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Kickout Fatigue: A look at ROH, WWE, & TNA

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Any fan of pure, absolute wrestling should be watching Ring of Honor. Not since the incredible ECW product of the late 90's has there been a collection of such amazing, pure, talent rich wrestling going on for us to enjoy.

Of course, after watching a replay of the recent ROH ippv, Glory by Honor XI, I was struck by a thought. While ROH inarguably contains the best wrestling, it is not the best wrestling promotion.

My reasoning for this is that ROH exists at one extreme of the Wrestling Industry spectrum. ROH contains matches that are awe inspiring. You'll see moves you've never seen before on a nightly basis, you'll again and again have to take back your snap judgements of wrestlers who start off looking boring and turn out to be incredible, you'll see back and forth wars where it's impossible to know who's going to win. And a lot of times, beyond the simple enjoyment of the physical wrestling, you won't really care.

That's because ROH is awful at storylines. Let me rephrase. They care very little about creating storylines. Maybe it's because they only have a single hour on TV each week to do it, or maybe it's because they're so attached to being the only "pure wrestling" product around, but whatever the case is, the fact remains that of an entire ppv card, there's usually only substantial story to back up 1 match. That's followed by maybe 2 other matches that have the bare minimum of story backup (your typical, "I don't like you" or "I'll prove I'm better than you" thing.)

When a match has no story, there's no emotional investment. When there's no emotional investment, there's just us watching some great athletes and then politely clapping when one bests the other. Entertaining? Sure. Impactful? Not really.

Now let's look at the other end of the spectrum, the WWE. On this side of the Wrestling Industry, you have the opposite problem. All they are here are story. At some point, the idea of "wrestling" completely took a back seat to the idea of "entertainment". It went from the fantastic Sports Entertainment product that we all knew and loved to an Entertainment Sports product that exists today.

Just look at any broadcast of RAW or Smackdown. It opens with a 15 - 20 minute talking segment. Most matches it contains last under 5 minutes and are just a squash. Most meaningful matches that showcase actual wrestling feature bullcrap finishes (Sheamus vs Wade Barrett, anybody?), as actually having one guy beat another guy seems to be the worst possible outcome in the mind of WWE creative.

Instead of awesome wrestling, WWE is obsessed with creating awesome characters, and awesome interviews, and awesome comedy, and awesome dancing, and awesome social media. The wrestling ability of these stars takes a backseat to their charisma, their likability, their talking skills, their social media impact.

That's not to say I don't enjoy WWE, because at times I do. Whenever the company gets out of its own way and allows amazing talents to really go to war, you see something special. If they could just learn to ease back on the 25 minute long conversations in the ring, and the 6 mandatory backstage talking segments, and the 95% b.s. finishes in the matches, this company could be truly great. But instead, one of the greatest talents they've had in decades is busy yelling "I am the tag team champions" for the 100th time, because if something is funny once, WWE will keep shoving it down your throat for at least the next five months.

This brings me to TNA, which exists somewhat in the middle of the spectrum. Over the past year, TNA has been my favorite wrestling to watch, because it showcases much more wrestling than WWE does, but still takes some time for storylines unlike ROH.

The mixture of story, talking, b.s. match endings, and full on great wrestling is pretty perfect on any given episode of Impact. That's not to say it's a perfect product, because it clearly isn't, but at least they operate with a great recipe.

Talent are unleashed in TNA to do what they do best, wrestle. Sure, there are some great talkers, and they do a great job when given the opportunity to shine in that regard, but the focus at the end of the day always seems to come back to the ring. It's the opposite of WWE, where so many times the focus of their stories and characters feel so far removed from a wrestling ring.

TNA does humor, they have funny characters, but they don't reduce them to SNL skits. They allow them to weave humor into their storylines which lead them to the ring where they have amazing matches. Even through the abysmal Clare Lynch/A.J. Styles storyline, Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels were gold on a nightly basis. They shined with great material amidst a storyline that started out bad and got progressively worse until it reached awfulness of historical proportions. And oh yeah, they delivered on some amazing matches during that time.

For all my analysis and all my criticism, I watch and enjoy all three of these wrestling promotions. I love professional wrestling, and thus I wish for the industry to be better than it currently is. But I also love that there's some varying degrees of the product available out there. Want just pure talent and "shut up and wrestle" action? Then ROH is going to blow your mind and deliver top shelf matches every single time. Want a show where comedy and story are showcased more than the wrestling? Then the current WWE product should really excite you. Want something in between, with some incredible talent putting on incredible matches while there's still some story and humor? Then TNA is what you want.

No matter what choice you make, you have to admit, it's a good time to be a pro wrestling fan. There are some amazing young talents in the business right now, some new legends cementing their legacies before our eyes (CM Punk, Austin Aries, Kevin Steen), and some old legends giving us the last of their greatness. I may analyze and I may complain at times, but one thing I also will be doing is tuning in every single night that wrestling is on my television.

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Comments

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  1. TheRealOutlaw's Avatar
    Say what you want about WWE, but they are the number one wrestling company today. Now people can say that's because they have the money to spend or they have been around longer then TNA or ROH. Well that money came from some place and that place is the fans that buy PPV's, t-shirts and all kinds of WWE branded crap. There is a reason WWE has been around for a long time, fans still tune in to watch (not as much as before) allowing WWE to continue to be on top.

