Welcome back, friends.
When last we left Lacey and Jimmy Jacobs, they were curled up together on the floor backstage in Detroit after Jacobs had put his life on the line to destroy BJ Whitmer in a steel cage. Jacobs was said to have lost part of a tooth and suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and was on the shelf for an indeterminate amount of time. Whitmer would not be seen in an ROH ring for a month. He wouldn’t win another ROH match until August, and wouldn’t win a singles match in the company again until October. Whether you believe Whitmer was the hero or the villain, he was well and truly defeated in Detroit.
PART IV – Lacey Loves Jimmy
On April 27, 2007, at “The Battle of St. Paul,” in Minnesota, Lacey was seen back in ROH for the first time since the bloodbath in Detroit. With Jimmy Jacobs walking with a cane, and now acting as her manager, she and longtime tag partner Rain (the Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew) defeated the team of Allison Danger and Sara Del Ray, the Dangerous Angels. In a backstage promo the next night, Jacobs reveals that in exchange for destroying Whitmer, Lacey offered him one night of passion. He revealed that while any animal can engage in lustful intercourse, not all of them can love, especially not the way he loves Lacey. He wants more than just one night, and wants to win her over and earn her love for good.
In May and June of 2007, four videos, affectionately titled “Jimmy Loves Lacey,” premiere on ROH’s platforms, as well as being included on DVD releases. The premise is that Jacobs has four days on vacation in Chicago to impress Lacey. It’s implied that this is functionally Jacobs’ last chance. And on day one? Bowling. Yup. It goes over about as well as you’d expect, and Jacobs’ crestfallen look at her reaction is comedy gold. Jacobs keeps up his good-natured optimism about the whole thing—for his part he seems more at peace with the whole thing after putting Whitmer in the rearview mirror—but it’s clearly not going well. The two decide to get a drink after bowling, and force awkward conversation until Jacobs excuses himself to use the restroom. When a local sleeze tries to put the moves on Lacey, she’s not hearing it, but Jacobs escalates matters tossing him down and sending him running. Lacey is impressed at his standing up for her—not that she needed it—but she grudgingly gives credit where it’s due.
Day two is a shopping spree in downtown Chicago. Jacobs buys her new clothes and a new fur coat, impressing her, because in her words, “I didn’t know he was making that much in Lacey’s Angels.” For his part, Jacobs credits the miracle of credit cards, adding “what’s a few more thousand dollars in debt to show that you love?” Day one was hit or miss, but Jacobs ultimate won points for his earnestness and willingness to stand up for Lacey. Day two, he won more for his shopping spree. If you’ve ever watched a romantic comedy, you know what to expect on day three.
Sure enough, a clue comes in the piece’s title: Falun Apart. It’s a bit of a pun, as it begins with them in a park where a group of people are celebrating “World Falun Dafa Day.” He tries to play this off as an intentional choice, but it’s clear he’s not sure what it is either. They’re having a good enough time—the shot of Jacobs running down the beach with his cane to chase seagulls is great—and he does get to surprise her with a trip to the Navy Pier ferris wheel. He reveals later that he saw she loved ferris wheels on her MySpace. Remember MySpace? But his big mistake comes as they sit overlooking the city, as he tells her that he wants to take care of her and he wants her to be able to stay at home. Lacey is understandably taken aback. Her primary trait for a long time in Ring of Honor is her status and prowess as a working woman, and it’s one she takes great pride in. She abruptly calls for an end to the day, and while she says later she’s inclined to give Jacobs the benefit of the doubt and that there was a sweet thought behind it, it’s a statement that reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of who and what she is. Jacobs himself realizes how badly he messed things up, and says that he’s going to need to pull out something big on the fourth and final day.
On day four, he gets right to it, and his something big is a ring. Not an engagement ring, he’s quick to point out, but the thought impresses Lacey. She reveals she has something she was saving for him as well, and asks him to wait outside. A few minutes later, she comes back to the door in lingerie, and invites him in. They shoo away the cameraman, and (apparently) consummate the relationship. When the cameraman re-enters, having propped the door (seriously, how big a creeper can you be?) we hear Lacey tell Jacobs she loves him. But if I didn’t know better, I’d say there’s something of a faraway look in his eyes…
From June through August, Jacobs continues to recover from the injuries sustained in the cage match with BJ Whitmer. During this time, he continues to walk with a cane, and continues to manage Lacey. Lacey’s mean streak in the ring is a little more pronounced, and she’s racking up wins, in both tag team action with Rain, and in singles competition, including winning the number one contendership to the SHIMMER title at “Death Before Dishonor V, Night 1,” in Boston. She would fall short in her attempt to wrest the title from Sara Del Rey the next night in Philadelphia.
