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411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction: Does ROH Need A Live Weekly TV Show To Compete With WWE and AEW?

October 3, 2019 | Posted by Jake Chambers
NXT AEW Dynamite

Welcome back to the 411 Fact or Fiction – Wrestling Edition, I’m your host, Jake Chambers. Every week, Fact or Fiction poses statements on pro-wrestling history, culture and current events and then challenges writers to explain why they believe each statement is totally factual or completely fiction. No middle ground will be tolerated!

This week’s guest is one of the Spanish commentators for Ring of Honor Wrestling and podcast personality extraordinaire: Rich Laconi. As one of the most tenderhearted and positive pro-wrestling super fans and industry professionals, Rich floats above all negativity in his punditry on a scholarly cloud of good vibes. Along with providing Spanish language commentary, he has also appeared on CMLL TV representing ROH, and they couldn’t ask for a brighter or more passionate mutton-chopped ambassador!

With an expert on Mexican wrestling and Ring of Honor as my guest this week, we’re going to be looking at some of the fallout from last weekend’s big CMLL Aniversario event and the ROH Death Before Dishonor PPV, among other hand-shaking, head-shaving debate topics.

Statement #1: ROH needs a live weekly, prime time TV show in order to stay relevant in the coming pro-wrestling broadcast landscape.

Rich Laconi: FICTION – I’m not completely convinced that having a television home is going to draw more eyes to wrestling companies that weren’t already going to be followed by their fanbase as it is. Personally, I have cable in my living room, but that essentially functions as my son’s television. My situation in my man cave is that I’m running an Apple TV and the most annoying thing to watch has now become what’s on cable – I usually end up watching on my iPad. Despite this being an obvious commercial for Apple products and man caves, I don’t believe my situation is that odd, but rather commonplace – at least for some wrestling fans. What I think does need to happen is that the content that is produced needs to stand out and set the company apart from the rest, regardless of where or when it airs.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Ring of Honor began as such a revolutionary wrestling promotion both in the ring and as a business, pioneered the must-buy DVD indie wrestling explosion. But ever since they first debuted on weekly TV with the HDNET show, ROH battled continuity and timing issues with a taped series that has always been out of synch with their DVD releases, streams or PPVs. However, I think they need to lean into this anomaly rather than leaping into the TV wars with a show that’s going to follow the same format as everything else but with different wrestlers. Just spitballin’ here, but how about a mystery told in parts that culminates at a PPV, a show told from the point of view of the audience, episodes dedicated to each wrestler booking the matches and explaining why. This is what I want from Ring of Honor, something that harkens to their origin as innovators.

Statement #2: You were surprised by the ending to the main event of CMLL’s 86th Anniversary show this weekend.

Rich Laconi: FICTION – I was surprised that Nego Casas ultimately lost but once Ciber the Main Man vs. Ultimo Guerrero as a singles match was off the table, it was clear neither would be shaved clean at the end of the night.

Jake Chambers: FACT – Not that Negro Casas wasn’t a reasonable option for losing an apuestas (hair on the line) match as it happens on an almost yearly basis, I was surprised that it came down to him and Ultimo Guerrero, as it seemed like the American Big Daddy was in the match to either lose or distract from the loser, or former AAA star (and Mil f-ing Muertes) Gilberto el Boricua would have to pay his dues in CMLL. But I’d say there are still a few surprises related to Negro Casas in general, mainly seeing the incredible shape the guy is in at almost 60-years-old, and also how much hair he still has at that age so that it’s still a spectacle to watch him get it sheared off.

Statement #3: Following Death Before Dishonor, a rematch between new ROH Champion Rush and former champion Matt Taven is something you want to see.

Rich Laconi: FACT – I think it’s no secret that I have been rather (my apologies) bullish on El Toro Blanco in Ring of Honor. Taven has been a quintessential heel, staying hot while ducking Rush as a challenger. A rematch is “deserved” and would be interesting to see Rush working as the champion in the return bout.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Automatic rematches in general are lame, and traditionally, during the DVD glory years of the company, it felt like the new ROH champions always had a unique slate of challengers before the former champion got another crack at the belt (this was not fact checked). Taven had his run and it was fine, but now I want to see them really use Rush against a variety of different opponents ASAP, like Jeff Cobb and Marty Scurll. That being said, the match at Death Before Dishonor was kind of awesome.

Fact or Fiction – Quick Hits
– one sentence is all you need for this FoF lightning round!

1. AEW will win the first month “ratings war” with NXT.

Rich Laconi: FACT – I think AEW will have more eyes on it for the first month, especially WWE fans who want to flip over, however, what will really be interesting is the breakdowns within the hours and how both companies to try get the stranglehold on the top of the hour and the end of shows.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – If WWE even loses a week they’ll book like Daniel Bryan vs. Johnny Gargano is a commercial-free broadway in the next week’s first hour, with Brock vs. Riddle as the main event of the next.

