Welcome again to the weekly column covering the best and worst of professional wrestling for the week of July 7, 2014.
Top – Ring Of Honor Best in the World Tops 10,000 Buys
Ring of Honor has produced many great pay-per-views over the years, as well as many top talents in the WWE today. Having said that, I think it would be difficult to call Ring of Honor a big success in the wrestling world on its own.
The numbers have begun coming in (courtesy of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter) concerning the company’s first live PPV Best in the World on Sunday, June 22. The PPV buys, while not huge, are considered a big success for the company that has struggled for years to break out of being considered too small to make it. Reportedly, the company only expected Best in the World to top 7,500 buys, so 10,000 is quite a bit over where they wanted to be. This is also without a lot of promotion that a PPV would normally receive from the cable and satellite providers. The event also reportedly captured 2,500 iPPV buys on Ustream, which shows that it’s a revenue stream that should be continued as well.
Maybe this should be a sign that there is a market hungry for alternatives to TNA and WWE in the world of professional wrestling. Criticize ROH’s production values all you want but knocking their booking and match quality is something difficult to do. This is a company built on producing great matches from superb talent, and it looks to be continuing that trend into the future.
Best in the World featured the return of Christopher Daniels, a former ROH star that made a name for himself along with Kazarian in TNA for many years. The main event however, was the ROH World Championship match between Adam Cole and Michael Elgin. The world championship match tore the house down with great back and forth action, a near-fall that shook the arena, and a general feeling that this was a big deal, world championship match. In the end, Elgin captured the title from Cole in a big way that has made him a top star in the promotion.
Hopefully this small success will turn into bigger events for the company, and hopefully their parent Sinclair Broadcasting will begin pumping fuel into Ring of Honor now that it’s shown it has a loyal, growing fan-base.
Flop – Randy Orton’s Raw Win Over Dean Ambrose
Randy Orton has been one of the biggest stars in WWE over the past decade, almost always challenging for a world title, or holding one. Not to say that’s a big accomplishment but the point is: Randy Orton is a made man in WWE. Orton can’t lose or gain credibility from where he is today. Dean Ambrose is a man who is just coming off the hot breakup of the The Shield. While Dean Ambrose was the reigning United States Champion for nearly a year, he has yet to be established as a top singles superstar.
On Raw this past Monday night, a match was put together between Ambrose and Orton, pairing up the two in one of their first matches against one another (the only other singles match they had was on Smackdown last year). While this was a good match, it did contain a few sloppy portions it could have done without. Still, in the end, Randy Orton ended up pinning Dean Ambrose with an RKO.
While I do not normally have issue with a top superstar earning wins over other stars, Dean is relatively still new to the top rung in singles competition, and needs all the help in booking he can get. With a clean loss to Randy Orton, the company has now firmly established that Ambrose is not on Randy’s level. While I had already figured this was the company’s feeling, this cemented it as being true.
Now, I’m not certain Dean Ambrose will be losing all the time. However, Dean is gaining momentum, and too many losses like this will be damaging in the long run if the trend continues. Ambrose is a great talent that can help carry the company into the future, so giving up on him as a top superstar before he even gets going is not helping anybody. Randy Orton gains nothing from beating Dean, and Dean could lose his momentum by taking too many of these losses.
This seems to be an unfortunate casualty in the company’s quest to get Roman Reigns to the main event level. Roman Reigns vs Randy Orton seems like it will come to a head at the company’s flagship summer event Summerslam in August, so it only makes sense for Randy Orton to be picking up wins on the way there. I can only imagine one scenario in how that Summerslam match plays out, as can most viewers I’d assume. The idea that Roman Reigns’ main event push has to come at the expense of other rising stars is the problem, and one I hope the company looks to avoid in the future. While I do understand why the company is doing what they’re doing with Randy, I wish they would not make matches like this if one star has much more to lose than the other. Rising stars is what the WWE needs right now, and whether they think so or not, more than one can rise to the top at the same time. I’m not saying this is the death of Dean Ambrose because I honestly believe he will make it, I just think WWE should be a bit more careful.