The ROHbot Report: 2012 ROHbot Report Year-End Awards And More
By James Bullock Dec 29, 2012 - 9:15 AM
Another year is almost over, and this is the final edition of The ROHbot Report for 2012. And you know what that means? That’s right, the ROHbot Report Year-End Awards are here! But before we get to the winners and losers (losers not mentioned, but you know who you are), lets see what Ring of Honor is preparing for 2013.
On January 5th, when ROH returns to Baltimore for the first “Ring of Honor Wrestling” TV tapings of the New Year, the Top Prospect Tournament will return! The first names announced for the tournament are “God’s Gift” QT Marshall, Mike Sydal, Silas Young and ACH!
You might be saying to yourself, “I don’t even remember the first ‘Top Prospect Tournament’.” The sad part about that statement is it wouldn’t be too hard to forget the original tournament that aired on HDNet because ROH had a hard time even being shown during its final days on the channel - which is when the tournament occurred. In 2011, eight men came together for a chance to prove they were worthy of being the top prospect for the future in ROH. It came down to Kyle O’Reilly and Mike Bennett in the finals, with Bennett winning following a battle that O’Reilly garnered more praise than the winner. Sadly for Bennett, his victory and follow-up proclamation that he’d become an ROH champion before the year’s end didn’t amount to anything.
But ROH can right the wrongs of the original tournament here by actually giving the eight men involved a true chance to breakthrough and gain some solid footing and maybe do what Bennett couldn’t by winning gold after this tournament victory. And please don’t let it be Marshall!
Ring of Honor returns to Baltimore on January 5th for another set of “Ring of Honor Wrestling” TV tapings! The fallout from “Final Battle 2012” will be felt and in addition to the Top Prospect Tournament matches already announced, we now have more details on the shape of this Maryland event: TV Champion Adam Cole defends vs. BJ Whitmer; Michael Elgin vs. Mike Bennett; MsChif takes on Athena in Women of Honor action; A Four Team Tag Gauntlet will go down; “The Self Proclaimed ICON” Matt Hardy will be in singles action!
Definitely some interesting action coming to Baltimore in the New Year. If you’re wondering why BJ Whitmer is getting a TV title shot, here’s the explanation: After “Final Battle”, Nigel McGuinness was angry over how men like Roderick Strong and Mike Bennett won their matches; so instead of rewarding them, Mr. McGuinness is giving the shot to a man who displayed honor and toughness at the last iPPV in Whitmer. It isn’t out of the ordinary for random people to gain title shots in ROH. I remember a certain Chicago native facing Samoa Joe for the World title in June of 2004 when that man hadn’t done much as a singles wrestler over the past few months. Now I’m not saying Cole and BJ will create a TV classic in the same vein as Joe and Punk, but there’s no reason in having your undergarments in a bunch because someone is getting a title shot without “earning” it.
Now to follow up on the first story is Bennett facing Elgin. According to the ROH site, Bennett will have to defeat the man who was also cheated out of a victory at “Final Battle” if he hopes to get a TV title shot in the near future. The match itself looks and probably will be very good as both men have TV-ready wrestling styles that should complement each other. As for a winner - that’s a hard one to pick. Elgin can’t afford to keep losing, but nor can Bennett. It’ll be interesting to see what ROH does with these men in 2013; and whoever wins here might be a good indication for what’s in store for both next year.
Glad to see MsChif is not only back, but also becoming the vanguard for the Women of Honor’s return. Joining her is none other that “Wrestling Goddess” Athena. For those who don’t know about Athena and don’t feel like asking Mike Johns, I’ll just say that no woman impressed me more in 2012 than Athena with her improvement in and out of the ring, her in-your-face charisma, and not being hard on the eyes (I am a man, after all). MsChif and Athena should be a great match if they’re given the time to craft something and not have to rush.
While there are no teams announced for the gauntlet, one must assume this will be the reinforcement party for The American Wolves’ return. Sadly, a talented, up & coming team like The Bravados will probably have to suffer because the hunt is back on.
While it’s more than likely Hardy will squash someone (Grizzly Redwood, maybe), it must be noted that he has the stupidest nickname that’s only made worse by the word “icon” being capitalized. My goodness, they’ve got me mad over Hardy for something as silly as a nickname. They are geniuses!
On January 18th when ROH returns to Dearborn, it will be a collision of two former HoT members when Michael Elgin and Rhino go one-on-one once again!
These two had the type of match you’d expect during their first battle during the first round of the “Survival of the Fittest” tournament earlier this year. Then, Elgin picked up the win. It’s hard to believe the same won’t happen in Dearborn unless there’s no winner at all.
