Ring of Honor Weekly

With a month break between ROH shows, this week is the perfect time to take a look back at the company’s former stars, along with where and how they’re currently being used. This won’t be a look at every former ROH wrestler, just those that were particularly important regulars in company history.

Colt (Scotty Goldman) Cabana

What he did in ROH: Colt joined ROH with longtime friend and training partner CM Punk at Unscripted and having a very good match with Punk at Night of the Butcher. Cabana spent most of his time in ROH as a great comedy wrestler who had legitimate skill and teamed with his fellow Second City Saint, Punk for most of his early time in the company (see Punk’s section) winning the tag titles during this time. Cabana finally began to hold his own in singles matches in World Title shots against Austin Aries at It All Begins and Third Anniversary Celebration Part 1 in a cage. This lead to a strange feud with Nigel McGuinness who Colt’s antics drove mad for most of the rest of 2005 before Colt Cabana faced CM Punk in his final ROH match (Punk: The Final Chapter). Cabana next pissed off Homicide in an interview segment and Homicide spent much of the next several months attempting to murder Colt (Vendetta, Fourth Anniversary Show) before Colt finally ended the feud (Better than our Best). Colt had a few months of fun loving before sleeping with Lacey in the Summer of 06 and then feuding with Jimmy Jacobs for spurning Lacey (Chicago Spectacular Night 1 through a killer street fight at Fifth Year Festival: Philadelphia). Colt then spent a few more fun loving months before being signed by the WWE and leaving at a show named for him Good Times, Great Memories.

ROH Grade: A. Colt’s best skills were comedy, tag wrestling, and brawling. ROH kept him in these kinds of matches and thus he was very over for pretty much the entirety of his ROH stay. The feud with Nigel dragged and holds him from an A+.

Since then he has: Been in OVW then FCW. He recently debuted as Scotty Goldman on Smackdown and, though he was funny, jobbed to Brian Kendrick.

WWE Grade: F. Colt is big and can wrestle, along with having a WWE sense of humor. There’s no reason he shouldn’t have a permanent push, let alone a spot by now.

Christopher Daniels

What he did in ROH: Daniels was the first heel in ROH, main eventing the first show The Era of Honor Begins with Bryan Danielson and Low Ki, but refusing to shake hands. He started the first faction in ROH, The Prophecy, and won the tag titles at Unscripted, becoming the first ROH Tag Champion, with Donovan Morgan. The Prophecy feuded with most of ROH, notably Low Ki, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe. He was in Japan as Curry Man often and not around as much as many would like. A feud with CM Punk was just kicking off when the Reborn era forced him out.

Upon his return, Daniels immediately targeted CM Punk (Death before Dishonor III, The Homecoming, and Redemption) and Samoa Joe (Redemption, Night of Grudges II, and Dragon Gate Challenge). After this great run, he floundered a bit until winning the tag titles with Matt Sydal after a series of matches (see Sydal). After losing the belts, he was quickly gone from the company, going heel again at Good Times, Great Memories.

ROH Grade: B. Daniels was used particularly well depending on how often he was around. Always one of the most over men on the card, he wasn’t around much in the early days, or given much to do in the latter part of his return.

Since then he has: Daniels has been used great in TNA in the past. He was in Triple X with Low Ki and Elix Skipper, putting on memorable matches against America’s Most Wanted. Then he had a record setting X-Title run and great matches with AJ Styles, leading to a feud with Samoa Joe. Joe was so powerful that AJ and Daniels became a top tag team, putting over LAX of Homicide and Hernandez eventually. That was the last good usage of Daniels, however, as he then had an aborted feud with Sting before being “fired” and replaced with Curry Man, who has been neutered and isn’t funny or over in TNA.

TNA Grade: B-. They got Daniels to being one of the most over men in the promotion, someone taken seriously in nearly any role… and found the one role he couldn’t be taken seriously in. This can’t last forever and since it’s a different character, at least shouldn’t damage Daniels too badly.

