When Kevin Steen turned heel on El Generico at Final Battle 2009 it didn’t just signal the end of one of Ring of Honor’s most popular teams and begin one of 2010’s top feuds anywhere in wrestling, it also revitalised Steen’s career. Reinvented as a psychotic, uncontrollable heel Steen became the company’s most effective heel. The turn was a big success in terms of creating a memorable storyline and elevating all the wrestlers involved.
The man credited for convincing Steen to ditch Generico as a partner was Steve Corino. According to him the association needed to finish in order for Steen to realise his full potential as a singles wrestler and become the ROH world champion.
At Final Battle 2010, after a year of feuding, Steen lost a street fight to Generico. The stipulation agreed before the match was that if Generico lost he would remove his mask while if Steen lost he would leave Ring of Honor. Losing that match meant Steen wasn’t going to capture the ROH championship any time soon. It also meant the promotion had lost one of its most over acts: Steen had become incredibly popular despite his great effectiveness as a heel.
With his charge gone Corino segued into a storyline in which he regretted his action of 2010. He vowed to become a changed man and sought redemption from the locker room. Six months later he hasn’t yet received that redemption from his peers but he has from ROH crowds. Corino’s quest to prove he is a changed man has struck a chord with audiences, his plight being one of the most intriguing aspects of the 2011 Ring of Honor product, partly because it’s so different to the typical wrestling storyline.
At Supercard of Honor VI Corino revealed the man sponsoring him on his road to change was (and is) Jimmy Jacobs. Jacobs left the company in 2009 after a very effective run as a heel, so being reintroduced as Corino’s backer made sense: in storyline terms he understands what ‘The King of Old School’ is going through.
The reveal of Jacobs surprised some people, not because it was a huge shock to see back in Ring of Honor but because Corino had deliberately hinted that his sponsor would be Kevin Steen. There was a reason for the misdirection though: Steen’s return was being held off until a later date. While it hasn’t officially been confirmed it very much looks like that date will be this Sunday, at the Best in the World internet pay-per-view.
Recent video wires (videos that further the company’s various storylines through backstage promos, released every week or so on their website) have revealed that Steen is affiliated with the changed Corino, and that Corino has purchased tickets for him to fly to New York and appear at the iPPV. In a typically realistic touch Ring of Honor has released a statement saying that Steen is not welcome at the show and Jim Cornette (ROH’s on-screen Executive Producer) has been on Twitter to say that Steen is a loose cannon. The company’s storyline standpoint on the issue is very clear.
Not to be outdone Steen has launched the #wewantSteen hashtag on Twitter, encouraging people to show their support for him and attempting to convince Cornette and ROH to reverse their decision on his banning.
Whether he appears this Sunday or not it’s clear Steen is on his way back to Ring of Honor. I personally believe that he will appear at Best in the World. It’s the biggest stage Ring of Honor have had all year so it’s a natural choice to host the comeback of a big name wrestler. And with their new TV show due to begin in September it’s expected that the company will be expanding its roster (which is part of the reason Jacobs has returned). Steen is one of the names that has risen to the top of the company in the post-Bryan Danielson/Nigel McGuinness era, and so would be a perfect fit for a top spot on the new TV show. Taking into account his popularity, verbal skills and in-ring ability he could very well be a future ROH world champion.
The possible return of Steen is one of the things I am most excited about for Best in the World. He’s a charismatic man and a talented worker whose contributions to the company have been missed by a lot of people. Seeing how his reintroduction to the company plays out will be one of the highlights of the next few events and will help to keep the enjoyable Corino storyline moving.
In short: I want Steen.