Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ring of Honor debuts in syndication

Welcome back to Kick-Out!!, it's been a long few weeks without internet and a switch in cable providers, along with other assorted life things, but I figured now would be a great time to relaunch the site with a brand new wrestling show! Ring of Honor has been without a television deal for several months, but the purchase from Sinclair Broadcast Group generated a lot of buzz... which they promptly killed with the debut episode.

The first impression I got from ROH's new show was that it looks very, very low budget. That's not necessarily a bad thing, WWE's over-produced shows work for them, but I miss wrestling in a smoky room. But it's 2011, and running a new television show in standard-def is pretty inexcusable. Maybe it was just my local affiliate, but they have an HD channel, Smackdown aired in HD on it during its MyNetwork days, so I'm not sure. Either way, it looked embarrassing.

The embarrassment continued when the first person I saw was Kevin Kelly, a never-was from 1990s WWE who now writes ridiculous articles for Wrestlezone, like how foreign-born wrestlers can never be stars. Seriously. Kelly was our lead commentator, which made me reach for the mute button on Shotgun Saturday Night in 1998, but on the bright side, we did get the return of Nigel McGuinness on color commentary. I thought Nigel did a good job, even though he was barely audible due to the horrible audio quality.

There's really no point in talking about the two matches that were on the show, it's Ring of Honor, you know the wrestling was good. The Kings of Wrestling vs. Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team was a perfect main event to showcase what ROH is all about, it's just unfortunate that it looked so terrible. Granted, looks aren't everything. I wouldn't judge a video game on its graphics... unless it was sloppy and ugly, which is exactly how ROH looked.

The sad irony was early in the show when Kevin Kelly went to the "Tweet of the Week," where one viewer said you should watch Ring of Honor because it wasn't 1997. But this show looked like a rerun from one of the many random wrestling promotions that popped up in 1997. Hearing about "tweets" and "Justin Bieber" was just jarring since I thought I was watching an old VHS tape.

On the plus side, I don't know if they were in a bigger arena or if the 4:3 aspect ratio helped, but the room looked more filled than it did for any of the HDNet shows. That was always my biggest gripe with the HDNet broadcast, it made a room of 500 people look like a closet of 50, and that was fixed here, at least for this week.

If it sounds like I'm being overly harsh or critical, it's because I genuinely like Ring of Honor and want them to gain new fans and succeed, but this relic of a wrestling broadcast isn't going to cut it. I wasn't like some fans and thought a move to Saturday nights at 10pm was going to be a game changer for the professional wrestling industry, but it could certainly expose ROH to a wider audience than HDNet. Now? I'm not so sure.


  1. For what it's worth, I got it in HD, and Kevin "Xenophobia" Kelly has been their play by play guy for a little while now.

  2. That's good, it seems to depend on your area, but since Sinclair owns the company now, they need to get their shit together across the board.

  3. I agree with you about the poor video and audio, but I feel there are many pluses that you are glossing over with this post.

    First the bad, yes the video is bad, the audio is terrible (it would be great to acutally hear the wrestlers' intro themes), and Kevin Kelly is not someone that should be manning a mic in 2011. All of this is fixable and much easier to fix than poor booking, an over bloated roster, and hosting pay per views that hardly anyone buys. *Tank waves at TNA.

    As for the good, last night was two very solid matchs that spot lighted tag team wrestling, a dying art that is starting to come back into vogue. Future Shock is a team to watch with O'Reily and Cole both having the goods in the ring and working on improving their mic skills. The Bravado Bros. are excellent heels in the fact that I want to see them get beat up and can never see myself cheering for them, which means they are doing their job.

    The review of the WGTT, KOW, and Briscoes battle was great and everyone looked good. Even though they were the first to go out, Dem Boys looked strong at the end of the night by violently destroying WGTT until the All Night Express saved them. People winning and losing without DQs or run ins? Teams able to look strong? Storylines deveolping? All of this on TV in 2011? YES!!!

    The crowd was hot to quick off the show and that drew me in. The crowd's energy is such an important under used factor in the modern wrestling world. This wasn't "Cena sucks/lets go Cena" or "WHAT?", this was actual heart felt passion and emotion for the product. This was one of the reasons that ECW was successful back in the day and able to carve out a piece in the landscape for themselves.

    Nigel could be good on the mic. I like the ex vet in the booth thing in wrestling. You can tell he cares about the product and said all the right things in his welcome back promo citing that he would be focusing on the guys in the ring, not on him.

    Finally, I am a big fan of the code of honor and the streamers before the matches. It sets them apart from WWE and TNA. The hand shake gives more of a "real" sports feel and the streamers give a good (cheap) visual to the fans at home to let you know how popular and resepcted one wrestler is compared to another.

    Was it the perfect kick off to a new wrestling show on TV? No, but by the same token no one had to wrestle The Zombie. The production needs work, but the heart and brain of this company is there.

  4. I thought the crowd was much better than it was on HDNet, but they still needed to mic them better.

    I think perhaps where my disconnect is coming from is that I'm familiar with ROH, so the things they do well - wrestling, Code of Honor, Cornette, etc. - were done well as always. What bothered me about this show was their presentation and how much of it felt like a leap backwards from what they had going on HDNet.

    I was just surprised that after a decently polished show that ran for two years, they did something worse under new management... and that worries me for the future. Because now they live and die by Sinclar Broadcasting, and I don't know if this was the show that was going to stop channel surfers or bring in anyone besides ROH's niche audience.

  5. I watched about ten minutes of it tonight on my local Fox network (Sunday at 11pm??, nice timeslot). I found it unbearable to watch, I bought a old 1989 or 1990 bootleg WCW PPV vhs tape off ebay a few years ago and that had the same quality audio and video, they need good lighting too, I heard people saying ROH will overtake TNA in the ratings eventually, I dont think TNA has anything to worry about! ROH will not go anywhere with production like that..

  6. Hell, I watched a leaked video taken from someone's iphone or HD Flip and had a great time watching it. ROH will get new fans, regardless of the production values. ECW in the late nineties looked like someone to mom's old camera and shot in a friggin bingo hall and it won me over with the first match I saw. It the quality of talent and passion that wins new fans. In time, I'm positive ROH TV will look better.

  7. ECW was also 15 years ago when high quality production equipment wasn't something that was readily available to all. And ROH isn't the dinghy, edgy and sleazy like ECW was, it's never been the persona the company has put forth.

    With that said, there's certainly a way that ROH can stay true to what the company is about (no frills sport), while having a low-budget look, they just need some tweaks.

    My concerns are that Sinclair just doesn't care that much. If that's the kind of debut they're going to give to a show that they outright own, that's worrying.

  8. The HDNet crowds sucked because ROH ran them only in Philly without any "BIG" events to supplement. So Philly crowds got weaker and weaker, and they were mostly papered by the end. I should know, I was in the crowds for a bunch of them, and the crowds got progressively worse each time.

    I'm still waiting for their big Philly return. I'm wondering if they've abandoned us.

  9. I agree that the video was very poor. In addition, I didn't like a lot of the camera angles they used. Part of me just wanted them to keep it back to the hard cam so I could comfortably watch the events take place.