Ring Of Honor recently announced the establishment of their Hall Of Fame, coinciding with the company’s 20th anniversary. The inaugural class is said to have four inductees, the first being announced on Monday January 31st with the others following on the three subsequent Mondays. So in advance of the first name being presented, I wanted to list out some of the top names who should be part of the inaugural class, and a prediction for which names aren’t likely to be included regardless of their qualifications.
Given everything that Jay Lethal has done in Ring Of Honor, he will almost certainly be one of the first four inductees, and it’s quite likely he’ll be named first.
- As a two-time RoH World Champion, both his combined 707 days as champion and 41 title defenses of that belt exceed that of any other wrestler. Only Adam Cole, a three-time RoH World Champion, has more title reigns with the belt.
- As a two-time RoH World Television Champion, his combined 798 days as champion exceeds that of any other wrestler, he was the first two-time champion, and his second reign (lasting 567 days) is nearly 100 days longer than the next longest reign (Dragon Lee/Ryu Lee with 469 days).
- He is currently the only RoH Grand Slam Champion to have won the RoH Pure Championship.
- He was named by RoH as their Wrestler Of The Decade for the 2010s. Their announcement read “A number of great wrestlers competed in Ring of Honor during the past 10 years, but none greater than ‘The Greatest First Generation Wrestler’ Jay Lethal”
My only reason to question whether or not Jay Lethal is named to the inaugural class is that I don’t know any of the details behind Jay Lethal’s current working relationship with Ring Of Honor. Given that he was in the match to decide the vacant RoH World Championship at Final Battle six weeks ago, it’s probably still good.
There is a very short list of individuals who have held four different championships in RoH, and Christopher Daniels was the first individual to accomplish that feat.
His reign with the RoH World Championship barely makes the Top 20 longest reigns with that belt, and his reign with the RoH World Television Championship barely makes the Top 10 longest reigns with that belt. By the time 2022 is over, he could feasibly be ousted from both of those echelons. His two-month reign with the RoH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship isn’t necessarily all that impressive.
But the fact that he held the RoH World Tag Team Championships 4 times, with three different partners, adds up to an impressive 577 days combined reign, putting him in 5th place for the longest time with that championship.
The fact that Christopher Daniels isn’t currently being featured in AEW or Impact Wrestling means that he’d likely be available to be featured by Ring Of Honor in any upcoming shows they produce, be it for promoting their Hall Of Fame or as part of their rebranding/restart coming up after the company’s hiatus. For that reason, I could see the otherwise
The Briscoe Brothers
No one epitomizes tag team wrestling in Ring Of Honor better than The Briscoe Brothers, and when they go into the RoH Hall Of Fame, it’ll be together. Dem Boys have cemented themselves as one of the best tag teams in wrestling history, and it’s largely due to the reputation and body of work they’ve built through their incredible 12 RoH World Tag Team Championship reigns, lasting a combined 1300+ days (a total that continues to climb for them as the current champions). In addition to being named by RoH as their Tag Team Of The Decade for the 2010s, they held the RoH World Six-Man Tag Team Championships, and Jay Briscoe is a two-time RoH World Champion.
The only reason they might not get named to the inaugural Hall Of Fame class is if they ask not to be, for storyline purposes. I could see them wanting to use it as a chip on their shoulders, but my bet would be that they accept the honor and choose whether or not to mention it in promos.
The least high profile Grand Slam Champion in RoH history, Matt Taven has failed to reach the level of notoriety of anyone else on this list. He never had a second reign with the RoH World Championship (his only reign lasting less than 200 days), nor with the RoH World Television Championship. His run with Mike Bennett as RoH World Tag Team Champions didn’t last three full months, and his combined time as a RoH World Six-Man Tag Team Champion barely hit the 300-day mark.
Although his accomplishments are still more than what many wrestlers achieved while in Ring Of Honor and will undoubtedly put him in their Hall Of Fame at some point, it would be smart to exclude him from the inaugural class (and for Matt Taven to ask for a deferment, if asked) because it gives some manufactured “heat” between he and RoH that he can use in promos and to help propel him into greater notoriety in the coming months and years. RoH loses nothing by excluding him from this inaugural class, and they gain very little through his inclusion.
