Playing The Face Card: Will The Face Of ROH Wrestling Please Stand Up?

Sulayman H.Senior Writer IAugust 31, 2010

Note: For those who are unaware of Ring of Honor, I’m so sorry for your loss.

To quote the utterly delightful, Ashley Morris, who once quoted Lance Storm, I’d like to be serious for about two and a half minutes or so.

With wrestling pundits and priests everywhere pondering and pontificating about whether unifying titles, neck injuries, career-threatening statements and wacky weddings merit any kind of actual, meaningful discourse, I thought it’s about time we shine a little torch on the promotion that’s established its own place in both the hearts and minds of many a wrestling fan.

ROH stands for Ring of Honor and was founded in 2002.

It has its own wrestling academy, provides a rare commodity which is loosely referred to by fans as ‘bang for your buck’ and has helped shape many talented wrestlers such as Samoa Joe, Brian Danielson, CM Punk, Nigel McGuiness, Tyler Black and many more.

It’s also considered by many (exact count pending) to be the very nucleus of wrestling in the United States.

But no matter how shiny you are, in this world, you are bound to have detractors, critics and so on and so forth.

I was discussing with a friend about ROH having sold out for its latest PPV. He said it was nothing compared to what the juggernaut of pro-wrestling, the big ‘E (as he calls it, no puns or inside jokes intended) rakes in. While he is quite right, one thing he has admitted is that the number of ROH’s young prospects to join the WWE is increasing, with the recent one being Tyler Black, current ROH World Heavyweight Champion.

It’s also worth noting the bitterness of ROH owner, Cary Silkin, whose recent comments are well spread out in the regions of cyberspace. Mr. President had this to say:

“I’m angry on losing a talent like Tyler Black and hope that he’s is going to do well. But one good thing is I’m used to this having gone through it with a number of guys. They thought Ring of Honor was finished last September… when Nigel and Bryan simultaneously left, that was a hell of a blow. We can go on and on, CM Punk, Matt Sydal, Samoa Joe, Homicide and so on and so forth. But somehow we always come out on the other side ok…I hate to see Tyler leave but he’s not done yet.”
-Taken from

Silkin says here that ROH always seems to bounce back up. While I’m sure I and many others have faith in the reality that he and the rest of the organization know what they’re doing, what happens when ROH builds up another wrestler to hold the top title only to be flattered by the fragrance of a WWE contract?

When discussing the topic of who is the true face of ROH, with fellow human being, Kenneth Drabek, this is what he had to say:

“I think one of the problems that ROH faces right now is that it is tough to really pick out the one man who truly embodies the company. One could argue that the answer should be whoever the World Champion is, but we all know that Tyler Black is leaving for the WWE.”
“Davey Richards may be the next closest thing, but with rumors of his retirement swirling around, it is difficult to make him out to be the guy who embodies the company. He certainly fits the mold, but how long will be around?”
“Roderick Strong looks to be the guy who will be getting the World Heavyweight Championship from Black, so perhaps he will become the face of ROH. The thing with Strong is, despite being an incredible wrestler, he does not exude much charisma or personality, making him a tough sell as the face of a wrestling promotion, in my opinion.”

“I would say that perhaps Austin Aries embodies ROH as well as anyone. The man is a top notch wrestler and arguably delivers the best promos of anyone in the company. He has not been involved in the main event scene since April though, which again makes it tough to say that he is the face of the promotion. Aries does hold the distinction of being the only man to hold the ROH World Heavyweight Championship twice, which makes him the most decorated wrestler currently on the ROH roster.”
“Like I said, this could be the biggest problem that ROH faces with the departure of Tyler Black. His run with the belt was solid and he was beginning to establish himself as the top guy in the company, now they have to work on building up someone else to be the man who embodies ROH.”

In many ways, Ken’s last paragraph sums up how I feel about ROH’s loss and the WWE’s gain. I say gain solely because of how they’ve barely scratched the surface with Danielson on their programming and yet, the Dragon is already gathering a large following.

It is ROH’s one big loss. It certainly is the focal point of Silkin’s angst as they’ve spent a lot of time on Tyler Black just to see him snatched away by the big boys.

ROH is still seen among most fans as an Indy promotion. With production values less than that of TNA or WWE despite having a superior in-ring product, it is looked at as a substandard ‘sports entertainment’ promotion.

That leaves us with a company that’s clearly showcasing great wrestling on a weekly basis, having great pay-per-view offerings, and has a roster which is constantly being raped by TNA and WWE.

No one is pointing out that Tyler should be whipped and lashed for taking advantage of a fresh start but what of ROH, which constantly builds a near perfect house of cards only to be swept away by the winds of despair?

ROH has no one true face.

Sure enough, it does not need one to succeed but it does raise an interesting point on whether this little aspect is holding them back from being recognized as more than just an Indy promotion.

WWE has Cena.

TNA has AJ Styles… I think.

It can be argued that WWE and TNA need representatives because they cater to the masses while ROH serves the wrestling hungry audience.

If ROH does indeed aspire to grow to become monumental, it needs someone to step up and claim the title of being everything that it represents.

Austin Aries, as Ken says, is a good bet but when that piece of the puzzle is solved, what of the winds of despair that will eventually rage once again?

Does ROH have what it takes to become BIG?


So what is the next logical step for ROH’s growth?

Stay tuned for Part II.

On a side note, I’d like to thank Ken Drabek for his sizeable contribution to this piece.

On a side, side note to those about to comment: Flame on.