Every ROH really kicks off the new year with a Top Prospect Tournament where the winner receives a TV Title Shot and a contract with Ring of Honor. Past participants include Mike Bennett, Kyle O' Reilly, Cheeseburger, War Machine and others. This years tournament kicks off on January the 9th in Concord, North Carolina. This years participants include:
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Ben "Action" Ortiz: According to ROH, Ortiz is the first graduate of Tommy Dreamer's training school and has an MMA background, both in the cage and in Muai Thai. Ortiz has drawn comparisons from Tommy Dreamer to the likes of Samoa Joe & Bam Bam Bigelow. I think "Action" Ortiz would bring a unique set of skills that was once really prominent in Ring of Honor and now has become a lost art to the forefront in the tournament.
Lio Rush: This young man has been praised by a lot of people recently and actually just won gold not more then 2 weeks ago at CZW Cage of Death 17 where he captured the CZW Wired TV Title. DJ Hyde has some big plans for Lio in 2016, but then again I guess DJ isn't the only person who might have big plans for this young man. The 2015 Shane Shamrock Cup winner looks to continue his string of success in 2016. Rush is a unique blend of high flying and ground game which makes him even harder to handle.
Punisher Martinez: A graduate of the World Famous Monster Factory in Paulsboro, NJ he has been touted as Giant of the next generation. Martinez being 6'6 and 253 pounds makes his background in traditional Japanese Go Ju Ryu karate all the more dangerous. "But Martinez is also skilled in grappling and mat wrestling, a rarity for someone of his size, through training with UFC and All-American amateur wrestlers."
One of the reasons that Ring of Honor has slowly become the US alternative to WWE is because they do things that make them stick out from the other companies. One of those concepts that really makes them stick out is Survival of the fittest. For those who may not know what the Survival of the Fittest actually is then I suggest following this link.
Now there comes a time when all wrestling fans learn new things about pro-wrestling depending on how deeply in grained they are in the wrestling world. At one point I considered myself a major smark to the point that I thought I could jump right in and just book any company. However, in recent years I realized how little I actually knew about behind the scenes of pro-wrestling. Following this event we would end up seeing Eddie Edwards go up against Roderick Strong at Manhattan Mayhem which at the time I thought was just a "house show." Keeping this in mind I was shocked at the end of Manhattan Mayhem to find that Eddie would win the title.
Following this event I would stop trying to be a smark when I went to wrestling shows and I just sat back and enjoyed the show like your suppose to do. What I mean is that I don't sit there anymore and think about what is going to happen before it does & instead I just watch the show. So in a way this event really started in changing my perspective on how I see wrestling and moving me more to the idea of being a fan & less of being a mark. Yes! I know that Manhattan Mayhem should be the event in question, but let me just ask this question "Why was Eddie in the World Title match? Exactly!!
Rhett Titus def. Colt Cabana
Claudio Castagnoli def. Grizzly Redwood
Kevin Steen def. Kyle O'Reilly
Adam Cole def. Steve Corino
Eddie Edwards def. Chris Hero
Kenny King def. El Generico
Homicide def. Andy Ridge
Christopher Daniels & Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe def. Michael Elgin & Roderick Strong & Zach Gowen 6 Man Tag Match
Eddie Edwards def. Adam Cole, Claudio Castagnoli, Kenny King, Kevin Steen, Rhett Titus "Survival of the Fittest" (6-way)
Earlier in 2017 the wrestling world was shocked to see both the Hardy's and Bubba Ray show up in Ring of Honor. Since then Bully actually held the 6 man tag team titles with The Briscoe's and though I am unaware of what he has done other than that but the fact that he had a run in him says something. Looking back to the WWE run that the Dudley Boys had I am happy that they were able to have one more run with the company before they hung up the boots. Now I would've liked to have seen Bully gain a singles push in WWE, but he did get his singles run.
In reality I had no idea that this happened and was pretty surprised when I did see that Bully announced his retirement. I am guessing that all Bully really wanted was one more run on his own in a company that he never had been before. As Bully said in the promo he always wanted to be in a Ring of Honor ring at least once and now he has held Tag Team gold in every major company. Over his career Ray has been Tag Team champion for ECW, NJPW, TNA, WWE, and ROH which is an incredible accomplishment in itself and really shows how much of a legend he has become.
If this is the end for Bully Ray and he is calling it a career after nearly 22 years in the spotlight and building a reputation for being one of the greatest Tag Team Champions. Seeing names like Bully hang up the boots well kinda makes feel old, but also allows me to know that new faces will enter that same spotlight that Bully held so dear for the last two decades. Thank you Bully/Bubba Ray for all the moments and memories during your career you are and will always be a tremendous talent. Also I think that now could be the moment that means next year will be the Dudley's year for the WWE Hall of Fame "Oh my Brotha Testifying!"
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!!
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