James (Jaime Noble) Gibson

What he did in ROH: Noble was released from WWE and the former WCW wrestler decided to show his wrestling chops in ROH and New Japan. In Ring of Honor he had many memorable matches, mostly chasing the ROH World Title against Austin Aries (Stalemate and Final Showdown and CM Punk Fate of an Angel and Redemption. He also managed several memorable exhibitions, elevating Roderick Strong in the process at Best of the American Super Juniors and Unforgettable. Last, but not least, he got a ROH World Title run having a very good match with Colt Cabana (Dragon Gate’s Invasion) and a great one with Bryan Danielson at Glory by Honor IV

ROH Grade: A+. Gibson was guaranteed to get only a short run in ROH before WWE wanted him back because of how great he was, so ROH treated him as a special, respected guest. His gimmick of earning his keep and proving how good he was by chasing the ROH title and having great matches every night was realistic and executed to perfection.

Since then he has: Gibson was resigned to be Jaime Noble and team with Kid Kash as the new Pitbulls. Of course, Kash being Kash, he was fired. That left Noble floundering for a bit before a Cruiserweight title run and then a feud with Hornswaggle. During this time he was made an agent so he could work with the Cruisers, as the Cruiser belt was retired. Then he was moved to Raw where he started smacking bigger guys to cause fights, still being an agent on a show with no Cruiserweights to push.

WWE Grade: B-. Well he’s on TV and an agent, but kind of wasted in both roles. If WWE had an interest in cruiserweights with character, Noble would be the perfect guy to train and work with them. Of course, instead he’s jobbing to big guys and an agent on a show with no cruiserweights…

Homicide

What he did in ROH: An early ROH standout, ‘Cide went from an undercard tag team to a singles breakout (Scramble Madness). What really established Homicide was his violent feud with Steve Corino that included a riot (First Anniversary Show), hearing loss (Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies), and barbed wire (War of the Wire). Homicide then went for the ROH World Title against Samoa Joe (see Joe’s section), leading to a heel turn and stable, the Rottweilers. Their brawling nature lead to a best of 5 series to prove who the better man was with Bryan Danielson (It All Begins, Third Anniversary Celebration Part 1 and 3, Stalemate, and Final Showdown). Homicide spent the next bit of time as a general thug during the Rottweilers feud with Jay Lethal and Samoa Joe (Manhattan Mayhem) before trying to kill Colt Cabana for awhile (see Cabana’s section).

2006 was a huge year for Homicide. He was the CZW killer in the ROH vs. CZW feud (Ring of Homicide, Death before Dishonor IV) and after that, spent most of the year chasing the ROH title, fighting through the Briscoes (Glory by Honor VI Night 2, Motor City Madness), Adam Pearce Chicago Spectacular Night 2), and finally finishing his feud with Corino at The Bitter End before winning the ROH Title at Final Battle 2006. His run proved to be short as Morishima (Fifth Year Festival: Philly) ended it and he floundered until leaving ROH at Good Times, Great Memories.

ROH Grade: A+. Homicide was in numerous classic feuds and great matches, while in between these he put over new talent and had big matches.

Since then he has: Since being in TNA, Homicide has mostly been a part of a tag team with Hernandez called LAX. ‘Cide is the workhorse of this very over team who have been kept in prominent tag feuds as both heels and faces.

TNA Grade: A+. Cide somehow always seems to land in top, engaging angles wherever he goes and even TNA is no exception.

Brian Kendrick

What he did in ROH: Kendrick, who was Spanky in ROH, was in very good matches right at the start of ROH. His work was thought of so highly that he was in ROH’s Crowning a Champion four-way Iron Man match for the ROH title. After losing that he drifted a bit into Michael Shane and Paul London’s feud before heading over to WWE. After a two year WWE stint, Kendrick returned to ROH as Spanky along with James Gibson, with whom he had the memorable “Eff Sports Entertainment” match at The Third Anniversary Celebration part 2. Spanky spent too much time in Zero-1, where he honed the Leonardo Spanky character he’s playing currently on Smackdown, but he still found time to have several memorable matches, notably with Bryan Danielson opening Battle of the Super Juniors. After this stint Spanky again returned to the WWE.

ROH Grade: C-. Spanky is among the most talented and complete wrestlers ROH has ever had, but rarely stuck around long enough to really be utilized to his full potential. That this was the cause of other bookings, not a lack of ROH valuing his extremely valuable services keeps this score up.

