Settle in, boys and girls, because I’m going to tell you the story of one of my favorite long-term angles in wrestling history, and it comes from Ring of Honor. And it kicked off in earnest 15 years ago last month. But for its true beginning, we have to go back a little further than that.
PROLOGUE – You’ve Got the Touch
In April of 2005, the company held a tournament to crown new tag team champions, after one-half of the former champions Dan Maff abruptly left the business. The winners? The other half of the former champions, BJ Whitmer, and his new partner, a 21-year-old, furry boot wearing, HUSSing, odd but strangely tough talent from the midwest indies named Jimmy Jacobs. Jacobs had spent the bulk of his young career in Ian Rotten’s IWA Mid-South, and came to Ring of Honor in 2003 with frenemy Alex Shelley.
Jacobs was a frequent participant in the midwest swings, and could usually be seen in Four Corner Survival matches early in the card—in fact Jacobs and Shelley made their debuts with the company at “WrestleRave ’03” in a Four Corner Survival against Tony Mamaluke and—yes—BJ Whitmer. Jacobs and Shelley had a quality feud through 2004, culminating in a forgotten classic “I Quit” match from “Joe vs. Punk II.” I wonder why that might have been overshadowed…
The pairing with Whitmer was an odd choice, but Jacobs and Whitmer meshed well together, with the smaller Jacobs’ quickness and willingness to take punishment, complementing Whitmer’s power. They lost but quickly regained the titles in July, and lost them again on October 1, 2005 to the unexpected team of Mamaluke and Sal Rinauro.
The next night, everything changed. We just didn’t know it yet.
PART I – Jimmy Loves Lacey
One night after losing the titles, Whitmer and Jacobs were revealed as the new Lacey’s Angels, with the services of the Lovely Lacey as their manager—a no-nonsense businesswoman willing to do whatever it took to get her men to the top. Lacey promised to turn the former tag champs into international superstars. Things didn’t exactly work out for her previous clients, Izzy and Deranged, formerly of the raver kid group Special K. To illustrate, the night of Jacobs and Whitmer’s reveal was the last time Izzy was seen in ROH, and second to last for Deranged, but Jacobs and Whitmer were clear talents with a track record of success that the Special K alums simply didn’t have.
For the next few months—absent one night in Detroit—Lacey began slowly stripping away the sillier aspects of Jacobs’ presentation—most notably his furry boots—changing his wardrobe, ring gear, and so on. For his part, Jacobs seemed on board with the changes. But it didn’t have anything to do with liking the new look.
In January of 2006, a taped promo released on the ROH platforms saw Jacobs profess his love for Lacey in a way that transcended the puppy dog eyes and infatuation he had demonstrated to that point. He explained that she filled the void left in his heart after he and Whitmer lost the tag team titles, and he was in love.
On January 27, Jacobs lost focus in a semifinal match at the ROH Trios Tournament when Jack Evans put his hands on Lacey, with the end result being a loss in short order. An upset Whitmer got in Jacobs’ face about the loss. Backstage, with Jacobs again getting lost in his admiration for Lacey, Whitmer again excoriated him and urged him to get his head in the game and be ready to win the tag titles the next night. It was all for naught, as Whitmer and Jacobs once again came up short. Whitmer blamed Jacobs’ infatuation with Lacey, and dropped him with the wrist-clutch exploder suplex after the match, walking out on the team.
In March of 2006, “The Ballad of Lacey” debuts on ROHVideos.com. Jacobs would use the song as entrance music for most of the next year, with the crowd holding up their phones like lighters at a concert. It was another public declaration of Jacobs’ love for Lacey, with Jacobs about to have a big match with his ex-partner at “Dragon Gate Challenge,” on March 31 in Detroit.
On that night, Whitmer and Jacobs collided in their first singles match since the team broke up. There would be several more. Lacey’s power over Jacobs was evident as she promised him the privilege of giving her a foot massage if he was able to defeat his former partner. The match is remembered for a terrifying spot which saw Whitmer go for a top rope powerbomb, only to slip off the rope. Whitmer went straight down to the floor and badly hurt his ankle, while Jacobs’ head struck the ropes and the apron on the way down. The two men finished the match, with Whitmer picking up a win following a lariat. Jacobs teased shaking Whitmer’s hand in adherence to the Code of Honor, but instead spat in Whitmer’s face and left with Lacey.
