“So I have to make myself the babyface with one promo against a guy the crowd loves? Because the booker thinks he should be the heel? Man, I’m going back to Chikara.”

On the current episode of Ring of Honor TV as of August 5th, 2012, several instances occurred which lead me to believe that ROH is hurting, both creatively and from a production standpoint (the latter of which influences the former, I suspect).

First, the Guardians of Truth. The idea of Truth Martini having faceless henchmen bolster the ranks of the House of Truth and give the Briscoes somebody to feud with isn’t a bad one. In fact, it’s pretty solid. The problem I have with it is that the Guardians look like somebody dragged them kicking and screaming out of the 1980s and plopped them into Ring of Honor. They’re big, muscular, and decent workers, but they’re wearing gear that I’m pretty sure was stolen from the Undertaker’s bag back when he was “The Punisher” and working the territories. If they didn’t have little House of Truth logos on the front of their singlet tops you could make a strong case that they were bootleg action figures of the Punisher that were turned into people through some sort of mad science on Truth Martini’s part. He can do that. Fact. It’s why Roderick Strong has no discernible personality; that’s a side effect of the process of action figure to human conversion. My point is less absurd than the science I just invented. Simply put, the Guardians don’t look like they belong in ROH. They look like they’re up from Memphis to do some jobber matches on WWF Wrestling Challenge. I’ve read a lot of complaints online that Jim Cornette’s old school approach to booking is hurting ROH, and the Guardians are a clear example of something that SCREAMS “Jim Cornette thought of this.” They LOOK like Jim Cornette recycled them from Smokey Mountain. Hell, maybe he DID. But these guys in the ring looking like they robbed Memphis in the ’80s isn’t helping their already lacklustre production values.

The second, and more important, was the Eddie Kingston promo. Considering that Kingston is challenging for the World Championship, which ROH builds as its pinnacle of achievement, his inclusion in the whole process came off to me as a bit of a mess, which is disconcerting because a lot of things I really liked happened in that promo. He cut a fiery, heartfelt, and compelling promo about what being a World Champion meant to him and how that motivated him to do whatever it took to beat Kevin Steen for the belt, and in the process do Jim Cornette’s dirty work. The problem? Kingston’s previous appearance had been as a guy who did a run-in and got into a fight with Steen. Now he’s trying to cut a promo about why he’s challenging for the WORLD TITLE without having had a match in ROH since, what, 2009? That’s a loooooong time in wrestling years. So these fans may or may not be familiar with Kingston, depending on how long they’ve watched ROH and whether or not they’re familiar with Chikara. That’s a big problem for me, from a booking standpoint. Relying on your fans to know your product’s history isn’t unreasonable, but it might be asking a bit much. Asking them to do that AND be familiar with another company’s product so that they understand this other character that you’ve introduced into one of your stories is crazy.

That brings me to the fans themselves. They were dead during Kingston’s promo. Part of it can be attributed to lack of familiarity, as Kingston hasn’t been exposed to them as a significant player much, but I think a bigger problem is that ROH films four episodes of TV in one shot. Let’s say they shoot the Kingston promo in the third or fourth of that four episode session, because that seems about right based on the amount of times I’ve seen the Liger-costumed fan in his current location in the audience. That means the fans have already seen a minimum of three hours of wrestling, and that’s if ROH shoots the shows in essentially real time with little to no lag between episodes, which is pushing things, I suspect. More likely they’ve been there for five or six hours, and seen two or three big main event matches. Now have a guy who they saw run in (if that was the same set of tapings. I think it was) but know little else about cut a promo about how he’s getting a championship match. Nobody will care, because they’re goddamn tired. And Liger-costume guy is probably having his fourth or fifth heat stroke since arriving.

So the crowd is tired and doesn’t really know how to react to Kingston because he’s a new face. Let’s add a third problem to the segment, because it totally needs that: Kevin Steen is getting the wrong reaction as far as the bookers are concerned. His defiance of Cornette is supposed to make him a hated heel, but it’s getting him monstrous pops because Jim Cornette isn’t sympathetic. He’s an old, southern man clinging desperately to what he thinks wrestling should be and trying to dictatorially enforce that on Ring of Honor. That’s not an indictment of Cornette as a person, it’s what I’m seeing on my television from a character standpoint. Those are Cornette’s defining characteristics as he is presented on TV. He’s concerned about affiliate dinners and other network BS while Steen, who was denied A JOB for a year then came back to destroy the golden boy while simultaneously looking like 80% of the audience. How does that guy not become the hero of the people? Cornette has a bounty on him now, so Steen’s championship is in peril not through the threat of a powerful babyface but because “the man” is manipulating things behind the scenes. Now Eddie Kingston has to come out and try to get a crowd behind him against Steen. A tired, confused crowd. Good luck with that.

I like Jim Cornette, but for ROH’s sake, the man’s gotta go.