What Ring of Honor Means to Me
With this Saturday night being Ring of Honor’s Final Battle and the “end of an era”, I’ve had a lot of thoughts running through my mind as the event gets closer and closer. Is this the final show Ring of Honor will ever have? Where will the wrestlers go in 2022? Who will be back in Ring of Honor if Ring of Honor decides to come back? Those questions will be answered at a later date and time but I don’t want to think of the negative and think of the positive that this wrestling promotion has given me for the last seventeen years that I’ve watched.
The first time I had heard of Ring of Honor was in January 2004, I’m a senior in high school about to graduate and the wrestling on my television isn’t that good. WWE was feeling like the only game in town while TNA when it was NWA TNA, was still doing $10 a week pay per view shows. While I still feel like it was a good idea it wasn’t going to really keep fans in every week. So one day I’m looking online and I’m starting to see things written about Ring of Honor. So I ask my mom to buy me the first Ring of Honor show and on February 14, 2004 the package came in the mail. The Era of Honor Begins came and I took the DVD, watched the entire show in my room and was instantly hooked. From then on I guess you can say that I was a “Rohbot” and a proud one at that. I would get the DVD’s every chance I could get and to this day still have the show DVD’s in my room. One event I remember in particular that took place was June 12, 2004. That was the day the first Samoa Joe-CM Punk ROH World Title match took place, going to a sixty minute draw in a time and place where the idea of a world title match going sixty minutes was crazy. Why do I remember that match taking place? It was the same day my brother got married, two pretty eventful moments happened on that day.
The first ROH show I went to was in May 2008 in Manassas, Virginia only an hour away from my house. The show which eventually would be known as Southern Navigation, was a fun event for my first ROH show. Going to that show with my dad was such a thrill and we would go to every ROH show in Manassas with the exception of one show for the two years they were running shows there. I honestly can’t remember a bad show in Manassas that I attended and they had all the big names there. Bryan Danielson, Austin Aries, Nigel McGuinness, Roderick Strong, Tyler Black, the Briscoe Brothers just to name a few left an impression on everybody in the arena including me. Perhaps my favorite moment attending the shows in Manassas was the main event of a June 2009 show between Jerry Lynn and Tyler Black. It was a non title match because the next day they would compete in a three way dance with Austin Aries for the ROH World Title. If you’ve never seen this match there is a spot early on where they give each other a snapmare. The move for some reason always got a pop from the crowd but on this particular night, I was laughing as they kept doing this spot for 30 seconds and then when it was over they got a standing ovation. Oh what a night it was.
One of the things that I’ve always been proud to be apart of was the Ring of Honor press conference when they were bought by Sinclair Broadcasting Group in 2011. At the time I was working for a website, Sunset Flip Show, where I wrote wrestling articles and my boss was able to get me a press pass to the press conference. Now I would be lying to everybody reading this if I sad to you it was this big extravagant event with press from all around the world attending. It wasn’t but some of the big names in pro wrestling media were there including Mike Johnson and Dave Scherer of PWInsider who were sitting in the same section as me. This was done before Best in the World 2011 and I felt like that I finally made it in the wrestling media scene, even getting a chance to talk to Jim Cornette for a few minutes about stuff outside of wrestling such as him and Bobby Heenan writing letters to each other.
Of all the things Ring of Honor has done and moments that I remember or was a part of as a fan the one that will always stick with me for the rest of my life was seeing Ring of Honor and New Japan in Madison Square Garden almost three years ago. Being able to go to Madison Square Garden was something I’d always wanted to do since I was a teenager and being able to go with two of my best friends, Brian and Ed, with the adventure we had was such a wonderful weekend I will never forget. Yes there was that OTHER wrestling event happening in New York City that weekend but for us it was the Ring of Honor-New Japan show in Madison Square Garden we wanted to go to. While the reception of the show might not be too favorable, if you were in the crowd that night it had that special feeling. Like you knew you were apart of something historic something special was happening and you could just tell it. With New Japan wrestlers like Jushin Liger, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki, Tetsuya Naito and Kota Ibushi performing in the Garden and seeing men who’ve been on the Ring of Honor roster for so long like Jay Lethal, Jay & Mark Briscoe, Colt Cabana, Matt Taven to finally get a chance to wrestle in perhaps the most “forbidden venue in the world” was something I will take to my grave with a smile on my face knowing I was there and apart of history.
I had missed the time of ECW at its peak by the time I was finally able to see it on TV and there are fans twenty years later who still talk about ECW. I hope in twenty years that Ring of Honor is talked about in that same breathe. Ring of Honor might have had more wrestlers who ended up becoming big time names wrestle in this promotion then any other in history with the exception of WWE. However unlike WWE, Ring of Honor created these stars that would end up legends and hall of famers in this sport. Stars like Low Ki, Christopher Daniels, Bryan Danielson, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Colt Cabana, Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, Tyler Black, Jay Lethal, Jonathan Gresham, Homicide, Jay & Mark Briscoe, Claudio Castagnoli, Kevin Steen, El Generico and so many more. Which other promotion can lay claim they’ve had on their shows Eddie Guerrero, Ric Flair, Mitsuharu Misawa, Kenta Kobashi, Great Muta, Satoshi Kojima, KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji, Rush, CIMA, Tomohiro Ishii and Bret Hart? None, except one. That one is Ring of Honor.
Ring of Honor will always have a special place in my heart as I said in the beginning of the article it saved me from getting out of pro wrestling and no matter what the future holds for this promotion I will continue to support them, why? Because it represents the future of wrestling, long before AEW and GCW, Ring of Honor was THE place to go if you wanted to make a name in independent wrestling. It’s effect will forever be felt by the business and we should thank people like Gabe Sapolsky, Cary Silkin, Dave Prazak, Lenny Leonard, Caprice Coleman and Ian Riccaboni for what they’ve done. We should also thank the women for being trail blazers in Ring of Honor, women like Allison Danger, Alexis Laree (Mickie James), Sara Del Rey, Lacey, Daizee Haze, Jade Chung, Becky Bayless, Sumie Sakai and Maria Kanellis for being able to put women’s wrestling back on the map in the United States. Like people chant ECW at shows twenty years after its last show, I will continue to chant ROH at shows even twenty years from now. So if you watch Final Battle this Saturday or not, remember all the good this promotion has brought us and everybody who has had the chance to work in Ring of Honor.
ROH! ROH! ROH!
Honestly, the importance of ROH over the last two decades cannot be understated. Look at the main event talent of the 3 biggest companies.
Seth Rollins (Tyler Black)
Sami Zayn (El Generico)
Kevin Owens (Kevin Steen)
Damien Priest (Punisher Martinez)
Viking Raiders (War Machine)
All passed through and many even held gold in ROH. Hell, at one point very recently NXT was a who’s who of ROH former champions.
Impact Wrestling was built on the back of ROH. They spent many of their early years trading talent with ROH. Damn near every wrestler on their roster built a name in ROH at one point.
AEW wouldn’t exist without ROH. Young Bucks, Omega, Mox, Punk, Danielson, Cole, Fish, Cody, Brodie Lee, Archer, Kingston, Matt Hardy, the list goes on and on, all the guys came up in or rebuilt themselves through ROH.
Tbe end of an era is not just a cute thing to say, its legitimately a thing. And the impact they have isn’t done yet. There’s a new crop of guys that are about to need btw homes that can immediately change the entire roster of whichever company they go to. Its a sad day for wrestling, but also the beginning of a very interesting new chapter.