We’re all about comics here at Panels on Pages, but a geek cannot live on comics alone. Outside the Longbox is our chance to spotlight something outside our typical four-color realm – be it movies, music, TV or whatever.
There are quite a few wrestling fans among the Pop!-ulation (and one actual wrestler!) that may have been counted among the fans that made it to the 2nd round of the Pop! Fighting Fandom Tournament. We probably made it that far because we can’t quit complaining about how awful “wrestling” (read: WWE) is. Each week, it seems fans are subjected to the same combination of silliness and boredom that resembles close to nothing about what made us fans in the first place.
Today starts a series to alert those fans that there is more out there than WWE (or, if you’re that masochistic, TNA) and that there are plenty of reasons to
not be in next year’s Pop! Fighting Fandom Tournament enjoy pro wrestling. Thanks to the magic of the internet, there are a plethora of alternatives out there to enjoy in lieu of mainstream wrestling that we’ll be looking at over the next several weeks. For now, if we’re going to look at “independent” wrestling promotions, then we have to start at the top.
Regarded as the biggest “independent” wrestling promotion in the country, Ring of Honor actually started months before TNA. The company held its first show in the Murphy Recreational Center in Philadelphia, PA in February of 2002. From those humble beginnings, RoH has grown into a national company owned by Sinclair Broadcasting Company that can be seen in millions of homes across the US. The reason “independent” is in quotes is because it is unclear how much Sinclair aids Ring of Honor – more colloquially known as RoH – in terms of finances, if any. Nonetheless, the company has a much higher profile than most independent companies out there as well as some of the best action.
The company also has an impressive resume when it comes to providing the superstars of the future. Two of WWE’s biggest current names – CM Punk and Daniel Bryan – are both former RoH World Champions and made their reputations as being the “Best In The World” while under the RoH banner. They aren’t the only ones that caught WWE’s attention, as Seth Rollins (fka Tyler Black), Antonio Cesaro (fka Claudio Castagnoli), NXT’s Kassius Ohno (fka Chris Hero), and the former El Generico – now in NXT as Sami Zayn – also had long, successful stays in Ring of Honor. TNA has their fair share of former Ring of Honor standouts in their house as well. Christopher Daniels, Samoa Joe and Austin Aries (the latter two being former RoH World Champions) also came from Ring of Honor.
The style of wrestling in Ring of Honor is important to discuss, as it is pertinent to why so many have succeeded there. RoH presents a very no-nonsense, fast-paced, hard-hitting style that ardent fans of in-ring action eat up with a spoon and some ketchup. Rather than see two behemoths trade the slowest punches you’ll see anywhere on television, RoH emphasizes somewhat smaller but definitely more athletic performers. However, that doesn’t mean the wrestlers are all flippy-dippy beanpoles. A great example of this is Michael Elgin, a certified hoss that’s strong as an ox, yet has consistently some of the best matches on every show he’s on. Others such as Jay Lethal, Tomaso Ciampa, and Adam Cole are all adept at mixing technical wrestling, high-flying, and other athletic styles of wrestling.
Tag-team wrestling is also more than an afterthought or a way to kill television time in Ring of Honor. The company features some of the best tandem wrestling on the planet with the American Wolves, Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards, currently leading the way as Ring of Honor World Tag-Team Champions. The Wolves bring an MMA-flavored style to the ring to defend against all comers, such as their arch-rivals, reDRagon (Kyle O”Reilly and Bobby Fish). Other units such as the high-flying Adrenaline Rush (ACH & Tadarius Thomas) and C&C Wrestle Factory (Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman) also vie for contention.
The current Ring of Honor World Champion is…well, there is none. The previous champion, Jay Briscoe, is out with a serious shoulder injury and is not currently on the active roster. As a result, the Ring of Honor World Championship is vacant for the first time in the company’s 11+-year history. The company is currently in the midst of a 16-man tournament to crown a new champion that will culminate in September. Many of the names mentioned above are part of the tournament, as well as former Ring of Honor stars Paul London and Brian Kendrick, as well as internationally-known names such as Sonjay Dutt and “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson.
With the tournament in place, now is the perfect jumping-on point to follow Ring of Honor. Pop-Cast Wrestling (right here on the Panels on Pages Network) is also a good place to learn more, as our own Jared Whitaker recaps Ring of Honor television each week on PCW. As Jared is fond of saying, if you’re bored or disgusted with mainstream wrestling, Ring of Honor is a great place to cure those wrestling blues. Feel free to gather more information at RoHwrestling.com and keep it locked here in the coming weeks for more information about other sites and promotions that just may re-ignite your wrestling fandom.