Monday 30 August 2010

Booking ROH - Adam Pearce's Legacy By Shaun Nichols

Adam Pearce was the booker of ROH from October26th 2008 replacing the popular Gabe Sapolsky and had it upto a couple of weeks ago when Cary Silkin made the call to replace him with Delirious on August 15th. It was somewhat surprising that Pearce was given the book in October 2008 if only because ROH had let him go in the previous month for what was described as a cost cutting measure.
Gabe was the original booker and to this day is seen by many ROH fans as the biggest loss the company as had to recover from and as such was always going to be a tough act to follow for any new booker. Sapolsky though made some surprising booking decisions including the frankly dull faction warfare which did little to get over with the fans, the delay in pulling the trigger on Tyler Black could also be questioned. On the other hand many including myself enjoyed the Age of the Fall run with the under appreciated Jimmy Jacobs running with the ball and the slow build between Danielson and Morishima. Cary Silkin at that time made the call citing that Gabe's booking style was too narrow and therefore would stop ROH moving up to the next level.
Enter Adam Pearce, Pearce could easily be stereotyped as an old fashioned booker that harps back to a more simpler style. He's also a lot younger than you would think in fact he only turned 32 this year. By getting the book so late in the year Adam's first major test was the booking of arguably ROH's biggest show of the year Final Battle. Headlined by Danielson vs. Morishima with strong back up that included Aries vs. Black and McGuinnes defending against Marufuji it was an excellent show. How much credit you give to either Pearce or Sapolsky will probably depend on who you have sympathy with.
The execution of the double switch where Aries turned heel and Black went babyface and signalled the end Age of the Fall was nicely done, it wasn't quite Bret-Austin at WM 13 but it was pretty good. The champion Nigel McGuinness was carrying a number of injuries, Pearce seemed reluctant tp put Danielson back into the title picture. It was at this point that The Wrestler film became a major hit and the decision was made to put Jerry Lynn on top to sort of have a tie in with the movie by having a veteran chase one last shot at glory. While most fans would concede that Jery Lynn is a fantastic wrestler, few were happy to see him win the title at Supercard of Honor 4 at the Wrestlemania weekend.
It would seem that it was Cary Silkin that decided that they should give Lynn the title, in hindsight you would have to say that it was a mistake as the fans just did not want to see him as champion. Whether or not Adam Pearce would have chosen to put the title on Jerry Lynn or not, it happened when he was booking and therefore out of everything that occured during his 18 month tenure it was the Lynn title run that overshadows everything else.
On the plus side at the start of 2009, ROH reached an agreement to produce a TV show for HD Net which debuted in March. Overall most fans would say that the TV as been a positive for the company. It is only available in certain markets but they are looking to move into other areas of the country throughout the rest of 2010 and 2011. Booking TV is obviously the one thing that Pearce had to contend with that Sapolsky did not and the challenges presented by booking TV are completely different from booking ROH house shows, where on TV the impetus is on interviews, very short matches and characters making an impression with the audience at home.
One of the big successes of this was the continuing transformation of Austin Aries who dominated the TV show after his second title win at Manhatten Mayhem III. The introduction of a TV title in March of this year can also be applauded which was won by Eddie Edwards and allowed Eddie to continue to develop as a key figure in ROH while partner Davey Richards headed into the world title picture.
The main accusation though will be that Pearce did not create new stars, he was slow to see what should have been obvious that if they were going to but the belt on Tyler Black then they should have done so against McGuinness. ROH waited far too long and by the time he got there, a backlash had already started he was no longer the darling of the fans. They had moved onto Davey Richards. The major stars to the company were all returning wrestlers such as Colt Cabana, Jimmy Rave and Christopher Daniels but they would have all been booked no matter who had been booking. Don't think Homicide won't be back in a couple of months if he decides to make himself available. Some returns like Steve Corino added something different to the promotion that simply they didn't have and should be seen as a positive.
The re-uniting of the Kings of Wrestling at last year's Final Battle was also a popular and well thought out move and they have since been major players again when especially Castognoli was struggling in 2009 to make an impression. ROH in 2009 was not a good year overall, the loss of Danielson and McGunness were fairly big losses but at least they put people over on the way out. Jerry Lynn's short title run was the biggest black mark against ROH by their own fans and Pearce if possible should have seen it and at least tried to stop it happening. 2010 as been a stronger year so far, those that regularly watch the TV seem happy with the product. The big shows seem to deliver with the recent Death Before Dishonor especially being well received. The departure of Tyler Black will have less impact than it might have simply because both Gabe and Adam both waited why too long. In a couple of years I wouldn't be surprised if it was Jimmy Jacobs who was remembered more fondly than Black because as a character he was far stronger.
How much room for manuevre Adam Pearce had to book without Silkin pushing him in a certain direction I'm not sure, he had the immediate problem of replacing a man the fans didn't want to lose. He was also saddled with a badly thought out title change that did nothing for the company. However in 2010 things seemed to be on the up at least from a fans perspective and I don't think that all in all that Pearce's reputation as been tainted. Infact I have sympathy for him because I thought that he was growing into the role and that the product was back on an upward swing.


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