Their feud would continue for the next few months. The two met in a number one contender match at “In Your Face” that would end in a no contest after Whitmer powerbombed Jacobs off the top rope into the crowd. An elimination three-way dance with then-ROH World Champion Bryan Danielson brought no further resolution to their issue. Jacobs was able to help eliminate Whitmer, but was unable to unseat Danielson. The losses continued to infuriate Lacey, but Jacobs’ infatuation showed no signs of slowing—indeed, it seemed to be getting stronger.
PART II – Now That’s A Classic
In July, the ROH Video Recap featured a segment which found none other than “Classic” Colt Cabana coming out of a car that, shall we say, has been a-rockin. We don’t find out who was in the car with him. Before his match with Jay Briscoe, at “Generation Now” in Cleveland, Jacobs surprised Lacey with a live performance of “The Ballad of Lacey” from the balcony of the Grays Armory. Lacey was, naturally, unimpressed. Jacobs would lose the match, and in a backstage interview conducted by Dave Prazak, he confronted Lacey about rumors that she was in the car with Cabana a few weeks earlier. She responded by threatening to drop him as a client, and storming off. This would continue for several more weeks, with Lacey being caught on camera flirting over the phone, getting out of cars, and more, but with no confirmation as to her paramour. In one segment, she announced that she did not get Jacobs booked that weekend as a penalty for his losing matches and getting involved in her personal life.
In August of 2006 at “Epic Encounter II,” in Minneapolis, Jacobs caught Lacey making out with Cabana in the locker room. Without missing a beat, she announced Cabana as the newest member of Lacey’s Angels, who would bring the ROH World Title to the group the next night in Chicago. While the news that Cabana is a new client clearly came as some news to Colt himself, he seemed to roll with it. Either oblivious or unfeeling to his state, Lacey urged Jacobs to focus, because he has another meeting with an old friend.
That night in Chicago was Jacobs and Whitmer’s first one-on-one meeting since the crowd powerbomb in New York in June, and Lacey tasked Jacobs with taking out Whitmer once and for all. Powered by love, Jacobs promised to kill Whitmer if he has to. He was able to win—though not convincingly—with a roll-up counter, and after the match at Lacey’s urging, Jacobs took out Whitmer’s ankle with a chair, breaking it in-storyline. Whitmer would be on the shelf for a little over two months.
With Whitmer out, and Cabana’s last shot at World Champion Bryan Danielson coming up empty, Lacey attempted to get Cabana and Jacobs on the same page, putting them in tag matches or triple threats in which she demanded that they get along. Jacobs was visibly heartbroken and in anguish over the arrangement, but soldiered on out of devotion to the woman who seemingly couldn’t care less about his existence.
The two were booked in a triple threat match at Glory by Honor V with Christopher Daniels, wherein Lacey refused to allow Jacobs to generate any offense on Cabana. Even an attempt at a headlock by Jacobs was met by shrieks and cries of disapproval and scolding from Lacey. Jacobs eventually picked up the win, following a low blow and Contra Code on Cabana, but instead of being happy for her client, Lacey was more concerned about the state of Cabana’s…well…you know.
It was around this time that the second music video, “Victory of Love” dropped. Jacobs spoke to the camera before the premiere of the video, explaining that he was disappointed and saddened by Lacey’s relationship with Cabana, but that he remained optimistic that love would conquer all. He then promised to rededicate himself to winning Lacey’s heart, and assured her that his love for her is the ultimate victory.
