After having a 58 year stranglehold on the "World's Most Famous Arena" a company not in some form tied to the WWE will be running a wrestling show in the hallowed halls. For the first time Ring of Honor along with New Japan will be promoting a show from the arena that the WWE helped put on the map. It is crazy for me to think that names like Okada, Lethal, Tanahashi, Naito, and others will finally be able to wrestle in the same ring that greats like Bruno Sammartino, Ivan Koloff, and Hogan worked in so many times. I have been watching Ring of Honor for years and never thought they'd make it to the Garden.
The road for them to get here has been incredibly difficult and I don't mean over the years I mean fighting with WWE and the Garden to get here. At first the WWE did make a call to get the show blocked from running, and I am not sure how it happened but I am very glad it did. The reason I am is because this now raises the bar for WrestleMania weekend as we never have a competitor running in such a major venue. Accomplishment aside this makes WrestleMania weekend even more of a big deal because New Japan has never come this far into the United States before and they've certainly never ran the Garden.
Overall this event will be a major step for not just Ring of Honor, but also New Japan because I believe they had a show in New Jersey with some talent but never New York. Now I don't think this will start a war between ROH and WWE nor should it because Ring of Honor will lose but this could help them be looked at as more legitimate in mainstream wrestling. All and all this event has made 2019 have a chance to be one of the best years wrestling has seen in recent memory and it hasn't even started yet.
I was in the arena live for this match and was surprised at few things about this match. The first thing was how well they built it up and really got Dalton over as one of the companies top stars in such a sort period of time. This feud really proved that with the right booking someone can get over and in a big way just like Dalton did. The other thing that surprised me is just how good Cody has gotten since his departure from WWE; I mean the amount of depth, and ability that he has shown is insane and shows just what WWE had missed out on by not giving him a chance.
Overall I think that this match was surprisingly better then I thought it be and in my opinion it might be one of the more underrated moments from Final Battle last year. This match also put on display exactly why Ring of Honor will always stay ahead of other companies, because they will always try to make new stars like a certain NXT champion.
I chose to go a little differently picking a talent that a lot of fans might not know actually worked for Ring of Honor at one point. Current WWE Champion AJ Styles would start with Ring of Honor in April at the companies third event called Night of Appreciation. For historical purposes AJ would face off with Christopher Daniels at the Road to the Title event in June 2002 which shows how long these two actually fought each other. Though there is no doubt that AJ Styles had a longer legacy in Impact Wrestling accomplished more in that company then just about anyone, but his first few years were spent helping build not just Impact Wrestling, but also Ring of Honor.
From the start of his run in Ring of Honor they had AJ Styles as one of the featured talents in the company; and it is interesting to think just how different his career would've been if he remained in ROH a little longer. Styles would leave ROH in 2006 and head to TNA full time where he would call home for the next 12 years before leaving the company in 2014. He would then return to ROH in January 2014 defeating Roderick Strong in his return and though he didn't stick around long this time either as he would move to New Japan shortly after his return. I will point out that at this time New Japan and ROH had just begun their working agreement so AJ did stay in the company and was able to help with the early days of Bullet Club expansion.
Overall AJ Styles is in my opinion a forgotten member of early Ring of Honor and I will be honest that I didn't know he actually held gold in the company. AJ held both the Tag Team titles and Pure Championship during his first run with the company. Another little historical note AJ Styles would actually defeat CM Punk to become the first ROH Pure Champion. If I could pick one phrase to describe AJ Styles time in Ring of Honor it would be "What if" and I don't think anyone expected AJ to be where he is now, but the question is would you rather him be somewhere else or where he is currently.
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