I have written far too little about Ring of Honor. As someone who was a fan of the original ECW, neither of the big two come close to being as good as the ROH product on a consistent basis in my opinion.
If you’re not familiar with Ring of Honor, it was founded by Paul Heyman’s #1, Gabe Sapolsky in 2002. Some of the stars and superstars that ROH has produced to TNA and WWE since their inception are;
- CM Punk
- Daniel Bryan
- Samoa Joe
- Seth Rollins
- Austin Aries
- Low Ki/ Kaval
The Ring of Honor product, style, and presentation has also been copied/used to build TNA’s X Divsion as well as WWE’s developmental territory NXT.
Years before either Chris Jericho or CM Punk were inserting the label Best in the World into their promos and onto their merchandise, fans were shouting those words after seeing ROH’s finest matches to the point they named their biggest show of the year Best in the World, which takes place every June.
If you’re an older wrestling fan who liked the Original ECW; then Ring of Honor is the product for your. If you’re a younger fan who likes NXT better than either RAW or Smackdown; Ring of Honor is the product for you.
I saw ROH live for the first time in 2005, during their 3rd Anniversary Show. The main event was Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe for the ROH World Title. I was hooked. The show stealer was Brian Danielson vs Homicide in a Falls Count Anywhere Match.
Ring of Honor has long been established as the top American independent professional wrestling promotion. They are the ECW of this era. They are about the best between the ropes, bell to bell wrestling on the planet. They are the only product in America that can rival the between the ropes action of Japan. If you like the matches that CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro have been having on WWE TV for the last two years, then you’ll love Ring of Honor.
I have seen ROH live at least once a year, every year, since 2005. The product not only thoroughly entertains me, but consistently restores my faith in pro wrestling. My personal taste is pro wrestling is no better or worse than anyone else’s. I care far less about storylines and characters than I do about fast paced, physical, high intensity pro wrestling matches. I am fully aware that to draw big money like WWE has done for 50 years, the model of success is inverted from my taste.
Since 2010, there are very few who have seen the product who would disagree with the thought of; if ROH had the corporate backing that TNA has had, ROH would be in a much more prominent place in the pro wrestling and sports entertainment landscape. ROH has routinely proven they are able to produce memorable, unique, entertaining characters, promos, and storylines. People like Jimmy Jacobs, Truth Martini, and Kevin Steen have been involved in programs and promos that would have slid perfectly into the WWE’s Attitude Era.
What makes ROH great in my opinion is that in their world/universe, wrestling didn’t stop evolving after the end of the Attitude Era. They didn’t hit the pause, rewind, or erase buttons in the wake of the Austin/Rock retirements, the Chris Benoit incident, or the John Cena PG Era. ROH is what ECW on SyFy would have looked like if Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer would have been allowed to control the product as opposed to Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon.
It is important that there be three major pro wrestling promotions operating within the United States. For the purpose of competition, innovation, and evolution of the business as a whole.
- NWA, AWA, and WWWF
- WWF, WCW, and ECW
- WWE, TNA, and ROH
Me and all the other smart marks will keep crossing our fingers and hoping someone with a lot of money decides to invest in ROH. They can make it if money isn’t as much of a limiting issue as it has always been for them. They have manufactured new superstars. They have a unique presentation style. They believe in storyline continuity and character evolution. Their product doesn’t insult anyone’s intelligence. The product would fit like a glove on FX, Adult Swim, or Showtime. The product isn’t overly vulgar or obscene. ROH routinely walks the line between family friendly and for adults only, they always have, and have always had the proper proportions.
Without ROH I likely wouldn’t be a wrestling fan anymore. What John Cena and the PG Era did to WWE and what Hulk Hogan and Eric Bishoff did to TNA were both more than enough for me to do, what so many fans of my generation have done; make a permanent switch to exclusive mixed martial arts viewing. But ROH pulls me back from the ledge everytime I need to be. With their great matches, clean finishes, intense rivalries, straight to the point promos, and continuous evolution I can’t recommend ROH enough to the casual fan whose looking for something different to Super Cena and the not ready for prime time booking of Impact Wrestling.