Ring of Honor

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ROH Acquisition Co., LLC
Ring of Honor
FormerlyRing of Honor Wrestling Entertainment, LLC
TypePrivate
IndustryProfessional wrestling
Streaming media
FoundedFebruary 23, 2002; 20 years ago (2002-02-23) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
FounderRob Feinstein
Headquarters1 TIAA Bank Field Drive,
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Tony Khan
(President)
Cary Silkin
(Ambassador)
ProductsTelevision
Live events
Pay-per-view
Merchandise
Home video
Video-on-demand
Streaming network service
OwnerTony Khan
ParentRF Video
(2002–2004)
Sinclair Broadcast Group
(2011–2022)
DivisionsHonor Club
Websitewww.rohwrestling.com

Ring of Honor (ROH) is an American professional wrestling promotion based in Jacksonville, Florida. The promotion was founded by Rob Feinstein on February 23, 2002, and was operated by Cary Silkin from 2004 until 2011, when the promotion was sold to the Sinclair Broadcast Group.[1][2][3][4] After a deal was struck in March 2022, ROH was officially sold to All Elite Wrestling (AEW) founder, co-owner, president, and CEO Tony Khan two months later.[5][6][7][8]

Throughout the 2010s, Ring of Honor was considered a major wrestling promotion in the United States, alongside WWE and Impact Wrestling.[9][10][11] Under Sinclair Broadcast Group's ownership, ROH began talent-sharing deals with wrestling companies outside the U.S., expanded their television visibility through Sinclair's broadcast stations, and eventually established its own streaming service in 2018 called Honor Club. But as time went on and the industry saw the creation and subsequent rise of All Elite Wrestling (AEW), ROH would be seen as a smaller promotion in comparison to WWE and AEW due to their large financial backings, U.S. television deals, and their abilities to run major arenas, thus causing ROH's popularity to decrease.[12][13][14][15][16]

History[edit]

2002–2011: Formation and early years[edit]

The first logo of the company, used between 2002 and 2004.
The second logo of the company, used between 2004 and 2011.
The third logo of the company, used between 2011 and 2022
The formative years of Ring of Honor saw the likes of CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Homicide and Samoa Joe each become ROH World Champion

In April 2001, the pro wrestling video-distribution company RF Video needed a new promotion to lead its video sales when its best-seller – Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) – went out of business and WWE purchased its assets. RF Video also videotaped events held by other, less-popular, regional wrestling promotions; it sold these through its catalog and website. After months of trying to join Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), RF Video's owner, Rob Feinstein, decided to fill the ECW void by starting his own pro wrestling promotion, and distributing its made-for-DVD/VHS productions exclusively through RF Video.[17] The first event, titled The Era of Honor Begins, took place on February 23, 2002, in Philadelphia, the former home area of ECW. It featured nine matches, including a match between Eddy Guerrero and Super Crazy for the IWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship and a triple threat match between Christopher Daniels, Bryan Danielson, and Low Ki (who would become known as the "founding fathers of ROH").[citation needed] In its first year of operation, Ring of Honor confined itself to staging live events in a limited number of venues and cities – primarily in the northeastern United States. Ten shows ran in Philadelphia, two in Wakefield, Massachusetts; one in metro Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and, one in Queens, New York.[citation needed] In 2003, ROH expanded to other areas of the United States, including Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland.[citation needed] In Florida, ROH supported Full Impact Pro, which would serve as a sister promotion until 2009.[18] It also began to build its international identity by co-promoting an event with Frontier Wrestling Alliance in London, England on May 17, 2003.[19]

In 2004, Feinstein was caught in an internet-based sting operation, in which he allegedly tried to solicit sex on the internet from a person that he thought to be an underage boy (but was actually an adult, posing as a minor). After this was publicized by some news outlets, Feinstein resigned from ROH in March 2004.[20][21] In the aftermath of the scandal, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) ended its talent-sharing agreement with Ring of Honor, abruptly withdrawing all of its contracted wrestlers from their prior commitments to perform in ROH shows—including major ROH draws A.J. Styles and Christopher Daniels, who each either held or were about to hold ROH championships.[22] Doug Gentry eventually bought Feinstein's stake in ROH, and later sold it to Cary Silkin.[23] ROH then started its own mail-order and online store operations, which sold DVDs of its live events, plus shoot interviews (dubbed The Straight Shootin' Series) with wrestlers and managers, DVDs of SHIMMER (which would serve as a second sister promotion from 2005 to 2010) and even some merchandise from competitors, such as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Under Silkin, ROH branched out across the world.[24]