Since then he has: Spanky was a streaker on Smackdown for a bit in his first run before “wanting to improve” (re: hazing) caused him to leave and rejoin the ROH roster. Upon his second WWE stint he has been reasonably well pushed, having a near-record setting tag title run with Paul London and currently getting great heel heat on Smackdown and being included in their Heavyweight title scramble.

WWE Grade: A-. Considering his size, his success has been fairly astounding. The only reason this grade isn’t higher is that he was wasted on Raw while London was being punished (see the London section for more) instead of breaking off on his own sooner. London should have at least went through a mirror!

KENTA

What he did in ROH: KENTA showed up at Final Battle 2005 as a top dog, beating Low Ki. He then went undefeated, pinning Bryan Danielson twice (Best in the World, In Your Face) on his way to a classic ***** World Title match with him at Glory by Honor V Night 2. After losing this, he went on to face and beat numerous other top ROH guys, perhaps the best match of which being against Matt Sydal at The Bitter End. He then went back to NOAH for a bit before returning to face Danielson again in a tag at Respect is Earned and in singles at Man Up. He finished his ROH run against the legendary Mitsuahu Misawa in a great match at Glory by Honor VI Night 2.

ROH Grade: A+. KENTA is very protected, but proved worth it, being among the most over men in the company and having numerous matches ranging from great to classic.

Since then he has: KENTA is the most protected junior in NOAH. He’s had a great junior tag title run recently with Taiji Ishimori and also a great singles rivalry with Takayama. Currently, he’s teaming with Kenta Kobashi and facing the Kensuke Office duo of Kensuke Sasaki and Katsuhiro Nakajima. Naturally, the matches are all great.

NOAH Grade: A+. KENTA, too small to be a true heavyweight, is handled with great care and respect by NOAH, rarely dropping falls and always getting time for big matches.

Jay Lethal

What he did in ROH: Jay Lethal began as one of the numerous Special K wrestlers, Hydro (Second Anniversary Show, Survival of the Fittest). Hydro became the protégé of Samoa Joe and began wrestling under the name Jay Lethal (Reborn: Completion, Scramble Cage Melee). Lethal soon won the Pure Title (Trios Tournament 05 for a short time. Joe’s protégé put him at odds with the Rottweilers, specifically Low Ki who took to beating the hell out of Lethal regularly (Manhattan Mayhem, Redemption, Glory by Honor IV), while Ki learned to be an effective babyface. Turning heel due to jealousy, he eventually would face Joe (Steel Cage Warfare, Fourth Anniversary Show) where he learned to take a beating from the heel side. Around this time was Lethal’s best ROH match, a tag with Danielson against Aries and Strong at Tag Wars 2006. After these wrapped up, Lethal was basically done in ROH, wrestling occasional shows until Time to Man Up.

ROH Grade: B-. Many times Lethal was over-pushed and fans didn’t want to necessarily see him as high on the card as he was, but he went from a green worker to a very good underdog in his time working with top talent.

Since then he has: In TNA, Lethal has played the underdog role to perfection, whether it be his great match against Jarrett or against Kurt Angle and has had multiple X-Title runs because of his quality. Recently, however, he has taken upon a Black Machismo gimmick as the fake Macho Man and is feuding with former best friend Sonjay Dutt interminably over marrying So Cal Val.

TNA Grade: C-. He was doing fairly well, even with the Macho Man gimmick, but the Val feud has been among the worst feuds in wrestling. Having pure wrestlecrap on your resume tends to lower ratings quite a bit.

Paul London

What he did in ROH: London came into ROH fairly soon after graduating Shawn Michaels’s Texas Wrestling Academy. He began on the lower card, but a great performance against Spanky in the Road to the Title tournament earned him a more serious look. From there he went into a feud with another TWA graduate, Michael Shane (better known, perhaps, as TNA’s “Maverick” Matt Bentley). At Unscripted, a street fight with Shane allowed London to truly break out, becoming a fan favorite with the original “Please don’t die” chants in his honor. London decided to go into title contention here, his intended, but fruitless Tag Title chase leading to great matches with Chris Daniels (Round Robin Challenge II) and especially, AJ Styles (Night of the Grudges), while his World Title hunt lead to the best matches of Xavier’s run (Final Battle 2002 and One Year Anniversary) along with one of the best matches in ROH history at The Epic Encounter against Bryan Danielson. WWE had by then noticed ROH’s first breakout star and signed him, so that his last match in the company was at Death before Dishonor, taking on then ROH World Champion, Samoa Joe.