    TNA comes so close to going bigger then they are, then they make mistakes. Hogan and Dixie are holding TNA down and one day they will bring it down to the point where there is no more TNA.

    ROH can become big, they just need the right people to bring it mainstream. I'm sure one day it will happen until then a smaller company like ROH is in a good place. They don't over due tv time so it leaves people wanting more.
  2. Heavy's Avatar
    You cannot compare ECW to ANY wrestling companies of today. Because no offense but ECW wasn't really wrestling more of an extreme entertainment show. And WWE started off the way ROH and TNA did but it has decades of more experience than the other two. They worked to be number one and that's why they are. Yes ROH is great pure wrestling because that's what they call themselves, WWE is into entertainment which involves a whole lot more. TNA is working their way on to the map slowly but ROH is just wrestling which is why it's where it is but it's still great
  3. JohnnyV123's Avatar
    It's easy to stay on top if you have BY FAR started with the most money and most other resources (what 5 TV shows now??) that doesn't necessarily mean you're doing a good job at creating a good product.

    ROH has to do what it does because it doesn't have the time to make people care. However, you know they are doing something right because many of the big time WWE and TNA wrestlers today had their start in ROH...CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, etc. and continue to employ amazing wrestlers.

    TNA is frustrating for a number of reasons but they are too reactionary. They try things out decide hey this isn't working and change direction too quickly. What were they on Monday nights for like 2 weeks? The ratings didn't go up so they ditched it very quickly. They also frustratingly have not picked a "the guy" and promoted him the way they have done with a Cena. Samoa Joe easily could be the #1 star in any promotion including WWE. I also actually wish TNA had more MOMENTS that you could be talking about the next day.

    They all have problems but all have their merits too. Just don't be a hater and bash another company out of some stupid loyalty to the company that is your favorite.
  4. Kaisered's Avatar
    I do like your views on all 3 companies, and I will not bash you because you criticize any of them. I watch all 3 of the promotions because I love to see all faces of wrestling. Yes ROH has awesome in-ring action but not in depth characters as WWE or TNA. WWE has the characters but the wrestling although improving is still lackluster. TNA I will like to say is the combination of both W and E, but it is not the best combination that it could be. Give TNA and ROH 5-10 more years maybe even 15 then it would be reasonable to begin comparing the companies. TNA and ROH despite having a better wrestling product than WWE are still Indies by comparing the Entertainment value that WWE has.
  5. Versache_Butta's Avatar
    Great Fxckin Blog !!! you hit it rite on the head my guy!!
  6. Bagg's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Heavy
    You cannot compare ECW to ANY wrestling companies of today. Because no offense but ECW wasn't really wrestling more of an extreme entertainment show. And WWE started off the way ROH and TNA did but it has decades of more experience than the other two. They worked to be number one and that's why they are. Yes ROH is great pure wrestling because that's what they call themselves, WWE is into entertainment which involves a whole lot more. TNA is working their way on to the map slowly but ROH is just wrestling which is why it's where it is but it's still great

    Im not trying to bring the hate or anything here, in terms of the actual product, indeed ROH and ECW have plenty of differences but in terms of their existance and their place in the industry, they are nearly the exact same company, with the exact same issues.

    A niche company that has a product that only appeals to a certain number of people. I remember when i first started dating my fiancee (dear god), and thinking, she can deal with WWE, but she's got to like ROH, it looks far more legit and the matches are nuts, just constant action. Well she watched it and was bored to DEATH.

    Anyways, both companies also cant really translate their product to TV, ECW couldnt showcase the violence and the like that they wanted to on TNN. Meanwhile with ROH, their product has a lot of trouble also because its all about the wrestling, and its difficult to really get into a half hour-45 minute match, when its being interrupted with commercials about lawfirms and car dealerships.

    Also both companies were "#3 companies" and their rosters are constantly being pillaged by the "big #2", really using this term loosely when referring to Impact. but ROH and and ECW both served as breeding grounds. But much like Benoit, Guerrero, jericho, Austin, Foley, tazz and raven, you see today, Aries, Bryan, Styles, Joe, Cesaro, Daniels, Ohno, Rollins and some guy named Punk or something. While the list below pales in comparison to the list above, in a few years, that will be different.

    Whenever i think of ROH I cant help but always comparing them to ECW, while youre correct, the product is very different, i think in most other aspects, they are very very very similar
  7. Bane of Balin's Avatar
    The reason ROH is awful and not popular beyond a cult following is that they have basically no characters. Anyone who acts like wrestling without a defined, interesting character is kidding themselves. Kevin Steen is a generic big, angry tweener. Davey Richards is the most bland wrestler in the world today. Every ROH wrestler nowadays is the exact same: lots of kicks, not a lot of selling, no psychology, and way too much "OMGchainwrestling". They were quite good when they had Punk, Danielson, Joe, Styles, etc. But they have gone severely down hill.

    Brutal honesty here, because I know a lot of the IWC is pro-ROH and my opinion isn't popular, but I feel that the only reason people will put up with these spotmonkeys is because they are trying to be different for the sake of it.
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