The nice thing about deciding to watch Ring of Honor for the first time on a Wednesday is that there was a new episode available to the "free" members (that's me) on Thursday, so last night (technically Friday), I sat down and watched the show many of you saw on Destination America.
Truthfully, I think they'd have been better off showing the previous week's episode.
One of the major problems ROH is going to have to deal with is starting their "mainstream" run from a midpoint. Lucha Underground began on the El Rey Network, so they were able to tell all of their stories from page one. Ring of Honor doesn't have that luxury. People watching on DA saw four matches featuring a whole bunch of talents and storylines that, to a brand new fan, were very confusing.
Now, most people watching are probably at least somewhat familiar with the product, so it won't be that big of a deal, but as a relative neophyte, I found myself losing interest at times solely because I didn't understand what was happening. This is something ROH will have to consider in the future.
The previous week's episode featured an amazing 30 minute match between Jay Lethal and Kyle O'Reilly. THAT would have caught the attention of fans looking for WWE alternatives - When was the last time a WWE match went to a time limit draw?
(Before you jump down my throat, I get that this all probably happened fast so ROH put out the next TV show they had. I'm sure it will improve - I'm just telling you how I felt. Relax)
Anyway, on with the show.
It's entirely possible that the most famous guy to casual wrestling fans was Will Ferrara, who played the cameraman Ambrose attacked on RAW a few weeks ago. That's sad, since he was relatively unimpressive.
His opponent was Kushida, from New Japan. This is one of the happy accidents that likely resulted in this episode being the "premiere" for ROH - The Japanese connection. As someone who has watched no Japanese wrestling at all, I was excited to see this guy, especially since he was dressed like Marty McFly.
Strong showing here from Kushida, which I imagine was the entire point of the match. Thanks to the NAIborhood, I learned he is part of the Timesplitters tag team with Alex Shelley, a guy I remember from TNA. I'm excited to see that tandem, which hopefully will happen soon.
Aside: By the way, next week's episode - ReDragon? The Addiction? That's where they're going to collect some fans, my friends.
As friends and frequent readers know, I don't tend to follow the "trends" when it comes to pro wrestling. I find myself drawn to a unique group of talents, which is why so many of you mentioned that I needed to listen to the Bull Dempsey episode of Taz's podcast, and I assure you that I will in time.
I doubt any of you will be surprised to learn that Silas Young is now one of my favorite ROH wrestlers. Much like Dempsey, he's a throwback, Jake Roberts' era mustache and all. Plus, when he kicks people, he looks like he actually kicks people, and I like that.
I enjoyed this match and celebrated far more than I probably should have when "The Last Real Man" won. He even has a throwback-style finisher, the airplane spin into a TKO. Are you listening, Dempsey? Stop the damn headbutt!
This is where the wheels fell off the wagon for me. I don't know the story behind any of this, so I wound up bored and confused. Obviously BJ Whitmer and announcer Steve "Why are they calling him King?" Corino have history - That's clear. What's Whitmer's stable all about? Who are the people with Moose? For really casual fans, what in the hell is a young boy? All of these questions, plus the fact that I actually felt bad for this scrawny teenager being thrown against a guy named Moose, led to this being my least favorite ROH segment so far.
I'm serious when I say that ROH is going to need to spend a lot of time this summer introducing us to the talents. We're going to need vignettes with voiceovers that tell us who these guys are and why we should care about them, otherwise the new fanbase ROH is trying to attract won't stick with them.
They're going to need to take a page from Lucha Underground and scale back for a while. Spend a couple weeks just doing a few storylines - Briscoes vs. House of Truth, for example, and maybe the tag title scene. Once we get a handle on those, slowly expand.
I am sure that Moose is a talented wrestler who will impress me over time, but any pro wrestler should be able to toss around a kid. Plus, Kevin Owens has the market on the powerbomb right now.
After months of the New Age Insiders inflating the tires of young Mr. Dijak, I finally got the chance to see what all the hype was about. Donovan definitely has the look - So much so in fact that it almost took away from the beginning of the match. What are all these short guys doing here with a REAL wrestler?
Then he did a backflip. Much like Hawkeye with Quicksilver, I didn't see that coming.
Nerd Aside: If Scarlet Witch has all these crazy undefined powers, why didn't she just bring her brother back to life?
Having not seen the Briscoes in action in a decade (in fact, I don't know if I've ever seen Mark wrestle), I found myself drawn to the long-haired wildman of the team even moreso than his World Champion brother. He's got some serious skills.
Solid match all the way around - I didn't get a great look at Dijak's finisher, because the ringside lighting wasn't working for me, but from the silhouette of it, it looked cool.
The star of this match was Jay Lethal on commentary. Again, the growth he has made from TNA to ROH is amazing.
Again, and this is just probably the wrestling purist in me talking, I think ROH would have been wiser to showcase the MOTY candidate with O'Reilly and Lethal rather than this card as their "season opener". Still, it was a solid hour of wrestling, and I'm excited to see the tag team bonanza next week.
Each week, as I discover new talents and find deeper appreciation for others, I'll make a quick ranking of my 10 favorites. It'll give us something to disagree on.
Remember, this is based solely on 2 weeks worth of ROH watching.
1. Kyle O'Reilly
2. Jay Lethal
3. Silas Young
4. Mark Briscoe
6. Donovan Dijak
7. Jay Briscoe
9. Caprice Coleman
10. Michael Elgin
What do YOU think? Did you enjoy ROH's DA debut? Who has impressed you the most? Be Heard.