--Since, for whatever reason, ROH TV is running really slow and laggy on my end, I'm going to bow out for this past week's show (featuring Eddie Edwards vs. Mike Bennett and All Night Express vs. The Young Bucks) and focus on some news & views in the world of independent wrestling and WWE developmental. How about some discussion on the new ROH champion, Kevin Steen, and his possible injury, who the bookers are hot for in EVOLVE as well as FCW, plus comparing the two biggest iPPV disasters in recent history: ROH's Border Wars and Extreme Reunion. Plus the end of FCW, and an update on a possible Dean Ambrose injury....
-- Sorry to disappoint anyone, but I'm not drunk for this one. Monday's a holiday, though...
--Anyone following my Border Wars live thread knows that, in terms of broadcasting, it was a complete fail. Most fans were greeted with a screen declaring an inability to keep up with the amount of traffic, and weren't able to view the show. Evidently they didn't anticipate so many eyes being on their show. Maybe they should have, considering it's the show where they put Kevin Steen over as their new World champion. I'm glad to see them move in this direction, rather than wait forever to pull the trigger on a switch like they did with Davey Richards and Tyler Black before him. I haven't read any of the spoilers for the upcoming ROH tapings, but from what I hear, the direction they are moving in with Steen as champ is a little unclear. He should, by all accounts, be the big anti-hero babyface, or at least the guilty-pleasure heel.
Unfortunately, it seems as though Steen suffered a legit concussion, and is doing the smart thing and limiting himself in ring until Best In The World. I'd imagine ROH is going to begin to take concussions more seriously going forward. Nigel McGuiness is a big anti-concussion crusader in wrestling, and I'd imagine he has a lot of influence regarding that. (As a side note, do yourself a favor and check out Nigel on Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast from a few months back. I'd heard the concussion story as a possible reason why Nigel has retired, but from the sounds of it, it's more just "concern about multiple concussions" than actual concussions. Nigel appears to be a very smart individual who nonetheless has let his depression and attitude be his downfall in wrestling. He also doesn't like it when people fart around him.)
Regardless, right now, everything is in flux for ROH. A lot of their fans are being turned off by their unprofessionalism regarding their iPPVs. I'd say their best bet is to run on an hour or so delay, and to hell with the spoilers from fans in the arena. ROH shows are less about the outcome and more about the quality of match, so it really shouldn't matter if the first few matches get spoiled. In my opinion, for ROH to really make a turnaround and keep their head above water, they need to find a new booker. Most of the storylines have ground to a halt under Delirious, and nothing really seems to be going anywhere. They better find a new solution fast, before Sinclair gives up on them and we lose ROH altogether.
--Relatedly, ROH has sent Gabe Sapolsky a cease & desist letter regarding his rant against the company on Facebook, and a lawsuit may be pending. It's too bad that someone who was so crucial to ROH for so many years is now in this position with them. Unfortunately, he might not be doing much better himself...
--The EVOLVE shows this month in Charlotte and Concord were both complete disasters as far as attendance, according to reports. Both shows allegedly only drew about 100 fans apiece, which is completely abysmal for one of the companies that's supposed to be "elite" in the indie world. EVOLVE is one of those places that's so serious they make ROH seem like CHIKARA, Thankfully they at least book El Generico to lighten the mood up a little. Also appearing for them lately has been Low-Ki, who is the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion but nonetheless won't be defending that title stateside. If there's ever anyone who could go back to ROH and shake things up a bit, it's Low-Ki. Just a strong-style stiff fest between him & Davey would be worth the price of admission. I'd also really like to see his old buddy Homicide forget about this Urban Wrestling Federation horseshit and come feud with Steen. In other EVOLVE news, apparently they are really high on Jon Davis & A.R. Fox right now, whereas a month ago they were ready to stop booking Fox when he couldn't get into Canada for shows.
--The biggest PPV pooch-screwing of the year featured one of the former Dynamic Dudes, and it wasn't Over the Limit. It was of course Extreme Reunion, which featured Sabu getting so loaded he had to be carted to the hospital and Justin Credible being so drunk he got kicked out of the arena. Raven also apparently dogged it completely, running some quasi-Flock gimmick and not actually wrestling. Despite this complete mess being a clear and utter sign that someone had failed completely (and I'm guessing this someone wore tassels on his boots), they will allegedly be running another show, this time in NYC in June. This one is said to be taking place in a new venue. Shane, if you're out there: I loved ECW as much as anyone, but you gotta let it go. ECW's had more "reunion" tours under various different names than the Grateful Dead, and every time it's worse and worse. None of those guys are getting any younger, yknow? Try running a show that feels like ECW but features new talent, maybe that will get people excited again. It worked for MLW in 2003 for a while, until it stopped working.
--At this point the goings on of FCW are going to be covered under the NXT reviews, but until then, well, there pretty much won't be any FCW soon. It was announced at their tapings in Tampa that FCW will be coming to an end, as the show will basically be folded into WWE NXT. Not really a change for the company, and probably a great opportunity for all their talent to shine on a wider scale. I'm thinking I'm going to make watching the Full Sail tapings a more regular habit. I haven't heard anyone make any comparisons about WWE running their developmental in TNA's backyard. Kinda bums me out when I think of how much wrestling I'd be getting to see if I still lived in Orlando.
Also in FCW news, internet sensation Dean Ambrose apparently suffered a shoulder injury against Seth Rollins at the recent TV taping. Bad news for him, as he's been working dark matches against Zack Ryder with the Raw brand and is apparently all but ready to be moved to the main roster. Still, it's likely that Ambrose will be building his name on promos rather than matches to start out, so as long as he doesn't need invasive surgery, this shouldn't derail his career too bad.
The other FCW/NXT standouts that WWE is high on are the Rotunda brothers. Taylor Rotunda was formerly known as Bo Rotunda but is now called Bo Dallas, and he has the look of a rock & roll underdog babyface. Windham Rotunda was better known as Husky Harris but has now completely captured the attention of the internet with his awesome new Bray Wyatt gimmick. Everyone needs to watch the "I'm No White Trash" promo and tell me they don't think this gimmick will be the new Raven. Even though he's doing another take on Waylon Mercy, anyone who remembers Waylon Mercy will remember that it never really lived up to its potential before Dan Spivey retired. God bless Husky for trying something new, and I hope he rides this one right to the main roster.
--In the world of fun indie links how about Isys Ephex vs. Jason Axe from the Squared Circle Wrestling show I attended last month in Watertown. I don't think you can see me anywhere in the video but this match was SIIICK. Even if you're not into hardcore, Isys' bladejob has to be seen. The guy blew out the Muta scale, and from up close I can tell you he looked like he carved a huge vagina in his forehead. Also notable was the face-first curb stomp into the tacks. This is not for the weak of stomach.
--Until ROH wants to run for me, take my word for it. Get off your ass and support your local wrestling scene.