Over the weekend, Ring Of Honor had their first television taping since their Final Battle iPPV. There was plenty of good news for the promotion, but ultimately the show was tinged by a sour note thanks to a misguided booking decision.
Let's start with the positives. The show was packed out with 600 fans seated and 200 standing, which was impressive given it was their first event in Baltimore, a feat they haven't come close to accomplishing in the other new markets they have tried to break into. There is the caveat that in the past ROH has heavily papered their TV tapings to ensure a full looking crowd for the cameras, so this may not be as positive as it seems on first glance. Most importantly for repeat business, the show was well received and though fans were inevitably tired by the fourth show, the strong action and storyline twists kept them in their seats and engrossed till the very end, barring the final squash match.
This wasn't the only good news of the week for ROH, as their TV show has started airing in Salt Lake City, UT, Austin, TX, West Palm Beach, FL, and Medford, OR this month and will be coming to Grand Rapids, MI and Lansing, MI by March. For their seemingly outdated syndication strategy to be a success they need to keep finding new stations to air their programming, as even with this latest expansion it still can only be seen in a quarter of the country.
As the sole negative involves spoilers, I'll talk about it more after the jump. Full spoilers can be found at prowrestling.net.
The misguided booking decision was to decide to respond to the online heat that Kevin Steen, Steve Corino and The Briscoes received for taking chairshots to the head in their matches at Final Battle and that ROH management got for at the very least tacitly approving them (if you are generous and give them the benefit of the doubt, which I do not) by having yet another cranial chairshot, undoubtedly scripted this time, feature on their TV show. It would have been one thing to have the recently turned Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team gloat about the chairshots to the head that they had already given The Briscoes, but to script them in an impromptu tag match between the two teams where the former got disqualified for levelling another one on Mark Briscoe showed breathtaking arrogance and stubbornness. Jim Cornette, stubborn, well I never!
Why script something that is a turn off to a significant proportion of your viewers that knows the dangers of unnecessary head trauma? According to Dave Meltzer in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter the reason for it is:
So they are using the fact people hate chair shots to try and transfer that to heat on Haas & Benjamin and sympathy for the Briscoes, as opposed to heat on the promotion.
To me, that's just treating your fan base as easily manipulated, gullible fools, because it is easier to use such a dangerous short cut to pull off a difficult to execute double turn and lie about the intent afterwards, than to craft a more nuanced story to get the same desired affect. Not cool! Hopefully it reads worse than it actually was in execution, but I'm not holding my breath.