ROH Grade: A+. At a time when everyone was trying to steal the show and make a name for themselves in the newest indy, London is the one who stood out and immediately got signed. Great matches and great reactions were the hallmark of London’s ROH stay.

Since then he has: London has been in the WWE since his leaving of ROH. As a Cruiserweight contender, he was the centerpiece of that division, even feuding with Billy Kidman over the shooting star press finisher. The banning of such dangerous moves, however curtailed his push, until in 2006, as a partner to Brian Kendrick, the two had one of the longest tag title runs in WWE history. Since a move to Raw, with a mistimed smiled as Vince McMahon was blown up, London’s push has disappeared, while Kendrick moved on to a solo Smackdown push, London was recently seen being badly beaten by Lance Cade and Chris Jericho.

WWE Grade: B-. Currently, it would be an F, but the great Cruiser push and near record setting tag title run did occur. Hopefully London can again reach those heights in the WWE.

Low Ki

What he did in ROH: Low Ki began as the warrior of ROH, putting on classics every time he stepped into the ring (The Era of Honor Begins, Round Robin Challenge, Glory by Honor and many more). Ki even won the ROH title, becoming the first man to do so at Crowning a Champion. Injuries and time in Japan took Ki away from ROH for awhile and when he returned, after his friend Homicide turned heel, Ki joined Homicide at Reborn Completion and became a gangster warrior. He then feuded with Jay Lethal and helped the Rottweilers in their various feuds (see Lethal and Homicide’s sections). Ki during this time also received the honor of facing Kobashi along with Samoa Joe at Unforgettable in an amazing match. Ki then finished his ROH run with a classic against KENTA at Final Battle 2005 and the defeat of archrival Chris Daniels at Tag Wars 2006. One more match against Jack Evans at Dissension and the original ROH Icon hasn’t appeared again.

ROH Grade: B-. In the ring, in ROH, Ki has always been pure gold. The problem is his disagreements with ROH booker Gabe Saplosky and his unwillingness to job much of the time. This hurt many potential great matches against such wrestlers as Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries while preventing a match with Roderick Strong.

Since the he has: A member of Triple X, Ki was a very successful X and Tag wrestler. His strikes and speed made him quite over and he had the X-Division title again after his reinvention as Senshi. After being used haphazardly he requested his release and went to PWG, where he won their title in a great match with Bryan Danielson, before being hurt working in Japan. He’ll be returning to action finally this weekend.

Other feds grade: B-. Ki has been mildly successful, but never again reached near the heights of his ROH run at the top of the card.

Naomichi Marufuji

What he did in ROH: Marufuji has had a wildly successful string of exhibition matches in ROH, showing he can get great matches out of nearly anyone (Romero at Respect is Earned, El Generico at Motor City Madness 2007, and Davey Richards at Final Battle 2007), will put top guys over (Danielson at Final Battle 2005 and A New Level, Castagnoli at Glory by Honor VI Night 2) and even raise ROH’s prestige (defending the GHC Title against McGuinness at Glory by Honor V Night 2, the Misawa tag at Glory by Honor VI Night 1). A true professional, he’s done everything for the company.

ROH Grade: A. A rivalry or feud developing long term would be nice, but barring that, there’s no other flaw in his run.

Since then he has: A former GHC Champion, Marufuji also had a big GHC tag title run with Sugiura. Regular title matches and a junior and heavy push make him one of the more versatile wrestlers in all of the world.

NOAH Grade: A-. Marufuji had the potential to get over as a top draw in Japan if handled with care. While he’s a legitimate main eventer, he’ll never be an Ace now, but even so the main event push is a big enough accomplishment.

