Ring of Honor has consistently been a promotion that strives to get better each and every time they put on a program. Since 2002, ROH has not only developed talent that has provided fans with memorable matches but has arguably produced the biggest names in wrestling over the last two decades. They boast an alumni list that is a who‘s who of talent that has left a mark in wrestling, even if some of their careers are over. These men include: CM Punk, Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson), Kevin Owens (Kevin Steen), Sami Zayn (El Generico,) Nigel McGuinness, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins (Tyler Black), Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno (Chris Hero,) Austin Aries and Cesaro (Claudio Castagnoli.) However, with opportunities presenting themselves elsewhere, a great deal of talent has continued to leave the promotion. Their reasons for leaving are theirs and theirs alone, but in any event, their departures have left it so other men could assume the role as the ‘next one’ to lead the promotion.
After so many wrestlers have come and gone during the promotion ‘s existence, some question whether or not it will remain as successful with new talent. One thing that is never is a question is the work ethic of ROH talent, week in and week out. Ring of Honor prides itself on putting on the most exciting show possible. The men and women will go all out and provide fans with moments that will leave those in attendance gasping for more. However, while men such as Jay Lethal and Adam Cole are among the most successful talent on the card today, does that mean that they will continue to flourish in the company’s future? The concern is as talented, well-known and established as these two are, who else can the company lean on to lead them forward into 2017 and beyond. It is a time for men that have been a part of the company in small or moderate roles to take on a more prominent position. Who will lead them forward? A few veteran names can be called upon, like Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, Frankie Kazarian and current Ring of Honor champion Christopher Daniels, but that doesn’t mean they are the future of the company.
One of the first names that come to mind is young New Zealander Jay White. As a professional of four years, White met Fergal Devitt, who many know as Finn Balor, after a match, and began to train as part of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s dojo. White competed in New Japan for a couple of years before coming to North America and joining Ring of Honor. While there, White has teamed with the likes of The Motor City Machine Guns and wrestled former ROH champion Jay Briscoe to a time limit draw. As part of the trio of ACH and Kushida, White competed in the finals for the ROH six-man tag team championships, coming up unsuccessful. However, it isn’t his losses that he is measured by, but the impact he has made in the ring during his short time with the promotion. It would be easy to think that White may not be someone the company can lean on, but after finishing in Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s top 500 of 2016, he continues to make a name for himself. He has charisma and charm, suggesting that the future is bright for him. At only 24 years of age, White’s greatest matches and contributions are still ahead of him in Ring of Honor.
A second performer that fans should keep an eye on is someone that many fans in the United Kingdom already know, ‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll. As a twelve-year pro, Scurll has worked to establish a name for himself across the pond in promotions such as Revolution Pro, Insane Championship Wrestling, and Progress Wrestling. However, only a few months after joining Ring of Honor, he captured the Ring of Honor Television Championship in the summer of 2016. Scurll has that ‘It’ quality about him that has made him successful throughout his career. He has won championships everywhere he has been, and his value is clearly evident. The 28-year old can clearly be seen as a major building block for Ring of Honor as part of the present and moving into the future. His current 100 plus day reign as the television champion just shows how much faith the company has in him.
A final name for whom fans can the future is bright is none other than English sensation Will Ospreay. His has been built while competing in both the United Kingdom and Japan. Much like Scurll, the twenty-three-year-old Ospreay not only can be the future of Ring of Honor but is poised to be a major player within the company moving forward. Ospreay earned recognition last year for some of his matches in Japan, including a match between himself and current independent wrestling superstar Ricochet that is still talked about. It is amazing to note that Ospreay has only been competing for a handful of years professionally, and has risen up the ranks of wrestling since debuting at the age of eighteen. Ospreay has become popular because of his acrobatic maneuvers, and while he has been subject to criticism from some, he has also received a great deal of admiration by fans all over the world.
It isn’t doom and gloom for Ring of Honor; it is far from it. Promotion owner, the Sinclair Broadcasting Group, strive to provide a viable option for wrestlers and wrestling fans around the world. Between pay per views, iPPV’s, weekly televised tapings, and cross-promotional events with the likes of CMLL in Mexico and NJPW in Japan, the company is exploring additional ways to build its popularity and recognition around the world. There has never been an ill word said about the company from any of its past talents. In fact, many past ROH wrestlers still maintain positive relationships with the likes of former owner and current executive Cary Silkin. His commitment to the company and desire to have it continue to grow has made him an important part of ROH’s existence. What the company has never committed monetarily to things like pyrotechnics and the ‘entertainment’ experience, it has committed to putting on the best show possible for its fans, with affordable ticket pricing and a focus on wrestling. It would be simple to focus on those that are no longer there and those that have recently left. It would be simple to say that the ROH glass is half empty. However, what many need to remember is that for anyone that has left the company to pursue other endeavors that professional door always remains open. With a fair opportunity and fewer dates, ROH has risen up the ranks to earn both fan and wrestler appeal.
Several men and women continue to commit their time to develop and improve as part of the Ring of Honor’s Dojo, where they develop talent. The regularly infuse the promotion with new talent via the annual top prospect tournament. Every promotion goes through a period of adjustment, and even the most successful of companies have times that they need to restock their talent pool. However, with the likes of the aforementioned Jay White, Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay, the company has brought in men that are young enough and established enough to develop programs with others in the company.
Also, the addition of ‘The American Nightmare’ Cody has given the company another notable name to help secure greater recognition. Many may question how long Cody will remain with the company, but the focus should be what his addition presently also means for the company. Cody is currently in the midst of a feud with another long-time Ring of Honor talent, former Ring of Honor World and Television Champion Jay Lethal. Lethal’s dedication to Ring of Honor (he is often called ‘A Cary Silkin Guy’) shows how much he cares about the company. Lethal had one of the most incredible singles titles runs in the promotion’s history, one that was impossible to ignore. Matching him up against a Bullet Club member, and one as accomplished as Cody will undoubtedly prove to be a monetary and creative success. The feud will merge the contemporary with the nostalgic, and both men will be given freedom to do things that they likely wouldn’t be given in another company. That says a lot about these two relatively young men. Their past experience also suggests that they will show respect for the past. Cody has challenged Lethal to a Texas Bull Rope match, a match made popular by his father ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes, at Supercard of Honor. Only two men are given the liberty these two are, who have a connection to wrestling’s past, could pull off this kind of contest.
Ring of Honor has a few positives working for it. It is important to remember that they continue to work at harnessing that good to create new and exciting programming. Is it perfect? They probably wouldn’t say that, but that doesn’t mean that they will give up. It is important for a long time fans to know that Ring of Honor will continue to strive to be the best it can be, and that they will do so with those that are there.
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