During his monumental reign as the third ever person to hold their top championship, Samoa Joe is the reason the RoH World Championship belt got its “world class” status. Holding the belt for nearly two full years during the longest reign of any champion in the 20-year history of the company, Samoa Joe put Ring Of Honor on the map. He elevated the career of CM Punk through their three matches during Joe’s title reign, and did so without Joe losing any of them. After losing the belt, Samoa Joe remained with RoH for 4 more years, only capturing the RoH Pure Championship during that time but continuing to have memorable matches.
At this point in his career, Samoa Joe is a legend, currently not employed by WWE, and still might have a few more good (or great) matches left in him. This is absolutely a perfect time to induct him into the Ring Of Honor Hall Of Fame. It’s an honor that I believe Samoa Joe would gladly accept. He’s easily one of the top 4 RoH performers of ALL TIME, and it would be unthinkable to leave him out of the inaugural class.
After holding the RoH Pure Championship for two weeks short of a full year, losing to the legendary Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuinness went on to win the RoH World Championship. Nigel’s status as a likely RoH Hall Of Fame inductee was cemented through that reign that lasted 18 months. When the London-born McGuinness defeated the Tokyo-born Morishima to win the title, it gave additional credence to its status as a “world” championship.
If not for injuries, it’s clear that his career accomplishments list would be a lot longer. Ring Of Honor was where he gained most of his acclaim, including his #6 rating in the PWI 500 in 2009. His time as a broadcast commentator for the company and work in its front office only adds to his worthiness for being an inductee.
It’s unclear as to whether his status as a WWE employee would preclude him from showing up at any sort of induction ceremony, which is a big part of the reason I think he’s less likely to be part of the inaugural class.
As the seventh RoH World Champion in the company’s history, the American Dragon built his reputation as a world-class competitor. Only three guys have longer individual reigns with that championship than Danielson, but during his reign he defeated Nigel McGuinness for the RoH Pure Championship, getting the honor of unifying it with the top belt.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if RoH includes him as one of their inaugural inductees, but it would largely be based on the notoriety he has achieved since then, not because he deserves it more than other potential inductees. Based on what he accomplished in RoH, he’s deserving of its Hall Of Fame, but others have a better resume of accomplishments from within RoH. And I say that as someone who traveled 8 hours to be in Hartford in May of 2007 for his return at RoH Reborn Again and bought his “Best In The World” shirt at the show.
Adam Cole (Bay Bay)
Although the combined length of his reigns with the RoH World Championship falls short of the top 5 combined lengths list for the belt, he is the only person to hold the belt THREE TIMES, Bay Bay, and THAT might be enough to cement him one of the four inductee spots in the inaugural class. His 246-day reign as the RoH World Television Champion also adds to his impressive accomplishments with the company, but it’s really all about those reigns with their top title.
Given the popularity Adam Cole has gained in NXT and AEW, announcing him as an inductee would certainly get the RoH Hall Of Fame some additional recognition by fans who might not have otherwise heard of the promotion. It could even lead to a feud between he and Jay Lethal depending on when each of them is announced as an inductee… because they’re both absolutely going to be inducted this year or in 2023. At this point it comes down to whether or not RoH wants to save him as a big name inductee for a future class, because it’s clear that unless something unforeseen happens, Adam Cole is going to be a featured star for a televised professional wrestling company for years to come.
The time CM Punk spent in Ring Of Honor may have been where hardcore fans really got to know him and love him, and it might be where he really refined how he presented himself in the ring and on the microphone, but it’s certainly not where he’s most accomplished.
The three matches CM Punk had against Samoa Joe where he tried unsuccessfully to become RoH World Champion for the first time did more for his notoriety and building his fanbase than his short reign with the belt would ultimately do. The reign was quite notable, however, and would have likely been longer had he not been bound for WWE. That’s what made it incredible, though, and it really showed the talent Punk has at being able to draw cheers or boos.
His time as a RoH World Tag Team Champion with Colt Cabana adds a bit more to his worthiness of the RoH Hall Of Fame, though perhaps not as much as the time and energy he spent as a head trainer of the RoH Wrestling Academy.
Someday, CM Punk will be the headliner of a class of inductees into the RoH Hall Of Fame, but it’s not likely to be in 2022. If it is, they’re looking less at his on-screen accomplishments while part of their roster and instead giving him a spot ahead of others who had more accolades for the company, due to his status as an undeniable legend in the industry who would add significant name recognition, more than anyone else on this list.
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