Man, what is going on with Ring of Honor again? They just seemed to go right back to where they were before the pandemic and the Pure Title Tourney.
The problem as I see it is: They have too many wrestlers for the amount of TV time and PPVs they do. They've got one hour of TV to fill and a PPV every three months right now. As I've followed it some guys are making an appearance once a month on TV and frankly this isn't just the low end guys like LSG, The Bouncers, and others. I don't know the last time I saw Jonathan Gresham, Tracy Williams, Rhett Titus, Mike Bennett, Vincent and it goes on and on. These are supposed to be their upper card guys. Same with Brody King who other than a little scuffle the other week has been off TV for sometime. I mean he was the # 1 contender at Final Battle and he's just made like a couple appearances at most in the past two months!?
ROH doesn't put enough content out right now/past year to be having as many lower end guys in singles matches as they do. Does Dak Draper, Tony Deppen, Eli Isom need a singles match on TV where they feature 2-3 matches a week? I don't think so when it means we don't see guys from their "big" story lines once or twice a month. I say this because it is really hard for me, a weekly viewer, to even remember or care about the "big" matches on the PPV. I'm too busy watching fun throw-away matches that don't amount to anything again - just like pre-pandemic ROH was doing.
Case in point is Dak Draper beating Fred Yehi in a Pure Rules match. Firstly, Pure Matches have nothing going for them anymore because they are not wrestled any differently than regular matches. OK there's the closed fist thing but, there's no real danger there because no one has been DQ'd for doing it twice yet. That being said Fred Yehi, who was THE standout of new comer to ROH during the Pure Tournament, is a fantastic talent for ROH to get behind. Dak Draper is a recent (somewhat) winner of the Top Prospect Tourney which isn't saying a lot but, he's in good shape and he's tall. Why is this guy beating a Yehi, who beat vet Silas Young and took Tracy Williams to the limit? It doesn't make any sense if you've been watching the show. And I think ROH or Sinclair think that people don't watch the show regularly enough to actually follow/remember/care about such things. Why show this match instead of Yehi vs someone from Los Ingobernales? That would at least be Foundation vs LFI or at least Pure Rules vs LFI's rudo-ism...
Where ROH hit a type of gold was limiting their roster and having a tournament during the Pure Title stuff. A tourney has built in drama because there are stakes to every match and we see the results of those wins and losses. I got used to them throwing in non-tourney matches like a 6 man or perhaps a segment (like with Taven & Vincent) to keep things fresh or different with the wrestling style.
Unfortunately, ROH did exactly what I was afraid of when they started showing promos of Rush & crew. It became the same old crap and the big reveal of The Foundation group has turned to be a whole-lotta-nothing like most of their factions the past couple years. That is unless you actually want to feature them on your one hour of TV a week. So now we have all of these little story lines that are not very interesting and the ones that actually have the potential to be good are so few and far between I can hardly remember what happened last. And from what it seems to me, it is because ROH wants to get their money's worth by showing every wrestler they have for a singles match or two over the course of 2-3 months...regardless if that wrestler is any good, anyone wants to see that person, or there is a story involved for a PPV. Now, if they are doing this due to COVID-19 safety then, that's OK. But they have got to be a little bit better in how they plan things in terms of story. If anything pepper in a little footage or a match every week from their top 2 stories per week.
I've admitted that ROH is pretty much running midcard type matches and their TV show is like WCW Worldwide but, honestly it isn't even fun anymore. The draw of watching stuff like that is that every once in awhile something very good or great will be shown. A match or an interview that will suck you into the world their presenting. The Pure Tourney had moments like this, matches after the tourney like had this like Dalton vs Brody King and Woods vs Castle...perhaps Dragon Lee vs Rey Horus (IIRC). So they have it in them to do this...and I think if they ran more tag matches (2v2 or 3v3) then they could still use their roster BUT keep people fresh in the fans minds. And this would keep matches exciting and cover-up any weak spots for newer guys...and you could make a tournament out of it! So, the booking is the story line (I'm no genius). Tag teams to fight for Dragon Lee & Kenny King's belts are: Woods & Young (they seem to want to put them back together...but we'll have to wait a month to see if that to happens), Moses & Kaun, The Bouncers, anyone from The Foundation (Rhett and Lethal?), Rey Horus & Flamita, Bennett & Taven, Vincent and Bateman, Dalton Castle and Tony Deppen (why not?). Boom...there you go eight teams. Two matches every week and their using two more guys/week so they're getting their value there. Plus they could have the LFI, Foundation, or other stable mates come out a ring side if they need more folks. That's a helluva lot more interesting than random mis-matches.