Takeshi Morishima

What he did in ROH: After losing to Samoa Joe at his debut (Fifth Year Festival: NYC), Morishima won the ROH title in his very next match at Fifth Year Festival: Philly Morishima defending against every top challenger in ROH, putting on great matches against Nigel McGuinness (Fighting Spirit, Live in Tokyo), Austin Aries (The Battle of St. Paul), Shingo (Good Times, Great Memories, Brent Albright (Death before Dishonor V Night 2) and Claudio Castagnoli (Death before Dishonor V Night 1). None of these are as good as the amazing matches against Bryan Danielson, including the 2007 Match of the Year at Manhattan Mayhem 2. His feud with Danielson would play out through the rest of 2007 and his only 2008 appearances have been exhibitions like at Southern Navigation or with Danielson choosing his opponent at A New Level. The blowoff to Danielson vs. Morishima still awaits resolution.

ROH Grade: A. Only the lack of a blowoff to the Danielson feud prevents an A+. He’s the best monster in ROH history.

Since then he has: Dethroned Misawa to become the GHC Champion. His defenses are drawing poorly due to some suspect opponent choices, but he’s still the clear Ace of the future of the second largest company in Japan. He’s currently having tryouts with WWE as well.

NOAH Grade: A-. I really with they had put him over stronger opponents immediately, but done is done and at least Morishima can recover.

CM Punk

What he did in ROH: What didn’t he do in ROH. Originally an undercard worker, Punk went into an incredible feud with Raven over his recreational alcohol and drug use, because Punk is so Straight Edge, that had highlights at Death before Dishonor with an ECW-esque Dog Collar match and The Conclusion in a cage. This created a buzz around Punk who went on to great tag success with Colt Cabana as the Second City Saints, getting the best match out of the early Briscoes at Death before Dishonor 2 night 1. Punk feuded with the Prophecy of BJ Whitmer and Dan Maff through 2003, with their most memorable encounter being at Death before Dishonor 2 night 2. A verbal feud with Ricky Steamboat (beginning with At Our Best in a match with AJ Styles) followed this as Punk decided to stay with ROH during the Reborn era instead of TNA and in the process became a focal point for the promotion.

This lead to Punk’s true ROH breakout, his instantly legendary trilogy with Samoa Joe at World Title Classic, Joe vs. Punk II and All Star Extravaganza 2. During this time period Punk turned face, becoming a locker room leader in standing up for Steamboat against Generation Next (Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong and Jack Evans) at Reborn Completion. The Second City Saints feuded with Generation Next while Punk unsuccessfully chased the ROH title. The Embassy (Jimmy Rave, Prince Nana, and others) decided to make a name for themselves by taking out Punk next and had a short but great feud with him for Rave trying to scrape off the Straight Edge tattoo (Manhattan Mayhem and Nowhere to Run). Around this time, Punk was signed to the WWE and everything would change.

Punk challenged ROH World Champion Austin Aries at Death before Dishonor 3 in a classic match that lead directly to what many consider the best angle in ROH history, the Summer of Punk. This concluded with Redemption and the emotional Punk: The Final Chapter before Punk was off to the WWE.

ROH Grade: A+. Great promos, classic matches, a memorable character, a locker room leader, amazing feuds… what more do you want? Some of the best entrance music ever? Check that off too!

Since then he has: Punk got to WWE and was told he was too indy. He went to OVW where he was instantly over and in memorable feuds with Brent Albright, among others. When he was called up, hand picked by Paul Heyman to be the new star of ECW, the Hammerstein Ballroom erupted for him. He has been over since, being undefeated on ECW for awhile, as well as winning the ECW Title and having great matches with John Morrison. This lead to Edge costing him the ECW Title to Chavo Guerrero Jr. whereupon Punk was drafted to Raw and won the Money in the Bank. He used that for revenge on Edge, taking the WWE Title in one of the best moments of the year. Since, he’s barely held onto the title as an underdog with Vince McMahon (backstage) on his side.

WWE Grade: A. The only thing keeping this from an A+ is the year in OVW. Punk was barely bumping at the end of his ROH run and getting monster reactions. The man knew how to work and work a crowd. Still, since his call up, he’s been used impeccably.