2. Your prefer Mistico to Caristico (the original Mistico/Sin Cara).

Rich Laconi: FACT – Caristico is the original and his music is the absolute bomb-diggity.

3. The “lucha” in AEW’s Luchasaurus makes sense.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – I think he’s named so because he was in Lucha Underground, but I don’t know what is specifically “lucha” about the guy.

4. The Briscoe Brothers are underrated.

Rich Laconi: FACT – The Briscoes Brothers get love from ROH fans but they have been criminally underrated when discussions of the best tag teams of the last decade are mentioned.

Jake Chambers: FACT – ROH Originals, The Briscoes, are like ECW’s Dudley Boys x 5 but only get 1/5 of the respect as characters, hardcore wrestlers and brand loyalists.

5. CMLL little person superstar Microman is pound-for-pound the best wrestler in the world today.

Rich Laconi: FACT – Microman is everything – I could go on forever here, but in fairness to the one-sentence rule I’ll stop there.

¡SWITCH!

Statement #4: Madison Square Garden is the best venue in the world to see live pro-wrestling.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – I wanted to throw this one at Rich because I know he’s been to Madison Square Garden many times, including working there as a Spanish commentator for the ROH / NJPW G1 Supercard back in April. On the other hand, he’s also been to the world famous Arena Mexico for live CMLL. In my case, I’ve also watched wrestling live at MSG, including the 1996 Survivor Series, which is one of the last great events at the Garden that felt specifically New York. However, I’ve also been to the iconic Budokan Hall in Tokyo. So between the two of us we’ve been to the holy trinity of pro-wrestling live venues. I think if you could go back in time, a WWF show at MSG in the 70s, 80s, or 90s would be the best place to see a wrestling show, but today the WWE has drained all the personality of their events so that even an MSG show feels the same as one on any other night in any other town. Even the G1 Supercard didn’t feel particularly unique. So give me the Budokan, or even Korakuen Hall, for the best live wrestling experience.

Rich Laconi: FICTION – It seems sacrilegious that a New Yorker who saw his first show ever at MSG would say this is FICTION and perhaps my newfound love of lucha libre is tainting opinion, but I have never had more fun at a wrestling show than I have at Arena Mexico (two beers for about 3 U.S. dollars may have influenced my mood at the show).

Statement #5: A wrestling fan who doesn’t speak Spanish can never truly appreciate Mexican lucha libre.

Jake Chambers: FACT – In this era of owning up to cultural appropriation, wrestling fans from the West walk a tightrope of how much they should claim from dominant forms of non-English pro-wrestling. Watching matches out of context from the commentary or verbal characterizations is such a surface-y relationship to performances that are so closely linked to storied and unique cultures. Japanese wrestling is more than exploding barded wire and “strong style”, just as Mexican wrestling isn’t cool masks and topes. Lucha libre, in particular, doesn’t have the catch/carnival traditions that still visually links the West and Japan in the ring, so I think it’s difficult for someone like me to really know what’s happening without speaking Spanish regardless of how many years I’ve watched. Learning new languages can take a lifetime to grasp the nuances of stuff like slang and idioms, but it might be worth trying a little bit for lucha, don’t you think?

Rich Laconi: FACT – This might be the most difficult question for me to answer during this guest spot. I have spoken Spanish, at varying degrees of success, since I can remember. Even as someone who has spoken it fluently for my entire life, there are still nuances that I miss, however, these misses rarely obfuscate most of what is going on. Learning the rules in CMLL in particular, with almost every match being 2 out of 3 falls and the Captain’s pinfall meaning more than his teammates did provide a problem at first, but some quick searches online and a lifeline to Lucha Blog did make sense of it all. Being there live (at least at Arena Mexico and Arena Coliseo, I can’t speak to others) is a very different experience, in that one can easily lose themselves in the grandeur of it all. However, that is lost through watching a streamed show, and what is left – sometimes sloppy execution and head-scratching finishes that looks “second-rate”. Storylines and things of that ilk are completely dropped and never followed up on, so switching to the different mindset of the lucha fan, one that seems a bit more understanding or at least complacent in their acceptance of a very different focus, might actually pose more of a problem than the language barrier.

Big thanks to Rich for joining me this week, as you can see he knows his stuff and we all look forward to learning Spanish so we can hear him doing commentary on the next big ROH show. Until then, you can listen to him in English regularly on the PWPonderings Newscast, an awesome podcast that covers the goings on in all the indies, super-indies and across international wrestling. And be sure to follow him on Twitter for a daily dose of honorable lucha positivity.

While you’re over at Twitter go ahead and follow me too and join a tiny elite of bots and defunct accounts that are treated to random and “hilarious” New Japan tweets. I’m going to be scouting for new participants who want to step up and take the FoF challenge, so that will be the best way to get in touch!