One of the reasons that Ring of Honor has always stayed ahead of the curve as far as being able to find new talent to replace those who have left for other companies. Though things seem to have slowed in recent years with very few names walking away from Ring of Honor that hasn't stopped the company from keeping the fresh talent coming. A name that has really seen his stock rise is former Army National Guard combat engineer Flip Gordon. I remember writing about Flip signing with Ring of Honor back in 2017 and thinking that his status as veteran makes him a unique case especially factoring his age into the mix.
For those who may not be aware Flip served as a member of the Army National Guard for six years before receiving his honorable discharged in May of 2018. Keeping that in mind it does fit the point I made above with Flip being a unique talent considering him being an active member of the National Guard while competing in the world of wrestling is something special. But now with Flip discharged from the army he can focus on wrestling and continue become a more well rounded competitor.
Overall his match at All In wasn't the best but it did do its job as a solid match in the middle of the show. Plus it was the culmination of months of build with him begging to be booked on the show and earning his way on to All In. Though it was clear that he wasn't going to win they definitely had him put in a good showing against Lethal and I think a few years down the road the match could've gone differently. In my opinion the one thing that Flip showed in the match at All In is that he could have a bright future ahead of him in wrestling if he continues to grow and be booked the way he was at the event.
Let the post All In discussion begin as in my opinion one of the highlights of the show was Jay Lethal vs Flip Gordon. To get something out of the way first with the match at All In it became clear that Ring of Honor has high hopes for Flip Gordon and I think that Flip has a bright future in not ROH, but wrestling in general. Fact is though it is too early for Flip to be considered a top contender for the World Title, because much like Jay White in Japan they are both very early in their young careers.
With that out of the way let's shift our focus the main idea of this article and that the talent of Jay Lethal. Early on in his career we really didn't see much potential in Jay as someone who would be able to lead a company as World Champion, but that really changed for me early in his second run with ROH. Upon his return to Ring of Honor it seemed like Jay had something to prove almost like he wanted to prove critics or nay sayers wrong that he was the total package. Don't get me wrong we did get a glimpse of his entertainment value when he and Flair had a back n forth the only problem was that push went nowhere.
For those who missed the match Jay went back in time to his "Black Machismo" days and spent some parts of the match imitating the "Macho Man." With Lanny in his corner Jay & Flip had one of the top matches on a really show and I think that Jay should be given a lot of credit for getting big match feel out of the unproven Gordon. This event was the first step for ROH and the Indies to usher in a new era for the promotions and the next step will happen in MSG next year. But I don't think there is someone better in the company currently to lead the charge into ROH's new era, because All In Jay Lethal showed exactly why he is the leader of Ring of Honor.
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.
At first I didn't think I'd be writing about this topic because when the show was canceled I didn't really think there was anything to write about. However, late last week a shocking announcement was made late last week that the planned Ring of Honor show will happen over Wrestlemania weekend as planned but with a twist as New Japan has joined in. This brings about an interesting idea as I don't think New Japan has ever come this far into the United States let alone to New York.
It is honestly nuts to think about how far ROH has come in the last few years as I've been going to Final Battle on and off since around 2010 right across the street from MSG at the Manhattan Center. Now they will be in the "World's Most Famous" arena, I for one can say that I am very proud to be a fan of ROH & to see how far they have come.
One friend always says how healthy the wrestling business is right now and how different things are and this is complete proof of that idea. For the last 58 years no other wrestling promotion has held an event at Madison Square Garden other the WWE and on April 9, 2019 all that will change as New Japan and Ring of Honor will open the door for a new era. Overall though think about seeing the likes of Okada, Kenny Omega, Tetsuya Naito and others in MSG is something I never thought would happen and am looking forward to it.
Last December Ring of Honor shocked the world when Dalton Castle defeated Cody to gain the Ring of Honor World title. Now don't get me wrong Castle had a ton of momentum and it seemed like he finally hit his stride as a top flight competitor. But it was still a shock to see really the only true gimmick wrestler in the sport gain the top prize in a known American promotion. However, as everyone knew his run had to come to an end and that happened last weekend when Jay Lethal became the new World Champion.
In the past Jay was not only the World Champion, but at the time was also the face of the company having just held the Television title for over year and holding both titles at the same time. It has been a while since the last time we saw Lethal in the top spot with ROH and though I don't think it's possible for him to have gotten better it will be interesting to see if this run will be half as good as his last. Take a look at the match below:
On paper this seems like an underrated match but I attended the show and don't remember seeing this match. Though this doesn't speak to anything other than the match being uneventful and more or less filler but I think it was a solid opener from what I remember. However, Matt Taven is a perfect indication as to what I like about wrestling as he has not only gotten better in recent years but has always found a role. At this point I don't think that I need to elaborate on Will Osprey and just how great he is in the ring.
Recently a lot of WWE stars have been succeed in their second runs with the company and I am specifically looking at one former ROH star and my pick for "Stars of the Past." Now his first run in WWE didn't end very well and he ended up back in the company returning at the end of Final Battle in December 2013 attacking Adam Cole & Matt Hardy. Funny how things change over the course of a few years but this is where our story begins as something was different Hero in his second ROH run. In his second run it was almost like he didn't belong in the company anymore for whatever reason it just felt like the company and Hero didn't fit anymore. However, after his extensively long run with the company it wasn't surprising that the feeling was there and that maybe it was time for both parties to just move on.
Looking back at the beginning of his run with the company it saw Hero along with Nerco Butcher portray invaders from Combat Zone Wrestling and feuding with the entire ROH Roster. This was an incredible way to make an entrance into a company and really set Hero up for an amazing run with the company as the feud was masterfully booked. From there Hero would transition to singles competition with Larry Sweeny as his manager and would actually be the top member of his stable Sweet N Sour Inc.
Near the end of 2009 we would see the return of the Kings of Wrestling and this would be the run that allowed them to become the top team in the world of wrestling and in many ways how they got signed by WWE. Now don't get me wrong Hero was good enough to carry himself as a singles competitor, but just hit a new level in a tag team. Hero has always been a throwback to the stars of the old days and not just cause of his in ring skills and how he typically is very hard hitting like many older stars. One of the more interesting things about Chris Hero is that even that he is under contract with the WWE the big company still let's him compete in smaller companies from time to time which is something they never did.
As always wrestling gives us both great memories and memories we try and forget, but with the amount of moments worth remembering that have happened we are bound to forget some. The same could be said about some talent that were very much underrated during their career or never at the top of a company during a run this unfortunately makes it easier for fans to forget certain talent. These two are very different talent and had two very different careers while they worked in this great business. Also sometimes we encounter those that deserve to be remembered and acknowledged. I would like to wish a very big Happy Birthday to all who are celebrating their special day today and especially to the one featured below.
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