Back in the summer of 2015 the first working agreement between two major companies would make news as both New Japan & Ring of Honor would enter into an agreement. Now at the time I would probably be right up there with everyone else saying I was taken off guard at first by the agreement and sort of dumbfounded but they made it work. This relationship has been able to bring to light just how good NJPW has done in building homegrown stars. Given this agreement we were able to see dream matches like Kevin Steen vs Shinsuke Nakamura & Jushin Liger vs Adam Cole.
Since the start of their agreement we have see a few co-promoted events and in return we have seen a lot of matches we didn't even know we wanted to see. Also ROH even had New Japan stars capture ROH championships and vice versa. But I am going to make a bold statement that the Bullet Club wouldn't have gotten as much attention in the United States without having the ROH platform to continue their development.
Now back in the day when I first began to watch ROH I would wonder why Kenny Omega would come and go and never really stick around in the company. As the years gone by I figured out that Kenny preferred being overseas in Japan to the American and now because of the NJPW Kenny is a major star in the States. Late last year the announcement was made that due to there agreement with NJPW it opened the door for them to begin working with CMLL down in Mexico. I think it's fair to say that they have really done a great job of showing how a working agreement could benefit a company.
Earlier this year we saw the biggest signings in Ring of Honor history where the company actually brought both Bully Ray and the Hardy Boys into the company. These two where the biggest names the company had signed in the history of the company. Thus far since his run began with the company he has held the World 6-Man Tag Team titles with the Briscoe Brothers and as far as I know he hasn't done too much since. But that doesn't change the fact that Bully is about as well known as anyone on the roster.
Bully carries a lot of name recognition and value much like a Cody Rhodes or Hardy Boys do, but I feel like Bully could be more. I mean don't get me wrong Cody has been an amazing signing for ROH, but I just feel like Bully could be doing more. I do realize this could just be Bully wanting to be in the background and just help the company in ways other than occupying a main event spot which is a good thing. However, a feud or even just a match between Bully & Cody would be dynamite in my book and could help further establish Cody as household name in wrestling. Also with Bully's partnership with the Briscoe's still fresh imagine Bully teaming with them against the Bullet Club. That would definitly make things interesting to say the least in ROH and allow Jay & Mark to face Cody as well. The best thing about Bully though is that he could also feud with Kenny King as King moves to establish himself in singles action again.
The series continues but this is a different installment of the series then the last couple as this isn't about a top contender for the World Title. To mix things up I am switching gears and looking at someone who could be a top contender for the Television champion. Over the years Ring of Honor has been tremendously consistent when it comes to developing new talent and getting fresh faces over. When The Decade started to expand and bring in a protégé we start to wonder how much of a star that Adam Page could become. When he began to work with names like Jimmy Jacobs, BJ Whitmer, and Roderick Strong that is when his stock really began to rise and he actually started to stick out from the pack. Following the end of The Decade group Adam had fallen off, but since his arrival in Japan as the Hangman things have really began to change.
Since his start as a member of the Bullet Club the question maybe rising to see if ROH would invest in the Hangman like New Japan has. Page is still very young and is still sort of a fresh face for the company even though he has been there for a while and allowing him to capitalize on the success of the Bullet Club. The other reason that I have chosen to include Adam in this part of the series is because of him working in Japan, and Kushida also working in Japan which means they could also feud in Japan as well as in ROH. Overall I think that Adam could be a very interesting opponent for Kushida and the television title.
With the signing of Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O' Riley to NXT the Ring of Honor roster has a few wholes in it. The typical ROH talent is one that is unknown to wrestling fans and one that ROH can build from the ground up. I am aware that recently ROH has signed some known faces like Bully Ray and Cody Rhodes, but they still have more of a track record of signing unknown talent.
In doing some research I have found a name that really fits the normal ROH status for new talent and that is Desmond Xavier. Even though Xavier is currently under contract with Impact Wrestling and may not be able to appear in ROH. However, Xavier does fit the model of someone who would be in the Top Prospect tournament and someone that could have a future in ROH. Desmond fits the model as someone who joins the company to keep ROH ahead of the curve and allow the company to always keep moving forward.
Though this name may not carry as much weight as he did in the past as there was a time when BJ was the hottest heel in wrestling. At one point dare I say BJ was at one point the best man on the microphone in wrestling. His feud with Steve Corino was extremely organic and had the proper drawn out build for a feud like this. Also let's not forget the phony retirement angle that they did with BJ back a few years ago which set up the start of "Decade" group with him, Jimmy Jacobs and Roderick Strong.
At this point, I am unsure of BJ's status as an active performer or one that they'd give top billing to but I think that given the chance he could still draw and crowd and gain interest in a match between him and either of the two champions. Whitmer maybe in the latter years of his career, but in my opinion it is a shame that his talent wasn't used in a World Title feud at least once during his career because I think it could've been a really hot feud. Overall, BJ is a tremendously talented competitor and in many respects throwback to stars of the past with the amount of heat that he can get from fans, and I would love to see him get one more run or maybe manage someone to a run after his time in the ring is over.
One thing that most fans don't realize is that Christopher Daniels actually debuted in wrestling way back in 1993 as a part of the Windy City Wrestling promotion out of Chicago. His career didn't take off until the latter part of the 1990's when he began working for companies like ECWA and All Pro-wrestling. Chris would then spend time in the big three companies as a local talent competing in number of matches for the WWF and having a highlight match with Michael Modest. During the match Chris would botch a springboard moon-sault and land on his head but would in fact finish the match. Even though in most cases the wrestling business took a hit in 2001 when WCW was bought it was here when Chris would see his career take off as he would be one of the founding fathers of both ROH & TNA wrestling.
