Every time I watch Ring of Honor, or attend a live event, I know I am going to see the best wrestling anywhere. I know the crowd is going to be alive, the wrestlers are going to give their all, and I am going to get my money’s worth, and then some. I’m never letdown by anything ROH does. I never walk away feeling less than satisfied. ROH’s roster can stand up to any other company’s roster, and I even prefer the darker, seedier, presentation to WWE’s super bright, and colorful one. They are without a doubt “Wrestling Done Right.” But…yes, there’s a but. As much as I enjoy the in ring product, there’s something missing, something that keeps ROH from being even better, something that keeps them from being elite. Sure, working with New Japan Pro Wrestling is incredible, and their War of the World’s show in Philadelphia last year was my all-time favorite event that I’ve ever attended live, but…yes, there’s still that but.
ROH needs storylines, they need more angles, more reasons for the match-ups, more feelings behind their amazing athletes and why they do what they do, why they act how they act, why they are who they are. Far too often ROH has matches just for the sake of having matches. Yes, two of my favorite “indy” companies do that all the time, but ROH isn’t an “indy” company. They are a World traveling, nationally broadcasted, syndicated weekly television wrestling company. Ring of Honor needs to start having more dramatic flair. One can sit and watch five star match, after five star match, week after week, month after month, year after year, and appreciate all of them, but it would be even better, more exciting, more fulfilling, if there were stories to follow in regard to why these matches are happening.
This is one area where NXT, and Lucha Underground, do a better job than ROH does. ROH has the same level of talent as NXT, and L.U., but they simply don’t invest the time in developing angles and storylines. While Lucha Underground can get pretty far “out there” with their storylines (Joey Ryan as an undercover cop, really?) it’s still better than no storylines. Look to WWE’s NXT for better storylines, and character development. Look at what they did for Baron Corbin. Making him the indy killer was great. Look at how they built Bayley from an afterthought hanger on, to the champion, and one of the best women wrestlers out there today. The story they told with Samoa Joe, with the arrival of Kevin Owen’s, etc. I don’t want to make this about NXT though, I just wanted to throw some examples out there.
ROH does indeed do angles and storylines. They just don’t get enough focus or time. ROH’s angles often feel rushed as well. They also frequently do things that are far too obvious. I mean who didn’t see the reuniting of the Moter City Machine Gun’s coming from a mile away? Who didn’t figure Adam Cole wasn’t seriously reuniting with Kyle O’Reilly? Other angles don’t seem to get a fair shot. Bob Evans taking Tim Hughes under his wing was good, and they use those two, but why can’t they get a shocking win here or there, or why can’t Bob start smacking Tim around to get him “serious” about his future? It would be different, and if there is one thing ROH could benefit from is something being different. Then there’s Cheeseburger…where do I even begin with Cheeseburger? He’s everyone’s favorite underdog, but how can we ever take someone that size, with that name, seriously? I’d do something crazy like have Burger turn on a partner one night, while facing Bob and Tim, and join up with them. Use a guy like Bob for what he’d be best at! Taking two young guys and turning them into no good dirty heels. Two guys that look to stand no shot in a place like ROH, become moderately successful mid-card heels under the tutelage of Bob Evans. Then of course you have them turn on Bob one day for a massive pop! What about using the fact that Jay Lethal joined Los Ingobernables de Japón during a New Japan show, and have him interject himself in NJPW stars matches when they are on a ROH card? I’d love to see Martini come out to the ring with a mask on! It would shake things up for sure. Why doesn’t Adam Cole cheat a hell of a lot more? Isn’t a no good rotten heel? Yes he’s a world class wrestler, but he is also the kind of guy that would do anything to get to the top right? So have him do that, all the time! reDRagon are a serious, ass kicking team, and they excel in singles work too, so how about having them be like The Shield of ROH. The guys there that make Ring of Honor really stand for HONOR. Why not have them challenge anyone that steps foot onto their turf and wants to act in anyway that brings dishonor to it? I am glad to see ROH using Prince Nana better. I like his recruitment of several ROH roster members, and I hope that angle really plays out well, and tells a great story. Nana, a great mouth piece, and manager, should easily be able to help these men get over more, but they need to get into match ups that matter, they need to challenge competitors that makes sense for them to challenge. The Young Bucks do an amazing job in Mount Rushmore in PWG and in The Elite/Bullet Club in NJPW, so why can’t they be in a cool faction in ROH? Heel or face (in ROH I believe it would have to be face) so why not team with a guy like Matt Sydel and his frequent partner ACH? Moose is being built at a decent pace, but Stokley needs more interview time with the big man standing behind him. They need to start laying down serious challenges. Moose should be being built up as a title challenger, and Lethal should show confidence, but some kind of awkward fear as well. I mean what normal man could look at Moose and not feel a little fear? A little concern?
I could go on forever, but this article is already too long. I love Ring of Honor, I respect, and appreciate them and their efforts. I’ve been following them since day one! I would just love to see them take the time to invest in serious and well thought out storylines. I’d like to see them do things that made you think, rather than just watch the in ring performance. One last idea…how about having Dalton Castle go off on why he came to ROH. He clearly is like no one else there. What made him want to work for a company that is full of realistic brawler looking guys all out to just prove they are the best? Why not have him go off on the mic about why ROH needs more color, why it needs more of a party atmosphere, why it needs a PARTY PEACOCK! Instead Castle just showed up one day. I was in the audience for his big debut in Baltimore, and while many of the fans instantly loved him, I was just sitting in my seat wondering what in the hell this guy was all about. He’s a story in and of himself! Imagine if Goldust would have just shown up in the WWF out of the blue. No promos, no video vignettes, he just was introduced by the ring announcer one day on WWF Superstars or something. What a waste that would have been right? Getting the stories right is also Wrestling Done Right!