On August 24, 2007, Jimmy Jacobs would make his return to the ring, in a quick victory over Rhett Titus. He would pick up another win at “Manhattan Mayhem II” the next night. A few weeks later, at “Motor City Madness 2007,” Jacobs scored one of the bigger singles wins of his career to that point, against Chris Hero. He was building momentum going into the taping for ROH’s next PPV, Man Up, the next night in Chicago.
PART V – Nothing Saves
On September 15, 2007, ROH was taping their third pay-per-view, called “Man Up.” The show featured what could be called a double main event, as Takeshi Morishima defended the ROH World Title against Bryan Danielson, and the Briscoes defended the ROH World Tag Team Titles against Kevin Steen and El Generico in the first ladder match in ROH history, dubbed Ladder War. But the real main event came later still.
An aside: in the leadup to this show, there had been a lot of discussion surrounding several blogs and clues placed around the internet referring to was assumed to be a code name: Project 161. It didn’t take very long for some eagle-eyed fans to realize that the upcoming PPV taping at one of ROH’s go-to venues, the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge, would be ROH’s 161st show, and the assumption was that something big was going to happen in Chicago. Fans didn’t have any idea just how big it would be.
After the Ladder War, the Briscoes stood bloody and victorious. Then a woman’s screams began playing over the sound system. Dozens of masked fans dressed in black rushed the guardrails, banging and screaming at the Briscoes. And then the camera caught none other than midwest independent superstar Tyler Black entering through the crowd and over the guardrail. And who joined him at ringside? Jimmy Jacobs, cane still in hand, but dressed all in white. As the pair stared down the Briscoes, the final surprise was about to be sprung. Through the crowd came deathmatch icon the Necro Butcher, with barbed wire already wrapped around his right fist. The beat-down was on.
With Lacey by his side—dressing and holding herself in a markedly different fashion than the last time we saw her—Jacobs and his men tied Briscoe to the setup which held the tag title belts overhead minutes earlier, and hung him, bleeding, upside down over the ring. Jacobs stepped right underneath the bloody shower, and proceeded to deliver his message to the masses, his white suit rapidly turning a deep red.
“For over a year, I laid my heart at the feet of a woman, miserable and sad. Hoping someday love would save me. Well, when Lacey lay next to me, and she said those words, I love you, I felt nothing. And I realized love doesn’t save. NOTHING SAVES.”
Jacobs would lay out the mission statement of the group, known as The Age of the Fall, as being guidance for lost souls, and those that otherwise don’t fit in. Necro is not really anyone’s idea of what a professional wrestler in Ring of Honor is supposed to look like, and Black has all the talent in the world, but is still lost and can’t find a spot. Lacey isn’t mentioned beyond his initial statement that love doesn’t save. Jacobs has tied up so much of who he is for so long, and defined himself solely by chasing Lacey, that he’s become the dog who finally caught the car. Now that he has it, he has no idea what to do with himself or how to define himself, and he takes it upon himself to react by embracing total nihilism, and trying to destroy the company that brought he and Lacey together in the first place. He doesn’t know how to go on or to redefine himself, so he’s going to burn the whole thing down, starting with the two men who were most synonymous with ROH from its founding, and who also happen to hold tag team gold: The Briscoes.
The family would grow. Two months later, the group would add another woman, Minneapolis-based independent wrestler Allison Wonderland. On December 1, at “Unscripted III,” Jacobs would defeat former ROH World Champion Bryan Danielson with his guillotine choke finish, the End Time. At Final Battle 2007, on December 30, Jacobs and Tyler Black defeated the Briscoes to win the tag team titles. But just like so much else in the last few years of Jacobs’ ROH career, when everything seemed to be going his way, something terrible was on the horizon. Love may not have saved Jimmy Jacobs, but it was about to destroy him.
PART VI – The Ace of the Fall
The Age of the Fall would not last long as tag team champions. A little under four weeks later, they added Joey Matthews to the group, debuting in a tag team loss with Jimmy Jacobs. Jacobs and Black would lose the titles to Davey Richards and Rocky Romero the next night. Jacobs cut a promo after the night’s events assuring everyone that The Age of the Fall was still in control, despite viewers seeing that the group had been losing. A lot.
The group grew again in February of 2008, adding Zach Gowen, as the group continued to promote itself as a haven for lost souls and those either seeking answers or simply looking to burn it all down. But Jacobs had his eye on a bigger prize for expansion.
