The Ring of Honor Influence: How 1 Small Wrestling Company Impacted WWE
WWE.com has a really good piece up looking at ROH & the impact it’s had on the WWE.
In fall 2005, 600 fans packed into a small rec center in Suffolk County just three miles north of the Long Island Expressway to watch a wrestling show presented by a company called Ring of Honor. In one of the night’s main events, a fearless 5-foot-8 grappler defeated a hard-nosed southerner for the ROH World Championship after more than 30 minutes of grueling action. Those two men? Daniel Bryan and Jamie Noble. Today, they are two of the most integral individuals in WWE. Bryan is one of the company’s biggest stars and Noble has become a key producer and locker room mentor.
For a company that most recognize from the climactic scene in the Oscar-nominated “The Wrestler,” Ring of Honor has developed a hardcore fanbase by cultivating a unique mat style and an impressive rolodex of in-ring talent. Bryan and Noble aren’t the only two competitors to come from the scrappy Pennsylvania-based organization. Since the ROH’s inception in 2002, several of its stars have found their way to the WWE roster. Most have won major championship gold, and others are waiting in the wings down in Florida at NXT. Even one of NXT’s top trainers, Sara Amato, was a major star in Ring of Honor.
Over the past 10 years, as more and more Ring of Honor alumni have found their way to the broad spotlight of Raw and SmackDown, there has been a noticeable shift in the wrestling style and type of stars that have risen to the top of WWE. But how did one company that never even aired on basic cable change sports-entertainment? We spoke with many of the men responsible to find out.
- DANIEL BRYAN – The two-time WWE Champion became known as one of the greatest wrestlers in the world during his time in Ring of Honor and was one of ROH’s longest-reigning World Champions.
- ANTONIO CESARO – Before becoming a Real American, Cesaro was the “Very European” member of the two-time Ring of Honor Tag Team Champions The Kings of Wrestling, one of ROH’s hottest tandems.
- SETH ROLLINS – The Shield wasn’t Rollins’ first stable. He joined Ring of Honor in 2007 as a member of The Age of Fall, won the Tag Team Championships twice and held the World Title for seven months just before arriving in WWE.
- COLT CABANA – The podcast host and ring funnyman had two stints as one of Ring of Honor’s biggest stars, before and after a cup of coffee in WWE.
- GABE SAPOLSKY – Paul Heyman’s protégé co-founded Ring of Honor soon after the closing of ECW and remained one of its lead producers through much of the following decade.
WWE.COM: How did Ring of Honor start?
GABE SAPOLSKY: I was with a video company at the time that was part of ECW. When ECW went out of business, it left a void for that video company. Basically, we decided we could fill that void ourselves by starting our own promotion. I was very fortunate to have been a protégé of Paul Heyman’s in ECW, so I learned a lot from him. Paul was extremely unselfish at being a mentor and he still is to this day. His lessons were about presenting wrestlers, showcasing their strengths, hiding their weakness, telling a story and the best way to involve the fans in your product and earn their loyalty to your brand. And I was able to take that knowledge and use that to start Ring of Honor.
SETH ROLLINS: When Ring of Honor first started, I was a teenager. The Internet had just kind of blown up as far as online videos and stuff like that. They were my first exposure to indie wrestling and I fell in love with the athleticism. There were guys like Daniel Bryan, Low Ki, AJ Styles, The Amazing Red, these were guys who were doing stuff I had never seen anywhere in professional wrestling. It was blowing my mind.
You can read the full article: HERE