When ROH’s make its long-awaited return to Dearborn, MI it will be Lethal versus one of the men who assaulted him in NYC, the one-half of the former World Tag Team Champions, Steve Corino! Then, twenty four hours later in Milwaukee, Lethal will unite with the very men who dethroned S.C.U.M, Jay & Mark Briscoe, and they will take on Corino, Jimmy Jacobs, and the third man who was party to Jay's NYC attack, “The Man Beast” Rhino!
Seems like my prediction for Jay Lethal in ROH in 2013 is starting to come true already. More than likely, Lethal will have to run the gauntlet of S.C.U.M. before somehow working his way into a World title shot. With that being noted, expect Jay Lethal to not only win, but also pick up the pin or submission in the tag match.
It's Matt Hardy vs. BJ Whitmer on Jan. 19th when ROH hits Milwaukee, WI! Which warrior will prove stronger than death?
This is coming off of what happened at “Final Battle” where it appeared Whitmer broke his neck taking a fall through a table. The story is Matt Hardy feels insulted that Whitmer is being said to be stronger than death - Hardy’s catchphrase, mind you. There’s no question whether or not Hardy is going to win. The question is whether either be alive to celebrate (see what I did there?).
As you know, the end of the year means various lists and awards start popping up. We at WWI definitely get in on the action by providing the readers a chance to have their voice be heard. And we here at The ROHbot Report (and by “We” I mean myself and a host of information areas where I get the ROH news you need to know) definitely feel the same. Welcome to the fifth annual ROHbot Year End Awards. The winners will receive the coveted Honor Sprocket (the Honor Sprocket is not real. It only exists in my mind and only can be obtained there. The winners can request a piece of paper with a crude drawing of the trophy if they want).
Before I let you know the official winners, lets see who and what long-time readers Zach Levine, Justin Kopec, and “CyberAngel” thought deserved an Honor Sprocket this year.
Zach Levine: Breakout Star of the Year - Michael Elgin: Elgin had an amazing year with great matches between he and Bennett, Strong, Richards and Steen. Just an unstoppable force this year and someone who I believe could be ROH champ in 2013.
Event of the Year - Final Battle: Just saw this show on Sunday, but what a great show it was. Top to bottom it was a great card, capped off by an incredible Steen-Generico match. Gives me a good feeling for ROH in 2013.
Match of the Year - Richards vs. Elgin: This was an amazing match, one which I thought was better than every Mania match spare Punk-Jericho and HHH-Taker. Elgin cemented himself as a main-eventer, and what an unbelievable contest these two had.
Biggest Story of the Year - Demise of Jim Cornette/ Kenny King turning on ROH: Was very interesting to see what happened to Cornette this year. 2011 ended with him bringing in Dan Severn to take part in the Richards-Edwards feud for some reason, and the fans were turning on the product quickly. With Delirious taking the reigns this year, the product started to swing the other way, and I was impressed by what I saw at the end of the year. Now with Kenny, it was amazing seeing what he did after winning the ROH tag belts. I was afraid his leaving would signal the demise of ROH with other superstars following suit, but ROH's response was swift and correct. Good Riddance Kenny.
Tag Team of the Year - Briscoes: If ROH had a HOF, I guarantee Briscoes would be first ballot. Great team that reinvented themselves this year, and one that just can't be heel because the crowd will shower them with love anywhere they go.
Wrestler of the Year - Kevin Steen: Steen was the reason I watched ROH this year. If not for him, I'm pretty sure I'd be done with the product. Probably the best star on the Indies today, Steen had solid matches with everyone he fought against. Just a hell of an entertaining guy, and I'm curious how he fares in 2013. He could continue his reign as ROH champ, join NXT, or leave the business altogether. Nothing would surprise me.
Justin Kopec: Breakout Star - Michael Elgin: “Unbreakable” became ROH’s “Next Big Thing” in 2012.
Event of the Year - Showdown in the Sun Day 2: The show had problems live, but the DVD is great and features the best ROH match of the year.
Match of the Year - Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgin: This was Elgin’s biggest moment and Davey’s best match of the year. No ROH match was better.
Biggest Story - Kenny King leaves: After winning the tag team title, Kenny left for TNA. Never saw it coming.
Tag Team of the Year - The Briscoes: This probably would’ve gone to the All Night Express if Kenny King stayed around, but The Briscoes did a better job than anyone else.
Wrestler of the Year - Kevin Steen: Is the ROH Champ. Held the belt for most of 2012 and barely lost. One of the most entertaining things of a bad year for ROH.
