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ROH RingsideROH Ringside 9

I’ve noticed lately that there is some talk about R.O.H. wrestlers having success in the W.W.E. So I decided to give my two cents on the matter, to see where R.O.H. Stars of yesteryear are today, and how they’ve become successful.

I may not know much, but I would imagine that today’s success of Indy wrestlers in W.W.E. and or T.N.A. is not much different than the W.W.E. of yesteryear. Hulk Hogan went to W.W.E. from A.W.A. Shawn Michaels was also in A.W.A., I believe, and Bret Hart came from Stampede Wrestling. There were more territories back then, and so I would imagine that more wrestles to scout, then there are today, but the talent is still there.

However, with less Indy feds around (although more than what people think) they’ve become better thanks to the internet (R.O.H., Chikara, C.Z.W., etc). What do I mean by this? What I mean, is that people today have more access to news about the W.W.E. signing guys and guys we know from the internet and those feds. Back in the day, fans didn’t know who the W.W.E. was scouting or where they were getting their talent from (I’m talking post-territorial W.W.E. Days), but I’m pretty sure they were in Indy feds just like today.

Hulk Hogan was in Georgia Championship Wrestling and the American Wrestling Association (although in this case, it was more nation-wide than most) before jumping to the W.W.E.

Ultimate Warrior was in World Class Wrestling Association before jumping to the W.W.E.

I grew up watching Bret Hart, Chris Benoit, Owen Hart and others in Stampede Wrestling in Calgary.

Shawn Michaels was in various feds before going to the W.W.E.

So this trend is not new.

I’m glad that R.O.H. wrestlers are getting their big national break. It somehow indirectly gives R.O.H. a good reputation, and it allows R.O.H. be a scouted fed for the next generation of stars; However it has its disadvantages as well. I would love for R.O.H. to get known by professional wrestling fans and slowly grow into something more national. However this doesn’t happen at the moment (despite R.O.H. probably today it is bigger than it was in 2004, which is where I’m currently watching R.O.H. shows). R.O.H. is just so big for talent that at the same time it becomes too small for its main-eventers and they will have no choice but to go to a grander stage (T.N.A. or W.W.E.) to progress their career. Therefore R.O.H. has to constantly find and rebuild new talents to push to the top, and every so often the cycle begins again. If R.O.H. was to have to be on a bigger scale, this need would not be so big every so often, but today there’s no way to avoid it.

So taking a look at this, I’m going to mention some of the past R.O.H. wrestlers who are currently in the W.W.E. or T.N.A. and look at what they´re doing now and compare it to what they did in R.O.H.

However, to start off this analysis, here’s my question. A specific answer will never arise but it’s still something to think about. What does the W.W.E. or T.N.A. (especially W.W.E.) look for when they scout wrestlers? I mean sometimes the gimmicks they use for the wrestlers are similar to what they were in R.O.H. (Claudio Castognoli and C.M. Punk) and others they change it up completely (cases of El Generico and Daniel Bryan).

Anyway, let’s go with the comparison:

Jay Lethal – In R.O.H. what I’ve seen so far (up until November 2004), he’s had a good build. He basically started as a nobody in Special K (a faction of spoiled rich kids who got high), and Samoa Joe took him under his wing to became a good serious wrestler. He’s back in R.O.H. now, but he had a run in T.N.A. as Black Machismo. However, people say that he was a one dimensional character. Outside the black machismo character he had no charisma. I can see that. Up until 2004, although you get a liking to him, he doesn’t have a great character.

Christopher Daniels – He was one of the wrestlers who put R.O.H. on the map. He plays a great cocky heel, and continues to do so in T.N.A. He’s the same character, but more evolved.

C.M. Punk – He’s basically the same C.M. Punk from 2004. His pipe bombs are not really that new for R.O.H. fans, nor his straight edge lifestyle. He’s fought and disrespected legends in R.O.H. and he has the same in ring style. Now it’s just on a national level and people are in to him.

Doug Williams – I love Doug Williams the wrestler, but in T.N.A. he’s too much of a gimmick and he doesn’t show his true skills.

Samoa Joe – He so far is a great fighting champion in R.O.H. (going on 19 months, although I know his title run is almost up), and is just a kick  ass big man wrestler who takes no bullshit from anyone. In T.N.A. he started similarly by going undefeated in T.N.A. and clawing his way to the top. He was over. Then bring in Kurt Angle and other ex-W.W.E. employees, and Samoa Joe’s career in T.N.A. went downward, and when he won the T.N.A. title a year or two after, no one cared. Now he’s started to gain some momentum again, and we’ll see where he’s headed.

A.J. Styles – He wasn’t an R.O.H. regular. He was there about every second or third show, but he had some great matches. He was the first R.O.H. Pure Wrestling Champion, until T.N.A. prohibited their talent from performing in R.O.H. He was over, for his wrestling skills and he helped build Jimmy Rave. In T.N.A. he’s had a great success, by putting on great matches like in R.O.H. Now he’s in Sting vs. Hogan II…I mean A.J. vs. Bully Rey, and he’ll probably win the title.

Bryan Danielson – He was the best in the world in R.O.H. (before C.M. Punk made that claim in the W.W.E. and before it became a moniker in R.O.H.). He had great matches. I loved watching his matches. Unfortunately, up until 2004, he wasn’t a 100% regular, because he made frequent trips to Japan, and from what I read, his future matches in R.O.H. will be memorable. When he signed with the W.W.E. I thought, well he’s screwed, but he’s been able to make his gimmicks get over. It’s not the Bryan Danielson I know, but it’s good enough.

R.O.H. might be the “small leagues” it might be “Pro Wrestling” and not “Sports Entertainment”, but the same guys who got over in R.O.H. are getting over on a national scene. Therefore maybe R.O.H. deserves to be on a more national scale. Maybe the wrestlers in R.O.H. are better than people think and are ready for the big times. It’s just a matter of giving them an opportunity.

— Jose Perez