About a month ago, I pitched the idea of attending the November 3rd television taping for Ring of Honor in order to provide a first-hand perspective both from the standpoint of a fan and a critic. Kevin Kelly graciously accepted this request and provided me with an all-access pass to gain an understanding of the company and the men and women who work tirelessly to see its success come to fruition.
The catalyst for this request obviously was the uproar caused when Mark Madden lobbed a grenade into the ROH trench following the company’s last trip to the Pittsburgh area. While Mark made some valid points from a dollars and cents standpoint, the bottom line is that he wasn’t there…He hasn’t experienced it…He didn’t have the proper perspective to assess the living, breathing organism that truly is any professional wrestling company.
With a clean slate and an objective point of view, I wanted to receive this necessary education in order to render an informed opinion. After a long day spent with a building full of individuals who are living their dreams, I have to say that I learned one important thing from the experience…No matter your age, when you truly let professional wrestling seep into your soul, it still can make you feel like a kid again.
Let’s be clear from the get-go…I again reiterate that Mark made valid points from a dollar and cents perspective. As was true when he wrote about this subject in June, the event did not take place at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, but at the Rostraver Ice Garden in nearby Belle Vernon Pennsylvania.
In short, it was clear from the outset that it was not a WWE event or even a TNA event. When talking with the guys throughout the day, a universal desire and commitment to catapult this company to that next level was apparent…Nevertheless, to ignore the present reality is to do a disservice to the concept of objectivity…The company slowly may be cobbling pieces together to make a run as a major player on the national scene…It simply isn’t there yet.
With all of that said, I’m not economist or a businessman…I’m not here to breakdown gate numbers or assess what Sinclair’s purchase of the company means for future revenue projections. I’m simply a fan who had the opportunity to utilize my senses and sensibility to understand what best can be described as a cultural phenomenon.
In all honesty, this was my first time attending a Ring of Honor show (I’ll pause while longtime ROH marks cringe)….I needed assistance shooting some video interviews, so I took along a friend who also happened to be in the same boat as me. He wasn’t the biggest ROH fan and wasn’t there to write a story about his experience…In essence, he had no overt motivation to take anything away from the event itself.
We spent the night during the show itself bouncing between the backstage area and the crowd in an attempt to gain perspective from every available point of view. As we stood in the back watching the monitor near the end of the night, my friend turned to me and said that he couldn’t wait to watch more of this…That the quality of the matches and the energy of the crowd left him wanting more and left him wondering why he hadn’t seen more in the first place.
This was honest, unsolicited perspective from an individual without an agenda. Frankly, it also was a perspective with which I agree whole-heartedly.
I spent a large portion of the day talking with World Television Champion Adam Cole…I did so not only because Adam is one of the most intelligent and approachable wrestlers that I have ever met, but also because his unbridled passion for the business is readily apparent and feverishly magnetic.
We talked about his goals as a wrestler and he candidly acknowledged the ultimate mind-set that is present for any individual who decides to lace up a pair of boots…You want to reach that top of the mountain
However, what impressed me the most about his perspective was his recognition that nobody in the business reaches the top alone…That every break…every opportunity….hell, the success of every match…depends on the willingness of others to work together in an effort that transcends the talents of any one individual.
Spending five minutes in the ROH locker room makes it readily apparent that Adam’s concept of the business is shared from top to bottom. The youth and the veterans…the dreamers and the household names…every member of that roster understands the larger picture. They understand that in order to build a company capable of filling the largest arenas, a collective effort is the only true option.
Ultimately, this brings me back to the initial point made at the outset of this piece. I was there last night to gauge the state of the company…to find out what Ring of Honor was all about. I obviously planned to write this article giving my impressions, but as I alluded to earlier, I also shot a number of video interviews.
When I got home and reviewed the footage, my initial reaction was incredible disappointment. I shot the interviews backstage during the event and, as a result, captured much of the ambient sound from the show itself. Long story short, although we were a significant distance away from the action, parts of some of the interviews are inaudible because of the crowd noise.
As I watched the interviews a few more times, my disappointment quickly shifted to feelings of pride. Although the words of the superstars themselves are extremely important to tell the ROH story, the fact that those words were muffled by the exuberance of an unbelievably passionate crowd speaks louder than any interview.
THIS was the experience that has left a lasting impression in my mind. If you actually take the time to attend an ROH event, you have no choice but to walk away feeling as though you have experienced greatness.
Is this greatness defined by selling out Madison Square Garden or spawning a “Universe?” No…and I wouldn’t be honest if I said that such an achievement was right around the corner…However, what I can say is that the culture of this company is infectious…that it truly will tug at your soul as a wrestling fan if you give it the opportunity.
At the end of the day, I honestly can say that last night made me a fan of Ring of Honor. If you’ve never been to an event, please don’t simply take my word for it. Go to an event…Find out for yourself why fans and wrestlers alike truly believe that something special takes place inside of those arenas, no matter their current size.
I’m living proof that you simply cannot appreciate what this group of individuals brings to the table unless and until you experience the product firsthand. Take the plunge, and I guarantee you won’t leave disappointed.
Keep an eye out in the next day or so for the video version of my experience, complete with the aforementioned interviews.