In October, Lacey negotiated a tag team title match for Cabana and Jacobs against the Kings of Wrestling, and in announcing this to her team, she also forced Jacobs to apologize to Cabana for the low blow at Glory By Honor. The match itself saw Lacey refuse to use “The Ballad of Lacey” for entrance music, as Jacobs had been doing, and insist on Cabana’s instead. Again, the challengers would fall short. After the match, BJ Whitmer returned to attack Jacobs, promising to be his shadow as long as it takes. The next night in Detroit ended much the same, with the team losing to the rising duo of Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal. Afterward, Whitmer attacked again, and declared that as soon as he was cleared, he would put Jacobs on the shelf permanently.
Despite Jacobs’ obvious heartache, he and Cabana started to gel as a team somewhat by the end of October. Cabana himself hadn’t ever been actively bad to Jacobs, and for his part seemed more oblivious to Jacobs’ state than anything else. The duo looked good, but still came up short in a loss to Irish Airborne, before finally picking up a win at “Irresistible Forces” on October 28. After the win, Lacey officially offered Cabana a contract to join Lacey’s Angels, but he refused, on the grounds that he didn’t want to be legally tied down. Cabana continued to explain that he’s enjoyed what he’s done with Lacey behind closed doors, but called her out for being a terrible person, especially in the way she treated Jacobs. Cabana tried to get Jacobs to leave with him, appealing to their longtime friendship and telling Jacobs he can be a star if he gets rid of Lacey.
If you’ve read this far, the conclusion here is obvious. Jacobs attacked Cabana, drawing blood with the heel of Lacey’s shoe. Whitmer arrived and shoved down Lacey, sending Jacobs into a tailspin. Jacobs and Lacey retreated while backstage personnel tended to a bloody, battered Cabana. The list of enemies resulting from Jacobs’ unrequited love for Lacey was growing.
With Whitmer finally cleared by ROH, he and Jacobs were both booked in a gauntlet match at “Black Friday Fallout,” in Long Island. Jacobs outsmarted Whitmer and eliminated him in a matter of seconds following a low blow, but ultimately lost the match to Nigel McGuinness. Lacey berated Jacobs for the loss after the match, but Jacobs simply restated his love for her. With Whitmer back on the scene, Jacobs would clearly have to find a new way to show his love, and a new way to stop the rampaging Whitmer, who was coming for blood.
The next night, Jacobs and Whitmer would have a one-on-one match that was ultimately thrown out due to the referee getting caught up in the brawl, as well as the interference of Lacey and her own longtime rival, Daizee Haze. After the melee, Lacey decided that if Jacobs couldn’t get the job done, she would just have to find someone bigger and better to take out both Cabana and Whitmer. She wouldn’t have to look far for her hired gun.
PART III – Kiss2Kill
On the weekend of December 8th and 9th at the two part “Chicago Spectacular,” Lacey’s money found her someone big and bad enough to help take out Cabana and Whitmer, in the form of Brent Albright. Despite his arrival, Jacobs’ brutality continued to grow, as he speared Daizee Haze out of her shoes at Lacey’s bidding. During an 8-man elimination tag on night two of the event, Whitmer unknowingly lit the fuse on Jacobs’ most dangerous transformation, when he hit Lacey with Jacobs’ trademark railroad spike. Jacobs was inconsolable, as he carried Lacey to the back, covered in a towel, but he quickly returned to again take out Whitmer’s ankle with a chair, leaving him an easy elimination for Jimmy Rave. The rest of December, through Final Battle, saw variations on Jacobs and Albright versus Whitmer and Cabana, with Daizee Haze occasionally thrown in. With Lacey on the shelf after the spike incident, Jacobs was doing the best promo work of his career. Lacey’s love is all that matters to him, and he will end BJ Whitmer to win it.
In January, the third and final music video aired on the ROH Video Wire. Coming on the heels of a recap of what had happened in the Cabana feud to this point, “Kiss2Kill” saw Jacobs take a decidedly darker turn, ready to end Whitmer once and for all. The video and the song is Jacobs at his lowest, most raw, and likely most dangerous.
With beauty gone,“Kiss2Kill” by Jimmy Jacobs
Move right to wrong,
From warmth to chill,
From love to hate,
From kiss to kill
Jacobs still loves Lacey more than anything. But the feud with Whitmer will not end, and has now transcended all of that. This is Jacobs not just saying he’s willing to kill for her, but being ready to do it.
