With the biggest PPV event of the calendar year now in the rear view I thought it would be the right time to look back and see the state of the company. Last year I will admit that I was hype critical of certain aspects of Ring of Honor and still am not a fan of those aspect of the company. However, that doesn't keep from being a fan of the company and really want the best for the company which is the same thing I have said about the other companies. Don't get me wrong I would prefer to avoid this conversation as it could be me as a broken record. Below are two of the main prospects that I think should be focused on when looking at 2017 and Ring of Honor:
First of all it is hard not to mention the expanding working agreement that has formed between CMLL, NJPW, and Ring of Honor. The amount of talent that ROH has been able to have access to this year because of that agreement is incredible. Also the fact that ROH has given fans in the states another way to see the Bullet Club who are by far the hottest group in wrestling has helped to no end. This has also given ROH the ability to always have back up if a talent like Adam Cole is signed away because they know that NJPW & CMLL will work with them look at both KUSHIDA & Jay White as examples.
However, the one thing that still in my opinion needs to be addressed is the booking style of the company. The reason I say this is because watching Final Battle I still feel as though ROH still tries to make every match feel like the best match of the show or match of the year. In my opinion not every match needs to be looked at as the best match on the show and though this could be an old school mentality the main event should be the best match or at least a top match. The one thing though is that instead of giving every match enough time to feel like a big match every though shouldn't all feel that way. One reason that all the matches shouldn't be allowed a lot of time is because it makes it tough to allow fans to differentiate between the matches.
Last weekend I actually was at the Manhattan Center live for the biggest event of the Ring of Honor calendar year with Final Battle taking place. As always Final Battle lived up to the expectations and even some of the way over stepping the expectations for matches. However, I was very surprised by the showing that Punishment Martinez in the Four Corners Television Title Match. Now I am not going to lie that one spot Martinez does where he powerbombs his opponent on the apron using the last the ride which I think isn't even a finish.
In my opinion some move shouldn't be used during a match and should only be things that should be used to write talent off. The last time I saw him perform the move I actually removed ROH from the site for a bit due to my opinion of the move being too far.
However, seeing Martinez perform live he is extremely talented and a very athletic talent with a bright future. There was a time when I did think that he would actually win the match and become champion, but thinking about it I still think he really isn't ready for the title but he is capable of someone being pushed next year. For a big man he moves around excessively quick and has a ton of potential, but for me he needs to drop his stuff outside the ring and focus on character development to bring him to the next level.
With Final Battle 24 hours away from airing I thought it would be fitting to find a match from Ring of Honor for the Match of the Week. This four corners has such an assortment of talent and just different styles clashing in this one from the early days of the NJPW/ROH working agreement. For those who aren't aware of Nakamura's US status before being signed by WWE he actually had competed in a few matches for ROH the year before leaving NJPW.
Also even though only two of the stars still remain with ROH this puts on display the ability this company know has to call upon NJPW when they want to give a show a unique feel. Looking ahead to Final Battle the event promise to live up to the name of ROH's biggest event of the year far none.
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:
For more information on the event and more: Click Here
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.
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