Ring of Honor
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Ring of Honor

Ring of Honor Wrestling Entertainment, LLC
Ring of Honor
Subsidiary
Industry Professional wrestling
Streaming media
Founded February 23, 2002; 16 years ago (2002-02-23) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Founder Rob Feinstein
Headquarters 2000 West 41st Street, Baltimore, Maryland[1]
Area served
United States[2]
Key people
David Smith
(chairman/CEO - Sinclair Broadcast Group)
Joe Koff
(COO - Ring of Honor/VP of training and Development ROH)
Christopher Ripley
(CFO - Sinclair Broadcast Group)
Hunter "Delirious" Johnston
(senior producer)
Cary Silkin
(ambassador)
Gary Juster
(VP of operations)
Dan Bynum
(head of television production + senior director)
Court Bauer
(marketing consultant)
Products Television, pay-per-view, merchandise, home video, video-on-demand, Streaming network service
Parent Sinclair Broadcast Group
(2011-present)[3]
Divisions Honor Club
Website ROHWrestling.com

Ring of Honor Wrestling Entertainment, LLC, d/b/a Ring of Honor (ROH) is an American professional wrestling promotion based in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBG), one of the largest television broadcasting companies in the United States.[4][3]

ROH was privately owned by founder Rob Feinstein until 2004. The promotion was under the ownership of Cary Silkin from 2004 to 2011, before being sold to Sinclair. ROH holds live events, television tapings, PPVs and internet PPVs primarily in the United States and occasionally internationally. Annual PPV events include Best in the World (the fifth event - held on June 22, 2014 - was also the promotion's first live PPV broadcast), the Anniversary Show, Supercard of Honor (held during WrestleMania weekend) and, its biggest event, Final Battle.[5][6] All ROH shows are sold on-demand and on DVD via its online store.

In 2009, the promotion signed a TV deal with HDNet, which aired shows weekly until 2011.[7] As of September 2011, ROH's flagship broadcast, Ring of Honor Wrestling, has been syndicated in the U.S. by Sinclair and airs on Sinclair-owned stations.[8] The show also airs on the Sinclair owned Charge! network.

ROH was initially considered the third largest wrestling promotion in the United States behind WWE and Impact Wrestling.[9][10][11] Since mid-2017, ROH has been considered by some to have overtaken Impact as number two, through its international partnerships, expanded visibility via SBG, and establishing its own online streaming service in 2018.[12][13][14] The Louisiana Boxing and Wrestling Commission classifies ROH as a "major league" of wrestling.[15]

History

Formation

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. 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"). 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. In 2003, ROH expanded to other areas of the United States, including Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland. In Florida, ROH supported Full Impact Pro, which would serve as a sister promotion until 2009. It also began to build its international identity by co-promoting an event with Frontier Wrestling Alliance in London, England on May 17, 2003.

Rob Feinstein Controversy

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.[16][17] 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.[18] Doug Gentry eventually bought Feinstein's stake in ROH, and later sold it to Cary Silkin.[19] 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 2011) and even some merchandise from competitors, such as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Under Silkin, ROH branched out across the world.[20]

2007-2009

On January 23, 2007, ROH announced plans for a Japanese tour,[21] 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. Shortly before this, in March 2007, ROH had become the first U.S.-based promotion to have its titles held entirely by non-American wrestlers: the Dragon Gate team of Naruki Doi and Shingo held the ROH World Tag Team Championship while at the same time their fellow-countryman, Pro Wrestling Noah star Takeshi Morishima, held the ROH World Championship.

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.[22] Because of the move to pay-per-view, TNA Wrestling immediately pulled its contracted stars (Austin Aries, Christopher Daniels, and Homicide) from ROH shows,[23] although TNA performers have since returned to the company. The first pay-per-view, titled "Respect is Earned", taped on May 12, first aired on July 1 on Dish Network.[24]

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.[25] It had plans for shows in St. Louis, Missouri, Nashville, Tennessee, and Montreal before the end of 2008.[26] On October 26, 2008, the company announced the departure of head booker Gabe Sapolsky, and his replacement by Adam Pearce.[27]

2009-2013

On January 26, 2009, Ring of Honor announced that it had signed an agreement with HDNet Fights for a weekly television program.[7][28] The first tapings for Ring of Honor Wrestling took place on February 28 and March 1, 2009 at The Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[29] 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.[30] 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.[31][32]