Through the end of February, Jacobs, Albright, Cabana, Whitmer, Lacey, and Haze all continued to feud in a variety of tag and singles matches, to varying levels of violence. At Fifth Year Festival: Chicago, Jacobs and Cabana’s feud culminated in a Windy City Death Match. Before the match, Lacey told Jacobs in a moment of remarkable candor that she didn’t even care if he won or lost, as long as he hurts Cabana. Cabana did get the win, and in the process ushered himself and Brent Albright—who had since thrown in with “Super Agent” Larry Sweeney—out of the picture. The Fifth Year Festival ended with two nights in Liverpool, during which Whitmer and Jacobs brawled all over, with Whitmer winning a Falls Count Anywhere match the closing night. The feud was back to Jacobs and Whitmer, right where it began. And coming up on the schedule was the only city in which it could end.
ROH rolled into Detroit for WrestleMania weekend with two huge shows on tap, but the one match everyone was looking forward to was Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer in a steel cage. This feud had raged for over a year. It had to end, and this was finally going to do it. But before that, there was one last stop.
On March 30, at All-Star Extravaganza III, Jacobs and Lacey defeated Whitmer and Daizee Haze in an anything goes match, after Jacobs again speared Haze out of her shoes and fed her to Lacey for an implant DDT and pinfall. Lacey rewarded Jacobs with a hug, and reassured him that if he were to defeat Whitmer in the cage tomorrow, there would be a lot more where that came from. Jacobs cut one of the most impassioned promos of his life that night after the show, reflecting on his and Whitmer’s shared history, their bond, and their near brotherhood. He knows he’s the hero in the story. Because he fights for love.
BJ. It’s prom night. And it always ends the same. The villain gets what’s coming to him. And the hero gets the girl. I love you, big brother.Jimmy Jacobs
March 31, 2007. Supercard of Honor II. In a breathtakingly brutal, bloody, and barbaric steel cage match, Jimmy Jacobs finally defeated BJ Whitmer to end their feud once and for all, one year to the day, and in the same city as their infamous match at Dragon Gate Challenge. The match saw barbed wire, baseball bats, railroad spikes, chairs, tables and, naturally, Lacey interfering briefly on Jacobs behalf, only to be dropped with a sit-out tombstone piledriver. Jacobs was ultimately victorious after a back senton off the top of the cage through Whitmer on a table. After the match, ROH cameras found Jacobs sitting on the floor backstage with Lacey curled up contentedly in his arms. Broken, hurt, scarred, but apparently truly content at long last, neither even seemed to notice the camera that caught their moment of serenity.
The first half of the Jimmy Jacobs and Lacey story predominantly featured three deeply flawed people. Lacey was cruel and emotionally manipulative to Jacobs, but was unfairly blamed by Whitmer for the initial breakup of the team, and was baselessly threatened by him for trying to do her job as their manager: that is, direct their careers. Her goal remained the same for large portions of the story to this point: manage the careers of the men in her charge to the best of her ability. Whitmer, for his part, was right to want Jacobs to focus on the task at hand and try to separate his schoolyard crush from the business of winning matches, especially when it was clear that his focus was lacking. But he threatened and blamed Lacey in a decision dripping with misogyny and casual sexism. Jacobs was also right to point out that Whitmer’s initial reaction was not appropriate or indicative of the brotherly love he claimed to have for his smaller tag team partner. Jacobs was clearly taken advantage of by Lacey, especially in the early going, but most reasonable and emotionally mature people would have taken “no” for an answer long ago. He also had ample opportunities—including the support of a long-time friend—to walk away. Instead, he chose violence. He chose violence over and over again, and called it love. After the cage match in Detroit, he found himself so far removed from the man who started to develop that crush over a year ago, that one wonders if he still knew what love really is.
Neither Jimmy nor Lacey would be seen in ROH for the next month following the war in Detroit. What awaited them next was something that none of us would expect. And the cast of characters is about to grow dramatically.
To be continued…