Anyhow, here's what ROH's 19th Anniversary line-up looks like thus far:
Dalton Castle vs Josh Woods - OK this makes sense. Its their 3rd match and they mesh well with one another.
Danhausen vs Brian Johnson vs LSG vs Eli Isom - Freebie match in hour 1 of 4. Maybe don't do 4 hours...
Mark Briscoe vs Flip Gordon - I could do without Flip anymore. This was some convoluted set-up where EC3 (remember him?) paid off Flip to interfere in a Briscoes match. Who cares...
Gresham vs Dak Draper (Pure Title) - See above...no reason Draper gets a title shot for beating Fred Yehi. This looks like a B.S. match no fan asked for. The Foundation as a gimmick would be fine with two like-minded athletes fighting for the belt. God-forbid we get a potentially great pure match with Yehi & Gresham (what I wanted for the Pure Tourney Finals).
Titus & Williams vs Lee & Kenny King (Tag Titles) - What should be a TV match to build the feud has been fast tracked to a PPV match. This is EXACTLY the problem I have...there has been no build for this particular match. Which is fine for TV but asinine for PPV.
Williams vs Lee (TV title) - That's right folks! Lee and Hot Sauce face off again or for the first time (?) for the TV title. Here's an idea...maybe only give 1 person a title at a time ROH. They are giving belts to people in order to justify matches on their PPV but are afraid to give them to anyone different. Again fine for TV but asinine for PPV. Also, they probably can retire the TV title.
Vincent vs Matt Taven - Fight without Honor match. They call it an unsanctioned match and will take place off site in Boston. Its supposed to be the blow-off to the feud but, we've hardly seen enough of this lately to anyone to be invested in this. Probably still will be fun though.
Shane Taylor Promotions vs Mexisquad (6 man titles) - Isn't this the match where STPromotions won the belts? Did they even defend them once? Is ROH just going to give them back to Mexisquad here? When everyone has won the championship then, it kind of makes the championship meaningless. Can probably retire this title as well.
Jay Briscoe vs EC3 - Final Battle Rain check match...then I'm guessing EC3 will be gone. He seemed to come back just for this PPV...I'm guessing that was in his contract. Who knows...he's on the ROH roster page.
Rush vs Jay Lethal (ROH World Title) - They might give it back to Lethal since it seems he's the only person who can carry it and the company right now. If they don't then perhaps they can drag a quality program out of Rush vs Lethal for a couple months...if they do some of the things I mentioned above. Otherwise, they will have to stick with it for half the year and have multiple interactions (tag, 6 man, brawls etc.) to keep the heat up. It might actually be great stuff and give some prestige back to the belt. Not optimistic though...
They are having a Foudation vs Ingobernales 8 man match the week before 19th Anniversary (this upcoming show) so, perhaps that will fan the flames of interest for the 4 Foundation vs LFI matches on the bloated PPV card. Again trying to get in as many guys as possible at the cost of match quality or fan interest But! At least other than Draper it features the company's many players...so again why is Draper on it? I'm guessing Yehi is paid on as needed basis where Draper probably is on contract. But still why not Brody King, LSG or Deppen? All would actually have a good match at least.
All this being said, ROH still isn't using their signed Women of Honor wrestlers as well as their UK talent in Joe Hendry and big player and #1 contender prior to lock down Mark Haskins. Where the heck do you fit all of those folks in AND try to get a more cohesive narrative for your company? If you don't do more 6 man matches and tags...you don't get better, you get worse. It will be a jumbled mess like AWA on ESPN or MLW Underground (from what I watched).
Thanks for reading my rambling
Apologies for typos and that kind of stuff. Should be back on track for more FIP next week and the final installment of FMW 1998 soon thereafter.