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What is Ring Of Honor?

NOTE: This is the latest in my series of explainer articles about pro wrestling promotions. Those include What Was TNA?, What is New Japan Pro Wrestling? and You Need To Watch Lucha Underground.

Updated per July 14

So, what’s Ring of Honor?

Ring of Honor (ROH) is a pro wrestling promotion with its headquarters in Baltimore, MD. It is similar to WWE in that it is a traveling promotion that divides its content between TV tapings and PPV events.

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To put its age in perspective, ROH just celebrated its 15th anniversary, whereas WWE has been around for 37 years and New Japan Pro Wrestling just reached its 45th anniversary.

What Makes ROH Different?

Founded in 2002, Ring of Honor filled part of the void left by promotions such as ECW and WCW (both bought out by WWE). Its stronger focus on the in-ring wrestling strikes a balance between WWE’s campy Sports Entertainment and NJPW’s strict Purowresu.

In short, “ROH is about the wrestling!" 

Most recently, Ring of Honor appeared in the headlines in a Pro Wrestling Sheet report stating WWE’s attempts to purchase the promotion.

Why Would WWE Want ROH?

WWE didn’t buy the promotion, but the main suggested reason for WWE to acquire ROH was for its library of footage. Historically, ROH is where many future top WWE talents have honed their craft, such as Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe, and Seth Rollins (also, CM Punk, but WWE doesn’t acknowledge him anymore).

The events where those wrestlers appeared could be harvested for future packages and WWE network specials. Further, the archive of ROH PPVs would make the WWE Network an even more valuable service.

ROH is currently owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which broadcasts the promotion’s weekly TV show on its subsidiary networks. Rumors have perennially placed ROH up for sale by Sinclair, which never promoted it with especially strong vigor, and could easily want to divest itself of the original investment.

If WWE were to buy ROH, the big question would be what became of the promotion itself. Would WWE continue the TV and PPV shows as-is, or (as it did with WCW and ECW) would it take what it wants, renegotiate talent contracts, and move on?

But as of this moment, WWE hasn’t bought Ring of Honor, so let’s talk about the promotion as it stands today.

Who’s there?

Cody (formerly Rhodes) and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) are the most high-profile talents currently working at Ring Of Honor. All three are members of the world-famous Bullet Club pro wrestling faction.. 

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Recently, The Bucks headlined ROH’s Supercard of Honor PPV, where they beat The Hardys (who wrestled at WrestleMania 33 the next day) for the ROH Tag Team Championships.

The rest of Ring of Honor’s top tier of talent is comprised of many fantastic wrestlers, including Christopher Daniels, Jay Lethal, Adam Cole, Marty Scurll, Mark and Jay Briscoe, and Dalton Castle.

A visit to the promotion’s roster page shows that the promotion’s roster isn’t especially deep. Not only are referees and announcers listed, but so are part-timers such as Cody (Rhodes) and Colt Cabana.

Ring of Honor is trying to do women’s wrestling, with Women of Honor, but it’s hard to actually see. When I attended the Manhattan Mayhem 2017 iPPV, the night was all men’s wrestling aside from a triple-threat dark match featuring the independent performers Sumie Sakai, Jenny Rose, and Mandy Leon. The aforementioned roster page shows plenty of talent that even weekly ROH TV watchers may not have seen (Faye Jackson, Kennadi Brink, Solo Darling).

Lately, the story of Ring of Honor is more about who’s not there.

As stated above , Ring of Honor’s top stars often leave for WWE. Over the past year, this issue became more problematic with up-and-coming stars leaving for smaller promotions, most notably Lio Rush, Keith Lee and Donovan Dijak. While all three went to EVOLVE, which is viewed as something of a feeder promotion to WWE, ROH’s inability to hold onto them is not a good sign.

What are the divisions & championships in ROH, and who holds those belts currently?

The ROH World Championship, its top title, is currently held by Cody, who won it from Christopher Daniels at the Best in the World event in June.

The ROH World Tag Team Championship is held by The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson), who claim to have recently signed the most lucrative contract in ROH history. They beat the Hardys for the titles at the Supercard of Honor XI pay-per-view.

ROH’s World Television Championship is its secondary singles championship. It’s currently held by KUSHIDA, a New Japan Pro Wrestling talent who works in ROH due to a talent-sharing agreement between the promotions.

The confusingly-named ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship is the promotion’s trios belt, in that it’s held by three wrestlers at a time. It gains that name because the belts are seemingly only defended in 3v3 scenarios. The current title-holders are Dalton Castle and The Boys.

What’s up with the handshake?

ROH matches (typically) begin with The Code of Honor, a handshake seen as a sign of mutual respect. Formerly, the Code of Honor contains more rules, such as respecting the ref and a lack of outside interference.

So, ROH works with New Japan?

NJPW talent currently appears in the states during shows held by Ring of Honor. The two promotions have a tenuous relationship that includes sharing talent.

The two promotions use annual Honor Rising (in Japan) and War of the Worlds (in the US) co-events to highlight this relationship.

And those announcers?

ROH’s main play-by-play commentator is Ian Riccaboni, who took the position after Kevin Kelly sort of stopped working with the company. Riccaboni is awkward as heck, but very enthusiastic and not mean-spirited. Colt Cabana is the color commentary guy.

The big shakeups in ROH commentary began when Nigel McGuinness, the current NXT color commentator, left the company. McGuinness did color commentary and acted as ROH authority figure.

Alright, I’m curious: how does one watch ROH?

Ring of Honor appears both as a weekly program and a Pay Per View.

Maybe you have one of the channels the ROH Wrestling show appears on. Starting soon, I won’t! But that’s OK. The FITE app, which is on available iOS and Android gets ROH episodes every Monday night. That’s how I watch, by mirroring them to my TV. Ring of Honor also allows you to watch a terribly pixely version of its weekly program on its website. You’re better than that, though.

ROH does pay per view events in the traditional and expensive-to-buy way. The same way that the WWE network’s price makes hard to swallow. Those events can be purchased and streamed via the FITE app or from satellite and cable providers.

By Henry T. Casey

Pop Culture Pen For Hire

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