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.[33] On September 8, 2010, Ring of Honor and Ohio Valley Wrestling announced a working relationship between the two companies.[34]

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.[35][36]

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 weekly hour-long program 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).[3][37]

2014-present

Ring of Honor began 2014 by announcing the return of AJ Styles after a seven-year absence. Styles returned at ROH's first TV taping of the year from Nashville, Tennessee. On February 22, before their 12th Anniversary Weekend TV taping, ROH announced a partnership with number one Japanese professional wrestling promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling. The announcement included a promotional video and words from NJPW chairman Naoki Sugabayashi. ROH and NJPW held their first co-promoted show, Global Wars, on May 10 from the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto, Canada. One week later from the sold-out Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, they held their second, War of the Worlds.

On June 22, Ring of Honor held their first live pay-per-view event,[38]Best in the World, from the Nashville State Fairgrounds in Nashville, Tennessee. The event was well received and marked the first time that a live ROH broadcast was accessible to over 60% of American homes.

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.[39]

On October 27, ROH announced a toy licensing deal with Figures Co. toy company, which would see the distribution of action figures based on the Ring of Honor wrestlers, replica title belts and more.

On November 27, Ring of Honor made its first official appearance in the United Kingdom in over seven years when it co-promoted a weekend of shows with UK based promotion Preston City Wrestling. Also in November, Ring of Honor announced its return to live pay-per-view with that year's Final Battle event, plus their debut in music venue Terminal 5 in New York City.

Final Battle 2014 was held on December 7. ROH World Champion Jay Briscoe retained in the main event by defeating Adam Cole in a Fight Without Honor. On December 12, it was announced through their website that ROH had signed former WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio to a short-term deal. He made his debut at ROH's first TV taping of 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. On March 1, 2015, ROH held its third traditional PPV, the ROH 13th Anniversary Show live from Las Vegas, Nevada. The main event, officially announced on January 22, was a four-corner survival match for the ROH Championship featuring Jay Briscoe, Tommaso Ciampa, Hanson, and Michael Elgin.

On May 27, 2015, ROH announced a 26-week television deal with Destination America, beginning on June 3.[40]

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.[41]

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.[42]

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.[43] 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.[44]

Touring and TV tapings

In the beginning, Ring of Honor would hold one show a month, originally from the Murphy Recreation Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the original home of ROH before the purchase by the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 2011. However, by the end of 2002, ROH began running multiple shows a month, and in 2003, multiple shows in a weekend, referred to as "double-shots". The first time ROH left Philadelphia was August 24, 2002, for Honor Invades Boston from the American Civic Center in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Although primarily focusing on the Northeast of America, ROH began expanding in 2005, both domestically and internationally. 2006 saw the first ROH show from Orlando, Florida, and the first overseas tour of the United Kingdom. In 2007, ROH toured both the United Kingdom and Japan. At this point, they were running on average five shows a month, mostly across the northeastern United States.

In 2008, ROH debuted in Canada with Northern Navigation, from the Ted Reeve Arena, which they have run since. In the same year, they attempted to expand into Montreal with a double-shot weekend but both shows failed to impress. On February 22, 2009, ROH held their first TV taping for their ROH on HDNet show from the former ECW Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This would be the home for the ROH on HDNet TV tapings until arena officials decided to shut it down. Ring of Honor's final ROH on HDNet TV taping took place from the Davis Arena in Louisville, Kentucky. All 100 episodes of ROH on HDNet were hosted by Dave Prazak and Mike Hogewood.

After Ring of Honor was purchased by the Sinclair Broadcast Group in June 2011, ROH's touring pattern changed drastically. Instead of running regular shows in cities where the company had a following, ROH began focusing more on cities that carry its television show. In 2011, ROH began consistently running in both North Carolina and South Carolina due to local affiliates broadcasting their TV show. In 2012, on the Road to Greatness weekend double-shot, ROH debuted in both Alabama and Tennessee. In 2013, ROH debuted in San Antonio, Texas, with Honor in the Heart of Texas. In 2014, ROH debuted in Louisiana, Minnesota and returned Florida for a TV taping in Lakeland. In 2015, ROH debuted in Redwood City, California for Supercard of Honor and returned to Atlanta for the first time in three years on February 21.

