I’ve been a big fan of Ring of Honor since their debut in 2002. Having tired of “modern” wrestling, even before ROH came on the scene, I was willing to give this new company a shot. With men like AJ Styles, Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Chris Daniels, Samoa Joe, and Low Ki, and the company’s focus of “honorable competition,” it sounded to me like something wrestling desperately needed. I traveled all over the place for ROH live shows, especially Philadelphia, and Baltimore. I met, and even interviewed numerous ROH wrestlers, and when I got into the business as a commentator, and back stage interviewer, I worked with many of them as well.
Much of what ROH did was excellent, some of it wasn’t, but overall I remained a big fan and supporter, up until Cody Rhodes, and The Young Bucks pretty much took over the company. I enjoyed those times for a while, but it eventually got tiresome. This just wasn’t the ROH I had grown to love, and while I didn’t “hate on them” on social media, or anywhere really, I slinked away to enjoy some wrestling in Japan (Puroresu, to the IWC) companies like Stardom, AJPW, and NOAH. After the founding of AEW, taking “The Elite” away from ROH, I was ready to get back on the ROH train, but then I read that Marty Scurll would be booking the company. Knowing “Party Marty’s” willingness to silly things up, I decided to stick with my Puroresu. Not long after, Marty got swept up in the “Me too” movement, and Delirious was back to booking ROH. I knew then was the time to get back to ROH, but soon after, the Carona Virus Pandemic hit, and wrestling companies all over the world began altering their schedules, and even shutting down, including Ring of Honor.
During the pandemic I relied on watching old shows, until eventually came news that Ring of Honor would “restart” in empty arenas. I wasn’t real enamored with the idea of empty arenas, so I held off a bit longer. As I began to hear, and read, that ROH was the best at putting on “empty arena shows,” I jumped in with both feet, and am I ever glad that I did! If you want wrestling that is presented in a serious manner, where you don’t have to be “in on the joke” to enjoy it, then Ring of Honor is for you. If you’re disappointed that AEW hasn’t given you a real “sports based, alternative” to sports entertainment wrestling, then Ring of Honor is for you. If you enjoy multiple styles of wrestling, without that meaning foolishness and cringe worthy presentation, then again, Ring of Honor is for you. If you want a good jumping on point, start with the amazing “ROH Final Battle,” 2020.
I’ve spent years searching for “Wrestling Done Right” in the United States. I’ve gained a reputation as being “the Wrestling Snob,” because of my high standards, and expectations. I’m proud of that. If I put something or someone over, fans that love serious, and as realistic as can be presented wrestling, can know that they can trust that is what they will get. My fear though is that a company will back away from what first drew me to them, falling back on silliness, and “sports entertainment” in an attempt to draw in more “fans.” I’ve recently been the victim of that by another American company that I heavily promoted. Let me tell why I don’t believe that will happen with ROH…Cheeseburger! Yes, the silly, gimmicky, goofy, eye rolling, Cheeseburger. You see, Cheeseburger was the one thing in ROH that always made me cringe. While I understood the man behind the gimmick, Brandon Littlejohn, was a great guy, a passionate guy, a dedicated like no one else guy, none of those things mattered to me. The man dressed in goofy gear, wearing a cheeseburger hat, taking bumps from men five times his size, and kicking out of their pin attempts, as the big men look perplexed, wasn’t ROH, and he wasn’t “Wrestling Done Right.”. While I understand an underdog gimmick, this one was just too much for me.
Today, in ROH’s renewed push to bring us a sports based alternative, to show us an athletic competition, very much presented like UFC, where wins and losses matter, where titles have legitimate ranking systems, and serious factions join forces for the betterment of all members, what has sold me the most on ROH being serious, about being serious, is the return of…not Cheeseburger, no, not this time, this time it’s the re-debut of a man once known as Cheeseburger, now billed as The World Famous CB! CB’s pre match interview was excellent, and set the tone for why this was happening, what it meant, and why it mattered. CB not only has a new name, he has a new look, that includes more muscle mass, solid new gear, that includes kick ass entrance gear, and a swagger unlike we’ve ever seen from him, which to be fair, wouldn’t have worked under his old gimmick. To their credit, the commentators, Ian Riccaboni, and Caprice Coleman, sold this like a million dollars, explaining how CB’s size mixes with his style, in a way that makes preparing for a match against him difficult. This is exactly the kind of commentary a debut of this kind needs, and it helped a lot. CB will also be part of the “Pure” division, which will, for the most part, keep him away from facing monsters in the ring. While still smaller than New Japan’s Zack Sabre Jr, comparisons can be made, and make sense. World Famous CB works a technical style that would actually be damaged by putting on too much size. His smooth style is aided by his lean look, contributing to his ability to evade, and escape, in ways that he couldn’t, if he were bigger.
The fact that ROH allowed, and maybe even encouraged, Cheeseburger to get more serious, to evolve into The World Famous CB, is a strong sign to me that I don’t have to worry about ROH going down the silliness rabbit hole. That I can have faith that an American company isn’t going to embarrass me, and that they aren’t going to make me hide the fact that I am a wrestling fan from the general public. The fact that Cheeseburger (this will be the last time I refer to him with that name) gave me any kind of assurance is mind-blowing to me, but that’s the very reason it brings me comfort in saying that once again, Ring of Honor is Wrestling Done Right!