“You can’t go forward if you keep going backwards”
– Jim Cornette (ROH SBG Press Conference).
Ring of Honor has a long-standing reputation for producing the top young wrestlers in the world. In spite of this, one of the biggest criticisms of the HDNet era was that the TV platform wasn’t used effectively, to develop new stars. Wrestlers like Erick Stevens, Rasche Brown and The Dark City Fight Club were handed big opportunities and, ultimately, failed to deliver the goods.
Since Delirious took over the booker’s job, from Adam Pearce, he has systematically set about cutting out the roster’s deadwood and identifying fresh talents, that he deems worthy of following in the footsteps of the CM Punks and Nigel McGuinnesses, of years gone by.
This September, ROH will embark on a new TV venture, with the Sinclair Broadcast Group affiliates. Company management will be hoping that the SBG generation can follow the example set by the successes, of the two years that the company spent on HDNet, rather than the example of those that have since been moved on.
The one undeniable HDNet success story was Eddie Edwards. Edwards is a man that, from April 2009 to April 2011, transitioned from being the less-recognised half of one of the top contenders to the Tag Titles, to being a singles World Champion and a bonafide main event star, in his own right.
Which current roster members have the potential to replicate Edwards’ meteoric rise?
ROHWorld takes a closer look…
All Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus)
Kenny King and Rhett Titus are six years apart in age (29 and 23, respectively) and took very different roads to get to ROH’s regular roster.
College football stand-out King made his bow, in the wrestling industry, as a contestant on Season 2 of WWE Tough Enough. He gained valuable experience training under Al Snow, Bob Holly and Chavo Guerrero Jr. but was, ultimately, unsuccessful in his quest to win the reality series. Following that setback, King began wrestling across the American indies, hoping to hone his craft, before eventually making his Ring of Honor debut in September 2007.
Titus, on the other hand, was a product of the ROH Academy. He undertook arduous training, under mentors Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries, before making his way onto the main roster back in 2006.
King and Titus originally began plying their ROH trade as singles competitors but their similar lifestyles, as well as a connection made though wrestling together on the Florida indies, brought them together. In the early part of 2009, the All Night Express was born and they’ve since gone on to turn a lot of heads, with their rapid development as a unit.
The charismatic pairing truly had their breakout moment as part of a pulsating opening match at December’s ‘Final Battle 2010’ iPPV. They followed this up with a strong showing, in defeat, against then-champions the Kings of Wrestling, at ROH’s ‘9th Anniversary Show’, in February. These two performances did much to win over ROH’s infamously unforgiving crowd.
In recent months, the two notorious party animals have been forced to take a much more serious approach to their work, having become embroiled in a bitter blood feud with ROH legends The Briscoes. This war has been waged across the ROH circuit, through a variety of brutal stipulation matches and it now threatens to explode onto broadcast TV.
Having gone from boys to men, over the course of the year so far, the ANX are one of the fastest-rising teams in the industry and they have already made clear their intentions to win ROH Tag Team gold, before 2011 comes to a close
ROHWorld believes that both men have the necessary character to make the SBG platform their own.
Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly
Another tag team that has been creating a buzz, of late, is that of Adam Cole & Kyle O’Reilly.
These two fresh-faced young men became ROH regulars in September 2010 and were brought together, as a team, by a bond built whilst competing against each other, in their pre-ROH days.
This high-octane duo has wowed audiences across North America, in their rookie year. They’ve gained plaudits for their ability to open ROH shows with a bang.
Their youthful exuberance has served them well, in strong showings against all of ROH’s major tag teams. Not least in a must-see contest with the aforementioned ANX, at ‘Final Battle 2010’, and also in an impressive non-title outing, against Tag Champs Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin, at ‘Revolution:USA’, back in May. Tantalisingly, that one “big win”, over a true top tier team, still eludes the young guns.
However, Cole & O’Reilly do find themselves in possession of a guaranteed title shot, having won the recent Richmond Tag Lottery. They will be hoping to make good on that opportunity, against whoever the champions may be, in the early part of the SBG Era.
ROHWorld sees big things in the future of the babyfaced assassins.
Tipped by ‘Voice of ROH’ Kevin Kelly to be a future Ring of Honor World Champion, the ‘Powerhouse of Truth’ Michael Elgin is another competitor that is still only in his rookie year as a regular roster member.
Proving himself to be the embodiment of brute force, in his role as the muscle of the self-righteous House of Truth faction, Elgin fast became an eye-popping attraction, on the ROH undercard.
A Canadian native (now fighting out of HOT heartland Detroit), Elgin is one of the few men to ever successfully pass Truth Martini’s ruthless initiation tests and, with the teachings of the Book of Truth now driving Elgin on to greater physical feats, it seems inevitable that gold, of some kind, will be a part of the not-to-distant future of this monster.
Elgin bulldozed the legendary Steve Corino, at ‘Best In The World 2011’ and his strongman offense; which includes Oklahoma Stampedes, Samoan Drops and a number of different Powerbomb variations; should appeal to fans who are more familiar with the giants of the WWE promotion.
As the old cliché says “styles make fights” and Elgin’s explosiveness has posed Junior Heavyweight-style competitors, such as El Generico and Eddie Edwards, serious problems already, in the early going of his ROH career.
ROHWorld would love to see Ring of Honor’s tradition, of giving young talent a chance, continue with a rematch against El Generico, for the man they call ‘Unbreakable’. This time the stakes would be raised, as the Generic Luchador is now in possession of the sought-after ROH Television Title – a belt that was a vital springboard for Eddie Edwards, in a rise that led him to, eventually, become the company’s top dog.
These are just a few of the incredible young stars that you’ll be able to see as a part of ROH’s broadcast television debut, in September.
Honorable mentions should go to ROH students The Bravados, who are coming out of their shells and finding their confidence, and also to the Sicilian Tommaso Ciampa, who has yet to be pinned or submitted, in ROH competition.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on ROHWorld.com, for more updates, as we continue to look forward to the beginning of a new era in professional wrestling.