Adam Cole- Ring of Honor finally took a cue from PWG and CZW and turned Adam Cole heel and in the same vein gave him the top spot as Ring of Honor world champion. Given that Ring of honor has television, they’re best suited to really give Cole a chance to showcase his wrestling and talking on a consistent basis. I get a completely different vibe from Cole when he becomes a heel, and the only thing that could potentially derail him is his association with Matt Hardy and the temptation to try and turn him into Ric Flair Jr. Cole is good enough to be his own person on his own. His 2014 success will depend on whether the booking team screws this up.
Tommaso Ciampa- I could make an argument that Ring of Honor didn’t have a great year, but they ended the year with four quality champions. Tommaso Ciampa ended the year by demolishing Matt Taven to become the world television champion. This performance in combination with his entrance since coming back from injury has turned him into one of the biggest stars in the company at this point. By this point next year, I fully expect to be discussing Ciampa as the new ROH champion after Final Battle 2014. His in-ring work still needs some work, but the ambiance surrounding him carries the day at this point.
reDRagon- While I understand the desire to spice up the tag team division by shifting the belts around in a short period of time as the tag team tournament was moving along, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly deserved so much better. The disaster of a match with Eddie Kingston and Homicide hasn’t done their second title reign any favors. I almost wish the rivalry with C& C Wrestlefactory could have matured into a bigger deal since the matches were always good, and the challengers could have been elevated more in the process. Nonetheless, O’Reilly and Fish are a clear highlight of the television through their promos and wrestling ability. Ring of Honor desperately needs new, fresh teams that haven’t been buried six feet under to foster not only a better division but elevates the titles.
iPPVs- A pure, unadulterated disaster for Ring of Honor. It’s outright embarrassing for a billion dollar organization not be able to put on a live broadcast. Internet or not, ROH’s inability to have their biggest shows of the year air live hurts their business and also hinders the television in that it doesn’t have as clear a build-up since there’s no definitive date and time for shows to air. An esoteric “VOD to come 24-48 shows after the show takes place” doesn’t seem as catchy or easy to promote.
Stuck in the 1980’s- A feud over the pildriver? Strap matches? Adam Cole using the figure four leglock and needing a mentor? And this is all after Jim Cornette exited the company. Feuds like this not only emphasize how stuck in a certain time period the booking is, but there is another problem as well. Wrestlers take way too long to get the opportunities they deserve, and others get eight months to hold the television title when they haven’t shown a particular aptitude to maintain the high in-ring standard of ROH or get over.
Michael Elgin’s booking- I said enough about this in my article earlier this week in my column about the 6 Dumbest Booking Decisions of 2013. Go there to read about that disaster.
A Look Back at 2012 Predictions:
Tedarius Thomas will win the television title in 2013. I think Ring of Honor is looking for a high flyer to push, and Thomas fits the bill because of his high skill level and a recent victory against Rhino. I see Thomas as Ring of Honor’s 2013 project to get over. Hopefully, he can elevate himself and bring a much needed fresh coat of paint to Ring of Honor’s midcard.
I’m not sure Thomas even won five matches the whole as he was saddled in a jobber tag team with ACH for most of the year after making to the finals of the Top Prospect tournament.
Adam Cole will turn heel and win the world title by Final Battle. There’s only so much that can be done with Cole as a plucky underdog babyface. Someone in the office is going to watch a PWG or CZW DVD, see how awesome Cole is, and then thrust him toward the main event position. It’s just got to happen at a certain point. Based on my understanding of ROH contracts, Cole will be WWE eligible in 2014. Ring of Honor should get everything they can out of Cole while he’s still under contract.
Cole nearly went to WWE early in the year but was told to get some more work on the indies. His slow heel turn began and climaxed with a world title win at Death Before Dishonor. Cole successfully defended the title at Final Battle, My goodness. I was actually right about something! Hey hey!
The inexplicable push of Mike Mondo will continue and he will be a very serious contender for both ROH singles titles. I know what you’re thinking. That’s a prediction, but it’s not exactly bold. Here’s the bold part. Mikey Mondo will get a title match at one of ROH’s signature events on iPPV for the world championship in the main event.
