WrestleMania tends to overshadow all other wrestling during March, but let’s start the month with a look at a huge independent show. Ring of Honor, which held its first event at the Murphy Rec Center in Philadelphia, celebrates its 10th Anniversary on Sunday (5 p.m.) with “Young Wolves Rising” at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom.
The main event for the show, which is available on Internet pay-per-view, features Ring of Honor champion Davey Richards teaming up with Kyle O’Reilly to take on Eddie Edwards and Adam Cole. Richards and former champion Edwards were once partners in The American Wolves. O’Reilly and Cole, two of Ring of Honor’s rising stars, were teammates in Future Shock. (Achilles Heel sees a bright future for Cole, in particular.)
This show features plenty of tag team action. In addition to the main event, Jay and Mark Briscoe defend the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship against the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson). If this match were held in Philly, it could be called “The Battle of Brotherly Love” – not to be confused with Brother Love. Former tag team champions Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin face The All Night Express (Rhett Titus and Kenny King). As if that weren’t enough tag team action, Amazing Red and TJ Perkins team up to battle The House of Truth (Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin).
Jay Lethal defends the Ring of Honor Television title against “The Dominant Male” Tommaso Ciampa. For those more into the violent side of professional wrestling, Jimmy Jacobs and Kevin Steen meet in a no disqualification grudge match, and Homicide battles “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett. Steve Corino, known for his bloody matches, is also scheduled to appear.
Don’t be surprised if some members of CHIKARA’s roster crash Ring of Honor’s party. The tag team championship match seems like a good possibility for CHIKARA involvement. Not only do Hallowicked and Jigsaw have a title shot lined up for April, but, in a potentially interesting twist, the Young Bucks also make appearances at CHIKARA events.
TALKING THE TALK: RAW featured a pair of bookend promos that were the highlights of the show. Chris Jericho and C.M. Punk opened RAW with a sensational back-and-forth debate that made their WrestleMania match for the WWE Championship seem like the most important match on the card. But that wasn’t even the most memorable promo of the show.
The Rock came to the ring at the end of RAW and delivered another entertaining promo, as only The Rock – and Achilles Heel, if he chose to pander to the fans – can do. But The Rock was interrupted by John Cena, who continued his streak of strong promos attacking Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Cena wisely doesn’t try to win the wisecrack duel, which is his usual modus operandi. Instead, Cena remains mostly serious, presenting himself as the dedicated wrestler who is loyal to the WWE, contrasting himself with the supposedly selfish, egotistical Johnson. The result was a stunning, logical promo that continued to build tension between the two participants in WrestleMania XXVIII’s main event.
RHODES TO WRESTLEMANIA: One more match added to WrestleMania this past week was Cody Rhodes defending the Intercontinental Championship against The Big Show.
What I like about this match is that it makes sense. It started with Rhodes eliminating Big Show during the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match at WWE’s last pay-per-view. During Friday’s Smackdown, Rhodes also pointed out Big Show’s poor win-loss record at WrestleMania.
On the surface, a Rhodes-Big Show match doesn’t create much excitement. But when you find an issue for fans to care about and properly promote the match, a Rhodes-Big Show match makes perfect sense. The key will be to find a way for Big Show to redeem himself while keeping the Intercontinental title on Rhodes.
RAW IN PHILLY: The road to WrestleMania comes through Philadelphia on March 19, with RAW being held at Wells Fargo Center. Undertaker, Triple H and Shawn Michaels are all advertised as appearing on RAW that night.
GAS PAINS: I may be repeating myself, but the angle with Natalya Neidhart having a flatulence problem features some of the dumbest and laziest writing and character development I’ve ever seen. Did WWE hire a third-grader for its writing staff?
ADRENALINE RUSH: TNA is badly in need of an injection of excitement. With Kurt Angle training for a long-shot bid to make the Olympic team and TNA coming off a poor pay-per-view, the organization truly needs a game-changer, as Jim Ross would say.
I feel badly for the hard-working wrestlers in TNA. For example, Bobby Roode is doing a good job as a heel champion, but fans simply aren’t buying into his challengers – except for Jeff Hardy. The problem with Hardy, of course, is his real-life struggle with drugs. Although it’s never been said publicly, Hardy’s problems are why WWE made the unpopular decision to have Randy Orton defeat Hardy in his most-anticipated shot at a major championship. Hardy will face Angle at TNA’s Victory Road pay-per-view on March 18.
TNA needs to build A.J. Styles back up and continue to promote James Storm so Roode has opponents the fans can get behind. Signing John Morrison wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. One solution I don’t want to see is having Sting defeat Roode at Victory Road.
SAVING McINTYRE: As those of you wise enough to read Heel Turns regularly already know, I have been critical of the inexplicable burial of Drew McIntyre. The talent Scotsman loses almost every week. This past week on Smackdown, after McIntyre lost to Justin Gabriel, general manager Teddy Long told McIntyre he was out of a job.
Despite losing for months, McIntyre’s career can be resurrected. How? I thought you’d never ask.
The first step is to have John Laurinaitis, who is switching jobs with Long this week, rehire McIntyre. Being associated with Laurinaitis automatically brings McIntyre heat. He might even lose a few more times before beginning his resurrection.
Someone should point out to McIntyre that approximately 15 years ago there was another talented, pony-tailed wrestler who went on a long losing streak. But that wrestler broke his losing streak and went on to win multiple world titles. That wrestler was Triple H.
Perhaps Triple H can deliver this message in person. That would require waiting until after WrestleMania for the resurrection, but another month of losing isn’t going to do any further damage to McIntyre. With Triple H publicly stating that he’s going to run WWE after Vince McMahon retires, his role in saving the career of a talented wrestler would make sense.
A rejuvenated McIntyre could regain his confidence by beating all the wrestlers who have beaten him during his losing streak. That would build him back up in the eyes of the fans, resurrect his career and set the stage for McIntyre winning a major championship.
As you can see, Achilles Heels doesn’t simply complain about problems. He offers solutions.
DEAD FISH: I was informed by one of my “people” that Eric Fisher ripped me in his Fish ‘n Chips column for leaving John Cena’s appearance as the official starter for the Daytona 500. Fisher, in his role as editor at PhillyPhanatics.com, inserted the Cena note into my last Heel Turns column. However, the Daytona 500 was postponed from Sunday afternoon until Monday night, meaning that, because of a conflict with RAW, Cena did NOT serve as the race’s official starter.
What Fisher didn’t take into account is that the Greek god of wrestling checked the Florida forecast and, because of the uncertainty regarding the weather, decided not to include Cena’s role at the Daytona 500 in Heel Turns. That decision turned out to be the correct one. Unfortunately, Fisher inserted information that ultimately was incorrect into my column. Then he had the gall to crow about it in Fish ‘n Chips. Fisher, I hope you like the taste of crow, because you’re eating it right now.