Now if we fast forward 15 years and look at Chris's career in hindsight during his career we can see that he was always more considered a tag team wrestler as opposed a singles wrestler. For the last few years Chris has been within the prime of his career in a team with Kazarian. Then in February, Chris would shock the wrestling world by defeating then champion Adam Cole to become ROH World Champion. This would be Daniels first World title win of his career and the leader of the company for the first time.
At this point though I do believe that Daniels needs to move to the back of the line especially with his recent match against Cody on TV now in the past it might be time to move on from the title for now. Daniels should now move onto something different, but not move far enough away from that he couldn't be brought back into the picture in the future.
It's hard to believe how much the world of pro-wrestling has changed in the last 3 years and you can see just by looking at this match. The first to leave the Indies from this match was Kevin Steen who would join the WWE and become Kevin Owens. As for Shinsuke he along with AJ Styles, Anderson, and Doc Gallows all chose to leave NJPW at the time following Wrestle Kingdom 10.
The WWE isn't the only company that has gone through vast change in the last couple of years as ROH has seen a tremendous amount of change as well. At this point names like Kevin Steen, El Generico, Roderick Strong, and others covered the top of ROH events. In modern ROH none of those names listed are still a part of the company as they all have moved on. The year 2017 has already presented various dream matches all over the world of wrestling and the next year will be accentual in shaping the wrestling world for years to come.
Basically, my point is another to the idea of open your eyes. They used to be here in ROH and tore the house down at War of the Worlds and it's match that once seen you will not forget. It's that good!!
Recently, Ring of Honor celebrated their 15 year anniversary holding their first show in February 2002. Most people may not know at this point that ROH didn't crown a World Champion on their first show. ROH didn't crown a World Champion until the month of July on the show fittingly named event called "Crowning a Champion."
The reasoning behind not crowing a World Champion on the first show is two fold as most companies may not be able to afford a World Title belt right away. The other reason is because you have to also have someone on your roster worthy of the title meaning someone who you could turn into a regular roster member for the company.
Looking at this show their are a few names that I am surprised to see like a Jeremy Lopez who was often used as a job guy in the later years of WCW. Then you look at the amount of raw talent on this show from AJ Styles to Low Ki to Christopher Daniels to Bryan Danielson to Jay Briscoe and the list can keep going and going. Though the ROH roster was fantastic at this point I think it might be even better in the modern day.
Tony Mamaluke Def. (Sub) Jeremy Lopez
Christian York & Joey Matthews Def. (Pin) Jacob's Ladder & Prince Nana
Bio-Hazard & Michael Shane Def. (Pin) Don Juan & Paul London
Mafia & Monsta Mack Def. (Pin) Chris Divine & Quiet Storm
James Maritato Def. (Pin) Jay Briscoe
Boogalou & Homicide Def. (Sub) H. C. Loc & Tony DeVito "Bunkhouse" (Tag)
A.J. Styles (C) Def. (Pin) Adam Jacobs, David Young Three-Way DanceNWA X-Division Title
Dunn & Marcos & Mike Tobin Def. (Pin) Black Gordman, Jr. & Brian XL & Dixie 6-Person Tag
Scoot Andrews Def. (Pin) Xavier
Low Ki Def. (Pin) Christopher Daniels, Doug Williams, Spanky 60 Minute Iron-man (4-Way) ROH World Heavyweight Title
Trying a new series to help boost the content of Ring of Honor articles on the site I came up with the idea of looking at some of the top contenders for the various championships in the companies outside WWE. Over the last few years very people have seen their stock rise as much as Jay Lethal's has. Ring of Honor have done a phenomenal job of building up Jay and allowing him to not just carry the ball, but also reach the potential that all of always knew he had.
Since his title reign ended ROH has really tried to give fans a break from Jay being in the title picture which is a good thing as he spent around two years leading the company. With his feud against Cody Rhodes being somewhat underrated and the building block for Cody to reach the World Title I think there is some meat left on the bones for that feud to be revisited. However, I think that ROH would be more beneficial to keep Jay out of the World Title picture for at least most of this year to keep the title picture fresh and maybe allow Cody a longer run.
At this point, I think that Jay could help Ring of Honor by being partnered with and up and coming talent to help the company bring up and new star with the help of an established talent. Eventually I do think that Jay will be back in the World Title picture, but I think that ROH would be better off keeping Jay out for right now which is the reason why I list Jay at number 5.
The main reason why I will always believe that Ring of Honor will always stay one step ahead of there competition is that they have a fantastic eye for talent. For the last 15 years they have been developing unknowns into household names and international superstars. With the advent of the Top Prospect tournament it has allowed ROH to keep a pulse on the hottest young stars in wrestling.
Actually, the 2016 winner of the top prospect tournament and former television champion Lio Rush is heading to a new home. After his most contract expired with ROH it was the young up and comer who decided it was time to leave as he received an offer from WWE. At last word it seems that Lio has signed a contract with NXT and will likely begin in the performance center in the early part of the fall. This is an amazing opportunity to Lio and I would like to wish him the best as he tries to make his mark in the WWE.
On the other side of the coin we have Flip Gordon who had recently signed a contract with ROH and joined the roster. I think it is fair to say that ROH maybe in a period of healthy transition as some members of the old guard are leaving to make way for new faces. A little background on Flip is that he was once in the US Army prior to trying his hand in wrestling and now will be able to go to the company that has had tremendous amounts of success developing talent from the ground up.
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