A Beginner's Guide To ROH
August 8, 2005 by Langdon Beck

"See you in Ring Of Honor! ROH!"

After these words were yelled by Matt Hardy during his first RAW reappearance, topics began appearing on message boards and forums, from fans asking 'What's ROH"' This column is for those people who haven't heard of ROH before, or have heard of it but don't really know much about it, but want to check it out. So it's newbies only! There will be spoilers of recent events, and those who are already hardened disciples of ROH don't really need to read on...this is meant in the nicest possible way, but you'll probably just find fault.

So what IS Ring Of Honor"

ROH is an independent wrestling company that aims to promote quality wrestling, and prides itself on always having great matches at every show. Events can of course be attended live (check out to see if there are any in your area) or can be purchased on DVD or VHS from their website.

At this point I would include, for the benefit of those who cannot choose, a list of shows that you should see, but I think that breaks the 7th Commandment. So, if you're new to ROH and have no idea which event/s to buy, email me at the address at the bottom of the column and I shall do my best to help. If you live in the UK or Canada you can watch on the Wrestling Channel and the Fight Network respectively.

ROH matches used to follow the Code of Honor, a set of guidelines that intend to bring back respect and, well, honour, to wrestling. Some of these guidelines included wrestlers shaking hands before and after a match, no harming an official or causing others to harm an official, and no outside interference. The Code of Honor has been phased out recently, but wrestlers are still encouraged to shake hands.

It can be intimidating trying to get into a wrestling promotion and not knowing any of the wrestlers, so here's a brief Who's Who of who's who in ROH.

CM PUNK, the current Ring Of Honor Champion, is Straight Edge (he doesn't drink or do drugs) and better than you. Punk won the title in what was meant to be his farewell match before departing for WWE, but shockingly beat then-champion Austin Aries for the belt, and even more shockingly, turned on the fans and ROH afterwards. Punk has also provided wildly entertaining color commentary for many ROH shows.

SAMOA JOE is ROH's Pure Wrestling Champion, and is a legitimate phenom, having held the ROH Title for nearly two years. Joe is a very hard hitter with a devastating arsenal of moves, can have a great match with just about anyone, and despite his size, is as athletic as any other wrestler in ROH.

BJ WHITMER is one half of the ROH Tag Team Champions. Referred to as Hillbilly Jesus by CM Punk, Whitmer is another hard-hitter, who was a part of Mick Foley's 'Ring Of Hardcore' movement.

JIMMY JACOBS is the other half of the Tag Team Champions. A so-called 'comedy wrestler' for a while, his ring skills improved considerably after he became more serious and focused. Jacobs is also owner of the furriest boots in wrestling.

HOMICIDE is the leader of the Rottweilers faction. ROH's MVP for 2003, Homicide, along with manager Julius Smokes, underwent a shocking heel turn in 2004. Homicide is an excellent wrestler, who can have a great match with anyone regardless of their wrestling style...if he plays by the rules.

LOW KI is another member of the Rottweilers. A beloved fan favourite from the first ROH show due to the many classic matches he participated in in 2002 (as well as his brutally stiff kicks and chops), during 2004 Ki turned his back on the fans. He now competes semi-regularly for ROH due to Japanese commitments.

GENERATION NEXT are a cocky faction of young wrestlers who believe themselves to be the big stars of the future. The current members are -

AUSTIN ARIES, the man who ended Samoa Joe's incredible ROH Title reign;
JACK EVANS, the gravity-defying, craziest high-flier in wrestling today;
and RODERICK STRONG, the master of the backbreaker.

THE EMBASSY is a heel group led by PRINCE NANA, a prince of Ghana in West Africa. Members include the 'Crown Jewel' JIMMY RAVE, the legally blind wrestler FAST EDDIE, and former Generation Next member and locker-room outcast ALEX SHELLEY. The Embassy respects nobody, and will do what they want, when they want, including interference, dirty tactics during matches, and physical and verbal abuse of women.

JAMES GIBSON a.k.a the former Jamie Noble, came to ROH in early 2005 with three words on his mind - 'Screw Sports Entertainment'. In ROH, Gibson is able to fully display his considerable wrestling ability.

SPANKY is the Showstopper of ROH, and has had great match after great match since its inception in 2002. Spanky now divides his time between ROH and Japan.

JAY LETHAL is a former member of rich-kid raver group Special K, but 'got serious' and became Samoa Joe's protégé. With Joe's tutelage, Lethal's star has risen in ROH, and he recently had a successful Pure Title reign. He, along with Joe, is currently embroiled in a war with the Rottweilers.

BRYAN DANIELSON is one of the world's finest young wrestlers, but recently walked out of Ring Of Honor after failing to win the ROH Title from Austin Aries.

