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Heel Turns: Ring of Honor making waves

Posted by Eric Fisher On August 13

In last week’s Heel Turns, the Greek God of Wrestling explained how WWE is using WWE Network to dominate professional wrestling. This week Achilles Heel is giving equal time to Ring of Honor.

Ring of Honor is making noise these days because many of its stars, most notably Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) have organized a show that sold out “All In,” which takes place at Sears Center just outside of Chicago on Sept. 1. Ring of Honor, in conjunction with New Japan Pro Wrestling, continued to make major news this past week when they sold out Madison Square Garden for their G1 Supercard on April 6, 2016.

In some ways, this is a challenge to WWE. Madison Square Garden was the crown jewel of WWE in its territory days, and it remains an important arena today. Furthermore, the G1 Supercard takes place one night before WrestleMania at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That means that the Ring of Honor-NJPW event will likely go head-to-head against NXT Takeover on the Saturday night before WrestleMania in the same market.

Before anyone goes overboard, Ring of Honor is not battling WWE for supremacy. WWE is light years ahead of Ring of Honor in the battle to be the No. 1 wrestling company. WWE holds most of its events in major arenas, with some in stadiums. WrestleMania attracts more fans than Ring of Honor draws in months of live events – even if “All In” and the G1 Supercard are included.

As the Greek God of Wrestling wrote last week, though, despite WWE’s dominance, there is still room for promotions other than WWE. With two sold-out events (and I’m counting All In even though, technically, it isn’t a Ring of Honor event) in major arenas, including the hallowed Madison Square Garden, Ring of Honor is solidifying its position as the No. 2 promotion in the United States.

Impact Wrestling has better television exposure than Ring of Honor. Other than television, however, Ring of Honor is superior to Impact. If Ring of Honor could get a television deal that is truly national, it may establish itself as the clear No. 2 company in the U.S.

By booking Madison Square Garden in the same region as WrestleMania, and selling out the building in advance, Ring of Honor is sending a message to WWE and NXT. Although it can’t be separated from WWE, in many ways, NXT is a top competitor to be the No. 2 wrestling company in the country. Many of the stars poached away from Ring of Honor and the independent scene end up in NXT, so, for all the bravado, Ring of Honor is competing more with NXT than with WWE’s main roster.

Give Ring of Honor credit. It is doing all of this without a television contract that allows it to be seen in all of the major metropolitan regions of the country. Some fans prefer an alternative to WWE, and Ring of Honor is happy to provide it.

                               *****                               

RING OF HONOR IN PHILLY: After Ring of Honor conducts its tour of the United Kingdom this week, with stops in Edinburgh, Doncaster and London, it will return to Philadelphia on Sat., Aug. 25 (6 p.m.) at 2300 Arena for television tapings.

*****

PANDORA’S BOX: A recent post on an Internet site (the Greek God of Wrestling isn’t going to name the site) has resurrected a 2012 interview in which a former WWE writer claims that Randy Orton behaved inappropriately when greeting new writers. The former writer claims that Orton would hold his penis and then extend his hand. When the writer, who said this didn’t happen to him, would refuse to shake hands, Orton, with his penis still exposed, would then threat to tell Vince and Stephanie McMahon that the writer was “big-timing” Orton by refusing to shake hands.

Putting aside how this writer knows for certain that these things happened when he wasn’t present, let’s assume it’s true. If it happened, it was inappropriate, but WWE, which has said it is investigating the allegations, shouldn’t make a federal case over it.

The interview occurred in 2012, which means the alleged incidents occurred at least six years ago. Furthermore, there are different levels of transgressions. We’re not talking about attempted rape or trying to gain sexual favors. It seems as if Orton was making an inappropriate joke, or hazing new writers, rather than trying to force anyone to have sex with him. That doesn’t excuse his behavior, but it’s important to keep the alleged incidents in context.

As for Orton, his immaturity earlier in his career isn’t exactly a secret. In fact, Orton’s transformation from his earlier entitled and occasionally obnoxious behavior outside of the ring was a major theme in a WWE special about Orton’s career. It would be wrong to punish him years after he has altered his behavior.

Taking a wider view, WWE needs to be careful about opening a Pandora’s box by punishing Orton. Professional wrestling isn’t the most genteel business. Locker room humor is prevalent. In many ways, the wrestlers police their own. Without talking out of turn, the Greek God of Wrestling recalls the APA (Ron Simmons and JBL) beating the snot out of Public Enemy in the ring because of their violation of locker room protocol. That was an assault that took place before a national television audience. In terms of backstage actions, some bodily functions were “dumped,” if you’ll pardon the pun, into Jerry “The King” Lawler’s crown when he came to WWE as retribution for his actions as a promoter.

Those examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Trust the Greek God of Wrestling when he tells you that Orton isn’t the first male wrestler to expose his penis in a location other than the shower and locker room.

Today’s wrestling world is different, in part because of the larger female presence, but you can’t go back and apply today’s standards to the past. WWE would be going down a dangerous road if it gave Orton anything more than a slap on the wrist.

*****

SUMMERSLAM COMPLETE? It appears that the card for WWE’s SummerSlam is complete. With 12 matches, the Greek God of Wrestling hopes that the card is complete. The card is already getting close to having too many matches, particularly because there are a few matches which could benefit from receiving extensive time.