“CyberAngel”: Breakout Star - Adam Cole; Event of the Year - Border Wars; Match of the Year - Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgin; Biggest Story - Jim Cornette is gone; Tag Team of the Year - The Briscoes; Wrestler of the Year - Kevin Steen.
Well, lets see how close our fine readers were to choosing the right winners.
2012 Breakout Star of the Year: Adam Cole
This was probably the closest contested award of the bunch between the eventual winner and the man many thought had a great year in ROH and last year’s winner - Michael Elgin. Though Elgin had two huge matches that gained him more fans than ever, Adam Cole had a more successful year in ROH. While Elgin was trying to pick up sporadic victories with and without Roderick Strong as his partner, Adam Cole did his best of moving past being just a clean-cut tag team wrestler to a hard-nosed upper midcarder after besting then-ROH World champion Davey Richards in a tag team bout at ROH’s “10th Anniversary Show”.
Cole struggled to follow up the momentum he gained in March by not attaining the ROH World title and besting his old partner Kyle O’Reilly. Then “Best in the World 2012” happened. The Hybrid Fighting Rules match between Cole and O’Reilly made the fans see Cole in a new light when he fought through a bloody face injury and win. Adam Cole followed up with his first ROH title victory less than a week later by defeating Roderick Strong to become the fifth ROH TV champion in history.
The TV champion kept moving forward as a champion throughout the second half of 2012. From the likes of Mike Mondo to Eddie Edwards to Kyle O’Reilly to even “Brutal” Bob Evans, all have fallen to Adam Cole - ROH TV champion. Similar to Elgin, Cole didn’t end the year particularly well when he was cheated out of a victory at “Final Battle” in a bout against the returning former WWE World Tag Team champion Matt Hardy. Though he didn’t finish 2012 as strongly as he’d hoped, Adam Cole did something very few thought he would as a singles competitor in ROH during 2012 - breakthrough to championship status.
Event of the Year: “Glory By Honor XI”
Unlike last year’s winner of this award - “Honor Takes Center Stage: Chap. One” - Ring of Honor had a lot to prove when it’s annual “Glory By Honor” event rolled around. The previous iPPVs had suffered from electrical difficulties, an inability to broadcast the event to paying customers, lack of storylines and highly anticipated bouts, and the worst of all three situations during four consecutive shows. A lot of diehard ROH fans declared that “Glory By Honor XI” would be the only way to gain a sliver of their redemption. Thankfully for ROH and the fans watching either live or the replay, the event so deep in ROH history continued the tradition in Ontario that night.
The main event featured ROH World champion Kevin Steen defending the World title against the “2011 Survival of the Fittest” champion Michael Elgin in a historic match that featured two Canadians fighting over the title. And fight these two men did as they put on one of the hardest of hard-hitting bouts seen anywhere in 2012. There were definitive moments where everyone believed that Steen’s title reign was coming to an end as Elgin hit his signature moves before succumbing to a super Package Piledriver. When it was all said and done, Steen and Elgin proved that it doesn’t matter who wins, but how the match plays out because both men walked away looking better than they did before the first bell sounded.
After losing his ROH World title shot a week earlier, Jay Lethal entered the ring with a determination not seen from the former ROH TV champion before. Lethal’s opponent was probably just as, if not more intense than Jay in Davey Richards. The beautiful ground work turned into an exchange of strikes, submissions and will power as neither refused to give up or take a three count no matter what they were hit with. The interesting story of Lethal winning with the Koji clutch thanks the abuse he delivered throughout the match after it wasn’t successful.
Adam Cole continued his hot streak by besting his “teacher” Eddie Edwards to retain the ROH TV title. Mike Mondo showed an incredible amount of toughness and insanity by fighting and diving off of the entrance set on Mike Bennett. The Briscoes and S.C.U.M had a crazy brawl that complemented the earlier, more by-the-books tag match of Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team and Rhett Titus & BJ Whitmer and high-octane opener between Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander. The only “flaw” on the show was a short bout between Tadarius Thomas and Rhino that signaled the beginning of the end of The House of Truth.
Ring of Honor struggled in 2012 to provide the definitive event where everyone could walk away happy. This show is the definition of Ring of Honor and what pro wrestling should be.
Match of the Year: Davey Richards vs. Michael Elgin (“Showdown in the Sun: Day Two”, 4/1/12)
I honestly don’t know if I could write anything here better than I did when I recapped the event shortly after it aired. This is from the April 7th edition The ROHbot Report: Winning his Elimination match less than a day earlier, Davey Richards found himself in the ring with “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin and the grim possibility that Elgin had all the tools to stop Richards. The champ knew he had to take Elgin out of his game early, and did just that by taking the fight to Elgin rather than try to test himself against the big man as seen in Davey’s past matches against Elgin. Uncharacteristically, Davey got ahead of himself by scaling the ropes when Elgin wasn’t hurt, getting tossed to the canvas. It wasn’t long after the first bell sounded that Richards was fighting behind thanks to Elgin’s power and ability to close the distance on Davey every time the champ made a rush for something.
