Culture

The Spinning Lariat: Honor lives

COLE

Every week in The Spinning Lariat, Trent Zuberi talks the latest in TNA Impact Wrestling, and occasionally in American independent wrestling as a whole. 

The Spinning Lariat is branching out, ladies and gentlemen! In addition to the primary focus of TNA Impact Wrestling that The Spinning Lariat discusses every week, this article will now be adding special editions focusing on Ring of Honor and other independent promotions throughout the country. To kick things off, we are going to be looking at the current state of the Ring of Honor World Heavyweight Championship and how the current title picture is shaping up.

If there was Vegas-like betting surrounding who the next ROH World Heavyweight Champion would have been, following Jay Briscoe’s unceremonious forfeit of the title, I think the immediate odds would have gone to Michael Elgin, the nearly 6-foot tall monster that has set the industry ablaze the last few years. Fans looked at the momentum he has garnered over the past year and concluded that no one else was more ready for the title than him. However, as much as the favoritism went in Elgin’s direction, the thought of the title being determined via a bracketed tournament did leave that bit of grey area where a wild card champion could be crowned. Many fans did not stray, but there was that slight hint of doubt hanging in the air.

In a shocker, the young hotshot known as Adam Cole beat Michael Elgin in the finals to become the new ROH World Heavyweight Champion, and in the process turned heel when he attacked former and forfeiting champion Jay Briscoe. The Adam Cole decision is an interesting one. It speaks volumes of a movement to place the focus of the company on a guy who is not only aesthetically perfect for television, but also a solid hand in the ring. It’s a total package with Cole, but the smartest thing was to turn him heel during it. Cole has been a blue-chipper good guy his entire run in ROH, and with the heel turn he creates an opportunity for himself to branch out and grow his character, and also an entire roster of hopefuls looking to take down the young punk who chose to dishonor the company while holding their most important title.

The two most important stories that will come out of this involve Michael Elgin and former champion Jay Briscoe. Elgin will naturally get his rematch for being in the finals of the tournament on top of his natural hype of being the “next guy,” but Jay Briscoe’s involvement will be something to watch. The build to Jay’s win over Kevin Steen, his personal issues with management during his title reign, and the injury he suffered that ultimately caused him to give up the championship in a very story-heavy manner all essentially write a magnificent story in and of itself. It’s one of the guy that never lost it in the first place, had to struggle to relinquish it and has to fight his way back to contention to claim what’s rightfully his.

The aesthetic dynamic of Jay Briscoe being a common-man chicken farmer from Sandy Fork, DE fighting the now-flashy Panama City Playboy Adam Cole creates a great comeback story that fans can really rally behind. It will be very interesting to see how far they go with Cole at the helm but also very interesting to see how they keep Briscoe and Elgin hot during this reign so one of the two can be ready to take the title at some point.

In any case, the title hunt is strong in ROH and the greatest part about that is knowing the amazing caliber of the matches that are going to follow. The greatest asset ROH has is that they have always booked their champions strong at all times, so Cole is definitely geared to have a great title reign so long as the company keeps his opponents strong leading into their respective matches. Now the question is who will beat this brash new Adam Cole. Briscoe? Elgin? Wild card? Time will tell.

Questions, comments, feedback? Connect with me on Twitter @Vanillajoke and let’s talk!