Jimmy Rave

What he did in ROH: In early ROH, Rave was a terrible wrestler (Beating the Odds, booked because he was a friend of AJ Styles. Rave was eventually dropped from the roster, but returned as a member of Prince Nana’s Embassy (Glory by Honor 3), stealing the Styles Clash, renaming it the Rave Clash. Rave was in the Embassy for years, feuding notably with CM Punk, AJ Styles, and Generation Next with Alex Shelley (see each man’s section) while drawing the pure ire of fans for his cowardly heel antics. When Nana finally left ROH, Rave became a silent assassin and began feuding with Nigel McGuinness (Final Battle 2006, Fifth Year Festival: Finale) in the best run of his ROH career. Rave was unfortunately hurt after this and left ROH shortly upon his return.

ROH Grade: A. Rave drew great pure heel heat, despite somewhat questionable ring work early, and the hatred fans and wrestled had for Rave kept him in feuds that constantly got faces more over.

Since then he has: Rave has been a joke in TNA. He’s in a lower card heel tag team with Lance Hoyt, recently rechristened Lance Rock, with a gimmick of a Guitar Hero band that thinks they’re a real band, or something equally retarded.

TNA Grade: F. The worst gimmick on TV today? I think so.

Samoa Joe

What he did in ROH: Joe debuted in ROH as an assassin for Daniels’s Prophecy to take out Low Ki and had a great match with Ki at Glory by Honor. He was the Prophecy’s enforcer for a bit before joining Corino’s Group. Neither set the world on fire, but Joe was still the man to end the hated Xavier’s ROH World Title run at Night of the Champions. Joe had some very good early ROH title defenses against AJ Styles (War of the Wire II), Chris Daniels (Glory by Honor 2), and Jay Briscoe (At Our Best), but it was the Homicide feud that really kicked Joe’s run into high gear.

Pursuit of the ROH Title had taken Homicide from a warrior (Do or Die) to a monster (Reborn Stage 1). The culmination of the feud is a great blowoff at Death before Dishonor 2 Night 1. Joe also had his epic trilogy with CM Punk around this time (see CM Punk’s section), as well as a classic with Bryan Danielson at Midnight Express Reunion. Joe was later upset for the title in another classic at Final Battle 2004, capping off a year for the ages.

Joe then spent a good deal of time chasing the title he lost (Third Anniversary Show Part 3, Redemption) before moving on to the Pure Title, which he wont from protégé Jay Lethal at Manhattan Mayhem, having some very good matches with the belt, one being vs. Cabana at Death before Dishonor III, before losing the belt. Once he lost the belt, he had his classic Kobashi matches at Joe vs. Kobashi and Unforgettable. From there he feuded with Chris Daniels (see Daniels section) a jealous Jay Lethal (A Night of Tribute, Steel Cage Warfare, Fourth Anniversary Show) before going to help ROH in the CZW War (The 100th Show, Death before Dishonor IV). Once CZW was gone, Joe focused on the ROH World Title at Fight of the Century and several lesser matches after culminating at The Chicago Spectacular Night 1. During this period Joe also and former enemy Homicide united to face off against the Briscoes (Glory by Honor V Night 2, Motor City Madness).

After this, Joe began a feud with NOAH wrestlers, wishing to take on Takeshi Morishima and NOAH supporter Nigel McGuinness. At the same time, Joe’s ROH farewell tour kicked off at the Fifth Year Festival and he face Morishima at Fifth Year Festival: NYC and Nigel at Fifth Year Festival: Liverpool, before facing Homicide in one last match at Fifth Year Festival: Finale.

ROH Grade: A+. Joe spent from 2003-2007 as the Ace of ROH in every way.

Since then he has: Joe was the longtime undefeated wrestler of TNA, but though he had a great X-Title run with many classics with Daniels, Styles and Sabin, he just couldn’t win the World Title. Eventually, after a high drawing series against Kurt Angle and a great, but overlooked feud with Christian Cage, Joe was able to secure the TNA World Title from Kurt Angle. He’s still the champion now, though booked as a whiner.