Since debuting on Sinclair Broadcasting stations, Ring of Honor Wrestling has been taped in numerous locations and continues to tour. Kevin Kelly hosted the Sinclair-era ROH television broadcasts from its first episode on September 24, 2011, until February 20, 2017. On February 27, 2017, Ian Riccaboni became the lead announcer and host of Ring of Honor Wrestling.

ROH contracts

In its formation, Ring of Honor was classified as a "super indy", meaning that it would bring together all the top talent from the then bustling independent wrestling circuit for one show a month. As time moved on, gradually then ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky began introducing contracts as the promotion began to grow. Performers began signing unofficial contracts to do "x" amounts of dates for "x" amount of money, but the contracts were never official. This saw a dispute after Ric Flair, who had agreed to work several dates for the promotion, took the money and failed to show up to a scheduled show without notice. After this ROH began introducing more professional contracts for its performers, but also included more incentives such as cuts in merchandise sales from T-shirts and DVDs.

In 2011, after the purchase by Sinclair Broadcasting, Ring of Honor signed some talent to exclusive contracts which prevented them from appearing on any other televised wrestling show, internet pay-per-view or pay-per-view. It also gave ROH power over the performers' dates. This caused controversy due to the few dates ROH were running and would eventually be discontinued in-favor of more open contracts which just saw talent not be allowed to appear on television, iPPV or PPV. In 2014, ROH re-introduced the exclusivity clause and introduced other clauses into their contracts, which a handful of performers signed; certain deals also included a salary, which some such as Michael Elgin have praised. These contracts give ROH as much power over their roster as a WWE contract would, but does allow them to take outside independent dates with ROH management's approval.

International partnerships

Throughout its history, Ring of Honor has had various working agreements with international wrestling promotions. Some of these promotions have included; All Japan Pro Wrestling, Dragon Gate, Pro Wrestling Zero1, Pro Wrestling Noah, and most recently New Japan Pro-Wrestling.[45] In the past, ROH shows have had international championships defended on them and on some occasions, wrestlers have held both ROH and international 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,[46] 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.[47] As part of the relationship with NJPW, ROH announced it would promote two shows, entitled Honor Rising: Japan 2016, in Tokyo in February 2016.[48]

At the end of June 2014, Preston City Wrestling and Ring of Honor announced the "Supershow of Honor", taking place on November 28 and 29 with three shows over the weekend in the UK.

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.[49]

In September 2016, Preston City Wrestling withdrew from its relationship with ROH.[50]

In February 2017, ROH partnered with Japanese promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom for a Women of Honor tryout camp.[51]

In August 2017, ROH partnered with United Kingdom promotion Revolution Pro Wrestling as War of the Worlds UK had RPW on it.[52]

Code of Honor

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 distinguished 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. Initially, 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

The 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.[53] As a result, wrestlers no longer had to follow it. The Code of Honor eventually re-appeared - revamped - as 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

Women of Honor

Women of Honor is a term used by Ring of Honor (ROH) to refer to its female talent. The term is applied universally to wrestlers, backstage interviewers, and managers/valets.

Contenders for championships in Ring of Honor

Originally, Ring of Honor had no formal way to determine challengers for its World Championship. When Xavier, a heel champion, began to avoid challengers, Ring of Honor set up a "Top Five Ranking" system to establish contenders to the title. It ranked wrestlers based on their general win-loss record, and on their win-loss record against other ranked competitors. The top contender held the Number One Contender's Trophy, which the company treated as a second championship at the time, and defended as such.

RoH abolished the ranking-system with the appearance of the new Code of Honor (See Above). The ranking system disappeared, replaced by the "Contenders Ring", a more complex polling system whereby RoH officials would submit rankings after each show. Wrestlers who appeared on more than 75% of the ballots were considered to be in the Contenders Ring, which earned them title shots for both the World and RoH Pure Championship.

In January 2005, Ring of Honor did away with the Contenders Ring. Instead, wrestlers who wanted a title shot had to submit a petition to RoH officials. After receiving such a petition, RoH officials kept track of the petitioner's record, quality of opposition, respect shown towards the Code of Honor, and inherent skill. These factors determined who would receive a title shot. Despite the petition system, RoH officials retained the ability to determine number-one contenders.

