Wrestling: Giving Honor to the Ring – Ring Of Honor Review

Watching Ring of Honor has brought new perspective as to what makes a “major” wrestling promotion. Tied to a tradition of fair competition and as a showcase for the evolution of international pro wrestling, Ring of Honor has grown in its own right. Once a very modest interim promotion for many a grappler, the company has turned into a brand in its own right. With its multiple inter-promotional partnerships, Ring of Honor touts one of the largest rosters in mainstream sports entertainment.

Watching a Ring of Honor match is an interactive affair, with wrestlers feeding off the audience’s cat-calls, returning some of their own. In this sense, the interplay between audience and competitor is reminiscent of a small-town house show, as well as the mentality towards the talent. Ring of Honor mirrors the attitude of a promotion like Beyond Wrestling, as there is a genuine sense of co-existence in terms of representation. There is less focus on building “the guy,” an individual being the face of the company. In this sense, this is refreshing; all talent was featured prominently, with each match on the card serving as options on a grander wrestling sampler, rather than throw-away appetizers to the main event.


With its history of talent-sharing, the promotion can pick and choose a number of independent stars to feature in their squared circle. With their their partnership with NJPW, the international exchange allows for a robust variety of wrestling styles. As NJPW features such large names as the incredible tag team redDragon, Rainmaker Okada, and Shinsuke Nakamura, RoH is a truly international affair, blending the puroresu mentality of Japanese wrestling into American showmanship and power wrestling. As such, each match is a spectacle in its own right, and would be a main event in its own right in any other promotion. The eclectic display is further demonstrated in the differing backgrounds of each of the competitors, highlighted in the “tale of the tape” featured before each match, giving each event a “big fight” feel reminiscent of other martial sports.

In this attitude towards wrestling, Ring of Honor truly shines. Billed as the spirit of pure wrestling competition, the promotion enforces a “code of honor” within the ropes, expecting the competitors to shake hands and compete to the best of their ability. This serious approach to professional wrestling gives every match a sense of gravitas and realism. Gone is the sense of needless gimmicks that detracts from the suspension of disbelief in the squared circle, replaced instead with high-flying kicks and devastating slams that one would expect from the octagon, rather than a national pro wrestling promotion.

In spite of this emphasis on relative realism in the ring, Ring of Honor is not without a sense of humor, playing on the standard wrestling match tropes. Some wrestlers appeal to the audience with Chuck Taylor-esque hijinks, building anticipation for high-impact moves that fizzle into banal stomps or headlocks, as the audience feigns incredulity to the affair. One wrestler in particular that struck my fancy is surrounded by Egyptian-style man-servants, proclaiming to harness the power of the mighty peacock. This is not to say that pro wrestling has no place for amusing situations such as this, but that Ring of Honor has a certain self-awareness of sports entertainment on which it is not afraid to lampoon, when appropriate.

As an alternative product to WWE, Ring of Honor tapings are a charming and fantastic addition to any wrestling fan’s play list, and is a glowing showcase of everything that fans love about professional wrestling. It is clear that the promotion has nothing but the deepest admiration for sports entertainment, and needs to have its virtues sung more prominently in the public eye.

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