TNA Grade: A-. Joe had legitimate draw potential, as seen by the Angle matches buyrates being so high, but poor handling has hurt that. Now he’s a top guy, but not as special as he could have been. Still, kudos to Joe and TNA for getting him that far.

Alex Shelley

What he did in ROH: Shelley began at Wrath of the Racket teaming with Jimmy Jacobs before moving on to a good undercard feud with Jacobs (The Last Stand, Joe vs. Punk II). Shelley wasn’t happy with his spot during this so he formed Generation Next at a show of the same name, where he Austin Aries, Roderick Strong and Jack Evans jumped people to rise up the card. They feuded with the Second City Saints, among others (see CM Punk’s section) while Shelley rose up the card in great technical matches, like the one against Bryan Danielson at Glory by Honor III. Eventually Generation Next outgrew its leader and Shelley was kicked out of the group at Final Battle 2004. Alex spent the next several months trying to prove himself a better man, notably against CM Punk at Third Anniversary Show part 2 and Austin Aries at Manhattan Mayhem, before showing he hadn’t really changed and joining Prince Nana and Jimmy Rave in the Embassy. He feuded with his former partners in Generation Next for the rest of the year (Showdown in Motown, Vendetta and Steel Cage Warfare). After that feud he and Rave searched for ROH, as he got a shot at Bryan Danielson at Arena Warfare for the World Title and Austin Aries & Roderick Strong at Weekend of Champions Night 2. Since then Shelley has returned to ROH several times with partner Chris Sabin for dream matches against the Briscoes at Good Times, Great Memories and Return Engagement, Jacobs and Tyler Black at Return Engagement, and several others.

ROH Grade: B+. Shelley was the leader of one of the best and most successful heel stables in ROH, along with giving some of the best wrestlers in ROH history their start. He’s had numerous great singles, tag, and multi-men matches. He also, however, never held ROH gold and given his charisma and talent, he really, likely, should have at some point.

Since then he has: In TNA, Shelley’s push has been inconsistent. As Nash’s sycophantic sidekick, he got incredibly over in a comedic role before that was inexplicably dropped without resolution. He then floundered on and off television until he began teaming with Chris Sabin as the Motor City Machine Guns. Despite being quite over, their push too has been inconsistent due to Shelley’s preferring to not blade. Recently, the push has started up again with the Shelley defeating Yoshino in the great World X Cup scramble, but has stopped as they are jobbing out on television again.

TNA Grade: C. This grade is due to the inconsistency of his push.

Shingo Takagi

What he did in ROH: Shingo is a very young Dragon Gate wrestler who worked ROH to get a better feel for the business. True to form, Shingo was mediocre at first, having nothing special matches against Strong at Irresistable Forces and Dethroned. He began to put it together against Sydal and Daniels for the tag titles at International Incident before really breaking out with Doi against the Briscoes and Strong and Davey Richards (Fifth Year Festival: Liverpool and Finale respectively). After this he was great for the rest of his ROH run until his work as a regular concluded with a great world title match against Takeshi Morishima at Good Times, Great Memories. Since then he has returned numerous times for great matches, most recently at Dragon Gate Challenge 2 and Supercard of Honor 3, both of which he and BxB Hulk nearly stole the show during.

ROH Grade: A+. Shingo went from a rookie to a world class beast during his ROH stay. There’s not much more that can be asked.

Since then he has: Shingo has had great success in Dragon Gate, holding both their and NOAH’s tag titles with BxB Hulk before the team broke up. Once they separated, Shingo made the singles title his focus and after a 60 minute draw with BxB, won the belt from the same man becoming the Ace of Dragon Gate.

Dragon Gate Grade: A+. Business with Shingo on top of Dragon Gate is as strong as ever, a rare feat for a new champion in modern Japan.