So happy to be wrong here. Mondo was barely used after some health problems plagued his progress. Then for whatever reason Ring of Honor stopped using him save a few token NYC appearances.
Tommaso Ciampa will win the ROH world title at Final Battle 2014.
Michael Elgin will again not win a single title in the calendar year.
The Briscoes will reunite to defeat reDRagon for the world tag team titles before the summer.
Johnny Gargano- Regardless of one thinks of the heel turn that took place in, no one works harder at making the Open the Freedom Gate championship mean something harder than Gargano. The match quality remains as high as ever, and Gargano is easily the most identifiable aspect of the promotion.
Opportunities- It’s pretty obvious Gabe doesn’t have the booking touch as he once did during his Ring of Honor days, but no one is more willing to give opportunities to younger wrestlers. Drew Gulak became the third ever Style Battle winner. Both the Young Bucks and Bravado Brothers were given the Open the United Gate championships after being spurned by Ring of Honor. A number of the Chikara roster members and Biff Busick were frequently on shows in the second half of the year. DG USA and Evolve’s only hope is the ability to continue including fresh talent on show.
Lenny Leonard- There have been times when I’ve been critical about Leonard, but he’s a workhorse for the WWN Universe as the true voice of DG USA, Evolve, FIP, and Shine. He’s another stabilizing force in a universe loaded with numerous problems and instability.
Wrestlecon- A weekend that as supposed to be a financial boon and artistic rebirth for DG USA and Evolve turned into a monumental disaster. Similar to Ring of Honor’s Michael Elgin, you can read about the specific problems which faced Evolve 19 in that same article. Open the Ultimate Gate was one of the truly great in-ring shows of this year, but Gargano’s heel turn didn’t really mean that much in the grand scheme of things since there were no babyface programs for him to get engaged with, not to mention the lack of meaning heels and babyfaces have within the WWN universe.
iPPV- As many problems as Ring of Honor had, well DG USA had even more since they try to put on every show live. Efforts are seemingly being made to release DVDs more quickly, but to continue putting out an inferior product in 2013 is unacceptable. Similar to Ring of Honor’s approach, not always ideal as it may be, WWN’s best course of action may be to do every show VOD only indefinitely.
Heels and Babyfaces- it’s funny to see the booking of DG USA and Evolve only care about heels and babyfaces when it suits them during turns. Two great examples in 2013 when Johnny Gargano turned heel on Shingo while the Bravado Brothers turned the night after winning the tag team titles from the Young Bucks. Otherwise, wrestlers turn on a whim from show to show. In most cases, the fans cheer for whomever they want anyway, so the point of the dynamics are lost on me. I wish a focus would be placed on insuring there are heels and babyfaces and try to reteach the fans to cheer and boo the right people. I’m not even sure the pandora’s box can be closed, but shows might be more with tangible storylines and less dartboard booking.
A Look Back at 2013 Predictions:
The Super Smash Brothers come through and win the Open the United Gate championships Wrestlemania weekend before losing to the Young Bucks in the summer. These two teams brings their feud east and have some incredible matches throughout 2013. This becomes one of the best feuds in the history of the promotion.
The Super Smash Brothers aren’t even allowed in the country anymore, so it’s tough for them to be the Open the United Gate champions. The Bucks and SSB did have one match at Evolve 19, but sadly it did not turn into a classic feud.
AR Fox shocks the IWC by defeating Jon Davis to win the first ever Evolve title over Wrestlemania weekend.
Hey hey, I got it right! Jon Davis wasn’t in the finals, but at least he didn’t win.
Samuray Del Sol becomes the fourth ever Open the Freedom Gate champion by defeating Gargano in the summer.
Del Sol signed with WWE and lost to Gargano on his way out.
Ricochet wins the Open the Freedom Gate championship over Johnny Gargano at Wrestlemania weekend (taking a real chance here since Ricochet could be WWE bound based on a recent try-out).
Chris Hero defeats AR Fox for the Evolve title over Wrestlemania weekend as a means of adding credibility to both the company and championship.
ACH will become a full-time member of the WWN Universe by the summer.