On January 23, 2007, ROH announced plans for a Japanese tour, resulting in a show on July 16 in Tokyo called "Live In Tokyo", co-promoted with Pro Wrestling Noah and a show on July 17 called "Live In Osaka" in Osaka co-promoted with Dragon Gate.[25]

On May 2, 2007, Ring of Honor announced the signing of a PPV and VOD deal with G-Funk Sports & Entertainment to bring ROH into homes with In Demand Networks, TVN, and the Dish Network. The deal called for six taped pay-per-view events to air every 60 days.[26] Because of the move to pay-per-view, TNA Wrestling immediately pulled its contracted stars (Austin Aries, Christopher Daniels, and Homicide) from ROH shows.[27] The first pay-per-view, titled "Respect is Earned", taped on May 12, first aired on July 1 on Dish Network.[28]

Ring of Honor continued to expand throughout 2008, debuting in Orlando, Florida on March 28 for Dragon Gate Challenge II, in Manassas, Virginia on May 9 for Southern Navigation and in Toronto, Ontario on July 25 for Northern Navigation. On May 10, 2008, Ring of Honor set an attendance record in its debut show, A New Level, from the Hammerstein Ballroom in the Manhattan Center in New York City.[29] It had plans for shows in St. Louis, Missouri, Nashville, Tennessee, and Montreal before the end of 2008.[30] On October 26, 2008, the company announced the departure of head booker Gabe Sapolsky, and his replacement by Adam Pearce.[31]

On January 26, 2009, Ring of Honor announced that it had signed an agreement with HDNet Fights for a weekly television program.[32][33] The first tapings for Ring of Honor Wrestling took place on February 28 and March 1, 2009, at The Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,[34] and series premiered on HDNet on March 21, 2009. After nearly a year of producing weekly television broadcasts, RoH announced on January 20, 2010, that it would commission a new title, the ROH World Television Championship, to be decided in an eight-man tournament beginning February 5, 2010, and ending February 6, 2010, on its Ring of Honor Wrestling program.[35] Due to a blizzard, however, the second half of the tournament did not take place until March 5, 2010, when Eddie Edwards defeated Davey Richards in the finals.[36][37]

On August 15, 2010, Ring of Honor fired head booker Adam Pearce and replaced him with Hunter Johnston, who wrestles for the company under the ring name Delirious.[38] On September 8, 2010, Ring of Honor and Ohio Valley Wrestling announced a working relationship between the two companies.[39]

On January 11, 2011, Ring of Honor announced the ending of Ring of Honor Wrestling, after the completion of the promotion's two-year contract with HDNet. The final tapings of the show would be taking place on January 21 and 22, with the final episode airing on April 4, 2011.[40][41]

2011–2019: Acquisition by Sinclair and expansion[edit]

The Briscoe Brothers, Mark and Jay, have wrestled in ROH since the promotion's very first show.

On May 21, 2011, Ring of Honor and Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that the broadcast carrier had purchased ROH, with former owner Cary Silkin remaining with the company in an executive role. The promotion's programming began airing the weekend of September 24, 2011, with a relaunched Ring of Honor Wrestling airing on several Sinclair owned-or-operated stations; the show airs primarily on Saturday or Sunday afternoons or late nights, or on prime time on some of Sinclair's CW and MyNetworkTV affiliates (as those networks do not run programming on weekend evenings).[5][42]

On June 22, Ring of Honor held their first live pay-per-view event,[43] Best in the World, from the Nashville State Fairgrounds in Nashville, Tennessee. In September, Sinclair began syndicating ROH to other stations; the first deal was reached with WATL, a Gannett-owned Atlanta station, which began airing ROH on September 13, 2014.[44]

On October 27, 2014, ROH announced a toy licensing deal with Figures Toy Company, which would see the distribution of action figures based on the Ring of Honor wrestlers, replica title belts and more.[45]

On May 27, 2015, ROH announced a 26-week television deal with Destination America, beginning on June 3.[46]

On December 13, 2015, ROH announced a partnership with Southern California promotion Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), which would allow ROH contracted wrestlers to continue working for PWG.[47] On August 30, 2016, ROH announced the creation of a new title, the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship. The inaugural champions were crowned in December.[48]