In February, the group made an open offer to a man who could be their biggest acquisition to date: former ROH World Champion Austin Aries. A few months prior, Aries had won a Best of Three Series with Bryan Danielson to earn the moniker “The Ace of Ring of Honor,” and had just come off of two strong tours of Dragon Gate, in Japan, but was on something of a losing streak in the company since an upset loss to El Generico in the first round of a number one contender tournament. The Age of the Fall made their move for Aries, only to be opposed by a surprising contender: Tammy Lynn Sytch. Sytch was first seen in Ring of Honor back at Final Battle 2007, when she got into a verbal altercation with Lacey, who blamed her for denigrating women in wrestling. Sytch offered Aries her services at the 6th Anniversary Show, promising that she could lead him to the top. Lacey would later step up for The Age of the Fall and object, claiming that all Sytch has to offer is her body.
In late March, at “Dragon Gate Challenge II” the group wants to know where Aries stands. He’s about to walk out on the group when Lacey offers herself up to Aries as enticement, somewhat to the surprise of Jacobs. Sytch emerges for a counteroffer, but Aries insists he won’t make a decision until the next night after his title match. At that show, “Supercard of Honor III,” Jacobs promises that the group would win over Aries, then chase after the tag titles, following a big win over the Briscoes. Lacey raises eyebrows by assuring Jacobs that she has a backup plan, should his fail. Aries would fall to McGuinness, and the group approached him again. Again, with Aries reticent at the offer of membership, Lacey offers herself up to him to convince him otherwise, much to Jacob’s chagrin. For someone who six months ago insisted that he felt nothing and that love doesn’t save, he seems a little perturbed by this turn of events. Despite Tammy Sytch’s objections, Aries leaves with Lacey.
Neither Jacobs, Aries, nor Lacey would be seen until “Tag Wars 2008” nearly a month later, again in Detroit. Aries would return in a losing effort in a tag match with Kota Ibushi against The Briscoes. After the match, Dave Prazak asked Aries about the whereabouts of Lacey, only to have her hop the guardrail, make out with Aries, and leave with him. Another pivotal night was about to unfold.
The next night, at “Return Engagement” in Chicago, Jacobs first confronts Aries, asserting ownership over Lacey and telling Aries not to touch his stuff. Aries tells Jacobs that true leaders don’t beg people to follow them, and to stay out of his and Lacey’s business. Jacobs is left alone in the ring, screaming “She loves ME!” Later that night, Jacobs again comes out, this time to confront Lacey after a match of hers, and demand that she deny everything Aries said earlier. She dumps Jacobs in the center of the ring, and leaves him a crying mess, as Black, Matthews, and Wonderland get him to the back. Still later in the night, Jacobs orchestrates a ruse for the group to attack Aries, and threatens to slit his throat with the railroad spike. Lacey tries to save Aries, and begs for mercy. Jacobs nearly attacks her with the spike, but can’t bring himself to do it. He breaks down and walks out.
Soon after, in a video posted across ROH platforms, Jacobs confronted Lacey outside a gym, and produced a spike from his cane before the video cut out. It’s left to the viewer’s imagination as to what might have happened, but Lacey does not return. In June, Aries confirms that Lacey will not be returning to Ring of Honor as a result of Jacobs’ attack.
After this, Jacobs’ world would continue to crumble. Matthews and Gowen left the group in June, though the group added MsChief, but Necro Butcher jumped ship in August, following weeks of dissension. Delirious joined in mid-August, and Brodie Lee debuted in October. The group saw mixed success, but seemed somewhat rudderless, and more about cruelty and violence than any true mission. The Jacobs that we saw so briefly in those videos in Chicago what seemed like an eternity ago, but was really only a matter of months was long gone. In his place was the controlling, violent, paranoid, and unstable man who tried to end BJ Whitmer back in March of 2007.
PART VII – End Time
Jimmy Jacobs had everything. He had the love that he always wanted, he had success, and he should have been on top of the world. But because he didn’t know how to redefine himself without his pursuit of Lacey, he insisted that nothing meant anything at all. He denied everything he knew he felt in support of that nihilism, and when Lacey left, everything that Jacobs had built shattered around him, putting the lie to his initial claim that he felt nothing. He still loved Lacey, and he always would. But he had now so convinced himself that love didn’t matter – that the had to destroy the woman who proved it was all a lie. And despite some initial hesitation, he did just that. Love didn’t save Jimmy. It didn’t save Lacey. Maybe he was right after all when he said love doesn’t save.
Driven by the assault on Lacey, Aries routinely got the better of Jacobs in their feud, culminating in an I Quit match at “Rising Above 2008” in November. Lacey made a surprise one-off appearance to save Aries and keep Tyler Black from throwing in the towel for Jacobs, thus forcing him to verbally submit to Aries. Jacobs blamed Black for the humiliation, and at “Final Battle 2008,” Jacobs attacked Black, signaling his ouster.
