The first round of the eight team tournament to crown new Ring of Honor world tag team champions took place in Baltimore on Friday at ROH’s latest TV tapings. If you want to avoid spoilers for that tournament now is probably a good time to stop reading. I’ll be revealing the four teams that made it to the second round below.
Sticking around? Okay then.
When I first heard of ROH’s decision to hold an eight team tournament for their vacant tag team titles I thought it was a great opportunity for the company to introduce some new talent and start new feuds, perhaps even arrange a big angle of some sort. Having glanced over the four teams that have survived the first round I suspect I may have gotten my hopes up a little too quickly.
Before the tournament kicked off Rhett Titus and Charlie Haas agreed to unite and try to take the gold. This was done partly because Shelton Benjamin was unavailable for the tapings and partly in order to keep the Rhett’s feud with WGTT alive in some form.
As both men had been granted slots for themselves and a partner of their choice their union created an opening. Jim Cornette decided to fill the void with Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino, on the proviso that they put their ROH contracts on the line. If the SCUM members lose they will be gone from ROH.
So before the first tournament match even began there were two clichéd storylines setup: feuding tag team partners and unit that has to win or they’ll be fired. When I said I wanted to new storylines I meant something fresh, not well-worn gimmicks that have been done to death.
Both of these teams have advanced to the second round of the tournament. My assumption is that they will be the units that clash in the final so that their respective stories can be eeked out for as long as possible. An angle which sees Titus “turn” on Haas and lay down for Corino and Jacobs, thus signalling that he has joined SCUM, is all too easy to imagine. That could be an interesting turn of events. It would set up some fresh matches and put Titus into a more prominent spot on the card. There are worse things ROH could do.
Joining Corino, Jacobs, Titus and Haas in the semi-finals are the C&C Wrestle Factory and the Briscoes. To me it feels like a wasted opportunity. The Briscoes gain nothing from advancing in the tournament. They have been in Ring of Honor long enough to never look out of place challenging for the gold. Had BLK Out scored an upset over ‘Dem Boys’ the tournament would have seemed more unpredictable, a new act would have been given a boost and the Briscoes wouldn’t have been harmed at all.
C&C going through is nice to see. Of the four teams left they are the ones I’d like to see win the gold the most. They’re still a relatively new act in ROH that would really benefit from a surprise victory. Whether ROH takes that route remains to be seen, but it would be nice if they did. C&C are comparable to ANX of 2010, two guys who deserve to be moved up the card. ROH should learn from their mistakes.
That the Young Bucks and the Bravados crashed out alongside BLK Out is a real disappointment. They should be pushed as the future of the division and the company, and this would have been the perfect way to do that. Even the Guardians of Truth would have been more interesting in the semis than the Briscoes or Corino and Jacobs.
Think how much more exciting the semi-finals would be if we were seeing C&C versus the Bravados and the Bucks take on BLK Out. There would be a feeling that ROH was attempting to give some of their young talent the chance to advance. What we have instead feels like the same tired formula.
Ring of Honor used to be the company that placed wrestling ability above storylines and tried to surprise its audience. This tournament provided them with a fantastic opportunity to do all of that but they chose not to. All but one of the most exciting, underutilised units in the tournament went out in the first round, leaving the second round to be dominated by men who do not need the exposure. While the tournament isn’t over something very special is going to have to happen in its last three matches to convince me that it hasn’t been a colossal waste of time.