On November 9, 2017, ROH COO Joe Koff announced that ROH would be developing an OTT streaming service, similar to WWE Network and Impact Wrestling's Global Wrestling Network.[49] The service, Honor Club, would be unveiled on February 2, 2018, and launch on February 19. At Final Battle 2017, on December 15, 2017, ROH announced the creation of the Women of Honor Championship, adding its fifth championship and the first for its female roster.[50]

On September 1, 2018, ROH wrestlers Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) promoted and wrestled at All In – an event that was produced in collaboration with ROH, featuring wrestlers from numerous promotions that drew over 11,000 fans in suburban Chicago. This was the first U.S. pro wrestling event not promoted by WWE or the defunct World Championship Wrestling (WCW) to reach the 10,000 attendance mark since the 1990s. Also in 2018, ROH and longtime partner New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) announced a joint event at Madison Square Garden in New York City called G1 Supercard, which was held on April 6, 2019. The event quickly sold out, and became the biggest and most attended event in ROH history.[51]

2019–2021: Departures, effects of COVID-19, and hiatus[edit]

In early 2019, Rhodes, the Bucks, and several other talents left the company to start their own promotion – All Elite Wrestling (AEW). The departure of Ring of Honor's top talent for AEW was viewed by many wrestling journalists and commenters as the beginning of a decline for the promotion in 2019.[52][53] Much of the criticism focused on the reign of then-ROH World Champion Matt Taven.[52][54] ROH had fewer PPV buys and a reduced live show attendance that year.[55][56] According to Dave Meltzer, ROH's average live show attendance in 2019 was 1,082—lower than its averages in 2018 and 2017.[57] In October 2019, ROH producer/road agent Joey Mercury resigned in protest, criticizing ROH for a lack of creative direction as well as having no concussion protocol for wrestlers. Mercury would reveal that ROH allowed then-Women of Honor champion Kelly Klein to wrestle after suffering a concussion during an October 26, 2019 event.[58] Klein sought medical treatment after suffering post-concussion-syndrome symptoms. She would not be booked for the rest of the year and her contract would expire in December.[59][60]

In January 2020, Ring of Honor re-signed Marty Scurll; the deal was said to be the most lucrative in ROH history. In addition to being a wrestler, Scurll was also made head booker, working with longtime booker Hunter "Delirious" Johnston. Scurll's deal allowed him to continue to make appearances in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance, where he began a cross-promotional feud with NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis.[61][62][63][64] However, during the Speaking Out Movement, Scurll was accused of taking advantage of a 16-year-old girl who was inebriated. Scurll would release two statements in which he did not deny the allegations, but claimed the encounter was consensual.[65] On 25 June, the promotion announced that they launched an investigation concerning the allegations,[66] and Scurll was removed from his position as booker.[67] By January 2021, Ring of Honor announced that Marty Scurll was no longer under contract after the two parties mutually agreed to part ways.[68]

On January 31, 2020, Ring of Honor announced the return of the ROH Pure Championship, with a tournament to crown the first Pure champion since 2006. The following month, the promotion announced another tournament to crown a new ROH Women's World Championship, following the deactivation of the Women of Honor World Championship title.[69][70] However, in response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Ring of Honor would postpone live events beginning in March.[71][72]

Television tapings for Ring of Honor Wrestling would resume in August at the Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena (formerly known as the UMBC Event Center) from the promotion's homebase in Maryland but without fans in attendance.[73][74] New episodes would begin syndication on September 12, with a revamped format, and the beginning of the Pure title tournament.[75][76] Ten days prior, Ring of Honor launched a Free ad-supported television (FAST) channel on the Sinclair-owned streaming service Stirr called "ROH Best On The Planet".[74][77] Final Battle would be the promotion's sole pay-per-view event in 2020, while live audiences would return on July 11, 2021, at Best in the World.[74]

On October 27, 2021, Ring of Honor announced that it would go on a hiatus after Final Battle in December, with a return tentatively scheduled for April 2022. All personnel would also be released from their contracts as part of plans to "reimagine" the company as a "fan-focused product".[78][79][80][81] In the interim, the men's and woman's championships were defended at events held by various other promotions, including Impact Wrestling and Jonathan Gresham's new Terminus promotion.[82][83][84]

2022–present: Relaunch and sale to Tony Khan[edit]

Tony Khan became the current owner of ROH in March 2022

On January 10, 2022, ROH announced that Supercard of Honor XV would take place at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas on April 1.[85][86][87] On the same day as the announcement, Wrestling Observer Live reported that ROH will focus on the men's, women's, and tag team titles going forward, and that they will continue to be defended at non-ROH shows; all other titles have since been declared dormant. These matches will also be seen on Ring of Honor Wrestling. In addition, its been said that Ring of Honor will operate "like an indie", using non-contracted talent.[88]