Upon the naming of Jim Cornette as RoH Commissioner in October 2005, Ring of Honor management confirmed the return of the "Top Five Ranking" system. Cornette and other RoH officials voted on the "Top 5" only during the first week of every month. Selection depended on won/lost record and quality of opposition, with a heavy emphasis on the previous month.

In July 2006, Ring of Honor again dropped the "Top 5" concept, as it had not consistently determined RoH World Title challengers. The champion at the time, Bryan Danielson, had instead sent open contracts to wrestlers in other promotions around the world, with RoH officials also choosing contenders from within the company. Subsequent champion Homicide would continue Danielson's policy, eventually losing the title to Takeshi Morishima from Pro Wrestling Noah. After Morishima won the belt, it seemed that he could choose his challengers, as he defended it (with RoH and Noah approval) at Noah's show on March 4, 2007, at Budoukan Hall against KENTA.[54]

On Jim Cornette's return to RoH in 2009, the promotion re-implemented a ranking system - called the "Pick Six" - for contenders for a world championship. A tournament was held during Ring of Honor Wrestling tapings on November 5 and 6 to determine the first six members of the Pick Six, and each winner also received a cash bonus courtesy of HDNet.[55] Once the Pick Six was implemented, RoH announced that only wrestlers ranked in the Pick Six would be eligible to challenge for the RoH World Championship, although contenders to the championship can still be determined via a special bout or official ruling, for example ROH's annual "Toronto Gauntlet" earns the winner a championship match. The higher a wrestler is seeded in the "Pick Six", the more leverage he has in determining the scheduling of championship matches. Wrestlers can only enter the Pick Six Standings by defeating a ranked wrestler. If a wrestler defeats a seeded wrestler, the winner assumes that seeding in the Pick Six, while the losing wrestler and those ranked lower drop one rank. RoH later added more rules to the Pick Six, including the right to remove a wrestler from the ranking due to inactivity. This rule is known as the "Castagnoli Rule", after wrestler Claudio Castagnoli, who was stripped of his seeding. RoH later decreed that wrestlers in the Pick Six who receive and lose consecutive championship matches will be removed from the rankings.[56] The Pick Six was discontinued in the autumn of 2010.

Championships

Current championships

Championship Current champion(s) Reign Date won Location Event Previous champion(s) Days
held
ROH World Championship Jay Lethal 2 June 30, 2018 Fairfax, Virginia Ring of Honor Wrestling Dalton Castle 115+
ROH World Tag Team Championship So Cal Uncensored
(Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky)
1
(3, 1)
October 14, 2018 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Ring of Honor Wrestling The Briscoe Brothers
(Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe)
9+
ROH World Television Championship Jeff Cobb 1 September 29, 2018 Las Vegas, Nevada Ring of Honor Wrestling Punishment Martinez 24+
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship Bullet Club
(Cody, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson)
1
(1, 2, 2)
July 21, 2018 Atlanta, Georgia Ring of Honor Wrestling The Kingdom
(Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan, and Vinny Marseglia)
94+
Women of Honor World Championship Sumie Sakai 1 April 7, 2018 New Orleans, Louisiana Supercard of Honor XII N/A
(inaugural champion)
199+

Retired championships

Championship Final champion Reign Date won Location Event Defeated
ROH Pure Championship Bryan Danielson 1 August 12, 2006 Liverpool, England Unified Nigel McGuinness

Other accomplishments

Accomplishment Most recent winner(s) Date won Event
Survival of the Fittest Punishment Martinez November 21, 2017 Survival of the Fittest (2017)
Top Prospect Tournament Josh Woods April 8, 2017 Ring of Honor Wrestling
Honor Rumble Frankie Kazarian August 26, 2017 Ring of Honor Wrestling
Tag Wars Beer City Bruiser and Silas Young June 12, 2016 Road to Best in the World
Soaring Eagle Cup Dalton Castle October 28, 2017 Soaring Eagle Cup

Marquee events

IPPVs/PPVs

Supershows with NJPW

Tournaments

ROH Dojo

ROH also runs a professional wrestling school in Bristol, Pennsylvania. Originally named the "ROH Wrestling Academy", ROH announced in July 2016 that the following month it was re-opening the school as the "ROH Dojo".[57]Delirious operates as the head trainer of the school with Cheeseburger and Will Ferrara as his assistants.[57] 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.

See also

References

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