Sunday, 7 April 2013

ROH Heading For A New Direction? By Shaun Nichols

It was quite the surprise to find that long-time mainstay of ROH's tag team division Jay Briscoe had become the new ROH World Champion by defeating Kevin Steen at this year's Supercard of Honor event this past Friday night in New York.

Both Jay and Mark have had numerous title opportunities to win the World title over the years, most notably in a feud with Samoa Joe back in 2003/04. Indeed in the previous ROH event before Supercard of Honor, Steen had successfully defended the title against Mark Briscoe. This then seemed to indicate that normal service was in effect, that ROH were booking both Briscoe brothers in title matches because they were low on ideas and the fans would accept them as viable challengers even if it was unlikely they would get the job done.

I think the main reason we have seen the end of Kevin Steen's first title run is the company have decided now is the time to have go total babyface and split from the rest of SCUM. In the latest set of TV tapings, Steve Corino and the rest of SCUM have turned on Mr Steen and have decided that Matt Hardy is a better prospect.

This makes sense because while SCUM is disliked by the majority of ROH fans, Kevin Steen has found himself the most popular wrestler on the roster. It also wouldn't really make sense for Steen to split or be kicked out of his own group while still being ROH World Champion. So he really did need to lose the title before embarking on his latest stage of his ROH career as the company's biggest babyface. A bit like ROH's version of John Cena but actually liked  by virtually all of the promotion's fans.

In the set of TV tapings, Steen stated that he would be focused on regaining the ROH World title and I wouldn't be surprised if he is back as champion by the end of 2013. But for now he will find himself embroiled in a feud with Steve Corino and the rest of SCUM. ROH announced at Border Wars there will be a tag team match featuring Michael Elgin & Jay Lethal vs. 2 members of SCUM, with the stipulation being if SCUM wins then Matt Hardy gets a ROH World title shot. But if they lose then SCUM will be gone from Ring of Honor.

This means that SCUM will be winning that one, Hardy will probably then become champion and ROH will relay on the former leader of SCUM (Kevin Steen) to save the company and regain the title probably at Final Battle.

So does that mean Jay Briscoe will be presented as a caretaker champion, holding the title for a couple of months while the company put the pieces together to present what they believe is the best programme that being Matt Hardy vs. Kevin Steen. In my opinion I think that is what will happen, in the same way that James Gibson had a couple of months reign following the Summer of Punk and before Bryan Danielson's epic 15 month run at the top.

Jay will defend the title against Adam Cole at Border Wars, which is surprising in itself as he's been on a bit of a losing streak since losing the TV title to Matt Taven. It's well known that Adam Cole did very well at a WWE tryout and it wouldn't be surprising if he was offered a WWE contract which indicates that he will not add the ROH World title to his list of championships.

As for Mark Briscoe, he won a five-way match at the TV tapings to earn a shot at the TV title against Matt Tavern at Border Wars. So as it stands both Briscoes are still babyfaces and are supportive of one another. Rather that continues to occur or if ROH decides it is time to set up Jay vs. Mark feud possibly based on Mark's jealousy of his older brother if he is unsuccessful at the next iPPV and Jay retains. As I can easily see, Mark costing his brother the title against Matt Hardy in the future if the company decide to go in that direction. Which would set ROH nicely for the second half of the year, Hardy vs. Steen, Jay vs. Mark and that allows ROH to concentrate on the tag division without having the easy option of relying on the Briscoe Brothers to carry things.   

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