On the March 2 episode of All Elite Wrestling's live weekly series Dynamite, president and co-founder Tony Khan announced that he had purchased Ring of Honor from Sinclair Broadcast Group; including its brand assets, intellectual property, and video library, among others.[89] Khan also announced that he intends to make the ROH library available to the public in its entirety. It was clarified through a press release issued that night that the acquisition was made through an entity separate from AEW and wholly-owned by Khan.[6][90] In a media scrum following AEW's Revolution PPV on March 6, Khan revealed that he eventually planned to run ROH separately from AEW, and also indicated that ROH could be used as a developmental brand for AEW.[91]

On April 1 at Supercard of Honor XV, the first ROH event after hiatus, Jonathan Gresham defeated Bandido in the main event to unify the ROH World Championship, and numerous other ROH titles changed hands.[92] The event also saw the return of former ROH champion, and recently inducted ROH Hall of Famer, Samoa Joe.[93]

On May 4, the sale of ROH to Tony Khan was officially completed.[94] ROH matches began appearing on AEW programs, and Death Before Dishonor was the first ROH PPV under the new ownership. On December 10, after Final Battle, Khan announced that ROH's weekly televised program will be aired on the relaunched Honor Club streaming platform, starting in 2023.[95] On January 18, 2023, a special episode would be taped for Honor Club which served as a tribute show to Jay Briscoe.[96][97]

Features[edit]

Code of Honor[edit]

The Code of Honor allows wrestlers to establish themselves as heroic or villainous characters; the referee is shown trying to convince Michael Elgin to accept the hand of Eddie Edwards.

ROH distinguishes its image from other wrestling promotions through the "Code of Honor", a set of rules dictating how wrestlers should conduct themselves during matches. The Code of Honor aimed to infuse Ring of Honor's matches with a feel similar to Japanese professional wrestling.[98]

When the promotion began, the Code of Honor included five "Laws" mentioned at some point during each ROH production. ROH considered it a moral requirement to follow these rules, which usually appeared in the following order:

  1. You must shake hands before and after every match
  2. No outside interference
  3. No sneak attacks
  4. No harming the officials
  5. Any action resulting in a disqualification violates the Code of Honor

This initial Code of Honor (especially its first three rules) helped heels get over more quickly than in other promotions. The first rule applied especially to Christopher Daniels, whom the promotion pushed as its first major heel. Daniels and his faction, The Prophecy, rejected the Code of Honor and refused to shake anyone's hand. The fourth and fifth rules emphasized the finishes of ROH matches – the vast majority of which ended decisively (with clean pinfalls, submissions, or knockouts) – unlike what most rival promotions at the time did. On the rare occasion that a match did end with outside interference, with a "ref bump", or with some other traditional heel scenario, the live audiences reacted much more negatively than rival promotions' live audiences. In ROH's early days, on-air commentators even suggested (within kayfabe) that getting disqualified in a match may result in that wrestler never appearing in ROH again.

In early 2004, ROH's booker at the time, Gabe Sapolsky, began to feel that the Code of Honor had run its course.[99] As a result, wrestlers no longer had to follow it.

The Code of Honor eventually re-appeared – revamped – as the following three rules:

  1. Shake hands before and after the match if you respect your opponent
  2. Keep the playing-field level
  3. Respect the officials

Future of Honor[edit]

Future of Honor is a series of events featuring the promotion's young wrestlers and trainees from the ROH Dojo.[100][101] The term "Future of Honor" is additionally used by the promotion to refer to their young wrestlers and graduates from the dojo system (regardless of gender).

Women of Honor[edit]

The ROH Women of Honor division began in 2002, with women's wrestlers sporadically appearing on ROH events until the division was reformed into a permanent feature of the promotion in 2015. The term "Women of Honor" is additionally used by the promotion to refer to their female wrestlers and other female talent. The current top championship in the Women of Honor division is the ROH Women's World Championship. Previous women's championships used by ROH include the Women of Honor World Championship, the Shimmer Championship, and the Shimmer Tag Team Championship.

