Warning: This article contains spoilers from the recent TV taping in Baltimore.
So our worst fears have been realised. Today, matchmaker Nigel McGuinness confirmed that the ROH World Title is now vacant. Current champion Jay Briscoe has been stripped of the title due to “injury”.
A new champion will be crowned via a 16-man tournament. The elimination tournament will begin at the TV tapings in Providence, RI on July 27 and a new champion will be crowned in the company’s birthplace of Philadelphia during ‘Death Before Dishonor XI’ weekend beginning September 20. Michael Elgin, the supposed number one contender, is the first entrant into the tournament.
I’ll be the first to admit that I hate tournaments in wrestling. They’re so overdone and cliché that they fail to raise any excitement whatsoever. Vacating the title was the worst option in this scenario, the first time the championship has been vacant since Low Ki won it 11 years ago.
Not only has the decision to strip Jay of the belt hurt the prestige of the title, it also makes ROH look stupid in the process. The kayfabe reason given is that Jay is injured when in fact his contract is up, much like his brother Mark. This is a situation, reportedly, that ROH has known about for some time.
Yet they still let the guy walk from his contract while holding a title. Anybody remember that Kenny King guy? How ROH have backed themselves into this corner yet again is beyond me. They had plenty of opportunities to save face and put the belt on somebody else. Even giving Matt Hardy the belt and starting the inevitable apocalypse would have been preferable to yet another tournament.
Hardy was never going to hold the belt for long so having him win it on TV, especially with SCUM now gone, would have created an interesting dynamic. He could then have dropped it to Michael Elgin or even Adam Cole in his first or second defence. Hell, surely even Jay would agree to one more match just to pass the torch?
But instead of taking the easy way out, ROH are once again left looking like amateurs. I fully expect an Elgin and Cole final because let’s face it, who else could possibly be the next World champion?
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