Ten years ago Low-Ki won the Ring of Honor World Heavyweight championship in a four-way Ironman match. He bested Christopher Daniels, Spanky, and Doug Williams that night. Ring of Honor established what would become the internet era of independent professional wrestling. I really look at Ring of Honor ten years ago as being very comparable to the World Wrestling Federation in 1985.
The World Wrestling Federation was going national and it had the ability to hand pick the best talent from across the country. This is the time they gathered Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and Ricky Steamboat to name a few. The exposure that this new national company could provide to the talent was not able to be measured. The company had the ability to promote their shows on networks such as MTV.
Due to the fact that Ring of Honor tapes and DVDs were distributed by Rob Feinstein of RF Video this made the reach this new company had extremely valuable. Wrestling companies at the time did not have release a majority of their shows on tape or DVD. The only time you heard about independent talent was if you read a Professional Wrestling magazine nicknamed the “Apter Mags” or subscribed to a professional wrestling journals. The first glimpse of what was possible with Ring of Honor happened over the October 26-27 weekend in Vallejo, California. All Pro Wrestling hosted what was called King of the Indies 2001 it featured the top names across the country in independent wrestling.
Talent that was featured that evening were major names across the country in there respective companies. AJ Styles, Low-Ki, Adam Pearce, Samoa Joe just to name a few competed that night. A little known fact is that Figure Four Wrestling Newsletter boss Bryan Alvarez competed in two non-tournament wrestling matches that weekend. Bryan would later become a voice to the “internet generation” and gave these not so well names and companies exposure via his website.
Of the sixteen men that competed over the two nights twelve would go on to be featured in Ring of Honor including the four men that made up the first Ring of Honor title match. February 23, 2002 would mark the date of the very first Ring of Honor event. This and following shows served as an assimilation point for wrestlers to display their craft at one place with the best guys in the country. Using this strategy Ring of Honor quickly separated itself from other independents across the country by mixing new and young talent in fresh matchups and making the product assessable across the country. This has forever raised the standards of in the ring action on the independent level, cultivated the next crop of talent for the largest company the World Wrestling Federation and, set the table for companies like Pro Wrestling Guerilla and Dragon Gate USA.
Ten years ago four men competed for the right to be named the number one man for Ring of Honor. The contest took place in front of an estimated four hundred and fifty fans that night the impact that the company and that this ensemble made on the wrestling landscape can be felt today and will be felt forever.