ROH guy.
Here, we have focus on Michael Elgin and his power, which is a good thing.
Jimmy Jacobs vs Tommaso Ciampa
This was to be an interesting matchup between one of ROH’s most promising prospects, against one of ROH’s most underrated talents. But the Kevin Steen storyline intervenes.
Which isn’t a bad thing.
Ciampa ends up extending his winning streak against an impromptu challenger, which is also a good thing. The contortions to explain why Ciampa may have not won multiple man matches, but was never pinned was a bit contrived, and shows again why multiple man matches aren’t the best vehicle for anyone’s reputation, but at least they are building up Ciampa for bigger and better things.
Eddie Edwards vs Kyle O’Reilly
“Special Challenge Match”
I really hate the ROH concept of labeling every match on the DVD cover. Not a big thing, but it impresses upon me that ROH believes that every match should have some intrinsic special quality to it. Considering that fans are all but conditioned to ignore stips, this is not a good thing.
This match, however, was a great thing.
The storyline of Edwards vs Richards, with Kyle O’Reilly (Davey Richards’ cousin) getting in the mix, is on one level playing on expectations, but on another level, playing it out is what makes it all work the right way. In other words, it is predictable, but worthwhile.
O’Reilly is someone who will likely grow into the Championship level. Having him battle it out with Edwards before the big Edwards/Richards fight at Final Battle works well: it allows Edwards to beat up on his old friend/new rival’s protégé, and allows the measuring stick to compare the younger guy to an established one.
Eddie Edwards as “Die Hard” is a different sort of approach than this match, but instead of the old gimmick, we get that move towards the end and the Edwards level of work throughout. O’Reilly has a great base of kicks and submissions, and the creativity of the two come into play throughout the match.
While the “This is Awesome/This is Wrestling” chants get old fast, this was one of the times where it was meaningful.
Jay & Mark Briscoe vs The Young Bucks
This Tag Match was awesome on its own merits, especially since Tag Team action doesn’t exactly exist outside of the indy level, and few promotions have the depth of ROH, so brining in the Jacksons from their tenure with that national alternative makes it better.
Better, because it’s not the same old conflict.
Better, because while the Briscoes are the bad boys of ROH (who turn a bit too often), the Jackson’s are vastly more disrespectful and precocious.
The conflict of attitudes could have played out a bit better, but the Briscoes are headed for bigger things and the Bucks … .who knows where they are headed, but a longer stay in ROH would be worthwhile.
I’ve always seen the Briscoes as having their own rules of psychology and work, and while many don’t approve, I get them and they bring it every time they wrestle. The Bucks have a similar approach. What was amazing was seeing how they meshed two distinct styles and didn’t seem to miss a beat.
There was a spot (typical Bucks stereo action) where the Briscoes played along and turned it around. There were various spot-fests and various places where the daredevil antics of both teams came into play. Some may not like the nonstop action, but others will appreciate the constant activity.
In the end, it work well for the Briscoes, and there will always be opportunities for the brash young Bucks to get another chance.
Jay Lethal (TV Champion) vs Roderick Strong
Proving Ground Match
Ok, let me air out the negative portion first: why does Roderick Strong need a “Proving Ground Match”??? He’s a former ROH World Champion, has proved himself to be a contender for the TV Title, and is no stranger to either Lethal or the ROH Crowd.
This is one of those labels that only made the special kind of match all the more foolish.
If Lethal/Strong goes to a draw, why the need to advertise the fact, in a sense, beforehand?
I hate coming across negatively with Jay Lethal, because I know he’s a rare talent, a great wrestler, a great example for Ring of Honor, but once again, he was rushed to this title and now we’re seeing matches that would have been better received if he was challenging for this ROH gold, instead of defending it.
A babyface challenging against the heel, with a strong heel faction, works a lot better than having the opposite dynamic. Especially with Lethal coming from TNA and basically ROH putting him over instead of having him prove himself. Again, ironic that we have a “Proving Ground Match” where the long time ROH star gets denigrated.
That being said, and this will come across as contrived, but Lethal and Strong are solid workers and there was nothing wrong with the match, the talent on display or the development of the feud.
Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas vs Kenny King & Rhett Titus
World Tag Team Title Match
Tag Team names overload here, with “Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team” vs “The All Night Express”.
Is it just me, or is Kenny King the one WWE Tough Enough talent that amazingly decided that being a professional wrestler meant running away from the 800 pound gorilla as fast as possible, and never looked back?
King just has talent that cannot be taught.
Whether Benjamin & Haas are looking for another run elsewhere, or not, they are in the right place to practice their own awesome talents, and King/Titus are enhancing their talent by this feud. A year or so ago, Rhett Titus was a joke of a character, and Kenny King was floundering, but now they are poised to be perennial challengers.
This was an Old School tag team feel, not exactly the same as the Briscoes/Bucks, which again shows the depth of this staple of pro wrestling as worked by ROH. But there is even more to tag wrestling, and one can only hope that it continues to grow and develop.
With the ANX, there’s a lot of hope there, and with the likes of Benjamin & Haas, there’s a deserving team of Champions, no matter how long they ply their craft in ROH.
ROH World Title Match
Davey Richards vs El Generico
Nowhere in the business is there a guy like El Generico, a superbly talented guy with a body shape and a gimmick that whispers little, but raises the bar of wrestling to new heights every time he gets in the ring.
The WWE finally stole BxB Hulk’s entrance … how long before they abscond with the theme song, performed so awesomely by The Bouncing Souls and several hundreds of fans?
El Generico is a gimmick that can be compared to The Sandman – and yet, Generico isn’t just a gimmick come to life, he’s one of the best workers around. El Generico is everything that professional wrestling should be, but in the world of corporate creativity, can never be replicated.
It’s amazing that a French Canadian ripping off a Lucha Libre character with the most absurd of names can generate more audience participation by the real deals in the dominant mainstream company. Could El Generico do the same on a bigger stage?
Why wait for that ruinous development when you can watch him deliver in the ring with ROH (and other indy promotions)???
(another aside…. I’m starting to anticipate just what El Generico will do with the CHIKARA/ROH conflict)
All that being said, Davey Richards stands on the other side of the squared circle, bearing two big belts, and also the mantle of the “Best in the World”. Richards/Generico is a great matchup, but there’s a visual with Richards that ROH has to be careful with, and has to be aware of in terms of putting him out there on TV every week.
Richards is a talent that needs to be elevated to big matches and delivering big. He can do that, and there’s no question he can be the best in the world when those big matches are built up.
Richards/Generico shows that, with the guys going more than a half hour, keeping the attention of the fans and the viewers, and delivering the top notch indy style expected of them.
Richards has the fire, the passion, the delivery of a great one.
What concerns me is that Richards needs to be shown as a dominant Champion more than he needs to be shown as someone who delivers 35 minute matches every time he hits the ring. Feuding with Eddie Edwards means long matches (to a degree). Fighting El Generico means putting on a long, great match.
ROH continues to deliver the expectation that great matches mean long matches, but as we see with the UFC and as we’ve seen by the inability of ROH to break through to a bigger audience, long technical matches aren’t the path to opening mainstream eyes….. dominant performances might be better.
And yet…. here’s a match that engages the home crowd, raises the bar of workrate and expectations, and cannot be discounted as an example of truly great professional wrestling.
Which is what everyone expects of ROH, and it once again delivers.