Friday , 29 August 2014

A Little Column of Honor: Ringmaster’s Challenged

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Chris Hero clearly made Adam Cole tap out to the Stretch Plum submission move during the World Title match at Ring of Honor’s 12th Anniversary Show. Unfortunately, both Todd Sinclair, the official referee and Nigel McGuinness-ROH’s “matchmaker”-both missed out on it. Cole eventually retained the title, but after Hero lodged a complaint with McGuinness, the decision was made to have a rematch between Hero and Cole for the title.

Only this time, when both competitors face each other again on March 8th in Chicago, Illinois during the Raising the Bar weekend, it will be in a “Ringmaster’s Challenge” stipulation match.

Cue groans from certain fans on the Twitter landscape, including several of our own commentators here at Pro Wrestling Ponderings.

As for me, well I don’t mind the match announcement, or the stipulation in general, outside of my constant derision of the actual match name since it brings up ghastly visions of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s less successful WWF gimmick. There was once a Podcast of Honor where I went on a five-minute flow of referring to the match via other horrible 1996 New Generation wrestler gimmicks.

What’s in a name anyway? That which we call a Buddy Rose would still smell as sweet and Blow Away…or something like that. Sorry, I’ve been watching WWE Network (or trying to anyway) and all that comes up are those Playboy Buddy Rose skits.

For all of the teasing and mocking done about the name, the match itself is something I don’t find offensive, upsetting or frustrating. In fact, if one really thinks about it, the Ringmaster’s Challenge is the sort of wrestling match a true fan of in-ring competition should want to see.

Think about this for a second. This is a two-out-of-three-falls match, testing out the very best of a professional wrestler’s technical skills with rules that a wrestler needs to win via both pinfall and submission. Can they put the opponent down for a three-count? Are they knowledgeable enough in their craft to put the right painful hold on the opponent so that he submits?

Then, if the first two falls are split, the third fall is a test of both speed and endurance-a fifteen-minute Iron Man match. The Iron Man match means whoever can gain the most falls in a period of time is the better wrestler. It’s a test of the ability to both last the time and be quick enough about strategy to gain the win. Certainly, both wrestlers will have worked up quite a bit of sweat by this point and it would be time to step it up.

Truly, the Ringmaster’s Challenge is a Jack-of-All-Trades wrestling match. In food terms, it’s the rainbow cookie of wrestling matches. Or, perhaps a better analogy would be the Neapolitan ice cream of wrestling matches? Now I’m hungry for food…and professional wrestling.

Previously, Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong had what I thought was a fantastic match introducing the stipulation to ROH at Death Before Dishonor IX in New York City during September 2011. Although others thought less of it, I was kind of blown away by it-and not in the Buddy Rose sense of that term.

Strong picked up the baton and wrestled Adam Cole September of last year in the second such match at Road to Greatness Night 1 in Birmingham, Alabama. While I haven’t watched that match myself, I didn’t hear a bad word about it. Now, Adam Cole continues the link in the Ringmaster’s chain to wrestle Chris Hero, who is capable of going long in matches while still bringing the excitement and action that makes the independent wrestling fan base all giddy.

However, if you want to hear the other side of the coin, PWPonderings’ own Chris GST provides the counterpoint to the booking of the match:

The Ringmaster’s Challenge is supposed to do two things: cement the idea that the two men in the match have wrestled before and cannot determine a clear winner and to prove the abilities of both under pressure. These two men have faced each other in a tag match and one singles match in which Hero got the pin on Cole after Cole faced other challengers and then during their 12th Anniversary match. The controversy was basic-the ref was out of place. To top it off, their skills are not in question. So why are we having this match? If it was stipulated that because Cole tapped out that this upcoming World Title shot was a submission match, then I’d understand the logic. But why do we need to see a two-out-of-three-falls match when we’ve only seen one fair singles match between the two? I don’t see what the Ringmaster’s Challenge does in the beginning stages of this feud unless it’s already ending. I don’t doubt the match will be fantastic from an in-ring quality stand point. I just don’t see the logic of having it.

…

Man, GST has some good points there. The Ring of Honor rivalry between Hero and Cole is still young (though Hero also challenged for Cole’s PWG Title and lost that match as well) and Hero has found the advantage in all of their encounters with the exception of Cole finding a way to win the title bout. It does seem early to go to a heavy stipulation. Then again, this is a solution to the problem of Hero being cheated out of the win-now both men have to work even harder for it this go around. Also, in the booking, Hero did ask for a solution-and this is the one he received.

 

 

Still, I have confidence that Hero and Cole will be able to do some great work and make the match a success. Truly, what can go wrong here? Other than another non-finish at the end of the match, but Ring of Honor wouldn’t do that? Would they? It’s not like as that has ever happened before in ROH history…

Right?

Hmmm.

Anyway, don’t worry folks; this is just a test of the Emergency Pro Wrestling Broadcast System. If this were a real Emergency, you would have heard the announcement of a Revolution Rules match. This is just a test.

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About Ari Berenstein

Ari Berenstein is the current Podcast of Honor co-host as well as the lead host of the ROH Retrocast podcast show at pwponderings.com. Ari has previously written the Column of Honor, dedicated to coverage of Ring of Honor news and shows. Ari has watched ROH since 2003 and has been a fan of professional wrestling as a whole for over 24 years and counting. Check out Ari's Twitter feed for more ROH and wrestling ponderings at: http://twitter.com/#!/ariberenstein

One comment

  1. Great Column. Love the debate aspect to it. I agree with both of you. Too early and not really necessary given the stage of the feud between Cole and Hero.
    The in ring wrestling should rock. The ending really is only thing in doubt. I believe the Eddie v. Roderick match went 1 fall Eddie, 1 fall Roderick and the 15 min tome limit ran out with even fall count. Crowd rightfully booed. Cornette comes out and makes it sudden death. Eddie gets a fall and wins. Thus even a past example shows there does not have to be a definitive winner given the rules structure. That kind of sucks from the beginning.
    Again wrestling should rule, booking could hinder the way people remember it.

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