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ROH's 11th Anniversary iPPV show was last week, and like all of you, I really enjoyed it. The in-ring product was terrific, with a couple of upsets and one BIG surprise. What I want to talk about is the out-of-the ring aspect of the product, and how that is still very bothersome to me. It amazes me that ROH is owned by a television company, yet still manages to crank out such a bad TV product.
The first complaint is the color commentator; I am sure Caleb Seltzer is a nice guy that calls his parents every weekend, but he is atrocious behind the mic. It's like he's playing an announcers version of Mad Libs, forcing in words regardless of what's going on. Kevin Kelly can be calling a move and Caleb starts talking over him, and/or ignores what Kelly's doing. I think he has a list of moves in front of him that he just randomly shouts out like a soundboard.
I remember reading an interview with Jim Ross on finding new announcing talent. His advice was to find someone good at announcing and teach them wrestling. In that regard, Caleb fails at both. Put it this way, Caleb is almost as bad as Taz. At least with Caleb you know he is earnestly trying, as opposed to Taz who is taking a dump on national TV every week.
Plus, I do not understand why Nigel cannot do color and his Commissioner role as well. If he has to go to the back for storyline purposes, they could have Truth Martini or Steve Corino sub-in. Or really, any other wrestler to give them some more exposure and experience. Just no more Mondo, he's Caleb-lite.
My other complaint is the camera work; again, how ROH can have such a crappy looking product while being owned by a TV company is mind-boggling. First, who in the company is in love with the crane camera? It seems like we see that big sweeping shot every other minute -- for no reason whatsoever. I have this image that the director's kid is sitting in that crane chair and going "WHEEE" every couple minutes as the camera glides over the audience, regardless of the in-ring action.
Big run in the main event? Let's see if we can get a shot the furthest away from the action.
I have the feeling that the director is someone that took a couple television classes at college and their Uncle at Sinclair gave them a job. There is a scene in That Thing You Do when they are appearing on the big national TV show. They show the control room, and you hear the director say, "Go to Camera 1", then "Camera 3". I think the ROH director is just like this, except he is not looking at the monitors, and just randomly shouts out numbers.
Take the big angle at the end: You had all these wrestlers running in, yet there was never a good shot of any of it. It was all far away shots, and unless you read the results, you really didn't know who was who. It wasn't until everything was done and a camera at ringside got a decent shot. They seem to have a hard camera, but they do not use it enough, or else it doesn't have a decent zoom.
That leads into my last complaint: The vast majority of camera shots are from ringside, seen in between the bottom and middle ropes. That is usually fine, but lots of good action is missed simply because the cameraman is in the wrong position -- way too many shots of wrestlers backs. It seems like they are only allowed to stay on certain sides of the ring, in order to avoid being in the way of the other cameras, but since they do not seem to be used correctly, why should that even matter.
I am not someone with a big television production background, so I know this reads as typical armchair quarterbacking. However, I know what I like, and as good as the in-ring action is at ROH, their production value is highly frustrating. I am going to the San Antonio, TX show in June, which entails driving three hours from Houston to see the action firsthand. It should be great, mainly because I won't have to hear Caleb.