COLT CABANA is not only one of the funniest wrestlers you'll ever see, he is also one of the ROH wrestlers currently using the old European style of wrestling, which he picked up after a trip to the UK last year. Another man who wrestles the European style is Cabana's nemesis, the British native NIGEL MCGUINNESS.

Ring Of Honor also used wrestlers from TNA, until the latter withdrew all their contracted talent from ROH in 2004 as the result of a messy situation which I won't get into here. The two promotions seem to have patched up their differences, as the likes of AJ STYLES, CHRISTOPHER DANIELS and ABYSS now wrestle for both companies.

Now you're hopefully more familiar with some of the major players in ROH, I'll move on to some wrestlers that have appeared in ROH that you may have already heard of.

EDDIE GUERRERO wrestled Super Crazy on the first ROH show, before he was re-signed by WWE. He returned a couple of shows later, as WWE Intercontinental Champion!

NUNZIO, wrestling as 'Sicilian Shooter' James Maritato, took now-former ROH Champion Xavier to the limit on an early show.

PAUL LONDON came to ROH an unknown in 2002, and left for WWE a year later an international star. If you've only seen London in WWE, you haven't seen him at all. In ROH, his actions prompted fans to chant "Please Don't Die" each time he went to the top rope for a move like the Shooting Star Press. From a forty-minute classic against Bryan Danielson to a death-defying Street Fight with Michael Shane to a Triple Threat vs. AJ Styles and Low Ki that is one of my personal favourite matches, London did amazing things in ROH.

RAVEN appeared in ROH in 2003 as part of his worldwide feud with CM Punk, wrestling a series of bloody matches.

JEFF HARDY made an infamous appearance in 2003, as part of a Triple Threat also involving Joey Matthews (now Mercury) and Krazy K. Jeff was literally booed out of the building. Think the 'We Want Matt' chants only started this year" Think again.

RICKY STEAMBOAT became a part of ROH in 2004, first feuding with CM Punk, and then championing Pure Wrestling over the Ring Of Hardcore favoured by...

...MICK FOLEY. The Hardcore Legend appears semi-regularly for ROH in a non-wrestling role, which is just fine, as we all know how great Foley is on the mic.

JIM CORNETTE & BOBBY HEENAN. Perhaps the two greatest wrestling managers of all time have both been involved with ROH, managing talent and arguing with each other.

JYUSHIN THUNDER LIGER came to ROH for the 'Weekend Of Thunder' in late 2004.

MATT HARDY debuted in May of this year, wrestling Christopher Daniels. He is scheduled for further appearances in August, in matches against Homicide and Roderick Strong.

As for match types, many will be familiar to you (singles, tag, cage etc) but there are some trademark ROH matches that are worth mentioning.

The PURE WRESTLING MATCH is used only in Pure Title matches. Each wrestler is allowed three rope breaks, and once they are used to break up a pin or submission, they're gone. There is a strict twenty-count on the outside (count-outs are not usually used in ROH) and using a closed fist once results in a warning. A second closed fist loses the wrestler a rope break, and the third means a disqualification. The belt can change hands on a count-out!

The SCRAMBLE MATCH is normally a multi-team or large tag team match, with the rule that tags do not have to be made; a wrestler can enter the ring once another wrestler has left. Scramble Matches are usually fast-paced, blink-and-you'll-miss-something affairs.

The FOUR CORNER SURVIVAL and SIX MAN MAYHEM matches are the equivalent of the Four Corners and Six Pack Challenge matches from other companies.

The ULTIMATE ENDURANCE is a three-fall, multi-tag-team elimination match. Each fall can be a different kind of varies.

The FIGHT WITHOUT HONOR is pretty much a No Holds Barred Match, where the Code of Honor is abandoned.

The SCRAMBLE CAGE is a multi-team contest inside a cage (with platforms in each corner for insane diving moves). The rules have changed slightly in each Scramble Cage match, but usually, two teams start, other teams enter later, and the first pinfall wins.

Finally, a couple of warnings.

1. If you're accustomed to watching WWE-style shows with longish promos and not so longish matches, you may find ROH a little different. On the whole, the promos are kept short, and matches are longer (and often better). For example, several main events have ended in sixty minute draws, and a 2-out-of-3 Falls match between Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson lasted seventy-five minutes. ROH shows may seem long at first too; it could be a slight shock if you're not used to events lasting longer than two and a half hours, as ROH events have been known to go four and a half hours!