AJ Styles

What he did in ROH: AJ started in ROH for about a week before TNA, but revisionist history has him as an ROH guy, so here we are. The indies were built around AJ pre-ROH, so his push to the top immediately at Night of Appreciation should surprise no one, nor should that he turned out a great match against Low Ki there and at Honor Invades Boston. AJ spent much of the rest of this era chasing the ROH World title and on the run putting on memorable matches with Bryan Danielson Main Event Spectacles, Samoa Joe War of the Wire 2, and Paul London Night of Grudges. He was also, along with the Amazing Red, ROH’s second ever tag champion and had a memorable trilogy with the very young Briscoe Brothers (Night of the Champions, The Epic Encounter and Death before Dishonor). AJ also defended his NWA title in ROH a bit during this era, notably against Chris Sabin at Wrestlerave.. AJ then won the Pure Title in a tournament at the Second Anniversary Show, retaining until the Reborn Era when he vacated the title.

AJ returned to ROH in 2005, feuding with Jimmy Rave over the use of the Styles Clash, which Rave renamed the Rave Clash (Third Anniversary Show Part 2, Glory by Honor IV). AJ then chased the ROH tag titles with Matt Sydal (Fourth Anniversary Show, Supercard of Honor) and the top ROH guys like Bryan Danielson at Dissension in his last title shot before TNA priced him out of ROH after his match with Samoa Joe at Time to Man Up.

ROH Grade: B+. The first run is an A+, while the second is a C+. During his first run, AJ was kept extremely important, in constant big matches with top guys and title hunts. The same thing was attempted during the second run, but the matches weren’t as good and the spot on the card was just as high. AJ as a special attraction might has been fine, but since he was earlier a regular, it just didn’t feel that special.

Since then he has: AJ Styles is a multiple time X-Division, TNA Tag, and TNA world Champion. He was the ace of the X-Division for years, feuding with Samoa Joe, Chris Daniels, Chris Sabin, Petey Williams, Low Ki, Jerry Lynn and others, forcing the X-Division to stand out. He also won the NWA Title, having stand out matches with Jeff Jarrett and Abyss on multiple occasions. Between all of this he had numerous tag title runs, worked heel and face, and is now having great matches with a broken down Kurt Angle because Kurt thinks AJ has cheated with his wife.

TNA Grade: A. AJ isn’t always at the top of the card, but he’s always pushed, always stands out and puts on consistently great performances. He’s Mr. TNA, everything that company should be.

Matt “Evan Bourne” Sydal

What he did in ROH: Sydal was in ROH because of his wrestling skill (Do or Die III, Reborn Completion) and after some time as an undercard wrestler, impressed enough to replace Alex Shelley in Generation Next at Unforgettable to then feuding with the Shelley’s Embassy as a member of Generation Next (Vendetta and Steel Cage Warfare). With Gen Next established as the top stable and Aries and Strong the tag champions, Sydal began trying for the ROH tag titles after proving himself to AJ Styles (Hell Freezes Over) then taking him as his partner (Fourth Anniversary Show) and doing the same with Chris Daniels (War of the Wire II and Gut Check). The Kings of Wrestling beat Sydal and Daniels to ending Aries and Strong reign, but Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero were then Dethroned by Sydal and Daniels, whose best defense was against CIMA and Shingo at International Incident. When the Briscoes took the titles, Sydal was again left with nothing much going on, as he spent more time in Dragon Gate and worked WSX, before joining Sweet and Sour, Incorporated after at Driven and having an unremarkable heel run until the WWE signed him and he left at Man Up.

ROH Grade: C. Though he was intermittently pushed, we were told constantly how he was among the best fliers in the world and his push never really matched that in his 3+ year ROH stay except for 2006. Perhaps his biggest singles breakout opportunity, a match with Marufuji at Reborn Again, underwhelmed, though that’s overlooked as he and Claudio stole ROH’s first PPV, Respect is Earned, against the Briscoes.

Since then he has: Sydal naturally went to developmental in the WWE before recently being called up as Evan Bourne on ECW. Surprisingly, in the land of the giants, with less time, Sydal has really begun to shine and stand out as what ROH always said he was, one of the best, crispest small men in the world against Mike Knox and now Chavo Guerrero and Bam Neely.

WWE Grade: A. A short time in developmental and a standout push in ECW are working out great so far. I’d expect him to be ECW champion by the time the year is out based on his push.

That’s it for this week. Hope you enjoyed our tour of the stars of ROH past and come back for more next week in Ring of Honor Weekly

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