Last Sunday, Washington DC was the center of the wrestling world as World Wrestling Entertainment invaded the Verizon Center with Capitol Punishment. The pay-per-view event became jeered by the most enthusiastic of wrestling fans becoming hardened against the new entertainment focused direction of the WWE. The view being that the company no longer wants to be associated with wrestling, but instead is chasing a spot in Hollywood, like a father leaving his wife & kids for another family. This new direction was the focus of the event this past Sunday with a main event’s amount of time being used for the sketch comedy of a Barack Obama look-a-like, who the night before ruined a fundraiser with jokes that alienated the crowd. On this night, the impersonator did an encore on WWE pay per view.
The wasted segments could have been used for wrestlers such as Daniel Bryan, Cody Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, and Sin Cara. These four talents had been the focus during WWE’s weekly broadcasts. These same broadcasts also featured vignettes for the PPV focused mainly on President Obama. A large number of fans, covering a wide age range, bought Sin Cara merchandise at Capitol Punishment, but not a lot of people were wearing Obama masks. The other trumpet of this demise of the WWE from wrestling company to full contact Saturday Night Live is the future of CM Punk in the WWE.
In Baltimore the next evening, as the WWE prepared to move out of the DMV area, multiple time world champion CM Punk announced he was leaving the company. The story being that Punk is going away either win or lose. He’s facing John Cena for the WWE title hours before leaving to possibly go out with a bang, or a snow angel. Those that have followed his twitter, or heard Punk talk, have noticed the little things tossed out by a man who takes a lot of pride in being associated with the sport of professional wrestling. The smart money is on CM Punk leaving, maybe even after his match July 17th. This departure reflects the same way that Punk left his former major wrestling employer, Ring of Honor.
When CM Punk left Ring of Honor he captured the ROH World Championship during the summer of 2005. He held the belt for nearly two months as he paraded around his WWE contract. Punk went as far as to sign his deal on the title in the middle of the ROH ring. This reign was referred to as the Summer of Punk, which is something CM Punk posted on his Twitter leading up to his announcement this Monday. Fans and experts say this points to CM Punk leaving the WWE almost in a cut and paste way that he left Ring of Honor. The originators of the Summer of Punk shared the wrestling spotlight in Baltimore at the end of the week with their first official media press conference covering the purchase of ROH by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
Sinclair and ROH officials talked about the major television deal coming September 24th, 2011. They followed this by talking about their internet pay per view, “Best in the World 2011”, this afternoon at 4:00 PM est. The launch of Ring of Honor across the Sinclair networks on 9-24-11 became something that everyone repeated during and after the press conference on Friday. Thirty five networks will launch the Ring of Honor television show giving ROH 22% coverage of the U.S. TV households. This network television coverage cements Ring of Honor, in only nine years, as the third largest wrestling promotion in the country. Unfortunately, Washington DC was not one of the markets listed. The nation’s capital is surrounded by stations that will carry ROH in the fall such as The CW (WNUV) in Baltimore, FOX (WUHF) in Richmond, and MyTV (WTVZ) in Norfolk.
Those that want to see the Ring of Honor product can purchase their internet pay per view this afternoon, Sunday the 26th. The iPPV called “Best in the World” took up the bulk of the press conference as Ring of Honor intends to use this as a showcase for the new era of ROH. This includes a new logo that should look good on a T-shirt. In television, Ring of Honor is considered the number three wrestling company/ To those involved with ROH, including pro wrestling icon Jim Cornette, ROH is the number one company when it comes to in-ring performance.
Cornette looks at what the other two companies are doing and says, “you can’t go forward if you keep going backward, and we’re the only wrestling going forward”. This belief of wrestling excellence comes from seeing competition that resembles either a Las Vegas show on the strip or the pro wrestling senior tour. ROH officials look at their roster seeing wrestlers that are the youngest, freshest, and most athletic in the sport of professional wrestling. Jim Cornette shares a belief with many that the Ring of Honor roster has those new household names fans are craving. With these athletes Cornette is, “coming to get some”. Something Ring of Honor intends to do by highlighting their two greatest strengths, tag team wrestling and wrestling purity.
In the co-main event ROH will present a four team elimination match for the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship with a collection of teams that symbolizes ROH like a coat of arms. The champions are Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, who call themselves Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team. WGTT are former collegiate wrestling stars who have spent the better part of the past decade in the WWE being buried below the ears by the company. Like some on the ROH roster Haas and Benjamin have found a life after the so called big time.
Their number one rivals are The Kings of Wrestling. The King were the longest reigning tag team champions in ROH history. Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli are considered the best tag team in the world today with size and talent found mostly in stars with six figure contracts. The two are wrestling at their prime. This is something that can be said for a large portion of the stars appearing on the iPPV. The Kings of Wrestling have been with ROH for a while, but nobody has been with the company longer than Ring of Honor standard bearers Jay & Mark Briscoe.
As the Briscoes would say they have been with the company since, “Day One”. The men who have carried the company for nine years through multiple major shake ups and controversies look to add a record seventh Ring of Honor tag team championship to their resume. They also have been part of some of the chaos in ROH as seen at the press conferences when they started a pull apart scuffle with Haas and Benjamin. Egging on the two teams were rising stars Rhett Titus & Kenny King, better known as The All Night Express.
Titus & King are the diamonds in rough that Ring of Honor cultivates into stars. Titus is a product of the Ring of Honor wrestling academy. Kenny King had a roller coaster career before ROH, but has worked his way with Titus to become a reason to come back to see ROH. The All Night Express in five years should be the biggest drawing team in Ring of Honor. All four teams will compete to show why Ring of Honor has the hands down best tag team division in wrestling today. An art form that had almost gone the way of the dodo in wrestling.
Wrestling at times has flirted with extinction. The purity of the sport has gotten lost in the characters and moments of reality bending logic. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards embody ROH’s commitment to in ring excellence. The two are on the short list for professional wrestling’s best pound for pound wrestler. Fans have been salivating for a rematch to see these two men do what they do best for over a year. This World title match could be the most anticipated match in Ring of Honor history as Richards and Edwards are going to put a stamp on the new age in ROH. What Jerry West’s silhouette means to the NBA, this match could mean to Ring of Honor.
The two make up the American Wolves tag team, and have been avoiding each other in singles action since Eddie defeated Davey in the Television Title finals on March 5h, 2010. Davey Richards has continually quested after the Ring of Honor World title, only to see his partner win the title three months ago. Richards vowed his next shot at the title would be his last after losing to the prior three ROH World Champions. All of this talent in the ring and drama outside the ring leads to Davey Richards vs. Eddie Edwards being the biggest match in Ring of Honor in nine years since Low Ki met Christopher Daniels and Bryan Danielson.
Wrestling’s whirlwind week comes to a close this afternoon with Ring of Honor’s “Best in the World”. The third largest wrestling company in the country is on iPPV at 4:00 PM est. No lockouts in this sport. ROH will try to show loyal fans the future of the company and professional wrestling. To those that will check out ROH for the first time, or are loosely familiar with the product, Ring of Honor will display what their roster perpetually proves, that talent means more than size. At a third of the price of other wrestling pay per views, the fifteen dollar price tag makes “Best in the World” worth the price of admission for any wrestling fan familiar or not with Ring of Honor who remembers when wrestling wasn’t a dirty word. Gordon Solie said famously, “we’ll be back as soon as order is restored”. Tonight at 4 PM est on iPPV Ring of Honor restores order in the sport of professional wrestling.