Brock Lesnar defends the WWE Universal Championship yet again against Roman Reigns. In the co-main event, AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship against Samoa Joe. The secondary men’s titles are both on the line in what could be tremendous matches if given the time. Dolph Ziggler defends the Intercontinental Championship against former champion Seth Rollins, and Shinsuke Nakamura defends the United States Championship against former champion Jeff Hardy.

The women’s titles will also be on the line at SummerSlam. Alexis Bliss defends the Raw Women’s Championship against Ronda Rousey, and Carmella defends the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a triple threat match with Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair.

The Smackdown Tag Team Championship will be on the line when The Bludgeon Brothers (Erick Rowan and Luke Harper) face the challengers, two member of The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods). Cedric Alexander defends the WWE Cruiserweight Championship against Drew Gulak.

There also are some non-title matches set for SummerSlam. Daniel Bryan clashes with The Miz, Finn Balor meets Baron Corbin, and Kevin Owens faces Braun Strowman, with Strowman’s Money in the Bank opportunity going to Owens if he wins. The preshow features Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade “Cien” Almos and Zelina Vega. The Greek God of Wrestling will have a full preview of SummerSlam later this week.

*****

BLACK OUT: Aleister Black, who suffered a groin injury that needed surgery, has been removed from the main event at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn. NXT did an angle in which Black was attacked in the parking lot. The main event is now Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano in a last man standing match for Ciampa’s NXT Championship instead of a triple-threat match involving Black.

Saturday’s card also features Adam Cole defending the NXT Championship against Ricochet and the rest of the Undisputed Era (Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly) defending the NXT Tag Team Championship against Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate and Trent Seven). Shayna Baszler defends the NXT Women’s Championship against Kairi Sane in a rematch of last year’s Mae Young Classic final. Velveteen Dream battles Ethan Carter III to round out what should be a tremendous card.

*****

FAREWELL TO NEIDHART: Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, the father of Natalya Neidhart and Bret Hart’s partner in the Hart Foundation, died early Monday at age 63. According to Ross Hart, his brother-in-law, Neidhart dies of a seizure related to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Neidhart, married to Ellie Hart, was a powerful wrestler who achieved some success on his own, but his greatest success occurred while teaming with Bret Hart as part of the Hart Foundation. The combination of Neidhart’s power and demented personality blended beautifully with Hart’s technical skill and quieter cool personality. They won the WWF Tag Team titles as both heels and good guys.

Achilles Heel offers his condolences to Natalya, the entire Hart/Neidhart family and all of “The Anvil’s” colleagues and friends.

*****

WWE IN A.C.: Local fans can can experience some of the SummerSlam when WWE presents a live event with the Smackdown crew in the Mark Etess Arena in Atlantic City the day after SummerSlam.

*****

NEW CHIKARA CHAMP: “Mr Touchdown” Mark Angelosetti defeated Juan Francisco de Coronado to capture CHIKARA’s Grand Championship last Saturday at Chikarasaurus Rex – a Deadly Secret. Also, Dasher Hatfield and his son, Boomer, who was making his CHIKARA debut, defeated Frightmare and Hallowicked. Boomer Hatfield will be back in action Saturday (3 p.m.) for the Hour of Power at The Wrestle Factory when he squares off with Volgar. Also on Saturday, Young Lions Cup winner Danjerhawk battles Cornelius Crummels.

*****

TRIOS TEAMS: CHIKARA will present King of Trios on Aug. 31-Sept. 2 at The Palmer Center (The Funplex) in Easton. This year’s King of Trios has a Star Wars them: Episode XI: The Saga Ends (which The Greek God of Trios hopes does not signal the end of CHIKARA’s signature event).

Newly crowned Grand champion Mark Angelosetti teams with his former partner Dasher Hatfield and his son, Boomer Hatfield to form The Millennium Throwbacks.  Fire Ant, Green Ant and Thief Ant form The Resistance. As always (almost), there is a team of former WWE wrestlers. The former Darren Young, Michael Tarver and Justin Gabriel form The Nexus Alliance. For old-school WWE fans, the former Jean-Pierre Lafitte teams with Katarina Waters (the former Katie Lea Burchill) and Rey Bucanero to form The Ohnaka Gang. There also will be three all-women teams and the usual mix of CHIKARA characters in the tournament, which I’ll examine more closely the last week of August.

*****

DIFFICULT COMBAT: Combat Zone Wrestling has had a tough summer. Maxwell Jacob Friedman, the CZW world champion, has been sidelined by a knee injury. And then CZW Wired champion Zachary Wentz, who was supposed to defend his title against Myron Reed last Saturday at “Business as Usual,” was called away to take part in Impact Wrestling’s television tapings, leaving CZW to scramble to come up with a main event. CZW brought in Trent Barreta to face Alex Reynolds, and Reed battled Johnny Silver, but the absence of a title match couldn’t escape notice. CZW has to hope that Friedman and Wentz return for “Down with the Sickness” on Sept. 8.

*****

YOUNG AT HEART: The second Mae Young Classic has been taped, setting the stage for the finals at Evolution, the all-women’s pay-per-view on Oct. 28. But The Greek God of Wrestling detests spoilers and won’t reveal the final pairing.

*****

ROAD TRIP: At the end of August, WWE will head overseas for events in London (Aug. 29), Osaka, Japan (Aug. 31) and Shanghai, China (Sept. 1).

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