The Age of the Fall would die off once and for all in June of 2009, when Tyler Black defeated Jacobs in a one-on-one match in Chicago, and ultimately helped hang him from the rafters, just as Jacobs had done to Jay Briscoe on the night The Age of the Fall was born not quite two years prior. Black then declared the group dead and gone.
Jacobs himself would leave Ring of Honor a month later.
EPILOGUE – Love’s Victory
Jacobs would appear and disappear in 2011 and 2013, both times ultimately leading or being a major participant in a heel faction. The final one would be at the behest of former blood rival, BJ Whitmer. Jacobs would embrace the darkness again joining with Whitmer and Strong to form The Decade—a group of men who had been with ROH for the vast majority of its existence, and never left for greener pastures, but did not feel appreciated for their loyalty.
The Decade began to crumble in early 2015, when Jacobs recruited Steve Corino’s son Colby to the group, over the objections of Whitmer, who hated Corino. Jacobs had also begun to defy The Decade’s self-imposed rule of not shaking hands with opponents, angering Whitmer, who believed in the group’s mission. This culminated in Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer—who first fought one-on-one way back in March of 2006—going at it one last time at ROH Supercard of Honor IX, in March of 2015. Whitmer picked up the win over his old rival with an exploder suplex through chairs. But as in so many stories, after the match is where the true magic happened.
Colby Corino attacked Jacobs after the match. The man who had alienated, assaulted, and driven away every friend he’d ever had it seemed finally had no one left. But one person, whom no one expected, was there. Lacey made her shocking return, nearly seven years removed from her last appearance in the company, to save the day and run off Corino. The two embraced and left to the strains of “The Ballad of Lacey” some nine years after it made its first appearance on YouTube.
Jimmy Jacobs was wrong on that autumn night in Chicago back in 2007. Love does save. Accepting another person for who and what they are. To love them because of their faults, because they round out the complete vision of that person, not in spite of them. Jacobs was finally saved by love, years after saying it wasn’t capable of doing so.
Later that night, Jacobs posted a selfie with he and Lacey to his (since deleted) Twitter, captioning it simply “My happy ending.” He has since worked on WWE’s creative team, returned to the indies, and is now working in a creative role with Impact Wrestling. Lacey’s return was a one-off situation, and minus a single match for SHIMMER in October of 2015, Lacey appears to have largely left the business altogether.
Objectively, it’s difficult for me to square Lacey’s departure with her willingness to return and save Jimmy, even if it is years after the fact. As fan service, it’s top notch. But as a culmination of a grand love story, it raises a lot of, frankly uncomfortable questions about Jimmy’s willingness to abuse her during the main run of said story, especially in late 2007 and into mid-2008, and the unquestionably violent way in which she was written out.
It wasn’t said in so many words, but ROH left the viewer to connect the dots. Even if one accepts the most benign interpretation—that Jacobs pulled a blade on her and simply threatened her, scaring her off for good—very few people would celebrate her returning to save him and reunite as a touching love story. At best, it would be considered remarkably poor judgment from a woman previously portrayed as smart, empowered, and strong. At worst, it would be straight-up Stockholm Syndrome.
But maybe I’m reading it all wrong. Maybe in the end, their relationship isn’t meant to be a love story in the sense that we think about it. Maybe it’s about two damaged people who thought they needed to be together romantically to be happy, when in the end, they just realized they needed to be together at all. Maybe the love that saves isn’t romantic love at all, and maybe it’s the love of one person in this world who knows you perhaps even better than you know yourself, and is there for you anyway.
Or maybe it’s just fan service and a way to give Jimmy Jacobs a nice send-off from the company and let him go out a babyface after being a genuinely horrible person for the better part of eight years. But where’s the fun in analyzing that?
As I said earlier, Jimmy Jacobs is now working in a creative role with Impact Wrestling, and I do not know what happened to Lacey after ostensibly leaving the wrestling business. Her name popped up at a SHIMMER show in 2018, but very little outside of that. So I’ll wrap this up by just offering my sincerest hope that she is enjoying retirement from this crazy business we fans love so much, and that she’s happy back in the real world. It’s the least I can do. And in the event that anyone involved in this angle reads this, I want to thank them for an angle that was engrossing, entertaining, engaging, and thought-provoking in a way that few long-term wrestling angles are anymore.
And thank you, dear reader, for coming along for the ride with me. It’s never as much fun to go down memory lane alone.