2. If you're used to the high production quality of WWE, the likes of ROH may be a surprise in comparison. Being an independent promotion, Ring Of Honor cannot afford elaborate stages, perfect acoustics (sometimes it can be difficult to make out what a wrestler is saying on the mic) or a large amount of pyrotechnics, but this should not take away your enjoyment of the show, because with the quality of wrestling in the ring, such things become trivial, and you begin not to notice them at all. For example, CM Punk's entrance, with AFI's Miseria Cantare (the Beginning) playing in the background and fans banging the guardrail in time to the drum beat, does not have explosions, or fireworks, but it is incredibly atmospheric, and one of the few entrances that personally gives me goosebumps each time I see it.

It may take a little while to adjust to these factors, but it IS worth it.

And with that said, you should now (hopefully) know enough about Ring Of Honor to start experiencing it for yourself. And, believe me, you'll never look back.

(Major thanks to Alias from TWCF for his help with the rules of matches)

by Langdon Beck --- [View Langdon Beck's Column Index]..

Eduver3 wrote:
wow! i love wwe, i love all wrestling, how the hell do i see ROH"! is on tv" online" or do you have to find the places where the events are being held" if someone could tell me thanks.
William Barnickel wrote:
Hey man, amazing artilce, and I've been thinking about doing one of these for a while now. It's an absolute shame that about 80-90% of the wrestling community probably has never heard of ROH. Since WWE (and TNA a little recently) have been the only wrestling product readily availible to wrestling fans for the past 5 years or so, many fans either have no idea what great wrestling is if they somehow got hooked during this dreadful time period, or they watch RAW and Smackdown with absolute discust longing for the days of WCW cruiserweight action, ECW style RVD/Jerry Lynn classics, or charismatic characters in orignal, engaging, and unpredictable storylines (which is why most of these articles are in negative response to the mainstream stale and pathetic WWE product). Well, my friends, like this man so elequently put it, ROH is where every discusted wrestling fan should turn ( if you didn't catch it in the article). I've been watching ROH exclusivly on DVD through the website for some time now and let me tell you, as a passionate wrestling fan, I've not once looked back. ROH has the most excellent booking, most engaging storylines, most insanely athletic athletes, and most passionate wrestlers in the business....and unlike the WWE, these guys get to go all out, no limitations. You guys think Jamie Noble, Paul London, or Spanky were/are stale or uninteresting on WWE programming" That's another classic case of WWE talent mismanagement as these guys are absolute phenoms when allowed to go with no WWEesque limitations. London especially. He went from curtain jerking spot boy jobber in the first few ROH shows to arguably the most amazing superstar in ROH's short history. His death defying streetfight in mid 2002 will forever go down as one of my favorite matches of all time...for those who still aren't convinced or think I'm blowing him up for no reason, you see a man perform a picture perfect SHOOTING STAR PRESS off the top of a BENT and MANGLED ladder and then you'll be converted! Trust me! When an entire arena starts chanting "Please Don't Die!" during the closing moments of a match with just cause, then chant "Match of the Year!" and "Five Star Match!" afterwards in deafening unison, you know you've witnessed something immensely special...and that's exactly what ROH is as a whole....a special gift to true and passionate wrestling fans. Yes, the only way you can watch ROH is to either go to the shows live (which I will be making my first live ROH show on 8/13 in Chicago and I absolutely can't wait) or order the DVD's off their website, so you'll unfortunately have to pay for good wrestling....but I've spent hundreds of dollars on ROH shows and NEVER ONCE regretted a cent of it! Trust me, it's that good! ROH also constantly has amazing sales and deals on their product which benifits new fans and die hard ones alike. Their first shows, while not as great as the new ones on the presentation scale, are still amazing in ring products and you can get the 2002 shows for only $6 for a VHS tape or $10 for a DVD currently I believe....I can't stress this enough, if you're sick of the WWE nonsense crammed down your throats every week, then you owe it to yourself to spend just this little bit of cash to try out a better me, you won't be dissappointed!!!!
therob316 wrote:
Great column. Its about time someone introduced everyone else to ROH. I learned much from this column, mainly the rules to different matches. (I didn't see an explaination for Round-Robin Challenge though). I think you should have mentioned ROH travels. Most indy feds are based around one or two cities but ROH travels the Northeastern to Midwest USA.
Steve H. wrote:
I'll bet there are more than a handfull of people who have been meaning to get a piece like this on the site - great work for getting it done!

Its a bit strange I think that in a world dominated by the internet (everyone's opinions on Matt Hardy's current situation show how much that is) that so many folks just aren't aware of wrestling outside of the WWE.

ROH is fantastic, I think you've opened some eyes with this piece, well done...
Thanks for writing this column! I always wonder why people made such a big deal about it. But now with your column i have a good idea of how great of a promotion ROH is. Keep up the good work!





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