Richards manned up after Elgin mockingly forearmed him, firing off with some strikes that dropped Elgin due to their accuracy. What would become the story of the match, Elgin fired himself up, countering Richards’ strikes and suplexes with impressive displays of agility (an enzuguri) and well-timed power attacks (the fisherman buster on the floor to stop Richards’ running kick off the apron). Elgin realized that if he wanted to win, going for broke was a necessity. Sadly for Elgin, Davey realized the same thing. This was perfectly showed when Davey German superplexed Elgin on his head to set up a failed Ankle Lock. And then it happened. The chants for Elgin started to ring out, somewhat shocked Richards.
The two warriors met in the ring’s middle, exchanging kicks and knees. Elgin was rocking Davey with side slams and crossfaces, but the champ refused to say die. The ebb and flow of the battle had the fans going crazy, and truly believing history in the making was near - in the same way Tyler Black turned the fans in his favor during his “Take No Prisoners ‘08” match against Nigel McGuinness for the ROH World title. As Nigel exclaimed that the back and forth display of attrition was everything the ROH World title represented, Davey was doing everything in his power to avoid the Spiral Bomb. But little did Davey know, the Bomb was inevitable. To the shock of everyone, Davey kicked out right before the three count. Elgin kept his composure, turning his failed pin into the crossface again.
As the chants of “Please don’t tap!” rang out in favor of Richards, Davey countered the crossface with an Ankle Lock. Nigel vocally expressed the same emotion everyone was feeling as crowd stood in anticipation for a successful submission. Once again, Elgin defied the odds by rolling through. When Elgin got up, his legs gave out on him. Davey turned to see this, kicking Elgin on the jaw like he did Eddie Edwards to win the ROH World title … for a near fall! Elgin hastily rose to his knees, spitting in Davey’s face. This act of defiance became Elgin’s last battle cry as Richards discus buzz saw kicked his way to another hard-fought victory.
While Davey’s post-match promo where he sounded like he just jogged a mile rather than competed in a war while making fun of WWE and TNA wasn’t necessarily needed, but Richards declaring Elgin a future ROH World champion after their classic, and Elgin not needing Truth Martini was perfectly acceptable. As for the match itself - what can be said that the fans didn’t. In the end, Richards vs. Elgin was the epitome of a star-making encounter, and most importantly, what ROH is all about. Elgin brought out the best and most unique Davey Richards we’ve seen in quite some time. In all honesty, all the words can’t describe the greatness Richards and Elgin produced in a little over twenty-five minutes. This is pro-wrestling at its finest and Michael Elgin’s breakout performance.
Biggest Story of the Year: Jim Cornette is Released
Ring of Honor was in a very perilous position going into the first half of 2011. With their DVD revenue waning, stagnate live events attendance at some of ROH’s best markets, major stars wrestlers leaving for bigger and better things elsewhere, and the loss of their TV show on HDNet, things were looking horrible for the number three wrestling promotion in the country. Unbeknownst to those outside of the bubble, ROH officials were in talks with Sinclair Broadcasting Group about the selling the company. And one of the main people to orchestrate the deal was none other than Jim Cornette.
With the confidence of SBG behind him, Jim Cornette was able to become the driving force behind ROH’s creative direction instead of Delirious. The changes to ROH’s product, booking style, and hiring/resigning/push policy drastically changed under the helm of Mr. Cornette - driving away a lot of long-time ROH fans while attaining the short attention span of fly-by-night fans who hadn’t and wouldn’t invest the time, energy, or money into the product like the diehard ROHbots as well as caused someone like Kenny King to leave while being the ROH World Tag Team champion.
By October 2012, with iPPV buy rates down, fan dissension, and an overall lacking product, Jim Cornette was offered his walking papers in an effort to rid ROH of its albatross. Shockingly, the positive results of Cornette’s exit has been almost immediate as the last two iPPVs and final TV taping of 2012 garnered rave reviews for the action, production, and general improvements to the product that many thought would be dead by the year’s end thanks to Jim Cornette’s actions.
