Last Sunday Ring of Honor held Final Battle at Terminal 5. New York. It is ROH’s biggest show of the year and I guess their equivalent of Wrestlemania or Bound For Glory. Now, I used to watch a lot of ROH, but I have to be honest and admit that in recent months I have become lax in doing so. I keep up to date with what is going on, but very rarely catch the television product, it’s a similar relationship that I have with TNA to be honest. However, with this being ROH’s big show, I decided to return and because I am like that, to also give you all my opinion on where ROH stand at the end of 2014.
Let’s start with the positives. ROH still have a fantastic in ring product. They have some of the best wrestlers in the world plying their trade there and there is a reason that so many of their roster go on to do great things. It is an atmosphere that encourages great wrestling and it certainly delivers. This card was no exception. ROH’s tag division continues to put TNA and WWE to shame. When you can have The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Kazarian) and The Young Bucks feuding and it not even being for the title, you know you are onto something. Their match, which saw The Young Bucks joined by ACH and The Addiction joined by Cedric Alexander, was great fun, but even it was overshadowed by the tag title match. reDRagon are an extraordinary team and their match with The Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA) was unsurprisingly one of the highlights of the show.
Of course, there is more to ROH than tag wrestling. On this show you had a great match between Jay Lethal and Matt Sydal (formerly known as Evan Bourne). While Roderick Strong and Adam Page put on a fantastic example of the traditional mentor vs pupil story. Strong as the mentor picked up the win, but in doing so made Page look strong and continued to prove himself to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. Finally, the main event was a great reminder that hardcore wrestling needn’t be dull. While Bram’s attempts to be the King of Hardcore in TNA may have raised more groans than smiles. Jay Briscoe and Adam Cole showed just what the formula can do, even though I still believe that doing an unprotected chair shot to the head in 2014, is the height of idiocy.
That’s the good side, but there is no denying that there is still problems with ROH, the main one being the production. While you can’t expect a company working on ROH’s budget to compete with WWE, they do make a lot of rookie mistakes. The blue lighting effect they used during this show didn’t look cool, but rather amateur, while the arena they held it in had nothing on the Hammerstein Ballroom, their traditional home in New York. They still fell like they lack all the little touches that makes the product stand out. The promo videos are mediocre at best and they fail to make the company feel special. It may seem unimportant, most people watch wrestling to appreciate wrestling, but it is the difference between feeling like an independent company and a company which can truly count itself up with WWE and TNA, as one of the big companies in America.
Alongside this, they still occasionally falter when it comes to in ring work. The obvious example on this show, was RD Evans vs Moose. This felt like ROH attempting to do sports entertainment and it wasn’t good. I’m all for trying to split the show up, but this was amateur hour. I didn’t realise at the time, but it is apparently part of RD Evans gimmick to muck up the move twice, before successfully hitting it (although he mucked it up the third time too), but I have since read that is the case? If that is true, it’s a horrible idea and in a serious wrestling promotion, is completely out-of-place. CHIKARA could get away with that, ROH can’t.
I also still have issues with the ROH style. I am fine with it when it is The Young Bucks throwing superkicks, they have taken that and made it part of their thing and christ they know how to throw a superkick, but there were still moments on this show that bothered me. The most obvious was in the opening match, which the big man Hanson won with a spinning kick. In a match where that same guy, and a few others, were hitting some serious power moves, it actually felt like one of the weakest moments of the encounter and it makes it difficult to believe that it is that, which put the opponent down, when all that came before failed.
I sound like I am being harsh on ROH and I probably am, but as a company they have so much I love, that I am desperate for them to fix the small issues that are holding them back. There is a reason that so many top guys in both TNA and WWE have come through ROH and if they could sort these issues out, there is nothing stopping them becoming a true alternative to the oft faltering wrestling companies that make up the American mainstream at this time.