WHAT IS “INDEPENDENT WRESTLING”?
Well, by definition it is: “The collective name of independent professional wrestling promotions which are smaller than major televised promotions. It is roughly analogous to a minor league for pro wrestling, or community or regional theatre.”
Now, you can go by strict definition all day, but “Indie Wrestling” is much, much more than something that can be defined. It is all the men and women who put their bodies on the line night after night, travel millions of miles to perform in front of unpredictable crowds. It’s the dedicated fans who buy tickets, sell out venues, and support their favorite wrestlers.
You might have those one or two promotions, local or otherwise that immediately come to mind, but hear me out on this. There is one that comes to my mind that I’ve always seen mixed reaction about. Not only on social media, but just by ear.
Ring of Honor, has been defining the standard for well over a decade and constantly find ways to reinvent themselves. Not only with the ever so changing roster of talent, but also through the business side of things.
Even though it’s an acquired taste, I’m going to tell you five reasons why you should be paying attention to them.
1 – Commentary
The “honor” broadcast team has gone through many changes over time. With names attached like the beloved Kevin Kelley (who now is a part of the “New Japan Pro Wrestling” English commentary team), Nigel McGuinness (NXT commentary), and even Steve Corino.
In January of 2017, we saw a new yet also familiar face on the roster fill in the place of McGuinness. That person being “pro-wrestler, comedian, and podcaster”, Colt Cabana. With Colt being able to step in, the chemistry and fun that he has with Riccaboni brings something refreshing alongside the matchups as fans we receive.
Full of in-ring coverage, witty puns, song references, and the somewhat regular addition of a roster talents take on their challengers/teammates, they add a whole other level to feuds and storylines.
2 – Collaborations
After reading the second title, you might be wondering what I exactly mean when I say “collaborations” If you don’t happen to pay attention to things that much of the Ring Of Honor talent are involved in, let me “break it down” as the Young Bucks use so often.
Ring Of Honor has “working relationships” with two globally scaled promotions. Those two promotions being “New Japan Pro Wrestling” & “CMLL” (Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre) based out of Mexico City. Both have much history and prestige, “CMLL” being the oldest promotion in existence & NJPW (New Japan), being the SECOND largest promotion in the world.
Throughout both, talent are dispersed and shared between all three companies. For example, War Machine, Matt Taven, Dragon Lee, Los Ingobernobles De Japon, Ultimo Guerrero, Flip Gordon, Minoru Suzuki, and the list goes on. With these talent intertwined, it’s allowed us to see some memorable matchups.
As a bonus of these collaborations, earlier this year it was announced that Chris Jericho was setting a cruise deemed the “Rock N Wrestling Rager at Sea”, which will include a handful of Ring of Honor talent. It’s set for sail in October of 2018.
3 – Fueds
What qualifies as the standard to build and create an incredible feud? Timing, build up, and pure emotion given. Not only between those involved, but the fans who watch and what it can evoke from them.
We have been given many incredible and shocking feuds within the past year. The top three that come to mind and stand out are as listed:
- Jay Lethal vs Silas Young (Last Man Standing match, Death Before Dishonor 2017) Basis: “Silas being somewhat jealous at fact of Lethal being the “golden boy/face” of the company.
- Dalton Castle vs Cody Rhodes (Final Battle 2017, World Title match) Basis: “The dastardly champion feeling threatened at the chase of the beloved face for his title. Doing anything he can to rid of the face.”
- Briscoes vs Bully Ray & Tommy Dreamer (Pinpointing moment: Jay attacking Bully at “Death before Dishonor”, 2017) Basis: There isn’t exactly just one thing to pinpoint from the rest. It started with Bubba/Bully Ray being “adopted” as a veteran presence to make the Briscoes a “Six Man tag team”, and gaining those titles from the Bullet Club (Bucks & Hangman Paige) for a short time. It slowly led to dissension and Jay turning his back on both Bully and his brother, Mark. But as always, Jay and Mark would always be brothers. Which led to Mark helping Jay attack Bully and the aiding Dreamer leading up to Final Battle.
4. The Young Bucks/Bullet Club
Now, this may be the point where many may stop reading for one reason or another.
As much as this stable are loved, they’re equally as disliked. Whether you want to admit it or not, they are a big “quote on quote” franchise to Ring of Honor. Not only arguably with their ability to turn over slogans and merchandise, but also carrying character and translating it into their “Being The Elite” youtube series.
You can discuss how long and how many titles they’ve held. Three time ROH tag team champions, SIX time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight tag team champions, etc. Not only surrounded in accolades, but also controversy. From their use of familiar slogans and gestures, and even their style of wrestling, which had gotten them hit with a hefty “Cease and Desist” from Vince McMahon AND even with something serious, they managed to turn it into golden merchandise opportunities.
They’re intelligent when it comes to “Killing The Business”, and you can’t help but respect that.
5. Showcasing Talent
Ring of Honor never fail when it comes to showing us the faith they have in their roster. Every week, we get something a little different. Case in point, at ‘Final Battle”, we were given a taste of a possible feud between Marty Scurll and Jay Lethal. Not only with matchups, but it’s been a year of standouts. Silas Young, Flip Gordon, Matt Taven, even Cody Rhodes reinventing himself. They always find a way to mix things up, and keep the viewers on their toes and tuning in.
Regardless of reason, Ring of Honor is a company to be paying attention to. They continue to make waves within the world of independent and professional wrestling. You can label them however you’d like based of individual preference, but they’re certainly not fitting under the “Little league” definition.