Tag Team of the Year: The Briscoes
Since day one, these men have been in ROH. In a lot of ways, Mark and Jay Briscoe is Ring of Honor. Their approach to wrestling is only matched by their genuine, yet, as Johnny Ace said, not “cosmetically pleasing” personalities and looks make them stand out in and out of the ring. But being in ROH for so long can see the fickle ROH fan base become disinterested in you if you don’t change it up. The Briscoes not only changed their approach in the ring by forgoing the tendency to rely on tag team moves, and just brawl like Papa Briscoe taught them, but also embraced their roots. Years ago, when The Briscoes were in a funk, Mark told his brother, “We need to go back to our roots.” And that’s exactly what “Dem Boys” did in 2011 by becoming crazed rednecks and ROH World Tag Team champions for the seventh time.
Coming into the 2012, The Briscoes proved they weren’t one-hit wonders by successfully defending the title they’ve held more than any tag team in ROH history by successfully defending the gold against Team Ambition (Davey Richards & Kyle O’Reilly), The Young Bucks at the “10th Anniversary Show”, and the invading Jigsaw and Hallowicked from CHIKARA Pro Wrestling during the co-promoted “Synergy” events in Chicago. “Dem Boys” still had more to prove by winning their feud with Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team in a series of brawls and specialty matches that allowed them to win the war, but walk away without the ROH Tag Team title.
Instead of completely focusing on regaining the gold they lost to WGTT through nefarious means, The Briscoes spent the next half of 2012 defending ROH and its honor against Kevin Steen, Jimmy Jacobs, and Steve Corino. In their quest to prove “honor lives”, The Briscoes traded wins with S.C.U.M. and helped Rhett Titus become a temporary main event fixture. By the year’s end, Jay and Mark somewhat completed their goal of best S.C.U.M. while making history again by not only beating Jacobs & Corino at “Final Battle 2012”, but also won their eight ROH Tag Team title.
There’s no doubt that ROH’s Tag Team division was rocky at best in 2012, but there was no duo more consistent in winning while proving they are one of the baddest teams in the land than the eight-time ROH World Tag Team champions, The Briscoes.
And here we are, the biggest award of them all for a single Ring of Honor wrestler. It’s amazing to think what this man has accomplished in the past three years by crafting stories and creating moments everywhere he goes - especially in ROH. Ladies and gentlemen, the Honor Sprocket for Wrestler of the Year goes to…
Wrestler of the Year: Kevin Steen
When 2011 concluded, Kevin Steen had just earned his way back into the company by besting old friend Steve Corino in one of the most barbaric matches seen in ROH all year. That night, two years after he broke up his partnership with El Generico and a year following his exile, Steen declared his goal of not only becoming the ROH World champion, but also destroying ROH. For the next five months, Steen went on a physical and verbal crusade to get the title shot he believed he deserved. From a successful brawl with Jimmy Jacobs at the “10 Anniversary Show” to the hard-hitting bout against Eddie Edwards during “Wrestlemania” weekend, Steen made a strong case for himself. But it wasn’t until he got in the head of Davey Richards by insulting the ROH World champion at any given time did Steen get what he wanted.
Entering his home country of Canada, Steen was the odds on favorite to win against Davey Richards in one of the most highly anticipated ROH matches since Richards vs. Edwards at “Best in the World” eleven months earlier. That night, with the support of his fans and Jimmy Jacobs at ringside, Kevin Steen made it through Davey Richards like no one else had since Richards won the belt. When the show came to a close, Kevin Steen stood not only with his newly won title, but also his old, evil friends in Jacobs and Steve Corino. Evil was formed that night, and S.C.U.M. would come from this unholy union.
From that moment on, Kevin Steen went on a tear by defeating challenger after challenger Jim Cornette placed in front of him. Though Steen had a few setbacks in tag team situations, his sheer dominance as ROH World champion could not be denied thanks to the list of names that fell to him. Eddie Edwards, Roderick Strong, Rhino, Mike Mondo, Mike Bennett, and even CHIKARA Grand champion Eddie Kingston met defeat at the hands of the Jim Cornette dubbed, “Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare.” Steen even pushed back the man many thought would unseat him as champion in Michael Elgin, and ended the triumphant return of El Generico with a bang by beating his old partner in Ladder War 4.
Though Steen’s goal to kill ROH has seemingly changed in the past few months, “Mr. Wrestling’s” proclamation to end 2012 as the man in ROH was completed in a big way while standing on a mountain of would-be challengers. The question now is how ROH World champion Kevin Steen top what he did in 2013. Probably the best answer would be, “Fight Steen Fight.”
Davey Is On The Hunt
And there you have it, the final ROHbot Report of 2012. I really want to thank each and every one of you for making 2012 one of the best years I’ve had since becoming a part of this wonderful, and now reborn site.