ROH Dojo[edit]

ROH also runs a professional wrestling school. Originally named the "ROH Wrestling Academy", and based in Bristol, Pennsylvania, ROH announced in July 2016 that the following month it was re-opening the school as the "ROH Dojo" in Baltimore, Maryland.[102] Delirious operates as the head trainer of the school with Cheeseburger and Will Ferrara as his assistants.[102] Previous head trainers of the academy include former ROH World Champions CM Punk, Austin Aries, and Bryan Danielson. From 2005 to 2008, ROH used a "Top of the Class" trophy to promote the students on the main show; while wrestlers win and lose the Trophy in matches, the School's head trainer chooses the winners.

ROH Hall of Fame[edit]

On January 26, 2022 the ROH Hall of Fame was introduced inducting the company's first four Hall of Famers plus one due to one induction being a ROH tag team.[103]

International partnerships[edit]

Throughout its history, Ring of Honor has had working agreements with various domestic and international wrestling promotions at different times. ROH shows have had outside championships defended on them and on some occasions, wrestlers have held both ROH and outside championships simultaneously.

In February 2014, ROH and NJPW announced a working relationship which would see talent exchanges and dual events between the two promotions. The first co-promoted shows Global Wars and War of the Worlds, took place in May 2014, in Toronto and New York City respectively,[104] with the two companies again co-promoting these events in May 2015 – with the War of the Worlds '15 taking place at the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia on the 12th and 13th, and the Global Wars '15 event in Toronto on the 15th and 16th.[105] As part of the relationship with NJPW, ROH announced it would promote two shows, entitled Honor Rising: Japan 2016, in Tokyo in February 2016.[106]

On August 10, 2016, Mexican promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) officially announced a working relationship with ROH. The two promotions were linked through their separate partnerships with NJPW.[107] Their alliance ended on April 27, 2021.[108]

In February 2017, ROH began a partnership with Japanese women's promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom.[109]

In August 2017, ROH partnered with United Kingdom promotion Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW), producing joint events such as War of the Worlds UK.[110]

In 2018, ROH entered into a partnership with the independent promotion Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG).

In 2019, Maryland based independent promotion MCW Pro Wrestling was made an affiliate of ROH, serving as an additional training ground for ROH recruits.[111]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Current championships[edit]

Championship Current champion(s) Reign Date won Days held[112] Location Notes Ref.
ROH World Championship Forbidden Door (AEW x NJPW) (52292916199) (cropped).jpg Claudio Castagnoli 2 December 10, 2022 56 Arlington, Texas Defeated Chris Jericho at Final Battle. [113]
ROH World Television Championship Samoa Joe 2017.jpg Samoa Joe 2 February 1, 2023 3 Dayton, Ohio Defeated Darby Allin on Dynamite in a No Holds Barred match. [114]
ROH Pure Championship Wheeler Yuta, June 2022.jpg Wheeler Yuta 2 December 10, 2022 56 Arlington, Texas Defeated Daniel Garcia at Final Battle. [113]
ROH World Tag Team Championship The Briscoes ROH.jpg The Briscoes
(Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe)
13 December 10, 2022 56 Arlington, Texas Defeated FTR at Final Battle. [113]
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship Brian Cage 2017 (cropped).jpg
Kaun, September 2021 (cropped).jpg
The Embassy
(Brian Cage (1), Kaun (2), and Toa Liona (1))
1 December 10, 2022 56 Arlington, Texas Defeated Dalton Castle and The Boys at Final Battle. [113]
ROH Women's World Championship Ember Moon Feb 2017.jpg Athena 1 December 10, 2022 56 Arlington, Texas Defeated Mercedes Martinez at Final Battle. [113]

Retired championships[edit]

Championship Final champion(s) Notes
Women of Honor World Championship Kelly Klein Retired after then-champion Kelly Klein was fired. The title was replaced by the new ROH Women's World Championship.
ROH Top of the Class Trophy Championship Rhett Titus The championship was later abandoned after Titus' victory.

Other accomplishments[edit]

Accomplishment Current winner(s) Date won Location Event
Survival of the Fittest Bandido N/A Baltimore, Maryland Ring of Honor Wrestling
The episode aired on June 26, 2021, but the exact date the episode took place is unknown, as ROH held empty arena tapings in the first half of 2021 after coming back from a five month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Honor Rumble Alex Zayne September 12, 2021 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Death Before Dishonor XVIII
(Preshow)

Marquee events[edit]

IPPVs/PPVs[edit]

Current[edit]

Former[edit]

Supershows with NJPW[edit]

Supershows with CMLL[edit]

Tournaments[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Media related to Ring of Honor at Wikimedia Commons