The Greatest Man That Ever Returned?
Like me, you may have been pretty surprised on the afternoon of July 7th when social media began buzzing and WWE announced that it had come to terms with the mutual release of Austin Aries. Aries had been in his most high profile position of late in about a 20 month run spanning NXT and WWE. Even with some of that time marred by injury, Aries managed to come back earlier this year and generate some excitement for a feud with Neville and the opportunity to continue the growth of the Cruiserweight division. If any of those previous statements ring true to you as you read and process the above, then being a fan of Ring of Honor as well you may have automatically jumped to the Fantasy Booker part of your mind thinking of what Austin Aries could do and what he could mean to ROH in 2017 and beyond.
The last time Austin Aries was in Ring of Honor you would be hard pressed to call it anything else than underwhelming. He was a newly minted free agent and this was a time before NXT was THE “it” free agent destination. July 17, 2015 as part of the the Vegas Wild Card Match, Aries teamed with Jay Lethal and Moose in a losing effort to Dalton Castle, Jay Briscoe and Kyle O’Reilly. Perhaps there may have been more to come but within months Aries made appearances for multiple other promotions and landed in WWE in early 2016. The landscape in Ring of Honor then is similar now in the sense that there are still considerable rising talents coming up and their partnership with New Japan creates a strong synergy to get more eyes on the product. My last statement may even be a strong understatement when you consider the levels that ROH has been able experience thanks to NJPW. If Aries were to return again, with NXT and WWE now in the rearview, could he inject another boost to ROH and their efforts to grow? I think so and I think there are a number of talents who would benefit from this.
1. Dalton Castle
The first name that I thought of when the news regard Aries broke and the potential to return and perform for Ring of Honor was Dalton Castle. Castle may be the most popular wrestler in ROH. He is a unique character and it is easy to connect with him as a fan in the live experience. ROH generally likes to slowly build their “home grown” talents and that has been pretty evident in looking here. I feel that a feud and series of matches between Castle and Aries would deliver in the ring and further elevate Dalton to the level of being ROH World Title ready.
2. Matt Taven
In full disclosure, I am not a fan of Matt Taven. After the Top Prospect Tournament and TV Title run, I was not into. As part of the original Kingdom, I wasn’t into him (though this is where I found him most tolerable). Now in the renewed Kingdom, I really don’t like him. This is bigger than him just being a heel wrestler. I don’t know if I can put my finger 100% on it, but he simply does not connect for me. I preface with all of those things because despite that, I think the Matt Taven I could get into is there. He simply hasn’t been seen yet. I feel that a run with Austin Aries could do wonders for him. Maybe it would be time to dissolve the Kingdom in its current form. This would free Taven up from any alliances and he could really sink his teeth into something else. I feel Aries could match him on the microphone and push him in the ring.
3. Rhett Titus
Titus is a currently a man with no country. With The Rebellion dissolving at Best in the World, all of the talents connected with that group need something new. Titus is a talent that never has really gotten the opportunity to be himself and to show what he can do. I like the connection here because I believe some, if not most, of the training Titus received in breaking into pro wrestling came from the teaching of Aries. It could be a classic teacher vs. student rivalry. I think Aries could see this as a validation-type effort, both for himself and a student of his. I think as well giving Titus a stronger platform to be a main level performer is important since the cycle of talent moving from destination to destination is likely not going to change any time soon.
There you have it. Three strong candidates to give Aries a platform and purpose in the event he comes back to Ring of Honor. I don’t even know if it will happen, but we may know soon. Aries tweeted just a few days ago and made a statement on his WWE departure with the tease that “exciting announcements soon” would be coming. If this does come to fruition I will be very eager to see him again in a Ring of Honor ring. He may just be “The Greatest Man That Ever Returned.” What do you think? Is there anyone I missed or are any of my 3 choices too far out there? Let me know on Twitter and connect with me @ThomasABobo I want to thank ROHWorld for the opportunity to submit this piece and look forward to more in the future.